Four in a row: Arsenal have bounced back

After Arsenal lost to Man City a lot of folks said “it’s not necessarily how you lose a big game, but how you bounce back” suggesting that Arsenal’s little three match blip could be the end of their title run for 2022/23 unless they showed resilience. Some went further and questioned Arsenal’s mentality and whether they could show the mettle needed to deal with the stress of a Premier League title race. It’s not over yet – and I’m definitely not rolling out the open top bus parade – but with yesterday’s massive come-from-behind victory over Bournemouth, Arsenal have won four in a row and given an answer to their critics. Arsenal are in the title race for the long haul.

In a funny way, this match was a recap of the last month’s worth of articles on 7amkickoff. There was a worryingly high line, played because we were behind, at home, and needing a goal. Arsenal played an adaptable style and got a debutant goal from Benjamin White. In some ways it was a repeat of the 4-2 win over Aston Villa (without the Martinez own goal) and it was a match with 5 handball shouts (at least two of which I felt were nailed on) where the referees and VAR chose not to give them. This match had it all, even a wondergoal from Reiss Nelson – squad depth isn’t something I’ve written about much this season! – which I never expected.

After the match everyone celebrated. Anyone who didn’t celebrate is actually a cyborg and should be detained until we can find out why they’ve come back in time and who they are supposed to kill. I hear that the FA are “investigating” Arsenal for celebrating too hard. Seriously. That’s happening. Because English football has solved all of its problems and needs something new to prosecute. Celebrations.

They can’t solve the problem of VAR getting a metric shit ton of calls incorrect in this game. Because according to VAR’s biggest apologist, there were no errors in this game. The player offside from the kickoff? That would have been nit picking. The four or five handballs? All of them were totes legal because they hit the player – and I’m not making this up – “around this area” of the logo on the sleeve. AROUND THIS AREA. Which is literally the entire upper arm.

Anyways, I don’t want to cry over spilt milk. Arsenal are top of the League and Manchester United got whupped 7-0 by Liverpool. Meanwhile, we are getting goals from unusual places: Zinchenko’s first Arsenal goal against Villa, Benjamin White’s goal yesterday. We need these guys to chip in. And maybe to shore up the defense a little bit, because we are allowing too many goals!

Arsenal are on pace to break 90 points this season and score over 86 League goals. Almost unrecognizable from last season, where we scored 69 goals and gathered 71 points. And it’s not just at home, it’s Arsenal’s away record which is giving us so much love this season. Last season, Arsenal’s away record was 9-1-9, 28 points, 31 goals allowed, -5 GD. This season, Arsenal already have 31 points, 10-1-2, NINE GOALS ALLOWED, +16 GD. And we are doing this without our lord and saviour Gabriel Jesus. Incredible, really.

There was one dark cloud on the game: Trossard’s injury. I guess we will have to go back to Nketiah in the middle, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. But I am a little worried about injuries to our front men. We play Sporting this week in the Europa League and frankly, I want to see HEAVY rotation. I know how much some folks value the Europa League but I wouldn’t risk injury to any of the starters on this team for a chance at that trophy. It’s an away game as well. Give the young guys some minutes. Give the academy players some minutes. Please, I beg.

That game’s on Thursday then we have Fulham away as well on Sunday. This is a big week. Every week is a big week right now.



  1. Agree about rotation. Focus on the league. We will be in CL next year even without winning EL. Nothing matters more than the league.

  2. I really hope we can keep players like Emile and Nelson in our squad to provide depth. Talented and young Arsenal players who have a love for this club, and play for the badge.

    Maitland Niles is another one. Where Tomiyasu can’t provide the attacking thrust we need on the right because he is more comfortable performing the Zinchenko role than Tierney. Ainsley could be the perfect back-up/competition for Ben White. If he gets his head right and puts his pride to the side.

    but I guess ruthlessness requires every one of them to be as good or even better than the viable options we are chasing to strengthen our team. Competition seems to be a very high and performances are benefiting from that.

    The mentality required to play for this team is amazing. I am loving what I see every week.

    1. Agree about Maitland Niles, but I think his time at Arsenal is more or less done. He was given chances to become integral part of the team but he didn’t take it and his mind is not really in it.

  3. Can we give Saka the night off on Thursday? Don’t even bring him on the trip so Arteta isn’t tempted to play him. Reiss-Nelson is a weirdly productive player on a points per minute basis, let him play right side, ESR on the left and Nketiah through the middle. Tierney needs to play and Holding for Gabriel. Tomiyasu needs to a chance to make amends at RB. Vieira was solid he needs to play ahead of Odegaard. Jorginho would be natural for Partey and let Xhaka start, he’s durable. And then play for the draw away from home, a bit of real politik, just come back in position to win the second game.

    I am worried about Fulham away. That is a very tough game. We need the team to be at its maximum. It sounds like Jesus will be fit for Crystal Palace and the trip to Anfield.

  4. There maybe some rotation, but Arteta believes modern players are quite capable of 70 games per season (he actually said so), but we have a decent squad, let’s use it a little. I see Nelson’s contract expires this summer, so he’s in a good bargaining position.

  5. As you and a certain helmeted hero are wont to say, “This is The Way”.

    We really are doing what it takes to try and bring this across the finish line.
    But…as we enter the final third of the season, we are starting to see the injuries and the stresses of a Premier League campaign. Losing Trossard for more than a couple of games will be a blow, for sure.

    Also, the EL knockout stage begins this week and you know Arteta and the team are going to for it. Going from a 14-man squad to a 16-man squad with the additional 2 subs will hopefully help to get us through until we can get a full 90-minutes from the likes of a Smith Rowe and we get Jesus back to make some kind of contribution.

    I dunno. Yes, it the hope that always kills you, but there really is no denying, like The Mandalorian, this bunch will not quit, and somehow, someway… Looking at image of Titi holding the PL trophy today, I thought of a line from the series:
    “I’ll see you again. I promise.” — The Mandalorian

  6. I analyzed the first goal. Issue number one is that nobody is marking Outtara from the kickoff. Martinelli is tucked in and Zinchenko is far ahead of the play. Then, as three Bs stream forward on the center left, they are not tracked. All three get into the corridor between the D line and the midfield with nobody near them. Then the D line picks them up when they’re already at the edge of the box. Gabriel drifts on to Solanke, and Partey and Saliba between them are in a position to mark Billings, and Tomi has his man at the far post. Zinchenko and Martinelli finally close down Outtara at the corner of the box, but he sneaks the ball through them towards Solanke. I don’t think the Bournemouth man touches the ball, but Gabriel’s studs catch the top of it, and the deflection takes the speed off and changes the angle, making it into a sweet rolling putt on the edge of the 6. The deflection isnt obvious until you see the angle from behind a Outtara as he plays it in. One or both of Partey or Saliba should have been there to clear it but I’m not sure either of them was aware of Billing on their shoulder. Partey appears to throw his arm up to block him at one point but is caught on his heels and doesn’t follow him into the box. Saliba is set to clear the cross as it was originally played and is wrong footed by the deflection off Gabriel. I don’t think Billing knows the ball will find him until it does, but he is canny to get behind the defenders and stay on side. As usual with goals it’s a mix of luck and a lackluster effort from some in the buildup to it. Overall we don’t look as intense in some situations without the ball and it has hurt us. Villa’s second was also borne in part out of some lackadaisical effort in the middle third. Our style demands consistent effort from everyone every single time, a point Arteta is no doubt driving home every day.

    I also looked at their chance when Outtara had a 1 v 1 with Ramsdale that was saved. Billing was involved again and was definitely offside in the buildup. Trossard hurt himself covering back on that play. This makes me kind of mad about how the offside rule is officiated. If it’s clearly offside, raise your damn flag. A player got hurt busting a gut to prevent a goal that wouldn’t have stood.

    Lastly I want to highlight how good Fabio Vieira was in this game because I don’t think his performance is getting enough play. I thought his usage of the ball and his willingness to make runs behind his man were magnificent. The team is so used to having Xhaka there that they never expected to him make those darting runs most of the time. But he did and it bought him separation the use the ball to feet. Then with the ball he was flawless in possession. Elite ball circulation against a deep block plus potential for accurate ball striking on either foot… whoa. He’s coming, in a big way.

    1. Do you think that goal would have happened if Xhaka was in?

      I feel the first goal is a tactical mistake more than anything. The starting positions at kickoff being wrong or Xhaka playing almost every game to the point of the team getting too used to his game.

      I mean, we did try to match them in how we lined up for the kick off, where our entire team, outside of an extremely inverted Martinelli, mostly central Gabriel and an inverted Zinchenko. It just seemed like a plan they had to send it wide on the open side, get a 1v1 with our worst defensive member of the defence and cross to the runners on the other side. Tactical.

      On the other hand, and not to say that it’s Viera’s fault, but the team still had to slowly adjust to not having Xhaka in that left space where he puts in so much work every game. After such a long run of having said cover in place, maybe the lapse was just perfect timing for Bournemouth in that area.

      1. I won’t lie, that was my first thought too: Granit would sniff that out. The play came down an alley that he normally patrols. Just another example of the 1000 little unnoticed things he does each game.

        I didn’t see that Fabio was in that play at all and maybe that’s a learning point for him, but I also don’t know what his assignment was so it’s too harsh to judge on such little evidence.

        Turns out Bournemouth had players encroaching from the kickoff but, again, somehow it was missed by VAR who presumably forgot to check for that. Thankfully we scored that winner or its another apology from Howard Webb and we’re talking about nothing but officiating this week.

  7. Who are the people who value the Europa League in the middle of a title challenge? Detain them with the cyborgs.

  8. Last comment:
    What a great weekend it was.

    Arsenal women beating their nemesis Chelsea to win a trophy, and still without Viv Miedema and Beth Mead?

    And the match at Anfield? Probably the team I love to hate the most (with the intensity of 5000 white-hot suns) losing 7-0? I don’t want to remember, but the 8-2 we suffered still grates to this day.

    So for me, the 7-0 was glorious. I have zero love for The Kop, but the amount of schadenfreude they generated for me, has me grateful.

    1. That was such a weird game. It sounds like such sore loser sour grapes from Gary Neville when he says United weren’t that bad, but it’s true. In the first half they are definitely the only team creating openings. They went down 2-0 to a couple of jammy goals, and then conceded a ton more because the game became incredibly chaotic which didn’t suit their technique first players like Casemiro, Shaw or Dalot. Liverpool had the physical edge and used it well. But it was also one of those days where everything seemed to fly into the back of the net and every deflection seemed to fall kindly to a Liverpool player. Then with each goal their swagger and confidence grew and it became a perfect storm.

      I’m happy United were humbled but this won’t change their trajectory. If Ten Hag recruits well, they are going to be up there with us next season.

      I’m also not happy to see Liverpool regain their mojo and get Gakpo going. We still have to go to Anfield and I’d much rather visit a team in the depth of a malaise.

  9. I think Arsenal have the squad for both competitions. We have strengthened in the 2 places we needed most in Jan. With ESR, Nelson and Jesus fit we should be good to give 20-30 mins off to our starting 11 each game. Also, the fact that we have 5 subs allowed should make in game rotation a bit easier.

    It might put a lot of pressure on the team to win the PL if we are knocked out of the Europa league before the semifinal.

    1. We did strengthen in two places and they are both injured. The Smith looked dead for most of his appearance against Bournemouth, Jesus is out for at least another month, and Nketiah has some kind of knock.

      We are actually quite short at the moment.

  10. I don’t claim to remember this accurately, but our efforts against Man City in the FA Cup felt a bit conservative. While I didn’t mind bombing out of that competition, our next three matches were Everton, Brentford, and Man City, and we all know the results of those ones. A sort of mental consistency was interrupted. We’d all agree the PL title chase is what matters most, and the squad is a bit thin, but I fear what happens when you wear that shirt and you don’t prioritize winning the match.

    1. Correlation and causation, or something like that. It’s good to win every game but not at the expense of overworking or getting your top players injured.

  11. I hope he rotates *a bit* (i will not specify how much!) for Sporting away but i don’t think he will. I think he will try to “win the tie” at Sporting and then rotate on the home half of the tie. Not sure why, i just think that is what he will do. Holding my breath.

  12. Hi Tim,

    This message is unrelated to the post above (good one by the way). I have small gripe with you.
    I have been following you on this website and Twitter for years and generally I agree with most of your points or at least they make me see things from a different point of view (except your bread posts). I don’t comment most times, but sometimes I do.
    Before now, when Arsenal weren’t this good, I remember you used to have a lot of issues with Arteta and you even said (at least once) that Vieira is a better coach. A year or so ago, I think I got fed up with your constant bashing of Arteta (maybe it was after one of our numerous losses), I challenged you on Twitter (which I have never done before) about your views of Arteta and your response was to block me.
    You have replied my tweets a couple of times but didn’t get a response this time (which I wasn’t expecting). Then I realised I stopped seeing your tweets and that’s when I realised you had blocked me.
    This message isn’t to ask to be unblocked (frankly, I don’t care if you do or not), just a little disappointed that you resorted to blocking someone because they don’t agree with you. I am definitely sure I wasn’t abusive to you because it’s not something I would do.
    The thing is, I respect you Tim, besides Arseblog, you are the other blog I read religiously. You have a lot of followers who respect your views a lot. I hope you have apologised to your readers that you got your views of Mikel wrong. I am glad Arsenal is doing well and Mikel has proved millions wrong (including you).
    Keep up the good work with the blog, it’s the first time I’ve been back in about a year and it’s good as ever.

    Thank you

    1. I block people on twitter for a variety of reasons, the big ones are if they are homophobic, transphobic, sexist, racist, QAnon, Trump supporters, or just assholes.

      I looked up your account. I didn’t block you because you disagreed with me, I believe I blocked you for being transphobic. If you are not homophobic or transphobic then I will gladly unblock you.

      As for “apologizing”. No. I stand by what I said. I disagreed with almost all of the moves the club and manager made during the pandemic and the year after. We are playing better football now and I like the football but that doesn’t mean I was wrong about the way that we got here. The way we got here was not at all to my liking. I think he learned on the job and that the club and fans suffered for that. The club have flushed a ton of money on Arteta and made a lot of huge mistakes. There’s absolutely no question in my mind that a more experienced manager would have gotten that team of 2020 playing more organized football right out the gate: the way we had to chop and change constantly until he figured out how he wanted to play was frustrating and I won’t be apologizing for voicing my frustrations.

      I think of it like a taxi ride: if you get in a cab and the driver has 12 accidents, drives off the road, humiliates your fellow passengers, but you get to the destination is it a successful cab ride? Nah. I’d be saying something all along and telling the driver I didn’t like how he was driving. I would definitely not apologize at the end for what I said.

      1. Hi Tim,

        I just looked up the word ‘transphobic’ and I don’t understand why you think I have anything against transgender. I was going to check my tweets but decided not to because I know myself and know what I will and won’t do.
        I still stand on being blocked for disagreeing with you because I remember thinking to myself that I have to tell you what you said was wrong.
        It’s up to you if you want to unblock me. I will still try and come to your site when I can


      2. I just realised I didn’t finish reading your response before responding about being called transphobic. I respect your opinion and will leave the case as it is

  13. TBH my mindset is ‘F*** the Europa’, if we wing it to the final with kids and back up then so be it.. The only reason I was ever bothered about it previously was to sneak into the CL by the back door but we won’t even need that this season. I’m totally with Tim on this one, put the entire second string and academy players in, plus I think that would be more interesting anyway, with getting glimpses of kids like Nwaneri, Cozier-Duberry, giving a debut to Kiwior, letting Tierney, Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson have some minutes and I’m sure Fabio Vieira would relish playing against his compatriots.

  14. claude, i’m sorry to read that you missed the game the other day. you missed a treat.

    i love the way the team is moving. i believe the europa league is a competition that arsenal can and should compete to win this season. the best way forward is up to the manager. while i’m always an advocate for using the squad, i’ve never liked wholesale changes. i’d like to see kiwior and holding get a game, but partey would have to start. likewise, i’d like to see nelson and emile get at least an hour. however, you have to be careful. this is a game that arsenal should win but the portugese teams have tested arsenal in the past. strangely, sporting seem to have a very short set of players, ala fabio vieira

    my biggest concern is at center forward. i know eddie had an ankle knock but i’m hoping he’s good to go; he needs the game away from the pressure of the emirates. i hated to see trossard pick up a knock, the way he’s settled. i blame him a bit. he shouldn’t have tried to rotate all the way over on that play. with saliba there, he simply didn’t need to. that’s not to mention we were lucky the guy crossing the ball jammed up the cross; it really should have been 0-2.

  15. Hey Josh, I compensated by playback of that winning goal 100 times. I cant get enough of it, or the reaction of our players, fans and coaching staff. What a moment for Arsenal supporters. Hope the FA don’t pursue a nonsensical charge.

    Someone upthread suggested that we should (sorta) tank Europa? No, Arsenal have to try to win it AND the league. Skillful deployment of the squad will test Arteta, but i believe that he should and will go as full strength as he can given the injuries. If we’d been up 3 goals with a second leg at home to play, I’d feel otherwise.

  16. Well, it was a chaotic scoring draw in Lisbon. Could’ve been worse but should’ve been better. I haven’t seen the full 90, so I’ll keep it brief but my impression was that we didn’t control the game well in the first half and couldn’t stick with their runners from midfield. We just lack physicality in various ways when all of Xhaka, Jorginho, Zinchenko and Vieira (or Odegaard) all play, so if we do make a mistake in possession they can make hay. The midfield needs a better balance between technical skill and physicality but we just don’t have the bodies at the moment when we play every 3 days. Arteta brought on Tomi and Partey and that erased this problem but the damage was done. If we do play with those guys then we should be more cautious with our positioning to make sure we don’t end up in too many foot races.

Comments are closed.

Related articles