“Obviously, we lost Tomi very early in the game and we lost Saliba.” – Arteta
Arsenal suffered more injuries than just Tomi and Saliba as it’s notable that Gabriel Jesus was also removed at half time (intentionally and not due to injury). Tomiyasu’s injury seems most serious and Arteta sounded a bit worried on that front. Hopefully Saliba and Jesus are just precautionary and they will be back quickly.
That said, I don’t think it was the injuries which were most of the cause of yesterday’s problems. Jesus looked rusty but had a number of really good moves to remind us what he brings to the team. Also, his sub (Trossard) never disappoints me. I love how quickly he turns and attacks the defense, which he did time and again.
What I have said in the past and will say again is that the drop from first team to backups is often the biggest problem. I say that without wanting to “scapegoat” anyone: it’s no single player’s fault for Arsenal going out yesterday and criticism of a player doesn’t mean that I am blaming them for the defeat.
Jorginho, for example, is magnificent passing the ball and I think for a lot of folks who are used to watching him play for Chelsea or maybe even Napoli we didn’t get to see that side of his game featured enough. It was his ball through for Martinelli which richly deserved an assist, but Martinelli missed. At least we got a goal from that pass as Xhaka swept home the follow up. However, Jorginho isn’t quite as robust and fast as Arsenal’s #5 – and despite the fact he often gets away with some tackles that would make Xhaka blush, he’s bypassed in midfield too easily.
But again, it’s not his fault Arsenal were knocked out.
“We allowed too many spaces, were late and didn’t win enough duels there. We gave the ball away many, many times. Sometimes time after time.” – Arteta.
It’s also not Fabio Vieira’s fault that Arsenal lost but I also thought he had a particularly poor game, gave the ball away far too often (4 dispossessed, 0/3 dribbles), didn’t create anything for his teammates (0 key passes) and didn’t work hard enough to win it back (0 tackles or interceptions, 1 blocked pass). Vieira had just 2.6% of possession (47 touches) in 100 minutes of play, Ødegaard had 25 touches (1 key pass, 1 shot, 1 dribble, 1 blocked pass) in 20 minutes of play. Yes, Arsenal were very much “going for it” those last 20 minutes and Sporting were holding on but I feel it’s undeniable that the Vieira/Nelson axis on the right was very poor throughout – even before Saliba went out.
“And then the last 20 minutes, we got the flow and the momentum, we got into the final third much more and created three big chances, and we didn’t score.” – Arteta
Arsenal did create all of the chances in the last 20 minutes, after Arteta brought on Ødegaard and finally took control of the game, but I think there was technically just one big chance (according to Opta) and that fell to Holding. I think that Opta’s definition here might be a bit unfair, I would have given Gabriel’s close range header the “big chance” designation as it forced a world class save from Adan. So, I agree with Arteta here: after minute 100, Arsenal probably did enough to win the game and were unlucky.
“at the end it comes to the penalties, it’s a lottery, and today it didn’t go our way” – Arteta
“Penalties are a lottery” is one of those cliches in football that I despise. Maybe Arteta is trying to make his team feel better but in almost every instance, penalties are NOT a lottery. The team who practices more, who studies their opponent more diligently, who fakes the keeper better, and who strikes the ball more purely, almost always win a penalty shoot out. It is one of the few times that a coach can prepare his team and that players can prepare themselves.
Where I would agree with Arteta is that in this one instance, there were a lot of poor penalties on both sides – Ramsdale could have saved two and Adan saved one and got a hand on Trossard’s pen – and on another day the result could have gone differently.
BUT… Penalties are a skill: both at taking them and saving them. This isn’t intended as a criticism of Martinelli as a player or his overall skill at taking penalties, but the fact is that he struck it poorly and put it in a bad position which made it easy for the keeper to save. We have seen Bukayo Saka bounce back from a poor penalty for England, which I am certain he did through hard work and extra practice. I hope that Martinelli does the same.
“Nayim when the walls fell. Seaman on the ocean.” – How a Tamarian might describe Sporting’s goal.
Sporting’s only goal was a perfectly struck ball by Pote (Pedro G.) over Aaron Ramsdale to score. It was a goal much like one which I never saw live but which I’m aware of as an Arsenal supporter: Nayim over Seaman in the 1995 Cup Winner’s Cup Final. They aren’t exactly the same, of course (I think Pote’s is a much more technically perfect ball), and they didn’t have the same outcome (Nayim’s shot wins the game outright), but it’s inevitable to draw a comparison because they are very similar. I suppose if Arsenal are going to lose a match in the Europa League, then it should be to a team who essentially scored a ~1% chance goal on a perfect strike and scored every single one of their penalty kicks at the end.
“We wanted to go through and we put everything into it, the effort the boys put when it wasn’t our best day, individually and collectively, the hunger and the desire they showed to win, the way they were tracking back was incredible, they really wanted it and today it didn’t happen. We need to put our heads up, look towards Crystal Palace, it’s 11 games left, the first one starts on Sunday.” – Arteta
Arsenal are now out of every competition except the Premier League. On the one hand it sucks to be out of Europe but on the other hand we now have just one thing to focus on: winning every game in the Premier League and winning the first League title for Arsenal since the Invincibles.
On that front, Crystal Palace fired Patrick Vieira this morning after Palace went the entire year of 2023 without a single win. Who knows who the new manager will be but I can’t see anyone organizing them any better to face us this weekend than Vieira had done.
Their problem isn’t organization, it is scoring goals. They literally just don’t have a goal-scorer and once again a good coach is brought down because they don’t have someone to reliably score them goals. Wenger once said “show me a good coach and I’ll show you a good striker” – which he simply meant as “good goal-scorers (having one) often makes or breaks a coach”.
Given the profligacy of their main forwards in front of goal, I’m probably courting disaster to say this but, I can’t see any way that Palace will suddenly start scoring goals under a new coach in the next two days. They probably won’t even have a permanent coach in place by then or if they do, he will have had a max of one or two days to install a system.
All of this is to say that even if we are tired after 120 minutes of football, even if we have injuries to Saliba and Tomi, and even if we are mentally drained after a big loss, Arsenal should have enough to beat Palace. They are just a poorly constructed team.
After that, Arsenal get a few weeks rest as FIFA lines its pockets with more filthy lucre.