At Full Time: Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham

A frustrating game and result. Here are my initial thoughts.

Starting lineup made sense to me on paper: Raya had been good in his two games, Vieira I think deserved a spot based on performances, and Trossard had picked up an injury.

For the first 40 minutes Arsenal were nearly perfect: pressing was amazing, they were stifled, all we needed were some finishers, which we don’t have. Arsenal’s starting front line had a combined 3 goals against Spurs in 23 combined matches. That doesn’t mean that they can’t do it, but they haven’t done it so far and other than Saka’s penalty (the OG doesn’t count) it looks like they didn’t do it again.

Eddie is very good in the press but once we stop pressing his main use is as a decoy/runner. When that happens he’s a passenger. That said, there’s fuck all that we can do about it now. Trossard is out injured, Jesus is crawling back out of the cave, Havertz couldn’t score in a pachinko parlor, Nelson is two or three levels below what’s needed, and the transfer window is closed.

I promise to never mention Kai Havertz’s off the ball work, ever again. Yes, he’s a good defender. That’s great. However, it’s not good enough and when we have both Havertz and Eddie in the same team it’s like we are playing 9 v. 11. I know that Vieira looked weak in the first half and was pushed off the ball too easily but Havertz was a non-entity other than skying one shot. And that 2nd half by Arsenal was diabolical. The levels we dropped after bringing on Jorginho and Havertz for Rice (supposedly injured) and Vieira (supposedly having a worse game than Havertz would have had, he didn’t) were astonishing. Once again, it looks like we don’t have anywhere near the squad needed to compete for the League. Not that I thought we were going to win the League this season.

After we scored, we went into sleep mode. This is literally a thing I have now seen from this Arteta side far too often. I think he’s trying to do some “periodization” by which I mean: we had expended so much energy (the press was frantic) early on that we needed a break. But there’s taking a physical break and there’s taking a mental break. Doing the physical break make sense but it looks to me like we are doing both and it continuously bites us in the ass. It did it again today: in the 41st minute we actually sprung a pressing trap but Eddie was reading Ivanhoe and didn’t wake up to it, so everyone was out of position and they hit us on the counter. Raya compounded it with some weird keeping and boom, they scored. It was a top quality goal from one of the best finishers in the league.

Speaking of Raya: other than the one save, he was poor. His kicks were way off today and I think he made a bunch of nervous errors. If Arteta is true to what he has been saying, he will rotate Raya out.

All players have a sell by date and Jorginho looks well past his sell by date. You could see the younger, more mobile Spurs midfield just eating him up today. I think his substitution was because of injury but the real problem is that we don’t have a player who can take his place: Partey is always crocked (and probably wouldn’t have been much better) and we have no other viable replacements.

And the worst part? Saka was injured in the 90th minute and had to limp around for 7 minutes before we subbed him off. It would be a draw that looks like a loss if Saka is out for any period of time. Though, if I look on the bright side it probably means that Smith Rowe will get to play some football? Maybe?



  1. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the same summary I would have written.
    I was feeling pretty positive yesterday. Not just about this match, but also about the City one, with both Rodri and Debruyne out.
    Now, not so much. Played pretty well for much of the first half. But so many things wrong with that second.
    Partey needs to be gone, not least because he’s injured 2/3 of the time.
    Havertz so far is a waste. We’d have been better off keeping Xhaka. If he doesn’t improve, he’ll go down as a Pepe-level mistake.
    Raya’s passing so far has been no better that Ramsdale.
    And I fear for the attack if Trossard, Martinelli and Saka are all out for a spell. No one else looks a significant goal threat. Nketiah was poor and somewhat lucky to stay on the pitch.

    Need to rotate heavily mid-week. The second string needs a lot of minutes, and I don’t really care about the match.

    1. If Saka Martinelli and Trosy are out we still have the squad.
      Remember ESR.

      ESR will do more than well on the left flank. He once held it down for Arsenal from there.

      Viera will do much better from the flanks with his pin point crossing just like Trossard only difference is that Trossy a WC finisher.

      The we can do JESUS or Havertz in the center. Or both at the same time.

      We have the squad.

      If there was a weakness I have seen from Arteta so far since he became manager it is his squad management and bad squad manipulation.l and rotation. As flexible as Pep is, you’d think he was similar but he is not.

      If there was something Wenger did superbly it was his squad management and rotation. Wenger was one of the first coaches to play with inverted Wenger. Most of our top midfielders had their time at the flanks especially those with two legs.

      Arteta should imitate that as we have the squad for that. He should stop being so one typed. I admire teams like man city or Brighton and maybe Liverpool because it don’t matter who come who goes there is little to no drop of quality.

      I believe Arteta should give these players a chance.

      Saka needs serious rest. I don’t know about y’all but I have watched Saka this season and he is almost like in a Ronaldo mode. He is no longer beating his markers and also just looks to cut and score. He used to put in a good number of crosses but that no longer is the case.

      Our right wing used to be our sharpest. But now the guys on the left Martinelli has really improved. He is no longer one minded when in the box. He can shoot or score, like he is making a more balanced decision when he is in attack mode something he did not do before.

      If this season don’t go well it’s all on Arteta and not the players.

      And btw Artetha is a defensive. Yeah I said it first. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Just had to point it out.

      I think we have a solid football foundation and can make a quick come back easy.

      All the best lads and Tim your points are so very on point.

  2. I believed at the start of the season that we’d hang around the top while playing ugly, so the lack of fluidity doesn’t really bother me (yet). The loss of focus today however… it’s a great point about taking a physical break, not a mental one.

    Eddie and Jesus up top gave me flashbacks to shoe-horning Auba and Laca into a front three. I understand we had injuries on the left, but there’s got to be better solutions than that.

    1. Yeah, Arteta could probably have started Smith Rowe out on the left, he’d feel pretty much at home there. Bit lucky to get that draw, especially with Richalison’s glaring miss in the final minute.

  3. Good write up and hard to argue with it. I guess on balance this is what we get with Arteta, and it fairly often brilliant but occasionally baffling. Why did we ever pay such a high price for Havertz, as if his last 3 years didn’t exist? If he’d been a cheap bet on reclamation, I’m sure he’d have a lot more support. But he’s like our 3rd most expensive signing ever (w/o looking it up).

    Taking off Jesus and leaving Eddie on is baffling. No role for ESR, but also not selling him on: baffling. Let’s remember that ESR’s amazing run 2 seasons ago happened only because Arteta literally had no one else left to play. If ESR can’t play when both Martinelli and Trossard are out, then what’s his purpose not he team? Raya was poor. Vieira was slow and caught in possession at least twice, but Eddie could not control a single ball played into him.

    We were lucky Spurs subbed off Son, or I’m quite sure we would have lost.

  4. Great write up, per usual. Me trying to find a bright side is that we got a draw against a vastly improved Spurs team without a single remarkable performance from anyone on our team. Maybe there’s a way to feel good about that given the length of the campaign.

    I know, but Im tryin’ here!)

  5. arsenal went into this game with 4 starters from match day 1, partey, timber, martinelli, and ramsdale not in the team. then they lost trossard in the warmup today and rice at halftime. as deep as it seems arsenal are, any team that loses 7 players is going to struggle for continuity. add to that, jesus is just coming back from surgery and havertz isn’t settled and i think arsenal were fortunate to get a point today. a more ruthless team would have taken arsenal to the wood shed. spurs certainly played the better football…and i don’t know that i’ve ever said that.

  6. i’m not in full agreement with your post. first, we’ve seen nothing to suggest raya deserves the nod over ramsdale. it’s not his fault; he hasn’t had to do anything before today. clearly, he’s impressed in training.

    partey is not always crocked. elneny got injured right when the window closed last season and he was available every game; he had no cover before jorginho was signed. there’s a difference between being always crocked and suffering a bad injury. likewise, he’s miles better than jorginho has ever been. maybe i’m biased as i’ve never been a fan of jorginho; he’s the most un-brazilian brazilian i’ve ever seen. i seriously prefer elneny. he would have never been so sloppy with the ball like jorginho was today.

    eddie’s a “decoy/runner”? i don’t know what that means.

    havertz is talented but he’s never been a “great defender”. he’s just tall. he’s been ruined from his time at chelsea. arteta should probably view him as a reclamation project as the talent is still there. it’s like the lights are on but no one is home. today, i believe arteta brought him on to mitigate having to put on jorginho. if you play fabio and jorginho in tandem, that’s a light weight midfield for bissouma and the like.

    1. We also have to consider that this team hasn’t yet become used to playing mid-week Champions league.
      The rustiness/injuries are to some extent an outcome of mid-week excursions against a side at the minimum comparable to a mid-table Premier League team.

      i wasn’t fully convinced when Tim mentioned in the pre-season write-up that we aren’t yet ready to be title contenders but I think I can see it now – this team will need to bed-in quickly and more ruthlessly as City leave no room. With Champions League on the horizon, it’s going to be tough.

      And for all his virtues, Arteta is no Guardiola, yet, imho. He isn’t that elite l, he is still learning. Perhaps he is more of a Simeone in his managerial style?

      Btw, thank you for all those write-ups over the years, Tim. Been an ardent follower of your blog since 2015.

    2. “partey is not always crocked”

      2020/21 – played 2170/5220 minutes – 24/55 full games
      2021/22 – played 2103/4050 minutes – 23/45 full games
      2022/23 – played 2698/4410 minutes – 29/49 full games

      He has played the equivalent of just 78 of Arsenal’s last 149 matches. The dude is constantly crocked.

      1. I intentionally left off the fact that he’s played just 235 or this season’s 720 minutes. The dude is constantly crocked.

    3. I think you may be correct about the reasons for bringing on Havertz. It’s possible that had Rice not come off, Havertz would’ve come on for Eddie or Jesus later on. A questionable call in retrospect – forced to take off the defensive anchor of your MF, is it really the best move to change out another MFer? – but I guess MA saw Vieira as too lightweight to deal with Spurs MF.

      I believe Tim is referring to Nketiah not participating much in build up when we have the ball, aside from running to drag players out of position. He’s not a player like Jesus that can receive the ball and link up with other attacking players effectively, and he’s not a target for longer passes from the back.

      Partey is not always crocked, but crocked enough that he cannot be relied upon for long stretches of the season. It’s a bit maddening that a player of his importance in the side can be out for such long stretches at a time. You may not want to concede that he’s unreliable, but it happens every season, and more than once. I get that injuries are a part of the game, but I would wager that Partey has probably spent more time injured than other players at his position who have been at their clubs a similar length of time. If can’t be relied upon as a starter, and also can’t cut it as a backup, it’s time for him to go.

      Elneny may have been better than Jorginho. It’s been so long, though. Interesting question re: who is better backup.

      Agree re: Raya, I don’t think he’s shown he’s clearly better than Ramsdale in games. But also, we have seen what he was able to do for Brentford, and he appears to be a better passer than Ramsdale.

      1. Eddie and Jesus are almost opposites. Eddie’s poacher and Jesus a creator. There’s a few situations for us where a poacher might be better, but mostly Jesus works better with how Arteta wants to play. Main problem is that neither of them are particularly/consistently clinical, and if we have a couple of the other starting attackers missing, we’re starved for for goals.
        And yes, that Eddie tackle on the keeper was orange, and he was lucky to stay on. And very fortunate for us, as it would have been a straight red and we’d have even fewer attackers for the next three matches. Would have been playing Havertz as striker.

  7. Spot on, as usual – and yes, we def need to look at Eddie’s excessive love of chivalric romance novels – the second half of the NL Derby is NOT the place for revisiting a favorite sprawling romantic epic!! #sirwalterscottOUT!!!!!

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