Arsenal squeak past bees

Should I start these like they are a news report or do we just not care? If the former then:

“Arsenal started their bench players but managed to win 1-0 away at Brentford in the Carabao Cup thanks to a first half Reiss Nelson goal and a string of 2nd half defensive stops, including a great save by out of favor keeper Aaron Ramsdale. After the match Mikel Arteta admitted that his team were second best in the second half and praised the defensive performance. The Gunners advance to face Wet Hams at the London Stadium on Halloween.”

If the latter:

Another strange night from the Arsenal and proof for me that the handbrake thing is ingrained in the training methods and set up at London Colney. Arteta’s men started the game in great form. Emile Smith Rowe showed off his versatile repertoire of attacks, dribbles, and visionary passes and in that first half had me asking why he isn’t starting in the number 8 role over Havertz and even Vieira. Then in the 2nd half his levels dropped off a cliff and I completely understand why Arteta can’t start him over Havertz or anyone else.

The first half was good but there was a distinct feeling that Brentford weren’t 100% interested in the game in the first half and that it had been a bit easy for the Gunners. It’s always hard to tease out if that’s because the opponent didn’t come to play or if Arsenal were just so stunningly good but if there were questions about that at half time, they were fully answered by the 2nd half, where Brentford dominated Arsenal and should have won this match at a canter. It took a clearance off the line and a worldy stop by Aaron Ramsdale to keep the clean sheet but there were also a catalog of what I would consider huge misses by Brentford which didn’t even test the Arsenal defense.

You might be tempted to look at the scoreline and surmise that Arsenal had a pretty decent match but the second half was almost purely diabolical. Every single time that Arsenal got the ball on a counter or with a chance to go forward, they passed it back or sideways and killed off the momentum: even on clear, open, counters.

Afterwards, Arteta said that Smith Rowe lacked fitness and there were a number of those passes mid way through the 2nd half where it did look like he was flagging. I have to say that for me is utterly frustrating because this fitness issue was hampering him 4 years ago and it is weird that he overcame this for a season and is now back to square one. Arteta said his load has spiked these last two weeks, so I trust them to know 1000x better than me but it feels weird that he’s not able to complete a full 60 much less full 90 at this point in his career. I know he was injured last year in September but he then returned to the first team in January and never played more than 47 minutes until last night. If after 12 months of rehab you still can’t go a full 60 minutes without looking dead on your feet, I don’t get it. Utterly frustrating.

It wasn’t a completely barren 2nd half. Nketiah had a chance from close range in the 75th minute but other than that one, every shot was off target and outside the box. Arteta made a bunch of subs late on in the game, which didn’t do much to increase our attacking or defending and only made me worry “what if Jesus gets injured here?”

There was one moment of levity: in the final minute of the game the Brentford keeper (Flekken) came up on a set piece and left his goal completely open. Ramsdale claimed the ball and fell down on it to kill the clock but then a few seconds later realized he could have scored and booted one down field, by which time Flekken had gotten back in goal.

As Arteta put it after the match, you’re either in the cup or out and I guess the good news is that we are in it. The bad news is that if we play anything even remotely as bad as last night against West Ham, we will almost certainly be out.



  1. Your question might be rhetorical but
    Nah I do not prefer the news headline opening
    I much rather prefer a light preamble in your usual style

    As for the match yesterday, I look at it this way: it was a favorable result that came from a good opportunity for the squad players to get some minutes in competitive play. Even Cedric Soares

  2. I’m going to take the glass half full approach to that match, as I really did feel like there were more positives than negatives.
    Positives: Overall the performance was decent, considering they were playing pretty close to full strength at home and we had a majority of second string that both don’t have a lot of minutes in and haven’t played together much. Tomi and Kiwior both looked pretty good and feel like a decent second set of defenders who can play across the line if needed. Ramsdale doesn’t seem to have let the situation get to him and in fact to me looked better than Raya’s last two matches. And both Nelson and ESR looked pretty good in the first half and feel like they can continue to build. No further injuries :-).
    Downsides: Things did drop in the second half. Our attack and Eddie in particular is still struggling (this is the biggest problem, it’s really only clicked in one match this season). Ben White should have made a better effort to get the ball to Sagoe.

    Should play pretty much the same team against WHam. I’d have preferred an easier match to likely get even more time for these players, but it is what it is.

    1. We needed Balogun. Arsenal probably sold him to offset money spent on incoming players and maybe that was a decision the club had to make when making the transer plain and budget. We simply didn’t have any other asset that would fetch a monster transfer fee other than martinelli, saka, saliba, odegaard and gabi Mag. No one can convince me that it was a skill issue w/ Balogun or that Nketiah is better than him. Surely Artetat see that.Maybe Arteta has a striker in mind for next season – but unless it’s someone WC it would be underwhelming.

        1. He’s definitely a talented player who would immediately improve Arsenal’s front line. However, he seems to also be unrepentant about and unwilling to deal with what is obviously a debilitating gambling addiction. If we buy him I’d want a clause in his contract that lets us out for free if he’s suspended for gambling again.

  3. Seemed to me that Ramsdale was making a conscious effort to make shorter passes in to midfield areas, even when under pressure. I think he did OK with it too, although my blood pressure took a hit.

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