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Arsenal vs Sheffield Now A Mid-Table Scrap

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Three months ago, Arsenal was in 3rd, ready to take on Sheffield United. We ended up losing that game. Today Arsenal are in 10th and Sheffield are 4 points and 4 places ahead of us. We also have injury problems. And yet, I feel more confident about the game now than I did then.

Call it the Arteta effect. We’re looking so much more organized in midfield and defense. We’re finding our passing patterns. There’s been some fairly simple, and yet major tweaks to how we set up, which has allowed players to play to their strengths.

But this game will maybe need an extra helping of Arteta’s magic, and very possibly some good fortune. Only Liverpool have conceded fewer goals than Sheffield (joint second best record with Leicester). They’ve conceded 10 fewer goals than us. Clearly, they are not a team that is easy to break down.

Arteta was full of praise for their coach as well. He made it a point to praise the movements, tactics and attitude of their team, calling Wilder ‘special’ and himself a ‘big admirer’ of him.

At this stage of the season, I think we have to accept that Sheffield are where they are on merit. And while defense is their strength, they have the ability to score goals as well. Only 24 goals in 22 games, but that’s just 5 less than Arsenal have scored despite our mighty strike force.

What’s worse, our strike force is now depleted following Aubameyang’s 3 game suspension. Arsenal’s appeal against it was overturned. I think that is the right decision actually. We can only look to ourselves.

Lacazette needs to step-up

Lacazette may not be in the best of form, but when Arteta was asked about it being a problem, his response was great. That it’s a problem only if Laca feels it is a problem. All strikers go through lean spells, but I believe Lacazette is much better than he gets credit for. He plays a different role to Aubameyang and as such his goalscoring dips. But he has the ability to score too. He’s a better natural finisher than Auba, I think. But he now needs to step up and show it.

Meanwhile, Arsenal also brought back Eddie Nketiah from loan at Leeds, and despite initial reports he was on his way to Bristol City, it appears Arteta has decided to keep him for the rest of the season. Hopefully it isn’t just a cautious/short term measure and Mikel has seen something that he likes, enough to give him chances this season and beyond. Whatever shortcomings (get it?) he has, Nketiah definitely knows how to score a goal. I’d look for him to make an impact off the bench.

Bizarre rumors

There were also bizarre rumors this week. We’re linked with John Stones (which Arteta shot down) and also linked with PSG’s backup LB, Kurzawa. He’s out of contract in the summer and might be available on a free now. I suppose these rumors have some logic to them because our injury problems in defense continue. Kolasinac is injured again. Arteta held out some hope of him playing. Tierney is of course out. Bellerin remains a doubt. Callum Chambers is out long term, and just to make things worse, Torreira has some issue with his hip. Probably to do with his fall from Zaha’s push in the last game. Ceballos should be fit enough to play.

On Kurzawa, the relevant part is that he has recently switched agents. He is now part of Kia Joorabchian’s stable. The same man who is Edu’s agent. I get the short term need for a LB. But I am unconvinced this is the best we can do, and I am worried it will be a drag in the long run. But that’s always going to be the case while we keep Raul Sanllehi in situ. Anyway, that is for a later date.

Draw most likely

For now, shorthanded or not, we have to hope we can put out a team strong enough, prepared enough, and disciplined enough to get a win against Sheffield Utd. I hope we can do that, but I must confess, I think a draw seems more likely.

Starting XI: Leno, AMN, Sokratis, Luiz, Saka, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Pepe, Ceballos, Ozil, Lacazette

Subs: Martinez, Holding, Mustafi, Willock, Nelson, Martinelli, Nketiah

I’ve gone for Ceballos and Ozil together to provide some more ball control and creativity higher up the pitch. But the key will be Gendouzi, if Torreira is indeed unable to play. Xhaka has been drifting left to protect the LBs forward runs. If Guen can keep sound positional play, we should have enough midfield control to force some chances in this home game.

Once again though, we will need some luck in this game to get the win. Not just because of the injuries and suspensions, but because Mike Dean will be the referee in charge of the game.

Enjoy the game, you Gooners.

19 Comments

  1. Arsenal will win today in my opinion .

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  2. Also Martinelli will play and not Ceballos .

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  3. Why my comments ,are not displayed .Can you check shotta.

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  4. Tks shotts .I hope it will help .

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    • Yes shotts we couldn’t create enough to win it . Dean and Atkinson were there to deny us a legitimate penalty and rob us of 2 plucky points .
      As I said earlier we need another playmaker in addition to Ozil instead of Pepe .Remember Wenger always played with 2 playmakers

      Cesc/Helb
      Cesc/Rosicky
      Cazorla/Rosicky
      Cazorla/Ozil

      We need Mikkhi back .Or go for Marco Rues from Dortmund.

      Reply
  5. So Torreira is fit enough to start. That’s a big boost. That also makes me feel better about starting Martinelli as well.

    I feel more confident about this game. Did I miss something about Sokratis? Is he still concussed?

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  6. 1-0 at halftime. As expected, scrappy game so far with both teams fighting for every ball but imo (maybe rose colored glasses) we have shown more quality and deserve to have nose in front. Long way to. Far from over.

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  7. Saka at LB doing well against decent opponents so far.

    someone else has been taking of the kurabunga-bunga rumours and our mate who came from bunga bunga Barcelona with a rep for the old bungs.

    But if more interest is Edu’s role at the club. Martinelli. Helping to bring in Arteta.

    Shotts you’ll recall when we raised our concerns about Raul to some of our friends such as Untold their answer was that they had some hope in Edu. I was happy to hear their hope, though it took a while for us to see evidence of that faith, but I am glad for it. Fingers crossed.

    COYG.

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    • I still have hope in Edu, but I am not ready to give him credit yet. It seems to me Arteta was just the club going back to what they knew. The guy who was set to be appointed. Though I believe his vision of football would match Edu’s.

      And there have been conflicting reports around Martinelli as to who spotted him. Some say Edu, others Cagigao. It doesn’t much matter either way. It’s one thing to recognise and sign a highly talented player because you get the chance. Quite another to build the side in accordance with a vision. Talk of Kurzawa (and his link with Edu’s agent) does not give me encouragement. I hope it is just talk (unless it is a loan deal)

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  8. We didn’t win today because of the penalty not given (that shouldn’t surprise us gooners as we hardly get them) but we simply didn’t create enough chances in the 2nd half to kill off the game. Despite flashes by Pepe, including that rare run in the box for the penalty shout, when it comes to creating or finishing chances, between him and Martinelli, who is the £72 million player?

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    • You used to rib me (good naturedly) when my predictions were all over the place. Not a word now huh?

      Anyway, you are right that it’s our own failings. But we knew about these anyway. Especially without the in-form Auba. Who also was sent off as an example of selective refereeing which is the trademark of the pgmol.

      And we also knew Mike Dean and VAR would screw us.

      Sheffield are also a good team. And their goal was once again, somewhat of a fluke. I’m not worried.

      I think Mustafi had a good game. Some very good interceptions from him. Saka was great at LB. But I think we tired at the end. This is another of Emery’s effects. Being passive and demoralising players for so long has meant our fitness levels have also suffered. Running stats under him don’t mean anything productive. Guendouzi would run around aimlessly and that’s probably why he’d play every game. Just fackin’ run around a bit was Unai Redknapp’s whole game. He’s a rehash of the early 90s British manager.

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      • You know I love your work and wouldn’t ignore you but post-game I got too involved with Twitter while having a lot of other things going on domestically. But you called it perfectly and I agreed 100% with your prediction.

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  9. You are right Shotta. We didn’t win because wewe didn’t create enough.
    Dean and Atkinsom did there job well denying us a legitimate penalty .

    As I have said time and again we need aanother playmaker to supplement Ozil as teams find it easy to block Ozil.

    Remember Wenger mostly used two pkaymakers

    Cesc/Helb
    Cesc/Rosicky
    Cazorla /Rosicky
    Cazorla/Ozil
    Ozil/Iwobi

    Now we need someone in addition to Ozil .
    We must bring back Mikkhi or go for Rues from Dortmund .

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  10. New post by Omi explaining why we are dominating but not creating.

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