The afterglow of a North London Derby day win
is unmatched in football.
That was the Arteta Cup Final.
If he’d won 3 of the 4 games after the break and lost to Spurs, we’d still be in crisis. The fact he’s beaten our biggest rivals means he’ll get away with a draw at Brighton.
It’s quite simple to grasp what the fans wanted to know:
- Can this new team play good football?
- Can this new team hack the pressure of a big game?
- Can this new team comprehend what the NLD means to the fans?
Seems like the answer to all three questions is unequivocally YES YES YES.
The first 45 minutes against Spurs was the best of the Arteta reign. We’ve had big wins, we’ve won cup finals, we’ve played well. But not to that degree.
We absolutely spanked Spurs. Johnny said to me pre-podcast that the goal we conceded was disappointing because it flatters Spurs.
Back to the positives. The football was sublime. I can’t remember every moment, but some things I loved.
Ben White slide tackling Harry Kane to perfection in the opening 10 minutes.
Ben White beating Kane in the air to start the move for the first goal. Good going for a midget that was going to get bullied by big strikers this season.
The off the ball movement on the counter for the first goal.
Saka and ESR creating an Hale-End production for the first goal to prove out their credentials as NOW players
Auba showing up. Working like a machine. Making the runs. Scoring a goal from a really, really tough angle
HARRY KANE DROPPING THE ASSIST FOR SAKA
That first half was extremely effective. Nuno and his boys had no answer.
The second half was different. I think we all wanted a jugular attack, but it wasn’t forthcoming and really… the pragmatic management of the second half was correct. Arteta says that you can only feel safe with a 3 goal lead, so why fuck it against a team you cannot lose to?
We did concede a goal which was a shame, but that’s Spurs, total shite, but loaded with elite attacking talent that can kill you. There were still moments of magic and lovely bits that showed we’re moving forward.
Granit Xhaka, a player we worried about, proved out the point that he is always elite after a dumb sending off. He’s included in starting 11s because everyone at the club knows he can be relied upon. There’s trust there. Most of the time, he’ll pass well, be in the right spots, and he’ll lead like a warrior. His performance was superb all game, he started the moves for both goals, dealing with Ramsdales hospital pass in one move. Let’s hope he’s not injured.
The most ‘WHAT IS THIS’ signing of the summer was Aaron Ramsdale. Sure, he can do it on a cold afternoon in Burnley, but could he do it against Spurs in a low margins game? Yes. Yes he could. He was great with balls into the box, his passing decisions were mostly great, and he showed up with the BIG saves. Harry Kane let rip from distance and he palmed the low shot away. Then he found time to give us save of the season, tipping over a Moura deflected shot he had ZERO right to get to. Face it folks, Ramsdale is a fucking great signing and we all have to back the fuck away.
Tactical fouls is now an Arsenal thing. Auba, pleasant as apple pie, did it all game. Xhaka dropped a load and didn’t get a yellow. Sambi came on and took a yellow for the greater good. Small things that show we’re building up a bit of an edge.
CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE THIERRY DRIP IN THE STANDS?
I will say this quietly. I really hope Daniel Ek and Thierry weren’t there to make a hopeful statement about our manager and ownership because they thought we’d lose. That is very negative, but damn, Daniel Ek best be in Thierry’s box for the Palace game.
Anyway… on the Thierry subject. Did all three Arsenal players copy the famous Thierry knee slide?
Yes they did. How. Fucking. Awesome. The nod the past is unreal. That’s how you get the fans on side. I love it. So sharp.
We won the game 3-1 in the end.
That result felt special (Big Tone showing the way). A pivotal moment in the project. A proof point that the process is moving to the next stage.
Now we can look back on the first 3 games and give them honest context. Not having 9 players for the Brentford game was a huge issue. Most don’t realise the difference between injuries and covid. When the Arsenal squad got covid on the Friday, the plan for the week blew up. They didn’t know who would be available on the Saturday. I’m pretty sure the players weren’t even allowed to get on the coach together… so the starting 11 ran right up to the wire.
Chelsea without key players is always going to be tough. City 2 defeats on the bounce with last seasons squad and 10 men was never going to happen.
Now we can see the future and we can answer some of the borinng ‘negs’ that have hung in the air.
‘PLAY WAS CLUNKY AGAINST NORWICH BECAUSE ARTETA IS A BAD COACH’
Well, turns out the occams razor here was that a new squad of players that doesn’t know each other might struggle to string peak Barca football with one weeks notice. Training a cognitive style of football takes time. Players don’t have an intuition for each other. It’s a learning process. Of course Norwich was going to be rough.
‘FANS SAYING THE PASSING WAS 5% OFF DON’T GET THAT THIS IS WHAT ARTETABALL IS’
Post-Burnely, I took pelters for saying the passing was off, but when it clicked, it’d be better. Well, Arsenal played a better team, on cut grass, and a watered pitch and guess what… the football was MUCH better.
‘THE SUMMER SIGNINGS DIDN’T MOVE THE NEEDLE’
Well, what a moment. If you said that, I hope you’ll be sharing out the sweet-tasting humble pie today. Every summer signing moved the needle.
Ben White is a huge improvement on David Luiz. He’s fast, aggressive, very good in the air, and his passing is getting better and better. Christian Romero, cost the same, had far more Twitter love… benched.
Martin Odegaard is not average or boring. He’s a leader, his passing is superb, he presses harder than anyone, and he connects with the fans. What a dream player. I love him.
AARON RAMSDALE is a star. So many people said that we didn’t need to invest in a keeper. Who agrees with that now? No one. Aaron is the shock package of the window. He’s already a difference maker. Let’s hope he keeps progressing. No one is saying he’s a poor man’s Emi today.
Tomiyasu. Remember Sky saying he was offered to all the clubs in the league? How is he feeling about that now? Emerson Royal, benched. Tomiyasu taking more touches than anyone, dominating in the air, not letting anyone go past him. He’s just good. That’s it. A top, top player.
… but let’s talk about the big difference-maker.
Arsenal botched the summer comms.
Now they’ve addressed it.
Arteta is pumping players and bringing fans into the process. Per told it straight, this is a transition project, but it will be good. The manager thinks these players will be powerful. The honesty with the fans has changed the dynamic in the stadium. Look at how everyone behaved after the game, the fans stayed, the players did laps, Arteta bowed down everyone, and Saka jumped the fence to give his shirt to a little girl holding a sign with his name on it. That’s how you get us on side. Think about this: Arsenal only had 3 players over the age of 24 in the starting 11, the rest were youngsters. These players are going to get much, much better. There’s not doubt. The home fans feel this, they know something special is in the air and that was before the Spurs game.
Young players need encouragement and so do older players. If we want them to get better, The Emirates needs to be electric. It has been every game this season. That is special.
Let’s also talk about the football. Mike McDonald had to tell the fans what ArtetaBall was all about, it’s the biggest story on this site. Theory alone is not enough, you need wins and good performances to keep people in belief mode. The football against Spurs was EXACTLY what we needed to see. We were dangerous in the low block. We created from structured counters. We had accurate long balls in abundance (Auba received one from Partey so good, he didn’t know what to do). Our players gave our attackers so much service they’d not had before. That was the first proper showing of where the football is going. So hold that in the mind as the season goes on.
Arteta has had a rough start to the year, but what I like is the pivot. He’s behaving better. He’s pumping the younger players. He’s commanding the press conferences with calmness. He’s bringing us along for the ride. That is what we need moving forward.
Also, because I am plugging our podcast. Matt made an elite point. Auba is the only player at Arsenal you want swagging it up. If he’s not showing off in his fancy cars, there’s an issue. He’s a showman. He needs to be showing. Check out this video.
Alguns torcedores do Arsenal conseguiram parar o carro do Aubameyang agora na saída do estádio. 🤦🏽♂️😬 pic.twitter.com/gdFJWHfLKj
— Joao Castelo-Branco (@j_castelobranco) September 26, 2021
LOVE THIS. Auba needs fans as much as the young players. This is what we’ve lacked over the last year. More please.
We have it all to do again next week, but beating Spurs is what we demand as fans. Arteta and the players understood the moment, the fans gave it their all, the result was glorious.
As for the project and the bumpy nature. That’s a learning on my part. Check out this graph Danish Gooner tweeted me.
Anyway. Enjoy the feeling today. Listen or watch our podcast. Let’s see what Paddy V has for Brighton.
Btw, the podcast is our best yet. Matt and Johnny were absolutely electric on it. If you haven’t given us a chance, download or watch it today.
P.S. Who thinks the Amazon Doco just got a bit more interesting?
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