Arsenal 2-2 Spurs: Guendouzi a rockstar, but backstage kills the band


 ‘Backstage kills the band’


The match was a snapshot of Arsenal over the last 10 years.

On the ball, good enough to win. Much like a band they had some rockstars who had the crowd on their feet. Lacazette, Aubameyang and Pepe played some quality back up to the lead singer, Matteo Guendouzi.

Unfortunately, once again the backstage crew (Arsenal defensively and without the ball) chucked it for the band.

The bright side….. the band’s management has equipped them well and there are options, better options to come in.

If I was part of the backstage crew I’d consider this carefully as if this concert would have been a flop then the fans would’ve had 2 weeks to finger-point as other bands rise and rest in the fact that they have a far superior backstage crew.



* If you want to be accepted or even become a rockstar at a football club, you play the game of your life in the derby.
Matteo Guendouzi not only bossed the game but showed the emotional balance that his Swiss partner left in the trailer.
He may have played alongside Xhaka today but with Ceballos and Willock clicking their heels we may see him replace him shortly.

* 4-3-3

Been hoping for this formation for 4 years!
It’s modern, it suits our players and now it’s down to Emery to pick the correct midfield (see Needs).

* Leno looked far more comfortable on crosses. His shot stopping was very good but it’s his strength so it was unsurprising.

* Lacazette’s goal embodied the attitude of ‘the band’ vs the ‘backstage.’
He took his frustration out in the correct way with a focused determination that he played with the whole game.

* Ceballos clearly loves football.
That may sound silly to say but too many players play for other reasons than ‘the love.’
You could sense that he desperately wanted to make the difference and he almost did.
It’s an eye-opener that he was the preferred game changer over Ozil.

* The comeback has given Emery some breathing room. A loss would have made the Arsenal twittersphere a miserable place.
I’m glad for Emery as he at least deserves the opportunity for a successful season.




* Pepe was highly active, played well but I felt he could have been more influential.
He spent a good part of the game getting out of a crowd or hanging too close to one.
When we were in the final third he came inside and it became so congested. If he would have held the right channel in the box we could have slid him in on many occasions.

* During the first half I thought that the big difference in the two teams was that Tottenham were familiar with their formation and set up and yet again we were unfamiliar.
Our midfield seemed to be unsure of their defensive responsibilities due to yet another formation change.

Many fans debate that we do not have a style under Unai Emery. I think we have a clear style… I think our style is ‘game dependent.’ 
I’m proud that we have a coach who thinks beyond ourselves but I strongly feel that whether he can balance his tactical brain with giving our players some ‘automatic’ will ultimately decide his future.
There is a clear value in being unpredictable to your opponent but if you are unfamiliar to your own teammates too, then you have negated yourself.
As an example, Spurs knew where Son was and found him in quickly in transition.
We had to eyeball our players as they appear in varying locations from game to game.

* On the ‘Son issue.’
He was available for 96 minutes. This was very worrying to me. Often Spurs use a combination of different players to check between the lines. They just used Son who tracked the play to dead space.
My concern lies in the fact that without this simple out, Spurs struggled. Emery should have switched Torreira to DM and sat him close to Son.
Torreira was instead played high to stop Spurs playing out of the back, but they played over our press to Son.

* I’m hoping that Luiz isn’t being complacent. He has had a good career and won much. To his credit, he adds much composure to our attack but he’s repeatedly gambling defensively. Thankfully, we have options this year and Holding may return against Watford.
Luiz needs to be serious and then his decision making should improve when attacking the ball.

* Sokratis was part of the backstage crew. Played with immaturity and was too hyped and rash in being over aggressive.




* Xhaka’s huge error has been talked to death and was sadly, unsurprising.
He also struggled in understanding when to press. You never press when a player has turned and settled. You become a cone. He did this often and left Son alone in oceans of space.

If you are wondering why he keeps getting picked try this…..

Either Emery has privately told him that he is the main captain and he is trying to make his decision work.
Emery’s nervousness won’t allow a 23 yr old to be the most senior member of his midfield. Combine this with Xhaka’s aerial ability defending set plays.

* Would love to see Torreira at DM with Ceballos free to press high.

* One of my big hopes off the back of last season was that Emery would fill his bench and make substitutions based on who was the right choice and not seniority.
Mkhi over Nelson made me nervous.


* The international break will no doubt bring about the 5 captains.
I wonder how the players feel about Xhaka being the main one or one at all?
His position on the field should be in great doubt and his ‘exit strategy’ defensive style can’t give him much respect.

* Will Holding be brought straight in as neither Sokratis or Luiz are performing well?


* Another reason to play Xhaka-less is to get more goals from midfield. Either Ceballos or Willock has potentially 10 goals in them and the team needs more than Auba and Laca’s goals.

* The FA has clearly told the officials to relax on VAR checks. Not sure that should lead to the obvious wrestling in and around the box from both teams today. Oh…. and Kane should be banned for cheating.


There is a lack of trust at Arsenal.

Emery is yet to trust Torreira to play his natural position and the centre backs don’t trust Xhaka and therefore play on the front foot too much,

During this break I hope that Emery can consider the value of trust in your midfield when he’s considering why his experienced defenders keep making huge errors.

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3 Responses to Arsenal 2-2 Spurs: Guendouzi a rockstar, but backstage kills the band

  1. DEW September 2, 2019 at 10:07 am #

    Xhaka is still the main man. Torreira DM midfielder and Ceballos connector – please don’t make me laugh. If you want to replace Xhaka bring in better player from another club, if you found one for $100 million. I like your 4:3:3 formation and your comments on style of play though.

  2. Andy September 2, 2019 at 10:38 am #

    I can see what xhaka adds to the midfield. He spreads the play from one side to the other nicely to open up the opposition and he has the physical height and strength which the younger members lack. However, His bad points outweigh His good. His constant fouling brings pressure on the team and he slows down the play rarely looking for the forwards runs. Guendouzi on his showing today is going to be the best midfielder in the world in a couple of seasons. He can go box to box and His engine is already incredible. His range of passing is excellent, His defensive awareness is getting better and his tackling and interceptions have improved. Xhaka could learn from him! He just needs to improve his goal scoring and he will be a world class midfielder. Our worry will be about him leaving.

  3. Lari03 September 3, 2019 at 1:57 pm #

    I think Son came off at some point in the second half of the game.

    The first goal for Spurs was a clear case of circumstances caused by a lack of trust. Xhaka was contesting the ball with Kane aerially, Sokratis tried to get there but he was too late, and that set up the space for Eriksen to hit the rebound.

    Xhaka is not meant to be a mainstay in this team. As soon as the 1st choice fullbacks are available then we can use him less often. His penalty gift to the Spurs was totally uncalled for.

    Now that Mhkitaryan is off to Roma, I have positive feelings that there are watchful eyes behind the scenes. Xhaka will be the next to drop out of the team, if he continues poorly.

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