Positives, Needs and Hopes
He didn’t score.
He wasn’t really the star of the show.
He was however, the instigator.
It’s not the first time that Gabriel Martinelli’s infectious attitude and energy have shown to be contagious.
Prior to the 69th minute, Arsenal were in with a fantastic chance of coming second in the group. This would have meant a potential tie against sides like Inter Milan, Ajax or the new kids on the block, Red Bull Salzburg.
The fact that we will now play APOEL Nicosia, Cluj or Ludogorets or similar, is in large part down to Gabriel Martinelli.
Bukayo Saka will take much of the credit with a beautiful goal and assist and deservedly so, but when the game is falling away and then swings back the other way I look for who the initiator was.
Martinelli sparks others. They see his enthusiasm and replicate it. Watch that last 20 mins back and you see how his desire prompts others who had looked like it was over.
It’s like his presence is an adrenaline boost to all on his team.
Fans feel the adrenaline too. They feel it in another way. It gives them hope.
He may well end up being the best piece of recruitment in the last decade.
* If Mikel Arteta becomes our new coach, watch Bukayo Saka fly.
I’ve been so impressed with how he has been personally responsible for Sane, Bernardo and Sterlings improvement as wingers.
* Smith Rowe is a player. A talented all round footballer. Reminds me of Kevin DeBruyne.
If he can stay fit I wonder if we will use him more and where?
A natural footballer like ESR can likely play anywhere across the attacking line or quite possibly in midfield too.
* In the fog of all the awfulness this season has produced, I’m grateful to the club for allowing the younger players to flourish.
For as much concern as we all have about much that is imperfect, the fact that Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Simth-Rowe play for Arsenal’s first team and have been given many chances, gives me great hope.
Florian Balogun and Tyreece John-Jules lead the next wave.
* I’m not a fan of the back three as I think it gives the centre backs a reason to not be as responsible and can lead to being overplayed in midfield.
I will recognize however, that in the short term it may be our best solution with Tierney out.
Kolasinac is a far better wing back and Saka has played LWB.
If it means that Saka gets more minutes I’m excited as he is a game changer.
January will see at least one new full back (probably on loan) but it was very interesting to see Saka used yesterday rather than AMN, Mavropanos or Medley at left back.
* Have you ever heard of Almoatasembellah Ali Mohamed?
Remember Marcus Edwards from Spurs?
Alongside Saka, these two Vitoria goalscorers are the bigger reason why we will not have to play Ajax or Inter Milan in the Europa Round of 32. They’ve certainly done Arsenal a favour – whether we can make it as far as last season, and sneak back into the Champions League remains to be seen. I wouldn’t bet on it. If you think they can – why don’t you place a bet with Paddy Power?
* I have never been 100% convinced by Lacazette at Arsenal.
75%, but not fully.
Last night was yet another example of how frustrating he is to watch as he almost never finds space.
I will speculate that this might be the underlying reason why Deschamp doesn’t use him.
He lives under pressure.
Whether it’s with his back to goal, dribbling or waiting for crosses, Lacazette is easy to mark.
I wonder if he’s never been coached in this huge weakness or if he doesn’t find it necessary?
If he would simply make two runs (one for defender, one to attack space) then he would get a yard or two of freedom.
It’s probably to his credit that he’s as good as he is considering he always has someone stapled to his back or side.
* Nelson is still waiting to have a moment.
I’d encourage him to not worry about giving away possession and try to be more individualistic.
He can do anything with the ball but you’d kinda never know it.
Credit to him for developing his quick pass and move game but if I had his feet I’d be committing defenders regularly.
Such a similar profile to his best friend, Jason Sancho, yet one is worth £100M+ and wanted by all the best teams in Europe and the other is somewhat of an afterthought.
He also needs to pay attention to how many more minutes Saka and GM get and wonder why.
* As Arsenal grow in confidence, I’m hoping to see penetrative balls played between the lines.
Nobody at the club hits one touch balls behind their midfield yet we always have players in the pockets. A waste.
* Another small yet big improvement will be seen when our passing becomes less conservative.
You see it mainly in the choice to pass the ball to a runners back foot. It kills momentum.
* Watching these EL games I’m reminded that picking your best players should always be secondary to picking motivated players.
* It dawned on me against West Ham that Arsenal have one of the fastest forward lines in Europe…. Martinelli, Aubameyang and Pepe.
If I was to lean into any particular strategy, this would be it.
You don’t have to be a counter attacking team necessarily but if we sped up all of our transitions then we would create more easy chances to score.
Arsenal have what other clubs are trying to get and yet we don’t use it.
If I was as good a coach as I am a Fantasy manager I’d be lethal!!
* I’m hoping that our club isn’t solely consumed in finding our new coach.
We need at least one full back in January and I don’t see us winning the EL and getting CL football, unless we find 1 good centre back. Chambers has been good but he’s not even first choice yet and we have nobody else on form.
I’d swap Xhaka for an agile, ball winning athlete too.
I don’t expect a win on Sunday as I don’t think our West Ham game will give us enough confidence to overcome City.
Not enough confidence, but at least no burden.