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Luck and Nuts: a wild ride at Elland Road as Arsenal grind out win [LEE 0-1 ARS](Positive Needs & Hopes)

Luck and Nuts

POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES 

There have been a few points this season I’ve had to check the top left corner of my television. You know the corner where the score resides. I feel like I can’t quite believe this is Arsenal that I’m watching and that the score is what it says that it is. It’s almost surreal as nobody predicted this level of start. I think that I was the nut job who went most bold with my prediction of Arsenal finishing second but most thought 4th/5th.

Watching the game yesterday they were quite a few occasions that didn’t seem like they fit in an Arsenal game. Somebody missing a penalty against us. A last minute implosion that vanished in a puff of smoke. An idiotic red card that wasn’t actually idiotic. A ref that went against the home crowd pressure and reversed his decision and a handful of Leeds chances that ended with no punishment.

As if all this good fortune wasn’t enough, somehow after a fairly undeserved victory we end up four points clear at the top. My memory of being an Arsenal fan is more about blowing grand opportunities and then our opponents taken advantage of our failings as we tumble down the league and they tumble up it.

Coaches won’t admit this to players, but retrospectively they like these kinds of lucky victories. They need their team to experience every type of adversity and prove to themselves that they can still overcome it. They need their team to go to a colder climate, play on an artificial surface and then travel by train up north and still win against the odds.

And then there were nuts.

I counted two goal bound efforts saved by the goolies of Ramsdale and Gabriel. Nuts to the rescue not because of luck but because they had the nuts to sacrifice their nuts for the cause. 

These same nuts are refined into courage and Arteta spotted this. 

He even showed courage himself that wasn’t spotted by many. As Leeds were consistently hurting us in wide areas, he changed to a back three and pushed our wing backs forward in order to occupy their wings. This stemmed the flow and turned it to a trickle. 

Courage. Another important adjective to add to the list this season.

Together

POSITIVES:

  • I have been slow to give Mikel Arteta the credit he deserves this season. Yesterday, he showed how he is improving in regards to making quicker substitutions and tactical changes. Some of this is natural as he gains experience on the sidelines. The more games he coaches the wiser he gets but that entirely depends on what he believes in and how educated he is. It certainly looks like he is going to the very top of the coaching game. I love his boldness and noticed it again yesterday. The timing of Ben White substitution was perfect. You should always give players the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to rectify the situation otherwise they will play in fear of every mistake being punished by their coach. Ben White was given time but it wasn’t his day. My favourite of Arteta’s strategies is his desire to go for the win rather than be satisfied with a ‘decent’ point. Every decent point needs three games to equal one win and so I bet if you asked him if he would’ve taken a point at Old Trafford he would say no and rightly so because we could’ve and probably should’ve won.

Arteta fired up

  • Many youngsters in Saka’s position in life would be satisfied with the fame and money and improvement wouldn’t be on their radar. He has improved his physique noticeably. His end product has become consistent and he is on target for a dozen goals and assists this season. I noticed yesterday that he went to his right more than he went to his left which is a new thing. We won the game because he has worked on his right foot and is feeling more comfortable.
  • Yet another chapter in our development was seen yesterday. As we are now familiar with our passing patterns and vertical attacking lanes, Arteta has introduced flexibility within that. There is fluid rotation upfront regularly and yesterday Leeds had a struggle with both Jesus and Xhaka coming deep to overload the midfield and drag them out of shape. Jesse Marsch is very annoying as a person but has always been a tactically astute coach so we needed to offer some surprises.
  • We have also added to our switch of field passing pattern and I think we will see the fruits of that upcoming. If you watch the replay you will see that the end goal is Martinelli at the back post. From the left to the right and back to the left.
  • My favourite of the new additions is the dummy in the box. Our second goal against Liverpool was the result of a dummy by Gabriel and Xhaka gave Odegaard the same opportunity yesterday. I’m betting that they practice this.
  • Some games need a hero and that hero will often be your keeper. We hope that he doesn’t have to put his cape on too often but he seems to thrive in it. His reactions have always been good but since Matt Turner arrived I’ve seen another level of improvement. I was aware before Matt Turner came to Arsenal that he was known in the US as the goalkeeper with the fastest reactions of all of the good keepers that this country has produced. I’m sure that this has caused a competitiveness in this area between the keepers. Ramsdale won’t want Matt Turner to be superior in any area of the game.

Ramsdale v Bamford

  • This may seem like an applause for brushing your teeth but in the 43rd minute Leeds had a great opportunity to score. The left winger was wide open at the back post and Ben White sprinted back to cover him. Past Arsenal teams would’ve either had players point fingers at others to do their job or simply jogged back to give a token effort. Regardless of how much we improve and what level of players we purchase and train to a high-level, the game is still largely about effort.

NEEDS:

  • To not go back to last season where most games were won by a single goal and Arsenal fans had heart issues. I suppose we won’t come up against such determination each week and such a game long press.
  • Does Jesus need a break? It will be really interesting to see who starts on Thursday as we may need our first team. Not sure that Nketiah shouldn’t start anyway. Jesus put so much effort into each moment of every game that he will need a physical break.
  • The second half was certainly a mess. Much of it stemmed from over complication. Too many players not doing the simple thing. Martin Odegaard was the biggest culprit. I counted three times that he tried to nutmeg the Leeds players when he didn’t have to. This is probably why he was the first player pulled.

HOPES:

  • I may rewatch this game and pay more attention to Marc Roca. He always impresses me. I think he will be one of many players brought into smaller Premier league clubs that will go on to bigger clubs. Roca will have to get the timing right as he got it wrong the first time when going to Bayern Munich when he was clearly not going to play much. A very similar player to Xhaka and one to keep an eye on.
  • There are a number of players that you might notice on Thursday. Xavi Simons is one but I believe that PSG have a buyback clause there. Cody Gakpo may well be a January option. Arsenal have been interested for a while and there is much competition so teams won’t wait much longer. The advantage in getting a player like him is that he would give you a taller center forward option if needed. He is turning into the player that Marcus Rashford should already be. He currently has more goal involvements than Haaland.

HAALAND compared to Gakpo

FINAL THOUGHT:

The glorious and maybe somewhat fortunate weekend actually started for my family on Saturday. 

I thought you would be interested to know about the contrast in college sports in the United States to the rest of the world. As the country is so large, there are many people who prefer college sports to the professional game. Mainly because there are only professional teams in a few locations compared to the size of the country. Where I live in East Tennessee there are no professional sporting options beyond the NASCAR race at Bristol. The closest city with professional sports is Nashville and that is 3 1/2 hours away and I don’t own cowboy boots and can’t line dance. 

People are mad for sports and so they latch on to their local college team. The University of Tennessee is in Knoxville which is 45 minutes from us. It is also where I work. The stadium is in the top 10 largest stadiums in world sports. You read that right. The capacity is over 103,000 and they can easily fill it. 

They won the National Championship in the year that I came to the USA and met my wife. Since then they have been largely rubbish. This season though they are replicating the Arsenal happiness and have won every game. Yesterday they played the best team in the country and should’ve stood no chance but won the game with two seconds left. It was the best college football game I’ve ever seen. UT 52 Alabama 49. An incredible spectacle that was ended with a 103,000 fans on the field and the goalposts being ripped down and taken and thrown into the Tennessee river. 

US College football

This autumn has been a happy place to be in my household as drawing and losing have been put at the back of the bench and only got on the pitch briefly.

Long may this continue. 

For more happiness, check out my podcast below.

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5 Responses to Luck and Nuts: a wild ride at Elland Road as Arsenal grind out win [LEE 0-1 ARS](Positive Needs & Hopes)

  1. Francis Redheart October 17, 2022 at 10:29 am #

    Hello Mikey,

    Nice win again. I like this kind of gritty matches and the team would learn from it and continue to improve..

    Arteta has had the best start ever to a PL campaign. Positive news for all those who believed in him. Yes there would be trying times ahead but let’s celebrate a 4 point lead over City after 10 matches.

  2. Positive pete October 17, 2022 at 10:47 am #

    Great write up Mike.103,000 would be a perfect season for you.Arsenal & TU as Champions.what a double that would be.

  3. Andy October 17, 2022 at 1:03 pm #

    Didn’t see the match yesterday but it played out how I expected. Leeds are built in Marsch’s image annoying but fully committed. It wouldn’t have been easy without the midweek game. I think all the team could do with a rest but fortunately winning makes it easier.

    The TU match looked a lot of fun. Do you have the cook ours in the car park before hand?

  4. Brandon Burnett October 21, 2022 at 6:11 pm #

    Great stuff Mike! Is your wife American and a UT fan? That game was most definitely incredible.

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