He Wasn’t There: Arsenal’s impact sub not yet at the Club [ARS 0-0 NEW](Positives Needs & Hopes)

‘He wasn’t there’

An Arsenal blog from a coach’s perspective

I’m writing and scrolling through social media at the same time here.

Everybody seems to have the same opinion. That we needed somebody from the bench to change the game. Funnily enough I think that this would’ve been only half the solution. Maybe it would’ve helped if Smith Rowe was fit or even Reiss Nelson? Both are capable and both are good in front of goal.

I actually think that when you play a team that aren’t giving you an inch, you need somebody whose individual skills make the abilities of the opponent redundant. 

Every game could do with an individual to change it all by themselves. Never a bad idea. Some games more than others.

Yesterday’s game was this game.

This individual might just play in our next league game.
Is it irony that Mykhailo Mudryk might arrive one week too late? Not only does he look like a fantastic rotational option on our wing, when you watch him play he plays football like he was born to be the X factor. If you think about what footballing qualities separate the outlier from the masses, it is an extremely short list. When I watch the French women’s national team, I see a Centre Back called Wendie Renard, who is 5 inches taller than the next tallest player. When the French get desperate, they put her upfront or rely on set plays. If the delivery is accurate, there is very little the opponent can do.

When I watch PSG‘s trio, it is often hard to blame the defenders as Messi, Neymar and Mbappé are all capable of doing a few things that nobody else can.
I often feel this way when I watch James Ward Prowse take free kicks. It was the same with David Beckham. Literally nothing that a defense or a keeper can do because their accuracy and level of power is perfect.

If Mudryk does sign for Arsenal, then we will get to understand how Aston Villa and Manchester City fans feel. Jack Grealish has been the most fouled player in England and I think that this will be the only way to stop Mudryk when he hits top form. Unless you foul him there will be certain instances where he literally cannot be stopped. He is the fastest player in Europe and opponents can’t simply show up at training and train to be as fast.

The joy with Mudryk isn’t just his speed off the ball, but he is also the fastest player in Europe running with the ball also.

Yesterday’s game needed an individual. Somebody that had something that the impressive Newcastle defense couldn’t stop no matter how good they are.

On some level that seems frustrating. I fully understand what Edu is trying to do particularly in trying not to saddle this young man with being the most expensive signing in the history of Arsenal Football Club. It’s just unfortunate.

I just look forward to the possibility of having a player who has something extra as almost every team in world football does not have this player.

Last night, he wasn’t there. A frustrating night and a little frustrating thinking he might show us in a few weeks what he could’ve done vs Newcastle.


* What is the definition of someone who steps up when he sees others struggling? Whatever fancy adjective I’m missing I suppose it’s leadership, ultimately. Gabriel dominated Callum Wilson. Dominated aerially on set plays and created multiple potential pre-assists with passes between the lines for Xhaka. I think he also senses when Saliba is struggling and rather than hound him, he steps up another rung to hide his insecurities.

* I wonder if there is a stat for back tackling? The number of times we lose possession and then win it back from behind. Ødegaard is the master at this. Partey too.

Partey picks pockets

* So, Arsenal are a different team now. That is very clear. This game would have quite easily been a loss in previous seasons. One of those games where you lose by two or three on the counter attack by somebody or two making ridiculously stupid individual errors. When Saliba made this mistake against Brighton on Saturday, it really stood out. I suppose it did because that type of mistake seems to have left the building this season. The result is ultimately ok because the team were clearly trying to win, but it wasn’t their day. No individual mistakes leading to golden opportunities to throw the game away and so I think you just have to take it. Or blame the FA, PGMOL or Newcastle’s highly annoying assistant coach.

* Even when Thomas Partey has a fairly routine game he is still imperious.

* Almiron was almost completely nullified. That has to be a positive as he has been a menace to everybody else in the league.

* I admired a change from days gone by. At half time we were talking about how somebody was surely going to get sent off. After half time it was clear that the coaching staff had told the players to keep their heads. With three critical players on yellow cards, it could’ve swung the game. Very impressed with the maturity of a young team and even in the players that have a tendency to be hotheaded in controlling their aggression as well as completely controlling the entire second half.

* Certainly a positive that we did not lose any players to suspension for the North London Derby. Would be jolly lovely if we had a new signing or two to add to the excitement. Not only do quality signings add as far as depth is concerned, but they also see current players step up their game. The natural human male instinct of wanting to show the new guy how good you are.

* It’s always easy when you’re disappointed to think that everybody on the pitch disappointed you. There were a few that were rather good. Gabriel and Partey were two that I’ve talked about but Zinchenko did the part that he was asked to. He is so good at reading what the game needs.

* Talking of Zinchenko, what is so advantageous to Arsenal having Mikel Arteta is that he is so intentional about getting the best out of his players. Xhaka has been a huge success this season. Arteta has got the best out of him and also hidden his weaknesses. Zinchenko is a left back but spent most of the game dictating play in the center of the field. His strength. Ben White is a Centre Back playing Right Back who is actually playing Centre Back most of the time, if you pay attention. Odegaard clearly had the ability to add goals to his game. No other coach has done this in his career to date. Arteta has and he has also found the area of the field where he is best in. The list goes on…


* It’s hard to pick on Bukayo Saka. A player whose performances and career are going only in one direction. I just keep noticing his reaction time defensively. He is the only player in the squad that seems to ball watch when the ball goes past him. Just a concern for when we play bigger teams because he has to follow his runner more often.

* So, Ramsdale loves to be cocky with the opponents fans. Home and away. I’m fine with it. I think that they feed off it also. Just a thought… Is that cocky nature leading to him taking way too much time to pass out? Not faint. The other kind of pass.

* It dawned on me yesterday that I very rarely get to applaud a creative set play. I have lots of creative set plays. I dream about them. I get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and write them in my book. I want the job. I’m going to submit my application and I’m going to get the job. You are about to see the transformation of Arsenal Football Club in regards to set plays. A litany of extremely cheeky yet effective set plays. As Scrappy Doo used to say, “Lemme at ‘em!”

fighting spirit, dawg

* I understand why Arteta and Pep want their players to receive vertical balls with their back to goal but it hurt us yesterday. Gabriel found Xhaka in the half spaces repeatedly in the second half. Xhaka has become more supple and willing to turn but these passes suit Vieira or ESR better.

* How many of our crosses and in particular our short crosses, are cut out at the near post by the goalkeeper or the first defender. Oh for Olivier Giroud coming on loan for six months to teach Eddie.


* I will only sometimes talk about the ref. Don’t want to exhaust a topic that is currently 6/10 tweets on our timelines. What was obvious was that Newcastle had a strategy. The strategy was to break our rhythm. Probably clever. But a lot of it was outside of the rules of the game. In this instance, you need a strong referee who knows that they are being conned. I don’t think that this chap had any idea which was highly frustrating. I found out after the game that the ball was in play for 53 minutes, which is 12 minutes less than the average. The referee was being conned and then manipulated by Kieran Trippier. What was even more frustrating was that he had a big smile on his face, and I think he thought he was doing a great job. On a couple of occasions Pete at LeGrove has mentioned online about the new rule being trialed in the US MLS Next Pro league. If a player is down for longer than 15 seconds then he has to go off the field for 3 minutes. If he’s truly injured, then he will be down for longer than 15 seconds and all is good. If he is trying to con the referee, then his team has to play down for 3 minutes. Apparently, it is working a treat. What is infuriating though is that it is working in a league that is minor and the league that is the most major has mediocre refereeing, bizarrely inconsistent VAR calls (even though they take five times too long to decide) and are far from being the leaders in implementing new laws to combat the sins of the modern player and coach.

Here is one rule that the Premier League could trial that I believe would help. Whenever there is a foul, the referee runs towards the ball. I somewhat understand this if he is going to give a card to a player, but otherwise it is a hindrance. He should run away from the ball, blow his whistle and signal that the game can carry on quickly. If they did this, then we would be saving at least five minutes per game as opponents are aware that the longer they can keep the referee in conversation, the longer they are breaking the rhythm of their opponent and delaying the game. They could also give yellow and red cards, especially yellow ones from 20 yards away. There is no need to blow your whistle three times, attempting to get the naughty schoolboy to turn around and pay attention to you. He is wasting even more time and knows the card that he’s getting anyway. Show him the card quickly, restart the game and if the player wasn’t looking and didn’t see that he got a card that’s on him. At worst his teammates or coach could inform him that he has been cautioned. I’d rather see this and the game continue quickly than this constant manipulation and slowing down of the game.

* Whilst I am in complaining mode, I often find myself wondering and sometimes agreeing with those people that think that there is corruption in football. There are so many occasions where they take well over one minute to decide, and others where they decide in less than five seconds. The trouble is though that these are often on the same topic of shirt pulling. For me, it is quite easy. If it was a foul outside the box, then it’s a foul inside the box. If Dan Burn had shown his desire to join Arsenal by trying to steal the shirt of Eddie and Gabriel outside the box he would’ve conceded 2 fouls and would’ve gotten at least 1 yellow. Should the foul be more egregious inside the box to get a penalty kick? Maybe. The thing was though on Gabriel’s incident he had pulled the jersey so far it looked like the Fly Emirates logo was trying take flight. I have been a referee and it is not easy. What happened a few summers ago made it significantly easier for the referee though. A fellow referee not in the midst of the emotion of the game given as long as he wants to decide and still gets easy decisions wrong. Not just wrong, but it was as if he didn’t want to draw attention to it and he wanted to move on quickly so we didn’t notice. VAR is illuminating the incompetence of British referees or the bias/corruption. One of these statements is true. I hope it’s the first one.

Please sir may I have your shirt?

* I hope that after the game Arteta spoke to Fabio Viera. It seemed like the kind of game that he would’ve thrived in instead of Xhaka. All of those passes from Gabriel would have seen Vieira turn and attack rather than pass backwards. Xhaka wasn’t playing poorly and was very important in quashing Newcastle‘s only threat in set plays so I understood. Not sure that Fábio Vieira would have unless it was explained to him.


Another test. Was always going to happen. It’s good to test a young team who are being successful. We get to see their character now. They’ll need character.

I’m hoping that at least 9 of our starters get a rest on Saturday. Saliba might need rhythm to overcome his slight yips.
A signing, particularly a blonde Ukrainian signing, by Friday at 12pm would sure help us rest Saka and Martinelli. Does Eddie need rhythm or rest? Arteta may not have a choice.

No podcast today. I’m watching Poirot with my family. Haven’t seen them today. Priorities.

Previous pods available below.


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to He Wasn’t There: Arsenal’s impact sub not yet at the Club [ARS 0-0 NEW](Positives Needs & Hopes)

  1. Andy January 4, 2023 at 2:04 pm #

    Interesting about the amount of time the ball was out of play. The red appeared naive and I would rather VAR had never been introduced.

    My thoughts: Gabriel is the best centre back in the league.
    Do we play a 3-2-5 system?
    Do teams not bother pressing us anymore because Zinchenko and Partey are so press resistant? Players either can’t or won’t go near them.

    Last thought – not once did I think we could lose. That feeling of we are going to concede any moment just hasn’t been there this season.

    Anyway, just watched a Mudryk utube and he is so quick it looks like they have speeded up the video. Worth the money if he can reproduce that!

    Enjoy your family!

Your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Designed by Batmandela

%d bloggers like this: