Author Archives: keenosafc

Arsenal will “return a different team” after the international break

8 games gone and Arsenal are Xrd in the league.

It feels like there has been a lot of negativity surrounding the club at the beginning of this season.

Yes, the Watford draw was a disappointment, and we did not seem to go out 100% for the win against Manchester United, but things have certainly not been as bad as some fans make out.

The international break has come at a good time for us, and we will return a different team after it.

The 2 weeks off will give Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney extra recovery time from their long term injuries.

The fact that we are top 4 without Bellerin, Tierney and Holding means we have plenty to be optimistic about when they return fully. All 3 have shown in the mid-week team that they will improve our 1st team upon their return.

Tierney and Bellerin will improve us defensively and provide quality from the flanks.

The Scotsman has already shown that he is probably the best crosser of the ball at the club and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang must be licking his lips.

Aubameyang must know that everytime Tierney has the ball on the left he must attack the 6-yard box and a pin point cross will be swung in. Tierney can do for Arsenal what Andrew Robertson has done for Liverpool.

On the other flank we have missed Bellerin; especially in defensive situation.

Bellerin is underrated defensively, rarely does a winger get the better of him. He will make our back 4 look a lot stronger.

Both Tierney and Bellerin will also change the way we defend corners. Both are blessed with electric pace and with Bellerin on the half way line and Tierney in the space in front; we will be a lot harder to break against.

Holding is solid and reliable at the back – and is also a good passer of the ball. It has to be him +1 between now and the end of the season.

When we line up against Sheffield United on our 1st game back, it will be like having 3 new signings at the back. The defence (which has looked shaky this season) will improve 10-fold

The extra 2 weeks will also be key for the development of Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe.

Both new signings have looked good in part this season, but have not set the world alight.

Pepe especially looks like a player feeling the pressure of his price tag.

Everytime Pepe gets on the ball he is trying hard to make something happen. Trying to provide game winning moments. The problem is he has yet to do anything game-changing.

Worryingly he is also not doing the basics right; miss-placing easy passes.

He has been dispossessed 12 times in possession this season; more often than any other Arsenal player.

Whilst it expected that your winger is the most dispossessed player in the team, it is a concern due to how little game time he has had. Dani Ceballos is the 2nd most dispossessed player in the team.

Hopefully the international break will do them well and give both a chance to build confidence going into the English winter.

By the time the international break is over, we will have a new look back 4 and it will feel like we are a completely different team.

Against Sheffield United I expect us to line up:

Plenty to look forward to. I am off to Morocco so do not expect a blog for a couple of weeks.



Match Report: Arsenal 1 – 0 Bournemouth

Arsenal (1) 1 AFC Bournemouth (0) 0
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 6th October 2019. Kick-off time: 2.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Calum Chambers, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Mattéo Guendouzi, Nicolas Pépé, Bukayo Saka; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Emiliano Martínez; Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli.
Scorers: David Luiz
Yellow Cards: Gabriel Martinelli
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 53%
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance 60,326

After just nine minutes, the only goal of the match came, thankfully from David Luiz, and from that moment onwards the die was firmly cast in our favour, as fate would have it. And it was a very good job as well that the goal came when it did, as there were times when things looked a trifle rocky out there in London N5. But the real man of the moment was not Señor Luiz (even though it was his first goal in Arsenal colours), but Nicolas Pépé, whose well-taken corner enabled our much-maligned centre-back to score with an excellent glancing header. Up until the sixty-third minute, when he was substituted for Gabriel Martinelli, he showed enough promise for us all to believe that this young man will be a true star for the club over the next few seasons or so; he nearly even got us a penalty as well, when he was brought down by Diego Rico. After a VAR check, the penalty was denied, but the intent to score was certainly in there from our striker.

Let’s be honest, for the first twenty minutes or so, we were lively and creating chances (hence the goal), and after that, we calmed down and became less animated and as a result, less passionate. Although it has to be said that we did create one or two chances (mainly for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang), after this period, by the time half-time arrived, most of our supporters appeared to seem incredulous at their post-goal appearance in this half.

As is often the case, the second half was a totally different story altogether. Somehow, we were unable to build on our lead and appeared to be more intent on a holding, possession-based game rather than an out-and-out attacking one. This led Bournemouth to wake up and start feeling their feet, mainly because our midfield became almost non-existent at times, and so became woeful. The visitors were desperately unlucky not to equalise, and their wingers had enough space and time to cause us real concern. Thank God for a sterling performance by Calum Chambers, who was truly immense at the back. The match needed livening up from our perspective, and aside from the aforementioned Pépé/Martinelli substitution, Joe Willock came on for a rather lacklustre Dani Ceballos on 75 minutes, and eight minutes later, Lucas Torreira replaced an ineffective Bukayo Saka, but still we were unable to score another goal.

Unbelievably, we were most fortunate not to concede a late goal in injury time, and thankfully we walked away with maximum points from this match today.

Look, it wasn’t pretty, and at times it was a close run thing, but a win is a win, and this time it landed us in third place, with just a point behind Manchester City, which is a truly magnificent achievement for this squad at this point in the season. The Premiership is the most demanding league in the world, and at times we have to accept that we need to grind out matches to get maximum points from a game, which is exactly what happened here at The Emirates today. Having said that, it was an element of concern that we faded away somewhat in the second half, and remember as this was not the line-up that destroyed Standard Liège on Thursday, fatigue couldn’t have been an issue here. Enough of the negatives, there are positives here. This was the first clean sheet that we kept at The Emirates this season, and it was encouraging to see Calum Chambers, Mattéo Guendouzi and Nicolas Pépé step up to the plate when needed. Due to the international break, we don’t play again for fifteen days; let’s see what the Sheffield United match will bring. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Monday, 21st October at 8.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Has Gabriel Martinelli ended Eddie Nketiah’s career at Arsenal

When Arsenal agreed the deal to take then 17-year-old Gabriel Martinelli, I was concerned that it would send a negative message it would send to the academy.

The worry was that we had a lot of good young attacking talent in our academy and U23s. From Eddie Nketiah, Tyreece John-Jules, Folarin Balogun to Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka on the wings.

At the time I felt that if Martinelli was being signed to go into the academy squad rather than the 1st team squad, it would be a blow for talented teenagers who had been at the club since primary school days.

My opinion was simple. If Martinelli was to join, it would be to be in and around the 1st team. It was only worthwhile signing him if he was already better than every single one of those aforementioned players.

A decision was made in the summer to send Nketiah on loan.

At 20-years-old, he had spent a few years already playing U23 football and it was clearly a level below him. Even at international youth level, he looks too good for his age group.

The problem he faced was that at Arsenal he had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette ahead of him. Two world class strikers.

Nketiah needed game time and with Arsenal playing 1 up top, that would have been restrictive – even in the League Cup and Europa League where Unai Emery would have gone with whichever one of his two top strikers was playing second fiddle to the other.

So Nketiah was too good for age group football, yet not quite good enough to get regular minutes in Arsenal’s first team. A loan deal made complete sense.

Off to Leeds United Nketiah went where he has been in good form; already scoring 4 goals this season. However he has yet to make a league start for 2nd in the table for Leeds.

The original plan would have been that Nketiah’s loan deal would be his chance to shine.

A good season at Leeds and he would return to the club a man. 21-years-old and ready to push Aubameyang and Lacazzete. Position himself as a genuine option when 30-year-old Aubameyang’s legs go and he leaves for China or America (it will happen within 2 seasons).

But what has happened whilst he Nketiah has been on loan is he has had to watch on as Arsenal’s new young Brazilian has quickly established himself as a fans favourite.

The situation at Arsenal changed quickly.

An injury to Lacazette left Emery with just the one senior striker. This resulted in him having to look at which teenager would lead the line in the Europa League and League Cup.

Aubameyang started the 1st Europa League game against Eintracht Frankfurt, with Martinelli on the bench. But the young Brazilian was given his chance against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup – scoring twice.

That performance was enough to convince Emery that it was not worth risking Aubameyang in Europe. That Martinelli would be his man for mid-week.

Against Standard Liege Martinelli doubled his goal tally for Arsenal to 4 for the season, adding an exquisite assist in the process. He had arrived.

At this point it is important to point out the importance of not over hyping him.

I have seen some already labelling him the next Carlos Tevez. But he is 18-years-old with two good performances against Nottingham Forest and Standard Leige. We should not be putting him in the starting line-up for Premier League teams yet.

With the performances of Martinelli, it is easy to forget that he is only just 18-years-old. It is that which makes him so exciting.

Time is on his side. There is no need to rush he progression. He will still be a teenager in 2021!

What has impressed about Martinelli the most is his all-round game.

His has shown so far that he can score poacher’s goals, headers and wonder strikes. He has a high work rate, putting pressure on defenders, and is capable of getting involved in the build up play. He could become a complete striker.

Meanwhile Nketiah is a little bit more of a simple striker. He is a finisher, like Ian Wright. He will score goals, a lot of goals. But he will not contribute much else to the team. In modern football, can you really afford to have a striker who is only a goal scorer? Not sure.

The problem Nketiah now faces is that Martinelli is likely to get 6-10 starts this season in the Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup.

If Martinelli continues his current level of performance, and Nketiah does not go and bang in 20+ Championship goals, the Englishman will return to North London behind in the pecking order.

That would leave a 21-year-old Nketiah as 4th choice striker at Arsenal – a team that play one up top. And one of the players ahead of him is 2 years younger, the other 2 will be world class performers.

So role forward 12 months, Aubameyang and Lacazette are combining in Arsenal’s 1st XI and Martinelli is on the bench in the Premier League, starting in the lesser competitions. Where does that leave Nketiah?

At 21-years-old he could still play for the U23 team. But following a season on loan to a top Championship side, that will be a step back.

Another loan deal could be an option, but if at 21 he is not yet ready, and with a (then) 19-year-old ahead of him, a loan deal will be very different to this season. It will not be a case of “you are a young player, go out on loan, perform and next season you will be part of 1st team plans” as 2021/22 Martinelli will still be ahead of him. And just 20.

The other problem Nketiah faces is those other players coming up from behind.

Arsenal have a pair of 18-year-old strikers in Tyreece John-Jules and Folarian Balogun who are next on the Hale End production line.

Next summer Edu will have to decide whether it is worthwhile continuing to develop a Nketiah, or start concentrating on those who are younger.

In the same way arsenal’s focus went from Benik Afobe to Chuba Akpom, then from Akpom to eddie Nketiah; next summer might become a time where a decision is made to let Nketiah go and introduce John-Jules and Balogun to 1st team training, pre-season tours and cup appearances.

Arsenal could well decide to cash in on Nketiah,

Liverpool have done well recently moving on the likes of Dominic Solanke, Kevin Stewart, Jerome Sinclair and Jordon Ibe. Those 4 raised nearly £46million after the Champions League winners decided that they did not have the quality for the highest level.

If Arsenal did decide to sell Nketiah, there would be plenty of Premier League interest.

Would it be unrealistic for Arsenal to command a fee northwards of £20million for him? I would imagine if Leeds did get promoted, they would be very interested in making his loan deal permanent.

So bids for £20m+ for Nketiah come in. He is 4th choice striker and we have teenagers chomping at the bit to get ahead of him. The time might be up for the youngster.