Tag Archives: She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 3 – 2 Man U

Arsenal (1) 3 Manchester United (1) 2

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Sunday, 22nd January 2023. Kick-off time: 4.30pm

(4-3-3) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Martin Ødegaard (c), Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.

Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith-Rowe, Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Leandro Trossard, Fabio Vieira, Albert Sambi Lokonga, (Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar) Marquinhos, Matt Turner.

Scorers: Eddie Nketiah (23 mins, 89 mins), Bukayo Saka (53 mins)

Yellow Cards: Ben White, Mikel Arteta

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 58%

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Assistant Referees: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn

Fourth Official: Andre Marriner

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Michael Salisbury; AVAR Dan Robathan

Attendance: 60,325

For this “blue chip” match today, we remain without Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson because of knee and hamstring injuries respectively, and it is heartening to see that our new £21,000,000 (plus add-ons of course) new signing Leandro Trossard (from Brighton and Hove Albion) has been registered in time to be eligible for this game this afternoon, and therefore sits on the substitute’s bench; either way, history tells us that it could be a match to remember!

The visitors kicked off the match on this cold North London afternoon, and immediately the pace of the game was electric in this white-hot atmosphere today. Thomas Partey was unlucky not to score within two minutes, and for the opening stages of this game, our confidence was there for all to see. However, the visitors had a penalty appeal (which was turned down) when Bruno Fernandes latched on to a through ball, and got to the ball ahead of Aaron Ramsdale and went down to the floor; a dangerous moment that our defence needs to constantly address as the game advances. Gabriel Martinelli superbly cut inside Aaron Wan-Bissaka but unfortuntely blasted his curling shot wide of the goal. Gabriel and Bruno Fernandes had a minor spat which led to a bit of pushing and shoving from players of both sides; we were awarded a free kick, but the effort went nowhere. After a quarter of an hour, Aaron Wan-Bissaka lost his bearings at the back post from a superb Bukayo Saka cross and he nearly put it into his own net, when he should have let it go for a goal kick. The resulting corner was headed out by Scott McTominay, and a couple of minutes later, the visitors took the lead when Marcus Rashford shot from twenty yards that had Aaron Ramsdale beaten all the way. Soon afterwards, Ben White received the first yellow card of the day for a foul on Marcus Rashford, and we replied to the goal by applying pressure to the United defence; Gabriel Martinelli was unlucky on not hitting the target from a Bukayo Saka corner, and we equalised on the twenty-third minute when Granit Xhaka crossed a superb cross from the left wing, for Eddie Nketiah to nip in front of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to head the ball into the net! A superb, well-taken goal. The visitors counter-attacked, and Antony moved in from the right wing and played it to Scott McTominay outside the penalty area and the midfielder’s side-footed effort was comfortably pushed to safety by Aaron Ramsdale. The subseuqent corner was cleared, and the match has become an exciting end-to-end, no quarter spared game (just like the Arsenal versus Manchester United games of old!). Mikel Arteta received a yellow card for his touchline behaviour and for the next few minutes, the visitors were active in our half, passing the ball around, trying to find a chink in our armour. As the game ebbed away towards the half-time break, we played some great moves, one in particular saw Oleksandr Zinchenko being very unlucky not to score when his shot went inches by the post. In injury time, the visitors had a penalty appeal turned down by the referee, and the last action of the first half came when a Bukayo Saka shot was easily plucked out of the air by goalkeeper David de Gea.

We started the second half off in earnest, but withut Ben White, who was replaced by Takehiro Tomiyasu, as the former has already been booked, and is in danger of receiving a second one. Antony was booked for a foul on Oleksandr Zinchenko, and a couple of minutes later we had a penalty appeal which was ignored by referee Anthony Taylor. A through ball created by Martin Ødegaard went towards Granit Xhaka, but Lisandro Martinez came hurtling across to make an inch-perfect sliding challenge in the six yard box; and then, out of nowhere, Bukayo Saka had the ball out wide, but Christian Eriksen backed off him, and then he shifted it to his left foot then hit a glorious low shot which just nestled into the far corner of the net, with the United goalkeeper graping for fresh air, a truly fantastic goal. The visitors came back at us, and Marcus Rashford managed to somehow get clear and hit a shot goalwards, but Aaron Ramsdale saved it with a superb, instinctive low save. Unbelievably, United equalised a couple of minutes later when Lisandro Martinez scored with a looping header into the net, despite Gabriel’s best effort to keep the ball out of the goal. Both teams sensed a chance to win this game now, and as such the intensity is ramping up. Bukayo Saka provided the danger again, rolling it to Eddie Nketiah but the striker got in a tangle eight yards out and could not finish the job, sadly. A superb Martin Ødegaard shot just inside the United penalty area ricocheted off a United defender for a corner, and although it eventually went off for a goal kick, the pressure was surely on the visitors now. With twenty minutes of the match remaining, in a carbon copy of his goal, a Bukayo Saka shot was deflected onto the foot of the post by a United defender for a corner, and although the resulting corner went nowhere, we continued our pressure on the visitors’ goal. A Takemiro Tomiyasu cross was cleared by Raphael Varane, and then a through ball from Bruno Fernandes found the feet of Marcus Rashford who was running onto it then he went down to the floor under Aaron Ramsdale’s challenge; United shouted for a penalty, but the referee Anthony Taylor (who has a good game today) waved the protests away, saying that the challenge was fair. After some exciting play in the United penalty area in which we were unlucky not to score, our new signing Leandro Trossard replaced Gabriel Martinelli with ten mimutes of the game remaining. Shortly afterwards, Eddie Nketiah swivelled and shot from such close range, which was close to David De Gea but he still had to make the save and palmed it away with his left hand. We were constantly pressurising the United goal, with their defenders panicking and kicking the ball away from the penalty area, seemingly anywhere, just to get it away. Literally, on the ninetieth minute, Oleksandr Zinchenko crossed the ball from the left wing. and Eddie Nketiah flicked it into the goal from close range for our third goal (and his second of the afternoon). There was a heartstopping couple of minutes when it was feared that the goal was offside, but VAR did their job and the goal stood! The game petered out after that during injury time, and we naturally ran out deserved winners by three goals to two.

An outstanding result from an an outstanding Arsenal team. A draw would have been disastrous, but we kept on going, and our on the ball quality, intensity and good old fashioned guts came through good for us at the end. More importantly, we remain five points clear of Manchester City, and although we meet them at the Etihad in the FA Cup on Friday evening, we can go into that game with our heads held high. Who knows what will happen next?

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: Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Friday, 27th December at 8.00pm (FA Cup). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

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

And now you’re gonna believe us…

Now I’m not one to get carried away with optimism where Arsenal are concerned. During the Brighton game when we went 4-1 up I allowed myself a brief thought that we might win the league this season, only for the last 25 minutes of the game to bring me back to my senses. But all of a sudden I am now believing that this season we could actually do it, and the way in which Tottenham were swatted aside in the first half on Sunday was the final thing I needed to convince me.

In terms of a footballing weekend it couldn’t have gone much better for The Arsenal. I’d have probably preferred a draw in the game at Old Trafford, but probably better a United win than City (and I say that in the full knowledge that United could be the ones closest to us come Sunday night), and Newcastle dropping points would have made it absolutely perfect. Liverpool losing, and Spurs on the receiving end from Arsenal, should mean we can concentrate on actually winning the Title instead of looking over our shoulders at 5th place. If Arsenal blow the top 4 positions (about which I care not one bit) then there’ll have only themselves to blame.

I’m not the first to say it, but there is a real feeling of togetherness about Arsenal right now, and I don’t just mean the players. Arteta has tapped in to what makes us all tick. He’s understood the “Arsenal against the World” mentality that had always been our way until the last 10-15 years of relative mediocrity – I use the word “relatively” as we’ve still been in the business of winning trophies during that time, something others can only dream of. I’m in my mid-40’s this year, and that makes me old enough to remember the way George Graham positively engineered situations that fed inspiration to his teams via the media hatred of our club. The recent joke FA charges against the club are exactly the sort of thing George put to good use, famously after the Old Trafford brawl in 1990. Arteta seems of a similar ilk, and has even cleared the squad of overpaid underachievers as George did back in the late 1980’s, bringing in young and hungry and heavily talented footballers.

Sunday actually started as a very sad day for us Dover Gooners as we got the news that one of our founder members, Bill Browning, had sadly passed away. Bill had phoned me just before Christmas to congratulate me on a piece I wrote on this here website last March about my Dad, and I’m delighted to have that one last memory and one last chat with him. Bill was a great friend to all of us over the last 30+ years, and we travelled all over watching Arsenal as a group of family and friends. He’s been missed the past few years as his health got the better of him, and it’s with a heavy heart that I pay tribute to a dear old friend here. I like to think that what Arsenal did at Tottenham on Sunday was for Bill, and that him, Frank and John (who’ve also left us in recent years) had a few beers at the great pub in the sky on Sunday night to celebrate. Let’s hope we’re celebrating with them come May. With the way this team is playing, if they can have a little luck with injuries, and not get shafted by the authorities, I believe we just might do it.

Dover Gooner

Leandro Trossard – Perfect Plan B or Panic Buy?

I trust Edu and his team.

Since he took for control of operations, he has not really put a foot wrong.

The Brazilian did an excellent job over 18 months dumping the old egos and replacing them with young, hungry, talented footballers. We are top of the league as a result.

When walked away from the Mykhailo Mudryk deal, many asked “what next?” and “who next?”. There was a long list Mudryk alternatives proposed by bloggers, including ourselves. But very few, if any, mentioned Leondro Trossard.

Around Wednesday lunch, the media suggested that we were interested. By 4pm Thursday it had been announced had been agreed.

It came out of nowhere and was completed quickly. Edu had a back-up plan.

On a side note, this deal shows we can complete deals quickly. All transfer take a different amount of time, a different ammount of negotiating. Some will take weeks and break down. Others will happen within 24 hours. Often it depends how far about on valuations the two parties are, and whether there is a “transfer chain”. It is a bit like buying a house.

Long-term readers of our blog will know I am not a fan buying a player for the sake of it.

You go too far down the list and you end up spending a lot of money on someone you do not really want. Within 6 months you are looking to replace them, but they are on a 5-year deal. Think Lucas Perez.

So is Trossard a Perfect Plan B or a Panic B that we will come to regret?

Perfect Plan B

Covers 3 positions

For the last few months, we have had plenty of discussions over what sort of attacker we needed.

Some have argued for an out and out striker (Ivan Toney-type), then there was the out and out winger (Mikhaylo Mudryk) and finally there was the hybrid – someone whocould cover both flanls and also do a job upfront behind Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah.

Trossard is the hybrid option.

Predominately a left winger, he has recently been playing through the middle for Brighton. Trossard has also played behind the striker and wide right.

He covers a lot of positions and also gives Mikel Arteta a few different attacking options when coming off the bench – including providing an extra central attacking midfield option.

Back up dancer

I think we can’t underestimate how the progress of Gabriel Martinelli has changed our transfer plans.

Last summer, many of us spoke about us “signing a top class left winger” who would come in ahead of the young Brazilian.

Martinelli’s form in the first half of the season saw him force his way into the Brazil World Cup squad, selected alongside the likes of Neymar, Vinicius Jr and Gabriel Jesus, as well as Richarlison, Antony and Raphinha.

Four of those on the list joined new clubs in the summer for fees ranging from £45m to £100m.

Just 21 and with 7 Premier League goals in 18, how much would he go for in the current market? £50m+? He has become the superstar left winger we wanted in the summer.

That means that the incoming midfielder could be someone who could cover Martinelli rather than replace him. And that needed to be reflected in the price.

Mudryk at £70m+ always made me feel uncomfortable. He would not walk into the team ahead of Martinelli and was therefore a big price for a back up player.

Trossard is much more reasonably priced.

Good fee

£21million rising to £26m looks a good deal when compared to what Chelsea have recently paid for players.

They are paying £29m on Noni Madueke. – 20-year-old Englishman from PSV who has started just two league games this season for the Dutch outfit.

Tottenham paid £50m for Richarlison; the Brazilian does a similar job at Tottenham (cover in all 3 attacking position) as Trossard will do for Arsenal. 

£21m for a squad player with his experience fees reasonable.

And a good contract

One worry I had when it was announced was how much we were tying up in wages and contract length.

4 and a half years would have been a big deal to give someone who is 28-years-old. It would have given us very little wiggle room if we wanted to upgrade on him in 18 months time.

The 3 and a half year contract feels more comfortable.

Wages have still not come out, but a 3 and a half year deal will mean we are not investing too much into him. He is, afterall, a back up player. No need to give him a 7 and a half year deal!

Premier League experience

We are in a title race.

Mudryk would unlikely have made an instant impact. It is going to take him time to settle into a new country, playing for a new team in a new league.

Trossard has played 122 times for Brighton in England. He knows the league.

Brighton – especially under Graham Potter – play a primarily possession based game. It will not be too hard for him to transition from Brighton to Arsenal.

One of the big reasons I wanted Wilfried Zaha was because he could make an instant impact. Trossard will hopefully do just that.

Trossard is expected to be on the bench against Manchester United tomorrow.

The Belgian is also capable of a high press. He is 4th in the Premier League for winning posession in the final 3rd. That makes him both an attacking and defensive substitution.

Panic Buy

One good spell

Trossard’s stats since joining Brighton have not exactly screamed “top class player”.

18 goals in 100 Premier League games before this season did not exactly lead to too many rivals knocking on the door last summer.

This season he has scored 7 in 16 – although 3 of those came in a single game. 4 in the other 15.

That form and his contract situation led to some clubs taking an interest in January.

He has also not performed particularly great for Belgium. Is he just an average player who has had a good spell?

Attitude problem

And that good spell led to issues within Brighton which could highlight an attitude problem.

Since the World Cup, he has gone missing for his club – reportedly walking off the training pitch claiming he was injured, and later storming out of the training ground when not selected to play.

This behaviour led to a war of words between Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi and Trossard’s agent which resulted in him beind dropped for disciplinary reasons.

“Leandro isn’t in the list of players for tomorrow,” De Zerbi said before the Liverpool game

“He left the session without saying anything to me. And it’s not good. I spoke with him and I explained this attitude, this behavior, I don’t like.”

It all pointed to a player who was trying to make his position at the club untenable and trying to force through a move in January – at the time probably to Tottenham!

Brighton had a year long extension. Had they triggered it they could have kept Trossard until the summer and then cashed in on him. But Trossard’s behaviour basically made him unselectable and forced Brighton’s hand. 

He does not have a documented history of issues, and has previously worked with AirPod Albert when at Genk.

His behaviour in the last few months is a concern. Especially with our squad so united.

Saying that, Mikel Arteta has often spoken about players needing the right attitude, and surely would not have sanction a move if he was worried.

Not the superstar

Trossard is not the superstar we perhaps wanted.

When we were linked with Joao Felix and Mudryk, it does feel we have dropped down a few levels to sign Trossard.

How many players were between Mudryk (who was clearly top of the list) and Trossard?

In the last month we have been linked with Mudryk, Felix and, more recently, Moussa Diaby.

How many other players did we enquire about whilst negotiating for Mudryk before we got to Trossard? We may never know.

He might have been 3rd or 4th on the list. He might have been 10th.

There is always some trepidation when we miss out on a first choice target.

But then again, we walked away from Dusan Vlahovic, Lisandro Martínez and Emi Buendia and signed Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Martin Odegaard.

When Edu does have a Plan B, it always seems to be someone of quality and not a panic buy.

At the end of the day, Trossard is now an Arsenal player. And whether you think he is the perfect plan B or a panic buy, we now all need to back him.

We are top of the league, 5 points ahead of Manchester City. We just need to stick together and keep winning!

Keenos