A look back at the first ten games

by Arvind

Its been a long time since I did an article for Untold. So this year, I thought I’d try something a little new. Instead of relying on all those rating systems everywhere, I figured I’d re-watch every single game and rate all the players as per my own eyes. The other thing I wanted to do was to look at which players truly impacted goals for and against.

The ratings for each player are out of five. Five means nearly flawless and 1 means a nightmare performance.  I don’t go into why a player performed poorly or badly, since there might be many mental reasons, little niggles, an opposition playing really well – anything really. All I do is look at Arsenal vs Some Team – all things considered on the day, how is that player doing on the pitch. That’s it. I also rate substitutes the same way, the logic being that I just check how they did during their time on the pitch. If they do nothing wrong and could not have done any more, they get a 3, and so on.

I just finished our first 10 league games and have the summary, numbers and goal analysis numbers up at this link .

It is of course a work in progress and I hope to keep up the work till the end of the season. Here is my player by player summary of the most common players, based on what I’ve seen so far. For the numbers, please visit that link.

Cech: His concentration remains top notch, as is his ability to pull off great saves. His reactions are slowing though. His runs out of the box to dive at the feet of attackers are a fraction slow, which is leading to people getting penalties. I don’t see this improving a lot, so its imperative we have a defence that covers up and doesn’t let runners through on goal a lot.

Bellerin: The only nightmare performance he had was in the first game, and after a slow start he has been stand out throughout the 10 games. His ability to go forward, recover, be defensively strong and his technique are top top top notch. Arsenal landed a gem and if he stays here and keeps improving, he can be one of the best ever – he has it all.

Mustafi: He looks to be a great communicator and reasonably good with the ball at his feet. He makes a number of forward bursts and is better in the opposition penalty box than a number of Arsenal centre backs over the years. He’s a bit suspect in the air, not particularly great at reading the game and makes too many forward runs (Vermaelen) for my liking. Still, he’s young, can improve and he did a job so I would say its positive overall. Not by a lot;I still think Rob Holding should have played more, but then I’m not the boss.

Koscielny: People give Lolo lots of credit for many many things and they’re right. He’s had to adapt his game due to Per getting injured and sit back while Mustafi makes his David Luizish bursts upfield :). That’s not his game though. And he’s been suspect this season as well. He’s holding up a huge load at the minute and if you ask me, creaking a little bit. He needs to get some rest soon – he’s been better.

Monreal: Another one who has dropped a little bit this season. Some of it is due to his own performances and not being as quick as some wingers around. A lot of it though is due to players in front of him, wandering around the pitch and not picking runners up. I’m a big fan of Nacho, for always being there, learning to use his right foot and learning English well. He’s been overloaded this season though, and has made a few mistakes. Again, I hope he gets a break and Gibbs steps in. It’ll be needed.

Gibbs: Wenger’s pet substitute on the left wing ahead of Nacho, and overall he’s been very good – and I think deserves a few games now ahead of Nacho. He’s never talked, always content and gives his best when he comes on. In today’s world of whiny, egoistic footballers, he’s been a pleasure to watch growing up so far.

Coquelin: Apart from some yellow cards that he tends to get, he’s been absolutely fantastic this year. The presence of Elneny and Xhaka has made him fight even harder than normal. Its hard to imagine a team without him now. He’s got to be one of the first names down.

Elneny: While he hasn’t done much wrong, Mo Elneny has not been spectacular. He is our Arteta in midfield, side to side, keeps things ticking over. He is the classic defensive substitute – a great engine, never stops running and links play together in the middle of the park.

Xhaka: Some good moments but largely, while he has a great left foot and hits those diagonal passes – he’s disappointed everyone who thought he was the destructive mythical DM. I hope he settles by January or February, if we’re still in the race for the title – he could be an asset. So far though, his 2 touch passing technique makes me nervous if he has the ball. I love his diagonal passes, but don’t see why we paid so much. Again, its early – lets wait till the new year.

Cazorla: The engine of the team. Without him the link to Ozil gets cut and only El-Neny can keep the ball like him, and no where near as well. Him not being there results in Alexis dropping back all the time. For all his ambidextrous genius, he is a big liability in the air, is not quick and if we don’t have the ball – he might as well not be there. Still, until Ramsey comes back completely or maybe Wilshere next year, there isn’t a player who can touch him.

Chamberlain: He’s scored more goals and offers a direct, exciting burst of pace with control when he gets it right. And I love to watch him, no player excites me more. But, he’s still inconsistent, doesn’t defend enough and goes missing at times. There’s so much potential – but I wonder if he’ll make it here.

Ozil: No one has better technique or vision or grace. There’s no questioning that. He’s improved tremendously in his bursts into the box, and he’ll score some more goals as well. But, and its a big but – I don’t get the hype.  Ozil is a great player in a great team and a good player in a good team. He’s not and I doubt will ever be a great player in an average team. But AW trusts him a lot, so… maybe I miss something.

Sanchez: I don’t know how he does it. I wish he didn’t drop so deep at times, lost the ball less and passed some more. But he’s such a huge part of the team, and has such a huge work rate, that I cannot criticise him any more than this. He’s lifted Arsenal hugely. While Mesut will get by some more, based on his reputation Sanchez has proven it at Arsenal. He’s been the big buy who has been truly worth it. I hope Ozil does it as well… soon.

Walcott: I’ve always been a big fan of Theo. He scores a lot of big goals, a lot of times. He also used to go missing though. This year has been better. I hope he continues his good form, stays injury free and keeps working as hard as he does.

Iwobi: His silky passing excites me. Its so graceful to watch, like a right footed Ozil. Lots of potential, lovely feet and seems like a very down to earth, mature boy. He’ll probably play fewer games going forward, but Arsenal should keep him and help him fulfil his talent. Needs to defend better and not go missing for stretches of the game. Him and Chambo not doing great defensive work is the main reason, Nacho has had an average season as well.

Holding: A promising start. I like what I see of him. Hope he continues his development and keeps moving forward.

Perez: Too little seen to pass any judgement and sadly got injured recently. He’ll be crucial in March/April like Xhaka, so hope he fits in well.

Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

The sexual exploitation of young footballers shows we have really deep and serious problems throughout England

According to “M”, Man Utd are the most unlucky team in the PL. Let’s see if that’s right.

While others mature with age Mourinho gets more idiotic.

Ref Review: MU – Arsenal

CL Arsenal – PSG 2-2

Arsenal v PSG: the team and the formation, plus other guess work

Are Tottenham just like Arsenal, 18 years ago?



12 Replies to “A look back at the first ten games”

  1. Arvind, you aren’t far from the truth. Inconsistent performances by some Gunners had to stop. All playing Gunners have got to be actively remained in the game contributing their very best at all times and not to go missing in the game while they are still on the field of play.

    We’ve got to be very careful in our playing on Sunday against an unpredictable Bournemouth team that has been seen to win games it’s not expected to win. Of recent, they beat Stoke City 0-1 at away and at home humbled Hull City by 5-1 some weeks back.

    To avoid falling prey to a 3rd consecutives PL draw games on Sunday, the Gunners MUST not underrate the Cherries but show them some respects but not over respect them. And should try as much as possible to control the tempo of the match.

    The Cherries are likely to defend in their numbers parking the bus and at the slightly of chance they see, counterattack. Therefore, the Gunners in their charging forward in numbers looking for goals to score in the game must not forget to leave behind sufficient number of Gunners to foil any counterattack by the Cherries who will be looking for glory at the Ems. A draw game against the Gunners at the Ems by them will be like a win for them and like a lose for us. Because we are widely expected to walopp them by at least 5-0 to improved on our GD in the table.

    Le Prof has as expected released his weekly team updates today. And in view of this, I’ve decided to make my own starts and bench early to collect all 3 points which are going to be at stake in this match.

    My starts:
    Jenko Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
    Coquellan Ramsey
    Walcott Ozil Sanchez

    My bench;
    Ospina Niles Gabi Gibbs Xhaka Oxchambo Iwobi.

    FT Scores:
    Arsenal 5-0 Bournemouth.

  2. Thanks, Arvind! I was going here from time to time but after your strange comment about Özil, then i won’t put one foot here anymore. I don’t think you understand… Arsenal is no great team, sorry, the PSG game proved it once again. Without Özil, maybe you’d like to enjoy the Europa league next season. Don’t worry, Wilshere is soon back!
    Bye, guys!

  3. Good overall evaluations Arvind and particularly agree about Cech slowing down a bit but I cannot agree about Ozil. You have to appreciate his unique style of play and his special playmaking and passing abilities. If the team is a bit flat, he cannot create much but when his target players on on form, he’ll get the ball to them perfectly. He is world-class and raises the team up whenever he’s on the pitch.

    Once Bellerin, Wellbeck and Cazorla are match fit and available again, we can expect some significant improvement in our fortunes.

    Alex…..goodbye and good riddance. Another aaa sniping from the sewer but unable and unwilling to defend his opinion so he slinks back into the sewer. The best thing he said was that he wouldn’t come back.

  4. The flip side of Cech possibly getting a little slower, is that he probably is better positioned now, which means less need to be faster. It doesn’t always work, but often does.

    In terms of Gibbs, any sign he is getting any better with his “off” foot?

  5. Thanks omgarsenal. I don’t deny Ozil’s quality. I just want him to see what he did against Ludogorets more often, with or without the ball. When we’re buzzing a team, Ozil is brilliant.

    If we’re flat as you said, some players drag you through games through sheer effort and nick a 1-0. Somehow. Not necessarily by goal scoring, but by making tackles everywhere, last ditch defending, the Hleb pre-assist or in some cases goals. Drogba was a great example of such a player. I can’t remember 1 big game he didnt step up in.

    Ozil’s silky and lovely to watch, but I want more than Carlos Vela goals from him, a bit more frequently. Sanchez for me is an unqualified success story, even if he leaves next year – Ozil.. is 50-50 so far.

    But hey, that’s just me 🙂

    @Gord: Gibbs has indeed started using his right foot a little more. Not to Nacho levels, but he’s improved. Nicky too will be glad to hear this, I think 😉

  6. A very nice and well researched article , Arvind , thanks . Hope we really start to get going in earnest , as we still seem to be shifting in the lower gears . But not losing too often (!) and saving vital points by being resilient and not giving up , gives me hope that we should be in a shout at the crunch.
    Up the Gunners !

  7. Nice work, Arvind. I agree about most, but Ozil! He is such an amazing footballer. He needs the midfield to function positively to work his magic. Currently this isn’t so effective. No mention of Ramsey and I like him, but this season, again, he isn’t functioning on full power. The transition we have to the forwards is too slow. How we miss Santi and his clever, quick feet. Why does Rambo have to turn round when he picks up the ball, then go backwards? Bring back those surging runs! Such a pity Jack didn’t hang on for us this season. Pace is a game breaker; I believe one of Theo, Ox or Welbz (yes, I know he’s crocked!) should always start.
    Big win Sunday, COYG!

  8. largely agree, but don’t get the excitement about Iwobi, of Ox/Theo (and Campbell/Gnabry) he is the slowest and least physical, and i’d say Theo/Campbell are better with the ball

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