Arteta’s Arsenal demonstrate progress with win at Bournemouth

Online editorial: Gunners progress to last 16 in FA Cup

Arteta’s Arsenal demonstrate progress with win at Bournemouth

(Ed’s note: Apologies for the delay in posting – some tech issues this morning) Mikel Arteta made some interesting team selections for last night’s game against Bournemouth for this FA Cup 4th round tie. A month and a day after his first match as head coach, it demonstrated, even with a slightly weakened team, the progress that has been made since that 1-1 draw at the same venue back on Boxing Day.

With both Aubameyang and Luiz suspended, the hosts may have had cause for optimism. Shkodran Mustafi retained his place in spite of his first half errors against Chelsea last week. Up front, Alex Lacazette was rested and Eddie Nketiah given the chance to impress. Mesut Ozil was probably not delighted to make the trip to sit on the bench and see Joe Willock make a decent case to be selected ahead of him when the team visit Burnley next weekend. Damien Martinez had a runout in goal. 

So, a very young forward quartet of Pepe, Willock, Nketiah and Martinelli with two more young players in the outfield ten (Saka and Guendouzi) demonstrating that the future may work out without the club needing to spend as much as others to improve their competitiveness. The team started wonderfully, running the game for the opening half hour and doing enough to make the rest of the tie comfortable. 

They kept possession and moved the ball forward to secure the first goal with Willock and Martinelli combining to work the ball to Bukayo Saka to rifle home. Before 30 minutes were on the clock, Willock was involved again, as his ball to Saka allowed the left back to find Nketiah for a tap-in. The away fans were uncharacteristically housed behind the goal at the other end (normally at the Vitality they are on the side) due to a larger allocation than normal under cup rules. It meant many more were able to see Arsenal play there and it may be just as well. When they chanted, “We’ll never play here again” you could almost sense an acceptant agreement in the faces of the home support. Currently in the drop zone, and accepting Norwich are doomed, they are one of five teams competing to remain in the top flight and exiting the cup may not be the worst thing for their season.

They did rally to at least ask Arsenal some questions, but a third goal in this game could just as easily have been scored by the visitors. It was good to finally see Dani Ceballos get some game time under Arteta after a couple of appearances on the bench. He replaced Pepe for the final 20 minutes with Willock shifting to the right side of attack. He was tidy but unspectacular, although with the game in Arsenal’s hands, that was all that was required. Mustafi collided with his keeper after an hour had been played and required a stretcher as he was replaced by Rob Holding.

There are great hopes for Holding amongst the fans, but the honest truth is that in his games under Arteta, he has proved as shaky in possession as Mustafi. It’s a side of his game he needs to improve or he is not going to be a first choice. He lost the ball more than once in the half hour he was on the pitch.

Elsewhere, some excellent performances from many of the starting eleven. The turnaround in the discipline of Granit Xhaka is something to behold, with his often operating as an auxiliary centre back when both full backs venture forward. Even stuffed with youngsters, the shape of the team prevented easy opportunities and it is undeniable that the number of attempts on Arsenal’s goal has decreased, with the understandable exception of Chelsea away where the side played most of the game a man short. 

Comparing this match with the 1-1 draw in December, it is encouraging to see how Arteta’s methods have improved the team. Granted, Bournemouth did make the final moments a little nervy after scoring in injury time, but it was too little too late. Arsenal won this match in the opening half an hour and then did enough to contain the Cherries’ threat. Before the match kicked off, the draw presented the winners with a trip to Fratton Park to face Portsmouth in the last 16. With the 5th round ties taking place midweek (a consequence of the mid-winter break) it means another evening trip to the south coast for the travelling support. Given Portsmouth’s League One status, there will be optimism about reaching the quarter finals. 

More immediately though, and before they take a fortnight off (at least from playing matches), Arteta takes his players to Burnley. After two encouraging away performances, it will be interesting to see how they perform there.


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  1. itsRonagain2

    Jan 29, 2020, 11:59 #116425

    Hi Marky - Ferguson was very much a counter attacking Coach too esp v the better sides. Utd only really ever cut loose at home matches and v the poorer teams. Some of the best sides down the decades have been counter attacking sides. Forest were for sure. Certainly quite a few of Liverpools finest sides were away from home.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Jan 29, 2020, 11:54 #116424

    Morning lads. Agree with all the comments that MC s and Liv s current situ will start to fade. Both coaches gone in 18 moths anyway i think. All this talk of yr on yr domination as Man U had isnt likely to occur again for so long in todays game. Football has changed so much even in this last 5 or 6 years. Players and coaches are transient as are owners and that will make sure we have no so called dynasties happening any time soon. AM - RE Man U, i think theyve the makings of a really good defence now. A top strikers needed though and a quality centre midfielder, perhaps 2. I hope they, stay as they are but i think the coverage of them has been more of a media frenzy really as opposed to being measured. They ll buy the players they need i think. Rashfords OK but a touch over rated. Pogba needs to be got rid of. Hes their Ozil isnt he? There are question marks of OGS i suppose. Who knows. Its nice seeing them being as moderate as we are.

  3. Bard

    Jan 29, 2020, 8:40 #116421

    Agree wholeheartedly Keown is a total prat. He wasnt worldie by any means and nowhere near Ferdinands class. He pops up all over the place with his platitudes and mundane comments. Cant listen to him. As others have said right up Wengo's rear end.

  4. markymark

    Jan 29, 2020, 7:37 #116420

    Goodness me I forgot UTD! I read a great article on them the other day pointing out how each layer was so dependent on each other . The Glazers needing Woodward for commercial acumen and a point of anger direction ( they are getting a light ride at the mo) . Woodward needs OGS. to propagate the kids development, keeps spotlight off their dreadful transfers dealings and OGS definitely needs Woodward. This scenario was played out in the Kroenke, Ivan , Wengo axis and is still being dealt with now. Some thoughts Other outfits have caught up and are more flexible and savvy than UTD. UTD’s present youth appear to have a worse attitude than other teams including us. Saka is a bundle of joy compared to Jess Lingard , Chong etc . OGS simply isn’t up to it. He’s based around counter attacking . It can create excitement and the odd results but in general modern press and possession nullifies it. I just see more vast expenditure and a move back to a successful but maybe hitting sell by date manager

  5. markymark

    Jan 29, 2020, 7:23 #116419

    Rio is a total prat as well but I’m surprised he can even sit in the same room as Keown. Keown on radio 5 when asked why Rio wouldn’t have wanted to play under Wenger . Answer from Keown “he didn’t say that” announcer “he did” . Keown “he doesn’t think that “ announcer “how can you know what he thinks?” And so on. As Ron says so far up Wengo’s arse it’s untrue. Ian Wright in contrast can be caught up in rubbish sometimes but in general he’s got far more nous on what the average Gooner is posting or saying. I suspect he’s less cut off from the general milieu. ARsenal Magna is pretty much where I am on Arsenal’s chances particularly over the 3-5 years. There seems to be rumblings of burn out over Klopp. City are getting investigated again. Maureen has just been offered 10m to fix a hole the size of Kane ( suck that up Mourinho) Chelsea , well have a look at their social postings it’s a bit Emery over there with each defeat causing out pouring of dissent. 6 games undefeated. Not many wins obviously but it’s some sort of base

  6. ArsenalMagna

    Jan 28, 2020, 22:45 #116418

    @Cornish, City and Liverpool are certainly a cut above the rest as you say, but I think in 2-3 years they could both come down a few notches in terms of squad quality, particularly Liverpool - and just at a time when we could be on the up in a big way. City have the resources but will need to replace the ageing parts of their squad - that might require going through a multiple different signings as even big buys aren't guaranteed to work, especially given the paucity of top quality players available in the market nowadays. Same for Liverpool - Allison, VVD, TAA, Firmino and Mane make the rest of that team look a lot better than it is in my view, and the latter two at least will need replacing in 2-3 years time. Not convinced by Spurs beyond Son and Kane - a fairly weak squad plus Mourinho having lost his mojo = them diminishing for me. Chelsea's squad isn't looking as great without the new manager bounce, and I'm just not that impressed with most of them - also a myth that they're relying on youth as that applies to about 3 players in the starting XI! United beyond Rashford and James, maybe McTominay (and Pogba - but he'll leave soon) I don't see have it in them to rise. Their back 5 is probably good enough but everywhere else weak and they can't seem to land the right signings, and they have an awful culture of complacency. @Ron really interested to hear your thoughts on United being good enough to get back to the top as you mentioned the other day. Do you think they can build around the nucleus I mentioned in this post?

  7. itsRonagain2

    Jan 28, 2020, 22:39 #116417

    Keown carries a photo of Wengos backside in his phone I believe. Kisses it 5 times a day. Quite what he recognises in the Wengo brand to what MA is trying to do is known only to himself. Ferdinands bemused face looking at him as he waffled that load of balls told it all.

  8. A Cornish Gooner

    Jan 28, 2020, 21:00 #116416

    AM. Agree on the Wenger identity point. It's still rumbling on. Disappointing to hear Keown last night, when complimenting Arsenal for a good performance, suggested we were back to playing Wenger style football. Good encouraging photo for this article. Who'd have thought we'd be seeing all these youngsters even playing, let alone celebrating a cracking goal (and win) against a premiership side (Albeit temporary for Bournemouth maybe) It looks more like an under 23 match photo. On the down side, how many current Arsenal players would get a regular game for Liverpool/City? None probably. Leicester/Chelsea/Spurs/Man U. A few.

  9. itsRonagain2

    Jan 28, 2020, 20:54 #116415

    ‘ these players should ,on paper, be sitting pretty close to the top 4’ ? What ? How have you deduced thst one mate? Football in that PL is full of hype, bullshit , liessnd cheats but one thing that doesn’t lie is the league table. We are where we are because we ve been badly managed shite for years. No other reason. Battling , chasing and running might be a few small basic facets of the game introduced back n to Arsenal FC and it’s true in my view that such elementary facets of football should be a given. Excuse me though for reminding you that the old fraud as good abolished all of those aspects in his last 10 miserable futile years at the club , along with tackling, shooting crossing and heading. That was the weak leadership that MA s took on to re introduce. He needs time and a chance. So far , he s justifying being given it.


    Jan 28, 2020, 20:08 #116414

    Nicky, "weak modern day leadership"? Well, Bojo The Clown managed to carry off the UK Political Cup recently didn't he? I actually think Arteta is far from weak & an excellent coach who WILL improve some of the so-called "no-hopers". As for Stanley & his BoD - well that's another matter, although it appears our funds are as limited as my local club, Plymouth Argyle. Wonder if Stanley is aware of credit sales, the Never Never or in my day paying "on the drip". I do realise however that these days "drip" has evolved into the parlance of drug users.

  11. ArsenalMagna

    Jan 28, 2020, 19:11 #116413

    @Nicky, you have to walk before you can run. Wenger's weak, style over substance identity was so imprinted on this club, that it will take years for Arteta to expel it. Some people on here think we're wrong to get excited about players consistently battling since MA joined, saying 'that's what Arsenal players should do anyway', but this ignores the fact that consistent battling is not a requisite in modern football, and that other top teams' players are failing in this regard. It's also hard to judge negatively ANY player till they've had proper coaching for 6-12 months. By the way, I think another cause for optimism is that all the major clubs in Europe, bar Liverpool and maybe Barca/Madrid, are really struggling with their squads/direction. Even City with all their funds have been struggling due to one solid CB getting injured. Even on a limited budget, the club can move forward.

  12. GoonerRon

    Jan 28, 2020, 17:41 #116412

    My only experience of Fratton Park was on Boxing Day in I think 2007. An 11 hour round trip drive on my own (for most of which I was very hung over). The score? 0-0.

  13. Pauljames

    Jan 28, 2020, 17:39 #116411

    I saw us beat Pompey 5 nil in the cup down there in 2004 I think, the whole ground applauded Thierry off when he was substituted, and their fans were still singing at 5 nil down !

  14. John F

    Jan 28, 2020, 17:35 #116410

    The first half just might of shown a glimpse of the future under Arteta.I have a lot of respect for Portsmouth fans.I was at a Grimsby v Pompey game in the eighties.Portsmouth brought up several hundred fans for a 500 miles round trip to a nothing on it mid week game and out sang the home crowd.I was sat right next to them and they never stopped.

  15. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 28, 2020, 16:50 #116409

    Remember my last trip to Fratton Park in the 4th round in 1971 1 - 1 draw and a great replay win 3-2, one the best cup games I ever saw at Highbury. The draw has been kind, no pressure on the players - could go all the way with these youngsters, which would be great for the club and the fans.

  16. Bard

    Jan 28, 2020, 16:38 #116408

    Nicky mate your comments would make perfect sense if it was the clubs intention to challenge properly but it isnt. They need to sell season tickets no more no less. You're right but there isnt any ambition. I for one have accepted that fact and it womt change while Stan owns the club.

  17. GoonerRon

    Jan 28, 2020, 16:18 #116407

    We looked very good in the first 35 minutes or so - hopefully this can translate into longer periods of dominance at some point. Saka really is a superstar in the making - he seems so level headed and calm, but not overly calm like AM-N comes across like. Kevin is right, Arteta has certainly stemmed the flow of big chances we concede which is to his credit. @ Exiled - I agree that prior to his injury Holding was really starting to find his groove - let’s hope his current rustiness is just that.

  18. Nicky3336

    Jan 28, 2020, 16:00 #116406

    How can a change to the perennial underachievement, which we have seen at the Library, now be defined as progress after a couple of wins and a plethora of draws.....these players should, on paper, be sitting pretty close to the top four not amongst the mid table dross we find ourselves surrounded by. Attitude has lacked and affected aptitude and the rotten apples we have in the squad or those who are simply not good enough will prevail under Arteta due to the weak modern day leadership we see everywhere around us, not only at Arsenal. I would love to see a mass clear out in the summer but know it wont happen, Ozil, Luiz, Xhaka, Mustafi, Sokratis, Martinez, Maitland-Niles, shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team and if we start the 20/21 season with Laca, Auba, Leno in the squad I’ll be surprised......why would these guys want to stay with us right now with no change on the horizon........Nigerian Billionaire Owner needed please

  19. Sarflunden

    Jan 28, 2020, 15:17 #116405

    I'm starting to enjoy watching Arsenal again...That said I do take the blame for commenting "Mustafi's playing well" only to see him stretchered off a few minutes later.

  20. Pauljames

    Jan 28, 2020, 15:02 #116404

    Noticeable that Willock played a part in both the goals and nearly scored long will Arteta persist with the ineffective Ozil.

  21. Bard

    Jan 28, 2020, 14:47 #116403

    Whatever we do or dont achieve this season I have to say I do enjoy watching our youngsters play, especially the ones who have come through the system. What they may lack in some areas they make up in commitment. Despite the spin over the years the reality is we have been piss poor at producing young players. We are far better playing them than getting in some loan player from overseas who doesnt really want to be here. To those who might rightly suggest we wont win anything with them I would add, we wont be competing anytime soon so what's to lose. If MA is as good a coach as he is cracked up to be then we might have a few gems on our hands.

  22. Exiled in Pt

    Jan 28, 2020, 14:36 #116402

    More positive signs of progress and proof we do have some talent coming through if we can keep hold of them. Ron i have to say up until the injury against United i thought Holding was starting to show signs of having a bit of strength and ability but have to agree his first few games under MA he has looked miles off the pace and almost scared to really get stuck in ! I am hoping this is just due to the long time out and the fact it was such a serious injury at the moment he looks like a player scared of getting injured again .

  23. gs5wheat

    Jan 28, 2020, 14:24 #116401

    Lots of encouraging signs in last nights performance again, but Burnley away will be a real test at the weekend. We will get a much better idea of the real progress Arteta and his coaching team have made. Despite too many draws, I have been encouraged by the much improved performances in Arteta's first month. A win and 3 points in the Premiership is however, long overdue!

  24. itsRonagain2

    Jan 28, 2020, 13:28 #116400

    Played pretty well didn't they. I guessed 2-1 win yesterday. Makes a change to get one right for me! I saw Holding play his first game at Leics 3 years back. He looked OK that day but never since in my view. Ive no real hopes him now. Always looks shaky and quite weak physically. I dont think he has it in him to boss strong centre forwards. I think the claims that hes a prospect arise from the fact that the other central defenders are so poor, though Socratis as always a battler. He should be more than a prospect by now if he was going to make it.