The Winning Run Ends as Eddie Sees Red

Online Editorial: Draw at home to Leicester puts paid to any lingering Champions League hopes

The Winning Run Ends as Eddie Sees Red

The current Premier League standings

Even if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld by CAS next week, Arsenal were looking at a top five place if they were to make the Champions League next season, and with the run of victories, there was optimism they could just do it before the matches to catch those ahead of them ran out. That looks very unlikely now. Mikel Arteta’s team can reach a maximum of 62 points, a total that surely all of Chelsea, Leicester and Manchester United will surpass in their remaining games. We look back to the folly of retaining Unai Emery’s services after disastrous collapse in the final months of the previous season. Arsenal are now paying the price for their misguided loyalty. In Baku, it was so obvious that change was needed. Arteta has improved things, but it is too little too late. At least Europa League qualification remains on the cards – and the income from that is significant enough for it to matter hugely. But even that is now looking a possibility rather than a likelihood, given the next two fixtures.

Arsenal started well in the rain at the Emirates. I am a long-standing advocate of summer football, although with the proviso that I am allowed to actually attend the matches. This though, was not quite how I perceived Premier League football in July. Arteta limited his rotation with just two changes, Lacazette and Bellerin coming in for Nketiah and Cedric. The rain suited Arsenal’s football and they had a very decent opening half. A sequence of end to end play saw Saka play Aubameyang in to put the home team ahead, but with the quality of chances created, the lead should have been at least doubled by half-time. Arsenal have dropped a large number of points from winning positions this season, and so it proved again last night.

The second half was similar to the one last Saturday when Wolves pressured Arsenal for the opening 20 minutes. And Arteta’s men held on. The end of the match was very different though. It was unfortunate that Alex Lacazette was offside for a tap-in after 67 minutes, but when he was switched for Eddie Nketiah, the game changed in a way no-one could have foreseen. Four minutes after coming on, with 15 minutes of the scheduled time remaining, Nketiah tried to win the ball with his leg outstretched and on the television replays, it didn’t look good. The referee Chris Kavanagh’s original yellow card was upgraded to a red after the intervention of VAR (Stuart Atwell on duty at Stockley Park). Without VAR, Nketiah would have remained on the pitch. So it goes. The referee let quite a bit of physical stuff go during the game, much of it coming from the away side.

Arsenal did their best to hold out, but with little opportunity to get out of their own half, eventually the goal came, typically from Jamie Vardy. There was still plenty of time left, given the injury time of 8 minutes that was added, so ultimately, the Gunners did well to ensure they at least took a point. It might prove significant further down the line. However, sixth place is the best the team can hope for now, and they need to at least secure a point at Spurs on Saturday or they may well be reliant on the results of others if they are to be in Europe at all next season.

Dani Ceballos was a bright spot in the first half, threading the play together. Martinez had another good game, dominating his area and reading the play well. Kieran Tierney also impressed. Arsenal didn’t play badly, they simply failed to kill off the game when they were on top. And that is what the best sides do. There is plenty of work ahead, we know that. In a sense, yesterday was a case of bad luck. Nketiah was wreckless rather than cynical, but paid the price. Arteta wants his players to be competitive and challenge for the ball, so there were reasons Nketiah was over-committed. It’s a difficult balancing act, and God alone knows, Arsene Wenger’s best Arsenal sides saw plenty of red cards whilst winning trophies.

Next up, the North London derby – and perhaps a little advantage in that Spurs play on the Thursday night.

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9
comments

  1. itsRonagain2

    Jul 09, 2020, 13:50 #116940

    CG - HI mate. No, i didn't pay too much attention to his face i admit. Youre right though about Musti s guts. If he has positional talent and could play to the same extent as his guts he d be the best CB in the World!! He always 100 pc and nobody can take that from the man. Hes not great, but due to his work ethic ive always held back from digging him out too much. I do think he d perform well though IF he had a class defender alongside him. Hes just not a 'main man ' type of player. I think Lacazette looks mile s overweight to be honest. I quote like him to be honest.

  2. CORNISH GOONER

    Jul 08, 2020, 20:27 #116939

    I just knew the match would go "tits up" as I earlier had major (then unresolved) problems with both my desk top & printer, you get more superstitious as you get older, & saw this as an omen - it generally works out that way with me at any rate! Red card crazy, Vardy a very lucky boy. Ron, did you see the pics of the side of Musti's face? He is still a disaster in waiting but was generally OK & deserves 10/10 for sheer guts. Don't think Mikel got the subs right & would have liked to see Pepe solo up front as wild card because he is capable of the unexpected & can finish - Lacazette can do neither & I hope he will shortly get a deserved P45.

  3. John F

    Jul 08, 2020, 18:40 #116938

    As Gooner Ron said in the last twenty minutes of the first half we played the best football of the season..As we did against Norwich and Wolves we came out slow for about 20 minutes but I felt we were weathering the storm until the sending off.What Arsenal fans complain about is the lack of consistency by the Refs regarding Arsenal.Brighton were kicking us all over the place and were allowed to get away with it and I can't understand why not one Leicester player was booked.It appears if the our players react they get punished.Arsenal somehow have the most cards issued in the premiership.Spuds away will not doubt produce another dodgy penalty for them (remember last season's match).I hope Arteta plays Saka back on the left and Auba in the middle on Sunday.

  4. itsRonagain2

    Jul 08, 2020, 15:40 #116937

    Yes, Arsenal need to o and beat that rabble. Sours are p--s poor and its great that Mourinho has taken them ever further back.Keep up yr 'good' work Maureen lad! Our record there this last 10 yrs is abysmal and if its right that MA is really making a difference he needs to win there for once to show it. If they fold or scratch a messy point (likely in my view) questions need asking already, especially of the owners but also of MA and certainly of that squad.

  5. itsRonagain2

    Jul 08, 2020, 15:27 #116936

    Good match. 2 good sides, though can see why Leics are up there top 4 and we arent. I dont think Vardy meant to kick Musti in the head and in fairness the contact was so thin. Musti made much of it. The sending off was silly too. He was careless yes, of course he was, but a red card ffs! Not for me.

  6. GoonerRon

    Jul 08, 2020, 12:39 #116934

    I think the second half of the first half was some of the best attacking football we’ve seen under Arteta - sustaining attacks, quick and incisive passing and great movement. Lacazette’s link play and general sharpness was much better but ultimately it was definitely a HT where we should have had a bigger lead were it not for his missed chances. One thing I’ve noticed (not sure if it’s just since lockdown or happened before too) is we are really slow starters at the start of the second half, and it happened again yesterday. Yes, Leicester were better but we seemed to stop trying to dictate the play. Eddie was unfortunate but for me we can’t have too many complaints. I thought, however, Vardy was very lucky. His faux caring face straight after doesn’t fool me - the swing of his leg was unnatural and he meant to do Mustafi, no doubt in my mind. Still, performances and effort are at a good and improving level, we need to keep going in the right direction ahead of pummelling that lot this weekend.

  7. Bardo

    Jul 08, 2020, 12:33 #116933

    Excellent first half and should have been out of sight. Against good sides you have to take your chances. Lacca missed a sitter from Bellerin's cross. It was always going to be a tough ask once Eddie got sent off. Agree with ArsenalMagna when you are trying to secure a result against a good side why bring on two kids. I thought it was a big mistake. I know he scored but Auba general play is awful. He gives the ball away too easily and his hold up play is non existent.

  8. Paulward

    Jul 08, 2020, 12:00 #116932

    Can understand Artetas frustration at the sending off , it’s a debatable one , and if VAR cannot make up its mind does that not indicate a yellow was not an obvious mistake ? When you consider the shocker we received at home to Palace ( winning goal mistakenly chalked off ) I would suggest we are net losers in the VAR lottery this season .However it was a decent enough display but the squad needs to get fitter , right from his first home game v Chelsea over Christmas we have seen evidence that we cannot play Artetas way for 95 minutes, and it is costing us .

  9. ArsenalMagna

    Jul 08, 2020, 11:11 #116931

    My heart sank when I saw Nketiah and Willock coming on. SO naive of Arteta to put two inexperienced players on when trying to hold a lead against a quality EPL team. M-N and Pepe would have been better given their superior experience. What Eddie did was unnecessary and typical of young and inexperienced players. Also, when down to 10 it's better to play 4-4-1 as two banks of four is still hard to break down. Instead we were 5-3-1, so Leicester pinged the ball across the pitch easily with our midfield unable to keep up - their goal was a case in point of this being problematic. Arteta is great but needs to improve his in-game management. On the upside, I love the commitment we're seeing and the 3-4-3 formation really suits the current squad and is hard for the opposition to deal with.