Leno: We had nothing to lose

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Bernd Leno has revealed that the Arsenal dressing room discussed having ‘nothing to lose’ at half time of yesterday’s 3-2 win over Aston Villa.

The Gunners twice came from behind before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck decisively with a free-kick six minutes from time.

The win was all the more thrilling given Unai Emery’s men had to play 49 minutes with just 10 men after Ainsley Maitland-Niles was given his marching orders for two yellow cards.

Frustrated at falling behind to John McGinn’s cute finish, Leno says he was pleased with the way his teammates fought back.

“I think the win showed a lot of our quality in our mind,” he told Arsenal.com.

“In the dressing room we spoke at half-time that we had nothing to lose. We were already one-nil and with one less player, and we can fight and we can win this game and the team showed a great response.

“At the end we had so many good chances to score and the win was well deserved.”

Leno also labelled Aubameyang’s winner as a knuckle-ball after the Gabon striker deceived Villa keeper Tom Heaton with a set-piece rocket that flew past the wall before he had a chance to move.

“I had the perfect view,” revealed Leno. “From behind I could see the shot, it was a knuckle-ball, I think and it’s very difficult for the goalkeeper because he didn’t see the ball and it was a fantastic goal.

“He’s unbelievable and the goal was also unbelievable. I think he’s very important for us because he scoring almost every week, and getting important goals for us too.”

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49'
49'

I was hoping for a draw and we got a win thanks to Auba. Man was I happy.

Dave M
Dave M

Credit to Luiz, chambers and Kola on that free-kick goal too, they played a huge part in their goalie going unsighted. But, Auba, what a hit. He literally threaded the needle through Chambers and Kola and a couple villa players. Peachy…

HelderHughes
HelderHughes

I agree with this. We did play more fluently and passionately in that second half.

But the question remains, why are we playing with such fear? Why does it take disaster to strike for us to come out of our shells?

Danger Mouse
Danger Mouse

We play with fear because the whole team is aware that calamity at the back can happen at any moment with Sokratis and Sideshow Bob.

HelderHughes
HelderHughes

I dunno man. These guys are incredibly experienced footballers. They didn’t get where they are by fucking up every week.

Mustafi was incompetent. Sokratis is incompetent. Now Luiz is incompetent? I think there’s more at play here than individual negligence.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio
The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

Mustafi was even played briliantly when he first came for the 20-odd matches because we didnt loose a match if i’m not mistaken. then he got injured and has become crap ever since

Danger Mouse
Danger Mouse

Well I’ll put it this way. Stick prime Tony Adams and Martin Keown In there and a lot of our problems disappear. Not all but a lot. Not just their physical abilities but their organizational nous, their directing of the players around them. Sokratis tries hard but just isn’t up to it, Luiz is technically a good player but also asleep at the wheel half the time.

Maul Person
Maul Person

Experienced doesn’t mean good. Mustafi is experienced. Gallas was experienced. Hell, even Silvestre was experienced. Based on the common thread between these players, I’d happily add Luiz and, to a lesser extent, Papastotopolous to that illustrious group…

Dave M
Dave M

This whole “playing with fear” BS is something Granny Xhaka made up to distract Emery and the fans from the real problem here:
“Playing with Xhaka”

They aren’t playing with fear, they are playing with a slow midfielder, who substantially reduces the pace at which the team can play with the ball – so we are forced into slower build-up play and then gets caught out when the opposition gets the ball because he is too slow to turn and recover, over commits when defending, and we result in a team that is easy pickings on the break.

jon

“.. a slow midfielder, who substantially reduces the pace at which the team can play with the ball – so we are forced into slower build-up play..”

In slowing down attacks, I think he is following Emery’s instructions. Emery wants to play possession football. But the times are changing, maybe away from possession.

Dave M
Dave M

I’m not sure he does want to play purely tippy, tappy, control possession slow tempo football, but the problem is I’m not sure he knows what he wants to play. It seems at times he sees how strengths when we play high tempo and he sets us up with outlets and ready to play on the break (Liverpool – we were structurally tight – with Pepe and Auba as the outlets, I didn’t mind the tactic, but it was totally killed by our obsession to play it out from the back every chance, not matter what in that game). But then against Villa and Watford we are so unbalanced, we have a fast attacking trio that is killer in space and we play Xhaka to control the game and slow the pace and we play into the opponents hands – completely unblanced. He goes off and we have more movement, higher tempo and midfielders that can drive through the middle of the pitch, but also enough pace and stamina to get back and cover too – balance is back and we immediately go on a tear and destroyed them in the last 24 mins (after the 71st min mark). I think this is the exact source of the problem for the fans and the players too and even Emery himself – no one really knows what exactly is going on. Players at times are confused, and fans are getting sick of seeing this blind loyalty to a guy (Granny Xhaka) that doesn’t fit the system we SHOULD be playing and DO play when he isn’t on the pitch.

Ska
Ska

I get criticizing Xhaka but summing up our team’s problems with his presence or lack of pace is pure blindness

back saka cracka
back saka cracka

Emery is setting him up to fail by highlighting his weaknesses.
Refusing to play him in a double pivot with Torreira, who complements him – Liverpool at home last season anyone.. Instead it’s Guendouzi and a.n.other walkabout midfielder. He is not a bad player per-say, just getting hung out to dry by the bone-headed setup of our ‘tactically astute’ coach.

Mpls
Mpls

The one criticism I have is Emery’s tactics all too often overlook the characteristics of the players he has. Xhaka is not the only one, as we are all aware, who is not being balanced into the team properly.

It seems at times Emery’s desire (or assignment) to include the youth or certain players is in direct conflict with his tactics.

Sounds a little familiar, really.

Dave M
Dave M

No doubt there are some other issues, but Emery makes him such a focal part of our game, and our whole strategy has to adjust to fit him into the team and that makes our team unbalanced and lacking direction on both ends. I think he is a good player for Europa league (and he should be able to handle cup games), but not EPL – game is too fast for him.

Saps
Saps

Untrue.
Xhaka has his faults, but slowing the game down isn’t one.
Moves the ball quickly, and over long distances as well.
Ceballos, on the other hand, enjoys a dribble or two.
Hate him (boo if you feel like it), but give him his due.
PS : Booing Xhaka was disgraceful and cringe-worthy. Absolute trash move.

Martin Dufosse
Martin Dufosse

Amazing how many on here vote down people critical of Xhaka and the useless Ozil. Dave,have look at the Gooner. Men more akin to your knowledge. This lot are clueless. Just look at how the whole team ethic changed when Xhaka was removed. The MAN is a liability.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Because Xhaka was in the team, his movement & positioning made others limit their free flow football (attacking), also confuse our defenders. I had mentioned before that others feel uncomfortable when he was in the field. They played with freedom when he was subbed.

Spursarewank

But we did! A whole 3 points at home worth of tangible progress to lose

Saran Singh
Saran Singh

Gotta say, I really like Leno. Frequently comes out after games and either admonishes the team, admits to weaknesses, or simply explains their mindset and mentality. Lot of people remarking on Xhaka’s willingness to speak to the press but I think Auba and Leno deserve far more credit. Able to access what went right/wrong, and all in their second language which is pretty remarkable given they haven’t been in England long.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio
The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

I can’t really fault the attitude. But surely chambers deserves to play more now to replace sok or luiz who havent shown any decent performance so far if they both play together

myrtle
myrtle

No chance, Chambers will be RB and this circus of a CB partnership will continue to ship goals next week.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio
The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

Yeah i know. At least until bellerin and holding ready to play. I Hope we can manage until then so we can pain holding+chambers at the center

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio
The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

We can play*

Chambers still decent as RB too though

Goontang
Goontang

Pretty sure that’s 9 points from 9 for chambers in the premier league this season. (Cant remember him coming on in the last 3 games and he started the first 2) You have to reward results. And that finish was sublime

Nketibag
Nketibag

Exactly. Emery seems to have completely gone away from the initial meritocracy he had in his first few months. Apart from Saka getting a start this game (in a position up for grabs), nobody senior has been dropped after bad performances. Chambers can certainly feel hard done by that he hasn’t kept his place.

George
George

I could be wrong, but this sounds like more of the players taking things into their own hands. Probably not, but I’d like it if it were. Leno is shaping up as genuine captain material maybe.

Hurensohn
Hurensohn

It is the players taking things into their own hands, that’s their job. The manager can’t kick the ball for them.

George
George

I get that, but I’m thinking more along the lines of Leno’s earlier comment(s) and the possibility that there is some head scratching re.: tactics.

Have you never heard of player only meetings?

Maul Person
Maul Person

Missing the point there, Hurensohn…?

Kaleja
Kaleja

I am starting to think that Auba is more Captain Material that everyone give him credit, he is senior, influential and he give it all and everyone likes him.

I think now he is taking more half chances than usual,
Hope he is having A Van per$ie esque 2011/12 season, personally taking us to the champions league spot, His Quality as a more matured striker will carry us to the promise land, Because as a team we are way off pace.
You can even hear Leno taking about how they had nothing to lose,thats more to do of players that the system they are in.

Gunnermite
Gunnermite

Minus the Judas esque bit you might want to add.

Kaleja
Kaleja

Spot on.

Cultured Determination
Cultured Determination

we seem to play with fear because we dont have intensity in our game. intensity comes from the midfield, and with take-your-time,have-a-cup-of-tea dweller like xhaka in the middle we’re never going to get the ball moving fast enough and get into the right tempo to take advantage of our speed demons up top. see what a difference it makes when torreira and willock came on. that should be our starting 3 CMs together with emmanuel gueodouzi. stop the favourtism and let meritocracy rule.

jon

“Intensity comes from the midfield, and with take-your-time,have-a-cup-of-tea dweller like xhaka in the middle we’re never going to get the ball moving fast enough and get into the right tempo to take advantage of our speed demons up top.”

In general, I agree. But I think Xhaka plays as he does because he is under orders from Emery. Emery has at several occasions said that he wants the team to be better at holding the ball. This entails not risking early attacks.

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

I’m sorry, but I still want Emery gone.

If anything, yesterday’s events have simply confirmed everything that’s wrong with the club right now. Our defending was yet again a complete joke and we were lucky to take all three points. Aston Villa had only managed to score 4 goals in their previous 5 Premier League matches before they arrived at the Grove but they found Arsenal to be most generous hosts. They scored 2 and should have got at least 2 more. Yes, AMN was unlucky to be sent off but that doesn’t excuse what went on. And it should have finished 3-3: it was a clear handball by Soc at the end.

We are relying on our forwards to get us out of trouble again and again. Over the season this will cost us dearly. We will, yet again under Emery, concede more than 50 PL goals. And that mean almost certainly no top-four finish. Those of us who worried about Emery’s defensive coaching abilities and the club’s failure to sign capable defensive players have already been proved right.

Yes, the players showed great spirit in fighting back in the second half but we never should have been in that position. I don’t want to see “a great advert for the game” matches from my team: I want to see brutal efficient winners, and that means defending well and then putting bad sides like Villa away without a fuss.

If we could just bring in a decent defensive coach then we could actually do well even with these players. We will always score goals. But we need to act quickly and get rid of Emery before it’s too late.

bob
bob

Completely agree with pretty much every point you made. This is not my usual response to a Fatgooner post. I am confused.

Ska
Ska

The problem is that when we play like we have nothing to lose (second half) we succeed and when we try to execute the manager’s plan we fail again and again and again…

Jimbo1
Jimbo1

A knuckle-ball in football? Auba must have very odd feet.

The Spoon
The Spoon

Hopefully experiment against Forest this week, Holding and Chambers at CB and if fit enough, alongside Tierney and Bellerin. I’d like to see those guys given a chance. Constantly playing the same CB pairing despite it clearly not working is the definition of insanity. That goes for AMN at RB too. Toerria needs more game time, if there are issues with his fitness/ability to play in the PL should have sold him. If not, play him.

Mark
Mark

Here’s an idea, maybe start the matches playing as if we have nothing to lose. Has to be an improvement on the current method.

ViennaGooner
ViennaGooner

Emery get´s a lot of stick at the moment. But in an interview this week before the Villa Match he said, we have to attack further forward on the pitch. We didn´t do it in the first half, it worked well in the second. So i don´t know if it´s his tactics or the players who don´t listen.

bob
bob

Well it’s because there’s one thing saying we should do something, its completely another (and way more difficult) to make that plan a reality. That is also purely the coaches job and he is consistently failing at it. It’s very telling that our fightback is on the basis of players themselves saying enough with this bullshit, fuck whatever the plan is meant to be let’s just get at them and win.

Bodie CI5
Bodie CI5

Can we please get rid of xhaka and re sign our santi cazorla, he’s got 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games already,

CLEGooner
CLEGooner

I can think of one thing they had to lose.

Dave M
Dave M

Nah leave Santi be, he deserves this after what he sent through, he doesnt need this confusion and pressure right now. Closest thing we ever got to rosicky, sadly we got robbed seeing them both as much as we should have. Class players! Feel like rosicky would be the perfect coaching addition To get the most out of willock, douzi, smith Rowe, torreira… What’s he up to now? Tomasz?

Santori
Santori

Perhaps that’s the way we need to prosecute our games.

“Nothing to Lose”

I think Granit struck the nail on the head somewhat when he said we had been playing with ‘fear’.

We seem too cautious and tentative at times, afraid to make mistakes.

With back against the wall, we had no choice but to take off the proverbial handbrakes.

And we did it with 10 men a goal down. So hopefully this breeds a bit of self believe.

It mask none of the deficiencies we still have at the back or our lack of coordination defending as a unit, particularly the disconnect between midfield and attack in defending.

BUT we at very least know we have some fight and are not timid.

The other issue we still have is ball retention. Even after we went ahead yesterday, we went back to panicky and did not see out the game with enough authority. Granted we were a man down and they were coming at us, I felt we needed to retain the ball better in midfield but also up top (Auba and Pepe) and the keeper needed to play the ball from the back rather than punt it long and back to allow them the initiative.

I did not see much improvement in retention with Willock and Torreira on.

There was an increase energy which was more born from the fact the midfield was playing with ten men and needed an injection of fresh legs rather than any imagined deficiencies in granit whom I thought was pushing forward to support the attack well (A couple of times unfortunate he had ball stuck in his feet in advance positions)

This whole imaginary ills of Granit now starting to take again epic proportions. David Hillier on the main Arsenal Player waxing lyrical about Luiz passing range when Granit provided the same amount if not more out balls from range twice to Pepe around 22min mark and one very good release to Auba on the left later second half.

BUT those go ‘unmentioned’ since it is not popular fantasy.

Even with Cebellos, I felt he escapes criticism since the common conjecture is he is the new Santi.

The Spaniard had a couple of good moments holding the ball for us but also lost the ball several times ala Alexis Sanchez.

Too much perception is built upon what some prefer to see rather than actual.

Unfortunately.

COYG1001
COYG1001

I have no problems with the players. Each one has strengths and weaknesses.

I have a problem with the manager, who wants to play to his perceived strengths (tactics) instead of the strengths of a very talented squad. All the more galling because there are obvious mismatches between player strengths and weaknesses and his preferred tactics.