Arteta pleased by improved composure in attack


Mikel Arteta was impressed with the way his midfield and attack created chances against Leeds on a day when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang helped himself to a hat-trick and Hector Bellerin finished off a tidy team move to secure a 4-2 win at the Emirates.

In the absence of the injured Thomas Partey and with Nicolas Pepe dropping to the bench, the Gunners lined up with Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka in the midfield behind Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka providing width on either side of Aubameyang.

It was a setup that caught the eye in the first half as the players showed off their technical quality as well as great movement off the ball.

“I thought it [the side’s creativity] was much better,” Arteta told his post-game press conference.

“We were much more efficient and we were much more composed. We took our time when it was needed, we faked movement, we had runs in behind and we had people in the box and people arriving into the box.

“Our decision-making was much better and then the efficiency when we were hitting the last shot, many of those were on target and that’s the difference when you want to score goals.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, Arteta credited Odegaard for his energy and composure on the ball and he later spoke in similarly glowing terms about Saka, who won a penalty which was converted by Aubameyang, and Ceballos, making his first start in a month, who setup Bellerin.

“Saka is playing really well,” said the Spaniard. “He can still get much better. He’s got that room, he’s got the intelligence and he’s got the desire so his aim has to be to do better, to score more goals, be more efficient in the final third and there’s a lot of things he needs to do better defensively as well to improve day by day, because he’s got the ability.”

On Ceballos, he added: “I thought he was terrific, Dani. To play the way he has done against this type of man-marking team, where it’s really difficult to get on the ball and have some time and play with the quality that he had, then overall I think he had a really good game.”

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Johnny 4 Hats

Ceballos is going to do that thing he did last season where he suddenly starts playing awesome and gives us a real head scratcher this summer.


I thought he was really good today too. Lively, energetic, kept the ball, looked to be creative and worked hard. On US coverage they said RM want 22M UK pounds for him. I say, well worth it.

I also think Gabriel had a great game today after a few shaky ones. Solid and confident. Bossed it.


Ceballos is 24

He’s just getting to 18 months of PL experience

18-24 months was the sweet spot for Ndidi, Bissouma, Fred, to find consistency

Ceballos is beyond slow, but he’s got lots of really good qualities

Particularly in games where we have the vast majority of possession

I’d be inclined to take a punt for £16-£20 million


Yeah, he should develop more consistency as he ages. At worst he would provide good squad depth (like he is doing now). Just has to be at the right price. In the £15-25M range it’s a good deal. He’s a better option than Torreira, Douzi, and El neny. I still feel like we need another CM in the summer, and a proper upgrade that can challenge and likely dislodge Xhaka from the starting XI. Right now we have 1 CM that is a legit top 4 midfielder: Partey (seems worldclass to me). Xhaka has been really good, I’ve been a… Read more »

Viv The 🐐

Very well said. I must say, that I’m not quite sure if Partey is the proper DM we need. He is very intelligent in his interceptions but his tackling is a little bit iff. And he is not a huge presence in the air either. That is until now. So I’m not quite sure which CM should partner him. I have also never been a Xhaka fan, though the last year was comparatively good. But it is still an area we MUST improve in. As a result, I’m not quite sure if we should get a real DM, and free… Read more »


The Mirror was reporting that he could be up for sale in the summer for around £22 million (probably even more if he really plays well for the rest of the season). Whether that represents good vfm for us overall, always assuming we could raise the funds, is a matter for debate. I suspect Arteta may well have other priorities by then.


And then become so so after we decide to spend 25m-30m Real Madrid want for him. I hope he gets a run in the team now He had a really good game and seemed to have improved a lot of things he lacked before. Maybe watching Partey in training is helping a bit but his positioning at times was brilliant was never too far away to xkaha or Saka or Odegaard always in the right spot to form those triangles and play some good one two’s so good on him. I’m not his biggest fan but I’m pleased with his… Read more »

Viv The 🐐

An ESR/Partey/Odegaard midfield would be a Wengeresque move. A little bit offensive for my liking, but if we had most of the poession, it would surely give us more goalthreat. I think ESR and Odegaard give us the options we needed from the start. Ceballos is also a good option in it. Though we should never overlook to keep the balance in the side. though I like that better than Partey/Xhaka/Willian …. Willian 🙁
Up The Arsenal!


Saka would have been MOTM had Auba not taken a hat-trick. Class.


Dani Ceballos and Gabriel were also quite superb.


The Ø was great. He fitted right in with Saka + ESR’s technical quality.


How much would you pay right now if the deal was for both Ceballos and Odegaard?


It’s a buyers market, so £45-£50mill Hopefully we can get £35-£40mill for Torreira + Guendouzi I think it’s going to be a really difficult market though, outside of Bayern Munich, and clubs with really wealthy backers Clubs are haemorrhaging money, I don’t see hardly any money being spent Loans, loans where parent clubs still pay a % of the players wages, and clubs paying players off, will become the new normal Who knows when we’ll get fans back into the stadium We’re about to see huge deflation in transfer fees + wages If we fail to get European football, I’d… Read more »


Yes, that’s a balanced overview in my opinion. As we know, we’ve had to take out a big Govt. loan to fill the Covid hole in our finances and even “super clubs” such as Real Madrid and Barcelona are in financial difficulties (in Barca’s case, very serious difficulties) – in part at least due to Covid. The importance of getting European football for Arsenal (both as a draw for potential signings and the income) shouldn’t be underestimated in my opinion. The EL could bring in as much as £20 million if we went all the way and won it. Losing… Read more »


2 for 1?

Nainsley Aitland Miles

I think Madrid would be looking for at least 60m for the pair.


buy one get one free?

A Different George

My impression is that Ceballos wants to play in Spain, preferably for Real without Zidane, but otherwise for any big club other than Barca (the political bridges are burned in Catalonia). Odegaard may not care as much about that–but surely, as one of the most highly-rated youth players of the decade, he will want to play regularly for a Champions League club.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

The only thing that is not improving now is that how come Arteta keeps playing Willian when he should be playing Martinelli instead (or even Pepe).
Surely Arteta can see what Willian can bring, or rather “not bring”, to this team like we all do right?

Charles MMM

So baffling to many Arsenal fans. Only Arteta can truly explain why (but I’m not holding my breath).


It’s really not that baffling if you care to see beyond the simplified narrative that Willian sucks. Why risk a young player who has struggled with injury in a game against a hard-tackling, extremely hard-working team, who were throwing everything at us in attack and defence in the second half? We were winning, and won the game, quite comfortably, as Auba pointed out in his interview, and there was no need to throw Martinelli out there and risk a Dallas-style tackle on him. Willian, like Holding and Elneny, was brought on to close out the game; no sense in risking… Read more »

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

You know that this “Willian-thing” Is not exclusive to this game only right? It all happens all season. Either Willian is Arteta’s no. 1 favorite or he just can’t (or won’t?) See how bad Willian is. You don’t need to be a football manager to see this


Right, but even when we play good football, score four goals and beat a very good team in the PL, the boo-boys focus in on Willian being used as a substitute … When was the last time Willian started a PL game for us? Arteta hardly treats him as his favourite. Does he keep trying to get something out of the player? Of course, he’s the manager, that is one of the principal things he’s responsible for doing, especially one as currently overpaid as Willian is. I am with everyone in not enjoying Willian on this football club, but I’m… Read more »

Murphy was an Arsenal Fan

That would be alright if Willian wasn’t a possession liability when he came on. He is. We can understand a defensive winger(?) sub. But Willian actually sucks. Really. He actually contributes nothing. The most we see him do is frown and misplace passes.


Except in he previous match Willian helped change the game. He held possession when we needed to get pressure off of us and on to the opposition. Martinelli didn’t. Look, I like Martinelli and don’t care so much for Willian’s performances for our club so far too. But Arteta last match, and I think this match put Willian on for a purpose, to put qualities in that weren’t there, and last match it worked, this match less so. Martinelli is not a hold-up player. We were up with a good lead, and needed some legs to see it out and… Read more »

Murphy was an Arsenal Fan

Willian doing well is like a clock being right twice a day. If it worked last game, it was at best an aberration. And since I have clearly missed what you saw in terms of the positives he provided yesterday, please elucidate.

It is perfectly possible that I am blinkered by the first 10, 15, 20 impressions of Willian in Arsenal colours and in General Iroh’s words, only seeing the dark because that is what I am looking for.

Most of us like a lot of the things Arteta’s doing. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call him out on absolute BS.


So well said. Nearly every comment on every article after a game has to mention how pointless Willian is, whether we win, lose or draw (and sometimes even when Willian doesn’t play!). To those commenters – what Arsenal fan thinks Willian should be playing? It’s not like you’ve come up with a mind blowing revelation that Willian sucks. Only AFC fans can whine this much after a win against a good Leeds team, while playing some great football. So much more to talk about, some really positive things. If anything, the rest of the players should thank Willian so our… Read more »

A Different George

It was a very good win; we played a brilliant first half, passing and advancing up the field like Wenger’s Arsenal; Aubameyang had a hat-trick after a lot of struggles; Smith Rowe worked very well with Odegaard, Bellerin was very good and Saka looked like a world-class player. Gabriel seemed to be back in form; Cedric did a fine job covering for Tierney. A lot of things to talk about, most positive. Yet, an actual majority of the comments on the match report, at least when I looked, carped about Willian.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

I never said that I hate arteta and want him to go. I really wish that he could be the manager that bring us success. But he is kinda stubborn and not flexible enough until the condition force him to do the otherwise. Hope this is just him being new to the managerial position

santi's thigh grab

Sort of like Wenger, stubborn and inflexible, he did alright in his first decade at the club but I don’t disagree with your point. Sometimes as a manager you need to be stubborn and inflexible if you have an idea of how you want to play. Willian has a three year contract. He’s getting paid a lot of money. I don’t want to see Willian come on to finish out games but I understand he’s a tool the manager needs to use to see out games. If we can’t move Willian on this summer, then the manager has to get… Read more »


Perseverance, eh?

Well, if Arteta keeps this up – and it’s looking like he will – he might just – at a push – get a decent five minutes out of Willian in the next two years.

Excuse me if the anticipation doesn’t have me in the same vice like grip that it clearly has the manager in…..

santi's thigh grab

Good response with context, thank you for uplifting the conversation.

A Different George

I watched Chelsea yesterday and Timo Werner (“why is he still playing?”) was probably man of the match. Don’t think that will happen with Willian, but it’s not impossible, given how he has played in the past. Oh, by the way, although I did not see it, Mustafi was also MOTM this weekend, for Schalke.

Man Manny

And I can’t seem to be able to shake off the feeling that Arteta only stumbled on what has worked for the team. Would he have played ESR if Willian was available for the Chelsea game? With what he has done since then, I think the answer is no. Arteta contrives to ruin a game, at any opportunity he has, by bring on Willian! I believe Martinelli would have made life more difficult for Aston Villa and Leeds. All in all, I am struggling to warm up to a manager who seems to be stumbling on what works. His treatment… Read more »


Yes, he is an overhyped manager. It took maybe the worst run of games in the history of the club to have him change his tactics. It was obvious weeks before his system and his player selection we’re leading nowhere.

Still happy we are playing better and very happy with Smith Rowe in the team and Saka on the right.

But I won’t give him too much credit for it. He still shows glimpses of being tacticly limited with his substitutions. The one who needs a rest now and then is Saka.


I know with the final score and getting a penalty soon after it was brushed over but that penalty overturn was outrageous, I was fuming at the time. Cooper was nowhere near the balk and cleared Saka out. How is that not a penalty when you see so many of the ones that have been given this season. Just look at Salah against City, a slight tug on his arm and the penalty is not even questioned. Then Souness after the game saying the Bamford shout was a nailed on pen and no mention of the Saka one??? It’s hard… Read more »


I’m not convinced it’s anything against us. There is just a general lack of consistency that is insane. Everyone thought that VAR would allow for more consistency but it hasn’t. It could just be down to the simple fact that the EPL lacks good quality refs.


It’s just mind-blowing to me that the refs across the board are this bad.

Considering everyone is this comment section will agree on calls 8 out of 10 times. Yet the refs can barely go 5 decisions in a row without messing atleast 1 up.

A Different George

I didn’t think it was a penalty. But the referee thought it was, and it should have stood. It should take VAR 10-30 seconds to see if the call was genuinely mistaken (it was the attacker’s arm the ball hit, not the defender’s; the referee’s view was blocked and he couldn’t see the shirt being pulled, etc.) and it should stand otherwise.

I could see Mikel sticking with the same 11 to start against Benfica. I don’t really see the need to change anything.

Baichung Bhutia

I also think the same, except for Holding. I don’t think Pepe was rested rather he was dropped after some improving performances. I hope Arteta doesn’t read too much into this game as Leeds were so open which helped our attack. I would play Saka, Pepe, ESR and Auba against Benfica.


If KT is fit he comes back in.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

No point risking him for the first leg.

santi's thigh grab

He needs to rotate players who have too many minutes. There will be changes. Pepe and Laca need a run out.


His comments heavily suggest ‘work in progress’. Ceballos was very good today. Odegaard was very solid on his debut. The consistency of Xhaka’s performances of late is encouraging. With continued consistency from that trio and, most importantly, a consistently healthy Partey, our midfield could cause teams problems.

The ingredients of a strong team are taking shape, but the identity of a strong team is still very much ‘under construction’.


If there was one match where Willian could kick start his thing at Arsenal, it was this one. We were comfortable, fluid and there was a lot of open space. I don’t mind Arteta trying to make it work. But that was the last straw and has to stop. Sometimes, you just need to cut your losses and move on! Let’s concentrate on Pepe and Martinelli. I hope Arteta does that going forward. COYG!


Im no fan of Willian but he is certainly a less risk player than the likes of Martinelli & Pepe. When you are trying to close a game out i can see why Willian & Elneny are brought on. They are usually safer on the ball than the other 2 so less chance of turnovers.


True but I would argue Martinelli and Pepe (recently) puts a lot more effort in their off the ball work. Willian is so half hearted when he tracks back which is the reason I am fed up with him. If your attacking game is off form then at the very least put in a decent defensive shift for the 30 mins your on the pitch.


Less risk? The guy cannot be arsed to do anything. It takes him half an hour to break a sweat.

When he’s on the pitch, we’re as good as a man down.

If that’s not a risk, I don’t know what is.


I admire your faith.

I wish I could only feel the same. Arteta seems hell bent on getting ‘value for money’ from Willian by constantly playing him – despite the game, the situation, the score and the needs of the team.

Those are not the actions of a great manager or even someone who knows what he is doing.

They are the actions of a stubborn selfish man putting his own ego first.

And people wonder why I’m still yet to be convinced…..


We were driving forward in packs. The extra man in midfield made it doubly difficult for them as they were pulled all over the shop with Auba and Saka staying wide and cutting in field. But some great short passes to double team players into the box. ESR and Odegaard like two false 9s but even Ceballos pushed forward on a number of occasions creating problems. High energy levels in midfield today with players pulling back to help Xhaka who in general had another strong outing with plenty of ball recoveries but also faster use of the ball. Somewhere along… Read more »

Billy bob

I’m liking your more positive reviews Santori keep it up


Ceballos has been looking sharp in training.

Odegaard and him will have suffered a little second half having not played much but very positive today seeing midfield working together. We may have plenty of goals from this two and ESR if it clicks. All 3 have a strong role to play.

Crash Fistfight

I think we’ve found the mole, ladies and gentlemen.


Composure is everything.

We lacked nuance in many games snatching at shots when we could have faked the shot taken the touch away from a committed player going to ground.

Today with Auba’s first and Bellerin, less hurry. A bit more feints to create surprise element.

Eddy F

Thought dropping Holding for Luiz was poor but maybe he was keeping him fresh for Thursday. Holding has been our most consistent performer at the back and I reckon would’ve won the header that Luiz got outjumped for.


Luiz started all four of the attacks that led to goals with sharp passes forward to bypass the press. Saka lost his man completely for the headed goal — Luiz didn’t even see him coming as it wasn’t his job. If you want to blame anyone, blame Saka, but I don’t see the point — both of the goals Leeds scored were very good ones, and that does happen in this game even to team far better than we are. Despite the fact that the opposing manager took time out of his own press conference post-match to say that Arteta… Read more »

A Different George

I was amazed that anyone blamed Luiz for their first goal. It was a brilliant corner, and the attacker had a run behind Luiz (who was doing exactly what he was supposed to do). As you say, if you insist on blaming anyone it was Saka who failed to hold up his man.

When opponents score a goal, it is our defenders’ fault. When we score, it is our brilliance.


I’ve always advocated taking each and every single incident and judging it individually – it’s extremely easy and lazy to get caught up in cliches.

Luiz was too slow for this goal here – and to cut the guy some slack, he is experienced but he is also no spring chicken.


This was the first team in a while going forward which looked like everyone was on the same wavelength. I don’t mind Pepe and he has some rare attributes, but as a team player i feel like he halts a lot of our fluidity. Same with Lacazette, decent hold up and link play but easy to mark, doesn’t drift and stretch like Auba did at CF. Alan Smith mentioned it on Sky but the team did have a feel for the Wenger side of Rosicky, Hleb, Fabregas, Nasri etc. Obviously not that much technical quality but we had control and… Read more »


The best post I’ve read on here in ages.

Very well put. Top post.