Friday, February 23, 2024

Arteta allays Saka injury fears, explains why he benched Martinelli

Mikel Arteta says Bukayo Saka will be ‘fine’ despite being on the receiving end of series of heavy challenges during Arsenal’s 4-2 win over Aston Villa.

The England international spent a decent chunk of the afternoon at Villa Park limping but was still on the pitch for the Gunners’ two stoppage time strikes thanks to some heavy strapping applied by the medical team.

Saka was the focal point of most of Arsenal’s attacking play and got on the scoresheet on 16 minutes when he lashed home to cancel out Ollie Watkin’s opener.

Frustrated at constantly having his ankles kicked, the 21-year-old eventually lost his rag and picked up a yellow card for pushing Philippe Coutinho who’d fouled him just before the break. It was more of the same in the second half with Alex Moreno and Boubacar Kamara targeting him on a rotational base.

“He’s fine,” said Mikel Arteta afterwards. “He got kicked quite a lot today again. But he’s going to have to deal with that.

“Not every week, but every three days and sometimes in training as well because it’s his game and teams are not stupid and they want to stop him. That’s why we need to protect him.”

On the subject of protecting players, Arteta said that the decision to bench Gabriel Martinelli in favour of Leandro Trossard was mostly down to the minutes the Brazilian had played and not to do with a recent loss of form.

“It’s not dropping him,” he protested when asked why he’d changed things up.

“He’s played every single minute. You don’t see players at his age doing that. We have three 21-year-olds leading the front line. It’s unheard of.

“Leo (Trossard) has been doing really well and we needed impact. I was really worried about the last 25 minutes of this game after everything that we put on Wednesday. We needed energy and we needed a player that could do that. I thought we did it.”

Martinelli certainly made an impact, scoring in the eighth minute of stoppage time to round off a manic afternoon.

Four minutes earlier, new boy Jorginho had given the Gunners the lead in dramatic fashion, unleashing a shot from the edge of the box that crashed against the bar before finding the net off the back of Emi Martinez’s head. It was a comically beautiful moment.

“I certainly didn’t see that quality of him – scoring from deep,” said Arteta reflecting on the Italian’s incredible impact.

“The biggest quality he has is that he makes other people look better, better than what you actually are.

“He’s made a huge impact already on the boys and the staff and hopefully our fans. I hope people can see that because I thought he was tremendous today.”

After failing to win in any of the last four games, the victory is a shot in the arm for Arteta’s players who now have a week to prepare for Leicester.

He was delighted with the character shown by the squad at the end of a gruelling week, saying:

“At some stage you’re going to have to win games in the 94th minute or the 96th minute. You’re going to have to score from set-plays, you’re going to have to score when you’re down to 10 men.

“It’s about winning in any context. We always talk about that and today we had a really difficult context, especially with what happened after five minutes. The team showed a lot of emotional qualities which are needed to be up there. I’m really happy with that.”

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Thank you Forest! Yeeehaaa

Goldman Sack

got to be honest didn’t see that coming

Boy Bastin

Yes, it was the icing on the cake today.

Boy Bastin

Apparently someone thinks that it wasn’t. A rogue City fan on the site perhaps?


The real piece de resistance..


Chris Wo’od you kiwi beauty!


He’s certainly Kiwi

Chris WOOD scored for Nottingham FOREST?



He usually lumbers around the pitch but toady he splintered off.

Funsho Patrick

Yea bro! Didn’t see that coming…

Naked Cygan

Spoiler Alert! We will drop more points this season. City will also drop more points this season. Rollercoaster ride ahead. We just have to make sure next time we play City to try and get something out of the game. Even 1 point is not a bad result given our recent results there.

Ideally we will be at least 4 points clear of City before we go to Maine Road. Wouldn’t want to go there needing a result.

Naked Cygan

Yeah, they will most likely have the better goal difference this season so 4 points gap is a must. Hopefully City will have a successful Champions League and FA Cup run to keep them busy and tired.


Maine Road? A kickabout in the street, jumpers for goalposts, frequent pauses for passing traffic and Haaland sent off for putting in Mrs Wilkins’ front window?

Ed from oz

Thank you Chris Wood! My only favourite kiwi!


Slightly bettet than Danny Hay! Leeds and Glory legend


Lead restored.


The response from this team all season comes! That’s indication that this team is different. Down 1-0, 2-1, on the back of the couple of losses (and a big one to $ity). The team rolls over and exposes it’s belly…or digs it’s heals in and goes for the jugular! COYG!
Fuck $ity, fuck Manure, and fuck the haters! Stay focussed internally. Get the job done!!


I’ve always loved Chris Woods. I said he was world class and no-one listened…..


I certainly forgive him for all those times he was one of the reasons I hated Burnley with a passion.


I wouldn’t say world class but he was England’s no1 and a decent keeper for Sheffield Wednesday.


Dave Seaman was England’s No 1 – end of. True Story – en route to our FA Cup Final Replay against Wednesday in May 1993, I bumped into Gordon Banks. What amazed me was the number of idiots calling themselves football fans who were clearly oblivious to the fact that they were walking past an England World Cup legend. Gordon was lost and needed some advice about the a destination and the changes he had to make. After I put him at ease he thanked me – and seizing the opportunity – I got the most famous England goalkeeper of… Read more »


Great story thanks 😊 I had to sit in the Wednesday end for that game, got exposed when I couldn’t stop jumping up for Wrighty’s goal.


Would like to see Trossard or Martinelli at striker next match and the other at left wing. The league needs to do something to protect players like Saka that are constantly fouled in very dangerous was with little action by the referees.


No one can explain why Saka doesn’t have the same level of protection the likes of Grealish, Kane etc have. It’s baffling to be honest. And every time he gets frustrated and lashes out, they are quick to flash the card.


hmmm ….I can’t qWhite work out what the difference might be


Someone needs to do a research study on fouls saka receives. Then people may finally sit up and see that Saka is being disproportionately fouled. I truly believe if he was white he’d be just as well protected as his fellow English teammates grealish/foden/mount/kane etc

Santi’s Thigh Grab



Well personally I don’t like special treatments. Especially that c*nt Kane who is allowed to kick at please.
However I am a fan of giving a fair square f*cking foul on our boy when he is kicked around like a can.


so true, drives me blinking mad


I could give an easy answer to that…


I really really don’t see what Trossard or Martinelli are going to do as strikers that Nketiah doesn’t do. Like I’m curious to know what you and other advocates of this idea are going for, but I wouldn’t say either of them have the hold-up player to play the striker role our system tends to ask of the striker, unless we ask them to play a different role. Nketiah for his flaws still holds the ball up well and has the all-round game of a striker which allows us to keep the ball and control of the game. I worry… Read more »

Peter Cechs helmet

Well they might score..
I loves Eddie, his constant pressing – he really needs a goal though.


For me it’s not as much as what Nketiah isn’t doing, but rather getting to see Trossard and Martinelli together on the field at the same time being able to interchange with one another and having three dynamic playmakers across the front. Nketiah has done well, but like any player struggling to get results (such as scoring goals as a striker) coming in off of the bench for a game or two can be the kick in the pants he needs.


They’re going to pass the ball. Nketiah never passes the ball.


Laid one on a plate for Ødegaard yesterday. Looked suspiciously like a pass to me.


Trossard is more used to playing through the middle than Martinelli to be fair


Martinelli is a better footballer and has proven he can finish under pressure and deliver consistent level of performance. His first goal for arsenal was a strikers header and he was never played there again. Eddie hasn’t registered a shot on target in 5 matches, chance after chance not even on target, 100k a week new contract, given another chance to be the man (got 8-10) games leading the line before and we were awful. His recent goals were surprising rather than expected. Ultimately, he’s not at the level Arsenal currently aspire to, it’s no like Xhaka who can be… Read more »


Only reason I’ve wanted to see maybe Martinelli there is because Eddie has played every single minute since World Cup and in some of the last few games has looked like he needs a break. Eddie has done tremendously well considering I do not think he has ever had a run of constant games like this, maybe tail end last season, but they may have been fewer more spaced out games. He’s also scored more than Jesus did, and Jesus also had a poor run in front of goal prior to the World Cup, missing as many chances I would… Read more »

Mayor McCheese

I always wear my signed Chris Wood shirt on days like today.


City dropped points v Forest. COYG!


So after dropping 3 points to city in what was a bit of a sloppy display.
Forest have now ensured it is actually only 2 points dropped.

I seem to remember us recently talking of being owed 2 points from somewhere 😀

Emi Rates

Not that they can touch us this season but Chelsea also lost again. It matters because they are cunts.


Chris Wood. GOAT of all GOATS!!!

Boy Bastin

Good news about Saka – we simply can’t afford to lose him through injury, particularly at this time of the season.

The team showed the same spirit (if not quite the quality of football) that they did against Utd in my opinion which is a relief, and a contrast to the previous three PL games. Leicester at home next.

Man Manny

This City team will drop more points, especially now that the CL has begun. We must get ready to capitalise to the full (that is why today’s victory is quite satisfying).


Nottingham Forest away is going to be a tough one for us too.

Boy Bastin

Very possibly. I don’t understand why the dropping points argument only applies to other teams – City in this case – and not to us as well when we know only too well from recent experience that it does. It’s odd!


Well, to balance it out, consider us and them dropping equal points from now till end of the season.

Man Manny

I think it’s because every pundit talks about City going on a run. In fact, Gary Neville talks about them purring. On the other hand, it seems to be a given that Arsenal will drop points.
So, my point about City dropping points doesn’t mean Arsenal won’t; it is to make the point that both teams will.

Fireman Sam

Yes but remember Gary Neville is a wiener

Boy Bastin

Fair enough, and I agree, but you didn’t mention that in your original comment.


Because in previous seasons city have been a ‘juggernaut’, dropping barely any points. That’s why people are noting that this time it’s different.

Boy Bastin

Yes, and it’s probably true – but you seem to ignore the same logic when it comes to us. We’ll drop points as well, won’t we? After all, the reason why the win at Villa today was so important was precisely because we had dropped so many. Also, we’re going to be involved in the EL soon. Not the CL, I agree, but Arteta will play at least some of his first choice players – he certainly did in the earlier group stage (or else we may not have qualified!). What’s good or bad for City must also be good… Read more »


I think some people presume the CL will be prioritized by City/Pep over the league because they have yet to win the Big Cup, and need it to complete their sport-swashing/career objectives, whereas one can believe another league title would do little to further enhance City’s brand or Pep’s reputation.

In Arsenal’s case, everyone at the club, in the stands, and at home would want to win the league and we all trust team selection in the Europa League competition will be subservient to that goal.

Boy Bastin

Just picked up your comment. That could be true, but looking at Pep’s record as a manager (and I happened to be in Barcelona for a couple of years when he was in charge there) he struck me as someone who went for the lot, trophy-wise. I think that’s true for his spell in Germany as well. He didn’t always succeed of course, but that’s a different matter. If I was Pep, I’d say to the City players, we’ve won everything domestically but there’s a record of Utd’s we can go for now – the Treble. If that means he… Read more »

I love wenger

Mate,i read your comments in every article.
you seem very negative, noone expected us to be in this position, but we are.
so enjoy the moment,surely this is better than last season.
if we don’t win the league, i will at least have enjoyed the ride,
To be honest I was hoping top 4 this season.
To be negative about where we are now as a club seems absurd.
cheer up lad x

Boy Bastin

You say I’m being “absurd” in being cautious about where we are now. I’m not. I’m happy we’re where we are. My caution is that with 15 games left the PL title race is not over by a long way yet (and we’re talking about the chances of winning it, not “just” a top 4 finish). So I’ll celebrate when we’ve actually won the title – and remain happy but cautious until we do.

Bill Hall

Let’s all fucking laugh at City 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣


You know what will happen, the league will wait until the season is over and then dock points if we win the league. If they win it, no points will be docked.


Wow just wow this league is just full of surprises!…Thanks Nottingham Forest Hahahha

Bill Hall

Emery is really passed at Emi over the fourth goal hahaha

Karma is a bitch ain’t it Emi, all the time-wasting came home to fucking roost!


As much as I’m thrilled about today’s win, I’m becoming more and more frustrated with the “product” Premier League is producing. The level of refereeing is atrocious, followed by the same level of commentary. I know today’s ref was “fine” considering how absurdly low the bar is, yet the situation close to half time left me furious – Ode on the floor unnoticed, then Coutinho barges into Saka, who defends himself since the ref has no interest in doing so. Straight yellow for Saka – after being kicked for the whole half with no consequences for the opposition. For some… Read more »


Refereeing is tougher than it’s ever been, not just because of the diving, play acting, ‘game management’ and on-field abuse, but more because of pundits incl match of the day putting them under such scrutiny every single week. It makes people who’ve never done the job think they could do better. Grass roots officiating is hard enough, top level reffing – no thanks!


BT sport sets itself apart with the worst commentary team.
Fella bleating on that Trossard was still looking for his first Arsenal goal at some point. Twat.


I completely agree with you about pundits though, they used to inform us, now they’re paid to do mock anger and ‘entertain’ us. As for in-game commentary, I’ve been watching matches with volume down for a while now and it really is a liberating experience, I recommend it.


I really hope one day there’ll be a permanent option to turn off commentary and just have the crowd noise. 100000x better. Non English commentary is sometimes worse as they are amplified over stadium sound PLUS talk continuously.


Worked out that if I turn off the centre speakers on my surround sound, along with a bit of creative EQ I can practically get to that point. It’s way better. Who the fuck needs commentary. It’s useless these days.


Depending on the sound system…some have an arean/sports/stadium or even football mode which takes out the commentary all together…
In my Sony sound system I have a football mode.

Kim K

I don’t speak Arabic but I would 100% prefer to listen to the Arabic commentary than the majority of UK-based in-game commentating.


Nothing is worse than English commentary


There is an easy solution that I do for EVERY game. TURN OFF THE SOUND!


Damn straight!


There are incidents from every match across the league that make me wonder what they are telling themselves at PMGOL HQ. In the NUFC-Liverpool match, for one random example, Saint-Maximin got separation in the box from “Big Virg” and shaped to shoot when Van Dijk simply reached out and shoved the attacker in the chest with both hands as he shot on goal. The attacker even fell over backwards! The referee—some bald white guy, you know the one I mean—was right there on top of the action! Looked a stonewall penalty to me, but I’ve only played and read the… Read more »


BTW, the incident is in all the highlights and received zero discussion from commentators and no VAR review as far as I know. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think Saint-Maximin appealed for a foul either. I have no idea why not.


With Martinelli, he has struggled of late, but coming on as a late-ish sub, with fresh legs, he can have an impact. And today he did!


Eddie was getting a lot of shit on the live blog for his performance today. Given the transitive property of fandom, I can only imagine the abuse City fans were giving 26-goal and vastly more expensive Haaland, whose failure to score today was astonishing.


These are signs of changing attitude and mentality. Any other recent season, Arsenal loses this game hands down, especially with the added pressure of scrapping it out with City. Now Arsenal goes behind, and they look to hit back rather than goes into panic mode


Trossard is a downgrade on Martinelli though

Arsenal Vic

Off topic, but does Barca’s ref paying scandal completely explain Van Persie’s red card in 2011?


These types of games are the ones you remember as a player.

Going behind but winning in the end and everyone playing their part and never giving up.

That’s something we can build on and something than energises you. I hope it is ingrained in every squad member.

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