Sunday, May 19, 2024

Arteta: ‘Leggy’ Gunners still adapting to new players

Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal looked ‘leggy’ against Monaco but he feels the workout, which ended in a 5-4 penalty shootout victory after a 1-1 draw, proved very useful for the fitness of several returning stars.

The Gunners lined up with a strong starting XI, including new boys Jurrien Timber and Declan Rice, but struggled to build any real momentum in the first half. They fell behind to a close-range header by Youssouf Fofana but went in level at the break thanks to Eddie Nketiah’s smart first-time finish from a corner.

The two sides made a host of changes in the second period and traded probing attacks but the two keepers were rarely troubled.

Afterwards, Arteta was asked how useful the match had been: “Very good. Especially for a lot of players that haven’t had many minutes in pre-season and as well, for the new players to play for the first time at Emirates Stadium it was special, you could feel the atmosphere and how excited the fans were.

“In terms of the game, we struggled a little bit to dominate completely and have the game that we want, we had much better periods in the second half.

“I think we were still a bit leggy and jet legged from when we came, we trained really hard the last three days to be fair and we wanted that task for us, when we are not fresh enough to play, how can we compete. So, it was a good test for us and we’re happy with the outcome.”

Given their struggle for minutes last season, it was positive to see Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira looking lively as starters although some of the “automatisms” that develop when players regularly play with each other were clearly lacking.

“There are certain rotations that we want, especially to adapt to the quality of the players that we have and make sure that they are comfortable occupying certain spaces,” noted the boss.

“There were a lot of changes and you could see sometimes in the dynamic and in the timing that we were arriving that it wasn’t perfect, we were allowing certain spaces especially when they had time on the ball and then we had to defend open spaces, but these are things that we will adjust.”

Having picked up a knock on the tour of the USA, Declan Rice got an hour under his belt on his first run out at the Emirates. Playing further up the pitch than usual, he showed a couple of flashes of why Arsenal have spent big bucks to sign him but was definitely puffing by the time he was subbed off.

On the new boy’s performance, Arteta said: “He played more advanced today, he played more as an attacking midfielder today, it was the first time that he’s played there. He’s on the journey to get back to his best and adapt to the team.

“I think he has the versatility to play different roles and it’s something that we want to do, especially to maximise the qualities that we have with other players, and they have the ability to play together, and in certain games, we’ll use him in other positions.”

All eyes now turn to Sunday’s Community Shield clash with Manchester City. Worryingly, the Gunners will be without Gabriel Jesus after it was confirmed the Brazil international underwent a minor procedure on his knee after feeling discomfort. 

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Just a quick edit, Havertz didn’t start 👍🏻


Rice and Kai looked a little rusty and both players clearly need more time to settle into Arsenals quick passing system. That is not Artetas real problem. //I have been saying this for months, that Arsenal ” SCORE MORE GOALS” when TOSSARD “STARTS” as a “FALSE NUMBER 9″, not as a sub, not as a left winger, but as a FALSE NUMBER 9” . Arteta must be blind not to notice this. //We also need a “NEW CENTRAL DEFENDER with PACE” over the “FIRST 10 YARDS” as we are repeatedly being caught for pace at the back during our highline… Read more »

A Different George

Yeah, it’s too bad Saliba is so slow.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Starting the best players every game is what we did last year and we ran out of gas. We are in two competitions that we want to win and two others that we can heavily rotate. Our squad is bigger and we have more quality, so if Arteta needs to start Eddie over Leo, to keep Eddie’s mentality right for the entire season, I understand that. If being a manager was simply identifying the best players and throwing them on the pitch, well then anyone could do it.


Viera, tommy and Kiwor are all average , and how tierney is being overlooked is disgraceful, again a brilliant cameo. What last nights game showed, take saka out and we don’t create a lot. Please god let us not see viera start a league game this year , he offers nothing going forward ,sell him and reinvest before he is worth nothing

Nainsley Aitland Miles

It’s interesting you mention we struggle when Saka is missing and it being revealed again today that Michael Olise has a release clause of £35m which is extremely reasonable in today’s market.

Most definitely an option there we should be exploring.

We could even offer Pepe + cash to Crystal Palace(!).

Bill Hall

Tommy is average? 🤔


Arteta had a problem last year in that he had no decent subs and he turned that into a solution and hyperoptimised the first XI. Remember upto the world cup the same first XI started every game bar the odd exception. Team chemistry was through the roof.

This time he has the opposite problem of having too much talent in his hands – rotation, indecision and low chemistry. Surely remains to be seen if such a young manager can turn it around.

Optimistic nonetheless.


Arteta had a problem last year in that he had no decent subs and he turned that into a solution and hyperoptimised the first XI. Remember upto the world cup the same first XI started every game bar the odd exception. Team chemistry was through the roof.

This time he has the opposite problem of having too much talent in his hands – rotation, indecision and low chemistry. Surely remains to be seen if such a young manager can turn it around.

Optimistic nonetheless.


Uh, I hate it when comments are random


I think people read too much into pre season games. They’re pretty meaningless, no points at stake etc. We have a brilliant team, can’t wait for the season to start.

I miss santi cazorla

Yeah just like one should not be brothered about the practise exam performance.


at the same time, one hopes the fanbase is psychologically prepared for the possibility of a less-than-perfect start to the season. Winning football matches is hard! they can he defined by chance or incredibly small margins! No football team has a god-given right to win or even perform well in every game they play! That said, I am sure Arsenal fans would react reasonably and with even temper to such an eventuality.

Adney Toams

We live in hope….

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Mentality of the team is much stronger than this fan base.


Agree, and I’d also note that the other teams who will competing for the league haven’t looked that impressive either. Almost as if managers use pre season to regain fitness and try new things, I dunno…

I miss santi cazorla

Please Mikel, have Trossard start as the striker. Don’t want to see Eddie there. Mikel, Please be ruthless.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

What do you do with Eddie for the rest of the season?

Bill Hall

Slight change of topic, read the interview of Aaron Ramsdale in the players tribune. It’s absolutely fantastic and he comes across as such a decent chap!

A Different George

I just read this, thanks for posting the link. Just brilliant in every way.


Thanks for posting it I doubt I’d have seen it. His personality comes through even in his writing, and you can tell he wrote that. So glad he’s found a home where he can share his special bond with his brother. We really have a club packed with great people from top to bottom. I’m open to the idea but sort of hope we don’t get Raya. Let Rambo shine and cement his place as the best English gk, and he’s captain material.



Bill Hall

And to think someone thumbed this down? 🤔

Bill Hall

Wow, we haven’t even started the season yet and already with the negativity!


Surely being ‘jet legged’ is a good thing right?


We lost Xhaka and Zinny and Jesus are injured. That’s actually quite a big chunk out of our team.

Determination Cultured

So without gj9, are we doing a rice partey pivot? Trossard up top? Rowe odegaard with havertz up top? Whats it going to be?????


I’m actually quite excited with all the options at Arteta’s disposal. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see what he does.

Does he ‘play it safe’ and put Eddie up front? I suspect he will, but, as you say, there is Balogun, Havertz, Trossard, ESR and Martinelli all equally capable of starting up front – in a false 9 or otherwise.

If we’re all guessing, then so too are rival club managers.

One thing is for sure, this squad will get us goals – no matter what – and that’s something we can all look forward to.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

I think he starts Eddie to keep him on board the mentally. Manager has to give belief to his positional squad players or they won’t perform. While I think Leo would probably do a better job, he would lose Eddie if he doesn’t give him the opportunity. He made him captain last game which indicates to me he’s backing him.


Seriously getting fed up with large sections of this fanbase (mostly youngsters) who are bleating because we aren’t winning every single pre season game fifty nil.

Cannot wait for the season to start properly and for the team to bed down and getting some good results under its belt – if only to shut up these ignorant twenty something experts, who can barely remember the Invincibles.

Bill Hall

Well said!

Too many of the “I want everything now, sell him, he didn’t score/let in a goal so is obviously shit” brigade on here who to put it bluntly don’t have a fucking clue what they are bleating on about 🤣


It’s that section of the fanbase who are letting the rest of us down.

We then, ultimately, all get tarred with the same brush and become an easy target for rival fans jokes. Not that I honestly give two shits, because they’re all jealous anyway, but when I hear us being referred to as ‘Banter FC’ it irritates the fuck out of me because it stems from the ignorance being splashed all over social media from so-called Arsenal fans.

Bill Hall

Pre season is the footballing equivalent of getting a new cookery book and trying different recipes to see which ones work best. And getting players fitness up. Thus it should not be taken too seriously!

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