Saturday, May 25, 2024

Havertz and Odegaard excited for return of Champions League

Enjoy the moment, focus, and go again.

As was the case after the demolition of West Ham, that’s pretty much everything the Arsenal team had to say following Sunday’s win against Burnley.

For Mikel Arteta’s in-form squad, attention now turns to the Champions League and a tricky away trip to Porto. Having come unstuck against Portuguese opposition in last season’s Europa League, the Gunners know they can’t afford to take their foot off the gas.

“We want to compete in every competition we play in,” said captain Martin Odegaard ahead of Wednesday’s clash.

“The Champions League is a massive one, so we are excited for it.

“We just want to focus on ourselves each game, keep improving every game and we will see how it goes.

“We are in a good moment now. We have to use that momentum, keep building on it and we will see.”

For Kai Havertz, a return to the Estadio do Dragao should bring back good memories. It was there that he scored the most important goal of his career; the winner for Chelsea in their Champions League victory over Manchester City in 2021.

“For me, it’s always going to be a nice memory and I’m looking forward to going there again,” the German told Arsenal.com.

“I have good memories there, things are always going to be hard there but I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully we’re going to win the game.

“I think every team that plays in the Champions League wants to win it and that’s the goal and we all go into this competition to go as far as possible.

“But still you have to look game-by-game, there are two games to play now. Wednesday’s the first one, try to win it and see for the other game as well.”

Arsenal will train at London Colney today and tomorrow morning before flying to Portugal. The manager will be hoping at least one or two of his six injured stars will be able to make the journey. We’ll find out whether that has been the case in tomorrow evening’s press conference.

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Johnny 4 Hats

One of the best things about Havertz seems to be his fitness and stamina. He appears to be rarely fatigued and never injured. In a squad with quite a few brittle players, that’s so valuable. Especially given he can play multiple positions. It’s starting to look like really, really smart money. I just can’t think of another player who can effectively plug so many holes, have so much prem and CL experience while being still young and not cost a crazy amount of money. It’s been such a good few weeks for Arteta and his signings. Jorginho, Trossard, Raya, Havertz… Read more »

ChickPEA

There might soon be a case to be made about adding Sambi to that list. Though I don’t think he’ll make it at Arsenal, he could leave for a fair price in the summer if he keeps producing the kind of performances we’ve seen lately.

PeteyB

That would be rather nice. Potentially there are spaces in our squad if he can step up.
In all likelihood both Partey and Elneny will leave in the summer.

Austin Bud

I’ve been pondering Partey’s potential departure. Assuming no offer above 20m comes in, wouldn’t it make sense to keep him?

Rich

Depends if he is playing for Mean Machine FC with Vinnie Jones this time next year.

ChickPEA

He’s on a hefty salary and his contract will be over in 2025. I would sell for 20m and use the wage budget to buy a younger, fitter player.

karl g

Having been enthusiastic about the Lakonga signing, yesterday playing for Luton reveals exactly why he didn’t make it in an Arteta team.

Obvious talent, but he just seems to avoid getting involved in a game. Very passive and never stands in a good position to receive the ball. Games just pass him by.

A Different George

I thought he was in the centre of everything for Luton; all their attacking movements cycled through him. I thought he always showed for the ball (though yes, as a 6, not an 8). Every pass he made seemed the right one. Plus some brilliant defensive work. Did he look as good as Declan Rice or Thomas Partey? No, he did not. Would he be–if he plays like that all the time–a valuable addition to all but the very top teams in the league? Ansolutely.

karl g

Maybe I’m used to watching Arsenal play, but I did watch the whole Luton v Until match live. Players were bypassing Sambi because he was standing too close to opponents in the middle of the field. Of course, he did show moments of quality, but not much is different from when he played for us.

Somehow he looks too casual, just like Ainsley did.

goonerink

ainsley is doing well at lyon now.
since he started playing theyve lost 2 and won about 10 games.

charvakan

Luton was chasing the game so Sambi was looking to get forward. I thought he was quite good, and of course he had the athleticism to recover when he was bypassed. With Partey unreliable and Jorginho getting on in years, Lokonga would be a valuable addition to midfield depth, and could adapt to Arteta’s system. (I agree his on-the-ball skills need a little work.) I doubt we could buy another midfielder as good as he is for what we’d get for him. I’d bring him back and integrate him into the rotation next year.

karl g

Well said and no coincidence that one of Xhaka’s best qualities was always being available. I still think his passing needs work, but 6 goals from midfield so far this season isn’t bad.

Ebo

His passing is getting better as his confidence is going up and he gets to know his teammates and Arteta’s system. The through ball to Trossard to set up the penalty on Saturday was sublime, and he had many good passes in recent weeks that have been fluffed by his teammats. The skill and vision is there he was just playing it a bit too safe at times upon arriving.

A Different George

I think it’s normal for a new player to worry about not making a big mistake (especially with an already doubtful crowd watching) and being fearful of taking attacking or passing risks. When that’s combined with the Chelsea stigma and the fact that although he is quite pacey, Havertz somehow never looks like he’s trying very hard–each thing reinforced the other to create a kind of passivity. But it works the other way too–and we are beginning to see a little of why everyone in Germany thought he was so good.

Shano

Havertz is an absolutely fascinating player. He’s nothing like what I had imagined arteta was trying to reinvent. Everyone loves a player that can cover multiple positions but he’s doing it in game without breaking a sweat. He’s kind of like an inverted full back but does it higher up the pitch. The best thing is he’s only going to get better

Cobwebs

He is the perfect Xhaka replacement – important and talented but also capable of being very frustrating.

Shano

He’s kind of like the Ben white of the front 5. Can fill in anywhere without any dramas. Will never get the external validation he deserves but could become a cult hero. He did also shit house Konate well in pool game

Zet

He is an upgrade to Xhaka., much as I appreciate Xhaka.

Man Manny

I am beginning to think so too. Arteta is more brilliant and visionary than most English pundits are willing to acknowledge. He saw in Havertz what many did not. Kudos to him.

Johnny 4 Hats

Agree with all of this.

Plus, and this might be the best bit, Chelsea fans have gotten really quiet about Kai.

A little like Keyser Söze, they had him. And they let him walk out of the door without realising who he really was.

A Different George

Not quite Salah or De Bruyne, but he might be the number three usual suspect.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Hope you didn’t say the contrary in October or November. If you did, you’re just part of the big majority.

Johnny 4 Hats

Nope. I’ve got a lot of things wrong in my time, but this wasn’t one of them.

Not saying I was singing his praises in the early days. But the fact that Bayern and Real wanted him so badly and Arteta obviously has a great track record with getting the best out of his players made me pretty calm.

Blobby

I was probably a tad more concerned than you, and certainly quite baffled as to what the plan for him was. But you made a great point about Kai plugging holes, which got me thinking.
I thought he was little more than a hole plugger to begin with, but have begun to see the problems he can pose for opponents (who just aren’t used to a player like him).
I kind of understand how he was able to pull off his Keyser Soze act at Chelsea so easily – he’s certainly not who you first think he is,

Mzito the Heavy Gooner

I’m excited too. It’s been a minute. Come on you red hot blazing Gunners!

Dada

Arsenal in the CL. The world is happy.

C.B.

We always need to give new signings like Havertz (a tall strong lad, good feet, high work rate etc) a few months to settle in and understand how the other players play (and vice versa). Hopefully he now has his automatisms set (and even his goal-scoring boots on).

Fatgooner

It feels like squeaky- bum time already.
Every game is massive from now onwards.

I know I’ve said this before but I DON’T WANT TO SEE ANOTHER END-OF-SEASON COLLAPSE!

We need to be pushing City and Liverpool all the way in the PL. And we surely should beat Porto over two legs in the CL.

Hopefully, the players have grown up now and possess the maturity to see things through to the end this time.

C.B.

It was injuries to Saliba and Tomiyasu that did us in last season. One win v City would have won us the PL, we were that close. Hope for no injuries, we have a far better chance if not.

Heavenly Chapecoense

How do you explain the collapse with four points ahead and three games to go for top four, the year before?
What we’re doing right this year (lately) is that we kill the game early and Arteta replaces players. That will resolve fatigue issues but are there mental toughness issues? We will see.

BLUEBERRY

City played their B team those last PL games once they confirmed their title and switched focus on CL. 5 points you see are actually a lot more. In a way our collapse helped them win CL as well.

But we have our chance of revenge. Just a month to go. Same situation. Defeat the champions and win the League.

Ebo

Now that your favourite “bust” signings are playing well you’re desperately looking other ways to be negative? We’re peaking at the right time this season, we have more experience under our belt and even more leadership with Rice and a more settled Jorginho. How about we enjoy what this team is doing instead of already starting the concern trolling

Onenil

I’d give Fats a break on this one. He’s just glass half empty, and that’s as true as glass half full.
He’s right about Nketiah sadly, but been wrong about other players… ain’t we all?

Ebo

That’s the thing, we get so obsessed with being “right” on these message boards and on the internet in general. So you knew this player was shite all along, or you were wrong about it, who cares? What’s more important is our contribution to the general atmosphere around the team. Analysing the glass half empty is all well and good if there is one in the present to be analysed, but prognosticating that soon the glass *might* become half empty when it’s currently damn near overflowing, now we’re getting into unhelpful negativity. I’ve pretty much accepted at this point Eddie… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

I wanted Balogun but he scored 5 goals so far at Monaco. He hasn’t even completed a season there yet so we can’t compare. I kind of agree with you on the half full/half empty approach but if half empty means wanting Toney or Oshimen and half full means goals are shared, half empty might be tempting.

Ebo

Well we can’t get either of them now so it’s a bit pointless to focus on it. And why do I have feeling though that even if we get Ivan Toney, he won’t be scoring as much as you expect or won’t be as well rounded as Jesus or there will be some other issue, and for Fats and others like him the glass will still be half empty 🍷 That’s the thing when you’re the sort of person who’s never content, you always find something. Maybe let’s finish the season first with the squad we have, which is what… Read more »

Matthinc

I wanted Balogun to do well for us so badly

portugunner

in this case i prefer half full!

PB70

No, we ain’t all because a lot of us might feel a player is not up to what we consider ‘AFC standards’, but don’t spend our time slating them every chance we get. If him (and a few others) bitch and moan about performances of every single player at some point in the season and cry about every loss like it’s the end of the world – they will end up right some of the time. Any fool can try to bring a fanbase down with their pointless narrative while eventually being correct unless we win every trophy out there.… Read more »

Fatgooner

Your post wasn’t long enough, PB70.

And stop sitting on the fence: say what you really feel.

Rochester

This, 100%

Fatgooner

I seem to remember everyone being mega-positive this time last year and then everything turning to shit.

FOOTBALL IS ABOUT WINNING THINGS! If we collapse again then it will have been yet another season of failure.

I don’t want to see this.

Onenil

Winning games is good too. I’m not waiting until the end of the season to enjoy it.

Tom 007

That’s the mentality, one at a time, we enjoy our good wins and hopefully will enjoy at the end the season big time….

Runzac

Inevitably this team will loose some matches. Every team does. But then we can count on the f-blogs on here to LECTURE US with some positivity

Onenil

No sign of Exit the Lemming who only exists to attack Havertz

Y3mmxiii

Arsenal is in a good space and surely every player is speaking positive expressions. Definitely, the trip to Porto will bring us positive results.

Man Manny

Sometimes pundits seem to forget that Havertz is 24. That means his peak years are still ahead of him. If he keeps developing in this team at the rate he’s doing recently, £65m will be an absolute steal. Havertz is deceptively effective in what he brings to the team.

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