Richards seizes opportunity for Arsenal U18s

Amani Richards made a major impact after joining Arsenal towards the end of last season  following his departure from Chelsea.

The striker demonstrated his ability as he impressed for the U18s and also featured for the U23s.

This season, however, hasn’t gone entirely to plan for the 17-year-old as he has been on the fringes of the U18 team.

That hasn’t been through any fault of his own, though, and is simply due to the fact that there are too many strikers at the club, with the prolific Khayon Edwards still playing for the U18s even though he should really have moved up to the U23s by now.

Richards was given an opportunity against Everton in the U18 Premier League Cup yesterday as he received his first start of the season. He certainly took his chance and found the net in a 2-2 draw with a powerful finish.

It is hoped that Richards will now receive further playing time, with the prospect certainly among the standout youngsters in Arsenal’s academy when he is at his best.

Although Richards has found himself in a difficult predicament at times this season, but there have been signs that matters are about to change and it is hoped that the second half of the season will be considerably more eventful for him.

Jeorge Bird is the author of Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United: By the numbers

I was a little concerned about this match beforehand, this felt like the type of match that could be overlooked. Coming off of a bad loss to Liverpool and a match looming at Manchester United, this is a game that can become a “trap” where a team at the bottom of the table can be overlooked.

Thankfully that was not the case, with the team, and a number of players that made mistakes bouncing right back, leading to a solid performance and an important three points.

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United: By the graphics

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United: By the numbers

24 – Shots for Arsenal (6 on target), second-most Arsenal have taken in a league match this season

8 – Shots allowed by Arsenal (5 on target), tied for second-fewest Arsenal have allowed in a league match this season

24.1 – The average distance in yards for the shots that Arsenal allowed, the longest average distance Arsenal have allowed this season.

0.03 – The average xG of the shots Arsenal allowed in this match, the lowest average probability of shots allowed this season.

65% – Arsenal’s share of the passes attempted (possession), the second-highest in a match this season.

256 – Touches in the attacking third for Arsenal (including 39 touches in the box), the second most (257 against Brentford was the highest) in a league match this season.

86 – Touches in the attacking third allowed by Arsenal (including 14 touches in the box), the fewest allowed in a league match this season.

8.6 – Passes allowed in the defensive half per defensive action by Arsenal, the second-fewest (highest pressing) this season.

51 – Pressure events in the attacking third by Arsenal, the third-most Arsenal have had in a match this season.

4 – Big chances created (36% of the season total), the most Arsenal have had in a single match this season (more on this below)

This match felt a lot like a match against a team at the bottom of the table coming to face Arsenal should feel like. Arsenal controlled possession, kept the ball in the attacking half, looked to win the ball back quickly to keep the pressure on, generated a bunch of shots, and even a few good opportunities to score where the actual scoreline could have been a couple more.

A short section on “Big Chances”

I have seen a lot floating around the internet on big chances, how many Arsenal create and how many they miss. There is a lot of confusion about this so hopefully, this little section can help explain.

First, a big chance is a qualifier in the event data where the people doing the tagging of the match judge a chance as follows: “A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one on one scenario or from very close range when the ball has a clear path to goal and there is low to moderate pressure on the shooter. Penalties are always considered big chances.” Contrary to popular opinion it is not based on the xG of the shot, but rather something that goes the other way, this qualifier is something that will massively affect the expected goals rating of a shot, this is an issue with expected goals, especially because there can be outcome bias regardless of how objective the people tracking the game are. With my model the average expected goals value for a non-penalty big chance, this season is 42% and a distribution that looks like this:

Second, and I think that this is something that confuses people is the term “created.” This refers to when a shot is assisted by another player with an intentional pass. Not every shot is “created,” this match is a good illustration of that, Arsenal had 24 shots but only 18 of those were “created,” Arsenal had 5 big chances but only 4 of those are created. So for when before this match people were tweeting/talking about Arsenal only having created 7 big chances, and that is quite bad, it was not the full total Arsenal had as a team.

Hopefully, this clears up some of the confusion on big chances.

Albert Sambi Lokonga bounces back

82 – Pass Completed, 1st among all players

13 – F3rd Entry Passes, 2nd among all players

7 – Progressive Passes, 1st among all players

4 – Box Entry Pass, 1st among all players

5 – Deep Completions (not Cross), 1st among all players

6 – Key Passes, 1st among all players

0.41 – xA, 3rd among all players

11 – Progressive Carries, 2nd among all players

1.71 – xG Buildup, 3rd among all players

2 – Tackles, 6th among all players

8 – Ball Recoveries, 3rd among all players

2 – High Ball Recoveries, 2nd among all players

Sambi looked rattled against Liverpool to start the second half, it is not surprising because Anfield and the Liverpool press are not easy to face. What was an open question was, how would he respond to that?

Well, in this match I think we got the answer to that in that he would have arguably his best performance in an Arsenal shirt. Newcastle looked to cut out the influence of Thomas Partey, preferring to challenge other players to move the ball up the field. Sambi was more than up to the challenge proving pivotal for Arsenal to get the ball into both the final third and the penalty box.


Sources: Opta via Whoscred, StatsZone, my own database. StatsBomb via FBRef.

Video: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle ‘On the whistle’


Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-0 at the Emirates yesterday. Here are the ‘on the whistle’ thoughts of James, brought to a very long time after the final whistle.

For more – check out today’s Arseblog.

Arteta urges Arsenal to kill off opponents

Mikel Arteta says his players got sloppy after Gabriel Martinelli doubled Arsenal’s lead when they should have put Newcastle to the sword.

While the Gunners weren’t unduly troubled by the visitors, the fact his young side didn’t score more goals when the visitors were chasing the game seems to have irked the boss.

“After the 2-0 we know we have to go to a different level as a team,” he told

“We gave too many sloppy balls away and weren’t organised in the press and we allowed them to run a few times and it created a different feeling.

“That’s the moment that we have to give even more, and go for the third or the fourth and make another step forward.”

On the plus side, Arteta was very pleased with the quality of the two goals his side did score.

Bukayo Saka broke the deadlock with a decisive low drive on 56 minutes after fine interplay featuring Emile Smith Rowe and Nuno Tavares before Martinelli, on as a replacement for the England winger, clipped home a volley having been played through by Takehiro Tomiyasu.

“The finish and the combination from Bukayo and again the composure that he showed inside the box to place the ball in the right area, it was great,” Arteta told his post-game press conference.

“Gabi’s run had great movement and the delivery from Tomi as well. The technique is so tough when the ball is flying over your head to keep that ball down and have that quality to finish. It’s impressive.”

He added: “It was really important to win and bounce back. It was a game that had different phases in the first half and we were able to change the game when we wanted, but without really threatening or hurting them enough.

“We lacked some urgency and some composure in the final third to deliver better balls. We didn’t hit the target enough with the attempts that we had and in the second half we had to maintain and not be impatient to lose any structure in our play because we were controlling them quite well, but we needed to threaten much more certain spaces and I think we did.

“We scored the two goals and after that, the game was in our control.”

Arsenal now have four days at London Colney before taking on Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Arteta: It’s a big moment for Martinelli

Mikel Arteta was quick to praise Gabriel Martinelli for his instant impact against Newcastle after the Brazilian netted moments after replacing Bukayo Saka in the second half.

The 20-year-old doubled the Gunners with just his second touch, caressing a volley over Magpies’ keeper Martin Dubravka after latching onto a clipped through ball by Takehiro Tomiyasi.

Having had limited game time this season, Martinelli clearly enjoyed his chance to shine and celebrated the strike, his first at the Emirates in nearly two years, with real gusto.

“It is a big moment for him,” said Arteta in his post-game press conference.

“I’m especially happy for him because how he behaves. Some players are respectful when you make some decisions, and some players are very respectful, like he is.

“He’s patient, but at the same time he’s really pushing and challenging and it makes every decision that you make even harder because he deserve more and I’m really pleased because he really helped the team to get the points today.”

Despite only playing 365 minutes this season, Martinelli reiterated that he’s very happy at the Emirates and eager to play his part whenever called upon.

“Yeah, I need to be patient as I always say,” he told “If I play 10 or 20 minutes, I have to play well and be ready to play.

“I love the fans, I’m so happy to be here, playing for this club and I’m so happy for the victory.

“We knew that the game was going to be hard, but we came prepared to the game and I’m so happy.”

Arteta provides update on Saka injury

Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Bukayo Saka was substituted off against Newcastle after complaining of a muscular issue.

The England international went down holding his left leg not long after breaking the deadlock in Arsenal’s 2-0 win and looks likely to be a doubt for our trip to Old Trafford.

Asked for an update on the winger in his post-game press conference, the boss said: “It was an action where he said that he felt something.

“He wasn’t comfortable to continue. We’ll have to assess him tomorrow and probably scan him to see if there’s any injury there.

“He felt something muscular and let’s see what it is.”

Gabriel Martinelli replaced Saka and scored with just his second touch. The Brazilian will be hoping his impact earns him what would be just a third Premier League start on Thursday. 

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle – player ratings

Arsenal endured a frustrating first half against Newcastle this afternoon, compounded by an awful miss by captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

However, fantastic second half strikes from Bukayo Saka and substitute Gabriel Martinelli made sure of three important Premier League points, helping the Gunners bounce back from last weekend’s loss to Liverpool.

Here’s how the players rated today.

Read the Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle match report and see the goals here

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle – Player Ratings

The ratings are hidden by default until you vote, but if you just want to view the ratings and the comments, flick the switch at the top above Aaron Ramsdale. Also, please give the ratings a few seconds to load.

Arteta: Our purpose and rhythm was much better in the second half


Mikel Arteta spoke to BT Sport after his side’s 2-0 win over Newcastle in the Premier League this afternoon.

Here’s what he had to say.

Second half was what you wanted, you were waiting for a spark. 

Yeah, in the first half we took the game where we wanted but without being a real threat and understanding how we needed to attack that [defensive] block. We lacked some composure in the final third, we could have played the final ball better, the shooting – I don’t know how many time we shot without hitting the target at all!

In the second half we changed a few things. Our rhythm, our purpose was much better and we started to generate chances. We managed to score two and obviously the game was in control.

On Saka swapping flanks and scoring the goal

It was great, and that’s what you need. Some creativity, some spark in that final third against a really low block, and once that happened the spaces were different and we could score the second one as well.

A clever substitution – Martinelli

It’s not clever, it’s what he deserves. Gabi is a joy to work with, the way he trains, whether he’s playing or not, he deserves a chance, and he’s a goal threat. And what he’s done today is not an easy goal!

First half – you were urging them to lift the tempo

It was too slow. Our first phases with our centre-backs was too slow, we didn’t have enough threat in behind and we didn’t occupy certain spaces which they defended well. Once we interpreted that better, we attacked much better.

On Arsene Wenger, and wanting him back

I think everyone who works here and me personally what is felt towards Arsene Wenger is gratitude. Me, the first one because without him I wouldn’t be here. So what I’m saying is, that I think he would enjoy being around. I know he needed his space, but being around and having the feeling that people love him would be great for him, and the rest I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Time will tell.

Saka: The boss told us not to let them frustrate us


Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka scored the goals as Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-0 at the Emirates this afternoon.

Here’s what they had to say to BT Sport afterwards.

It was a comfortable win, but you had to wait.

Saka: Yeah, we had to be patient, they defended really well and made it difficult for us in the first half. The boss told us at half-time to not let them frustrate us, we listened to that, got the goals and could have got more.

A fantastic passing move for the goal

Saka: Yeah, it was. I came over to the left, we played a few passes, I found myself in and just went for goal and scored!

Martinelli scoring with his second touch after coming on?

Martinelli: I don’t remember to be fair. But I’m so happy with the goal and so happy with the victory.

As I always say if I play two, five, ten minutes, I’m always ready to play, to show something to the manager, the team and the fans.

First half chances missed. Was the message keep going?

Saka: Yeah, keep going, dealing with the deep block, so keep moving the ball fast and the chances will come and we took them so it’s a good day for us.

On everyone in the squad contributing

Martinelli: This victory was everyone, not just me and B who scored the goals, but the staff, the fans, everyone.

Report: Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle United (incl. goals)

Result: Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle United
Competition: Premier League
Date: 27 November 2021
Venue: The Emirates Stadium

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Partey, Sambi, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka, Aubameyang

Subs: Leno, Tierney, Lacazette, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Pepe, Elneny, Nketiah, Martinelli

Arsenal went back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium. They were blunt in the first half but a much improved second half saw two scintillating goals.

The opening goal by Saka was the culmination of a 16-pass move and the second, a lovely dink by Martinelli who scored with his first touch of the game as a substitute.


Arteta made just one change from the big loss against Liverpool with Odegaard taking Lacazette’s role as the playmaker and connecting point between midfield and attack.

Despite making errors at Anfield, the manager placed his faith in keeping young guns, Sambi and Tavares, in the team with Maitland-Niles and Tierney looking for an opportunity to impress from the bench.

First Half

Arsenal have been starting quickly during their recent unbeaten run but Newcastle made sure the Gunners couldn’t pass and dribble through a wall of white and black.

Our centre backs had a lot of the ball and had to be patient in distribution as the passing lanes to their teammates were blocked at almost every angle. It didn’t help too much that the Gunners were also a little too static off the ball which slowed the game down.

Arsenal needed a jolt to their senses and it came on the 15th minute. Sambi spotted Saka running in behind the Newcastle defence and lofted in a lovely pass only for the ball to spin away from the English international by a mere inches.

The upturn of pace was only temporary though, and it saw Arsenal earn a free kick just outside the box and Odegaard teasing in a left footer that Dubravka pushed wide.

Bar a long range drive from Shelvey which was acrobatically saved by Ramsdale, Newcastle didn’t threaten too much for the rest of the half either. Arsenal defended well, with Ben White catching the eye, but the same couldn’t be said for their attacking play.

Five minutes from time, it seemed that Arsenal found their breakthrough.

Saka shifted to the left hand side and chipped in the ball for Smith Rowe to head it from the edge of the 6 yard box. Dubravka palmed it into Aubameyang’s path who only needed to tap in the ball from close range but the captain could only smack it against the bar. A shocker from someone of his reputation and ability.

It was a poor attacking show from the home team who looked like they were possibly scarred from the 4-0 result against Liverpool.

Second Half

Arteta’s half time pep talk must have re-energised the team because they came out with a newfound purpose to attack and win their duels.

Krafth got yellow carded from a full paced Tavares dribble and Saka took it in his hands to torment the Newcastle defence. He took on two defenders to dribble into the box and shoot and not long after, it was him who finally put the Gunners ahead.

Arsenal patiently passed around the outside of the penalty box against a resolute defence but it was the interchangeable passes between Smith Rowe, Tavares and Saka down the left that unpicked the lock.

Tavares slipped in Saka who lashed in a shot into the far corner to the relief of the team. 1-0 to Arsenal. Unfortunately, the local hero had to be replaced just 10 minutes later as he limped off with an injury that could keep him out for the game against Manchester United.

Martinelli replaced Saka and judging by his first touch, perhaps we don’t need to worry too much about Saka’s temporary absence.

The team shifted the ball to the right wing towards Tomiyasu and just as the ball was floated over, Aubameyang drifted deeper towards midfield and Martinelli darted in, Ljungberg-esque, from the right into the box. Tomiyasu lofted in the ball over Martinelli’s head and the Brazillian deftly cushioned it over Dubravka to make to 2-0 with his first touch.

With the results secure, the rest of the game played out in a pretty safe fashion. The home side continued to defend well and took the sting out of the game when in possession.

A deserved three points after a much more positive second half. Next up, the Red Devils at Old Trafford.