Arteta pulls no punches

65

Mikel Arteta has left nobody in any doubt what he thinks of last night’s disappointing 0-0 draw with Bolton.

The Gunners failed to capitalise on Chelsea’s dropped points against Swansea, spurning a number of good goalscoring opportunities during the 90 minutes. The Spaniard says that while the team won’t give up on the fight for a top four finish, they’ve made life tough for themselves.

“This result is not good enough,” he said. “We have got the players and the quality to have a better result. It is going to be tough to finish in the top four but it depends on us.

“We have got the talent and the quality in the side to do it but we have to show it day by day. We had the chances to score and we didn’t.

“You are not going to get 15 chances to win a football game and nowadays when you get it, especially away from home, you have to take it.”

Arteta’s thoughts were echoed by Per Mertesacker who says socks need to be pulled up and quick smart.

“I think there is a lot of room for improvement,” he told Arsenal Player.  “We have a very good side and good potential but we have to be good on the pitch. At the moment we don’t use all our opportunities.

“We are always looking for clean sheets and good performances. In the first half we created good chances to score but it wasn’t enough. I think in the first half we deserved to lead but it is only one point in the end.

“We are one of the first teams to play at the weekend so we have to go for the three points to show the others we are already there.”

Bolton v. Arsenal: By the Numbers

Measured by combining shots, chances created, and take-ons*

A lot of times we get criticism for just pasting numbers and not giving any context. So the chart above is intended to give context to some numbers about Robin’s and The Ox’s performances today. As you can see, by my measurement (which is admittedly just one way of looking at it), Ox and Robin carried 55% of the positive offensive output of the team in terms of chances created, dribbles, and shots.

I would also like to point out that those two carried 55% of Zero goals, which is, by my math… uhhh 0.55/0… sonofabich.

First Half

9 – Shots by Arsenal
3 – Shots by Bolton
311 – Passes completed from open play by Arsenal
117 – Passes completed from open play by Bolton
36 – Tackles attempted by Arsenal (won 21)
34 – Tackles attempted by Bolton (won 21)
3 – Corners won by Arsenal
0 – Corners won by Bolton

Second Half

7 – Shots by Arsenal
9 – Shots by Bolton
205 – Passes completed from open play by Arsenal
107 – Passes completed from open play by Bolton
34 – Tackles attempted by Arsenal (won 21)
29 – Tackles attempted by Bolton (won 15)
3 – Corners won by Arsenal
6 – Corners won by Bolton

Final 10 minutes

0 – Shots by Arsenal
5 – Shots by Bolton
38 – Passes completed from open play by Arsenal (of 63 attempted — 60%)
55 – Passes completed from open play by Bolton (of 79 attempted — 70%)
13 – Tackles attempted by Arsenal (won 7)
11 – Tackles attempted by Bolton (won 8)
0 – Corners won by Arsenal
0 – Corners won by Bolton

100– Percent chance Bolton deserved something from that game for playing the full 90 minutes.

Individual studs and duds

5 – Chances created Robin van Persie1
3 – Chances created Mark Davies2
1 – Chances created Aaron Ramsey
23 – Successful passes in the final third by Mikel Arteta1 (of 30 – 77%)
21 – Successful passes in the final third by Aaron Ramsey (of 28 – 75%)

Image of both player’s passes in the final third:

click to embiggen

4 – Successful take-ons by Ox1 (of 5)
2 – Successful take-ons by Mark Davies2 (of 3)
1 – Successful take-ons by Theo Walcott (of 5)
4 – Successful tackles by Mark Davies1 (of 4)
3 – Successful tackles by Aaron Ramsey2 (of 6)
2 – Successful tackles by Aaron Ramsey on his own teammates
1 – Dives by Davies which earned the defender a yellow card
1 – Penalties Bolton feel they should have been awarded
8 – Clean sheets by Arsenal in the Premier League this season
6 – Clean sheet by Chelsea in the Premier League this season

1. Lead all players
2. Lead just his team
*Not all players included in tabulation. For example, Per Mertesacker was credited with a shot. I left him and a few others out.

Qq

Match Report: Bolton 0-0 Arsenal

Arsenal finally broke their run of Premier League defeats in 2012, although a 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers feels like another loss given the vital points dropped in the quest for a top four finish.

In a remarkably open game both sides had plenty of chances to seal victory, but it was a case of squandered opportunities, which again cost the Gunners dear.

Arsene Wenger’s side started very well. On the 8 minute mark a cross put in by Vermaelen was headed goalwards by Van Persie. The Dutchman’s effort beat Bogdan but was cleared off the line comfortably by Wheater.

A minute later RVP turned provider as he slotted a Bergkamp-esque ball to Ramsey who couldn’t quite find his inner Freddie to finish. It was a tame effort on the slide by the Welshman – his finishing of late has been very poor.

We weren’t playing with a high tempo, but the passing was neat and tidy. More great work from Van Persie teed up Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the youngster fired high and wide. Again, it should have been a goal. As if the Trotters needed it, the captain fired another warning over the bar on 15 minutes.

David Ngog, who once scored past Manuel Almunia at Anfield for Liverpool, had a decent effort at the near post saved by Szczesny. In response Chamberlain weaved his way up the field, created space and fired over. Ngog, almost taking the game to Arsenal on his own, replied again by causing havoc between Koscielny and Mertesacker before squeezing a second effort in quick succession just wide.

It was hard to believe a goal hadn’t been scored. At this point my stream cut out, but Twitter made it very clear that Theo Walcott had been somewhat retarded in front of goal. A missed one-on-one apparently. It didn’t come as a huge surprise.

The new stream came with an East European commentary – surprisingly I preferred it to some of the crap that is usually spouted on Sky. Song and Vermaelen both picked up yellows from Olympic gold medalist Sir Chris Hoy, the Belgian incredibly unlucky after Mark Davies took a massive dive to con the cycle-loving ref. Suddenly in the mood he also cautioned Steinsson after The Ox was cynically scythed down.

At half time it was hard to believe that a goal hadn’t been scored. We were playing pretty well, although that nagging sense that the missed chances could prove costly was familiar of many away days this season.

The Ox continued his impressive performance in the second half making several darting runs before the hour mark. Along with Mikel Arteta, who controlled the midfield with quiet authority, the young winger was our best player. Twice more my stream cut out, twice more I went in search of the dulcet co-commentary tones of Dean Sturridge on Fox Sports.

From what I could tell we were getting frustrated. Bolton weren’t affording us the same space as in the first 45 minutes and the clear-cut chances had dried up. But wait a moment; a cross from Sagna whipped to the near post saw Van Persie clip the woodwork. Seconds later Chamberlain did his best Christopher Wreh impression, only for Bogdan to tip over. RVP then had a header wide from a corner. The momentum was back.

On 68 minutes Thierry Henry entered the fray for Chamberlain. The youngster had been impressive and Wenger critics might have suggested (not for the first time) that Walcott should have been the one to make way.

Bolton started to come strong and enjoyed a string of corners as they chipped away at the Gunners defence. In open play Martin Petrov whipped in a fine ball which forced a brave block from Laurent Koscielny. Throwing caution and elbows to the wind, Owen Coyle sent on Kevin Davies for the last 15 minutes. Again my stream went down!

Another frantic search returned a stuttering Dutch version. I couldn’t see anything. Another frantic search. This time Italian.

As some stupid advert counted down I saw Van Persie channeling the quality of both Ian Wright vs Leeds United circa 1995 and Dennis Bergkamp vs Bayer Leverkusen 2002 (?) with a delightful chip that hit the bar. Walcott then lashed a volley wide. The sublime and the ridiculous.

We were into the last ten minutes. How the fuck had we not scored? Rosicky came on for Ramsey. The game suddenly became stupidly stretched with players on both sides carrying the ball sixty yards through the midfield before playing pathetic passes back to opponents.

Bolton had three great chances to score. Mark Davies skipping through on goal only to be thwarted by terrific goalkeeping by Szczesny. As the ball spilled cleared it was played to Muamba who then shot wide. Heading into the last minute it looked more likely the home side would win it. Davies, who had been a constant thorn in the side all game, fought his way into the area before dispatching a low drive just wide.

After three minutes of injury-time the ref blew for full-time. Despite a poor final ten minutes, the number of squandered chances certainly meant that this was two points dropped rather than one gained.

Another frustrating night, the likes of which we just can’t afford. The gap between us and fourth place is widening by the week. Grim times.

 

Bolton v Arsenal – stat pack

5

As with every Premier League game, our friends at kickoff.co.uk have provided us with a fantastic visual stat pack ahead of our game against Bolton at the mouldy trainers stadium tonight.

It’s jam-packed with info and figures and diagrams for you stats fans out there. Simply click the image to see the full, extended version (this image is just a snippet).

Eisfeld adds to depths of midfield potential

As expected, the much-hyped transfer deadline day passed with little in the way of manoeuvre at Arsenal, besides Ryo Miyaichi’s loan move to Bolton and the acquisition of 19 year old Borrusia Dortmund midfielder Thomas Eisfeld.

Eisfeld, who has played for Germany at youth level and impressed for Dortmund’s under-19s in the first half of the season, could make his Arsenal debut for the Reserves away to Swansea tonight and his arrival adds to Arsenal’s collection of young, promising midfielders.

In addition to the likes of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, who are already well established as first-team players, the club also have under contract Henri Lansbury and Chuks Aneke, who are both on loan at present, whilst Oguzhan Ozyakup and Conor Henderson both have first-team minutes under their belts.

Delving a little deeper into the system, the trio of Serge Gnabry, Jon Toral and Kristoffer Olsson, all of whom were acquired last summer, have shone at various stages for the under-18s so far this campaign, with Gnabry and Toral also making the step up to the Reserves.

That’s not to even mention Alban Bunjaku, the 17 year old whose future at the club remains uncertain following a disagreement with coaching staff and Jack Jebb, a promising England youth international who has recently returned from injury.

It does seem somewhat strange that the club appear to be stockpiling creative talents whilst other areas, the full-back berths in particular, are not exactly brimming with first-team stars of the future.

It seems that Eisfeld will, if not this season, then certainly next, receive a share of first-team game time, which could have negative consequences for the likes of Lansbury, who is currently in his fourth loan spell away from the club.

On the other hand, it should allow Ozyakup and Henderson to gain some much-needed experience out on loan next season, whilst the younger talents are still some way off the first-team reckoning.

Not all of those mentioned above will succeed in carving out a long-term career at the club, whilst some are also capable of operating on the flanks, which could be their best route into the first-team initally.

Whatever transpires, it will certainly be interesting to see the eventual fate of this cluster of prospects. Eisfeld’s arrival has muddied the waters further still, but if Arsenal are to succeed in creating a steady production line of talents, fierce competition is necessary.

 

Versatile Coquelin will play where needed

Francis Coquelin says he’s willing to play anywhere at all to make sure he gets on the pitch for Arsenal.

Like any young player worth his salt he’s itching to play at all times, and this season already has played in midfield and in both full back positions. The combative Frenchman, who recently signed a new deal with the club, told Arsenal Player, “I want to play as much as possible. At the moment it’s at right back, even if I’m usually a midfielder, but it’s not a problem. I’m doing everything I can to play.

“It’s only really at the start of this season that I have started playing with the first team. I played against Manchester United at the end of August. Since that, I try to get as much time on the pitch with the first team as possible, whatever the position.”

Coquelin has impressed throughout, his attitude and workrate are first class and he’s made real strides having spent last season on loan at Lorient.

Meanwhile, another 19 year old, recent signing Thomas Eisfeld, says joining Arsenal is a dream come true.

“Arsenal is a great club and it is great for young players. The stadium is amazing, it is great. I am impressed with the Arsenal training centre and I really enjoy the atmosphere here. On Sunday I was at the game with my agent and it was great.

“Mr Wenger said to me that I will get the chance to train with the first team and then it is up to me if I play well.”

Whether or not the young German can make any kind of breakthrough remains to be seen, but let’s hope he’s more Bisch-on than Bisch-off.

Club tries to ease Wilshere fears

22

Arsenal have today denied that Jack Wilshere will miss the rest of the season due to injury.

Wilshere was expected back this month but last week suffered a set-back with another stress fracture in his ankle. While there are definitely fears it could rule him out for the rest of the campaign, nothing is 100% yet and Jack will be assessed in a couple of weeks time.

In a statement released on Arsenal.com, the club said:

The Club can confirm Jack Wilshere has a small stress fracture to his right foot, however it is not accurate to state he has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

The injury is in a different area to his previous surgery, and it will be reassessed in around two weeks time by our medical team and medical experts who have worked together throughout Jack’s recovery.

This is a recognised complication of a complex rehabilitation process and, of critical importance, Jack’s initial injury is recovering well.

It’s easy to think and fear the worst when it comes to Arsenal injuries, but let’s hope we get some good news on this one.

Arsenal confirm ‘early’ Eisfeld capture

Arsenal have confirmed the signing of 19-year-old midfielder Thomas Eisfeld from Borussia Dortmund.

News broke yesterday afternoon that the youngster was in London undertaking a medical and matters have moved very swiftly. It is thought believed that the German Youth international will cost in the region of £600,000 and has signed a 4 year deal.

Speaking about his move to the Emirates, Eisfeld told the Arsenal official website:

“I feel very proud to have signed for Arsenal. This is a great club, with many great players, and I’m so happy to be joining Arsenal.

“It’s a real honour to be team mates with the great players at Arsenal, and also training everyday with players like Tomas Rosicky – who I grew up watching play at Dortmund. I will give it everything I have here and do my best to make the manager, players and fans happy.

“I would also like to thank Borussia Dortmund, where I played for the last seven years, for everything they have done for me. I had a great time there, and there were many wonderful coaches who helped me get to where I am today.”

Arsene Wenger, in that inimitable way of his, confirmed that the Gunners had been keeping a close eye on Eisfeld for some time, while also revealing that the original plan had been to swoop in the summer.

“Thomas is a player we have liked for some time. We’ve watched him closely this season, where he has excelled for Dortmund’s youth team.

“He is young but has proven to us that he can play, that he has the attitude and technical ability to be a valuable addition to our squad. We’re very pleased to welcome him to the Club and look forward to his contribution in the coming seasons.

“He is a young prospect with good footballing talent,” continued the boss.

“He has the good ingredients that could allow him to integrate into the quality of our team – the basics are technique, good movement and skill. We believe that he has a chance to develop well here.

“How much first-team football he has depends on him. Basically we planned to get him at the end of the season but we got him a bit earlier because he was at the end of his contract. We will use this period for adaptation.”

…and you thought we weren’t going to sign anybody.

(Picture courtesy of Arsenal.com)

Wenger gives latest injury update

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal have suffered no new injuries since beating Aston Villa on Sunday, but warned that after a physically draining game at the Emirates his squad will have to be on their guard against a resurgent Bolton Wanderers.

Giving an injury update to the club website, the boss confirmed:

“Sagna is in the squad. He is a bit ahead of Kieran Gibbs training-wise. Sagna is a bit early still [for tomorrow] but you never know. I might consider it because I have to check all the recoveries of the players who played on Sunday.

“Johan was back in full training today so he is available. [Henry and Arteta] are both ready.

“We have no injuries. But it was a very demanding game physically against Villa on Sunday and it is important that we recover and prepare well for tomorrow night.”

In further good news, Wenger also confirmed that Keiran Gibbs was closing in on a first team return having recovered from surgery on both his groins (I didn’t realise you could have two).

Having joined the first team for training this morning, it looks as though the England international could make an appearance in the coming weeks.

“He had a normal training session yesterday. He is still short to play now but it is good news to have him back and I think one or two more weeks practice will get him back to being available again. That is very positive.”

Arsenal and Bolton confirm Miyaichi loan move

24

Arsenal have confirmed that Ryo Miyaichi has signed for Bolton Wanderers on loan until the end of the season.

The Japanese youngster has made two Carling Cup appearances this season but suffered an injury problem which set back his development. With the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Miyaichi’s chances of first team football were limited so a loan to toughen him up and to get him better used to English football is a sensible move.

In recent weeks he’s spoken about the benefit of training with Thierry Henry, saying, “He was one of the players I really looked up to. It’s a priceless experience to play and train alongside him.

“Every minute detail in the way he plays is quality. You look at everything he does and he’s an example to behold. I try to watch players like Henry in training and watch what they do.

“He’s the player I want to be like.”

And while he might not find anyone of Henry’s class at the Reebok, playing regular football will do him the world of good and allow him to push properly for a first team place next season.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle is glad to have another of Arsene’s youngsters, saying, “He’s a very talented young player, who is quick and exciting,. He had a great spell on loan at Feyenoord last season.

“He’s a young player with tremendous promise and potential and hopefully at Bolton we can give him a platform on which he can display his qualities.”

Good luck, Ryo.