Exclusive – Michael Thomas on Arsenal’s form, Saka, Lacazette and the Top Four

It has been a very good week for Arsenal. A good performance against Liverpool (but not the result to match) and a good win against Villa.

Maybe Arsenal deserved a little bit more from the Liverpool game. The team had a really good performance but sometimes in those type of games there are decisive moments like the Odegaard chance and then the Ramsdale mistake. Individual brilliance also wins you games as you see at United a lot of the time which is where Arsenal need to buy into in the summer.

It was just small differences in the boxes and Liverpool took their opportunities which is what Arsenal need to do more of. Scoring a lot of goals is vital, as you can see from the goal differences from all the top teams.

We are now deservedly favourites for the Top Four. Yes, there is still a long way to go, but the way the team are playing it is looking promising if they keep it up. The run of games look more favorable for Spurs, but I am confident that if Arsenal perform the way they have been, then that 4th spot and maybe even a run at 3rd could happen.

There are just ten games to go, and maximizing the points from each game will be vital. I don’t think we can afford to lose any game but the danger fixtures will obviously be against Spurs, United and Chelsea. If we can take 4 points from those 3 games and keep up our form against the teams below us then we will finish in the top 4.

Five of our last six wins have been just by the odd goal. The team now looks like they don’t fold under pressure and they can see out games by solid team defending. Mikel has been able to have the players working for each other and the shape of the team looks really good.

It appears to me that the media are continually expecting Arsenal to slip up. There is always a lot of talk surrounding Arsenal and they have failed to live up to expectations over recent years. Hopefully the club prove everyone wrong this season and more so it will help them believe that they are on track to compete with the best teams.

Saka has asked the referee for protection that never seems to be forthcoming when Arsenal are involved. Saka is a real tricky player to play against and doesn’t stop going at players, which obviously defenders hate to see. We want to encourage our best talents to perform to their maximum capabilities for the fans to enjoy, but if players are not looked after then they will not be able to entertain. On the flip side Xhaka as an example has made some bad tackles and decisions but definitely gets singled out more often than others which is quite blatant to see.

Players will target Saka more often now as he is a big threat in the Arsenal team, but just like all players with that ability, you have to find a way to deal with it and come out on top. I believe he has all the ability and people around him to deal with that pressure.

The team are creating an atmosphere around the club where they’re building that bond with the fans and want to win as much as ever. The more you win, you start to understand the games you should be winning, and the games that are really tricky. The result sometimes means a lot more than just 3 points and that’s why the celebrations are the way they are currently. The team understand that every game right now is more than 3 points. It is another game towards their target and getting the club back into the elite of football. I think its perfectly fine to enjoy it, as long as the players and staff are aware that this is the minimum expectations and we as fans want to be celebrating trophies in the years to come.

Lacazette is doing really well right now and although he is not scoring as many as we would like, he is involved a lot in the build up that ends in goals. He plays for the team, which is extremely important but not only that, he makes the surrounding players better. Goals are very necessary however and I am sure both Arteta and himself are aware of that going forward. As long as he continues to contribute and work for the cause then the club will achieve their goals this season.

If Lacazette is to stay then I would definitely see him as a 2nd striking option. He would be really good to keep with his experience also, especially if we finish in the top 4 and we know the qualities he can bring on the field. The club would do well in persuading him to stay at least another year.

Partey’s recent improvement has been a joy to watch. The spine of the team is looking really strong, and with 10 games to go if all players can stay fit then we have a massive opportunity to finish in them top 4 places. Partey makes Xhaka better and we will need the quality performances all the way until the end and beyond.

As for Piers Morgan, he has always complained no matter who the manager is or was. Some fans are never happy and it stems from the club previously being so successful. Unfortunately you can’t always be victorious ,and hopefully what we are seeing is Arteta bringing that winning mentality and formula back to the club. This is not an easy task as there are other clubs that have the same ambition, but we are on track I’d say.

Kind regards

Michael Thomas


  1. Yes, our playing style is currently impressive and we shouldn’t have lost against Liverpool. Partey seems to have found his best role and our new formation looks tailored to suit his abilities

    Lacazette’s goal tally looks awful, but he is actually very productive with his assists, successful challenges and key passes. When Aubameyang and Nketiah started as CF, we lost Lacazette’s aggression and playmaking abilities

    1. Lacazette I’m afraid isn’t “productive” as you put it. I’m not calling for his head but he’s got to be a lot better. He’s a striker FFS. He’s hardly making runs, has zero aerial threat, and almost non existent for crosses from offensive wing plays. ‘Little’ Saka has way better holdup play and reads aerial passes very well, which Lacazette hardly does.
      And no, he’s not the Firmino type, and while he’s ‘working hard’, we want a more efficient and productive CF.

      1. dO2, Welcome reality among the many foolish hyped comments on the so called “usefulness” of LACA. I see a rapidly fading central striker who does not score, is hardly ever in the six yard box and is practically useless in any real effectiveness.
        I also see an old man struggling and failing to physically keep up with the hungry kids all around him. I find the over the top praise he is getting from many Gooners to be utterly ridiculous. To me he is our weak link and must be replaced by next season and let go elsewhere.

        I am convinced he WILL be let go!

        1. Mr Jon, I could never have put those any better myself!
          Honestly, I’m so sick of the ‘hardworking’ and ‘vital’ phrases fans can’t stop using when he’s discussed. He no doubt, is our weak link upfront like you rightly put it.
          I want him gone asap and wish him well.

      2. Lacazette’s seven assists from nine games are the same as goals and Firmino is also not much of a goal-scorer. Lacazette is slow and not the most intense high-presser, but he fits into Arteta’s system more than Aubameyang and Nketiah ever did

        I agree with what you said about Saka though, because he’s been doing it to receive Ramsdale’s long passes and he played well as a CAM too. This is why I said Saka could be a very good false nine, since he has played various roles as Kane did

  2. Strongly agree

    The spine of the team looks good but we must reinforce with an addition of midfielders
    These two comes to mine.
    Fabian Ruiz
    Santos Danilo

    We knows what we get with Laca so we should keep him if we only manage to sign one marquee striker

    These striker comes to mind
    Victor Osimhen

    Of all the strikers , I observed Osimhen seems to take a massive leap forward every time, brave, clinical,

    1. Fabian Ruiz is pretty good, maybe a bit slow for my liking (very good player though). Would prefer tielemans (slow runner, fast thinker) or JWP + another young player with huge potential to share the games with.

      As far as the striker options are concerned, i think i am in the minority that would prefer that we dont go for Darwin Nunez if Osimhen or another top option is available. Nunez is an awesome player, but has a rather questionable first touch and his ball control is not even decent. Half his goals/Assists are due to the low level of the portuguese league and the mistakes of his opponents, rather than his abilities. Strong, fast, with good aerial presence and good finishing, would most likely be suited to a top team that plays a different type of football though. Osimhen seems to possess the same strengths, but with a much better first touch and ball control (and hold up play-he can improve all of these). Am mentioning the above having watched both of them several times, especially Osimhen as i watch Serie A regularly.

  3. We need goals guys

    We need goals now and we need goals at the start of next season and throughout that campaign

    We are now getting a good return from wide players and attacking midfield players with the occasional one from our centre backs from corners etc

    Our main source of regular goals dried up last season, couldn’t get it back this and has now gone

    We might still get top 4 without goals from our “number 9”, who knows

    I’ve always liked Laca since he came, he’s had a good Arsenal career, always gives his lot and fights for the team, still does and he is certainly playing his part in the second half of this season, when he goes in the summer we should shake his hand, thank him for his contribution and wish him well for wherever he goes next, but he could get injured at any time before that

    He looked a bit off in the Liverpool game and again against Villa but now has time to recover well with the International break and will probably start against Palace, not least because he is our Captain

    Not sure why Eddie gets the stick he does to be honest as he hasn’t started a League game all season, did very well in Cup games when he did start, apart from the Forest game when the whole team had whiffers

    That Forest game, plus his 20 minute cameos to give Laca a rest in the League is what fans are judging him on I guess, the only game I recall him coming on and Laca stayed on as well Eddie assisted a late goal for Pepe

    At some point this season we will need him, he needs us on his side when that happens

  4. Very keen observation Chris.

    Fabian Ruiz is not bless with that blistering pace, but only Lacotelli that gone to Juventus is of that caliber fitting into our system so seamlessly.

    Osimhen is the real deal, he is Laca and Auba togeter but quicker too, he has that fear factor like the young Ronaldo,

    We should buy him even if he cost 90 million, he loves playing under pressure its seems and there is something infectious about him.
    I would say keep Laca if we buy him, he tends to draw three four players from the opposition at all time .

    Am a big fan of him

  5. A good article. Point is, I dont understand why some fans dont like Laca. I mean, I understand that scoring goals is the most important characteristic of a CF and Laca is not doing that. But so was Auba and so is Nketiah and we could not get Vlahovic. So as of now, Laca is our best bet. He makes up for not scoring goals by being the perfect team man, drawing defenders and creating space, creating assists, a leader on the pitch and someone with whom the youngsters love to play with. He has something in him that others dont have or else MA would have started with Pepe or Martinelli as CF but yet he prefers Laca. Also MA has gone on record to state that Laca’s contract extension will be studied at the end of the season and all the young players love to play with Laca. Considering all the above factors, I find it surprising and ridiculous to criticise Laca so much when he is doing so much for the club and so selflessly. We surely need another main striker next season but I am sure MA and the Board are thinking of giving Laca an extension given his performances and allowing he new CF to ease into the team for which Laca is most suitable. Give credit where credit is due.

    1. Agree, Laca is important to what MA is doing. Imagine Nketiah or Pepe in his place, we wouldn’t be creating as much chances as we do now, and their defending is almost nil. Laca makes everyone around him better and productive.

  6. Good article. We need goals though, lot of goals. Of all the current rumors of signing a new striker, and all the names that Arsenal are linked with, I really would prefer Arsenal signing Alexandar Isak than Nunez if we couldn’t sign Osimeh. I am not a fan of Nunez, as someone said above most of his goals are a byproduct of a weaker Portugese league. Isak on the other hand reminds me a lot about Henry, he has that movement and eye for goal from the distance as well. And he’s tall, 1.9m so good in air. He looks a bit lean physically but his movement is so good.

  7. Watch Isak’s goals and you can’t help but be reminded of Henry. Especially the way he evades defenders, and most of his goals are from distance as he doesn’t seem to meddle much inside the box but aims for the goal as soon as he gets the shooting chance.

  8. Will Laca settle for being a backup on the bench?

    We need a striker that’s a threat around the box, which Laca clearly isn’t. We need a striker scoring goals.

    I’m afraid we will struggle against Liverpool, City, and CL clubs if Laca is the main striker.

    Let him go in the Summer, best for both sides. Wenger had a problem letting players go and upgrading with some players, let’s not repeat those mistakes.

    Replacing Laca and Xhaka is a must if we want to go to the next level. We need a striker scoring goals and a threat from the midfield to rise further in the league.

    180k (rumored) a week for a striker building up play isn’t the answer. Out of necessity is one thing, as a game plan is something else.

    Upgrade this Summer please, complete the rebuild with a striker and new partner for Partey.

  9. Agree about Isak. He had a assist for Swedens winning goal against the Chech Republic in the W/C semi final play offs. Sweden will now play Poland to enter the W/C. Isak would be a great signing for Arsenal and from what I gather MA seems to like him.

  10. Any player of the Henry mould will always appeal to me so Isak indeed not a bad choice so too was Anthonieo Martial but he chooses the wrong club.

    Am not overly impressed with Nunez except for his aerial ability.

    I agree we need to keep that team building going for which Laca is crucial, so I expect him to stay if we only sign one striker

    So if the gaffer really wenr that hard after Dusan. Then he has to test the waters with Osimhen

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