How Pablo Mari and Dani Ceballos set the tone for Arsenal’s win over West Ham

Arsenal earned yet another win to keep their unbeaten run in domestic competitions this year intact.

The Gunners will be delighted with the win as it has helped them maintain momentum in their bid to get inside the top six.

Almost all the players who played for the Gunners showed their worth but Dani Ceballos and Pablo Mari gave performances that were worth talking about.

Ceballos had vowed to win back his place in the team under Mikel Arteta and the Spaniard has made good on that promise so far.

He was instrumental as Arsenal ground out the win, he has a slight frame but the Real Madrid loanee has become fearless in recent games.

He was never afraid to get on the ball and was the Arsenal player who wanted the ball the most.

He made himself the creative force for the Gunners for much of the game and he will be a huge player as we chase a solid end to the season.

Pablo Mari earned a second consecutive start under Mikel Arteta after a good showing against Portsmouth in the FA Cup.

His composure on the ball made sure that we forgot when he misread a long ball in the first half.

He brought some calm to the team’s backline and helped his fellow defenders to play with more assurance. This was his first start in the League for the Gunners and I think a lot more is to come from him.

The best compliment I can pay to Mari is that Arsenal could have been overrun at times if it was not for his presence.


  1. the way some people are commenting about Xhaka performance yesterday, you guys make it seems as the whole team performance was top notch while only Xhaka played woefully.
    I understand he isnt the kind of DM we all want to have but d guy is doing OK, especially since MA took over, and he rarely get himself injured. The team performance yesterday is just average overall and we were lucky with the 3points, it’s one of those games, let’s move on and stop complaining, at least for now Xhaka remain our only and best option at DM. Let’s bygones be bygones, and stop looking for scapegoats everytime we don’t enjoy the team performance. I know Ozil and Xhaka has been on our bad book for long and we can’t wait for them to have bad performance so that we could vent some anger to relieve stress, however, this isn’t the time for that, the team needs us to stay together at this point in time

    1. It took 60s for xhaka to put us in trouble!!! How many sub standard performances does it take … the gap between our and Chelsea’s midfield is unconscionable … esp for someone like arteta who should know better … end off

  2. It was an average performance from mari and the team @ large,the only time mari was really tasted he fumbled,let’s stop this hype and move on, arteta has brought more energy and fight to this team and he deserve all the accolades , of course 3 points is all that matters buh remember our keeper was our best player yesterday which doesn’t tell good of our performance, the hate on xhaka from some sections of our fans is embarrassing, we want our defensive minded midfielders to be playing more of forward passes than backward and sideways passes,then why criticizing the one who tried to do it and get intercepted, xhaka have proved virtually under every coach how good a player he is why still the hate? Kudos to the guys for the hard
    earned maximum points buh let’s be more realistic and fair to our guys!

    1. A totally weird and bizarre opinion of possibly the worst midfield player who has played regularly for us for over three years. He is utter rubbish as almost all can see, But not you. He is slow, desperately slow of thought and cumbersome, rash and mistake ridden His good points? Well, er, my wife thinks him good looking and what an asset THAT is! Eh!

  3. Uchman,while I agree with most of your comments concerning the very average performance yesterday, to use the word hate in regard to Xhaka is to overstate what is merely justifiable criticism for someone who has been in my view mediocre in the past two matches.I do not hate Xhaka nor for that matter any other footballer.

  4. In reading the stories from the game I feel like I was watchign a completely different match than the one described by the pundits.

    Arsenal controlled the game for long stretches, while the West Ham chances mostly came from desperate long-balls and infrequent counter attacks. Of course if those chances are converted, the Gunner lose, unless of course the Gunners had chances that did not go in either. Arsenal had a handful of chances none of the “experts” mentioned.

    Pepe beat two defenders and nearly put one in. A last-ditch slide tackle stopped the shot. He nearly did the same thing again, but beat three defenders the second time. Sako had a couple of nice moves and Ozil nearly put Nketiah in but the young forward mistimed his run.

    Arsenal could easily have earned two penalties as well. Nketiah was taken down. It would have been soft, but penalties have been given for similar contact in the box.

    Lacazette was manhandled by Ogbonna in the box. It went to VAR and how that was not given tells me that VAR is hopeless. Ogbonna had Lacazette around the chest and held him from making his run for four seconds.

    The point is, while West Ham certainly had chances, most were either mistakes from Arsenal or low-percentage tries that in most cases end unceremoniously in turnovers.

    If Leno was the MOTM, Ceballos was Assistant MOTM. His runs with the ball, moving from defensive third to the second third carrying the ball relieved a lot of pressure and let Arsenal take a deep breath after intense back and forth defending and attacking.

    David Luiz had a decent game, making a couple of very important blocks and clearances. Mari\s performance was on par with Luiz’s, but he’s still having a honeymoon, so people are viewing what he did through rose-tinted glasses.

    The criticism of Xhaka seems desperate. He did nothing wrong, he created a couple of chances and had one banging shot that went high, but if it had been on target it was a goal. Between he and Ceballos Arsenal controlled the central midfield most of the game; nearly all of West Ham’s chances came down the flanks or on balls over the top.

    Ozil was very good, central to most of the Arsenal attacks that looked like bearing fruit. Nketiah showed his youth, getting muscled off the ball and bullied in the middle of the park, while Aubameyang, for the first time I’ve seen, really did not look very interested. Being played down the left for Lacazette is one thing; being asked to move out wide for an unproven kid is something else entirely. Arsenal created opportunities that might have gone entirely differently with a stornger, more experienced player on the end of them.

    Unai Emery’s biggest failing was man management. Asking players like Aubameyang to make sacrifices is part of the job, but asking him to do it to accommodate a kid with one league goal to his tally is just as unwise as benching Mesut Ozil to accommodate Mateo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, or Joe Willock at #10. If Arsenal want their top scorer to be in red two seasons from now, this cannot be the Gunner’s starting front IV.

    1. Paul, The realist in me tells me that MA realises that Auba will be sold this coming summer when he refuses to sign a new contract except on exhorbitant, unacceptable money terms and aged 30. HE IS RIGHTLY TRYING HIS ONLY OTHER CENTRAL STRIKER, LACA APART, WHO IS BADLY OFF FORM OF LATE, to see if Eddie can make it there. Were it probably, which it is NOT, that Auba would stay AND on good terms, then I doubt that would have been tried. MA is already looking to the future whilst still trying to salvage this season with mostly sub par players.

  5. Xhaka will never be in the good books of some people. That people still single him out for yesterday performance is shocking. Our defence and midfield were OK. It was our forward players that were frustrating to watch especially Mr. Dribble. Xhaka created some good goal scoring chances in addition to his defensive contribution. He also made an important block yesterday, but somehow he was awful even before the match started

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