Review – Arsenal smash West Brom to hopefully set the tone for 2021

Arsenal smash West Brom to hopefully set the tone for 2021 by Konstantin Mitov

Happy new year lovely Arsenal people! I wish you all good health and better Arsenal results and hopefully this result will set the tone for the entire year! We made it 3 wins on the bounce as we smacked a sorry West Brom, managed by none other than Sam Allardyce which made it all the better.

The hosts were extremely poor, especially in defence. Tierney was like Messi on the left hand side and his run past their full back, then a second trick and a powerful shot with his weaker right foot opened the scoring.

Then came the highlight of the game, when we made a slick move with a one-two between Laca and Smith Rowe and the latter giving it on a plate for Saka to double our lead. This goal was a reminder of the old times when this was a typical Arsenal goal and it also came from open play, which is something we’ve not done a lot this season.

After minute 30 we had to survive the bad weather and the crosses you could expect from a Big Sam side. We did it and we took our chance when a cross came in and a West Brom defender cleared it against their own post, Smith Rowe fired against their keeper and then Laca finished it.
To top it off, Laca finished another good attack from the wing and we finalised the score line 4-0. I don’t want to get carried away by beating a team who had a fourth consecutive game at home where they conceded at least 3 goals. Nevertheless there are a few things to take away.

One most obvious is that the youngsters did it again. Saka was immense, so was Tierney and so was Smith Rowe. His runs in behind create space which other players can thrive on. Lacazette scored again, twice this time. His link up play makes more purpose now, because there are runners and players to combine with.

Speaking of Runners, Bellerin has improved, since we put Saka in front of him. He makes runs with purpose and there is now cover from the wings when we need to defend. Even Xhaka, who is another player like Hector which I have heavily criticized looks better lately. He has targets to aim forward with the ball instead of sideways.

In stark contrast there are players who continue to struggle for form and none is more obvious than Aubameyang. His body language especially in the second half was really poor. He was strolling at some points, giving up too easily, and on some passes he looked uninterested at all. At the end, you could see the entire team trying to help him score and it never looked like happening for him.

With the way Tierney was ripping them apart on the left, imagine if we had Martinelli there as well? If he hadn’t had such a long injury he could’ve started the game, because on form right now I’d pick him any time in front of Auba on the left.

At the end we saw Willian, who can at best only tie Saka’s shoelaces, replace him and he didn’t offer too much as you could expect, but I see how we will want to protect our best player right now in a game where the jobs done.

I think a part of our recent resurgence that shouldn’t go unnoticed is Pablo Mari. We managed consecutive clean sheets and even though he gave a penalty away against Chelsea I think he was solid there too and it was more down to tired legs.

Now I wonder how long will the youngsters continue to carry us? I love how Smith Rowe did what Willock couldn’t and gave us a playmaker that creates space and chances, but I still think we need reinforcements there. The pressure can quickly pile on you at Arsenal and I don’t want us to burn out those players.

Then there’s the problem of the incredibly expensive players that don’t contribute to the squad. Kolasinac is out to Schalke and we all know we’re trying to get rid of a few more. Mustafi and Ozil will be gone at the end of the season for sure if we don’t find them a club now. Sokratis as well is heading out, which should clear out some budget. Luiz shouldn’t get another deal either.

And still there’s Aubameyang, Pepe and Willian. Can we get something out of those players, who cost us a fortune every week? Our recruitment and contract handling has been really bad. We’re trying to get Saliba out which is a riddle for me. A young player that cost us 27 million, who we brought home early from his loan to integrate him and we’re now letting him leave? I can’t think of anything else bar Arteta not liking him.

Regardless though, our squad is huge and removing players that don’t play is common sense, but we also need to invest and the freed wages need to be used smartly. Arsenal are kings of masking the real problems whenever things start going our way, just like the FA cup did last year.

We’ve only won 3 games in a row, that lifted us to 11th. The young players showed what was missing – bravery, desire, passion, confidence, energy and in the end ability. If we’re smart we will use this to build in a new direction, starting this January.

It’s premature to look at the table right now and start dreaming of the top 4 although realistically we are just 6 points off it with an extra game and just 3 off Chelsea who play Man City next.

I’m really happy with us winning again and our next 2 league games are Palace and Newcastle at home, so I can see the hype train rolling again, and I just want us to protect ourselves from that. After all our goal difference just got back to positive so there is a lot to be worked upon.

Thankfully, it starts to look like there might be something less shaky that resembles a foundation to actually build upon.


Tags Laca Saka Smith-Rowe West Brom v Arsenal


  1. The handling of Saliba by Arteta has been a total disgrace. I just hope by the end of the season Saliba will still want to be here though if he asks to leave I cannot blame him. An amateur coach ruining a top defender and wasting club resources at the same time. DoF Edu sitting in his office watching the Saliba situation and not even doing anything. Amateur coach amateur DoF!

    1. Wenger said he trusted an older CB more than the young one, although the older CB is less talented than the youngster. Despite the trust issue, Wenger mentioned he still had to give some chances to the young CBs

      I feel Arteta is a bit conservative when it comes to player selection and chose experienced defenders to play safe. I think Saliba’s entourage might not want to waste his time on loans

      1. I think you’re right, and I did notice that with AW also. I guess the thinking is that older players tend to recover better from a mistake than younger ones. Senderos basically killed his career from failing to recover from mistakes as a young player, despite plenty of excellent games, whereas Mustafi just kept going and has actually started playing pretty well over the past few months.
        Still, I don’t think everyone is the same and it shouldn’t stop the manager from giving younger players a chance – it’s just about keeping an eye out and taking them out of the firing line if needed.

    2. There is obviously a very good reason why Saiba is not featuring that none of us fans know about it must be something really serious for Arteta to exile him like hes done we can all guess whether its attitude or simply Arteta doesn’t think hes ready for 1st team football which was reported being the reason as we all know it will all come out eventually I certainly hope Saliba goes out on loan then comes back and challenges for a place in the team!!

      1. Then again This is the guy who thinks joe willock is ready for first team football … every game he plays confirms he is a championship level footballer but still endlessly given chances … ditto xhaka elneny nketiah

      2. I heard Saliba has been quite vocal on social media and had to delete some of his comments so it could have something to do with it,a shame all the same with few CB’s leaving pretty soon his path to the 1st team was opening,lack of patience/too eager??

    3. Maybe Saliba is not as good as we think. Maybe the people who signed him didn’t know what they were doing. I’m not saying that is for certain but the manager knows more than we do.

      1. Then why is his St Ettienne CB partner, who wasn’t as highly rated as Saliba, playing every match for Leicester (sitting above Arsenal in the table)?

    4. As long as he keeps winning and gives satisfactory clean sheets, we all should let Mikel choose what players he wants to play and at what position he deems fit. He should be judged solely on results and not how he manage the team. That is his business.

  2. Instead of playing cautiously as what they did in Brighton, they played without brakes in West Bromwich. Kudos to Arteta and the coaches, since they analyzed the last three oppositions almost perfectly

    However, there will be a time when Arteta’s 4-2-3-1 is cracked by other manager, as what happened to Ranieri and Conte after they won EPL with unorthodox tactics. When that happens, I hope Arteta still has other tricks up his sleeve

    1. While I’m sure you’re right about teams adjusting to our tactics, I also think it’s that opposition players and managers will start to take some of these emerging players much more seriously and try to work out how to stop them individually. That’s an inevitable challenge every top player has to deal with at some point but I’m sure they’ll get through it (but they may have a few games where they struggle).

      1. Yup

        For instance, Mahrez. I bet most top EPL defenders are familiar with his fake shot trick and his tendencies in field

          1. Agreed, and the prime example of this is Arjen Robben. Literally, everyone in the world knew that he would cut inside and finesse in the top corner, but hardly anyone could stop him. But then again, the guy was a legend, and our young players need to play more and think more to perfect their arts like the great Dutchman.

  3. The issue of Saliba clearly shows that the club should’ve got rid of Sanhelli long ago
    Pep, Papa, LG, Guendosy have all proved to be problem signings

  4. Thankfully the nightmare is over. At last we can look forward to our games with positivity. As of now we are 6 points from 3rd place and 10 from the leaders.

    Of course it’s not guaranteed we will go on a long winning run and things might go south any gameweek but at least we should understand it’s not always doom and gloom and the panic button should be pressed at the right time. Until it’s mathematically not possible to finish in the top four or winning the league, we should not write our chances off.

      1. It raises my hopes even higher to hear that from someone who by looking on his predictions ability, actually knows what he is talking about.

  5. Auba is as team, Arteta making wrong choices before to be forced to play other players allowing him to realize mistake of not playing them

    Auba is not happy, his body language, face, attitude, super frustrated.

    He will not play on LW again, he had it last night, felt he could have scored twice if on right side of the pitch. & foot. We saw it.

    As we see half season long how LW is not working for him. Arteta won’t have no choice but play him on RW at least where he has been prolific in his career.

    Auba laca Saka

    Why on earth play Saka laca Auba, not like Saka is a RW and can’t play LW, it is natural position and Auba is prolific from RW.

    Arteta makes it so complicated instead to keep it simple.

    Willian, Luiz, Ceballos were not players we needed to add, overcrowded sectors we have many in house options and young players we can’t play when these 3 are on pitch.

    Why is he insisting to play them? Can’t accept mistake and move on? Ego or lack of brain.

    I want best because we have best in our squad, Auba unhappy fed up, will now refuse to play there period.

    Arteta forced to play him on right at least or bench laca which is not our best option but as Auba on left, but simply Auba laca Saka if these 3 players combine. Not play Saka there because he scored and assists there, he does it as LW each game.

    Auba been prolific on RW before, Mikel just need to keep it simple. Why would you keep Auba there instead of RW if Saka is our best LW?

    Why keep playing Ceballos, that’s how Rowe ended benched and Willock and Niles are.

    Partey is injured, closest player we have to him is Niles.

    If you have Xhaka as a 8, Rowe as a 10, why not play Niles as a 6 instead of Ceballos who is more of a 8 who can play 10?

    This is where Arteta has failed, bringing players in, since he did, had to play them, show he made right choices but obviously forced to accept result; wins and Arsenal exciting football style taught in our academy since 6 year old baby Saka…

    That’s what senior players were trained to in order to “adapt”, can see it clearly in xhaka or Laca . Auba too, if played in right position.

    Mistakes Arteta must learn and not repeat.

    Never ever bring Luiz in, nor Willian to push Auba on LW and saka behind him, nor have Nelson sit for that.

    No Ceballos needed if xhaka is on, play Niles who is way better as 6, not play Ceballos if he plays Partey and Elneny or Xhaka but Rowe or Willock.

    Get rid of all these players who are not better than what we already have in squad.

    , sokratis, torreira, Pepe, Willian, Luiz, Ceballos who Real wants to get rid & sell, that disaster keeper to replace Martinez who as fabianski and Scezni all from our system with a good keeper tradition, we have some ready to step up as number two.

    Chambers is as Holding, a very good player, keep him, Mari, Gabriel, Saliba on loan and Mustafi as back up. Only 4 CB is bit short, 5 enough.

    Chambers can be used as a DM if Partey, Elneny, Niles all injured, even this season, before Ceballos…

    Clear out players not needed instead to pall them up and bench our young players as Rowe or Nelson for a season and half is way to go.

    1. I think MA got it spot on yesterday in the absence of Martinelli he played 2 of our most creative players KT & Saka one on each side for balance and for obvious reasons KT had to be on the left so Saka on the right!

    2. Because Abameyang isnt part of our strongest 11. A front 3 of Martinelli Lacca Saka is far more effective than a front 3 with Abameyang in place of one of the aforementioned. Lacazette provides better hold up play at CF and the two young lads can beat there man on the wing which Abameyang often struggles to do. Another reason is we have Willlian and Pepe on the right wing. Even though they have been awful they are on big money and until we sell them we cant exclude them or risk another team rift.

  6. Happy New Year Gooners!

    Interestingly, Arsenal have actually taken more points than both Chelski and the Spuds in the last six games. Spuds 8, Chelski 7. Arsenal 8. We have still got a maximum 63 points up for grabs! All is not lost yet folks and much to play for!!

    1. If we get 47 points from the 63 left we can make 70 points and such a situation is possible. With 70 points who knows where we would end? Teams will continue to lose more points in the remaining 21 games. This season no team will have a free ride as in the previous two seasons. Let’s continue with our steady progress.

  7. Well, its a New Year and it just may be a new Konstantin too as this is the best article you have yet written Konstantin, with some excellent analysis and a sensible article overall. I cannot however agree with your optimistic hope that we may yet make top four, though you do say its only a hope (to paraphrase your “dreaming”comment).

    As many of us have been saying all along, before being permitted to spend necessary funds, we NEED to rid our club of the many layabouts , coasters, mercenaries and others holding us back. We all know those names so I need not list them again. The sooner those harmful players all leave, the quicker we can get to where we need and want to be.

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