For the first time in 10 years, Arsenal have won their first two matches of the season. Their second win came with a 2-1 win over visiting Burnley in a physical affair that left Sean Dyche crying, yet again.
As for Arsenal, they continued to try and find their rhythm as Emery made a few changes to lineup as the kicked off the home campaign looking to once again establish the Emirates as a tough place for anyone to play.
Arsenal walked away with the win and we take a look at the three things we learned from this match.
Unai Emery’s Master Plan to Get Best out of Mesut Özil comes to Light
Seems pretty silly to be talking about a player who didn’t even dress for the match and who isn’t likely to feature in the squad for a few more weeks. But Unai Emery’s plan to perhaps make Mesut more like Mesut, got liftoff on Saturday with the Emirates debut of Dani Ceballos.
When Ceballos was signed, there was a lot of speculation on how Emery planned to use him. Emery himself recently gave a clue to his plans as he recently said that when they were talking to Ceballos about coming to Arsenal they planned on using him as an 8 or a 10.
On Saturday Ceballos rotated with Willock operating in both the box to box 8 role and the more creative 10 role. It resulted in a performance that resulted in the following stats:
- 100% take-ons completed
- 97 touches
- 90% pass accuracy
- 70 passes
- 19 duels
- 7 recoveries
- 5 crosses
- 4 take-ons completed
- 4 chances created
- 3 fouls won
- 3 shots
- 2 tackles made
- 2 assists
It was a performance that resulted in Dani getting named the Man of the Match and showing why he was such a good signing for Arsenal. It was also a performance that had a few people declaring the demise of Mesut Özil’s tenure at Arsenal.
There is a ton of hate shown a current player of this squad that many are hoping he iÖs displaced by the presence of Ceballos. However, it is more likely that with Emery likely to stick predominantly with his preferred 4-2-3-1 that Ceballos could be the missing link to get Mesut being Mesut again.
Ever since Santi Cazorla went down with the ankle injury that resulted in the horrific spell he had with the surgeon, we’ve missed that pivot in our team that can bring the ball from deep and play the first pass into a creative midfielder floating between the midfield and defensive 4 of the opponent.
It stifled the team’s ability to break the press and it forced Özil to continually come deeper where he had to take the ball and try and beat players on the dribble – something Mesut Özil is not known for.
Now with Ceballos in the squad and his ability to dribble at players and beat them in 1v1 scenarios, Arsenal have once again a player that can break the opposition press and allow Mesut to float in space like he did in that successful season where he got 19 assists or at Real Madrid.
Ceballos however also offers you a ready replacement if Özil is getting marked out of the match or just isn’t performing at the level you need him to. But more importantly, the duo of Özil and Ceballos in the midfield gives the team and additional headache – whom do you cover. Counting for one leaves the other available.
Ceballos’ performance on Saturday was amazing and his MOTM award warranted. It’s early days yet and sterner tests come. But he is everything we had hoped he’d be – so far. As the season goes on, let’s hope this run continues and he helps us get the best out of our 10 again.
A Slight Glimpse of Pepe’s Perfection
Nicolas Pepe is Arsenal’s record signing. Did you know that?
He’s also slowly being integrated into the squad. Last week we were given 20 minutes and this week 45. Perhaps next week when we square off against Liverpool, Pepe will be given 60 minutes and be used to give Liverpool’s back line and additional issue to think about.
But let’s focus on Saturday’s match. For only the briefest of moments, we gained perhaps a brief glimpse of why it is Arsenal made him their record signing.
It was a moment that now lives in the ether of the twittersphere of endless gif files of him leaving 2 Burnley defenders left for dead. All done with the simplest of moves.
With the ball at his feet, Pepe simply moves and plants his left foot as if he is going in on direction, that feint gets both defenders to bite and the one nearest to him winds up getting caught square to the winger that he not only gets beat on the reverse move, he gets megged as well
Pepe, these men have families.😭 pic.twitter.com/l8KBSfDMtB
— Arsenal FC News (@ArsenalFC_fl) August 18, 2019
As we said it was the briefest of moments, but it was a glimpse of the ability the lad possesses.
Like Ceballos, he is a player who likes to take players on and dribble past them. He is blessed with excellent technical skill, vision and speed. Using all of them combined he provides Arsenal with a threat they haven’t had in years.
With that moment of skill, it will be interesting to see whether or not Emery gives him his first start at Anfield. The thought of him and Aubameyang looking to launch a counterattack on the home side is enough I think to give Jurgen Klopp something to think about.
Regardless, it was fantastic seeing Pepe make that move and give us this glimpse. He’s a player who’s only going to get better and as he gets a feel for the league and its defenders – watch out.
Let’s All Drink In Sean Dyche’s Tears
In the wake of a loss to Arsenal last season Dyche had this to say:
“We’re on about blatant, no touch, no contact; about phantom touches and people just jumping up in the air and going over,” Dyche said. “The absolute cheating, dives. No one seems to want to do anything about it, apart from me. If one of their players had been booked for it – he would have been off [Guendouzi was already on a yellow card].
“Even at the end, [Matej] Vydra goes through and touches Xhaka marginally on his shoulder and Xhaka goes down and gets a free-kick. It’s centre-halves now – going down after hardly anything. Incredible.
“Kids are watching and copying it. Millions of children. You wouldn’t ruffle your kids’ hair if they came home after school and cheated in a maths test. But they cheat at a game of football and it’s OK. The game needs to have a look at itself. It was incredibly bad in the World Cup.”
He launched these attacks in the wake of Arsenal’s 3-1 over his side last year. Fast forward to his post-match reaction from Saturday.
“People diving all over the place today – it has to go.
“I was at a Premier League meeting actually and it was brought up.”
Slight problem with Sean’s crying this weekend though – there wasn’t a single incident where anyone could be claimed to have dived. It was a point brought out in all places on Match of the Day with the crew saying he had nothing to complain about.
Fact is Sean Dyche, supposedly one of England’s brightest managerial talents, set his side up to be a modern-day Stoke City and club the hell out of the Arsenal. Undoubtedly, he read some notes by Tony Pulis that Arsenal do not like it “up them” and told his players to that.
It failed miserably and even though the visitors managed a single goal they weren’t really in the match.
All in all, we have all the time in the world for Dyche’s crying. Our only hope is that when the reverse tie comes around later in the season he is in similar form.