Arsenal: Martinelli the catalyst and Pepe finally explodes onto the scene

Gabriel Martinelli

Arsenal have won a game, I repeat Arsenal have won a game! I was honestly beginning to forget what winning felt like and whilst particularly in the first half it wasn’t exactly vintage Arsenal we won’t dwell on that too much.

When you’re playing as poorly as we have been of late it’s all about the result and the hope is our first away victory in the league since the opening weekend of the season will lay a foundation on which Freddie can now build.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much confidence a single goal can breed into a side totally devoid of it and Gabriel Martinelli’s equaliser was the catalyst for what followed. A nine minute period in which the Gunners blew West Ham out of the water and completely turned the game on it’s head could prove a huge turning point for our season.

He may only be 18-years-old but it’s been clear for months that in Gabi-Gol as I’ll now call him we have an exciting young talent. Last night’s calculated and accurate finish was his 8th goal of the season and in my opinion he has got to be starting on that left-hand side week in, week out.

Reiss Nelson who? This kid is miles ahead of him and if it means Lacazette is left out in order for him to be accommodated (because we sure as hell shouldn’t be dropping Aubameyang) then so be it.

Ladies and Gentleman, Nicolas Pepe has finally arrived in the Premier League. That’s the player we all thought we was signing, rapid, skilful and a ruthless finisher. The Ivorian also proved he’s got the stomach for the physical side of the competition – how Aaron Cresswell wasn’t shown two yellow cards is beyond me but it was Nico who had the last laugh on the night.

One final point because I don’t want to spoil the podcast that will be dropping later today but it looks to me as though Freddie has at the very least begun addressing the transitional issues he spoke of after Norwich. Xhaka (although extremely sloppy in possession at times) and Torreira were noticeably more conservative in their runs forward and were clearly instructed to offer greater protection to their central defenders.

West Ham weren’t exactly prime Barcelona but I thought for the most part our defensive performance was a lot more convincing. I still hate that our central defenders take so many risks in possession but hey ho, small steps right?

We travel to Standard Liege on Thursday and that’s followed by the visit of Manchester City on Sunday. Hardly the ideal Premier League follow on having just picked up our first win since October 6th but perhaps we’ll only concede three now instead of five. Just kidding, come on you Gunners!

Podcast: Freddie’s under pressure | Arteta and Marcelino linked | Feat Konstantinos Lianos of the Daily Express

Freddie Ljungberg

Host Harry Symeou is joined by fellow Greek Kostantinos Lianos of the Daily Express to discuss the rumours Freddie Ljungberg has lost the faith of the players, whether or not Mikel Arteta is in fact the front-runner to replace Unai Emery and why the appointment of Marcelino would cause uproar.

Available now on YouTube, Apple Podcast’s, SoundCloud or Spotify.

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Arsenal: We need an experienced Head Coach sooner rather than later – Blog

Freddie Ljungberg

So many of us wanted rid of Unai Emery that we temporarily lost sight of the fact that whoever was going to inherit this sh*t show, experienced or not was going to have their work cut out. A leaky defence, an imbalanced midfield and a £72m winger who’s simply not been good enough – perhaps our summer transfer business wasn’t as good as we thought it at the time.

Arsenal are currently on their worst run of form for over 40 years and after Thursday night’s embarrassing defeat there are no signs of it getting any better. The draw at Norwich last weekend highlighted the same old problems but there were some positives to take from the trip to Carrow road.

At the very least Arsenal were entertaining again and throughout the first half played confident, expansive and attacking football. Our defending left a lot to be desired but we expected that.

Fast-forward to Thursday and not only was our defence as porous as ever but our confidence looked completely shot. We are a side who currently find themselves in free-fall and when you’re walking away feeling as though Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac were two of our best players you’ve got to be concerned.

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We all want Freddie to succeed, even more so than I wanted Emery to when he first arrived purely because he’s somebody with whom we have an affiliation, a love and respect for. However, two games into his tenure as interim-boss I’m beginning to have serious doubts about whether or not he’s out of his depth.

During Emery’s tenure Arsenal brought in no fewer than twelve players but it’s impossible to look at that squad and not feel it still needs a major overhaul. That for me, is a tell tale sign of just how bad the Spaniard reign was. The demise started during Monsieur Wenger’s final years but it accelerated substantially following his departure.

Ever since the trigger was pulled on the former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla boss the club have been linked with a whole host of names. If you believe what you read you’ll have seen the club have a fourteen man shortlist. Fourteen!

Arsenal as a football club are at a crossroads. Either make a statement, hire somebody with a proven track record who can navigate the club through these troubled times and end the wait for our return to the Champions League or take another risk with a second-rate manager and watch us disappear into the abyss.

It’s time for KSE to put their money where their mouths are and go get a Max Allegri or a Carlo Ancelotti. The idea of hiring Mikel Arteta or even Patrick Vieira feels slightly naive – you never know it could prove a master-stroke but given our precarious position it’s a risk I certainly wouldn’t be willing to take.