Sometimes it doesn’t matter about the performance as long as the outcome is positive. Last night’s match was one of those times in my opinion. Bodo/Glimt were always going to make things difficult for Mikel Arteta’s team regardless of which players he selected. They did just that too. But for Matt Turner being confident, quick on his toes and alert, we might not have come away with all three points but we did thanks to Bukayo Saka and a slice of good luck.
Mikel Arteta made seven changes to the team which beat Liverpool with William Saliba, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Ben White the only ones not to get a breather. Saying that, by the time the match finished, Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli had all been called on. Thankfully though, all seemed to get through unscathed.
Eddie Nketiah, Fabio Vieira and Reiss Nelson didn’t really get going and our shooting, well, it was pretty dire, as at times was our passing. Really pleased for Matt Turner and Rob Holding though as I thought they did well, Sambi Lokonga too.
Arsenal didn’t play particularly well in terms of the kind of football we’ve got used to seeing this season but as said earlier, there will be occasions when the result is the only thing which matters come the final whistle. Personally, I don’t really care how Mikel Arteta’s team got their three points yesterday evening, not when we were away from home, against a club which hasn’t lost a fixture in Europe for years and on a playing surface our players aren’t used to playing on. Bodo/Glimt caused us a few problems admittedly but we’re the club with the points on the board and on the verge of securing a place in the knockout stage. I’m pretty sure that a win against PSV Eindhoven next Thursday would see us through as group winners.
For now though, Leeds Utd at Elland Road on Sunday is the next tough test for Mikel Arteta’s team. Leeds are a strange team in my opinion. Not literally but in terms of their season so far and results. One minute they can thump Chelsea 3-0, the next they’re being hammered by Brentford and being beaten by Crystal Palace after going 1-0 up early in the game. Their last match was a 0-0 draw against Aston Villa but considering they played with ten men in the second half, they did well to hold on. Jesse Marsch will no doubt be concerned after picking up just two points from their last five fixtures.
Having read around a few Leeds websites, just to get a feeling of how their fans see this fixture going and the general, albeit a minority opinion, is that Leeds will either nick a point of get thumped. Obviously, I hope it’s the latter but in someways, playing a team like Leeds can be dangerous because I suspect Jesse Marsch and his players will know they have nothing to lose. Not many people expect them to win so it’s almost like they can go out and play with freedom. I very much doubt Leeds Utd will sit back, defend and try and make it difficult for us, in fact I’m expecting the opposite as I think they’ll come out on the attack from the first whistle.
Chris Kavanagh is the referee on Sunday, the guy who needed VAR to tell him to send Luke Ayling off last season. Still, that’s what VAR is there for. Leeds and Kavanagh haven’t always seen eye to eye this season, certainly not when he denied them a penalty after Brentford’s Aaron Hickey pulled down Crysencio Summerville in the box. Jesse Marsch complained a bit too keenly and was subsequently sent off. I read that all three Leeds fixtures refereed by Kavanagh last season, ended in defeat. Don’t get too optimistic though, I don’t think Arsenal have won many fixtures with him refereeing either.
See you in the comments.