Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal faced Bournemouth on Boxing Day and while he didn’t get the win his side’s performance deserved, there was a lot to be happy about.
1Arteta managed more in 3 sessions than Emery did in 18 months
Mikel Arteta reportedly had only three sessions with this Arsenal side and they already look much more assured when playing it out from the back.
At the very worst, they didn’t look like they were about to crap themselves as was standard under Unai Emery.
2Tony Pulis should not be allowed to speak about Mesut Ozil
Employed as a pitch-side pundit by Amazon for their Boxing Day extravaganza, the chief orc was being asked to opine on things he can’t possibly understand.
It was like asking me to explain how it feels to be Brad Pitt.
3Manager interviews are often pointless
As Amazon spoke to the managers before the game, Eddie Howe was asked what he expected from Mikel Arteta’s first game in charge of Arsenal. “He will,” Howe explained, “set out his stall how he wants to play.”
4Only other sides have injury crises
Arsenal were playing an 18-year-old winger at left-back because they have so many injuries but before the game Amazon rambled about Bournemouth’s injury crisis before briefly mentioning that Gabriel Martinelli was injured.
There was no reason given as to why Saka was at left-back or where Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Rob Holding or Dani Ceballos were or that Arsenal were without their entire first-choice back line.
5Much to be positive about
Whether it was Ainsley Maitland-Niles chasing a player to left wing to get the ball back or the general body language of the players, there was more to be positive about from those 90 minutes against Bournemouth than I saw in the entirety of Unai Emery’s tenure at the club.
I think the only time Arsenal played that well under Emery was before he’d had a chance to train them properly.
6Mesut Ozil can still find more space than a telescope
It’s amazing what happens when you remind a player he’s world class rather than telling him he’s too s**t to get into the s**ttest Arsenal team in living memory.
7Lucas Torreira was like a little ninja
Against Bournemouth, we saw the Lucas Torreira we thought we bought last summer.
8Bernd Leno will need a statue at this rate
He’d already made more saves than any other Premier League keeper before this game and he added another three to his tally.
9On another day Arsenal win this game by 3 or 4 goals
Bournemouth can consider themselves very lucky that it just didn’t click for Arsenal’s front line as they had enough clear cut chances to win this 4-1 while still missing 50% of them.
10Some people expect the wrong thing to determine progress
Despite dominating the game, Arsenal went behind to the first shot on target they faced. We’ve all been here before so it’s easy to get jaded, but some were unable to see any positives out there nor appreciated Arteta has years’ worth of damage to reverse and has been back less than a week.
For a lot of fans, the only thing that matters is the final result and, as I tried to say during Unai Emery’s winning run when he first joined, that can’t be all you to look at during a rebuild.
Those wins clouded how bad Arsenal were playing and look how that turned out. Don’t let a 1-1 draw cloud the very clear evidence on that pitch that things might just start getting better.
11Grown men picking on kids embarrass us all
Reiss Nelson, who just turned 20 earlier this month, and Bukayo Saka, who turned 18 in September, didn’t enjoy their best matches for Arsenal on Saturday but some of what was said about them online was just ridiculous.
I bet most of those abusing Nelson and Saka couldn’t even work the washing machine in their house at that age. Most probably still can’t.
Do us all a favour and shut up until you learn the difference between criticism and abuse, a bad game and a bad player, and a player learning his trade and a fully-fledged professional.
12A neck pull should not be treated the same as a shirt pull
Grabbing someone around the neck to haul them down as they break is not the same as pulling someone’s shirt.
I shouldn’t even have to explain why they are not the same.
13Officials need to protect Pepe
Pepe was the victim of yet another horrendous tackle, one that could have broken his leg as he was scissored from behind.
The perpetrator received just a yellow when it was a red all day long. Thankfully, as far as we are away Pepe wasn’t seriously injured, although that is through pure luck than anything else.