Tag Archives: Brighton

Arsenal sign Trossard for £27m! (So says Alex Crook)

Well, that escalated quickly. After there being nary a whisper of the move, Arsenal have apparently signed Leandro Trossard from Brighton for £27m. If nothing else, this is a welcome change from the “let’s negotiate with a club while the player twerks for us for months only for Chelsea to snatch him anyway” saga. If this story proves true, I’d be content with knowing that we signed a player before Chelsea could. While Trossard may not be as sexy a signing as some of the other players out there, he ticks a lot of boxes and could end up being a very shrewd signing. Of course, we’re still awaiting the official announcement, so let’s not get too worked up.

For myself, I won’t believe the story’s true until I see Trossard being handed the match ball after his hat-trick on Sunday against Man U. More seriously, though, what this signing may lack in sex appeal it more than makes up for it in other ways. He’s Prem-proven. His fee won’t saddle him with massive pressure to perform, nor does it signify the type of player who’s going to demand to be a regular starter. He’s versatile enough to play left wing, attacking midfield, and second striker, and he can probably cover the right wing in a pinch. That’s cover if not competition for Martinelli, Jesus, Ødegaard, Smith-Rowe, and Saka.

For those wondering about that fee being large, keep in mind that there will be a £6m donation to the Belgian Armed Forces and the fee will be amortized across 8.5 years to comply with FFP. 

As to the player, he may not be pacy, but we don’t really rely on counter-attacking so much that this would be a concern. His close control and two-footedness make him very effective against low blocks and parked buses. He could have been very useful against the likes of Newcastle and will probably prove this when we go to St. James’ Park on 6 May. Think of a stronger but perhaps slower Cazorla. His ball progression vs. attack output compare favorably to the likes of Kane, Almiron, and Salah, among others.

I don’t love this signing, but I do like it quite a lot. It’s not a season-changing signing, but it could just be a season-saving signing. Get ‘er done, Edu…

Brighton Preview: they're droppin' like flies over there…

The nay-sayers will point out to you that we’ve only won twice in ten outings against Brighton, including a 1-3 loss in the League Cup back in November. That match does stand out as one in which Arteta got it wrong, not so much in fielding a heavily rotated side (only Saliba and Tierney started among a bunch of back-benchers) but in panicking late on, throwing on Martinelli and then Big Gabi and Zinchenko and Jesus and finally Xhaka in what looked like an increasingly desperate grasping at straws. Arteta may have learned from Pep that it’s imperative to fight for each trophy, but if he had wanted to win, he would have started as we finished. Ah, well. Water under a bridge or off a duck’s back. This is the Prem, a competition we know not to take lightly…even if our hosts will be lacking key players.

Since coming on back in September, Roberto De Zerbi has struggled to make his mark seeing Brighton to slipping from fourth place on matchday seven to their current seventh-place status. Things don’t get any easier, given the hand he’s been dealt (or the cards the referees have dealt…). In addition to missing Alexis Mac Allister due to his participation in the World Cup, De Zerbi may be without Danny Welbeck but will definitely be without Moisés Caicedo, who picked up his fifth yellow card against Southampton and will serve the subsequent one-match ban on Saturday Further shortening his bench will injuries to Jakub Moder and Adam Webster (Moder hasn’t played yet this season, so his absence matters somewhat less than Webster’s. In Webster’s absence, De Zerbi has had to rely on the 19 year old CB Levi Colwill, who has acquitted himself quite well so far in his five starts. To circle back, though, we should know better than to underestimate this squad given that they’ve been a bit of a bogey side for us over the last few years.

As for us, a lot of eyes will again be on Eddie Nketiah to see if his performance against West Ham was a one-off, as many of his critics will loudly proclaim; or if he can build on that. TO be frank, I don’t understand why so many of us deride Nketiah. He may not be Hale End, but he’s been here a while, he’s worked hard, and he’s gotten better and better. Is he good enough for our ambitions? No, not yet, but it’s not his fault that the injury to Jesus has thrust him front and center so suddenly. As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, we may not need a dominant, prolific, goal-scoring striker when the chances and assists and goals are coming from all directions. Heck, even the healthy Jesus was part of that attack-by-committee before going down. Nketiah did show against West Ham (as he’s shown in previous starts) that he is comfortable being more than a traditional big man in the middle, moving off the ball and across the front three to exchange positions with his mates to stretch defenses and create openings. That said, I really do hope he bags a brace or more, not just for the result but also for his development and, last but not least, to offer up a few more servings of humble pie or crow or their own words for his critics to eat.

He wears the shirt. He works. He presses. Heck, he scores. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and so I struggle to understand why so many still lambast him.Much as I understand that players sometimes use criticism to get themselves fired up, I’m not foolish enough to believe that this is what motivates the critics. They have axes to grind and evidence to cherry-pick. Let them talk. I’m sure (okay, more like hopeful) that Nketiah will walk the walk.

My prediction: Brighton 0-2 Arsenal. Both goals from Nketiah. I’m feeling sassy. What say you?

#ArtetaOUT trends after SHOCK loss to lowly BRIGHTON!

A shocking defeat to the likes of Brighton in the League Cup third round has ruthlessly exposed Mikel Arteta as little more than Guardiola’s cone-man who is way out of his league and in way over his head, and it’s only a matter of time before this cruel truth—those two consecutive eighth place finishes and bottling fourth place last season a a truer reflection of his capabiliites (or should I say lack thereof) than winning the FA Cup or somehow getting to the top of the table. It’s only a matter of time before the wheels come off because the fairy-tale season is over. Well, that’s what you might get elsewhere, but you won’t get that here…except as an attempt at mocking the kind of over-reactive clickbait that passes for journalism.

Instead, I’ll offer you this: Arteta made ten changes to the side that defeated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, motivated possibly by a desire to rest key players, give others important roles and minutes, and maybe even progress to the fourth found of this competition, one that hasn’t really mattered to this club since we almost won it back in 2011. With Tottenham and Chelsea also crashing out, the chances of winning it did increase, but there’s still Man City and Liverpool to consider. In the end, Arteta came close to having his cake and eating it too. After all, Nketiah scored from a great run-and-pass from Nelson, and he came close to drawing us level but struck the post—and we did create opportunities. 57% possession and 23 shots do show a respectable threat level even if the quality of the players on the pitch didn’t rise to the level necessary. Brighton are no mugs.  They’re 6th in the Prem after all and look better than they did under Potter.

Instead of revealing much about Arteta’s qualifications, the result reveals something we all know—there’s a large drop-off in quality between our first and second teams, especially in key positions. The Lokonga-Elneny midfield offers nothing going forward and very little in front of defense. It seems clear that none of Nelson, Vieira, Marquinhos, or Nketiah is ready to play in the top flight, at least for a side that wants to challenge for a Prem title (or, apparently, this bit of silveware). If Arteta did flounder, perhaps it was in throwing on Jesus, Xhaka, Martinelli, and Zinchenko late on, depriving them of the rest he ostensibly tried to give him in the first place. One might as well start strong, try to grab an early lead, and then replace creative players with defensive ones. By contrast, consider that Antonio Conte, frequently held up as the kind of world-class manager we should have gotten, started seven regulars against Nottingham Forest—who themselves made nine changes to their lineup—and Spurs limped to a 2-0 loss despite Forest going down to ten men for the last 15-20 minutes of the match. They may have lost Højbjerg to injury along the way.

In the end, then, there are tempests in teapots and mountains made of molehills. This result is one and the same with both. Yes, it’s fine and dandy like sour candy to win every match, but this is one competition we could take or leave. It gave valuable minutes to some players on whom we might have to depend more thoroughly without undermining our larger goals. They almost made the most of it. Let’s hope they learn and grow from the experience so that they’re better-prepared and more-determined for the next time they’re called on. As to the League Cup, let the likes of Man City, Liverpool, and Man U squabble over it while we chase a bigger prize.

As always, don’t be shy. Share your thoughts in the comments-section below the fold.

Arsenal 1-3 Brighton—Highlight clips as they become available

With the match unavailable anywhere (thanks, ESPN+), I’ll scour social media to post match highlights as fast as I can find them.

Sigh. It seems that Arteta either doesn’t rate the League Cup or figured a rotated side could still get the result. Oh well. Fewer matches to wear us down in pursuit of a trophy that is not all that impressive. On to the next match, then.


Vote for your XI vs. Brighton—and I'll pass it along to Mikel!

Ahead of our league cup tie with Brighton, I thought we might try something new, something daring, something dangerous. Okay, well, two out of three ain’t bad. Today, intrepid reader, you will get a chance at voting for our starting lineup, and I swear that I’ll do my level best to pass it along to Mikel or at least to one of his underlings who will give him the general gist of it. Arteta has talked about naming a strong side, saying, “You know there are no second chances and we’ll take it very seriously…We’re going to pick a very competitive team. I think everyone deserves chances, and we’ll make some changes with judgement in relation to the load of the players, but we’ll play to win.” Could be gamesmanship, could be serious; who knows? 

On one hand, it’s “only” the League Cup. It’s a trophy, and it’s worth winning. That said, if we can progress while also resting key players, so much the better—not that I’d ever try to skew the results of this entirely legitimate, not-at-all-unscientific poll. All that’s left for you to do is to get into the poll below. I’ll post the results a few hours before the match, plenty of time for Arteta to consider our wizened suggetions. Weigh your decisions carefully, then. Our ability to progress may very well depend on your decisions. After you cast your votes, weigh in in the comments-section below; share deeper thoughts about this particular fixture and your desire vis-a-vis this specific competition.

Once you complete the poll, you may have to scroll back up to see a summary of the results.