Today we spoke to Pedro who runs Arsenal fan site Le Grove and asked him his opinions on all topics related to this weekend’s North London derby.
1) First of all, how have you rated Arsenal since football has resumed after lockdown?
It’s been a mixed bag. I think you have to set the context. We’re in our worst season for 38 years, we’ve cycled through 2 coaches, our squad was thought uncoachable at Christmas, and then the pandemic hit giving us a whole heap of contractual issues to deal with.
The start has been mixed. Manchester City away blew-up with 2 key injuries in the first 20mins, followed by the David Luiz shit show. We were beaten after dominating Brighton. Since then, things have picked up. We’ve actually managed some away wins, we’ve had longer periods of sustained good football, and our defence has started to look very structured. We beat a team above us in the table for the first time in 5 years (away)!
This season is a write-off, but it has been very promising to see the club progressing before any major surgery on the squad has been undertaken.
2) How have you rated Mikel Arteta’s managerial performance since he took the reins?
I am a huge fan of Arteta. I led the campaign to hire him post-Wenger and was mortified when we hired a super-agent recco that couldn’t speak English. Second time around, the club showed some guts and took a chance on an innovative young coach with a very high ceiling. My hope is that he’s our version of Pochettino. We’re a long way from that, but the early signs are positive. He’s a brilliant communicator, the players seem to really like him, and he’s at the cutting edge of where the game is going.
He had two important jobs for this season. Build a high-performance culture and make Arsenal difficult to beat. He’s making inroads on both of those fronts. We were conceding 1.64 goals a game under Emery, we’re down to about 0.8. He’s also managed 10 clean sheets (4 short of Emery’s total I believe). The team is much better structured, you don’t see huge gaps in our midfield these days. There’s also always a very simple tactical plan that is usually correct, even if not executed to perfection.
The culture drive has also been very positive. Players look bought into the vision, the news out of the club has been very positive, and it looks like the players treat each other better on the pitch. We’re also dealing with problems consistently and swiftly. Our version of NDombele is Matteo G. He’s been problematic behind the scenes and he’s being dealt with swiftly. Ozil, dealt with, he just doesn’t play. If you don’t hit the standards under Arteta, you pay for it. However, there is always a way back. Pepe and Ainsley Maitland-Niles breached the standards but worked their way back into consideration.
3) You have a good crop of youngsters coming through e.g. Saka, Maitland Niles – who are you most excited about?
My word there are some exciting prospects. The two that really stand out are Saka and Martinelli. The Englishman has been deployed all over the pitch, he is a great left-back, but he can also play across the frontline. He’s fast, intelligent, and very productive (11 assists at 18 years old). Martinelli is also a very exciting player, he’s a Brazilian, but he plays like a traditional English 9. Great in the air, explosive on the ground, and backs it with goals. We also have a striker called Eddie NKeitiah, he’s English, spent some time at Leeds, and he looks very promising. A real poacher who can lead from the front.
4) Where do you anticipate both sides will finish in the league at the end of the season?
I think it’s a race for Europa. Jose seems like he’s crashing Spurs to make a point about investment this summer. Arteta is just making the most out of his time so he can understand where best to deploy limited funds this summer. 2020 has been a bitch, I can’t wait to see where we are next year.
5) Which Spurs player would you be least worried about facing on match day?
I sat behind the goal when David Bentley scored from about 40 yards against us. There is no Spurs player in a NLD that is incapable of a moment of greatness. You also have such a rich squad of talented players. I find the demise of squad that made the CL final last year quite baffling.
6) Which Spurs player would you be most worried about facing on match day?
HARRY F***ING KANE. It’s always him. He could go 50 games without a goal and still be a threat against Arsenal. I also like Bergwijn, he’s been impressive in the limited games I’ve watched him. Very explosive and seems to be able to fashion something out of nothing.
7) Score predictions for the game?