Victories for Arsenal and Manchester United are the focus of our latest Scout Notes article.
SAKA: “WE SMELLED BLOOD TODAY AND WENT FOR THE KILL”
Arsenal delivered their biggest-ever Premier League away win on Sunday, ruthlessly putting six past West Ham.
The Gunners looked capable of scoring with every attack and raced into a 4-0 half-time lead, thanks to goals from William Saliba (£5.6m), Bukayo Saka (£9.0m), Gabriel (£5.0m) and Leandro Trossard (£6.5m).
Saka added a second after the break to earn 15 points, before Declan Rice (£5.4m) completed the rout, thumping in an unstoppable drive from 25 yards.
On his return to West Ham, Rice also claimed two set-piece assists.
As for Saka, he racked up a whopping eight shots and three big chances (including the penalty) in just 67 minutes, before being given a rest once Rice scored the sixth.
After going five games without a goal, the Arsenal man now has five in five.
Elsewhere, Martin Odegaard (£8.4m) failed to get on the scoresheet but did create seven chances for his team-mates and laid on two assists, his first attacking returns since 23 December.
“We were 4-0 up in the first half and we could have scored more. We smelled blood today and went for the kill.” – Bukayo Saka
“Physically, it’s tough, but he can only get better because he wants more. And today what he’s done with the penalty as well shows that he wants to learn from a situation and make it right and that shows a lot of personality.
“The consistent level that he’s showing at his age, especially in the position that he plays in to deliver those numbers, and not only that, the consistency and availability that he has to play the way we play, which is really demanding.” – Mikel Arteta on Bukayo Saka
MORE SET-PIECE GOALS
Arsenal’s two set play goals at the London Stadium took them to 16 in the Premier League this season, more than any other club.
Saliba opened the scoring in the first half with a simple header from Rice’s corner, before Gabriel added another from his free-kick. The Brazilian has now scored in three of his last seven matches.
As for Rice, he had taken just three corners in 2023/24 until Gameweek 21, but has since delivered 12:
|Saka (72), Martinelli (35), Trossard (24), Odegaard (14), Vieira (6), Nelson (3), Rice (3), Smith Rowe (1)
|Rice (12), Saka (11), Odegaard (1)
“I’m really happy with him because it was a very emotional and special day for him. He loves West Ham so much, and today he had to focus on the task and what he had to deliver. Set-pieces were one of those, because when we have certain players on the field, he can threaten from outside of the box more than inside the box.
“Yeah, it was something that we knew, and we could imagine. It depends who as well who plays in the team, how much height, presence and physicality that we have inside the box to make the right decisions. He certainly has the delivery, he used to use it here at West Ham as well, and he’s done it in the national team. It’s another thing that we can add to his game.” – Mikel Arteta on Declan Rice’s set-piece ability
Next up for Arsenal is Burnley, who conceded two of their three goals on Saturday from dead-ball situations. Across the season, only Nottingham Forest have allowed more from free-kicks and corners.
It was a nightmare afternoon for West Ham, however.
The Hammers hadn’t lost at home since Gameweek 10 but this was a deeply worrying performance and they were perhaps fortunate not to lose by more. It means they have now failed to win any of their first seven matches in 2024, increasing the pressure on David Moyes.
HOJLUND SCORES AGAIN
Rasmus Hojlund (£7.0m) was on the scoresheet once again as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-1.
The forward has now scored five goals and assisted two in his last five Premier League outings, a period which has seen him average 8.4 points per start. 22 other forwards have taken more shots in that period, mind, with his shooting accuracy up from 33.3% earlier in the season to 75%.
In a thrilling contest at Villa Park, super-sub Scott McTominay (£4.6m) was also on the scoresheet, netting the winner from a superb Diogo Dalot (£5.1m) delivery.
“Everyone gets criticism but he is a fantastic player who is developing very well. He can play in so many positions and he is improving on crosses. He can score and his defending is improving so I am very pleased with him.” – Erik ten Hag on Diogo Dalot
Elsewhere, Alejandro Garnacho (£4.9m) was a constant threat drifting in from the right but blanked, missing two decent opportunities, while Bruno Fernandes (£8.2m) was busy pulling the strings in midfield, creating eight chances for his team-mates.
However, defensively it felt like panic stations every time the ball went into United’s penalty area. Erik ten Hag’s side looked far from composed at the back, with Andre Onana (£4.8m) forced into making a string of superb saves.
Meanwhile, Luke Shaw (£5.2m) had to be taken off at half time as a “precautionary” measure, with his replacement Victor Lindelof (£4.5m) struggling at left-back, often getting caught out of position.
“Precaution. He had some complaints and we can’t take any risks with him because he’s had many injuries in the past. We’ll have to see how it goes in the next few days. It’s not an advantage to lose him, everyone knows my philosophy to have left-footers at left centre-back and left-back. We have to make compromises and it is not to our advantage.” – Erik ten Hag on Luke Shaw
VILLA UNLUCKY/EMERY ON PAU
After a slow start, Unai Emery will have been pretty pleased with how his team played.
Impressive going forward, Villa racked up 23 shots and created numerous chances but lacked an end product, with Ollie Watkins (£8.8m) guilty of missing two Opta-defined ‘big chances’.
Jacob Ramsey (£5.9m) got plenty of joy down the left, receiving 28 passes in the final third, at least seven more than any other player on the pitch. He also attempted five shots.
However, the equaliser stemmed from the right, when Douglas Luiz (£5.5m) turned in Leon Bailey’s (£5.6m) cross for his seventh goal of the season so far, all of which have come at Villa Park.
Elsewhere, Lucas Digne (£4.6m) made his long-awaited return from injury off the bench, replacing Alex Moreno (£5.1m) late on, while Pau Torres (£4.6m) was an unused substitute.
Boubacar Kamara (£5.0m) also picked up a knee injury which will need to be assessed.
“After the injury he had, he needs to progressively get consistent. Of course, Lenglet is playing and helping us very good. This is the competitive team we have and we will use different players in different competitions. Every player needs time to fix.” – Unai Emery on Pau Torres