Arsenal 3 Fiorentina 0 Match report and Player ratings

July 21, 2019

This was the fourth game of our pre season and, as expected, we fielded some of our young players.

The team lined up as follows Martinez, Chambers, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac, Olayinka, Burton, Neslon, Saka, and Nketiah.

At first glance it would seem to be a 343. I didn’t realize we were still changing formation? I thought we would be sticking with the 433. One reason I can say the 343 is a good formation for us to play is because of Monreal as is he is too slow. I would have preferred to see Thompson over Kolasinac and Medley over Mustafi.

First Half

Nothing particularly remarkable from Arsenal in the first 15 minutes, Monreal being sloppy and Mustafi being Mustafi. Florentina were defending really well as a unit and Arsenal were shifting the ball left to right then right to left looking for an opening. Until eventually a brilliant move from Saka (Zaha who steups) playing in Kolasinac who lays on a plate for Eddie who was cool as ever rifling the ball into the net. Some more clumsy defending and more Monreal being sloppy. Olayinka and Burton needed to offer some support to the defense, Nelson to show a bit more probably it was because of Jenkinson Arsenal not getting the same dynamic on the right hand side as they are getting from Saka and Kolasinac on the left. First half ended 1 – 0 and we were fortunate not to have conceded, Martinez really proving to be a great keeper.

I was praying that Mustafi and Monreal would come off for the second half and we would revert to a 433, letting Medley show Mustafi how to defend.

Second Half

Well Emery listened to half of my prayers by reverting to 433 which made us definitely looked much better. Nelson was move to the left flank where he began showing his quality and on one occasion using his smart feet to cut inside and get a shot off but it curled straight at the keeper. Mkhitaryan’s first contribution in the game was to get booked, his second one was to pass the ball to Lacazette who laid it off to Eddie making it two nil, One thing you have to admire about Eddie is his ability to get space in the box. Willock held his own again when brought on and was smartly set up by Lacazette making it 3 goals to nil


One of the Star performer so far for me was Saka, I wouldn’t have any qualms him starting in the opening game. Eddie has a great ability to create space in the box. Mustafi is woeful and I hope he is frozen out just as Emery did with Mesut. We played much better when switching to 433/4231. It was nice to see us continue our fine form and the youngsters taking their chances.


Martinez – Was able to keep clean sheet not matter how hard Mustafi tried … 6

Carl Jenkinson – Struggle in 343, looked better in 433 still can’t cross … 5

Mustafi – Another horrible game from Mustafi … 4

Monreal – Struggle in 343 a lot of silly turn overs, looked better in 433 … 5

Sead Kolasinac – Looked solid again today … 6

Olayinka – Didn’t protect back 3, but was solid when we changed to 433 … 6

Burton– Didn’t protect back 3, but was solid when we changed to 433… 6

Chambers – another solid game … 7

Saka (Zaha who steups) – Another great game … 8

Nelson – Was invisible first half, came alive when he went to left … 6

Eddie Nketiah – great positioning in the box and took his 2 goals wonderfully … 10


Leno – Was able to keep clean sheet not matter how hard Mustafi tried … 6

Lacazette – Much more lively than in the previous game, came up with 2 assists … 7.5

Mkhitaryan – had an ok game but did we really need to see him play … 6.5

Megan Rapinoe – had an ok game but did we really need to see him play …

Willock – is this Ramsey 2.0? … had another great game … 6.5

Xhaka – Gets his customary yellow card and turns the ball over … 3

Thompson – Only a cameo but am really liking the look of him … 6

Other Subs not mentioned …5


Emery – Has the team looking sharp, his 343 experiment failed and he still doesn’t realize mustafi will cost us goals against better teams… 5


Bernd Leno … next Arsenal Captain

July 19, 2019

I totally understand people being annoyed with Koscielny and feeling let down, but I have a slight issue when people talk about him being captain and how a captain shouldn’t behave in this way.

Let’s be honest, the captaincy at Arsenal has meant very little for nearly 10 years now. It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote a comment about how our ‘captains’ had played less than 10% of PL games over a 5 year period. That’s an absolute joke! Even the season just gone, we started it with 5 so-called captains, I mean what the hell is that!? Obviously Koscielny’s antics don’t help bring any respect back to the captaincy, but I think that respect had died a long time ago.

Emery really needs to have a long hard think about what he wants from his next captain and he needs to ensure that he chooses someone who plans on sticking around and hopefully chooses someone who isn’t sat in the stands most of the time.

Give us an idea of who is the most popular choice for captain among Arsenal supporters by voting in the poll at the bottom of this article.

Personally, I’d be giving it to Leno. I know a lot have mentioned Sokratis, but he is a bit too fiery for me and may cause disruption if he gets into the players too much. I like his passion and i’d want that to continue, but I think I’d prefer someone a little more level-headed for the role.

Xhaka is another option and the extra responsibility may see him cut out some of the silly mistakes, but I always get the impression he’s glancing at the exit door. A dark horse might be Holding. If he can break into the first team and become a regular after his injury then I’d love the idea of a young, English old-fashioned centre half captaining Arsenal again.

It’s about time being captain of Arsenal meant something again. Let’s hope Emery gets it right.

Written by fatgingergooner

The Youngsters shine as Arsenal beat Bayern 2:1

July 18, 2019

This was the third game of our pre season and we fielded a very strong lineup (4231)

Leno, AMN, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal Willock, Xhaka, Mesut, PEA, Lacazette and Mkhitaryan.

Captain for the night was Xhaka. Clearly it should have been Monreal but with Kosceilny on his out and Arsenal needing a new club captain most people here were thinking it would be Xhaka, and it seems Emery was thinking the same way.

My initial thoughts on the line up I would have preferred to see Chambers start over Mustafi and Saka over Mkhitaryan

First Half

Arsenal were quick off the blocks with the first few chances falling to us. We were especially dangerous down the right with PEA and AMN creating chances. Thirteen minutes in and Bayern were still on the back foot with Mkhitaryan just putting it wide.

Arsenal were looking really good – and I don’t just mean the kit. Arsenal were playing from the back with confidence, counter attacking with purpose and winning the possession back quickly. But with all the great play, in the 38th minute Bayern almost took the lead with Muller beating Mustafi to the ball from a cross forcing a great save from leno with another shot on target coming just 3 minutes later.

We went on another searing break to end the first half as Aubameyang picked up the ball in his own half and sprinted forward, laying the ball off for Ozil but he fluffed his lines and it came to nothing and the half ended 0-0 at the break. It should also be noted that Willock made 3 more tackles than any player on the pitch he also won more fouls (2) and had the second highest number of touches of any Arsenal player

Second Half

Two changes in second half; Martinez came on for Leno and Kolasinac also came on (just in time for Sue to watch). We finally made the breakthrough via an own goal in the 48th minute as Aubameyang tried to pass it to Lacaztte. I have to give Mkhitaryan credit for this since he picked out Aubameyang with a great pass.

It was tough times down the right for AMN from Coman who gave him all sorts of trouble in the second half. Aubameyang went on another dazzling run and this time I thought it should have ended with a goal because Nelson was able to keep up and but his shot blocked.

Soon after Bayern were level when Mustafi misjudged the ball – but I actually don’t even blame him it was just simply a great cross and clinical finishing. Martinez keep it level with the game being stretched and chances coming at both ends. But then Martinez found Nketiah with a long kick, and he bullied Sule and got a shot off at the near post with Ulreich making a smart save.

From the resulting corner the ball landing to Jules who then fed Chambers who smartly returned the ball to Jules who the layed it on a plate for Eddie Nketiah 2-1 to the good guys. Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.

Jules should have make it 3 – 1 but he fluffed his lines, again it was another great pass from Nketiah to Kolasinac.


Our first real test of the pre-season and we passed with flying colours. I was dissappoted that the main team didn’t score a goal but they looked great. Although Mkhitaryan set up the first goal he should have been subbed for Mesut we need more pace on the left side to keep up with Aubamayang. Those who want Zaha should look at how we played today. If this is our new style of play, he would actually work but the likes of Saka and Nelson can still do a job. Someone should have known AMN need help on the right, I don’t expect Aubameyang to come back and defend so Willock/Burton should have offered more assistance if PEA wasn’t willing to come back.


Leno – Solid first half and made s smart save … 6

AMN – Solid first have horrible second couldn’t cope with Coman at all … 6

Mustafi – Looked solid woudn’t blame him for the goal … 6

Monreal – was caught out far too many times … 6

Sokratis – Looked solid again today … 7

Willock – Had a wonderful game … 7.5

Xhaka – Wasn’t spectacular and didn’t give away the ball… 6

Aubamyeng – wow was magnificent today … 9

Mesut – controlled the game but he really need to work on his finishing no way somone of his class should be miscontrolling the ball when he about to take a shot … 6

Mkhitaryan – Great pass for opening goal and missed a easy chance should not be starting game anymore to much talent … 6

Lacazette – wasn’t his usual self today … 6.5


Robbie Burton – Solid when he came on … 5

Reiss Nelson – When I saw the lineup was hoping for Saka instead of Nelson but after this cameo made me wonder why people even think we need Zaha, missed a sitter but it was defended wonderfully … 6

Tyreece John-Jules – setting up the winning goal and missing a sitter … 7

Nketiah – back to back games showing his class … 10 MOTM

Saka – looked wonderful again, has excellent close control (Zaha who) … 6.5

Chambers – If am not mistaken he was in midfield and looked damn good … 7


Emery – Excellent substitutions … 7


Written by Fred1266

Arsenal Suppporters …Trust … the Kroenkes

July 17, 2019

I see some of our fans feel they need to have a word with the board about how the club is run. This week, several big hitting blogs got together and launched  the #We care, do you campaign along with an online petition that currently has 80,000 signatories.

We all question things from time to time, and sometimes we get annoyed at certain decisions, but when did it become the norm to write letters to the owners questioning their running of the club?

Are we in the know enough to ask questions?

Are we qualified enough to question their professionalism?

Does reading everything that’s printed or put online about Arsenal make a fan more knowledgeable than an owner?

It’s certainly an interesting topic.

I actually quite liked that the club came out and answered the letter directly. Here are some quotes  from his response.

For me, on a personal level, I’m not sure how to address my passion. Anyone that knows me knows how passionate I am about Arsenal Football Club.

Absolutely. Is it hard to take? Absolutely. But I’m not in this business to make friends, I’m in it to win. If anyone is ever going to question anything about our ownership – which I view as a custodianship, the supporters trust us to be a custodian of the values — that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win whilst also respecting the values and traditions of the club.

I was there in Baku on behalf of KSE [Kroenke Sports & Entertainment], my father and family. I was down there on the sidelines, on the medal podium handing out second-place medals.

I saw the look on our coach’s face, our players and all our staff. I felt and I saw what they felt. I felt the same way.

I’ve sat down with supporters’ groups. I’ve not been afraid to sit down to have tough conversations with people because I’m transparent, we’re transparent, we don’t have anything to hide. We all want the same thing and we’re all trying aggressively to make it happen. It’s just sometimes our timeline might not be as aggressive as others would like to see.

But we’re not going to compromise the values that have kept Arsenal Football Club the way it is for over 130 years.

There has been a massive change in the management style of the club since Wenger left, and one thing that did used to happen under Arsene is he would give the fans answers to some of the questions that they had and he was trusted for the most part.

I feel that has been lost within the new structure so it was quite refreshing to hear from Josh Kroenke. I see some are unhappy that he hasn’t gone into depth about transfers, but what are they expecting him to do? Hand over a list of players that he’s interested in?

All we can do is hope that he’s true to his word and the club manage to get some of these signings over the line that he claims we are working on. I hope they do otherwise trust in this new structure will be lost before it’s even started.


Colorado Rapids 0 Arsenal 3 – Player Ratings

July 16, 2019

This was the second game of our pre-season schedule. For a few such as Medley, Thompson, Olyalinka, Buron and our two goal hero Jules this was their second game. We were up against a Colorado team that’s not in great shape themselves and also own by our beloved owner Stan Kroenke.

It would seem that we went to a 433 with Nketiah playing as the right winger.

First Half
The game started swiftly as Saka dribbled through the opposition and laid it on a plate for Martenelli who fluffed his lines. Olayinka was looking dangerous and made the assist for Arsenal’s opening score. He pushed the ball into the box where Bukayo Saka found it and lifted it into the net in the 13th minute.

The midfield partnership wasn’t working cohesively which meant that Jenkinson was doing a lot of the distribution, and because of this, Nketiah had to drop deep to collect the ball. He executed a brilliant through ball to Saka who needed 2 chances to put the it in the back of the net. Following that, Olayinka produced a wonderful finish after intercepting the ball in midfield and slotting it into the top right putting Arsenal 2 nil up by half time.

Second Half
No changes were made to start the second half, the youngsters continued to look dangerous. Martenelli finally was able to take his chance to put Arsenal 3 up in the 61st minute, but looked like he didn’t know much about it.

We got to see the likes of Mesut, Laca, Aubameyang and even Mustafi as substitutes, but they didn’t make much difference and the game finished 3 nil.

Colorado seems like they really didn’t come to play today but Saka and Nketiah really stood out from the bunch. Seems like we have started back playing high up the pitch in order to smother Colarado, but one ball over the top allowed the team in easily.

Macey – didn’t have much to do but when he did look commanding … 6
Carl Jenkison – Carl was shaky seem to be trying to hard … 5
Callum Chambers – wasn’t really troubled by Colarado … 6
Zech Medley – ditto … 6
Thompson – Looked solid again today but didn’t attack as much as the last game … 7
Jame Olayinka – took his chance wonderfully … 7
Burton – Wasn’t spectacular and looked lost at times … 6
Martinelli – need to work on his finishing … 6
Tyreece John-Jules – looked lost today … 6
Saka –  looked brilliant, got lucky on the goal and probably should have buried it first time … 9 MOTM
Nketiah – started on the wing but had to come deep to collect, reminded me of laca … 8


Maitland-Nyles … The New Vieira?

July 15, 2019

Seems that many bloggers are keen to integrate young players into our team…getting excited about Tierney and Martinelli…others are making the point that we also need experienced players to help grow the younger players.

As mentioned (too) many times, I am a firm believer that some of our younger and home-grown players should be integrated in the first team but they must be played in their best position. Bellerin, Holding, AMN are starters for me and I believe that there is case to be made for Chambers if we get a very strong CM next to him.

I think there is no debate about Bellerin and Holding. I want to make a case for AMN as our new PV4.


He played 11 games as a starter in the EPL:

  • 5 in defensive midfield (or right full back in a 3-5-2 set up) for 1 assist
  • 3 as right back
  • 1 in right midfield
  • 1 as an attacking midfielder on the right for 1 goal
  • 1 as left full back
  • He also came in 5 games as a sub.

Performance analysis averages:

  • 2.1 tackles per game
  • 1.2 interceptions
  • 0.7 clearances
  • Executes 1.2 dribbles per game
  • Gets dribbled past 0.9 times a game
  • Fouled 0.8 times per game
  • Dispossessed 1.1 times per game
  • 1.6 instances of poor control per game.
  • 0.5 key pass per game
  • 1 cross per game
  • Completes 0.9 long ball passes per game

AMN is 21, he is fast, rather athletic and has demonstrated a good attitude – I think he has all the attributes to develop into our new box-to-box midfielder. He needs to improve but he should be given a chance – he has the engine and the desire to be a strong player for us. He also is rather good at going forward.

He can only develop into our box-to-box midfielder if he is played day-in day-out and I think that in the right set-up, he could do extremely well. Henry said of him that he was the best one-of-one young attacking player he had seen in our team before he took over Monaco so…

Rewind to my first paragraph and project yourself to the beginning of the season and imagine the following line-up:

Leno – Bellerin, Recruit, Holding, Tierney – AMN, Chambers, Vidal – Pepe, Aubameyang – Lacazette

Ages: 27 – 24, ?, 23, 22 – 21, 24, 32 – 24, 30 – 28

We’d need an experienced CB but we can also live with Sokratis although not ideal. Vidal would play the experienced person in middle of the park and up front, we re OK.

So is AMN our next PV4 and can we succeed with a young, yet experienced team? My answer is yes.

Written by RC78


Liam Brady and me … a personal story

July 13, 2019

A personal tale of my earliest Arsenal experience, and my favourite  player.

“My first game to watch The Arsenal was in season 61-2, and the match programme was presented to me by Chas a good few years ago now. I stood on the South Bank, on my home made wooden stool, and waved enthusiastically to our Dad as he sat in his West Stand seat.

The opposition had two players who played a significant part in North London football in the years that followed. In defence was a big, blonde centre back called Ian Ure, and in attack a tall streak of p*** ( sorry, old habits) called Alan Gilzean.”

My blog initials stand for LiamBradyGod. Needless to say my favourite player of all time.

He signed this black and white photo for my Bros at an Arsenal event, but only if they could name the other players in the picture. They could. Can you?”

I have one other story about Liam that I would share since it also illustrates what a good lad he was/is.

Twenty years ago my son was travelling to Loughborough Uni for an interview and spotted Liam in the queue for a taxi to the University. ( He was going to a conference  himself at the University). Matt plucked up courage to talk to Liam mainly to tell him I was his greatest fan. Liam chatted with Matt about the Arsenal, offered to share his taxi (and paid for it), and wished him good luck with his interview on arrival at the University.

A story Matt relayed to me with glee on his return, almost surpassing for me the news he had been accepted to read a degree at the University.

Written by LBG

Koscielny … Hero or Villain? … vote and have your say …

July 12, 2019

Arsenal signed Lauren Koscielny from FC Lorient on 7 July 2010 for a fee in the region of £8.4m.


He’s been an Arsenal player for 9 years and now at the age of 33 is nearing the end of his career.

I doubt many Arsenal supporters had heard of Koscielny when he was announced, and his arrival was met with scorn by many fans saying that we needed proven quality, not a defender who had played most of his career in the second tier of french football.

It’s fair to say that the 9 years he’s played for Arsenal have been a struggle as the club came to terms with the debt of building the stadium and then the super rich clubs emerged putting to an end to our hopes of competing at the top once the burden of that debt was shed in 2015/16 . We’ve won FA cups and we qualified for the CL for most of that time, but we have also struggled to build a team of top quality players. Yes, we’ve had some superstars, but they have often been let down by the quality around them and reluctantly chosen to move on.

Throughout that time, Laurent Koscielny has been a beacon of light. An honest, reliable, no-nonsense hard working player who silenced his critics and earned his wages and for the most part managed to hold together a pretty shaky defence.

…. but now we  hear our club captain has refused to travel on preseason tour.

Arsenal took the unprecedented move of releasing this short statement:

“We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions. 

We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”

None of the ‘back injury’ or ‘virus’ smokescreens employed when other players misbehave … a straight forward condemnation.

Does Kozzer deserve this?

Opinions are divided …  here are some of the excellent comments by AA bloggers on the subject.


told you guys that Kos wanted out.
Bordeaux, Rennes, Monaco interested.
Kos wants the club to free him from his last year of contract, not gonna happen. He wants basically to leave for free so that clubs can pay him a signature fee and then he could accept a lower salary.
Shame to see him leave in this fashion.


Kosielny is the first to try to jump ship. Is it only about money, or is it about how he sees the immediate future with UE?. Can it really be about money when he must be earning millions a year? Not a good sign of the relationship between the management and the players.

Mike M

On the Kosielny situation, I have to be honest and say (and my son will back me on this !!) that I’ve long said that he has typified what’s been wrong at Arsenal for his entire tenure. I’m certain he’s a really “nice guy” but he’s also a good loser. And as the old saying goes “show me a good loser ……. ” This doesn’t really surprise me because possibly (hopefully) Unai and his staff are ruffling a few feathers on the training ground and maybe – just maybe, he’s not being treated like porcelain god any more.


Well, the Kos thing has come back and exploded in Arsenal’s faces. Management has known for quite some time he was wanting to go back to France, and the Arsenal played hardball.


I agree with Mike in that I think Koscielny typifies our players of the last 10 years. He’s a good player and probably the best defender we’ve had recently, but he wouldn’t have got anywhere near our double winning teams and he’s not the commanding, authoritative type we’ve been so desperate for since Campbell left the first time around.

I actually don’t have much of an issue with him wanting out. He’s 33 now so it’s not like he has time to wait around another 12 months as he will struggle to get a meaningful contract at 34. He probably wants a couple of years in France before retiring and in fairness he’s been a good servant for us and until now hasn’t whinged or moaned. He’s given a lot of years to Arsenal so I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable for him to ask the club to let him go a year early. It’s only because the club are so tight that they probably don’t want him to leave as it means going out and buying another player. It’s not as if he’s irreplaceable or so good that we can’t do without him. He should be nothing more than a fringe player really but at Arsenal he’s first choice!

Self Righteous

You’re in a dark place when the captain refuses to travel on a pre season tour, but that’s exactly what Koscielny has done and rightfully upset the club. I can only assume it’s because he’s expecting to make his move any time soon and wants to stay in touch, but isn’t that why they have their Mr 15%?


Mike M – yeah I just read your take on him. I can see exactly what you mean. Pardon my french but we’ve been completely lacking in “Nasty Bastards” for a few years. Perhaps he could have done more. Mind you I still think he’s an exceptional defender, using intelligence to set him apart. If he’d have been surrounded by better defenders I doubt the problem would be laid at his door though. Also when Lukaku was at his peak he was asked who the best defender in the league was and he said that the only player he couldn’t boss was Koscielny.

Quite a sad day for me. I try my best nowadays to not really care too much about the players coming and going. He was an exception. Always popped up at the right time.

He’s quite outspoken and I’m sure he’ll talk to french media at some point. He didn’t hold back on his international team mates when he missed the world cup. Poor bloke.

I’m going to give the last word to Pat7 for his excellent appraisal .. shoot me! .. editorial license and all that …

Pat 7

IMO Kos has been a great servant of the club, giving his all and more so often so will be sorry to lose his presence but this season showed us he’s no longer capable of doing what’s necessary esp if we want to cut our goals conceded. He needed the BFG type of player behind him as he would often dive in for balls unsuccessfully but was one of the best rated in the EPL. I can’t disagree with him if he thinks Arsenal have got it wrong judging his case to continue. I think he deserves to leave for ‘softer options’ closer to his natural home. Thank you Kos for your blood, sweat and tears! I never saw him as a loser, just someone that occasionally had to realise when they were up against a better team and his best was not making the difference!

Some athletes KNOW when to call it a day and obviously, to my eyes, Kos has called it. He may have signed a contract with full faith that his heart was there but after putting his body through hell and feeling it fall apart as no cover meant him stretched even further….

It is not his fault that the ‘team’ weren’t capable. He was never the ‘best’ but was praised by many a team/pundit. Even the best have rivals that beat them, sometimes on occasion, sometimes repeatably……then it is the CB pairing or team mate responsible to provide that cover IF the team organisation is there (as per Invincibles), not Kos’ fault. He was not a great captain IMO but did his best to lead by example.

So what do you think … vote if you have an opinion and join us in comments to discuss further ….


What can Arsenal Supporters Reasonably Expect Next Season?

July 11, 2019

Reasonable is a difficult word so I’ve decided to try to look at current elements from an Arsenal perspective related to how we think we can compete next season in the top 4, which is actually the short and easy part of this for me. If you don’t want a really long read, go to the end for that. I’ve also added a historical perspective because we are the Arsenal and hence have historically based expectations. So here it is:

15 Years ago (Boy were we spoiled !!)

Goalkeeper and Defence : Solid, commanding keeper with physical, fast defenders that were well organized, tactically savvy, good in the air and hard as nails. Also a consistent scoring threat at set pieces.

Midfield : Box to box midfielders, strong, physical skillful and hard working, good defensively complimented by fast skillful wide players who could beat a man. All of them were creative and could score for fun.

Forwards : Fast, devastating finishers, confident, creative and hungry.

The last 10 years (steady decline with odd flashes of brilliance)

Goalkeeper and Defence : No real commanding presence or leadership of the back line. Football playing defenders, physically unimposing and generally poor in the air, didn’t tackle very well and unable to hold a cohesive defensive line. Tendency to give away stupid free kicks which we were ill equipped to defend. Let crosses come in far too easily. (Sagna is exempt from all of this except the crossing thing).

Midfield : Defensive Midfielders were generally a bust (including Alex Song) and went missing at the vital moments. The rest were generally small tricky and very creative, held possession extremely effectively due to being technically sound, very good at short passing triangles and give and goes. Some good free kick technicians and ball strikers and generally a threat to score. Lightweight and unable to defend. (Santi – you’re exempt from criticism – what a tragedy. A complete genius).

Forwards : Apart from a very injury prone RVP who left after his only outstanding season, only Alexis managed more than 20 goals in 2017 until Auba got 22 last year (Ade got 24 in 2008). Other than that, a string of inconsistent finishers often with pace but (other than Giroud) unable to score in the air. Most of these players looked a lot better than they were because of outstanding creativity in the midfield and a team built to attack. (Alexis was the real deal).

Today (Oh dear!!)

Goalkeeper : I think Leno can be the new Jens. Not because he’s German but he will command his defence if he has some support. Just what we need.

Defence : Bellerin, Sokratis and Holding are good enough to do what we need to compete in the top 4 race. We need 2 more to step up and a combination of Monreal and Koscielny to play bit part roles. AMN and Mavro look like good prospects.

Defensive Midfield : Torreira is good enough and will get better. He has all the tools but needs to stop falling over to try and win free kicks. Refs are wising up. Guendouzi is a good prospect. I don’t think Xhaka can do it unless he undergoes a major transformation (mostly in mentality but also agility). If anyone can do this, Dick can !! Need a couple of step ups. Unlikely to be Elneny so maybe Bielik or Chambers. The latter is also too slow at the top 4 level I think. Could maybe play a bit part in defence.

Attacking Midfield : I know this will be unpopular but Ozil is a liability, as is Mkhitaryan. But as sick as it is, without these two we have ZERO creativity. As a group,(including these two and Iwobi) we have ZERO midfield goal scoring threat at the top 4 level.  “ZERO” encompasses scoring the odd goal here and there but really means compared to the rest of the top 4 and how our opposition sees us.

Forwards : We have two of the better forwards in European football right now. Such a shame we have such little ability to create chances for them especially against good teams. They will need a little help throughout the season. Hopefully Eddie or Reiss might help a little but they’ll find it hard to compete against almost all of the Premier League.

What we need

Assuming not too many injuries – unlikely but you can’t plan for what you don’t know about – here’s hoping for some divine intervention !!

1) Some Balls !!!  Let Leno, Sok and Holding scream at the slackers. We need a strong captain. I think Sokratis fits the bill, Holding as a back up.

A solid centre back that can head the ball would be great as long as he can defend. Ditto for a left back.

2) Learn to defend properly without the ball !!! Team effort, tactics and desire along with improved fitness levels. Torreira will be good and hopefully inspire everyone else and lead by example.

A solid DM would be great.

3) Meaningful possession when level or behind !!! City had a difficult time last season breaking down a stubborn Leicester defence until Kompany scored “that goal”. For us it’s the norm and we seldom score that goal. It’s hard to see where the creativity will come from but we do have the goal scorers. We need to improve technically with the ball to avoid being beaten by the high press.

A fast, skillful winger and a #10 that’s willing to defend would be great.

4) To kill off games when we’re ahead and playing well !!! A major weakness of Arsenal since the mid 2000’s has been our inability to kill off vulnerable opposition. We haven’t been able to soak up pressure which is an essential element of counter attacking, which takes speed, desire and finishing. Laca and Auba need to be clinical especially against better sides. We need to transition quicker to defence in the event we don’t score.

A good finisher who can also score in the air would be great.

How can we achieve this?

A) Follow a plan designed by Unai.

I’ve read a lot about us not having a “style of play” or “certain way of playing”. Those observations are valid – to a point. I just don’t think we have a good enough squad of players to dictate games and be one thing, which might be the entire point of this extended article. Nor do I believe we have the resources or the reputation in Europe right now to bring in outstanding players. To compete in the top 4 this coming season, we need to deconstruct our opposition and make a fairly rigid plan for each game. That might be to increase possession or play on the counter. It might be different for every game, depending on who or where we play. Hopefully Unai is up to the task. And most of all, that the players, staff and fans respond to his methods.

orB) Change the structure of the club.

Buy everyone we need (see “would be great” above) and start winning immediately. 5 or 6 key 80m signings (and a new manager for some people reading this – but not me!!) would do the trick !! It’s that easy. It’s also never going to happen.

So my answer to the question of what we can reasonably expect next season is, at best we can expect a tough season with a somewhat rugged team playing efficient if not always attractive football. But if we can become hard to beat and score a few goals, it opens our opposition up and often, that’s how you can win games comfortably. I think tactics, game planning and strategy are our only hope of competing effectively this season. But it will be a building block for next season and beyond if we can do it. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be easy.

Mike M

William Saliba … Great! … but what about the here and now?

July 10, 2019
There is a mini furore among some Arsenal fans over Leicester’s signing of Youri Tielemans from Monaco for a club record fee believed to be £40m. This takes City’s summer spending to nearly £80m, twice the reported budget Arsenal have to play with. The feeling is that Tielemans is just the sort of player Arsenal need.

Tielemans is 3 months older than Ainsley Maitland Nyles!!!

I’m all for youth, but who are they learning from? I do like the idea of UE snapping up these young players like Martinelli and Saliba, but a club of our size should be doing that whilst at the same time bolstering the first team squad. If UE wants to be around to see these players progress then he better start improving the first team, because the likes of Leicester and Wolves will be catching us at this rate.

The defence has been a shambles for years, yet we seem to do nothing about it. Sure, there’s a world shortage of CB’s, but you’ve got to buy a ticket to win the lottery. The defence won’t improve if we sit back and do nothing (which is what it looked like last season). It’s like we got burnt with Mustafi and so we’ve stopped trying. Cut your losses, get £20m for him, and try again.

There are 2 key areas we failed last season, CB and AM. I don’t doubt Zaha would be exactly what we need in that he’s got that unpredictability that we lack, but if we can’t afford him then why embarrass ourselves? Go buy what you can afford and hope the youngsters can fill the other gaps. There’s far more potential in Nelson, Martinelli and Smith-Rowe than in that CB group. £40-£50m could get us a decent CB.

Sokratis and Koscielny are our best 2 CB’s, so why people want Koscielny to go is a strange one for me. Yes, he’s getting on, but he’s still top 2 in our side. That’s not a compliment to him by the way, more a realisation of just how poor we are in that position. Holding is coming off a serious injury, Chambers has proven himself far better at HM than he’s ever looked at CB (thank god as he was very average at CB!), Monreal is a LB regardless of what anyone says and wouldn’t get anywhere near any other top 10 PL first team playing as a CB, Mavropanos has played a handful of games so it’s far too early to judge him, and the less said about Mustafi the better I think.

You can work on shape and defensive attitude all day, but sometimes you just have to accept the players aren’t good enough and move on. Personally, I’d be selling Mustafi and Monreal. I’d bring in Tierney and look for a big name CB. I’d be using Chambers in midfield, and I’d give cup game opportunities to Mavropanos and Bielik (shame he wants out as he looks one of our more promising CB prospects).