Balogun Off? Tuchel In? Can a Win Over Chelsea Ease the Sense of Crisis at Arsenal?

Ex BBC journalist David Ornstein, whose reports are usually on the money, says that our promising young striker Folarin Balogun may leave on a free transfer, with Liverpool a likely destination.

My thought on hearing the news was: “Well, why wouldn’t he go to Liverpool?” It’s a sad indictment of the relative standing of the two clubs at the moment.

Meanwhile there are reports that Arsenal are thinking about sacking Arteta and bringing in Thomas Tuchel, the German coach who recently left Paris St Germain. Tuchel did a great job at Borussia Dortmund and got PSG to a Champions League final.

Both of these stories point to a club (our club) that is currently being very badly managed and is slipping deeper into crisis.

The Tuchel story may just be ‘paper talk’, but the Balogun one seems genuine and is particularly embarrassing. Our inability to secure an up-and-coming youth talent speaks volumes about how things are being done (or not done) behind the scenes.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we need an overhaul at the highest levels of management (by which I do not mean Arteta, but the team above him).

Today’s game brings an even sharper focus on our problems. We entertain Chelsea, who are currently fifth in the table and 11 points ahead of us.

Not many Arsenal fans will expect us to win, but you never know. I start every match day feeling optimistic and this one is no different, even though that may seem delusional.

One thing that will sink my spirits instantly will be if the team sheet includes the names “Willian” and “Xhaka.” Unfortunately I expect it will. Arteta seems to want to persist with certain players despite all the evidence that their contributions to our campaign have been truly awful so far.

Their continued presence is, I am sure, partly to do with the absence of fans in the stadium. If supporters were present I think Willian would either be well away from the first team or would have significantly upped his game. As it is he can coast through matches doing absolutely nothing and still get picked for the next game. He is starting to look like one of the worst signings ever made at Arsenal (although there is stiff competition for that title).

Injury news is that Aubameyang will have a late fitness test for a calf strain; Partey is not back yet but Martinelli may be available after suffering bruising to his shin when he was clobbered by the Man City ‘keeper on Tuesday.

Here’s the line-up I expect from El Patron:


Bellerin – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney

Ceballos – Xhaka – Elneny

Pepe – Lacazette – Aubameyang/Martinelli

If we lose, you can expect those Thomas Tuchel stories to heat up.

If we win, well, it might be just the boost we need going into a run of games from which we should be expecting to take points.

Come on You Gunners.



73 Responses to Balogun Off? Tuchel In? Can a Win Over Chelsea Ease the Sense of Crisis at Arsenal?

  1. RockyLives says:

    From Rasp (on end of previous Post’s comments):

    Thanks Rocky, like you I always expect us to win … even this game. We’ve had so many false dawns lately thinking we’ve turned the corner after an encouraging performance … only to be disappointed in the next.

    Some are saying that key players are staging a protest against the manager. If that I thought that was the case I’d stop watching football altogether until those players are out of the club.

    I may even make that decision if Xhaka, Willian and Elneny start today. It seems we are in the same rut that we’ve seen over recent years where a manager keeps repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result.

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    Merry Christmas 🤶 to all on AA.

    Good post, Rocky. The team will be up for it and like you I am positive about the outcome. Unlike you, I believe the return of naughty boy XhakA will be vital today, but Willian could indeed do with a break (but not because I consider him lazy).

    Tuchel at Arsenal would also mean a continuation of very disciplined, system based football and I cannot see why he would do much better right now. So I am hoping Arsenal will stick with Mikel and help him see through the revolution. As OGS is showing for the Mancs, it just needs time, trust and funds. CoyGs, 4-1 to the good guys 🙏

  3. Aaron says:

    Wow, that is a huge swingn the wrong direction.

    If the club let Balogun go on free and bring in Tuchel, I may have to put myself on a mental health sabbatical.

    This club’s organization, from player identification, contracts, youth development and sales, sponsorships, marketing and pr is a train wreck.
    Been this way for who knows how long, I know, the day staN the man bought the club.

    Unless some kind of organizational miracle occurs we are in for a very long ride and descent. Replacing actual scouting for our own brand of statsDNA has to be a joke, bringing billy bean ball to a club overseen by a bunch of amateurs.

  4. LB says:

    If we win this one it really will be the Christmas Miracle.

    We will go behind, we will chase the game and we will get hit on the break.

    It is all about the following 3 EPL games, lose those and there will be a change in manager.

  5. Sue says:

    We’ve not lost at home on Boxing Day since

  6. Aaron says:

    Don’t you dare!

    You know how many records are being broken this year!

    Rocky, if Mikel goes with this death lineup, we are truly in for a sad movie.

  7. Sue says:

    Aaron.. 🤣
    ESR starts… lovely jubbly

  8. fred1266 says:

  9. Aaron says:

    Villa with 10 men,16 shots, and score- go figure….

  10. Rasp says:

    Excellent Sue. I’m just watching Southampton playing really well. There were calls for Ralph to go when they lost 0-9 to Leicester … we should stick with Mikel

  11. fred1266 says:

    Gabriel isolating after close contact with someone with covid

  12. Rasp says:

    ESR and Gabriel starting … I like it … that sends out a very strong message.

  13. fred1266 says:

    Don’t forget day has the best keeper in the league Aaron

  14. fred1266 says:

  15. Rasp says:

    But Xhaka playing is not so great 😡

  16. Aaron says:


    You had me hoping for a second, then looked at the starting defenders, who shields them, and came back down to earth. They will get done for pace all day…

  17. Aaron says:

    Villa with 3 now, 20 shots, and game in hand, Emi looks to have made a great choice so far this year…

  18. LB says:

    Can anyone explain to me why Gabriel is likely to miss the next 3 matches?

  19. fatgingergooner says:

    ESR, Martinelli, Saka. Feel like Arteta is getting there with the team selection. Look forward to watching these 3.

  20. LB says:

    The compromising photos that Xhaka has of Arteta must be pretty bad.

  21. Aaron says:

    Will they get the ball in the right place to do something with it?

  22. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky, just seen the line up and if Mikel so chooses he could make it an exciting one. There are a couple of question marks in defence and defensive midfield but the attack could be interesting. I so hope he goes with the following formation:

    ———————— Leno
    Bellerin —– Holding —– Mari —- Tierney
    ————- Xhaka ——— Elneny
    ———————- ESR
    —- Saka —— Lacazette —– Martinelli

  23. LB says:

    Now that is a forward line, proof perfect that Arteta is an avid reader of this blog.

  24. Rasp says:

    Gabriel had a birthday bash, got too close to someone with Covid … the other two have tested negative but don’t feel well … WTF … we need players who will give everything … the type who would hide it from the manager if they don’t feel well

  25. GoonerB says:

    LOL LB. Well I certainly dont think it’s my personal twitter or Instagram account 🙂

  26. Rasp says:

    Xhaka gives away a free kick in a dangerous position once again …

  27. LB says:

    Chelsea are there for the taking

  28. LB says:

    This may not be popular but Xhaka is playing well.

  29. Rasp says:

    Holding has been good

  30. GoonerB says:

    Whose in control of the background crowd noise. There are applause when Cheksea get a corner but silence when we do

  31. RockyLives says:

    Great pass from Xhaka to cause the penalty. Credit where it’s due.

  32. LB says:

    As I was saying

  33. Rasp says:

    Told you Xhaka was crap 😂

  34. GoonerB says:

    The full back overlap looks so much more effective with the inverted winger in front. They drag defenders inside when they cut in creating the overlapping space

  35. LB says:

    Bang on GB

  36. RockyLives says:

    I hereby apologize to Granit Xhaka for my mean words about him in the post.

    He definitely looks better when he is not given the main DM responsibility.

    Some great forward passes including the one that led to the penalty.

  37. Rasp says:

    I particularly like the way we’re competing physically … we’ve won a lot of 50/50 balls. Fwank will send the chavs out really fired up in the second half. We should just concentrate on control

  38. RockyLives says:

    The energy and commitment from ESR, KT and Saka seems to have transmitted itself to the older hands.

  39. Aaron says:

    Not a great first half, like the pressing, finally, causing many turnovers. Will take the score no matter what.

    Like ESR, Saka, Tierney and Martinelli leading the left!

    Let’s see what this team can do in the remaining 45 minutes.

  40. RockyLives says:

    Agreed. There’s a good argument for going all ‘FA Cup final low block’ for the second half and hitting them on the break.

    They won’t relish Martinelli running at them if they’ve over committed in attack.

  41. LB says:

    Good point Rasp, we are in their faces.

    ESR needs to relax a bit more, nothing wrong but just express yourself young man, you have it.

    And more importantly the happiness of my Christmas depends on it.

  42. RockyLives says:

    The variety of movement offered by ESR, Tierney and even Laca is making a huge difference.

    Auba and Willian should watch and learn.

  43. Gööner In Exile says:

    So I have a question based on the first half performance of those youngsters like ESR/Martinelli/Saka also Tierney and Hector.

    Players or Manager.

    I fear that Arteta is struggling to manage PEA, Willian and Luiz, one due to age difference and two due to wages. Neither are his fault, but the reason I wanted Arteta was he could perhaps inspire the youth, and maybe today’s selection has been forced and we may not run out 2-0 winners as this position is where experience and game management come into it. We haven’t got enough of that in the side.

    PEA plays as an inverted winger/forward but does nowhere near the work that Martinelli puts in, that boy chases lost causes for fun, as against City it allows Tierney to support higher and the lack of respite he gives Chavs defenders means that the whole team moves up the pitch. Same on the other side Pepe is left footed but Saka is showing how to play the role, as Tyler said towards end of half when he won’t he free kick he knows when to hold and when to release.

    PS wouldn’t it be nice if Everyone took the pitch like Tierney, shirt tucked in and ready to go to work may be old fashioned view but I much preferred when players had to tuck their shirts in.

  44. fatgingergooner says:

    Chelsea have been poor, but we’ve showed enthusiasm and a willingness to chase the ball. The energy of youth has been just what we needed, but let’s not forget that going ahead has also played a huge part in the effort. It’s so important to take the lead, especially against bigger sides. The Xhaka goal is a huge bonus and gives us room, but I just hope we don’t see the naivety of youth in the second half.

    We haven’t been stunning, but the difference in energy has been obvious.

  45. LB says:


  46. Gööner In Exile says:

    That’s a bit special by Saka.

  47. Thrashing the chavs, what’s not to like. Come on ❤️❤️❤️

  48. Rasp says:

    There is a lesson to be learnt there. We are 3 nil up and we commit 8 players to attack …. too excitable

  49. Rasp says:

    I hope Arteta really tears a strip off these players. This is entirely of our own making. So unprofessional

  50. LB says:

    The world is a wonderful place again, I love it when Arsenal win.

  51. fred1266 says:

    Seems I need to stop watching arsenal play cause when I don’t watch we Win

  52. seedeee says:

    Now that feels good,

  53. RockyLives says:

    Well done boys and well done Mikel.

    Special props to Tierney, Martinelli, ESR, Laca, Xhaka and Leno, but everyone did their part.

  54. Rasp says:

    ESR was very good Fred. He brought energy and work rate as well as skill and invention …. unlike Pepe when he came on who refused to make a forward run when Tierney had the ball and urged him to get forward. He didn’t have the bottle.

  55. RockyLives says:

    ESR was excellent. If he has not secured a starting place even when all the squad are fit then there’s no justice.

  56. fred1266 says:

    So who spot would he take when everyone is fit

  57. fred1266 says:

    Well after reading rasp comment I guess he should play over willian and pepe

  58. Rasp says:

    He brings more to our play than those two Fred

  59. fatgingergooner says:

    Fantastic. Arteta got the response he needed from his younger players. Fair play also has to go to Laca, Xhaka and Leno though who had decent games and just about guided them through. ESR was excellent, Saka, Martinelli, Holding and Tierney also. This wasn’t some great corner turned, but hopefully it will make Arteta realise that the big earners are not needed to beat PL sides. I’d also like to point out how good Arteta’s record is against the big sides since he came in. Just a shame it’s taken our eye off the ball in terms of the rest of the PL.

    Always forward.

  60. RockyLives says:

    It is now so, so important that we follow this up with another good performance on Tuesday night against Brighton.

    We need to build confidence and build some momentum.

    But if Martinelli and ESR are dropped to the bench to make way for Willian, Auba and/or Pepe I will go Grrrrrrr….

  61. fred1266 says:

    What formation did we play was it our normal 343

  62. Gööner In Exile says:

    I said at half time we may not see the game out easily because of the inexperience on the pitch.

    Unless Arteta is being overly cautious with PEA I think it is very telling that first Willock and then Pepe went on ahead of him. Willock makes more sense, but Pepe, at that point with Chavs chasing the game PEA should have had visions of tearing them open down the left flank.

    So did Saka mean it? Don’t care it looked like he did, what I like about him and Martinelli is whilst they may have a dominant foot it is not so dominant that the other leg is just for standing on, they have the ability to use both, or create space for themselves to cross with their stronger foot.

    Hopefully that can be the start of it.

    Oh and on us not seeing the game out defensively and chasing more goals. More of that please. We haven’t the defence to see out a 2-0 win and as soon as it gets to 2-1 you have a difficult decision to make, pushing for a 3rd and 4th will see more wins than losses.

  63. RockyLives says:

    You can add ESR to that list of players who are more two-footed than most. It makes a big difference.

    I think Saka meant it. My son is convinced it was a miscued cross. The great thing is that neither of us really care 😀

  64. Rasp says:

    My point about not over committing was made when we were 3 nil up. They got a goal on the counter when we were camped high up in their half. Had the penalty gone in we would have had a very difficult last 6 minutes and I think that psychologically we would have struggled. So I personally believe that when we’re 3 nil up with ten minutes to go we can still attack but we should keep 4 players in our half on defensive duties

  65. RockyLives says:

    I tend to agree with Rasp.

    We also know that we have thwarted Chelsea before by getting in the lead and defending deep.

  66. LB says:

    Saka meant it

  67. Rasp says:

    Of course he meant it … he does it all the time in training.

    Shout out for Holding today, I thought he was very good. It looks like our best CB pairing is emerging. Holding and Gabriel as first choice with Mari next in line and then either Luis or Mustafi … personally I’d rather see Chambers ahead of those last two.

  68. VP says:

    Sue says:
    December 26, 2020 at 3:50 pm
    We’ve not lost at home on Boxing Day since

    the gift that keeps on giving

  69. Gööner In Exile says:

    Rasp, I know where you are coming from, but that was an inexperienced back line and I think if we’d gone for a bus type defence it may have been more costly, for a change we were good going forward and it was nice to see players trying stuff and being adventurous its what we have missed. They certainly wouldn’t have got a rocket. They are moving from playing football at a level where performance counts more than results to a results dependent league. Those game management skills will come with experience.

    Rocky good point on ESR, I haven’t seen enough of him to judge. The difference with him perhaps is we would surely expect anyone playing on the PL to be able to control the ball with both feet and play a 5/10yard pass with both feet. It’s not his game in that role to play searching passes with either feet, whereas to offer real threat out wide you need to be able to cross or shoot with both feet, and it was evident today with Martinelli and Saka that they both can.

    And the one moment I really liked about Martinelli was when he floored Zouma. It was a foul it was late but he went to compete and he let him know he wasn’t going to deal with high balls or game without a challenge.

  70. LB says:

    “The difference with him perhaps is we would surely expect anyone playing on the PL to be able to control the ball with both feet and play a 5/10yard pass with both feet.” Re ESR

    We should, the problem is that Willian, Pepe and Aubamayang did not get the memo.

    They have been woeful at completing short simple passes, and that is exactly what ESR did all the time he was on, and it worked so well, there was flow to our game, there was forward thrust rather than the painful break downs caused by the above so many times this season.

    I didn’t think ESR was that great today; he completed simple passes and so he should, as you say, that should be a basic requirement, the excitement is that if he can come in with so little EPL game time and hold his own as he did, then there is plenty to get excited about when he really settles back in.

    Willock obviously came on to add mobility but his short passing was poor and Pepe should start looking for another club.

  71. LB says:

    Any nagging doubt I may have had as to whether Holding was going to really make it at THOF disappeared today; he was excellent.

    Watch when Holding is paired with Luiz, Holding will always pass to the Brazilian as his long passing game is so much better.

  72. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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