Building a team for the future but at what cost and with which guarantees?

Martin Odegaard: Arsenal confirm £30m signing from Real Madrid | Daily Mail  Online

Arteta has been saying that since he arrived 20 months ago, he had to change many things at the club in terms of the way it operates, its culture…and to be fair, some positivity and changes were visible in his first 6 months with a new-found defensive resilience and 2 Trophies: An FA Cup and a Charity Shield. To win both, big teams had to be beaten so when we started last season, there was a sense that we could consolidate our gains and build on Arteta’s early success with our club and with the signings of Willian, Partey and Gabriel, there was a “feel good atmosphere” around our club especially after our demolition of Fulham away with a few assists from Willian…

Then the season 2020-1 was what it was with a poor League position, performances in the Cups were not great and our run in the Europa League ended against Emery…who went on to win the Europa League

By then, Arteta had been able to shape the team to his liking to a certain extent…This summer, he managed to make new additions: Ramsdale, White, Tavares, Lokonga and Odegaard. He also managed to extend Tierney and Smithe-Rowe while Saka signed on last year. All seem to have a similar profile: young players, good potential and a good engine. Tierney, Odegaard and Saka have got some international experience too.

So Edu-Arteta say that we are building a team for the future with solid foundations but they are two major assumptions here:

  1. They will play and improve with us
  2. They will want to stay with us in 12 or 24 months because they (still) believe in the project/in our club.

And I am not taking into account external assumptions related to other clubs also strengthening

I am sure that Arteta will give them the necessary playing time to develop and that our coaching staff will also help them improve but I am not sure that players like Tierney, ESR and Saka would like to stick with us, if we do not (i) contend for trophies, (ii) win trophies), (iii) finish Top 4 or Top 6 especially if clubs like City, Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real, Bayern, Barcelona, Juve, PSG come knocking at the door for them…

PSG needs a LB – they could easily approach Tierney. Would Tierney not want to play with Mbappy, Neymar and Messi?

Liverpool and City always looking to bolster their wingers’ option, wouldn’t Saka want to be coached by Guardiola or Klopp?

So, I understand that Edu-Arteta want more time (basically this season) but their project also need to include more instant success to ensure that the club is still competitive this season and that we can retain the younger talent extended and recruited…Otherwhise, their whole vision is doomed to fail…

Do you honestly believe that Arteta can make the following team (based on acquisition and Arteta’s formations since last year) compete for a Top 4 finish and a Cup Win this season:

Leno – Chambers, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Odegaard, ESR – Auba (or Laca)

I have my doubts…We had our best results with Arteta playing with a back 3 and I would be more comfortable going back to this set-up especially given the fact that we are conceding goals and chances like no one’s business….


21 Responses to Building a team for the future but at what cost and with which guarantees?

  1. Broken Winged Bird says:

    Generally speaking it’s good if bigger teams want our players – it’s because we’ve got superb players who can improve the best clubs. It’s been a while since those top teams came knocking on our door, however, and I suspect none of our players are good enough to play for the elite.

    My main concern with the team is just how toothless it is. How could Arteta, who played for Wenger’s free scoring team, be unable to get the team to at least score goals. I’m surprised if we managed to score one goal in a game, let alone two.

  2. RockyLives says:

    Good Post RC

    You’re absolutely right that the clock is ticking on the Edu-Arteta team-building project.

    In short, it has to deliver this year with a top six finish and, ideally, a long cup run in one of the cups.

    If we fail to do that some of our better young players might well look elsewhere to further their careers (and here I disagree with Broken Winged Bird in that I think Tierney, Saka and ESR would be much sought-after by some of the top clubs in Europe).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see at least one big arrival before the end of the transfer window, perhaps a striker (which would probably require one of Laca or Auba to leave).

    Despite my optimism that we would get a result yesterday there was a wide gulf between us and Chelsea.

    They looked slick, well organised and strong. Most of all they always seemed to know what the plan was, whether in possession or out of it.

    That’s my one concern with the Arteta project so far: we have seldom looked like a team with a clear plan. No doubt the injuries and absences are playing a part and that Partey will make a difference when we returns, but in the next couple of months we really need to see a coherent, attacking playing style take shape or even Arteta’s supporters will start to lose faith.

  3. RockyLives says:

    By the way, I am encouraged by what I have seen of Lokonga and I hope that Arteta tries a Lokonga-Partey combination at the base of midfield (at the expense of Xhaka).’

    Given that Xhaka has been wearing the armband in Auba’s absence that does not seem likely.

    I see more value in Xhaka that many on here do, but I can also see that he is a slow player in terms of literal speed and thinking speed.

    He did well in the Euros for Switzerland because in those games the pace is usually slower and you get more time on the ball.

    Give Xhaka time on the ball without being pressured and he can be really effective. But put him in a high-paced maelstrom like yesterday’s Chav game and he struggle, particularly when facing his own goal.

  4. RockyLives says:

    My ‘first choice’ 11 if all are available (keeping Leno for now):

    Tavares? – White – Gabriel – Tierney
    Lokonga – Partey
    Saka – Laca – ESR

    I would prefer it if the central striker was someone like Lukaku… but that ain’t gonna happen.

    Martinelli looks to be struggling to me.

    Auba will score a lot of goals in the right set-up, but it’s not a set-up that seems to be in Arteta’s thinking.

    Laca’s chance conversion rate is one of the best in Europe – it’s just that he doesn’t get many chances with the way we currently play.

  5. RockyLives says:

    In that formation we would need to see plenty of goals from Saka and ESR, with Ode and either/or Partey and Loko chipping in on a regular basis.

    If we play with a back 3/5 I would go with:

    Tavares? – White – Gabriel – Tierney – Saka
    Partey – Lokonga
    Odegaard – ESR

  6. fatgingergooner says:

    Keep the faith. It will come good after the international break when we have a settled squad and hopefully some fit and healthy players.

  7. Pete the Thirst says:

    A great day out at the Stadium yesterday, just a shame Arsenal didn’t turn up.

    There was a lot wrong with the team yesterday. It’s easy to use the excuse of injuries, but the tactics were inept. A few observations:

    Chelsea play a 5 at the back with the full backs pushed high at every opportunity. For a lot of the game they were playing with 5 in midfield. We faced up with 2 midfielders. They used the extra man/men well. We needed to either switch to a back 3/5 to match them or drop the wingers into midfield to get the ball. Neither happened in the first half.

    James was a constant threat from early on the right. Tierney was caught out a number of times high up the pitch, but nobody stepped in to cover. I would guess that was Saka/Xhaka’s job, but neither did it.

    We let Chelsea control the ball. Yes, they may be a good side, but to play at home on the counter attack is criminal tactics. If we are going to do that we need to defend solidly, which we seem incapable of doing at the moment.

    There’s plenty more, but we can all see it.

    I await the input of Dr Doom aka jjgsol to really raise the spirits. LoL

  8. RA says:

    Thanks for the Post, RC.

    While you were on here trying to rationalise the possible outcomes for the Mikel/Edu project, I popped over to the PSG blog and tried to cheer them up — because most of their fans, like you, are very worried as they have such a weak bunch of ageing forwards, and their goalkeeper keeps banging his head on the goal crossbar.

  9. RC78 says:

    RA – As you know, I was not very favourable to the arrivals of Donnarruma and Messi at PSG. They are both outstanding players but I am not sure they address PSG’s weaknesses. However, I d be happy to be proven wrong in May/June next year by a PSG side lifting the Champions League…

    Based on the early seasons everywhere, it seems Chelsea will still be amongst the favourites…

  10. RA says:

    Hi Rocky,

    Your well intentioned, and welcome attempt to try and give us some faint hope that Arsenal might pull a rabbit out of the hat, worked to a certain extent, as we did seem to have a lot of jaded rabbits on the pitch who were sadly incapable of tackling, and seemingly they had also caught the ‘slow sickness’ from Xhaka, especially in defence, as Mari and Holding gallantly showed us “that’s not the way to do it” and made me think ‘where the hell is Mr Punch when you need him?’

    On another note, both Tierney and Martinelli who are very promising players, seem to be very vulnerable to injury. Pity.

    Finally, you are right to hope we fill the CF position with a tall, robust, muscular and speedy player before the window closes — although, as you said that is unlikely.

  11. Pat7 says:

    I see the major fan waffle coming from the ‘I want it now’ brigade.
    There were obvious reasons Wenger only wanted 1 or two additions as it takes time to bed in these recruits and get the fast flow up to speed.
    Mikel is attempting a major revamp. He can’t afford to bring in now-gems as so many positions need upgrading/backup in his squad so he’s opted for younger talent – Project Youth 2.0.
    Until these guys are all healthy, have time to practice and play together they will be just individuals doing their best. Once they are fit again from their summer and CV we will see how things turn out and I shall judge Mikel then.
    Our squad is stronger. The disrupters are being removed. Last years talent has had another year to progress. We have increased our captains on the pitch……patience.

  12. GoonerB says:

    Well we were battered in that game. The stats prove it before you even look at the scoreline and reflect on the game overall. We had a couple of moments but that doesn’t detract from the game overall.

    We were unlucky with the pen decision but even if we had got and scored that and one of our other chances Chelsea could rightly point out that they were easily good for another 3 to 4 goals beyond the 2 they scored.

    As I normally feel the reality is somewhere in the middle of everything. We have some bad luck at the start of this season with players not being available relative to the first 3 games we were facing.

    I thought about it before yesterday’s game and the 8 games after City are reasonably favourable if we find somewhere near our top form.

    Spuds are in that run but I don’t see why we can’t beat them with a fully fit squad and an understanding of our strongest 11; this is crucial for Artera to work out which I dont think he has yet and I think will be crucial to his tenure with us.

    Anyway by the end if those games we will be 11 games in and I think need to be on about 20 points. That’s 6 wins 2 draws so tough but doable (unless we take some points against City and I’m not writing us off).

    Back to yesterday and Chelsea are a very expensively assembled team that we cannot match right now. We are not competing with them right now. We need our world class potential youngsters to kick on because they can drive us up the league and once they are more consistently affecting games and we are in a stronger league position we can get better players to add to our youngsters that right now won’t look at us as a good option.

    There are a few observations from these first 2 games. Firstly as promising as Martinelli and Balogun are, right now we need to change back to a consistent run of games switching between Auba and Laca up top, and look for them to come into form. If those 2 come into form it will make a massive difference in us climbing the league.

    Switching to the defence and focussing on Mari in particular, I always thought he was “alright” but was never completely sold on exactly how top level he was. He is our biggest defender but somehow feels a bit lightweight and slow, almost like a CD version of Xhaka.

    Yesterday he was utterly bullied and ineffective. I know Lukaku will bully most defenders but you want your biggest defender to at least bully back a little bit and it makes me wonder what we are getting if not a physical presence. I tend to feel Gabriel would have competed better with Lukaku on a physical level.

    It also got me thinking about what we have been doing with our defenders. Would Saliba have matched up athletically and physically with Lukaku better? Also it made .e wonder about another player that I really thought would come back to us after a successful loan and be a real asset….. Mavropanous.

    I know Lukaku is a bit further online his level now but I remember Mavro on an early game go toe to toe with Lukaku (at Utd) and keeping him in his pocket. Mavro is a big unit and matched him physically but also had readinable pace for a big guy.

    I know there is no use crying over decisions that have passed on but as well as Arteta needing time to develop the team, he and Edu will also be judged by making the right decisions on which personnel to build around.

    I kind of feel that there are an increasing number of examples that may be troubling when you look at the Mavro, Saliba and Martinez decisions. Also it kind of feels like we are potentially in the process of screwing up our front line in what seems to be going on with Auba, Laca and rumours about us being after other strikers.

    We needed to change some things but also be pragmatic about certain parts of the team. With a dearth of top strikers out there and the only decent ones costing gazillion we maybe should have been happy with the 2 experienced senior strikers already with us and the youngsters backing them up coming through.

    It kind of feels like we have been trying to offload them to anyone and replace them with god knows who and possibly somewhat alienating them in the process. Right now I feel we should extend with Laca and let him and Auba know we really value them. If anything I feel we could do with another left sided attacker like a Zaha.

    My final observation is in the DM area which is contentious and I know splits opinions amongst us. Personally I would like us to be a bit more brave this year and switch to 2 number 8 types and 1 DM who has reasonable pace and mobility, who can tackle intercept, has a fiid understanding if positioning and can help to start the transition out of defence when in possession.

    It could be argued that we needed 2 DM’s against the likes of Chelsea but sometimes the more defensive players you put out there the more it invites a team onto you with a reduced ability to get control and go diw the other end with some threat.

    We lost with the 2 DM’s anyway so maybe we’re better to set up a bit less cautious and if we do lose then at least we lose giving it a better go, and you know what I bet we end up winning way more of the games against clubs that we should win.

    Yesterday despite the 2 DM’s their positioning and understanding with Chelaea in possession was not good. Lokonga gets a pass as he is still very raw and can learn this but Xhaka??

    Xhaka intermittently shows up and influences a game but often goes missing, like yesterday. The problem is that most of us fans tend to follow the ball so only pick up on the things he does on the ball, which is often decent, but it doesn’t show what he does off the ball with the opposition in possession.

    Yesterday our so called 2 man DM screen was bypassed by Chelsea’s forward balls and neither looked like they understood how to position to cut out some of these balls or take away that passing option.

    That meant we had 2 players not doing a key job and may as well have just gone with 1 and had strength in a different area of the pitch. Their lack of effectiveness made it almost as if we were playing with 9 and 1/2 men. We invested in that position with 2 m2n at the expense of maybe a different type of player.

    Xhaka’s positioning, if you watch him regularly, is not good. He is an experienced player so should understand this implicitly but he doesn’t and almost looks as if he needs micro managing in how to position himself. Add to this the lack of pace and poor tackling technique and the positive stuff he does on the ball at times is outweighed.

    He was practically on the plane, so it must have deemed an upgrade was needed. Not only is he back, but with a new contract, and seemingly a 1st 11 guarantee again. This baffles me and could be one of the factors that is the undoing of Arteta if he calls it wrong.

    Were Lokonga and Xhaka a better option than any of Elneny, Chambers or AMN? Partey could be the one and once he returns from injury we need to find out reasonably quickly if this is the case. Lokonga is more a reserve DM, at least for this season and both Elneny and Xhaka feel like this as well.

    I think maybe both White and Chambers may be players who can improve our positional understanding and tackling and ball recovery in those areas beyond what Xhaka and Elneny do.

    I do feel that if Arteta continues with a do called 2 man DM with one of them being Xhaka we will not be finding our best 11 and it could be a problem for our young coach if he doesn’t work this out and a couple of other positions and finds our best 11 fairly quickly.

  13. GoonerB says:

    Sirry, two miny typos two cwrrect. Hope yu git the jist of eet.

  14. RC78 says:

    Hi GoonerB – I think that if Arteta wants to play Saka, Odegaard, ESR up front with a striker, then he feels more confident with a duo of DMs, which includes Xhaka…

    What beats me is that Arteta had his best results with a back 3 and that his most expensive signing this summer feels more comfortable as an element of a back 3…so why not play a back 3?

    Leno – Holding, White, Gabriel – Saka, Partey, Xhaka?, Tierney – ESR, Odegaard – Laca

    Would that make sense if Arteta wants to play ESR and Ode together? Otherwise, take Odegarrd out and bring in Pepe or Auba or Martinelli

  15. Pat7 says:

    RC, maybe he’d planned to use Ben White there but had to adjust. We don’t know if Chambers was fully fit or she’ll shocked from the Bees game.
    That was a post Gooner B 🙂

  16. Pete the Thirst says:

    RC, Rocky, Peaches…feel free to make a Blog post from this …

    Entering the Plague Pit (Emirate Stadium)

    Rather than drone on about how bad Arsenal were yesterday, I thought I’d give an account of my day at the football.

    It’s been 17 long months since there has been a ‘full’ Emirates stadium. I managed to get to a game in December against Vienna. That occasion was a surreal experience sitting 3 seats from any other fans, only topped by having to order a ‘substantial meal’ with my beer that same day.

    I passed up the chance of a beer pre-match and headed straight to the ground. The fans in general were in a boisterous mood aided by alcohol and a variety of other substances.

    Those of us with season tickets will be aware of the new entry requirements to the Stadium with a new card and/or an App on the phone. I decided to bring both as my experience of dealing with Arsenal’s website and customer service department is akin to drinking petrol…not pleasant.

    We were funneled along some queues where coats and bags were checked before getting to the concourse around the stadium. This seemed to work well as the usual queues at the turnstiles were a lot shorter than in pre-covid times. There were a few hold ups at the entrance as there were some Apps that didn’t work, but I got inside the stadium pretty quickly. The bar areas were packed, and the Arsenal fans were in good voice. I went into the seating area, took up my place and caught up with a number of familiar faces.

    I would say that the Stadium was two thirds full. I know several people that have caught Covid recently so couldn’t make the game or were understandably reluctant to come along. Others are on holiday and more didn’t fancy it for reasons of their own. The game didn’t sell out, which meant season ticket holders were unable to put their tickets on the ticket exchange. Considering this was the first full capacity game in the stadium for some time and we were playing a traditional rival from London it speaks volumes of where Arsenal are at the moment. Many fans can’t be bothered to watch a team that has declined a long way from the previous highs of the early 2000s. This is natural, but it must make the powers that be nervous.

    At the start of the game the sun was shining, and the fans were making a lot of noise. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind the clouds, the heavens opened, and it didn’t stop pouring for about 30 minutes.

    Near where I sit in the North Bank there was a broken gutter high up on the Stadium roof, which meant that bucket-loads of water tipped down on some unsuspecting fans below. This isn’t a cattle shed or Stamford Bridge in the 80s, it’s not a good look. It was interesting to note that the Stadium looked a bit washed out. The seats and murals have become sun-bleached like a lot of the cheap seats in a US Baseball Park. Considering the Stadium is only 15 years old it looks a bit jaded. Just like the team really.

    You know what happened in the game, so no need for further analysis here. The fans dripped away as they tend to do at Arsenal leaving a half empty stadium at the final whistle.

    The crowds outside trudged along slowly towards Arsenal tube and the other destinations. A few half-witted Chelsea fans (are there any that aren’t half-witted?) aggressively chanted their way down the road, then disappeared in another direction.

    My group visited a few local hostelries. The atmosphere was upbeat in these pubs. The Arsenal fans know that the team is in bad state and will tolerate the poor fare on offer for a while before things turn toxic. Lose at home to Norwich and the mood could change quickly.

    I really enjoyed my day out. It’s been a long journey to get back to full stadiums. I think most fans in attendance enjoyed the novelty of watching a game in person. Here’s hoping this carries on…

    Up the Arsenal !

  17. RA says:


    You are a right show-off!!!!

    That huge Post (that has not been put up as a Post) is ….. well huge, but then you said – “Sirry, two miny typos two cwrrect. Hope yu git the jist of eet.” when you know damn wheel that’s the only bit I can reeds — and unnerstoods.

    And somewhere in there you called me a git. Which is probably true …. but, you know ………

  18. omgarsenal says:

    RC78 you are far too pessimistic so early on in the season. We are short 9 players, 5 of whom are definite starters on any day. Our youngsters are still developing and a few are not as fit as they need to be (Martinelli) and some are still sporting injuries. When your two top strikers are both ill and unavailable, then any points will be a gift. The season is never determined in August so cheer up, we’ll come good soon enough.

  19. RC78 says:

    OMG – I am just putting some considerations forward but I do hope that your outlook on our season will come true and that we will play well and get lots of points once our team is complete again…

    New Post!

  20. GoonerB says:

    OMG, I agree there are still plenty of games in the first 11 fixtures to get to a decent points tally before we face Liverpool, even if we dont take any points next weekend.

    We have the squad, and run of games in those 8 between City and Liverpool, to get 20 from 24 points on offer. 20 points with 27 games remaining in the season is not an unhealthy position.

    If we got a run going and were performing with confidence and took 60 of those remaining 81 points we could end up around 80 points. This won’t win the league this year but would see us near the top end of it and would represent massive progress with a young side that will only get better.

    However, those 8 games determine whether Arteta stays or not. A bad run in those games and we won’t recover the season and the writing would be well and truly on the wall.

    This would be identical to last season where a poor earlier run of decent fixtures basically finished our EPL season before Christmas. It wasn’t possible to recover from that even with a far better showing from the Boxing day game with Chelsea.

    OMG. Look at the 7 run of games before the boxing day game and aew the similarities with the 8 games after City. We took something like 2 from the 21 on offer in a decent fixture run.

    This run of 8 games now after City will determine Arteta. We all have job pressure so his future with us is on the line in that run. Not being a doom merchant, just factual really.

    A bad run and it leaves him untenable. A good run and we could spring forwards to something far greater this season, and it could launch Arteta’s reign with us as a successful one for years to come. The deadline period is approaching whether we like it or not.

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