MOST INTEGRAL BACKROOM POSITION STILL UNFILLED

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WELL GOOD MORNING TO YOU!

It’s FriYAY and we’re having a pretty decent week as far as Arsenal goes.

We signed Fabio Vieira. We’ve tied down Eddie. Matt Turner left New England Revs. But there are still things to do but I think it’s becoming a lot clearer where this window is trying to land.

Raphinha now reads like a priority, it doesn’t seem like Barca are coming with the cash, and it seems likely it’ll be a straight shootout between Arsenal and Spurs.

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EDU REDEMPTION

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Let’s talk about Arsenal putting Senor Edu front and centre for all these deals we’re doing.

He’s been under a bit of pressure over the past few years, he was signed by a scuz bucket director of Arsenal and was very close to a lot of murky goings-on at the club before the said scuz bucket was ejected from Arsenal never to be seen again.

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JESUS TERMS AGREED – WHO NEXT?

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Listen, who knows what is really true on the internet, but it sounds like Arsenal has made a breakthrough with Gabriel Jesus.  According to Ben Jacobs on The Done Deal show, the player is convinced, £220k a week is the number, and there are no viable suitors that can offer what we can. Interesting that Champions League qualified Spurs aren’t of interest to him because of Kane and Son. He wants to be the main man, he will at Arsenal.

If this is all true, bravo to Edu for getting this deal done nice and fast.

There also seems to be quite a strong indication in the various media outlets that Arsenal is leading the chase for Martinez because we are the most hungry for his signature. I really am excited about that defender because he’ll give us a different dimension in defence, as a full back, or as a deep-lying midfielder.

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FABIO VIEIRA LANDS – ARSENAL PREPARE FOR SUMMER TAKEOFF

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Well, it would appear that the Raphinha story might not smell of Vlahovic, it looks increasingly like Arsenal are going to go all out this window and bring in all the technical wide players.

Did anyone see Arsenal investing £60m on a player to replace Nicolas Pepe?

I did not.

But do I welcome it?

You are damn right I do.

Ornstein says this chatter is the real deal.

“Interest in him (Raphinha) is clear and firm. Mikel Arteta and a number of others at Arsenal really like him. Admiration not fresh, goes back a little way. I think that is the player they would like to bring in.”

Raphinha would be a monster show of ambition. He can play on the left, he can play on the right, I suspect he has the frame and profile to play as a false #9 if we needed him to do that job.

What do I like about him? He has power, speed, and brilliant control. There is a lot of end product and directness in his game… and we know he has the right character because he survived Bielsa.

FABIO VIEIRA IS IN THE DOOR. Mikel and Edu had this to say.

EDU: “We’re so pleased to have completed the signing of Fabio from FC Porto. Fabio is a player with special qualities who is comfortable with the ball in the final third of the pitch. We are all looking forward to working with him and enjoying his future contribution to Arsenal. We will now continue to work hard and are looking forward to finishing this transfer window as strongly possible.”

MIKEL: ”I am very excited that we have identified and signed such a special talent. Fabio is a very creative player that will bring high quality and versatility to our attacking play. We welcome Fabio and his family to our club and are looking forward to starting work with him ahead of the new season.”

This is a banger of a signing, we’re trying to get a Bernado or KDB before they are a thing. The club moved in silence on this one, they did the deal with Jorge Mendes. They jumped the queue ahead of other top clubs. I am thrilled. Who knows how we’ll use him, but he has so many characteristics I like… tight control, deadly accuracy with his passes, bravery, elite creativity, and the character to force his way into a good Porto side. He’s also the U21 Champion and a league winner. This is a baller move from the club and I AM EXCITED.

The player had this to say:

I’m an attacking player who looks to find space between the lines to be able to finish off moves either with assists or by scoring goals. I think those are the main attributes that Arsenal fans can expect from me. I’ll always give my all for the team.

… and as I’ve been saying, young players see us the hot club to ply their trade, this is who he’s looking forward to playing with.

I’m a fan of Bukayo Saka and Smith Rowe, too. I really like the way they play. Odegaard is quite similar to me.

Zach Lowy for the win on the Odegaard piece. Check out that video here.


The delicious story doing the rounds on United Twitter is that Ten Hag is a big fan of Nicolas Pepe. Now there’s a move I didn’t see coming, but really, we all know there’s a player in Nico, it’s just not going to be unearthed in this Mikel Arteta system. You have guaranteed goals with Nico, but there’s no consistency, and I don’t think he has the control in his game to really bang at Arsenal.

We haven’t spoken about it, but someone is going to have to tell Edu that yes, the rumours are true, you can sell players.

Here is the list of potential names that could go and some speculative fees:

  • Nico: £20m (if it’s United, why not?)
  • Bernd Leno: £15m
  • Bob Holding: £10m
  • Granit Xhaka: £15m
  • Ainsley: £5m
  • Hector: £5m
  • Torreira £15m
  • Ballard £5m

That’s £90m in there plus the £15m we’ve already received from Guendouzi and Mavropanos.

Now, we know the chances of getting near that numbers are very low, but there’s no reason to believe we can’t make a dent.

  • Marquinhos £3m
  • Tielemans £25m
  • Raphinha £50m
  • Jesus £45m
  • Fabio £30m
  • Martinez £35m

If all the names drop that are on the list quite firmly, we’re looking at a £188m.

My guess is that Arsenal are probably looking to get to a similar net spend as last season, which was around £130m.

Again, I go back to the January transfer window and the potency of not doing anything fucking mad because Twitter said so.

We reduced the wage bill, we’ve gone from £190m when Arteta took over, to about £85m 2.5 years later. That’s a monster reduction by any standards. These players we’re bringing in aren’t coming in on huge cash, I saw that Vieira would be earning about £46k a week to start with, I suspect Raphinha, Tielemans and Jesus will come on more cash, but we’re not looking at the dark days of £350k a week.

Part of our problem with the selling story has always been the salary. The increasingly muted misery crowd loves to throw around the story about Mustafi being offered a new deal at Arsenal, which wasn’t true, and here’s how you know why… He was on £90k a week under Arsene Wenger, no one was going to pick him up on that deal, the players knew that, but he left, was booted from Schalke, and even on a free transfer, he couldn’t get more than £38k a week. Yep, Arsenal paid Mustafi over double his market rate, that’s why we couldn’t get rid of him, and that’s why he was absolutely not offered a new deal by Arsenal.

The difficulty of rebuilding any organization is that pain is part of the process. In football though, you have 10 million critics demanding the change come with no bumps in the road. Out the backend of this rebuild, we have an average squad age of 23.5, loads of Hale-End products, a better culture, a clear idea of how to play, a recruitment team that aren’t banter, and a manager that has enough sway to drive change through every aspect of the club.

It’s dream stuff. We are moving like a proper club again. The whiners are being put in their place, this club is moving away from the negative voices. The fans in the stadium are falling in love with their team again. All the doubters that said we’d move nowhere under this regime are starting to double-take because Arsenal are powering at the dream of being major trophy winners in a really smart way.

Right, before I exit the building, it’s my birthday today, so sign up for my Patreon OR watch the latest podcast we put out.

One of our best and most-watched live shows of ALL TIME. Xxx

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RAPHINHA RUMOURS GIVING OFF DISTINCT VLAHOVIC AROMAS

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We’re really in the thick of things right now, there’s cash in the water and MEGA agents, clubs, and players can taste it.

The latest move that seems to have caught fire with the big rumour monsters is Raphinha to Arsenal. The story follows a familiar one with Barcelona, they tap a player for months, then when it comes to payment, they plead poverty and hope no one else goes in for the name… no one goes in for player because they are fixated on moving to one place, Barca get a fat discount, the end.

Well, Leeds aren’t about that dynamic, Barcelona aren’t what they once were, and now Arsenal are at the trough with a very serious cheque and look on their face.

It all feels like stepping up to the table for Dusan Vlahovic. Commendable, but unrealistic.

I have absolutely no idea though, my gut says that it seems like quite a mad thing to do considering where we are as a club. This is the sort of move City or Chelsea make. Unless there’s a really big plan, I’m not sure that putting £60m on a right-winger is exactly what we need. We’ve just signed Vieira, Bukayo Saka is the Starboy, and Odegaard can also do bits out there.

If you are spending that much as a Europa League side, you are going to play that person every week. Do we see a world where that happens with Raphinha?

I have no idea. This has the hallmarks of Wenger needing to address a really important defensive issue, then dropping £25m on his 9th #10. Standards merchants will say you need two top-quality players in every position, and sure, I can vibe with that, but you need to address the things that broke you the season prior first. Chance creation from the right doesn’t need £60m right now.

I’ve lived in the transfer desert for 10 years before, so I’ll never look away from a top-quality 25-year-old Brazilian… but it would be a little bit at odds with the mission this summer. It would also make us a Champions League squad a year early, no doubt about that, because he really is top, top talent.

This rumour works for Leeds, it works for the player, and it might work for Arsenal who will no doubt be desperate to make sure we have as many of our targets in the building by June 28th when preseason starts. Leicester is dragging their feet, City seems to be doing the same on Jesus… the fear of seeing our cash go somewhere else might see more people pick up the phone, because there’s not a huge amount of cash going around this summer.

The Lisandro Martinez story is trying to find the next level now and United has entered the picture. Again, in moments like these, you have to ask where the story is coming from. It reads like it’s mostly a Dutch rumour right now and that could mean Ajax is a little pissed at the low fee and now they want to invite bigger clubs into the mixer. It could also be that United have a terrible mix of players in their squad and Ten Haag is a big fan of a very good player.

This is why Arsenal need to move in the shadows when they can, we’re not the biggest pig at the feeding trough, so we have to wait our turn for players.

The one thing you can be confident of is that Mikel Arteta is a very good salesman. He’ll have an extremely structured plan of how he wants the player to operate, he’ll probably have some sort of presentation ready for the agent, and he is selling a vision of competing for the league next season. United has the finances to deliver something big far quicker, they have more money than us, but really… would you trust that club with your career? It’s ruined so many names.

For me, the Arsenal brief is still very clear:

  • Left-back
  • Centre midfielder
  • Striker
  • Wide player

If we land those four players, plus the already done upgrades to our back-up keeper, and centre back… we’re cooking next season.

People keep pointing to midfield being an issue, but as it stands, I think Sambi, Xhaka, Partey, Elneny, and Tielemans gives us more than enough depth. It’s clear that there’s a new role for Odegaard coming at some point as well. I am actually very excited about Lokonga, fans wrote him off so quickly, but that kid has Vincent Kompany rummaging around in his phone book trying to contact Pep and Arteta because he loves the player so much. He has pedigree, he’s barely 22 years old, and I think he will step up when he’s given more minutes in the same way Eddie did.

There’s a video doing the rounds of Brazil expert Tim Vickery saying that Gabriel Jesus has been in an identity crisis for four years, basically, since he went to a World Cup as a striker and didn’t score any goals. I’m not too worried about this, the angle of the content was basically, ‘Arsenal should check they know what they are buying’, and I think it’s pretty clear that no club in the world is better positioned to know about Jesus than Arsenal.

This stats card kind of Men In Black’d my memory of slagging off small strikers.

When starting, he has 76 goal contributions in 99 games.

That is top tier.

We’re not trying to win the league next season, we’re trying to make top 4, those sort of numbers in our forward line are literally going to be the 10 points we need on their own.

Do I still believe in tall boys? I do. Arsenal might need to adjust that when we move to the next level, but right now, we just need more goals from the person paid to score them. I think Eddie and Jesus give far more end product than the old boys Lacazette and Auba.

Finally, before I go, I just want to leave the below graphic in place. I had some friends that said hiring a PHD level statistics person to go through Arsenal’s fixtures was a mad move. They said you can’t influence fixtures. They told me to get back in my box. One even said you can’t call out a 3% chance roll of the dice.

Well, I present the below with no comment other than: ‘I am 100% responsible for the good fixture list we have’ and you know what, you’re all going to have to eat the W with me.

Tastes good right?

But remember who put that tasty W on the table.

I did it for the community and the most beautiful thing about that tweet thread I posted had over 180,000 engagements and it was mostly carried around the world by… Spurs fans.

What is that?

You want to contribute to our Patreon because of the good work I did with the stats PHD person?

Why thank you. Below is the link to our exclusive work AND we’ve put out a transfer window special podcast. It was the most-watched show we’ve had live, which was pretty cool.

Just be warned, I’m calling in Ws on that show, so brace for impact.

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MAKING MOVES LIKE CITY

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Well good day to you all! Especially the fathers in the room. For mothers day, it’s all emotions and feelings… when it comes to the dads, it’s a phone call to berate them for ruining your taste palete with Ribena milkshakes, and some casual c*nting down the phone. If you have a dad, I hope you are treating him well, if you don’t, I hope you are ok today.

The biggest gift my dad gave me was indoctrination to THE ARSENAL. These modern hippy parents that give their kids choice, what’s with that? I was threatened with a zero present Christmas if I didn’t conform, so I conformed and it was the best decision of my damn life.

Also, for my American friends, Happy Juneteenth, the day when all of America was truly given their freedom in 1865. I think most people are still working out how you celebrate this one, but my team over here are hitting the BBQ and celebrating the culture. Have a cracking day whatever you are doing.

ONTO THE ARSENAL.

This Lisandro Martinez signing, if it happens, might prove to be one of the shrewdest moves of the window. He’s a very versatile player that can operate in a Xhaka role, can play on the left side of defence, and he can also drop in as a centre back. He’s a build-up player. By signing him, you don’t have to have someone like Granit drop deep to start the play. This thread does a very good job of explaining all the bits he can do.

One of the things the club will like about him is the bravery piece. That Newcastle game at the end of the season was probably the worst moment in our season. We didn’t show up. Our defenders really shit the bed. Our keeper lost his nerve. So we couldn’t break the press. Arteta can’t have that be a problem next season, so he needs to make sure the players he’s bringing in are bold and brave.

Fabio Vieira is the captain of the Portugues U21s, his whole game is about brave passing and clinical accuracy.

Lisandro was the Ajax player of the season, he’ll probably slip into the Argentina first team for the world cup, his game is built around supreme confidence and bravery.

Gabriel Jesus is an extremely trophied 25-year-old, he is brave.

Tielemans plays for the 3rd best international team in the world, I have no doubts that he will not shy away in our midfield next season.

I riled up Spurs Twitter yesterday calling out some truths about how we’re approaching things.

Now, I know things aren’t done yet, but as with last season, you are starting to see some shape to what we’re doing. There’s a nice counterpoint to how Spurs are trying to get some success.

We are building in an innovative and exciting way. There’s a clear style of play we’re going after and we are getting very creative with how we are covering our weaknesses. Some of it is so creative, Arsenal fans are not even sure what is going on, which shows how much tactical flexibility we are adding to the system.

Arsenal are building like City. Our moves have 5 years in mind, not just next season. We’re looking for the next KDB before he’s a big name, so we’ve signed Fabio Vieira. Creative, a goal threat, relentless off the ball, and utterly decisive. We have a power and pace machine at left-back in Kieran Tierney, he needs cover, so instead of replacing like for like, we’re finding a player that can offer something different, so we’re targetting a build up left-back that can play in midfield and as a center-back. A Cancelo-like move. Every decision we make has a deeper story than just the position, it all feels considered, and very thougtful. Some will say ‘we shouldn’t be copying the City model’, my response would be, why not? It seems to be pretty dominant in the Premier League.

Spurs are building like Manchester United. They are building for the now. There’s not a lot of creativity in what they are doing. They need someone on the left, they scan Transfermarkt and see that 33-year-old Perisic can do a job. They need a backup keeper, Forster makes some good saves, he’ll do. Need a midfielder? Go for the one everyone on Twitter thinks is electric, even if he has some serious baggage. Need a striker? How about the whiner that nearly took Everton down?

Both of these systems can offer success, but one feels more sustainable than the other. I’d also say the way Arsenal are doing things is more exciting for the fans, not that it matters, but be real, who is talking about the Spurs window this week? No one. I’d also say that the way Spurs are building it’s absolutely clear they have not moved on from being totally dependent on the output of two players in their late twenties delivering game after game. Arsenal already showed they could do a job without either fullback or Thomas Partey. After this summer, we’ll be even better equipped and in no way will we be classed as a one or two-man team.

What we’re doing has absolute clarity, all the issues are being fixed, there’s balance, and there’s loads of flex in the system for any eventuality. The players we’re chasing would mean we could absorb injuries, we can offer a nightmare to any team whether it’s a deep block or a fancy side coming to play, and nearly all the character flaws we started with last season will have been washed away.

The best bit? The players we’re signing will still keep the average age of our squad lower than 25. Below is the list of players we’ll likely use this season.

The average age of those 30 players is 22.46. If you take out the Europa kids and Balogun, the average age of the squad sits at 23.6. I know it riles up some that I talk about this, but in football, age matters, and this team still has 3 years to get to where City is right now. The average age of Liverpool’s starting 11 was 29.

The types of talent we’re bringing in are so good, the only way is up. Saka will be battle-hardened, Odegaard will start stronger than he did last season, Ben White and Gabriel now know each other better, and players like Saliba and Turner will join the squad knowing there’s a chance for them to stake a claim.

There will be missteps with the players we sign. There always are. Arsene had a mad splash in 2001. He signed Richard Wright, Gio Van Bronckhorst, Juan, Tavlaridis, Edu, Toure and Sol Campbell. Not all of them made it, but the thing with a splash like that is it energizes the fans, the players, and the coaching staff.

During the latter Wenger years, I always said one of the biggest issues he had is he never regenerated the squad. That impacted the players because they knew we weren’t serious. That impacted the fans, because we knew we weren’t in it to win. It impacted the season, because we were never good enough.

That’s all different now. You can disagree with the players we’re targeting, but can anyone honestly say the club isn’t showing ambition? Can anyone say they think Arteta is just going for top 4?

If you are Bukayo Saka right now, do you feel like Arsenal aren’t doing all they can to make you a success at the club you love?

We are trying to get back to the top. That’s good for everyone. Especially those that sit in the stands.

Let’s see what happens this week, hopefully it’s a big one!

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GETTING BACK TO THE TOP: THE REWARDS OF LONG TERM THINKING (LONG READ)

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There has been a lot of talk about strategy and where we’re going as a club. Some can’t see it, other don’t want to, but the wheels of progress turn regardless of the noise.

Some fans struggled with the proposed strategy because it knocked their preconceived notions of what you need to do in 2022 to get back to the top in the Premier League.

There were hard pills to swallow:

  • Our squad wasn’t fit for purpose utilizing any style of football. It was old, messily assembled, it had no creative players, and the culture was rotten.
  • Arsenal were no longer a big hitters when it came to finances. Any rebuild was going to be slow and painful by the standards of most.
  • The Premier League was now the most competitive league on the planet. There are 7 teams with the finances to compete for Champions League. The two top teams weren’t just wealthy, they were extremely strategic and longterm in their thinking. Every team was now rich, there were no givens, bar beating Norwich.

The only way Arsenal could get back to the top was to be honest about the above and concoct a strategy that played to our strengths as a football club.

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