Rocky road ahead

by & filed under News Review.

Well, a bloody good morning to you!

We’re smack bang in the middle of the mere-mortals-international break. No one knows what day it is, the only guide we have is when the football is, so we loosely know that something is going on in day 29 of the 12 month.

That’d be the Chelsea game.

It was quite interesting watching the chatter post-Bournemouth yesterday. I feel like the level of fan conversation has jotted up a couple of notches. There are the folk that saw some very interesting innovations in our starting 11 after just 5 days. Then there’s Thierry Henry, who gave an extremely salty analysis of Arteta’s first game, which amounted to, ‘shit performance, saved by Auba.’

If you watched the Bournemouth game and you didn’t see any improvements, you’re either not paying attention, or you’re being willfully blind because you are holding a grudge. The most disappointing part of the game was the uncharacteristically poor finishing. In Emery’s first season, our chance conversion rate was something else, it’s gone missing of late. We had 17 attempts at goal, the 3rd highest away from him this season.

I think a lot of fans were interested to see AMN being pushed into midfield in an inverted full back role, helping us to stem the flow of counter-attacks. That also gave Saka more opportunities to push forward as a winger, though it has to be said, his delivery was terrible on that occasion.

There was also clearly a lot better positioning on the pitch. Below is Leicester then Bournemouth.

These are all very basic, but they point to a coach that at least has a clear idea of what he thinks is wrong, along with the aptitude to implement fast changes.

Then, if you didn’t notice the increase workrate, something we’ve moaned about all season, well, no one can help you.

Now, where I will dampen the joy is this was the first game against a broken team. Bournemouth are always game to give Arsenal possession, and they are often ideal teams for Xhaka and Ozil. Though I think it was clear that Arteta created the right conditions for Ozil to have more time between the lines, then Xhaka when Bournemouth wised up to Ozil.

The other dampener is that I think we’ll continue to have a tough 8 weeks. Chelsea and United in rapid-fire succession is far from ideal and we could easily be beasted by both of them. There’s simply not enough time to really shape the players up. New ideas + not time + fatigue isn’t a great recipe.

We’ll see though. I think the talent we have in the squad is far more promising than many give it credit for, the biggest regret for our season was that Raul didn’t pull the plug on the Emery coma before the international break. We moved from the precipice to free fall in those games after, and it’ll be hard to exit that. But we still have good players, we still have a very exciting forward line, and there’s a lot to be said for smart coaching.

A few people noted that Arteta, in the one game we’ve seen from him, looks at player attributes and shapes the structure around them. The inverted full-back move with AMN used his athleticism to track counters. Moving Saka up to create overloads with his pace and ‘delivery.’ He knows Xhaka is shite defensively, so he moves him to the left and gives him more time to pick out passes. Torreira makes the most tackles, interceptions and recoveries and looks the best he has in 18 months, but has support from someone more athletic than him. What I’m saying, is though we don’t have the right players, we certainly have a lot of tasty attributes ready to exploit teams.

I read Marcotti’s piece on the Lille setup, the article is super interesting, but this piece on Pepe had me very damp.

I think Pepe is a winger who is also a world-class finisher. This is a guy who played goalkeeper until he was 13. He understands them like few others — that’s why his finishes, even from long range, are rarely blasted and always placed. I say this because it’s one of the two factors that, I think, have slowed him a bit. We played Pepe in a 4-3-3 in a very specific position: He was wide, with freedom to come inside and a full-back behind him who always covered for him. Now he’s in a new team, his teammates don’t know him and he has to jell. That takes time; the same thing happened when he joined us and it took about six months for him to be very productive. In fact, we were almost relegated.

He can’t control that [period of integration at a new club]. What he can control is his confidence. He has to be confident. There is so much pressure on him that sometimes, it gets to him and as a result he’s a less selfish player than he was when he was with us. He’ll pass sometimes when maybe he should have the confidence to finish. But I think he’ll get over both those factors. We’re already seeing glimpses of what he can do.

Arsenal fans are all very miserable at the moment, we’ve been quick to write-off the Ivorian, but I’m still convinced there’s a player there. He’s clearly a confidence guy, he’s having trouble adapting to the rigours of the league, but under the right coach who understands him, he could be electric. Remember, Arteta did brilliant work on Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. No reason he can’t master a turnaround project on someone that has pace and elite finishing. One of the clear things we missed with Pepe is that he’s been a counter-attacking winger, then he comes to Arsenal, has to operate in a confused system coming super deep to pick up the ball. No wonder his game is a mess.

Coaching is going to do wonders for this squad. We have a group of eager young kids that want to get better, we hopefully have some senior players that want to come to the light and we have a coach desperate to prove he’s not the guy that picked up the cones.

A few shot at me yesterday regarding the shifting expectations for Arteta. It’s pretty simple why the season is a write-off now. We blew the season with Emery. Arteta will have no pre-season, he’s picking up broken players, he’s now dealing with at least 6 contract rebels, there are cliques in the squad and the fans are sitting in a toxic atmosphere. Expecting top 4 now is a huge stretch. The best we can hope for is an elite run in the Europa League… but the most important thing for me is that the club shift their efforts into the rebuild of Arsenal, now we know what we want to be. Identify the best kids, get them playing the Arteta way. Sign up the senior players we want to keep. Have a very smart idea for turning over the players we want out, and make sure the replacements can carry us through next season into the top 4.

Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments.

202 Responses to “Rocky road ahead”

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  1. Bill

    Thankfully, sense about Pepé and the utter mess that Emery left the club in. Also Sanllehi’s fingerprints on the mess are clear.

    I don’t mind arguing about line-ups and tactics, but enough of make-believe trolling about Emery “over-achieving”.

  2. Valentin

    Time to have some realistic expectations.
    Some time to get Arteta’s idea fully integrated by players. He will make change to the personnel in the summer, but right now unless we found an available cheap ready made defensive central midfielder we may be better off sticking with Xhaka until the summer.

  3. Valentin

    ESPN’s article with Pepe worried me more than you. Because Marcelo Bielsa tried to make Pepe a more rounded player and it failed. Christophe Galthier, an experience coach tried and concluded that the only way to extract more from Pepe, was to create a system specifically for him.
    I am worried that Arteta may discover in six months time that he can’t mold Pepe into a better overall player and that all he can do is making him more lethal in a set of predetermined counter-attacking moves. Pepe could still be a very efficient player, but never reach the height that many were hoping.

    He remind me of Darren Huckerby, a very good player. At his peak near unplayable in some circumstances. However he could not adapt his game to teams. I hope that Pepe will not fall into that category of solo artists with moment of personal brilliance but who can’t play as part of a team a la Quaresma.

  4. NJ Gunner

    First team at last?

    Months ago I asked whether Sarr would have been a better choice than Pepe. Nobody responded. But it looks that way on the basis of the first half season. I hope, of course, I am wrong.

    Two struggling teams again tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see how the crowd, and the senior players, react to the new coach. A win, however unlikely, might change the trajectory for the remainder of the season and presage a long run in the Europa League (and yes, a return to the CL). A loss will bring out a chorus of naysayers. That said, my money would be on a dissatisfying draw.

  5. NJ Gunner

    Yes! It only took me four years to make my debut in the first eleven on Le Grove.

    Big thanks to Pedro for another interesting column.

  6. Graham62

    Why worry about things that may or may not happen.

    From what I’ve seen, Pepe definitely has the capabilities and potential to be a major asset for us.

    Just needs confidence and belief.

    Over to you Mr Arteta.

  7. Cesc Appeal

    Pepe is going to be absolutely fine. Raw ingredients are all there it really is confidence, speed of thought and a slight upping of work rate off the ball. All that is achievable and I wold bet as we move toward the end of the season and the weather improves Pepe will suddenly come to life with improved conditions, less pressure and the end of the season in sight.

    I want to hear concrete things about a CDM/CM soon. Thank goodness Xhaka looks to be leaving but we need to make a big move in that area and get it right. It’s been badly needed for years and we’re just not going to progress until we get that right.

  8. CharlieTheChump

    Pepe will deliver after MA gets into him. (Pepe MUST HAVE ref protection . . . one of those scissor tackles will end his season…)

    Also v excited over Martinelli, young but a street fighter who got the shit kicked out of him playing big ole hairy Brazilians . . .

    Good to see Nelson linking with Özil (who also perked up a treat in this scheme) and Saka ruling at LB, though both need MA’s help on their finishing.

    As does Laca who needs game time I think.

    We struggle with clean sheets so Gunners 2-1 Chelsea . . .

    I hope ….

  9. gunnerman

    Just looking at the position comparison images, what was all that protag talk from Emery about? Defensively set up but still leaking shots and goals.

  10. Champagne charlie

    Julien Lauren’s adding fuel to the Rabiot rumours suggesting Arteta likes what Xhaka offers in terms of passing and incision, plus the fact he’s a left-footer – of which Xhaka is the only one he has in midfield currently.

    For a game based on switches, dropping into slots to find passing lanes etc it’s a considerable factor to have guys with their strong side being on the relevant side of the pitch. Details

  11. Marko

    I dunno man maybe if he was called Nicolas Peters instead of Nicolas Pepe would he be getting a bit more leeway. But as things stand now Pepe a few months into a dysfunctional club is being written off and compared to Gervinho and Darren Huckerby. You simply have to love Arsenal fans

  12. Gentlebris

    AMN venturing into the middle to help, Torrey being played in his preferred spot, Xhaka being shifted a bit outside; those were smart moves, moves that confused Bournemouth to decent degrees.

    But conceding a goal at the very first serious attack from Bournemouth was an indication that our defensive structure had not been repaired at all in those few days, if we could see a little change in the middle, shouldn’t we expect same at the back, given that the back should have been an emergency case? But for Bournemouth’s lack of belief, we would have leaked in more goals.

    The last time we played Chelsea under the bang average Emery, we won, lowly Southampton just did whup Chelsea’s ass. We have been to OT this season, during the dark days of Emery’s season 2, but we still took a point. ManU are as all over the place as Arsenal.

    What I’m trying to say is if we have indeed hired a smart coach, then I don’t see no rocky road. Making everything look ‘rocky’ now that Arteta has come in is a clear attempt to demand far less of Arteta than you did of Emery. That’s unfair to Emery, to say the least.

  13. Graham62


    I know, it’s frigging unbelievable.

    Pepe got on board a sinking ship.

    I think some of our fans just play Premier Manager.

  14. Nelson

    Laca needs to be reminded that Auba is playing next to him on his left. There were at least three times in last game when he had the ball inside the box. Instead of passing to Auba who was free, he tried to shoot and failed.

    Liverpool and Manure both have a play we could use. Their defenders are aware of where Salah (Pool) and Rasford (Manure) are most of the time. Once they got a chance, they’ll send a long ball for them to chase. We could practice the same play for Pepe. Of course, that is not Arteta’s (Pep’s) football philosophy. They want to attack through combination play. Pepe appears to be a lone wolf. Is it worthwhile to convert him to a team player or design a few plays to take advantage of his strength.

  15. Marc

    A few weeks ago prior to kick off I was surprisingly in the Tolly having a pre match pint (or 2) and on the TV they had a documentary about Pires. A lot of it must of been in French because there were subtitles meaning you could follow what it was about. One of the main points was Pires talking about how difficult he found it to adapt to the PL – the speed, physicality etc.

    I reckon if we had signed Pires in the summer many on here would be calling for him to be sold right now and writing him off as not good enough.

  16. Dolomite

    Agreed Marko

    The knee jerk over reactionary comments to Pepes current form seem to be related to his price tag and our lack of investment in defence rather than his actual skill set.

    People need to take a serious chill pill and realise it’s his FIRST season in a more physical and competitive league – a player of his quality will come good.

  17. NJ Gunner

    I hope that you are all correct about Pepe. I am old enough to remember Pires’ uninspiring first season.

    The difference is
    1. the huge price tag and
    2. we have far greater expectations that both players and managers will hit the ground running and deliver quickly in the modern EPL.It may be unfair, but there is no room for squad development when a player is over 22.

    To be fair though to his critics, Pepe has failed to deliver even against modest opposition where the pace of the game has been slower (with the exception, of course, of his miraculous two free kicks). Referring back to a familiar theme, he seems to slow possession when he receives the ball and pass backwards rather than pressing ahead –– which is counterintuitive to comments about his counterattacking style. I just wish we had the stats on that issue.

    And in reference to Xhaka, I would like to know what percentage of his passes are long balls (over 20 yards?) –– and forward. Again, maybe it has become my bias, but I rarely see this from him. I just hope that Arteta and his crew are assembling that data when deciding whether to keep him.

  18. Marko

    I reckon if we had signed Pires in the summer many on here would be calling for him to be sold right now and writing him off as not good enough.

    Well he would have been a Raul signing so yeah. Thing is about Pepe prior to joining if you had said new league new team and all that shite if he came in got 10 goals and a handful of assists from out wide that would be a decent return for someone new and something to build upon 10 goals is after all what Zaha (the more fancied player) got in his most productive season in the premier league. Pepe is on 4 goals and 4 assists for the season. So I dunno why people seem to be already turned off by the player. For some he’s already finished

  19. bennydevito

    Great post Pedro,

    To reiterate, I absolutely do not expect Arteta to get us into the top 4 this season. I do expect however obvious and quick improvements in performance and getting a run of wins together.

    I said after the Bournemouth game that I could see improvements in our shape, urgency and passing and I’m very excited to see what Arteta can do.

    I fancy us to get at least 4 points from our next 2 matches and am actually hopeful for 6.

  20. Ray in La

    I thought Pepe was the only bright spot in the Liverpool game…even bossing VvD on occasion…then disappeared in subsequent outings

    Very strange, but sadly not a unique decline in player performance

    I’m hopeful that Arteta can uncover the potential in Pepe and the others that have gone off the boil

  21. Guns of Hackney

    Nice, Peter.

    Yes, defo signs of improvement but without the conditioning, it’s going to be tough for this bunch of pub fatties to keep up with demand. Let’s hope they have been holding something back and put in some lung busting cardio over the next week. I’ve long thought that a team with superior fitness could, providing they aren’t blasted out 5-0 in the opening half, 9/10 beat the better footballers. Stamina should always top out over talent given long enough. My theory.

    As for Pepe. Oh man…this guy is sucking so bad. Confidence aside, this chump is stinking the place up and of course at £70m we demand more! I’m struggling to see what he can actually change about his game to lift him up. No way he’s learning to play with his right foot, so that’s out. Can he be coached to look up? Maybe…can he turn his brain on? Unlikely. I think we were sold a gypsy caravan and the wheels just fell off as we left the yard.

    TH is bitter he wasn’t asked. That’s all. You’ll always get people like him and Merson slagging people like the “dreamy one” off but they don’t get the subtleties of Arteta.

    Cardio. Cardio. Cardio.

  22. Gentlebris

    Marc, I intentionally said ‘in those few days’ to reflect the fact that I’m aware of the short period of time involved.
    But as well I wouldn’t expect Arteta to say we shouldn’t expect any improvement no matter how little in that Bournemouth game, and the fact that the improvement came but not at the back should raise early questions.

    But then Marc, you are just a loud punk with no brains, so I forgive you for not bringing objectivity to my view.

  23. Marc


    Fortunately it’s not an either or. Xhaka having a good game against Bournemouth translates as “he wasn’t as terrible as he usually is or didn’t give away a pen”.

    Whether we get a replacement in Jan or are forced to find an internal solution till the summer the quicker Xhaka goes the better.

  24. Guns of Hackney

    When Ozil, Xhaka and Auba fuck off, there will be an instant lift in the team. Three of the biggest whining bitches will be gone.

    Before you say Auba’s goals wah, wah…whatever. The guy only taps them in and Martinelli has been brilliant this season. We aren’t replacing Zidane FFS. It might actually release Laca from his lack of talent…yeah, I said that.

  25. Champagne charlie


    Just not as any reasonable fan sees it, Xhaka can be public enemy number 1 all you want but his output needs replacing or we regress as a side.

    You’re showing that you’re more for the expulsion of Xhaka than you are the benefit of the team, grow up a touch. He can leave in the summer, not difficult.

  26. Marc


    Anyone expecting anything in such a short space of time is lacking either objectivity or just plain common sense.

    If we’re not seeing some sense of improvement after a month then that will be the time to ask questions, not after he’s been in charge for 6 days that includes the Christmas period.

    You just keep turning to insults though when you’re shown up.

  27. Marko

    People love to keep bringing up his one footedness as well like it’s some great indignation of him as a footballer. We’ll just forget how the likes of Messi, Sane, Raul Hernandez, Van Persie, Ziyech etc all barely used their right foot heck even Robben was the most one footed winger you’d ever seen in your life but that didn’t stop him from having a brilliant career. Apparently though Pepe being left footed is of serious concern though.

  28. Marc


    I don’t see any “output” that can’t be covered by another player. Sky Sports News has just mentioned that we’re in dialogue with Berlin still so it does look like he’ll be on the move. Whether we’ll bring in someone new – I have no idea, obviously I’d like it if we did.

  29. Guns of Hackney


    FFS you missed Maradona too!

    Seriously…the difference is, those players you mentioned all had other strings to their bows. They all had football brains too. Pepe does not!

    Pepe doesn’t do one thing well, let alone one thing brilliantly.

    Defenders always said about Robben “you know what he’s going to do…but you still can’t stop him”.

  30. Marko

    Xhaka and output. There a couple weeks back when his strop accured sky threw up a stat that literally had across the board Arsenal better when Xhaka was out of the team. So no regression no

  31. HighburyLegend

    “Arteta will have no pre-season, he’s picking up broken players, he’s now dealing with at least 6 contract rebels, there are cliques in the squad and the fans are sitting in a toxic atmosphere.”
    Lol different coach, but (almost) same old excuses…
    But there’s no need to worry, the Sauce is strong with the Chosen One.

  32. Marko

    They all had football brains too. Pepe does not!

    Dunno why I’m bothering with you you regularly tell us that you don’t watch our games. But 16 assists in the last season and a half alone suggests a football brain. Starting out as a goalkeeper and becoming a winger suggests a football brain.

  33. Sid

    Pepe will be as prolific or more as Auba, just get 2 midfielders that can play in tight spaces and create would help if they are athletic. It will also solve alot of the defence issues since teams will be cautious.

    Im telling you this for free!

    Ps: dear santa,
    i’ve been good this year like fanta,
    take xhaka,
    to stoke or spurs or to Mourinhos mama

  34. Bamford10


    “I don’t expect top 4 … but I do expect us to end the season above Palace, Newcastle and Sheffield United. Top 8 would represent a reasonable expectation
    at this stage.”

    I agree that 8th is a reasonable expectation and objective. We simply don’t have the players to do better than that, sadly. However, re finishing 8th and above Palace, let’s note that Palace play Norwich and Southampton in the next week, from which they are likely to take 3-4 points. We play Chelsea and United, from which most here seem to think we will take zero points. (Oddly, some of these same people think we have better players than United.)

    That will mean that as of January 2nd, we will be 5-6 points behind Palace and 8th place, with 17 games remaining. Can we make up 5-6 points on Palace in 17 games? Well, if this is a top-four-caliber squad, as some here have claimed, then surely we can. If we cannot make up 5-6 points on Palace in 17 games, however, I think some people may have to admit that these players are simply not as good as they imagined them to be.

  35. Paulinho

    Henry looked at the fact most our fluid lay was down to Ozil being given space, weaving his pretty patterns in that space, and knowing it means f-all going forward, so rightly focused on the familiar disjointed that reared its head later in the match once Ozil’s output predictably dried up.

    Similar to our game at Anfield in the Carabao Cup. Ozil was given space, we looked much more fluid, yet it was purely a superficial improvement because Ozil, for multiple reasons, can’t consistently have that impact on games for any length of time.

  36. Guns of Hackney


    I don’t obsess over our games but I do check in every now and again.

    If Pepe is such a football brain…why does he lose the ball so much, run up dead ends and look like someone has replaced his legs with spaghetti?

    He’s 24! 18 and I might let him off but not at 24.

    Also Pope John Paul II was a goal keeper…and he went on to be Gods man on the ground! So fuck Pepe.

  37. Guns of Hackney


    You know that Arteta brings heat every time he turns up. His post match interview after the game was amazing. He owned it.

    Not since Arsene’s pre madness has someone had that much sauce on TV. Sky sports subscriptions went up 500% since Arteta took over. Fact.

  38. Marko

    Bamford I’m telling you now you are not an Arsenal fan. At all. It’s incessant this fixation on making us appear worse than everyone especially United likely in lieu of a pathetic bet you have on. You’re wasting your time here I’m pretty certain that there’s a bunch of United blogs about where you can blow smoke up OGS’s arse 24/7

  39. Champagne charlie


    Of course you don’t, because you’re the type of guy that dislikes a player and then makes statements like a ‘cardboard cutout would be an upgrade’.

    Xhaka has consistently been Arsenal’s best, yes best, meaning better than anyone else player at advancing play through the lines of the opposition.

    In a progressive football setup this sort of thing is going to be essential. Replacing Xhaka with some tackle merchant does Arteta no favours in trying to implement a dominating football approach. Countless folk have made this observation before it’s dismissed routinely with yet another line about my apparent ‘defence’ of Xhaka.

  40. Moray

    We should give Pepe time. We bought a pacy winger as we didn’t have one, and slotted him into a team which didn’t play tactics that suited him.

    He’s in a new league, living in a new country, with pressure on him to succeed immediately. Add to that the fact that he’s been in a failing team with a clueless manager and no squad leadership.

    We owe Pepe the chance to succeed.

    What is most worrying at the moment is his application. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve failed to do our due diligence on a player’s mental strength. But let’s see.

  41. Guns of Hackney


    You called it. Having a presence is so important to get your ideas across. Also, if you have a stinker, a good look, nice hair and teeth and snappy chat can get you through.

    I’m genuinely back to being excited about Arsenal. Not since Arsene in 1996 has there been this much of a change in the club. That’s massive.

    Arsenal FC might just get through this.

  42. Guns of Hackney


    You used Pepe changing from GK to shit winger as an example of brains, I did the same with a twist of brilliance. What’s the beef?

  43. Spanishdave

    However ugly it is we just need to win some games soon.
    This run is abysmal.
    It just highlights the group of mercenary’s we have why love the pay check but not the club, as soon as things go wrong they are off.
    Green shoots or clutching straws?
    The latter for me .

  44. Champagne charlie

    “If we cannot make up 5-6 points on Palace in 17 games, however, I think some people may have to admit that these players are simply not as good as they imagined them to be.“

    You’re now forecasting possible outcomes in desperate search of some unequivocal measure to use as ‘proof’ about squad quality. You’re embarrassing.

    Yesterday it was ‘Wolves just beat City, we couldn’t beat City, so clearly they have a better squad than us’

    You didn’t answer me…. do Wolves have a better squad than City?

    Do Sheffield United have a better squad than us too?

    Do Watford have a better squad than United after being them 2-0?

    The yardstick changes whenever suitable. We had a top 4 quality squad the day the season started. It was run into the ground after 15 games, handed over to Freddie for a handful while we sought to appoint a better manager, and here we are 19 games in trying to pick ourselves up off the floor.

  45. Ishola70

    It looks 50/50 in whether Xhaka leaves or Arsenal block his move until the summer.

    The question if his move is blocked apart from upsetting Marc horribly is how will Xhaka react to being refused his move?

    People can say that he has looked overall ok in his last two games but this was before him apparently agreeing terms with Hertha Berlin and any potential block on the move by Arsenal.

    The situation could change very quckly regarding Xhaka if his move is blocked.

  46. Moray

    Dave, I agree that the run is horrible results wise, but actually of more worry to me is things like lack of shots on goal, even at home. That signals a very sick team with poor tactics and positional nous.

    If Arteta can start to change these then the results will come.

  47. Bamford10


    “It was on this blog that an away draw against United was treated as an abomination. Now we are playing them at home and some of you are preparing our minds for a loss and telling us it’s ok.”

    Good point. Many of those who called the draw away to United an abomination are now telling us to applaud a respectable loss at home to the same “terrible” United team.

    That seems a little …. inconsistent. Could one of you lot explain this huge shift in thinking?

  48. Up 4 grabs now

    Pepe will come good,
    Dennis, Thierry and pires were slow starters.
    And they wasn’t too shabby.

    Xhaka had an 7 out 10 game against Bournemouth and he’s back to being our best midfielder and we should keep him. Lol.

    No no no. Because he had an average game and didn’t give away a penalty he should be kept?
    He’s awful in an average midfield of averageness.
    Take the money and run. I can’t believe his agent would be shouting from the roof tops that personal terms are agreed unless he knew he was off to hertha Berlin for sure.

  49. Guns of Hackney

    How do you agree terms with a club while still under contract?

    If we can get £40m for him, take it. Go get Ndidi or put a cheeky bid in for Maddison.

    Or…maybe go for Erickson. Chuck Ozil in as well. You never know.

  50. Marko

    Pretty simple really if Arsenal or Arteta block Xhaka’s move that’s them basically saying that they don’t give two shits about improving Arsenal defensively. There’s no other way to view it. Guy literally makes errors and bonehead decisions every game and they’re scared shitless about replacing him. It’s ridiculous at this point.

  51. Bamford10


    Actually, I’m not making some old point, and I’m not in any way bringing up the previous manager. I think some of you just don’t like pointed questions about the quality of the current Arsenal squad.

  52. Guns of Hackney

    Up for

    Bergkamp was already brilliant before Inter.

    Henry was 21.

    Pepe should not be compared with these two.

  53. Pedro

    Bamford, while you were gone, that manager you rated so highly took us to our worst run in 38 years and crashed the club.

    We have recently hired a new manager who has just been installed in the busiest time of the year, now we play United and Chelsea in his 2nd and 3rd games.

    Are you up to date now?

  54. Marc


    “Xhaka has consistently been Arsenal’s best, yes best, meaning better than anyone else player at advancing play through the lines of the opposition. ”

    That doesn’t mean he’s been good at it just better than the other shit we’ve been producing.

    Xhaka is a waste of space and a disgrace as Captain. If he’s even a tenth as good as you are making out why is it that the only team in for him is in a relegation battle in Germany?

  55. Ishola70

    What I would like to know if Xhaka does leave is will Arsenal still employ the DLP role and just give it to someone else in the side.

    The midfielder holding hands with the CBs stuff.

    Xhaka is a problem for sure as a player but the DLP aspect within the team itself has also been a problem.

  56. Gentlebris

    ‘You just keep turning to insults though when you’re shown up.’

    Marc, you are ridiculous.

    You responded to my comment by tagging it daft, I returned the favour and you are now bitching? Ridiculous!

    Then if we shouldn’t expect any improvement after a few days, that means none could actually happen and that means none had actually happened, that should mean all that improvement we have been analyzing
    here since the game are just figments of our imaginations?

    Seriously dude, you should consider going on some vitamin supplements. Your brains are in need of a boost.

  57. Bamford10


    What complete and utter nonsense. Not rating the current Arsenal squad does not make one any less of an Arsenal fan. To say so is completely and utterly ridiculous. Some of you are simply being intolerant of differing points of view. And please note that I am far from the only one here who does not rate the current squad.

  58. Marc


    I said your comment was daft I didn’t call you anything – you directed an insult at me.

    I know that difficult for you to comprehend – let’s leave it there shall we.

  59. Guns of Hackney

    Uppermecho incoming. £40m maybe.

    Easy cash there. £40m for Xhaka. £60m for Auba. £20m for Ozil and some odd and sods for the rest and I think we can get a few very good players in to replace them.

    Smarts will beat cash.

  60. Marc


    “The question if his move is blocked apart from upsetting Marc horribly is how will Xhaka react to being refused his move?”

    My opinion aside that’s an interesting comment especially after Xhaka’s petulance a short time ago.

    On the other hand could he actually be worse?

  61. Up 4 grabs now


    Bergkamp was quality but was in a real slump in Italy.
    He also started slow for us. Like people have said if legrove was around in 1995 people would be clamouring for him to be booted out.
    Pires as well.
    And Thierry was 22 having a mare in Italy like Dennis.

    I’m not saying pepe is as good as any of them, just he needs time to adapt like those three did.

  62. Marc


    “. £40m for Xhaka. £60m for Auba. £20m for Ozil ”

    Mate if you think we’re going to get £40 million for Xhaka and £20 million for Ozil then I’ll have one of what you’re drinking.

    If we got £30 million for Xhaka it would be a major result and as for Ozil we’d have to pay someone to take him to subsidise his wages.

  63. Guns of Hackney

    Up for

    Agreed but…slumps can happen to the very best but Pepe doesn’t have that, shall we say, credit in the bank.

    I might come across harsh on Pepe but I want the guy to do well. He’s got attributes that we haven’t had for years but, he seems really dumb and if reports are true, a bit of a fucker in training. That is just not good enough.

    Hopefully, once we steady the ship and Arteta gets some time with him, he will pick up and start showing his Lille form.

  64. Up 4 grabs now

    Take the 22 million for Xhaka, believe me no one else is showing interest and will be stupid enough to pay that money or more.

    Get the pennies from down the back of the sofa and pay upmecano release clause.
    Midfield is a problem but the defence is worse!

  65. Gentlebris

    ‘Uppermecho incoming. £40m maybe.’

    A 21 year old defender playing at the top of the bundesliga at £40m in the same market Xhaka is being pushed for £35m?

    Believe that and you would believe anything.

  66. Guns of Hackney


    Ha ha. Nothing so far but will probably have a cheeky shampoo later with friends (yes GOH does have human friends).

    I don’t think £40m for Xhaka is too outrageous but yes, maybe too high. £35m and I’m happy. Also, £20m for Ozil is still a snip for someone IF that clown gets real with his wages and leaves. He’s 30 but no miles on the clock…he doesn’t tackle or run so apart from his RSI in his fingers from game playing, he’s a good for another few years.

  67. Up 4 grabs now


    I wasn’t keen for arteta ,but now he’s manager I’ll back him.
    If pepe is a lazy bugger, I get the impression arteta won’t take any shit.

    He’s on a 3 & half year deal so players know he’s here for the long term.
    The change in torriera and ozil was impressive. Ozil chased back and put two challenges in and won the ball back twice in 3 minutes.
    I think they know shit just got real.

  68. Guns of Hackney


    His contract is running down. They will have to cash in or lose him free in a year. So, £40m might be realistic.

  69. Bamford10

    I agree that Pepe needs to be given more time, but I also think people who think he will come good should acknowledge that there is reason to believe (from what we’ve seen so far) that he will not come good and that he will prove a bust.

    I personally remain somewhat on the fence about him, as I think there are things he possesses that could make him a great player, but I also think there are things about him (his decision-making, his speed of thought, his ability to play in combination with others) that could keep him from succeeding in the PL or at the CL level.

  70. Guns of Hackney

    Up for

    Lolz. Ozil just ran his equivalent of three marathons in one game!

    Good for him the googly eyed whatsit.

    I guess selling him to China is out now! Prick.

  71. Gentlebris

    ‘I said your comment was daft I didn’t call you anything’

    You said my comment was daft but didn’t call me anything?
    When will you stop amazing me, Marc!

    Have you been leading such a lonely life that you don’t know what an insult sounds like?

    If indeed my comment was daft….where does that leave me?

  72. Gentlebris

    ‘His contract is running down. They will have to cash in or lose him free in a year. So, £40m might be realistic.’


    You have a point there, though I’m still not convinced they wouldn’t find a better solution than selling him for that amount.

  73. Up 4 grabs now

    Guns with the New salary cap for China ozil won’t go there for only 42k a week!

    Upmecanno buy out clause is 60 million euros but apparently drops 20 million euros in the summer.
    40 million pounds might be tempting next week

  74. Ishola70

    Many forget that Pepe is a possible inhouse solution as CF if Auba or Laca leave or both.

    We could even see the possibility of Pepe really stamping his arrival at Arsenal if he reverts from winger to CF in the side down the line at some point.

  75. Spanishdave

    A good squad, is not necessarily a squad of so called star players.
    It is the right blend of different skills that compliments the style of play.
    The teams above us are better balanced squads consisting of players that are playing for the club and putting a shift in. So they are over achieving so far in the season.
    We have no god given rights to be at the top and if the players think this we will continue to fail.
    Time to roll up sleeves and play for the club for once.

  76. Guns of Hackney


    Either way, if we can get him in imagine this.


    That’s a 22 ave age back line for a decade.

  77. Marko

    Many forget that Pepe is a possible inhouse solution as CF if Auba or Laca leave or both.

    Awful decision. Club crying out for a winger for years and you want to convert him into a CF? No. Lemme guess Nelson RW so

  78. Pierre

    “Henry looked at the fact most our fluid lay was down to Ozil being given space, weaving his pretty patterns in that space, and knowing it means f-all going forward”

    Maybe if the strikers had taken 50% of the chances he created in the 70 minutes he was on the pitch, then it might not have meant f-all and we would have won the game comfortably.


  79. Ishola70

    “Awful decision. Club crying out for a winger for years and you want to convert him into a CF? No. Lemme guess Nelson RW so”

    So what you do you spend the money that you were going to splash on a new CF on a new winger instead.

    This is a guy that scored a silly amount of goals last season on the wing.

  80. Marc


    I know it’s hard for you but an intelligent person (obviously I’m not suggesting you are one because if you were I wouldn’t have to explain it to you) can make a daft comment – it doesn’t make them stupid just as a moron making an odd intelligent comment (I’m sure you’ll manage one one day) doesn’t make them a candidate for Mensa.

    Outside of Pedro who a) has to have something to write about & b) is so excited he’s currently having to wear bladder proof underwear – anyone making judgement calls or even expecting anything after a handful of training sessions and 6 days needs to take a really deep breath and calm down.

  81. Marko

    Upamecano could be on. Konate and Orban are back after the winter break and maybe they feel this lad from PSG is another in the making. And you probably have Upamecano wanting the move as well

  82. Gentlebris


    I hope we make some attempt at getting him, he’s probably our most obvious solution at the back, pairing him with Saliba. But then I feel Raul, having spent an ineffective £72m just a few months ago might be a little shy in the market.

    Pepe seeming to tank is a transfer issue for us. Had Pepe been an instant hit, Raul would have gone back into the market waving his golden hand about.

  83. Cesc Appeal

    No one is paying anything for Ozil, you will likely have to loan him and pay half his wages. It still gets over £8 Million a year off the books but we just have to accept our club made one of the dumbest decisions in football history and we’re stuck with it for another 18 months unless someone wants to loan him and pay £175 000 a week of his wages.

    He’s not going anywhere near China either…without even considering tax issues.

    We just have to build our midfield with that financial handicap unfortunately. That’s the reality. Hold ourselves back for 18 months by utilising the logic of ‘if we’re paying him play him’ or just suck it up, own the appalling decision and move on.

    Xhaka leaving for £20-30 Million, Elneny potentially being sold, can get ourselves a good CDM/CM and then either we have to make tough selling choices to fund a massive squad overhaul or Kroenke has to put his hand in his pocket.

    Arsenal’s squad is so ill suited to modern EPL football it’s not even funny.

  84. Marko

    So what you do you spend the money that you were going to splash on a new CF on a new winger instead

    I know you probably think it’s a creative solution but it’s really being unnecessarily silly and creating a problem where there isn’t one. You want to sell both our strikers and not replace them with a striker but convert our RW into a CF and instead bring in a winger. It’s such a mess why bother.

  85. Ishola70


    I didn’t say I wanted to sell both of the current strikers.

    You know there may be a situation that the current CFs leave of their own accord.

    What I’m saying is that Pepe is a possible inhouse solution to go in at CF if say Auba fucks off soon.

  86. Pierre

    Nj gunner
    “And in reference to Xhaka, I would like to know what percentage of his passes are long balls (over 20 yards?) –– and forward. Again, maybe it has become my bias, but I rarely see this from him. I just hope that Arteta and his crew are assembling that data when deciding whether to keep him.”

    In defence of Xhaka, his passing was very good at Bournemouth.I lost count of.the number of times he hit slide rule passes down the line and between the lines to Saka and Aubamayang.

    Our goal actually came from a superbly weighted ball to Aubamayang between the lines, most of the time he and Ozil’s good work was wasted with poor crossing from Nelson and Saka , and poor finishing by the strikers.

  87. Marc

    “I know I’m a bit behind the times but if Pepe is left footed why is he being played on the right”

    Technically he’s not – he’s not playing anywhere!

  88. Bill

    Bamford bingo.

    Full house. Full house.

    Nonsense – check
    Hyperbole – check
    Tautology (‘complete and utter…’) – check
    Ad hominem comments – check
    Endless repetition – check
    Pomposity – check
    Dressing opinion as fact – check x20
    Ridiculous self-inflated ego – check
    Victimology – check

    I claim my prize – Bamford to be banished forever

  89. Leftsidesanch

    Spare me with the player poverty Bamford. You just refuse to learn from previous misdemeanours, you’ll be on the ban list crying on your twitter in no time because you can’t help yourself.

    There’s plenty of United blogs in particular for you to jizz over United on.

  90. Gentlebris


    I understand you don’t go to the right places or sit at a table with the right people, but when you tag someone’s comment or idea as being daft, it’s a direct insult in one of its crudest forms.

    You could say an idea or a comment is incorrect or not appropriate, but when you use the word ‘daft’, it’s an insult you can’t even attempt to dress.

    If I were you I would just shut up, because the more you try to talk about this the more you show that you have been functioning in the lowest circles all your life.

  91. Paulinho

    Pierre – By going ‘forward’ I mean in the future i.e this season and beyond, not the game you silly twonk.


  92. Marc


    The only possible destination I can see for Ozil are either Turkey or the US. Does anyone know what sort of salaries teams in the US pay? Don’t they have a salary cap?

  93. Marc


    Wow talk about sensitive – it amazes me you manage to get through life.

    If you react this badly to someone saying you made a daft comment what would happen if someone called you a thick cunt?

  94. Hitman

    Pepe just need to get the ball and run at defenders. Fast.
    Back to basics wing play.
    Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t come off.
    It will eventually.

  95. Marc


    Talking about Xhaka’s passing ability because he made some good passes against Bournemouth is a waste of time.

    Everyone knows that the moment you put Xhaka under pressure his composure goes to pieces. It does beg the question if Eddie Howe is such a good young manager why didn’t set his team up with an instruction of press Xhaka when he has the ball.

  96. Unai

    On Pepe, I think asking a player to increase his defensive contribution while learning a new league could have been a bit much.

    I think he will look better once hes got better defensive and is in a more organised system, playing to his strengths.

    I think a lot of players have looked shit recently, Pepe included, hoping Arteta gets the best out of them because while they look shit, some of this lot are actually decent players.

  97. Receding Hairline

    “We have recently hired a new manager who has just been installed in the busiest time of the year, now we play United and Chelsea in his 2nd and 3rd games.”

    Duncan Ferguson didn’t seem to have a problem playing Chelsea and United in his first and second games as caretaker coach.

    Unless one believes Everton have a better squad than we do or that Silva was doing a swell job there and should not have been sacked

  98. Ishola70

    When are we going to see the CBs at Arsenal striding out with the ball with the team spread out before them instead of this bunching up of players deep and holding hands.

    In doing this the opposing team is forced back as a consequence or at least has less chance to press Arsenal so effectively.

    Arsenal are cramped up deep. Opposition more chance of effective damaging press.

    We really need to see the CBs take on more responsibility on the ball and stop with midfielders/midfielder holding hands with them.

  99. Marc


    It’s harsh to judge a player who’s just joined when the team he’s been in has been terrible.

    As you say let’s see that Arteta can do with him over the next few months.

  100. Marko

    Careful lads you’ll be called Ozil obsessives in a minute. FYI since Lacazette and Aubameyang joined they’ve contributed to 97 goals. Blaming wasteful strikers on Ozil being wank is well it’s a bit silly

  101. Pierre

    Very soon , There will be nothing to argue about Pepe as he will be out injured for the rest of the season.

    He has had a couple of red card challenges on him that were potentially career threatening..

    He needs to learn to play the little give and go as he has a tendency to hang on to the ball too long.
    He needs to learn quick as he sure won’t receive protection from the refs .

  102. Receding Hairline

    I don’t really buy the premise that a team are still carrying baggage from their previous manager sacked on 29th November to the extent that league victories are not to be expected.

    When exactly do we expect three points from this team then? What’s the time frame?

    Anyway this are all moot points , i am willing to bet Arteta is telling his players behind the scenes he expects three points and nothing else. He doesn’t strike me like the kind of man that makes excuses.

  103. Marko

    Duncan Ferguson didn’t seem to have a problem playing Chelsea and United in his first and second games as caretaker coach.

    What. What are trying to imply? That we simply shouldn’t expect to get walked over or give up on the season because we hired in a new manager midseason? Where’s this coming from

  104. Bill


    Duncan Ferguson didn’t seem to have a problem playing Chelsea and United in his first and second games as caretaker coach.

    Big Dunc was on the coaching staff at Everton. He is a legend at the club and with supporters. He knows the club inside out.
    He was appointed as an interim manager and everyone is probably shit scared of him (only half joking). The man is a prince. Does lots for charity very QUIETLY.

  105. Gentlebris

    ‘Wow talk about sensitive – it amazes me you manage to get through life.’


    If you have to give it I can take it, I would take it and laugh. Because I can give some too.

    You running back here to say I was resorting to insults when you were the first to insult me is what you should call sensitive.

    I’m not being sensitive, just lecturing you. Because you never can tell…….you could win the lotto someday and have enough about you to go to some place half decent. Tagging people’s comments as daft would get you thrown out before you even find a seat. And you wouldn’t be aware you have done anything wrong.

  106. KAY Boss

    Look guys, Xhaka is garbage. Whether he’s improved or not, he needs moving on. Guy is braindead and had cost us games and points and you have some fans worrying about who replaces his mediocre performance. If sold and not replaced, its better than having him stinking the place. As Marko said, we have been better when Xhaka is out of the team.

  107. Valentin

    Marko dismissing somebody else comment because he had not been watching Ligue 1 football is the funniest LeGrove comment I have read these Christmas.
    I wonder why Our favourite postman is better placed to comment on Pepe, Tierney, Soumare, Morelos despite admitting that he himself does not watch Ligue 1, nor Scottish premiership.

  108. Pierre

    “Duncan Ferguson didn’t seem to have a problem playing Chelsea and United in his first and second games as caretaker coach.”

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Ferguson win just one out of 4 games including getting knocked out of the cup and a drab draw against our kids.

    Hardly a ringing endorsement .

  109. RodneyKing

    Brighton much the better side vs Bournemouth. I’m not sure Bournemouth had a single attempt in the second half let alone one that was on target.

    I watch defenders like Dunk and can’t help wondering why we haven’t had a commanding center-back in donkey’s years.

  110. Gentlebris

    ‘Receding sharpening his knives, expect him to go full throttle against Arteta should we lose against both Chelsea and United.’


    If we lose the two games against these all over the place Chelsea and United sides, not even getting a draw in any of the two games, then Arteta is a disaster. And in the long term, even Pedro will agree.

  111. Champagne charlie

    “ If he’s even a tenth as good as you are making out why is it that the only team in for him is in a relegation battle in Germany?“

    Shaquiri went from Bayern to Stoke to Liverpool. That’s such a reductive and weak ‘argument’, maybe he wants out and likes the area? There’s talk they’re getting big financial backing so maybe the project is about to go into overdrive?

    Don’t know, don’t care. You’ve no information to suggest Hertha are the only club in for him, you’re just keen to use it as another stick to beat a player you dislike with.

    I’ve no issue with him leaving, but I’m against this talk about him leaving whether we do business or not. It’s dim as fuck.

    He’s the best passing midfielder we have by a country mile, the only left footed midfielder at the club, (which Arteta apparently wants) so can you gather some balance and sense for a minute and just appreciate the guy needs replacing? Not hard.

    We’re already short on CM numbers/profiles imo. Is it going to be Guendouzi, Torreira, Ceballos and Willock until the end of the season?

  112. Marc


    “have enough about you to go to some place half decent. ”

    You seem to be very paranoid about where you are in life – you wouldn’t say where you’re from the other day. Fortunately I live in Hertfordshire – it’s a nice place expensive but I do OK so I can afford it.

    I get the feeling you’re from somewhere a step down from a Shanty Town.