Arsenal target the future in defence

by .

I do NOT like to gloat, but come on, Ole at the wheel? It’s my current binge-watch.

A month or so ago, after two solid wins against top 6 opposition, the media weighed into the irresistible.


Passion, heart, glory… call it what you want, OGS has his team of young lions achieving the sort of elevated football we haven’t seen at United since 1999. King Ole, he knew.

They do it EVERY FUCKING TIME and it makes me JOY EVERYWHERE.

What an utterly garbage coach he is, United are in so much trouble because they’ve basically hired in a beloved family labrador that has perma-diarrhea. He’s stinking out the house, the cream carpets will never be the same again… but who wants to be the one to put him out his misery?

Not me. That’s for sure. Let’s ride this out and hope Woodward makes the correct decision with some elephant strength Immodium, a £100m ‘last chance’ vet bill, and #4moreyears.

… back to Arsenal.

The hottest rumours on the internet are firmly focused on Upemacano being the #1 target for the club this January. That makes me very happy, I really worried we had some contacts scouting™ going with Boateng. The last thing we need is another high earner where the ceiling has collapsed due to a burst water pipe.

Bringing in a 21-year defender that can play in a highly technical system works for me. RB Leipzig is one of the best incubators in the world for talent, so you know he’ll be a hard worker, have an excellent attitude, and be open to new ideas as well as being receptive to feedback.

He still feels like a very big signing for us considering the financial challenges we have, but I guess if we were going for him in this summer, we’re just eating into an overdraft. My initial thoughts were that we’d sell a few players this window, but all of the potential liquid assets seem to have been retained and reinvigorated. The only problem child we have is Mustafi who interestingly wasn’t even trusted to play at right-back. He’s gone from World Cup winner to someone you wouldn’t start in your Sunday League pub team. What a shambles.

I think there are a few folk that worry that Arteta is blinded by players that have let us down, I see it differently, I think he’s probably thinking that signing in new players is a huge gamble and disruptive. If he can get 5 months out of players that know the club and the league, he’s far more likely to have a chance at winning trophies now and going on a run in the league.

That said, I think the summer will be very dramatic. We’ll absolutely have to shift on players to fund the sort of summer that’ll move the dynamic of the squad in the direction of an Arteta model of play.

Our biggest issues at the moment sit in the middle of defence and at full-back. I think we can probably deal with the full-back issue internally, but at centre back, we’re relying on two defenders on the back 9 to see us through the season, playing in a far more intense system than the one we operated in under Emery. I love Holding, but he looked shot the other night.

The numbers on Arteta are moving in the right direction. Interesting that in your head, you imagine that we’re playing a totally different game, but really, the most dramatic shift in the above numbers is the tightening of defence and the build-up stats.

Shines a light on why Arteta doesn’t really care for distance run stats, they’re not particularly important as we saw under Unai Emery’s headless chicken approach. He’s looking at how you use your energy in the most efficient way. The team is only running 4km extra a game, but exerting far more energy through the more intense style. It’ll be very interesting to see what those numbers look like by the end of the season.

I watched back the Leeds game again. Couple of things. I thought Martinez made some truly excellent saves, he really did keep us in the game. I also still can’t believe the output in the second half. It really does show how much of football is in the mind at the highest level. We went from absolute bums to menaces… despite the team being heavily fatigued. It might not last, but you cannot put a value on a winning culture built on dedication to 100% commitment on the pitch at all times. Some leaders can command that, others simply can’t. I really, really, really hope this continues through the next few years. It’s electric to watch when it works. Plenty of massive tests ahead, but I’m excited.

Also, some fool said it was Sheffield United at the weekend, it’s actually not, it’s Palace. I think this game is going to be very interesting, Arteta threw everything at the cup game, so how will his team respond against a side that has regularly bullied us? He’s constantly talking about aggression, I’d really love to see us show some bite against Hodgson’s side. I’m hoping the learning from the Leeds game is that we can’t let our foot off the gas, it’ll be a huge physical test, one that we bottled last season when it counted, so a win here would be symbolic and a very strong indicator of how well the rest of this season will pan out.

After that, the squad has a whole 7 days off to recuperate and get some proper TLC with the coach.

346 Responses to “Arsenal target the future in defence”

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  1. Chris

    De Bruyne says it took 15 minutes to discuss the tactics for the game the other night.

    This is the type of concise and clear instruction I am sure we will be seeing from Arteta. Tactics are important so long as they are not over complicated and the message doesn’t get lost to the players (and obviously having intelligent, adaptable footballers is extremely important).

    I can’t wait to see they type of player Arteta pushes to sign, the summer will be very interesting.

  2. vickingz

    Whoever wrote whatever article about nelson doesn’t know shit. I dare him to give me a developed side of nelson’s game. He’s weak, avoids 50:50 challenge, he only marks space, ball recovery? Most of his dribbles are fluke, gets into scoring positions but either passes to the goalkeeper or play it wide, feeble legs, clueless when marked by an opponent. I fought for this guy when the likes of RH and co called him shit but i’ve seen him first-hand now and he’s truly a shitty player who rates himself whenever he has one successful dribble. He won’t go far, I can tell you this.

  3. Pierre

    All the academy players have a question mark against them..
    Saka, Willock, Nketiah, Nelson and Smith Rowe are obviously talented and have a future in the game but there is no guarantee they will make it at Arsenal.

    The other 2 kids coming through Martinelli and Guendouzi are ahead of our academy players and probably Martinelli looks the favourite to make it to the very top.
    Guendouzi is still learning and I see a player that is determined to succeed , maybe in a way he is trying too hard to impress.
    He had a very good 2nd half v Leeds.

    The 5 academy players have came into the Arsenal team during a very unsettled and difficult time and it is very hard for a young player to develop their game with such intense pressure and a fan base that for the last couple of years has been fractious and not fully supportive.

    Arteta, I’m sure will recognise this and by and large will stick with experience up until the end of the season, with the kids being used sparingly or going out on loan to give them time to develop.

  4. Lego Hair


    Another foreign fan quick to shit on one of our own rather than give them a fair crack.

    This is his first season properly with our first XI so why not hold judgement at least until the end of the season?

    Not all players are like Ronaldo and Messi as soon as they start playing.

    Nothing better than a promising young english player coming through.

  5. Aussie Gooner

    Martinelli is a star in the making, no doubt about it. He has the skill level, pace and stamina to make it big time. Arsenal need to make sure he is tied down.

    Smith Rowe is another one I think will make it from what I have seen so far. He is far from the finished article but with work and bulking up can make it to the big time – he has the X factor!

    Saka, Willock, Nketiah and Nelson have had limited opportunities in their preferred positions in a settled side. They will all make a living at football but just probably not at Arsenal level. Saka could re-invent himself as a left back and become successful if he is willing to try.

    Guendouzi is a puzzle – he appears to have all the attributes but dwells on the ball too long and gets caught, is knocked off the ball too easily (and hits the ground looking for a foul) and doesn’t yet seem to have a finished product. He is very frustrating to watch – he has stamina and skills but needs a lot of polishing!

    There are a couple of other interesting U23’s – Balogan and Smith who may well step up this year.

  6. Graham62

    I also have doubts about Nelson but will give him some leeway now that Arteta is at the helm.

    He does seem rather lightweight and from what I’ve seen doesn’t poccess the dynamism that is needed in the top flight.

    He lacks the electrifying pace of someone in his position and is physically underdeveloped. Maybe I’m being too harsh on the kid but I was expecting more based on the plaudits he was receiving from so many a couple of seasons back.

  7. Batistuta

    Honestly don’t think Nelson will make it here, hopefully I’m wrong though…

    Also when people say AMN has been played in his wrong position, where exactly is his “best position” because that’s now 3/4 managers that have played him as RB

  8. Lego Hair


    ‘ So because he’s a foreign fan, his opinions on players don’t count?’

    That was never said. He can have an opinion even though it’s shit.

    It’s just a simple fact that foreign fans don’t have the same connection and patience for the young English lads coming through that’s obvious and the truth.

  9. Batistuta


    How does anyone being foreign have anything to do with having patience or connection for/to young English players?

    If a player looks like he’s got it in him to become very good, he’ll get support whether from the fans, most still see Rob Holding as one of our best defenders at the club and he’s English so don’t really get your point to be honest

  10. Words on a Blog

    One thing all Arsenal fans (foreign or otherwise) should have is a little bit of patience with our younger players (English or otherwise).

    There is absolutely no need to rush to proclaim that they are “shit” on the basis of a few poor performances or mistakes just to get a few brownie points for being the first on here to recognise poor footballers. Fact is, they will make more mistakes than experienced players (Mustafi and Xhaka excepted.)

    I think Martinelli, AMN, Saka, Nelson and Smith-Rowe all have a chance of making it as first team or squad players. And if Arteta/Edu decide that ultimately they’re not quite good enough or don’t have enough of the right attributes, then a run of games in the first team might help to enhance their value in the transfer market, as it did with Iwobi.

  11. Danny S

    Your nelsons, Amn’s, Willocks etc are essential to a team these days. As long as we have a steady flow of these types coming through the system.
    If they hit full potential then everyone wins. If they become decent PL players and are happy to be squad players, then that’s still a win.
    If they become decent PL players and want more game time, sell them for 20/30m and attach some sell on clauses.
    If they tank, still get 10/20m for them with clauses and bring on the next in line.

    Currently, AMN and Nelson both have a part to play in the team. AMN has improved hugely under arteta and nelson gets a bit better every game.
    Should they be surplus end of this season, there is probably 40/60m in them.

  12. Thorough

    Reece is so limited I’m surprised people can’t see it. Nothing annoys me more than getting into good positions and falling over needlessly.
    If I were to Hazard a guess about our youths I’ll say the following.
    – Martinelli will be a mainstay of this team in a couple of years.
    – Saka most likely will be a 20 games per season player, may be better if the gaffer can figure out a position that fits him. He looks more like a number 10 to me anyway.
    – Guendozi, same as Saka, bit part but relevant.
    – Smith-Rowe is a coin toss.
    – Reece is gonna be a championship player or lower.

  13. Uwot?

    What we must realise is that v.few if any of the current crop of youth will make it at Arsenal.just a fact of life.we all would love a so called class of 92 crop.but it’s once in a generation thing.My money would be on the following.Martinelli,AMN (with much coaching) & poss Gwen dozy ( must lose the hair & bulk up) could take another season to start to shine consistently.& That my friends is it.

  14. Steveyg87

    Gwen has the potential to be our own rabiot if he can cut out the dithering on the ball, at times he lights up the park. Arteta needs to figure out how he can get him to do this on a more consistent basis

  15. Words on a Blog

    The bigger question is not who of our present roster of youthful players will make and who won’t (or will get moved on) but why NOT A SINGLE DEFENDER in our U-23 and under 18 squads have made it anywhere near the first team squad.

    It does seem that we are pretty good at developing strikers, wingers and midfielders but can’t seem to get it right with defenders.

  16. China1

    I don’t think Nelson is going to do any worse than iwobi

    His ability to beat people is already better than iwobi’s and iwobi has no other stand out qualities

    If iwobi can be an Everton player I believe Nelson will be in the same ball park if he doesn’t kick on. Talk of him as championship or lower is ridiculous imo.

    Tbh iwobi wasn’t the worst player in the world anyway, the problem was that he shouldn’t have been more than a squad player rather than a first team starter

  17. shaun

    I think everyone is a bit underwhelmed with Nelson at the moment especially seeing as he was supposed to be the one with more potential out of him and his buddy Sancho .I hope there is more to come from him and I think and hope there is , I would really like him to succeed but like everyone else , I see something missing but that said he is the type who could possibly score in the next three games . Saka looks more promising to me but I do not think the fullback position is doing him any favors

  18. China1

    Tbh our academy has been a bit dry for ages.

    Iwobi is the last player we’ve had since he was a kid who got into the team. Other young players we’ve had near the first team were all signed in their late teens

    If you think of arsenal grown players, you’d probably have to go back some way to see a player who has done anything at arsenal.

    Even cesc was already almost there when we signed him as a kid.

    Wilshere I suppose was the great white hope of our academy unfortunately we all know how sadly that story ended. He could’ve been incredible with better coaching and less injuries.

  19. China1

    Yeah not many agree with me on this but my sense on Nelson is that he could be a solid squad player at worst. I don’t think we need to look at every young player expecting them to be the next cesc or hazard.

    The squad will benefit from having a few home grown players develop into solid, reliable 7/10 players who you can depend on when called upon. Chambers is another such player previously written off because he’s probably not going to be a world beater, but he’s demonstrated that as CB, RB and perhaps DM he has a fair chunk to offer us over the course of a season if well managed

    Nelson has had very limited game time in the grand scheme of things and is probably the best player in the team at carrying the ball forwards at pace and beating people. If he can bring some reasonable end product, combined with his good work ethic, that will remain a useful asset and one we invested very little money in.

  20. China1

    If Nelson a year from now has shown no signs of meaningful progress than we can probably sell him for 30m to palace or whoever. Until then he’s still very much an unknown quantity

  21. Graham62

    Eddie who?

    Lacks a nasty streak that all good strikers need to have.

    Hopefully Arteta( or whoever)can develop this side of his game.

  22. shaun

    well for me Eddie’s a bit of a weird one , you could say he does not have that nasty streak (but he does look a bit petulant if you know what I mean ).I would much prefer he had the nasty streak well the one that makes him a good striker lol……….lol. For me he does not have the build or strength for that type of striker ala Wrighty , wiltord or Laca as they all have that Nasty streak and all are generally quicker than Eddie which is odd as they seemed quicker when much older than him .But hey he could develop that strength and speed as he is the same type of finisher

  23. Sid

    Nelson at best wont get to iwobi levels, physically and most attributes below iwobi but he serves the team for now and could fetch a good fee in future, but wont take us to the next level.
    ESR has the skillset but is injury prone.
    Saka is good enough.
    Willock at best is a good squad player but one to keep, teams need such homegrown players like Neville, Carragher

  24. Henry Root

    I’m interested that Jack Pitt- Brooke who wrote the article on Nelson and who is a good and thorough journalist ‘ doesn’t know shit!’
    Did the poster who said that actually read the article ? He went back to his roots and established how outstanding he was as a youngster in local football, how his dedication to football has taken him clear of a dangerous gang culture where he was brought up and how well he did in Germany playing for Nagelsmann .
    The point of the article was that under Arteta he has to kick on and fulfil his promise . I saw on Monday and against Chelsea that he is developing and given that one of the best wide players we have ever had ( Pires) had an underwhelming first season I think we might cut a bit of slack to a player who is still young and maturing .
    As for Saka he has done extremely well and has a decent chance of being in the England squad for the 2022 World Cup …unless he chooses Nigeria . He is a young kid largely played out of position and he has done extremely well. I’m really disappointed in how vicious and mindless criticism of our young players is .
    I will take more notice of Arteta’s opinion than some of the posters on here who frankly don’t have a clue about the pressures on young players

  25. Aussie Gooner

    You might be surprised at how much ‘foreign’ fans know! And some may not be quite so ‘foreign’? I may reside in Australia now but I was born and bred in London, watched Arsenal for over 50 years as did my father before me. Always watched from the North Bank at Highbury and later games from the Directors box as a personal guest of the previous major shareholders prior to moving to Australia.

    But what would I know!

  26. Habesha Gooner

    When it comes to young players making it at the highest level what matters in my Judgment is Mentality. Martinelli has it, Guendouzi has it and Saka too has it. They keep going even if its not working out. With Nelson the talent is there for all to see. But whenever he shoots, dribbles or tackles there is not a conviction to it. He always falls over or gives it away. Niles is also too relaxed for my liking. Smith-Rowe I can’t figure out. We will see though. Now if arteta can improve the Mentality of Nelson and Niles they will make it at least at a premier league club. All of them need to show consistency though.

  27. Bob N16

    I agree with your post Henry Root. Nobody is saying that our present group of players will all make it, some do look promising, but some ‘experts’ right off young talent after a player has only played a handful of games…pitiful.

  28. Lego Hair


    ‘How does anyone being foreign have anything to do with having patience or connection for/to young English players?
    If a player looks like he’s got it in him to become very good, he’ll get support whether from the fans, most still see Rob Holding as one of our best defenders at the club and he’s English so don’t really get your point to be honest’

    If you’ve taken the blind bit of notice on here it’s always the foreign fans that lack the patience and are the first to jump on a young english player, and in my opinion it’s because of the lack of any connection with them. It’s a pretty simple point that didnt need to be spelt out.

    Of course EVERY fan jumps on the bright new thing that shows promise whatever nationality (Martinelli) but are very quick to dismiss lads that show a bit of promise then can’t quite keep up the consistency after coming on to the scene (Holding, Nelson).

    It’s my observation Bat you don’t have to agree with it.

  29. Aussie Gooner

    Umtiti back on the radar. Barca are happy to let him go for the right price as he has not recovered as well as expected from his recent injuries and has fallen down the pecking order. Should this be a red flag? Only played 4 games so far this season. 26 years old so not past his prime by a long shot

    Arsenal, Spuds and Utd are interested apparently.

  30. Aussie Gooner

    ” Arsenal are lining up a swoop for 17-year-old Brazilian right-back Yan Couto, with Mikel Arteta reportedly identifying him as a long-term replacement for Hector Bellerin.

    The youngster is available for just £4.25million and is highly regarded by his current club, Coritiba.

    Brazilian publication Globo Esporte say that Bayer Leverkusen are rivalling Arsenal for Couto’s signature while another unnamed European side are also said to be in the running to buy him.”

    Whoever found Martinelli deserves a pay rise!

  31. Aussie Gooner


    Good! Send him the envelope stuffed with used notes and ask him if he has seen any Brazilian CB in his travels!

  32. Jim Lahey

    I think there are Vietnam veterans living on the streets of San Diego with better injury records than Umtiti

  33. shaun

    defo not in the Um camp we should be putting that kind of cash in the Up bid unless
    Umtiti is a loan option , in which case I would prefer Umtiti over Boateng

  34. Distant legrover

    Think Saka will definitely make it at Arsenal. Guendozi we might have to be patient with for a couple more years, but boy, he’s a midfield boss in the making. I think Vieira replacement.

  35. Nelson

    Reports claim that the Chelsea boss has been given a January budget of £150 million. If they spends it wisely, no team can catch up to them.

  36. TheBayingMob

    “Look at Pepe. 4 goals and 4 assists from around 10 starts with some great flashes of skill and talent and Tr7, CA and many others calling him a flop?

    Fucking ridiculous”

    You simply represent the other end of the spectrum, which is also fucking ridiculous. The end of the spectrum that would still have a failing geriatric manager at the helm because you want to give him ‘more time’, because that’s simply what everyone needs, eh?

    You were probably one of the twats who still wanted to give Denilson more ‘time’ to ‘bed in’, that he will ‘come good’ he just needs all the fans to ‘get off his back’. Well, you know what? Sometimes people can nail a dud pretty quickly. What about Andre Santos, would you still have him rotting the place out? Probably.

    Alex Hleb was a perfect example. All flicks and tricks. He looked a nice player at times but it never really amounted to much. Your assertions are probably based on players like Henry and Pires who after a time found their feet and exploded, fair enough, it happens; but were Pires and Henry incredibly left footed with no other outlet?

    If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Anelka came into the side at 18 and beasted the league (albeit at a time when it wasn’t as technically as good as it is now, but it was certainly a lot more physical). I’m all for giving some players time to get to grips with the league and realizing you will never be able to buy decent ripe fruit from Tesco’s, but there has to be a limit to it, and a Hleb step over every now and then isn’t going to do it.

    Hopefully it’ll come good for Pepe, we’ll see

  37. vickingz

    Well, that’s the beauty of le-gove, everyone is free to air his/her opinion. And i’m not just impatiently writing nelson off neither am I seeking a medal for calling him out. I fought for him and every of our reserves that got loaned or sold under emery, I championed for nelson to be given a chance in our first team and I fought some posters here then who never felt nelson and our academy players would amount to a thing.

    Kindly look at Nelson’s game and beyond his game, his body language. I get easily tempted to call him a fuck boy, he’s such a weak, feeble legged guy who falls at every decent opportunity he gets. Please show me just a game where he played a leather shot. His shots are like back passes to opponent’s goalkeeper and he exudes this feeling of “I’ve arrived and a game well played” whenever he made a successful dribble in a match. How can a player of his age be such a weakling? He calls for balls, get into positions but he freely gives the balls away. Even the goal he scored which I hope will turn him on, he almost wasted it, he has zero confidence in front of goal. I wish him luck and I hope he turns around to become the player we all want him to be. I don’t think anyone derive pleasure in seeing our academy players unfulfilled, well I don’t. Thank y’all

  38. Pierre

    I had a look at the Leeds game again and some of our decision making in the final third in the first half was very poor.

    Pepe, Nelson,Luiz and Xhaka all made very good runs with the ball from our own half deep into the opposition half and each time Ozil was in space in a perfect position to receive the ball and each time the player concerned gave the ball away.

    The 2nd half was different , the other players brought Ozil into the the game earlier and he started to link the play and he created the most chances on the pitch from either side.

    I would imagine that Arteta wouldn’t be happy at Ozil’s poor attempt at losing his marker in the first half, Kalvin Phillips certainly won that battle in the first half, he looks exactly what we need in our midfield.

    Torreira has been good for Ozil recently as Ozil is the first player that Torreira looks for when he is on the ball.
    The other players need educating from Arteta to bring Ozil into the play at the earliest possible time , as we look a much more fluent side when Ozil is on the ball as he rarely gives the ball away of makes a wrong decision.

    Ozil has a tendency to become frustrated with his team mates and this is not good for him or the team.
    When he becomes frustrated he drifts out of the game ,as he did v Leeds in that first half.
    He is less inclined to make the runs to receive the ball and his all-around game suffers and he becomes a passenger.

    One could see the difference in Ozil’s demeanour in the 2nd half v Leeds as his team mates were finding him early , so consequently the performance levels from Ozil and the team improved.

    You can see why Arteta needs Ozil in the team as he is the one player who sees the picture of what is happening around him.
    The major fault in Ozil’s game is that if Arsenal and Ozil do not see enough of the ball he becomes a liability to the team , and that is the conundrum that Arteta faces in the weeks/months to come.

    There will be games when Ozil is ineffective and that is the time when Arteta needs to be a strong manager and sub him off for the good of the team.