Another Chelsea Cup Final + What Does Summer Look Like?

by & filed under News Review.

via @Arsenal Instagram

I am STILL buzzing on a Monday morning, and yes, I’ll be honest, I went in for round two on the game because that’s how good I felt. It’s a lot easier to watch those ties when you know the result.

A few things stood out the second time, the first being that Kieran Tierney really was fantastic. He slipped in as the left-sided centre back, presumably to give some pace next to Luiz, then he was moved out left when AMN moved inside, and occasionally he bombed forward as an LWB. Magnificent. What a great player we have there.

I also think Granit Xhaka has to be given his dues, he has been mostly excellent under Mikel Arteta. He had another really, really good game. He put his body on the line over and over again, he lead like a warrior, and he gave the team a calm player to look up to when City were coming at us.

I also didn’t give enough credit to Pépé for his showing. I’ve been very critical of him over the last 3 months. I know there’s a player there, but he doesn’t show it enough. He’s a very quiet player and sometimes, that comes across as meek on the pitch. I didn’t feel like that after the game on Saturday. He gave more to the defensive side of things, and going forward, he was quicker and bolder with his decisions, plus, he made decisive contributions for our two goals in a game that wasn’t going to give us much.

I know I might be early on this, but I also feel like that was a game the fans needed to see from Arteta. We’ve been watching him make steady improvements over the last 6 months, but generally, there’s always been something not quite right about our game. Injuries, mistakes, red cards, contract induced brainfarts… factored with the harsh reality that this team hasn’t been coached to an elite level in over a decade.

City felt like the game where we delivered an innovative performance against the odds. The gameplan was bold, it was very unArsenal, and it was executed to near perfection. Our last manager couldn’t get us passing out the back in 18months, our new coach has us using it as a tactic to play around a Man City press. That’s not to say we haven’t seen other really good performances. Chelsea at home, United at home, Sheffield United away and Wolves away spring to mind… but this had something important on it, and no one gave us a prayer. It just felt bigger, particularly after the absolute spanking we took against Liverpool in the week.

The Manchester United vs Chelsea semi-final wasn’t that interesting. Ole G, after receiving all the press plaudits for 3 wins on the bounce against shit teams, didn’t show up for a Wembley semi-final. United lacked drive, a decent plan, and a good goalkeeper. Frank Lampard cooly took the game and at an absolute canter. I fancied our chances against either side, but I think I prefer Chelsea. Lampard is a better manager than OGS, so it’ll be tough, but I think everything that was wrong under Unai Emery came out in the wash in Baku.

  1. Our players weren’t focused before the game. I was told they were complainining about travel arrangements and senior players in the side knew we’d lose just by how much of a farce it was pregame
  2. We played an extremely negative game. No one showed up for the final. It was an embarrassing performance. The worst final I’ve ever seen us play in.
  3. The plan was confusing, watching Iwobi trying to decipher what the fuck Emery was trying to say on the sidelined summed it all up. We gave Sarri his first ever trophy and we shouldn’t have

This final is the chance to right the wrongs of last season and prove that elite coaching can be a driving force in our return to the top. Ironically, it’ll give us the opportunity to get back into the same competition we were trying to escape so desperately last season, but after the mess of this year, it’d be more than welcome. We made £42m last season from the Europa League last season, that sort of cash takes us from a very bland summer to something mildly interesting.

Still a longshot… but the other upside of us making it to the final with Chelsea is that I believe it’ll open up Europa spaces to 7th place. Currently, we sit in 10th. The league chase is not in our hands at all, but there’s always an off chance we could make it. What is gratifying is that we’ll know where we stand before the game. It won’t make a difference to the performance either way, but it adds a little bit of spice to the young managers final.

Talking of summer, it’s going to be very interesting to see what we do.

It’s clear to me that Don Raul isn’t going to be able to do whatever he likes this time around. He’ll be answering to someone this summer and that’s a good thing. Also, have you noticed that he’s being briefed against? John Cross dropping precision bombs his way, The Athletic went very hard at his approach, and we saw similarly aggressive stories from The Guardian. Those are no accidents.

That said, it won’t stop him working with who he wants to and my fear is that we’ll have another crack at trying to drag ourselves into the Champions League with the ‘one more job for the boys’ type signings, versus just accepting the reality… football isn’t won with contacts, and if Arsenal wants to be like Liverpool, they are going to have be smarter about transfers.

One thing is absolutely clear from this week. Arteta and his coaching staff are desperate to get into the Champions League as quickly as possible. Given the choice of a City like injection or taking it slow, he’s going to go for the fast route in. He wants to win the biggest prizes. That’s why I would not be surprised to see him entertain the offerings that’ll come his way.

He’ll take Coutinho if it’s offered because regardless of where he is now in his career, he’s better than what we have. Willian is a very good professional and gives us something we don’t have. I wouldn’t take either of them, because we’ve seen what signing players on the way out does to the squad.

We should be focusing on a 5-year plan. Ship out the players that are problematic to the culture. Find new homes for players that aren’t mentally up to the task. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can save a body part that has started to go green.

We don’t have a lot of money, we have a disgraceful wage bill, and Raul has been doing everything in his power to exacerbate both problems. Arsenal should not be giving anyone £250k a week unless it’s Auba. We should not be signing any players over the age of 30. We should be clearing our wage bill, upgrading our older players with younger ones, and implementing a plan to be competing for the league and Champions League in 5 years time.

Trying to become elite by investing premium money on players that have no sell on value will not kick us on and it’ll delay the inevitable reality: we have to move to a sustainable approach to player recruitment.

  • Scour the world for value. Look where others aren’t. Or go where RB do. Salzburg have players from Mali, Hungary, Bosnia, Ghana, Japan, and Zambia.
  • Pick up players with 1/2 years on their deals from smaller leagues that blood young players earlier
  • Focus on young players with high ceilings
  • Use data to drive your decisions, not super-agents
  • Accept that to get back to the top, you have to be a selling club
  • Build a conveyor belt with that in mind (Pulisic > Sancho)

Matteo G and Lucas Torreira are prime examples of this in action. Both look likely to move this summer, but we’ll get more than what we paid for, and at the very least, we’ll retain value. The current model of chasing the Champions League with battle-hardened pros has left us with what? Sokratis? Mikhi? Lichtsteiner? Soares? They’ll all be worth nothing, so what’s the point?

We also have to be smarter about players values. Nicolas Pépé might blow up, he might, but we spent such a horrendous amount of money on him, the chances of him having a resale value higher than what we paid is unlikely. He’s a £35m player, not £72m. You only spend that sort of money when you need a VVD or an Alisson. We spent world-class money on someone that still needs a lot of coaching. Again, not saying he can’t come good, just that it’s very hard to think that move was money well spent… but that’s the reality, we don’t have a Head of Football that has the future in mind. He’s rolling the dice with his closest pals, he doesn’t really give much of a shit about how this pans out for Arsenal.

We have all the tools to succeed at the club, the big question is whether there’s a smart plan in place to drive Arsenal forward. My big fear is that this summer will look much like the last one. Rushed deals through a small collection of agents that reek of short-termism.

Let’s hope I’m wrong.


518 Responses to “Another Chelsea Cup Final + What Does Summer Look Like?”

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  1. Nelson

    It seems that the stadium lockdown really helps Arteta’s in game management. I find that he is the most vocal coach on the sideline. He keeps berating his players where to go. Ceballos has also credited Arteta for converting him to become a deep lying CM by keep advising him what to do.

  2. RodneyKing

    London gunner
    July 20, 2020 20:28:47

    “Rodney Whose wolves best player and why?”

    “Best player” you’d agree can be subjective. Perhaps Moutinho overall in terms of his vision, shooting and passing ability. But at 33, he’s getting on and against quicker players, he tends to struggle with the pace of the game.

    Traore, arguably Wolves’ most improved player, is exciting but he still needs to iron out certain aspects of his game. Jimenez is so, so. Has his days.

    Having said that, I really do like Coady and Doherty, both of whom are crucial to how Wolves play.

  3. Marko

    Ozil is the one I’m looking at. This is how you get rid of the sponge let it be known that if he wants to stay he’ll not see any action whatsoever. As for Guendouzi I’d hate to see a midfield rebuild to take place and he and Torreira are gone and Xhaka survives but if Mikel isn’t keen he isn’t keen. A swap for Coutinho or a swap for Bruno Guimaraes would be ideal for me

  4. Guns of SF

    When the news breaks that Ozil is leaving this summer i think i will have a heart attack.

    I get a funny feeling this might be in the works…. just a hunch.

    Dude has been frozen out since we re-opening and I am sure his team reads all things Ozil.

    If we need to part fund his salary I am for it. We cannot have him around for more distractions. He needs to take his brand and hit the road.

  5. Dissenter

    Ozil has repeatedly said he’s going to finish his contract, his agent has pretty much said the same.
    Spare yourself unnecessary heart burn and just forget that he exists. He will be truly gone in one year.

  6. Guns of SF

    Ozil Schmozil

    Lets see what happens when Coutinho comes in or another class CAM. Maybe then the motivation to leave will be accelerated. Right now, the fat rat has no competition in the team

  7. RockyRoe

    Arteta said in an interview, that he would have the last day in any transfer, so it doesn’t matter what Raul wants, if the player he brings in doesn’t float Ma’s boat he can refuse. If however there are players coming in, they (by arteta own admission) would have his stamp of approval.

  8. RockyRoe

    Marc, if you are rude and question my integrity, you go in the bin.

    Pedro, what a day huh! By the way did you check out the Tierney video that was posted? You know where, He, the guy himself says we bid for him?

    So sven scouted him, after we bid for him under wenger huh? Elite logic there!!

  9. Valentin


    Contrarily to your opinion, I would think that would reinforce Pedro argument.
    You do know that Sven joined Arsenal at the end of 2017 and that by that time Wenger was out of the recruitment loop. Gazidis and Sven were in charge of recruitment with Raul trying to muscle in on that area a few month later.

    Most clubs buy players they have scouted a few years before. Whatever reason (financial, player is not yet ready, internal disagreement), a purchase can occur well after the initial scouting and in some initial offer took place.

  10. Dissenter

    You love pretending like we didn’t have scouts before Sven sauntered in
    The Tierney case-example punctures whatever grand balloon you and Pedro are floating about Sven.
    Tierney was scouted before we ever thought about bringing Sven in.
    The same wag our scouts got to dozens of other high value targets that Wenger didn’t act on.

  11. Overmars

    Just to throw a name into the mix..

    John Stones. If he’s available for 25 to 30 million, would that be a good deal? Or do we stick with Holding/Chambers?

    Having Stones, Saliba, Luiz, Marri and Holding as our 4 centre halves look good to me.

    Mustafi has been excellent since lockdown though, it wouldn’t surprise me if he lands a new deal.

  12. Valentin


    You are like a petulant child trying to jump on every comments that I made without even bother to actually read and understand what it.
    Reread what I wrote.
    I just pointed to RockyRoe that the argument that Arsenal bid in 2018 for Kierney is not proof that Wenger knew of him at all.
    I don’t think that Sven scouted Tierney. He has never shown any particular interest in Scotland. However the fact that Sven was already at Arsenal as head of recruitment when we bid for Tierney make it valid to think that he was aware of Tierney who like I wrote was then most likely kept in Arsenal scouting book. That is a lot more credible that Tierney was a big find by Raul.

  13. Pedro

    Dissenter, not sure anyone is suggesting we didn’t have scouts… but Sven ran recruitment from 2017, would have run his data through the system, extensively scouted him, and put him forward along with other for last summer.

    Unless you think Raul was like, fuck it man, who was Wenger looking at 5 years ago that I can sign this summer?

  14. Pedro

    Anyway, it really is a pointless argument. Raul is a bagman, Sven is a scout. One picks players, one lets agents do it.

  15. Valentin

    John Stones is another type of the defenders Arsenal should not go near. Good footballer, but terrible defenders. We already have David Luiz to fulfil that role.
    John Stones does not make brain fart mistakes but often he does not smell danger until too late.
    Also his distribution is decent, but not extraordinary.

  16. Valentin


    Paradoxically, I think that John Stones would have benefited to have a much stricter defensive manager during his formative years.

    Like you said, at 26 he is not a prospect any more. He is a decent defender but prone to lapse in judgement. Unless he really works with a defensive coach, he is never going to be a world class defender.

  17. Pedro

    Yeah, we need to be looking at 22-23 year olds.

    Arteta is racing to get back to the top, I worry he’ll pack the squad with nearly players like Wenger did when we were chasing.

    Just find young players with high ceilings and coach them to the next level.

  18. Dissenter

    You’re fund of attributing every good signing to Sven, even though we had dossiers of scouting reports before Sven came to the club.
    It’s not your post to Rocky Roe I picked up upon. it’s the body work of dozens of comments you have made and keep making to credit good signings to Sven and poor ones to Raul.

  19. Dissenter

    I just read that Pep said he has respect for Arsenal on the pitch but he’s disgusted with our off-the-field conduct.

    He may have a point because we were Borderline dishonorable with the botched Sanchez transfer to city in 2017. We gave them authorization to send a plane and a medical team to Chile on the dying hours of the transfer window, only for Wenger to suddenly make his exit contingent on a replacement. Then we made a club record bid for Lemar with 36 hours to go in the transfer window. How do you complete a record transfer in 36 hours.
    It was a disgraceful move.
    He’s also angry that we were amongst the clubs that wrote to the premier league asking for city to be punished.

  20. Overmars

    I know we all bang on about Upamecano, but it really isn’t impossible to get him.

    I read recent that as of June this year he has no 50 million release clause.

    He has under a year left on his contract. Would a 30 to 35 million pound bid be enough? It’s not much considering we paid that for Mustafi.

    A young back four of Bellerin Upamaecano Saliba and Tierney could be around for the next 7 or 8 years.

    It’s a long shot, but we also thought that signing Tierney and Saliba last summer wouldn’t happen. You never know.

  21. Pedro

    Dissenter, but difficult to take off the pitch advice from someone using a nations oil wealth to fund football

  22. TheBayingMob

    Must say I’ve enjoyed the last few games and results. City’s much more so than the scousers. Champions mostly always take their eye off the ball after securing the tile, so while I’ll take it I’m not beating that drum.

    I’m not saying we’re the best in the world or that we ever will be, it’s just nice to feel like we have some kind of game plan now.

    I’m still out on MA long term, but at least I am enjoying the end of this season.

  23. Sid

    A man who was being forced out of his home in Texas committed suicide this week, and in a note that authorities found after the his death, the man blamed everything on Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

    “Stan you took my home.”

  24. Guns of SF

    I cant see Bellerin with us long term. His defending still needs some major improvements and his attack is also still lacking. We need better on the right side… Pepe I hope comes good, but that right side needs an improvement.

    If we can offload him for $ I would take it and find a better RB out there.
    Tierney part 2 would be dandy

  25. Dissenter

    Since the restart, Dani Ceballos has led the Arsenal team completed passes, touches, tackles, dribbles completed, distance covered, interceptions and ball recoveries.
    He’s been a beast everywhere.
    They should be just signing him permanently because he’s embraced the manager’s methods. . He’s going to be 24 years old next month and is like the Milner type player you want to make part of the spine of the team for the next 5 years.

  26. Dissenter

    I didn’t realize how defensively solid Ceballos has made us. He’s made more tackles than everyone else and draw a lot of fouls too because he knows the dark arts

  27. CaliGooner

    I didn’t realize how defensively solid Ceballos has made us. He’s made more tackles than everyone else and draw a lot of fouls too because he knows the dark arts

    I don’t think Dani knew either. I still don’t think he does based on how much arteta yells at him during a game.

  28. Leedsgunner

    Aubameyang will be raring to play against Aston Villa and Watford so that he can get back into Golden Boot race. However we need to make sure he doesn’t become injured in light of the FA Cup final.

    Rotate, rotate, rotate.

    Nketiah and Balogun are available. Play Aubameyang and Lacazette for 60 minutes and throw the youngsters on after (hopefully) the victory is assured.

  29. Leedsgunner

    Surely Torreira will play against Villa and Watford too…

    Is it time for Miguel Azeez to be given a chance at some point in the game? After Folarin Balogun, he is an outstanding player for the Under 23s as an deep lying midfielder. Otherwise, play AMN as a DM and to give Xhaka and Cellabos a break…

  30. DivineSherlock

    The only sore point is I just wished Arteta had beaten the Spurs . Really hate them more since Mourinho came on. Kolasinac has to go for that mistake.

    I still think 6th is possible . Wolves face Chelsea and Spurs face Palace. Spurs about to bottle it in the last match for sure. Just need Chelsea to beat them Wolves. 59 points for both us and Wolves . All down to GD or is it Head to Head now ?

  31. Leedsgunner


    I have to tell you that defeat to Spurs was so annoying.

    We defeated ourselves there with our mistakes.

  32. Useroz

    Someone wondered. b4 the City game I think why our kids are different as in missing in something. The word ‘warrior’ came to mind at the time and the thought crystallised as the City game unfolded.

    Willock, AMN, ESR, Eddie and Saka are arguably as good as academies can be expected to produce. But what’s missing when you watch them play? Compared to our very best Cesc at 16 in his first 10 games?? They might have some fight in them. but aren’t warriors, coming from a relatively pampered environment.

    Martinelli in the other hand has that warrior feel about him having grown up with street football in poorer areas I believe.

    Watched highlights of the Manure loss to Chelski. It’s quite apparent Chelski have many warriors and are physical say compared with the more tech oriented City.

    I think we’d have a tougher game if we don’t have the right mindset. It’s war. Unless Chelski has an off day, they look tough both their mature and younger players.

    Skills, desire and passion aside, would you associate ‘tough’ and ‘warrior’ with most of our probable starting 11? Not many. Unfortunately.

    Mustafi is one and hope he recovers from the strain.

    Luiz may be if he has a perfect day (eg City game).

    Could count on Tierney, Torreira (suicidal at times given his stature!), the almighty Xhara.

    eh… done.

    I think this could influence the outcome on the day, formation and in game management notwithstanding.

    Oh. I missed Martinez. Can count on him punching Giroud!

  33. Un na naai

    User Oz

    I’d say Lacazette fits the mould. A warrior.
    And recent Dani C
    Holding. Bet your arse
    Martinez is the better keeper.
    We have better forwards all round.

    My big worry is Giroud. You just know that fucker is gonna be hungry for goals against us. And midfield. Chelsea have the superior midfield

    Elsewhere we have the players to win this

    We could do with a 3-4 goal win tonight vs Villa

  34. Un na naai

    Had Aubameyang buried his final chance vs Olympiakos I think this World Cup style Europe coming up would have really suited Arteta and the squad.
    Shame. Came a little too soon

  35. Wasi


    Im kinda glad we aren’t in this world cup styled European games.
    We have already come through a packed schedule and to continue it would be detrimental to the fitness of the squad. We’ll probably see a higher injury rate as the packed schedule continues into August.
    Also our squad will get good rest and preseason so we may be better off than some of the other Prem teams when the new season starts.

  36. Valentin

    I really wonder how clubs still in Europe will approach the conditioning for next season.
    Those that will stay in the competition for a few more rounds will not have the time to have a proper break and a pre-season.

    Will they consider that COVID-19 break was the player break?
    Will they give a break to players before the new season or later in the season?

    That could really have a negative impact on teams with a small squad or teams who don’t rotate their players much.

    Maybe I am being optimistic, but be Being knock-out of the European competition could be beneficial to our performance next season.

  37. Emiratesstroller

    I am not quite clear what is the definition of a “warrior”? What is more important
    is that they are committed in attack and defence as and when required.

    The concept of being a warrior is that you are a dirty player making reckless

    What we have seen in recent games under the new regime is an improvement
    in positional play, organisation and concentration and that is far more important than being a warrior.

    Arsenal are now beginning to win games that we would have been expected to
    lose 5-6 months ago.

  38. Useroz


    Laca and Holding. Ok warriors.

    Giroud indeed a worry. Those near post flicks and headers that we didn’t get from City. Can count on Martinez to command the 6 yard box. But Luiz ought to do another City job, or better.

    Strangely, , would prefer AMN for his agility and bit more physicality over Saka if we are talking WBs, assuming he’d do it again.

  39. Big Perm


    Why are you jumping to the rescue in your cape to the defence of City? It’s embarrassing, why don’t you start with defending your own club?

  40. Big Perm


    You never answered the question as to why you think the 2 games against Villa and Watford would be easy? Can you explain why?

  41. Left testicle

    After beating Liverpool and Manchester City wouldn’t it be so Arsenal like to lose away to Villa and draw at home to Watford?

  42. Un na naai


    No. I would t class a warrior on the pitch as a dirty player but someone who works hard off the ball to win it back. Someone who puts his body in the line to stop the opposition scoring
    Someone who fights with every breath for victory. Who leaves nothing on the field.

    That doesn’t mean breaking legs.

    Yes but with champions league qualification on offer it could be worth it
    We do actually have quite a deep squad

  43. Sid

    It will be harder to open up opponents that sit and defend than to beat teams who attack us while we sit back thats the new reality

  44. Wasi


    Yes but that would have meant we start the next season with a half fit squad or a fatigued squad.
    Since Arteta’s here for the long term I’d rather have a break and a preseason than a chance at CL.

  45. DivineSherlock

    Dont think Aston Villa is that sound in defense . Apart from Mings their defense is weak . Nketiah’s ban is over right ? Ideal game for him to start .

  46. Nelson

    I find that football is a team sport. It is more important to have 11 players knowing exactly what to do and functioning as a unit than a collection of 11 warriors. The ball always travels faster than any warrior.

  47. Valentin

    I was going to write that Villa will be demoralised, and that it was ideal time to blood youngsters and rest old warriors. However if ManCity win against Watford and Villa beat us, a 3 goals swing in their favour would keep them outside of relegation places. ManCity is perfectly capable of beating Watford with a 2 goals margin. If that happen, they will be fired up for our game.

    Despite that, I still think that Nkethia, Nelson should be given a start. With Cedric cup tied anyway, he should start at LWB or LB and give a rest to Tierney.

  48. Valentin


    The tactic, the organisation is the responsibility of the manager. The attitude and the will to win or at least not lose is something that can be instilled into players by manager.
    However longer term this relies on players characters. Selfish and lazy players can be temporarily motivated for a specific goal (winning a tournament, finishing in the top 4, …) And change their natural ways, but they won’t sustain the same level of effort and team care.
    Warrior is just a common term to call player committed and focused.