MAGICAL DEBUTS FOR WILLIAN AND GABRIEL

by .

Arsenal hit the ground running with a clinical dismantling of a hapless Fulham. The story of the day was all about the debutants. Willian landed two assists with a shout for a third and Gabriel kept a clean sheet and bulleted a header for his first goal.

The starting line-up looked very conservative, if Unai Emery had picked a starting 11 with so many defenders, we might have shrieked in complaint. However, this is a different era. Arteta’s 5 at the back is a little different. Maitland-Niles and Tierney added a lot to our attacking build-up play allowing us to play some joyful attacking football at times.

The midfield base was Xhaka and Elneny. Not where I thought we’d be at this stage of the season, but the two of them worked really well together. Mo(dric) is more mobile than Xhaka and he’s super tidy. He’s an engine room of a player, moving the ball fast, accurately (95% pcr), and mostly forwards. His height and size also gives us something. Granit Xhaka looked composed and fit, he completed the most progressive balls into the final third, his one into the box was a sight to behold, finding Auba with an over the shoulder pass Pirlo would have purred over.

Our defensive structure was solid again. Admittedly, Fulham really offered very little in way of threat. Our biggest errors were mostly self-made, the biggest scare came when AMN passed to Gabriel and the Brazilian ghosted the ball requiring Bernd Leno to be fast on his feet to stop the encroaching striker. He warmed as the game progressed. His erratic passing started to improve and his tackling sharpened. I think most of us forgot he’d not played for the best part of 6 months.

Rob Holding also looked very steady. Arsenal.com showed the Bolton boy dropping stepovers in training, he took that into Fulham’s half with a lovely bit of technique that opened up an attack. I wasn’t sure he had it in him to play at the level we need, but he’s getting better and better and the manager has told him he’s going nowhere.

Bernd Leno was under some extreme scrutiny. Martinez is off to Villa and there are a lot of hurt feelings in the fanbase. The German was fine. He’s a world-class keeper and he breezed the 90 minutes.

Hector Bellerin made a pretty excellent case for his continued inclusion in the plans of the manager. He looks fit, he’s grown out his fade, and he’s sharpened his attacking prowess. Everything about his game looks better at the moment. It is VERY interesting that after Vinai said Arsenal don’t sign players based on agent reccos that the squad didn’t contain Cedric Soares.

AMN worked hard for the team, his passing was a little off, 75% isn’t going to be his best number this season, but it was in the name of a vital role for our build-up play and he seemed to spend most of his time on the left. Rio Ferdinand had this to say on what he was doing for the team.

‘Maitland-Niles is a wing-back and when you speak about wing-backs you’d expect him to be in the wide areas, coming out consistently throughout the game.

‘He’s done anything but that, he comes in, passes the ball and his first run after that is to run inside and create an overload in midfield.

‘He comes straight into the midfield area and what that does is it causes confusion and causes them to have more numbers in there than they’d usually have.

‘After that, you’ve got the width being created by Aubameyang, your main goalscoring threat, and the left-sided centre-half, Tierney, he’s the man who creates the width.

‘It’s so different to what you expect from a three at the back. You normally see it being quite rigid and you know where people are.

‘When you’re a player out there and you don’t see players in the positions you expect to see them in, that is a confusing element.

‘That’s what Arteta seems to be doing and we see are they a well-drilled team? Yes, they are.’

Some people questioned Mikel keeping AMN. I couldn’t be more pro his inclusion. The guy is an absolute expert at executing tactical plans. I’m so happy for him, he’s an absolutely class act.

Tierney also had a good game, his pass completion was 86%, and some of them were dreamy to watch. He is going to be hugely important to our success this season, I really hope we keep him fit.

In attack, it was another positive game for Auba. We played out of the back in now trademark fashion, Willian switched the ball to him on the left, he cut inside and fizzed his shot into the top corner. We know what we’re getting with Auba, game-changing finishing every week. Rio Ferdinand told BT that he’s a player you always feel is going to do something, that’s a huge compliment.

Willian shut the doubters up (lololol) with an incredible debut. He’s sharp in the mind, he’s electric on the ball, and he gave us the sort of creativity we’ve been lacking. Near 100% pass completion. A hand in all 3 goals. He’s slotted right in. I think he’ll be very important to our success, what a dreamy player. I particularly liked that he kept Pepe benched. The Ivorian came roaring onto the field when he landed his minutes. We need a better level from him this season. The occasional flutter of magic isn’t enough at the highest level. We need him more present. Hopefully, Willian will push his game.

Not every game will be a simple as this one, but you can only play what is in front of you. I read that this game was our best xG against away from home in 5 years. The players were focused and motivated. Everyone wanted to be on the pitch. The squad is finally united around a vision. They all want success, and who would bet against it? We look a different animal these days and everything coming out of the club is positive. What a difference 6 months can make.

Do we still need signings? Absolutely. I think they’ll arrive. I think the biggest need is a dynamic #8.  We lack a bit of midfield dazzle. Balls into the box rarely come from central midfield, Xhaka and Elneny between them put the ball in the box once, so that needs to change, particularly against teams that’ll have more organised defensive structures. I think we’d all love a #6, but we could survive without one. Hopefully, we sign two players, the desire is there, the challenge is raising enough funds to make it happen.

The manager made a statement of Mesut and Matteo. They aren’t part of our future. Matteo will have to find a new club. Mesut will likely just sit out the season to make a point no one cares about.

Might also be worth a small mention about the Ceballos and Eddie dustup. It looked like handbags and both of them made up on Insta after the game. Best pals again.

Next up is West Ham. They are in total disarray. Players in open revolt against the club. A shambles on the pitch. We are normally a gift for beleaguered managers, let’s hope we’re not next Saturday. A huge Top 4 game today when Spurs and Everton go head to head at Goodison Park. I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

WE ARE BACK! See you in the comments. x

 

520 Responses to “MAGICAL DEBUTS FOR WILLIAN AND GABRIEL”

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  1. The Godfather

    Nice write Pedro.
    West Ham is dispirited and the fan base is divided and in revolt. We need to be ruthless and take advantage of them now.
    Really wish we could complete some signings and shed more dead weight by the end of the new week so that we con focus on consolidating what we have and build some more cohesion. I don’t Wanna go back to the Arsene days of dithering
    and foot dragging while waiting for bargain basement last minute deals

  2. Rich

    Ozil must really like where he lives, and can’t be that interested in playing football if he’s happy to be sidelined for a whole season.

    I know he’s got a big social media following, but this will surely put off future employers?

    A player who’s content to not play would ring alarm bells.

  3. Northbanker

    Good post Pedro. As you mentioned him, I must say how impressed I am with Rio Ferdinand as a pundit. The guy is incisive and analytical and really puts points across well. Helps to compensate a bit for his awkward BT colleague, Crouch, who really looked all over the place although quite listenable.

    BT seem t have upped their game now from the dreary and biased Michael Owen and the thick as shit Phil Neville

  4. Rich

    Not putting £30 mill on the table to sign Ceballos this window, will come back and bite us.

    I think he’s going to be one of the PL players of the season, meaning he’ll cost at least twice the price next summer, or he’ll go back to Madrid and become a regular starter.

    He’s a brilliant footballer, Ceballos and Aouar playing as 2 number 8s against sides who sit deep, with Willian to the right of them, will hopefully give us more craft and creativity than last season.

    I know YouTube videos can be deceptive, but there’s a really good 16 minute video of Aouar, and he looks the absolute business.

    If he’s the one Arteta wants? Hopefully KSE back him.

  5. TeeCee

    Decent performance yesterday. I have to disagree on Bellerin. He is the weak link in defence and is a shadow of his former self and his crossing is as bad as Sagna’s in his day! If we could get 30m for him I’d bite their arm off.

    If we somehow manage to get Aouar and Partey we’ll be right in the mix for top 4 and could well win something. If we play the season with Xhaka/ElNanny/Torreira/Doozy/Willock in CM we’ll have zero chance of a top 6 place.

  6. China1

    Neither spurs nor Everton are going to be top 4 this season. That is a banker if ever there was one Pedro

    I hope it’s a draw between them because I don’t want mourinhos car crash to be a quick one. It’s all the more enjoyable when it’s slow motion ala his time at Utd and the longer it goes on the more damage it will do

  7. TT

    Liked this comment from Ferdinand “That’s what Arteta seems to be doing and we see are they a well-drilled team? Yes, they are.”

    We now have a manager that has a plan and the intelligence to implement it. Good days ahead.

    Continue like this for few more months and 1 or 2 more signings I will start to feel like I did in the very early days of Wenger. Going into every game expecting to win.

  8. Major_Jeneral

    Very good article Pedro. Nice podcast I really enjoyed the part where you and Ash talked about the players we have in all the positions. And the need to have goal scoring midfielders. Indeed more creativity is needed to make that happen.

    I will like to send a mail to you. I have some questions as it concerns Podcasting. How can I do that.
    I will really appreciate it if you can let me have a moment with you.

  9. Jay

    Ceballos and pepe both did coming of the bench, but as Eddie nikita, hes anonymous again. permanent or loan deals, for Eddie nikita, Nelson,Joe willock.

  10. Maureen

    Great write up Pedro. Things look very promising, MA is getting results out of a group written off previously. This is what a coached team looks like, the gap between then and now because of clear communication and transmission of ideas is the delta.
    I am truly excited for this season, the first time in about 7 years. I am a new AKB (Arteta. Knows Best)

  11. Willian dollar baby

    Jay,

    I don’t think you can send Eddie out on loan who’s going to challenge lacca for a starting spot,

    Against Liverpool when he started against one of the best defenders in the world vvd, he completely overpowered him he muscled him off the ball for every header. He needs to find some shooting boots but that will come with confidence if he’s abusing defenders it allows for or men on the wing to run in and score!

  12. Willian dollar baby

    Also how nice is it to have a big squad with squad players that we can actually rely on. Someone is injured not a problem we have players that are hungry to come in behind them

    @pedro great write up. Do you have a source for the best xg in five years?

  13. Jay

    Eddie nikita won’t have the chance to face a u21 Kosovan defence in the league every week. How many goals has Eddie nikita scored for arsenal? martineli in hes first season in English football, has 10 goals in 26 games.

  14. Emiratesstroller

    Pedro

    I have made a similar post on last thread.

    Arsenal will have to bring in a second string goalkeeper, which is frankly regrettable and means that we will land up diverting money where which should have been avoided.

    Otherwise we need still a dynamic and creative midfielder, but that is it. That should cost
    Arsenal £40-50 million in market based on current conditions.

    As far as I am concerned Arsenal should only offload “unwanted or unneeded players”. We
    know who these players are. They are players UNLIKELY to get gametime with the club and
    will help the club to reduce its wage bill.

    The obvious candidates are Sokratis, Kolasinac, Mustafi, Chambers, Torreira, Guendouzi and
    Ozil. Obviously Ozil is unlikely to go, but the others should be offloaded by whatever means.
    However, the club needs to hold its nerve and not be railroaded into bad deals offered by
    Italian Clubs who want something for nothing.

  15. Captain Tierney

    Yesterday was a very good game. The days of gung-ho starting elevens and players not knowing what their job on the field feels long gone now. Everybody knows what their role is and most perform them well. There’s a very clear pattern of how we attack and shape and structure to how we defend.

    I think Kieran Tierney and Alex Lacazette are the most important pieces in is playing out from the back. After our keeper, Midfielders and CB pass the ball out and invite th defenders onto us, we play the ball to Tierney who usually carries it, finds space and plays a pass to Lacazette who drops deep to receive breaking the opposition’s midfield line in the process. Bellerin also performs this role but not as good as Tierney does it. Sometimes the full backs are also encouraged yo play an over the top ball to our wingers when there’s a good opportunity. (Tierney to Auba, Fa cup semi , Bellerin to Saka, Community shield). All in all I think Arteta’s drilled into the team an attacking gameplan and the team is executing it very well. Amn is also very important because his positioning and movement from LWB to midfield to sometimes LW in the build-up confuses the opposition players and they dont know who to mark when we load up our left side with Auba, Tierney, Amn and sometimes even Xhaka.

    My only concern with this setup is the lack of a creative midfielder. Elneny and Xhaka kept things tidy and moving but if we’re being honest, Fulham were very very poor yesterday. Against better defences we’ll need to a creative midfielder operating in the tight spaces to break them down. Hopefully we can conclude a deal for Aoaur sooner rather than later. He’d be my no.1 target for the rest of the window. After that if we’ve got money left I’d try for Partey.

    Gabriel looked very very solid. Especially in defence. He was like a monster clearing every aerial set piece threat and winning most (all maybe) of his 1v1 ground duels. As the match progressed he also showed that he is a good passer of the ball too.

    Auba. I cant praise my captain enough. Its actually scary that he is 31 and is still improving. He might have not even hit his peak yet. I’m guessing he will have his best season as a footballer either this year or next year. When he joined us he was an elite poacher, now he is much much more than that. His dribbling has improved and his trademark finish is just scary now. When he cuts in from the left and finds space to shoot, its like a certain goal nowadays. 300k a week or whatever his new deal is. It is well deserved.

    Holding had a good game along with Bellerin too. Both after coming back from long term injuries are starting to play better now. Especially Bellerin, we didn’t see those lose touches and panicked play from his yesterday. His passing was also on point and he created a very good chance for Auba to grab his second.

  16. mb

    Is it the beginning of the end for liverpool? Leeds outclassed them, 2 unfortunate penalities or otherwise they would have got 3 points.

    I’m banking on a non liverpool/city Premier League Winner this time. Chelsea? Man Untd? Fuck’em both.

    It’s gonna be the Arsenal ❤️

  17. Habesha Gooner

    A very good post with the occasional hint of an agenda* Cedric*

    I like the enthusiasm and optimism.

    Anyway we might look for free agents as a backup goalie.

    https://www.transfermarkt.com/spieler/vertragslosespieler/statistik/1/plus//galerie/0?ausrichtung=alle&spielerposition_id=1&land_id=alle&altersklasse=&wettbewerb_id=alle&seit=alle&yt0=Show

    Some available choices are here. young or experienced. Subasic was good a couple of years ago. Don’t know much about him now.

    This guy has decent stats. I hope we go for a free agent and try for both Partey and Aouar if possible.

  18. DaveCee

    Wow, page 1! Props to the whole team. Fulham are not all that but all the same. Elneny excellent. Willian better than I expected. Gabriel confirming some of the hype. Rob playing like he did before his injury. Xhaka picking up where he left off last season. All good stuff
    Fully on board with Mikel and his sauce! Have not felt this comfortable with Arsenal in years. Regardless of more signings, and I hope we do get more, this team has a plan and doesn’t just coast anymore. That is a great starting point and one I can fully get behind. COYG!
    Still sad to see Emi leave, but we were warned, sacrifices will have to be made to fund the next level, I trust the plan.

  19. Cotswolds

    A great post following a great result. Hearing Arteta conducting his team the whole games makes me wonder how having no crowd may benefit us in the short term. He provides constant instructions throughout the game and everyone can hear him. It would be far more difficult with a packed stadium. Bring on West Ham.

  20. Up 4 grabs now

    Excellent post Pedro.

    Performance was exciting and you could see some of the quality returning to the play yesterday.
    Was a bit concerned about the mix up with Gabriel after two minutes, but after that he owned it.
    Tony Adams would have been proud scoring a goal like that in the famous number six shirt.

    We looked like a team yesterday, and everyone played there part even xhaka and elneney in the engine room.

    Yes it was Fulham and on that display would expect them to be in the bottom three in May next year.
    But artetas arsenal started to take shape, and if we can put the lesser sides to the sword this season
    And take points off more of the top six sides, with defensive displays like we’ve seen recently, it could be a very interesting season.

  21. CG

    29th August 2020

    Arsenal at Anfield.

    That will tell us all we need to know.
    As Fulham were abysmal and fodder for any competent side yesterday. They are already relegated..A one game relagation. Ouch.

    Eg.
    Can Gabriel actually defend against world class forwards?
    Can Willian play well outside West London?
    Is Leno more solid than Martinen?

    Fulham beaten
    West Ham will be beaten
    Liverpool the litmus test.

    Win that and then some of the excessive and nonsensical hype spouted on here can be justified.

  22. Up 4 grabs now

    Cg,

    On yesterday’s bindippers display against Leeds maybe it’s the right time to visit an empty anfield?

    I’d be amazed if we get the freedom Fulham allowed us yesterday, but their defence does look like it’s got issues, and with an on form front three the win could be there for the taking for us.

  23. CG

    “””””If I remember correctly we already played Liverpool once this season and came out on top. Dont you, CG?””””‘

    Yes Captain.
    And deseverdly so.

    I remember it well.x 9 Wengerrites started.

    Anfield will be the key.
    Win that- and Ill shup for a few weeks.

  24. Jamie

    How would CG know Fulham were abysmal? He was too busy watching his favourite club Brentford lose at home to Birmingham.

    Any excuse to denigrate Arteta. Waster.

  25. Chris

    A great read and loving the positivity and completely agreeing with it. This is the most excited I have been as an Arsenal fan, in terms of truly believing we are on the verge of something special, since perhaps 2008.

    After the 2008 title challenging team fell just short we had some near misses in following years, but thereafter that point we never truly looked like a title winning team, and we looked flat tactically with a soft mentality.

    It was great to win those FA Cups under latter era Wenger but you never felt it would be a stepping stone to greater things. Emery didn’t do too bad in his first 6 months or so but it was disastrous after that.

    Now you may feel everything has changed and the latest FA Cup win is leading onto bigger things. We are now well drilled, tactically flexible and bewitching with the players understanding what the manager is asking of them and performing it to a mostly very high standard.

    In short what we now appear to have is what we have been crying out for as Arsenal fans for a very, very long time, and long may it continue!

  26. Emiratesstroller

    Liverpool are a very good team, but I don’t see them winning the League this season.

    Indeed I see them competing for a top 4 finish like ourselves. Arsenal’s chances will improve
    dramatically with recruitment of a dynamic and classy midfielder.

  27. Chris

    Up 4 grabs now

    I agree this is perhaps an ideal time to play Liverpool at Anfield, as much as there ever is one. They are a fantastic team obviously and I think Leeds caught them out yesterday on the crest of their wave. It will be difficult but given our record there in recent years (which is abysmal) a draw with a good performance would be something I would be delighted with.

  28. Up 4 grabs now

    Chris,

    I think the first goal will be important up there.
    If it’s us we have something to defend and can hit them on the Break.
    They also won’t have the kopp behind them as well.

    The fact that we are defending better in the big games is a big bonus too.

  29. Tom

    CG,
    Arsenal beat Liverpool twice in the last few months.
    You’re a gambling man, do you know the odds for beating a team of equal, or in this case , a superior quality, three times on the trot?
    They’re astronomical.

    Besides , I don’t know if this site can survive without your input for two weeks.

  30. Up 4 grabs now

    I think city win the league this year and by quite a gap 6-8 points?
    The bindippers will be in the top four mix with us utd and Chelsea.

    Let’s hope it’s not us in fifth spot!

  31. Graham62

    Chris

    It must be the West Sussex air because I totally agree with you.

    From 2009 onwards things just fell away.

    Arteta has got us actually looking like a competitive unit.

    —————————————————-

    CG

    “9 Wengerrites” properly drilled and knowing what is expected of them.

    So refreshing.

  32. China1

    Holding is demonstrating for the third time in his arsenal career that with a run of games he’s a very competent defender

    I don’t think he’s a brilliant passer but he’s okay. He just suffers from being in and out of the team and long term injuries tho. When he has a run he always looks very stable as he did in emery’s first season before that long injury

  33. Captain Tierney

    Cg

    So let me get this straight.
    You’ve been moaning how bad our squad is, how we deserved to finish as low as we did and also want us to beat the champions at their home.
    Are you on something, because you’ve gotta stick to your story.

  34. CG

    Tom

    “””””Arsenal beat Liverpool twice in the last few months.
    You’re a gambling man, do you know””””””

    Liverpool will probably win this fixture. Not rocket science ,granted.

    Becuase any complacency that Liverpool had previously wont now exist.Plus Martinez aint playing and Leno is.

    (Martinez immense in the league game especially)

    But , the good news is- I have been known to be wrong before. Not often mind.

  35. Graham62

    How can any fan have that persistent feeling of regression in their psyche and still believe that things were ok.

    That’s right, nine years(2009-2018) of going backwards.

    Wow!!

    What we see now is something we never saw during this period.

  36. Up 4 grabs now

    China, I think if holding has a quality player alongside him that makes all the difference as well.
    Brings out the best in him.
    And top marks for that jinking run into the box as well, that shows how the conference is there.

  37. Sid

    Theres nothing competent about Holding, the minute he is faced with a fast attacker his behind will be in the same state as Dons/unaai

  38. China1

    I’d much rather see holding play (after a run of games) than mustafi and even Luiz if I’m honest. He’s not more talented as them, he’s less so, but he’s just consistently dependable when he’s well bedded in.

    In defense you can’t be putting all your hopes on Frankenstein players like mustafi and Luiz who are as likely to cost you the game as they are to win you it. Being world class two thirds of the time and awful the rest in defense is not a tolerable scenario

    It’s better to be a stable 7.5 than it is to be fluctuating between 9 and 5. Strikers get multiple chances and can have a bad game but still win you the match but defenders don’t have this luxury. You must be consistent in defense

  39. Pierre

    Liverpool’s confidence has taken a knock since they lost their first league game in march…

    The 6 months up until that defeat they probably felt invincible…not now.

    The pendulum has swung quite dramatically in the last 12 months., we are now going into the game with expectations instead of fear.

    This time last year we were getting well and truly thumped by Liverpool when Emery gave the liverpool full backs the freedom of Anfield , and were punished for such naive tactics.

    Arteta will not be so naive , the team will be set up to have a reasonable chance of getting a result.

  40. CG

    One would inagine , Liverpool would have made a couple of juicy signings before the title decider at the end of the month- whilst Stan and Arsenal are still looking for some pennies behind the sofas in London Colney.

  41. englandsbest

    Excellent perceptive post. In essence, every reason to be hopeful.

    Somehow or other Mikel will add the missing piece of the jigsaw.

  42. China1

    Holding is not some beautifully cultured player (despite that awesome bit of skill we saw yesterday) he’s just a very simple defender. Big, good in the air and tackle, reads the game, strong and committed. I don’t think he can regularly play defense splitting passes like Luiz but I suspect if he stays free of injuries and is kept in the team he will continue to impress as an old fashioned CB.

    As for him getting exposed by fast strikers, I don’t think so because the team is no longer set up to let our defense get constantly exposed that easily. He’s also played plenty of games against pacy strikers before in a less well designed or drilled arsenal defense and been fine.

    He will have an occasional bad game or big mistake like all players but if he is regularly playing he will be a consistently good performer. He did it before and will do so again

  43. China1

    CG I think Liverpool are going to have a wenger summer and just sit on what they’ve got basically

    And I think it will be to the teams detriment personally.

  44. Chris

    Good morning Graham, a wonderful day down here again!

    Yes it’s an exciting feeling to have this ever growing sense of optimism of where the team is going. I did live the attacking verve of the teams from 2008-2011 but we always fell short in the title races due to a soft underbelly or naive tactics.

    Liverpool away will be a very good test for us. We have suffered some shocking results and performances there over the last 5/6 years under both Wenger and Emery. A good result and performance there and the optimism will increase further.

    Obviously we play West Ham first, so it would be nice to see another convincing home win.

  45. Up 4 grabs now

    As for him getting exposed by fast strikers, I don’t think so because the team is no longer set up to let our defense get constantly exposed that easily

  46. Champagne charlie

    “Since the start of the 2018-19 season, no outfield player has made more errors leading to goals in the Premier League than Virgil van Dijk (3), David Luiz (3), Danny Rose (3) – Squawka”

    What stats tell you and what they don’t.

  47. Dream10

    Habesha

    I’m pretty sure the David Raya lad from Brentford is Martinez’s replacement for 10m. Wouldn’t be surprised if the deal is done. Brentford probably just securing their replacement. Only thing I know about him is his howler at Wembley in the playoff final.

  48. Tom

    The longer the Covid induced measures go on the more Liverpool will likely suffer.
    No other PL team benefits more from home crowd support than Liverpool does.
    24 consecutive home wins last season tell the story.

  49. Sid

    Holding is preferable to Mustafi but thats lowering the bar, could be at par defensively with Luiz though Luiz role is to distribute the ball, a role he does well,
    once Maga and Saliba settle then having Holding over Luiz is a better option.

  50. Kaz

    @Pedro

    Cebellos had such a good cameo, was really sharp, he is hungry for the starting place. Competition is good.

    Laca needs a way to relax his mind in the tense moments, he’s so focused on doing well he ends up over hitting the ball quite a lot. Still doing mountains of work so glad he’s staying.

    Eddie needs a productive loan in a championship side. He’s young but he needs to play like “the man” something he has to discover himself. I don’t think staying will progress him.

    Bellerin was looking good, fit and hungry, his pace doesn’t look completely gone and it is possible he will get it back.

    Xhaka is the player we should sell. He is revitalised playing well and professional which makes it hard to say but, this is the player who is surplus to requirements right now. Plus he would have a longer list of higher paying suitors.
    He has improved immeasurably but he doesn’t bring anything new. El Neny and Cebellos can do what he does (distribute, defend areas, more mobile) we can sell Xhaka and Torreira to get Partey (who I prioritise personally) and Auour.

    Willian was class and I’m glad he put such a big professional performance in. We can get top 4 with the squad as it is.

    I think we can push higher then that though and if the players believe it, anything is possible.

  51. China1

    U4GN yeah it’s just true

    He will face 1 on 1s ofc, but the days of teams just running through our midfield over and over again and isolating our CBs and taking shot after shot have now officially gone

    We’ve played plenty of good teams with pacy and prolific wingers and strikers and most of the problems we’ve faced were self induced, not systemic. Like kola and mustafi against spurs near the end of last season were heaping pressure on their own defense inexplicably.

  52. Sid

    VDV being shielded by Xhakalson would be as disastrouos as Luiz
    Luiz with Kante shielding him was a title winnind CB

    Im telling you for free!

  53. China1

    Yeah but I also think Liverpool are going to struggle without any real changes this summer

    They’ll still be awesome but players need to be kept on their toes and the squad always needs a bit of freshening up even if the vast majority is great. I don’t think many teams over the years have basically done nothing in the summer after winning the league and maintained the same standards the following year. It becomes a bit of a lull, the routine of always playing with the same players every game every week every year

    It would be extremely wenger of Liverpool if they think they can just coast into this season. They’re quality ofc, but I think they’re going to be a worse team this season than last

  54. Useroz

    Pedro.

    Pls upsize and darken the fonts asap in the post and comments sections Writing comments are harder with the gray font.

    Need to dial brightness up quite a bit to condensation and that strains the eyes.

    The minimalist theme wouldn’t be impacted for sure!

    Thanks.

  55. Up 4 grabs now

    China,

    I still look back to the cup final when per came in alongside him.
    They were both immense that day and Costa never really troubled US.

    Still young for a defender and think given a chance can only get better.
    He’s in the team it’s down to him to keep his place now.

  56. Sid

    During our game with chelsea at some point late in the gameLampard brought in Pedro with instructions to occupy Holding, luckily the clock was on our side.

  57. China1

    Sid Luiz has demonstrated time and time again that his brain can fart so hard it completely sharts

    Even in a more organized arteta lineup he still gave so many penalties away. If the good Luiz shows up he’s amazing, really, but if he’s not amazing he’s costing us games. I don’t like those odds one bit in a defender

  58. Up 4 grabs now

    Yeah concerning the bindippers,

    It would be folly to not strengthen, they’ve been pretty lucky with injuries the last few seasons and with the later start this year, no Xmas break either and Euros in June it’s going to be a long condensed season.

  59. China1

    TR7 I think we will have a solid season and break 75 points. Where that leaves us will be decided by how good the other teams are which is out of our hands.

  60. Goobergooner

    Bojangles
    What would the positives have been of keeping Wilshere?
    He’d have been on a top contract and played 1 game.
    It’s certain fans sentimentality in that instance that wanted him to stay, as he’d come through the ranks and was Arsenal through and through.

    But even if you have ability, if you can’t get on the pitch what’s the point.

    Luckily the club didn’t think it was wise to keep him.Wilshere and Diaby were paid millions for jack shit sitting on the physio table.

    Just like Ozil getting paid for jack shit but that’s a little different obviously not injury related. Unless you believe he gets a back ache for a hard away match.

  61. Northbanker

    Together Elneny and Xhaka looked competent but ordinary

    Elneny combined with Ceballos looked really promising and having sen him play the last 2 games I have now revised my opinion that Aouar would be a better priority than Partey. If we played 4-3-3 with those 4 in midfield then we will rip quite a lot of teams up

    Probably will also help to move Xhaka on as a result which could then mean funds for Partey (or better still Soumare)

  62. Goobergooner

    China
    “Sid Luiz has demonstrated time and time again that his brain can fart so hard it completely sharts”

    😂😂😂😂

  63. Up 4 grabs now

    City lost Silva and they do think highly of foden. So maybe won’t be a huge miss.
    But more importantly they have la porte back who missed half the season
    And signed ake who I really rate.
    No way will they lose nine league games again.
    If they can keep aguero fit they should be the team to beat.

  64. Northbanker

    Up4grabs

    Completely agree and if we get Aouar and a DM then they will be our only rivals for the title (although they will win it)

    Looking forward to Anfield and hoping we can get Aouar in place before then

  65. Champagne charlie

    We aren’t challenging for the bloody title, my god. We finished 8th last season, some humility please. This season is a fight for top 4, and if we get back amongst that it’s a job very well done.

    Perhaps more importantly is a continuation of our improvement towards the ideal of being a free-flowing Arteta-style 4-3-3. Do that and the top 4 will be an after thought because we’ll be positioning ourselves to actually make a title bid in seasons to come.

  66. Goobergooner

    Also I duno how spuds everton is a huge top4 match hahaha.

    Unless you’re hoping (which obviously we all are) that toffees win and that is 3 points we have on spuds to start the season.

    Any way you look at it great post Pedders.

  67. Goobergooner

    Agree there CC, it’s a long road ahead. But everything is looking positive and we can only do so much with a limited budget each season.

    Top 4 will actually be a trophy 😂😂 FML.

  68. englandsbest

    The value of stats, etc, is vastly over-rated when judging the quality of a player. Your eye tells you most of what you need to know. It’s instinctive, part of the DNA. And it happens quickly. Five minutes watching was enough for di Stefano, Pele, Greaves, Bergkamp, Best, Gascoigne, Charles, Gascoigne – all of them.

    What we are seeing is an invasion of player-judgement by big business methods. Fair enough, they may suit trade and finance. But in football, the eye works better.

    And by handing the reins to Mikel and Edu, that is what is happening at Arsenal.

  69. Habesha Gooner

    Dream 10
    Yeah, I have heard the rumors. But If we can get both Aouar and Partey, I would ho for a free agent for a backup keeper. 10 mil is a lot at this point in time for a backup keeper. I think we should look in Europe if we are investing.

    My hope is we can activate Partey’s release clause and at the same time we can agree a fee with Lyon that can be paid in installments like we did for pepe. I read rumors that Lyon haven’t accepted our bid for Aouar because of the figure and not because of payment plans.

    I am hoping someone will take Sokratis, Torriera and Kolasinac for some fees and we can reinvest. 20 mil for Martinez with those players probably can get us around to 50 mil+ . So a cheap backup goalie+ Aouar and Partey and we will be dreaming.

  70. Dream10

    TR7

    To achieve 75points, we probably need to score at least 70 goals. I’m not sure that we will score that many. Arteta has shown that he is more pragmatic than adventurous. He’ll have to open the game up, take more risks and be willing to concede a chance or two.

  71. Champagne charlie

    “It was tongue in cheek!“

    Tongue in arse more like, let the sauce marinate a bit before title talk.

    As Jamie says, bad form to come in here with ridiculous predictions in September before Dissenter has laid the foundations. Mitrovic for top 6, Leicester for top 4, put some respect on his name.

  72. Jamie

    North –

    I dig your optimism. I also feel we’re in great hands for the first time in years. Super excited to see what the season brings, and if we keep steadily improving as a unit under Arteta, a run at top 4 should be the target.

    I hope Spurs get a shellacking later, would be a great way to end the weekend.

  73. Goobergooner

    I have a feeling it will be the regular big boys in top 4 this season with either us or United in 5th/4th. Hoping we pip those kents though.

    Sauce isn’t everything, it’s the only thing 😂😂

  74. Northbanker

    Would like to see how well both Willian and Pepe play on the LW. Esp Pepe – is his game only about cutting inside or what would happen if he could operate his strongest foot on the same flank as an old fashioned winger

    Would love to see 2 or 3 matches in that position

    If we could find a way of accommodating both players that would be really exciting (with Auba asa floating Henryesque CF

  75. Up 4 grabs now

    Don’t think we have any chance with the title, but top four should be bare minimum.

    The fact we have found a way to get points off of our immediate rivals should help.If we can win games against the low block teams it helps.

    The fact we have big centrebacks will help from a clean sheet point of view.

    If Tierney is kept fit, if pepe and wilian can keep pushing each other we have a lot of things clicking into place.

    And of course the saucey one will have had a whole season.

  76. CG

    Why cant Arsenal win the league?

    x32 First Team players
    x9 Center Backs
    x1 Great coach
    x 2 Trophies parked

    Liverpool look spent
    Man City look old
    Chelsea look – well no one knows
    Man Utd – get a lot of penalties
    Spurs – too slow
    Wolves ?

    No reason, Arsenal cant win the league.None.

  77. Goobergooner

    Yeah northbanker I totally agree. Been saying that since we signed him.

    We would get so many earlier crosses in for our attacking players to still be moving towards goal (and defense on the back foot) when the cross comes in rather than cut back as the go to and players are somewhat more static in the box.

    I like the idea of a fluid Front three of Pepe Auba Willian.

    Our forward line is the only part of the team with proper depth. It’s great to have so many combinations possible.

  78. Marc

    Not a bad piece Pedro – agree on the Bellerin points.

    Out of interest if we were to sign the 2 CM’s we’re being linked to once settled what would your line up be assuming everyone was fit etc?

  79. Champagne charlie

    Cg

    Think we should be doing the domestic double personally or Arteta should walk so we get a real salt of the earth type in like Nigel Pearson.

  80. Marc

    “I like the idea of a fluid Front three of Pepe Auba Willian.”

    Something I’d like to see tried – it would be a nightmare to defend against.

  81. Marc

    CC

    Come one if Arteta doesn’t win the CL this season before Christmas he should be sacked – the fact we’re not even in the competition is just another excuse!

  82. K Charlie

    Ozil had achieved everything in his career and no motivation to up the anti. He will be content to sit back and enjoy the hugh salary every week without lifting a finger. What a life!
    Matteo if he gets back into the team and Arsenal family can be the central midfielder we are craving for. Hopefully things turn around for him.
    Willian will be the key to unlock teams that pack their defense hoping for a point. Something that we lack for sometime.
    When everyone is fit, we have healthy competition in all departments.

  83. Cesc's Pizzeria

    I think the best part about yesterday’s match was how for the first time in a long time, I did not feel like we were gonna concede a goal for the sake of conceding a goal.

    It seems like we value clean sheets again finally. We are not conceding one to score two more and we look impenetrable as a result.

  84. Kamal

    It was a good game. Tidy performance by the team, but we need a more dynamic midfielder, basically a hard working ozil, someone who cares.

  85. Ebere

    Nice write up, and a very good game. Holding did well alongside Gabriel but where does Saliba fit in? No way to alot him in when Holding is doing well, so I see serious competition in that central defence, not to talk of Luiz when he is back.
    AMN will make that position his permanently if he continues this way. Sometimes even I cant seem to locate his position during play.
    Can Auba sign the thing please!

  86. Useroz

    Mostly agree except Bellerin didn’t have a good game. Didn’t bother with his wrestling at all but his defensive and forward plays were ordinary. I am concerned Barca would wake up to it if they are indeed interested.

    AMN did ok. Rio was not unfair though a tad harsh. I did see AMN attack the byline and Auba moved inside. Could do more of course. Best if a clubs pays £25m for him!

    Don’t care if Arteta found new love in Elneny He’s still shit. Side and back passes most of the time. How could you get excited with his sort? One ‘Xhara’ already stretches fans’ patience. We don’t need another.

    Ozil’s agent is a lawyer. Is Clifton Chance no negotiators good enough to fix this? No one to blame other than the Snake but the club is practically being hijacked. Or, Edu would forever be in our heart if he’d pull it off.

  87. Up 4 grabs now

    There should be plenty of games with the cups and Europe,

    I’m sure they will be rotation as well with three games every eight days or so.
    We can ease the likes of saliba and saka in,
    It makes a change actually having options instead of beasting the same eleven like Wenger used to.

  88. CG

    PedRo

    “”””CG, you look like you are trying to troll on a good day again?”””””

    If Leiceter City can win the league with their rabble, why cant Arsenal with their superior players?

    I bought Arsenal @80-1 weeks ago.
    CG knows the game

  89. redbro14

    Finally we can watch Arsenal play without fearing for one’s health. Amazing how our two new additions slotted into the system and both performed so so well, earning them 9 out of 10 and man of the match for the debutante. Not a single weak spot anywhere and some really nice football on display. Genuinely uplifting and positive. I do hope we make the midfield signings which would make us a genuine top class outfit. Watched hapless Hammers yesterday. We should tear them a new one next weekend!

  90. Champagne charlie

    “I bought Arsenal @80-1 weeks ago.
    CG knows the game“

    That pound would’ve been better spent on a curly wurly

  91. Bamford10

    Yesterday was a good start, no doubt, with good performances from all, especially from Willian, Aubameyang, Gabriel and Ceballos. Fulham are relegation-fodder, though, so the real tests are still to come and how well this group can do without additions remains to be seen. Regardless, Arteta is smart, charismatic and ambitious, and he has clearly created a good spirit in the camp and team, so I think we are in good hands.

    As for our formation and possible additions, I had been thinking that we would switch to 4-3-3 at some point — which we very well might do — but the more I’ve thought about and read about yesterday’s match, the more I wonder if Arteta plans to continue in the 3-4-3 and rely primarily on the 3-4-3. To switch to 4-3-3, he’ll need to have a CB pairing he feels comfortable with, and that may take time. We will see.

  92. azed

    TR7

    If we didn’t have to player on Thursdays, then yes we could compete.

    I was of the opinion that we would be better without Europa this year (I get the financial side) but having a well rested team and a week to prepare for our opponents would have given us the edge over Chelsea and UTD.

    I also don’t think Liverpool have the squad to go full speed three years in a row and without significant injuries to their front 3.

  93. Tom

    CG, you look like you are trying to troll on a good day again?

    Pedro, Willian”s performance put a spanner in CG’s works. He had a series of Arsenal paid a king’s ransom for a Chelsea reject posts at the ready and now he’s had to improvise……that’s why he sounds even more ridiculous than normal.

  94. TR7

    Uli Hoeneß [Bayern] about #Thiago Alcantara [Sport1 – @iMiaSanMia]: “We offered him a great contract but in the last minute he changed his mind. He probably has an agreement on personal terms with Liverpool or Man Utd, or with both”. 🛑 #MUFC #LFC #Bayern

  95. UTarse

    Good solid start to the new season, hope is truly back for the first time in 10-12 years

    CG is the ultimate troll.

    As for anyone even mentioning Arsenal and title in the same sentance for this season, have a lie down.

  96. Pedro

    Tom, painful reading. Was probably hoping for a loss so he could lambast the stubble level of the manager and reignite his love affair with Sean Dyche who knows his way around a pair of clippers.

  97. Tom

    Btw , where are Willian won’t improve us crowd today?

    Pepe needs to up his all around game a lot or his minutes will remain sporadic.
    Willian should be a good role model for him to look up to.

  98. Vickingz

    Our set up yesterday and the first few minutes was just a replica of our fa cup final match against Chelsea. Ceba and xhaka were lost and we conceded a goal as a result, it still repeated itself yesterday, only that Fulham couldn’t score but we gave up space, we left spaces behind us for them to run into and had we played a more disciplined and drilled team yesterday, we’d have been punished. It’s dangerous committing xhaka and Elnehny to the front at the same time, we can’t be having our 4 and 6 committed upfront, this was what brought holding out from the back yesterday on occasions he had to follow his marker upfront. Dunno what match pedro watched with bellerin, he was heavily used in the first half, had he been a better player with a good crossing ability or better decision maker, we’d have scored more than a goal in the first half.

    Folks already judging liverpool by their game against Leeds, I can’t remember when last liverpool started their season firing on all cylinder, it’s always like this for liverpool, they start low but they don’t lose games anyhow, they play so badly till 2 to 3 months into the season before you start enjoying their game.

  99. redbro14

    Tom, I hope Arteta can focus on schooling Pepe this year. Watched Salah storming performance and wish Pepe could begin to do a bit of that for us. Has a really lovely left foot, why does he not watch Robben old tapes?

  100. Captain Tierney

    Brendan will most probably have an average season.
    Leicester I believe will finish somewhere between 7-10 this season.
    Their attack is very weak. Albrighton isn’t really a top 6 quality player, Barnes has potential but not good enough for a top 6 team rn. Gray doesn’t really inspire much confidence.
    Massively overachieved last season.

  101. TT

    Pedro

    I think Brendan will have a solid year. He is better suited for a team like Leicester than Arsenal or Liverpool. Not a top manager but capable.

  102. Captain Tierney

    Redbro

    Its Aoaur all day.
    Partey next if we generate enough funds.

    Would really like to see 3 or 4 outgoings in this week.

  103. China1

    CG Leicester won the league with probably the lowest points tally ever because the bigger teams all voluntarily bent over for them that year

    If everyone bends over for us this year, we could win the league too. Very unlikely that is tho

  104. Stew

    Pedro – great post, as usual. Well done picking up the Rio Ferdinand comments – spot on. REQUEST – please read the James Gheerbrant article in the Saturday Times. I think we’d all be interested in your view. Thanks.

  105. Tom

    What are we thinking for Brendan this year? Emery collapse or a good season?

    Judging by the tale end of last , probably a slide down the tables.
    Especially if the old man Vardy loses his scoring touch.

  106. China1

    Azed just because we’re in the EL doesn’t mean we need to be beasting our strongest 11 in it

    The group stages typically have two vaguely challenging matches and the remaining 4 are against pub teams home and away. Arteta should be smart and rotate heavily for the cups when the opportunities arise