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. 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



Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Marc


    I’m beginning to think that encouraging your child to be a Spud supporter should be a criminal offence punishable under child abuse laws.

  2. Champagne charlie


    Very little to substantiate your preference though, one is a key midfielder for Atletico and the other was a good player for Southampton. So even on the very surface they’re hardly comparable profiles.

    You’ve made your bed with that comment though, if we sign him expect a big old dose of pie to head your way a few months later haha that’s a promise

  3. Little Mozart


    I’m beginning to think that encouraging your child to be a Spud supporter should be a criminal offence punishable under child abuse laws.

    And the penalty?

  4. Marc


    No one serious thinks that – what he should be is a major upgrade on what we’ve got. You might think there are better options which is fine but if the club go for Partey then you should keep an open mind.

  5. Dissenter

    Our FA cup win is going to send Spurs on a journey to Bulgaria this Thursday’s and make Mourhino moan even harder.
    Sometime you wonder whether they signed him just to spite gooners because he was a thorn in our flesh for at least a decade.

  6. Carts

    James turned up today, to be fair to him, full 90 mins too.

    I was saying to Weagle that I think James is virtually over the hill. Looked good all things considered.

    Spurs’ deep set up allowed him to flex, but I don’t think he’ll get that luxury. Time will tell, though.

  7. Bojangles

    if the club / Edu and Arteta see Partey as being a player that will do that then what’s the issue?”

    Got it! So when a player you rate (this case Partey,) Arteta should be trusted to know what he wants but when it’s a player you don’t rate (eg. AMN) then Arteta’s not to be trusted to know what he wants. No duplicity there then.

  8. Carts

    As for Arsenal, good result; we looked well drilled, I thought.

    Fulham are indeed relegation fodder so it’ll be interesting to see how this new-look team does in the big games

  9. Valentin

    I agree with Dissenter. Partey may not be as good as many believe here. It is easier for a defensive midfielder to shine in a team that plays very defensive like Athletico does. Torreira looked good in a team very defensive setting, yet was not suited to the EPL and Arsenal.

    Partey looks good in a very different setting and I am not sure that he has the range is passing that is necessary for Arteta style of play. However Arteta may slightly alter his system to make better use of him if he ever joins us.

  10. TheGodfather

    Welcome to a world of pressure Bernd Leno.
    Every error and misjudged cross will be analyzed with a
    magnifying glass and the bile and hate will be
    Worse than anything David Luiz faced.
    This will be interesting

  11. Dissenter

    Marko just had to jump in with another concrete interpretation.
    FYI ; that’s my way if saying I’ll support anyone they sign. That’s wasn’t part of the ‘debate’ – it was my concession to fall in line regardless of who is signed.

    There is no debate. You love Partey and I don’t fancy him as much as you.

  12. Marc


    Not at all – I’ll ask again and no ones been able to answer once we have a couple of CB’s fit where does AMN fit in? Does he keep LWB over Tierney? Does Tierney keep LCB over an actual CB?

    Are we talking about keeping a backup player who’s stated he wants to leave unless he gets first team football as backup? A player who could raise £20 odd million that could go towards a midfield signing?

    AMN will not be at Arsenal in a years time. It’s just whether we sell him now or later.

  13. Dissenter

    Why don’t you educate us all Marko since you’re the golden fount from which all wisdom flows.
    Just like when you bumped into a convo I had with CC above.’
    He suggested that I’ll have egg in my face for the next few months if we sign Partey, to which I replied that then he’ll be the best midfielder in the world. Then you came along, oblivious to simple humor. Sometimes you act like you’re as thick as two short planks,

    Saul has played everywhere in the midfield for AM at some point. You must be the only one who doesn’t know that he’s the best midfielder in AM. That’s who I’ll have.

  14. Marko

    Then you came along, oblivious to simple humor

    Emphasis on simple. Lacking in humour.

    “it should be Saul because he’s the one who has all the qualities that are being imbued on Partey.”

    Again I don’t think you’ve ever seen Saul and Partey play or know what you’re talking about if you think Saul and Partey are similar to each other

  15. Marc


    That is the comment I replied to. You said:

    “Got it! So when a player you rate (this case Partey,) Arteta should be trusted to know what he wants but when it’s a player you don’t rate (eg. AMN) then Arteta’s not to be trusted to know what he wants. No duplicity there then.”

    I made a reply pointing out that AMN is not a first choice player and no one seems to be able to tell me if he is where he fits in.

    I don’t know (no one does really) how Partey would fit into our team or the PL – he hasn’t played for us or in the PL yet however AMN has.

    Based on that I can say I trust the scouts / transfer team etc to make a good decision – recent signings include Tierney, Gabriel, Saliba etc etc Arteta on the other hand seems to have an issue with letting existing players go.

  16. Overmars

    Pierre spoke about the Saka conundrum. I think we have a bit of a winger conundrum at the moment in general.

    Aubameyang, Willian, Saka, Nelson, Pepe, Martinelli, even Ozil plays from the right these days.

    I can’t see us keeping all these players on the books for the whole season.

    Right now, Aubameyang is our left winger, that won’t change. So really there’s only 1 position available from the right between 6 players, 6 top quality players as well.

    Interesting to see what we’ll do at the end of the window. Nelson could be the unlucky one.

  17. Emiratesstroller

    Partey and Aouar are reported to be the club’s major midfield targets in this transfer window.
    Both are excellent players albeit with different characteristics.

    Midfield is the one area of the team, which needs upgrade if we are to compete at top level. However, I don’t think that we need to recruit necessarily two players in this transfer window factoring in that the club is playing currently 3-4-3 formation and we are using two
    central midfielders in team.

    The million dollar question is which of the two players is easier to secure in this window.
    My guess is that Partey will come cheaper than Aouar. I think that Arsenal will sign this player before end of transfer window despite all the protestations of poverty.

  18. Emiratesstroller


    I think that we will retain the current formation, because we have been successful with it

    Obviously that may change in due course when and if Saliba and Gabriel prove to be a successful cb combination.

  19. Words on a Blog

    The (strong) majority view on here is that Arteta favours a back 4, rather than the 3-4-3 he has been playing, which is seen as having been forced upon him by our shitty/error prone defenders and the absence/shortage of decent central midfielders.

    But if the system keeps on working – and the presence of Willian or improved performances from Pepe solve our chances created problem against deep block sides – it’s equally possible, indeed more probable, that Arteta sticks to 3-4-3.

    With Arteta recently having persuaded Holding to stay on, and only Sokratis clearly set on leaving, it does feel like Arteta has decided to retain enough central defenders to rotate / guard against injuries to operate in a back 3

    Here’s the thing: the team looks increasingly comfortable playing 3-4-3, and the system doesn’t look as sterile or awkward, as when it was used by (very late) Wenger or by Emery.

  20. Marc


    The team do currently look comfortable with 3 at the back but so far it’s worked where we’ve played the low block or against very weak teams. We need to be able to win and even dominate in other matches if we’re going to push on.

  21. Bojangles


    I have no feeling one way or the other on AMN. If Arteta thinks he can do a job for us no problem, if he doesn’t, sell him. ATM Arteta thinks AMN can do a job for the team.

    What I was saying previously is if people are trusting his view of Partey, stating that if he is the player he wants to bring in that should be good enough, then trust his view on the players he thinks are worth keeping.

  22. Nelson

    WOAB “The (strong) majority view on here is that Arteta favours a back 4, rather than the 3-4-3 he has been playing”

    Arteta’s system is now very flexible. On paper it is 3 4 3. But during the game Tierney moves out when we have the ball. Only 2 CB’s will stay behind. AMN moved in as another midfielder. He sometimes exchange position with Auba. It creates an overlapping on the left side. Defensively, AMN is also much stronger than Saka. I think that’s the reason why Saka can’t get a game.

  23. Words on a Blog


    You’re right: Arteta’s system is subtle and very flexible, and not a rigid 3-4-3.

    But it isn’t a Liverpool-style or a Man City-style 4-3-3; and it isn’t the various 4-2-3-1 systems used by Wenger and (sometimes) by Emery.

    I’m simply wondering if the automatic assumption that Arteta favours a 4-3-3, and will inevitably switch to that system will prove to be correct.

  24. Sid

    Arteta prefers defensive players over attacking ones.
    Bielsa over the weekend proved you can outplay liverpool with pisitive football while the narrative has been ut cant be done.
    Anyone who follows EPL has leeds as their 2nd team now. Thats what positive football does. Anti football tactics on the other had lead you to Mourinho land.

  25. China1

    We keep getting reports for arsenal bidding for edouard

    On paper this looks like an odd one because we don’t need a Cf and tbh even if we sold Laca it wouldn’t be top priority ahead of a midfielder for me

    But now I’m wondering. If we have quietly found ourselves a buyer for Laca and have not discussed it publicly yet. So we use whatever change we have and some of the Martinez money to get edouard knowing Laca is off. Then immediately use the Laca money for a midfielder. End result is auba on the wing, ed at CF and presumably one of the two linked CMs.

    That would be a brilliant reshuffle. The reason I’m thinking this could be likely is why else would we be bidding for him unless we knew Laca is gone? Unless those bids are just fake news which is very possible

    The reported price of only 22m would be a ridiculous bargain as well

  26. China1

    Out of interest where did the claims that arteta only like a 4-3-3 come from? I think he’s a pragmatist rather than Idea logically bound to a particular formation. I also think 4-3-3 is a bit overrated. All formations have the pros and cons, it’s not a magic bullet formation

  27. Leftfootcurler

    We had a problem against low blocks last season because we needed two BTL players who offer themselves as a passing option, combine and run in behind. Auba only offered runs in behind,Laca only offered himself as a link player and Pepe off the ball was rubbish.

    Coaching wise, Our pressing,settled shape were already top class last season.
    Arteta has been working on two new things in last few matches.
    1) A cutback to Xhaka
    2) Getting AMN to drive in the channel,in the left half space to give two players BTL- AMN and Laca.
    3) Bellerin also made runs into the final third

    Arteta is able to do this without compromising anything defensively shows he is a top top coach.

    But its not enough for top 4. In the current attacking dynamics,We need to buy another goalscorer who can both hold up the ball and link up well. Willian stays quite deep,he doesn;t attack the box enough so we are not going to get a lot of goals from him.

    With Willian staying deeper,now we can actually buy a dynamic 8.
    Sadly for Pepe,he offers similar G+A as Willian but Willian is miles better defensively.

    If Pepe doesn’t improve his off the ball game to increase his G+A, his career at Arsenal is over.

    While Arteta gets AMN BTL,his quality has to improve in those spaces.
    Here is one example from the last game-

    Fulham’s defence is stretched.Enough gaps.

    Ramsey/Ozil would have played 1-2 with Laca and got in behind,squared the ball to Bellerin for a simple tap in.

    Also if you see,Willian is nowhere in the picture. He is deeper. So Arteta has Bellerin making 3rd man runs.

    Arteta’s solution to beat low blocks with the current squad is to get runners from deep but quality is missing. Unless AMN turns into Ramsey/Ozil and Bellerin into Walcott, we may not score despite tactical superiority.

    This is where we lack the quality to beat low blocks consistently.

    As for Rio’s praise,well to be fair to him,he played his whole life in a man marking system.

    The way to defend against all these rotations is to defend the space,NOT follow the man.
    You need a mix of zonal and man marking for this.

  28. Tom

    Sid, let’s not get carried away with the whole Leeds outplaying Liverpool thing.
    While Leeds were fearless and fun to watch, and did enjoy majority of possession-If only just- Liverpool dominated them with shots and shots on goal 22 to 6 and 6 to 3.
    Scoring 3 goals with 3 shots on goal is extremely lucky.
    Leeds will probably be everyone’s second favorite team this season, but don’t be surprised if they hit the wall at some point and flirt with relegation again, such is their crazy all or nothing approach.

  29. Sid

    Edourd can be used against low blocks he can hold up play, and combine with pepe/saka/willian into play and he is stronger than Laca.
    A midfielder on the other hand might be creative but mess with defensive solidity in the middle, its more risky. We would need 2 midfielders a 6 & 8 to be safe in midfield because the ones we have have glaring weaknessses.

  30. Sid

    Possesion was 47% pool 53% leeds the shots on goal is because Bielsa probably asks his players to walk the ball into the net.
    There were also questionable decisions
    Point is thats positive football and it can be done not the 10 men behind the ball tactics.

  31. Overmars

    If we can get around 50 million for Torreira and Guendouzi, 20 million for Martinez too, then i see no reason why we can’t afford Partey and Aouar.

    Going into this season with Partey, Aouar, Elneny, Xhaka, Ceballos and Willock is more than good enough to compete.

    Right now, we’re on the brink of a top 4 challenge, though as the season goes on it could be a bit of a struggle. Add 2 top quality midfielders, I think we could easily get in the top 4 with a possible title challenge next season.

    Sometimes, all it takes is 1 or 2 more top players to come in to take the team to the next level. Proof is with Liverpool buying Alisson and Van Dijk. Chelsea 14-15 brought in Cesc and Costa and won the league. Even go back to 97-98 season when we brought Petit and Overmars in and won the double.

    Hopefully we can bring these guys in, we’ve already won 2 trophies under Arteta so the confidence is there, and then suddenly the squad looks very interesting and capable to compete for the big trophies.

  32. azed

    We currently have 18 non home grown players and you can only register 17. Out of the 18 I believe Sokratis and Torriera will not be registered but one will be replaced by the new keeper.

    If we sign Aouar and Partey, then two of Mustafi, Ozil, Guendozi, Kolasinac and Elneny will not make the squad.

    Interesting times await.

  33. Tom

    “Point is thats positive football and it can be done not the 10 men behind the ball tactics.“

    Yes Sid , it is positive football but it “outplayed Liverpool”
    sounds so much more sexy doesn’t it lol.

  34. Graham62

    Re: Liverpool v Leeds.

    Just to remind you all, it was the first game of the season,

    Leeds were pumped up big time and were impressive. Liverpool on the other hand, were slightly off it.

    Leeds will make top half.

    Liverpool will struggle to retain title.

  35. Habesha Gooner

    It will probably be Ozil. I hope Arteta can inform him he isn’t part of the 17 non homegrown players. That would make him change his mind about leaving. There would be no need for him if we sign Aouar. Willian and Aouar would be ahead of him in the N10 role.

  36. Mysticleaves

    Unpopular opinion but Absolutely no need to be buying Édouard. He’s 22, Eddie is 21, Gabi is 19? No much difference in age and definitely no much upgrade in terms of performances. Eddie will rip the Scottish League too. And Lacs is by far the better player to Édouard. If we are selling Lacazette, Nketiah can do a very good job there as he has been doing. Édouard won’t be much of an upgrade and would also hinder Gabi.

    Also right now we have 18 non homegrown players. I doubt we will be buying anyone if players aren’t sold. And if we do buy, it will be Aouar.

    Really happy for Mo-dric. Defended him here a lot. Thought the abuse and disregard he has been dealt wasn’t really warranted. Very good option to have in the squad. Never lets you down

  37. Mysticleaves

    We can also wait next season for Auoar. He won’t be more expensive than in this season but could be cheaper. Reasons been that he absolutely wants to leave, Lyon are still a selling club and he will be 1 year nearer to contract expiry. These 3 factors will make the price not to go up irrespective of how covid plays out

  38. Tee

    “Possesion was 47% pool 53% leeds the shots on goal is because Bielsa probably asks his players to walk the ball into the net”.

    You are full of gibberish.

    What’s the essence of the open football leeds played when they couldn’t get anything from the game?

    Biesla probably told them to walk the ball into the net but their goals says otherwise.

  39. Goobergooner

    What defines progressive passes?

    As Pedro wrote that xhaka led all forward progressive passes, while the Twitter stat showed Bellerin (led all players) in progressive passes.

    I just don’t know what to believe 😂

  40. Sid

    “What’s the essence of the open football leeds played when they couldn’t get anything from the game?”

    Entertainment also known as sauce, sexy, etc

    Im telling you for free!

  41. Graham62


    To be honest, Liverpool have been a bit flat ever since the resumption back in June.

    On top of that they’ve been found out a wee bit.

  42. Freddie Ljungberg

    Looks like the Icelandic keeper is going to cost a pittance at 1.5m. Makes a lot of sense so we have almost the whole fee from Martinez to chuck at a midfielder.

    Would be really nice if we could see some movement this week. Especially out. Martinez is probably done today, then it has to be time for Sok, Kola and Torreira to depart. That’s enough for 1 midfielder right there with the wages saved even if we don’t get any/low fees for Sok and Kola.

  43. Valentin

    So according to British newspaper Arteta told Martinez that he was going to play second fiddle to Leno and that he would not even get opportunity in Cup competitions because Arteta wants to go full on for the Cups as well.
    Arteta has made three wrong choices. IMHO, wrong decision 1, Martinez is the better keeper, so should not be behind Leno. Wrong decision 2) Having your main keeper plays in all major competition is the recipe to have an overworked goalkeeper and under prepared, unmotivated understudy. Wrong decision 3) I have seen the linked goalkeeper only in one game in which he was at fault for a goal. However all reports in France seems to indicate that he does not have a stellar reputation.

    I have said numerous time before, buying crap players on long term contract because they are cheap always ending up costing more than they worth. It is the definition of a false economy. When the number 1 goalkeeper is injured/suspended and his understudy could not catch a cold in Antarctica, the club will be in trouble. You just need took at what that situation did to the confidence of WestHam when Fabiansky got injured. The entire defensive setup got unsettled.

  44. Valentin


    For years teams played against Arsenal by parking the bus and hitting us on the counter-attack. We complained that Arsene was naive tactically. Now that we are doing it against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, people are still complaining.

    Winning against Fulham 3-0 and that could have been more is hardly parking the bus. The difference with Mourinho is that he parks the bus for every game. At Real Madrid, with some of the best attacking players at his disposal, he was still concentrating on the defense. First dangerous shot on target for Spurs against Everton was in the second half.

    Also compare with the atmosphere within the camp. At Arsenal player fight because they are disappointed not to start. At Spurs they are more likely to fight because they are not allowed to leave the club. At Arsenal players are sometimes too eager to fight for the cause and gets yellow cards for their trouble. At Spurs they don’t bother pressing from the front. Mourinho took Alle Delli because neither of the from 3 were putting the shift defending from the front as he wanted. He complained that his team is not buying into his ethos.

  45. Bojangles

    “Soloman Kalou graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from a university in Lyon, France”

    Glad that was for free Sid, hope you didn’t have to pay for it.