by .

Buckle up people, Adam Rae Voge (@AdamVoge) is back with a bang.

If you follow Arsenal with any degree of closeness, you’ve heard the talking point by now:

“After Boxing Day, when Arsenal pulled off its infamous 3-1 upset of Chelsea, the club played top-four football.”

Boxing Day brought the season debut of Emile Smith-Rowe, who quickly endeared himself to supporters and the manager alike becoming a permanent fixture in the starting 11.

The basic statistics make the club’s improvement after Boxing Day easy to see. Arsenal recorded 14 points in its first 14 matches, a pace that over a full season gives you Burnley, 17th place, and relegation fodder. In the 24 matches including and after Smith Rowe’s introduction, Arsenal minted nearly two points per match, which over a season gives you Manchester United, 2nd place and Champions League glory. The club scored 12 goals in the first 14 matches, and 43 (1.79 per game) after. Arsenal conceded 18 goals in those first 14 outings, and only 21 in the 24 matches to follow.

All that considered, you’d expect it to be apparent from match-by-match statistics just how much Arsenal improved once it made the change. Having spent a few weeks wandering that forest, I’m here to tell you it’s not so simple.

Some of the more basic statistics show marked improvement after Boxing Day, even if it’s not earth-shattering. Arsenal averaged about a shot on target better in its final 24 matches, about half an expected goal scored, and completed about two percent more of its passes. The club won about two more tackles and successfully pressured the ball six times more each match. 

Some key statistics actually got worse after ESR’s introduction, such as shooting percentage, ball recoveries, and progressive passes per 90 minutes.

In what proved to be some of their most substantial areas of improvement, the Gunners committed around four additional shot-creating actions per match after Boxing Day, and nearly two goals creating-actions. That’s significant – two GCA/90 is also roughly the difference between United and Burnley.

But does any of that make the club almost literally twice as good, in terms of results? It’s hard to say. What’s even harder to say is whether some of those improvements could actually be tied to Smith Rowe, who ranked fourth at the club in GCA/90 and sixth in SCA, behind the likes of Willian and Dani Ceballos. 

Smith Rowe is not a statistical darling. He doesn’t score a ton of goals, and his key passes are in the slightly-above-average range among Premier Leaguers. He’s not a Xhaka-level progressive passer, statistically speaking, and he didn’t have eye-popping pressing numbers like some attacking midfielders. (Giovanni Lo Celso pressures the ball about twice as often as Smith Rowe, and with a significantly higher rate of success.)

So where does Smith Rowe, Aston Villa’s dream target, really make his mark on this club? It’s all about the buildup play, and improving the play of Arsenal’s key attackers. And after searching at length, I finally found the data to back it up. 

Emile Smith Rowe contributed to Arsenal about 0.59 xgChain every 90 minutes after being introduced, according to Understat. If you’re unfamiliar, xgChain is the cumulative value of every possession a player is involved in. So basically, possessions involving ESR were worth 0.59 goals per 90 minutes. 

That rank puts Smith Rowe 49th among midfielders and forwards in the Premier League with at least 1,000 minutes played last season, and third among Arsenal players after Saka and Lacazette. 

Another key metric from Understat, xgBuildup, puts Smith Rowe 29th in the Premier League, with 0.35 xgBuildup per 90 minutes. xgBuildup is similar to xgChain, but it doesn’t count your key passes or shots. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen in football to what’s commonly referred to as a “hockey assist.”

Smith Rowe’s xgBuildup was third among Arsenal players with more than 1,000 minutes (Martin Odegaard scored a 0.42 xgBuildup/90 in just over 800 minutes.) Again, that may not blow anyone out of the water, but the combination of the two is interesting. At left, you can see the two charted against each other. Smith Rowe’s plot is among Arsenal’s best, showing his quality contributing directly to goal-scoring opportunities as well as contributing to the build-up play that leads to those opportunities.

Even more interesting, though, is the statistical change in Arsenal’s other leaders once ESR took the pitch. [I know what you are thinking on the graph, grow up]

Statistically, it’s hard to find an Arsenal outfield player who looked to benefit more from Smith Rowe’s introduction than Bukayo Saka. The ⭐Starboy⭐ recorded half a key pass more per 90 minutes after Boxing Day, a.k.a. the difference between Allan Saint-Maximin and Son Heung-Min. His xgBuildup rose from 0.25 (on par with Sander Berge) to 0.37 (Christian Pulisic). And his xgChain rose from 0.49 to 0.72, a difference comparable to going from Granit Xhaka to Jack Grealish.  

Four of Saka’s five goals came after Boxing Day, as did all three of his assists. 

Another player whose numbers grew significantly was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Pre-Boxing Day, Auba was in the midst of a major slump. Auba had four goal involvements in the first 13 matches of the season, and his buildup numbers weren’t any better. Auba was putting up 1 key pass, 0.35 xgChain and 0.1 xgBuildup per 90 minutes. Perspective: Jarrod Bowen averaged 1 key pass, Daniel Podence has the same xgChain rank and that xgBuildup over a full season would put Auba in the bottom 20 percent among attackers and midfielders in the Premier League. 

After Boxing Day? It was a different story. Auba’s numbers shot up, to 0.84 xgChain (comparable to Mo Salah) and 0.22 xgBuildup, still an unremarkable but vastly improved number. Nine of Auba’s 13 goal involvements came after Boxing Day. 

Other Arsenal regulars such as Alexandre Lacazette, Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney improved their play after Boxing Day, but one who stands out as one worth mentioning is the club’s 72-million-pound man, Nicolas Pepe. 

Pepe had scored two goals headed into Boxing Day, one from a penalty. His passing was dismal, with 0.31 key passes per 90 minutes, a rate more suited to West Brom’s attack than Arsenal’s. And he was doing next to nothing to create goalscoring opportunities for his teammates, with 0.14 xgChain/90 and 0.06 xgBuildup/90 (again, both comparable to West Brom’s attacking output). 

Pepe didn’t start on Boxing Day, but his performance improvement after that point was perhaps the club’s most significant. 

Pepe after that day was a different player:

  • His key passes/90 rose to 0.7, still a low number but a statistical moonshot from his earlier performance. 
  • His xgChain rose to 0.56, roughly the statistical equivalent of replacing Karlan Grant with 2020-2021 Paul Pogba.
  • His xgBuildup remained low at 0.27, but again was a vast statistical improvement, putting him in the company of Marcus Rashford and Gabriel Jesus, rather than Rhian Brewster or Willian Jose. 

That’s right, even Nicolas Pepe did more to help in the build-up! It’s also worth noting that eight of his 10 Premier League goals and his lone assist came after Boxing Day. 

So there you have it: Arsenal’s build-up play improved significantly starting on Boxing Day, and its stars performed substantially better. Of course, it is impossible to say precisely how much of that was as a direct result of Emile Smith Rowe’s introduction. Tactics will not have remained exactly the same, and the Chelsea match happened shortly after the switch to the 4-2-3-1. Martin Odegaard’s introduction was also some help. But no matter which way you slice it, ESR’s first start of the season was a major turning point for Arsenal, and likely helped cement him as a starting 11 fixture for the foreseeable future (sorry, Villa!)

Give Adam a follow @AdamVoge and thank him for this immense piece of work. Sambi Lokonga just did! #WelcomeSambi

Podcast records tomorrow, we’ll be live streaming, so put some time aside in the evening to come say hi. 7pm GMT. (TWITCH HOME IS HERE)

456 Responses to “DATA BLOG: THE ESR EFFECT”

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  1. raptora

    It’s extremely weird that we’re not all over Aouar since the transfer window started.

    Same Aouar who was the centerpiece of Arteta’s wet dreams last Summer and because of whom we almost didn’t sign a marquee CM in Partey.

    The rumours at the time was that after months of negotiating with Lyon, we reached the point where the player had to say if he wanted to join us or not, and Aouar said no, because we had no UCL football.

    Well we had Europa League football at the time, and we don’t even have that at the moment.

    I see several reasons that we haven’t pushed for a transfer this time around:

    1. Aouar still doesn’t want us even if it means staying put.

    2. Aouar is fine with joining us this time around, but we are his last minute option if nothing better comes around.

    3. Arteta/Edu are upset over his refusal last Summer so we’re not even in for him (sulking is bad).

    4. For Arteta/Edu last Summer was about Aouar OR Partey as a different type of CMs but still CMs and Aouar’s refusal meant they got their second option in the same position. That would mean that Partey is seen purely as a CM and we are looking for a DM this window instead of a CM.

    I, for one, can see Partey, Aouar, ESR like a very mobile, technical midfield 3.

    Leicester – Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison.
    Chelsea – Kante, Kovacic, Mount.

    Arsenal – Partey, Aouar, Smith-Rowe

    I can see it.

  2. WengerEagle

    How effing tall is this lad?

    We’re height elitists on here. Will be very upset if he is a 5”8 midget as he is listed on Whoscored rather than his Transfermarkt/Wiki listed 6 foot tall height.

  3. Globalgunner

    Most people complaining about 5`8″ midgets are likely shorter than that themselves. To me the only positions where height is imperative in the Keeper and CBs….all of which should be 6` at a minimum. All other positions should be talent led

  4. Leedsgunner

    Wenger Eagle

    So if Kante or Veratti came knocking would you say… “Begone you midgets!!!” 😂😂😂

    On a serious note, how tall is Locatelli? His height didn’t particularly stand out…

  5. Leedsgunner

    According to the profile on Arseblog… he sounds like a Xhaka replacement because of his impressive passing ability and range…

  6. curse

    Nice breakdown Adam, if only we could add JM10 numbers to that, we would be in the running for top four provided Auba stays healthy.

    Welcome SAMBI!!!
    no more Danny the fanny or GwenDozy! 🙏

  7. Northbanker

    Reading comments of China and WE I think earlier about Aouar supposedly being CM – he may be able to play a no 8 role but from what I saw of him last year he was mostly in an attacking role, whatever number you end up with. Bottom line – we don’t need both him AND Maddison. Bissouma or worse case Neves would be a better and cheaper option.

  8. raptora

    If you ask him he’ll tell you he’s leaving cause they don’t want to build him a 7m statue next to Bergkamp, Henry, Adams and Chapman.

  9. zacharse

    looked like aouar wanted a move to atleti earlier but they bought the argentine playmaker, forget the name. came from italy (udinese?)
    seems like a smart decision to see if you can go to a CL team, but its looking like us or spurs for him and lyon have been trying to cash in on him for a while. he’s going to go somewhere but his contract is til ’23 so maybe not. still only saw him in a few CL matches 2 years ago.

  10. Crimson

    Welcome Sambi! Good age, decent price. Kompany and TH raves about him so can’t be bad. Young hungry players that want to improve. A very slow process but slowly edu is doing stuff. Our new number 23.

  11. Matt

    ESR has the potential to be a class act. I am slightly worried about his robustness. He is quite a thick set lad, but rather than this add to his robustness, I actually think it could make him more susceptible to injury. Maybe it’s just me, but I think he could benefit from trimming a few pounds to ease the burden on his own body.

  12. Globalgunner

    Cheers for the clarification.

    Raptora: the main thing that’s clear in that picture is that Lukaku weighs as much as all the other 3 combined. I may be exaggerating a tiny bit tho

  13. CG

    Good omens with Lokonga.
    He shares the same birthday with A. Wenger.

    Mind ,he better not do ‘ a Saliba’ and not perform in his first few training sessions though – otherwise Mikel will have him back on loan in Belgium before no time.

    Anyway, plenty of AFC supporters will be doing the conga when A & E get the boot.

  14. Leedsgunner


    Let’s hope he enjoys a career like Sol Campbell and Ray Parlour over Danny Welbeck, Andrei Arshavin or Niklas Bendtner.

  15. Rich

    Enjoyed reading the blog

    Not surprised we improved with final third technicians, before Smith-Rowe + Odegaard we lacked a link between central midfield and attack, going into the season without a fit or registered attacking midfielder, cost us big

    Last season Tierney was our most creative player, Xhaka would drop into cover, and Tierney would create the overload to try and get 5 players into the attacking third, the drop off down our left was massive without him

    Tavares is an elite athlete, who’s strengths are attacking, hopefully we can iron out creases in his game quickly, there’s a good chance he’ll be needed

    White + Lokonga both statistically progress the ball from back to front

    Unsure about the quality of the signings, but at least there seems to be some type of coherent plan, we really need to start getting players out though

  16. Danny

    Mikel will have him back on loan in Belgium
    Mikel didn’t sign Saliba so therefore he doesn’t care.

  17. englandsbest

    ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics’. Apparently Disraeli came up with that a hundred odd years ago. It’s truer now than ever.

    I have every respect for the endeavour and intention, but I’m pretty sure that the same statistics can be used to arrive at a totally contradictory opinion Of ESR.

  18. Dissenter

    Left testicle
    “Are Lokonga and Tavares any further ahead in their development than Saliba?”

    Nope, but try not to push the question too hard.

  19. Leedsgunner

    “Are Lokonga and Tavares any further ahead in their development than Saliba?”

    Unsure… except in one very crucial aspect. They are Arteta signings and not Emery’s so… in Arteta’s mind yes.

  20. Steve Vallins

    Since the Chelsea game we have changed how we recover the ball , more interceptions , more pressing as a unit and less tackling which brought about less yellow cards allowing players to play their natural game for 90 minutes .
    Arteta changed how we played due to how we were treated by referees look at yellow cards we received before and after the Chelsea game at Christmas .

  21. Leedsgunner

    I wonder if Brighton would take Holding or Mari as a replacement for Ben White if we get that deal over the line.

    Both players were bought for modest amounts so anything around £15m to £20m would be a win financially.

  22. Pedro

    “Are Lokonga and Tavares any further ahead in their development than Saliba?”

    Lokonga has been called up to the number 1 team in the world at international level, been approved by Thierry and Kompany, and played 80 games. Seems he’s ready.

    Tavares is coming to sit on the bench.

    Saliba is so ready, he went back to France for minutes, no one bigger than Newcastle offered him a loan.

    Mad that the first place you want to go on a signing day is a dig at the club. Pick it up people

  23. Bob N16

    Gunnerblog talking to Arseblog today heard Arsenal scouting last season had issues with Aouar both on and off the pitch. He didn’t know details but this was supposedly why we haven’t been all over him. Odegaard was also mentioned as a possibility but although RM are unpredictable, seemed a long shot.

    What about Coutinho on a one year loan? I gather that if he plays 10 more matches for Barca then another £17 m goes to Liverpool. A decent stop gap?

  24. raptora

    Mad that it took 2.5 preseason games for Arteta to simply stop giving a fuck about a 27m pound club asset.

    Same preseason games that people now say that don’t matter a jot (and I agree with that).

    Surely even Pedro would agree how mad that is.

  25. bacaryisgod

    No matter how frustrated I am with ownership and the manager, it looks like we’ll have spent close to 75m on three players (White, Lokonga and Tavares) after a deeply disappointing season where we also lost a massive amount of money due to Covid.

    I have no idea if these players will succeed but it is a statement of intent from the club. My best guess is that Kroenke gave Arteta and Edu an initial budget to invest in strengthening the team and that we’ll not focus on offloading several players before further acquisitions.

    If our net spend is 75m, it might not be enough but in the current economic climate it’s at least a positive development.

  26. Rich

    Bob N16

    Definitely no to Coutinho, he’s a quality player, but was injured for the vast majority of last season

    20/2 Rupture of Outer Meniscus Dec 30, 2020-Jul 12, 2021 194 days
    20/21 Hamstring Injury Oct 25, 2020-Nov 20, 2020 26 days

    I’m absolutely done with loans and overpaid casts offs from other clubs in the twilight of their career

    Let’s go and invest in a quality final third technician in the 22-25 age range, someone who we can build around for the medium to longer term

  27. Br0wnie

    Inter pull out of the Arsenal game in Florida. Hard to believe teams are travelling to Florida in the current Covid climate with the regular season approaching

  28. raptora

    This national team call up is such a cop out.

    Adros Townsend has 13 caps.
    Ben White 0.

    So what if he was called up. So were a bunch of average players.

  29. andy1886

    Steve, have you been reading ‘Untold’? If we’ve received fewer cards because we’ve changed the way we press then great, but I doubt it has anything to do with being unfairly treated.

    Welcome Sambi, hopefully one of those smart signings that we used to make regularly a decade or more back.

  30. raptora

    I said this earlier: “I’m glad that the profile of players we’ve been approaching this Summer is of the right age. We could have been after the likes of Coutinho, Giroud, Nainggolan, Immobile, Reus, Higuain. That’s a positive as long as we don’t get any Willian type of surprise by the end of this window.”

    I think we’ve had enough of the old players coming for 1 last payday. It has brought us nowhere. It has to stop.

  31. Leedsgunner

    Time to pay up Roma… even at £25m they are getting a great deal. I have a feeling Xhaka will look amazing in Serie A. Due to the slower pace of the league as a whole Xhaka will not look as slow or clumsy, thereby exposed, in Italy.

  32. Bob N16

    Mr Serge, agree!

    Rich – fair points but if all our other purchases are 21-25 then a fit Coutinho, one year no obligation to buy still could be a sound option if a better option doesn’t present itself.

  33. Captain Tierney

    I love The Smith. I don’t think any Arsenal fans need any numbers to understand ESR’s importance to our attacking play.
    His introduction changed our fortunes. In no time he became the heart of the team and literally undroppable. Saka was our POTY and is a world class player in the making, ahead of the Smith in his development but it was ESR who was making the team tick.
    Our attacking play suffered when he was being rested.

    Albert Sambi. Endorsed by Henry and Kompany. 78 senior games for Anderlecht at 21. Dubbed by Anderlecht academy coach to have the potential to reach Viera/Toure levels. Welcome to the Arsenal.

  34. Crimson

    Quick arsenal need a game in florida.
    Let’s go grovers! 442

    Rich Marc Mark Raptora
    Dissenter CG Leeds China
    TR7 Pierre

    Sid is banned for discipline

  35. raptora

    Saka, ESR and Martinelli are Arsenal’s future.

    We need to speed their involvement in the team as they can reach a level no one else in the team can. A level that could give us a realistic chance of competing against the top clubs for trophies.

    They can be as good as 70-120m players. We don’t need to spend any money, just give them this season to prove themselves.

    If you want a backup AM either keep Willock if we receive no good offer for him, or get a CM like Aouar who could deputize for ESR but will be mainly used as a CM with Partey.

  36. Rich

    Bob N16

    Even as a last resort I wouldn’t want us going anywhere near him

    Our way back to the very top is assembling a team of elite young talent over the next couple of seasons, we’ve done the experienced players on extortionate wages, and it’s a project that’s failed miserably

    I’d much rather fall slightly short with a team of young and hungry players who are still improving, than go with a 29yr old with injuries, who’s regressing

    The age profile for Arsenal this summer is 22-25, we need to put in the foundations for a team over the medium to longer term, we need some stability + cohesion

  37. Pedro

    Rich, I think they might go there if they can’t get senior targets… they want someone to shepherd ESR and Saka.

  38. Leedsgunner

    raptora and left Testicle asks a fair enough question…. why is it a “dig” at the club even to pose a perfectly legitimate question based on the facts? If you want to defeat the question, answer it! Rather than just sneering at people for asking questions… that’s howe debate works!

    One has lost the argument already if you are afraid of difficult questions being even asked.

    So much for Le Grove where you can have an opinion, not just get one if you can’t even dare to ask a perfectly legitimate question…

    Ask away raptora ask away!

  39. Captain Tierney

    Given Barca’s financial plight, we should definitely be looking to take advantage. I wouldn’t be against a one year Coutinho loan. Prem proven world class player. Good option to have to dovetail at LW and AM. Good replacement for Odegaard.
    Anything costing us lower than 7 million and I’m happily taking that option.

  40. Elmo

    “0.59 xgChain every 90 minutes”

    I can tell CG hadn’t read the post yet based on the fact he has yet to pass comment on this!

  41. Leedsgunner

    Given Barca’s plight I would be making a cheeky bid for Sergio Dest. Fantastic prospect at RB. £20m to £25m should do it.

  42. Pedro

    Leedsgunner, it’s no a difficult question, we’ve been over it a thousand times. It’s a boring one. If the best club he can get an offer from in the league is Newcastle, maybe, just maybe, it’s you that doesn’t understand the game or where Saliba is at in his career.

  43. Rich


    We’ve been linked with Dest + Aarons today, both around the £25 mill mark

    Fabrizio Romano saying Dest doesn’t want to leave though

    Buying another right back without selling 3 of Bellerin, Niles. Soares, Chambers

    Seems a bit bonkers to me, we need to get some out, before we get 1 in

  44. Mr Serge

    Leeds because raporta says the same crap everyday it’s the same question and it’s been answered but not to his liking
    It’s boring

  45. TR7

    Loan deals don’t really add much value. Players take some time to get used to a new system and by the time they have settled a bit, the loan period is over. A lot of effort goes in to something which yields little return.

  46. Mr Serge

    We made 3 signings already at least another 3 will come and people still bleat
    Well will those people apologies if Arteta proves he knows what he is doing ?
    Because I will gladly admit I am wrong if he cocks it up with his signings and will shout Arteta out at the top of my voice in the stadium.

  47. raptora

    what has been answered?

    That it was perfectly correct to play a leaving Mustafi ahead of a 27m top CB prospect Saliba vs the likes of Dundalk, Molde and Rapid Wien when he had already played vs PSG, OM, Lyon and in Europa for Saint-Etienne?

    I don’t even want you to give me reasons. Just say yes or no.

  48. Mr Serge

    Raporta it was not answered today it was answered when you first asked it
    No we should not have played shit mustafi over him in those games that’s just stupidity from MA

  49. Matt

    Mr Serge

    You don’t KNOW that another 3 will come. Let’s hope they do because we need it and probably more.

    I am sure that the Arteta doubters would love to be proved wrong. Is an apology needed if that happens? Has an apology come from his supporters after our 8th place finish?

  50. Sid

    It is much better for Diet Pep to prove his doubters wrong than to prove them right, for the good od Arsenal

    Im telling you for free!

  51. andy1886

    If it’s boring skip the post. I don’t recall anyone on the other side of the debate telling contributors that they can’t post.

    Not sure that either Saka or ESR need any guiding, in fact they seemed to be the ones guiding more senior players last year, by example at least. No to Coutinho who really wouldn’t give a crap about playing for Arsenal. Hungry young players on the way up only IMO.

  52. Mr Serge

    Matt an apology needed to come for our shit show last season as soon as the donkeys decided to keep MA then we back him
    If he screws up first ten games he is gone

  53. CG


    “”””can tell CG hadn’t read the post yet based on the fact he has yet to pass comment on this!””””

    You have to admire Adams dilligence and his eye for detail but he aint got a clue what he is talking about.

    Keep it simple for simpletons like me.

  54. Pedro

    TR7, Willock has gone from a £5m player to a £25m one.

    Hoffenheim made Reiss a £20m player, a year on the bench has made him a £10m player at best.

    Tomori is valued at what, £40m after his loan?

  55. Valentin


    Part of the stats interpretation is correct, but some part are completely erroneous.

    Injury to our left back was the deciding factor to Pepe’s statical improvement. Until Tierney’s injury most of our attacks were built from the left. Once Tierney got injured, Arteta realised that he had nobody to run forward from the left back position and create a threat (until he decided to use Saka instead of a static Xhaka) . So Arteta transferred the animation from the left to the right. Chambers and Bellerin suddenly being instructed to overlap and deliver cutback instead of crosses to the far post.

    Pepe was allowed to move inside instead of being forced to stay wide near the touch line. That small changes to the tactic meant that suddenly he received the ball higher up and closer to the penalty box. That so called improvement is the result of that repositioning.

    It is unrelated to ESR, because by this point ESR was relegated to the other side of the pitch. He had few to no interaction with Pepe.

    The other stats show exactly what people can see with their eyes. ESR is an accelerator in the middle of the park. He will lose more ball than Ødegaard, but by playing quick one touch football and move into space to receive the ball he inspires other to do the same. In doing so he quicken the play and that creates opportunities for others.

  56. Sid

    Mr SergeJuly 19, 2021 17:23:33
    Sid they finished 11th or 12 th not 17th bud

    They signed Martinez when they finished 17th

  57. Leedsgunner

    “Well will those people apologies if Arteta proves he knows what he is doing ?”

    Yep. I will… because at the end of the day I want Arsenal to succeed.

    But considering Arteta’s led our club to the lowest league position in decades I think he will be apologising to us before we will be apologising to him.

    He is a rookie manager who has bought into his own hype. He has no one in his backroom staff that can offer him a challenging view or an alternative when the going gets tough. He’ll end up making the same mistakes.

    I would love to be surprised but I doubt it. Arteta is arrogant enough to think he can’t lose face no matter what.

  58. Mr Serge

    Matt I don’t know if he is up to it because he has had to get rid of a lot of shut and until at least 75perxent of the first 11 are his players we don’t actually know what will happen
    Much better at the back
    Fa cup win first season
    Beat the big teams away for the first time in forever
    It’s make of break I am hoping he pulls it out of the bag because starting again is not what we need right now

  59. raptora

    I assume TR7 is talking about bringing players in to Arsenal. Like Coutinho. I’m against that idea as well. Loans haven’t done us good. Last good loanee was who? Benayoun?

  60. Rich


    Apparently we had a deal lined up for Saliba to go to Rennes in October, but they pulled out, and we didn’t have the time to get him back to St Ettiene

    We had 8 centre half’s on our books, and when you have to manage people, seniority can be an important factor

    Since we’d likely made the decision to send Saliba out in January as soon as the window opened, we decided to register the senior player who we thought would be with us for the whole season

    That’s seems like the most likely scenario to me

  61. Dissenter

    Mr Serge
    It seems you come around here just to tell other posters to shut up and fall in line
    Then when pressed you’ll admit you too wanted Mikel gone last November

  62. Mr Serge

    I like our signings so far we still need a Rb a cam and another cm for me
    Then we worry if we need a replacement for lacca and Leno

  63. Matt

    Mr Serge

    That’s your view and you’re entitled to it. For what it’s worth, I would absolutely loved to be proven wrong on Arteta, as I’m sure 99% of people on here would be – even the most ardent Arteta outers!

    But. whether you think he is the right man for the job or not, people have the right to question his position and his decisions, even if they have been asked before. Without that, there is not much to debate because all roads lead to the manager – eventually.

  64. Bob N16

    Matt, who wanted us to finish 8th? The idea that some fans should ‘apologise’ for that is a strange one!

    I believe the majority of fans would have been happy to see Arteta sacked last season. The difficulty at the moment for those who are vehemently Arteta out is that Arsenal failing to significantly improve will get their nemesis out but as Arsenal supporters they want the club to do well.

    The club looks like we’re in the process of investing heavily in positions that clearly will help us improve. In recent days the agenda seems to have slightly shifted to insisting that CL qualification is a minimum requirement for Arteta this season.

    Shouldn’t we all want Arsenal to sign some.cracking players and make real progress next season?

  65. Dissenter

    “Tomori is valued at what, £40m after his loan?”

    Never mind that his loan came after he played 15 premier league for Chelsea that season they made top-4 with Lampard.

  66. TR7


    Not talking about loaning our young players out for valuable game time and experience. I am talking about loan deals to bring in players at Arsenal for temporary fix. Hasn’t yielded much dividend for us. Benayoun was the last good loan deal and even he was good only for 3-4 months. Coutinho’s best days are behind him, will cost us good money too. I am sure there are better deals to be had in the market.

  67. Tom

    Maybe there really was something to that since Christmas table many have been dismissive about, myself included.
    Just glanced at the league table again and looks like Arsenal have continued to improve and are top of the table now, just edging out Villa.
    Amazing work by Arteta.

  68. Matt


    ‘Matt, who wanted us to finish 8th? The idea that some fans should ‘apologise’ for that is a strange one!’

    The question was asked whether all the Arteta doubters would apologise if he proves he knows what he is doing. I was merely asking the same question about last season, where in a lot of peoples eyes he proved the opposite.

  69. raptora

    I assume some of it definitely happened.

    Can’t help but think that the odds were never in Saliba’s field. I feel like Arteta gave up on him really, really easy. Way too easy when you consider the money the previous regime invested in the kid. He gave him no chance and straight up send him to play with the youth team. For the amount of plaudits Saliba was receiving, he was treated badly, in an unfair way. He says it himself, it’s football, it happens. Still got this gut feeling telling me that Arteta gave him no chance cause he didn’t bring him. And that’s sad cause there’s 27m of Arsenal’s money right there and the potential of a top class CB.

    Thanks for participating in a humane way.

  70. Dissenter

    I have no problems with Lokonga and Tavares, they represent good value for money.
    Tavares looks like a shrewd signing who will push Tierney hard
    Lokonga was signed at the advice of two premier league legends- Kompany and Henry.

    Good players will outlast managers.
    Knowing what I know, Mikel will be gone pretty soon but the players will still remain.

  71. Leedsgunner

    “I feel like Arteta gave up on him really, really easy.”

    Of course he did considering how Willian was given chance after chance after chance despite playing like a dead pony all season.

  72. Mr Serge

    Tom Arteta had a lot of shit to deal with and never really got a lot of backing he had to dump 6 shit players that had seen their best days and has got rid of a few more now
    It’s got to be positive that he wants xhaka bellerin and ceballos out and is replacing them with fast technical players

    Football is all about being excited for the new season and see who comes in
    So far so good

  73. Mr Serge

    I actually blame the board and edu more than I blame Mikkel they are culpable what a shit show they have brought upon us for years now

  74. Tom

    “We made 3 signings already at least another 3 will come and people still bleat
    Well will those people apologies if Arteta proves he knows what he is doing ?
    Because I will gladly admit I am wrong if he cocks it up with his signings and will shout Arteta out at the top of my voice in the stadium.“

    Mr Serge, I think you have that upside down.
    It’s the doubters who would gladly admit they were wrong if it meant Arteta taking Arsenal in the top four.
    I have a hard time visualizing his staunchest backers “gladly” admitting they were wrong looking at Arsenal siting 8th in the table again.

  75. Bob N16

    Matt, I don’t think your comparison is reasonable.

    If those people who say Arteta is a shit, egotistical manager then see him have a successful season they’ll have to eat their words or at least the ‘ shit’ description!

    Supporters were not saying ‘great we finished 8th, let’s give Arteta more time and loads of money’. So who exactly should be apologising?

  76. Terraloon


    Lokonga has been called up to the number 1 team in the world at international level, been approved by Thierry and Kompany, and played 80 games. Seems he’s ready.

    There is no doubt that Belgium were the number one rated nation but once you get into their squad then a lot of their players are very average and are no where near PL standard or put another way you wouldn’t be excited if Arsenal signed them.

    Lokonga didn’t make Belgium’s Euro squad so far from sure that his call up was anything other than to try and ensure going forward he doesn’t opt to play for The Congo

    Of course good players come out of Belgium but at this time I really don’t know a lot about the player but Belgium league is not of a great standard at best I would guess somewhere between Championship and Div. 1

  77. Dissenter

    “Supporters were not saying ‘great we finished 8th, let’s give Arteta more time and loads of money’. So who exactly should be apologising?”

    Could also be seen as “Supporters are saying it’s bad we finished 8th, so why give a failed manager
    like Arteta more time and loads of money”?
    Understand the criticism before you try to shoo people away.

  78. Tom

    Mr Serge, I don’t mind Arteta reshaping the squad to his liking, most managers do,
    I don’t approve the way he went about doing so by announcing to the entire world wholesale changes needed to be done thusly crushing the value of the entire squad pretty much.

    Posters love to make Arteta/Klopp comparisons to boost his standing………at no point in his Liverpool tenure did Klopp announce he needed to replace 80% of his squad even if he did exactly that.

  79. Bob N16

    Tom , ‘staunchest backers’. – the Kroenkes and who else exactly?

    I’m in the group that doesn’t have a lot of confidence in him, felt he should have been sacked, but are hoping that with more input in the squad and lessons learnt, he might be our manager this time next year due to progress made.

    Not sure the ‘Arteta can do no wrong group’ runs to double figures!

  80. Mr Serge

    Tom again that’s the board’s fault for ruining prices on some of our players they are naive
    To say the least

  81. Leedsgunner

    I’m sure if Arteta struggles there will be some unknown excuse that people will think of to exonerate him.

    It’s just like the “Be careful what you wish for” crowd of yesteryear. It never seems to be Arteta’s fault.

    You know what makes it more outrageous. Emery, the manager that Pedro railed on, almost on a daily basis so that he could champion Arteta, outperformed Arteta last season on every legitimate table that matters, not just convenient made up tables to suit an agenda.

  82. Rich

    For all the talk around Arteta, what’ll ultimately decide our season will be how well we recruit, how successful we are on in moving players on, and how long our new recruits take to settle

    If Ben White is a hit, we get the Xhaka replacement and attacking midfield signings right

    Then we’ll be more competitive overall next season

  83. Matt


    I think you are making the point more confusing than it needs to be. The question was asked whether people would apologise if he delivers a good season. Why is it not fair to ask the same question to all the people last season who said he could do no wrong when ultimately what he delivered was a failure? Those people are not saying yeah you were right, he was over his head and in fact are doubling down on their view. One group will be right come the end of the season and I genuinely hope I am proved wrong.

    I didn’t want to get into the semantics of specifically what group of people the apologies came from. I was just taking a question that was asked and turning it on it’s head, which makes a valid argument.

  84. Pedro

    Leeds, you gotta stop fantasizing about what people will say if Arsenal aren’t amazing. It reads like you are looking forward to failure.

  85. WengerEagle

    Odegaard was a decent loan and Ceballos was serviceable, in his first season at least.

    Loans done right can be effective. The massive leg up that a Coutinho loan would provide is that he is already Premier League proven and ready as opposed to Odegaard who had to adapt.

  86. Br0wnie

    Inter has pulled out of Florida due to Covid concerns in the state. Not a well thought out trip by Arsenal brass considering that Florida has the highest Covid infection rate in the US.

  87. Mr Serge

    The cynic in me thinks Coutinho will be disastrous signing unless he is the Coutinho of old and we can get game time out of him
    I am not so sure

  88. Matt


    Hardly surprising given that Florida has been ‘wide open’ (Donnie Brasco quote) throughout with no social distancing, facemasks etc…

    My cousin was there a few months back and absolutely everything was carrying on as normal.

  89. Bob N16

    Matt, fair enough but I don’t think it’s semantics to question whether this group you talk about ‘ Arteta can do no wrong’ existed after the EL semi, and which was had already heavily diminished by the time of the Burnley at home debacle in December.

    So fair enough the 12 people people who are unable to criticise Arteta should damn well apologise for not recognising that his performance last season was simply not good enough.

  90. TR7

    We are most likely not finishing top 4 this season. Better to buy a player who can integrate himself with our team and develop some chemistry so that perhaps in the season next to the upcoming one we can play some quality football and get in to top 4. Get a player in on loan and we are saddled with the same problem next season.

  91. Pedro

    Leeds, perhaps you should come back when you have a change of attitude, no one needs a joy suck on here on a signing day, and you have turned into one. Sad to see.

  92. Matt


    Let’s move on from apologies! If Arteta smashes it this season, I will not apologise, but I will happily admit I was wrong

  93. Emiratesstroller


    Arsenal improved significantly after Xmas for a variety of reasons.

    The introduction of both Smith-Rowe and Odegaard improved most definitely our attacking
    potential notwithstanding that both players don’t score many goals.

    Saka stopped playing in different positions in the team and played on the wing and Pepe
    started playing regularly on the other wing. So we played a more settled formation behind
    the centre forward.

    Defensively we conceded fewer goals this season. Partey started playing more regularly after Xmas and I do think that Xhaka also improved playing alongside him.

    The defence continued to be error prone and our games against Aston Villa and Wolves
    were results thrown away.

    The two teams after Xmas which “outplayed” us were Man City and Liverpool. Is anyone
    surprised by those two results?

    So as Pedro has stated Arsenal would have been in frame of top 4 finish and qualification
    for Champions League had the club not been so dire in first 14 games.

    I suggested consistently that the priorities in this transfer window was upgrade on the right
    side of defence ie RCB and RB. Also the recruitment of a player in central midfield who is
    more dynamic and can score consistently goals [at least 10 per season].

    The midfield’s goalscoring and assists record in the last 3 seasons has been abysmal. I hope
    that Smith-Rowe with growing maturity will improve in that department, but I still believe
    that we need to recruit someone else in that department.

    Finally Aubameyang needs to recover his goalscoring boots.

  94. Dissenter

    “Inter has pulled out of Florida due to Covid concerns in the state. Not a well thought out trip by Arsenal brass considering that Florida has the highest Covid infection rate in the US.”

    I believe Inter are still showing up with a smaller delegation. Maybe their reserves will show up to play Arsenal.

  95. SAGG

    Ok lets be positive today, because we have a new signing. Excellent prosperct by the way.

    We have

    Ben White

    Now here comes the important thing Xhaka replacment and teh CAM everybody are craving for (unless you want the same destiny of Wilshere for ESR)

    Locatelli or Neves
    Aouar or Madisson

    That are the names we are linked too, so here are the combinations

    Locatelli and Maddision: 110 millions
    Locatelli and Aouar: 60-70 millions
    Neves and Maddison: 100-110 millions
    Neved and Aouar: 50-60 millions

    Seems like Arsenal is pushing hard for Locatelli, but poayer wants to go to Juve, so we are waiting there because he is the prioroty signing. So if that operation fails we will go for.Neves.

    Probably Arsenal at leadt will invedt another 60 millions (minimun) to close this deals.

    At this point I will sign Neves, because Locatelli seems like Juve or.nothing.

    I prefer Maddison over Aouar because the latter has lots of questions marks.over his head.

    Hope we get this signings through asap because start of the season is around the corner.

  96. Champagne Charlie

    “So basically he did well, but because he wasn’t a top class performer at 20 yo, in his first ever EPL season, he cost Leicester points.“

    No shit, same way Saka, ESR, and Martinelli are great talents but 100% contributors to us having a poor attack still – costing us points. It’s not a criticism of them, it’s merely a fact of them being children in the game and miles to go. A unique few operate at elite levels consistently from 18-20 onward, our lot are not in that bracket no matter the delusion.

    The responsibility is overwhelmingly with our senior players (Auba, Laca, Pepe, Willian), but it doesn’t suddenly mean our young talents are the finished article because we benefit from playing them over the ‘stars’. Painfully naive to think that way, and exactly why we’re addressing that in the transfer window.

  97. Pedro

    Emirates, the big question is can we carry post-Christmas form into this season and build on it, if we can, we’ll be in the running for top 4.

  98. Dissenter

    Besides, all professional sports have continued in the states with the bubble
    Arsenal have nothing to fear going to FL, my only concern is it’s a lousy training site because of the weather; one moment it’s blazing hot with high humidity and then torrential thunderstorms will sweep. How much training can they really do with all this travelling?

  99. Br0wnie

    Who makes these travel decisions? There is a of lack of critical thinking similar to someone who goes down the hole in an outhouse because they dropped their pen

  100. zacharse

    We only have Arteta because
    a) we couldn’t attract a better, more experienced FIT for our style which it seemed incumbent we would return to after Emery’s shit show. YES SHIT SHOW.
    b) anyone that was a better fit brought with them a sizable backroom staff and/or contract we simply could not afford due to being out of the CL

    nothing has changed.

  101. Tom

    Mr Serge, how exactly is the board responsible for what Arteta says in his pressers, in which he basically said he couldn’t play the football he wanted to play with the squad as it was.

    Once that was out there every club in Europe took notice, it’s a small community after all.
    Make no mistake about it, Arteta did as much damage to our players’ valuation as did covid.