Arsenal added two more players to a squad struggling for specific talents.
The first one we can officially talk about is Martin Ødegaard. The Norwegian national team captain has joined on a perm deal for about £30m. There’s no sell-on clause, I think the most Madrid have is the option of first refusal should we decide to move him on at some point (rumoured).
This is a great signing and I won’t hear any different. He adds leadership, he adds quality in the final third, he’s a ball carrier, he offers us control, and he has the best eye for a fast and ambitious pass in the team.
He’s only 22 years old.
This is exactly the sort of move Arsenal should be making for exactly the sort of fee we should be spending. I think we’ve landed ourselves an absolute bargain and I really cannot wait to see how far he can take his career in a red and white shirt.
There are some really boring folk out there trying to palm this signing off as bland, average, or whatever else they want to say. Sorry, can’t have it. There’s a weird tendency for a noisy collection of fans to only admire a signing if it feels like they discovered the player. Christian Romero? Apparently a baller signing. Ben White, terrible signing. One center-back was bombed off by an elite club and was part of a defence that conceded 130+ goals in two seasons. If that player’s name sounded like the guy who was doing your plastering, people would be up in arms.
If you banged the drum for a younger profile of player, you have to have to be able to hold the idea in your that young players get better.
We’re getting the opposite with Odegaard. He’s a Madrid cast off, therefore he cannot be elite. It’s so bonkers considering the amount of cast-offs from major clubs that are now making their way to the top. Jadon Sancho rebounding to United. Lukaku rebounding to Chelsea. Serge G finding his way to Bayern. Donyell Malen making his way to Dortmund.
Don’t write of 22-year-olds, because there is still a lot of growth in the tank, especially the player earmarked for exceptionalism at a young age.
The next move is a little more controversial. Aaron Ramsdale has made his big move to Arsenal. This is an Arteta signing. He’s gone to bat for him harder than he went for Willian. This is his keeper. I sifted through the amateur data and there’s not much I could find, but there are a lot of fans that have watched him doing videos saying this is a really good keeper.
In fact, I will call out Habesha in the comments section who went into his research a hater and came out impressed.
I have been watching short highlights of Sheffield United to see if Ramsdale was good since Christmas (because it is the only stat that matters 😂). And I haven’t been disappointed. You can’t see whether he is good with his feet in the highlights but there have been some outstanding saves. You can checkout a 3 minute highlights of Sheffield for the past year on their YouTube channel. You can also see whether the fans rate him or not in the comment section. He started slowly and grew in to the season. And most of the goals he has conceded weren’t because of his fault but because of a very poor defense. There were a couple of long range goals he conceded that I didn’t like (especially against Leicester with Ihenacho and Perez beating him). But other than that he looks like a very good keeper. I am more at ease with the transfer than I was after seeing what he is capable of. He might even oust Leno from what I saw and considering Leno’s form over the past 12 months.
How many of the loud detractors have gone to this length? How many could seriously debate a Sheffield United fan that their player of the season was poor? Not many. Again, if he was called Ramsdinho from the favelas, people would view him differently. I genuinely believe because he sounds like a 4th generation butcher, people assume he’s shite.
Back to the prop, just remember, not many keepers do great things at 23 years old. It’s a tough position that needs a maturity generally found in older players. 80 games at 23 is about 80 games more than Emi Martinez who was at Rotherham on an average loan.
Then onto what he has going for him.
It reads like he’s very good at coming for crosses and catching them. We’ve sorely lacked a keeper that can dominate their area since, well, Emi Martinez. He was apparently a bit shaky at the start of last season when judging by his one vs one’s… but towards the end he was judging them well. He has a Schmeichel spread and he’s very fast off his line. Then you have his passing, he’s got a beastly launch, he’s pretty confident playing out the back, and his decision-making massively improved in the second half of last season. Finally, he’s a great shot-stopper, because he had to be at Sheffield United.
You also have to put context around his two loan moves. I think he had 17 different defensive combinations of defenders in front of him at Sheffield United. It was a total mess for him. Doesn’t matter how good you are, if the players in front of you are broken, you aren’t going to be able to perform.
Does this signing come with risk? Absolutely. It’s a lot of money to spend on someone untested. But main point here, he didn’t choose his fee.
That brings me onto the disgusting abuse.
If you are doing that to a new player, you are no fan of Arsenal, and you can get in the bin.
There’s a weird culture of entitlement where fans assume their choice for a goalkeeper is the one… and if it doesn’t happen, they go on the attack… literally to the player’s Instagram. It’s appalling. The same people will be asking why the players don’t go to war for the shirt in December. This trend is embarrassing and the only way it stops is if fans start to unfollow accounts that do this sort of thing. What keeps them going is the likes and affirmation. Cut that off, block, report, and as fans, we start to control the community. Attentions seekers thrive when people pay attention to them.
The backlash against the Saka abuse filtered into IRL. Spurs fans were clapping him. Why can’t we take that approach to all football abuse?
Have your thoughts about the transfer by all means, but 1) Abuse is never acceptable 2) The player hasn’t dropped a single game and he could be far better than you think. If I can get excited about Willian for 5 minutes, we can all get excited about a young keeper with a high ceiling.
Onto the pre-match prezzer.
Mikel Arteta was on better form this week. He didn’t look sullen, he gave some good answers, and he seemed a bit more in control of what was going on. He asked for perspective on last week, and if I was to try and give it, it’d read like this.
Arsenal trained a very specific way all week, with a very specific starting 11.
The covid hit 4 players the day before the game.
The club didn’t know who else would be out of the squad as they frantically tried to test all the squad the day of the game.
We had to line-up with a striker who’d never played a Premier League game and we had to shuffle the deck with players that were also making their debut.
We were missing Thomas Partey, Gabriel, our two best strikers…
Hard not to frame that as a bit of a nightmare to deal with.
What didn’t help was the emotional reaction Arteta had to the problems. He let it consume his press conference when he should have been pumping our chances. The players went out like they knew their own manager was defeated and that wasn’t cool.
This weekend is a chance to start again with a bit more good news lifting the squad.
Auba might make the bench, there’s a chance there will be two new names in the dressing room, and the team will have trained with a specific plan in mind with the right players.
You’ll see Martinelli playing as a #9 from the start, we’ve seen him do damage against Chelsea in the past.
You’ll likely see Saka start from the left, which is always mega.
You could even see Odegaard and ESR starting.
All those things will make us better.
I’ve seen a lot of ‘ARSENAL WILL GET SPANKED’ and I’m not sure that’s ever the case with Arteta. We’re much, much better in big games with him. Sometimes a huge prestige game is what you need to get things back on track. It’ll be tough because it’s Chelsea, but I’m feeling a little bit better.
There are a lot of rumours doing the rounds that we could still be in the market for more players. It won’t be Auoar, so don’t get your hopes up there, but there are a lot of people talking about Calvert Lewin, who is a monster striker for Tierney-style crosses, as well as the absolute clear need for a right back.
It’s a big weekend, but we have a home-game, so if you’re going, head there and give it your best as a fan. If you can’t be arsed, why would the players care?
This new squad we have is young, vibrant, hungry, and they will be better if we are better as supporters.
Fingers crossed they bring the fire. I’m excited. Football is back baby, let’s make this Chelsea game a memorable one for the right reasons.
See you in the comments. x