by .

Why do we keep hearing that Arsenal are 100% behind Mikel Arteta regardless of form and results?

Arsenal under Mikel Arteta are going through massive change. Quite something for a new coach to be trusted with. There are 3 main tasks that he’s been given or decided that are crucial in turning around the fortunes of the club.

  1. Culture
  2. Recruitment
  3. Sustainable modern footballing structure

I believe the reason that he has the trust of the club is that he is strong in all 3 areas. Many other coaches would want ready-made players and wouldn’t want to fool with culture issues.

I also believe that the club fully supports the concept that change in all 3 areas is going to take longer than the fans want it to but is necessary for any sustained future success.

If the fans get impatient the club has to stand firm in the knowledge that society’s impatience isn’t just ‘the way it is.’ It is a fault in society, not a football club. If ignored, you don’t change your circumstance. The club has to wade through the unrest knowing a brighter day is coming but correctly timed communication is vital.

As fans we have to admit that we ARE impatient and that’s on us. There are times that the cord should be cut, as it was with Emery, and there are times that we can’t let our impatience be the driver.

The focus of this piece is on #3, the tactics, but firstly to briefly explain #1 and 2.

Culturally Arsenal were a mess in the later Wenger years and half of Emery’s tenure too. Player power didn’t rule but in adversity, the rot came to the fore.

Arteta is seen as unwavering in his pursuit of not only getting rid of the rot but replacing it with not just non-rotten players but those that have the optimal attitude for success.

This moves us fluidly on to #2 as the change is evident in Arteta’s recruitment.

Out have gone negative influences in players like Ozil and Guendouzi and in have not just come good players but those with this optimal attitude. Tierney, Odegaard, Lokonga and Tomiyasu have or do lead their national or previous club teams and are seen as top professionals by recruiters. Gabriel, White, Ramsdale and Partey bring a vibe of great positivity and in Ramsdale the club now have a fist-pumper that will ignite the crowds energy. The younger players character is unquestioned. The proof is on the field and Saka, ESR and Martinelli were those that led the way last season when senior players didn’t. The former two in particular.

Look at some of the senior players that have been retained and you see positive energy in ElNeny, Auba and those helping the younger players like Lacazette. Xhaka has his days but he has been retained as he is clearly ‘a needed leader’ at this time.

The energy in the room is changing.

We all started shouting our own versions of angst towards Edu and Arteta recently but the club probably saw that Norwich game as Day 1 in the rebirth of our club. The first day when ‘the new team’ stepped out. You can see why they’d be reticent to consider change when Day 1 has only just shown up.

They have to ride the storm of impatience whilst being alert to what results are telling them beyond the shouting. They may find that Arteta was the coach to get them to ‘Day 1’ but not ideal for beyond. All options are possible.

Moving on to #3, the tactics.

You may have a fresh dislike for the word ‘patience’ by the end of this but what is happening tactically is from a new text book and some of our players have just opened it. Chuck the text book away and you’ll have short term confusion and a limited pool of coaches worldwide that can teach the same ethos.

I speak of positional play or what is called ‘Juego De Posicion’ in coaching circles.

What is Juego De Posicion?

The exact translation is ‘positional play.’

In short, it is the concept of defending whilst attacking in order to control both sides.

The defensive goal is sustained pressure.

The attacking goal is to make pre-planned patterns instinctual for players to an end where telepathic football is possible.

The field is divided into 5 vertical lanes and horizontally boxes that players have to occupy both for attacking and defensive efficiency.

The 5 attacking lanes at Arsenal are taken up by a left-back, left-winger, striker, attacking midfielder and right-winger. Against Norwich it was (from left to right) Tierney, Saka, Auba, Odegaard and Pepe. You will notice that the wide and central lanes are broader and the interior lanes (half spaces) are narrower and harder to penetrate into vertically but are often used as zones to combine in.

To take a quote from the article below…. “The players will have specific tasks and responsibilities within these zones depending on the phase of the game. The unique thing about this concept is that the options are predetermined by the position of the ball. “

I strongly suggest reading this to fully understand ‘JDP’

JDP is a whole new way of playing football. Almost like being told that the textbook you learnt football from was the wrong one after you’ve finished the text book.

Many players struggle especially ‘big players’ as their egos tell them that freedoms are theirs and they’ve earned them.

This system is everybody or nothing. One cog out of place and the whole machine fails.

It is therefore a risk as the trust a coach puts in ‘freedom football’ is arguably less than the trust he puts in players being out of position and failing their team. Players don’t want to be the one cog that breaks the system.

So, what is ArtetaBall?

Arteta is forming not just a team with the right attitude, athletic and age profile but a hybrid team that can play this organized yet flex system and adapt to the needs of the game and take advantage of them.

He has in White a modern defender who has excelled in a 3 and 4 man defence complimented by Tomiyasu and Gabriel who are more aggressive and better aerially. Midfielders that can slide into a back 3 and midfielders that can flex between a single pivot, 2 man pivot or 3 man midfield.

The attackers are the game winners and where the most hybrid options are available.

Saka can play everywhere, ESR plays anywhere across the attacking third, Pepe can play both sides and is most effective when in central spaces. Odegaard plays central or right and deep too. And on….

‘ArtetaBall’ has the JDP as its core principle.

It then adapts to the opponent.

It then adapts to game state.

So, it’s hard to define as one thing because it isn’t. Modern football is a coaches game and no longer player dictated. It’s about sustaining pressure and taking advantage of weakness.

Over time a keen eye will spot repetition and see the ‘style’ they desire to see. Arsenal fans are having the biggest struggle because ‘ArtetaBall’ is the opposite of ‘WengerBall’ as one is hyper-focused on structure and the other radiated freedom. One at its peak was heavenly and the other at its low ebb has been monotonous and dull. The reality is that with time ArtetaBall can be fluid and beautiful but have the defensive structure that WengerBall didn’t have post-Invincibles.

Why doesn’t Arteta play the same team and system?

I think he knows he has time. I think he’s playing the long game. Getting Auba used to playing left wing and striker. ESR used to all areas. All-knowing that in the long run he can move his chess pieces around and the players will understand the JDP roles and the team will be able to adjust to any and all game states and win.

Who else is doing JDP?

Guardiola is often credited as being the author at Barcelona but as with much he designed he often points to Cruyff as his inspiration.

Utd under Van Gaal did JDP but got as far as the defensive organizational side until the fans turned on him. To be fair, it was a very dull version.

City and Liverpool utilize JDP. City are much further down the road with elite starters and bench options and their automatisms are in place.

Liverpool have focused their JDP more on the ‘sustained pressure’ piece and use more vertical and direct passes compared to City.

As both are further along in the process we see their ability to play with a far quicker tempo than Arsenal. We will get there too.

How will players fit?

Firstly, Xhaka has been retained due to leadership but also down to system. He is the ultimate positional player. He fully understands it and is rarely out of position. Arteta likes Xhaka because he can control him.

Saka is the most interesting one though.  Are we going to give him a permanent position or continue to lean into his versatility? Personally, I think Saka will become a top-class attacker but could become a world-class left wing-back. His most effective games for me have been as the overlapping player in Channel 1 rather than in the half-spaces. I think he could become an assist monster but may never fully justify being a winger if he doesn’t get 10 + goals a season as all the very best wingers do.

Odegaard is a pivotal Arteta piece. If we stay 4–2-3-1 then he is the #10. We are now seeing him being trained in deeper spaces likely with him having a role in a 4-3-3 with freedom to wander between the lines and become the 10.

As mentioned before, there is pressure on Pepe. When the club sold Willock without trying a 4-3-3 with a late-arriving goalscoring CM, they decided to lean into Odegaard and ESR. The hope is that ESR can become a goalscorer and that Odegaard can reach his assist potential to justify his inclusion. This leaves the main goalscoring threats as the front 3. Saka isn’t convincing there yet and Auba/Laca/Balogun need to fire.

The central midfield is evolving quickly. We see Arteta experimenting recently with 1 DM pivot and two 8’s. We see 2 DM’s and ESR and MO in front in a box shape. Will we see Arsenal sign a DM and free Partey to play as an 8? Will Lokonga be trusted as the DM? What is the pathway for Patino and Azeez. Both are ideally DM’s but Patino has the ability to play anywhere in midfield and in the long run could end up being the best midfielder at the club.

Do we focus on 4-3-3 and try to bring Bellingham back to England? We nearly got him before and as I watch him scoring vs Besiktas I’m reminded of his goalscoring potential as a 3rd man runner beyond his general excellence as a midfielder. Would need CL football to do that, I’d say.

In the back I was very surprised that we didn’t replace one of Chambers, Holding or Mari with Mavropanos who is a more athletic alternative to White and Gabriel and has played both sides. Perhaps the club see a full season of first choice as more beneficial at his stage of development.

I’d love to think that AMN can establish himself in midfield as his toolbox is perfect for modern football. I just wonder if his inconsistent passing will keep him sidelined. I think all would agree that AMN as a Right Back option is far better than Cedric or Chambers. If we go back three then AMN is our best option at RWB beyond Tomiyasu.

What of this ‘patience’ we need?

We think back to last season and watching Arteta literally micro-managing every kick and movement from the sideline as if with a joystick.

It makes sense now as a coach trying to teach his JDP principles. It was as if the players were in class. They couldn’t tell the fans this as we wouldn’t have had the patience to buy into a ‘teaching season.’

Part of me wishes they’d explain JDP to us but they also don’t want to reveal strategy and don’t want to have to explain why it will take time. Time is needed as some of our players aren’t the ideal pieces and if the club communicated that they would feel insulted. A new striker, centre midfielder and if Pepe doesn’t produce more consistently, a new winger will show up. I think the club are looking at Gnabry into his last contract year as the best opportunity to get a consistent goalscoring hybrid winger.

The problem the club have though is that the fans are wise enough to see that this ‘ArtetaBall’ may be starting to reap benefits, but what we have a large kink. Over the last season the glaring issue was over when you get ‘set up’ and when you transition at speed.

This has led to fair criticism that the football is robotic and boring, which is fair.

I think this will make or break Mikel Arteta as the structures around him are now solid enough to where another JDP coach could take over fairly seamlessly. The only issue the club might have is that there are only a handful out there that are trying it successfully.

Many coaches won’t touch JDP because there are absolutes/questions that they don’t feel comfortable to answer. Players needing to know their roles as they change based on ball position and game state. Many coaches might understand the general JDP structure but aren’t familiar enough to know the details.

The future?

The truth for me is that the club under Arteta can get there and look less robotic in the process.

It requires Mikel Arteta to stay humble and be open to a clear mind on his teams faults and not get too stubborn.

It requires fans to understand that Day One of this project was probably September 11th 2021 even though this is his third season. All else prior to this date was largely cleansing and teaching.

Personally, I’ve accepted that I’m ok with this season ending in a similar league position to the last two as long as we see obvious progress as the ‘new team’ learns the text book.

I think that the 2022/23 season could easily see a big change in league position and see Arsenal challenge in the Top 4 and even contest the league as I see so many positive pieces being changed.

All of this will depend on if we can control our noise and fight our instinct of impatience.

Mike McDonald writes the transfer blogs here @LeGrove as well as the post game ‘Positives, Needs and Hopes’ @Gunnerstown. He also writes ‘Coach Mike’s Clipboard’ for The Gooner Fanzine.

Follow him @Mike_Mmcdonald

P.S. You know the drill. 👇👇👇


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Pierre Luck, good or bad, plays a part in all sports, the unexpected happens. But in pro football, it’s how the manager copes that denotes whether he is forward-thing and innovative. Alf Ramasy lacked a top winger as manager of Ipswich Town. That was bad luck. But he coped by using an over-lapping full-back. That was innovative. At Wembley Greaves was injured. That was bad luck. But Ramsay coped by substituting him with Geoff Hurst, an ‘up-and-at’em’ central striker. That was forward-thinking and innovative, a major change to his usual style. Arteta had bad luck with injured players. But he… Read more »


“What knows being “constructively critical” means?”

As I understand any criticism from ES is constructive, from others not so much.



Kids/teenagers certainly will.

It is nostalgia after all, we always believe that the best players when we were kids are the greatest as they were our childhood heroes.

The objective part of my brain knows that Luis Suarez and Lewandowski arguably surpassed Henry but I will never truly believe that they were better as I got to see Henry in all my childhood amazement and that stays with you I think.


“Consider the following two sales”

That’s very off base. Chelsea isn’t inerrant in the transfer and contract department, but they sure make us look like schoolchildren. And there’s more to it than just money. Not sure how these examples relate to any of our recent misadventures.


In my opinion Suarez and Lewandowski aren’t better than Henry anyway.


Jim Lahey

One of the main criticisms made about Arsenal and both Arteta and Edu has been their transfer business. There have been posts elsewhere highlighting their decision to offload Guendouzi.

The point is that every club and manager makes mistakes. I don’t think that Arsenal are uniques in this respect.

You may recall the reaction from Spurs Supporters when we acquired Campbell on a Bosman.


So Argentina were bribing in 1974 as well as 1978.

I love hearing about these teams like Haiti in World Cups.

There is famous footage of the Zaire team of 1974 against Brazil and that play when the Zaire player rushed out of their defensive wall that was facing a Brazilian freekick and running out to the ball and smashing it out of the groundwith the Brazilian players looking at him like wtf are you about.

It was about them being shit scared of Brazil’s abilities with freekicks that slightly overboiled with one Zaire player.

Jim Lahey

@WE –

Yeah, you definitely have a point there!

I remember players like, R9, Edgar Davids, Del Piero, Nedved, Ronaldinho, Zidane, Totti, etc as these superstars and I do not feel that way about the current generation of playres! Could be just an age thing!


Suarez and Lewandowski may surpass Henry in the goal scoring and trophy won ( at least at a club level) category but I wouldn’t put them in the same class as Henry, who could dribble the length of the pitch to score some of his goals.

Jim Lahey

@ES –

To be honest, Arteta’s business in the transfer market is the least egregious thing about his time at Arsenal.

Arsenal have been poor in the transfer market for years. Paying way too much for mediocre players that we can’t sell on. You bring up Chelsea and as I say, they have the freedom to do as they please in the transfer market, we do not.

And the Campbell thing… that was 20 years ago at this stage!



Better example may have been Eden Hazard being better than Bobby Pires.

I would take Pires every day but I suspect more would take Hazard outside of Arsenal supporters.


Modern footballers are much overrated compared to great stars of yesteryears except Messi who is criminally underrated so much so that people compare him to CR7.


I would let it pass that Suarez was a better player than Henry, but Lewandoski not so much.
He is an extremely good player, but he is also a kind of a flat track bully who needs a team around him to perform. You just need to see his performance with the Poland national team. Meanwhile Henry could carry threat on his own and was able to create all sort of goals by himself.

Lewandoski is inspired by his team while both Henry and Suarez inspired their teammates. They drag the rest of the squad toward success.

Jim Lahey

@WE –

“Better example may have been Eden Hazard being better than Bobby Pires.”

Gonna throw the cat amongst the pigeons here. Sanchez at his peak was better than Hazard at his peak.


The ’74 WC tournament goes down as the best I’ve ever watched, I wasn’t old enough to remember ’66 or ’70. England were woeful in the ’70’s under Ramsey and Don Revie, they improved a little under Ron Greenwood, but were still technically short.
One for you, ‘Englandsbest’ – I recall hearing Jimmy Greaves say that if Arsenal had wanted him, he ‘would have walked to Highbury’.


Hazard over Pires. Sacrilege!

Hazard may have had some games where he was better than Pires, but over a proper season I would rather have Pires than Hazard. Highs are higher, but there is a lot more of valleys than peaks even taking into consideration Hazard injuries.


WengerEagleSeptember 17, 2021 14:23:32 Interesting all right PHD. Zidane was up there as the GOAT big game performer, the guy lived for them and was often a men amongst boys. Says a lot about his character and has helped him transition into a great manager and leader of men.A very rare trait for even elite players. Drogba was nowhere near the player of Zidane but he was similarly at his absolute best in big games and pressure moments. —– Agree with all that you said. With an addition,that for me Zidane is the GOAT. I know,goes against the grain of… Read more »


Jim Lahey

Most of the superstars in football were prolific goalscorers. The last three were Messi, Ronaldo
and to lesser extent Lewandowski.

I think that De Bruyne does compare favourably with most of the top midfielders in bygone era.
The only issue with him is his injury record.


Suarez imo is up there with Henry as in being a tremendous footballer, scoring some obscene goals, carrying teams on his back. He isn’t better than Henry, don’t get me wrong, but he is up there. I would put him in top 3 with Henry, Shearer. Behind them are the likes of Drogba, Aguero, Bergkamp, Cantona, Rooney, RvP, Wright, Kane, Torres.

Jim Lahey

@ES –

“I think that De Bruyne does compare favourably with most of the top midfielders in bygone era.”

Yeah, I just don’t know if he will remembered in the same light as players like Rivaldo and Zidane.


*But not only was he abundantly blessed with skill


Someone was talking about Jimmy Greaves on here the other day.

Yes he is Spurs but that was a superstar footballer of his time.

You watch his goals on old videos with Chelsea and Spurs and he scored them effortlessly and could dribble past players with ease as well.


Zidane is up there with Maradona, Pele and Messi. KDB can’t hold a candle to the great Zizou.



44 goals in 57 international appearances for Greaves.


Jim LaheySeptember 17, 2021 14:45:59
@ES –“I think that De Bruyne does compare favourably with most of the top midfielders in bygone era.”Yeah, I just don’t know if he will remembered in the same light as players like Rivaldo and Zidane.

Rivaldo was a greedy,selfish….bastardo…

Immense player that would infuriate me watching him-due to his greed and selfishness..

Ronaldinho was a joy to watch..Up there for sure with the greats..

One player of the bygone era that doesn’t get talked about much is Romario..

What a player..A viper in the box…



I agree that Henry an all round player was better than Suarez and Lewy although with Suarez it is razor close. Suarez like Henry had the ability in his pomp to carry an attack on his own and terrorise defenders outside of the box too albeit without Henry’s blistering pace and more with trickery and clever feints/nutmegs, etc.

It does a disservice to even call Henry a ST. He was a world class ST, LW and CF all rolled into one. Whereas Lewandowski was/is an out and out marksman 9.


Stan Boardman on joke Friday

This Christmas, me mother-in-law asked me to buy her a coat made out of animal fur… So I bought her a donkey jacket. Boom boom.

Jim Lahey

When it comes down to who are the greats for me, I break it down to “who would I pay money to go and watch?”

Between CR7 and Messi? I am paying to watch Messi play any day.

As players, they are evenly matched.
As footballers CR7 doesn’t come close to Messi.
As athletes Messi doesn’t come close to CR7.


“44 goals in 57 international appearances for Greaves.”

I saw one of his long interviews on youtube going over his career.

Such a humble man having so much football talent.

The most interesting footage was actually him in his teens taking defences apart with Chelsea. They were a team that won 6-3 in one match then lost 6-3 the next game.


Both Suarez and Henry could terrorize any defense but Henry had a better touch and more pace and thus a more intimidating player. Lewandowski should not be put in the same bracket, he is more of a target man with great technique.


Platini: “What Zidane could do with a football, Maradona could do with an orange”

Forget orange, tennis balls or even golf balls, I’ve seen Maradona juggling with a half empty water bottle. Just about the least conducive juggling object I’ve ever tried kicking in my lifetime.


Jim Lahey

Possibly not because both Zidane and Rivaldo were members of World Cup winning Teams.
De Bruyne has yet to play in team which has won World Cup or for that matter Champions League.

However, I do think that De Bruyne is a super star in today’s game.



At around 2 mins:17 seconds,you see Zidane vomiting before taking the penalty against England in the Euro 2004 tournament.You’ll have to pause it slightly to see it in slow motion.



Messi is an amazing athlete in his own right. Sure he isn’t built like a footballing Adonis like Ronaldo but in terms of consistency and never being injured he actually has outperformed even Ronaldo over the last decade as he jas played more games.

But if criteria is strictly how fast they can run, high they can jump and general physical gifts than yes Ronaldo is your man.

Doesn’t compare from a football entertainment perspective as you say, Messi on a different planet.



Suarez scored 59 goals in a season at Barca though and won La Ligas assiat prize in the same season, it is hard to knock his peak being a little higher than Thierry’s imo.


Jimmy Greaves was a goal poacher par excellence, but he was not a football super star. He was
dropped during the World Cup won by England in 1966.


The days of proper attacking football, Ishola, without fear and long before handbrakes were around.
Like you, I liked Greavsie, he dealt with the pain off missing the WC Final with dignified class, and he was a good presenter too. Saint and Greavsie was a must watch.

Jim Lahey

Do you want to know how good prime Henry was?

I remember the game we lost to United 6-1, seeing the team sheet beforehand and looking at some of the duds on the team sheet, but still being somewhat confident about the game just because Henry was there! I can’t think of a player I could say the same about today!


*off = of


The ZZ chip of Buffon in 06 final off top bar is about as cheeky as i’ve seen.
What a journey that cup was, ZZ vs Brazil what a boss performance that was, men in yellow chasing shadows.



I don’t quite mean in terms of stats. For me it is about what you feel about a player when his name is mentioned. I guess Lampard has a much better stat than Xavi and Iniesta but I wouldn’t pick Lampard ahead of them. Similarly Henry always looked a higher calibre player to me than Suarez even though I am a big fan of Suarez. For me at one point of time Suarez was the 3rd best player behind Messi and Iniesta but still Henry was a different animal altogether.



Greaves was a player that came alive in the opposition box but that doesn’t mean he was just a poacher.

His goals were poaches as well as him dribbing past players to score.

He was bought for big money at the time by one of the Italian clubs a bit like what we saw during the later golden era of Italian club football when all the best foreigners played their league football in Italy.

He was a footballing prodigy at Chelsea and was seen as a superstar footballer of that time.


TomSeptember 17, 2021 14:55:51 PhD Platini: “What Zidane could do with a football, Maradona could do with an orange”Forget orange, tennis balls or even golf balls, I’ve seen Maradona juggling with a half empty water bottle. Just about the least conducive juggling object I’ve ever tried kicking in my lifetime. —– I’m not going to debate the Maradona vs Zidane argument… For several reasons..Different eras…Different types of personalities… And most importantly Maradona was on a different planet.As much as I love Zidane.And he’s the GOAT for me in contemporary times..From the mid-late 90’s to the 2000’s… What Maradona did with… Read more »

Jim Lahey

“I guess Lampard has a much better stat than Xavi and Iniesta but I wouldn’t pick Lampard ahead of them”

Santi had better stats than both of those two also! 😁


You know when someone doesn’t really know about Greaves when all they can say about him was that he was “dropped” in the 1966 World Cup.

His career was so much more than that.

Jim Lahey

Do you know what I dearly miss?

The football we played in 2010.

v. Persie

Every one of those guys walks straight into our starting 11.


You are a disingenuous man, EmiratesStroller.


DoublethinkSeptember 17, 2021 13:30:08
He can’t be trying that hard to be polite and tolerant because all I posted was a comparison between Emery’s and Arteta’s record with Arsenal and asked which ones generational? That’s all it took for him to start with the ad hominem attacks.——
Bamford is that you?Lol
I guess I haven’t been here enough to get that?


Jim Lahey

Not practically possible but imagine Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi, Cesc, Silva and Santi all playing together – unmatched footballing sorcery. I guess 5 of them played together against Italy in Euro 2012 final.

Jim Lahey

“Not practically possible but imagine Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi, Cesc, Silva and Santi all playing together”

Would be the footballing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters!


TR7September 17, 2021 14:48:36
Zidane is up there with Maradona, Pele and Messi. KDB can’t hold a candle to the great Zizou.

In which order would you list them?

For me….

1) Maradona/Pele



I do know what you mean even if Suarez was anything but a stats player, his overall impact was every bit as devastating as Henry was.

But he wasn’t a near flawless finesse player like Henry, was more ruthless and efficient but not nearly as technically gifted. His technique could be choppy whereas Henry’s was always sublime in his pomp.


Have to rank it by position surely?

Top 5 in each position.



Cheers for that Zizou clip by the way. Everyone feels the nerves, it is how you deal with those nerves that separate the Zidane’s from the Higuain’s.



I haven’t watched Maradona and Pele so I can’t comment on them. Of the players I have watched my ranking is as following :

1. Messi
2. Zidane
3. R9
4. Iniesta
5. Cristiano


PhD2020September 17, 2021 15:16:27
TR7September 17, 2021 14:48:36
Zidane is up there with Maradona, Pele and Messi. KDB can’t hold a candle to the great Zizou.
In which order would you list them?For me….

1) Maradona/Pele

Scratch that…I forgot Brazilian Ronaldo…So..

1) Maradona/Pele

Cue the uproar….



Surprised that Ronaldo made it on your list ahead of Rosicky/Santi! 🤣

Jim Lahey

For me:

1. Zidane
2. R9
3. Messi
4. Bergkamp
5. Ronaldinho


Seedorf and Guillit used to loved watching them play.



I am objective as always 😜


All though I haven’t watched Pele and Maradona I find it inconceivable that anyone can play football better than Messi.


TR7September 17, 2021 15:21:07 PhD I haven’t watched Maradona and Pele so I can’t comment on them. Of the players I have watched my ranking is as following : 1. Messi 2. Zidane 3. R9 4. Iniesta 5. Cristiano ——- PhD2020September 17, 2021 15:21:51 Scratch that…I forgot Brazilian Ronaldo…So.. 1) Maradona/Pele 2)Zidane 3)Ronaldo(Brazilian) 4)Messi 5)Ronaldinho 6)CR7 7)Romario Cue the uproar…. 🙂 ————————————————- Interesting we both have ZiZou in 2nd place,R9 in third place CR7 in 5th place. You have Messi as No 1 and I have him in 4th place.And you’ve included Iniesta,whereas I’ve cited Ronaldinho in the top five,even… Read more »


Ronaldo9 was the most gifted footballer I’ve ever seen. In his one and only season for Barcelona 1996/97, he was 20 years old, and scored 47 goals in 49 games. He was the first player I’ve ever seen do the things he was doing in that season. Absolute maniac of a player. 10 years later Messi exploded the world stage, but he was doing things I’ve already seen. He wasn’t the first one to do it. Of course Messi is having an unparalleled career. But who knows what Ronaldo could have achieved if he didn’t have his knee injuries. Ronaldo… Read more »



Emirates troller‘
As I responded to another poster some weeks ago the choice is that if you do not like the way the club is run go off and find another club who suits your expectations better.’This is probably the most ridiculous statement I have ever read on here, and that’s saying something.

Of course the funniest part of ES’s comment was that the very reason he started posting on the blog was because he was unhappy with how the club was being run under Wenger. The lack of self-awareness is staggering.


Ronaldo9 ***IS** the most gifted footballer I’ve ever seen.


You cited CR7 in 5th place,whereas I placed him in 6th.


Pele was the greatest footballer that I ever watched. His performance as a teenager against Sweden was memorable. Most teams later in his career attempted to kick him off the pitch. Messi is a great footballer especially when you read about his physical disabilities early in his career. George Best is undoubtedly the greatest “British” Footballer in his prime, but his career at the top level was relatively short. Thierry Henry was without doubt Arsenal’s best footballer in my lifetime and rated one of the best during EPL era. I think that Dennis Bergkamp was not far short of Henry… Read more »



Ronaldinho couldn’t stay at the top for more than 2-3 years. In terms of sheer ability he was amazing but I think longevity at the top should be a critical factor.

Agree with Raptora that if R9 stayed injury free he would have been in the league of Messi and Maradona.


I can’t really form my own unbiased opinion on Pele since I never saw him play.
From the rest of the field based on footballing abilities only:
4. Ronaldo ( the original one)

Based on individual abilities and achievements for club and country:

Anyone arguing Pele should be right in there won’t get any push back from me.


raptoraSeptember 17, 2021 15:34:46 For me that season of Ronaldo in 1996/97 is the best season of any player in my lifetime. His peak was absolute and unrivaled. The move to Inter was a horrible mistake and it never should never have happened. He was a different player after the injury albeit still super world class. —— Yep,but he more than made up for it in the 2002 WC Final..He blitzed that WC Competition jointly held in S.Korea & Japan. Golden boot winner as well-I think..Having comeback from the horrific injury he sustained during his time at Inter Milan… Another… Read more »


I have a great deal of respect for what Pedro has done with this blog. He writes extremely well and is very funny a lot of the time; doing this day in day out for 14 years is quite the achievement, I know I wouldn’t be able to do it for more than week. Creating content is hard, way harder than most realize. It takes flair IMO. Normally when I see a post is written by a guest writer, I don’t bother. I don’t mean anything sour against those guys but it’s not normally as good to read. Especially so… Read more »


cause even tho you’re an Essex melt



Henry is probably my favourite Arsenal player of all time. I was definitely a fan boy of his.


Bacary is God

I joined Le Grove, when it was clear that Wenger was past his sell by date. In most professions
the maximum time limit is 10-15 years and in football more like 5 years.

I joined Le Grove about five years ago, but I was never one of the growing crowd who complained if Arsenal finished in top 4 in League.

As I have posted many times I have watched Arsenal teams and players who were far worse
than what we have got today.


Here’s a clip of Ronaldo9(Brazilian) scoring a hat trick against Manure ,where he was giving a resounding applause by the Manure fans when he was substituted at Old Trafford back in 2003.And this was towards the latter end of his career.



” I was definitely a fan boy of his.”

A mate of mine worked in advertising in London around the time he joined, his story was Terrence was somewhat interested in one of the women he worked in and hit on her … but she was like … nahhh, nah thanks and fucked him off. He then went onto be a superstar.

I’m sure she regretted this …


EmiratesstrollerSeptember 17, 2021 15:48:28
Bacary is God

I joined Le Grove, when it was clear that Wenger was past his sell by date.

Revisionism at best, to put it politely.


TheBayingMob lol sure he ad loads of woman on him also.

I actually met Henry and hugged him when I worked at Sky in 2014. Proper down to earth guy.



Here is a video in which Zidane, Mourinho etc. are signing praise of R9. Zidane emphasizes for fellow players stats and trophies won are not the indicators for greatness but capabilities of a player. This is exactly why I don’t rate CR7 as much as others do.


Messi and Zidane both are massive fan of Brazilian Ronaldo, goes to show how great he was.



R9 dribbled past so many keepers also. Put them on their butts.


An acquaintance I knew called Pedestrom- met a private seller outside Hendon Central to purchase a laptop,advertised in the local paper. They showed him the laptop,he liked it..Brand new latest design-top of the range.Thought he was getting a bargain. They wrapped it up in the car and gave him the box.Having completed his financial transaction in cash…He suddenly had a beaming smile and a spring his step,and could not wait to get cracking with his new spanky toy. Bearing in mind the transaction was literally completed on his doorstep… Once in his humble abode,he opened up the box,to find to… Read more »


Good one PhD


Wow legrove on fire. I must say i absolutely adore midfielders and for the fact messi plays like one make him top of my list.
1. Messi
2 zizou
3 ronaldinho
4 iniesta


Onto Modern day players. I think Salah is going to win the golden boot this season. He looks like he can score in every game.


No particular order from circa 2000-2021:

GK- Neuer, Kahn, Buffon, Van Der Sar, Oblak.

LB- Roberto Carlos, Marcelo, Maldini, Lizarazu, Cole.
RB- Cafu, Maicon, Dani Alves, Lahm, Ramos.
CB- Cannavaro, Nesta, Chiellini, Lucio, Ferdinand/Van Dijk

CDM/Deep Playmaker- Makelele, Casemiro, Alonso, Riquelme, Pirlo.
CM-Zidane, Xavi, Modric, Kroos, Vieira.
LM- Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Ribery, Pires, Hazard.
RM- Messi, Robben, Di Maria, Figo, Nedved.

CAM/10- Ronaldinho, Iniesta, Bergkamp, Kaka, Rivaldo.
ST- R9, Henry, Suarez, Eto’o, Lewandowski/Benzema.

Near misses: Casillas, Alaba, Vidic, Terry, Thuram, Zambrotta, Seedorf, Ballack, De Bruyne, David Silva, Scholes, Salah, Bale, Ibrahimovic, Shevchenko.


I swear it’s like people sleep on italians or what? Absolutely loved del piero and totti proper ballers. Crazy but i’ll pick cesc and santi over xavi anytime.

Guns of SF

The best team to never win the WC…
one of the best period…. true Joga Bonito



Salah and KDB will both likely make it in when by the time they hang up their boots.

Guns of SF

Nice list WEAGLE

They dont make them like that anymore….


The GOAT list makes itself, i’d have Maradona at top of mine.

Favourite player is easy, Zidane.

Best season R9’s at Barca, highest level likely ever.

Guns of SF

one my of faves is the all action hero


Guillit never gets any love WE lol


Someone posted on here Ronaldo’s nutmeg compilation awhile back and it was simply nuts.
If I’m not mistaken his total nutmeg count in real games was into 300s.


Can’t sleep on Eusebio



Exactly poor Eagle too young for that incredible Dutch generation.
Great list by the way was going to ask where the F Nedved the realized he’s there.

Iphones suck.

Guns of SF

R9/Henry my fave players

Its a tie mostly but got to give it to TH, just a juggernaut of a player for us… wrote the best chapters in our history…


Greatest entertainers:

1) Ronaldinho
2) Ronaldinho
3) Ronaldinho
4) Ronaldinho
5) Ronaldinho

Only half joking but:

Ronaldinho >>>>>



For R9, I like the fat Ronaldo.



Wasn’t born when Gullit was in his pomp mate list was from 2000-present.