Let’s talk young players.
William Saliba had a run out in Europe against Galatasaray. It’s interesting to actually watch his impact on a game over a 90 versus the curated hype videos. His passing is fantastic and fairly measured. I don’t think he’s quite as ambitious as Ben White, but he has that in locker. I think his best attribute is his calmness in one vs one situations, he’s certainly no lunger. The thing he needs to work on is his passivity as a defender, I don’t mean fighting players or standing up for himself, I mean that fire that Gabriel and White have to snuff out danger and rifle into the back of players with a press as soon as a pass moves. That’ll develop, no doubt, but I think he’d have arrived there faster if he’d taken a loan in the Premier League. I’m still caught in two minds as to what was best for him… but really, hard to argue that 40 games with Marseille is better than 12 with Arsenal. He’ll come back ready to bang.
I also took in some of the U23 game against Brighton. The kids did a really good job. It’s clear that Balogun and Patino are miles ahead of everyone. Balogun pulled off an outrageous piece of skill to win a penalty and his execution was cold as ice. He’s quite a way off fighting for a first-team place, he needs a loan in Championship where he’ll get minutes, accrue some battle scars, score some goals, and adapt to the physicality he’s really lacking at the moment. Patino is a dreamy player, his movement is outrageous, he’s 3 seconds ahead of everyone else, and his passing range is simply stunning. U23 looks too easy for him. His launched pass is a thing of beauty, you just can’t believe a man of that size can hit the ball with such power. The reality is he’s a little light for the Premier League right now. A bit like Billy Gilmour was last season. He needs to fill out if he’s going to endure the rigours of the league. But he’s still very young, that’ll come, and I’m sure that’s why he’s not on the bench right now.
All three names I just mentioned are going to the first team at some point. Arsenal has so much talent coming through. The best thing about this summer strategy is the more chances we give to young players, the more elite young players will be willing to push for a move. There’s a reason Haaland went to Dortmund. He knew they’d develop him, we need to be that club for the Premier League when everyone else is sticking to older.
Arteta took a serious tone in the press conference. I think he’s likely acutely aware that there has been a little bit too much joy from the fanbase this week and the players could easily slip into complacency. Beating Spurs won’t feel quite as special if we drop 3 points at Brighton away. They are a good side, they’re where they are in the league because they deserve it, Arsenal needs to show up with energy and purpose.
The good news is Bissouma is going to be a late shout for selection. It’d be nuts for Potter to risk one of the best players in the league so early in the season, but we’ve seen crazier things. If he’s out, that’s good news for our day. They just aren’t the same team without him making things tick over.
We’re without Xhaka. His injury is serious. Young players need to step up. Thankfully, the choice this season isn’t Ceballos. The man who will likely land the nod is Sambi Lokonga. I think we’re all on board with that power move.
Some Arsenal Stats through Week 6 thread
Arsenal Final Third Entry Passes per 90, – 2021-2022
I think Partey can handle duties as the main guy getting the ball forward with the support that Arsenal has been able to add behind him. pic.twitter.com/MaFSGfzbyU
— Scott “says soccer” Willis (@oh_that_crab) October 1, 2021
As you can see from Scott’s thread, Granit Xhaka is pretty decent at a few things, and knocking the ball into the final third is one of them. Sambi isn’t quite there yet, but he’s close. He has to use this next three months to adapt to the pace, sharpen his game, and make the time count. What I love about the Belgian is the ambition in his passing. He doesn’t take the easy option. He’s also far more mobile than Granit, his movement after he passes is so smart. There will also be minutes for AMN, another player that needs to make this bad news work for him. If he’s called upon, he needs to find that semi-final concentration. It’s great to have him back in contention, but this is last chance saloon, we need the best he has to offer.
The goalkeeping questions keep cropping up in the pressers. Bernd said he didn’t know why he was dropped. He’d clearly missed the regression in his passing, the lack of dominance in his box, and the mistakes. Also, Arteta said that he’d spoken to the player, which I believe. Bernd only has himself to blame here. This #1 position is now Aaron’s to lose. Let’s hope the England back-up keeper makes it count again.
What do we want tomorrow? A full force game of the new Artetaball. Nice passing combinations, some long balls, some sharp counter-attacks, some great stuff around the box… and contributions from everyone. This is a big day. The pressure of consistency is on. Are we up the challenge? We’ll see.
Tune in after the game tomorrow for an On The Whistle with Johnny and Matt. Have a great night.