by .

Results have been a bit of a mixed bag for us since Friday, but still positive. Arsenal will be 3 points off top 4, regardless of how the rest of Sunday’s games go (United getting pummelled, so we’re on the same points as them).

That’s where we need to be on January 1st. Why does that date matter? Because my suspicion is that by then, our players will have bedded into the club, performances will be of a higher level because the cognitive style of the system will have matured, and we don’t have any Europe to contend with, so we’ll be fresher.

Post-Christmas last season was very good for us. If we’d been within spitting distance of top 4 by January, we’d have been in the top 4 at the end of the season. It wasn’t to be.

The big difference this season is that at about this time last year, we were about to go on a massive dip in form. We weren’t creating chances, we weren’t dining off low-margins games, and the mood at the training ground was spoiled by dickheads we eventually shipped out.

This season feels a little bit different.

We’ve had an absolutely horrendous dip and it appears we’ve moved on from it. Unbeaten in 7 games.

The football has been up and down but there are some consistent threads.

Generally, we’ve started well this season. It’s been high impact from the off. We were good against Chelsea for the opening 20. We asked questions of City until we collapsed. Every game we’ve started with a rocket up our backsides.

We’re creating chances now. We’re 5th in the table for shots per game. 14.6 so far. That’s including our disastrous Chelsea and City games. To contextualise the progress, last season we were averaging 12.1 shots p/g which had us in 11th. The season before 10.7, which had us in 15th. Our current clip of shots would have us equal with Chelsea for the whole of last season. So it’s good progress and chunky progress. If you are asking whether this new team can create with that data, you aren’t paying attention.

We still need to score more goals. Chelsea had a lower shot output against Norwich than we did… but they scored 7 goals without a striker. We need to find a more clinical edge. Goals can’t just be on the shoulders of Auba and Lacazette. We need Saka, Partey, ESR and our full-backs to chip in.

Defensively, there’s still some work to do. We’re giving up a lot of shots over the average of all our games. Part of that has been driven by our bad start, part of that is we haven’t shown a consistent ability to control games. We let Palace and Brighton have at us because we didn’t have the bravery to play through them. We also have a LOT of new players in our team, so it’ll take time to find our feet there. The first half against Villa was our best outing defensively. We hoovered up first and second balls. We attacked their outlets. We pressed with smarts. We used off the ball movement really well. That’s the standard, we have to do it more often.

The biggest improvement since the break is basically having one absolute banger of a performance. The Goldilocks football was going to grate fans if it didn’t improve. The club needed to show that all this new specificity we signed in the summer was going to amount to some sexy football. We saw a half of it against Spurs, then we saw 80% of a banger against Villa.

James over at The Athletic crystalised where are quite nicely.

Fans are waiting for the football to bang. Like it’ll be one moment and we’ll never look back. That’s not going to happen, it’ll be a slow fizz into consistency. Matt from the podcast teed it up nicely. At the moment, we’re 1 good performance in 3. Next move is 1 good performance every 2 games. Then we try to move to the Chelsea, City, Liverpool levels of hitting high standards in every game.

Not having to deal with Europe should help us get there faster.

I do find it odd that people come on here after a win and accuse me of crowing. We’re all Arsenal fans, if you don’t feel a win is yours as well as mine, what are you doing? I’m just an opinion, why would you battle me to the detriment of your support for the club?

I’ve said the same things all season… this will be up and down. Palace isn’t the last bad performance. Villa won’t be the last big performance. What people need to do is to move away from catastrophising every mistake or result that doesn’t go our way. It’s not helpful to anyone.

We have the ingredients for a good season:

1. The 6 players we signed this summer are all getting rave reviews for talent, specificity, and character

2. The football is getting better slowly but surely

3. Arteta is learning from mistakes. Someone accused him of tinkering yesterday like that was an insult. If you watched Brighton and Palace and didn’t appreciate the manager had to tinker with the system, then I can’t help you. Football isn’t a simple game in 2021, it’s a science.

4. Our big names are showing up for the club. Auba is BACK. 7 goals in 9 this season. Lacazette was a difference-maker yesterday. Gabriel is showing that he has no ceiling. Thomas Partey is FIT and apparently firing. If the seniors aren’t good this season, we’ll fail. I love that they are stepping up to the plate.

5. The fans in the stadium are creating the best atmosphere in YEARS. You love to hear it. It sounds like fun. Long may that support continue. It’s special.

Something that isn’t so cool…

There’s a bit of a thing going on in the Arsenal community where fans are starting to go after people they deem as for-profit catastrophisers. The trend is to spot a ‘personality’ that makes content, then video yourself doing something classless to them. There’s a horrible video of Ty, who I don’t know, being abused by fans who won’t let him exit the building.

I know that certain creators rile people. That guy that screams in his car is not my favourite, but it’s his right to scream in the car, it’s others right to enjoy his car shrieking activities, and if by chance his screaming earns him enough to buy a new car, good for him… I salute that he found a market.

No one speaks for you online. If you think AFTV embarrasses the club, fine… but I tell you what is more embarrassing. Boxing a man into the stadium so he can’t get out when he’s on his own. That’s cowardly. That makes Arsenal fans look bad. We can’t be applauding that. I hope we move on from it.

Finally, there’s a story doing the rounds that we’re going to sell Dino and Matteo for £11m. How do deals like that happen? What have we done to protect ourselves against Marseille and Stuttgart flipping those players like Atalanta flipped Romero? Why would you tie two high ceiling players to a shit fee? We are awful at selling, but these two deals just stink to me. I don’t want Matteo back, but I also don’t want him floating away for nothing when he’s getting called up the French national team.

Right, that’s me done. See you in the comments.




Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Marx

    A good TD wouldve fought to get better deals from mavro and matteo. These players are worth way more than the prices being thrown around. Another clear reason why Edu should be replaced by a good TD. Btw wasnt he part of the group that negotiated the awful pepe deal that cost raul his job?

  2. Graham62


    It is a fact of life that individuals prosper and develop in different environments.

    Mavropanos wasn’t given a chance under either Arteta or Emery. At Stuttgart he feels loved and at home.

    Can also be said about Saliba.

  3. Rich

    The reasons we’re rubbish sellers is simple

    We have an oversupply of players, and an undersupply of squad places, and every time we buy a player without selling one, we further decrease our selling position

    Nobody pays top money for surplus players, that there’s no demand for, we’ve got a first team squad of 27, and no European football, with another 7 senior professionals out on loan

    We either accept what’s on offer which is either lowball offers, or loans? Or we keep a large surplus of players?

    The value of a player to a club is always be on the pitch, if we don’t have any minutes to gives them, then we extract no value from them, their wages are still a liability, and their values plummeting further through being inactive

    Arsenal have been run terribly for a long time now

    It’s one thing to have young players out on loan who’s values we can increase, or to prepare them for our first team

    It’s another thing entirely to have so many senior player we don’t want, and nobody will pay us any money for

    Arsenal have spent loads on wages + transfers over the last few years, it’s our poor scouting + recruitment, our non existent squad planning, and poor contract management, that’s hurt us much more than poor coaching or tactics

    We pay our players too much, the price you can receive for a player isn’t just linked to the value of the player, it’s linked to the size of the contract

    The rest of the league’s in Europe are broke, they can hardly afford to buy our players, let alone match what we pay them

    We’ve signed too much dross, some of our players have been so poor that we couldn’t even give them away, let alone extract fees for them

  4. englandsbest

    The grudging admission by some of the anti-Arteta brigade that Arteta might be the man for the job is invariably conditioned by ‘but he still has to prove himself’.

    Well, of course he must ‘prove himself’, as does every other manager in PL every season. For some managers just staying in PL is enough for him to ‘prove himself’. For others it’s finishing in top 6 or top 4 or winning a major trophy.

    So let’s define what Arteta needs to do to ‘prove himself’. For me, it has to be noticeable progress in the process of returning Arsenal to the elite. A top 6 finish (which I expect) will be a measure of that. However, if Arsenal fails to make top 6 but noticeable progress is made, then nevertheless Arteta is worthy of the job.

  5. Matt


    So noticeable improvement but finishing outside of the top 6 and he should remain. What would your expectation be of him next season then – same again?

  6. Rich


    Arteta has to get minimum 6th this season, he might get away with 7th/8th, but he’d need to win one of the domestic cups

    I want him to be given the season, we’ll have ups and downs with a young team, and I expect it’ll be tight between 5th-9th

    But if Arteta doesn’t deliver minimum Europa League, then his position becomes untenable, he can’t get away with another fine margins failure, and he certainly can’t get away with dropping off completely

    Arteta like Emery before him, has had plenty of legitimate excuses up until now, but this is now mainly his team, and his players, and we should be finishing 5th/6th over the course of 38 games with no European distraction

    I’m confident we’ll edge it, and with a young team, that’ll be a good platform to build from

  7. Bob N16

    Englandsbest, you are of course right when you say that every manager has to prove himself- if they don’t they get the sack. The timing of when they get the sack has many variables but mostly it’s down to whether there is an insufficient confidence in their ability to progress the club.

    Arteta survived last season’s lack of ‘noticeable progress’. The owners have backed him to the tune of the biggest net spend in the league.

    You clearly have greater confidence in Arteta than the majority of the fanbase. You talk of him failing to make top 6 and retaining his job due to ‘ noticeable progress’. There is an argument that if he makes top 6 then it’s possible that insufficient progress has been made and he’d deserve to lose his job. I don’t think our owners are sufficiently demanding to be lining up a better prospect than Arteta – to assume that he’s the best man to lead Arsenal is quite a jump!

    Let’s be clear here, there is a big difference between supporting the team and supporting the continued employment of a manager who so far has been less than convincing- they are linked but not inextricably!

    I hope I’m filled with confidence in Arteta by the end of the season but having faith in Arteta is just that – it’s not based on much reality!

  8. Al

    If the manager keeps his ego in check and plays it simple the team potentially can have a good season.

    What I fear, because he has got in his way soo many times over the last two years is that the manager will once again buy into his own ego and tinker with the side.

    Saka-odegaard/Laca – ESR playing behind Auba. That is the forward line. Pepe should never come in ahead of Saka on the right.

    If you want to play Pepe play him on the left where he can at least go on the outside and cross because in the right he lacks the game intelligence.

    Behind them it should be a midfield two as a base.


    Keep it simple arteta

  9. Janky

    Sure, we are progressing in the metrics listed in the blog. It’d be a foolish bit of business if we were not yes? And this plan, this iteration of the plan anyway, looks good.

    However, we are still unproven as is our manger. The only metric that matters is the table. 8, 8, now 10. So far we haven’t covered ourselves in glory…yet. Spurs are garbage, Villa are on the slide, What statement win are we talking about that justifies the theory that we’ve now turned the corner? I know, the Villa win felt good, but are you going to hang your hat on that?

    Each week brings more data, each win brings more evidence that whatever this is is worth the pain it has put on us over the last two seasons. A team finally coming together? A young managerial talent learning his trade? Or a club spending money and reputation frivolously? We hope it works out Pete, but we’ve had so many false dawns over the past decades that “false dawn” should be added to our crest in Latin. I hope you and your fellow Congregationalists in the Church of Mike end up on the right side of this piece of Arsenal history.

    We’re just not there yet.

  10. englandsbest


    My expectation at the start of the season was a top 6 finish and a final under his belt. It still is, the signs are good.

    As for next season expectation, that depends a lot on what happens between now and then

  11. Ishola70

    I don’t know why everyone keeps on about Everton. They are very average.

    If you take a peek at the Everton fan forums they don’t have much belief in their side and even more so after what they have witnessed so far overall this season

  12. LoveSausage


    Agree with you that there needs to be a target set. Nobody at the club wants to do it because no one wants to be accountable. For me it’s 4th place finish. 5th place would be acceptable if we put up a proper fight. Anything less than than that and he should go. The investment has been too big.

    On a separate note, Mourinho seems to already be unraveling. It used to take him a season and a half to get to this level of toxicity. This time it’s a couple of months. Incredible.

  13. Rich


    Everton’s level is roughly 7th-9th

    They won’t be great to watch, but they’ll get enough results playing the fine margins, particularly once they get Richarlison + DCL back into the team

    Everton apparently set to spend some money again in January

  14. englandsbest


    Fear not. Come what may, Arteta will stay.

    With the top teams involved in Europe, Arsenal have a realistic chance of a domestic final. Winning it is another matter, very much depends on the day – injuries, illness, referee, etc

  15. Matt


    If he doesn’t get top 6 this season, and you are OK with him not getting top 6 next season, regardless of what else happens, then it seems like you are happy to keep kicking the can down the road.

    Does your local pub have a sign saying, ‘come back tomorrow – free beer’?

  16. englandsbest

    Bob N16

    My faith in Arteta is in the man himself. In his honesty, in his commitment, in his long-term view. The last thing the Club needed was a patchwork job.

    Looking back at where we were then and where we are now, noticeable progress has been made. The turning point was last Jan, since then the results on pitch have been good overall. There have been ups and downs but luck does play a part, and at the start of the season Arteta was unlucky with Covid. I hate to say this, but if it hadn’t been the opening game, the match would have been postponed.

  17. Tom

    Sixth most valuable squad in the PL with the fifth highest wage bill, third season in charge, and Englandsbest who thinks Arteta’s the greatest thing since sliced bread doesn’t have any expectations for him that might be higher than making par, to use the golf analogy,
    And that goes for the season four as well.

    Whatever happened to your Wenger era high standards ?

    Sixth in the table come May would be underachieving all things considered.

    As for Arsenal having the youngest squad in the PL excuse…… it’s a good one.
    I’m pretty sure it’ll still be the case next season and the season after…….. at least vis a vis our immediate rivals.

    Yesterday I saw an eighteen year old fullback and a twenty year old striker put in man of the match performances for Southampton, both new to the club btw.

  18. Tom

    “My faith in Arteta is in the man himself. In his honesty, in his commitment, in his long-term view. The last thing the Club needed was a patchwork job.“

    Replace Arteta with Ole in that sentence and you’ll get the reason why he’s still the United manager today.

  19. englandsbest


    If you can’t find a justification that Arsenal have turned the corner, it’s because it hasn’t quite happened yet. We are still in the process of turning the corner. The road may straighten if/when we beat Leicester City

  20. NORG


    This weekend a friend watched his team hold the league leaders to a 0 – 0 draw. A twenty year old CB kept Mbappe and Neymar in his pocket and his 22year old Captain drove the team forward.

    Both are Arsenal players.

  21. Bob N16

    Englandsbest – honesty and commitment is all very well but his competence is the issue.

    Our points accumulation since Xmas last year was certainly acceptable – all be it we’d played most of our more difficult opponents away in the first half of the season. Despite that PL form I was incredibly disappointed with Arteta’s management of the EL semi final. I was upset enough to want his removal after that debacle!

    Progress has been made but when you get 5pts from 10 games, the only way is up!

    Part of me loves your confidence and I hope it’s not misplaced – I think it is and I strongly believe that after the competent investment last TW in squad building, they’ll be a few top coaches who’ll see the potential in the club and the direction we’re going.

    Arteta is not the be all and end all and if you can’t see that it’s because you’re viewing it through an irrational prism of ‘Arteta love’.

  22. GoonerDave

    Honesty. That’s great. I wonder if he can manage a football club?

    In all seriousness, I was delighted to see the energy, desire, closing down and hard work against Villa. We might be inconsistent in our performances, but if we can work as hard as that each week, Arteta will win lots of fans back.
    After that financial outlay, Arteta is going nowhere. I still have doubts about him, but happy to eat crow if we finish 4th or 5th.

  23. Graham62

    Bob N16


    Arteta has made so many basic mistakes, mistakes that he really shouldn’t have been making. This concerns me greatly.

    Irrespective of the positives from our win against Villa, Arteta has to show he is changing.

    I’m still not convinced.

  24. Rich

    Bob N16

    Where do you think we should finish this season?

    Where do you think we’ll finish in comparison to your expectations?

    How many points do you think we’ll get?

  25. Bradybunch

    Did he mention that PSG were 10 men for 35 minutes?
    I’m delighted to hear reports of Saliba growing in stature.
    From the highlights I just watched , there were a few holes in his pockets in the first half, and he could have been wearing speedos in the second and he’d have still been untroubled.

  26. Sid

    “””””his 22year old Captain drove the team forward.””””

    After the narrative, he is a headless chicken failed miserably, the new narrative is that he is a disease that needs chemo,
    but managers keep selecting him to their squads.

  27. englandsbest

    Bob N16

    First let me say that Arteta has become a top coach. He wasn’t that when he came, but he has learnt game by game.

    I am not a football tactician, my judgement is based on what I see. And what I saw against Villa was a well-drilled side that, at times, performed spectacularly. A coach doesn’t get that by accident.

    We have passed the point of doubting his competence. Certainly his players trust his capability. And so too do the people who turn up at the Emirates and at away games. A momentum is building – and that doesn’t happen by accident either.

  28. Ray+in+LA

    we are one point from being sixth…

    and one point and a better goal average from being fifth

    that’s after capitulating in the first three games and drawing two very winnables

    so there is room for optimism if you want to let it in 🙂

  29. Bob N16

    ‘Where should we finish?’- with our wage bill and our recent investment, we should finish 4/5th.

    “Where will we finish’ – anywhere between 4th and 9th! I know that’s fudging the issue but I though we’d win against Brighton and Palace and lose against Villa. We will improve as a team as the new combinations get more games under their belts. We could go on a run but equally we could stall. Very hard to know how convincing Arteta and his tactics are to the players.

    Our squad depth in certain areas is limited so much will depend on not losing Partey, ESR, Gabriel, Tomiyasu for any amount of time.

    Points wise, 2pts a game average is where we should be aiming for – if we get say 68- 70pts it’ll probably mean that we’re happy enough with our progress.

  30. Bob N16

    Englandsbest – Villa was a great performance. How were you feeling after the previous two games against Brighton and CP – still pleased or underwhelmed?

  31. Shaun

    Arsenal are a football club that should be in the ucl and lowering your expectation because Arteta is the manager is not an excuse

  32. Bob N16

    Shaun, agree our expectations should be high.

    After finishing 8th for two seasons in a row, to finish 4th would be brilliant- bearing in mind that three of the top 5 teams in Europe are in the first three places.

    Is it a realistic ambition? With United shitting the bed, it is more likely but it’s not unforgivable if we finish outside the top 4 as long as we start next season with real hope and belief that we can be the best of the rest.

  33. Bradybunch

    Other than full unshakable Arteta believers, and I don’t think Pedro is among them, I think all the fence sitters, like myself, were concerned that Toots might be a one off after the next two games, despite fleeting glimpses of decent strategy .
    Villa was better game than Spurs, best team application I’ve seen in a very very long time. Is it another false dawn? Only time will tell, but I’m allowing some optimism in. We have a good squad, who Can play together. Arteta has to be allowed some credit for this for now, though obviously it needs to become the new normal.

  34. Bob N16

    Bradybunch -agree but it feels like every time I start believing that we’ve turned a corner, we produce a performance that makes me lose any faith that might have been gained by a decent performance.

    I know we’ve got a young team and we’re told to expect inconsistency but it felt Potter and Vieira had the beating of Arteta tactically. The players have to take some responsibility but the buck stops with the manager -either they are not implementing his tactics well enough or he’s setting them up wrongly.

  35. Ray+in+LA


    I too feel hesitant to be too optimistic…there are very good signs but also abrupt reversals

    If winning in different ways is good then being disappointing in different ways [Brighton and Palace] is worrisome