by .

Well, yesterday was the most trafficked post of the year, isn’t that weird? Thousands of men and women, sneaking off to the bathroom,  Peroni in hand, to land a hit of Le Grove. Lovely stuff. Could also be a weird SEO thing because I put ‘xxx’ at the end of the title.

I was spending Christmas alone yesterday until I found out my dad had also tested positive for COVID. He came into London to collect me, we shared strains in the car on the way home, and had a nice Christmas. I am STILL testing positive. But today is day 9, tomorrow, I’m free whatever the lateral-flow test says.

It was mildly amusing to see the handle land some shit for not saying ‘Happy Christmas’ until later in the day. I am not a Trumpy ‘THEY STOLE OUR CHRISTMAS’ type of guy, but if you’re out here celebrating every other religious holiday (which Arsenal rightly do), you can’t shy away from saying Happy Christmas when you are a British club. Honestly, who gives a shit if someone is offended by it, that is their problem.

Back to the good stuff…

We’re playing Norwich today, they are bottom of the league, Dean Smith has a good record against us… but today really would be asking something of him. The Canaries have been truly awful this season, they don’t have the equipment to stay up… but when has that ever stopped an upset?

Things going against us today:

  • Post-Christmas games are always a bit sluggish
  • The game is an away day, and we’ve not been the best away from him this season. We’re 10th for points accrued on the road. We’ve conceded 17 and lost 5 in 9 games.
  • We are famous for being a Christmas gift to teams that are having a bad run. It’s been that way for about 15 years.

Arsenal cannot allow Norwich to happen to us. It would ruin a great body of December/November work. We are a form team, everyone has found their level, we need to go to Carrow Road and do a very straightforward job, very well.

The injury news is pretty good. Everyone is available bar Auba and a few second-stringers that wouldn’t have been important anyway.

Arteta is thinking about the January transfer window.

“If you can tweak what you need to in that period, which is not easy, it would be really helpful,”

“We are working on that to see the necessities we can have, and whether we can find the right solutions to that.”

The problem with the January window is it rarely offers up a lot of ‘NOW’ value. The standout move over the past 15 years was Andre Arshavin. He came in, made a HUGE impact, then he got a little overweight and was never the same. Martin Odegaard on loan was also a bit of a saucy move, the player made an impact to the way we played, versus showing big numbers, it was also a trial run for a summer move. Now look at him… don’t we just love him?

Maybe that’s part of the recipe? Find players with a point to prove. Jovic at Madrid needs a move this summer, he has 321 minutes to his name, he’ll come in and play the way we want him to play.

The other challenge you have with a loan move is the reality: It might take minutes from a promising kid. We wasted minutes on Ceballos last season. We wasted even more on the busted flush that was Willian. Are we going to bring someone in that might waste time that could go to a top talent? I thought Arteta had the answers in this following quote:

“I was living at La Masia – it was a bedroom of eight,” he said. “I had Pepe Reina, Víctor Valdés, Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol … What I learned was that internally there was competition: we were all at the same age and wanted to be first-team players but could not all get there. But what I learned as well was within that competition you understand that you have to look after each other. That was a big, big lesson in that period for me.

“Some of them are still my best friends because it is tough and you go through important, key moments in your career and it stays for life. Those relationships are unbreakable.”

I’m not sure that quote answered much, but it’s nice that he’s doubling down on Wenger ideals. Our ex-manager dreamed of building a group of young players that had unbreakable bonds on the pitch and a huge love for the club off it. The thing he missed during his Project Youth was the special sauce that could have made them title winners. Cesc needed an experienced destroyer next to him. The team needed more depth. Talented young players will eventually want to win… and get paid.

The manager also spent a lot of time talking about culture. This is meant in the least offensive way, but I think it’s quite hard for journalists to write about culture because the job they do is mostly all about them. Journos are like golfers, they are in control of whether they are good or not. The words flow or they don’t. My guess, having not worked as one, is that there’s not a huge amount of teamwork in sports writing. I know they occasionally write in groups, but I don’t think they experience culture in the same way you or I do (Unless they were footballers at a high level). Which is why some ask questions like ‘are you a dictator for enforcing something that feels quite trivial.’

Well, the questions in the presser again fell on ‘what is culture and how do you do it.’ I quite liked that Arteta said firstly, the culture is not his. The second part I liked is that he makes it work because he asked the players ‘do you think it has been good in the past?.’ If they agree no, then fixing it becomes everyone’s duty. That is ultimately the key to a great culture. When it’s working, everyone understands what you are working towards, and everyone in it knows what they have to do.

A big part of it is also knowing what gets rewarded in the system and what is punished. It’s super basic, but you probably know that in a Jose Mourinho system, pretending to have a head injury in the 92nd minute is going to be rewarded in the dressing room. If everyone understands that is part of the culture, players know how to behave on the pitch, and you grow a team of shit-housers that will do anything to win. What does Arteta reward? He probably likes to see players focusing on being defensively resolute the whole game, so what are we seeing now? Martin Odegaard closing down like a lunatic late in the game, Martinelli tracking runners after a gruelling game, and players celebrating defensive actions like goals. How do you know that sort of stuff is part of the rewards in our culture? Fans recognize that Arsenal are more George Graham than Arsene Wenger. We can see it. The rules of your culture are important because they allow you to weed out the people that aren’t going to work.

Anyway, I find culture fascinating because it’s a living being in an organization. When people call it management talk, it’s usually because they’ve never experienced a good one. This is controversial, but quite often people label truly elite cultures toxic because they can’t handle the pressures that come with hitting a standard. You see it all over the world, companies that create incredible often have workers that complain. A good culture doesn’t always mean it’s pleasant. A good culture is hard. It means you are constantly reminded that there are standards. It means you are called out if you fall below it. A good culture is exhausting. Just listen to Klopp talk about his players at Dortmund getting bored of him after a while. Conte never lasts long because he takes the standards too far and it breaks people. Those are the extremes of elite anything. Some people can handle it, some people are prepared to suffer, most can’t and melt.

Losing a player like Auba just means he’s not built for where we’re heading. Look at the players moved on? Most couldn’t hit the standard, weren’t prepared to stay at the standard they once attained or were too old to give a shit.

I like where we’re heading. It’s exciting. It makes sense. Games like today show us where we are.

Right, have a great Boxing Day, I’ll see you in the comments. xx

P.S. We’ll be in the whistle after the game

P.P.S. If you’ve seen Ian Wright wearing the awesome jumper below and you want it… head to Art of Football to buy it.

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Nigel Tufnel

Anybody watching these games since our last Tottenham win must see such an improvement in our passing game. After our game today, I tried to watch spurs game and Chelsea…. …both Palace and Villa were painful to watch trying to build attacks and create chances. …AND… Chelsea and Spurs were not really good at all. Right now, Arteta has our guys playing at a very high level. Pressing with great progressive flow. The only teams currently playing at or above our movement/passing level, are Liverpool and City. Elite teams, built over years with the world’s best coaches and plenty of… Read more »



I think we’ll see a lot of internal improvements next season because Arteta has been pretty consistent with his starting eleven. A lot of key players are getting a lot of minutes, which is a great thing.

That said, we need to avoid doing a Tottenham. We shouldn’t entertain some romantic fantasy about being a self-sufficient club. That’s not how elite football works. We should be bringing in 1-2 elite players each summer TW who will either improve the starting eleven immediately or at least provide serious competition. Otherwise, we’ll stagnate just like Spuds’ golden generation did.

Vintage Gun

Great win. Buzzing!!! After the defeat against United and Everton in particular i was rattled and demanded wins in all our games leading up to the City match. With the Wolves game cancelled, we’ve now achieved that goal and fully back on the Euro wagon. Within spitting distance of the promised land at the years end. 2 against West Ham 3 against So’ton 4 against Leeds and 5 against Norwich all in a row! Throw in the 5 against Blunderland and it’s the equivalent of bringing a nuclear warhead to a fist fight. For the next game against City i… Read more »


LS There’s a lot of big talent out there, with good scouting + recruitment, we can definitely compete A fool and his money are easily parted, United have thrown loads of money in fees and wages at it, we’ve also squandered plenty of money ourselves in recent seasons We’ll need to invest, but I hate the idea of just throwing money at it, we’re one of the richest clubs in the world, there’s absolutely no reason we can’t compete within our own resources, grow our revenue, and become very competitive Chelsea + City spend, but they’re both incredibly well run… Read more »

Tenerife Gooner

XHAKA needs to sort out his Body Language.


Rich, I agree, we need to keep giving young players chances. But we need to be much smarter with selling them when they don’t cut it. I usually don’t like talk about self-sufficiency because most people think of it as the academy supplying a never ending stream of talent to the first team (cue the Willock fanboys) and will happily settle for subpar players just because they’re “our boys”. But you’re right, there’s the other kind of self-sufficiency where you become so good at selling that funds the majority of your purchases. That’s something we should aspire to. The academy… Read more »


Watched MotD. Well, well. Fantastic game. It sometimes Really Arsenal in how we played sometimes. Saka’ s goals are both exquisite. Tierney’s goal was great. Loved his celebration. I can see why he can be captain material. But is he capable to shake a finger at a player and encourage him.? Let’s see. Laca was wasteful when needed (that wasted cross from Saka!!!). Good with link up play but shit at goals. An upgrade is required to compliment Martinelli in the summer. Martinelli is just incredible. His work rate was incredible. The potential is there to see. Can he push… Read more »


Whether or not the wolves game is postponed and arteta somehow knew it doesn’t really make delaying the subs any more logical The game was won at 3-0 midway through the second half. We’d already seen Norwich commit a few petulant fouls and the like. What if someone had taken out and injured one of our key players whether by accident or in frustration? What would the point have been in them remaining on the pitch? It’s not like we were playing some key players into form or needing to help our players get minutes. It was the same thing… Read more »


Beyond the irritating subs tho, that was a great game so well done to the whole team and arteta for another good job well done


A bit petty to go on about substitutions that worked just because they weren’t the ones you would have made. We won 5-0 ffs


What December curse!?!

I’ll tell you what, we would have beaten Wolves too if it wasn’t postponed.

They were coming to us and our home form has been excellent.

As for Man City? I fancy us… a hard fought 2-1 for the Arsenal.

Time Up

I don’t judge the team by beating City or Pool. All I’m asking is to give them a game. The last 6/7 games against them in the EPLwe probably have 3 shots on target scoring ZERO goals. To show some sort of progress, I’m asking to give them a game at home just like Wolves, Leicester, Palace, Southampton and Spud, no more no less. If we lose without a fight or recording a shot on target again….. Pedro will go into philosophical mood and explained to us what we shouldn’t see with our eyes, but see with our inner strength… Read more »


Time Up,

I get that you’re not a fan of Arteta and what he’s doing. But you really come across as someone who’s hoping for the team to fail just to be proven right. You write a post where you’re picking fights with people based on hypotheticals. Do you not see how weird that is on a day when we’ve won 5-0?


A solid win, against a very poor Norwich team, but nonetheless 3 big points. Saka with exceptional moments, a precise shot by Tierney, and well, ESR, what can you can say… Not playing Wolves is a serious bummer as they are out with a large number or players with covid or injuries, it would have been better to play them on short notice now than later if their team has those players back and ready for game day. Ode had some very nice passes, our defense had no trouble at the office today, but when ESR came on you can… Read more »


Good game against a side offering nothing in our final third. Happy for the win and the improvement in out GD. We look like we’re ready to test ourselves against City now the Wolves game is PP. Not saying we can beat City but this will be our best for going into a top 3 game and getting a point or more. AMN reported has an offer for 6 month loan and then option to buy for Euros 8.4 by Roma. The Arteta saga for AMN continues. Will Arteta keep AMN to not play him again? Anyway it’s Xmas and… Read more »


Personally I think AMN is worth more than Xhaka and I’d prefer Xhaka went to Roma and we kept AMN as his value should increase to around Willocks’ because of his versatility and age.


Yeah it’s true Norwich were crap but my two cents are

1) you can only beat what’s in front of you – and we did
2) if we beat them 1-0 in a hard fought scrap it would’ve been less impressive but we duly underscored the difference in class with a 5-0 thumping.

Gotta be happy with that


I really enjoyed Martinellis performance. It’s a shame he was just off side as he deserved a goal. First half he was a Duracell bunny and causing trouble left right and center and in the second half he was more measured but playing really well. He won a few aerial duels he probably had no right to and was really in the thick of things. A goal would’ve been very well earned

Martinelli esr Saka ode – that’s 4 young players who are doing things for us right now all in the same half of the pitch. Lovely lovely stuff


Also shoutouts to Bob Balding at CB who had a good game

It seems he’s not only got his hair back but he’s changed from blonde to brown lol

Anyway I maintain what I’ve always said about him which is that he’s never likely to be world class and the answer to CB long term in the starting 11, but as far as 3rd choices go in the PL he’s one of the best. Not many teams have a third choice better than him so that’s his value to this squad

Time Up


I’m over the moon today, it has brighten my Boxing Day and now with the Wolves game off, even brighten my NY. I don’t know what made you think like that, strange observation.

Also, if Arteta proved me wrong (I hope he does))and turned out to be generational as Pedro told us. I’ll come here and write a letter of apology to Mr Arteta under the title, The meaning of Arteta, promise.


Morning Bob probably missed you with my reply yesterday. Happy you enjoyed the post yesterday and I was hoping it would be fun reading on the usual anti climax Boxing Day. I was laughing too much to type at one point as I vividly remembered the incident. The book proposal and 6-episode documentary I have written is currently being considered by the International Chapters. I hope it goes ahead, as I think the time is right to really see what goes on with a MC club. It’s not in any way like Sons of Anarchy or The Mayans and other… Read more »

Mr Serge

Get well soon Pedro I hope everyone had a great Christmas, great result today spurs and Man U will be on our backs if they do well with their games in hand so imperative we get a result against city


Time Up, There’s no such thing as a generational talent when you’re in management. You become generational by achieving things consistently over time. And once you’ve done that, like Pep or Klopp, everyone with two thumbs, a Twitter account, and 20/20 hindsight will claim they knew this manager was generational all along. It’s BS. Arteta needs to either achieve a 4th place finish or be in the mix until the end of the season. If he doesn’t, there’s a case for him leaving. But he’s made a lot of progress with the team this season (including a couple of really… Read more »



A player needs minutes to increase his value. AMN won’t get them with us. He’s not good enough to compete with Tomi and he couldn’t even cut it at West Brom in his preferred position. He’s 24 and he’s never been a starter. So he’s highly unlikely to increase in value. Assuming we can get a replacement, I think we should sell him for the price quoted.


A few weeks ago I think the 4 biggest criticisms of arteta were : 1. Fear producing galaxy brain versus top 3 2. Inability to win games that we didn’t dominate 3. Lack of an edge about the team 4. Poor subs. I assume today he gambled that the wolves game was off. In which case – good job on selection and subs. Take the points. Pressure spurs abs united.. I also see a fight about the lads. Spikey. I like it. So that’s 3 and 4 looking better. With city at home, spurs away and Liverpool in the league… Read more »


Shame about the Wolves game , would love to see this current Arsenal in action asap . Now City and Liverpool , 2 massive games . City are on just a different level right now but vulnerable at the back strangely , if we dont give them too much respect , we might nick it .


Wow – the Wolves game called off due to COVID in the Wolves camp and they are the only club in EPL to claim 100% COVID double vaccination + booster status! Go figure.


I didn’t see it mentioned so forgive me if it was, I personally loved seeing Ramsdale get after everyone sometime around the 60-65 min mark. We were starting to get sloppy and lose just a little bit of composure and he just took those ol lanky arms of his, gave a big *calm down* motion and a holler. Leadership like that has desperately been missing for far too long. Granted we’ve got the youngest starting XI in the league and his newness to the squad, you can’t say he’s one for hiding from responsibility and behind his youth. You never… Read more »


If AMN isn’t going to make it or get playing time then why didn’t we sell him when we had the chance last season’s TW. Wasn’t £15m bid.

I’d prefer AMN to Xhaka any day with Partey.

Agree to disagree as it’s Xmas, LS?

Nigel Tufnel

Zimmie I noticed that gesture from Rambo.

Also noticed him against Leeds encouraging Cedric in a big way. The guy hasn’t played in the prem in a while and seemed a bit tentative when he had to come on for Tomi.

There’s probably lots of other little things Ramsdale does that we have no idea about.

Nigel Tufnel

People still have to take digs at Xhaka, even on a good run. I’ve said before, I’m ready for him to be replaced with a more dynamic midfielder… but… I have to say… The guys has been very good, solid especially recently. I said this earlier too… he does not play like a guy who didn’t get his preferred move. Look at idiot Harry Kane for that example haha. He is strong and reliable, and gets no credit from the fans. With all our youth, his experience comes in handy. Yeah you all go on about the red mist and… Read more »


Nigel I thought you’d bite at that one. Stupid is as stupid does.

Happy holidays


Tired of busting my ass for this company when the salary doesn’t match up to the role – I’m starting to apply for similar roles in shanghai and London now

If on the odd chance I actually do end up moving to London, it would be amazing to be able to occasionally go to games again and even more so to be in the right time zone to watch ALL the games for once including the late ones

Let’s see


Xhaka was fine yesterday as far as xhaka can be. He got his customary gormless yellow which got their fans riled up which was briefly concerning but thankfully nothing came of it

Thankfully besides that he was otherwise decent and was mentally quite quick to keep pace with the game.

Fair play to him. More of that (minus the gormless yellows) please. But I won’t hold my breath that he will keep this up

Nigel Tufnel

I’ll admit this is positive spin on my part, because I’m not a huge Xhaka fan, I just feel he deserves some credit for strong, hard work,, even if far from spectacular.

I think he might be playing better lately, because the rest of the lineup and kids have all been playing much better…

There’s even a chance the young guns are inspiring him a bit. He might not even regret staying, seeing the improvement and another shot at champions league.

That is some positive spin from me. It’s allowed once in a while.


If it’s true we are looking for a top quality midfielder in Jan or the summer tho that would be very exciting. I want a player who can do for CM what ESR and Ode have been doing for AM. Or what Tomi has been doing for RB. It’s less about what profile the player fits into (I have a preference here but it’s not a priority for me) – but more that I just want us to have a CM where it is entirely self evident that it is class. Where no one needs to pick out stats or… Read more »


“He is strong and reliable” Comedy gold statement of the year, Nigel. Xhaka is anything but. No one wants him and Roma were only prepared to pay silly money for a silly player on double what he’s worth salary. Xhaka against City? Stuff nightmares are made of. It’s not if the wooden head gets a card, but what colour? As he’s equally good at getting both. He falls at the slightest touch feigning pulverization while cuddling the ball at the time. This is a 50/50 at best to get the result from wiser refs. Sometimes, it’s Xhaka who gets the… Read more »


Nigel well it’s safe to say everyone knows my disdain for xhaka (the player not the human) But I’ve always been willing to give credit to anyone when I think it’s due. Yesterday he was decent. But I think it’s also telling that in 5 years that’s about as positive as I’ve been about him because that’s as good as it’s ever been. And for the most part considerably worse. I will give any player or manager their dues when I think they’re doing well. I’m giving arteta that lately despite his subs irking me – he’s otherwise turned this… Read more »


Yeah arteta needs to ask himself seriously if he’s willing to roll the xhaka dice on city. Besides having the wrong attire bites for that game he also got a petulant red card for a stupid tackle last time around. The whole team is playing way better now which as you say Nigel makes his life easier. But if xhaka plays against city (he will) and if he is a key contributor to us losing their will be fans foaming at the mouth saying I told you so Mikel has earned some fan capital back lately tho and regardless of… Read more »


Tbh I hope we come flying out the blocks against city and just try to out score them


Another great win. If we keep winning against the weaker opposition, there will be no need to pick up points from the top 3.

Top 4 definitely on this season.

Nigel Tufnel

But no mention of all the managers that disagree with the local scouts on legrove?

Hmmmm…. some loser on a blog vs Arteta.. a former player, la masia product, team captain for Wenger (and Moyes?) .. hired by Guardiola, and now on a good path with our team…

I wonder who I should pay attention to?
Holidays and big wins on good runs still can’t make some of you less miserable.


Not sure who specifically you’re referring to Nigel

Most people seem pretty happy with the run of form and performances


Xhaka will never be unanimously liked by Arsenal fans , especially after what he did. He is a bum who is doing a decent enough job until he goes wild and gets the next red or concedes a stupid freekick/Pen . Case in point last night when he lost his cool and got an unnecessary yellow, or against Leeds which was easily a red. I hope Arteta has the sense to start Lokonga against City.


China it might come as a suprise to you but the fans on legrove aren’t the determinant of anything regards arsenal supporting. Arteta doesn’t need your capital(lmao) and you might as well start foaming in the mouth as xhaka is a key component of the team as of RIGHT NOW. Seriously you need to pick it up. You were literally complaining about substitution like it just caused a cl final after a resounding victory.

Habesha Gooner

Xhaka has always been Xhaka. He plays well when we play teams that don’t put any pressure on us. But when we play serious teams, the pressure will get to him. He will make a silly pass or he can’t keep up and makes a rash challenge. And you can’t have him as your main CM for a top team. But fair play to him he has been playing well this season apart from those shockers at the Etihad and at Goodson park. AMN is definitely leaving in January from the rumors. We will definitely sign a CM now. We… Read more »

The Bard

Fantastic win. As someone pointed put you can only beat wants in front of you. My take with AMN is that something isn’t right behind the scenes. I know he’s had disciplinary/timekeeping issues. He seems keen to portray himself as Mr Cool. Either way he clearly hasn’t done enough to convince Arteta that he is worth keeping.

Bob N16

Tony, imagine your crew are whole lot more benevolent than SoA! Sounds like the characters have had life experiences that make most people come across as very unadventurous.
Lots to write if people are willing to share their life stories.

Bob N16

Without knowing all the details, I feel as though AMN was persuaded to stay with the promise of more game time than he’s been given.

The finances of Covid time have messed things up a bit but excuses aside only getting £8m or so for him is another example of us not getting enough for outgoing players.

Habesha Gooner

€ 10mil for AMN is pathetic to be honest. The absolute minimum we should demand is £ 15 mil for him. He will go to Roma and come back to England a £ 30 mil player. Atleast we should include a huge sell on percentage if we plan on selling him for cheap. We should have done that with Mavropanos too. Selling under Edu has been a problem. We need to gradually become tough negotiators for players we don’t need. Willock is the only one who went for decent money. Guendouzi and Torreira went for cheap too. City meanwhile are… Read more »

Bob N16

Habesha , hoping Richard Garlick has been brought in to sort this out but no evidence so far of any upturn. Chambers is another player who is pointlessly depreciating in value, can’t believe he is not worth something but I believe he’s another who will be out of contract in the summer.

Why hoard players, not play them and then sell them for nothing?

Mr Serge

Vlahovic lovely left foot, strong in the air great free kicks and big WHATS not to like ? Him or DCL in asap for top 4 push


Mr Serge

Don’t know if Vlahovic Is any good?

41 goals in a calendar year at 21, but plenty of penalties for stat padding, £60mill (€70mill being quoted)

Highlight reels can be deceiving, but if we can palm off Torreira at the same time, and somehow give Aubameyang away

Maybe worth a punt?


It is possible to score a goal and not celebrate in a huddle with players faces 2 inches from eachother.

It’s no surprise that prem players are dropping like 9 pins as they are not really showing any intelligence.

Score a goal and give a fist pump or something to avoid spreading covid, where is the commonsense.


Players don’t get infected on the pitch. Not with all the pre match tests and what not

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