LEAGUE TASK GAINS CLARITY + STRIKER REALITIES + TURBOCHARGED LONGTERM PLAN

by .

Well, the mood today is feeling pretty sexy, no?

West Ham United did a few things that really pleased me:

  1. They changed out 6 players for Chelsea, preserving legs for Europa. That means their sole focus is that tournament. There’s no way they go with a decent team against us, just no way.
  2. They lost. Arsenal are now 8 points clear having played one game less. They aren’t fighting for Champions League or Europa via the Premier League this season.
  3. Craig Dawson, their only centre back, was sent off. West Ham can either rush injured players back, or they’re going to have to accept a very rough afternoon against Arsenal.

This is the Premier League, nothing is ever guaranteed, just look at Everton giving Liverpool problems today… but as things stand, we couldn’t ask for a better set of ingredients heading into that pivotal away game next week.

How about Spurs? 10 days ago, people were falling back on basic bitch analysis saying that Antonio Conte was a proper manager, Arsenal shouldn’t have fucked around with a rookie that makes mistakes, and we were doomed. Well, the manager that apparently doesn’t make mistakes has conjured up a miraculous 0 shots on target against Brentford and Brighton, with a fit Harry K and Son, accumulating just 1 point in the process. Where are the ‘ARTETA MAKES MISTAKES’ merchants? WHERE ARE YOU? If Conte is making mistakes, can we maybe accept that all managers make mistakes?

To make matters even MORE delicious, French media is running stories that Conte has dropped his pants and presented himself to PSG last week. He hates it a Spurs, we know that because we watch his pressers and listen to him. He was a disaster hire even if they do get 4th. It always ends in destruction with him. He’s tasted Clover Club like establishments all around the world, now he’s being asked to eat a cold hamburgers from McDonald’s at Spurs. That’s not him.

So who is ready to have a very serious conversation with me? Antonio Conte is only where he is with Spurs because of Harry Kane. If Harry is man-marked, Conte has nothing. Outside that, he has been the luckiest manager in the league this season. The only people who truly believe Conte is performing miracles are those that don’t spend any time watching Spurs play. They were absolutely battered by Brentford yesterday, it was embarrassing, I can’t believe they didn’t lose.

There are 5 games to go, nothing is wrapped up, there are still twists and turns to come… but we are back in the driving seat with the opportunity to MAYBE go into the Spurs game not needing to win the game.

I would hand the 3 points to Spurs for their Leicester game, though Brendan is capable of springing an unexpected tactical masterclass. But would I put money on Spurs turning over Liverpool at Anfield? I wouldn’t.

Things aren’t going to be simple for Arsenal. Bukayo Saka, the man with 16 g/a this season, which is better than Salah, and one short of KDB, is rumoured to be out for two games. That’s not great news for Arsenal, but we could absorb the loss if Pepe shows up and wants to prove a point like everyone else in the squad has. We could also work something out between Gabi, ESR and Odegaard.

The long and short is we have to find a way, like we have done all season, because we have done the hard work beating United and Chelsea. Don’t fuck it on West Ham and Leeds United.

THE DEFENCE OF TAVARES

Listen, the young lad is a reincarnation of Emanuel Eboue. Explosive, clearly talented, but mega CHAOS. You had it all against United. A goal, a penalty give-away, some powerful runs, some good passes, some shocking decisions, customary row Z shots. He’s not at the level we need right now… but he’s young, and 95% of you, myself included, bitched when Arteta put Xhaka in his place. This is our punishment. This is Arteta performing the ‘if you, the fans, know so much, then here it is.’

It’s important to support Tavares. Arteta had it right. We all sit there, fat, overweight, shit at sport… insisting we’d make better decisions against United in a MUST WIN game. It’s easy to be an armchair player. Tavares has to suffer to get better, and as a result, so do we. Slandering a kid online is shitty behavior, we are better than that, and we have been SO wrong on other players. Granit, BIG MO, League One Eddie, to name but a few. They are all part of the unit taking us to the promised land, so hold back the mean tweets, and be grateful they are all trying their best, because it could be enough this season.

I did a podcast with Johnny earlier and we landed on the mistake of not signing a striker in January. I can’t tell you how much I disagree with that take. The striker we needed was the England U21 record goalscorer who did the job against Chelsea. If he’d been given all the games from January, you’d have at least 8 goals.

Remember these points when thinking about January:

Point 1: We went hard for the most expensive striker available in January and lost out based on dodgy agent fees. The player wanted Arsenal, but he was pushed by his agent, now he’s rumoured to be unhappy about the horrible Allegri system he’s struggling in.

Learning here: We had the money, the intent, and we went for it.

Point 2: Some think we should have signed any old backup striker just to give us a body. Again, this sort of point is basically a brand statement, not a sporting statement. Fans just wanted it to seem like we were doing something but if you buy an average backup in the short-term, you pay in the long-term. No player moves for a bad deal in Jan, so you are tying someone in for 3 years. That potentially blocks a kid, it lowers the standards at the training ground, and it can cause friction when that average backup isn’t getting minutes. There will also be better back-ups in the summer. Which striker moved in Jan that you thought was a miss? Weghorst… 29 years old, a poverty Giroud, 2 goals in 15 games? Fuck that.

Learning here: A body for body’s sake gets you Pablo Mari. You pay for that in the end. We are a CL dreaming club. Shitty backups aren’t the way forward. Second learning, who signed a banger of a striker in Jan that we missed out on? Ashley Barnes? Any other names?

‘BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEEN SOMEONE’ doesn’t rub for me. We had £60m available. If there was a player that could have made us better, he’d be at Arsenal right now.

Point 3: It is better to delay signing a banger of a striker a year than sign someone that doesn’t fit the profile you need to go right to the top. Wenger did exactly that once, he crippled us by waiting for… Chamakh. Right idea, wrong execution. We are looking for a very specific type of player, there are probably only 5 or 6 that fit the bill, these players are at clubs competing for things. We have delayed the purchase because we get one shot at this. Stan K won’t keep spending money we don’t have. This striker is the most consequential striker signing we’ll make this decade. It will define us, shape our success, and orient where our spending goes in the future. Next season, you will look back on our lack of movement in January and thank the GODS of football we didn’t do something stupid because we will be a different beast next season.

Learning here: Just because you can buy someone, doesn’t mean you should. Fans live in the moment, window to window, football clubs have to be bigger than that and look at the long game. Arsenal has finally learned to be smart.

THE SHORT TERM BIG PICTURE: We are in control of 4th, with 5 games to go, with the youngest manager in the league, with the youngest squad in the league, without having had access to an elite striker all season, with 3 of our best players out injured, with the worst goal scoring record in the top 7.

Add an elite striker and a blockbuster midfielder to this squad and do nothing else… we are a top 4 team next year.

Bukayo Saka is already pushing KDB and Salah for numbers.

Martin Odegaard has created the most chances in the league since November.

Thomas Partey is one of the best midfielders in the league.

Our defence will be so much better next season.

Arteta will get sharper tactically, he’ll hopefully rotate the squad better, and he will just improve.

Bill Saliba is going to be at Arsenal next season, don’t panic, he’ll sign a new deal, he’ll give us better options when our key defenders are flapping.

Our inexperienced players are all developing Arsenal Winning IP as they fight nerves, physical drain, and emotional wreckage. They will come back different men next season.

Here’s the cut of it… if we do get top 4, the confidence in our very small camp will be absolutely off the charts going into next season. There is a chance for us to compete for 3rd next season, those players will believe they have a right to eat at the big boy’s table.

This season will be a success however we finish, Europa was the target, no one in Arsenal leadership gives a shit if Arsenal fans changed the target. Anything above that is MASSIVE and ahead of schedule.

If we hit our stretch goal, it will be so, so, so special and it will turbocharge our plans.

So let’s take a moment to enjoy that United victory, then regroup and focus on that West Ham game.

It. Is. Huge.

Now listen to our podcast and marvel at how funny Johnny is. Also, we wanted to thank you again for listening, we had our best week ever for podcast listens, and we also got our first deal to do read-through ads. We know we’re not Arseblog or Arsenal Vision, but it was cool regardless, it means we’re showing up on media agency listener tools. So thank you. We are going to do a Patreon package next season that’s a mix of editorial and extra podcast content.

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175 Responses to “LEAGUE TASK GAINS CLARITY + STRIKER REALITIES + TURBOCHARGED LONGTERM PLAN”

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  1. AFC Forever

    Those stats prove how creative we are and that box to box we are tactically smart.

    If we can add efficiency in the penalty area in the summer we are seriously going places. I was surprised by the shots on target, especially in relation to spuds with Kane & Son. These numbers are with a team of youngsters and no real finisher, after a terrible start to the season. We have to remember that we have top talents in players like Odegaard, Saka, ESR, Martinelli, who have yet to reach their prime. Keep these lads together and improve on our finishing with smart recruitment and it wont be long before we are challenging for the big prizes. Exciting times.

  2. AFC Forever

    Naija+soccer

    Yes, we are not efficient in the penalty area; but we knew that anyway. They are impressive numbers though when you take that into consideration. Funny how Man City & Liverpools numbers are almost identical…!!

  3. Nigel Tufnel

    I like Tom’s response on the Ødegaard criticism. Those passes he mentioned were huge. How many disappointing finishes have we quickly forgotten that came from sweet passes from Ødegaard. Must be a huge number.

    Also, have we had a functioning CF at any point this season?

    … that’s huge for a 10 like Øde.

    Anybody trying to dig up stats to downplay Ødegaard is being pedantic, because all you have to do is watch him play. No stats necessary. He’s that good.

    It must suck to watch football and not see that.

  4. AFC Forever

    Nigel

    Odegaard is pure class. Sometimes you read the comments and just shake your head. You can debate with that level of stupidity.

  5. Nigel Tufnel

    People forget Tierney had that left side locked down this season…. we stopped running the attack through him which got him beat many times last year, and improved the attack as well.

    His stats for getting dribbled past are incredible this season.

    Has anyone noticed Gabriel’s defense since Tierney has been out?… I’d bet that’s related. I think he’s taken for granted a little bit.

  6. Naija+soccer

    AFC

    TOTAL SHOTS
    1. LFC 613
    2. MC 603
    3. AFC 511
    4. CFC 479
    5. MU 468
    11. Spuds 414

    SHOTS ON TARGET
    1. LFC 224
    2. MC 221
    3. CFC 175
    4. MU 170
    5. AFC 166
    6. Spuds 161

    This stat certainly looks promising for Arteta. Not bad for a rookie coach.

  7. Grouvillegooner

    Agree Pedro with your comments about January window buys. It is just not the time to do deals for good long term talent.
    Eddie at best is a back up striker so there is a need to strengthen there. Just do not make it DCL (has a had one good three month spell only) or Jesus (another Manchester cast off)!
    Tierney has always had a suspect injury record I have mentioned it on here before, you can look at his Celtic appearance record. There is a need for a back up so a big few games coming up for Tavares. He has ability, it’s just the thinking and decision making with him that needs to improve- considerably.

  8. S23

    My phone was silent today,back under the rocks-you swines!!
    Dermot Gallagher has even defended all of the decisions that went our way on Saturday,I am in another timeline.

  9. AFC Forever

    Naija+soccer

    Yes I agree. That stat is actually an eye opener.

    It shows just how much creativity we have. For a side that’s in its first season, with a lot of young players AND without a striker of the class other teams have, it’s telling. Don’t forget for months we were being told that we had no creativity and were boring, it answers all of that. Next season we will be further into our development, will have recruited and won’t have a disrupted start to the season. We are definitely progressing nicely.

  10. Samesong

    While the Tavares criticism is merited. Both Gabriel and White have been poor defensively in recent games. The defence as a whole has been shaky. And as I said before Tavares is trying to impress too much. He looks nervous every time he has the ball. no composure. This is also down to coaching.

    I still think there is a decent back up player. Just wrong time of season to be making these cock ups.

  11. LoveSausage

    The only way that Tavares might turn into a player is if he goes on a season-long loan and gets regular play time. Yes, he’s young. But he’s too old to be this chaotic. If he’s still all over the place at 23 then we can safely conclude he’ll never be anything else than what we’re seeing. But we won’t find out if he’s just warming the bench at Arsenal.

  12. Leftside

    Yes I agree Samesong, Ramsdale, Gabriel and White have been off colour since we resumed after the international break. Gabriel was more culpable for two of the goals against Palace than Nuno was but it was Nuno who was hooked off. Ramsdale also has been off colour for a little while now. So in essence we have a whole back four that is a little unsure of themselves and short on confidence.

    Hopefully Tomi being back, plus two big wins against two big sides will help instil some confidence back in the side.

  13. Pierre

    Tom
    “Pierre, I wonder whether KDB’s City supporting cast and likewise that of Ozil at Real Madrid had anything to do with their superior chance created numbers…….what do you think?”

    That being the case , one would think that David Silva would have ELITE figures like Ozil and Debruyne when it comes to key passes as he has the same supporting cast as Debruyne, and yet he is down with Odegaard, Eriksen and Maddison for key passes per game

    So to answer the question , i would say that the supporting cast makes little difference for key passes, but of course it would make a difference to their assists as playing with better strikers is likely to improve those statistics.

  14. Pierre

    Tom
    “Ozil had 52 assists for RM in the two seasons leading up to his Arsenal transfer, and here are some of his teammates:
    Ronaldo, Higuain, Benzema, Di Maria, Xabi Alonso, Kaka, Modric, Marcelo, Ramos……”

    Tom, there is a difference between assists and key passes created , we were talking about key passes not assists , although as you should know , Ozil excelled in both areas , in fact he was one off the premiership record for a season playing with Giroud up top, proving if you are an ELITE creative player you can adapt your game to play with any striker .

  15. Pierre

    Bacaryisgod
    “I’m just proud you found a way to mention Ozil again. You are an artist.”

    It’s difficult to keep him out of the equation when one is talking about ELITE creative players..

    Let’s hope Odegaard moves up to the ELITE level with Debruyne and Ozil..

  16. WengerEagle

    Ozil was once elite but you have to go back as far as 2015/16 to a time where he was week in and out at that level.

    From 2013-2016 Ozil was a joy to watch and a brilliant player for us and he gave us a solid season in 2016/17 too even if that was the beginning of the end, it is why I still consider his overall transfer here to be a success albeit not an overwhelming one given how bad he was from 2018-2020 and the fact that he pretty much mailed it in after signing that £350k a week contract.

  17. Shropshire Lad

    Pods going from strength to strength. Arseblog and Vision are stalwarts but you boys are the Hale End bloggers production line!
    However, Matt needs to stop getting injured and show up in games more. Great when he plays but a little Tierney like!
    Great stuff lads

  18. rollen

    Maybe Tets should play Tavarez and Eddie more and manage Auba and Laca better, as this is his job and not talking nice bulshit in presser and pretending we are Crystal Palace level club aiming for Europa League.