THE BIG DATA BLOG – PATH FORWARD IS CLEAR

by .

Gooooood morning! I’m a bit late to the party today, football is exhausting sometimes, so is writing, tweeting and, podcasting. If I were on Facebook pre-2010, I’d have a text status update that said ‘Humph’ because that’s the sort of attention seeker I am. Talk about first world problems, right?

Arsenal finished the season by absolutely spanking a shocking, shocking Everton side. The scoreline wasn’t flattering, but the goal haul did maybe take the edge off our goalscoring issues this season – but let’s not gloss over the truth.

I’ll be using this incredz article for info.

Without those 5 peachy goals, we’d have finished 8th for goals scored behind United and West Ham. That fact doesn’t distract from the reality of our season, 4th was largely lost for two reasons, the main one being that we didn’t score enough.

I know I am all over the place with xG, but again, but here is my reiteration of when I will use it:

xG + eye test + context

The eye test is that we need a big boy upfront, and the above table is the context.

Our expected goals has us top 4. What is the context for us not matching our xG? We played half a season with a striker in massive decline, we spent the next chunk of the season with a striker that couldn’t score goals, then we finished with a 22 year that started 8 games and hauled in the most goals of all our strikers this season in the Premier League.

Then add the context that we had the 4th most shots in the league and were ranked 12th for conversion. Again, we have a young team and shooting accuracy under pressure is generally a skill that develops with age. Don’t believe me? Look at the top 20 scorers in the league late season and tell me how many are 24 or under. Not many. Look at Robin Van Persie goal stats at Arsenal, he only scored 15 or more goals 3 times in 8 seasons, despite making more than 30 appearances 6 of those seasons. That was with a squad with seasoned vets, in a league that was far, far weaker than the one we live in now.

Now look at the top open play chance creators in the league.

How many of those guys are 23 or under? How about 25 and under? The youngest players in that illustrious list outside our boys are 27 years old. Why does that matter? Because it tells you our kids will get better and we’re on the right path with regards to creativity.

Then we land on this list. Someone was digging me out on Youtube that they had listened to a podcaster debunk the myth of age being a factor when judging a season. Let’s knock that on the head right now because if that’s your view, it is a dross one, that wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny at any level, with anyone who works in football.

Let’s talk about why we are going young.

Firstly, there are two ways to build a super club:

  1. Spend outrageous amounts of money – City / Chelsea
  2. Grow a team of young players with a top coach – Liverpool

Even though City are a gross club, but they have a sustainable approach to the game. They have one style of football. They buy young players at the top of their game. They don’t cycle through a new coach each year, because stability is cheaper and better for success. Boom and bust managerial appointments might be seen less and less at big clubs, particularly with Chelsea moving on from Roman. It’s expensive and with each new manager you have a new list of players they want and coaches they don’t have. City are well run, one of the best, it’s just unfair they can do it with a states wealth funding a smart model

Arsenal don’t have an option on #1.

We could have a crack at buying a load of 27-year-olds that look like Champions League players, but by the time a project makes a big tournament, they have to rebuild anyway because those 27-year-olds are 30.

Big clubs want to move to sustainable models with their football operations, you want to be able to get to the top, then sustain it without mega cash outlays. You also want to make sure that when you do get to the top, you have young enough players to have a Liverpool like spell of success.

We have to take a longer route to the top. Our strategy is a simple one: Buy the best U23 players in every position or bring them through the academy, give them the best coaching possible, keep them at the club by progressing on the pitch, then when you make Champions League, your 23 yrs olds are 25/26 ready to bang and compete for years like Liverpool and Man City.

We are at year one of that project. You can say Arteta has been here 2.5 years, you can say he’s on borrowed time, but the truth is he’s here on year one and the graph above shows you how young we are in comparison to the teams doing the business right now.

Age is a factor. Yes, it’s our choice, but I’ve explained why it’s the only choice. Our young players experienced a lot of new things this season. Firstly, playing with each other, this is a new team in which 5 new players ended up being first-teamers. They had never experienced actually competing and the pressure that came with it. They had never experienced MEGA attention, some didn’t deal well with it… youtube, Twitter, Instagram follower counts blowing up, media expectations, fan expectations, international call-ups, new sponsorships. If you don’t think these things have more adverse impacts on younger people, honestly, you have no clue what you are talking about and you should step out of the conversation.

The final rip from this article is this nugget.

‘Arteta made just 63 line-up changes over the course of the Premier League season – the fewest of any manager.’

Lots of people are looking at the Spurs signings as the key difference between 4th and 5th, that is the defining narrative. But that assumes some things: that there was a player we could have definitely signed that was a difference-makers long-term and we passed on them.

Arteta is the greediest manager in the league, if there was a chance to do something big, he would have. We bid for the most expensive striker in Europe, that is proof intent was there if the talent was.

For me though, the biggest miss of the season was squad management.

Could William Saliba have been a better option than what we had? Could he have stepped into right back?

Could AMN have been treated better and made our 2nd choice right back?

Could we have been better about rotation with players like Tierney, Partey, and Tomiyasu?

Could we have found more goals if we’d given Eddie games from September?

The answer to all those questions is unknown, but I’m inclined to believe that they are all better bets than suggesting Wout Weughorst was a January transfer miss.

The things we messed up this season were not abstract notions of silver bullet players, they were sitting on our payroll and we totally botched the mix.

I say totally, like we didn’t win 22 games (4 short of what we did in our Invincible season), and rack up 69 points. We can all talk about what didn’t happen, but however you cut it, we missed out on a 4th place by 2 points that would have been good enough for 3rd the last two seasons. Spurs spent £70m in January and invested £20m in Antonio Conte… they also had the two deadliest strikers in the league, 28 and 29, who started 35 and 37 games, respectively… a feat that will likely never happen again, certainly not with CL next season, because they are both injury-prone and Champions League games in the early stages require big players. They also ended the season with Own Goal as their 3rd highest goalscorer, they were very, very lucky.

Spurs are a matter for another day, but their fans are in for a rude awakening, especially if Mbappe hires Conte this summer.

I would take where we are in our journey over what they are about the endure next season.

We have the most exciting project in Europe.

We have the most united fanbase we’ve ever had in the post-Highbury era.

Our path forward has never been clearer.

If we get this summer right, we are going right the way back to the top, so mark it on your calendar now.

Ok, now listen to our end of season podcast. It gets a bit spicy, Johnny and Matt were a bit sad, but I perked them up. Enjoy, thank you for being with us all season, we have PLENTY more to talk about this summer. Big Love xxx

201 Responses to “THE BIG DATA BLOG – PATH FORWARD IS CLEAR”

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  1. NORG

    a friend of mine provides a running commentary for a blind Southampton supporter at their home games. When playing AFC the blind man said to my friend ‘why have you stopped commentating’ – my friend replied ‘Arsenal have the ball and they are not doing anything with it – you can have a knap and I will wake you if anything happens’.

  2. Tom

    “While the botched nature of his appointment did Nuno little favours, he was also to blame for the way things unravelled. Discipline and professionalism had become a problem. One source close to a squad member claimed “some players were getting away with murder” with poor performances. Cristian Romero, Davinson Sanchez and Giovani Lo Celso were all fined for breaching club rules and flying to South America for international duty with their respective countries without Tottenham’s permission.”

    The above from ESPN at the time if Conte hire.

    “The club was a mess “rhetoric can be used by any club that fires a manager , otherwise they’d still be in the job.

    Son and Kane , you know , the most deadly strike force in the PL history, had 5 goals snd 2 assists combined in the ten games preceding Conte – sounds like a proper crisis to me, or at least a mess needed a proper clean up.

    Then after his appointment……35 goals and 16 assists in the remaining 28 games.

    So under Nuno those two averaged 0.7 G/A per game combined.
    A Nuno fan club, if there was one, might’ve said both players were found out, over the hill, unsuitable to his style ……take your pick.

    Under Conte they averaged 1.8 G/A per game due to pure luck and circumstance, apparently.

  3. englandsbest

    InsideRight
    Dissenter

    You choose to ignore the Club was in a mess from top to bottom – but let’s stay with the football personnel. Let’s remind ourselves that Ramsay left on free, that a bid of £60 million for Sanchez was turned down, and we ended up with Miki who went on a free, that Koscielny went for next nothing – our three best players.

    An uncommitted ageing bunch of players with low morale, overpaid with long contracts. Players impossible to sell because of their ridiculous salaries. A squad assembled on a hand-to-mouth basis. A Club that was spiralling downwards.

    Compare with now. I won’t bother to itemise the improvement because it’s too obvious. A long term project, not something that can happen overnight, as some appear to expect.

  4. Nigel Tufnel

    Dissenter,

    To be honest,, I’m one of those who call it a mess… whether we were or were in for top 4 and going deep in Europa, I never felt as positive (late Wenger, Emery) for the club as I do now. That squad made no sense and had no plan and no future, even if we came close to top 4 and winning Europa.

    For the record, Emery is a great manager, and allowing him a full rebuild might have been very interesting, but we’ll never know.

    I just felt that we needed a big clearout and a re-set of the squad and a cogent plan from owners and executives.

    So the pressure is really on Edu in particular in recruiting high quality players and closing deals without champions league. We’ll see what he can do, and if the owners will pay up to really improve.

    I do find our project exciting but I’m not getting attached to any of the names dropped here because there’s so much competition for players and champions league would have been a nice edge for recruiting.

    A less disappointing finish would have made it more fun to speculate. Now I’m in more of a “show me” mood.

  5. Max

    @ Tom

    Indeed I’ve found it so silly to call a serial winner “lucky” and he’s just proven he can get results without a check book.

    But it doesn’t suit the narrative that managers can’t get instant results.

    It’s ok to admit our manager is learning on the job and it respect to someone that’s been there and done it many times over.
    “They have no money@ is another hope posted as fact then they announce £150m maybe getting into champions league helps?

  6. Thierry Martinelli

    englandbest
    I don’t think anyone has overlooked what Arteta has done especially when you consider his age. But the moment you praise his accomplishments at Conte’s expense( with all facts and data consider), it pales on favouritism.
    Question, where do you think Arteta would’ve gotten Spurs had he inherited it from Nuno?

  7. Chrispy

    ‘Spurs announce £150m transfer fund’

    ..to support the club on and off the field. No chance they’ll spend all that on players.

  8. NORG

    Nigel T

    Interesting statement about Emery. He was the scapegoat to cover the Raul mess. The club was already a mess before they arrived – a long time before they arrived. Raul took advantage of absentee owners – Emery had his hand tied.
    Had Emery been allowed to have more say in team purchases what a difference the team would be now.
    Zaha instead of Pepe, Guen and Saliba would be nailed on first team players. Partey was on Emery’s list but came later (Edu over ruled Arteta), Xhaka would have gone. Emery had already introduced Saka – no doubt ESR would have been playing before he did. His performances for Huddersfield were excellent. The list of failures we have had to endure (Willian, Luiz etc) would never have graced our team.

  9. raptora

    The painful truth for all the Arteta lovers out there is that in the 2 most important games of his tenure, he was gapped by 2 better managers:

    vs Emery’s Villarreal
    vs Conte’s Spuds

    No arguments needed. He lost both games. First one with Xhaka as LB and ESR as false 9. Second one, with high line Holding and RB Cedric vs Son with Tomi on LB.

    Galaxy brain lost both games for us with his idiotic ideas.

  10. raptora

    He also lost us the games vs Brighton and Soton when he played Lokonga instead of Elneny. The improvement was instantenous when the Egyptian slotted in the place of our 20m 4th choice CM.

  11. Emiratesstroller

    There are far too many posters who continue to find fault with the manager and performance of our players.

    Before the start of this season the expectation of most media pundits and so called experts was that Arsenal would finish mid table and after three games the same people were talking about Arsenal finishing in relegation zone.

    During the second half of this season the expectations rose slightly but still the same people
    expected us to finish behind Man Utd and Spurs.

    The reality is that finishing 5th behind clubs with more experienced squads is a good outcome even if it is disappointing to finish behind Spurs.

    Arsenal have in my view a decent starting eleven when everyone is fit. We need of course
    a couple of players specifically a goalscoring striker to improve the team.

    Then it comes down to improving the quality of our squad. Next season we can play 5 subs
    and we will need to rotate players on a more regular basis than was the case this season.

    I expect Arsenal to recruit around 4-5 new players and add Saliba and perhaps promote one
    or two U23 youngsters. If that is achieved then I anticipate that we will have the makings of
    a competitive team.

    It is unrealistic to expect Arsenal to compete with Man City for League title next season, but
    genuine progress would be to finish ahead of Spurs and Man Utd and compete with Chelsea for third place.

    Does anyone else think differently?

  12. Nigel Tufnel

    It goes without saying that none of us wanted Conte to go to spuds because we know he produces results almost without fail. Hopefully his negatives will start popping up soon.

    We just need to stay on our plan and truly execute. I think we are almost all in agreement on the goal for next seasons finish.

    I do think though, that it’s typical legrave losers who will get on the d1ck of someone like Ten Hag before a ball is kicked. It’s just another attempt for them to try and recapture former glory. He has a huge amount to prove in this country.

    Maybe he’ll finally be the one, but I doubt it. Financing or not, there is a lot wrong there.

    So… those here with moist vajeens over Ten Hag need to take a cold shower.

  13. DigitalBob

    ES – I predicted 5th/6th for this season so challenging for 3rd/4th next season in my opinion is the minimum requirement. If we don’t make the champions league via league position and somehow finish 5th again or even lower next year, I suspect the only thing that will save Arteta from the sack will be a Europa League trophy.

  14. InsideRight

    englandsbest – “InsideRight, Dissenter. You choose to ignore the Club was in a mess from top to bottom – but let’s stay with the football personnel.”

    Sure, let’s do that.

    EB – “Let’s remind ourselves that Ramsay left on free, that a bid of £60 million for Sanchez was turned down, and we ended up with Miki who went on a free, that Koscielny went for next nothing – our three best players.”

    OK. Let’s remind ourselves that Aubameyang didn’t just leave on a free, we are actually paying him to play for Barcelona. Let’s remind ourselves how we made a big deal of trying to sign Dusan Vlahovic for north of £60m when there was no prospect of ever getting him to join us because he never wanted to. Let’s remind ourselves we left ourselves short in defence by offloading Calum Chambers for a pittance. All under Arteta. Let’s remind ourselves of the peach that there was literally not one player in January who would have improved the side.

    EB – “An uncommitted ageing bunch of players with low morale, overpaid with long contracts.”

    So he brings in Willian on big money and a three year contract. Enough said.

    EB – “Players impossible to sell because of their ridiculous salaries. A squad assembled on a hand-to-mouth basis. A Club that was spiralling downwards. Compare with now.”

    Yes, let’s compare. Shall we recall the farce of Xhaka’s sale to Roma falling apart and the club actually giving him a new contract? How about loaning out Saliba and not even keeping in contact with him? How about the fact we are going to have to pay over the odds and pay excessive wages to attract decent players here this summer? What about refusing to give Pepe a run of games in a side that had run out of players? How about spending around £150m and effectively banishing two of the players signed from the side for months?

    How is the club still not a mess, two and half years into Arteta’s rein? From being points clear and with games in hand, Arteta was at the wheel, and he drove us off the road. Conte is supposed to be a chequebook manager. £250m+ Arteta has spent already and he’s after at least another £150m this summer. The better part of half a billion pounds and what will be over three seasons, and it’s odds on we still won’t get CL football. Think about that.

  15. raptora

    No one can predict if a manager will be a success for a given club or not, but the 2 managers that I fancied us to bring, when Emery was sacked, were Conte and Ten Hag.

    Can’t say it’s a coincidence that they were signed by our direct competitors – clearly they’ve demonstrated enough qualities to be given a job.

    Apparently, they didn’t have what it takes to be considered for the Arsenal position. Namely – zero managerial experience ever.

  16. Valentin

    NORG,

    I fully agree, but you made a small mistake. David Luiz was already there when Arteta joined. It was a gift for Edu to replace Koscielny on the cheap that turned out not to be a gift (performance ,ise) and financially not cheap either.

  17. andy1886

    @ EB, is your memory defective or are you just spouting drivel off the top of your head?

    “You choose to ignore the Club was in a mess from top to bottom – but let’s stay with the football personnel. Let’s remind ourselves that Ramsay left on free, that a bid of £60 million for Sanchez was turned down, and we ended up with Miki who went on a free, that Koscielny went for next nothing – our three best players.”

    First of all Alexis left the previous season, so that’s irrelevant, Ramsey had his injury problems as you well know and Kos was well and truly past it before he had a tantrum and left. Our three best players? Only if you were watching on LSD the previous season (which is probably how your saw Alexis when he was already at United).

    Our ‘best player’ was almost certainly Auba who had just shared the Golden Boot with Salah and Mane.

    This was also the season when we allegedly ‘won the transfer window’ the previous summer. Unfortunately Mikel didn’t like Pepe, marginalized Martinelli (who had started really well), signed Cedric and Mari, and also convinced Xhaka to stay when he had half a foot through the exit door.

    Meanwhile he was lining up Willian (that went well) and extended David Luiz. No wonder the side was a mess!

  18. Dissenter

    Imagine Artea demanding that Saliba return, when he hasn’t bothered to text or call the young man since 2020. The last time he was at the club in 2020, he was still grieving the loss of both parents

    This is a manager who has a personal assistant paid by the club that could have done the texting on messaging on his behalf

    That’s what you call an absolute mess of man management.

  19. Dissenter

    *This is a manager who has a personal assistant paid by the club that could have done the texting or messaging on his behalf

  20. Dissenter

    Imagine if Conte pushed an injured player back on the field and converted a simple injury into major one?

  21. Emiratesstroller

    The hard facts are that CFs in current market are costing ridiculous transfer fees. There are
    no bargains in the market apart from possibly Nketiah!

    However, I do think that Arsenal can pick up Full Backs and Central Midfield Players for
    realistic prices.

  22. Emiratesstroller

    Dissenter

    Do you know for a fact that Arteta has not spoken to Saliba since 2020?

    I appreciate that you don’t like Arteta, but please don’t create stories which has absolutely
    no factual basis.

  23. IAT-Robbie

    “Hi Boubacar, This is Mikel the Arsenal Manager. Is this a good time to talk?
    Yes, I am just chilling with Matteo Guendouzi, William Saliba and Sinead Kolasinac.
    Sorry to disturb you. Enjoy your move to Villa.”

    🤣🤣🤣🤣. Just what I needed to end a stressful day. Good stuff, Valentin👍

  24. Dissenter

    Emirates
    Arteta was asked in a press conference and confirmed that he has not communicated with the player
    Saliba’s agent has also reported the same; we have dealt with the player through his agent

    I appreciate that you my post may displease your sensibilities, but don’t create rebuttals that have no basis in reality.

  25. The Bard

    ES you make a salient point. It’s all very well having a shopping list of players but signing them is a whole different kettle of fish. Finding a top CF who would like to come and play for us in the current market is pissing in the wind. We are in the market for a second rater or a talented kid. We missed the boat in Jan when there was less competition and CL was still doable. As I have posted Im not against Arteta per se its just he’s inexperienced and learning the job at a club like Arsenal is a dangerous business. If we dont hit the ground running in Sept with a side capable of challenging for the CL he will be a candidate for the sack guaranteed.

  26. Emiratesstroller

    Dissenter

    That may be the case when he played at Marseille, but it does not follow that he did not meet
    and have a discussion with player last summer when he was between clubs.

    Arteta has made it very clear this season that he plans to bring Saliba back to the club and that message has been presumably relayed to the player via his agent.

  27. Emiratesstroller

    andy 1886

    Do you think that most club managers are talking to loanees who are playing for other clubs?

    Also I suspect that the point of contact at Arsenal would be Edu rather than Arteta. Every club and manager has a different modus operandi.

    Arteta is clearly not a “cuddly” type of manager.

  28. IAT-Robbie

    “Koscielny went for next nothing”

    EB,

    Koscielny was pushing 34, on strike against the club, recovering from a long-term ankle injury and had 10 months left on his contract. Yet we (Raul) managed to sell him for £4.5 million. In this context, that wasn’t “nothing”. Compare this with Mavropanos, a young and blossoming CB (with national caps) who Edu managed to sell for only £2.8 million. A figure that was less than what we received for a semi-retired Kos.

    Can you at least try to understand why some of us have concerns over this club’s management?

  29. englandsbest

    I don’t recall makin any comment on Conte. Short term we might have done well with him. But I doubt he would have wrought the longterm improvement Arteta is making

  30. andy1886

    ES, yes to be honest if a manager wants a player to feel wanted then I would expect him to find a few minutes every now and again to speak to a player on loan. It’s a basic courtesy especially if that player had been given the impression for whatever reason that the manager wasn’t keen on them. It’s not being ‘cuddly’, if you want to take the unemotional view it’s simply protecting the club’s investment.

  31. Graham62

    The definition of man management.

    The control and organisation of people.

    So hands up who thinks that Mr Arteta has succeeded on this front over these past two and a half years?

    Keep your hands up if you think Saliba wants to come back to the club? Also do you think other players in our squad have been poorly man managed?

    Ok, whilst your hands still up there, who thinks GX is a pivotal reason why Arsenal are not progressing the way they should?

    Now you can take your hands down.

  32. Thierry Martinelli

    If we’re in “year 1” into the project and have spent some 250k on transfers, how much more time and money is needed before we above City/LFC around? As it’s been mentioned somewhere in the comments,were looking at spending another +100k in “year 2”.

    All in all, can’t wait to hear what Edu and Arteta will say about next season’s goals.

  33. englandsbest

    InsideRight

    Thanks for quoting me word for word, it reinforces every point made. Reading your responses, people will note that you choose to ignore factors over which Arteta had no control -for example the crazy salaries of Ozil, Auba, etc that made them impossible to sell. Lastly, yes Arteta signed Willian (a signing which many on here applauded at the time) but he was inexperienced – which is no longer the case.

  34. Dissenter

    ES
    If you had a young man who had lost both parents when he resumed to work under you
    Wouldn’t you have at least reached out from time to time to check on his well being, regardless of whether he’s on loan.

    When the same individual starts to thrive, wouldn’t you have reached out; a text message or a one minute phone call to give out words of encouragement

  35. englandsbest

    Thierry Martinelli

    Patience is a virtue.

    What do you expect them to say? What do expect ANY manager to say? Even the manager of Bayern Munich doesn’t proclaim he will win Bundeslig.

  36. Dissenter

    That unemotional empty management style of Artea doesn’t come from Pep Guardiola
    Guardiola would coach opposition players after games if he got the chance.

  37. Naija+soccer

    As an Arsenal fan I want to act and pretend as though Conte is not as Spurs, but boy is he. The proof is in the fact that he just clinched our 4th position.

    The process/jet has to bang next season.

  38. englandsbest

    Dissenter

    For heavens sake. Next you’ll be telling us he picks his nose when nobody is looking. Who the heck knows or cares whether he talks to Saliba.

  39. Dissenter

    “For heavens sake. Next you’ll be telling us he picks his nose when nobody is looking. Who the heck knows or cares whether he talks to Saliba.”

    Who the hell cares of he builds a working relationship with the player that he [and Edu] almost destroyed his career before it started?
    The same player that Arteta is using press conferences to order back to Arsenal

    If he had a skeletal relationship with the lad, he wouldn’t need to be yammering so much about him coming back in his press conferences.

    Glad to see that your cluelessness extends to not seeing the abject stupidity of us dealing with the player through his agent. Next thing is you’ll be lamenting that his mind has been poisoned by the agent.

  40. Nigel Tufnel

    A little heavy on the negativity here and that’s to be expected after the collapse.. but it does get tiring to read. It’s one of the problems on this site.

    Pedro tries to keep things upbeat, but there is such a downside bias from some of you. So much hate dropping in the comments. Charming lot.

    We didn’t expect top 4, especially with the bad start and 3 new starting players who were somewhat unknown.

    All 3 starters worked out quite well, and we were fighting for 4th, almost 3rd.

    Yes, we choked at the end… (extremely young squad).

    Don’t worry, I won’t give them a youth pass next season even though they’ll still be relatively young. Top 4 is the goal, or else.

    But Pedro’s goal of being in the top 4 fight was reached. You can mock it if you want, but he was right on the money.

    Let’s see if the club backs Edu and Arteta after the salary clearout. Will they show faith in the plan with money?

    I’m keeping transfer expectations muted, and hoping for a pleasant surprise.

  41. Valentin

    With the possibility of the world cup coming up, Saliba is unlikely to trust Arteta that it will be a fair competition between him and Ben White. Nobody (and surely not Saliba nor his agent) can genuinely think that Arteta will willingly acknowledge that he made a mistake in forcing Ben White purchase at such inflated price. If Saliba stays at Arsenal, Arteta will start Ben White and will bench Saliba destroying his chance to be selected for a WORLD cup.

    BTW, according to newspapers Arsenal is trying to purchase a left footed CB to deputise Gabriel. Pablo Mari is not coming back.
    I am willing to bet that Saliba will be sold to Marseille or Real Madrid to fund that purchase. A loan with an obligation to buy is also a plausible scenario.

  42. Graham62

    Nigel

    Grow up!

    You can paper over the many cracks, marvel in those 5 extra “peachy goals” on Sunday that Pedro highlights with glee and actually come across as a paid employee of Pedro himself but when other posters ,who have considerable doubts about Arteta and his very dysfunctional methods voice their concerns, they have a right to do so.