by .

Good people of Le Grove, it is a Saturday, I am at the hospital, it’s hour 12, and I’m writing a blog.

Am I sure of the rules around this sort of thing? No.

I will pay a price for this with divorce papers at some point, but listen, your insatiable appetite for transfer stories, or my need for attention, greatly weighs on me right now.

So what do we have to talk about?

Arsenal is closing in on Zinchenko and I am absolutely OVER the damn moon about it.

He’s a bit of a ‘woah’ signing for me, mainly because we stopped making moves like this a while ago. Experienced, a winner, in the prime of their career… it’s quite sad I think like that, but that’s how low the standards have sunk over the last 8 years.

I loved the strategy of last summer, I knew we’d go for more complete players this window, but I didn’t think they’d come with Premier League pedigree. I was expecting us to live in the world of Paqueta types. Top talent owning their league. This move on players that are already doing it in the league, but looking to break out, feels very Liverpool when they signed VVD, Mane, and Wijnaldum (stole that from @DanielZeqiri).

These two charts really paint a picture of what we have with Zinchenko.

Firstly, this is how he compares at left back to Tierney and Tavares.

Now, context-wise, accept he plays at a higher level with better players. But what I love about his data is this is a player who had an extremely choppy season with next to no minutes until December when he landed 5 Premier League starts in a row (5 wins and a draw). Then he found the bench and didn’t get a good run until the end of the season when he picked up 7 starts, landing 6 wins. That is extreme mental strength.

Remember, Tavares played great at the start of the season, got benched when Tierney returned, came back a mess against Nottingham Forest. Never recovered.

Regardless, Zinchenko’s left-back numbers are OUTRAGEOUS.

… but there is more.

These are his midfield numbers. When stacked against Granit Xhaka. More passes, more accuracy, better defending.

Then look at the fee. United is paying £50m for a 5ft9 centre-back we wanted to play at left-back. We’re getting a 4 times Premier League winner for £30m.

That is outrageous.

Again, I’m gonna go at the folk that called Arteta the cone boy. Do those people want to sit here and tell me that Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus are coming to Arsenal under any other circumstance other than Arteta at the controls? Do you think they’re coming to Arsenal in their prime to play for a coach that doesn’t know his onions? These are the benefits of having a coach that is a top-tier thinker. It also shows you that despite some of the noise, top players can see this project is about to bang.

There are only two more jobs to be done if we get this deal over the line.

We need to sign Tielemans in central midfield, another top Premier League talent that will find new heights in our system.

We need to sign a winger with outrageous production. There are quite a lot of strong rumours linking us to Leroy Sane. He’s world-class for me, he’d represent a real hero signing, and I’d prefer him over Raphinha any day of the week. Seems like an insane move because of where he is in his career, his price tag of £60m, and his salary of £300k a week, but damn, that would be a statement piece. He’s only 26.

I’m not quite sure we’re going there, but again, if you can, and the player is willing, do it.

I want to keep our best young players at the club. Bukayo Saka needs to see where this project is heading. I’m pretty sure he’d be thrilled to see someone at Sane’s level joining the party.

There’s a rumor about Edmond Tapsoba doing the rounds again. The 50m euro centre back is 22, he’s being linked by a new site that is dedicated to transfer rumours, which is a bad business model unless you peddle 80% guff. Regardless, it’s important to remember that ground zero for Arteta last season was Newcastle. We lacked bravery to break the press and didn’t deliver on the plan. Old Arsenal might have let that slide, new Arsenal will chop out players if there’s an opportunity. Whilst I have my doubts we’ll do anything mental, don’t be shocked if a Gabriel-like name is moved if we can ship in someone else. Big clubs make hard decisions. Ben White and Gabriel dipped hard in H2 last season. I’m not giving credence to the rumour, but look, those Juve rumours won’t die. If he leaves, we are purchasing.

Strong rumours William Saliba is making his rebirth debut against Everton tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see whether we begin to jettison some of the expendable players now the tour has taken on more seriousness.

Ok, before I go. I have TWO pieces of information.

We signed a podcast deal with BlueWire. So if there’s disruption to your podcast things, let us know, but it should be fairly straightforward. Does this deal make us professional podcasters?

If I speak…

Secondly, thank you to all the generous folk that have contributed to our Patreon subscription. You are a special bunch. We’re trying to work out what the deal is in totality. Here’s where I think we’ll land for 2022 podcast-wise.

  • On The Whistle – Premier League – free to air.
  • Before the whistle + Europa League review – Patreon
  • Special Features – Patreon

We dropped a Patreon BANGER last night. I made slides. Johnny showed up and left it all on the pitch. We talked Saliba, Zinchenko, Sane, and the shape of our summer so far. All good vibes.

Join up below.

Become a Patron!


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Rich


    As per usual your missing vital context.

    In 2020/21, we played with the 11th or 12 highest average defensive line, we were playing ugly fine margins football, and conceded less goals as a result

    Last season we played with the 3rd highest defensive line.

    Which is quite a shift in style

  2. Graham62

    Once again, statistics come to our rescue.

    Adams, Bould, Dixon, Winterburn, Keown weren’t too concerned about stats.

    The world has become a crazy place.

  3. AFC Forever


    Yes. As Rich has said it is crucial that we have good cover and that means competition for places. You don’t want to rotate for the sake of it because you need partnerships on the pitch. However, with the Europa League and Cups it could be a lot of games to play. Last season losing key players cost us 4th. My views on Partey & Tierney managing 20 odd games is on the record.

    You also need to be able to change things tactically, which may rely on an alternative skill set. To be successful you really need to be able to minimise the disruption to the ‘system’ caused through injury or suspension. When you have competition, every player is on their toes and know they need to perform and take their opportunities. Which is great but they still have to have the quality to step in seamlessly. Two players for every position of equal ability is a dream scenario but unrealistic. However, we need to get as close to being able to do that as possible.

  4. raptora

    Dybala to Roma. Not sure how he’d downgrade so much. His class is above that. Maybe it’s a matter of not wanting to leave Italy and after Juve maybe Inter and Milan were not interested. He’s still a top player.

  5. Un

    £70 for the new home shirt hahaha
    Wankers. £150 to fill your car up and they are trying to charge £70 for a t-shirt. Oh well. If mugs are out there…

  6. AFC Forever


    “£70 for the new home shirt hahaha. Wankers. £150 to fill your car up and they are trying to charge £70 for a t-shirt. Oh well. If mugs are out there…’

    Mugs are the idiots who buy ones with a chicken on the front.

    Anyway, I spent £45 on a takeaway last night. If I can’t treat my son to a £70.00 shirt and was such a tight arse that instead I bought a bent one from an auction site, who is the mug?

  7. Rich

    AFC Forever

    Even if the quality or level of experience inevitably drops, when key players are out,

    We still need symmetry, we need players who at the very least, have the characteristics to play a certain way, so we don’t need to alter our style.

    Last season we had the third highest average defensive line, only behind City + Liverpool

    The shift from the season before can be attributed to a combination of White, Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, and Gabriel in his second season.

    Alongside signing Odegaard permanently, and the development of players like Smith Rowe + Saka, who are excellent in tight areas

    If we want to squeeze the play and pin teams in their own half, we need players who can cause damage, and counter press when we do so, alongside defenders who are press resistant, and can cover the space in behind quickly.

    Our squad is now evolving in the right direction, if we sign Zinchenko, we’d have achieved what many considered the “minimum requirements”, which were a striker, left back, and left sided No8

    If we can clear the deck and secure another attacking midfielder, a right winger who Arteta trusts, and a left sided centre back, then my only concerns would be around depth + competition at GK if Leno leaves, and the fitness of a few players.

    But other than that, i’d fully expect us to play a significantly improved style of football, score significantly more goals, concede less, and be competitive in multiple competitions.

    Our squad has been an unbalanced mess of insignificant quality over recent years, we’ve still got too much fat around the edges, but our squad is now beginning to make much more sense.

    A combination of young players maturing, and hopefully adding players aged 22-25, with at least 2-3 seasons of top level experience behind them, will be a nice mix, and set us up nicely for the medium term.

    From there it’ll be about evolution and not revolution, and hopefully throwing a couple of cherries on top as we go.

  8. Pierre


    “Last season we played with the 3rd highest defensive line.Which is quite a shift in style”

    Spent 100mil and conceded more goals.

  9. Bob N16

    Pierre, you sometimes give the impression that you rate yourself as a better judge than Arteta.

    ‘Obviously Mari has breached Arteta’s non negotiables by having a poor game’

    Mari’s career has hardly been stellar- one good season in Brazil surrounded by years of mediocrity. His agent played a blinder getting him in to Arsenal where his limitations are obvious – too slow for one.

    I think Arteta has made his mind up as have the vast majority of Arsenal fans. I think your contrary view is hard to justify – the “Holding/Mari’ partnership is the stuff of nightmares despite some statistical ‘evidence’ to suggest otherwise.

    The Gold Trip is going to be a massive success. Un, why do you have a dig at Arsenal supporters who are proud to wear the shirt in spite of the cost?

  10. Pierre

    “Last season we had the third highest average defensive line, only behind City + Liverpool”

    I don’t think playing such a high line was the reason we conceded more goals than the previous season when we played deeper..
    I also dont think we conceded much from dead ball situations either , so Arteta may be wise to address the reason as to why our goals conceded went up.

    Obviously there is a weak link .

  11. Rich


    Shifting style was always going to be a process, and not an event.

    If you want to play a certain style, you need players who are adept to playing that style, not just in your starting 11, but also in your squad.

    Remember the narrative around Klopp, that he was defensively naive, couldn’t build a defence, that you couldn’t play a high pressing game for 90 minutes across 38 games in the PL

    Or Guardiola in his first season, that you couldn’t play a possession based game in the high intensity nature of the PL

    Both those narratives in the media were blown out of the water.

    Holding started 9 PL games last season, if we exchange him for someone who’s more adept to playing a higher line, we’ll be left less vulnerable

    We conceded 3 at Spurs, Holding got sent off when trying to step out and aggressively win the ball.

    We conceded 5 at City, with Holding, Chambers + Kolasinac

    Tavares was a big problem positionally, he had an absolute nightmare at Anfield where we played well for 35 minutes, but then got found out, he also had a nightmare at Palace where we conceded 3

    When we got Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Tierney, White, Gabriel and Partey on the pitch together, we were much more defensively sound, and kept plenty of clean sheets

    What I want us to do is assemble a set of defenders who can step in seamlessly, where we don’t have to alter the way we play, and which allows us to get 5 attacking players on the pitch at the same time,

    You get the extra attacking player on the pitch, by fixing our defence first

  12. AFC Forever


    “Our squad has been an unbalanced mess of insignificant quality over recent years, we’ve still got too much fat around the edges, but our squad is now beginning to make much more sense.A combination of young players maturing, and hopefully adding players aged 22-25, with at least 2-3 seasons of top level experience behind them, will be a nice mix, and set us up nicely for the medium term. From there it’ll be about evolution and not revolution, and hopefully throwing a couple of cherries on top as we go.”

    Yep agree.

    I used to talk about compromise football because that is the best way to describe being unable to play the preferred system due to the players you have. When you look back at what we had three years ago it was an utter mess. The balance was poor, there had been some strange profiling going on and don’t get me started on the contracts we were giving out. I wanted to cry when I watched teams finding it easy to get shots off on goal. I wasn’t surprised when Freddie complained about the attitudes of the players, you could see that on the pitch. Needed to shift the whole lot out and start again.

    The problem with that is it takes time and the media and fans don’t like that. If the next season isn’t a better league position it’s a disaster to them. Team building takes time. If you have a vision of how you want to play you can’t just bin 26 players and replace them. Then we had that bloody pandemic. We were forced to play compromise football, and we still are. I’m really happy with the progress. Young players are naive but I have patience because I’ve worked on a coaching field I know how long it takes for players to get an understanding. That’s what frustrates me. Some fans think you just throw 11 blokes together, show them a tactics board and off they go. It’s many miles away from that.

    As you say, profiling is key. We have to have the right players for the high press and possession based football. Pressing is a team function with triggers but you also need players with intelligence and energy. The more ‘technical’ players you have, the more efficient the team becomes. It also means you can have more attacking players on the pitch. When you look at City they have two guys hugging the wide position, a false nine and two number 8’s. On top of that they have players like Cancelo stepping in and adding to the creative mix. Obviosuly they are further along the development curve and have been buying top talent. We’re starting to do that and recruiting better players and adding competition is a needle mover.

  13. AFC Forever


    ‘Obviously Mari has breached Arteta’s non negotiables by having a poor game’

    Such a childish comment. Just wreaks of the personal vendetta you have with Arteta.

  14. AFC Forever


    The Ozil thing wasn’t personal. It’s football. Blaming Arteta and Odegaard for having Ozil replaced is ignoring the elephant in the room.

  15. Mysticleaves

    I find it odd that generational watched Mari in a 6 months loan deal up close and personal, persuaded the board to sign him permanently in a 4 year deal only to decide in that season that he can’t use him in his preferred style of play. That’s an unnecessary waste. Now we can’t even sell him.

    I mean many people called it right from the off that Mari won’t be any good for us. It wasn’t so hard to see.

  16. Mysticleaves


    I also find it odd that generational can’t coach Holding to become the sort of defender he wants him to be. I mean he’s already at a good level talent wise. He’s not slow also. So what gives? He is supposed to be this “coach”. Does he have to buy everything?

    I understand upgrading on players based on talent but based on style? No one was born with one. They were all schooled and coached into it. I suggest Arteta gets to work and turn Holding into a defender comfortable enough to step into a team willing to play a high line.

  17. Un


    Yeah I didn’t mean for your boy mate; that’s unavoidable
    I meant more grown men wearing football shorts that cost £70

  18. Rich

    Mystic leaves

    The Mari deal was apparently orchestrated by Raul Sanllehi, as was the Cedric deal

    Both deals were apparently agent driven, both strange signings.

    We had Bellerin + Niles already on our books when we signed Cedric.

    We had Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding, Chambers on our books, we renewed the contract of David Luiz, we also signed Gabriel that summer, as well as Mari

    We didn’t bother loaning out Saliba until January, in spite of not registering him to play in the Europa league, and we also loaned out Mavropanos

    It was basket case lunacy, our squad planning was non-existent

    That’s 9 senior centre backs on our books, we went into the 2020/21 season with 8 centre backs in our squad, but no fit or registered attacking midfielders

  19. Matt

    Just bought my son the home kit last week. I knew they would release the away one straight after damn it. Great looking kit. Almost makes me want to buy one for myself!

  20. TR7

    “I find it odd that generational watched Mari in a 6 months loan deal up close and personal, persuaded the board to sign him permanently in a 4 year deal only to decide in that season that he can’t use him in his preferred style of play. That’s an unnecessary waste. Now we can’t even sell him.”

    No Arsenal manager has been as profligate with club’s money as Arteta. Let’s see whether he has something to show for even after spending close to half a billion dollar.

  21. Mysticleaves


    Maybe, maybe not. He gave ringing endorsements to those deals. This, to people that don’t have links inside the club, showed that he wanted them He also pushed for Luiz when we knew it won’t work out. Just many demoralising decisions

  22. Dissenter

    See how Rich drops the Mari deal on Sanllehi with zero evidence

    On June 19, 2020 when Mari got injured in the FA cup final. As he walked off the field sobbing. Arteta was clearly overheard reassuring him that his loan was going to be made permanent

    Arteta was instrumental in us bringing him back from Brazil, it was one of his first moves after he was appointed. He coached the lad at city.

    There’s nothing wrong in admitting Arteta has made some mistakes, you know. Every manager makes them, displacing his errors unto others is a bit comical.

  23. Rich

    Mystic leaves

    Do you expect Arteta to publicly call out his boss? Or publicly criticise new players that have been brought in? Because that usually only ends one way….

    Arteta ultimately won the power struggle, not just with Sanllehi, but amazingly he appears to now outrank Edu….

    I’m not really comfortable with that type of power structure, and it’s certainly not a ringing endorsement from the club, regarding their faith in Edu.

    In what type of business does a line manager, outrank the guy who hired him?…

    Gazidis had wrestled a bit of power away from Wenger in his last 2 seasons, but when they both left, that created a power vacuum, Sanllehi originally seized that power, before Arteta seized what appears to be complete control….

    Arteta has made plenty of mistakes, and I’ve certainly never called him generational, I don’t think we’ll do anything rash, but the pressure will certainly be on if he spends another £200 million this summer, or at least it should be.

    The only problem is, is who’s going to hold Arteta to account? Have Edu + Venkatesham got the balls to hand him his P45?

    Are they even in a position to do that? Or even suggest that?

    The problem with all powerful managers like Wenger + Ferguson, is that once they leave, that creates a power vacuum, and you never know quite what will fill that gap.

  24. Dissenter

    DM; ‘West Ham close to agreeing £35m PERMANENT deal with Chelsea for Armando Broja as the 20-year-old striker jets back from Blues’ pre-season US tour to finalise deal’

    Interesting signing for the hammers

    A forward line of Broja-Antonio-Jarod Bowen will be a sight to behold.
    Chelsea will be wise to place return/sell on clauses on this one

  25. raptora

    Pedro, the spud poster on twitter, has probably said 12 times how there is absolutely no way Ajax are paying spuds £28m for a 24 yo winger Bergwijn who scored 5 goals in 4 games (1 vs Norway, Denmark, Belgium each and 2 vs Germany) who’s still very highly rated and there’s a good change he’ll bang again.

    Well Ajax have just bought a 22 yo LB Calvin Bassey from Rangers for £23m. They even allowed Rangers have a 10% sell-on fee.

    How crazy does it sound to spend some of the money they’ve generated this window already in the sales of Lisandro, Haller and Gravenberch for a combined £100m?!

    Just like they did couple of windows ago when they bought Haller, Antony and Davy Klaasen. And before that they bought Promes, Alvarez, Lisandro and also Blind and Tadic.

    It’s a team that has spent over £50m pounds in 5 of the last 6 years.

    They are willing to invest some money to keep their successful business running.

    Similar to Dortmund who have spent over £100m pa on transfers multiple times. Ajax is working this same model but on 50% the size.

  26. Chris

    The new black kit is one of our best in YEARS and I’m not ashamed to say I’ll be buying one, going on holiday in a few weeks so any excuse!

    Life’s too short to worry about what other people think of you, fashion choices or otherwise. Do whatever the hell you want to do.

  27. Chris

    Broja is an excellent signing for West Ham, I would have been happy to see us go for him if Nketiah had left or Jesus hadn’t of signed.

    Surprising that Chelsea have let him go, they must have a striker signing lined up with Lukaku also gone.

  28. AFC Forever


    One of the best kits for years. I like the new Adidas kits, they’re putting in a bit of effort.

    The black one is really cool, I might even treat myself to the shirt.

    We’ve had some good shirts through the years. Not sure of my favourite but this will be up there.

  29. Un



    Cedric’s agent is kia
    Maria’s agent is Canales
    Raul was good friends with both


    Most of the worst deals in our history were completed under during this period

    Only ozil, auba and Mustafi signings can really compare to the utter wastage during Raul Sanllehi’s infamous fraudulent reign

  30. AFC Forever


    ‘…..they must have a striker signed up’

    What are they thinking with Broja? More of their impatience?

    Chelsea have made some pretty weird striker decisions over the years. Lukaku was a complete embarrassment, imagine paying £100m for someone and then loaning them back to the seller for £10m the next season?

    Werner for £50m not much better. They also signed Batshuayi £33m, Morata £60m, Shevchenko £32m, and the prolific Torres for £60m – all flopped.

  31. Un

    Don’t forget Ziyech, Havertz and pulisic

    We re talking around £300m on their forward line in the last 2 years and it’s dud after dud

  32. Mb

    Away kit is brilliant, I’m gonna get one for myself. Don’t care to go back in time to be a kid to wear a football jersey.

  33. Chris

    AFC Forever

    Re the new shirt, Go on, treat yourself!

    Striker signings has definitely been a blind spot for Chelsea over the years, it’s surprising they have let Broja go as he has shown great promise in the PL and would fit in for them quite smoothly you would have a thought.

    Perhaps the money is too good for Chelsea to turn down, they have other irons in the fire and Broja wants guarantees of being a starter, perhaps a little of all these things. It’s certainly a great signing for West Ham and they need one or two like that if they want to maintain their high league placings in the last couple of seasons.

  34. TR7

    Fabio Vieira: “The manager told me he knows I can play as a midfielder – #8, #10 – or on the wing, left or right side. They know I am a versatile player. I prefer #10, it’s my real position. I like to make the last pass & to help team-mates to score & I like to score goals too.”

    Interesting to note Arteta sees Viera as no 8 too.

  35. Rich

    As amusing as that is, I don’t think we’re in any position to laugh….

    Pepe £72 million
    Willian, 32, 3yr contract
    Mari £5million
    Runarsson £2mill
    Luiz £8mill
    Suarez £2mill (Loan Fee)
    Sokratis £17mill
    Torreira £26mill, and now we can’t even get back 50%
    Leno £22mill, being sold at a 50% loss
    Lichtsteiner…. What were we thinking?
    Lacazette £50 mill, left for free
    Aubameyang £56mill, we paid him to leave, after giving him a 3yr mega contract at 31
    Kolasinac £120k p/w
    Lucas Perez £17million
    Xhaka £35mill
    Mustafi £35mill

    We turned down £60 million for Alexis, only to swap him for Mkhitaryan 5 months later

    We then loaned out Mkhitaryan 18 months after that, turned down a £10 million bid in the following January, only to tear up his contract just a few months later….

  36. AFC Forever


    It’s a strange one with Chelsea and strikers.

    They didn’t know what to do with Salah either.

    To be fair, there are no guarantees with players, it’s just fans who think there is. It’s always a risk, especially when you import from another league. They can tear it up in Europe but the PL is a different kettle of fish.

    Shevchenko’s record in Italy was better than 1 in 2 games and when he signed for Chelsea he was the new messiah. Yet he only scored 4 goals in 30 PL games in his first season, ending up with 9 in just under 50 games. Similar Lukaku. That might be why some strikers give the PL a swerve.

    PS: Havertz is not a striker tbf and I think he’s a decent player.

  37. AFC Forever


    I ordered my oldest son (he’s 33) one today as a surprise. By the time I added the PL badges and number it’s nearly £90.00….!!

    When it arrives I’m going to check it out. I have no doubt my wife will tell me to get one. I stopped buying the shirts for myself a few years ago but that black one is pretty smart, kinda sexy….!!

  38. englandsbest

    Stan Kroenke gave two non-spin reasons for buying shares in Arsenal (best ignore the ‘I luv the Club’ BS). One was Wenger, the other was the Club’s self-sustainability.

    The first reason was intended to make the egotist feel loved.

    The second reason was about money – and Stan takes that very seriously. And the Ajax/Dortmund models are, above all, self-sustainable. And yet both spend vast sums in the transfer windows.

    They may compete often at the highest level but rarely count amongst the elite. But imagine them with Arsenal’s revenue and they would be up there most certainly, at the very top.

  39. Dissenter

    I believe that for Mari, the club gave a newly hired manager the player he wanted. wanted. For Mari, it seemed like we found a gold nugget in a trash can. My main grouse is the wages.
    It’s just seems convenient to keep using Raul like a pinata for every mistake the transfer team made at the time.
    If Arteta green-lighted the dea, shouldn’t he share whatever comes out it it. Why put the blame it on the guy who merely executed it. At the very least, you can blame the entire lot of them. It was a transfer team approach.

  40. Un


    No Havertz is not a striker but he used as a false 9 by chelsea when they aren’t using lukaku
    Havertz comes in from the left

  41. Dissenter

    “As amusing as that is, I don’t think we’re in any position to laugh….

    Agreed with that bit
    The only reason we aren’t in the dog house is that the Kroenke’s have opened their wallet.
    We’ve done lots of poor deals in the past 5-6 years.

    We’ve “mutually” cancelled so many contracts that many a club tries to squeeze this concession from us.

  42. Un


    Or maybe he wanted a lcb and Raul went to his contacts and that’s what they came up with
    Don’t you think it’s a little convenient that his agent was friends with Raul and also emery’s agent?

  43. Un


    No I don’t think Havertz has done well personally. Especially not for the money paid
    If he’s done well at £90m then Pepe was a snip at £72m

    18 goals and 8 assists in 58 starts

    Pepe is 27 goals and 19 assists in 58 starts

  44. Mr Serge

    AFC the last kit I bought for myself was PV4 last season I have at least 30 my oldest is from 1978, none fit me now so my son drops retro after retro shirt every game I take him to, he is 18 now just ordered him the new away one as well it’s lovely,
    Told my mrs I want one and she said do they do the in a 3 xl little cow I am a 2 XL lol

    Fat boys should not wear footie shirts 😉

  45. Gbat

    Arteta never coached Mari at City. Mari only spent one day in Manchester and never met the first team.

    It’s clear to me that it was a convenient signing. A bit of a punt. He doesn’t come across as an “Arteta” player.

  46. MidwestGun

    Don’t forget Ziyech, Havertz and pulisic

    Those “duds” at Chelsea won a Champions League and a Fifa World Club Cup Championship.. so maybe we can sign some duds like that. Pulisic is a good player with injury issues.

  47. karim

    Martin Blackburn ( tier 1 for City )
    « Zinchenko is waiting for the green light to leave Man City’s training camp and travel across America to link up with his new teammates at Arsenal. »

    Just saw that on Reddit.

  48. Rich

    Surely City aren’t going to green light Zinchenko’s exit, until they’ve secured his replacement

    That would put them in an awful negotiating position.

  49. MidwestGun

    I’d be very excited by getting the Zinchenko deal done this week. That would be excellent. But I hope we don’t stop there. I just Can’t watch Xhaka try to attack the goal all season.. I just can’t.. we need to get an upgrade. I had some small hope for possibly Lokonga taking a greater roll in that regard but honestly he is not having the best pre-season .. I was hoping to see some greater improvement by now.

  50. Tom

    “No I don’t think Havertz has done well personally. Especially not for the money paid
    If he’s done well at £90m then Pepe was a snip at £72m……”

    That’s why I think Un is funny. He’s loose with facts and usually lacking context.

    Both Pepe and Havertz cost $88million(transfermarkt)
    Pepe’s now worth $27 while in his prime years(27yo)
    Havertz still a few years before his prime( 23 yo)while holding a respectable market value at $77m

    Whatever one might think of the Havertz transfer, Pepe’s been an unmitigated disaster.
    Or a snip, if you’re like Un.

  51. Le Sauce

    I think the emergence of Saka also softens the Pepe transfer miss. Imagine were trying to sell Pepe with no Saka and just Nelson, that’ll be tough. Our academy has saved us a lot of dough in Saka, Smith and Nketiah.

  52. Un

    Tom comes in swinging for one of our rivals, surprise surprise

    Pepe is undervalued because he was benched by Arteta. Not because he’s a poor player but because he doesn’t work hard off the ball.
    Someone else will benefit
    He’s registered 19 more goals and assists in the same number of starts as Havertz. Considering he’s being played in a “better” team as a false 9 you’d have expected him to at least match a player many term as dead wood

  53. Le Sauce

    Fabrizio just tweeted personal talks still holding the Zinchenko deal, I just hope the man ain’t asking for two hunnid of the Queen’s pounds every week..

  54. Un

    That’s why I think Un is funny. He’s loose with facts and usually lacking context.

    Yes Tom. You’ve used transfer value as the sum total of your attempt at context. That told me

  55. Le Sauce


    That’s disingenuous to say the least. Pepe doesn’t apply himself else why would Arteta bench him, we all watch Saka and Pepe and none of us is gonna bench Saka for Pepe so what else do you want the manager to do. Pepe is a failed transfer, £72M should be getting you the real deal and not a final third merchant. Guy is a transition player and would struggle in any possession based team, the lack of scouting before signing Pepe is apparent

  56. Tom

    Un, I didn’t realize getting transfer numbers right was an encroachment against the Arsenal.
    You might not remember but I started out as Pepe’s staunch supporter, but unlike you I tend to reevaluate my opinions when new evidence becomes available.

    Pepe is weak on the ball and lacking any conviction.
    Sure, some of it is Arteta fault for destroying his confidence, but a stronger mentality would show some fight when given however few chances he’s been given.

    Havertz is a fighter and a much better all around player four years Pepe’s junior.

  57. Un

    Le sauce
    Just because he’s not Arteta’s cup of tea doesn’t make him any less talented. He offers better numbers than Havertz Werner and Raphinha. I would drop Saka for him and he’s clearly not suited to Arteta’s slow build up game but the initial debate was how all of Chelsea’s forward line signings have underwhelmed, if you’re being kind. Not claiming Pepe has been what any of us expected but he’s offering better end product than most of Chelsea’s forward line

  58. Un


    It’s not but if you’re going to spout off at other for being loose with facts then it might be an idea to get yours right before flapping those gums

  59. Tom

    “Also tom
    The £72m is just an initial fee. £16.9m in addons
    What was that about loose with facts? Hmmm”

    Lets hear it then, what were those Havertz addons?
    What’s that? You can’t name them for sure?………….. let’s stick to what we do know then.

  60. MidwestGun

    Pepe was really poor in Baltimore.. all I know. He had no clue what he was supposed to be doing so if that was his post “clean slate” tryout, then he is in trouble. He has a few more opportunities this week.. so we shall see. But I would definitely classify him as a “dud” more so then Havertz, Ziyech or Pulisic who managed to get Chelski trophies that we have never won in our history.

    Diss- agreed .. how far can a Club mortgage their future earnings 25 years? before they face any kind of repercussions in the transfer market and on current wages owed. seems like at some point they need to pay the piper.

  61. Rich


    Didn’t we do something similar? Like get the players to take a cut in wages, then spend €50 million on Partey?…

    Fair play to whichever players told KSE to spin, the gall of a billionaire, asking multimillionaires to take a pay-cut, because they’re feeling the squeeze…

  62. AFC Forever


    “I’d be very excited by getting the Zinchenko deal done this week. That would be excellent.”

    It really would.The Jesus signing was a massive game changer for us, we’re talking top, top quality. But ability aside, when you recruit young players who have won the Premier League multiple times it lifts all the other players. They’ve walked the talk.

    Zinchenko is actually a very interesting signing. This is a guy who plays left back for City (and sometimes steps into midfield) and centre midfield for his national team. These hybrid players offer real versatility, cover for two or three positions and the option to switch tactics. They are also well versed with the systems Arteta will employ. Again, he’s at the right age 25 and he’s already been involved in 4 Title winning campaigns. When you’re in a tough spell these are the players that help lift others and they have added value on the training ground.

  63. Un


    Ziyech has had a very similar experience at chelsea. He’s not fancied because he’s not a grafter and didn’t press.
    His g/a is 18 in 40 starts and he fades in and out of game out of games.
    Havertz is barely noticeable in a lot of chelsea games. I watch them a lot as my family are all chelsea. Pulisic is better but he’s had injury issues

    Yes chelsea won the champions league. I’m aware.

  64. MidwestGun

    AFC –
    Yep, exactly right.. I don’t mind raiding good players from City.. at all. I feel like if we sign him we are very close to having plugged all the major holes in our squad barring injuries of course. And i haven’t felt that way in a long time.. going into a season. Just that one CM away, imo.. I know Zinchenko can play there as well but he is not a goal scoring threat so much as a provider. Would love to see Paqueta. but I now that would not be cheap.

  65. KAY Boss

    Most foreign imports tend to come under the microscope because most of the locals (the media) think one if their own should occupy that spot. Pepe and Pogba are prime examples but look at the lee way their own are given ( Sancho and Carol). See what’s been done to Nunez of Liverpool.

  66. Dissenter

    “Fair play to whichever players told KSE to spin, the gall of a billionaire, asking multimillionaires to take a pay-cut, because they’re feeling the squeeze…”

    In retrospect, I’ve come to respect Ozil for telling the club to ef off with the wage cut nonsense.
    They signed Partey on a mega deal after they told everyone else to get hair cuts.

  67. MidwestGun

    Un- I like reading your comments, just perplexed by your “dud” definition is all.. haha

    I would say Werner and Lukaku were duds moreso then those 3. I think they are victims of Chelsea’s obsession with shiny knew wingers instead of the actual number 9 role. Plus they tend to focus on wanting to recreate what they had with Hazard, instead of fixing the underlying issues But still I would take a few overspends if we won the CL not gonna lie.

  68. Tom

    Un, did you just post a link to a daily mail article to bolster your case?
    Well that’s settled then.
    I’ll make sure to read it right after Im done reading their woman got pregnant with baby squid after eating sperm sack, and large headed babies get more cancer articles.

    Players’ minutes, goals, trophies won can and do trigger addons but the reason Transfermarkt only gives transfer fees without addons is because no one is privy to contract details, except apparently daily mail of course

  69. MidwestGun

    Also .. Julie Foudy is a good female commentator you were asking for an example the other day.. She is measured, knows her stuff, adds something to the broadcast and doesn’t get over exciteable. Makes a good combo with Ian Darke as he does tend to get easily excited as good play by play guys usually do as players near the goal. Anyhow they are mainly on Espn with international matches, will probably do the World Cup matches this fall.

  70. Nigel Tufnel

    Anybody who thinks Havertz would be sold today for 77 million is naive. We rely on certain websites too much. Just use common sense. Stock drops.

    Gooners overrate a lot of opponents players after seeing them have 1 or 2 good games. They don’t watch them closely for the rest of the season, but getting chubbies over guys like Broja and Spence.

    Both looked good when I saw them play, but to proclaim them anything more than nice potential is silly.


    You’re the man when it comes to interpreting Artetas vision, but it’s a little much obsessing over a left footed 4th choice CB. Ben White is more 2 footed than people realize… Isn’t Saliba also? Either way, it’s obviously not a necessity.

    We need a professional box to box midfielder who can get into the box and contribute some goals, creating some overloads. Pushing Xhaka down in the pecking order or out.
    This is what’s missing from the plan you are describing. We won’t be complete without it.

    I’d also like to see us try a back 3 against some special opponents. With the 3 great CB we have, Saka and Martinelli can be great wingbacks on occasion. Why not give opponents different looks to adjust to and think about.

  71. Un


    Yes I posted an article which had Havertz fee at £89m as was widely reported at the time.
    Amazing how you include the £20m in fees paid to pepe’s agents but not the whole Havertz fee to try and paint our London rivals in a better light than us and then claim to be a genuine arsenal fan. Pull the other one

    No i hadn’t forgotten. I still think the £300m spent on lukaku Havertz Ziyech Werner and pulisic was a huge waste of money and yes, the are all duds in my book.

    Chelsea are going to crumble this season. Not a good time for them at all

  72. Tom

    “Anybody who thinks Havertz would be sold today for 77 million is naive.“

    He most likely wouldn’t, unless another big PL club came in for him.
    I think Havertz is a better player now than Darwin Nunez Pool paid even more money for.

    Would Pepe sell for 27 million now?
    Probably not.

  73. Tom

    “Amazing how you include the £20m in fees paid to pepe’s agents but not the whole Havertz fee to try and paint our London rivals in a better light than us and then claim to be a genuine arsenal fan. Pull the other one”

    Un , no idea who got what on Pepe deal.
    Just quoting Transfermarkt who in the absence of a better source will do.

    the genuine Arsenal fan quip is usually a sign of a losing argument.

  74. Rich

    If Chelsea put Havertz on the market now, I’d have no issue with Arsenal paying £50-£60 million for him

  75. Markymark

    I genuinely can’t see why so many of you go on and on about poor resale. You’re talking billionaire write off. It’s not like it’s your own money .
    Repeat Chelsea spaffed 90ml on Lukaku, it’s far worse than the awful Pepe deal . Do you see Chavs constantly whining about it ?

  76. Un


    No it’s a sign of someone else to add to the growing list of people who doubt your claims of allegiance to arsenal.

  77. CaliGooner

    Looks like adidas took the LAFC home kit and changed the sponsor and team emblem and poof you have your Arsenal away shirt for the new year.

  78. Tom

    “No it’s a sign of someone else to add to the growing list of people who doubt your claims of allegiance to arsenal”

    Un, now you’ve gone from funny to flat out hilarious.
    Just because I think Havertz>Pepe I’m a Chelsea fan now?

    I can’t worry what people think.
    Never have.

  79. Adams

    Havertz is not a striker, he is an attacking midfielder. His numbers are good for an attacking midfielder.

  80. Un


    Not claiming you support chelsea but I do really doubt you’re sincere in your claim to support arsenal

    Also not claiming that pepe is a better player than Havertz but his numbers are significantly superior in the same number of games as a guy who’s playing in a better team as a false 9

  81. Dissenter

    It’s going to be nice watching a 5′ 9″ central defender in Lisandro Martinez try to defend aerial balls in the premier league.
    Fate saved us from that conundrum

  82. AFC Forever


    Spot on mate. Reminds me of this bloke who visits his Doctor wearing cling film underwear.

    Doctor: “How can I help you sir?’
    Internet Troll: ‘I’m on this Arsenal blog trolling Gooners. I love it, half of them even agree with me, it’s hilarious. I’m so clever.”
    Doctor: “So what’s the problem then?”
    Internet troll: “I’m having so much fun that I’m on there all the time. But it’s hurting my head”
    The Doctor looks at him in his cling film underwear and says:: “Yes, I can clearly see your fucking nuts.”

  83. Sensei

    Hi all, long time reader of Le Grove, first time poster. Love this blog so much.

    Anyway, took my son to the game in Baltimore, he was over the moon to finally see the Arsenal in the flesh, I only wish a few more had stayed after to sign autographs, he wanted one from ESR and Saka. Only Xhaka and Elneny threw jerseys into the crowd, lol. A few thoughts about the game, some of which have been covered by others here:

    Saliba absolutely looks ready. Snapping into tackles, passing well, looks to be a fantastic athlete and was clearly fired up to show what he could do. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t an integral part of our defense this season.

    I agree with Midwest about Lokonga, I’m looking for something here but he just looks so overmatched. Not sure what he’s trying to do, he hides a lot. He needs to show a massive improvement this season, hopefully in the Europa League, to justify keeping him.

    And Gabriel Jesus, my god. That first touch on his goal!

  84. Le Sauce


    I was thinking same thing about Lisandro at CB especially with Ben White, that would be a disaster aerially, although there are reports we wanna play him at LB in the Zinchenko role so the RCB would do the aerial dirty work

  85. Sensei

    Also, I was a little sad watching Bellerin trundle around the field, dragging Everton players down. Remembering what a talent he was at 19 when he burst into the first team with that explosive pace. Now he just looks every bit the average RB, no spark anymore. Too bad.

  86. Le Sauce

    🚨 EXCL: Arsenal finalising move for Oleksandr Zinchenko from Man City after reaching agreement in principle on 4yr contract. Fee £30m + £2m achievable adds & now personal terms in place too. If all goes to plan, medical then sign @TheAthleticUK #MCFC #AFC https://t.co/H1ltVpVjK5
    From Ornstein

  87. Venga, Dani

    Zinchenko is a perfect signing. Much rather him over Lisandro Martinez who really is not a LB which is where we need the most help. It would be great to have another left footed CB, but we have holding, saliba, and mari on the books so until 1 or 2 of those players leave, a player like Zinchenko makes more sense.

  88. Dissenter

    Zincenko brings another variable to the table; leadership
    He’s the starter in that position now bur watch as Tierney attains perfect fitness during this season, now that he has competition.