TACTICAL FLEXING + WHAT CHELSEA WILL TELL US ABOUT PALACE 11

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Ugh… preseason games against clubs that are our rivals can be really irritating.

If we beat Chelsea this evening, I’ll be knee sliding onto Twitter to confirm that, yes, we are going to win the league.

If we lose, I will build a trench, hunker down, and fire ‘IT WAS TOO HOT’ commentary at the weirdos that’ll get off on the loss.

It’s a no-win situation.

Preseason is good for confidence, but let’s be honest, beating Liverpool in the Community Shield a few years ago didn’t do much for our title aspirations, did it?

The game won’t impact our season, but it’ll make us feel good if we put on a show.

There are two more games left of the preseason. My suspicion is that the club probably know, loosely, who is going to be ready for the first game of the season. I suspect a large chunk of the game this evening will be the starting 11 for the Crystal Palace game that lands in 2 weeks!

Here are some suppositions:

The fullback situation is probably going to look like it did at the end of last season. If KT and Tomi aren’t available, then I’d guess they aren’t going to have enough time to get match fit for the Palace game. What we have to hope is the problems they have aren’t recurring and they aren’t BIG issues. If Tomi has done his calf again, I’m gonna lose it.

Right back is going to be the position to watch. There are three options, Cedric, Ben White, and William Saliba. My guess is you will see Ben White occupying the role. He’s better on the ball than Cedric, he’s a stronger defender, and he has previous doing the role. I also think asking Saliba to fill in there could be problematic. Put the smaller more nimble player there. White also looked really sharp when he inverted the other night.

Not sure if I mentioned this yesterday, but William Saliba is apparently close to signing a new deal with the club. Quite something. Just remember all the folk that spent all last season squealing about how badly he’d been treated, about how upset the player would be, about how Arteta wouldn’t take him back, that if he came back he’d not sign a new deal. Remember those people today. What makes this Saliba story even more delicious is there are stories that Barcelona has been trying to get him to move to them for the past 4 months. The kid was so unphased by a world-class loan period, he pushed away the advances of Barcelona. Wow. Don’t infantilize grown men that are elite alpha athletes. They aren’t bitches. They are the top 0.00001% of humans that can play a global game at the highest level. They like competition.

No doubt in my mind we’re going to start the season with Zinchenko at left-back. Nuno Tavares has taken a loan move to Atalanta (NO BUY CLAUSE), which from a coaching perspective, feels like a really, really good move. KT hasn’t been seen. So hopefully the fact that Zinchenko speaks the language of JcP as well as any player in the world, he’ll click right away. Let’s hope his fitness is where it needs to be!

Our starting midfield partnership this season is going to be Granit and Thomas Partey and I think that’s right, I suspect they’ll roll out today. If they can control the game at home against City, I gotta tell you, I think they can control anyone. Xhaka comes with flaws, but he also comes with a lot of benefits, and he brings out the best in Partey. The evolution for Granit this season is that he will be pushed higher up the pitch as a #8, and that will allow our system to transition to Thomas P and a more advanced #8 like… Tielemans.

It’s also interesting that Arsenal have given up on Lokonga as a #6, they apparently now see him as a #8 LCM, I think that came from Gunnerblog? I agree though. I think Sambi offers more further up the pitch. He’s too young and inexperienced to be our #8 this season, I think that’ll be Tielemans, but he’s a great rotation option and I think people are sleeping on him and he’ll show that this year.

I’m not sure where the front 3 is going to go. Emile Smith Rowe has been absent, I think Gabi Martinelli might occupy the left, Gabriel Jesus through the middle, with Bukayo on the right. We also can’t rule out Eddie occupying the left more this season, potentially playing in a two with Jesus.

The thing I’m most excited about is the tactical flexibility Arteta is baking into the squad. He’s trying to make us unpredictable. He has players intelligent enough now to switch up systems after 15 minutes. It’s a very NFL play-by-play type approach, but being able to switch to something new can backfoot teams and cause all sorts of headaches if you can do it well. It also should help us in the big games. If Arteta can make a formation decision 2 minutes before kick-off, you can be very damaging.

Finally, James from The Athletic said that a data presentation convinced Gabi Jesus to move to Arsenal. Arsenal use all sorts of fancy tools, some proprietary I believe, to show players what their role in our system is, the sort of chances they’ll get, when they’ll bring to the side, and I reckon they probably ran a model that said ‘last season, you’d have scored 20 goals in our system and Arsenal would have finished 3rd.’

Reality here: Gabi Jesus and Zinchenko didn’t move to Arsenal to play for 4th. They’ve been told we’re going to challenge for the league in 2 seasons’ time. Guffaw at that, soil your panties that it’s aggressive but damn… doesn’t it feel good that someone at the club is finally dreaming big?

Right, that’s me done. Get the podcast into your system. Matt and Pedro are going to go On The Whistle so UK fans have something to watch right after the game tomorrow morning. It’ll be Patreon tho. So you’re gonna have to pony up some cash/money to see it.

Become a Patron!

559 Responses to “TACTICAL FLEXING + WHAT CHELSEA WILL TELL US ABOUT PALACE 11”

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  1. China1

    Who is focused on having a fixed starting 11?

    You are proposing we have 4 elite CBs seemingly on priority but we don’t yet have 2 elite DMs/8s to make an elite starting midfield.

    You have to have top quality in every position before you worry about having top quality on the bench.

    Elite players are not winning you games if they’re sitting on the bench. And meanwhile there’s no point being able to recycle between elite players in the same position but still having players on the pitch in other positions who aren’t good enough

  2. Pierre

    Rich
    We are in the europa not the champions league, hence we don’t need a centre back or a wide player …a cm is about it.

    Europa group stages are a walk in the park.

    We have 5 players who can play centre back ( inc Tomiyasu)
    We have at least 6 players at present who can play wide ( inc eddie and jesus) so no need for a wide player or centre back for this season , next season could be different if we are in the more competitive champions league.

  3. Bob N16

    Foxinthe box, selling KT would mean we’d be a LB down. If Zinchenko was injured, who would play there? Tavares, no way!

  4. TR7

    Saliba, Gabriel, Holding and White are decent to very good CBs.Tomiyasu and Elneny can play in central defense too. Absolutely no need for another CB.

    If Partey gets injured then we are done. Need to find his replacement. In fact if there is one position which needs injection of quality it’s central midfield, not defense.

  5. Dissenter

    ‘ Saliba was loaned out because he was not ready’

    This is the crux of the Saliba argument
    Many of us believe he was ready last season.
    Let’s not forget that he had a successful loan at Nice and was in the nomination for team if the season by many French media outlets.

    It’s all well and good to disagree but so long as he signs an extension, all is well that ends well.

    Some of us just believed in his ability more than others.
    Pedro didn’t think he was all that. He’s still talking if Saliba as the one that gets ‘at least 6 EL games.
    The dude us the real deal, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have more experience to gather to make him truly world class.

  6. TR7

    Arteta : Mikel Arteta on William Saliba: “I’m really pleased to see the way he is playing, the way he has adapted to the team, the maturity that he’s shown at 21-years-old, carry on doing it. He has a huge potential, he is already a top player. He looked ready to me today.”

    A back 4 of White, Saliba, Gabriel and Zinchenko looks good to me.

  7. salparadisenyc

    However we feel about the Saliba loan out(s), one things pretty clear. It worked.

    Sure there is an argument to made that is was unnecessary last season coupled with Ben White’s addition. Have to say as it stands we’re looking at potentially the best back four we’ve had in well over a decade for me with a few variations on it as well depending on opposition or fitness issues.

  8. Rich

    What’s wrong with assembling a CL level squad a season earlier? Which at the business end of the season, can see us play 3 x a week consistently, without our season imploding?….

    Doesn’t anyone else want us to compete for the Europa League, and both domestic cups this season, while still getting into the top 4, and getting much closer to the top 2?…

    Having one weak centre back in Holding or Mari, changes the entire shape of our team, both in terms of the way we attack + defend, and how teams setup against us,

    Liverpool have Van Dijk, Matip, Konate, + Gomez , City have Stones, Laporte, Diaz, + Ake.

    Everyone of those centre backs allows them to push high, and stay there for expended periods, just one weak link invites pressure.

    We bypass the midfield by having better defenders, which leaves less pressure on a single pivot to get us up the pitch.

    This is how we evolve from a 6 + 4 team, with 6 players behind the ball, to a 5 + 5 team, that pushes an extra player into the opponents final third, without leaving ourselves vulnerable.

    If you look at the way Arteta is building the squad, he wants inverted full backs , who step into midfield in possession, to support a single pivot in midfield.

    This then creates the space to push our other 2 midfielders further forward to join the attack, and move away from a double pivot in midfield, to playing with 2 No8s.

    That’s the blueprint, I’d be surprised if we signed another deep lying midfielder, I think we’ll go for another No8, providing we can create the space with exits,

    We’ve just renewed Elneny, we’ve got Partey, Zinchenko can play there, White has played there on a few occasions for Leeds + Brighton.

    Sambi doesn’t have the experience to play a single pivot in the league, but we could give him experience there in the early rounds of the Europa if needed.

    Xhaka isn’t suited that that advanced 8 position, and he’s less of an issue sitting deeper, providing he’s got power a pace behind him, because in terms of ball progression he’s very good.

  9. Ishola70

    What’s all this “bypassing” midfield talk?

    Genreally the top sides win out in midfield.

    Not a great blueprint Rich really.

    Tell teams like Liverpool that “bypassing” midfield is the way to go.

  10. Rich

    Diss

    Many people on a football blog + Twitter thought Saliba was ready, but the people who have worked with him, and have data on him, that goes way beyond anything we can get hold of.

    Thought differently…..

    I don’t see what the issue is, he had a hugely successful loan, we’re getting back a vastly more experienced player

    Remember when people were certain we should be throwing in the likes of Azeez + Hutchinson at the back end of the 2020/21 season…

    The club don’t always get it right, but I think we have to accept that they have a better idea, of where players on in their development + trajectory, than we do.

    I’d be surprised if Saliba is looking at his last season at Marseille, with anything but positivity, he went from French under 21 player, to French under 21 captain, to French full international

    To coming back to Arsenal to play in the PL, where he’ll likely get a 100-150% pay increase, and have an excellent chance of going to the World Cup in November

    In the cold light of day, I’m pretty sure he’ll be feeling extremely positive about his loan move, and his career trajectory over the last 12 months.

  11. Ishola70

    People have fair reason to question the Saliba situation.

    It seems Arteta underestimated this player.

    We could have been in an even better situation with Saliba.

    That being him having a whole season’s EPL experience under his belt going into this season.

  12. salparadisenyc

    Ishola

    Of course its fair to question the Saliba situation, I pretty much did that the entirity of last season looking at Ben White with Lacazette leading an impotent front line.

    That said club chose to roll those dice and pull the spend in this window, a plan of action. Something we’ve lacked. Arteta has matured as has Saliba, ideal for all of us.

  13. China1

    Rich nobody prefers us not to have a CL quality squad. They prefer us to have CL quality distributed throughout the team, not loaded up in some positions and entirely absent in others

    Teams that win the CL and league have balance in the squad. Literally what is the value in having great players who are on the bench in some positions and only passable level players on the pitch in others?

  14. China1

    Also you don’t need 4 excellent CBs to have a CL quality squad. How many teams in the CL have 4 top class CBs?

  15. Rich

    Ishola

    Liverpool play with 3 central midfielders as a shield around their 2 centre backs

    They push their full backs high + wide, and invert their wide forwards, playing with 2 aggressive full backs, comes at the expense of attacking midfielders.

    You can have variety to avoid predictability, but you can’t play with 2 attacking full backs, 2 No 8s, 2 wide forwards, and a striker.

    That’s 7 attacking players, you wouldn’t have enough players behind the ball to build + sustain pressure, all teams would do in press the 3 players behind the ball, and have an absolute field day.

    Liverpool’s shape in possession is usually something like this:

    …..…….Alisson
    ….Van Dijk Matip
    Milner Fabinho Thiago
    Trent …………..Roberson
    ……..Salah……Diaz
    …………Firminho

    City do something similar, but they often invert both their full backs like this, who step into midfield to create a 3:

    ………….Ederson
    ………..Diaz Laporte
    Cancelo Rodri Zinchenko
    ….De Bruyne Silva
    Mahrez…………Sterling
    ………….Jesus

    With this system their wide forwards starting positions are wider than Liverpool’s, because they don’t get as much width from their full backs

    But this allows them to play with 2 No8s’ and dominate the ball centrally.

    They also play asymmetrical versions of the system, where they play just one full back high and wide, tuck the one midfielder in behind, and invert the one wide attacker, we’ve done something similar with Tierney

    ………..Ramsdale
    …….White Gabriel
    Tomi Partey Xhaka
    Odegaard ……Tierney
    ….Saka……Martinelli
    ………..Lacazette

    Tierney was almost playing as a winger in possession in 2020/21

    Since we’re signing inverted full backs, and Xhaka was playing much further forward in the second half of last season, this definitely points to 2 No8s, particularly when you look at the starting positions of both our wide forwards

  16. TR7

    Rich

    Let’s not start comparing our squad with that of Liverpool when expectations/target at the two clubs are not the same. Arteta’s target is to get in to top 4 first which we can get with Saliba, Holding, Gabriel and White but not if Partey gets injured and Xhaka starts most of our games.

  17. Ishola70

    Top teams don’t “bypass” midfield in most cases.

    They stake a claim in midfield.

    That’s whether it’s DMs, CMs, 8s, 7s, 6s lol

  18. Mr Serge

    Rich at 14.17 exactly saliba has gained vast experience on loan far more than he would have here, we are going to benefit from that loan for many years to come

  19. Naija+soccer

    Lokonga is gonna be one sweet midfielder. Love him in that 8 position. Very intelligent, vision, link up, technique in that player. Definitely starting to see the Yaya Toure comparison.

  20. salparadisenyc

    I’m on the 2x 8 train as well, may be the only one in this space whom want to see this mid but think we’ve got enough in the rears to go with it. Also have Vieira who could potentially take up one of the 8s as well depending on how he settles.

    That said could be a moot thought with Tielemans still on the bigger radar.

    ____________Jesus______________
    GM_______________________Saka
    _____ESR__________Ødegaard____
    ___________Partey_____________
    Zinchenko_____________White
    ________Gab___Saliba_________
    ____________Ramrod__________

  21. TR7

    I absolutely love the team Sal posted.

    I want ESR, Saka, Gabi and Ode to play together in front of Partey. Very similar to Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc and Silva playing in front of Senna in Euro 2010.

  22. Rich

    China

    Usually the clubs that plan on actually “winning” the CL, and plan on being competitive in 4 competitions, in the most competitive league in the world

    While playing a consistent style of play, that allows them to play a high line, pin teams in their own half for extended periods, create a territorial advantages in the opponents final third, and score more goals, and play better football as a result…..

    There’s a reason why Pep has a squad littered with £50 million + defenders, and a keeper who can play like a sweeper

    There’s a reason Van Dijk, Fabinho + Alisson transformed Liverpool, alongside the technical quality of TAA, who’s one of the leagues best players, while being quite a poor defender on the back foot

    Same with Cancelo, or Zinchenko, they’re not good defenders, but they’re exceptional technicians, who get their team up the pitch + keep them there.

    We change the entire dynamic of the way we setup with the technical + physical qualities of our defenders, and distribution of our goalkeeper

    This isn’t some revolutionary system Arteta has invented, all the top managers play different variations of a 5 + 5 system

    To get that extra player into the opponents final third, what’s behind them has got to be of exceptional quality, to get us up the pitch, keep us there for extended periods, and sustain pressure

    It’s for me why Klopp’s achievements at Dortmund + Liverpool , far eclipse those of Pep at Barca, Bayern + City

    Pep needs high level technical players to implement his style, and so does Arteta

    But Klopp makes average players look exceptional

  23. Foxy

    Rich it definitely looks like we are going the city route as our fullbacks Inc White are not really wing backs like the Pool pair except for Cedric. On the subject of positional flexibility White could foreseeably also step into a defensive midfield role at late stages of a game or say if Partey was injured especially as Tomi’s injury has given Saliba a chance to own the RCB position

  24. China1

    Rich all you’re doing is making a case for why having quality players in defense is good.

    You’re not making a case for why we need to have 4 elite CBs before we can even name 2 elite CMs/DMs

    Tell me the 4th choice CB from all the top 12 teams in the world and let’s see how absolutely elite they are.

    As a guy who always talks about economics you should see very clearly that having players worth 50m on the bench on one position whilst having players worth 10m on the pitch in others is economically ridiculous and unbelievably inefficient.

    If we have finite resources then every signing should be based on addressing weaknesses in priority areas. Holding is funnily enough a pretty good PL CB who would play in the starting 11 for most teams. He’s not ideal for our way of playing but he’s still a pretty good player who adds value to our squad.

    The other irony about wanting to spend another fortune on another CB is that if you want our defense to be better, improving the midfield can help that outright. If we have an elite midfield we will dominate more games and the defense will face less pressure situations. If we have CMs who can easily transition from defense to attack at speed our attack will be better too.

    Having a passable midfield but having great talents on the bench in defense is just utterly pointless. Partey gets injured like usual and what’s the plan then? It’s xhakaneny… as a guy talking about winning CLs do you see it happening with Xhakaneny?

  25. China1

    As well if we did sign a very expensive new CB, you can probably kiss goodbye to one of our existing ones. Saliba hasn’t yet signed a new deal. All the talk of having faith in him, if we sign an expensive new CB, Saliba might be 4th choice and just picking up occasional games here and there. Why sign a new contract? Then he needs replacing…

  26. Rich

    Ishola

    If our 2 central defenders are stationed 10 yards inside their own half for extended periods

    We have a single pivot in midfield, and our 2 full backs occupying the wide spaces to each side.

    That’s the 5 players you need to play a high line, sustain attacks, and pin teams in their own half.

    How often have we seen Liverpool + City dominate us, doing this?…

    We then resort us to either going long, in which case usually means them getting the ball straight back, and coming straight back at us, or if we press their defenders high, they just play straight through us.

    We’ve been sitting deeper in Arteta’s first 18 months, because we lacked the technical + physical qualities to push high, and the technical security + structure in the final third to sustain attacks

    Last season we played with the 3rd highest defensive line on average, only behind City + Liverpool, which was a major shift from defensive, fine margins football.

    But we still need more specificity to do this consistently, implant a clear style, and to execute it to a much higher standard.

    Our squad is now evolving in a way, that’ll allow us to do this on a consistent basis.

    I’ve been making this point for the last few years, but every time I’ve done it , I’ve been accused of loving Emery + Arteta, and people have turned it into a manager issue , rather than a player quality + squad balance issue,

    It’s why I’ve been more concerned with fixing our scouting, recruitment, squad planning, contract management, and character of our players, than worrying about who our manager is….

    Because if we get those things right, whoever our manager is will have a much easier job,

    If you can’t see that inverted full backs stepping into midfield in possession, and defenders who are stationed high, allows us to move away from a double pivot in midfield, and push 5 attacking players into the opponents-defensive third as a result

    Then I don’t know what to tell you.

    Because if our defenders are occupying the midfield, alongside just a 1 deep lying midfielder for extended periods, then our 2 No8s, become additional forwards

    And that how you use the defence to bypass the midfield

  27. Ishola70

    Rich

    Teams have played high lines for a long time.

    It’s nothing new is it.

    And playing high lines doesn’t totally negate the requirement of having a midfield of note.

    I think you are just thinking about on the ball here.

  28. Ishola70

    Sal’s line-up was a good attacking one.

    But coinciding with all this high line talk it’s great and all that when we are on the ball but not always so great when you are off the ball.

    You have to be on it with pressing and hemming in the opposition when they have the ball otherwise they will get at the defence easily and with regularity.

  29. Ishola70

    You play high lines you better be bloody good at pressing when the opposition have the ball.

    Has to go hand in hand.

  30. China1

    What you’ve just described is not a bypassing of the midfield rich

    There is still a midfield. The 8s don’t magically become CFs or WFs, they are still midfielders, just with more support behind them

    It’s still a midfield just one that is pushed a bit ahead of the usual position

  31. Marko

    Playing with two 8’s is great theoretically until you come up against a good team with better midfielders who are in control of the game then it’s an issue

  32. Rich

    China

    One weak link in our defence causes us issues, and alters the entire shape of the team both offensively + defensively, because once the opposition smell blood, or recognise a weak link, they’ll exploit it.

    If you don’t see an issue with Mari + Holding pushing high? Then you certainly have infinity more faith in their technical + athletic capabilities, than I do.

    Because teams will look to push up and press them on the ball, they’ll fancy their chances in behind, and over the top, once teams know they can get success pressing us high, that automatically pushes our entire team backwards 15-20 yards

    My main concern is around the fitness of Tomi + Tierney, I love both players, but specifically with a Tierney, there’s certainly a concerning pattern now.

    A player like Gvardiol would be expensive, but he solves 3 issues in the squad at once:

    1. He provides real competition a cover for Gabriel, because Holding + Mari aren’t designed to play the way Arteta needs them too, and Gabriel can’t play 60 games

    2. Tomi’s injuries are a concern, Cedric is fine as a squad player for 10-15 games, but having White + Tomi at right back is much better, and we won’t need to push Saliba to the left, which means less Cedric at right back.

    3. If Tierney gets injured again, Zinchenko can’t play 60+ games at left back, and I don’t really want to see Xhaka at left back, so not only does a player like Gvardiol provide consistency in the way we play, he’d provide us with different options on the left, similar to what White potentially does

    If it wasn’t for Tierney + Tomiyasu’s injury concerns, it wouldn’t be as pressing an issue, but if we want to implement a consistent + defined style of play, and shift from a double pivot in midfield, this profile of signing is essential

  33. Mysticleaves

    Also not so sure we will sign anyone of note anymore. Think out business is done.

    El neny is Partey’s cover for next season atleast while Xhaka is the LCM we are asking for. With Lokonga as study. We still have Torr that can easily play LCM or CDM.

    So until we sell either Xhaka or Lokonga or both, we ain’t signing nobody again. I think…

  34. salparadisenyc

    Regarding 2x8s, I’m definitely in the camp that thinks if we’re to scalp the bigger sides ie City/Liverpool its going to happen going on the attack with a more effective press that disrupts. We pulled it for 45 last season against City but couldn’t sustain it eventually loosing that match.

    This side looks to have the ability carry it the distance, have to think next potential two signings will dictate much, notably how the mid will operate on the bigger encounters.

  35. Freddie Ljungberg

    Having 4 top quality CBs would be nice, but everything can’t be fixed in 1 window. Not when we still had so much work to do.

    If we’re only signing 1 more player this wimdow it needs to be a CM. Anything else is a bonus and can realistically wait until winter or next summer.

  36. Rich

    Ishola

    Of course we’ll alter our shape in and out of possession, what teams don’t?…. It would be ridiculous to think otherwise.

    Of course are full backs aren’t going to be stationed in midfield, and our centre backs 5-10 yards inside their own half for 90 minutes.

    I’ve seen Liverpool + City do this on a few occasions, but even the 2 best teams in the world, will usually have 2-3 sustained periods throughout 90 minutes, where they sit deep and retreat into their own half, to eat up a bit of pressure.

    But if we want to be a top team that dominates the ball, we need 20 outfield who provide continuity, and flexibility.

    There might be a drop off in quality with City + Liverpool, but there’s no drop off in the style of footballer they select, and that provides them with a consistent style of play across 60 game seasons

    If we want to compete with them, which I certainly do, not just in the league, but I want to go to cup finals as well, then we need 20 outfield players, who can step in seamlessly to a system when required.

    We can’t have a few injuries see our seasons go up in smoke, last season we had 4 sustained injuries, we were only competitive in 2 competitions, only 1 competition at the business end of the season

    And we still collapsed….

    We need at least another 3 quality players to have any hope of lasting the pace, and even then we’ll need a better level of fitness of our overall squad

  37. Rich

    Mystic leaves

    Just skip my posts, if you still need it explaining to you now, chances are you’ll never understand what it is we’re trying to evolve into.

    Just stick to bedwetting, it’s what you excel at…

  38. Ishola70

    Rich

    Many words but all this depends on how good we are going to be off the ball and this has always been the case.

    The top teams can usually retreat back when their job is done. They have already won the game or at least are up in the match And then they have the luxury of just thinking of hitting on counters.

    But before that luxury they have worked to get into that position.

  39. Mysticleaves

    It’s been said many times about how Holding is a capable 4th choice talent wise. He’s not slow per se and can pass to a decent degree. I don’t understand how he’s more of a liability in a high line than White or Gabriel or Saliba. These other players were have played before in a system that encourages high line. That’s just the difference.

    We played the 3rd highest line last season and still conceded more goals than previous. It shows that all the defenders need to improve in the high line tactics and get better at it. Not only Holding…who didn’t get much starts anyways when the other defenders were fit.

    Upgrading Holding is not a priority at all. It’s a luxury

  40. kjelli

    By loaning Saliba out for one more season, meant that he would develop and beef up in a more
    calmer and not as intense league as the Premier league is.. he stayed injury free and matured
    well . He will be a World Cup winner if France are on form in November !!

  41. Mysticleaves

    Rich I understand your posts all so well. I have seen them word to word more times than I remember. I skip them anyways but the responses draw me back. Seems you have it on ready waiting to paste everytime.

  42. Ishola70

    Most CBs are in trouble anyway if the press has been broken and there is a ball over the top and there are multiple opposition players advancing onto goal.

    Even the Dijk man.

  43. TR7

    Arteta has indicated there could be more incomings. I think a lot depends on whether we are able to offload Pepe, Toerrera, Mari and Bellerin.

    I think Tielemans comes in if Toerrera goes and a wide player comes in if Pepe goes.

  44. Rich

    How do you know my posts word for word?…

    If you don’t read my posts, because you skip them?….

    If you skipped them, you wouldn’t know what was in them…..

    Thinking things through, really isn’t your strong point…

    Like I said, stick to bedwetting …. But if you were actually skipping my posts, rather than enjoying them, you wouldn’t have got this far?…

    And i bet you’re even reading this, which is my 6th paragraph..

    7th

    8th

    I bet your now on your 9th

    10th

    If you’ve got to the 11th, you’re an even bigger loser than I thought..

    12th….. 😂

  45. karim

    What a game !
    What a comment section !

    Looks like the quality of the comments stepped up a gear in total synchronicity with the team lol

    Good times ahead

  46. Foxy

    What we must not forget with Xhaka is that he has always looked good in slow paced games e.g Swiss internationals. Then it all falls apart when games are at Prem pace. At the moment we’re just too reliant on Partey being fit for all our big games. For the cup early rounds and some prem games when we are on the front foot Elneny will do fine but he struggles under real pressure as does Lokonga.

  47. Foxy

    Nothing at all wrong with City rejects as their squad is so strong it is Arsenal rejects that have little merit and thus unfortunately no sale value!

  48. MidwestGun

    I think this was an especially good time to get City players because they are letting quality players go to pay for Haaland. Other seasons not so much they were trying to pimp their over the hill players out like Aguero and etc.. It helps that our manager was an insider and is running the same system.
    The other players we got were basically a comparitively lower dollar calculated gamble.. Marquinhos, Vieira and Turner. So smart business when we lacked understanding of what we were trying to accomplish with pressure and fluidity and been there done that winning mentality last season. Go get the players from the team that know what’s up and have worked for Teta before. Now we need to translate that to winning a higher percentage of games in the regular season and it looks like some of that knowledge is starting to rub off.. players trying to play like Jesus. Hmmm that might be a good t-shirt.. Play like Jesus.

  49. Northbanker

    The additional talent we now have coupled with the simple factor of growing a year older and more experienced will mean we should have an awesome season ahead for Martinelli and Saka. These 2 are developing at such an incredible rate they could be unplayable on the two flanks

  50. MidwestGun

    Yes… nobody fucks with da Jesus. That’s what I’m saying. haha

    Loved his post match motm interview last night.. said he has never felt as much love as from Arsenal fans. He said they made him feel wanted straight away in huge numbers that surprised him and that was important to him hitting the ground running. He wants to pay us back.

  51. Zacharse

    sal you remind me of the two annoucners on espn+ for that game. couldnt tell the difference between havertz and mount but were shapr enough to do the ‘i’m rick james bitch’ line whenever reece james made a run

  52. salparadisenyc

    Middy

    Going to be most effective striker we’ve had since RVP for me, didn’t think we’d actually get him. 🔥

  53. MidwestGun

    I hope so Sal.. I wouldn’t be opposed to blowing some lower table bitches out once in awhile instead of scraping along for a 1-nil to the Arsenal.

  54. Zacharse

    honestly i think it looks more and more intelligent in hindsight to send saliba to marseilles, or really anywhere last season, the knock to his ego seems to have matured the guy much further than if he’d just been given everything he wanted and that is the a super important part of becoming world class in the non-neymar way. wono’t be surprised if we wind up w best defense in the league this season. hope fully wild bill saliba stays w us beyond 2-3 yrs

  55. MidwestGun

    I told my brother last night Lampard should be available soon, when Tuchel get sacked or quits out of frustration. And Everton is fighting relegation.

  56. Rich

    Tomiyasu, Cedric
    Tierney, Zinchenko
    White, Saliba
    Gabriel, Gvardiol or similar profile.

    4 defender x 60 games = 240 starting positions:

    Saliba 40 starts right centre back
    White 40 starts, 20 at right centre back + 20 right back

    Gabriel 40 starts left centre back
    Gvardiol or similar. 40 starts, 20 at left centre back + 20 left back

    Tomiyasu 35 starts right back, but can also cover centre back for any medium – long term injuries

    Zinchenko 20 starts left back, + 15 midfield, more at left back if Tierney’s missing for extended periods, or more in midfield if Partey gets injured again., Zinchenko gives us options.

    Tierney 25 starts left back

    That’s our 240 starts, and that’s assuming we don’t lose any players for extended periods, I have serious doubt about 2 of our defenders ability to play 3 games in a week, let alone doing it on a consistent basis,

    Cedric emergency right back, if Tomi gets injured, or we need to move Tomi to centre back, or Saliba gets injured, and we need to move White to right centre back.

    This is the type of defensive flexibility + quality we need to remain competitive across an entire season, in 4 competitions, and compete with the very best teams.

    Our first 11 can now be competitive against the best, but that won’t help us at the end of the season playing a busy schedule.

    When you look at the injury histories of Tierney + Tomiyasu, 60 starts out the pair of them, might be a little bit optimistic, but with hybrid players, and Cedric happy to play a squad role, I’d expect we’d have enough to see us through, specifically at the business end of the season.

    Both players could suddenly produce consistent availability, but at this point, that’s got to be seen as a nice bonus, rather than to be expected, and that’s why we should plan our squad, with that at the forefront of our planning.

    Because there’s no value in getting to quarter finals + semi finals, as well as putting ourselves in a strong position in the league, if we don’t have the required quality in depth to push us over the line.

    In 2018/19 Emery went for both the Europa semi final + top 4, we picked up a few injuries, and fell at the finishing line in the league as a result.

    We need a squad where we don’t have to pick + choose, we can rotate seamlessly, I think we’re one top class left sided centre back/ inverted left back hybrid, away from defensively having the squad to achieve that, and we’ll as installing a consistent pattern in the way we attack + defend as a team

  57. MidwestGun

    I personally think 4th choice cb is the least of our worries when … Partey is the key to our whole midfield and he gets injured when the wind blows the wrong way.. Then we are looking at a Granit…. Mo midfield. nobody wants to see that again.

    I mean sure I’d take an upgrade on Holdinho but not unless we have solved our midfield issues.

  58. Left Testicle

    Rich, I stopped reading at:
    Saliba 40 starts right centre back
    White 40 starts, 20 at right centre back + 20 right back

    Everybody knows football doesn’t work like that. 🙄

  59. Pierre

    Rich
    “Just skip my posts, if you still need it explaining to you now, chances are you’ll never understand what it is we’re trying to evolve into.”

    Could you please just repeat it one more time..

  60. Pierre

    Pedro
    “The thing I’m most excited about is the tactical flexibility Arteta is baking into the squad. He’s trying to make us unpredictable ”

    Whatever turns you on i suppose..

  61. salparadisenyc

    Agree. I’ve no issues with Holding being our 4th choice CB, in fact if feels weird to have a 4th choice CB considering path we’ve been down.

    I’d like to see another mid fielder brought in that can take over for Partey or play along side him for a more defensive look. Then some depth to the flank so we don’t run Saka into the red zone or put on left for Martinelli if he isn’t firing.

    This is likely to go down as the madness window, best I can remember overall.

  62. Rich

    The example of Emery coming up short of 4th in 2018/19, because of a lack of quality in depth, or Arteta falling at the finishing line last season trying to get top 4, are valid.

    We’ve got history with this, in 2007/08, we had a brilliant first team, played some excellent football, but lacked the depth to get us over the line.

    We had a brilliant first team in 2010/11, playing some amazing football, but went for all the trophies, picked up a few injuries, and end up pot-less as a result.

    In 2015/16, we weren’t great, but we had some good players, and the overall strength of the league was weak.

    Wenger decided to not sign a single outfield player in the summer of 2015, Cazorla got injured, as well as the usual injury prone players, and Leicester nipped in to take the title.

    That was an opportunity lost, because we didn’t install the required depth,

    We haven’t had a squad that’s anywhere near getting close since, and the standards it now takes to win a title, have since been redefined.

    This season has to be seen as an opportunity, City + Liverpool are making changes to their squads, trying to create new team cycles.

    If we make another 3 top signings, we can certainly be the best of the rest, and if either club had a shocker with injuries, or new players struggling to settle, we could put ourselves next in line for the throne, or at least get much closer to them

    That would be progress, we haven’t been within 20 points of the champions since 2015/16, and even then we were 10 points shy of Leicester.

    It’s unlikely we’d win it next season, but we can at least add the 3 players we need to give us the best chance to try.

  63. Mysticleaves

    Left testicle

    We’d be sure to hire in a counting tactician so as to keep count of the starts. Make sure White doesn’t exceed 20 stats at RB for example.

  64. Rich

    Left testicle

    If the people who assemble our squad, aren’t looking at how many potential games there are, and then trying to assemble a squad that can deal with those demands, we’re in trouble.

    If they’re not looking at how we share the workload, or anticipating where we could get injuries, and building the squad to account for that, then we’re in even bigger trouble.

    If they’re not building a squad to play across 60 games, playing 3 x a week, then they’re happy for us to just make up the numbers in perpetuity

  65. Pierre

    Football is quite a simple game really .

    Decide what style of football you want to play, then bring in the right players that can implement that style of play.

    For all his faults, at least wenger had a style of play and brought in players who could implement that style of play( xhaka the exception).

    What we have had since wenger left is 2 managers who wanted to play a certain style of football but they forgot to bring in the right players to implement that style of play..

    Thankfully, the signing of jesus and the emergence of Eddie and Martinelli have at long last given us players who can not only press with intensity but they loook like they actively enjoy pressing , plus of course Odegaard loves running around and it was good to see him put his foot in a couple of times….maybe he’s getting the message.

    It’s taken 4 years for us to get to this point and we have Partey who is so good sitting in front of the defence(please don’t get injured) , the only fly in the ointment is Xhaka who is like a fish out of water when the ball is being pinged about.

    Yes Rich, football is a simple game .

  66. MidwestGun

    Got to love Le Grove always giving us the great bouts…. Gambon v Kaiser, PhD v Nasris Mouth, Redtruth v Everyone, Rich v Pierre.

    It’s like Thrilla in Manila up in here at times. minus the Thrilla part or the Manila… but you get my drift.

  67. Marko

    If they’re not building a squad to play across 60 games, playing 3 x a week, then they’re happy for us to just make up the numbers in perpetuity

    So arsenal

  68. Rich

    Pierre

    You’ve just rightly alluded to deciding what style we want to play, and then bringing players in to fit that style.

    Which is the argument I’ve consistently made for the last few years.

    But then you see no issue with Holding or Mari playing games in the PL for Arsenal, In a league of fine margins, where every single point counts, you don’t get away with it, certainly not when they’re required against stronger opposition, in the 6 pointers,

    The difference between being 6 point behind a club in front, or being head to head on goal difference, can be just flipping one head to head result, in the opposite direction.

    That’s how finely things can be balanced, the levels required to get to 90-100 points, and be competitive in other competitions, is insane.

    Are we trying to win titles? Or are we happy to just make up the numbers?

    You don’t seem to comprehend the standards that City + Liverpool currently set, or what’s required to close the gap in terms of our squad building.

  69. Rich

    Ake is a good player.

    Gomes is decent enough, he allows Liverpool to still push high, he’s a brilliant athlete, and allows for continuity in style.

    The i

  70. Nigel Tufnel

    Brilliant discussion all around. Constructive disagreements, class match review from Pierre.

    Only a couple losers felt the need to throw in some hate at Xhaka after a great game, just isolating themselves more.

    The very slightest disappointment I had was that I would’ve liked to see Sambi and Eddie get on a little sooner. Sambi needs the work in MF and Jesus does not need extra minutes. He’s ready to go now.

    People now seeing that having White. Gabriel AND Saliba ready for this coming season makes how we got there inconsequential. No need to complain anymore about overpaying for White, or whether we should’ve loaned Saliba or not. It’s history now and we’re looking strong right now.

    Get Salibas signature and I’ll be calling him William and treating him as my most beloved player. A complete 180 from me and you can all remind me as often as you want.

    I don’t care, because our first 3 CBs will be the envy of the biggest teams in the world.

    That lineup we saw could be the preferred choice for some very big matches this season.

  71. Sanmi

    Rich,

    Let it rest, who’s the back up for Haaland? Your back up doesn’t have to be as good as first choice.

  72. Sanmi

    Rich,

    Holding is a solid defender, he’s just not that good on the ball, played in finals against likes of Diego Costa and played well. He’s good enough for 4th choice

  73. Pierre

    Rich
    “But then you see no issue with Holding or Mari playing games in the PL for Arsenal, In a league of fine margins.

    I have no issues with any centre back partnership that concede a goal every other game , and neither should any Arsenal supporter.

    I do have an issue when we spend over 100 mil on defenders and keeper and concede more than the previous season, and so should any Arsenal supporter.

    Anyway , hopefully the emergence of saliba( a year too late) should put an end to your constant reference to mari/holding as if all our defensive woes have been down to them and not any of the players bought for 100 mil , except of course Tavares who is the other whipping boy on here.

  74. englandsbest

    Rich

    Spot on post.

    My belief is Edu/Arteta will hire those three extra able-bodies, or two of them and keep Pepe.

    With Qatar WC on course mid-voyage a numerous first-call crew is needed more than ever.

    But I feel the wind in the sails, don’t you?

  75. Rich

    Pierre

    Tavares isn’t a whipping boy, most are excited by his potential, but recognise that the jump from second choice left back at Benfica, to playing in the PL for Arsenal, was too big of a leap to make at once.

    He needs to go and play consistently at a lower level, and learn on someone else’s time, then we can reevaluate.

    Tavares might win us points, but he’ll certainly cost us points at this stage of his development as well.

    He’s all over the place, brilliant one minute, and erratic the next, I’ll be interested to see how he develops playing consistently, particularly if he goes to a club who play with wing backs

    He’s 22, not 25, there’s plenty of time for him to find his feet, or for Arsenal to turn a decent profit.

    Samni

    Holding is generally fine defending his own box, he’s good in the air, and reasonably disciplined

    But we’re not playing that way anymore, what we need from our centre backs are good athletes, good technical quality, who read the game well.

    Holding is a poor athlete, he’s poor on the ball, he’s clumsy when stepping out to win the first ball, and he’s a liability over the top.

    The FA Cup final in 2017, Holding was at fault for Chelsea’s equaliser, thankfully Ramsey scored another straight up the other end, or Holding would have been remembered very differently for that game.

    He should go and play for a club that plays with less of the ball, and sits much deeper, I’m sure he’ll be just great.

    If we go for a less experienced centre back, or one of less quality, they at least need to provide continuity to the way we setup as a team, that means they need to have at least some of the required characteristics

  76. Wicked Willy

    I don’t think the argument has to be so mutually exclusive. We clearly need an upgrade in midfield, but if we are to make a good fit of all four trophy’s and set ourselves up for a good run at CL in the following season, we would ideally also get one extra attacked and one LCB that fits our system.

    I’m curious to understand what peeps think we should do in midfield, given that sambi appears to be reverting to #8 and is likely to be very accomplished. We also have patino who will be ready to bang in a couple of seasons. Do we go for Tielemans, Paqueta, or do we try and hijack De Jong?

    Or do we try and cover Partey? but who realistically will be good enough to cover him, whilst accepting second fiddle? His role is so big, there aren’t many players who can do it to the required level.

    Given our needs, I’m wondering if De Jong would be a good shout as he can cover both, and could even potentially cover LCB if needed.

    I’m also curious if we have any guesses about this mystery winger we’re after. The only names I can think of are Sane, Berardi, Oyarzabel, Asencio. Maybe Olmo? Who else? I’d love a bit of Ferran Torres given that Barca have now got 5 top drawer wingers but hard to believe that would happen…i suspect they’ll try and shift Depay.

    LCB wise, I am feeling Gvardiol, Ndicka, or Colwill. I doubt badiashile would come given what he’s rejected in the past.

    In short, i agree a well specified shit hot midfielder is priority #1, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t explor the right opportunities at WF and LCB and see if the right thing comes up at the right money….but only really possible if we get sales in as well.

    Starting to really feel the complexity of squad building given the specificity we are looking for.

  77. Dissenter

    Rich
    “ DissMany people on a football blog + Twitter thought Saliba was ready, but the people who have worked with him, and have data on him, that goes way beyond anything we can get hold of.Thought differently…..‘

    So says the dude who writes lengthy epistles on a football blog about hypotheticals

    All the data in the world didn’t stop us from signing Willian and Runnarson.
    Stop pretending that football people with data don’t succumb to that universal trait; making mistakes

    Arteta had only been a manager for five minute before the Saliba conundrum dropped on his laps in the midst of a very bizzare covid-truncated summer transfer window. The club game him some unique problems derived from years if chronic mismanagement. He made mistake with Saliba.

    You can’t say you valued a player so highly that you kept sending him out on loan. Saliba could easily have attained his own experience, same way prodigious talents like Saka got his. I’ll stop there cos my intentions are not to set of acrimony.

    It doesn’t matter now. All is well that ends well, once he signs the extension….which he will.
    I expect that Saliba has grown up, same way the Arteta of 2022 is not the same one of 2020.

  78. kjelli

    we need to have a Partey replacement on the bench to account for injuries, red cards and fatigue
    No matter the cost its Onana for me !! Friday does not come soon enough… keep a clean sheet and
    score more than one