Listen, I said before the game, this preseason game means EVERYTHING and maximum conclusions SHALL be drawn from the game and they WILL be definitive.
Arsenal. Were. Sensational.
All the rumblings around the training camp are that the new players have adapted, the culture is really starting to sing, and the team is working at a really intense level. Postive vibes are my drug of choice this summer and there’s nothing manufactured, this is all real, and it feels good.
The output of great prep showed against Chelsea. For the first time in many, many years I felt Arsenal were more than a physical match for Tuchel’s boys. We ran harder, our passing was better, there was more variety to our game. We were simply the better side. Arsenal were so good, they made Chelsea look very, very bad.
Beating your rivals 4-0 in preseason means very little to your season if you are Arsenal. But, it means a lot to a team that should have title aspirations to be this far off the pace just two weeks out. It was amusing to listen to Thomas Tuchel canvass for more players after the game by rolling the quality of the talent as well as the commitment. That sort of carry-on usually doesn’t end well. Tuchel is a great manager when things are going well, when they start to dip, he’s not emotionally equipped to handle the adversity. It’ll be interesting to see how long he lasts this season. It’ll also be fascinating to see how Chelsea handle the reality that they’ve made some bad decisions in the transfer market and now they don’t have Roman fuck you money to escape.
But f*ck Chelsea, let’s talk about Arsenal.
The starting 11 we rolled with, pending fresh injuries, will be the side we take to Selhurst Park.
Ben White slotted in a right-back, Saliba and Gabriel were centre-backs, and Zinchenko took the left-back role.
Midfield was Partey, Xhaka and Odegaard.
Our forwards were Martinelli, Jesus, and Saka.
I can’t explain how I felt watching them play, it was a vibe, a sexy feeling, it looked special. There were no real weaknesses. The defence were all comfortable on the ball, Ramsdale found his range with some outrageous passing early on, Saliba and Gabriel looked like old heads, up to the pace and power of the game, and Ben White was superb at right back and looked really happy slotting into midfield.
William Saliba looked sensational. His return to the side makes me laugh. Honestly, the carry-on last season about the doom of the loan is one of the most hilarious turns of this Arsenal fan base. We don’t need to go into the fact he’ll start centre back game one. We don’t need to talk about Arteta saying “I am 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, carry on doing it. We will keep developing him. He is already a top player & we have to make him even better. He looked ready to me.” No. What I want to talk about is the benefits of having a 21-year-old centre-back return to Arsenal after 4500 minutes after being coached by a tactic manager that demands crazy levels of dedication. Does anyone think 1200 minutes with us last season would have been better? We have a better player now than we did. He’s going to sign a new deal. He’ll be the youngest starting centre back in the league game one of the season. No harm done. Trust the process, as they say, and remember who catastrophized his loan last season.
The most genius move of the summer is probably going to be signing players from Manchester City. They are extremely well coached, have great character, and they know the expectations. Zinchenko was fantastic, his range of passing is so good, he’s fast, he has great delivery, and he was a massive add down the left side. His ability to build play, invert, and join the attack is going to open a new world for Arsenal this season. The guy is pure security. We now have the best left-back options in the league.
Gabriel Jesus IS a difference-maker. The player has clearly adapted well to being THE man behind the scenes. He’s a total professional, a born winner, and he’s completely changed the dynamic of our team. That one vs one he jumped on after Granit Xhaka one-touched his through ball was a miss with Lacazette. Gabriel dinks a chip over one of the best keepers in the league. Outrageous, but THAT is what quality gets you at the highest level. Interesting to see Scamacca heading to West Ham for £10m short of what we paid for a 4 time Premier League winner. I’m looking forward to watching the Italian develop, he has some talent.
Our midfield looked really tidy as well, Martin Odegaard looks like a man now, he’s zipping around the pitch with purpose, and now he has top-level runners to aim his passes to. It makes such a difference. Thomas Partey looks fit, he’s sharp on the ball, and he is basically irreplaceable in this team. We need to keep him fit. Also, Granit Xhaka gets a lot of pelters, but in a more advanced position, he thrived. He landed an assist and was responsible for the Saka goal after his striker forced a parry from Mendy. People really need to stop making out him being in our starting 11 is some grave danger. It isn’t.
Gabriel Martinelli also showed up. I do love that everyone begs to see young players get games, then they get them, have a dry spell, then all the weirdos come out against the player. Martinelli is top talent, he showed it yesterday on and off the ball, and he was part of a sumptuous Odegaard goal when he fed the Norwegian in for a one vs one that was scored. I love the power he’s added to his game and I like that he’s developing into a creator. Matt and I debated on the podcast what sort of a scorer he’d be… Thierry, Robin, or Anelka like?
There was even a moment for Sambi in the second half, Cedric picked out his back post run, the Belgian headed low and across goal. Do I love badge kissing? Yes. He peeled off, took his shirt off and kissed it in front of the fan. That felt great.
So, a clean sheet (SHUT OUT USA USA USA), a massive win against a top 3 rival, confidence through the roof, no injuries.
Let’s also take a moment for the American fans. 64,000 showed up, paid for a ticket, and made BIG noise all game. I salute you all for sitting in the heat of Florida. You are a credit to the fanbase. The passion for football in the country is outrageous. I can’t wait for the World Cup to be here in 2026, it’ll be wild, and it should ALWAYS go to countries that love the game.
Back to Arsenal.
The hard work is starting to pay off. This time last year, we’d just lost to Chelsea in preseason, and Thomas Partey had gone off injured. We had no signings. Edu was BBQing like a madman. Things were about to get very messy.
This year, we’ve done our business early, there are no massive holes in our squad, everyone knows what the expectations are, and there is an expectation that we’re heading towards greatness.
Everyone knows the system, everyone wants to be a part of it, people at the club are feeling the specialness you are feeling.
I hope there’s no debate that we’re one of the best coached teams in the league now. Just look at the movement off the ball, how we press as a unit, how the combinations are working in the final third, how we have multiple ways out of defence, and how fast that ball is zipping around the pitch. This is Arteta’s year, this squad is his, I can’t wait to see where we take the season.
We’re competing for top 3 this year and at the end of the season, we’ll hopefully be closer to City and Liverpool. The prime of a footballers career is 26-31. Average age of our squad is 23.5. Another year’s worth of good, bad, and ugly experiences will see us jump a level.
My hopes? Less bumpiness. New problems. Better football. More goals. Tighter defence. Same support from an invigorated fan base.
I’m excited. We’re going to have a fun season. This journey we’re on is going to be awesome, so take a moment to enjoy it, football is the best when the hope you feel is grounded in something real.
Finally, we’re going to be working with the awesome creators at Art Of Football this season. They make elite football clobber for the type of fan that wants to look at football without looking ridiculous.
Here’s the first shirt.
This is a limited run, once they’re gone, that’s it. If you want to buy one. Jump on this LINK and type LG10 on purchase to get a 10% discount. I want to look like this cool cat. So I’m gonna get one.
FINALLY: Check out our latest ON THE WHISTLE PODCAST with Pedro and Matt from THE AOP.
P.S. Sign up to our Patreon. We are gonna be putting lots of fun things there this season. Come join the Thomas Partey.