Ok, so the reviews are in and they seem pretty damn positive for the Arsenal All or Nothing documentary. I watched one episode because I’m not a lunatic binge-watcher like the kids are and I thought it was really well done.
The series, at core, is a puff piece for the agenda items Arsenal want to push and why the hell wouldn’t it be?
- The team is young and the manager is young… be patient
- Fans are mean and players notice… don’t be mean
- Everyone at the club fucking loves what they do, and if they don’t, they get binned… understand the drive to fix the club is tangible
- Mikel Arteta is ‘the good kind of freak (Xhaka)’ and is an intense coach the players like… he’s the real deal
- Josh K is running shit, investing money, and he wants to win… so BE EXCITED
There were a few bits that might not have been my cup of tea, but I definitely felt less cringe when the pieces were watched holistically.
Key bit for me was how the players were with Arteta. They pay attention, they listen, and they are motivated by what he’s asking. It doesn’t matter what we think about speakers on the pitch or the club photographer having a crack at a Churchillian speech. The audience is the players, if they are into it, then it doesn’t matter what we think.
Onto the Premier League. It’s one day before we open against Crystal Palace. I’ll take that on tomorrow. Right now, let’s speak on our rivals and what they’ve been up to.
For all the noise in the media, you’d imagine they’ve signed about 52 players. As it stands, they have added Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koubilaly. They’ve chased a lot of big names and the targets seem to follow whatever other clubs are doing. They are rumored to be close to Cucurella, despite lavishing money on Chillwell… and for their striker position, you ain’t gonna believe it… AUBA!
They’ve lost Christensen, Rudiger, Lukaku, Saul (lol) and Azpi will likely exit. They have signed him top young players. Carney Chukwuemeka from Villa, Omari from Arsenal and Slonina from Chicago the best of them. But overall, it’s hard to look at the summer they’ve had and be impressed. Their owner, Todd Boehly, is the charicature nightmare American owner every fan dreads. Brash, attention seeking, lacking strategy, arrogant… and so far, ineffective.
Their preseason was also quite average. They were spanked by Arsenal. They lost to a very average Charlotte FC. Thomas Tuchel has been rolling his players under the bus, not normally a precursor to a good season.
BUT… they are still good. Tuchel is still a rockstar. So who knows where they’ll end up. My sense is that their grip on third place is going to loosen this season. The Premier League is too good to be able to get away with a messy preseason that leaves big gaps in the squad. Outside just the lack of signings, they’ve also had carnage internally. Their content lead was dragged in the NYT for being a bully. Marina was fired. There is a BIG difference between being run by a Russian and a baseball guy from LA. If the backroom team is feeling uneasy, so will everyone else.
Now, for all my amazing banter about Spurs, you can’t knock them, they’ve signed players, they did it quickly, and they have some solid buys. Perisic is 33 years old, but if he can hack the league, he’s a top player. Yves Bissouma is the darling of Football Twitter for a reason, he’s mobile, aggressive, and he’s played in a fancy system. Richarlison looks like he should be a good player, he’s never had a coach get the best out of him, if Conte can make Lukaku work why not the Brazilian? They also have Djed Spence, a fullback of much potential, but EXPLICITLY not Conte’s signing.
For me, Spurs need to be looking at 3rd or above this season. This could be absolute peak for Kane and Son. Their biggest strength, but also, their biggest weakness. If one of those two breaks down, they are going to have major issues. Spurs were VERY lucky with their fitness last season. This year, there’s a world cup, there’s Champions League football, and there’s the truth of life… age fucks you in the end.
If things go wrong at Spurs, it will collapse very fast, and Conte will burn things to the ground. If they get it right and luck follows them, you know, like, owngoal being 3rd top scorer again, they are going to be right up there.
Ok, this situation is DELICIOUS. They have a new CEO who was rolled by fans with a secret video of him slagging the quality of players. They picked a manager Twitter liked who, at 52, is in his first BIG job. They sacked one of the greatest squad builders in Europe just before the transfer window and passed on all his recommendations.
What do we know about ETH? His system needs 100% commitment to the cause. Everyone has to press. No excuses.
What has he done to address the reality that he has a squad of arrogant youngsters that aren’t very good and a group of older players that aren’t very good by extremely powerful reputationally?
Not very much.
Christian Eriksen on a free. Lisandro Martinez for a MONSTER fee. Malacia for a small fee.
Who have they exited?
Mata, Lingaard, Matic, Pogba, Cavani, Pereira, and Henderson.
Who is still there?
Cristiano Ronaldo. The man that came in as a saviour and took them from 2nd to 6th. Tanked their goalscoring output. Drove their manager out. And cost them £38m PLUS £600k a week for the honour. No one will buy him.
ETH is Dutch. The Dutch are big personalities. They are alpha. ETH is trying hard to get control of the dressing room. He did some mad things like shouting ‘this isn’t good enough’ on a training video. He stopped the players going to see the set of Neighbors on tour in Oz. United keep leaking that he’s the boss. This sort of stuff can backfire fast in a toxic dressing room.
Arsenal were here 2 years ago. Some big United players left the ground early yesterday during a game. There is going to be a BIG fight there.
ETH is going to be tested because, regardless of you man @ETHTingyTings says on Twitter, he is not a big name, and big players are like dogs, they sniff out weakness.
The easiest way to get a squad under control is… cut out the cancer. But if the cancer doesn’t want to leave, you are stuck. You can also add players, they haven’t really done that either.
This is basically Arsenal from 2 years ago.
The bigger the player, the larger the influence, the more painful the problems will be.
ETH really has only one choice… play those that want to give it their all. Same as Arteta really. What does that mean? You end up starting substandard players.
This is going to be a very difficult season for ETH. United must stick with him, even if there is a run of bad results, because at some point, you have to face reality and start again.
I’m going to put it out there… we had the best transfer window out of the pack chasing for 3rd. We had very specific problems that we solved for. Fullback coverage is now in place, we will not miss Tomi or Tierney. We have more options in wide positions and creatively with Fabio Vieira coming in. Arsenal has realised that Sambi ain’t no #6 and he’s now an option as an #8. Our biggest problem last season was very simple: we didn’t have a striker that could run, press, connect play, and score goals. We had little bits of that in Auba and Laca, but it wasn’t enough. We now have two strikers that can do all of those things. Eddie IS a future star, he’s not at Gabriel levels, but he is very, very good and I am expecting at least 18 goals in all comps this season. Gabriel Jesus, the most picked fantasy player of all time, has been primed to be the main man for 5 years at City. This is his moment. I want to see 25 goals in all competitions this season and I think we might get that.
Let’s also get excited for the younger players who have extremely high ceilings. Gabriel Martinelli looks very focused preseason. Bukayo Saka is going to kick things up a level. Saliba looks the demigod the Ultras said he was. Smith Rowe will match his 10g/a again. Maybe there’s a breakout story for Marquinhos.
We have a captain. Martin Odegaard registered the 3rd most open play chances last season. Imagine how good he’ll be with a striker?
Do we have weaknesses? Yes. Thomas Partey is still pivotal to our game. Teams aren’t scared of us yet, so having a central midfielder like Partey is massively important. It isn’t the same for City, Rodri dropping out doesn’t destroy them because they still have fear factor. Our issue is Thomas is so specific and so good, you can’t replace him. BUT Mo Elneny can do a job, he came in after we lost 3 on the bounce and we beat Chelsea, United, and West Ham. Arteta needs to know when to use him this season and it can’t be just in emergency moments.
We also have an untested back-up keeper in Matt Turner. America produces a lot of top keepers. We don’t know where Matt sits in terms of ability. But he was VERY good in MLS and he’s 28 years old, so he has plenty of experience.
Still, worth noting, not many clubs have world-class back-ups. Liverpool have Adrian, I don’t even know who City have, but Richard Wright was on their bench for a bit. You can’t have two world-class keepers and you can’t force a German international to sit on your bench because the internet demanded it.
Arsenal are still trying hard for a saucy winger and Youri Tielemans. Sign those two and we are rolling.
We still have one of the youngest teams in the league this season. We are still going to see ups and downs. There are going to be problems. But… the season is long and I think if we hit the ground running on Friday night, we could be in for a very, very good season. We are hard to beat. You can’t press us, you can’t sit deep, you can’t switch off.
There, I went big.
Ok, before I go. We are on the eve of our season. Our Patreon has been running for a month. This season, we’ll be putting our BEFORE THE WHISTLE podcasts out once a week. We’ll put features on the Patreon. We’ll have Johnny rap once a month. If you can, it would be amazing if you could contribute to what we’ve been making as a side hustle. You can pick what you pay… and know that this website will always be free… because I know the content isn’t good enough to charge… but that’s not the point.
Tomorrow night, we’ll be LIVE On The Whistle free to air. To celebrate Nigeria bring the 3rd highest traffic driver to this site, I’ll be wearing a piece of Nigerian attire to the show. It was sent to me. It’s very nice. Tune in for the fashion, stay for the football chat, is our new vibe.
Right, see you in the comments. x