by .

Inhaaaaaaale… breath out… inhaaaaaale… CuuuuuuuKAAAAAAW… CuuuuuuKAAAAAW… channel that inner eagle you powerful beast. 🦅

Quite simply put, if you are not preparing mentally for this game to the sweet shrieks of eagles, can you call yourself elite?

Categorically, no.

Here is a video so you can prep.

Barclays Premier League Day is here. In a few hours, Arsenal will roll out for a season opener against Crystal Palace.

Patrick Vieira is no mug when it comes to coaching. He’s aged down the Palace squad, he’s brought some Wengerball to the Selhurst Park Turf, and he wants to kick on this season after making some shrewd summer signings. Paddy signs street footballers that entertain, he moves on those fancy Youtube comps we all like, Palace are going to be trouble this season.

… that said, word has it their preseason was a bit of a disaster because they went to Aus and loads of their players were anti-vaxxers. They only took TEN senior players there. So who knows, maybe we’ll be more fit, you can hide anti-vaxxers in the US no problem.

Last time we went to Palace, it was after an international break that Partey and Tierney went to, they promptly picked up injuries during the break and during the game and we were beaten quite badly in the first half. I’m not sure we deserved to lose over the 90, but we did, so there we are.

What is different this time?

Well, we’re still missing both our first-team fullbacks, but this time, we have much more capable back-ups. Ben White will slip in for Tomiyasu, he’s been really impressive there so far, but Zaha is a different ball game. At left back, we’ve got ELITE cover in Zinchenko. A player that knows the league, can play the system better than Tierney, and is more than ready to stake a claim.

Midfield will be Xhaka and Partey, same as last time, except one didn’t go out partey-ing after a World Cup qualification. Cut it however you like, those two together have a great connection, and they’ve been very impressive this preseason. They are extremely brave and I do think the more advanced Xhaka is starting to pay dividends. He’s contributing to the assist tally, he won’t be there all season, but he’s less exposed in more advanced positions, and he’s adding a bit of boldness to his passing. I think we all forget that you are never too old to improve at your craft.

Odegaard will captain and drop in as a #10.

The frontline we’re going with tonight will be very different. Saka will occupy the right, Martinelli will take up the left, and Gabriel Jesus will be playing through the middle.

I cannot tell you how different life is going to be this season. Even if we have a bad game tonight, what you won’t see is a freeze in the frontline. Finally, we have the specificity in every position we need.

We have 5 defenders who can play through a press and pick out Hollywood passes. We mostly had that last season, but if you don’t have runners, what’s the point in having longball specialists.

There’s more chaos in our forward line this season. Gabriel Jesus is a nightmare, he comes deep and he’s problematic, he goes wide and he’s a nightmare, he’s standing still and he can create something, in the box he’s ahead of everyone, this guy has changed the game. Last time we played Palace, we had Lacazette who lacked power, speed, and ability in front of goal.

The biggest shift we have tonight is winnertivity. Two players can make a huge difference on nights like tonight. Zinchenko and Jesus have done it consistently at the highest level. They understand patience, they know how to dig deep, and their experience will inspire the young kids around them.

Johnny made a great point on the Before the Whistle. I’d much rather Palace in the heat of August than on December 27th in the freezing rain.

Ideally, we don’t go a goal down this evening, I’d rather not test our abysmal record of clawing back, but I am less worried about that part of our make-up than I was last season.

Last season was the worst start imaginable, COVID and late business nearly killed this project before it started, this August is the chance to put some points on the board and make amends.

11 points from the next 5 games would be very, very good. 7 points from the next 3 would put us top 4 before the international break. That is where we need to be. I believe we can do it.

Before I leave.

I’m very excited about this season, as fans, we’ve been through a lot. Finally, it feels like there’s a bit of structure at Arsenal, a boatload of ambition, and we seem to have the right people driving the vision.

This season, we have to learn a few lessons from what happened last year:

There will be downs and they will feel very painful.

There will be long runs that will feel like we’re title contenders.

Key is not to get too carried away with the bad or the good times. We’ll be up there at the end of the season, then it’s a roll of the dice who has enough to kick it over the line.

Also… just remember that every team will have down moments.

It is easy to be there for the good times, but as you’ve seen from that documentary, our fanbase is most important to the players when we’re there for the bad times.

The journey is always better than the destination. Enjoy the feeling of being underdogs. Eat up those predictions tables that have us behind Spurs this season. Take names and numbers of the people that doubted The Arsenal.

Right, that’s me done.

We will be ON THE WHISTLE at 10pm BRITISH time this evening.

SUBSCRIBE to the Youtube so you get the notifications, or just tune in below.


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Dan

    Our performance in this game will be good indicator of how we have improved or not facing high intensity games

  2. Nigel Tufnel


    Nice stat on Saliba, but wouldn’t it be basically the same stat for White and Gabs who played beside him, give or take a few minutes?

    The guy just has to walk onto the pitch and grovers are kneeling to him.

    My hope hope is that Saliba will be great for us for many years… and I really like his look so far… but the ultras should love all our defenders equally.

    And I’ve already said, I won’t be moaning and kicking at him if he makes some mistakes, I’m pretty certain the quality is there.

    Clean sheet …yes!

  3. Nigel Tufnel

    Wicked Willy,

    I don’t understand the Chelsea mess, but I think you’re right that they’re only going to dig a deeper money hole.

    I would love to have a list of the players they are paying, (and wage numbers)…

    I expected American owners to come in with a tight business plan, and it looks the opposite.

    A guy like this will lose interest eventually when he sees how hard the competition is. Especially when the red numbers get larger with little success.

    I’ll stick to my prediction, eventually Chelsea drop from top 4 and later top 6 without Roman.

  4. Ishola70


    “Saka, Odegaard + Martinelli, look like players who are about to bang, and go supernova….We’ve been through the teething + shitting the bed stage, they need to step up over the course of this season, and produce the type of end product we’ll need to get closer to the top.”

    I could see improvement as well but to the extent that you are putting out that is entering the perfect scenario realm to me.

    And we all know things don’t fall absolutely perfectly a lot of the time don’t we.

    One player can overachieve for one season. one player can stay at the same level, one can underachieve for what is hoped for him.

    This is the nuance regarding players a lot of the time for every football team.

    The line that they will all bang simultaneously is a nice thought and we all hope it happens but again that is the exception rather than the norm in football teams.

  5. Nigel Tufnel

    I would be very happy with steady progress from 2 of the 3 (Saka, Marti, Øde) in goal contribution stats, hoping one of them will really break out. Many people predicting that from Martinelli.

    Steady progress from Saka and Øde would be beautiful. Keep in mind, all 3 of them have excellent work rate that they maintain for long periods, and are good pressers. This is why Saka gets so many minutes from Southgate, for example.

    This is a big reason for optimism about the team in general.

  6. Chris

    Very thankful for the return of PL footy again. I tend to tune out during the summer window slightly, had a busy time of it work wise which adds to that but now no excuses, I am plugged back in 100%

    I look at the squad we have now, and with another addition hopefully in midfield, I am certainly looking at top four as a very attainable goal. I would also see a very deep run in the EL and perhaps a domestic cup as extremely important.

    Tonight will be hard, I am confident we will see an improved performance at Palace than last time, I don’t think a draw would be a bad result considering everything but a win would be fantastic, and given how sharp we have looked in pre season, wouldn’t be unfair to say we could expect it.

    Overall, finishing in the top four and winning the EL would represent an excellent season for us in my humble opinion.

  7. raptora

    ESR is just as talented as Saka and Martinelli. Some people seemed to have written him off physically which is quite shocking for a 22 yo player with a total of zero serious injuries.

    No one seems to think about how ESR is forced by the manager to tweak his game to a totally new position because the teacher’s pet is ahead of him in his favorite role. How he was used in less meaningfull games just to sit on the bench for most of the EPL after the month of November.

    He’s a super talent that got benched for a player the manager rates higher. Maybe we should have cashed the 30-35m Villa were giving us. At least there’s the Europa League now for the backup players to get some minutes. Hopefully ESR goes back to his best. At #10.

  8. Rich

    Our forward line will bang providing they stay fit, I’m confident of that.

    Arteta is going to have to rotate and use the subs bench much more astutely than he has up until now, it’s been an area of weakness with him.

    Our outfield players shouldn’t be making more than 40-45 starts, particularly if they’re regular starters for their national teams.

    I remember Liverpool throwing away the title in 2013/14, scoring 100+ league goals with Suarez, Sterling + Sturridge.

    We haven’t yet got the squad to sustain it, but I’ve got a strong feeling that we’re capable of scoring a lot of goals this season, particularly at home we’re going to wallop some teams.

    The MSM have been sleeping on Arsenal, our external improvements have been impressive, but they’re sleeping on the amount of potential internal improvements within the squad,

  9. Ishola70


    “No one seems to think about how ESR is forced by the manager to tweak his game to a totally new position”

    I’ve always said he is a CAM but others argue that he is just as good or if not better playing from a wider position.

    No-one is saying he is woeful wider are they or worthless he has had some good matches playing away from CAM.

    It’s just that CAM looks his natural position.

  10. Rich


    Nobody is writing off Smith Rowe, he’s an exceptional talent.

    But having concerns about his fitness this calendar year is reasonable, he wasn’t training consistently throughout the second half of last season, and he’s now missed most of pre-season.

    The idea Odegaard + Martinelli can each play 60 games this season stands up to no real type of scrutiny, and if we play with both our full backs tucking into midfield in possession, then Smith Rowe can certainly play on the inside left as well.

    There’s going to be plenty of games to spread around if we want to go deep into the cups, while remaining competitive in the league.

    Why is it only Arsenal fans who complain about having quality squad depth?

    We’re never going to remain competitive across an entire season without a combination of quality squad depth + specificity to sustain a consistent style of football.

    You don’t see City fans crying about having De Bruyne, Bernardo, Foden, Mahrez, Grealish, Sterling, Jesus, Palmer

    Then getting 7 players into double figures in all comps last season as a result,

    Or Liverpool fans moaning about having Salah, Mane, Jota, Diaz, Firminho,
    Elliott, Minamino, Origi.

    Salah 30+ goals, Jota + Mane both 20+, 2 more into double figures

    This is the benchmark, and the type of depth that’s required to navigate 60+ game seasons, without collapsing under the strain of the schedule at the business end of the season.

  11. Dissenter

    ‘No one seems to think about how ESR is forced by the manager to tweak his game to a totally new position because the teacher’s pet is ahead of him in his favorite role. How he was used in less meaningful games just to sit on the bench for most of the EPL after the month of November.”

    With the benefit of hindsight, Odegaard was and is good enough to start in that position ahead of ESR.
    You can make an easy argument that Arteta needs to rotate them more often but Ode’s form and potential makes that difficult.
    Odegaard is indeed a special player, in real time he looks even better. His dribbling and understanding of the game is exceptional.

  12. Zacharse

    i’m wanting to take ‘imminent’ tielmans rumors more seriously but i can’t bring myself to do it, seems like it may be a case of whoever is still to come into the squad, they probably won’t be doing it until the last week

  13. Ishola70

    Odegaard doesn’t get in ahead of ESR because of his dribbling.

    ESR is just as good as Odegaard in that respect.

    ESR can also be seen as more dangerously offensively than Odegaard from the CAM position.

    ESR can also combine in tight areas offensively in the last third as good as Odegaard.

    Why Odegaard gets in ahead of ESR is that he plays more with his head up than ESR is more aware of the wider scope than ESR and he has a more varied passing range than ESR.

    And that’s from someone who doesn’t necessarily think that Odegaard is now a world beater that some think he is now.

  14. DivineSherlock

    Can we start the match already , feels like ages ago we played our last match . Word of caution , in losing Gallagher Viera has actually found in pre season that Eberechi Eze looks good in there ,having seen in preseason the lad looks qualiteee . It’d be wise to pay attention to him tonight.

  15. Rich


    Nice to see you turn into a full convert.

    I love Odegaard + Smith Rowe, I’ve got a slight preference for Odegaard centrally, but we’re certainly going to need both to play roughly 40 games this season, we’re blessed whichever one of them gets the nod.

    Obviously it won’t work out like this, but something like this would be ideal:

    Odegaard 40 starts right 8
    Smith Rowe 20 starts right 8

    Martinelli 40 starts left wing.
    Smith Rowe 20 starts left wing.

    Xhaka/Tielemans 35 starts left 8
    Vieira 25 starts left 8

    Saka 40 starts right wing
    Pepe 20 starts right wing

    Jesus 40 starts No9
    Eddie 20 starts No9

    If you use that as a rough template, it shows there’s plenty of games to go around, and that’s working off the unlikely assumption we don’t have any sustained absences in the forward positions.

    Even one sustained absence would see the workload of the rest increase as a result.

    It’s why we need hybrid players who can seamlessly play in a few different positions, Smith Rowe, Saka, Jesus, are perfect examples of players who’ll provide the type of versatility we’ll need in the forward positions to sustain consistency.

  16. Nigel Tufnel


    You wrote a lot of words when you could have just shortened it to …

    – Arteta’s fault ESR is always less than peak fitness to play 90 minutes.

    In the system we’re implementing, work rate is huge. He’d get the same treatment if he played under Guardiola.

    I guess playing on the wing is causing him to get gassed at 65 minutes when he starts.

    Looks to me like he’s been used sparingly to keep him productive.

    No mention from you of the goals he’s been able to supply from that position that he’s “forced to play”.

    Wouldn’t want to accidentally compliment Arteta for getting production out of a player, I guess.

  17. Luteo Guenreira

    “My goodness people are absolutely obsessed with Tielemans.”

    That’s unnecessarily condescending isn’t it? Mostly people are simply obsessed with getting another CM in to bolster our weakest area of the pitch.

  18. Gommit

    Only 3 hours… Can’t wait..must admit that I am expecting us to score like 3+ goals and win comfortable.. Just can’t help it, love this optimistic feeling

  19. Rich


    You certainly need reminding, because you keep having mental breakdowns every time one of your favourites doesn’t start, you’re beyond clueless….

    You spent the whole of the second half of last season whinging that Smith Rowe wasn’t starting.

    Even after I posted you links of our press conferences confirming him being in and out of training, and a link of an interview he did with England under 21, where he confirmed it himself.

    You were still convinced there was some type of crazy conspiracy going on…..

    You were talking about it the other day, in spite of the fact he’s had virtually no pre-season to get up to speed, and it’s pretty obvious we’re going to have to gradually integrate him back in slowly as a result.

  20. Ishola70


    “That’s unnecessarily condescending isn’t it? Mostly people are simply obsessed with getting another CM in to bolster our weakest area of the pitch.”

    The whole point is that Tielemans isn’t going to be as effective at CM as Partey is.

    If you think he is a good replacement for Partey in that position you are kidding yourself.

    Tielemans could be handy as another 8. He is better offensively than as an all round midfielder. But we’ve got enough 8s.

    Another thing is it’s just staring at you blindly in the face that we have Elneny and Lokonga. I dont think anyone is going to tell you these two can be relied upon totally but the thing is they are not going anywhere else this season are they. They are here to stay this season.

    The numbers don’t add up do they bro.

  21. Naija+soccer

    Would have been nice to have Tomiyasu available against Zaha. Just trust him more at RB against Wilf than White. Hope we can match their physicality or play around it.

  22. Naija+soccer

    I like Palace, love their collection of attacking players, Ebwoie, Olise, Eze, Zaha, Edouard nice group. Think they ll be my second team this season to watch. But tonight we must give them the big brother treatment.

  23. MidwestGun

    Im definitely not writing ESR off…… one of my favorite players.. However, it is undeniable. his body is his own worst enemy.. He is the only one not able to train today.. says it all really.

    He has to be micro managed to the point it doesn’t make it feasible for him to play the 10 role.. because that position needs consistency and time with all the other players to build combo relationships. ESR is a better goal scorer then Ode so.. of course he will still be valuable as a option providing he can get back to fitness. Big if. tho. it;s not like he just started to have issues.. he had issues as a youth player as well.

    Anyhow.. man I’m ready to get this party crackin… 3 mins past noon here so it’s socially acceptable to start drinking.. I think that’s a rule.

  24. Dissenter

    There’s no one better with running with ball at full speed, than ESR
    That”s why I think the coaches were tempted with trying him on the wings.
    The lad runs with the ball taped to his feet

  25. Pierre

    “You certainly need reminding, because you keep having mental breakdowns every time one of your favourites doesn’t start, you’re beyond clueless….You were talking about it the other day, in spite of the fact smith rowe had virtually no pre-season to get up to speed, and it’s pretty obvious we’re going to have to gradually integrate him back in slowly as a result”

    You are correct , i was discussing smith rowe and this is what I said, so hardly having a mental breakdown if Eddie or ESR don’t start .

    “I’m not sure i can see Arteta dropping Odegaard for smith rowe anytime soon , not in the league anyway.”

    “Smith Rowe and Eddie are waiting in the wings to grab their chance so Martinelli will need to perform as Saka , Odegaard and jesus are the nailed on starters ”

  26. Naija+soccer

    Haha interesting thing about Rich and Pierre is they are quite similar in their views and observations. I ve often read either one’s post and mistook it for the other, thats how similar their posts can be sometimes.

    Yet they can seem to get along 😄

  27. MidwestGun

    Random thought but Tielemans and Zinchenko in ,midfield could be a thing should he sign and Partey is not available or needs rested. Tielemans wouldn’t have been my first cm . but rather him then Melo. who the media obssessively links with us.
    Just hope Xhaka channels his inner Zizou today …shots have been falling to him a lot this preseason with Marti and Jesus taking up defenders ahead of him.

  28. Who’s got the best brazilians Myles?

    Afraid that the defence will disapoint us. Rams and White are not at the level we tought a year ago. Hope I am wrong.

  29. Johng

    COYG, we have a good squad this year, let’s make a statement tonight beat Palace and put some doubts in other teams heads. Liverpool and City have done this in previous seasons and have the game 70 % won before they even step out on the pitch

  30. Luteo Guenreira


    You’re a bit of a whinger aren’t ya

    When did I even remotely bring up Tielemans as a Partey replacement or equivalent? Doubt anyone thinks Youri will come in and take us to the league title. But more CMs means we are in the process of trying to move on from Xhaka and Elneny with better players. Why are you so pissy about that.

  31. Johng

    Let’s hope that come thd end of the season we can tell all those ex professionals coming out of the woodwork saying Arsenal are bottlers to go fck themselves

  32. englandsbest


    I still find it hard to credit that Qatar WC will actually happen. Maybe it’s a bad dream from which we’ll all awaken. Or if not, maybe a super heatwave will melt the stadiums. Or perhaps all the players catch contagious diseases. Or more likely Vlad Putin decides the people out there need a special cleansing op.

  33. bacaryisgod

    Ok, I found another reason to be optimistic about our chances this season. The Qatar World Cup is going to be a major factor.

    Premier League Pre World-Cup: August 5th-November 13th
    World Cup: November 21st-December 18th
    Premier League Post-World Cup:: December 26th-May 28th

    1) We have a decent group of first-team contenders (Tierney, Odegaard, Zinchenko, ESR, Nketiah) who will get full rest and a few back-ups, if they are all at the club, who will also be fully rested (Elneny, Holding, Pepe, Vieira, Nelson, Marquinhos, AMN)

    2) Players that will likely be knocked out at the group stage from the World Cup or will play limited minutes for a team that goes deep in the tournament (Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Partey, White, Xhaka, Cedric, Turner, Saliba, Martinelli, Gabriel M)

    3) Players that will likely play key minutes on a team that should advance to the knockout stages of the World Cup (Saka, G.Jesus)

    All in all, that’s not too bad. I don’t see England advancing past the QF so Saka might get some rest too.

    Partial rest includes players either on teams who will likely go out of the tournament early or those that will play limited minutes even if the team progresses. I expect Brazil and

  34. Bob N16

    VAR is going to be trialled electronically in CL this season. Take human bullshit out of it and make it fast.

  35. Naija+soccer


    Thats pretty much how I feel too, less optimistic for this game but more optimistic for our season in general. These palace guys are a kind of bogey team for us. Hopefully not today

  36. Thierry Martinelli

    New season,
    New hopes,
    Here’s to hoping for more ups than downs
    To Partey scoring a screamer,
    To Jesus & Mohamed scoring in the same game,
    To all gooners across the world to smile every day they step out of their homes
    To all the posters here being awesome as they’ve always been here on the blog…. y’all are family,
    To Pedro’s new born being out lucky charm😇


  37. MidwestGun

    Getting long term injuries.. with our buzzsaw high press.. is my biggest fear. But if it’s working … I don’t think it matters what Crystal Palace’s gameplan is. We shall see if we carry it over from the preseason, though.

  38. curse

    gotta say I’m a little anxious about palace, gotta be the blackest team around…
    We tend to struggle when a team is more athletic than us, hope our system and technical level can overcome this.

    up the arse!!

  39. Rich

    Palace away is a difficult game, particularly in a late kick off underneath the lights.

    No one wanted to hear it at the start of last season, but there were legitimate reasons for our terrible start.

    Can’t say I’m feeling as forgiving this season, our bench could certainly be stronger, but I certainly expect this starting eleven to show up with a good performance.

    First 35 minutes are going to be vital, need to silence/demoralise the home crowd.

  40. Nigel Tufnel

    Limited intellect as usual from the new Tielemans detractor…

    Tielemans (if he comes) would not be considered a Partey back up.. but he could be handy in a different midfield set up.

    His through balls from deep are magnificent, and he can tackle and press.

    He would be a different type of alternative if we buy him, mainly an 8 though.

  41. Un

    I’m not anxious at all
    I fully expect an convincing win here today
    Everyone is buzzing. Let’s lay a marker down from day 1

    Goals from Jesus and Saka from the off

  42. Un

    I don’t think we need Tielemans
    If we go in for another midfielder he has to be top top class
    That’s only de Jong, savic or Bellingham.

  43. azed

    I actually feel like Palace will struggle this season.
    The 2nd season syndrome. The expectations are high and there’ll be no place to hide. Last season most pundits put Viera as the first manager to be sacked but now, the expectation is top 10 and good football.

  44. Ishola70

    What a sitter from Martinelli.

    Come on he has to show more killer instinct.

    And our man Jesus causing havoc in the Palace defence

  45. Un

    Different arsenal
    This season
    Dominating the ball
    Palace can’t get a foot on it
    Great Intensity from the start
    Let’s keep this pressure up and not many teams will live with it