by .

Granit Xhaka has been through it with Arsenal fans. He was signed from rigid system in Germany where he thrived under an extremely tactical manager and he was put into a dying squad of players. He had a rough time, he made some errors, he was held up as the poster child of everything that was wrong with Arsenal. It was unfair, but felt right at the time.

Fast-forward to the Mikel Arteta era. He’s the first name on the team sheet, he performs wherever he’s played, he leads, and now he’s had a software update and it seems like he’s decided that he’d quite like to be a devastating #8.

Everything that is right this season is reflected in the new Granit Xhaka. His beautifully floated cross to Gabriel Jesus kind of summed up the explosion that has happened in this Arsenal team. We are unpredictable, the football is fast and incisive, the aggresion has moved up a gear, the character of the squad is there for all to see, and there’s a feeling of winnertivity and inevitability that things are going to be secure at the back and productive up front.

  • 3rd most goals
  • 3rd highest attempts at goal per game
  • 4th most on target
  • 2nd least attempts conceded per game
  • Most points in the league

Beating Brentford at their place with no drama was absolutely sensational. I don’t want to be hearing ‘it’s just the Bees.’ That’s a team that creates to top 6 levels, they have put up the second most big chances in the league (hate the stat unless it works for me), they had scored one more goal than us until today, and their striker has just been called up for England because he is a top, top player.

It didn’t matter.

Arsenal put them in their place. They matched the rough and tumble. They didn’t allow them a moment on the ball. Our boys didn’t get phased by the brilliant atmosphere. It was a pure no drama afternoon, you could call it a nice day for a kick about.

Did I love that Mikel Arteta flexed out at the end by debuting a kid that is 15 and a half? You’re damn right I did. That’s part a message to the board about players. But also, it speaks to Ethan Nwaneri and his immense talent. Imagine how he feels right now?

There were too many great performances all over the pitch to touch on every single one. So here is a snackable list of things I loved.

Ben White gets dropped by Southgate and puts out another commanding performance, he’s a brilliant right back, he’s not giving up his place to Tomiyasu. What a talent. He looks every inch the £50m player.

William Saliba, a colossal defensive presence, continued to drive his performances up to new levels. Nothing got past him, he matched a team of bullies for physicality, he outplayed them with superior reading of the game, and he played balls through the lines like they were guided by GPS. Have we got the best young defender in the world here? I think we have. Get him to sign da ting RIGHT NOW.

Bukayo Saka is still feeling his way back into the season, but the man is 2nd in the assists chart with 4 already. Imagine being 21 years old dropping Gs and As like he is and you’re not even seen as being near the top of your level? Scary mary indeed.

Gabi Jesus is the best summer signing we could have made in that #9 position. Yes, even better than Haaland would have been. He’s a leader, he works relentlessly, he’s unpredictable, he sticks up for the boys, and he is LETHAL. 4 goals, 3 assists, 8 games. What more can you ask for? I love him.

Think about this, we were missing Zinchenko and captain Odegaard… and we made mince meat of Brentford. Kieran Tierney did a great job, getting back to his best form, contributing importantly up top and at the back. Fabio Vieira slips into the starting 11 with the frame of a 16-year-old boy, doesn’t get bullied, fits the style, and steps out to bang home from outside the box. Outrageous carry-on.

So another 13 shots, we hit the target 7 times, and we scored 3 goals. That is a powerful afternoon. Thomas Frank called us title-contenders. I’m not sure we’re quite there yet, but we’re certainly well on the way to building a side capable of achieving that.

… and get this, we STILL have the youngest starting 11 in the Premier League. Top of the league after 7 games, with kids, that is incredible.

When we’re winning it is important to temper your expectations. That inexperience will still rear its ugly head. United was inexperience. Simple as that. We’re going to have that again this season. Arteta isn’t always going to make great decisions, it’s quite weird to me to see so many players breaking down when we’ve had 12 days out of the Premier League. Saliba played with a knock, Zinchenko broke down, and we lost our captain. You also had centre back Gabi complaining about muscle issues during the game. That’s a lot of young men that are generally quite robust having problems and it doesn’t go unnoticed that we’ve lost Shad Forsythe. We have to shape up there, that is far too many injuries in a month that we’ve played three games. We have to manage NINE in October. We’re going to be in big trouble if we have to fill out bench with kids too young to legally change with the men due to child protection laws.

But go back to the positives. We exited this phase of the season top of the league, playing the best football in Europe, with almost no major issues. The fans are onside online and in the stadium. There are no doubts over the manager. We’re united behind this project and we can see the club is on a rocket ship to a moon made out of major trophies.

This squad isn’t even bedded in yet, the football is going to get better, and we’re 100% adding talent to it in January. I’m buzzing. Enjoy this moment. Take it in. The season is long, it’ll be emotional, but it’s so much more fun when the hope is justified.

Right, jump into our podcast or watch the Youtube.


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. China1

    Sid I believe it’s an AI generation from likely nightcafe which is a very interesting and powerful AI art generating site.

    You can use it for free

    I use it a lot myself and besides the practical application it’s extremely fun. Some of the stuff you can generate is stuff elite artists would be proud of, really

  2. Habesha Gooner

    I hope that statement of Jesus being a better signing was tongue in cheek. Because Haaland is just out of this world. Coty supporters won’t care about the money if he keeps scoring at this rate. And they are genuine threats for a UCL trophy with him now. He can get them over the line.

    But we got the second best forward signing of the summer. Nunez isn’t close to Jesus either. We have got ourselves a bargain and stolen a superb player. It was like Alexis esque. 4 goals and 4 assists in 7 starts in already a huge improvement on Lacazette. Haaland has 11 goals. He is just a machine.

    We just have to temper that expectations and the praise.

  3. Bob N16

    ‘City supporters won’t care about the money’ – never a truer word has been said. Haaland is a freak of a player and City has Petro dollars to cocoon them from any money issues (FFP excepted!)

    Let’s hope the club’s focus is on securing our Crown Jewels, when that happens we should really start feeling confident for the future, let alone now.

    Some of the less than young, youngsters like Smith must see a 15 yr old on the pitch ahead of him and think ok, better get my agent to sort out a new club. What a buzz for Hale End and the youth academy. Brilliant move by Arteta to give him his debut – what a signal to all our youngsters, another name goes up on the youngsters wall of fame.

    Only problem is that we’ve got another two weeks til the NLD, here’s hoping Kane gets injured playing for England.

    Was listening to Arsecast and they were debating about whether Edu and his great mate, the Brazil manager who watched the Fulham game with him, had decided that the Arsenal Brazil boys would get a rest before the NLD and Richarlison would play and be then not selected for the WC as he’s a Spud.

  4. NORG

    Xhaka is a male version of the Stepford Wives. During the summer somebody ‘topped’ him and replaced him with a new super robot. Lets hope his computer doesn’t malfunction.

  5. Pierre

    “Wow – so did nobody notice how good Partey was all game.”

    I said yesterday he was the best player on the pitch , he was like a Rolls Royce out there.
    Lakonga is perfect as his replacement, no need to worry there, it’s just that Partey is different class.

    As i said , keeping Partey fit is the key to how our season pans out.

  6. Pierre

    I think Tottenham will be worried going into next weeks game against us.
    No team will want ro play us at the moment..

    Arsenal having an occasional injury is turning into a blessing in disguise.

    Partey injured …lakonga steps in and despite what some think , he looks more tgan capable to me.

    Zinchenko injued…more game time for Tierney to show that when fit, he is very good defensively.

    Odegaard injured…no problem, Vieira steps in

    Fans worried if jesus is injured needn’t worry…Eddie will step in and we won’t even notice jesus is missing..
    Same with Saka …maybe marquinhos will surprise a few ..

    All other positions are well covered except keeper, maybe we will see if Turner can cut it in the europa, if not then a replacement is essential.

  7. Bob N16

    Pierre, as long as we’re clinical in front of goal we should be fine.

    There is of course a danger that Spurs will attempt to replicate United’s success by hitting us on the break but if Partey is playing I’ll be much more confident that we can deal with that tactic. I like Lakonga too but it’s understandable that when you compare him to Partey, the area where he is most lacking is his defensive positioning and awareness. I’m not sure if Partey would have allowed himself to get dispossessed for one of United’s goals.

    But the point you make about Zinchenko and Odegaard replacements is valid although Eddie, much as he has improved, is not at Jesus’s standard. He’ll fit in with the other two forwards neatly though .
    To continue that point, one of our great overall improvements is that we are now putting out a team that has cohesion and a way of playing that everybody is in on. There are’ no square pegs in round holes’, players playing in positions that don’t suit them. Xhaka for example is now no longer being exposed defensively as he plays so much further forward and can be extremely effective without the ‘he’s going to cost us’ moments. Happy days!

  8. dSidstathopoulos

    “”I believe it’s an AI generation from likely nightcafe which is a very interesting and powerful AI art generating site.You can use it for free”””

    The owner of the app is taking coin to the bank!

  9. dSidstathopoulos

    If Generational tries to fix Odegaard into the squad for the Spurs game, it will be a big mistake. Xhakalson and Vieira complement each other.

  10. The Bard

    Bobn16. I totally agree we need to nail down the youngsters. I posted yesterday. Saliba has only 2 yrs left, Saka hasn’t signed a new contract and ESR is allegedly unhappy. The club needs to be ruthless, sign or fuck off. We’ve been had too any times for comfort.

  11. Sakablyat

    Artwork is cool, keep them coming.
    Must be frustrating for some of the kids (Matt smith etc) who’ve been on the bench for like 25 games and haven’t played a minute then see a 15 yo get the nod before him. Let’s just hope it motivates the other academy kids even more

  12. Northbanker

    Bard – ESR is injured and has had injury problems wmd of last season. He will however struggle to get a first team place when he is finally fit again due tot the form of Odegaard and Martinelli

  13. Markymark

    I think we always tend to catastrophize the contracts of Arsenal players. My collective unconscious channels the day Brady left (allegedly for our refusal of an extra £50 a week) then we had Ashley Cole and onwards with Henry , Vieira , Fabregas. However trying to put things right can also be even more dangerous. See Pogba at UTD. What a waste for both parties.
    I’m relatively confident that Saka will sign , slightly less so on Saliba ( but think he will ) ESR is more difficult. I really like him and love his play, However he does appear brittle. If the strange Villa deal had gone through I wonder by now the angst and knocking would be marginal and out on the fringes? Much like the Martinez freaks who occasionally pop their heads up if Ramsay has a changer . They ignore Martinez clangers of course. These same posters would amplify any good performance and entirely ignore his fitness problems. .

  14. Habesha Gooner

    I think it was about sending a message. One to every one who writes us off. Arteta was taking the piss out of Brentford. The second message is to all they young players in the academy. If you are good enough you are old enough. And the kid was an attacking midfielder rather than a Central midfielder like Matt Smith. And Arteta subbed Viera so he went like for like.

  15. Northbanker

    Nwaneri is a huge message in an overall theme of stating we are the best club to join if you’re young and bristling with football talent. Yet even we will experience downs as well as ups.

    Losing Omari Hutchinson last year to Chelsea was a major blow and yet as well as the money I believe it was the purchase of Marquinhos that created that. Given a choice between the two I’d go for the Marq

    What we also need from our Academy is the ability to sell at a premium some of the excess talent as well as field the very best in our first team.

    But wouldn’t it be great if Nwaneri was the next Cesc? With Odegaard and Vieira ahead of him it won’t be an easy path

  16. Jonko

    From 5th July up till now we’ve lost only one game. Pre season agreed but thats still bloody fantastic because the performance in each of those matches has been top notch. So so excited for this team. Just need to cope with this stupid international break.

  17. Topside Northbank

    Nwaneri coming on was a great call by Arteta it’s telling all the youngsters you will get a chance if good enough.

    It’s also a shout out to Hale End and the work going on by big Per and the other coaches.

    Nwaneri is a schoolboy so it’s a chance he may not even stay with us Liverpool have been linked to trying to get him. Myles Lewis-Skelly another one that we have high hopes for.

    It shows youngsters there is a pathway at Arsenal Patino on loan at Blackpool and BN Cuffy at Rotherham both are talents most of us are aware of.

    Some will make it some of course won’t, injuries,development and with some having too much too soon it’s about your character as well as ability.

    The message as well is to parents and the youngsters Hale End is producing.I guess like many here I would rather give a talented youngster a go than what we have had in seasons past a bloated squad of players past their best or simply not good enough on big wages,wasted resources.

  18. AFC Forever

    Comparing Haaland to Jesus is pointless.

    In the way Arteta plays Jesus performs a totally different role to Haaland. The latter is an incredible penalty box striker, who really needs to be central. He’s a brilliant goal scorer. Jesus, however, provides more in our team setup than Haaland would. Yesterday he was winning the ball high but also at times on the edge of our own penalty area. In many ways, it’s like having two players.

    I got a lot of flak for being so pro-Jesus before he signed. I was told he couldn’t score goals. Some on here said £45m was too steep & there were discussions about his wages. The typical uneducated bollocks from people who have their own motives for making endless bad takes.

    Jesus is like having two players. He’s not dead when the ball isn’t being progressed forward, he’s there as part of the ‘team’ patterns that win the ball all over the pitch. Pep described him as the best player out of possession he had ever seen and that’s some compliment. Tenacious is the word I would use. He has natural desire.

    This isn’t to say Haaland isn’t the talent he is but to recognise that Jesus, in my opinion, suits us better. I also hold the view that his work rate and class has had a major impact on the players around him. I always rated Jesus but he’s even better than I thought and is perfect file our young players and the way Tets wants us to play.

  19. Topside Northbank

    The acadeny producing home grown players is so important on many levels.

    Some will leave, heads turned by money it’s happened by us with youngsters at other clubs.

    Cesc at Barcelona was a Dein, AW masterstroke.

    All I can finally add is seing the likes of Rocastle, Thomas,Merson, Adams comng through they understood what it mean’t to play for the club. Seeing lesser talented players like big Quinn run through a brick wall for the club that gave him a chance.

  20. Topside Northbank

    AFC Forever

    Same as you with Jesus and said so when he signed he’s a brilliant signing he is not clinical in front of goal but he will score a healthy return.

    His all round play opens avenues for others.

    Good mate of mine match going City fan texting me all summer what a great signing he be for us.Also that City fans pretty much in unison how gutted they were to be losing him.

    Perfect age profile 25 coming into his prime years as a forward 45m is looking a bargain.

  21. Rich

    A 50+ goal a season striker is a nice tool to have.

    But there’s more than one way to score the 90-100 league goals required to win a PL title.

    We now have Jesus, Eddie, Saka, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Vieria, that’s 7 players all capable of scoring double figures in all comps.

    I’d have liked another top versatile winger who can play both sides, to take some of the workload, particularly with the upcoming schedule.

    But we’re in a really good place, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the overall potential of this forward line yet.

    I had us down for roughly a 50% uptick in the goal scored column in the league this season, if we can avoid injuries, we’ll be in with a decent chance of doing that.

  22. AFC Forever


    That’s another good point about his age, lots more to come. The fact he’s getting to start every week will make him even better. Honestly he is like 2 players, his level of fitness is ridiculous. He’s going to be great for the younger players but especially Eddie. It was such a brilliant signing. Haaland wouldn’t give us what Jesus does in the team dynamic, that was my point.

    We should also remember we’re only 7 games in with these lads playing together. As they play together more, the team will improve as players get to work with each other and the coaches develop them..

    The team spirit is a world away from what Arteta inherited & the disgusting behaviour of players like Auba. You watch us now and the desire is there. That’s important for contract renewal because these lads will be so well bonded they won’t want to leave. Exciting times.

  23. allezkev

    Pedro, that post wins my vote, but let us not forget Aaron Ramsdale, your favourite between the posts, who made a crucial save during the 70th minute applause when we switched off for the only time in the game, I don’t think conceding would have changed the result at all but I doubt that we would have seen Nwaneri (subtle message to KSE?) and it would have spoilt our day because we were so good defensively and I badly wanted to see them earn that clean sheet.

    What a bloody fine team we have.

  24. Marko

    I mean it’s good that he’s playing better but make no mistake Partey is the one that elevates our midfield play not Xhaka. Again nice he’s playing better and not a total fuck up but still I’d replace him in a heartbeat.

    It’s the signings that have made the leap for us this year. Who knew that you actually improve the starting 11 that your performances would get better

  25. AFC Forever


    “But we’re in a really good place, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the overall potential of this forward line yet.”

    Or the team. It’s still a WIP we’re not as far down the development path of other teams and we’re going to get the occasional nose bleed. The character of the players is often ignored. We’ve gone behind in games but got straight back into them. Losing, unluckily, at OT could have been a psychological set back, but not with these lads. I’m really excited at where we could end up with the talent and tactical nous we have. Lots of technical players, competition for places and players like Vieira & Marquinhos not looking overawed when asked to step in. If we can get ESR fit again, it’s scary potential with the young talent we have now. Shame the International break & the World Cup may impact on our momentum.

  26. Rich

    The potential of this team isn’t in question, the potential for internal improvements both individually + collectively, has been completely lost by the MSM, which is fine, it’ll work in our benefit to fly under the radar.

    It’s our squad that worries me, yesterday our bench was down to barebones, and we haven’t even got into to the eye of the schedule yet.

    Saliba hadn’t trained for 10 days, Gabriel was nursing an injury, we know Partey, Tomiyasu, Smith Rowe + Tierney have missed a lot of football this calendar year.

    Scotland have got 3 games in a week, hopefully they’ll rest Tierney for at least one of those fixtures.

    We can get through the group with this, but we need player availability to do so:

    …..Holding Tomiyasu
    Cedric Sambi Tierney
    ………Vieira Smith

    If we can get Smith Rowe fit, we can start loading much needed minutes into him as well.

    Another 2-3 quality players would have been so beneficial, just got to hope the fitness of our squad holds up until January, and we can strengthen the squad with some additional quality.

    The above team should be able to navigate the groups, but they’ll need some help to navigate the knockouts once the competition increases.

  27. Bob N16

    Bard, as Northbanker said, it would be astonishing if ESR is happy right now as he’s had a nagging injury for ages. If he were fit I think that he’d get more than enough minutes to be satisfied that his future should be at Arsenal.

  28. WengerEagle

    Dusting Brentford 3-0 away is extremely impressive regardless of if they were poor or not.

    As Marko says it is not rocket science, you add x 3-4 players of vastly more quality to the XI and this is what you get. Jesus, Saliba and Zinchenko have been massive upgrades and Vieira looks like he will offer us more quality and cutting edge too.

    We really do look a proper team now. Credit to Xhaka is needed because he has been playing very well this season Old Trafford aside. I still question the wisdom in not bringing in another CM reinforcement and hope that it doesn’t cost us down the line but things are rosy in the garden right now.

    We top the league and are playing very good football, hats off.

  29. Northbanker

    Rich – the B team you describe would still be good enough to hold its own against a lot of teams but it’s unlikely we would ever be fielding anything like that for A games. You can only have so many top players on the bench and we’re already juggling some names. It’s inevitable that with 9 players on the bench we will be calling up top-quality youngsters.

    You see that as a problem whereas I see it as a golden opportunity – after all we can only use 5 of them. The fact that we can start blooding our stars of tomorrow is great.

    I have no doubt we will seek to buy quality players each TW but probably not 2 – 3 unless we’re replacing outgoing first team players or buying a star of tomorrow. We’re at a point now where we should see players leaving in future for hefty fees rather than us paying them to leave.

    We should be celebrating the fact that we don’t need to buy big in future TWs. The key ingredient for next time is the back up or replacement for Partey as a hybrid CM/DM. And that will be enough. We won’t be continually forking out £100m in fees for new players.

  30. Naija+soccer

    Good player Fabio Vieira. I just pray he gets protection from referees going forward. Mee tackled him quite hard and he sort of yelled, and Mee smiled deviously. I was watching the reaction of the linesman but he didn’t seem moved.

  31. Rich


    It’s a catch 22, if we don’t assemble a squad capable of going to distance, we’ll lose our best players, because the best players are ambitious, and won’t feel we can match their sporting ambitions.

    If we assemble a top quality squad, there’ll be some players unhappy with their game time, and may look to go and get more consistent minutes elsewhere, similar to how we secured Jesus + Zinchenko.

    I’m not suggesting we spend any amount, price is what you pay, and value is what you get, there’s plenty of examples of big money transfers failing, and clubs securing value at reasonable prices.

    But we need 3 top versatile players, or we’re going to keep coming up short, particularly if we get back into the CL.

    Our squad is much smaller than it has been for a long time, which is something I’ve wanted us to do, but if we’ve got a smaller squad, and we want to bring our youth team closer to the first team?….

    Then we need a high degree of specificity, versatility + quality, not just in our team, but on our bench, you don’t clock 90-100 points seasons, and juggle 3-4 competitions simultaneously without it.

    We’ve got some depth, but there’s 3 areas we’re currently short, we need another 3 quality players, that can cover 60-70% of the outfield positions.

    Numerically we’re fine, but there’s 3 outfield squad players that can, and should be upgraded if possible.

    I’m delighted with our business, but you need to look at the bigger picture, you were claiming when everyone was fit that we didn’t need another quality winger or defender.

    Having a squad of full fitness rarely happens, and at the time we were playing a game a week, all clubs get injuries and the schedule will increase, and in a league of fine margins, we have to be equipped to deal with that inevitability.

  32. The Bard

    I saw ESR was injured and has been for a while. Why make public you’re not happy ? At his best he is a starter. Be interested to know what his agent thinks. Either way let’s nail them down to long term contracts.

  33. CG

    (R I P Queen Elizabeth the Great)

    We all like Smith Rowe- he plays the game how it should be played.

    Trying to score and trying to entertain and not too concerned about the defensive side too much .( eg Debryne, Ozil, Ramsey’s Modrics etc)

    But he only has a career at Arsenal now as a bit part player. Vieira and Marqinos and the rest of the Portuguese speakers are ahead of him now.

    He will go the same way as the other home grown contingent , Willock and AMN to mid table premier sides.

    Shame buts that’s what happens when you have a Brazilian Technical Director.
    He will always favor his own first.

    Maybe should of taken the £35 000 000 from A. VIlla?

  34. englandsbest

    Selling players is the inevitable consequence of a ‘young and vigorous’ policy. A policy that Ajax (for example) has followed for years. The difference is that where Ajax are forced financially to sell players at peak, Arsenal have sufficient revenue to wait until they are beyond (or nearly beyond) their. peak, and with an adequate replacement within the squad or at hand.

  35. Dissenter

    “Its a matter of when Not if, Marquinos will push Saka out of 1st eleven.Take this to the bank!”

    The royal bank of sidopopolus based in Modadishu

  36. Luteo Guenreira

    Great game yesterday! Vieira goal had me off my feet for a good minute.

    On an unrelated note. A squirrel got into my golf cart yesterday and stole all my cannabis. Just took the entire canister and ran off. Got a birdie on the hole, at least.

  37. Grouvillegooner

    I like that Saka is “ticking over only” at present. He is still very much contributing and at present we do not need him at his peak as others are there at present.
    It has been a great start but the real tests are still to come when we start playing the other top five contenders. We are 0 and 1 in that respect at present.
    Also technically Xhaka seems to be able to take the ball on the half turn now and open his body up when receiving, which is allowing him to look forwards for his passes.

  38. Dissenter

    I may have seen that squirrel yesterday.
    It was high as a kite, hanging on a hang glider over the mid Atlantic all day.

  39. G

    ‘’ .Shame buts that’s what happens when you have a Brazilian Technical Director.
    He will always favor his own first.Maybe should of taken the £35 000 000 from A. VIlla?

    You need to stay off the crack pipe

  40. Luteo Guenreira

    It’s already been a full day since the game so most fan POVs have already been voiced and this opinion is not new, but to me yesterday showed again how reliant this team is on Partey’s fitness to be elite. If he can play every EPL match at this form, top 4 is all but assured and there is an outside chance for a title run depending on how clinical in front of goal we can remain as a team.

    Tierney has his best game since returning from injury, I was a bit concerned about him but hopefully it was just a matter of getting healthy.

    Xhaka best game in an Arsenal shirt I’ve seen him play. Was involved all over the pitch.

    Vieira what a strike and a good tidy player. If he can get to the point where he can impose his will and dictate a game rather than only taking what’s offered through the space available (which he seems very good at and don’t get me wrong is an amazing talent in and of itself), think he will have world class potential. First start in the Prem so I’ll have lots of patience for him, especially if he can keep uncorking those kinds of attempts from distance.

    Eddie seems a little heated off the bench these last few games. Appreciate the urgency but if he plays with a cooler head I think it’s serve him better. I love that he wants to prove himself though.

    And I haven’t even mentioned Jesus or Saliba yet. The first showing us what world class talent truly is, the latter showing he is easily on his path there. Jesus, Partey, and Saliba are our best players, and Partey’s position has the weakest cover so let’s get someone this winter and we’re cooking with gas.

    There’s just so much good to talk about, exciting times.

  41. Northbanker

    Rich – yes I was and I still am. I have stated one player was necessary – a CM/DM.

    Benchmarking against our previous bloated squad is not that instructive. We need 2 players to cover each position with a degree of hybridity to cover other positions where required.

    So we agree on one player – the CDM (assuming you are looking at that position). I take it you still believe we need another winger whereas since we last jousted over this Marquinhos has already begun to show what he is capable of. Very happy with what we have there -I am not where Sid is but as back up to Saka he’s perfect. Saka can also play LW if need be.

    I am making the assumption that the ESR injuries will be cleared by the TW otherwise the LW may need a re-think. I have not yet written off Nelson either, who is now back in training.As a back up player, he will be perfect for League Cup and Europa Cup commitments

    I don’t see what other position(s) is that desperate. So it’s 1 player for me at this current time
    subject to ESR being back in action.

  42. Emiratesstroller

    Arsenal are currently short of players due to injuries. Five players Soares, Zinchenko, Elneny, Smith-Rowe and Nelson were missing from starting lineup and bench. That is why we were forced to select on Sunday a fifteen year old to sit on bench.

    The idea that Smith-Rowe was not playing for any other reason than being out injured is nonsense.
    For a start he has a contract which expires in June 2026.

    However, the fact that he is injury prone may become an issue in the future, because Arsenal need
    a “reliable” group of squad players. That applies also to Partey and Tierney as well.

    All these players are good enough to play for Arsenal or for that matter any team challenging to play
    for the first team in EPL and in Europe when fit.

    The club needs at least 20 players of that standard and Smith-Rowe is certainly one of them when he is fit.

  43. Topside Northbank

    Interesting to see Pablo Mari helped marshal Monza to a 1-0 home win over Juventus.

    Allegri looks to be under pressure and if it carries on he will do well to last until the WC break.

    Lots of talk in Italy that they would be looking to bring back Conte next season, no idea if it’s just journalist talk but the Old Lady is struggling.

  44. Topside Northbank

    I love the idea of us continuing to bring through young players lets hope the muscle niggles in the group can clear up but historically some look to have ongoing issues.

    If we can do well in our next couple of EL games with a mix of starters and squad players I would hope Arteta bloods more youth. If we can give them mins in games get them around the squad use them off the bench and continue to start Marquinhos it will ease the workload of our core.

  45. Northbanker

    We have 22 players currently:

    Ramsdale Turner
    White Tomiyasu Cedric
    Saliba Gabriel Holding
    Zinchenko Tierney
    Partey Elneny
    Xhaka Lokonga
    Odegaard Vieira
    Saka Marquinhos
    Jesus Nketiah
    Martinelli ESR

    The injuries are for the most part short term ones and there will be moments when youth players are called up.. That’s because we need 20 players for every match day. See that as a cause for celebration not concern. Our next gen need nurturing and what a great way to do it.

    Of the squad Elneny is the most urgent replacement. Turner is still an unknown and that may be a reason for going to market next summer. I’d like to see more of Hein, a regular Estonian international.

    We may be adding Norton Cuffy, Patino and Balogun to that next summer. Who knows – maybe Nwaneri too (probably not though).

    We saw yesterday that the squad can cope with some injuries. Some of you want to just keep spending without taking time to see what we have already.

  46. Marko

    I think ESR will be fine but the progression of Martinelli and Saka coupled with the potential of another winger being signed on top of Marquinhos with Odegaard and Vieira now as CAM options means that his game time is going to be significantly cut into. That’s just how it is and it’s not going to change especially if you want to improve year on year and challenge for major honours. Question is will ESR bide his time and step up like Foden at City surrounded by talented players and also with the potential of more being signed or will he remain a bit part player? Gotta get fit and stay fit first before that gets answered

  47. Dissenter

    “Think Conte would jump at the chance of managing juve..
    Plus I think his contract expires this summer”

    I’m not so sure because his previous parting was as acrimonious as it gets.
    Maybe the passing of time would have let off steam.

  48. Rich

    Numerically we should be fine, I’ve wanted us to cut out squad down to 20 outfield players, backed up by 2-3 talented youngsters for the years.

    But there’s a big difference between having numbers, and having quality squad depth, alongside a high degree of specificity + versatility.

    We don’t currently have enough quality to navigate 4 competitions, we don’t have enough to navigate the knockout stages of the Europa + PL simultaneously, unless we’re very lucky with injuries + draws.

    Let alone enough in our a squad to navigate the PL + CL simultaneously, delivering 90-100 points, which is currently the benchmark.

    What are we trying to do?….

    Just get back in the CL, but with no realistic aspirations of winning it? To get into the top 4? But with no realistic aspirations of winning the title?

    Maybe winning the odd domestic cup?….

    Since our move to the Emirates we’ve been content with elite mediocrity, and the problem with treading water, is that you can only tread water for so long, before you start going under.

    We’ve got a fantastic team, we’ve got some quality depth, but the idea we should strive to improve in any area we possibly can, will just ensure we stagnate or regress, and the fantastic foundation we’ve assembled will crumble down around us, just like after 2007/08 + 2010/11

    We’ve seen that script before, the margins between success + failure are often minimal, we have to stack the odds in our favour, rather than role the dice.

    In 2015 Wenger didn’t strengthen, gambled on injury prone players, and we missed that window of opportunity.

  49. Luteo Guenreira

    Sigh it’s been years the player that has manned the #10 shirt for Arsenal has been a consistent contributor, game in game out. RVP was probably it. Since then Wilshire was a bit of a crock, Ozil’s best output was in the 11 shirt and felt like he was halfway checked out by the time he got the 10, and now ESR can’t stay healthy.

  50. Benjamin

    Why havent we given Saliba new contract
    yet? I do fear that if we dont sign him up
    before WC than he wont sign at all. Same
    with Saka.

  51. Zacharse

    “Cheer up Zakaria,Through every dark night, there’s a bright day after that. So no matter how hard it get, stick your chest out, keep ya head up….”

    😂 you’re too much ya greek nigerian bastard! hope your ‘long stuff’ gets some service so you can stop cawing about it all day on an arsenal forum!
    and its Zachariah, king of kings

  52. Naija+soccer

    CG wants to sell ESR to a middle table team ? The ESR that almost singlehandedly dragged us from relegation to 8th position ? The boy who scored 11 goals last season, mostly coming off the bench ? Someone who always seem to deliver ?

    Plus whatever happened to embracing squad depth ?

  53. Topside Northbank

    RVP despite how some of our fans felt about him at the end an insane talent, couldn’t stay fit muscle injuries one year he got a bad injury playing for Holland and the horse placenta healing was tried.

    IIRC he bought in his own fitness coach and his time out with muscle injuries improved.

    The year he fired us into the top 4 in a bang average side the season of the mauling at OT he was sublime. Sunderland and Everton games at home I attended scored a couple of world class goals late in games that were drifting. Super player I know a lot don’t like him for leaving but I couldn’t blame him.

  54. Thorough

    Let me take a dump on this Xhaka love fest.

    Actually, I don’t think he has gotten better one bit. The difference is just that he’s playing up the field unlike previously when his mistakes either lead to a penalty, red card, the opponent scoring or all of the above. However, a number 8/10 can afford to make such mistakes more often because majority of their teammates are behind them and can easily cover/mop up such errors.

    Let me summarize it as Xhaka is decent when only 3 of his teammates are ahead of him, and pathetic when he has 8 of his teammates ahead of him. Infact since the position change I often see him as the furthest Arsenal player forward even ahead of Gabriel Jesus at times.

  55. Pedro

    Thorough, except when he’s playing as a left back. Or when he played deeper with Party last season. Or he played in midfield without Partey.

    Xhaka is just a good player. Most trusted in the squad. Accept you were wrong on him.

  56. Wicked Willy


    My understanding is that RVP situation improved when he was instructed to be more on his toes than flat footed when receiving the ball so that when challenged came they didn’t have quite so much impact?

  57. Northbanker

    I think Thorough has a point and I wouldn’t personally want to see him at LB ever again. He is too slow. However, I am happy to embrace the man’s drive and never say die attitude.

    As a no 8 he has been inspirational, although I believe Vieira will ultimately be replacing him. The fact he is no longer a weak link playing as he is now is a testament to the man’s drive, which has to be applauded.

  58. Dissenter

    Thorough’s post exemplifies the Xhaka Derangement Syndrome that pervades your blog
    It rises to delusional levels when some can’t accept they may have been wrong about the player.

  59. Wicked Willy

    Thoughts on Arsenal squad building:

    Given how close we are to the Promised Land, thought it would be fun to outline how we could realistically move towards greatness. Obviously my scouting capability is limited, but quite instructive to consider how close we are…

    GK: all good. Keep Turner until Okwonko is ready

    LB: Depending on how the season goes, sell one of Tierney or Tavares. Possibly consider selling both and bringing in Theo Hernandez. Give Souza 2/3 seasons to develop and then see.

    LCB: sell Mari and Austin Trusty. If we’ve got big money due to an excellent season, buy Gvardiol. Otherwise pick up Ndicka on a free.

    RCB: sell Holding buy Kotchap

    RB: two great choices to compete with one another. Maybe cancel Cedric contract and keep either Reull Walters or BNC in the squad, otherwise send them on loan for two more seasons and then assess while White and Tomi fight it out.

    DM: buy Danilo in January. Keep Partey for 3 seasons, and then see where Lokonga is, otherwise buy someone like Romeo Lavea, or if Rice ends up on a free, go heavy for him.

    Left 8: Xhaka is smashing it. If we can get a world class option like Bellingham, then great. Otherwise roll with Xhaka until Patino is ready and rely on Vieira/ESR/Saka to cover in the meantime. Sell AMN.

    Right 8: Odegaard and Vieira is genius.

    WF: sell Pepe, sell Balogun. Buy someone like Torres/Pino/Diaby/Mudryk. Would love Kvaradona but think he’s beyond us now. If we get súper top class here, and no world class #8, then Saka can also cover left 8.

    CF: we are golden. Don’t think we need Balogun. Unless we think he’s going to be truly world class, best for him and for us to part ways and invest the money in ensuring we have two shit hot options in every position.

    Marquinhos, Lokonga and Cedric/Walters would make up our 25, with a host of promising youngsters on loan and getting ready to drop in for those who want guaranteed first team football / need a new challenge.

    Convinced the above would put us in contention for EPL and CL.

  60. Bob N16

    Like your vision WW, I have high hopes for Balogun but I take your point. Seeing Nwaneri come on provides fresh hope for our talent coming through. I suspect here will be a clamour to take on loan some of our potential first team squadders(is that a word?) over the coming years.

    BFG and his team deserve recognition. I wonder if he would want to replace Arteta when the time comes. I believe his family is settled in London.

  61. Thorough

    When playing deeper his biggest strength were his long balls. But this strength couldn’t cover up for his ridiculous tackling. Saying he’s all of a sudden a great player is OTT. If we’d bought another 8 we wouldn’t expect less than what Xhaka is delivering now. He’s basically been taken to a part of the field where his weaknesses aren’t so glaring. The columnist on arseblog once indirectly alluded to this in a full length article detailing how Xhaka has practically been asked not to tackle because it doesn’t suit him.

    I think to be considered a top top player, what people often called world class, a player has to be amazing in any area of the pitch he finds himself. Saka had his debut on the left, he’s now our right Winger, and because he isn’t the speediest people think he’ll end up an 8 or 10. But guess what? You’ll barely note the difference. Thierry was good as a Winger and center forward too.

    Remember we signed Cazorla as a winger/playmaker, went ahead to play his first season as a playmaker to great effect, then he morphed into a CM playing deeper, and in all those you can barely notice a drop off.

    I think we are more or less making the best of a bad situation with Xhaka and would need to upgrade him sooner or later.

    IF he’s not the Neves equivalence that can partner Partey or play in his stead, or a number 8 that’ll score consistently to reduce the burden on our center forward, we’ll need to reassess his position sooner or later if we wanna move forward.

    And that takes me to my next problem which I think changing Xhaka’s position on the field causes – Gabriel Jesus does too much work for a striker. If we had a Heung Min Son type player partnering him he won’t have to do half of the work he presently does. Let’s pray he doesn’t break soon. Because someone like Nketiah will look so lost playing with Xhaka as an 8.

  62. Naija+soccer

    I do agree that at present Gabriel Jesus is doing a bit much for a striker. At different phases of the game, he’s a winger, playmaker, midfielder, a striker just constantly moving and pinging everywhere. On top of that he’s averaging something like 3-5 hard hits per game.

    That’s a lot of wear and tear. Would prefer him to just roam the box and it’s perimeter. He would also score more goals this way, as the closer you are to goal, the higher your chances of scoring.

  63. Naija+soccer

    Because of this, he’s often outta gas by the 60th minute, which makes Nketiah’s 75-85 minutes substitutions even more baffling.

    Eddie looked pissed coming on yesterday. Like he wanted to ask Arteta “What I m gon do with this silly ass 13 minutes”.

  64. Thorough

    Naija Soccer.
    That worries me. I hope Arteta sees it. We cannot excuse another season on the altar of loosing a key player when we are the architect of our misfortune.

  65. dSidstathopoulos

    “”I think we are more or less making the best of a bad situation with Xhaka and would need to upgrade him sooner or later.””
    This sums it up perfectly.

    Xhakalson at LB was disastrous. He seems to be doing a better job further forward than Odegaard does.

  66. Madhu

    It’s reported today that xhaka is doing his coaching badges and has worked with Nwaneri. Looks like Arteta wants xhaka to succeed him ?
    Nketia would very well have to lead our line against Liverpool as I think Jesus will get his 5 th yellow against Spurs. It’s better Arteta keeps Nketia primed by giving him more time against Spurs.