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As we enter Tuesday morning, the joy has barely settled on a MONSTER win; everything is good in the world.

Well, unless you are reading Manchester United Twitter. MS Paint has been dusted off and has new relevance as United fans seek to prove that, in actual fact, a pretty clear offside was onside. Erik ten Hag went into victim mode after the game and complained about literally everything. United fans don’t need an excuse to follow suit and so they did.

I’m not really that fussed about arguing the case. The technology spotted the offside, I’m generally about 95% confident in the little lines they draw, so the noise is basically a deflection tactic because the Dutch manager has a lot of mess on his plate this morning.

How can you spend that much money on players and not be able to compete away from home?

Why were there so few touches in our box?

Why are you trying to save a game with a defender you’ve humiliated and a 34 year old from another era?

Why is Jadon Sancho writing press statements about being dropped?

Why is EtH always making excuses – is that good for his team to hear?

How is the club going to deal with another very public domestic violence issue after Brazil took action?

Those are some pretty big problems to have heading into an international break.

A look around the post-win noise, there’s obviously less histrionics because we won a game. But I’ll maintain what I said after the game. Our defending was probably worse than it was against Fulham with our more familiar back 5, but no one noticed because we won. United managed to get double the xG of Fulham but only scored one goal. United didn’t get many touches in our box, but as a team, we gave up the ball cheaply in transition, and we didn’t do a great job for the Rashford goal. Bill Saliba didn’t cover himself in glory and obviously, Kai Havertz won’t like seeing that pass in the post-game analysis session.

When you boil it down to quality of chances and quality of chances conceded – the game worked out. We deserved to concede one goal based on xG and that happened – we deserved to score three goals and that’s what the xG was.

The performance wasn’t perfect, there are lots of bits to continue working on, but against a high-quality top 4 opposition, we did the business and now everyone feels great.

Kai Havertz has a lot of work to do over the break. He needs to get a meditation app, eat some ice cream, watch boxsets of friends, then shake off the victimhood and come back a new man after the break. Channel Arteta’s courtship approach to his wife – conquer your fear in goal like you’d conquer and awkward chat at the bar with a stranger.

*On that comment. It was not surprising to see the permanently offended part of Twitter jump on the comment to make inane cultural commentary over the insidious nature of the story. Firstly, why do we always have to assume the worst in society? Secondly, the phrasing was taken badly out of context because ‘conquistar’ in Spanish means to win the heart. Thirdly, I think everyone understood the context of what he was trying to say. Arteta obviously thinks one of the biggest achievements in his life was convincing his wife he was worthy of her love – he’s allowed to think that – to turn that into an HR violation or create the impression it was a neanderthal comment is disingenuous in the extreme.

Back to Kai…

I do think that because so many people are focused on the lack of output, they missed why Kai Havertz started – he was tactically the right option. He has very strong defensive abilities, he occupies defenders, he has very strong pressing abilities, and he gives you strength in the air. Not many people have noted that a lot of the problems we’ve had so far this season have come down the right. Kai Havertz is doing a good job securing the left. We’re missing a lot of the nearly moments as well and far too many people see those misses as forever stains on his career, vs the early greenshoots of a player who is going to give us more final action output than Granit Xhaka.

This is a man who has scored goals in the Champions League final – he’s not going to air shot again this season. The players will eventually work out how to find him from corners. They’ll learn his runs and find him earlier. I’m not really that worried about the output. This is a very young player by most standards and we need to give him time. Declan Rice has been a #6 for 4 years, he’s coming in after a Euro Cup win, adapting as a #6 isn’t going to be that tough. Kai is coming in from an extremely turbulent 2 years of players mostly as a back-up #9. Adapting to that #8 position will take time but it’ll come. Don’t write him off.

Tomiyasu didn’t get enough praise in my match review post for his brilliant performance coming in at right back. His game looked better, he moved around the pitch like he was copying Zinchenko, and he didn’t make any errors. We always forget that players that are coached well get better. He looks like he’s improving. The only thing lacking with him – as ever – is his availability. Our fullbacks outside Ben White don’t seem good for many games. Is that bad luck or the nature of that position?

Finally, Perry Groves has gone on the radio to talk about his battle with alcohol. It takes a big man to admit a problem like that. We love Perry, he’s been great on our podcast, we wish him all the best on his journey. Big love from everyone at Le Grove! x

Right, I think that’s enough for today… get on Johnny’s ratings via our Patreon. We’re also doing a Q&A this week, so sign up, ask your questions, it will be answered.

See you in the comments. x

239 Responses to “ARSENAL ROUND-UP”

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  1. TR7


    No intention to insult Willy.

    Just want to point out that Harvertz shouldn’t be the only one deserving of getting love especially when there are others who on merit deserve to get the same opportunity that Harvertz is getting. Let Arteta choose his starting 11 based on merit alone.

  2. Karsa

    I’m all for picking players on merit but, as much as I want ESR to succeed, I’m struggling to remember any performances from him over the past 8 months that warrant a starting spot.

    Here’s hoping he takes his next opportunity with both hands and makes himself a regular consideration for a first team spot.

  3. EdTheRed

    The problem we have is we want to fight for the title and other trophies this season, so with all the goodwill in the world, there is no time for prolonged “bedding in” of the players. I would grant Havertz starting position for next two matches, Everton A and Spuds H. If we don’t see obvious improvement in his performance, someone else should be given a chance. It’s that simple.

  4. EdTheRed


    He seldom played in last 8 months. I wouldn’t be surprised if Havertz had already clocked in more minutes since he arrived than ESR in past 12 months, say.

  5. Nigel Tufnel

    Wicked Willy,

    Nice post about Havertz. Echoes what I’ve been saying… Arteta AND his progressive coaching staff will know how to handle a problem that’s not just football oriented, but largely social media/TV/internet driven, psychological even..
    We have the guys who specialize in that on staff, and Arteta himself is damn good at taking care of players that he believes in, to grow their confidence and improve their game.

    Montana points out how Xhaka became a progressive machine last season. I noticed early on and said it here.
    Every pass from him was forward, so many 1 touch progressive passes too, it was like he was born again. Always knew where he wanted to go as soon as he received the ball, and moved it without hesitation.

  6. AFC Forever


    Look, we all have our favourites but ultimately team selection is based on what the coaching team decide is the best starting eleven, from a collective view, not individual merit as daft as that may sound. Football is all about opinions but none of us work with the players every day. He will have his own expectation but four games is a very short time to judge anything on really. What do you do shove Trossard in, he performs well but the team is not as efficient? Or ESR? How long do uou guive them before you abandon that idea? Luckily we don’t have to make those difficult decisions, we can play with assumption and hindsight.

  7. G8

    Havertz is an expensive mistake
    He is a square peg in a round hole
    Guy looks nervous everytime he gets the ball
    He slows play down by avoiding clear forward passess and playing it safe backwards
    His stats about running around and square passes
    His defensive contributions are weak and minimal
    He misses clear scoring chances
    He lacks composure
    He is a bum
    The sooner we realise that, the better for him and Arsenal

  8. BacaryisGod


    Hard to argue with most of your all-time line-up although we have to qualify it’s a 1970 onward team because it’s even harder to compare the older legends like Hapgood and Eddie James with the modern players. You also have to compare players knowing how different the game has become. For example. Seaman was not good with his feet but you can bet if he was a young keeper in today’s game, he would have improved a lot in that area.

    The only players that are almost impossible to argue against are Adams, Vieira, Brady, Bergkamp and Henry.

    I would also go with Seanan, Campbell and Cole.

    Lauren was great but I’m biased and Bacary would have been a beast in the Invinvibles. Peak Alexis would get the nod over Pires for me. Just an instant game winner before he burned himself out Gilberto was superb but I would sacrifice defensive solidity for even more creativity with Fabregas


    Of the current team, Saliba and Saka are the obvious picks for disrupting this line-up.

  9. raptora

    Saka and Odegaard are part of the 30 nominees for the 2023 Ballon d’Or.
    Ramsdale is one of the nominees for the Yashin Trophy.
    Amanda Ilestedt and Katie McCabe are nominated for the 2023 Women’s Ballon d’Or.

  10. englandsbest

    I’m not one to say the experts know best, let’s leave it them. On the contrary, I have an inborn suspicion of experts and do-gooders. They have to prove their expertise and goodness. And if you look at the mess the world is in, you’d have to say they ‘ve done a lousy job.

    With football, with the coaching and training, the manager, the coaches, the ones with inside knowhow of the players, they often get it wrong. So it’ makes sense to question them. Not that I’ve lost faith in Arteta, he’s still the right man for the job at Arsenal. But why loan Tierney? And why Havertz, when he has ESR?

    My opinion is based on what I see and on gut instinct and, above all, on commitment. And I ain’t seen much so far from Kai. Okay, it’s early days, and Dennis, the best of all, took time to settle. Whereas ESR scores high on all three. And so did Kieran.

    On the plus side, Rice scores in spades on all three.

  11. Un


    Vieira wasn’t the “sit behind” type
    He was a marauder
    He always had a partner who liked to stay deep
    Petit edu Gilberto silva. They all could play but let vieira go more than he let them

    I’d go with bacary’s lineup only id have sanchez on the right and pires on the left
    Not that it would function as a team but man for man that’s my lineup


  12. jwl

    – Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard’s brilliant 2022/23 seasons have once again been recognised as the duo have been nominated for the prestigious Ballon d’Or.

    – Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsdale has also received recognition by being nominated for the Yashin Trophy, which has been awarded to the best goalkeeper since its creation in 2019.

    – There was also recognition for two of our women’s team, as Katie McCabe and Amanda Ilestedt have been nominated for the Women’s Ballon d’Or, which Beth Mead finished runner-up in last year.

  13. Un

    Imagine we let him go for £5m and veron cost £28m. I know who I’d rather have had
    If Caicedo goes for £100m then petit is £200m by todays standards
    Disgusting when you think about it

  14. Montana Gooner

    Yeah. RVP was definitely graceful. Santi was just so complete for me. His vision and his technique were just spot on. That goal in the FA Cup final. Such class. When people for trashing Fabio for being too tiny I immediately thought of Carzola. Fabio is already starting to show it.

    On ESR, I have yet to see him play with the electricity he used to show pre-injury layoff. He looks too cautious and doesn’t look like he has any joy. Arteta is watching them in training every day. But training is not a game. Some players train better than they play. Some players play better than they train. Some do both, like Saka. I hope ESR comes good. He’s one of our own. Seems we a few players in that area of the park that need to figure it out quick. As Ed said, give Kai two more games. At a certain point you need to shake things up and see if that helps the situation.

  15. Montana Gooner

    I’d try to squeeze Rocky in. He was one of the first players I just loved when I first started following Arsenal as a boy. That was back when the only way I got news in the US was a month late in a Euro football mag at Walden Books. Was so sad when I learned he passed.

    My time in NL was during the down part of the ’97 season. Went home at Christmas and then we bossed it. Probably why I haven’t been back. lol.

    Sometimes I wonder how many years Arsenal have taken off my life!

  16. Rich

    Cazorla the most aesthetically pleasing player to watch of the Emirates era. His ability to create space for himself and others was unmatched.

    If the opposition pressed him, he’d play through the press at will, and if they stood off him, then he’d run the whole game from deep.

    His ability to pull more athletic + physically imposing players completely out of shape and unbalance them, was a joy to behold, he just made watching Arsenal incredibly fun.

    I think we’d have won the title in 2015/16 if Cazorla had stayed fit.

  17. raptora

    Yeah, Santi is maybe the only player that was world class in a few midfield positions. You put him in CM, he’ll run the game. You put him at AM, he’ll clock goals and assists like there’s no tomorrow. He even played LM/LW and RM/RW for us.

    The way he started his Arsenal career with 12 goals, 14 assists in his first season with us playing mostly as AM, but was then forced to play other positions because Ozil joined, but he didn’t need time to get used to it. The way he was able to just switch positions with zero drop in quality is a testament of his football intellect and how insanely talented he was.

    Some players need the whole team and formation set up to them in order to make them work. With Cazorla, you wouldn’t need to do any of that. Just give the guy a football pitch and he’ll be world class.

  18. raptora

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  19. philmar

    For all you Havertz-haters please give him a chance. 4 games is nothing. We’d have exiled Henry, v.Persie, and others to Watford if we listened to people like you and didn’t give our new players time to adjust. Part of the problem is Martinelli, Nketiah and the various left backs we’ve been playing also have to adjust to a new guy in Xhaka’s position, Havertz has made some great runs and players didn’t anticipate it and didn’t get him the ball. Also he is playing on the left side which also has new guy Rice onboard. That whole side needs time to get to know each other.
    TLDR – STFU Haverts-haters.

  20. Wicked Willy


    All good re comments. My view is those other Brighton leavers went to shit show clubs. So to go from Brighton to Arsenal is not that much of a stretch, but full credit to Trossard nonetheless.

    With ref the comparison between Tross and KH, not only was Trossard in a purple patch whereas Kai’s confidence shattered, he had been used to a similarish system to ours.

    Anyway, let’s see how it unfolds. A confident Kai Havertz will be a superstar player.