by .

It’s North London Derby Day eve and I’m feeling pretty bullish about the home game we have tomorrow. On The Arsenal Opinion, we mused whether Big Ange would keep doing what he’s doing, or revert to the safer option of a dirty deep block so they could catch us in transition. Well, the very nice Aussie Spurs manager who always says the right thing… said the right thing about how he wants to play tomorrow.

“How do you know if you want to be that kind of team? That’s the question. If you want to be a team that challenges, you know you have to play that way irrespective of the opponent.

“There’s no point not using a game like Sunday as a measure to see where we’re at.

“If we shy away from it, don’t play our football, manage to get a draw and survive the experience, what have we really learned? Apart from surviving 90 minutes of football? Nothing.

“The players already know that’s what will be my message to them. We’re going to go out and play our football.

“If we’re short, we’re short and we need to make it up. If we match them it’s great isn’t it (because) we know we have a long way to go and we’ve already established ourselves and on the biggest occasions we’ve shown we’re prepared to play our football.”

This is the type of attitude I like to see in football. Tactically, it’s a risky roll of the dice for Ange. Spurs aren’t anywhere near the level Arsenal is, they are away from home, they haven’t had any bad luck this season, and they’re playing one of the best teams on the planet.

‘Do it out way’ vibes could lead to a spanking… but he has no choice. He’s a new manager with sexy football ideas – if he backs away from his vision of how the game should be played, it tells the players he doesn’t really believe in them. You can’t get away with that when you’re a manager with a small reputation – you have to be militant about your vision, just like De Zerbi has been with great success at Brighton.

It is interesting though – Mikel Arteta was an absolute pragmatist when he joined Arsenal. Our football wasn’t free-flowing and interesting for a while. His first job was to address the lack of structure; then he added bits to the playing style as we built out the side with better equipment.

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that people were saying things like ‘he plays drab football because he was a drab player’ or ‘I honestly don’t think he’s capable of setting up an attack.’ These were moronic statements from clueless people, but on the face of it, the football we were playing was sad… but it was because Arteta was always very clear about the capabilities of his team.

Big Ange saying ‘fuck it boys, let’s have a go’ is great news for Arsenal – but only if we’re disciplined. PSV tried to come at us in the week and we sprung a trap. Spurs will try the same thing tomorrow, but they have better weapons going forward than most Champions League teams. Son will start as their loan striker, they’ll have Kulu in the system who has caused us issues in the past, and Manor Solomon will start with two assists to his name. That’ll be backed up by James Madders, who is on fire this season.

The key thing we have going for us? We’re better than them. By a long way in a post-Kane world.

Spurs are scoring more goals than their xG suggests they should be and they’re conceding less than their defence should be. You can say you don’t believe in xG and I’ll allow it… but every club in the world with professional coaches uses it, so we have to accept its existence and relevance to the truth. Teams always revert to the mean with xG. United were 13 points better off than they should have been last season, now we’re seeing the slow death March of EtH. Spurs play very nice football, the passing is sharp, and the desire to move the ball at speed is admirable… but they get wrecked through the middle often. Milk and honey to our players.

I don’t know how our luck is going to ride out. There are rumblings on Twitter that there’s another injury in the mixer. It’s quite nice that our ITK crowd these days aren’t revealing names because they know it’s part of the Arteta strategy to keep things to himself. Regardless, it’ll be annoying to lose another player.

Mikel was keeping his cards close to his chest regarding Martinelli, I would guess he’ll not be about. But we have plenty of options to come in behind him. I could imagine a surprise move in the front three against Spurs. Maybe Kai gets a run as a 9 after impressing in the week, perhaps we see Gabi Jesus take up a wing option, or maybe Luther Van Tross as a false 9.

The only thing we know for sure is Arteta likes to keep people guessing and there’s no reason to think he’ll stop this weekend.

There’s a 95% chance David Raya starts in goal. He’s not put a foot wrong so far and we can all innately feel what he’s offering to the team despite not really seeing him tested yet. I’ve been over this, but the clarity I have on the upgrade is unmatched right now.

He claimed double the high take crosses of Ramsdale last season.

Aaron Ramsdale doesn’t dominate his area consistently and sometimes he hasn’t looked as confident coming for corners. There was a period last season when teams were shooting from corners. I don’t think you’ll get that with a man who has trained with Brentford for half a decade. Raya is in the top 97th percentile for crosses stopped – Aaron is in the 18th.

Raya was 4th for saves last season

We’re yet to see Raya be heavily tested in a goal-peppering day out – but last season, after facing more shots, he save percentage was a whopping 10% higher than Ramsdale. No way Arteta hasn’t looked at the ‘conceded from the first shot’ stat and not thought hard about why that is.

Launch Passing

Under pressure, Aaron Ramsdale puts the short to midrange passing in the bin, and he goes for the launch. This puts us under pressure because he’s not that accurate. David Raya is in the 97th percentile for launch pass completion in the league – Aaron is in the bottom 10%.

The more you look at what David Raya offers the team – the clearer it is that this is a big upgrade we’re making. I don’t see a way back for Aaron, even if there’s a howler tomorrow. There’s more confidence in every department of Raya’s game. It’s a shame, but I guess that’s the type of club we are now… you get a chance to improve, if you don’t do it fast enough, there will be an upgrade.

Our keeping department has seen a lot of turnover – and at some point, someone is going to point the finger at the person coaching these players. Aaron Ramsdale started strong, then faded. We’ve also seen Martinez, Runarson, and Bernd Leno pass through the club and 2 of them got better (Bernd one of the best in the league last season). David Raya absolutely cannot fail at Arsenal without there being a deeper question as to why everyone falls out of favor and tanks in form under the current regime.

The game should be good tomorrow – Spurs can’t defend but they can attack. The first goal will be very important, but both teams have goals in abundance. Is Ange more than good press clips? Are Arsenal able to move past the emotion of a derby game? Can Arteta spring a surprise and another tactical masterclass? We’ll see.

Ok, bit of a long one today. Let’s hope that the game is a BANGER. We’ll be LIVE on the whistle after. It’ll be a BIG one. Cannot promise we will be sober!

Check out our before the whistle podcast below.


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Wengaball

    Pierre – I am recounting from memory but I remember seeing a player each to the left and right of Jorginho free to receive the pass.

    He dawdled – but as I said above, everyone dawdles – even our centre backs. They never pass first time. Saliba does it all the time showboating dribbling skills. It looks great on the highlight reel, and everybody applauds. But it is risky, and unnecessary.

  2. Pierre

    Yes white was to his right but if you watch jorginho he receives the ball and I think when he looked up all he saw was a Sea of white shirts in front him، the camera behind Raya’s goal shows it perfectly with about 8 tottenham players on the picture and only saka frantically trying to get into position but not showing for the ball.
    Jorginho should have just passed the ball to white but he tried to be too clever and mis controlled the ball.

    And yes I agree ، there are too many touches on the ball، no one and 2 touch football، which is probably one of the reasons why smith rowe doesn’t get a look in as that is his game ، one and 2 touch give and go football.

  3. Nigel Tufnel

    Eddie started because we had 2 forwards out injured. Maybe Nelson would have been the better choice, but the complaints forget the limitations we were under. Elson rarely does starts, so Eddie might have been favored to do 90.

    Im waiting to see some Ødegaard stats because I think he won the ball quite a few times early, but we didn’t capitalize on it nearly enough.

    The Jesus miss was bad.. but completely him… great job working hard to win the ball, then missing the goal. So typical.

    Havertz still not aggressive enough for my liking, but I think they’ll fix that. Fabio starting was not a bad idea, just a disappointing result.

    All the times we won the ball off spuds in the first half, with Fabio on as another creator/scorer (over Havertz the more deep CM option)… we still didn’t do enough in creating or finishing. Plenty of blame to go around.

    Funny how Pierre doesn’t see the ball winning from the captain, and ignores the fact that Fabio didn’t really impact the match at all. Same for the Havertz moaners.
    Some people are very selective in whom they choose to critique.

    I always tell it like it is.. Favorite players or not. No personal agenda.

    We drew without Trossard, Martinelli, Partey, Timber, and who knows when Rice was affected by his physical issue during the first half.
    Obviously it hurt us not having Declan for the second half.

    All that, and it took a giant error from Jorginho for us to draw.
    I guess you’ll want to blame Arteta for that too…

    So we were without 4 absolutely great players, and I’m not even counting Timber in the 4 because we can’t say he’s great until we see him more.

    I’m equally disappointed…. I just deal with it differently.

  4. rollen

    Maybe not replace Arteta, as he has many good qualities but he need supervision and assistant or in game management specialist to help him out as its clearly his weak spot.

  5. MG42

    There is a slight problem with just replacing Arteta because him and Edu do not build an effective leadership at AFC. We have seen that in numerous other clubs, Chelsea just being the prime example and it will be interesting to see what happens at Villa with Monchi & Emery to see how far they will take that club. But here are my reasons and the easy one first.

    Reason why:
    He is arrogant and thinks he is God’s gift to football. He is not open to any suggestions and believes his own hype, just watch the All or Nothing documentary and you know what I am talking about. He has not even 4 years of experience as a manager and believes 100 years of GK history needs changing. He is terrible at identifying talent. He destroys the value of players. That should do it.

    Who to replace him with:
    Zidane, Alonso, De Zerbi and Thomas Frank and in that order.

    I believe that Arteta is running the transfer business and Edu is a side show that also has to change because a strong DoF would never have gone for that dud Havertz which tells you all you need to know about the leadership at AFC. An experienced DoF and manager would have spent +£600 million far better to assemble a more adept squad that can handle injuries and an increase in competitions plus we would not have to release players and actually get decent money for the players we want to move on.

    Still believe I am an incarnation of GD4?

  6. MG42

    Your suggestions go against he nature, if the owners who shell out millions can’t exert their authority what kind of changes will an assistant or specialist assigned by KSE accomplish?

  7. allezkev

    With the injuries piling up and two games a week it seems inevitable to me that Arteta will make (and should make) wholesale changes for the League Cup tie at Brentford…

    Nigel I reckon you might get your wish and we might see one or two of our best academy players in the squad, maybe in the starting XI

  8. allezkev

    Players often tell you all you need to know about a manager and Edu has pretty signed up all our key players until 2027/28.

    Now if Arteta was as hopeless as has been suggested on here then why aren’t these quality players not looking to leave? Why did Declan Rice pretty much sign up the best years of his career to play for a guy who doesn’t listen?

  9. Nigel Tufnel

    I only know what I hear from guys who follow the youth very closely, but it’s always exciting to see them, and no pressure in lesser cup competitions.


    Do you think that we are so limited that we can’t figure out how you could post under 2 different names within a few moments of each other, using a VPN or some other trick?

    The fact that you even go through that trouble says more about your sad existence.

  10. Zacharse

    damn yall. i called this yesterday. NLD is the most unpredictable match in the prem.
    had a horrible psinal injury yesterday so barely madeit rhough the night and havent even caught highlights but i did read rice went off injured. only in an nld i spose.

  11. Madhu

    We might go out of League Cup. The squad cannot handle 3 games a week and probably it’s better.
    I agree with Wengaball that we tend to hold onto the ball too long and most times.miss the early runs that wingers and CFS make. We hardly have a through ball and our build up is too slow. Jorgi absolutely had White and Gab to his right and left. He didn’t choose to pass first time and got closed out. There is another thing that I noticed that our players loose the ball when someone is coming behind. Not sure if they get any shout from players around. They hold onto the ball far too much rather than passing and moving.

  12. Goobergooner

    Got to say that was a proper horrible display at home apart from the first 40 mins where we were literally all over them.

    They scored 2 of the shortest goals to conceded. The first was appalling defence. Not one person moved towards Maddison after he beat saka and then strolled metres into the box with no one shutting him down. The fact son got his foot to the ball with 3 arsenal players around him was quite pathetic.

    Jorginho playing around with it as last man. Don’t need to say how much that angered every arsenal fan on the planet.

    We didn’t deserve 3 points unless we only look at the first 40 minutes.

    And I’m not taking tired legs as an excuse.

    But we didn’t lose, so on to the next one hey

  13. GD4

    WITH all due respect we are trying to get to next level, right?
    What have DZ, who I admire greatly, Xavi and Alonso won?
    As for zizou, there has to be a reason why no one is breaking down his door with all the openings that have emerged since he retired.
    I know the rumors that he will replace the water carrier once he retires but still ….

    My point is if you are planning to replace Arteta and not signing Klopp or Pep, then good luck

  14. GD4

    One thing has been shown is that there is a big diff coaching fine football at a club with lower expectations and then going to face the pressure of winning in style at big club

  15. Madhu

    GD4 take your point. It’s all about Arsenal declaring what is the ambition level. Doesn’t look like we are going to do anything this season. With 200 M investment not sure how much we have moved the dial of the team. Nothing this season and the vultures will start rounding out young players. That’s the real worry.

  16. jwl

    GD4 – I wish we hired Arteta after Wenger and then hired emery after tets failed and we had Spaniard in charge past few seasons. I will always wonder if we win league last year if we had an experienced manager leading our unlikely charge to title like the tinkerman at Leicester instead of collapsing like we did.

  17. MG42

    Not a chance of a snowball in hell to get Pep or Klopp, that is why I didn’t list them even though they would top my list. Pep & Klopp will not go to a club that needs a rework. If at all Klopp would take the German National team job and Pep will call a sabbatical until he is getting antsy and an enticing job is opening up. As far as Zidan is concerned, PSG could not get him even for an interim period because he will be the next National team manager for France.

    I agree we need someone that can take Arsenal back to where they belong being feared and being spoken about in awe. That is not happening with the present leadership and 4 years are proof of that.

    What has Arteta won? That FA Cup was with a team that he inherited from the previous manager and it was not due to his skills it was the players that won it for the club. Since then we had two 8th place finishes and 2 season’s end implosions.

    What we need here is “We Need a Change” and Arteta is not the generational manager that he is being made out to be. Last season gave everyone hope that this season will be better. Everyone agreed with a few signings we can challenge for the title. No way will that be the case now. After experimenting with playing players out of position, draining players of their physicality by over playing them, we are now worst off then we were at the start of this season.

  18. MG42

    Statistics from MOTD2 on where Arsenal ranks after 6 games in the EPL.

    Big Chances created 12th
    Big Chances scored 8th
    Big chances missed 9th
    Expected goals 8th
    Shot conversion rate 12% 8th in the EPL.

    How are you going to fix that 12% shot conversion rate? Buy more new players, try academy players or have those staff members who are being paid big money correct it. I know it is only 6 games but it is a worrying trend compared to last season and I am still having high hopes for this season, but those stats need to be corrected if we want to finish top 4.

  19. Goobergooner

    Havertz can’t shoot and its actually unbelievable how bad he has been Infront of goal for us so far.

    Eddie was properly rubbish.

    Jesus is so unclinical it’s a joke.

    We needed an 8 and a striker, yet galaxy brain ended up with havertz master of nothing, who had some stats saying he played the 2 positions and was like yep sweet, he’s our man. Versatility over quality.

    Makes me sick we paid the chavs a fortune for a donkey

  20. Wicked Willy


    Reading this blog is hard work. You’d think by reading it we’d lost our third straight game. It was a shite performance, no arguments. Everything Nigel said at 00:33 represents my views too. Even the players we adore were mediocre to gash. As long as it doesn’t become habitual I can compartmentalise it.

  21. Gonsterous


    I like emery but after the collapse of his top 4 run and failing to win the EL (the basket he put all his eggs in), I highly doubt he would have won the league last season.

  22. Zacharse

    as always, this result means little when compared with the next.
    this hopefully breaks the tediousness we’ve all seen in the beginning of this season and pushes everyone on to more ruthless results

  23. Zacharse

    from bbc
    “Guardiola said Rodri had apologised to his team-mates for his red card, which will also see him miss league games at Wolves on 30 September and at home to Brighton on 21 October, and compared the incident to Kyle Walker’s dismissal in Champions League against RB Leipzig in the 2021-22 season.”

    anyone else notice something blatantly absent from this?

  24. China1

    2 main problems cost us

    1) blew our chance to go 2-0 up. We should’ve been 2 or even 3 up before they scored. So long as you’re missing chances you leave the door wide open for dropped points. This is a theme which has to stop

    2) costly error on the second goal and almost repeated 10 mins later by Jorginho. Could’ve cost us everything there

    There’s one positive from this weekend which is Chelsea lost AGAIN lol. 5 points from 6 games. Glorious stuff going on at that club

  25. Dr J

    As I said before, I really like Ange as a manager. He got spurs playing good football after few months in charge and with relatively the same squad he inherited beside Maddison, and they lost Kane. That’s the mark of a good manager. The players know what to do without him jumping up and down on the touch line shouting instructions. I hope yesterday’s game is a one off and that Arsenal will discover some spark but we have yet to play attractive football in the EPL this season. Arsenal have spent a lot of money and Arteta has been here for few years so we can’t just keep coming up with excuses every time we have one or 2 injuries. That’s the nature of football, it’ll always be, but players in this expensively assembled squad should not rely on one or 2 individuals. Brighton sell their best players every year but it is a joy to watch them, open and fast football. Ours can be quite dull and predictable at times. I hope I’m wrong, I really am, but I am not confident that Arteta is the man to win trophies for Arsenal.

  26. Samesong

    The sign of a good manager is how he handles adversity. Let’s see when Ange has a Maddison and a Son out. How he is able to control games then. All this small sample size and new manager bounce won’t last for too long. He will eventually be found out.

  27. Madhu

    This will be controversial, but Elneny who is a Defensive Mid is a hated person as he passes sidewards and backwards. the famous verticality is not there in his game. I wonder how is Kai different from Elneny playing much further up the field? If Eddie doesn’t fit the way Arteta expects his striker to play either seel him or when you paly him devise a style of play that suits Eddie.

  28. Aasim

    I think it’s pretty obvious where we stand today:

    – we bought Jesus, he increased our level, but he’s a great “option” across your front line. He wasn’t and shouldn’t be someone leading your line as he has never demonstrated an ability to cross 20 goals for the season. Great signing, but it needed to be supplemented
    – instead we supplement Jesus with Eddie as a back up striker, and this is the same as having Sambi as a backup to TP. Just a very average, who does work hard, but doesn’t have the natural skill level to ever be good enough for a title aspiring team. We needed that elevation this season and we ignored it
    – we needed to upgrade on Xhaka this season. Instead we took a “punt” on Kai. Let’s mould Kai into a position he has never played before, and at the same time, let’s try and rejuvenate a player bereft of confidence due to his performance over the last 2 years. This was an irresponsible decision, especially considering it was a decision directly impacting our first playing 11
    – we bought Chenko last season. We needed cover across our back line and bought Timber. Good signing. Unlucky to have him injured. However, it’s also been obvious since last season that Chenko is a defensive liability. He doesn’t have the pace to deal with fast wingers, he doesn’t have positional awareness, he gets easily beaten on 1v1s, and he is immaturely aggressive in his duels which leaves him exposed. On top of that, he attempts too many hollywoods passes and loses possession in dangerous positions. He also seems to have the classic small dick syndrome where he’s always trying to over compensate for his weaknesses

    But outside the above personnel problems, the other very obvious observation is, our attack has not clicked. It’s all too predictable. Our attacking patterns are too one dimensional. Very one paced. We are missing, the late runner into the box (Xhaka of last season), we’re missing someone who can create or dribble his way through the press from the centre, it’s always always trying to create from the sides / Saka, we don’t have credible route 1 options, and these are all things which city HAS. They can play route 1 because of Halland. They have creativity on both wings from Grealish + Silva / Alvarez. They have dribblers in Silva and Grealish. They have long range shooters in KDB and Alvarez. Rodri is making the late runs into the box. All in all, we’re clearly 2nd best. I don’t mind that. We have regressed from last season because of bad decisions on Kai + Eddie. I do mind that. We weren’t able offload a bunch of useless assets like Tavares, Sambi Elneny and Cedric,