SHEFFIELD UNITED WALLOPPED

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There’s no other way to describe the game. Arsenal unleashed on Sheffield United in one of the most controlled performances of the season.

Controlled because we were patient.

Controlled because the manager heavily rotated his starting 11.

Controlled because we took off key players when we needed to.

Don’t talk to me about the opposition, they play in the Premier League, they are worth the same three points as Manchester City. Heading into easy games and making them look easy hasn’t been our strong suit over the past 4 years. Just think back to the unraveling of our title last season, those were easy games, we failed.

It didn’t look like it was going to be a hammering. We didn’t score our first goal until the 28th minute and it took an Eddie wonder-turn to make the breakthrough. The first 45 minutes gave us just 3 shots on target. Arsenal controlled the game, but it didn’t feel particularly swaggerish.

The second half was a touch better – 5 shots on target, 4 goals.

Eddie was the star if we’re honest. He scored a hattrick. He deserved one after the hammering he took after his cameo in the week. Each goal was different. One revolved around a Bergkamp-like turn, one was a poacher’s goal, and the final one was a rocket from outside the box. It showed his talents. He needs to do it more often, but as we look at the numbers right now, he’s earned 2 penalties, scored 7 goals in 13, and has 5 in the Premier League right now. Not bad for someone everyone says we need to sell to Hull next week,

There were other big performances.

Zinchenko reminded eveyrone of his qualities with a roaming full back performances. I thought Kiwior slipped into defence with no drama. Kai hasn’t had a blowout performance, but he functioned will in the side and was a credit to the team.

We didn’t really notice the lack of Odegaard, Declan Rice led the team really well, and Smith Rowe had a really promising game with a a lovely assist to cap it.

Tomi scored a great goal, cementing his iconic status amongst the base.

My overall takeway was: Wow, that was a mature game.

We put minutes into legs that needed them, gave rest to players that had to have it, and there was no noticeable difference in the way we played.

Having a rotation 11 deliver to those sorts of standards really does tell you how far Arteta has taken the culture at the club – and how well our recruitment team has done. When Fabio Vieira is coming on and getting an assist (looked like it) and scoring a penalty. You know the squad is in good shape.

Short one today, I am stacked with things to do, if you want more reaction, you know where the podcast is at! (below)

Have a great day! Let’s hope United do some damage tomorrrow!


SEASONED PERFORMANCE IN SPAIN

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I have to own it… when I said we’d drawn a Europa League group in the Champions League, I was wrong. I’m am very silly.

RC Lens beat us and Sevilla, with an average squad age of 56, gave us a really good game.

Arsenal exited the evening victorious – but my word, was it a hard-fought battle.

When you’re slumming it in Europa, you tend to forget that the Champions League isn’t flowers and champagne. The 90 minutes was hard to watch, it was cagey, it felt like a chess game for large parts. The big learning is domestic positions mean nothing when the tune of the famous song hits… players up their game, fans bring out their best selves, and games become extremely equalized.

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RAYA, THE CHOSEN #ONE

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There’s been a lot of debate in the air about David Raya vs Aaron Ramsdale. A large chunk of that, in my opinion, is the English looking out for the English.

But it doesn’t matter. There is no debate. Mikel Arteta thinks David Raya is the future of the Arsenal keeping story and he’s going to play his new man until it works.

The biggest error Arteta made was pretending his biggest mistake was not subbing on keepers during a game – or having different options for tactics. Arteta is never going to sub a keeper on at 70 minutes to change a game unless there’s a broken leg. All the tacticos frothing at the idea of this did make me laugh. The idea was always silly. If the most important player you can bring on to tactically change a game is a keeper, you’ve done something very wrong when picking your squad. There’s also the jarring nature of doing it in a game. If a keeper with cold gloves comes on and makes an error, the coach is in the mud. I also don’t see a game state where that move is merited. Chasing a game and you want a new keeper? Really? Defending a game and you want to bring on a keeper to see it out? Really? Arteta created the hill he is currently dying on and he deserves this. He should have just been honest about his plans… now people are prodding at him because by his own words, he should be dropping Raya right now.

What he should have said is he’s looking for something different this season and he’s changing things up.

David Raya is the chosen one and here are some things we have to consider:

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WEDNESDAY ROUND-UP

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We’re hurtling towards the return of Arsenal, and I can’t wait.

Chelsea away.

Sevilla away.

Sheffield United at home.

Those are three great games that bleed into the darkest of Arsenal months… November. Remember those months under Wenger? Always torrid for no reason. Red cards, injuries, SHOCKING results. Hopefully, this is a season we move well and truly beyond crap traditions.

First up…

Chelsea has been in a severe state of uncertainty for quite a while now. They spent 1 billion on a ‘trust the process’ squad and we’re still not sure who is going to work for them. One thing is clear, they do have a lot of talent, so they are NOT to be underestimated. But I think it’s fair to say if we show up, we’ll likely be a little too much for them.

Sevilla away in the Europa Champions League shouldn’t be a consequential game… but we tanked against RC Lens in our second game. A win isn’t imperative, but it would make everyone feel a little less queasy about qualifying. You simply cannot finish outside the top 1 in a Europa League group that somehow managed to make it into the Champions League. It’s quite weird to me that Arteta doesn’t seem to do too well in Europe; he’s a bit like early Wenger in that respect. But, he is only a youngster; plenty of time to learn.

Sheffield United will be an interesting game. I don’t want to say it, you don’t want me to say it, but god damn it I’m gonna say it: We need this game to pump out goal difference.

I am a disgrace, and I know I’ve disrespected the game – but I mean it. Can’t be scraping a 1-1 to a team that took a beastly pasting by Newcastle.

Phase three of the season is a weird chunk – it’s 4 Premier League games and 3 Cup games. 9 points would be ideal. 10 would be great. 12 would set us up a DREAM for the toughest run of the season: The Phase 4 Christmas run.

The big conundrum we have is the League Cup. What to do? We play West Ham. The competition has very little value in 2023, but this season, it does offer a way for our young and fringe players to get valuable minutes they might not get in the Champions League. West Ham are also in Europe, so it’s not a given they’ll go all out in this one… the question is whether Arteta will want to do a Jose Mourinho and get the League Cup win in nice and early.

The last time we won the league cup it was called the Coca Cola Cup – an outrageously elite name. That was one of my first cup finals. My dad took me to see that AND WWF in the same weekend. Sadly, that was the moment I found out the fighting wasn’t real. Sad times. But we won a cup and that made me happy. Wenger never won it. Emery didn’t do well in it. It’s time we defeated the cup.

I’m putting my chips in… this could be our first trophy of the season. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll know what a Carabou is by the end of the season.

Finally, before I go. It’s been wild to watch the growth of the women’s game. The attendances at The Emirates have been outrageous. Arsenal has been trailblazers on this front, they deserve so much credit for pumping ticket promotions and getting fans into the stadium. Obviously, the product has been so good for so many years, and that’s a huge help. What has been a good/bad thing… the popularity of the Women’s Arsenal has grown to the point where it’s adopted the toxicity of the men’s game. I couldn’t believe the rhetoric this week when Arsenal went down to Aston Villa. It was a bit embarrassing but utterly hilarious when Arsenal turned it around and people had to start deleting tweets. It’s a bit sad that a sign of success is when people like the work soooooo much they add poison to the system, but here we are. Congrats to the team for the win.

One business aspect of the Women’s game I find interesting is the relative youthfulness of the crowds that show up. The football is good, the tickets are cheap, it’s an opportunity for parents in a cash-strapped society to give their offspring a nice day out at a great stadium for less money. In the long term, the Women’s game getting kids into their games will be a boon. Those kids will go when they are adults, they’ll watch the games on TV, by the Women’s merch, and eventually take their own kids. I’m not sure the Premier League for Men is doing anywhere near the job with young people. Average age of a season ticket holder is 43; it’s unaffordable to get kids into the ground, longterm, that’s a problem. A whole generation of kids that love football and DON’T go. That’s why getting a bigger supporter section should be imperative. If young people don’t get the live sports bug, they’ll not attend when they are 45 and can afford it. One to watch.

Ok, relatively short one. If you want to read a really great post today, get this one from Arseblog in ur veins.

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WHO TO SELL?

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Welcome to FriYAY people; we have lots of things to talk about. But first, take a moment to congratulate yourself for getting through a week of international break things. Ok, we feeling good?

Let’s get into it.

Jack Wilshere has been linked with a move to Colorado Rapids in MLS. The same conference as my team. I visited the away day there. Loads of nice people, close to the mountains, a team that is not doing so well – plenty of food for thought. Jack Wilshere bringing Arsenal football to America? I don’t hate it people. I’m glad he’s pursuing all options and it’s interesting to see Josh K roll out his young rookie coach strategy on another club.

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RAYA PROPAGANDA

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What do we want?

NO INJURIES

When do we want it?

All season.

Sometimes you need a crap opener to loosen the typing fingers.

Arsenal internet seems to be buzzing along, beating City for the first time since 1942 is a helluva salve for an international break.

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ONLY ARSENAL

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The consequences of losing the Manchester City just before a two-week break could have been horrendous. We’d have sat on 17 points, level with Liverpool, 4 points behind City, actually properly behind Spurs.

But it wasn’t to be. Arteta did an outstanding job nullifying the threat of a team that’s been teaching us painful lessons for the last 7 years.

We’re level points at the top of the league. We’ve played United, City, and Spurs. No easy run of games. We haven’t played all the worst teams in the League like Spurs. Arsenal hasn’t even found 5th gear yet, there’s plenty more to come from the football.

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