FENERBAHÇE ASKS MESUT ÖZIL TO DO MORE FOOTBALL, ARE THEY WRONG?

by .

Hold on, hold on… you have got to be kidding me? Mesut Ozil, the man wronged by Unai Emery after a month. The man who threw a shirt at Freddie because the Swede WRONGED him. The man who was WRONGED again by Mikel ‘the beast’ Arteta. Is… being wronged again by his new club?

The Fenerbache President has had the absolute audacity to ask Mesut to basically ‘do more football thing’… excuse me sir? Who the hell are you to throw around instructions to a KING?

Here’s a little excerpt from Fenerbache TV:

“Ozil wants to play more. From now on, he needs to focus on his game and keep his commercial interests out of it. He needs to think about contributing to Fenerbahce.

“Our coach also needs to try to figure out how to get the most out of Ozil. There is not a problem, despite what the media says. Mesut is unhappy because he does not play regularly.”

Wooooah…

Steady on… public shaming?

Did anyone check if he was playing a big Fortnite tournament?

Maybe, just maybe, he’s trying to down a coach he doesn’t like… again.

Did anyone ask him if the bib throwing incident was a form of aggression or actually a nice piece of banter?

Has anyone asked if there’s a role he’d like to do more than the #10? He was very good at the social media when he was over here?

This actually feels like a conspiracy because he has nice coffee.

Or… did the Fenerbache Prez just say out aloud what no Arsenal coach would?

I’m not going to conclude on this, but Fenerbache fans, if you are reading this, do as Mesut does… #TrustTheProcess… we all support you and we support him. It’ll come good, one day, maybe.

Back to you. Are you ok? I know the news of Mesut losing his place must have been a shock.

Why don’t we get back to something I absolutely know you love me doing: splicing tables to tell a story.

The two tables below, via UnderStat.com, are where we are in 2021 after 11 games, and where we were last season after 11 games.

NOW (2021, bruh)

LAST SZN (2020)

That’s right, you can’t see us on the 2020 table because we were 15th in the league with 13 points.

Why am I showing you this? Well, there are a few things that are interesting here.

1. The table was bunched a little tighter last season. This season there are 10 points between 1st and 9th. Last season, there were 10 points between 1st and 14th.

2. The table after 11 games is not indicative of where it’ll be after a whole season. Remember all the people on the internet crowing that ‘This squad really could win Spurs the title under Jose’, well, he was gone in February. Remember people talking about Ralphy H for the Arsenal job. Frank Lampard was out by January. Manchester United were talking to Pochettino before they went on a charge to 2nd. Southampton dropped real hard. Take nothing for granted right now.

3. Arsenal are 7 points better off than they were this time last season. This is important because it means we’re in far better shape, but keep in mind, the job this year is to be within spitting distance of top 4 come January 2nd. The back half of the season is built for Arsenal. We will have played most of the major teams away from home. We won’t have the issue of Europe. Our young squad of players will be more experienced, know each other better, and should have adapted to the coaching ideas of Arteta. If Arsenal could have started like this last season, they’d have comfortably made the Champions League spots.

YES, I know you love an annualised table from Transfermarkt.

Why am I showing you this? Well, a few people have said to me ‘this form we are in is a fluke, so I was right to be Arteta Out hard this season.’ That is where I have to slap back with a spliced table. The form Arsenal is in is just a continuation of a slow drip of progression since December 26th last season. The calendar year table should give you a bit of comfort that maybe our run isn’t a flash in the pan.

Is 5th amazing? No. But it’s about where we should be. If we’re around that position in April, we might luck out into top 4. Remember, the average age of our squad is about 25, that’s the youngest. Chelsea 13th (27.7), Leicester (27.3), 11th Liverpool (27.8) 14th, West Ham 19th (28.8), City 10th (27.1). These teams have a lot more hours under the belt, so have a lot more to learn, so we have to be patient. 5th would be decent this season.

This table tells you two things:

1. The 6-month table since Christmas I talked about excessively to heavy mocking, was in fact, a pretty predictive table. The top 6 over the year are the top 6 currently in the Premier League.

2. Even with that hammering from Manchester City, we still have the 3rd best defence in the league joint with Liverpool. That really is some achievement. What we are witnessing at Arsenal certainly feels more George Graham than Arsene Wenger. We are tough to beat, we don’t let much get by us, and it has been a consistent theme.

What would be nice is a little more Arsene Wenger up the other end. We’re certainly doing much better than before, averaging 14 shots p/g. But that only puts us 7th in the league. There might be some mitigating circumstances there. We tend to lead early then sit back. We also had very poor output against City and Chelsea. Whatever… we need to sharpen up in the final third if we’re going to make top 4 this season.

So overal, whichever tables you are looking at right now, there’s a lot to be positive about.

We’re still good at the back, despite changing out an entire squad.

We still have a lot of work to do in the final 3rd where the goals are lacking.

All very exciting.

Right, see you in the comments.

WATCH OR LISTEN BELOW PLEASE RATE IT ON ITUNES xx

ACAST | SPOTIFY | GOOGLE | CASTBOX 


GETTING SAUCY

by .

Well good morning my dears, what do we have to complain about today?

SAUCE.

No, not the sauce that comes with a good manager. Actual sauce.

Antonio Conte has banned sauce in the changing rooms. The kids that like calling things elite are calling this move elite. The Italian stallion who likes to win harder than peak-Churchill has made moves on the HP Sauce.

But here’s a secret…

It’s bollocks.

(more…)


VLAHOVIĆ AGENTS USING ARSENAL LIKE LOCATELLI ENTOURAGE? HMMM…

by .

In the world of Arsenal Content Creation there is no darker 2 weeks than the audience blizzard of international break number 3.

Where did all the people go?

Did they stop caring about football?

Did they find another blog?

Why am I crying? What is this anxiety? Why do I want to put all my feelings into a three-word Facebook update that says ‘Feeling real sad😭’ like it was 2011?

(more…)


INTERNATIONAL BREAK DAY 2: EMILE LANDS A CALL-UP

by .

The fallout from the ‘incident’ against Watford at the weekend really does sum up how differently Arsenal are treated to other clubs. It goes back to the Wenger days when we were held to a different standard for a similar incident. We then had to ride the ‘they’re soft boys’ accusations that led to a snapped leg. Now we’re finally showing some edge and win at all costs mentality and it’s happening again.

Think about what we’ve dealt with:

Aaron Ramsey getting chopped down at Stoke and there’s no scandal about their fans booing him.

Hector Bellerin getting smashed over at Chelsea and the narrative is men vs boys.

The absolute scandal whenever we do something that remotely resembles unfair compared to other clubs is spectacular. I’m thinking as far back as the Sheffield United FA Cup incident when we actually replayed a game based on unsporting behaviour or the national indignation over the Robert Pires dive. I mean, don’t even get me started on Eduardo vs Celtic.

Chelsea, Liverpool, and United just don’t have to deal with this sort of press barrage after similar incidents.

Arsenal are held to different standards.

The debate over the Watford incident is not about whether the ball should have been kicked out. It was about whether a team that engages in rotational fouling as a spoiling strategy has any right to complain when something ‘unsporting’ happens to them.

To my mind, they don’t.

Arteta had it right, we’re so honest, it borders on naivety. I’m glad the players made the correct call that Watford were making a meal out of a challenge and trying to run down the clock.

I’d like to see more haranguing of the referees because it’s clearly a tactic that gets you better decisions. Just look at how Sissokho reduced the Watford card output for 19 fouls. You can talk about the red, but who cares when it lands that late in the game?

I want to see our players go to war for each other. Each game is a battle and if you let your men get kicked around it sets a shit tone for a game. I like that this new group of players is looking out for each other. Sambi Lokonga even posted to that effect.

We need to engage in the dark arts. Granit Xhaka will fall on the ball to get out of trouble, Alex Lacazette goes down like he’s been hit by battlefield shrapnel, we’ve started to make tactical fouls of our own. The reality is, if we want to get back to the top, these grim parts of the game are just part of the equation. There’s no point in being a moral bellwether 1) if it costs you points 2) if your rivals do the opposite.

I wish we’d punch back in the media, but I do understand that’s a race to the bottom and legitimizes these voices. Chris Sutton kicking off about the Watford incident when there’s a video of him doing the exact thing against Arsenal, at Highbury, without the context of rotational fouling is a prime example of why this happens: Our fans create viral moments out of insincere punditry.

Aside from that, I’m feeling pretty feisty heading into the November International break. We’ve done really well at managing the fitness of the squad so far, no injuries to worry about right now. We’ve found some rhythm from a performance perspective. The trend line for the type of performance on offer is shifting up a bit. We are offering good football even when we’re not at peak. 

There’s are also some nice bits with regards to the football. Brighton and Palace pushed us back. We defended too deep in both games and our keeper had to go long because the midfield wasn’t showing. We’ve seen Ben White and Gabriel push that line higher and whoever has dropped into midfield has given confident outlets.

The striking output isn’t back up to full steam yet but I think there’s finally a system that’s working with our 4-4-2. Auba and Lacazette are working like machines and having the Frenchman drop deep like he does has really opened our game up to speed. We’re much more often on the front foot facing the goal. Last season, everything involved more touches, and there wasn’t the confidence to move at speed.

Overall, the model is more George Graham than Arsene Wenger. The foundations are defensive. We’ve kept 6 clean sheets in 9 since the re-engineered back 5 was put in place. There was a lot of ‘We’ve spent £150m and the needle hasn’t moved’, but I think most can see how silly that view was. I also think people are realizing that upgrading a solid defence was necessary to make the overall system work better. Just look at the speed with move through the lines now. Look at the added height and aggression we have from set-pieces at both ends. Look at some of the deliveries Nuno and Tomi were giving us at the weekend. We just didn’t have that last season. Playing out the back with variety and speed has been absolutely essential to our game this season.

It’s also worth looking at some of the attacking decisions we made. Emile Smith Rowe was given the #10 shirt and he’s totally owned it. He landed his first proper England call-up yesterday. He earned it. 5 goals and 2 assists so far this season is excellent. You’d hope he might make it to double figures in both across all competitions. Saka still needs to kick into gear, but he’s been really good regardless of numbers. 2 goals and 2 assists so far. That’ll get better as we kick on, I’ve no doubt about it.

Then you look at the objectives I thought we needed to address this summer. Improve striking output by 20% and reduce errors in the system by 50%. Now, it’s hard to judge where we are on this because the first 3 games were a write off for so many reasons… but since then, it feels like we’re making less errors generally. Even when mistakes are made, we have the pace and positional awareness to cover for them. That Aaron Ramsdale save vs Leicester wouldn’t have had anyone talking about it last season because no one would have followed in for the clearance. There’s an elevated defensive mindset this season because everyone has the talent and wants to be here.

I know I’ve been going on about it all season, but the fans really have to be seen as part of the process. Having limited fandom in the stadium last season now looks like it was a disadvantage for Arsenal. The fans have been awesome, home and away, winning or losing. That’s massive progress and it’ll be benefitting the youngest team in the league this season.

My favorite part of the last 2 months is that we’ve seen the toxic voices driven into an underground bunker. It’ll be temporary, but you know the types. Only about with their views on what ‘elite’ is when we’re losing. I haven’t seen the screaming guy in the car for a while? Haven’t seen Thierry and Daniel Ek looking cool in the box since Spurs? Are websites still selling merchandise associated with sacking the manager? It’s all quiet, so I haven’t noticed. Hopefully, the fanbase has reached a level of normalization with Mikel Arteta. He’s probably not going anywhere for a while. He’s likely pretty decent and suited to this project. There’s a big chance he’s going to move us up a level this season if things roll well for him.

LATER TONIGHT: We have Perry Groves, cult hero to the fans, joining the podcast to talk about his career and his views on where this Arsenal team is currently! Let us know if you have any questions for him in the comments!


ARSENAL BATTLE THE TEMPTATION TO PLAY VICTIM (AND WIN)

by .

Watford: 19 fouls. 2 bookings.

Arsenal: 6 fouls. 4 bookings.

We start on a gripe because we won which means I’m allowed to complain. So what is going on here? Why are referees allowed to go into a game giving a bigger team a handicap because they want to even out technical levels with fouls. Why don’t that have tech that tells them rotational fouling is going on? It’s so shoddy refs can be conned like this. Or worse, just uniformly favor other teams. Considering how nonviolent our team is and how little fouls we make, it’s striking how bad our sending off/booking rates are.

I also want to bring this point up because some people, including weird Arsenal fans, are complaining that we didn’t kick the ball out of play when there one of their players went down in the build-up.

I’m sorry, but just as I don’t think the police should help drug dealers retrieve their ill-gotten gains when a rival gang steals from them, I’m not going to talk about class issues when a Watford player, feigning injury, 60 minutes into a rotational foul strategy, doesn’t get sporting behavior when he hits the ground.

It’s mildly amusing that the sort of Arsenal fans that talk up Conte for his ‘win at all costs’ mentality now want to talk about Arsenal dropping a bit of that for the first time in a long time.

So what about the game? I thought it was good for a lot of reasons.

Everything went against us. Saka had a goal disallowed early on, please don’t ask me to explain why that’s now offside, but apparently, it was.

Ben Foster had an outrageously good game.

Auba missed a penalty after Lacazette was smashed down by Danny Rose.

Danny Rose didn’t get sent off.

Auba took a touch on an Odegaard goal that made it disallowed.

The atmosphere was one of those weird muted Sunday types where people are sensing something rubbish might happen.

We basically had all the ingredients there for a sucker-punched 1-0 home defeat we’d have to ruminate on for a few weeks.

As it turned out, we weathered the game and its travesties really well. Not everyone was at their best, but as Arteta said in the week, everyone was united around the mission and worked like monsters all game.

Our defence was rock solid all game. Ben White had one of his best in an Arsenal shirt. He’s everything we needed this summer and more. He opens the game up because he’s a non-traditional centre back, you can’t press him, stand off him, or lunge in because he’ll beat you like Aaron Ramsey and go on a run. In fact, his run led to our first goal… a tackle on him allowed Laczette in, with ESR sweeping in to open the scoring. He’s also a good defender, he’s sharp in the tackle, he’s surprisingly good in the air, and he won’t be shoved about. Let’s be honest, the debate that we didn’t need to replace Luiz with a ballplaying centre back really was one of the worst. Who is talking about his price-tag now?

The full-backs were really good again. Tomiyasu in particiular. He contributed well to the final third with some line-breakers and good crosses. It’s also really nice to have a centre back like object on the right, because it means we have 3 defenders that are good in the air from corners. 4 when you consider the height of Nuno. The Portuguese had another solid game, he doesn’t look inexperienced and his stamina is off the charts. Those mazy late-game runs will count as he gets older. I thought he had another reassuring 90 and he’s certainly asking questions of Kieran Tierney.

Gabriel. I read someone say that you just get used to him dropping 8 out of 10s. He’s moving into that level of reliability we’ve not had in that role for a long time. No one intimidates him, his passing is great, and he is an absolute menace from corners. He was very unlucky not to chalk up another goal when hos downward header bounced off Ben Foster’s legs.

Auba didn’t have a good day out, but I won’t knock him. He’s doing an immense amount of work for the team regardless of how he’s playing in front of goal. He missed a penalty, he’s in a bit of a rut there, but I just love his attitude at the moment.

Lacazette, Smith Rowe and Saka all had solid games. They’re finding each other and working out patterns. It’s nice to see the bonds forming and the trust grow with each game. Again, Saka was really unlucky not to be the first scorer.

Ainsley had a super game next to Sambi. I’m so, so happy he’s focused himself this season. He has it all to do whatever he wants in the game. Arteta made the point after that he’s just different this year. He’s more urgent, his body language is better, and he’s thinking about his career a little more. I was a bit worried about the two of them in the middle, but Sambi continues to prove he was one of the bargains of the summer. His pass completion was 87.3%.

It was also worth noting that Odegaard came on and looked like he wanted to impose himself on the game. He played a few really good balls, he should have scored if it weren’t for Auba, and his running was truly appreciated.

Ramsdale nearly made his first mistake missing the ball. Luckily Josh King couldn’t make the angle. Overall though, I liked his game. He’s trying to find Auba with daisy-cutters into feet, which is quite the skill. That’s a big improvement on the launch balls he was doing earlier in the season. His pass completion rate was 81.3%, quite exceptional when you consider the ambition of his choices. I love him

So we did it. 10 points from 12. 4 very different games. Palace on that Monday now looks like a really good result, Lacazette set the ball running for a really good run.

9 games unbeaten. 6 cleansheets. We’re 5th in the table. 6 points from top. 2 points from Liverpool. Our goal difference is back to 0.

Arteta has a better win ratio than Wenger for the first 100 (matching GG on 56%). Considering the team he inherited and the moment in time we just went through, that’s pretty decent.

The team is finding performances. They’re digging deep. Every summer signing looks like a winner. Every senior player getting game time is putting in a shift. The squad is unified. The fans are unified.

The progress is very, very real.

I like that we’re finally a club where everything looks like it’s in good shape.

There’s loads to do this season. We have to improve our in-game management. Squad rotation needs to happen so players are ready for a busy December. We still need to do better in open play. The players are all still sussing each other out. But this train is finally moving and it feels good.

What I like the most out of all of this: We did things the hard way after trying to short-cut for 5 years. We took a chance on a young innovative coach and gave him time. We stopped signing old bums (time thiefs acc to Arteta) and aged down the squad. Our approach to recruitment considered the character of the players as well as the skillset put through a very, very specific vision of how the game should be played… and you can see more than green shoots now.

It’ll still be tough. There will be bad moments. But now we can see the promised land, we don’t have to catastrophize every blip along the way.

Right, that’s me done. I couldn’t do the OTW yesterday because everyone is out and about but we’ll have some content for you this week.


100TH GAME UNDER ARTETA, WAS IT WORTH IT?

by .

Listen, I simply won’t tolerate it on this website. I will not have you laughing at Aston Villa. They are trying to be elite, people. It’s not funny that the team that went to great lengths to extract Emile from us this summer has now lost 5 games on the bounce in the League. I don’t think it’s amusing to point out that the last time they tasted victory was September 18th. Don’t even dare try to trigger me by saying ‘only two teams have conceded more than Villa this season’ (20) because I like Emi Martinez and he’s dealing with separation issues. None of this is funny and I truly hope their ‘elite’ summer signings some of our fans were pointing at come good… especially those that said they’d prefer Danny Ings to Alex Lacazette.

Now we’ve set the ground rules, can talk about what needs to happen tomorrow? Yes we can.

(more…)


YOUNG ENGLISH STARS MISS OUT + THOUGHTS ON PHASE 3

by .

Well kids, how are we doing on this fine day? I’m in Miami making deals happen. Well, ok, maybe not doing that. But that’s beside the point… the point being is that you are in the rain and I am not. So I am bragging about it.

Let’s move onto the latest in Arsenal opinion.

Gareth Southgate is back on the shit list after he passed on Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe.  Aaron Ramsdale did get a call-up, but you know he won’t start.

(more…)