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Several months ago I wrote a post, Loans, Moans & Groans, reviewing our then situation with regard to 10 players we had out on loan. Time now thanks to the Interlull to look briefly at how those loans went, or didn’t go as it turns out, and although there is still a week or so for further business outside the PL it’s time to take a look at the ins and outs of this transfer window as well. Finally, a personal view on what issues have been left to address in the January window, or one step beyond in the case of the ongoing Özil madness.

Welcome to The Arsenal

Our initial business was the largely expected signings of Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari, who were already with us on loan, and soon followed by the signing of Willian from Chelsea on a free (I know, I know, it certainly isn’t free but that’s what they call it). We also had the arrivals or returns of Saliba, Elneny and Emile Smith Rowe from the lovely locales of France, Turkey and Huddersfield respectively. No big surprises so far as the Willian move had been mooted for some weeks in advance. However, we then signed another centre-back in what I thought was a rather gutsy move considering how many we already had and Gabriel Magalhães joined us from Lille. We next brought in young Runarsson from Dijon as either 2nd or 3rd choice keeper following the departure of Emi.

To much wailing and gnashing of tweets that had looked to be it for this window until we stepped up and amid much excitement paid the release clause for Thomas Partey. Our excitement was of course given a little extra epicaricacy by Atletico’s dismay at losing him and subsequent whining at our supposed discourtesy in not informing them in advance. However, that is the risk you take when you play hardball on a release clause and I have no sympathy for them – he’s our Partey now, so cry if you want to lads.

Only time will tell if this was a good summer’s work of course, and I suspect that as usual about half those deals will turn out well, but for the moment I think we are all looking forward to an injection of the midfield oomph that we have been lacking for several seasons now. If I had to sum up the window in a sentence? We have strengthened the squad with a good blend of youth and experience in defence and midfield but probably taken a step back in terms of keeper quality. I had to add the “probably” there as I have never seen Runarsson play (much like Mikel I suspect) but I do doubt that he is at Emi’s level. We have also spent money we did not have and if the stories are to be believed Mikel has spent his goodwill capital from the FA Cup win in ensuring we got the Partey deal done. A tip of my hat to you for your courage Mikel and, in what I must admit is a first for me, an appropriately voiceless nod to the silent one for recognizing that Mikel was owed the trust. A heartening end to the window and overjoyed as I am at the arrival of Partey, I must admit to being just as pleased with the arrival of Gabriel. I know it’s much too early and we have been here before with young centre backs but I have been pleasantly surprised and very impressed with what I have seen so far. Though not new signings Luiz, Auba and Saka were all signed up this summer too. Busy days for the transfer and commercial teams and mostly successful.

A fond fare thee well

This window has seen the actual departure of only two senior players – Emi Martinez to Aston Villa for a fee around 18m and Henrik Mkhitaryan to Roma on a free. Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira are of course both out on loan, to Hertha Berlin and Upsetico respectively, so it is possible they will return to the club one day but we will cover that a little later. Although we wish Mkhi all the best I think it’s fair to say that the departure of Emi has been the more painful for many supporters. It may become even more painful if Leno gets injured between now and January. We have taken a major risk and unless we sign another keeper from outside the PL in the next week or so we are only some Maupian oaf away from Runarsson as our No 1 keeper. Mikel has been an excellent General to date, let’s hope he is a lucky one as well.

Lend us a player Guvnor?

Dani Ceballos. Although it’s a loan I suspect it is actually more expensive than all bar two of our new signings. However, it is a sign of the progress Dani made that we were keen to continue the loan. Or…alternatively, reflects the dearth of talent in our central midfield if you prefer your glass half-empty. A blend perhaps although I prefer single malt myself, however with the arrival of TP the competition for places just got a step tougher in our midfield as it should be. Dani’s relative versatility compared to Xhaka and Mo may serve him and us well this season.     

Who’s halfway out?

Guendouzi, Torreira, and Mavropanos from the first team squad to the aforementioned Hertha and Apopletico with Mavro joining Sven Mislintat at Stuttgart in the Bundesliga after a decent spell in Bundesliga 2 last season with Nuremburg. Nothing is impossible but I would be surprised to see any of them playing for The Arsenal again, but then I did say that about Mo Elneny last season. However, it benefits us as well as them if their loan spells go swimmingly so I wish them all the best at their new clubs.

But think of the kids…..

And it appears that we have given some thought to our development approach. A total of 11 Academy players, plus Deyan Iliev (who oddly was named in our Europa League squad the day before), have gone out on loans this season…so far that is. The club, somewhat inconsiderately given I was halfway through this review, sent out two more yesterday. It marks a more modern aggressive use of the loan system and though I am somewhat dubious of an endless stream of buy lo lets in a sales machine that is probably harsh and I will trust that Per and the boys will manage in way that helps our young players to build their career under The Arsenal’s large and protective umbrella. It is worth pointing out that after a few wilderness years the 1st team squad now boasts Saka, AMN, ESR, Eddie, Nelson and Joe W who have come through the Academy so the previous approach was not entirely worthless.

The new approach has also led to an influx of new young players over the past few months – too many to mention I’m afraid but I will give you a brief rundown of those out on loan. Apart from two players to Championship teams Jordi Osei-Tutu, who had a good game for Cardiff this weekend I hear and Ben Sheaf, who is at Coventry with an option to buy it is rumoured, most of our young starlets are in League One this season. Trae Coyle and Zech Medley are at Gillingham, Mark McGuiness at Ipswich, Tolaji Bola at Rochdale, Matt Smith of FA Cup fame is at Swindon, Tyreece John-Jules is at Doncaster, Daniel Ballard at Blackpool and Dejan Iliev is at Shrewsbury, where according to a Shrewsbury local he will not be the 1st choice. It is honestly difficult to see many or even any of them returning to the first team squad next season but I believe we are still hopeful of John-Jules, Smith and possibly McGuiness. The others seem to have been around for a while without making a breakthrough but of course they are young and there is certainly time for them to turn things round. No doubt some of the drinkers in this fine establishment will have seen more of the youngsters than I and will firmly contradict my somewhat tentative prognosis. The remaining two players Zak Swanson and Joseph Olowu have gone to MVV Maastricht in the Dutch 2nd Tier and Cork City respectively. Busy days for Ben Knapper too.

How did our garden grow?

Far be it from me to be contrary but not a great result from the loans I reviewed back in February.

Some were rotational and some developmental but of the 10 players reviewed only Mhki has been moved on and that was for free. The majority of them are on loan again. Emile Smith-Rowe has returned to us but due to injury we have not seen anything of him yet, Mo Elneny has also come back and is back in the squad but seems destined to be a back-up for the foreseeable future. Mavro, John-Jules, Iliev, Osei-Tutu, and Sheaf are all back out on loan again. Not much rotation or development, though some have joined clubs at a slightly higher level to be fair. And what of William Saliba? There was a snippy press release from St Pettienne that I found somewhat annoying to be honest (hence the cheap jibe) but it does seem to be something we did not get done. The coming days may possibly see him join a Championship side for a few months but you’d hope we are talking with him right now to explain exactly what happened. It has been a difficult few months for him privately and professionally and I feel for the kid, I only hope he comes through strongly and will one day form a stalwart CB partnership with Gabriel.

What’s in the transfers and loans inbox?

If we think about what needs to be done now or in the next few months then there are still a few things for Mikel and Edu to get sorted out and so I have looked briefly at those by position


As I have already said we are taking a risk in this area and if we don’t get someone in now then we must look to give Runarrson experience in the Europa League games at least as soon as possible. If he looks capable of playing in the PL at a pinch or even a strain, pull or break then that is fine and dandy but if not we must add another keeper.


We have ended the window top heavy with CBs and at least one, Sokratis seems first in line, will need to be moved on in January, probably two I would have thought. I expect we will also look to move Kola on too though selling anyone has proved easier said than done. I suppose it made sense at the time to give Soares a four-year contract when we probably thought AMN would be moving but not so much now, it would be a little odd but we might think of loaning him out in January.


We’ve addressed one need and I suspect finances dictate that will have to do for now. Özil will have to wait until the end of the season to leave our house.


Make them score more goals please Mikel. And resist efforts to sell Laca, there are clubs enough and time to sell him next summer if we’re sure about Eddie.

Well, that is about it for this review. All in all it wasn’t a bad window, I’d give it a B and while I am handing out grades it would D for last year’s loans. Room for improvement as always but for now let’s forget about Özil, PR disasters and failed loans, it’s time to look forward to next weekend at the aptly named Emptihad and Thomas Partey’s debut. Let’s squeeze ‘em till the peps squeak lads.

117 Drinks to “Arsenal in the Market Place”

  1. 1
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    Nicely done Matt. Top stuff.

  2. 2
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I’m not too bothered about another Keeper. I’d just play Leno all the time and forget this new cup keeper thing. I can’t see who we could buy anyway given we have already overspent.

    I’m excited to see Partey play. Another reason to hate this interlull.

    I watched the last 15 mins of Scotland v Israel yesterday. And extra time. Another reason to hate this interlull.

  3. 3
    bt8 says:

    Thanks for an excellent piece, Matt, you brightened my day with your variants on Atletico.

  4. 4
    Countryman100 says:

    Wonderful stuff Matt. You’ve taught me a new word (epicaricacy) and also slipped in a delightful pun in the last sentence. 👏👏

    I think you are a bit harsh in judging the summer’s business. Two of the most important signings were Auba and Saka. Add Partey and I would make it an A- rather than the B you gave. I’m glad you weren’t my tutor at University!

  5. 5
    Uplympian says:

    A thoroughly comprehensive review you’ve presented to us Matt. The “new” new signings look to have added much needed quality to the squad whilst the “old” new signings ( Mari & Soares ), due to persistent injuries, have yet to have much playing time to properly assess them – let’s hope they don’t spend much more time in the medical centre. Gabriel looks to have hit the ground running and may turn out to be a real bargain @ £23 million – I expect Manure with their lack of quality at CB are probably rueing the fact he came to the real HoF and not Old Toilet.
    The biggest failure has been the inability to move on those in the departure lounge due to either to bring over priced or players being overpaid here & unwilling to play elsewhere for less.
    We do now astutely appear to have cover in most positions, though apart from Auba who is in a class of his own. Dani may morph into the creative no 10 we are sorely missing. Bearing in mind the depth of strength we have in most positions, including the homegrown players who have already broken through into the first team squad, there is very little space for any of the youth players to join them and therefore sending them out on loan to sink or swim seems the best policy to pursue. Hopefully some will have a breakthrough season with their loan clubs and come back all the better.
    Your B grade is spot on.

  6. 6
    Countryman100 says:

    Hi GSD! Haven’t seen you for a couple of days! Is that right you’ve been shifting a few with Jerry?

  7. 7
    TTG says:

    First of all congratulations on the use of the word ‘ epicaricacy‘ which even I as a deeply intellectual veteran contributor to the Gooner have never come across before . I would normally be keen to use it but I can’t even pronounce it .
    Secondly that’s a terrific article which is simultaneously succinct and comprehensive . Frankly the parting of company with Don Raul in mid-window saw us change direction on transfers . Sanllehi did very well at extracting fees way out of kilter with players’ ability . I still marvel at the Iwobi deal . But things were going tits up this summer.
    I’m ( at this stage ) very pleased with what we achieved in the chaos of the pandemic , with no pot to piss in and we must acknowledge that Stan Kroenke came to the Partey to illustrate he may not be the tight-fisted, personality-less, toupee wearing , hunting obsessive some have claimed him to be ( like me) .
    We did a lot of big things — Auba, Saka and Partey and like Matt I’m very taken with Gabriel . I also agree we might have taken a huge gamble on our goalkeepers but who knows Runarsson might be much better than we think. If Saliba was to go to Brentford on loan it might just be that we might persuade Brentford to activate the release clause in Raya’s contract much earlier even though he’s just signed it.
    Top class stuff Matt as usual . Now off to read the Bendtner Diaries

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Great picture. I’d say eye on the ball, Thomas, but it looks like his eyes are already riveted on it. Great technique begins with great vision.

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    I missed the announcement of the Europa League group fixtures but it looks like we’ll be meeting up with Rapid Wien on the 22nd. Hoping their pace won’t match their nomenclature.

  10. 10
    ClockEndRider says:

    “..,,It’s my Partey and I’ll cry if I want to…”
    Inspired. Well played, Sah.

  11. 11
    ClockEndRider says:

    Well played with epicaricacy. Schadenfreude by any other name?

  12. 12
    Countryman100 says:

    Goonerholicsforever.com. Increase your word power.

  13. 13
    bathgooner says:

    Great stuff, Matt though I’m with C100 in feeling you are somewhat hawkish in your marking giving us a B for our window. I suppose that’s to be expected of a man who knows epicaricacy and how to use it! High standards indeed!

    In fact I would be even more generous and award the club a full A for this window. The failure to gain an A+ is due to the failure to prise the Brentford keeper from their grasp and as you observe, unless we manage to acquire him or another lower league keeper in the next 10 days we must gamble on our new goalkeeping coach’s judgement on the reliability and abilities of his former charge. I think the signatures of Martinelli, Saka and Aubameyang achieve an A- of themselves and the addition of Gabriel and Partey pull the grade up to an A.

    The demerits of failing to move outsome of the dead wood are minor errors and it’s clear from the ‘calculations’ that considerable efforts to achieve the correct objectives were expended. The blot of a certain non-performer does seem to be being worked on. The failure to acquire Aouar seems, according to rumours, to be an entirely correct position, given the alleged demand for a colossal bung by the subject’s brother/agent and the opportunity for further development in the role in question for either Saka, Ceballos or Willian as circumstances indicate.

    I do think this window has the potential of being one of TTG’s sliding doors or as has become a fashionable term in some circles, a paradigm shift for this club.

    Forward Arsenal.

  14. 14
    North Bank Ned says:

    Excellent review, OM.

    I think we are light on cover for KT at left back, especially if Kola is moved on. Otherwise the squad looks sounder and more balanced than it has been in a while.

  15. 15
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks all for the kind words.
    It was an enjoyable pleasure
    as always😃

  16. 16
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks CER.
    Yes, schadenfreude is how I learnt
    the word. I was telling someone there
    is no English equivalent when a more
    learned gentlemen pointed out that
    there is in fact. Nice to get an opportunity
    to impress with someone else’s
    knowledge 😉

  17. 17
    Osakamatt says:

    Uply @5
    There is something to be said for
    sink or swim as an approach.
    Usually we move a couple of
    younger players on to League
    One or Two clubs in the summer
    and I did wonder if one reason
    for more loans was that the lower
    league clubs simply don’t have any
    money to spend even on relatively
    inexpensive players.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Osakamatt says:

    @14 Ned
    That’s a good point – we’ve
    AMN or Saka who could play
    there but with KT’s injury record
    that is another risk. Personally,
    I don’t think Kolasinac is that
    bad but it seems we were
    looking to move him on. Do any
    of our CBs have left back
    experience I wonder? Gabriel

  20. 20
    bathgooner says:

    So we have our first £14.99 game in our re-arranged visit to Lesta. Available on Sky Sports Box Office for a supplement to the subscription you already pay to Sky Sports. Remarkably generous of them, don’t you think? We already pay a massive subscription to watch televised live matches in the Uk, needing to pay Sky, BT and Amazon Prime to have the option of watching all televised games. The extra charged as a PPV fee per game in the UK is equivalent to that which you pay monthly in Israel to choose from 8/10 matches each weekend and that which you pay in Oz to watch 10/10 matches.

    I think the additional fee would be appropriate as a monthly fee for the right to watch ALL the extra non-scheduled matches but is just piracy as the cost of an individual game where a fee of around £5 would be more appropriate and would yield them a far higher viewing public. This will not kill off the illegal streams.

    If we succumb to the temptation to watch our lads at the King Power stadium by paying this fee, this will the beginning of further exploitation of UK fans.


    Choose another way.

  21. 21
    Countryman100 says:

    Bath @20. Word. I will be stream hunting.

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@ 19: None of the CBs has played left-back, although many of them have had a game or two at right-back. You are right that AMN and Saka could fill in there, but it is not the best position for either of them. Kola is a decent full-back but does not appear to have the passing range that Arteta’s way of playing requires of defenders.

    Is this what Arteta’s 1st XI now looks like?

    Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney
    Partey, Ceballos
    Pepe, William, Saka

  23. 23
    Osakamatt says:

    If I was in the UK I wouldn’t pay
    that either Bath and I hope no one
    does – it’s a straight rip-off.

  24. 24
    Osakamatt says:

    Not really sure what the best
    XI looks like now Ned, that looks
    close though.
    I’m a bit doubtful about Luiz in
    a two at the back and also Willian
    at AM but we’ve a number of
    candidates for that role now.
    It’s nice to have options 😄

  25. 25
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Wonderfully written OM, quite sublime!

    Ned, I like that as the main starting XI in PL. However I am sure there will be lots of match specific tactical variations on the same theme. Against “better” oppositions — Liverpool, City at least — we may still see the 3-4-3 with Auba on the left and AMN slotted in. In any case given the schedule and the flurry of pointless internationals precautionary rotation will be needed over the season.

    In Europa group stages Jo, Elneny, Xhaka, AMN, Cedric, Laca/Eddie et al. to start regularly.

    One more time — No Thomas No Partey! 😂

  26. 26
    Trev says:

    Cheers Matt ! Great job !

    A nice order to a muddle of a situation. First things first and you may not be surprised that I enjoyed the Partey pun at Apopleti’s (👏🏻) expense. It reminds me of my own favourite song to sing when ordering in an Indian restaurant “I’ts my chapatti and I’ll korai if I want to” …..

    Anyhow, whilst enjoying all of the content of your summary, I would, like one or two others, beg to differ on your marking of some items – but it is all about opinions at the end of the day, Brian. I think you were a touch miserly in your assessment of Dani Ceballos who, for me, became our best midfield player by a country mile once released from the general confusion created by Emery into the more purposeful system employed by Arteta. He contributed all over the pitch – on occasion rescuing dangerous defensive situations, shielding the ball well and also showing an eye for a telling pass when playing further forward. I think his further year on loan was an important piece of business for us and he will hopefully partner Thomas Partey in a far more dynamic midfield.

    As far as the overall mark for the window goes, I would split it in two sections. I think with the acquisitions of Gabriel and Partey, and the extensions of Aubameyang and Saka, and to a lesser extent Lacazette, the top end of the business must go down as a full A.
    The loans I know nothing about and the departures side of the equation was poor, but that is probably due to the global situation rather than a failing of the club to recognise what should be done. Overall, “without a pot to piss in” I think the club did extremely well.

    None of which detracts in the slightest from your piece which was both comprehensive and interesting.

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@24: Long-term, Saliba and Gabriel should be the CB pairing. For now, the pecking order for right CB, assuming all fit and available, would be Mustafi, Holding, Chambers, Sokratis, with Mari, as a left-sided CB, not in contention. I think David Luiz gets the nod over all of them.

    Best starting XI is a bit formation dependent. My guess would be that Arteta, once he can reliably start with a back four, will, like Pep, switch between starting 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3. The latter probably makes Willian and Saka an either/or, which will eventually be Saka in a De Bruyne-like role.

  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@25: You are right. Arteta has already shown a willingness to start with game-specific teams and formations, and rotation will be essential, especially if we have deep runs in the cup competitions. Also, we should be thinking in terms of a first XIV, given the tactical deployment of subs in the modern game. Perversely, AMN might make the first XIV but not the 2nd XI.

    Cedric Soares, Mustafi/Holding, Mari, Kolasinac
    Elneny, Xhaka
    Nelson/AMN, Willock, ESR/Martinelli

    Bench: Macey, Sokratis, Chambers.
    Unused sub: Ozil

    Trev@26: I agree that Dani has been the best of our mid-fielders, although I expect we all hope Thomas Partey will push him down one place. That said, the consensus in the bar is that there is still more work to be done on upgrading the midfield. A full season of Arteta’s coaching might mean Ceballos fits that bill. Or we might have to bring in someone next summer.

  29. 29
    TTG says:

    I do like the suggested XIs and especially the midfield but I think Mikel will retain Xhaka because he still has those racy snaps of Mrs Arteta . It is very definitely a squad game nowadays and the mister as Ceballos rather charmingly calls him likes to tweak . I’d like to see Pepe flourish this year and I hope Saka gets lots of games as he is a talent. But for his sake he needs a specific role rather than playing in umpteen positions and I hope we can find him that spot at no.10.

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Better to tweak than to tinker, I’sppose.

  31. 31
    bt8 says:

    Sancho Panza might have called don Quijote “mister” if they had been roaming the Salisbury Plain, TTG. 🙂

  32. 32
    Trev says:

    Salisbury Plain, bt8 – my favourite crisps 😒

  33. 33
    North Bank Ned says:

    Just avoid the Novichok-flavoured ones, Trev.

  34. 34
    Osakamatt says:

    Agree with nearly all of @27
    and @28 for that matter Ned.
    Just to quibble I’d probably have
    Rob in front of Mus 😄
    Though many of us might not I
    think MA will keep Auba on the
    left for now and agree with TTG
    that Xhaka will keep his place
    initially, at least for the tough run
    of games coming up.

  35. 35
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks Trev & Dr F!

    Trev, no problem, several disagreed
    with my strict B 😄

  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
    bathgooner says:

    Ahh! Ships that passed in the night, C100. The downside of not refreshing before posting.

  39. 39
    TTG says:

    A case of great minds think alike.
    It’s a nice piece and this week we will learn a lot about Arsene that maybe we didn’t know before

  40. 40
    Countryman100 says:

    Bath. Heh! Sunday morning made for drinking coffee and browsing the papers.

  41. 41
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks for the link guys.
    Arsene comes across well as

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Arsenal women 1-0 up against Brighton after 20 mins. Live on BBC Iplayer.

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks for the AW Q&A link, C100 and Bath. The decency and thoughtfulness of the man comes shining through. And Arsenal is still ‘we’ to him.

  45. 45
    North Bank Ned says:

    Premier League’s top clubs are proposing big changes to the structure of the competition that should tilt more power, money and control towards the big-six and free up time to participate in expanded European competitions.


    On first blush, the proposals will lead to far more cash going into the big club’s pockets, more than offsetting what they are proposing to hand out to the Football League and FA.

  46. 46
    Countryman100 says:

    First Bath, now Ned repeat my posts. I’m the invisible man!

  47. 47
  48. 48
    Countryman100 says:


  49. 49
    Osakamatt says:

    sorry C100, I’m not taking the
    piss, it’s just the link @47
    avoids The Telegraph paywall

  50. 50
    Countryman100 says:

    No offence taken!

  51. 51
    Osakamatt says:

    Basically it seems the Top 6
    want to take over and would
    like to buy the support of the
    FA and EFL to shaft the other
    PL clubs

  52. 52
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks C100!
    And I did tee you up for a well-
    deserved fifty😄

  53. 53
    Countryman100 says:

    There’s things I like in here, like the fans charter, raising away support to 8%, £20 max away tickets and moving towards safe standing. There’s also things I don’t like, like doing away with the league cup and making the “top six” all powerful and giving them more broadcasting revenue. Agnostic on the Community Shield. In a normal season it’s quite a nice seasonal kick off as long as you regard it as a prestigious friendly and not at a trophy. Hate the idea of expanded European competitions reducing number of English PL games.

  54. 54
    Countryman100 says:

    Henry’s not impressed.

  55. 55
    TTG says:

    It’s a pity you never post anything to share with your mates 😃😃😃! Thank heavens for Ned , Matt and Bath !
    Your assessment is very good in my view. It has some very worthwhile points and will save the EFL which faces a bleak future but a European Super League is the ultimate destination as Gooner Winter suggests .

  56. 56
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@46: Responding to your @42 with my @45, honest, guv. 🙂

    C100? Where are you? Can’t see you anywhere…

  57. 57
    Osakamatt says:

    I think the European Super
    League is inevitable. As is the
    larger European clubs taking
    more control – barring an EU legal
    Reducing the PL to 18 clubs and
    doing away with the League Cup
    are reasonable ideas to me – some
    of the other ideas are cynical PR for the
    fans but if it helps the match day support
    get more reasonably priced tickets
    and helps the EFL as well then I would
    be in favour.

  58. 58
    North Bank Ned says:

    The plan throws crumbs to the EFL, the FA and fans in return for letting the big six run the show and reap the rewards.

    Now that football is big business, the Darwinian winnowing of free-market capitalism will follow its inevitable course. The game is still structured around 19th century business models, not 21st century ones in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    It is the governance reforms that are the radical part of the plan; the rest is window dressing. It will give the big six the power to control the resources to underwrite the European Superleague they want and to break the domestic opposition to it from the League and weaker clubs. The target date for starting the Superleague, or at least taking a huge step towards it, is the three-year European competition cycle beginning in 2024. Hence the need for the top six to start shifting the power balance with the Premier League now.

    There are 232 clubs in the European Club Association. Accommodating them all will eventually mean tiered European leagues with weekend matches. Premier League broadcasting rights, let alone 25% of PL revenue, would be much diminished in such circumstances. Domestic leagues would end up either as independent entities with little or no crossover participation with the pan-European leagues or as feeder leagues for them, a bit like the pyramid system in non-league English football. La Liga has been as dismissive of the European Superleague idea as the Premier League is now of the big six’s proposal for just such reasons.

    However, where the big six go, the money is likely to follow them. That is a reality that the Premier League, the Football League and UEFA are going to have to find a way to live with.

  60. 60
    Countryman100 says:

    Afraid I have to take issue with you there Matt. I don’t want a European Super League and rather face WBA away than Lille On a wet Tuesday night. The early rounds of the Europa are a blueprint and they lack all the history we have in our league. I don’t want to lose the league cup and I don’t want our national game run by six super clubs, even if one of them is the Arsenal. The Arsenal Supporters Club hates the proposals.

  61. 61
    Countryman100 says:

    The England team picked has more than a whiff of Unai Emery about it. Three right backs, two DMs and seven defensive players.

  62. 62
    Countryman100 says:

    Saka doesn’t make the squad, AMN on the bench.

  63. 63
    BtM says:

    A very belated ‘Super Job’ to you, Matt. Enjoyed every word of that particularly the smiles. I’m playing much more than typing these days, sorry to be so late to the Partey. Like many, I too think it was an A.

    As part of my purchase of Arsene’s book I have a personal audience with him at 6.30 PM UK time tomorrow. Looking forward to that. Top man.

  64. 64
    bathgooner says:

    C100 @60, with you there 100%. This is an opportunistic power grab by the big 6 multinational businesses disguised as a gesture to the financial pressures on the lower league teams. It should be rejected. A pox on all of them.

  65. 65
    bt8 says:

    Think he’s trying to say our Summer transfer business deserved an A.

    AW: “They can be the surprise package for me this year: they bought well, they strengthened the defence well. And they kept the players who were already there. In my last year I bought Aubameyang, they kept him. They have every ingredient and no real weakness.”

  66. 66
    TTG says:

    I’ve taken the lovely Mrs TTG to the cottage we use in Norfolk for some R& R so today 8 haven’t s5udied the new proposals in depth . But after acquick read I’m not surprised that the leading clubs want to effectively run their own show . When you get a moment like this it blindsides you a bit because you have to weigh up the consequences if you don’t go 2ith the majority . Basically this is a power grab with a nod to the lower leagues .
    I’m not fussed about the League Cup or the Community Shield but if the primacy of the Premier League is threatened by a European Super League this will be sad and rather ironic given Brexit .
    Frankly the domestic leagues would become subsidiary to the European competition and even if we are in it we aren’t winning the ESL any time soon . I hope this initiative founders but I suspect our fingerprints are on it too. Sanllehi had very strong connections in UEFA as did Gazidis before him and these things don’t take shape overnight .
    I can devote part of the week to reading Arsene’s autobiography which should be arriving on my Kindle in the very near future .

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@66. Spot on. You said it more directly than my @59, but the Premier League will eventually become way junior to the pan-European league.

    The other governance change snuck into the plan is that the oligopoly who will run the Premier League under the proposals would have a veto over club ownership, ie, having bought their way to PL success, the sheikhs and the American billionaires could pull up the drawbridge to make sure no one else with more money than them could break up the cosy big-six cartel.

  68. 68
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Some great analysis by the regulars about the proposals. I agree with Ned that something along these lines have been in the making for a while and the pandemic enforced financial shakedown may just expedite the inevitable. I also share with Countryman/TTG/Bath et al. about the loss of cultural diversity in football and more importantly the increasing collusion of the power and money will lead to a dispiriting hierarchy of unbridgeable gaps where stories like Blackpool’s run in PL will have no chance of coming true. There is an element of impossible romance — FA Cup being a great example — in English football which makes it stand apart. While this proposal will help the lower leagues to see through the current crisis in the long run it will make the whole structure more rigid.

    If we think of football merely as business then that type of calcified hierarchy will be the reflection of the society we have formed. If we think of football as a domain of imagination and the occasional impossible we will lose way more than what will be gained.

  69. 69
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F: It is, perhaps, no accident that the two leading proponents of the plan are also pro sports franchise owners in the United States, where the leagues are creatures of the team owners and constructed to protect the owners’ monopoly position. That thinking infuses the plan. As fans, we would be given bread and circuses, but as you rightly surmise, we will pay for that in lost romance with the game.

  70. 70
    Osakamatt says:

    I certainly agree it is a power
    grab and I would much prefer
    an ownership model along
    Bundesliga lines.
    And it is no coincidence as
    Ned pointed out that these
    proposals are US led.
    We’d be swapping a PL cartel
    for a Big Six cartel. Can’t see
    the difference really – it’s naked
    self-interest in both cases.

  71. 71
    Osakamatt says:

    @60 C100
    We’ll just to agree to differ on
    the League Cup 😀

    As for a European Super League,
    I am doubtful about it too. It’s
    just that I think it’s inevitable
    and so I’d rather be in it than not.

  72. 72
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks BtM, hope it’s a great day
    with AW!

    I think AW is a perfectionist bt8.
    He will agree with my B! Perhaps
    BtM can ask him for us 😃

  73. 73
    Osakamatt says:

    To add just a little more to the
    drivers for the Big Six coup.
    Well, 3 little mores that occurred
    to me
    1) The other clubs in the PL have
    often combined to thwart their
    plans, most recently on the
    numbers of subs, and I think that
    has probably rankled over the years
    2) Recently the sharing of the TV
    money has seen Leicester, Wolves
    and now possibly Everton threaten
    the dominant position of the Top 6
    and therefore their income
    3) There may be less TV money in
    future; from a Top 6 perspective it
    is better to get out in front of
    that decision and take control of
    the purse strings now

  74. 74
    bathgooner says:

    Matt @73, your 1 and 2 are perfect examples of democracy and the rights and responsibilities of an association. They represent the founding principles of the Football Association which took us to this point of watching the most competitive league in the world. They allow once strong clubs like Leeds United and Manchester City to fall to the lower leagues as the result of mismanagement and others like AFC Wimbledon to rise from the ashes and make their way through the leagues. I would prefer those founding principles to continue and I do not wish to import the self-serving interests of American billionaires who are used to rigging systems to favour themselves.

    A pox on all their houses.

  75. 75
    Countryman100 says:

    Arseblog on the £14.95 stream and the Liverpool/United proposals this morning. He’s not a fan. Might give his pod a listen later.

    Cynical, greedy, and short-sighted

  76. 76
    bathgooner says:

    C100 @75, and he’s right. At £5 per game, I would have watched but I’m not starting down this route at £14.95 per game. If fans do succumb to this in any numbers then this box office approach to big games will become the norm and you’ll still have to have paid your Sky, BT, Amazon Prime and the next scheister corporation’s subscription fees.

  77. 77
  78. 78
    Osakamatt says:

    Well yes I agree Bath. But the PL as is
    has long ago given up those
    principles. The new proposals involve
    a significant change for all 92 clubs.
    I suspect that if it was put to a straight
    vote then a majority would vote in favour.
    That won’t happen because around 10-12
    PL clubs will block it – they will not be
    blocking it on democratic principles either.
    I don’t have any attachment to the PL or
    the rich greedy owners of any of the clubs
    whether they be from the US, UK or anywhere
    else – it’s all the same money and power
    The PL has had months now to come up
    with a plan and have done nothing. If they
    do then I’ll try to see which one seems
    best overall. At the moment they fiddle
    while the EFL burns so I swallow my
    distaste and go with the only plan on the

  79. 79
    Countryman100 says:

    I think if we rush this we will repent at leisure. Let’s get it right, take the good bits, change the bad bits.

  80. 80
    Pangloss says:

    I find it hard to summon more than a passing interest in the Liverpoo/Yannited plan.

    I agree with all the misgivings expressed above, but I invite you to consider the alternatives, the means by which the Plan can be opposed and the likely consequences of such opposition. I suggest they are:

    1) Any alternative plan will have been put together by an alternative group of vested interests. Whilst that plan may be more palatable than the current offering, it is unlikely to be completely inoffensive;
    2) In order to oppose the current plan, someone will have to come up with an alternative that appeals to a significant number of interested parties. From where are these parties to be drawn? At first sight, the current plan appears to offer something to practically every interested party: The FA; The Football League; Women’s Football. The obvious losers are Premier League clubs outside the “Big Six”.
    3) How will those who put it together react if the current plan is thrown out? I suggest that they are unlikely to shrug their shoulders and give up the idea of further concentrating power in their own hands. They are likely to go away and put together a different version, and that version is likely to be changed only in order to draw support from those who oppose the current plan.

    You may observe that I don’t consider the effect of the current plan on the fans. This isn’t because I think the fans are irrelevant, it’s because I believe that those who run the game think they are. Before you accuse me of excess cynicism, please try to find some cogent evidence for any assertion that those running the game have the best interests of the fans at heart. The only argument I recall as to why the fans are important is because of the atmosphere that they bring to the match, but the longer that games are played behind closed doors, the better the clubs / broadcasters will become at generating atmosphere with canned crowd noise. The other source of fan influence is the money we spend on merchandise – and whilst it’s easier and cheaper to sell to crowds in the stadium, I’m sure the advertising industry will be more than happy to help.

    I’m genuinely sorry that this reads so much as a counsel of despair, but I think that change is inevitable and that change will inevitably be driven by those who currently have the power, i.e. the paymasters. In “the good old days”, fans provided a huge proportion of clubs’ income through the turnstiles; when broadcasters started to replace that, we fans reaped the benefit as the money was invested in top, top, talent and better stadiums. We are seeing benefits now because we’d have no football to watch at all without broadcasters.

    Basically, I fear the choice comes down to we the fans paying a *great* deal more than at present for football of comparable standard to what we have now, paying more for football of lower quality, or sitting back and accepting what the powers that be see fit to offer us.

    We are blessed in having Doctor Faustus with us as he is uniquely qualified to advise on the consequences of selling our souls.

  81. 81
    Countryman100 says:

    Some very thoughtful comments Pangloss. Arsenal take 25% of revenues from match day spend.

  82. 82
    Le Diable says:

    Pangloss, mon vieux — don’t be so jealous of my protégé Faust. Come to my side of things and you will see the world that you think is the best of all possible worlds is merely a chimera. All the wisdom and women you can ever imagine, and also free high quality streaming of all football matches for time eternal.

  83. 83
    Countryman100 says:

    A little clause in the Parry proposals, unnoticed until now, mean that Spurs and Liverpool can claim back massive subsidies for their new stadium building. Still so keen on cracking on Matt? The more I see of this, the less I like.

  84. 84
    Countryman100 says:

  85. 85
    Osakamatt says:

    A nasty little detail that as it’s
    Spuds and Liverpoo. However,
    the idea of using a common
    pool to pay for extraordinary
    expense for one member is
    not unreasonable as long as
    it applies to all members.
    And yes still keen to crack on.

  86. 86
    Osakamatt says:

    Think what AW could have won
    with more cash if such a subsidy
    had been available for our stadium rebuild.

  87. 87
    Countryman100 says:

    Matt, in the great traditions of this blog I completely (but politely) 100% disagree! Be good to know what Arsenal think. The other four of the big six only saw these proposals a week ago and evidently two of those four are dubious and two are neutral. The FA and Premier League are against it, as is the Government. I think the proposal is doomed to fail. However let’s hope it’s a catalyst for a better proposal to come forward.

  88. 88
    Osakamatt says:

    I completely agree with your
    last sentence C100 @87!

    An interesting article from David Conn,

    It’s possible I think it’s interesting as it
    broadly reflects my own view 😉

  89. 89
    Countryman100 says:

    I too think there are things of virtue in some of these proposals, indeed I said so in my first post on the subject above. I agree with David Conn when he says that there needs to be much debate on the details. Where I part company from you is the idea of cracking on with no amendment. The power grab is unacceptable.

  90. 90
    Esso says:

    Cheers for review Matt!
    European Super League? Me and professional football done. Will be watching Worthing Utd a strictly amateur operation. That’s strictly amateur as far as paying players is concerned. The catering side, including being able to sup pints in real glasses (pre pandemic obviously) far more professional than any Premier League club.

  91. 91
    Esso says:

    @C100 at 89.

    I agree with Conn’s main point as well. The ‘breakaway’ of the top division from the rest of the historic league has largely been a disaster. Except for the biggest clubs at the time of the breakaway. Needs addressing urgently – without offering the opportunity for those big clubs to fuck off to a European League.

  92. 92
    Osakamatt says:

    Cracking on certainly but I do not believe I have
    suggested “with no amendment” at any time.

  93. 93
    Countryman100 says:

    Our positions are getting closer Matt!

  94. 94
    Countryman100 says:

    Esso – like you my devotion to the club would be seriously tested if the top priority was a European League.

  95. 95
    bathgooner says:

    I would take that position too Esso. Bath City would gain a supporter if Arsenal join a European League and stop competing locally.

  96. 96
    Esso says:

    Just finished watching a Qatar vs Ghana stream. Entertaining. Ended up 1 – 5.

  97. 97
    bt8 says:

    Did Partey play?

  98. 98
    Potsticker says:

    I hope that Btm is going to give us a full report back on his meeting with AW. This interlull has been interminable, and only the learned and witty repartee here keeps me going. Thanks to all of the regulars!

  99. 99
    TTG says:

    Thoughtful analysis by several of the drinkers .
    While I accept that the pandemic has underlined the ability of the game to carry on without fans that is a temporary situation. Clubs won’t bother to build new stadia ( subsidies aside!) if the live experience isn’t a priority .As C100 states Arsenal get a significant part of their income from gate receipts but on top of that go to the Armoury on a match day , queue in rows for twenty minutes and then calculate what that must be worth. On top of that kids ( ie all of us many years ago) fell in love with the club when we walked into Highbury . I don’t have anything like the same emotional charge from attending the Grove but everyone I take there tells me how wonderful it is and the strength of support will dissipate without the live experience so there will need to be a return to capacity crowds . For those of us who attend regularly there is huge anticipation of the moment when we can return safely . If you don’t go as often it would be less of a wrench not to attend but if any football club is planning for the future and isn’t factoring in the value of live football in front of packed stadia it is being very short-termist

  100. 100
    TTG says:


  101. 101
    BtM says:

    Just finished watching Arsene live from the London Palladium – (Nice to see him. To see him nice!).

    As soon as Dan Walker announced Arsene’s name, the audience en masse stood up and sang “One Arsene Wenger” – bloody lovely, quite emotional and resulted in a beautiful smile on Arsene’s face which lit the place up.

    The session started off a bit slowly on the French and Grampus 8 times but roared into life as soon as discussions turned towards Arsenal. Some very amusing initial reminiscences at the expense of Martin Keown 🙂

    A very nice evening that cemented every positive emotion I’ve ever felt towards the club, the man, The Arsenal.

    What a privilege to have ‘known’ Arsene and felt a part of his project and the magical years of his time at the club. A delight to hear him talking about Arteta’s team as ‘we’. But boy, these defeats still hurt, every single one.

    Great man and definitely only one.

  102. 102
    TTG says:

    Thanks for that report. The man truly is a legend ( in the real sense of the word) and it is incredible to me that there are many ( almost all younger) ‘ fans’ who actively hate him .
    I’m looking forward to Pangloss’s review ( in its own right and as a catalyst for discussion on here ) and to reading his book despite the fact that I’m certain it won’t be the usual hagiography as the man is too much of a gentleman .
    Jose Mourinho wouldn’t get a standing ovation at the Palladium!

  103. 103
    North Bank Ned says:

    Another little-remarked-on provision of the plan is a hard salary cap for the lower leagues, to stop clubs there gambling massive wages on promotion and bringing penury on themselves in the process. Football league clubs lost a collective £286 million in 2018/19. That is a heavy burden for teams that rely much more on match day income for their revenue than the big boys.

  104. 104
    North Bank Ned says:

    btm@101: Heartwarming. AW deserves it.

  105. 105
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, TTG. I hope the VAR missed the self-assist…

  106. 106
    Osakamatt says:

    Well in TTG!

    @97 Thomas played a full 90
    minutes it seems bt8.
    I saw there was a match
    highlights clip on Youtube so
    I’ll have a watch later

  107. 107
    Osakamatt says:

    Possibly C100 @93 😃

    My idea of cracking on is to
    have an agreed plan in place
    by the end Nov. Depending on
    which EFL club you hear from
    bankruptcies will start in 4-12
    Apart from various details, which
    some like and some don’t, the
    main issue is governance. As
    Manure/Liverpoo apparently see
    the plan as a basis for discussion
    rather than a finished plan I
    can’t see why that deadline can’t
    be met. My own suggestion on
    PL governance would be 3 seasons
    in the PL consecutively gives
    voting rights on financial issues
    such as the TV contract. Everyone
    votes on things like rule changes.
    I’d much prefer ownership fitness
    to be decided by an independent
    body based on clear criteria.

  108. 108
    bathgooner says:

    So, Matt @107 reveals himself as a rational human being rather than a Scouse/Manc mole. Phew! that’s a relief!

  109. 109
    bt8 says:

    “Starting from 2022-23, the pyramid will be comprised of an 18-team Premier League, with 24 clubs each in the Championship, League One and League Two.”

    Just a comment on this aspect of the proposal as reported in The Athletic article “Explained: Project Big Picture – the winners and losers” but that adds up to 90 clubs.

    Have there not been 92 clubs in the top four divisions for a very long time? Burying the elimination of two clubs in a much larger proposal is not an honest way to slip this through, even if the clubs lost are from the top tier.

  110. 110
    Osakamatt says:

    There’s been 92 clubs since

  111. 111
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@109: The Football League has had 92 clubs since 1950 when the Third Divisions North and South were brought up to 24 clubs each. The League expanded to 93 clubs for the 1991–92 season but ended it with 92 as Aldershot went bankrupt before the end of term. Maidstone United followed suit shortly after the end of the season. The League then dropped plans for further expansion.

    It is worth recalling that the Premiership started with the old First Division’s full quota of 22 clubs, reduced to 20 in the mid-1990s. However, the original intent of cutting further to 18 never happened, though has not been forgotten.

  112. 112
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM: Your governance reform suggestions are sensible, far too much so, I suspect, for the big-six’s intentions. If their plan is open for discussion, which do you reckon are their non-negotiable points?

  113. 113
    North Bank Ned says:

    A Q&A with AW on the BBC:


  114. 114
    Countryman100 says:

    In which Arseblog makes even clearer than he did yesterday that he hates these big picture proposals

    Even more cynical, greedy, and short-sighted

  115. 115
    North Bank Ned says:

    Another reason that Ozil stayed: Ornstein says in The Athletic that he received an £8 million loyalty bonus at the end of September.


    AW says in his Q&A that Arteta should find a way to get Ozil involved again, though recognises that he does not fit the quick counter-pressing, quick transitions game Arteta plays.

  116. 116
    TTG says:

    In my Kindle today is My Life in Red and White . I’ve started it already!

  117. 117
    scruzgooner says: