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Arsenal ended the 2019-20 season with a newfound degree of optimism which was entirely unanticipated when earlier in the winter, floundering on the bottom half of the table and playing undoubtedly their worst football in this millennia, the club had no option but to bring in a new permanent coach as a desperate attempt to at least stop the slide.  While the fact that the new face on the sidelines and matchday interviews was a rather familiar one from his playing days at the club where he evidently had left behind admirers, had helped the fanbase to not be overly critical of the appointment, his complete lack of any experience as the main man in charge at any level in any club left even the most ardent supporters of Arteta’s long-term potential to be hoping primarily for some cohesiveness and quality to return to Arsenal’s game, and to hope to finish the season on an upward curve, without necessarily any significant immediate improvements.  

It is fair to say that by winning the FA Cup in his first (half) season at the club Mikel had raised hopes in his ability to turn things around faster than otherwise expected. But at the same time, it was equally obvious that the squad he had inherited was a deeply unbalanced one, lacking quality in some fundamental aspects of the modern game, most of all in the middle of the park. 

He was able to put together a successful cup run by tightening up the defense – for which he should get a lot of credit given the disastrous, ill-disciplined, shapeless mess of a backline he had found himself to work with, though the goalkeeping duo of Bernd Leno and Emi Martinez were performing regular acts of heroics to save the team from worse embarrassments – and by using the specific attributes of the high-quality frontline in a tactically astute fashion. A tactics that worked well enough against opposition better than us, but whenever faced with a team who were willing to concede possession and sit deep themselves the paucity of creativity and control in Arsenal’s midfield was made painfully obvious. 

It was also becoming equally obvious that the midfield not only lacks quality, it would soon lack numbers. Guendouzi had fallen so far out with the coach (soon to be named manager) that he couldn’t even manage to congratulate his team mates on winning the FA cup, and it was a foregone conclusion that he wouldn’t be playing any part in Arteta’s team. Energetic and passionate though his performances were in red-and-white, the underlying numbers identified a player with potential who still has a very long way to go to hope to become mainstay of any top team’s midfield (an impression that his subsequent tenure at Hertha Berlin solidified).  

Lucas Torreira, much more of a professional than the French teenager, and for a brief period in Unai Emery’s earlier days looking like the player we need, was unsettled in England. A family tragedy brought on by the pandemic made it worse, and he was allowed to leave on loan in October. Even though Mikel had started his old teammate Mesut Özil in his first ten premier league matches in charge, by the end of the 2019-20 season they too had suffered what looked from outside to be irreconcilable differences and it was merely a matter of time (and the club finding a way out of the financial logjam they had created) before the German playmaker left the club, an eventuality that dragged on long enough to drive Arsenal supporters to seething frustrations about the club, or the player, or the manager, and in many cases about all of them. 

Dani Ceballos remained in the club for his second season on loan, after showing sparks of brilliance under Mikel, but more often failing to impose himself on the game or make match-winning contributions. It was hoped that with a year of experience behind him in the English football he would step up to the next level in his career which had by now, started to stall after early promise with the Spanish youth teams. 

Among the academy graduates neither Joe Willock nor Ainsley Maitland-Niles were initially sent out on loan, the latter having played a more prominent role under Arteta, albeit as a wing back and not in his preferred midfield position. Mohamed Elneny came back from loan in the pre-season, participated in the successful Community Shield season opener, and Mikel – one supposes based partially on their familiarity from their playing days – put his trust on him as a reliable squad option. 

Following a nearly non-existent pre-season the English league season opened in mid-September with Europa league group stages to follow later in the Fall. The world reeling from suffering, chaos and uncertainty with no easy way out of the crisis yet, football felt to be a privilege, a distraction, and an act of defiance, all at the same time. In the absence of the energy feedback loop between the players on the field and the supporters in the stadium, a lack that led to less spontaneity and less individual initiatives from the playing eleven, the matches took on a more cagey and tactical nature, and in a team like Arsenal where the midfield was already suffering acutely from a lack of creativity that caginess quickly morphed into a dull, pointless monotony that was neither easy on the eye nor beneficial to the standing on the table. 

For the start of the season at Fulham Arteta had continued with the 3-4-3 formation that had brought the cup success, with Xhaka and Elneny in the middle of the pitch. Even though Arsenal had won the first league match 3-0 away at Fulham it soon became obvious that this formation was easy to play against, with the midfield existing primarily to keep and rotate possession around the center circle and look to rely on the wingbacks to carry the ball forward or the wingers to cut inside, drop back and act as auxiliary midfield players. The midfield lacked a ball carrier as well as a creative playmaker. 

As the summer transfer window was coming to close Arsenal were frantically looking to fill these positions. The club was able to bring in Thomas Partey on transfer deadline day, understandably to play as the retainer-carrier to add both muscularity and verticality in the midfield. However, the problem of lack of creativity in the midfield continued to plague the team. 

The problem was further compounded by Arteta’s insistence on playing Willian and using him in an inverted winger-playmaker role that the Brazilian in his impressive career had never played, neither for club nor country. As the midfield lacked any cutting edge, the teams started to find it easier and easier to cut off the supply to the forward line. Lacazette starting in the middle of the front three started to drop deeper and deeper to play almost as a number 10, and Aubameyang, with no one spotting his runs and the opposition often just crowding him out, looked more and more forlorn. 

In contrast to the league, Arsenal played with a bit more flair in the Europa league group stages where oppositions didn’t possess the tactical discipline or defensive muscle to follow the blueprints of premier league teams to play against this one-dimensional Arsenal team. Also, the fact that in Europa league players like Pépé, Nelson or Willock – not fully trusted by Mikel yet to play his tactical game in the league – found chances to express their individuality, helped a bit as well.

Thomas Partey indeed brought in a much-needed dynamism in the midfield but a combination of injuries and the typical first season adjustment problems didn’t allow him to take control of the games the way that Mikel would have hoped for. There were a few impressive performances in between, most noticeably in a rare away victory at Manchester United where Partey in tandem with Elneny – Xhaka earning a rare rest on the bench in PL – dominated and controlled the midfield. That 1-0 win – the solitary goal coming from Aubameyang’s penalty after Bellerin was fouled by Pogba in the box – raised false hopes. Performances and results in the league plummeted after that, and the wretched run continued way into December.

Partey got injured in the away loss in the North London Derby, and Arsenal seemed to have given up trying to play through the middle. There was a patch of games where the team even resorted to throwing in a barrage of crosses which were fruitless in absence of a target man. Saka in the frontline continued his upward arc, and both Lacazette and Aubameyang showed flashes of their individual qualities but their conversion rates, especially in case of captain Auba, fell significantly away from the dizzying heights of the last two seasons and, given the paucity of chances created, that meant we were struggling to score goals. 

Granit Xhaka kept his place in the team and continued to divide opinions. One could understand why Arteta – and two managers before him – trusted him to do a certain job: keep possession, rotate, offer positional protection to allow fullbacks to attack. Mikel further solidified that tactical focus by deploying Granit in a primarily left sided role, especially when Tierney was fit, and given the extraordinary left-sided skew of Arsenal’s attack Xhaka would often play as an auxiliary left-back, providing protection for the space opened by overlapping Tierney. While this approach might have yielded a consistent playing pattern for the manager to use as his basis, it also led to a ponderous predictability that Xhaka’s innate slow tempo of moving the ball made even worse. This excessively left sided approach to attack also meant Saka or Pépé (whenever given the chance ahead of Willian or coming on as a substitute) needed to provide a lot of support to the build-up play by often playing as right sided midfielders, further nullifying their potency in the attacking third. Saka, a more versatile player than either Pépé or Willian, and more capable of playing in pockets of space in the midfield fared better in that role, but the overall effect on the midfield was not beneficial. 

We were still playing 3-4-3, and with Partey injured Ceballos or Elneny would accompany Xhaka. After Xhaka was sent off at Arsenal’s 0-1 home loss to Burnley, Ceballos and Elneny played in the middle of pitch for the next two league games, amply demonstrating that they do not at all complement each other. The limitations of Elneny were well-known, and the consistency of his work-rate and tactical discipline meant his performances came less under scrutiny. Whereas Dani continued to frustrate by failing to put his considerable technical skills on the ball to any meaningful use in a consistent manner. The glimpses of ability in possession and the infrequent creative sparks in passing were more than sabotaged by untidiness and lack of focus.      

In the last match before Christmas, away at Everton, Arsenal lost 2-1 in a low-quality encounter. That had put Arsenal on 15th position on the league table, with just 13 points from 12 games and a negative goal difference. Though the concerns about relegation might have been a little bit exaggerated, the team was in dire need for change, even if that meant a change of manager. 

A few days later we lost 1-4 away at Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, and it seemed liked the Boxing Day home game against London opponents Chelsea would further deepen the gloom surrounding the team.

Arteta chose to freshen things up for that match – it may be too simplistic to attribute his change of plan and personnel to either the virtue of courage, or forces of necessity alone; it might have been a combination of factors where desperation and insight found themselves arguing in favour of the same choices – and used a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Emile Smith-Rowe starting at the top of the midfield, just behind the front three of Martinelli (another fresh introduction to the PL starting line-up), Lacazette and Saka. 

ESR and Saka interchanged positions, and both played superbly between the lines to create opportunities and bring verve, unpredictability and penetration to the Arsenal attack.  That 3-1 win further highlighted the desperate need for more creativity in the midfield as surely Arsenal couldn’t go through the rest of the season relying only on the 20 years old ESR to play that role. 

That win gave the team a necessary boost and Arsenal played well enough through the hectic winter schedule, and the most enjoyable performance came among swirling snows at the Hawthorns where Arsenal put four past West Bromwich Albion. Though Tierney rightly took the headlines with his sumptuous solo goal, ESR continued to impress with his effervescent movements, technical composure, and maturity of decision making. The good run of form was spoiled by an away loss at Southampton in the FA Cup, but PL and Europa league still offered enough possibilities to salvage the season. The despondency of the early Winter days gave way to a bit more cheerful outlook.

The club took the winter transfer window seriously enough, and in addition to successfully moving out the unwanted, and managing promising loans for the promising youngsters Willock and AMN who needed more game time, it also managed to bring in the creative talent of Martin Ødegaard on loan from Real Madrid. Like many precocious talents before him the Norwegian never settled in Real Madrid, spending most of his playing days since joining Madrid as a teenager out on loan. His last loan spell at another Spanish club Real Sociedad was a highly successful one, and the prospect of him combining with the likes of Emile or Saka was an enticing one. 

Ødegaard’s first appearance was as a substitute for ESR, in a somewhat insipid 0-0 draw with Manchester United at home. His first start came against Leeds at Emirates, where he started at the top of the midfield with ESR and Saka flanking Aubameyang. 

Whereas Emile was more powerful and dynamic while running with the ball past defensive lines, Martin was more of an orchestrator who played to the strengths of his team-mates, and quickly formed effective partnerships with ESR, Saka, Lacazette and later Pépé. He was instrumental in Arsenal’s North London Derby home win, scoring his second goal for the club after a long-distance stunner away at Olympiacos in Europa. The fluidity and intelligence of his game earned him Arsenal’s player of month award for March. He returned from the international break nursing an ankle injury, and after playing the full ninety minutes against Liverpool in a demoralizing away loss, he was sidelined for a while. And then when he returned from that injury-forced absence it took him a while to recover his form, by which time Arsenal’s season had slipped back into irrelevance. 

Arsenal’s league form remained inconsistent in the Spring. Though much better than the horrific sequence of results in the Fall, it was still not good enough to cover lost ground in the league table and it soon became apparent that unless an extraordinarily favorable set of results involving all of others the clubs fighting for positions 3-6 were to coincide, the only way Arsenal could play in Europe next season was to win the Europa League. Despite stuttering against Benfica, Olympiacos and then Slavia Prague, Arsenal had just enough quality to manage to win these ties, with their most impressive performance coming in a whirlwind 30 minute spell away at Prague when ESR, Pépé, Saka and Lacazette combined to produce our best football since the home win against Chelsea. ESR again showcased his impeccable pedigree as a highly promising versatile modern midfielder, not only adept at creating chances and breaking through defensive lines, but also when necessary, dropping back to provide balance and defensive protection.        

The focus shifting onto the Europa League, Arsenal lost the semi-final tie to a limited Villareal team where the lack of dynamism at the heart of the midfield was further accentuated by some questionable tactical choices. Lacazette was out injured, and Aubameyang having just recovered from malaria was on the bench, so Mikel decided to start ESR as a false nine in the first leg of the semifinal. The front four of Ødegaard, Saka, ESR and Pépé looked potent on paper, but Villareal simply crowded out the midfield to cut off supply, and the inability of Xhaka, Dani and on this occasion Partey to spring quick attacks in transition from deeper midfield positions, combined with a very poor ball retention in the midfield meant that the front-line could never build a sustained attack. ESR’s natural tendency and ability to drop deeper and carry the ball forward through the defensive blocks was wasted as a result of him playing high up, and when he chose to drop deeper there was no focal point in the attack. 

That game again highlighted the key concern about the Arsenal midfield – its inability to collectively create sustained pressure on the opposition defensive lines through quick interchanges, and its inability to create quick transition from defence to attack. Despite the individual qualities and brilliance of ESR and Ødegaard on the ball, Arsenal midfield as a collective remained mostly dysfunctional.  

After the hapless loss in Europa semi-final, Arsenal’s performances and result picked up a bit in the league with Pépé scoring a cluster of goals, and the defence playing reasonably well. Elneny scored his first PL goal, and that made the collective contribution of Xhaka, Partey, Elneny and Ceballos towards the goals scored column in PL to be two!! There were no late runs into the box, or enough shots from the edge of the box. Even if we add ESR’s one league goal, and Ødegaard’s one league goal, that is altogether four goals from the midfield in an entire league season! That is an astoundingly poor output by the midfield, and nowhere good enough if Arsenal were to reclaim the Champions League position anytime soon. Even though the comparison may not be entirely fair, it is tempting to point out that Joe Willock, out on loan at Newcastle, managed to score eight goals for them in 14 appearances. 

Arsenal ended the season without any trophy, and for the first time in 25 years without any European competition to look forward to, and more often than not playing unexciting, unimaginative football. It often felt that the limitations of the midfield were further exacerbated by the overly orchestrated tactics employed by the manager. But it may also be possible that the manager decided on these tactics to compensate for the limitations of the midfield, whereas some midfield players (especially the attacking midfield players — I think ESR and Ødegaard both would have scored a few more goals playing in a more free-flowing team) may feel that the micromanaged tactical aspects had inhibited their natural creative instincts.

To make progress next season it is mandatory that the quality of football played in the middle of the park must improve significantly, and that improvement will need to come both from improving players – some existing players improving as well as improving on some existing players – and less inhibited tactics. I personally would love to see us play a 4-3-3 formation, using players like Saka, Pépé, Martinelli in the wider positions supported by a fluid three-man midfield where Partey plays the deeper role and ESR and another creative playmaker float between the lines, interchanging positions with the wide players, and while defending dropping deep to initiate quick counterattacks after regaining possession. 

That is, I would love to see Arsenal play true to the footballing philosophy of positive, attractive football and build on that to achieve success. The first step towards that must be to improve the midfield.  

157 Drinks to “Season Review: Midfield”

  1. 1
    ClockEndRider says:

    A very considered analysis, Dr F. Can’t argue with a word you say.

  2. 2
    North Bank Ned says:

    Nor I, Dr F. An excellent exposition of our midfield shortcomngs.

  3. 3
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Dr. F.
    An excellent run through of the season from a midfield perspective.
    With Dani and Odegaard returned, and Xhaka seemingly gone, midfield
    will see our most important signings this summer. Apart from that,
    Partly is going to need a big season. It is all completely up in the air at
    the moment but I assume that having let Xhaka go we already know who
    we want.

  4. 4
    OsakaMatt says:

    That is unlucky, his name is Schick as well.
    He’d miss that 99 out of a 100 but it was a brilliant bit of skill.

  5. 5
    ClockEndRider says:

    With the late end to the season and only a very short gap between the opening of the transfer window and the start of the Euros, no meaningful business seems to have been done yet anywhere. It’s not looking as though we will have anything like a full pre-season to bed any new midfielders in. Maybe that gives an opportunity for the likes of Willock to stake a claim early in the season?

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    I’ve been looking forward to your analysis of the midfield Dr.F and you haven’t disappointed.I’m ad idem with you on all the individuals you review but I very much doubt Arteta will be bold enough to go 4-3-3 next season despite the range of players we might have .
    The departure of Xhaka should enable us to move the ball quicker from front to back . It’s hard to watch the sort of mundane stuff we served up in the autumn and only our young tyros and a revitalised Pepe changed our season . I’m anticipating a 4-2-3-1 formation but one that’s very fluid . Yesterday showed the value of a midfield with legs and incisive passing and we need a faster team rhythm . We are hearing some exciting names raised . Unfortunately Phillips and Bellingham aren’t among them but central midfield is where we really need to strengthen
    Good work sir

  7. 7
    Bathgooner says:

    An excellent reprise of our midfield’s season and clear demonstration of the need to invest in this part of the team if the Arsenal is to regain its former glory. If we don’t add a talented destroyer to partner Partey and allow him or share with him some forward surges and another creative talent to take the entire load off ESR we will not reverse this season’s malaise. Adding talent elsewhere in the team, no matter how stratospheric, may be palliative but will not be curative. The midfield is the gold mine.

  8. 8
    scruzgooner says:

    outstanding post, faustus. nothing to disagree with there, sadly. i just don’t know how we’re going to end up with more creativity in the middle, absent a new signing. joe is great, but relying on his newcastle form continuing for us is risky, at best.

    i do hope the partey is just getting started.

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    Nothing wrong with our midfield that a few steroids and other pharmaceuticals can’t fix. 😉

    A very fair portrait of our midfield issues Dr. F., many thanks. Can’t help thinking that if we’d spent a bit less time attempting to improve our standing on the table it would helped our standing in the table but I don’t have a tactical hair on my head. Cheers!

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    OM, Rather than assume your post was about an old brand name of American razors as I did at first I did extensive Internet research and discovered that your post referred to Scotland 0-2 Chechia but the more interesting statistical oddity in that game was that 100% of the Czech goals were assisted by West Ham United players. Whether or not it’s a close shave to say their contributions were as important as Schick’s I’ll leave it up to you who may actually have seen the game. Most likely Bath and BtM turned it off in disgust.

  11. 11
    Bathgooner says:

    bt8 @10, I can’t speak for BtM (whose profile is lower than Lord Lucan’s these days) but I wasn’t disgusted by either the Scotland performance or the goals they conceded. In truth there was little between the teams. Both teams were well organised, worked hard but almost all but two players on the field were essentially journeymen. There was a player on each team with a bit of quality. Scotland’s was Robertson, a left wing back. Czechi’s was Schick, a striker. His two goals were top quality. Neither team had a classy midfielder directing play and dominating the match. The Scottish team played to its capacity and their strikers had several chances but failed to take them. I had great hope but low expectation. I’ve seen this movie many times before and do not succumb to the media hype. I know how it always ends. As we know from the Arsenal’s recent trajectory, coaching cannot fully compensate for a deficit in quality. Friday’s match against England will be akin to Shitteh vs Wolves. There’s always a chance for the underdog but not much of one.

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    Must agree that away win in the snow at The Hawthorns felt like just about the best we played all season. A very watchable performance but it’s a bit sad to say it was such a highlight considering the quality of the opposition. Of course one of the other contenders for best performance was our season opener at Fulham. At least in those two matches we might have been mistaken for top quality.

  13. 13
    Bathgooner says:

    @11, actually Wolves is too complimentary in terms of technique. Burnley might be more apt.

  14. 14
    TTG says:

    Your highlights of the season were two wins against relegated sides who struggled all season . In fairness I think our best League performances were at Man U , Leicester , Newcastle and the first 40 minutes at Wolves, although we played well at home against Chelsea and Leeds . THE best performance was at Sparta Prague . Most of these games were away …a key point .
    Re Dr.F’s excellent piece , my final , hopefully , point about Xhaka comes from the Swiss newspapers who assessed his performance against Wales . They sum him up perfectly
    “For me, Xhaka was enough, nothing more,” George Bregy said. Criticising their captain for having “too little influence on the game,” he added, “He had no ties, was never really in the game, never hit an opening pass, never went forward. He was in his comfort zone.
    “Xhaka wants to be a leader, then he has to show it.”
    Blick’s Rene Weiler agreed. “Xhaka is an excellent player with a flair, but he has to graduate more often, into the danger zone,” he said. “The defenders behind him can all play football, it’s not about passing quality but about efficiency. About going into the interfaces, but that’s not Xhaka’s style. ”
    Xhaka had a pass success rate of 94.5% – but those comments explain why .

  15. 15
    TTG says:

    I got my Prague teams mixed up with all this focus on the Czech teams today . Our best performance was against SLAVIA Prague last season in my view

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    George Bregy seems an acute critic, TTG.

  17. 17
    OsakaMatt says:

    An astute spot bt8, given the lack of any context
    in my post. 😉

  18. 18
    TTG says:

    Ned @16
    You mean my nom de plume George Bregy ! 😃
    He nails him exactly , it’s precisely what I’ve felt for years
    And we need more in that role

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    But wait ! We may have to keep him 😱

    Xhaka’s move from Arsenal in serious doubt

    Roma and so many of these Italian and Turkish clubs are parsimonious in the extreme. Even I think Xhaka is worth more than £12 m !

  20. 20
    ClockEndRider says:


  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    Corriere dello Sport writes today that Xhaka is still confident his move to Roma will go through. However, the big news is that Xhaka has gone Gascoigne bleached blond.


  22. 22
    Dorset Mick says:

    I think that paying £12 m to get rid of Xhaka is a bargain!

  23. 23
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words.

    Watching the Euros I realize how little Arsenal representation there is, and how much that has changed over the years. There is not a single Arsenal player in the France team. Who would have thought that is possible even 4 years ago ! 🙂

    Only one in German squad (probably won’t start any match), one in England squad (mostly sub appearance), one in Switzerland (who may not be an Arsenal player for too long, and anyway he is not someone that we can build the future on), one in Scotland squad (possibly a future captain for us).

    Anyway, speaking of midfield, what do you all think of trying to bring Ødegaard back? Either permanent move or even a year long loan? I think if we can make a permanent move happen we should do it. I particularly like how he plays to the strengths of his teammates and has the ability to form quick understanding with others.

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    On the Xhaka front, La Gazetta dello Sport is reporting that Arsenal and Roma are now close on a price for Xhaka but that Roma wants to pay with a player, either Amadou Diawara, the 23-year-old Guinea international DM or Turkish international right-winger Cengiz Ünder, who was on loan to Leicester last season. Neither seems to me to be a particularly compelling alternative to cash.

    Dr F@23: My 2-cents on Ødegaard would be for a loan with an option to buy. Your description of his half-season with us was spot on. He was beginning to settle into the team when he got injured playing for Norway, and we did not see him at his best thereafter. I, for one, would like to see him given more time to establish his credentials. I do think he could be key to providing the service Auba needs if the captain is to get his goal-scoring mojo back.

  25. 25
    Bathgooner says:

    Lokonga has been quite widely cited as a potential replacement for Xhaka but this analysis by Dave Seager suggests we should be cautious in seeing a talented tyro as the optimum replacement for an experienced midfielder even if he’s slow of thought and movement:


  26. 26
    TTG says:

    Thanks for that article from Dave who is a very good judge and clearly has good connections. I understand one of the people driving this deal is the great Thierry Henry who is back in the Belgian camp in a coaching capacity . The lad is in the Belgian squad and may actually get into the team so he can’t be too shabby but a cash-strapped team owned by KSE need ready- made solutions. Saliba and his travails are an indication that long-term plans don’t always work out smoothly and Arteta needs to hit the ground running . That means being able to have good ready-made players at your disposal . Doesn’t sound like this boy fits that bill

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    Okay TTG, maybe The Hawthorns and the Cottage weren’t our absolute best performances of the season. I bow to your superior recollection and more than likely more complete viewing of our performances in the first place. But at least on those two occasions we stuck the ball in the back of the neck with some modicum of alacrity, elan and feeling like we could do it again if we really wanted to do such a thing.

  28. 28
    ClockEndRider says:

    Ned@24 – of course Roma would rather pay with an unwanted player – double bubble for them ( clearly they are unaware of the ancient Roman admonition – Caveat emptor).
    Under in particular has been hugely unimpressive at Leicester and was invisible the other night versus Italy. Really not interested in him. And in any case we have Martinelli, Pepe, Saka and Nelson who can play wide as he does. Not for me…..

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@18: I am sure your nom de plume would be a feather in any of George Bregy’s 54 international caps.

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@28: With you there 100%. We are well placed for right-wingers. Ünder is no upgrade on any of those we have (save perhaps last season Willian). Unless Arteta detects some unspotted potential chemistry with Partey, Diawara would just give us another Elneny, and we already have one of those, too.

  31. 31
    Countryman100 says:

    Lovely job Dr F. I certainly agree that midfield is our first priority.

    Watching the Hungary Portugal game. More than a bit tasty with boots flying in everywhere!

  32. 32
    Countryman100 says:

    Also amazing to see a totally full stadium in Budapest.

  33. 33
    TTG says:

    Apologies for me becoming a pedant . I absolutely agree that the West Brom game was about the most enjoyable and stress-free ninety minutes we played and the goals by Tierney and Saka were wonderful . And it was so nice to see Fat Sam’s miserable chops in the snowstorm. I also enjoyed Fulham although like C100 I was disappointed it was not a trip to the Cottage in person as I always love that trip and I believe the Countryman does too. We will have to forego it again this year unless we draw them in the Cup….and I can’t remember that ever happening .Bishop’s Park in the sunshine is even more beautiful than Tottenham High Road

  34. 34
    ClockEndRider says:

    There are landfill sites that are more beautiful than T*tt*nh*m High Road!

  35. 35
    Countryman100 says:

    Beers overlooking the Thames in Putney before, the stroll to the ground across the bridge and through Bishops Park overlooking the river, the nostalgia of the old Cottage in the corner and being in that Putney end with that corrugated metal roof that really amplifies the singing. Fulham is the best away day going. Is that statue of Michael Jackson still there?

  36. 36
    bt8 says:

    Beers overlooking the Thames in Putney.

    (*Checks airline ticket prices.*)

  37. 37
    Countryman100 says:

    Some great pubs the other (south) side of Putney Bridge bt8. If I could afford to live in London, Putney and Barnes would be right up there.

  38. 38
    TTG says:

    I relish the thought of visiting some of these hostelries with you in the season after next – August or May would suit ( once went there on New Years Day..and we lost ) Several lads who gave very generously to the Willow Double appeal are Fulham men and delightful company
    On a very nerdy note this detailed data dive is for football nerds like me but looks at the performance of our midfielders last season and several of the contenders to be signed . Not everything on Le Grove should be dismissed


  39. 39
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@33: Your memory is going…. 🙂

    February 1904 at the Manor Ground. FA Cup 1st round. We won 3-2.

  40. 40
    Countryman100 says:

    Honestly is there a better anthem than that of France? “The banner of blood is raised … aux armes mes Citoyens!”

  41. 41
    Countryman100 says:

    Varane absolutely bossing this game at centre half for France.

  42. 42
    bt8 says:

    Re: TTG. Thanks for the link. Not particularly nerdy or pedantic at all, I should add. That piece was by Adam in Minnesota? My neighbor using an alias perhaps, but in any case those were pretty if incomprehensible graphs, and it seemed unclear if Arsenal is or should be interested in any one of the lot.

  43. 43
    TTG says:

    How could I forget that ? 😀

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Folk memory, TTG. 🙂

    Thanks for the link @38. Interesting read and far from nerdy, although the charts could have done with some units for the y-axis. I am guessing they show the percentile rankings in a stacked column. However, the questions they don’t answer are the ideal profile of midfielder that would most complement Partey, and can you derive the chemistry the two would need from stats.

  45. 45
    Cynic says:

    The recent online petition regarding football governance was debated on Monday.

    A link to the debate is here for those who care enough to read some very dry language

    A summary of the responses to the petition is here (PDF so will probably download, depending how your browser is set up)

  46. 46
    Cynic says:

    A cherry picked highlight or two

    Another option, as suggested by the Football Supporters’ Association, would be to let supporters buy equity in their club up to a certain percentage—10% or 15%, say—to give them a real say in how the club is run.

    Which kind of shows how out of touch with reality the FSA is. If you own 10% of a club, your say in how in how it is run is zero. Just ask Alisher Usmanov. 10% gives you the illusion of influence, because you can have a good moan and ask questions at an AGM, but control of any kind? None.

  47. 47
    Cynic says:

    …the 50+1 model is not realistic for English football.
    …A range of voices, unsurprisingly including club owners but also fan groups, have said that the 50+1 model could seriously discourage investment.

    The speaker then goes on to mention that in Germany, under 50+1, Bayern has won the league nine years in a row as there’s a lack of real investment at the other clubs, with the exception of RB Leipzig. I’m not quite sure how that differs all that much from the situation in England. Although we have a deeper pool of clubs chucking money at their team to try to win the league, it’s still only three or four who have a reasonable chance to do so. The rest are throwing their cash at trying to qualify for Europe or stay in the division. Not sure the lack of investment argument really stands up and I’m not so sure it would be altogether a bad thing if teams did stop throwing hundreds of millions of quid at players and billions into transfers.

  48. 48
    Cynic says:

    Last one

    The financial disparity between rich and poor has become obscene, frankly. The game is devoid of agreed priorities. The high-ups in football all know what the problems are, but to date there has been no collective will or incentive for the decision makers to get on with sorting it out.

    That’s in regard to an independent regulator sorting out the game. Short of forcing billionaire owners to give up control of their clubs, which is something the debate was wary of doing, a regulator is not going to be able to do it. I think a regulator will give the illusion of governance and will be able to do relatively minor things like put protections in place for a club’s identity, such as protecting traditional playing strips* and badges, but real power? I doubt it. A stronger ownership test for example sounds great on paper, but what about the wankers who currently own clubs at all levels of the game? How do you fix them? My local club (grass roots) has a single shareholder who is disinterested in the club and can’t be bothered to do the mundane day to day stuff that keeps a club ticking over. His “directors” are his son and a guy who thinks being chairman of a club means glugging match day beers and nothing else. The people who have quite literally built that club, stands, dugouts, floodlights installed with their own hands etc cannot sort a club of that size out, as they have no power to remove a guy who is in football for reasons nobody can fathom. He can’t even be bothered to provide basics like fuel for the mowers. How can anyone believe a club the size of Man City, owned by a nation state, can be controlled by anyone else but the club’s owners?

    * Playing strips will get the same argument against it as 50+1. If you restrict the design of a strip, the ability to sell shirts as fashion and to get “creative” decisions from a manufacturer goes out of the window, as does marketing.

  49. 49
    Countryman100 says:

    Fixtures are out. We start with the new boys, Brentford away.


  50. 50
    Countryman100 says:

    Really interesting stuff Cynic. I think you are right that, barring truly revolutionary change, tinkering with the system won’t work if you have disengaged owners. I’m not sure where we go from here, and it looks like the writers of this report are the same.

  51. 51
    Osakamatt says:

    21/22 fixtures look ok, Brentford
    away first up.
    Tricky run of away games in Winter

  52. 52
    North Bank Ned says:

    Certain historical symmetry to opening at Brentford. We were their final opponent before they were relegated from the top flight in 1947.

    Two tough games immediately after, however, Chelsea (H) and Man City (A). Run-in looks manageable: Man Utd (H), West Ham (A), Leeds (H), Newcastle (A) and Everton (H), although we could be scrapping for European qualification points with many of those.

  53. 53
    North Bank Ned says:

    My hon Friend the Member for Kunosarges is to be congratulated for transversing the arid wastes of Hansard and enduring the hot air that repeatedly blasts across it.

    Unless we change the way football is run and ensure that clubs are treated not only as businesses but as community assets and heritage brands,

    That is an unbridgeable gap. And this attempt to straddle it makes no sense in the real world:

    One way to safeguard clubs for fans was suggested by Gary Neville. We could look at the 50+1 model as a veto or a voting structure rather than an ownership structure.

    Tortuous compromises like the suggestion of giving fans a veto over club executives’ decisions on matters concerning ‘heritage’ will end up as no more than a governance sticking plaster. Cynic is also right that 10-15% reserved fan ownership would, in practice, be next to useless.

    An independent regulator would only be effective if it had statutory powers to audit clubs’ finances and to redistribute income between clubs throughout the football pyramid. There would obviously be huge resistance to that by the PL, FA and EFL. If Parliament pushed through the necessary legislation, although it might be hugely popular, it would likely end up discouraging investment just as much as adopting a 50%+1 ownership model.

    And this suggestion from the debate is, frankly, a terrifying thought:

    An independent regulator could be set up, lead change in the game for a few years and then hand over to the FA once it has been made fit for purpose.

  54. 54
    Countryman100 says:

  55. 55
    TTG says:

    When you see Aaron Ramsey’s breaks from midfield you realise what we are missing. Sadly he isn’t fit enough for the Premier League . But he’s a wonderful player .
    My wife lipreads and when we played the Scum at Wembley under Emery he scored that magnificent run from midfield .
    I asked what he was mouthing to the Tottenham fans ‘ A rather shocked Mrs TTG said it was ‘ this is my fucking turf ‘ . That is the stuff of legend

  56. 56
    Countryman100 says:

    She’s obviously led a sheltered life TTG.

  57. 57
    Countryman100 says:

    The fixtures have thrown up a bit of a disappointment in that the weekend of 25 Sept, when we play Spurs, is when we are away on our first holiday since February 2020, in Northumbria. My son, a true Gooner, had two immediate reactions.

    1) well I’m still going
    2) Why don’t you cancel the holiday.

    I daren’t even suggest 2) to Mrs Countryman.

  58. 58
    Countryman100 says:

    I must say I rather enjoyed that Wales, Turkey game. Even a good old fashioned punch up!

  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    I will also say that the standard of officiating, including of the punch up, was excellent. Puts Premier League refereeing to shame.

  60. 60
    TTG says:

    C100 @56
    I can vouch that she’s spent quite a lot of time in bus shelters

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    27 days until Hibs v. Arsenal

    Have we signed any world beaters yet?

  62. 62
    Cynic says:

    I miss the days when our brightest prospects were head hunted by Barcelona. Our stock is so low, that shitheels like Aston Villa think they’re a bigger pull for a young player than the Arsenal.

    My first thought was ‘Who do they think they are?’
    My second was ‘They wouldn’t have done that without a twitch of encouragement from somebody’

    It’s just not done, the cheeky bastards.

  63. 63
    OsakaMatt says:

    We’re negotiating a contract extension with ESR now, this shit always happens it seems.

  64. 64
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cynic@62: It was also a low-ball bid, which might mean Villa will be back for ESR. It also suggests that Grealish is off to pastures new.

    Talking of players sold to Villa, Emi Martinez pulled off a fantastic first save from Vidal’s penalty in Argentina’s Copa Americana game against Chile. Very unlucky with the rebound off the bar.

  65. 65
    OsakaMatt says:

    by the way, thanks for link Cynic @45
    I’m expecting nothing meaningful so I’m sure they won’t disappoint.

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    ESR has two years left on the five-year contract extension he signed in 2018. So it should be being renegotiated this summer regardless. He is on £20,000 a week now.

  67. 67
    Cynic says:

    Talking of keepers, we’ve been linked with Ramsdale as a replacement for Leno. A man looking for a relegation hat-trick, when a year ago we sold a keeper who is far better, and was better than the one we decided was our top man, who now apparently wants to leave.

    If it true that we sold Martinez because nobody made an offer for Leno, doesn’t the lack of offers for one keeper, while the other attracted interest, tell you which one you should actually keep?

    Great work, lads. Top decision making.

  68. 68
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@66: It is possible ESR’s agent has encouraged that bid from Villa to ensure that Arsenal is focused on not only renewing but also giving Emile a handsome contract deserving of his growing influence. Maybe all club supporters feel that way but it seems nowadays it takes Arsenal ages to do even the basics like renewing contracts of academy graduates.

  69. 69
    OsakaMatt says:

    I enjoyed Wales vs Turkey too C100. Entertaining stuff.
    The Japanese commentator didn’t say anything but I
    thought it was a blatant dive by Bale for the penalty.
    Did that come up UK side? Just curious if it is my bias
    or anyone else thought so.

  70. 70
    ClockEndRider says:

    Looked like the defender dangled his leg to me and the nature of his complaint seemed to be more that contact was outside the box than anything.

  71. 71
    OsakaMatt says:

    Exactly what I thought on first watch CER, foul but outside. After a couple of replays I thought inside and dive.

  72. 72
    bt8 says:

    A couple of replays you say, OM? I haven’t seen it at all but I’m wondering if I can recreate your thought process because this would have been mine:

    After the first replay: “That could have been Bale.”

    After the second replay: “Definitely Bale. Definite penalty.” 😂

  73. 73
    bt8 says:

    Or dive, as the case seems to be.

  74. 74
    TTG says:

    I would honestly prefer to take Ryan as a first choice keeper rather than Ramsdale who never impresses me . We must ditch Runarsson . Hein is playing international football and Okonkwo is reckoned to be very good . Would they not be decent back-up if we can’t get Onana? If we have to be clever in raising cash I think this is an area where we have options. I found myself in agreement with Cynic about the logic we have employed in the goalkeeping department …..or lack thereof

  75. 75
    bt8 says:

    As the ‘holic clock ticks well past the 60-year mark here is the song they may be singing at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road:

    Meanwhile in their confused and confusing present we hear “ Tottenham’s managerial search took another twist on Thursday after the club broke off talks with Paulo Fonseca. The Portuguese, 48, was set to replace Jose Mourinho after Spurs’ new football managing director Fabio Paratici named him as his first choice.”

    What was that song again?

  76. 76
    bt8 says:

    Dispersing the Euros among several host countries makes it seem less interesting and more run of the mill as a tournament. Just saying.

  77. 77
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cunning blighters, those agents, Dr F.

    OM: Cafodd Gareth Bale ei faeddu yn y cwrt cosbi, as Google Translate tells me they say in the valleys.

    Ryan over Ramsdale any day, TTG.

  78. 78
    North Bank Ned says:

    Autocorrect goes rogue, or Insider Voice has overzealously PC sub-editors:


  79. 79
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@75: There is chatter that the neighbours are talking to Gattuso, who just walked out of Fiorentina after all of 22 days in charge.

  80. 80
    TTG says:

    Our neighbours are seriously struggling and it is very hard to see Harry Kane giving them a second glance after the Euros . Fonseca was an uninspiring prospect , Gattuso is a bruiser with little to commend him other than he knows the Technical Director.
    I made the mistake of putting the radio onto TalkShite in the car yesterday and they covered an interview with Levy for their in-house TV channel . In it he alluded to the size of their debt and it was suggested they are servicing a bigger debt than any other club in Europe . Levy truly has a charmed life because he has overseen almost no success in terms of silverware
    Exit Harry and possibly Son and welcome to a few Italian hard men. Shame

  81. 81
    bt8 says:

    Ned, I’m completely uninformed about what happened with Gatusso in those 3 weeks but I do vaguely recall reading an article that he failed in another managerial assignment because he was too temperamental. And this for an Italian managing in Italy, mind you.

  82. 82
    TTG says:

    Gattuso makes Roy Keane look like a Quaker !

  83. 83
    bt8 says:

    The Daily Express reports that Daniel Levy is seriously listening to offers for Harry Kane from Manchester City, the club they will host in their season opener. “Levy is said to be committed to avoiding a scenario of Kane lining up for the opposition at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in that game.”

  84. 84
    bt8 says:

    He must be a tad temperamental then TTG. 😂

  85. 85
    bt8 says:

    KT3 health report positive at the moment.


  86. 86
    Cynic says:

    bt8 @ 76 – It feels like a series of unconnected friendlies. There’s no sense of occasion at all. I’ve been watching women’s test cricket all day and haven’t watched any of this tournament, bar a handful of minutes. I’ve been watching stuff like Royal Ascot and recorded day time nonsense in the evenings.

    I might watch England v Scotland, but only if I’m bored enough.

  87. 87
    Cynic says:

    Gattuso walked out on his last job after 22 days, so if talks collapse with the Spews, maybe they’ll turn to Edwin Poots next.

  88. 88
    North Bank Ned says:

    Gattuso’s wife is from Dundee apparently, if that explains anything.

  89. 89
    TTG says:

    I know what you mean.
    I think there are too many uninspiring teams, seriously overmatched like Austria tonight or Switzerland yesterday and of course Northern Macedonia . I’ve seen some very good performances so far . Italy and Holland look good as do France and Belgium and I thought England played well and Wales were very good yesterday . As we get into the tournament it will get a bit sexier

  90. 90
    bt8 says:

    Ned. Does that make her jammy, or just in the marmalade?

  91. 91
    North Bank Ned says:

    Or a fruit cake?

  92. 92
    OsakaMatt says:

    Jute City!!
    Surely, this one must be in the bag,
    even for the hopeless, hapless spuds

    I’ve quite enjoyed the euros so far, or
    the 5 or 6 games I’ve watched anyway.
    I must be easy to please 😉

  93. 93
    Cynic says:

    Spurs have now sort of sacked two managers before they’ve even appointed them, which is quite a feat.

  94. 94
    Countryman100 says:

    Good review in The Athletic (££) as to why Arteta is so keen to buy Ben White.


  95. 95
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cynic@93: Levy must love the compensation payments that saves him.

  96. 96
    North Bank Ned says:

    Gazzetta dello Sport reported yesterday that Roma is keeping the line at paying no more than 15 million euros plus add-ons for Xhaka, with Arsenal holding out for 20 million euros. They are looking at Villa’s Douglas Luiz as an alternative.

    Today, Gazzetta ran an article highlighting how underwhelming Xhaka had been for Switzerland at the Euros; a colourless, insipid [performance] with little personality, the only chromatic note came from the peroxide blond hair…Certainly, this Xhaka, this frightened version, is not what Roma needs..

    Is that the mood music for a deal collapsing?

  97. 97
    ClockEndRider says:

    Or this was all just a Maureen wind up. I mean why would anyone who has seen him play want to buy him?

  98. 98
    ClockEndRider says:

    Pre assist assist….

  99. 99
    TTG says:

    That is I’m afraid the Xhaka I’ve seen for five seasons with some notable exceptions. I watched that Italy game and felt he had nothing to offer his team to combat the Italians , no pace ,no drive and no control . I’ve felt that way so often watching him play for us
    There is an extraordinary story doing the rounds today suggesting that KSE have signed off on a £250 m spend which in this climate would give us massive clout in the market and suggest a sale of the club is extremely unlikely . The most interesting part of the story is that the purchases are targeted on younger players with high resale value , so we have dropped an interest in Ryan Betrtrand and decided to sell Laca rather than extend his contract .And there is also a rumour that KT is about to sign a new five year contract !

  100. 100
    TTG says:


  101. 101
    ClockEndRider says:

    Well played TTG.
    Well, that would be great news indeed if true. Usually these stories arise pre season ticket renewal. We are now past that period so maybe, just maybe……..

  102. 102
    bt8 says:

    A pre assist assist and an auto assist all in the same goal. I’d say VAR ought to review it but considering the scoundrels doing the interpretation decided against. Well in, TTG!

  103. 103
    bt8 says:

    Ornstein report in The Athletic: “Exclusive: Tottenham will not be appointing Gennaro Gattuso as manager”

    Based on the criteria cited above I believe that gives them the triple crown of managers sacked this summer without hiring a single one. To dare is to do.

  104. 104
    TTG says:

    I think the latest prices for the Totts are –
    Sam Allardyce 10-1
    Tony Pulis 12-1
    Mick McCarthy 16-1
    Arsene Wenger 1000-1
    A hologram of Bill Nicholson is the current favourite at 2-1

  105. 105
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, TTG.

    I’ll believe the £250 million spend when I see the publicity photos of the incoming tyros in their new red and white shirts. The phrase ‘high resale value’ makes me wonder if KSE wants to follow the Borussia Dortmund development model.

    The one position where I would sanction an older player is back-up goalkeeper. You need someone with experience who can step in to cover for injury or suspension despite having spent most of the season sitting on the bench, and unlike other squad players, not even getting a few minutes here and there to keep the rust at bay. Ryan not only fits that bill but is good enough to provide competition for Leno. If we are thinking of buying Ramsdale as a number one to replace Leno, that strikes me as a downgrade that will also close the door on Okonkwo and Hein’s career path at the club.

    On centre backs, don’t forget Omar Rekik. Injury meant he played only one game for the U-23s since joining from Hertha Berlin, but he is highly rated and has just won his first senior cap for Tunisia though he has yet to turn 20.

  106. 106
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@97: The Special One has special sight. Can see things others cannot. Can even see things that are not there.

    When I noted @21 that Xhaka had gone Gascoigne bottle-bleach blond, I almost also wrote that that would curse his Euros. I wish I had.

  107. 107
    TTG says:

    There is widespread noise that KT3 has signed a new five year contract . That is a very shrewd move by us. Hopefully it is for him ! Good luck to the lad tonight . But not too much!

  108. 108
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8: There is previous between Gattuso and Sp*rs fans. In a CL match in 2011, Gattuso, then playing for Milan, squared up to Joe Jordan, then an assistant coach for the chickens on a basketball, and grabbed him by the throat, which takes some bottle, it must be said. That has not been forgotten.

    Most of Gattuso’s racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments appear to date to 2008-2013, not that that would stop the UK tabloids making hay with them now.

  109. 109
    North Bank Ned says:

    For the convenience of TV, our opening game of next season at Brentford has been brought forward by a day to Friday, August 13th, 8 pm KO.

    The second game, home to Chelsea, has been pushed back a day to Sunday, August 22nd, 4.30 pm KO.

    The third game, at Citeh on August 28th, will be an early kick-off, at 12.30 pm, not 3pm as originally scheduled.

  110. 110
    Countryman100 says:

    David Ornstein, reporting on the KT3 new deal referenced by TTG@107, says that it is not signed yet, but will be as soon as Tierney finishes at the Euros, will be for five years, will be worth £110k/week and that there is a wide expectation that he will sooner or later be made Captain. Damn fine news. With Tesco bags only 10p each, he’ll probably struggle by on £5m per year.

  111. 111
    Cynic says:

    it is not signed yet, but will be as soon as Tierney finishes at the Euros

    About 10pm tonight then.

  112. 112
    Silly Second Yella says:

  113. 113
    scruzgooner says:

    kt3 (kt6) looks soooo good. one of the best players on the pitch tonight.

  114. 114
    scruzgooner says:

    foden, on the other hand, played and looked like xhaka tonight.

  115. 115
    North Bank Ned says:

    Going peroxide blond is the Euros curse, Scruz.

  116. 116
    North Bank Ned says:

    Somebody get KT3 a pen pronto.

  117. 117
    scruzgooner says:

    it’s obviously a trend, ned. but. why?

    by the way, was kane on the pitch today? i just saw a wriggling mass in the pockets of the scottish defenders.

  118. 118
    North Bank Ned says:

    Like Xhaka, Kane is hardly impressing prospective new employers, Scruz.

  119. 119
    North Bank Ned says:

    If I am reading the Euro’s group stage tie-breaker rules correctly, if Scotland can beat Croatia by a one-goal larger margin than the Czech Republic beats England, they advance to the knock-out rounds as the second-placed team, and that is the only scenario in which England does not finish first or second in the group (even if Croatia beats Scotland). If England takes a point or more from the Czechs, then Scotland can finish no higher than third in the group, even with a win over Croatia. A Scotland-Croatia draw would leave Croatia in third place and Scotland bottom of the group. A Czechnia-England draw would mean that the Czechs finish first and England second. An England win would reverse the order.

  120. 120
    North Bank Ned says:

    Winning group D gets you a Round of 16 game against one of France, Germany or Portugal. Coming second gets you in all likelihood Spain. Third would likely pitch you against one of Belgium, Sweden or Holland, the last two of which are beatable. So Scotland could conceivably get to the quarter-finals, where they will be beaten by Wales.

  121. 121
    Cynic says:

    Absolute blasphemy on Arseblog, as Lacazette is equated with a Raleigh Copper. No way is he that good. The Raleigh Grifter (AKA the tramp’s BMX) is much more appropriate.

  122. 122
    TTG says:

    By blasphemy I thought you meant people were suggesting Roberto Carlos at his peak was as good a# Kieran Tierney!
    I’ve had a couple of interesting conversations . It would seem that there is a very serious intention to invest while so few other clubs can and to be more intelligent strategically about the profile of who we buy and to simultaneously get the fanbase back onside . I don’t think the problem has been the quantum of investment it’s the governance of the club .But ….
    I think we might see several new faces and among those faces might be White , Sambi whatever and Maddison whose arrival has been predicted by AFC Camden who broke the news on Partey’s arrival . If we can selll the surplus players we might have a very different looking squad next season . Interesting

  123. 123
    Countryman100 says:

    Damn you TTG. You are giving me hope. I have been saying for at least three years that James Maddison is one of the best two midfielders in England, the other being Jack Grealish. Certainly Maddison has taken us apart on a number of occasions for Leicester. He brings movement, creativity and goals. I would be delighted if he rocked up at the Emirates. But many a slip no doubt.

  124. 124
    ClockEndRider says:

    In the words of the estimable Mr Cleese: “ It’s not the despair: I can cope with the despair. It’s the HOPE – that’s what’s killing me.’

  125. 125
    Countryman100 says:

    Thoroughly enjoying this Germany Portugal game. Kevin Keegan philosophy, “I don’t really do defence, we’ll just score at least one more than you”.

  126. 126
    ClockEndRider says:

    In fact, Portugal have scored 2 more than Germany!

  127. 127
    TTG says:

    C100/ CER
    I feel your anguish but the two people I’ve spoken to are very sensible individuals and I think that we are seeing the influence of Messrs Lewis and Garlick in taking a strategic overview of the marketplace ( you do it regularly in your job CER ) and saying to KSE ‘ If you want to keep this club you’ve got to turn it around .You’re burning cash and the fans hate you’
    That means a sustainable model where you buy quality young players with significant sell-on value and you don’t allow them to get towards the end of their contracts . Common sense but it’s been allowed to happen so often . Hence the Tierney , Balogun and hopefully ESR deals .
    Re Maddison you won’t sleep tonight C100 but his people have approached Arsenal and set out their terms to join us . He is supposedly keen because he doesn’t like Rodgers .We do of course have to persuade Leicester to sell him but they usually do sell..it’s their model . I like him too but there are rumours he is a big fan of himself but he must look at the Euros and wonder why he isn’t there . I could genuinely see us signing a goalie ( hopefully not Ramsdale) , White , S-Lokonga , Aouar and a full-back. This is a KSE charm offensive…at season ticket renewal time ! We can raise £100m in fees in this year and we have cut the salary bill ( Mesut’s remaining £300k a week comes off the balance sheet at the end of the month for example) so they might be prepared to go in really balls deep .
    I’m much more excited about that than watching a team managed by Gareth Southgate stutter around the pitch

  128. 128
    bt8 says:

    “Mesut’s remaining £300k a week comes off the balance sheet at the end of the month for example)”

    Anybody wanna party to celebrate? Official word that Xhaka is leaving could double the fun.

  129. 129
    TTG says:

    Watching Szczesny tonight we definitely don’t want him back .
    I always felt he was an overrated goalkeeper but his success at Juventus made me reconsider . But he’s even less authoritative than Leno in commanding his box . Again Martinez is way superior to him

  130. 130
    ClockEndRider says:

    Alleluia, is all I can say. From the perspective of the owners such an investment can be described as enlightened self 8nterest. From the perspective of the res5 of us as fans it is a lng overdue reset to what we want to see. The day job makes me a Doubting Thomas. This could well see a Damascene conversion, to mix my biblical metaphors.

  131. 131
    Cynic says:

    None of the names we’ve been linked with this summer give me even the glimmer of a stirring in the loins. Maddison in particular, with the sort of money he’d cost.

  132. 132
    North Bank Ned says:

    Maddison is on £110,000 a week at Leicester, so what would he expect if he moved? He would cost somewhere in the range of £45 million-60 million.

  133. 133
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ozil’s £300k a week comes off the P&L rather than the balance sheet, to be nit-picky, but it is a real saving either way. Xhaka would be another £100k saved, as would Willian if he could be moved on (not sure about what happens with his signing bonus being spread over the term of his contract). Selling Laca would be a further ¢182k a week off the wage bill.

  134. 134
    TTG says:

    Don’t be a curmudgeon!
    KT3 and ESR are exciting signings in themselves .
    White and Maddison are very good signings and I don’t think any of us know how good Sambi thingy is .
    Losing Xhaka and Kolasinac might be considered the best news of all . As Ned points out we could release a lot of money in the P& L – Luiz , Guendouzi , Torreira,,Willian , AMN and Leno would release £650 k a week

  135. 135
    Cynic says:

    Not being an avid watcher of the Premier League these days, I’d never even heard of Ben White until he was picked for England and I saw his name in the press. Although I’ve obviously seen him play (I must have done) I couldn’t tell you anything about him, not even his hair colour. But I guess it ain’t white.

    However, spending £100m+ on two players like that doesn’t fill me with joy. Admittedly, I cannot think of a single player we could sign who would get the blood pumping.

  136. 136
    Trev says:

    Great job, Dr F !

    Late to join as ever these days, but a long, considered and worthwhile read.

  137. 137
    bt8 says:

    From the department of most poorly chosen headlines …

    “Everybody wants to talk about Gareth Southgate’s balls“

    And no, I’m not the one who thought it up.

    Everybody wants to talk about Gareth Southgate’s balls

  138. 138
    North Bank Ned says:

    Not me, for one.

  139. 139
    OsakaMatt says:

    Some top class moaning at the
    link@137 😂 You’d think we were

  140. 140
    TTG says:

    There are some morons on social media
    Several have been gathered together in that article . I gave up after the twentieth whinge

  141. 141
    North Bank Ned says:

    I see we are being linked with Real Betis’s DM, Guido Rodriguez. He is an Argentine international though not a regular first choice.

  142. 142
    bt8 says:

    But can he get physical with the bulls of the Premier League?

    Seville must be a good place to learn how to play with bulls, just not the right kind necessarily.

  143. 143
    OsakaMatt says:

    Best of luck to Coyle, Medley,
    and McGuiness who have gone to
    Switzerland, Belgium
    and Cardiff.

  144. 144
    North Bank Ned says:

    Good career moves for all of them. They will all have decent professional careers even if the breakthrough with us won’t happen.

  145. 145
    TTG says:

    This article is a good summary of who may leave Arsenal this summer – there is a possibility we could part with 17 players . I think in reality from this article we will retain Chambers and possibly Joe Willock with Saliba going to the PL on loan . But that leaves a squad of fifteen players . It is therefore likely we will see a number of signings – maybe two keepers for example and promotions for Azeez and Patino . It is a massively disruptive exercise and you need to build team spirit largely from scratch but at least if this many do leave Arteta has his own squad !
    Could 17 senior players really leave Arsenal this summer?

  146. 146
    Cynic says:

    I would like to see a rule brought in where a player who is purchased (and not made his way through the club to a certain point) is allowed one loan and one loan only, then if the club has no use for him, he’s given a free transfer. Either that or removal of the player’s work permit after one year, if an overseas buy, unless he’s managed to secure his position in his club’s squad.

    That might sound harsh but players such as Saliba being used like this is no good for them and no good for us either. It’s also no good for players coming through, if their club can simply borrow a journeyman loanee in their position.

  147. 147
    bathgooner says:

    I hope we will achieve significant change in the squad this summer but I fear that those whom we would most like to shift may prove unshiftable and those whom we would most like to acquire will prove unreachable. Edu and whoever else is tasked with this project have a huge challenge.

  148. 148
    bathgooner says:

    87 players have apparently already been tipped to be joining Arsenal or at least be on our radar! Is this a deliberate smokescreen or do some people just make stuff up?

    87 players already tipped to be joining Arsenal. 427 to go.

  149. 149
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@145: Most of those 17 names would be proffered by members of this fine establishment if asked to draw up a similar list.

    We need to keep an eye on the number of home-grown players left in the squad.

    On Saliba, he is the victim of overly high expectations. He has only just turned 20 and with injury, family problems and some mismanagement has gone through a rocky couple of seasons which have undoubtedly delayed his development. He seems to have had a decent second half of last season at Nice. It is far too soon to write him off as a mistaken buy.

    I am not sure that omission from the French U-21 team signals there are problems with him. France has a remarkably talented pool of centre backs in that age group to choose from; Upamecano, who is joining Bayern Munich for £36 million, and Konate, for whom Liverpool has just paid £35 million, are the first choices, with Monaco’s Badiashile, the most valuable teenaged defender in the world, on the bench. That is stiff competition.

  150. 150
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bath@148: It is telephone whispers. Someone at Newcastle says to a local journalist that they still want Willock and mentions casually that if Arsenal is looking for a goalkeeper, they could throw in one as part-exchange. That transmutes itself into ‘Gunners in for long-term target Woodman’ by the time it goes through the sausage machine of a Fleet Street tabloid’s sub-editing desk.

    Then there is the stuff agents make up for their own ends, and journalists print verbatim.

  151. 151
    TTG says:

    The jungle drums suggest that Bukayo Saka will start on the right wing tonight . I wish him well and while Mount and Foden will not start he has Grealish in a central role to supply him . It is a big opportunity for the lad

  152. 152
    North Bank Ned says:

    Your jungle drums are well informed, TTG

  153. 153
    Countryman100 says:

    Go on Bukayo!

  154. 154
    TTG says:

    And he certainly did himself, his club and his country proud . He was brilliant

  155. 155
    OsakaMatt says:

    17 is a lot to move on, and I hope we will prioritise well, both in and out.
    There is another window in the winter!
    It will partly depend on who we can sign and where we need cover.
    Hopefully, we can at least move on Guen, LT, Kola, Hector and Xhaka if MA
    has decided we don’t need them.

  156. 156
    bt8 says:

    Saka brilliant. I guess I picked a good time to turn on the tournament but also enjoyed the second half of France-Hungary.

  157. 157
    Bathgooner says: