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While the midfield was still an uncertain muddle, and the defence reliable enough though lacking any genuine match winning quality, except Kieran Tierney (and Bernd Leno on certain days), Arsenal went into the 2020-21 season with a reasonable degree of confidence in the consistency and reliability of their attacking force. The ever-smiling Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had ended the previous season with a cup winning high, continuing to impress with his eye-catching conversion rate that allowed him to run to 71 goals for Arsenal in two and half seasons, despite playing in front of what can generously be called an uneven creative supply. Never quite a ‘back to goal’ traditional number 9, and not really a modern-day winger (though that is how he started his career) who is going to provide consistent defensive cover and help out the midfield in ball retention, Aubameyang thrives in a fluid forward line where he uses his pace, movement off the ball, and a well-honed ability to anticipate and finish chances in and around the penalty box to great effect. One wonders what we could have achieved if he were playing with Messrs. Cazorla, Özil, Alexis, Ramsey, Rosický … 

An excellent signing though Aubameyang had proved to be, Arsenal never really quite resolved the issue of how to get him and his good friend Lacazette to play together in a tactically cohesive manner. The easiest solution had typically been to put Lacazette down the middle, Aubameyang on the left wing, and there have been times when that combination looked very good, but there have also been times where the opposition defence had simply dropped deeper and kept close track of Auba’s movements to nullify his primary threat of scoring goals, especially given the relative rarity of defence-splitting through balls coming from the Arsenal midfield. Running at a defence with the ball at his feet is not the Arsenal captain’s forte, and neither is Lacazette very good at it. Even though Lacazette at his best is technically good enough to create goals in a congested penalty box by manipulating tight spaces, it is not an ability that he demonstrates consistently enough to compensate for drops in Arsenal’s goal-scoring numbers whenever a tactically disciplined and technically competent defence decides to stay deep in a low block. 

Despite these well documented limitations, Arsenal did find different ways to score goals in the 2019-20 season, albeit relying overly on Aubameyang’s career best conversion rates, especially in the Premier League. But in the first half of the season, when the collective performance of the team started to drop to alarmingly low levels — not helped by frenetic tactical tinkering by then coach Unai Emery as he started to lose his grip on the squad – and the goals in the PL had also started to drop, in the Europa league and the League Cup Arsenal fans were introduced to a new young goalscoring talent. It is fair to say that Gabriel Martinelli and the combination of his directness, pace and goalmouth threat were not just pleasant diversions from the implosion in league form, but also a source of excitement and hope for the future. 

While the young Brazilian had surprised us with his rapid adaptation to top level football, record signing Nicolas Pépé was somewhat underwhelming in that first half of the season. There were flashes of individual skill and some examples of a unique ability to create and score chances – but they were too often undermined by a lack of nuance and variation in his approach and a sense of disjointedness in his overall game. Compared to the more assured performances of another rising youngster Bukayo Saka, he looked less reliable and consistent as an attacking outlet.      

When Arteta took over mid-season, he focused primarily on tightening up the defence and bringing a modicum of structure and shape back into our game plan. He had initially used his old teammate Özil to provide more security on the ball and, one suspects, hoping to bring back to Arsenal’s attack a decisiveness and creativity at which peak form Mesut was a master. But that experiment didn’t last very long, and Arteta quickly adapted to the reality of the Arsenal he had inherited by morphing into a predominantly counter-attacking team with a three man defence, two wing backs willing also to cut inside to overload the midfield, and relying on the movement and finishing of the front three. This worked particularly well when Kieran Tierney was fit as he added a stellar combination of defensive strength and attacking outlet, and his overlapping runs encouraged Aubameyang to play more freely as a left sided attacker. This 3-4-3 structural approach also started to bring more out of Pépé, and signs of some personal coaching started to become more evident in the manner he was now more engaged with the overall game and more effective in making the decisions in the final third. The Premier League form improved enough to arrest the slide and make a modest rise up the table. Then the team raised hopes by winning the FA Cup playing true to the tactical blueprint set up by Mikel, where the back-to-the-wall defensive togetherness was complemented by the effectiveness of the front three following quick transitions, a formula that worked especially well against superior opposition as demonstrated in the semi-final and final of the successful FA Cup run. 

So, we entered the 2020-21 season with Aubameyang in a rich vein of form, now the captain and with a renewed contract, Lacazette a more than able center forward, young Martinelli and Saka full of talent and maturity beyond their years, and the mercurial Pépé showing signs of becoming a key player in the new season. Even though Martinelli suffered an unfortunate injury in training that was to keep him away from the matchday squad for a while, Arsenal fans were looking forward to what this group of talented attackers, including a truly world class striker in Aubameyang, could do now the team was playing with more poise and purpose. 

However, that excitement and hope didn’t fully turn into expectation. We knew that the team still lacked offensive variety. Especially against opposition unwilling to try to dominate the match, even this quality forward line would fail to score consistently in the absence of a true playmaker in the attacking midfield. Furthermore, given the over-reliance on the captain there were also doubts that any injury, loss of form, or even dips in Auba’s hitherto stellar conversion rates would also see us struggling to score. 

In the pre-season transfer window Arsenal made the type of miscalculation that by now should really be trademarked by our beloved club: ‘club X had “Arsenalized” it’s last transfer window etc’ . We most needed a creator in the attacking midfield, and we failed to address that problem, eerily reminding us of all those times when we had needed a new central defender or defensive midfielder to solve just the last piece of the puzzle and we simply ignored those needs and paid the consequences. Just a little bit more lucid evaluation of the squad and some acumen in acquiring what was absolutely needed would probably have seen us making a better go at the PL or European successes in the last fifteen or so years, especially when the team was filled with creative and attacking talents and was managed by someone who had earned his legendary status not just by the virtue of his transformative effect but also his early successes. 

Instead of an attacking midfielder we brought in a somewhat aging but high quality winger with great experience of both Premier League and European football. Willian was the most traditional winger we had in our line-up and given his remarkable consistency in the last few years Arteta decided to start the season with him, keeping Pépé on the bench. 

The first match – away at newly promoted Fulham – seemed to have completely vindicated Arteta’s trust in Willian as he provided key assists, including a cross-field pass to Aubameyang who thrives on that type of service. It had seemed we are all set. 

Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for Willian in an Arsenal shirt, and that was as good as it got for Arsenal until a revamped first eleven triumphed over Chelsea in a Boxing Day match, relying on the youth brigade of Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and returning from injury Martinelli.   

Between these two matches, form started to drop steadily and Arsenal played their worst football in the last 25 or so years. Turgid, uninspiring, over-orchestrated and lacking any speed of thought or action to allow thoroughly planned moves to actually make any material difference on the playing field, Arsenal started to score fewer and fewer goals. Aubameyang and Lacazette both started to miss more chances compared to the last couple of seasons (in the case of Auba I think it was unreasonable to expect that he would be able to maintain the previous season’s conversion rate) and the team as a whole created fewer and fewer chances. Goal-scoring became an issue. Arteta tweaked frontline personnel by playing Willian on either wing or sometimes even at the tip of the midfield, bringing Saka in on the wings and starting to get Pépé more involved.  

In contrast to the Premier League, Arsenal continued to score goals in the Europa League group stages, albeit against opposition less technically and tactically strong, but most of those goals came from individual pieces of skills by Willock, Pépé, Saka, Lacazette et al. where they were afforded time and/or space in and around the penalty box that they would never find in Premier League matches. 

All the pre-season apprehensions about our over-reliance on Aubameyang came true as he had unfortunate personal struggles with his family, then later in the season with his health after contracting malaria while away on international duty. Lacazette, ever the hard worker and willing fighter for the cause, started to suffer from a loss of pace which appeared all the more magnified as he needed to drop deeper and deeper to bring the ball forward, and by being surrounded by other practitioners in the art of slow football. 

With Willian’s form and contributions remaining at a stubbornly unacceptable level, it probably took Arteta a bit longer than it would have taken a more experienced manager to find out that there is no magical transformation back to past excellence. However, both Pépé and Saka started to enjoy more game time. Our offensive game plan remained lopsided to the left, even when Aubameyang wasn’t playing. One suspects this was to maximize Tierney’s attacking potential as well as to optimize the peculiar set of strengths-and-weaknesses of Xhaka. Meanwhile, not unrelatedly, Pépé continued to find it difficult to bring consistency into his attacking output, even though he, now encouragingly, started to demonstrate better overall engagement with the build-up, much better defensive awareness and work rate, and looked as if Arteta might be able to push him to a higher level as he had allegedly done for a few other talented wingers in his previous role as assistant manager elsewhere. 

League form and results started to bounce back following the introduction of Emile Smith-Rowe and, later in the winter, with the loan signing of Ødegaard. Whereas ESR brought a ball-carrying verticality and the willingness and technical ability to exploit spaces between the defensive lines, Ødegaard brought composure on the ball in the final third, defence-splitting passes and an ability to play to the strengths of the players around him which can sometimes be an overlooked quality in number 10s. Saka – ESR – Ødegaard combined well. Ødegaard now brought Pépé’s attacking qualities to the fore and this overall improvement of movement and technical quality in the final third brought out flashes of old excellence from Lacazette and even Aubameyang who never really recovered from the post-malaria malaise (hopefully the summer break will get him back to his physical best). We had very few memorable attacking performances in this season and they all came in the second half of the season where some combination of Saka – ESR – Ødegaard was key. None of them scored a lot of goals or notched up a high number of assists but they were pivotal to the attacking improvement in the second half of the season, allowing the more experienced finishers in Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pépé to contribute more consistently in the goalscoring column. Saka maintained his impressive consistency throughout the season, only starting to drop his level towards the end as the fatigue of a long and mostly dispiriting season took over.  Gabriel Martinelli was used sparingly even when he was fully fit and even though Arteta might have felt that his direct, tenacious, all-action approach may need some tactical fine-tuning before he can become a regular member, many of us thought that his unique combination of pressing from the front, causing chaos in the opposition penalty box and quality finishing deserved more game time, especially when we were again begging for a spark of inspiration in matches.    

The attacking improvement was noticeable enough to bring some smiles back to the Arsenal fanbase but not nearly enough to end the season with any sense of achievement. We lost to Villareal in the Europa League semi-final with an extraordinarily poor attacking performance across both legs when the limitations of the team were exacerbated by questionable tactical choices. We ended the Premier League season with a run of positive results, helped by a goal-scoring spree by Pépé, Martinelli and Laca chipping in the odd winner or two, and Saka – ESR – Ødegaard providing just enough quality in the attacking third to support the forward line.

Eddie Nketiah & Reiss Nelson – both having played promising roles in the last season’s successful FA Cup run, and even contributing enthusiastically in league matches when called for – were mostly absent from matchday appearances, Reiss more so than Eddie. Again, as an Arsenal fan used to seeing talented youngsters in the squad getting necessary chances and encouragement over the years, this felt a very un-Arsenal like cautiousness. There were many matches where our attack had turned pedestrian – one might be tempted to stay “literally” pedestrian, so slow was the pace of the build-up – when the directness brought by Reiss Nelson — who has always shown a willingness to run at defences and take shots at goal – at the expense of secure but pointless possession in the middle of the park, might have yielded a few more goals.  

Eddie played a few matches, scored some goals, but it was slowly becoming obvious that his strength as an excellent poacher and his technical imitations on the ball may lead us decide to sell him to another top division club (in England or abroad) but with less than our own immediate need to drastically improve our overall performance and league standing. That impression became further solidified as the club successfully renewed Folarin Balogun’s contract. Balogun has been the shining star of the Arsenal youth teams for the last few years and even in his brief involvement with the first team managed to impress by playing with both flair and strength in the penalty box. 

The attacking stats for the forward line, across all competitions, truly present a picture of overall mediocrity: 

Lacazette:         17 goals, 3 assists;

Pépé:               16 goals, 5 assists;

Auba:              15 goals, 4 assists;

Saka:               7 goals, 7 assists;

Eddie:              6 goals, 1 assist;

Martinelli:        2 goals, 2 assists;

Willian:            1 goal, 7 assists;

Balogun:          2 goals, 1 assist;

Reiss Nelson:  1 goal, 1 assist.  

Adding the attacking midfielders to that list:  

ESR:                4 goals, 7 assists;

Ødegaard:        2 goals, 2 assists. 

While these numbers taken altogether are not entirely unrespectable, a season with such a relatively mediocre output from the frontline can only be salvaged if there are goals (and assists) coming from central midfield where the Arsenal numbers are likely to compete with the relegated clubs. The most prolific of the central midfielders were Joe Willock — who only played half of the season before being loaned out to Newcastle where he scored more premier league goals in half a season that all of our central midfield combined — who had 3 goals and 3 assists, Xhaka with 1 goal and 2 assists, Elneny with 3 goals and 0 assists, and Partey with 0 goals and 0 assists. The total number of times an Arsenal midfielder arrived in the penalty box from deep with a late run couldn’t have been more than 10 across the entire season.  

If we are to harbour any hope of returning to a Champions League position in the league table – which really has to be the absolute minimum target for next season – our goalscoring output has to significantly improve. That means improving the quality of the supply line, improving the dynamism of the central midfield to facilitate their contribution to the goalscoring column, and improving the output of the forward line where the qualities of unpredictability, movement, progressive attitude, and efficiency should determine the matchday squad and starting eleven rather than reputations or experience or the sense of tactical comfort provided by them. The depressing fact that we play in no European competition this season can only be assuaged by making that extra rest and preparation time between league matches count.

58 Drinks to “Season Review: Forwards”

  1. 1
    TTG says:

    That is another very detailed and cogent piece of analysis and I think I’m with you on all the key points . Perhaps bad luck played a part . When Auba notched at Fulham I remember thinking, as he had just done exactly the same to Liverpool at Wembley , he was the hottest striker in the country . He had , after all. played a huge part in winning us the Cup. Then domestic problems related to his mother’s illness followed by malaria which possibly had more of an effect across the season than we realised reduced his effectiveness enormously. Plus Arteta’s dropping him for the Derby suggested a lack of discipline that compounded things .He is a predator not a target man and in a side playing in the sterile , predictable way we did before Christmas he found it very hard to shine .
    I’m hearing a very interesting report that the group controlling transfer policy at Arsenal wants us to acquire Camavinga of Rennes. He is a midfield version of Mbappe in terms of potential and ongoing value ( hence the interest ) . Auba doesn’t fit this new philosophy but I’m not hearing serious noise about an alternative striker .
    We have the capability to be much more potent next season if we move the ball much quicker . Beautifully analysed Dr.F and required reading to understand the complexities of last season. Great stuff

  2. 2
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice review Dr F.

    Arsenal are closing the Away Ticket Scheme (which is effectively an away season ticket). It was kept at around one thousand members. However many used to sell the tickets on so over the next two years it will be shut. It should make it easier for other fans to build up away credits and get to more away games.

  3. 3
    North Bank Ned says:

    Excellent, again, Dr F. Nothing to disagree with. Improving both the quantity and quality of service for the strikers and getting the midfielders to score more goals must be priority objectives for the coming season. We had the joint 9th most prolific attack in the PL last season; every club that finished above us scored more goals than we did.

    Nine of our 13 PL losses last season were by a single goal, plus we had seven draws. If we had turned just the five 1-0 losses into draws, those five extra points would have been enough to have given us fifth place. Fine margins.

    Getting Camavinga would be a coup. Bayern, PSG and Real Madrid are all after the 18-year old who already has an international goal for France under his belt.

  4. 4
    ClockEndRider says:

    Excellent review, Dr. F. I think you have managed to sum up most cogently and succinctly both the events of last season and the reasons in terms of strengths and weaknesses of individuals, manager and tactics. Can’t disagree with anything you have written.

    Camavinga would be an amazing addition. He would cost the earth but if the stories about the cash injection from the owners is true, he would certainly be the kind of player we should be looking to attract.

  5. 5
    Cynic says:

    This is a quite glorious tweet.

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    It’s a weird market with very little cash around . It’s very hard fir clubs with highly paid players to sell them on. Mavropanos is now going back to Stuttgart on loan with an agreed purchase option at the end of the season. Price €7000. So a young Greek international can be borrowed for a season and if you like him you can buy him for £5m. We need someone else selling our players .
    Another issue is highlighted by Daniel Ogyoke leaving. Highly promising but refused a pro contract . Teams are all over our young players like flies over fresh meat . It’s very hard to get them to renew unless you offer them a pathway to the first team. We , of course are interested in players at other clubs in similar situations. Chelsea and Citeh are particularly vulnerable so they pay the players the earth

  7. 7
    Bathgooner says:

    Thanks for a forensic analysis, Dr F. Nothing to disagree with as you have, IMHO, accurately defined the strengths and weaknesses of our strike force last season and the improvements in the midfield that are essential to rectification of the situation. Hopefully we won’t once again ‘Arsenalize’ this transfer window!

    Replication of Ødegaard’s erstwhile role is essential to an improved strike force next season. It doesn’t need to be the Norwegian himself, though I believe he may remain a target, but someone capable of contributing what he gave us last season is an essential addition to this squad as there is no internal solution.

    That old chestnut, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ has never been more applicable.

  8. 8
    North Bank Ned says:

    Hector was on the High Performance podcast (no jokes, please, about him being in the wrong place). it is a 70-minute interview but around the hour mark, he talks about some of the changes Arteta has been making on and off the field, particular things that most fans and pundits don’t notice but make a big difference.

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cynic@5: 🙂

  10. 10
    TTG says:

    Sorry it’s Oyegoke I believe ( see earlier)
    Odegaard has just confirmed apparently he is staying at Real . I suspect there are other fish in the sea

  11. 11
    Cynic says:

    Ohhhh do the Oyegoke
    Ohhhh do the Oyegoke
    Ohhhh do the Oyegoke
    Knees bend, arms stretch
    Rah rah rah

  12. 12
    Countryman100 says:

    Crazy night in Munich.

  13. 13
    TTG says:

    We are certainly in the right half of the draw. Beat Germany and England have a great chance of the Final

  14. 14
    North Bank Ned says:

    Whoever makes it to the final from the weaker half of the draw will probably win it because the finalist from the other half will be exhausted from beating at least two far better sides to get there.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Dr.F, your usual thorough and thought-provoking piece👍

    Aren’t we selling Mavro for about what we paid and in line with his
    TransferMarkt value? It doesn’t seem that bad TTG😉

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM16: We paid 2.1 million euros for Mavropanos in 2018. His market value rose steeply in the second half of last season on the back of his Bundesliga performances and winning his first two caps for Greece. As you note, 7 million euros is the top-end of the range for his current market value, though may look cheap in a year’s time if his recent performance trajectory continues. My question is how the option to make the transfer permanent next summer works? Is Stuttgart obliged to buy? Or are we keeping our options open? Otherwise, why not sell out right now, even if payment is deferred. Also, are we getting a loan fee in the meantime?

  18. 18
    Trev says:

    Thanks Dr F – I’m as exhausted as Aubameyang looked for most of last season after reading all that, but a very thorough analysis.

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    My point was we are paying £50m for a new England international centre back with a couple of caps and selling a new Greek international centre back for £5m . Seems disproportionate.
    I went to see the South East Counties League team once and remember chatting after tye game to one of the Arsenal retinue . He mentioned Isaiah Rankin who we had just sold to Bradford City for £1m. The bloke ( who didn’t know me from Adam ) said ‘ don’t play poker with Wenger he’sjust got £1m for a lad not worth a tenth of that ‘ . Sadly for Isaiah he never went on to great things ………but we certainly made a Prophet on him 😀😀😀. I’m here all week

  20. 20
    TTG says:

    Sounds like the White deal is agreed . Presumably he won’t sign until the England are out of the Euros ie the day after the Final !

  21. 21
    TTG says:

    The Guardian says Stuttgart have an option to buy for £3m . That really is a pathetic price for an international centre back of his age

  22. 22
    bt8 says:

    Cheers Dr. F on the 2nd of a 2 part opus.

    UEFA does away with the away goals rule, it’s about time.

    I watched the last 20 minutes of the dramatic Copa America game, Brazil 2-0 Colombia, getting to see the winning goals by Firmino and Casemiro. Lots for the Colombians to complain about (unjustifiably, in my view) on the Firmino goal as the ball struck the referee in the build-up play.

    And I attended a full capacity MLS game last night, Minnesota United 2-0 FC Austin. It felt like a return to normality, which it was.

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    For what it is worth, the German tabloid, Bild, reports today that Stuttgart’s option to buy Mavropanos at the end of his coming season’s loan is fixed at 7 million euros (£6m), which it says is Ein echter Schnäppchen-Preis für den Vollgas-Verteidiger!, which I guess translates as a steal. We’ll know in a year’s time if it is.

    If the Guardian is right that the price is £3m, it won’t be a steal but highway robbery.

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    Stuttgart has announced the Maprovanos loan, without mentioning numbers.


    The Guardian’s number seems to come from a report on Kicker, a German sports site, although it says the 3 million is euros, not pounds. Kicker also says the loan fee for next season is 500,000 euros, which would be double the loan fee for last season.

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@22: Hope you had a great evening out.

  26. 26
    Cynic says:

    If there’s such a thing as football shirt porn, this is a manky copy of Razzle.


  27. 27
    TTG says:

    Great research work! It looks to me that there is huge doubt on just how low the figure is. I do hope Stuttgart are paying all his salary. After everyone leapt up and down when we offloaded Ozil it turned out we were paying 90% of his salary and continue to until the end of the month . We can’t have a firesale of our assets and then pay top dollar for everyone else’s

  28. 28
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned. Good questions @17 on Mavro and I’d rather sell now too.

    TTG – quite agree, that looks a lot for White to me as well. But it will certainly put the cat amongst our centre back pigeons. Could be an interesting summer if it’s a sign of things to come.

  29. 29
    bt8 says:

    Thanks Ned @25. Indeed, it was almost surreal how normal it all felt. I attended the game with my now 17 year old daughter who (somewhat surprisingly to me) said “I really missed this.” Walking to and from the games (which we are lucky to be able to do) certainly helps in making the experience.

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Looks like Tottxxham still don’t have a manager. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cynic@26: No wonder they can not get a manager if he has to look at that.

  32. 32
    ClockEndRider says:

    Inspired metaphor!

  33. 33
    OsakaMatt says:

    Of course when I look at what Manure
    paid for Maguire then White is cheap.
    And White isn’t even a known villain😉

  34. 34
    Countryman100 says:

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    A list of French (Nice, OM, Lille and Rennes), German (Bayer Leverkusen), Italian (unnamed) and English (Newcastle and Southampton) clubs are interested in taking Saliba on loan next season, according to the French site Foot Mercato. However, Arteta wants to take a look at the Frenchman in pre-season before deciding.

    Foot Mercato also says that Torriera is close to joining Lazio on a season-long loan with a 20 million euros purchase option, that Guendozi is going to OM on loan, also with a purchase option, and throws in the name of Barcelona’s Brazilian back-up keeper, Neto, as a possible replacement for Leno.

  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:

    No one wants to spend money just now, I know the feeling.

  37. 37
    Trev says:

    Ned, did Neto ever work with Christian Gross ?

  38. 38
    Countryman100 says:

    Kieran’s signed his new contract.

  39. 39
    Countryman100 says:

  40. 40
    Trev says:

    Is Neto really the name of a goalkeeper ? 😜

  41. 41
    Trev says:

    C100 @ 39,

    When playing school football I always reckoned the lad with Woolworths boots in a plastic carrier bag was going to be the one to watch out for.

  42. 42
    TTG says:

    Superb news about KT3. The mood music is changing at the club . I’m going to post a very positive ( but considered ) piece tomorrow. I think this is the only blog in the Goonerverse I’d consider releasing it on !
    Re the goalie, Yes Neto really is a goalie . He’s Brazilian ( 1cap) but he’s not been first choice much during his career . He averages less than twenty games a season during his career . My understanding is that we are looking for a homegrown keeper – that means Ramsdale , Johnstone , Woodman or Pope but I understand Pope isn’t very good with his feet . I think we will buy Onana. We’ve never had someone of that name at the club before – Yes we have no Onanas . ….I’ve already got my coat

  43. 43
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words.

    Not sure if this is true, but saw it on social media and sharing if only because it should be true.

    When asked if he would consider the Tottenham job if offered, Wenger apparently said:
    “Look, I tell you when you have driven a Rolls-Royce and seen the luxury & beauty it’s very difficult to accept getting behind the wheel of a Kia. I would rather get the bus”

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    You are right, Dr F. Even if that Wenger quote isn’t true, it is too good not to be.

  45. 45
    North Bank Ned says:

    A bit tough on Kias, however. A Trabant would be more like it.

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@42: Foot Mercado also says that we are following Onana and Ramsdale. I wonder if one of those two come to replace Leno, then Neto might be the No 2 if Ryan does not return.

    Trev@41: That might have been Clive!

  47. 47
    Trev says:

    Heh !

  48. 48
    TTG says:

    Very credible notion . I wish I knew more about the candidates . I don’t know Onana , I’ve not followed Ramsdale closely although he was a strong pick in the Fantasy League when he played for Bournemouth ( I never picked him ) and I’ve not heard great things about Neto . I really liked Ryan .
    For what it’s worth Bob Wilson is a big fan of Nick Pope as is Seaman . I might defer to them !

  49. 49
    bt8 says:

    Dr. F, AW couldn’t have said it better if he didn’t say it. 👌

  50. 50
    Sancho Panza says:

    Yes but Pope can eat an apple through a tennis racket so surely we need to be looking elsewhere.

  51. 51
    Cynic says:

    Is Neto really the name of a goalkeeper ?

    Hopefully his forenames are Keepo Outo.

    In other news, this is a work of genius. Unlike the joke above…

  52. 52
    Cynic says:

    If we sign Onana there’s plenty of scope for equally awful jokes.

  53. 53
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@48: Onana is top quality, by all accounts. Better than Leno? I don’t know, but we would not be getting a downgrade. He appears to be slightly short for a keeper, just over 6′, and not the 6’3″ widely claimed. But his footwork is said to be as good as Liverpool’s Alisson and his shot-stopping on a par with Atletico’s Oblak, which, if true, wouldn’t be too shabby.

  54. 54
    scruzgooner says:

    cynic@52: when he leaves the field at the end of his career, we will all sing “oh na na na, hey hey, good bye…”

    faustus, you didn’t miss a trick in this post, or in the midfield piece. i appreciate you and your efforts.

  55. 55
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ramsdale, Johnstone, Woodman or Pope?
    Woodman I suppose as I haven’t seen him play and I definitely don’t want the other three.
    Though that might not be the best reason for choosing a keeper.

  56. 56
    bt8 says:

    Klinsman and NES reportedly the latest candidates for Spuds managerial torture drama.

  57. 57
  58. 58
    Bathgooner says: