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Capitola Rob Holding tries to convince aging American to sign for the Arsenal after beers and too many bacon baps.

The planning that informs our range of articles on this site is most impressive and is very carefully and democratically done. We looked to move seamlessly into the new season with detailed accounts of preseason action followed by an assessment of our transfer activity.

Unfortunately our intended push towards the new season began with a whimper and has ground to a juddering halt, largely through no fault of the club itself. In these unpredictable times weird things happen so this article will describe the match action we have seen so far but will mainly try to look at what I think is currently happening at the club and the impact of that. I am keen not to encroach too far into the territory that Trev and CER will look at in subsequent weeks.

On top of the Covid crisis, which shows no sign of abating and which will very likely keep me from using my season ticket in the early weeks of the season, planning for the new campaign was hit by the impact of the Euros. They deprived Arsenal of Bernd Leno, Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka as the rest of the players returned to training. This was in reality less of a problem for Arsenal than for many of our rivals who had more players engaged. Xhaka, of course, may never be seen in an Arsenal shirt again as he approaches a move away to Roma after five fun-filled years in North London. His Euro efforts have variously seen him placed in one of the teams of the tournament (presumably chosen by one of the psychic penguins or whatever that we see at this time of the season) or rated less favourably when his Swiss team were overrun by Italy and he missed their quarter final with Spain through suspension after producing a performance against France of very high order.

Poor Bukayo Saka. Despite being overwhelmed with love from housewives and grannies all over the country, he has been racially abused and will have to run the gauntlet of regular abuse over the seasons from lowlife Twitterati for his penalty miss. It matters not, he is an Arsenal hero and hopefully destined to become a great player for our club over many years.

Pre-season used to be very formulaic. George Graham used to complain about Don Howe sending him on interminable laps of Trent Park before he did exactly the same with his charges. Arsene had a plan laid in stone. An Austrian training camp, a game against a team of villagers clad in lederhosen and then home to give Barnet and Boreham Wood a tanking. In recent years the lure of loadsamoney through foreign tours saw us decamp to the USA and the Far East on regular trips. On one Rob Holding was so taken with a Californian bohemian named Scruz he made the acquaintance of, that he has been desperate for a reunion!

Arsene’s job was also complicated by the incursion of summer tournament football into the domestic calendar. When the lovely Mrs TTG, that domestic goddess with a burgeoning Amazon habit, says to me that ‘the football season never seems to end‘ she is technically not too far from correct. As the Copa America and Euro 2021 players sneaked off to Mykonos for some overdue R and R, they passed those lucky enough to be playing in the qualifying rounds of the Europa Conference League. Where is the Intertoto Cup when you need it? Football is a perpetual spectacle with massive international involvement.

This Summer, Colney (which has also been hit by a Covid outbreak) must have been a confusing and frustrating place on the first day of the new campaign. What Arteta had to work with was so different from what we hope we will start the season with. To illustrate this our team in the second half of our second friendly at Ibrox consisted of nine players who may not represent or even be at the club this season. This was a large part of the reason I didn’t bother to watch the  matches on our Scottish tour live. My comments are gleaned from a highlights package for each game.

The tour began with an early evening match at Easter Road against Scotland’s third best side, Hibernian. The game started inauspiciously when Soares exposed our young goalkeeper, Arthur Okonkwo, with a ghastly backpass. The nervous custodian made a hash of the awkward situation and Hibs were one up. They added to their lead with a header from a set piece, a problem which reared its ugly head distressingly quickly again at Ibrox. We were clearly a superior team to Hibernian but understandably very rusty and chaotic defensively, with no sign of Holding (who was away reflecting on his time in California with Scruz). Pepe missed a penalty and while our football quality began to shine through in the second half a nicely-taken finish from Emile Smith-Rowe was all we had to show in a dispiriting match with a very depressing (although almost totally irrelevant) 2-1 scoreline in favour of the Hibees.

Our second game, last Saturday, was more encouraging although we managed to concede two further goals from corners. Andreas Georgeson, our set-piece coach, had decamped to Malmo and will be replaced by Nicolas Cover, a French set-piece expert who joins us from those perennial strugglers Manchester City. We anticipate (and desperately need) positive results at both ends of the field. One of the concerns was no cover on the posts (nothing new) and smaller players like Bellerin and Elneny trying to pick up much bigger players at corners. Still Balogun got off the mark with a goal. Sadly it was the Balogun representing Rangers!

There were bright moments though, particularly a very encouraging debut by our new Portuguese left-wing back, Nuno Tavares, who joins us from Benfica. He finished a surge upfield sweetly with an assured right-foot finish and his pace and strength were exciting to behold. Eddie Nketiah scored our second equaliser with a well-taken and opportunistic finish and the game was a much more satisfactory affair than the Easter Road debacle; it saw KT3 enter the fray having cut his holiday short to return to training, albeit it (for him) on the wrong side of the city.

Then the shock of the cancellation of our trip to the Florida Cup, an intense disappointment to our American fans, but not surprising in the midst of a pandemic which appears to be hitting Florida particularly hard. I fear we will see a lot of disruption this season although our absence from Europe with its consequent lessening of our travel programme may be a blessing in disguise. We are trying to arrange a couple of private friendlies but it is hardly conducive to a smooth run-in to the new season.

I think the reassuring thing that we can take from the way pre-season has unfolded is that there appears to be a rational and credible plan developing at the club and that the necessary finance to implement that plan appears to be forthcoming. When clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona are pleading poverty and we look enviously at the expenditures of the oil-rich state-owned clubs like PSG and Manchester City or the oligarch-funded Chelsea it is surprising to see KSE apparently approving a quite lavish purchasing spree which doesn’t appear to be totally dependent on chopping away all the massive financial deadwood we will be left with; we still have players like Willian and Kolasinac who are unsellable given the size of their remuneration packages.

When I mooted this in my article about Arteta a few weeks ago, a few drinkers understandably were sceptical that the same KSE who have been relatively frugal since they took full ownership of the club would be willing to fund the necessary expenditure. I will let those who come after me talk specifics about who we have acquired and may still acquire but the template that has been created, of young players with high sell-on value and significant potential, makes absolute sense.

I have been critical of Edu over his time in the Technical Director role and the Willian deal still brings tears to my eyes. He does not appear to be a skilled seller of players but frankly it would be hard to find anyone who could unload some of the players we have accumulated. Even the late Arthur Daley would have struggled to find buyers for some of the stock we have on the books, although maybe chucking in a few cases of Lithuanian Riesling might do the trick (that’s one for slightly older British readers).

Frustratingly, Chelsea and Liverpool seem to achieve serious fees for players they sell on. We can scarcely raise any finance from sales at all. Guendouzi, Torreira and Xhaka all look likely to go cheaply and the big saving has to be on the wage bill, freed now of Ozil’s mega contract which we were still funding in full while he was at Fenerbache. Call me picky but I’m a little underwhelmed by January’s deal that saw a player leave on a free transfer while we continued to pick up his full salary and bonuses.

However Edu does deserve credit in one very important respect. He has made it a major plank of our strategy to retain young talent from the Academy and in almost every notable instance has persuaded young stars like Saka, Smith Rowe, Okonkwo, Tierney, Balogun and Taylor-Hart to commit their futures to the club. This is sound husbandry and of course ensures we have a Hale End nucleus in the first-team squad which may be swollen soon by the addition of Patino, Azeez and Hutchinson. This is probably, in a confused and highly unusual pre-season, the most substantial element of good news we can cling onto.

I remember a few seasons ago, that erstwhile striker Gary Lineker bemoaning the fact that every season the Marshdwellers were always anticipating a transitional season. They never had the right pieces in place to challenge for honours. Sadly in recent years much the same criticism could be levelled at us. We’ve spent years trying to repair the damage caused by lack of or misdirected investment and inadequate oversight. Let us hope the positive perceptions we have of a new attitude and approach from KSE will indeed prove to be the case and that we can see 2021/22 as a season where our move back to the top really gathers momentum.

142 Drinks to “Pre-season, Part 1: A very confusing picture”

  1. 1
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG, Scruz, that picture is legendary in this blog. I love it.

    Great review, as always TTG and a nice little friendly win against Millwall today. We’re looking sharp. Excitement is growing.

  2. 2
    North Bank Ned says:

    It is the hope that kills you, C100.

  3. 3
    Bathgooner says:

    Excellent amuse bouche preamble to the season, TTG.

    Highlights of today’s diversion against Millwall are here:

  4. 4
    scruzgooner says:

    ned@2, you must be a ted lasso fan.

    thanks for a reminder of a lovely lunchtime with our rob. i hope he cements his place in the center of a stingy defense this year. and i agree, excitement is growing, c100, let’s just continue to be patient with the inconsistency of youth as this team and vision develop.

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    A great snapshot of where we are, TTG.
    You are right to highlight our vulnerability to crosses and corners, again on display against Millwall today. Although we defend better than we are generally given credit for, it is an Achilles heel.

    My view on KSE’s wallet opening is that he believes that in the long-term, something akin to the aborted European Super League will happen. For what it is worth, I think he is right in that view, whether it happens under UEFA or a breakaway organisation. An elite group of European clubs will then get the lion’s share of the financial rewards of the game, much as Premiership clubs have done since the creation of the EPL. He needs Arsenal to be in a position where it is regarded as a natural part of that elite when that day comes. Spending a few hundred million now will pay him a handsome dividend down the road.

  6. 6
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@4: I have never seen an episode.

  7. 7
    scruzgooner says:

    you might enjoy it, ned. there was a whole show where a dominant thread was on the killing nature of hope.

  8. 8
    Trev says:

    Cheers TTG,
    Nice entertaining read – we should start a pre-season journal entitled Much Ado About Very Little.
    Here’s hoping the coming week provides me with something interesting to say ……

  9. 9
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the link Bath👍
    And TTG in the last drinks – yeah the VAR was slow in the rugby. Looking forward to the 2nd test though it’d be nice to see the attacks get on top a bit more.

  10. 10
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the piece TTG, much still to be done as you say.

  11. 11
    ClockEndRider says:

    Thanks TTG,
    A very thoughtful article on where we are. It does feel as though the transfer season will start to kick off now that some of the richer clubs and those who aren’t constrained to run as a business are beginning to oil the wheels with big transfers. I. Opted Adrian Clarke trying to talk up the pressing we were doing yesterday. I hope that this season see Arteta able to stamp an identity on the way we play. In seasons past under Emery and then Arteta we seem to have started the season pressing only to abandon it after a relatively short time. Either way a coherent approach would be nice.

  12. 12
    Las says:

    Thanks TTG!
    Very enjoyable piece of writing.
    I have no clue why we repeat tbe same mistake again and again.
    Simehow a miscalculated effort motivating our star players, Ozil, Auba, Willian
    But I am just happy to see the youngsters commiting their future to Arsenal.
    That’s the most I expected.

  13. 13
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@11: One unintended consequence of having no European travels this coming season is that it will give the players additional rest and recovery to help sustain the high fitness levels needed to press consistently.

    Talking of rest and recovery, I see Harry Kane is to miss the start of the season because of his exertions at the Euros, conveniently missing the match between his current employer and his future one.

  14. 14
    North Bank Ned says:

    DB10-esque goal from compatriot Vivianne Miedema against Brazil at the Olympics:

    Even she smiled for once.

  15. 15
    bt8 says:

    Slow start, gradual but continuous improvement wins races everywhere you look. Nice job TTG.

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    Good thing then that our slow start has come in “meaningless” pre-season games!

  17. 17
    TTG says:

    It seems that Granit isn’t worth £17m to the only club seemingly interested in buying him The only likely cash buyers for our players are going to be British clubs or PSG but I don’t see them being interested in our players .
    If we had to keep Xhaka at the club not only would it reduce the quality of our midfield but he is unlikely to be a very positive presence around the club. I’m sure this will be resolved but someone of his experience only fetching around £15 m shows the state of the market and does rather underline the view of several regulars here on how sought after Xhaka actually is

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@17: In the end, we will probably have to take the price Roma offers for Xhaka. If KSE is serious about the rebuild, what we would forego is small change in the larger scheme of things.

    The Italian press reports that Bellerin and his agent are in Milan to talk to Inter. They were all meant to meet up in Orlando this weekend but that got kyboshed when our USA trip and then Inter’s was cancelled. The speculation is that a loan with an option to buy is what they will be talking about, not an outright sale.

  19. 19
    ClockEndRider says:

    TTG@17 – which makes it all the more amazing that Liverpool seem to be able to extract top dollar for players with little or no experience whatsoever, as seen again last week.

  20. 20
    TTG says:

    I’ve been speaking to my mate who is very well connected at Chelsea and broke the blissful news of Willian coming to me some time ago . He is amazed that Arsenal would consider paying anything like £40 m for Abraham but there does appear to be some credibility in the story . He made a similar comment to C100’s mates about him that he misses a lot of chances and needs a lot of service from the wings . I desperately hope we swerve this deal

  21. 21
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks TTG for a very readable article which you managed to concoct out of very little real activities.
    The transfer market appears very skewed by the combination of COVID finances badly affecting club’s incomes along with rank bad management of funds over the years by the big clubs in Italy & Spain. Roma and Inter playing the we ‘ave no money card and looking to get Xhaka & Bellerin on the cheap. At what point do we concede to them or should we keep them in the squad if our reasonable fees are not met. I suspect the drinkers here think get whatever you can at the end of the day for the former and at minimum get an agreement to purchase at the end of a years loan to the latter. Let’s see how the poker games progress.

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@19: I’m not sure that Liverpool is consistently extracting top dollar from its sales. True, Awoniyi was sold for a 30% premium on his estimated 4 million market value, but Harry Wilson was sold at an 18% discount and Grujic at a 40% discount. Wijnaldum left on a free as his contract had run out. I will accept that fair market value is a woolly number at this point, but what I think can be said that Liverpool is doing successfully is selling players outright. No loans with an option to buy. It also seems disciplined in deciding the future of its academy graduates once they hit 20 or 21 years old. It is up or out. So far this season, it has been up for only one of them and out for a dozen who have mostly been let go on frees or, in a couple of cases, for token fees. Only one has gone out on loan.

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    Uply@21: You make the correct call, in my book, on Xhaka and Bellerin. Arteta’s project can advance with Bellerin staying but not with Xhaka. It is better for all parties to make a clean break with Xhaka now.

    Inter’s financial situation is difficult because of the near-bankruptcy of its Chinese owner, the Suning consumer electronics retailing group. However, it has just sold Achraf Hakimi to PSG and Politano to Napoli for around 80 million euros and has replaced Pirelli as its shirt sponsor with Socios, the blockchain company that helps clubs screw even more money out of fans. This new deal is for 20 million euros a season instead of 10 million euros, making it the third most lucrative shirt sponsorship in Serie A after Juve and Fiorentina’s. So claims of ”aving no money’ are, as you imply, relative.

  24. 24
    Countryman100 says:

    Man United having an impressive summer. First Sancho and it seems Varane is imminent. High quality.

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    I hope there is no credibility at all in buying Abrahams for 40m and selling Laca for 15m.
    We would, in my opinion, be 25m poorer and with a lower quality CF.

  26. 26
    TTG says:

    Totally agree. I’d like to have kept Ryan ( free ) but we apparently need a homegrown keeper so we are quoted £32 m ( allegedly) for Ramsdale having sold Martinez for £20 m. Martinez is WAY better than Ramsdale . We’ve bought Runarsson then loaned him out because he is not up to snuff . What is going on with our goalkeeping department ? What’s magical about a homegrown keeper? Instead of buying a foreign right-back why not sign Ryan and buy Aarons at right-back . If we must have a homegrown keeper why don’t we go for Woodman ?
    Toney has way more upside than Abraham . He wouldn’t cost £40 m either . Why not loan Brentford Nketiah ( or Balogun) to get them a year in the PL and see if they can cut it . I’m starting to lose confidence in our judgement . But I think Ben White will be superb

  27. 27
    Pangloss says:

    The Be Arsed family was in touch to say that it was cba’s Wedding Anniversary last Thursday (sadly their note got lost in the cracks). I’d love to post a musical tribute to the Great Man (c), but my tastes and his didn’t coincide and I wouldn’t want to put a damper on the celebrations. I’ll send a tenner to Willow if the more musically inclined amongst us can make a decent fist of an overnight musical rant.

    Happy Anniversary cba; gone but not forgotten.

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    Happy Anniversary to Her Nellieness.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    cba gone but not forgotten
    goes for me in equal measure i’n
    relatively certain of that

  31. 31
  32. 32
    bt8 says:

    never really knew the ramones
    until cba turned me onto them
    adamant he was

  33. 33
  34. 34
    bathgooner says:

    Ivor Cutler was a great favourite of cba. Here’s looking at ya, fella!

  35. 35
    bathgooner says:

    Just like Dave, cba will never be forgotten by the denizens of this fine establishment.

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    A big MOO! for cba and for all the family. A glass raised in honour of the anniversary.

    He was unforgettable. If he and Jackie Mason are both upstairs, the crac will be something else.

    The musical fare at Castle Ned is probably as distant from cba’s taste as Pangloss’s is. So I’ll spare the great man the full eight hours of this Gregorian chant and just post a link to the eight-minute rock remix.

    Here’s thinking of you, kid.

  37. 37
    TTG says:

    In memoriam CBA !
    That’s a kind gesture Pangloss. Thankyou

  38. 38
    Doctor Faustus says:

    For all his Ramones craziness CBA was appreciative of some musical acts quite far from that 3-chords breakneck music … he liked Cohen (“Lenny” he would call him but don’t know if he really knew him) , and some bebop now and then …

    So, https://youtu.be/szYrXzEi0cg

    And https://youtu.be/Eyh4Bq0Xp4w

  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    Please pardon my lamentable confusion of the cba and BtM spouses above. In penance I am chanting with Ned’s monks.

  40. 40
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well, cba was many things but forgettable certainly wasn’t one of them. He was interested in sake and made some at one time he told me. I will raise a glass to him tonight, and to the family too 🍶🍶

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    @26 TTG,
    I’d like to have kept Ryan too, I guess he wanted a better chance at a first team place and fair play to him for that but Ramsdale isn’t any better and a no thank you at 30m.

  42. 42
    TTG says:

    I had a very pleasant missive from a friend today. He is a very interesting guy who does some leading edge social research and psephology . He is also a Leeds fan. He is adamant that Ben White is an absolute gem, he describes him as the nearest thing to Bobby Moore that he has seen , in terms of his ability to distribute from the back combined with great reading of the game . They were very sorry to lose him at Leeds . This is the second conversation I’ve had about White . The other guy was a Brighton ST holder and while he thinks he benefited from Dunk’s presence alongside him he described him as a ‘ brilliant, classy player ‘. I shall reserve judgment but one can appreciate why we are buying him

  43. 43
    North Bank Ned says:

    I’d have kept Ryan, too, especially if we could have got the same price from Brighton as Real Sociedad did, a free transfer. The Australian has already crocked his knee and will be out for six weeks, so some Arsenal DNA rubbed off while he was with us.

    Good to read reports of White’s promise, though I hope he is a bit quicker than Bobby Moore was. Interesting to compare his £50 million price tag with the £40 million the Mancs are reported to be paying for Varane, although I don’t doubt that the Frenchman will command the substantially higher wages of the two.

  44. 44
    OsakaMatt says:

    The sale of Varane has led to reports
    that Real Madrid are short of cash and
    now open to offers for Odegaard.
    I think I’d just prefer Maddison of
    the two, he scores more often and
    we need the goals from outside

  45. 45
    Pangloss says:

    I’m not entirely certain that the above can be described as making a “decent fist” of an all-night music fest a la cba. I guess it shows how much we miss him.

    There seems no reason to penalise Willow for our communal failure, so I have submitted the promised tenner.

    4/10 ‘holics; must do better.

  46. 46
    Countryman100 says:

    Well played Pangloss.

    Varane is absolute top, top quality. Utd have got a bargain. No negatives against White, but Varane is the real deal.

  47. 47
    bathgooner says:

    I’m very happy to read the rumours of the possibility that Ødegaard may be available for sale at circa £35m. Not that I don’t think Maddison would also be a welcome addiyion to our midfield but at the best part of £60-70m that makes the Norwegian far better value when we have so many other key positions to fill despite the creative mifielder being by far our biggest deficiency. This link provides a comparison of their skills, albeit superficial.


    If the price is the same, Maddison is the better buy. If there is a significant saving, it’s Ødegaard. Neither has hit his ceiling. Both will add to our skillset.

    I am totally underwhelmed by the gossip about spending a huge wedge of hard cash on Ramsdale. There are far, far better (and cheaper) options available for a back up keeper. If we do spend big on that fella the flawed judgement that led to us acquiring Willian, the Icelandic keeper and a long string of numpties going back beyond Park has not been eliminated.

    It’s interesting to get a keeper’s take on the situation (I’d love to know Bob Wilson’s thoughts), even an ex-Spud:

    Robinson ‘shocked’ by Sky latest on Arsenal bid to sign Ramsdale

  48. 48
    TTG says:

    I don’t think there was a better defender in European nay world football than Varane up until a couple of years ago but I’ve noticed a significant drop-off in quality from him . He was awful against Manchester City in the CL, couldn’t deal with the intensive press and I will make the outlandish claim that White will prove the better buy although alongside Maguire and at United’s stage of development Varane is a decent investment for United . But White makes more sense fir us given the new model we are adopting.
    If it is true that we are really trying to sign Lautaro Martinez something extraordinary is happening behind the scenes at Arsenal . Certainly he is in a completely different class to Tammy Abraham . I doubt we can attract him . Or afford him !

  49. 49
    TTG says:

    It’s interesting not only to read other club blogs relating to our transfer activity but this one about Maddison appears to have been written in a language somewhere between English and gobbledegook
    Sensational u-turn in the James Maddison to Arsenal transfer saga, will Leicester pull off yet another big treath?

    Not quite sure what a treath is?

  50. 50
    bathgooner says:

    TTG, yo certly not dan wiv da bruvs if ya don’ know howda pull off a big treath!

  51. 51
    bathgooner says:

    Raises bat to all 4 quadrants of the planet.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    TTG says:

    Treath is a hamlet east of Helford, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom
    Yo Bath Baby !

  54. 54
    Pangloss says:

    TTG@53 – Welsh for “beach” innit?

  55. 55
    OsakaMatt says:

    Martinez is definitely better than
    Abrahams from watching them
    both but goal stats are less than
    a goal every two games. He might
    be a better fit with the team which
    is worth a lot…. but 70m???

  56. 56
    North Bank Ned says:

    Pangloss@54: a sandy shore, you say

  57. 57
    Tapera Doma says:

    If Arteta is really interested in getting Ødegaard, why wait for Real Madrid to make the 1st move? Just go ahead and make an offer for the player & let Real M react to it. Make the 1st move boss. Let’s get moving boss.

  58. 58
    Pangloss says:

    Careful Ned, you don’t want to provoke the lurking pun monster.

  59. 59
    Pangloss says:

    So, here’s a favourite – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdRJ3zSZ6vA

  60. 60
    Countryman100 says:

    Arsenal v Watford friendly available free and in full (but delayed) on Arsenal.com from 3pm

  61. 61
    TTG says:

    Worth watching
    It’s a favourable result . Say no more

  62. 62
    Countryman100 says:

    Impressive performance I thought. TP5 and Lokonga looked rather good as the midfield pair.

  63. 63
    Countryman100 says:

    That Azeez goal reminded me of one by a 16 year old LJW, playing for the kids in the days when they used to stream that stuff on .com. Lovely languid swing of the left boot. That boy looks really good. Keep or loan this season?

  64. 64
    scruzgooner says:

    i agree c100, on first glance, about tp5 and sambi. add odegaard there, and smith rowe with auba and pepe in a fluid front 3 and we could be on to something.

    lovely shot by azeez. don’t loan him out. and tavares looked the real deal.

    well in for the half-ton, baff.

  65. 65
    TTG says:

    Agree it was a very good performance. A mate of mine who supports Watford thought 4-1 flattered them! I’m not sold on Odegaard but Arteta worked with him at close hand and clearly rates him. I’m still hoping for Maddison .
    The two newbies especially SL were very fluid and you could see how much time Partey seemed to enjoy on the ball. Our production line of attacking midfielders is awesome – Saka, ESR , Azeez, Patino , Hutchinson, Cottrell , Flores, Cirjan, Taylor- Hart as infinitum.
    But we need an in-form Auba . We don’t score enough goals and our strikers certainly don’t

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@64: No room for Saka?

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    Lokonga looked good with and without Partey. Nketiah looked as if he had a point to prove. Dare I say that even Willian showed the odd glimpse of why we signed him?

    I would not loan out Azeez at this point. He is 18. A season playing for the U-23s, training with the first-team squad and perhaps getting a few first-team minutes strikes me as the right development trajectory for him. If he continues to progress, a loan in 2022-23 to give him regular senior football will make sense.

    In that regard, I am increasingly of a mind that the club should buy a team in one of the better second-tier European leagues, on the Red Bull or Brentford models, as a development vehicle within our orbit but providing competitive senior football for our younger talent (including coaching talent). It could pay for itself if we were disciplined in selling on those who won’t make it through to our first-team squad.

  68. 68
    TTG says:

    I got this from CBA’s Brendan this evening
    A message for Pangloss.Thanks
    We had a bit of a get together for the anniversary and when we do get together we always raise a glass to Dave Faber and you lot.So if you can pass on to everyone how much it meant to my mother that would be great.
    All the best and as ever Up The Arsenal!

  69. 69
    scruzgooner says:

    ned@66, yeah i forgot him; wasn’t thinking.

    instead of pepe or odegaard, then.

  70. 70
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@68: Kind note from Brendan. Thanks for passing it on.

  71. 71
    North Bank Ned says:

    Tyreece John-Jules is going to Blackpool, newly promoted to the Championship, for the season on loan.

  72. 72
    TTG says:

    A typically thought-provoking piece by Tim Stillman today.

    It Ain’t Auba Till It’s Auba

    If we were offered £25 m for him by Chelsea would you accept it ? I think I would. I fear we have seen the best of him . But I still don’t want Tammy Abraham!

  73. 73
    North Bank Ned says:

    Wasn’t it you, TTG, who once mentioned that you saw Auba play for Dortmund against Bayern and that he barely had a kick all game but still stuck a hat trick past Neuer? To Tim Stillman’s point, teams that play that sort of striker have to feed them with scoreable chances, service that we were notably deficient in providing Auba (or anyone else) last season.

    A decent bid for him might be tempting if only to free up salary budget. There was a study of baseball players a few years back that showed that they signed their most lucrative contracts the season after their career performance had peaked. No reason to think that the same doesn’t apply in baseball.

    Arteta would lose a senior player if Auba left. He repeatedly says the youngsters need those around them to learn from. Nor would he get an experienced replacement striker of similar quality for £25 million. He would also have to be confident the Nketiah, Balogun or Martinelli is really going to make it.

  74. 74
    bt8 says:

    Pangloss posted this elsewhere but it’s a good interview with Holding and others may have missed it so here goes:


  75. 75
    Pangloss says:

    Re Aubamayang and Lacazette: Last season, while all around were tearing their hair out at the state of our midfield and other things, and asserting that we’d be fine once we sorted them out, I suggested that by then. our strke force would be past its sell-by date so we would remain some way from the sunlit uplands.

    I hold to that view, but am cautiously optimistic that Aubamayang’s problems last season may have been caused other than by his age, and that we can legitimately hope to see about one more decent season from him. Given Lacazette’s age we are probably only going to see half or one more decent season from him too.

    I’m sure both players bring a lot of experience to the first team squad and are a source of inspiration and good advice to the young players around the club, so we should probably not sell both at the same time, even if offers materialise.

    I’d actually hate to see either of them depart, but I’d be inclined to sell whichever we receive a good offer for, and to resign myself to having to offload the other for a knockdown price when the time comes – probably next summer.

    Aren’t you glad it’s not me that has to make these decisions? I know I am.


  76. 76
    scruzgooner says:

    “When we were playing every three or four days and had no crowd, going again in front of an empty stadium, it did feel like a slog,” he says. “With fans coming back now, it’s crazy how different it feels, how much more energy there is on the pitch. When you make a tackle or a block and a big cheer goes up, then you’re excited for the next bit of play rather than just blocking it, hearing nothing and then thinking, like, ‘Oh’.”

    such a key paragraph. plus, i didn’t realize he’d started 30 times in the league. good on ya, rob!

  77. 77
    bt8 says:

    Olympic gymnastics all-around gold medalist, Sunisa Lee of St. Paul, Minnesota where there is a very proud community of Hmong-Americans.


  78. 78
    TTG says:

    Interesting posts by Ned and Pangloss with much good sense . The Auba situation is difficult and has some similarities with Ozil’s contract . While we can chastise the management for giving mega contracts to older players Auba had just won an FA Cup almost single-handedly( I exaggerate slightly of course ) , had then detonated a superb shot in the Charity Shield and did the same against Fulham in our first league game . To have sold him would have provoked a massive outcry about KSE’s lack of ambition .
    To enlarge on Ned’s point Auba needs service as Stillman emphasises. His great skill is his movement into space and that is what I felt was missing last season and even in the bits he played in the two Colney games . But it’s too early to write him off. I know Tuchel is a fan and having lost Giroud, with Werner being very erratic in his finishing and Abraham seemingly not wanted he might make a stop-gap signing for Chelsea. How would we react to that ?
    Pangloss draws a fair point about Lacazette and Auba . You wouldn’t want to lose them together . Those espousing the cause of Balogun will soon turn on him after four scoreless games . Let’s hope Auba has a revival this season which will hopefully be less arduous for him

  79. 79
    North Bank Ned says:

    If the early promise of Lokonga’s quick, forward passing is fulfilled, we will see a new spring in Auba’s heels this season. If the Colney games are anything to go by, there will also be plenty of cutbacks coming into him from the right.

  80. 80
    OsakaMatt says:

    How I would react to us selling Auba to Chelsea

    Fortunately I think there’s no chance of us doing that, though
    Pangloss is right as is TTG about putting too much pressure on
    Balogun. A good season for Balogun would be to make himself
    a regular in the match day 18 and end up with 10 -15 games
    in the league and cups with a few goals thrown in. Anything
    more than that would be fantastic for a young player just
    starting out.

  81. 81
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@77: Ever watched Tuj Lub? One of the weirdest sports.

  82. 82
    North Bank Ned says:

    An Arsenal XI, predominantly drawn from the U-18s, is playing Hendon, Clive’s old stamping ground, on Friday evening at Silver Jubilee Park. It is a sell-out with the crowd limited to 975.


    The matchday programme has a couple of pieces about the long-standing connections between the two clubs.


  83. 83
    TTG says:

    Thanks for this update Ned.
    The U23s are at Ebbsfleet tomorrow, next to the station that I travel to games from. It’s a perfect opportunity to see the stars of the future but Mrs TTG rather unreasonably feels we should not delay our holiday in Norfolk so I can watch the match . Women eh!

  84. 84
    TTG says:

    It’s interesting that I’m hearing the Ramsdale deal is being very strongly driven by Pavon , the goalkeeping coach who brought us Runarsson and decided that we should let Martinez go. Let us just say that a number of goalkeeping authorities are less than totally impressed with this fellow . We seem to be fixated on having a homegrown keeper ( Martinez qualified as homegrown ) . We’ve seen Areola ( French) move to West Ham as no.2 to Fabianski and Bettinelli ( English) is moving to Chelsea to be no.3 . If we are really thinking of paying £32 m or thereabouts for Ramsdale I’m staggered . The boy Johnstone at West Brom is much cheaper and I thought he was a better keeper . But my main thought is if we have the right person in charge of our goalkeeping department

  85. 85
    bt8 says:

    Re: Ned. I had never heard of Tuj Lub actually but now that you mentioned it I did go and watch a YouTube about it. Fun stuff, and ancient apparently.

  86. 86
    TTG says:

    The news that I have been dreading appears to be coming to pass. Having been unable to find anyone willing to pay €20k for him and only one club showing serious interest for a midfielder who some people think is world class ( utter fools) Arsenal are apparently going to offer someone who has clearly signalled his keenness to leave a new contract . Personally this diminishes my enthusiasm for the new season hugely. This snail-paced liability ,who despite the acclaim he received in the Euros doesn’t seem to have generated serious interest from anyone will limit our ball progression hugely . Profoundly disappointing news . Forget Champions League if he plays much next season . I bet Thomas Partey is doing cartwheels ( not)

  87. 87
    TTG says:

    Sorry I meant €20 m not 20 k although I think the latter is closer to his value .

  88. 88
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@83 and @85: You are just a bundle of joy today.

    Incidentally, Hendon is managed by Ian Allison’s son, Lee. You may remember the father playing in the 1980s but he never really became a regular. Terry Neill bought him before being sacked. Don Howe did not play him much and George Graham sold him shortly after arriving.

    bt8@84: Unsurprisingly, your neck of the woods has a custom-built court so you can check it out in person.

  89. 89
    TTG says:

    Ian Allinson scored a very important goal . The equaliser at WHL in the League Cup semi- final replay . He was an Arsenal supporter signed from Colchester and for a while living the dream

  90. 90
    Dorset Mick says:

    TTG@85, worry ye not.
    Sometimes in life it is necessary in life to accept a loss on a poor purchasing decision.
    By happy coincidence, my wife and I have secured a booking slot at our local tip next Tuesday. We will gladly drop the disappointing midfielder off at the Verwood Recycling site when we visit.

  91. 91
    OsakaMatt says:

    Welcome to Ben White, our new
    No 4. Best of luck to him at The Arsenal.

    I hope the new contract leaked
    story on Xhaka is just a negotiation
    ploy. I hadn’t realized how much I
    wanted to see the back of him until
    the news of Roma’s interest came out.

  92. 92
    North Bank Ned says:

    Good news about Ben White, except perhaps if you are Rob Holding.

    The Xhaka contract extension rumours make no sense. He still has two years to go on his current contract so there is no need yet to protect his future transfer value.

  93. 93
    bathgooner says:

    TTG @83, I couldn’t agree more. Pavon has blotted his copybook with his recommendations over Martinez and Runarsson. The second gaffe shows even poorer judgement than his call over Martinez. Two such egregious errors of judgement in a true profession would result in striking off/disbarrment/being unfrocked etc. I should observe that football only invokes the word professional to distinguish mercenaries from amateurs and we are living through the final degredation of the sport as a result of the associated greed and calumny. That anyone still listens to Pavon’s advice at Arsenal is a tragic demonstration of how widespread poor judgement extends within the club.

    On a brighter note there are rumours of a move to Saudi Arabia for Willian. Inshallah! I thought they had plenty of slow moving, short sighted pot bellied camels but hey ho! Please let that rumour be true.

  94. 94
    bathgooner says:

    As for the RCB position, this comparison suggests that we can expect each contender for the position to raise his game to secure a starting position.


  95. 95
    TTG says:

    Osaka Matt
    Are you able to renew the Fantasy League ? Is that ok?
    Dorset Mick
    Please put him in a sealed container for security!

  96. 96
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Best signing since Santi and Lucas

    here’s another whitE

  97. 97
    ecg says:

    If we are really offering Xhaka a new contract maybe we need to put Edu in a sealed container for the remainder of the transfer window…

  98. 98
    bt8 says:

    We haven’t faced this problem for a while, not since the departure of Adenauer and Alex Song if memory serves, but it will be a challenge when we need someone to keep things together in midfield when Thpmas Partey goes to the African Cup of Nations in January.

  99. 99
    bt8 says:

    Konrad Adenauer, that Ivorian fullback who used to deputies for Winterburn , of course. 😉
    Meant to say Adebayor actually.

  100. 100
    Pangloss says:

    TTG@83 et seq – I don’t want to get into discussions about the advisability or otherwise of a homegrown keeper, costs of a potential transfer of Ramsdale or even the relative merits of Leno and Martinez. I am puzzled by the assertion that the sale of Martinez was due to a poor assessment of his talent compared with Leno.

    I had always assumed that the decision to part company with Martinez was motivated principally by receipt of an offer. Have I missed a credible report suggesting otherwise? Similarly I thought the reason we had acquired Runnarson was because, having accepted an offer for one of our senior keepers late in the transfer window, we needed a replacement, any replacement, PDQ.

    Surely there are lots of things we can sensibly and more or less entertainingly discuss without the need to start vendettas (vendette?) against members of the Arsenal coaching/”talent identification” (ugh) staff?

  101. 101
    scruzgooner says:

    don’t mind if i do.

  102. 102
    TTG says:

    Arsenal won 3-1 at Hendon tonight
    One interesting extra point about Xhaka is that the ITK journalist who seemed genuinely au fait with details said that he had agreed personal terms with Roma at €50,000 a week- way less than he earns with us . He was either wrong or he very much wanted to join Roma/ play for that nice Mr. Mourinho . Now we hear he is likely to get a rise on his contract which is over double what he was apparently due to earn at Roma . Can we really be that stupid ? We’ve struggled to sell anybody because no one can match our wages so we end up paying a large part of their salary eg Ozil

  103. 103
    Pangloss says:

    Well in Scruz.

    The gentleman from Minnesota posted 97 and 98 while I was typing must last, and I expected him to slide in. It was only my own sense of honour (and fear of a red card) that prevented me from self assisting.

  104. 104
    bt8 says:

    £100m bid, or Bodymoor Heath. I’m not sure which sounds the more exotic but this is the first I’ve heard mention of either. I would think Villa would stand up and take notice with a bid like that.


  105. 105
    bt8 says:

    Speaking of Adenauer I see that one of his Vice Chancellors was called Blücher which might have been the inspiration for

  106. 106
    bt8 says:

    Not to overlook Rob Holding and his jolly bar companion but belated compliments on excellent images in the previous two posts, of a handsome groundhog (accompaniment to TTG’s piece), and of a 19th century football match (Ned’s). Vivid stuff.

  107. 107
    scruzgooner says:

    pang, thanks.

    bt8@ 104, nay…

  108. 108
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, Scruz.

    There is a brief match report of the Hendon game on the Hendon site.


    Glad to see the club doing games like these to support non-league football in North London. Hendon is supporter-owned and probably needs every penny that the record gate of 947 generated.

  109. 109
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yes, I think no problem renewing
    the Fantasy League.
    I guess we might have to change
    the name as we’re no longer in the
    ropey league🤔

  110. 110
    North Bank Ned says:

    Looks like the European Super League has fresh wind in its sails. A Spanish court has rejected UEFA’s appeal against its ruling that UEFA must unwind its disciplinary proceedings against them.


    This is going to end up in the European Court of Justice.

  111. 111
    bt8 says:

    It is still July to my knowledge but they are playing a Premiership football match in Scotland today. Rangers leading Livingston by 1-0 in the first half at the moment it seems. I’ll be backing Livingston to score the next five.

  112. 112
    North Bank Ned says:

    The ‘them’ in the second sentence of my @109 is the would-be breakaway clubs, including us.

  113. 113
    bt8 says:

    Any Spanish court would seem, potentially at least, to have a vested interest in accord with the ESL seeing as Barcelona and Real are two of the three clubs still defending it at the moment. A European body sounds like the right place to appeal this decision.

  114. 114
    North Bank Ned says:

    To be fair to the mercantile court in Madrid, it had already referred the case to the ECJ and the latest legal back and forth is about whether UEFA can punish the ESL group in the interim.

  115. 115
    North Bank Ned says:

    The ECJ case will be interesting as it will test UEFA’s monopolistic position in governing European football. The EU does not give sports bodies the sort of hard, legal exemptions from antitrust law that MLB, for example, enjoys in the United States. Instead, it has a soft regime under which EU competition law applies in principle, but co-operation agreements between the EU and individual sports bodies carve out areas where it will not be applied or enforced. That is how UEFA was able to go ahead with Financial Fair Play, which is illegal by the letter of EU competition law. If the ECJ decides that it needs to make the issue less of a grey area, its ruling could be as consequential as the Bosman ruling.

  116. 116
    Bathgooner says:

    One would hope that the ECJ would have the interests of the game in general and the survival of little clubs within the football pyramid in Europe at heart. We shall see. Why would the judgement of a Madrid court (I’m not sure that the Spanish legal system is a particular exemplar of even-handed justice) carry any weight across the rest of Europe?

  117. 117
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Omnes viae rommaM dUcunt


  118. 118
    bt8 says:

    The dot.con has established that Ben White is capable at minimum of modeling three different colors of Arsenal shirts. Major news then.

  119. 119
    ClockEndRider says:

    Ned@114 – “ That is how UEFA was able to go ahead with Financial Fair Play….”.
    I hadn’t noticed that they had gone ahead with FFP. A distinction to be drawn between saying it was going ahead and meaningful implementation of the “rules”. Quite probably because UEFA knew it wouldn’t actually stand up to a legal challenge if one of the kleptocrat or oil state owned clubs had so proceeded.

  120. 120
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@118: I will bow to the opinion of m’learned friends in the bar, but thus suggests the opposite view:


    Apparently, UEFA’s own rules prevent clubs from pursuing FFP cases through the courts; they have to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The same is not true for the Premiership’s FFP, which is why the Man City case is going through the High Court.

  121. 121
    scruzgooner says:

    anyone know what kind of injury to tp5 had xhaka replace him in the 40th today?

  122. 122
    bt8 says:

    Dunno Scruz, all the dot.con says is White replaced Holding at the start of the second half.

  123. 123
    TTG says:

    Partey had an ankle injury . Perry Groves is worried it might be ligaments but he did walk off unaided

  124. 124
  125. 125
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks guys. hopefully a precaution.

  126. 126
    bt8 says:

    Xhaka just scored a goal. Unless it’s a dot.con job

  127. 127
    bt8 says:

    That Chelsea blog adds: 72nd minute. A horrible pass from Hector Bellerín gives Tammy a clear-cut chance to get his name in the scoreline. He makes no mistake and converts it! 2-1 to the Blues

  128. 128
    bt8 says:

    Also watched a clip of that Hector pass. Straight to Tammy at the top of the box. Keep up on your transfers Hector

  129. 129
    bt8 says:

    Another clip of Xhaka’s header from a Pepe corner. Will we replicate that all season?

  130. 130
    scruzgooner says:

    well, from what i can “see”, plus ça change, plus ça la même chose.

  131. 131
    Bathgooner says:

    Didn’t see a thing. I chose the beautiful Suffolk coast at Dunwich for the last afternoon of this phase of our staycation. Sounds like the correct decision.

    Mais, s’il était “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” comme tu dis, scruz, vraiment je suis désolé.

  132. 132
    North Bank Ned says:

    So, if I understand the situation correctly, the full-back we no longer want passes to the forward we don’t want, who scores, while the mid-fielder we don’t want not only plays but heads a goal. Funny old game.

  133. 133
    scruzgooner says:

    oui, baff, je suis aussi désoleé, y j’ai mal su coeur. certainment parce qu’il ne mangera pas de cacio é pepe à rome.

  134. 134
    scruzgooner says:

    lol, ned. indeed.

  135. 135
    bt8 says:

    Ned, You indeed have captured the particulars quite succinctly. 😉

    Then there’s this: Joe Willock, the guy we’re trying to sell to Newcastle, where he scores freely with benefit of VAR in place, “hit the underside of the bar and (it) appeared to bounce over the line, but goalline technology was not in use and the goal was not given.” —BBC report

  136. 136
    bathgooner says:

    I saw clip on Twitter that clearly shows Willlock’s shot bounced off the bar and over the line. It was a far more obvious goal than Hurst’s shot that won a certain team the world cup. Every sentient being with a modicum of intelligence and passable eyesight recognises that the correct result is 2-2. I also understand that the Arsenal also had two clear penalties that were not awarded. The traditional somewhat unfavourable refereeing approach to Arsenal appears to be unchanged (Pace Steve T). The case for VAR seems to be quite strong if not fully established on the basis of today’s refereeing performance.

  137. 137
    bt8 says:

    If Partey’s injury indeed is similar to Maguire’s this article suggests he could return to action in mid-September.


  138. 138
    bt8 says:

    It appears to be Groundhog Day, with Granit starring as The Groundhog. Mikel Arteta sets the scene: “Granit is going to stay with us. He’s a player that we rate and value so much, he’s a key member of our squad. He’s trained two days. He wanted to play today and I think it’s very clear commitment from his side that he wants to be here.”

    Sorry to have to mention it, I really am …

  139. 139
    Sancho Panza says:

    How many would’ve gone with a midfield duo of Elneny and Xhaka to start the season? Groundhog day indeed and not much chance of improving our lot.

  140. 140
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cheer up, folks, we’ve still got Willian…

  141. 141
    North Bank Ned says:

    With Elneny and Partey away for the African Cup of Nations in January, having Xhaka available might be useful. He can then leave at the end of the January transfer window. One question is whether he is more annoyed at us for not making the deal with Roma happen, or at Roma for not going to the mat to sign him.

  142. 142
    scruzgooner says: