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Pre-Season 2021/22, Part 2

Sunday 25th July, 2021

When I volunteered for this piece, I had just written the preview for the Crystal Palace game at the end of last season. In truth, I’d had enough of football at the end of a season that had promised so much but delivered so little – well, nothing at all really. And so I volunteered for a slot tucked comfortably away at the beginning of August. There would be loads happening – pre-season friendlies, a host of new players brought in with the owners’ much reported new willingness to refashion the squad. That should rekindle the embers almost extinguished by a long, unenjoyable season.

Fresh from victories in the FA Cup and Community Shield, we stood poised last August with our new manager on the springboard to new success, ready to perform, with a flamboyant flourish, our triple backward somersault with half twist and pike, right back into the luxurious waters of the Champions League, only to stumble off the end of the board and belly flop spectacularly out of top four contention, out of the FA Cup, out of the League Cup, and out of Europe altogether for the first time in a quarter of a century!

(And right there, for those of you already missing the literary style of our very own Doctor Faustus, is a 94 word sentence to keep you going in the meantime!)

That was one season ago – if anyone can remember what a season is anymore. A season affected, then halted and finally resumed and elongated by the dreaded COVID-19 virus. A season of hope in some bright young players, inconsistency, injury, frustration, empty stadia devoid of atmosphere, occasional promise and ultimate failure, which left me looking forward to a break at the end of it.

But this piece is supposed to be a season preview – part 2 – and not a review, so what’s been happening ? Well, I’ve started writing this on Sunday 25th July as I have a busy week ahead and can’t afford to run out of time writing about the upcoming matches on our tour of the USA – which has just been ….. CANCELLED!

COVID-19 has struck again and with cases rising dramatically everywhere it seems, it is quite right that the tour should be scrapped. Sympathies are with those fans in the US who have eagerly anticipated these games and spent money making travel and accommodation arrangements to see them – and to an even greater extent with those whose loved ones continue to be affected by, or lost to, this horrible disease.

Tuesday 27th July, 2021

Like TTG in the previous post, I don’t want to tread on the toes of Clock End Rider, who is tasked to cover our summer transfer activity, so what to do, given that the aforementioned, considerate TTG has, in reality, already gone and covered management strategy, the performance of the Technical Director, and the short and long term aims of the owners!!

Well, I have to do something, so without stealing CER’s thunder by discussing the players, here’s a few thoughts on the type of players we appear to be building around.

Transfer Policy So Far

I will say nothing about the following players’ various abilities as CER will deal with that. This is just an impression of who we have signed and what the plan appears to be.

Could it be that we are finally carrying out the root and branch restructuring of the squad that has been needed for so long ? The signs are good. No more short termism – apologies to the lexicographically offended, as my spillchucker doesn’t think termism is a proper word but, tough – giving highly lucrative deals to ageing players past their best, or simply at an age where there is no resale value if they don’t work out.

We already had a very decent young nucleus of our squad in place. Mikel Arteta has done an excellent job in persuading Emile Smith Rowe, Bakayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Bolagun to sign long extensions to their contracts. They are all 19 and 20 years of age. Old man Kieran Tierney is already there to guide them at 24 years of age – surely a future captain.

Last week we added two more 21 year olds to the group in Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga, and 23 year old Ben White from Brighton was confirmed by the club yesterday (Friday 30th July).

Stories about us chasing Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, also 23, won’t go away, as won’t those relating to three more of the same age in James Maddison, Manuel Locatelli and Ruben Neves. There is word that Ben White was told by “ the club” that he will not be the last significant signing of this window, and there has been talk for a good while that the owners are prepared to spend big this summer.

Do they finally want to see The Arsenal winning major trophies again, or do they want to get us just competitive enough to ensure we are invited into their abhorrent super league, should they manage to resurrect the whole sorry idea ? To be honest, at this stage I am not going to worry about that. I can do nothing about it, and it may never happen. As long as it means a genuine improvement on the total mismanagement of recent years, I’m going to try to enjoy it.

The other unanswered question so far, is what are the prospects for our other young players, Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and notably Joe Willock, who did so well during his loan to Newcastle?

Wednesday 28th July, 2021

Some actual football! Even though Watford had played a friendly against Stevenage the evening before, a match was played against the Hornets at the training ground on the Wednesday afternoon. Arsenal had sent me an email saying that the match would be broadcast live – and free! – on dotcom, kick off at 2-00pm. Unfortunately the email was sent at 2.45pm and I discovered it at around 7.30pm, by which time the final whistle had long ago been blown. In case anyone doesn’t know, we won 4-1 with goals from Eddie Nketiah, Alex Lacazette, Kieran Tierney and Miguel Azeez.

Sunday 1st August, 2021

More actual football today as the mighty Arsenal take on the mighty financially doped Bus Stop in Fulham. This game is part of the triangular Mind series of matches in aid of the mental health charity. The other two matches are Chelsea vs Tottenham at the Bus Stop on Wednesday 4th August, and Tottenham vs The Arsenal at the new Toilet Bowl on Sunday 8th August. The Arsenal games will be available live on dot com at a cost of £7.99 each, which some may feel is cheeky for a pre-season friendly – but £4.00 from each pass will go to the Mind charity.

Update: Arsenal 1 – 2 Chelsea. I did not see the game live, and neither apparently did a lot of supporters who tried to log on to the streaming service on the club website. It seems they were either not able to log in at all, or having logged in were unable to get a working stream and see any football. They were, however, treated to a wine advertisement, so presumably someone somewhere was happy and a bit more advertising revenue was earned. This really is nowhere near good enough for a club of Arsenal’s stature. It’s disappointing, amateurish and indicative of the attitude that seems to leave supporters at the bottom of the list of priorities.

As for the match, Chelsea went ahead through Havaertz on 27 minutes. Smith-Rowe was unlucky to hit the post before Thomas Partey was clobbered and left with a worrying injury that will be scanned tomorrow (Monday 2nd August). Our defence repeatedly found themselves chasing unmarked Chelsea forwards in dangerous positions and acres of space. Granit Xhaka equalised on 69 minutes but Hector Bellerin laid on a perfect square pass assist for Tammy Abraham to wrap the game up on 72 minutes. In fact, that should not have been enough as substitute Joe Willock was denied an equaliser by the officials, that went clearly in and over the line off the crossbar. If only we had some sort of video assistance for referees that would eradicate all this controversy!

Almost finally, a shout out to Bodrum Gooneress and hopes that she is safe and well in Bodrum, Southern Turkey, where many people have been forced to flee their homes this week in the face of huge fires.

So, “we” found something to write about after all this week. I won’t lie – it has felt like a struggle this time around, and I apologise if “things” are not up to the usual standard, but it’s not easy when everything you’re supposed to write about gets cancelled!

Clock End Rider will hopefully have more flesh to put on the bones of our transfer activity in the coming days, when a plethora of top stars will be committing their futures to the club. Oh, yes they will!

97 Drinks to “Pre-Season 2021/22, Part 2”

  1. 1
    OsakaMatt says:

    A fine effort sir, and a silk purse was somehow managed. Not being constrained by editorial considerations I can happily say I’m pleased with the arrivals so far this window and very hopeful that Ben White will be an important part of our defense for many seasons. His partnership with Gabriel or Mari will be important and with Kieran on the left and a back-up signed that leaves right back to be sorted out (in defense that is).
    What we can do to improve our midfield in the next couple of weeks will be the major test now.
    Surely now that Xhaka has shown he’s an aerial threat Roma will want to up their offer😉

  2. 2
    TTG says:

    A noble effort sir especially as I nicked some of your material but such is the lot of a writer in a pre-season where nothing much happens . Yesterday was a depressing day with Partey’s injury , the acknowledgement that we will retain the player we most need to change and yet another reminder that we made an awful decision to sell Martinez. It was a year since we beat Chelsea to win the FA Cup yesterday . How the two clubs’ fortunes have moved in opposite directions since . Let’s pray for good news on Partey and some important restructuring of what is in some respects an exciting unit . CER will bring us happier news I’m sure but there is a huge amount to be done in and out

  3. 3
    bathgooner says:

    Great stuff, Trev. I cannot wait for the incoming midfield cavalry. Or should that be Calvary?

  4. 4
    North Bank Ned says:

    Magical conjuring of something out of nothing, Trev.

    La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that Roma has all but written off the Xhaka deal and Mourinho is now pursuing AZ Alkmaar’s 23-year old Dutch international Teun Koopmeiners, he of the Rory Delap-like throw in. It is also suggesting that it was Arteta’s call on whether to accept Roma’s final offer (13 million euros plus up to a further potential 2 million euros in add-ons v the 15 million-20 million euros we were asking), and he decided to keep Xhaka. The contract extension would be to 2025, La Gazzetta says. Arteta’s supportive comments about Xhaka after the Chelsea friendly contrast strikingly with the non-committal ones about fellow potential exiteers Bellerin and Willock, suggesting that the Swiss will be a central figure to the team this season.

    Désolé de gâcher davantage votre journée. TTG. That’s your actual French, as Kenneth Williams used to say.

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Presto! Rabbit out of hat, and a fine job conjured as well as an illuminating picture painted of our preseason goings on, and off. Thank you Dr. T

  6. 6
    bt8 says:

    Just up the Seven Sisters Road there is an interesting contrast between the statement of new manager Nuno Espírito Santo (“Harry Kane is a Tottenham player. Period”); and the behavior of the player who does not show up for training leaving no explanation or conspicuous post-it notes in the kitchen. Hmmmm.


  7. 7
  8. 8
    scruzgooner says:

    welp, trev, that was a great fist out of so little. let’s hope we don’t see you shaking it at ma8 for keeping xhaka. i have to believe this is some sort of gamesmanship, a shop-windowing to entice some luckless club into biting at the baited, multi-metaphored hook. of course, with partey injured, he’ll be getting a lot of playing time, unless ben white is mooted for the stopper midfield position with capitola rob at rcb.

    i do hope, especially after watching his game highlights from the bus stop, that willock is in the plans at least as much as xhaka (though this isn’t a high-quality video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwR59TuI-E8 and the throughball from lokonga to pépé was sumptuous for willock’s disallowed goal. willock, white, and sambi midfield, anyone? at least as a second or third tier…

  9. 9
    Trev says:

    Thank you, fellas !}

    My next piece is will be on special moments from watching my hall paint dry ……….

  10. 10
    scruzgooner says:

    that’s more exciting than watching most of xhaka’s game film, trev.

  11. 11
    Pangloss says:

    Don’t listen to the critics Trev. Next time around, please, more news about the progress of your lawn.

    (Congratulations on this piece.)

  12. 12
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A fine and entertaining read, Trev!

    Is it just me or anyone else feels that arranging London derbies for pre-season isn’t the best idea, given the emotion and intensity involved in those? Hope no further rough tackles or injuries in the next derby.

    Only saw the highlights of the Chelsea game. Still two weeks to prepare and iron out remaining flaws. We will need to hit the ground running and then just keep going. No excuses.

  13. 13
    Pangloss says:

    I think the pre-season derbies are borne of Covid-19-related necessity, Dr F. We had a Florida trip collapse, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if similar things had happened to Chel$ki and The Scum.

    Whether or not pre-season tournaments are a Good Thing is another question entirely, but if you need to arrange one at no notice, it makes sense to keep local.

  14. 14
    bathgooner says:

    I fully agree that playing the Chavs and Totts immediately in ‘friendlies’ just days before the season starts is madness. However the ‘Mind Series’ of London derbies was organised long before the collapse of the Florida tournament. It may have been in part precipitated by Covid pressures but had nothing to do with the cancellation of Arsenal’s trip to Florida. The Millwall and Watford friendlies were the consequence of that cancellation.

  15. 15
    Pangloss says:

    I stand corrected. Thank you Baff.

  16. 16
    Uplympian says:

    Many thanks Trev for a very good read. Hope the tennis match wasn’t too much of a racket and the players weren’t highly strung.
    Just under 2 weeks for the “management” to do some shifting in & out of players – I’m sure there’ll be some movements both ways but not sufficient to call the work a qualified success. I agree with my learned friends above that I’d rather keep Xhaka than sell him off to Roma for a relative pittance , not only because it may make “The Special One” happy but previously we allowed ourselves to be stitched up by Roma with the Mkhitaryan deal and we mustn’t have a repeat case.

  17. 17
    OsakaMatt says:


    The new approach for next season.
    Applied by the same people of course
    so no great expectations but good to
    see the pixels gone.

  18. 18
    Trev says:

    Don’t do Twitter myself but here is a link to it that I saw today –

    •• According to
    , Newcastle have made an improved offer in terms of loan fee to take Willock again for a season. #Arsenal have declined that offer & in doing so informed the player & his agent that he’s in Arteta’s plans having proven himself in the division with Newcastle”. ••

    No.idea who far is is or how ITK he is, but I hope it’s true.

  19. 19
    North Bank Ned says:

    Willock ‘in the plan’ suggests to me that Arteta can’t land an eight he wants this transfer window. That is not to denigrate Willock. Given a run in the team, he could establish himself; there is talent there. But he doesn’t easily fit into a 4-2-3-1 formation. More suited to a 4-2-2-2, 4-4-2 diamond or 4-3-3.

  20. 20
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Matt@17: Given the relative drama-free and effective ways VAR was applied in Euros for all the world (especially the audience back home in England) to see — something similar has been happening in leagues like Bundesliga already but maybe not everyone was aware of that — I think the authorities realize that the inconsistency and chaos of last season’s VAR will find very little patience anymore. Both of the changes mentioned in the article are good steps.

    Bath@14: Thanks for clarifying. Let’s just hope our next pre-season derby remains “friendly” enough.

    Trev@18: Whether Joe is loaned out or not, at this stage of his career he needs to play consistently enough. If Arteta keeps him at the club then that might mean we will not go for any more central midfielders in this transfer window but just the attacking midfielder. But I won’t be surprised if some other PL club comes for Joe with a good enough offer to buy (and not loan) that the club will be happy to accept. At a personal level a key season for both him and Reiss in their respective career, and for Eddie too. Unlike Saka or ESR they do not have guaranteed future in Arsenal, and even though I would have loved to see them all successful in Arsenal I would also love to see them being successful anywhere (well, almost anywhere 🙂 ) and live up to their early promise. I still think Reiss should have had much more chances last season in place of the old man from Chelsea, and sooner or later I think he will find his feet somewhere.

  21. 21
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@19: Didn’t see your post before posting mine. 🙂 You are spot on…

  22. 22
    OsakaMatt says:

    TTG, All
    I have renewed the Fantasy League HolicsRopeyLeague and it seems there are five of us in it already.
    Perhaps I should write a quick post to outline the details
    – all Holics are welcomed
    – last seasons participants can enter automatically
    – just let me know if you’d like to join for the first time and I will send you the league code
    – the only two rules are at least one Arsenal player and no spuds

    Please join us as it’s fun and it’s free😃

  23. 23
    Countryman100 says:

    A fine and interesting piece, Trev. There are still many deckchairs being arranged on the deck of HMS Arsenal. Let’s hope we can avoid the potential iceberg in the form of our tricky run of fixtures at the start of the season. We need Auba to hit the ground running.

    In the meantime Kane has gone on strike down the smelly end of the Seven Sisters Road (grabs popcorn ….).

  24. 24
    TTG says:

    Many thanks .
    I seem to have been entered automatically!
    May I invite any Holics who have not tried this before to gave a go.
    Only rules are no Spuds ( as if) and one Arsenal player minimum .

    Re the transfer market , while I like Willock I don’t think he fits the way Arteta sets up the team and for the lad’s sake perhaps he ought to find a club that suits him better. In the right playing set-up I think he could be a massive success. But his style is late breaks into the box and that isn’t a feature that Artetaball accommodates . If there is £22 m going I’d take it .

  25. 25
    TTG says:

    This very informative article from 7 am Kick Off tells you much of the less publicised story about transfer spending
    Read and weep!

    Has Kroenke spent?

  26. 26
    bt8 says:

    Matt @22. It looks like we’re Ropey as ever. Quite right. 😆

  27. 27
    Bathgooner says:

    It’s an excellent article TTG and the final summing up is bang on the money. We simply have to get better at buying and selling. So far, this window offers hope that we have improved our focus on the former but the latter appears to leave considerable room for improvement. Unless we rectify both, we have to anticipate years in the wilderness.

    However this table sums up exactly why we slipped from our pedestal to get to where we now languish:

    Net spend 2007-2012:
    Man City – $589m
    Chelsea – $311m
    Liverpool – $182m
    Man U – $160m
    Arsenal – (-$59m)

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    A new watering hole opened in the vicinity and I happened to go going by so stopped to sample their product. Tasty.

  29. 29
    Bathgooner says:

    Looks good, bt8. Get the orders in, mate. I’ll have the pomegranate braised short rib and a bottle of the Napa Cab Sauv. Sadly I may be a while, though.

  30. 30
    scruzgooner says:

    yum, bt8. nice thing to have open nearby…or could be a challenge not to spend the money on it 🙂

  31. 31
    bt8 says:

    They renovated the oldest firehouse in the city and turned it into that place. It was the Burger and Munich-style lager for me. Thanks for the “housekeeping” Scruz. 🙂

  32. 32
    bt8 says:

    That’s what they told me anyway. Subsequent research tells me the station was built in 1885, and was the oldest active firehouse in the city until 2010 when its fire company moved to a newer building nearby. The oldest standing but out of use firehouse in the city was built in 1872. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  33. 33
    North Bank Ned says:

    No smoke without fire, bt8, and no decent ribs without both.

  34. 34
    bt8 says:

    Brendan Rogers as quoted discussing James Maddison: “The one thing you can control as a football player is your fitness. ‘There are things in the game you cannot control if you’re a player, you can’t control the tactics the manager chooses, what position you play in, but you can control your mentality and your fitness.”

    Sounds designed to drive down his transfer value to me, questioning his mentality and his fitness. Unless they don’t plan on selling him, and that was Brendan’s challenge to Maddison to up his preparations. Weird timing for those comments though.

  35. 35
    Noosa Gooner says:

    BT8 @ 28
    Re the Aside food and drinks menus.
    There was a pub on the walk to the Arse from Finsbury Park that used to serve a pint of Guiness with a shot of blackcurrant or lime.
    The memory of that is now eclipsed by Aside’s concoction of beer, lemonade and GRENADINE. What are they thinking?
    I guess you’d have to match it with the burger that features both gorgonzola and cherry aioli.
    If all this were ingested as a pre-match feast I’m guessing that you may well end up missing a fair part of the game.
    UTA (or maybe OutTA)

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@34: That quote from Rogers was made in May.

  37. 37
    North Bank Ned says:

    The U-23s have a new head coach, Kevin Betsy, who was previously working with the England youth teams.


  38. 38
    North Bank Ned says:

    The U-23s have a new head coach, Kevin Betsy, who was previously working with the England youth teams.


  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    Noosa, I hadn’t spotted the grenadine, lemonade and beer combo but it sounds like a recipe to bring pre-teens into the fold. I did see the $15 burger with the extras you mentioned but opted for the simpler $13 version not thinking the more elaborate combo sounded too appetizing. Such heavy ingredients on local menus seem designed to maintain extra body fat in the depths of winter, which many people don’t lose after the weather improves months later.

  40. 40
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@25: Thanks for the link. The conclusion of the piece, that it is not that we are not spending money, it is that we are doing so poorly, more particular that we are selling unprofitably, seems instinctively right. Also, we clearly got ourselves into an unholy mess over superstar salaries and an oversized squad that was costly to unwind. However, I would be intrigued to know if we are significantly worse in that regard than other top clubs. 7am Kickoff suggests Chelsea is the exemplar, but I wonder what the real financials of its massive buy and loan scheme show. My suspicion is that the transfer market it like pop music: one hit covers for a lot of flops.

  41. 41
    bt8 says:

    Ned@36. Thanks for the spot. Rogers’ comments make better sense in that time frame.

  42. 42
    North Bank Ned says:

    A quick check on Chelsea’s summer sales so far, with senior appearances for the Blues in brackets:
    Tomori (27), youth product, sold for 29.2 million euros
    Guehi (2), youth product, sold for 23.3 million euros
    Livramento (0), youth product, sold for 5.9 million euros
    Moses (128), bought for 11.5 million euros, sold for 5 million euros
    Simeu (0), youth product, sold for 1.76 million euros
    Bate (0), youth product, sold for 1.75 million euros
    Peart-Harris (0), youth product, sold for 1.5 million euros
    Ekwah (0), bought for 2 million euros, sold for 1.4 million euros
    Giroud (119), bought for 17 million euros, sold for 1 million euros
    van Ginkel (4) bought for 9.4 million euros, free transfer
    Brown (1), youth product, free transfer
    Pantic (0), free transfer, free transfer
    Wakely (0), youth product, free transfer
    Russell (0), youth product, free transfer
    Lewis (0), youth product, free transfer
    Caballero (38), free transfer, released
    Blackman, youth product, released

    There are another eight from the U-23 squad who have been sent out on loan for 2021-22 plus Billy Gilmour from the first-team squad.

    That adds up to a mixed trading record, albeit in an unusual market, but it does show a couple of hits in Tomori and Guehi, both who came up through the ranks of the age-group teams, an ability to at least get a nominal fee for youngsters who never got a senior game and a willingness to ship out for free those for whom a buyer could not be found.

  43. 43
    Bathgooner says:

    Isn’t there something a bit fishy about those fees for Tomori and Guehi, particularly in these Covid times? I wouldn’t put it past the Chavs to have evolved a way round FFP to allow the owner to inject extra cash.

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    If anything, Tomori was sold for less than market value whereas Guehl was overpriced although English centre backs command huge premiums. I guess the thing is that these were outright sales and not loans with options or obligations to buy at a later date. So hard cash up front.

    How would it work if there was shenanigans around these deals?

  45. 45
    bt8 says:

    More fun and delightful Harry Kane shenanigans reported today with a hint that he’s on holiday in Florida while his teammates train slavishly. But Nuno says it’s an internal matter so we can’t talk about it.

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    When Nuno does get to talk to Kane, he will only need four words, Goodbye and good luck!

  47. 47
    North Bank Ned says:

    Messi is leaving Barcelona. Club says La Liga wouldn’t register him unless it sold other players to make room on the wage bill. So the deal for Messi’s new contract has collapsed. End of an era.


  48. 48
    Silly Second Yella says:

  49. 49
    ecg says:

    Why haven’t we signed Messi yet?

  50. 50
    Silly Second Yella says:

    “Why haven’t we signed Messi yet?”

    I know why

    we got that idiot NketiaH

    messy enough?

  51. 51
    Sancho Panza says:

    Manchester City sign yyyyaaaaaawwwwnnnnn Jack yyyyaaaaawwwwn Grealish yyyyyaaaawwwwnn. How very dull and boring this all is.

  52. 52
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Only three kings in the world

    ever and forever

    EP…TH and DB

  53. 53
    North Bank Ned says:

    The release clause in Grealish’s contract made his sale to Man City pretty clean cut. City knew what they would have to pay; Villa knew exactly how much they would be getting. No haggling in private or public. Once City decided to trigger the release clause, the deal was done. All Villa had to do was hand Grealish his P45.

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    Did we sign Elvis?

  55. 55
    bt8 says:

    More importantly, can he score 40 goals for us in his current state?

  56. 56
    bt8 says:

    Given decent training and conditioning a strike partnership of Elvis and Godzilla would be in with a decent shout of taking us to the promised land. (Decides not to go looking for Elvis and Godzilla emojis.)

  57. 57
    bt8 says:

    Recommended reading: Andrew Allen’s preview of the league season over at Arseblog. I particularly enjoyed the section on West Ham.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    That is a fun read, bt8. Tim Stillman made the point that we were only six points off Chelsea in fourth place last season, and Chelsea won only one game more than we did. It is not a massive gap to close, even though the field will be crowded.

  60. 60
    bathgooner says:

    Meanwhile in sunny Spain:

    “Messi’s departure takes Barca’s wage bill from 110% to 95% of income.” It appears that new signings are yet to be included.


    It appears that, as with all good morality tales, fiscal incontinence has consequences.

    However Messi will not be poor even if another club cannot meet his (reduced) demands.

  61. 61
    bathgooner says:

    As I have been reminded in another place, Good old Lonestar Gooner regularly posted the mantra BMBD. He must be delighted.

    If our experience of Sanllehi’s contract management is representative of Barca custom and practice it’s no wonder they are in a financial mess.

  62. 62
    Silly Second Yella says:

  63. 63
    TTG says:

    The U23s were thrashed 4-0 by Boreham Wood tonight. Layth suggests that Patino stood out , that our goalkeepers are a little suspect and most of our assets are upfront rather than in defence . We aren’t replete with much goalkeeping talent at the club despite the fact that we have on the staff – Leno, Runarsson, Okonkwo , Smith, Hein , Graczyk , Hillson and Ejeheri . Iliev is on loan having been at the club for several years and never played a senior match for us. And to think we are looking for a goalkeeper . Does it not suggest that the goalkeeping department is something of a mess ? If they do such things I’d love to see the succession plan they have in place for our goalies .

  64. 64
    North Bank Ned says:

    Jorge Bird’s report suggests Ejeheri made some good saves before he was substituted and that he did not have much of a chance with either of the goals he conceded. The defense sounds very dodgy, however, which is worrying since it contains several well regarded youngsters.

  65. 65
    North Bank Ned says:

    The Spanish sports paper, AS, says that Odegaard is having difficulty fitting into the 4-3-3 favoured by Ancelotti (and Zindane before him) and that the view at Real Madrid is that the Norweigan can only play as a conventional 10. So he is not an automatic replacement for Kroos who will be out for some time with a groin problem. Real is considering bringing in a midfielder and a sale or loan for Odegaard remains a possibility. However, AS says that Milan is also interested in him.

    https://as.com/futbol/2021/08/06/primera/1628268091_170498.html (in Spanish)

  66. 66
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Congratulations to Gabi for winning the Olympic gold! He didn’t play in the final though.
    FA Cup, Olympic gold … maybe the PL medal next season? 😊

  67. 67
    bathgooner says:

    Everything I’ve read lately suggests the Ødegaard ship has sailed. Unless we can offload Eddie/Laca, Willocks and AMN to generate the cash that Lesta are demanding then I can’t see Maddison in red and white either. Edu being en vacances in the week before the restart doesn’t help in that regard. I suspect there will be a last minute trolley dash for Aouar, Berge or some other budget option unless Arteta thinks he can convert Bernardo Silva into a number 10 (which he certainly isn’t).

  68. 68
    scruzgooner says:

    the tragedy, at your 67, baff, is that you don’t sound surprised. sigh.

  69. 69
    TTG says:

    Many things baffle me but a TD going on holiday ( again ) in the week before the season begins when there is an enormous amount to do is extraordinary. Let’s hope he can delegate effectively.
    I watched a lot of the youngsters on Twitch and other media last year and saw the EFL Cup game with Gillingham. Almost all of our talent is in the attacking midfield/ winger positions . I didn’t see a defender who impressed me at all and one or two eg, Lopez, horrified me . Layth feels that Kirk is a decent CB and he watched our U18s lose 2-0 to Hitchin today ( two own goals!) .
    The new coaches are much needed. I don’t buy Mertesacker is doing a wonderful job line. The teams both underperformed last season in their leagues but Per might claim producing top- class individuals for the first team matters more than team success and I’d concur with that .
    From what I’ve seen Patino ( Layth raved about him last night ), Azeez , Hutchinson , Taylor- Hart and Flores are real talents but we do need to develop one or two goalies of some quality and some defenders

  70. 70
    Countryman100 says:

    Chelsea have just bought Lucaku from Inter for €115m and wages of €13m per year. He’s probably just what they need, but given that he was a Chelsea player seven years ago it all seems a bit bonkers.

  71. 71
    North Bank Ned says:

    What goes round, comes around, C100.

  72. 72
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@@69: Kirk and Rekik, both well regarded, were the starting CBs in the 4-0 defeat by Boreham Wood. Make of that what you will. Jorge Bird also reckons that Patino and Azeez add up to less than the sum of their parts as the 2 in a 4-2-3-1.

  73. 73
    TTG says:

    A number of people involved with the Gooner have spent some time with young Patino and rave about him as a lad and a player. I’ve only seen a few snippets because he has been injured so much -some of his goals are spectacular. But let’s not burden young boys with unreasonable expectations. Any contributions from the likes of Azeez and Patino are likely to be from the bench. With no European football we haven’t got many easy games to blood young players in .
    Re Lukaku isn’t this his third spell at the Bus Stop ? To think they sold off De Bruyne, Salah and Lukaku ( all Mourinho I think?) . But they are still European champions so what do they care?
    We must make progress this week. With no Partey for the first three games we can’t afford to start poorly as this will heap pressure on Arteta and the team and we don’t want another autumn like last year . I hope Edu is on a working holiday

  74. 74
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@73: I did not mean to imply that either Azeez or Patino are not potentially first-team quality, just relaying Jorge Bird’s judgement that they don’t form a complementary pair as the double pivot. I would think, though, that the future for both of them lies in playing farther forward. If all goes well, we will probably be playing 4-3-3 rather than 4-2-3-1 by the time they make their breakthroughs, which will suit both better.

    You make a good point about the lack of European group games not providing a taste of first-team matches for some youngsters.

  75. 75
    bathgooner says:

    Has anyone else tried to register for a match pass for today’s ‘friendly’ and been unable to complete payment. Tried with two cards and Paypal and was simply met by “Processing failure”. Oh well, que sera, sera. I will find something more worthwhile to occupy me this afternoon. This club appears to be working quite hard to alienate me.

  76. 76
    Countryman100 says:

  77. 77
    Countryman100 says:

  78. 78
    Countryman100 says:

    No Willian or Willock in the squad …..

  79. 79
    scruzgooner says:

    or holding.

  80. 80
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Bath@75: After a similar technical fiasco last weekend I didn’t even bother to try. The club website has been shambolic in last few years, in almost all technical aspects.

  81. 81
    Countryman100 says:

    Try fpstreams.weebly.com

  82. 82
    scruzgooner says:

    interesting half. we looked good or better through most of it, with ten minutes or so of looking lost. tottenham with the better chances. those balls over the top could be an issue. lava looking really good, and esr and lokonga.

    good warmup for brentford.

  83. 83
    Countryman100 says:

    Also thought Ben White looked good.

  84. 84
    Countryman100 says:

    Unfortunately, Auba looking totally anonymous from the left.

  85. 85
    scruzgooner says:

    that was unfortunate 🤨

  86. 86
    ATG says:

    Auba totally anonymous yet again, we conceded but it was coming in all honesty.

    Good chance for Saka there.

  87. 87
    scruzgooner says:

    crap. decent runout, poor goal to give up.

    good to hear the clap for saka.

  88. 88
    scruzgooner says:

    auba has lost his mojo since malaria.

  89. 89
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks Countryman for the stream link. Saw the last 40 minutes.

    Lokonga and Tavares good signings. This is the kind of signings we should have been aiming for last couple of seasons as well. Hopefully a creative midfielder to join in soon.

    Another season we go in without a clear choice first eleven or playing formation …

  90. 90
    North Bank Ned says:

    Arteta said Holding was missing because he was not fit enough to play, but Willock was missing for reasons that will be explained later, presumably an imminent loan or permanent move away.

  91. 91
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Arteta says he cannot talk about Joe now and he will when the time is right. That most likely means Joe is close to leaving.

    Will we see a new attacking midfielder before the Chelsea match?

  92. 92
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@90: I seem to be forming this strange habit of posting things similar to what you say just immediately after your posts without reading it first. 😂

  93. 93
    North Bank Ned says:

    Parallel universes, Dr F. Or perhaps we can delude ourselves that we have great minds.

  94. 94
    North Bank Ned says:

    Willock to Newcastle for £20 million+, fee agreed by clubs, although not personal terms, according to BBC.


  95. 95
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@93: I am just happy to find myself in tune with the monks’ collective thought waves. 🙂

  96. 96
    scruzgooner says:

    damn. the last of the arsenal willock bros…

  97. 97
    Pangloss says: