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Following a sparkling pre-season that saw Arsenal perform and get results convincingly with the quality of the play and conditioning of the players visibly getting better from each sweltering Florida evening to another, and with the squad bolstered by some key additions that raised the overall technical quality and winning know-how noticeably, there was a rare optimism and excitement before Arsenal’s season-opener against a Crystal Palace team that under the tutelage of the Arsenal invincible Patrick Vieira over the last twelve months or so has evolved into a dynamic, aggressive and resilient team. Somewhat like the man himself was as a player, but not quite as good, thankfully!

The Crystal Palace manager’s opponent in the dug-out, another ex-captain of Arsenal, may have not been quite the player Vieira was but Arteta has been able to bring his own tactical nous and an unflappable conviction from his playing days into his young and rapidly evolving managerial career.  In tandem with his technical director Edu – if you think there is an Arsenal theme being developed here, just wait until the report is finished – Mikel has more or less revamped the squad he had inherited two and half years back, ruthlessly shedding layers of calcified, ancient barks to help Arsenal regenerate its green branches and leaves with a youthful vigor.      

Palace has been quite the tricky opponent in recent years. Last season we lost away there at Selhurst Park in 0-3 in that lamentable stretch of performances in the Spring that cost us the top four spot. At home too, we were trailing until Lacazette snatched away a last-minute equalizer. The Frenchman – for all his limitations he has been a model professional and often in collaboration with his friend Aubameyang had produced some of the more memorable moments in red-and-white in our recent tumultuous years — since then has returned to his Lyonnaise roots and Arteta has replaced him with the excitingly talented Brazilian, Gabriel Jesus who, along with his ex-teammate in Manchester City, the Ukrainian captain Oleksandr Zinchenko,  brought in that rare mix of youthful vitality, hunger to improve and moreover, significant winning experience.  

Both Tomiyasu and Tierney still being sidelined – though KT now fit enough to be on the bench – the starting line-up was as expected, and unchanged from the one that had trounced Chelsea (albeit an undercooked one) in pre-season: 


White – Saliba – Gabriel – Zinchenko 

Partey – Xhaka 

Saka – Ødegaard – Martinelli 


Jettisoning the black-and-gold away kit that was on display in pre-season, Arsenal lined up in unfamiliar but admittedly rather aesthetically pleasing pale pink kit (Orchid pink? Cherry blossom pink? Any specialists in Chromatics lurking in here?). 

Whereas Jesus and Zinchenko were making debuts for Arsenal they are both experienced PL campaigners, the complete debutant in that line-up was the young Frenchman William Saliba at the right side of the defense. A player signed from Saint-Étienne back when he was only 19 and then sent on loan initially back to Les Verts, then to Nice and then, last season, to Marseille, there has been all types of narratives formed around him, from the signing itself to his readiness or even suitability for the PL. Proving his doubters wrong,  Saliba had shown in the pre-season that he has the calmness and self-belief to carry over his brilliant form from Ligue 1 into English football, ably assisted by his towering presence. Arteta starting him in the season-opener and pushing White to right back – not starting with White at right centre back with Cedric on the right – was a show of confidence from the manager in his abilities and temperament. 

Arsenal started electrically. Crisp, purposeful, vertical passing at high tempo complemented by tireless and dynamic off-the-ball movement and pressing. We completely dominated Palace in the first 25-30 minutes with a quality of play and conviction that we haven’t seen in a season opener for a while now. The two Brazilians in the forward line were particularly creating havoc in the Palace defense, and Jesus showed his world class technical abilities with a superb run with the ball through a forest of Palace defenders in the penalty box. His deflected shot just needed a simple finish from Martinelli who missed an empty net with the goalkeeper prostrate on the ground. 

Arsenal carried on. While White had to be extra careful given that he had the unenviable task of keeping Zaha quiet – and I think he did a superb job for most of the match with one or two lapses that are inevitable against Palace’s best player and one of the trickiest wingers in the league – Zinchenko had more attacking freedom and with his positional intelligence and formidable passing range he initiated some excellent switches of play to find Saka in good positions against isolated defenders, while at the same time facilitating Xhaka-Martinelli-Jesus to dovetail seamlessly on the left. The continued goalmouth pressure led to shots from Partey and Zinchenko, the latter saved by the keeper. Once or twice Palace managed to arrive with the ball in the Arsenal final third but found Gabriel and Saliba imperious in regaining possession and using Partey as the base to recirculate the ball for quick attacks. 

The first goal came via the somewhat prosaic route of a corner kick — albeit one that Mikel’s coaching team work on a lot and the players benefit from at both ends of the pitch. Saka delivered from the right, deep into the left side of Palace penalty box. Zinchenko left his marker Zaha stranded on the edge and headed the ball back into goalmouth for Martinelli to nod it into the goal. Gabi became the first Brazilian player to score the first goal of any PL season. One of the many records that he will set in his career, hopefully at the club level playing always for us.

Crystal Palace 0 – Arsenal 1 (Martinelli 20’) 

After the goal our intensity dropped, and we stopped enjoying the dominance that marked the first phase of the game. Palace weren’t really creating any great moves, but with bits of indiscipline creeping into our performance, Palace started to find some openings. Ramsdale made a couple of poor mistakes with the ball at his feet and almost conceded what would have been a very strange goal when his attempted pass through the middle rebounded off a Palace player back towards goal. However, as was often the case last season, he also kept us in the game with a superb reflex save from Edouard’s point-blank header. Xhaka earned a soft yellow – this time for failing to touch an opposition player before tumbling down. I think he was just checking whether “let’s show Xhaka a card” school of thought remains prevalent among the school of English refereeing. Assured by the familiarity of the devil that he knows, he went about the rest of the match with his trademark professionalism, including a brilliant last-ditch block in the left back position to cover for the gap between Gabriel and Zinchenko. 

Palace found a formula. Or rather they started to execute the formula that Paddy must have formed looking at the aggressive positioning of our defenders in pre-season. Long raking passes over the defenders for their fast forward line, especially Zaha and Eze, to latch on to. It is not a new tactic against Arsenal teams, and often a very fruitful one. But our current central defensive pairing – ably assisted by the fullbacks – possesses a serenity on the ball and a discipline off it that makes us much less vulnerable to route one than we have been lately.

Palace started the second half with intensity, forcing Partey and White into a few mistakes. Ramsdale made a great save from Eze who was set up by typically explosive wing-play by Zaha who started to win a bit more of his battles against White. But not really against the Arsenal defense as Saliba showed remarkable composure, positional sense, technical quality in the air and on the ball, and overall exuded just an aura of calm control over the proceedings that didn’t really allow Palace’s newfound intensity or possessional advantage to turn into any real scare for us, even though there were a few (but not that many) forced and unforced mistakes from some of his more experienced partners. 

We also started to lose the cutting edge in the opposition box. Ødegaard, earlier having seen one of his superbly taken free kicks fizz just pass the Palace goal, later demonstrated the lack of ruthlessness and goalscoring instinct which I think remains the main weakness in contrast to his array of prodigious talents. Saka and Martinelli, in their very distinct ways, are two players who never give up and never fail to want to take more responsibilities but once the cohesiveness starts to fall apart, they don’t yet (and I understand that this could be a controversial observation) have the personality to single-handedly drag the team forward consistently, even though they are both capable of producing inspiring individual moments. Jesus is probably the likeliest of the front three to be able to have that kind of talismanic impact but as the second half wore on, he started to fizzle out, frustrated by not getting some free kick decisions that he has probably become more used to going his way. Welcome to the Arsenal, Gabriel! 

Mikel brought in Tierney and Nketiah for Zinchenko and Jesus with less than 10 minutes remaining. Both brought in a bit of spark with Eddie being proactive and industrious in his typical fashion. He found Saka on the right after crisp passing from Arsenal brought the ball into the opposition final third. Saka beat his marker on the outside and sent in a fizzing cross that was turned into his own net by Palace defender Guéhi. 

Crystal Palace 0 – Arsenal 2 (Martinelli 20’, Guéhi og 85’) 

The points secured, with the traveling Arsenal fans serenading their old Arsenal favorite, the new Arsenal boys ended the match uneventfully, the clean sheet as pleasing to the team and as much of a key to the positive result as the first twenty minutes of champagne football. 

Let us build on those foundations. 

114 Drinks to “A Bricklayer’s Art”

  1. 1
    North Bank Ned says:

    An excellent and insightful report, Dr F. Your first sentence is up there with your longest, if memory serves.

    I think the shirt colour is just pink, and brooks no adjectival embellishment.

  2. 2
    North Bank Ned says:

    I stand corrected on the shirt colour. It is ‘clear pink’, according to Adidas. The hex colour is #FFD2E7.

  3. 3
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Dr F. An excellent report of the day’s
    main events. Palace were a bit fitter than I was
    expecting so we had to grind it out but a solid
    three points at a mid table club.

  4. 4
    21st century gooner says:

    Well we got the job done and that was the important thing. Can’t complain about winning by a couple of goals to nil away at a solid mid table side like palace. They lost just four times at Selhurst last year all by a single goal so you can’t really ask for more than that. The important thing is we got the three points and we now enter a very winnable run of games starting with Leicester on Saturday. After several years of slow starts we finally have a great opportunity to fly out the blocks and get points on the board early on. We essentially have a relatively kind fixture list until the start of October so it’s a ideal chance to lay down a marker for our top 4 (3, 2 or 1?) rivals. We did a lot of our business early in the summer which you could see yesterday with the two men from citeh who I thought were both very good. Was far from vintage in the second half but three points is three points. Very pleased with that start and our excellent pre season positivity has carried into the season proper which isn’t always the case. Martin Tyler sounded like he wanted to cry at full time and gary Neville was quite evidently boiling with rage at our apparent failure to read the sky script. He’ll have to wait for United to bring the circus back on Sunday. Hope he cries

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Nice job Dr. Faustus. It looks like one of the joys of the new season will be to watch opposition forwards fly into Saliba and Gabriel like they’re a brick wall. Thwack! And now, onwards to Leicester City at The Grove.

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    Great report Dr.F which brings out all the key points very well I was delighted with all our new signings, particularly Saliba who I doubted would ever play first team football for us. Mercifully I was wrong . He is a colossus but one that moves swiftly and intelligently. White did extremely well gains a tough opponent in an unfamiliar position and Ramsdale made a great block from Eze. This is a game we dare not lose from a personal perspective and I’m heartened by our start and agree with 21CG that there is a pathway forward that looks promising .Just one point re Martin Tyler. My friend who attended games with me for several years worked with him at LWT and claims he is a closet Gooner. He certainly wrote a very interesting and helpful history of the club with Phil Soar

  7. 7
    ClockEndRider says:

    A thoroughly enjoyable and insightful review, Dr F. Not to mention beautifully written.
    I am still surprised at the fact that the only time I thought Palace might actually get on the scoreboard when when Ramsdale blasted the ball against the oncoming attacker. I guess this highlights the incredibly high expectations levels of Ramsdale, brought about last season in terms of his shot stopping and reaction saves, but that he needs to cut out some of the unforced errors. Still, he’s very young in goalkeeping terms in his defence.
    TTG @6 above – Interesting that Tyler is a Gooner. I must say you would never guess from his Sky commentaries. Perhaps with this knowledge we can just hope that he is simply repeating the instructions given by his paymasters in commentary rather than having drunk the Kool-Aid, so readily consumed by Neville & Carragher amongst others.

  8. 8
    Las says:

    Thank you, Doctor!
    A well-written and thoughtful report. I really enjoyed the feeling of calmness and assuredness thanks to our as bt8 @5 said newly built defensive brick wall.
    Even in those periods when we didn’t dominate the game by possessions or threatened Palaces goals we were always composed with and without the ball.
    And we could deliver the killer punch right on time.
    But one thing I learned for sure no easy match in the PL. So beware of Leicester.

  9. 9
    Countryman100 says:

    Thanks Dr F for you usual detailed and accurate summary of a game I was concerned about. Indeed I described it in the previous drinks as a potential banana skin. After the first 30 minutes, which we dominated and could have scored twice, Palace, urged on by their vociferous crowd, got a grip on the game. Their plan, rather similar to Newcastle away in May, was to use their speedy wingers, and excellent passing of centre back Anderson, to get around the back of us. Usually however, if Zinchenko and White didn’t deal with it, Saliba and Gabriel did. Ramsdale had to make two top saves, but that’s what he’s there for. I like this back five very much, with Tierney and Tomi interchangeable with Zin (who may play in midfield) and White. Up front, despite the energy of Jesus, it didn’t quite click like it did in preseason, mainly due I think, to poor passing from Odegaard, who had a poor game by his standards. We weren’t getting Saka one on one with his fullback enough. That needs to change. Odegaard needs to shoot more when the makes the run into the box. He has competition from Vieira and ESR when both are fit. I hate to agree to Gary Neville, but the only significant need I see for more recruitment lies in midfield. Go do the Tielemans deal Edu.

    So three points at a tricky away ground, new recruits settling in well and a brand new Spandau Ballet inspired song to sing next Saturday against Leicester. A tip top start to the season.

  10. 10
    Countryman100 says:

    Blackpool love Charlie Patino!

  11. 11
    ClockEndRider says:

    Although unfortunately Blackpool sound as though they were well beaten by Stoke. Patino came in after 70. On the up side, Harry Clarke scored the opener for the latest incarnation of The Orcs.

  12. 12
    Bathgooner says:

    Thanks for another fine report Dr F. You are breaking all records for the prolixity of your opening sentence.

    Everyone put in a shift but the inability of our midfield to go toe to toe with Palace’s and retain possession in the second half was a concern. However we had similar problems with Vieira in the team against the likes of Bolton. Andersen’s laser focused ballistic missiles to their runners will cause other teams at least as many problems as they did us. I would have liked to see someone get in his face to stop those.

    Mentions in dispatches for (1) Ramsdale’s two critical saves at 1-0 either side of HT – if either of those had gone in, I suspect the game would have finished differently and not in our favour; (2) an impeccable competitive debut for William Saliba – how good is this fella? (3) Jesus’ energetic first half – nice point, Dr F about him having to get used to different rules! (4) Zinchenko’s offensive contributions; (5) KT3’s return to show how a proper LB defends; (6) Ben White’s job on Zaha – I don’t agree with criticism elsewhere; (7) Xhaka’s almost impeccable performance 😉😉.

    Criticism of Ødegaard is fair. He will have better games. He does need to show that he can assert himself and perform as well in pressure cooker grounds as he can when he knows all the fans in the ground are behind him. He will soon have ESR and Vieira breathing down his neck which might bring out his best. He simply HAD to take that chance – fortunately, it didn’t matter in the end.

    We’ve seen plenty Arsenal sides crumble under the pressure this team survived after the first 30 minutes. So, credit where it’s due. Well done chaps.

    Job done. Onward.

  13. 13
    Trev says:

    Thank you, Dr F for a comprehensive review and a 95 (!!) word opening sentence which is some test when reading on a phone.

    From a 0-3 defeat in April to a 2-0 win in the first game of the new season. New players in key positions in the team, on a tricky ground, against one of the most awkward (I would say cheating b*******, but I’m not that kind of commenter 😉) opponents in the league. Wilfred Zaha, initiating contacts with his marker and going down easier than a whore’s drawers, and winning free kicks in dangerous positions because officials still haven’t cottoned on to this old, infuriating ploy. Well, Wilfie, you’re going to have to pull that excruciating, agonised zombie face a few more times yet, old chum, cos we won, Ho hum.

    Palace did well to get back into the game and gave us a nasty scare or two – thankfully dealt with by great saves from Ramsdale, who atoned for almost assisting Palace a goal off their forward’s unsuspecting ankles.

    A fine win on a potentially difficult night.

    In case anyone hasn’t said so yet, William Saliba – wow !

  14. 14
    OsakaMatt says:

    Manure providing the Sunday night comedy.
    Welbz can still play.

  15. 15
    OsakaMatt says:

    Watching Martinez as well. He’s been struggling so far, though it’s not really fair to judge him playing with this shower.

  16. 16
    Countryman100 says:

    Harland awesome for City. Already the comparisons with TH14 are being made. Man U hilarious. Sancho apart, we are streets ahead of them.

  17. 17
    Countryman100 says:

    Sorry Haaland. Damn you auto correct.

  18. 18
    Countryman100 says:

    Every team I’ve seen this weekend I think we could beat. Except a Haaland powered City. So there we are. I predict we finish second.

  19. 19
    Countryman100 says:

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@12: Agree with you about White. He handled Zaha well and had a good game all round. A couple of poor long passes were the only blots on his copybook and relatively minor ones. I suspect he has lost his starting berth at CB to Saliba, but as back-up there and for Tomiyasu at RB, and good enough to push both of them for their place in a way that, say, Cedric and Holding do not, he should still get plenty of minutes.

  21. 21
    Sancho Panza says:

    Nuno scores a great goal for Marseille in a 4-1 thrashing of Reims. Balogun getting the consolation.

  22. 22
    OsakaMatt says:

    I am not so sure Benjamin has lost his starting place,
    though anyway it will a couple more weeks before we
    find out and even after that it may be case by case
    depending on the game.
    Some ‘good’ tough decisions for MA to make

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Cynic says:

    I am not so sure Benjamin has lost his starting place

    I am certain he hasn’t, I think we’re more likely to play three centre backs than leave him out but we will see.

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@23: The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

  26. 26
    Las says:

    Rewatching the Friday game against Palace one thing concerned me even after the 2-0 win. That is our attacking four still needs time to gel.
    The attacking flow that we saw against Chelsky(? we might need another nick here) and Sevilla this time was lagging. Playing under the intensity and pressure of a PL game has shown that we are still learning about each other’s movements. Players bumped into each other or occasionally stood in each other’s way indicating the missing positional awareness.

  27. 27
    Bathgooner says:

    Las @26, it’s definitely still a work in progress rather than the finished article but significant progress has definitely been made in the past year.

  28. 28
    Countryman100 says:

    I thought Paddy made a shrewd tactical move after 20 minutes. He detailed his full backs to move infield and, together with midfield to double team Odegaard. This seemed to stop his flow and, after that, our main attacking routes were wide, rather than central. I’m sure MA and the team are working on ways round that (quick passing maybe).

  29. 29
    bt8 says:

    Re c100: The BBC’s gaffe in dropping the announcement of the classified football results is an absolute shame, for all of us who grew up listening to them but also for the BBC itself. Fact is people didn’t read the results, they listened to them, despite the statement issued by the uncomprehending BBC executive:

    “We would like to thank everyone who has read the classified football results on 5 live over the years.”

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words! Writing review is quite the pleasant experience when we win and as a result easier to find the right words. Hope all of us experience only that this season.
    Well at least for most matches in the season.

    Ned — pink is such a versatile color. And more ubiquitous in nature than we give it the credit for. All these various shades of pink all deserve meticulous attention. 🙂

    Trev — only 95? May I promise you an opening century in one of the upcoming innings?

    In Ligue 1 Juno’s Marseille beat Balogun’s Reims 4-1, with both of them scoring goals. Tavares earned the MoTM as well. Good beginnings.

  32. 32
    Doctor Faustus says:

    @31 above —Nuno, not Juno. Incorrect autocorrect …

  33. 33
    Bathgooner says:

    Great link bt8 @30.

    That’s disgraceful from the BBC! Another example of the grandees and editors getting their traditional audience wrong. Not everyone has access to the internet. We can add this to a litany of errors in the last decade and more.

    That theme tune and the football results being read out at 5pm on a Saturday are two of my very earliest memories from childhood. Still something I sometimes tune in for on the way home from games.

  34. 34
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@31: You’ve achieved a century before; you can do it again.

    bath@33: The BBC is trying to avoid dying along with its traditional audience. However, given the way it has gone about it, I despair for its future.

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    Listening to the late comers reading was rather like listening to the long-range shipping forecast. You rarely, usually never need to know that in FitzRoy it was Variable 2 to 4, occasionally southeasterly 5 later in west; Smooth or slight; Fair; Good any more than you needed to know Rotherham or Leyton Orient’s result, but there was a familiarity in hearing it that reassured that at least one corner of the world was still as it should be.

  36. 36
    TTG says:

    Like Bath , that evocative tune has revved up the butterflies in the old tum ( or did prior to the internet) for many years. I would always listen at home and when I drove to games on the car radio. Is nothing sacred ?
    Next they will be telling us that the Last Night of the Proms is being held underwater on Shrove Tuesday with an audience of jellyfish or Peggy Archer is retiring from the Archers .
    Stand firm against the March of the modernisers 📻

  37. 37
    TTG says:

    We are being linked with Neto and Diaby out wide but the Tielemans rumour is the most persistent in terms of likely midfield recruits . Neto is a terrific player but had a horrendous injury from which he has only just recovered . I haven’t seen Diaby playing a full match only You Tube clips . He’s clearly lightning fast but he would cost a lot of money .Leicester are in trouble financially and the lack of a bid may be geared to an understanding already reached with Leicester over the timing of the deal given we are playing them on Saturday. If we have agreed personal terms that would indicate we intend to sign him. He looked very good on MOTD last night

  38. 38
    Countryman100 says:

    The Sports report theme tune is called Out Of The Blue

  39. 39
    North Bank Ned says:

    Your nostalgia wallow:

  40. 40
    North Bank Ned says:

    And the real thing, the 50th anniversary Sports Report

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    Seems Alexis Sanchez is adding to The Arsenal connection at Marseille after racking up another mutually agreed contract termination. A left hand side of Nuno and Alexis.

    Best of luck to LT11 whose endless search for a club with two pennies to rub together seems to be finally over. It’s been a real pain in the proverbial but still he really isn’t a bad player and I wish him well.

  42. 42
    bathgooner says:

    Great stuff, Ned.

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

    Deep floods near the Emirates due to broken water mains. Hornsey Road and Tollington Road. Many of us will know the area well.


  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Water, water everywhere, and with the Tollie affected, not a drop to drink.

  45. 45
    bt8 says:

    As the youngest starting XI in the Premier League this past weekend, Arsenal’s team were ON AVERAGE 4.95 years younger than the weekend’s oldest starting XI, Liverpool. This according to Sky:
    Arsenal 24.61
    Southampton 24.7
    Wolves 25.14
    Everton 25.51
    Leeds 25.68
    Nott’m Forest 25.72
    Bournemouth 25.96
    Brentford 26.46
    Aston Villa 26.82
    Man Utd 26.98
    Tottenham 27
    Crystal Palace 27.23
    Leicester 27.29
    Man City 27.47
    Fulham 27.83
    Newcastle 27.99
    Brighton 28.25
    West Ham 28.65
    Chelsea 28.82
    Liverpool 29.36

  46. 46
    bt8 says:

    4.95 should have been 4.75. My miscalculation, apologies.

  47. 47
    TTG says:

    If ManUre are really serious about signing Arnautovic that will shoot their average age upwards still further .Rabiot is also linked . Surely things haven’t got that bad at Old Toilet?
    Their ladies team also signed Nikita Parris from us . She was a huge disappointment when playing for us scoring only once in the League I believe . Don’t think there is much of a strategy at that club .

  48. 48
    North Bank Ned says:

    And the average age of our finishing XI was 115 days younger than our starting XI, bt8.

  49. 49
    Trev says:

    The strategy at Man Utd, TTG, seems to be to keep making statements with “star” signings.
    A series of unconnected statements makes for a poor story though. As they are finding out 👍🏻👍🏻

  50. 50
    TTG says:

    Well deserved half century

  51. 51
    bt8 says:

    Re: Trev @49: Ronaldo, Cavani, Ibrahimovic all had one common element that must be at the core of their strategy for making Star signings. They were all over the hill.

    Maguire on the other hand was just hopeless.

  52. 52
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half-ton, TTG.

    The days when Man U could get anyone they wanted to play for them because of who they were, and thus even if their XI was less than the sum of its parts, it was still good enough to win most games, are over. Their squad needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. As we know, that’s a three-year job and needs a blueprint like any building project.

  53. 53
    bathgooner says:

    So, who can tell me anything about Sandro Tonali and Yeremi Pino?


  54. 54
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@53: Both are young, especially Pino, who is 19. Both are full internationals despite playing less than 100 senior games (the same is true of Saka and ESR). Both fit the recruitment profile and would fill the DM and RW gaps, respectively. Pino has similar stats to Martinelli and similarly needs to work on his finishing. Tonali is strong offensively for a DM, like Partey in that regard, but can’t see him leaving Milan unless he feels he will be a regular starter.

  55. 55
    Countryman100 says:

    Bloody hell! TA4 is going to be on Strictly!

  56. 56
    Countryman100 says:

    TA6 of course. Brains scrambled by this news.

  57. 57
    Countryman100 says:

  58. 58
    North Bank Ned says:

    Charlie Patino is going to have a ‘character-building’ spell at Blackpool to judge by the comments of the team’s fans after being knocked out of the league cup by Barrow. It is only the first half of August and already they are talking about getting relegated back to League One unless they sack their manager (Michael Appleton) now.

  59. 59
    Countryman100 says:

    I’ve been to Blackpool FC. Lovely little ground two blocks from the sea. All that football history and a cracking meat and potato pie.

  60. 60
    Trev says:

    And the tower ballroom for Tone to dance in 👍🏻👍🏻

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    Haven’t been to Blackpool F.C. but the cracking meat and potato pie would count for a lot in my mind.

  62. 62
    North Bank Ned says:

    I, too, have been to Bloomfield Road, although it was back in the last century. Strange atmosphere. The ground was half empty and a stand behind one of the goals was being developed so most of that end was closed off. Missed the meat and potato pie, however.

  63. 63
    North Bank Ned says:

    A deserved dressing down of the club by the Advertising Standard Authority for its misleading Fan Token cryptoassets


    The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Arsenal Football Club plc to ensure that they made sufficiently clear that the value of investments in paid-for Fan Tokens was variable and as cryptoassets they were unregulated. We also told them to ensure that they did not mislead consumers by omitting material information in their ads, including that free fan tokens would require a consumer to open up a cryptoassets exchange account and that paid-for Fan Tokens were a cryptoasset that had to be bought using another cryptocurrency. We told them to ensure that their future ads did not trivialise investment in cryptoassets by omitting appropriate and prominent risk warnings and did not irresponsibly take advantage of consumers’ lack of experience or credulity by not making clear that CGT could be due on cryptoasset profits.

  64. 64
    TTG says:

    I’ve been to Blackpool in November – to speak at a huge hotel but not to watch football.Away from the glitz it’s a very deprived town and was featured on tye BBC news tonight .
    As for the two ‘ prospective ‘ signings , one is completely without foundation ( Tonalli). He took a pay cut to join ACMilan, the club he supported as a boy and is due to play in the Champions League. The only way it could happen is if Milan are desperate for cash.
    Villarreal however ARE desperate for cash and their biggest asset is Pino .You may remember him featuring against us in those deeply frustrating Europa League semi-Finals just over a season ago. He caught the eye but I do hope we explore whether Marquinhos might have the same career trajectory as Martinelli and save us a serious amount of money . As Ned says both players fit the very sensible profile we have developed .Man United take note!

  65. 65
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@64: AC Milan’s new owners have a stadium rebuild and some debt to the previous owners to fund, so they may be looking for cash. But I can’t see Tonalli coming in any circumstances that don’t involve Partey leaving.

  66. 66
    OsakaMatt says:

    Haven’t seen Tonali play that I recall but Partey is 29 and Tonali 22 so it would make good sense from a certain point of view. On the other hand, I think we are a season of success away from being able to tempt players like Tonali to come and be a part of the squad. If we can offer CL football, a PL title challenge in a better quality league, and a higher salary then most players will sign. Colour me a deep shade of jaded but usually the ‘boyhood club’ thing doesn’t matter once the serious discussions start.

  67. 67
    ClockEndRider says:

    Matt @66 – it is a constant source of amazement then whenever player X joins club Y he turns out to have been a fan all his life. This is of course in no way undermined by the fact that when he moves on the club Z, he turns out always to have been a fan of that club. At the end of the day, pay them and they will come. I’m long past projecting my interests on what will overwhelmingly be temporary employees. We, the fans, wherever we are in the world, are the club.

  68. 68
    OsakaMatt says:

    Hahaha, yes that’s all true CER. Recently it’s often “ insert name of club legend was always my role model as I was growing up” but that’s just a variation on a theme. Of course a few like say Jenks for example are I think genuine but mostly it’s just something the agent has come up with. Given that players usually start at an academy at 8 or 9 years old it’s not surprising that it’s purely business by a certain stage. That’s not really intended as a criticism – after all most people change employers during their career and that doesn’t stop them wanting to do well or working hard – more a comment on the unrealistic expectations of some fans.

  69. 69
    Trev says:

    Marks and Spencer’s Chairman accepts £8 million pay packet and tells customers of new employers “Unilever has always been in my heart – I had posters of shampoo on my bedroom wall when I was 9 years old.”

    Works, doesn’t it ?

  70. 70
    Countryman100 says:

    What you say about Tonali makes sense TTG. But another DM remains our greatest lacuna (threw that in for CER). Let’s get Tielemans done now.

  71. 71
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@69: 🙂

  72. 72
  73. 73
    Countryman100 says:

  74. 74
    North Bank Ned says:

    Another, we-get-the-money-if-a-newly-promoted-side-stays-up deal

  75. 75
    bt8 says:

    Presenting Cesc with another chance to hurt Arsenal of his new side Comi manage to displace Monza in Serie A next season.

    Just covering all the angles here…

  76. 76
  77. 77
    Countryman100 says:

    Sorry you don’t like where the team are TTG.

  78. 78
    bt8 says:

    I have to say, the overall transfer picture looks quite positive at the moment but the money lost in getting rid of the unwanted players does seem to be piling up in alarming ways such as seen in TTG’s most recent and other cases.

  79. 79
    bt8 says:

    Or perhaps better said in acquiring the unwanted players under such terms as those yielding the losses upon getting rid.

  80. 80
    Countryman100 says:

    Getting bored with this. Money “lost” is relative. Wages are being taken off the books, players who won’t play are being removed from the team. The balance sheet is hardly effected because the original cost is amortised at 25% per year. It improves the cash flow by freeing up wages. Do I agree that most of these original deals were pants? Of course. Do I think we should hold onto these players? No. Do I think Edu is doing the right thing? Yes. I hope I’m not being offensive when I say that some of these comments remind me of some of the CFOs I have worked with. They understand the price of everything and the value of nothing. Clearly the blog is divided on this topic. We can’t agree on everything.

  81. 81
    bathgooner says:

    Word, C100 @80, every single word.

  82. 82
    North Bank Ned says:

    Fair points, C100. Sins of the fathers and all that…
    If we win silverware this season, it will all suddenly seem worth it.

  83. 83
    bt8 says:

    Re: c100. I can’t say as anybody ever said I had the qualifications to be a CFO until now but I have been interested in all angles of this discussion.

    Anyway I agree with Ned’s last sentence.

  84. 84
    TTG says:

    My last word on this topic much to everyone’s relief
    Three reasons why Edunomics is a disaster
    1) n most industries, in accounting terms, employees are treated purely as an expense with remuneration going through the profit and loss account. In the football industry, however, players are not only employees, but are also viewed as assets of the club. If you write down the value of assets but have transfer fees as liabilities ( Pepe’s fee is spread over five years ) you weaken the balance sheet significantly . Football clubs are not like other businesses. Our solvency has been hugely compromised by continualmunderselling of assets . I will read Swiss Ramble’s analysis with interest.
    2) Several of the deals are ridiculous in concept . As Ned says some are based on hypothetical scenarios – promoted teams staying up (Leno, Mari). .Guendouzi was sold well below market value as a current international as was Mavropanos . Why? Have we got a sell-on clause? I think not Their current teams can sell them at a significant profit which we get nothing of . We have got a buyback clause on Ballard who we sold for £2million ( ask anyone at Milwall what they think he is worth ).So we get £2 million for a player that we can resign for say £30 million if he works out well . FFS as they say
    3) What impression does this create in the football marketplace? We are the softest of soft touches and we fold whenever we want to move a player on .How will that play out when we have a bigger sale to make ?
    I’ve yet to meet a CFO ( and I’ve met many ) I could commend our approach to . It is lunacy.
    That’s my final word . ( Phew say Goonerhoics everywhere 😀🙏🙏)

  85. 85
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG. I must have one more question. What would you do with these unwanted players?

  86. 86
    TTG says:

    What would Daniel Levy do with them? As I’ve said before he sold Bergwijn for more than we got for about six members of our squad .Liverpool ( who pay players well ) sell very effectively – Solanke, Brewster, Neco Williams . Our negotiation outwards seems lazy and uninspired and naive. We could also explore part exchange – AMN or Pepe for example could be factored into deals even if we have to subsidise their wages in part . But I’ve said all this umpteen times already .Some clubs use super agents to use their leverage to effect sales . You pay a commission but get much better deals .
    Let’s say we like the idea of signing Jarrod Bowen. We are quoted £60 million but only have £45 million because we haven’t raised enough in sales. So we buy an inferior player . Poor selling has consequences

  87. 87
  88. 88
    North Bank Ned says:

    As they used to say in The Times’ letters page, this correspondence is now closed. So let me just add that football is an uncommon business. I can’t think of another one outside elite professional sport where the most valuable members of the workforce are on high-paying fixed contracts, and are not at-will employees, but the company only uses only half of them in the main revenue-generating activity each week.

    On a point of information, and I will bow to the commercially seasoned in this fine establishment, but I think players’ wages do go through the P&L in the conventional way. It is the registrations that get treated as depreciatable intangible assets (which head in the direction of zero the second the player signs on, very rapidly in our case, it seems).

  89. 89
    Trev says:

    For whatever reason, I feel compelled to add my own thoughts – for the first time, I might add on the debate above.

    I have half a wardrobe full of old vinyl LPs at home which I have assigned a certain value since the day I bought them – some of them in my teens ! They have been looked after well and are all in pristine condition, complete with art-work covers, inner sleeve notes, some were limited edition imports and many are now deleted from any catalogue I could find when I first thought about selling them. Even I eventually succumbed to new technology.

    I also, in the loft, have two or three crates full of picture frames – a left over from a few years ago when I used to do a lot of photography and thought I would use them all. Some of them were quite expensive as I could never resist a good frame at a decent price if I found one.

    This stuff now needs to go – it is taking up far too much room of the limited space I have available. The trouble is, whenever I look at what I might realistically achieve for these unwanted assets, I am too disappointed to go through with the plan. The fact is, very few people want this stuff. For very few, often read “none”. There is absolutely no queue to buy any of it.

    The further fact is, any and all of this stuff has no value at all, apart from what someone else is prepared to pay for it. Rest assured that if there was any will to buy, I would not be trying to knock the price down. What I spent on this stuff, amortised over a few decades is now completely irrelevant. I cannot get any of it back – I just have to recover what pennies I can, or just give it away to make the required space as I restructure my current interests.

    I do sometimes wonder why I bought half the stuff but I did, and I now have to swallow the consequences.

    Story-time will NOT be back at the same time tomorrow evening !

  90. 90
    Pangloss says:

    I agree with what bath@81 said. (He, in turn was agreeing with C100@80). I wish I believed what TTG said @86.


  91. 91
    Countryman100 says:

    You didn’t answer my question TTG. Just criticised the management again.

  92. 92
    Cynic says:

    What would you do with these unwanted players?

    Make a lamp out of them. That’s what all the upcycling programmes do when they can’t think of anything else.

    Or a coffee table.

  93. 93
    Cynic says:

    Money “lost” is relative. Wages are being taken off the books, players who won’t play are being removed from the team.

    Which is a bit like saying, “Never mind the fact you bought a Ferrari for half a million quid and traded it in for a Dacia, think of the money you’re saving on fuel”.


    All or Nothing 4-6 was nothing remarkable. We didn’t get the full story on the Auba eruption, but nor did we expect to. More clumsy dressing room stuff from Arteta. Is it just me that wants to go and hide when he’s drawing on his big white board, like a contestant on Win Lose or Draw? It makes me cringe, that stuff, but the players seem to be able to keep a straight face so good luck to him.

  94. 94
    Countryman100 says:

    Lot of negativity around guys. The management don’t know what they’re doing. The manager is a numpty. We’re in the process of turning into Le Grove.

  95. 95
    Countryman100 says:

    The negativity has totally soured my mood. I was so looking forward to Saturday. I’m doing the match report, which will be around Sunday afternoon. Until then, I’m taking a little time out from here.

  96. 96
    TTG says:

    If you read what I said I suggested several ideas for shifting players including part exchange and using agents . I am not sure of the rules around feeder clubs but it would be good to link with a Lille or Lyon getting first option on their emerging stars and lending them players to develop and if we have an unsellable star ( and that’s a conclusion I think some have come to on here although I reject it ) we could park them there and reduce the wage bill even if we have to subsidise it.
    Two further things. I do wish people would read what I write. My only criticism of the management is of Edu’s sales skills. I gave him 9/10 for buys in which he has done a superb job. Check back to the previous blog .That is not negativity it is a realistic assessment .
    If we want this blog to be happy clappy with no rational assessment of progress and strategy I will excuse myself but you might as well merge with Untold Arsenal. We are all Arsenal fans but that doesn’t mean the club is exempt from criticism or we can’t healthily disagree. The club is in a fine position and is getting an awful lot right. I think I’m entitled to point out what I think is a source of waste
    All or Nothing has been better than I expected ( although I expected little!) I’m not sure if the dressing room shots are staged and are not the actual team talks . But I sense in Arteta a very principled, intense man who drives himself very hard but takes great pride in his players . My big sense is that there is nobody who emerges as the leader of the dressing room among the players. They are nice, conscientious lads but I’d like to see a TA there. Maybe Odegaard will do the job a different way

  97. 97
    Pangloss says:

    TTG – We’ve disagreed about this many times before and I have, trust me, absolutely no desire to go over it all again. However…

    I’ve re-read what you posted at 86. Is it correct to summarise your response to C100’s final question @85 as

    “I’d sell them for a higher fee.”?



  98. 98
    ecg says:

    Although I appreciate the frustration TTG has with our outgoing deals and I have no specific knowledge about how the Arsenal management team works, I would be surprised if Edu is working in a vacuum. Surely Vinai, Garlick, Lewis, Josh, etc. have some say in the approach Edu is taking and are okay with the deals. And the owners have shown to be relatively conservative when it comes to Arsenal fiscal matters, so I can’t imagine they are unaware of the deals. Maybe this will bite the Club in the ass in a few seasons if we don’t succeed in the way the owners are anticipating and ask the club to start paying back the assumed loans, but I’m not gong to worry about that until it happens.

  99. 99
    North Bank Ned says:

    There is nothing exceptional about a business cutting its losses, which invariably involves a write-down. My secret theory is that all businesses screw up more than they ever let on. It is just that hardly anyone is pouring over staff changes at Unilever or Macdonald’s in the way that the ins and outs of football clubs are scrutinised.

    I think Dave would have entertained this debate for as long as we kept it civil.

    Trev@89: I once had my record collection stolen. The burglars returned the albums three days later after they realized the value of what they had taken….

  100. 100
    scruzgooner says:

    fine review, faustus.

    top left corner.

  101. 101
    OsakaMatt says:

    Opportunistic stuff scruz, a tip of the hat on a fine ton.

  102. 102
    Cynic says:

    I’ve re-read what you posted at 86. Is it correct to summarise your response to C100’s final question @85 as

    “I’d sell them for a higher fee.”?

    I read it more as “Why are we continuing to employ someone who appears to have the negotiating skills of a bankrupt market stall owner?”

    The problem is we often appear to buy players for too much money, pay them a salary that makes them hard to move on and sometimes they’re not actually very good so we put ourselves in a position where they become a problem we’re just delighted to be rid of. We’re pretty useless at finding players who hold their value. We don’t seem to be making many sound decisions either for football reasons or for financial ones.

    That’s not negativity, to realise it and talk about it. Being comparatively happy to throw scores of millions of pounds into the fire just to get something in for these people is not a good way to run the club.

  103. 103
    Cynic says:

    I should have said above that as well as not being all that good at the old football thing, we also signed a number of players who are quite good at football but not good personalities. Problems off the pitch who gradually become one on it until we get shot of them for any price.

    I also should have said “We’re pretty useless at finding players who hold their value when it comes time to sell them“.

    There are far too many of those.

  104. 104
    Trev says:

    Cynic, that’s surely the problem. We had a squad with too many underachievers, overpaid players who couldn’t earn the same money anywhere else, old players with no resale value, and young players on high wages who hadn’t realised their perceived potential. It had become a shambles and was most definitely no way to run a successful club.

    There comes a time when you have to draw a line in order to start again. There is only a limited number of players allowed in the squad so in order to bring fresh blood in, you have to clear the unwanted players out. If you can’t realise too prices, you have to take what you can get.

    Our new recruitment strategy looks entirely different to that of recent years and should guard against present losses being repeated. I think ecg is spot on @98. These losses must be being sanctioned from the top. I have no idea what exact form this “finance” is taking but that is not really our business.

    As fans we can only hope that this acceptance of where we were and the new strategy to improve our position bring us the success we all long for.

  105. 105
    Cynic says:

    Another player on his way out, who we’re virtually paying to go is Hector Bellerin. Now I have no great for him, think he has had his time here and was ok without being outstanding, so I’m not heart broken to see him go.

    But why on earth are we negotiating (reportedly) a way to cancel his contract, just to make it easy for him to join … BARCELONA? This is a club continually pleading poverty, which happens to find the odd 100 million Euros in an old pair of jeans every time it wants a marquee player.

    Why should we be bending over backwards to make life easy for those tossers?

  106. 106
    Cynic says:

    That should read – no great affection for him.

  107. 107
    bathgooner says:

    I think this topic has been a fertile source of debate and a legitimate source of different opinions and disagreement. I have enjoyed reading the different perspectives. Thank you, all. Dave would have let it run and run as long as respect (one of Dave’s non-negotiables) was maintained. I do not think we are at risk of becoming either an entirely negative Le Grove or an scrupulously uncritical, ludicrously positive Untold Arsenal while we have this broad constituency of intelligent opinion.

    I think both the leading debators, C100 and TTG, have valid points and though I strongly lean towards C100’s analysis of the position, I do agree with TTG and Cynic that we are throwing resources away that would have been more fruitfully used elsewhere and which may constrain our budget in the near future but, unlike them, I believe it is the only solution to the hopeless purchasing of previous regimes. I do not have other’s experience of running a business though I have been Treasurer of three charities and know the benefit (and hence value) of spending (a lot of) money to clear out bad eggs and take an organisation forward. I still bear the scars from that experience and there was a similar debate to the one here within the executive team, but I had an excellent lawyer at my elbow and common sense prevailed.

    The All Or Nothing episodes shown this week confirm ecg’s point that Edu does not work in a vacuum, is not cavalier about wasting resources and clearly has the support of the owners. I was impressed how he and Richard Garlick managed to reconnoitre their way through the Auba impasse and get him out of the club without it being a simple loan deal. Barca’s willingness to sell him to Chelsea shows that his wages are a problem for them and he would have been thrown back into out lap this summer with all the associated poison to the squad. Frankly I think they should be congratulated for that deal. I was also extremely impressed by Tim Lewis’ brief cameo showing his supportive but clear-minded probing interrogation of the course that MA8 had chosen to take.

    I originally thought that the club signing up to the show was a mistake, adding unnecessary pressure to the manager and I didn’t plan to watch it. However I am now riveted and I think it shows what a gem of a coach we have. One day, once he has achieved his goals at Arsenal, he will move on to a bigger challenge so we should enjoy him while he is ours.

    I think it all comes down to what MA8 said, they must all, from CEO to Tea-lady, at every decision-point, do what is best for the club. I genuinely believe that’s what they are doing and while we can question every decision, I think we can trust this team.

  108. 108
    TTG says:

    Super note which skilfully and accurately encapsulates the varying views. I also agree that Dave would have been happy to debate this ( relatively) ad infinitum , provided this debate was conducted with respect and honesty.
    As you know I have the pleasure of being driven to the match by the estimable C100, who is an individual I have enormous respect and affection for and who has a tremendous love and passion for our club. When I write ‘driven ‘ he may have a Bond- style ejector seat which might send me flying into a field in Cambridgeshire!
    This selling point aside I think the club is in good hands, Edu seems to have a strong pastoral role which is illustrated by his relationship with young Martinelli who is clearly someone who is deeply loved and respected at the club. Let’s hope this cull results in a very much( stronger and more valuable squad and one which propels us back to the top of English football

  109. 109
    ClockEndRider says:

    What Trev said @104.
    What Baff said @107 (apart from the fact I side with TTG! Least said, soonest mended!)

    Looking forward hugely to meeting up with certain habitues pre match tomorrow at which we will studiously avoid opening this one up again, no doubt!

    One observation from the Auba episode on Amazon which struck me. SPOILER ALERT for those who haven’t seen it.

    When Garlick, Vinai and Edu first meet to discuss what they’re going to do with Auba, they seem pretty much reconciled to the fact that Auba has to be reintegrated into the squad. Clearly this is not what happened and I can only surmise that there must have been some pretty significant discussions with Mikel in order for this apparent consensus to turn around 180 degrees. Obviously these conversations are not shown in the doc, but man, I would love to have been a fly on the wall for those. And secondly, it just confirms, to me at least, how much power Arteta has, in a very good way indeed.

  110. 110
    bathgooner says:

    CER @109, an excellent point that I also noticed. It makes it clear that MA8 is as capable of ‘managing up’ as he is at managing down. A skill that good CEO’s and executives possess. He is a very able individual.

  111. 111
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, scruz.

    Some excellent posts above from the grandees. The only point left to make is, have we learned to avoid repeating the same mistakes in hiring overpaid underachievers, the answer to which we won’t know for some time, although the signs from the current recruitment strategy are encouraging.

    Raheem Stirling’s comments about wasting his time at City underlines the structural discontent that there must be among the squads of the top clubs where players who would walk into the starting line-ups of two-thirds of PL clubs are twiddling their thumbs on the bench.

  112. 112
    Trev says:

    Bath @107, TTG @108, Ned, ecg, C100, Cynic and others,

    Great debate Dave would have endorsed and enjoyed. This must not become a home for happy clappers or doomers alone. Dave’s ethos was always to express any opinion you like as long as it was free of personal abuse. Long may it continue.

  113. 113
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, matt, cheers. as opportunistic as it gets.

    i’ve largely stayed quiet on this debate (sides amply illustrated by ttg and c100, with help from cynic), but have to agree with trev@112 the most. let’s keep that up 🙂

    the club is getting rid of bloat, which is necessary in any organization that has been mismanaged in the human resources sphere. the costs are high now, and the “look” is bad. if the club doesn’t change its ways and continues to bring in pepe’s equivalent for that sort of sum, the expectation is we will not-so-slowly swirl down the financial toilet. i don’t think ma8, edu, et al. are particularly interested in that sort of squad, or that sort of result, especially after watching the auba episode on the exposé. the most important moment of that for me is when ma8 calls in the team and says the levels groups of players have been practicing at…and that if he’d been there (rather than reviewing the video) he’d have told 4 players to go home after 15 minutes. *that* is a manager who knows what he wants, and that the management team flipped from “we have to reintegrate auba” to “here, barca, take him and just pay his wages” during the course of that january means, as CER states in 109 above, that ma8’s vision is carrying the day. i do hope it continues for a long time.

  114. 114
    scruzgooner says: