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Well what was that all about? I’m stepping in for a side knacked TTG (we’re dropping like flies I tell you) to try and make some sense of a puzzling afternoon at the Emirates. I’ve calmed down a bit since 5pm yesterday, so will try and give a balanced view.

The preamble

On an afternoon that would bring various sorts of weather we walked into a sunny Emirates stadium to find everyone frowning into their phones. The team had dropped and it was another odd one: 


Partey, White, Saliba, Kiwior

Ǿdegaard, Rice, Havertz

Saka, Trossard, Martinelli

So, two full backs who aren’t full backs, Gabriel remains on the bench, Trossard comes in for Eddie and Havertz keeps his place. The bench was probably as strong as I can remember. All eight of the players there will start this season, I confidently predict. 

The game

We had a fast start – but not in the way we wanted. After an initial exchange, Ben White played the ball to Saka, under pressure on the half way line. Saka played the ball back into space for either Partey or Ramsdale, but Partey wasn’t there. He was being asked to play in two positions, at right back when Fulham had the ball, and in midfield when we did. When Saka passed the ball back into the right back space, Partey was in the centre circle. Instead Saka played in two unopposed Fulham players. Pereira picked up the ball and probably tried to lob a back pedalling Ramsdale, but instead miskicked and steered it inside our near post. One nil down in less than two minutes.

We moved into our stride and generally dominated possession. But standing behind our defence on the North Bank it was obvious that something was wrong. Our back four were all over the place, not clear in their own roles and often not finding men where they expected them. Players were criss-crossing like they were attempting to get across Hammersmith Broadway from the Shepherds Bush side to the Fulham Palace Road. Kiwior is sound enough as a defensive left back but he made no attempts to link with Martinelli or overlap. Partey was as far forward as Zinchenko plays but he was overcrowding midfield, not linking up with Saka. Havertz was slowing play down. Rice didn’t know whether to stick or twist. Several times Partey was caught upfield and Fulham played into the right back channel where there were acres of empty green grass. 

But we were making chances. We had good chances for Havertz, Saka (who missed a header that looked easy live, but slightly more difficult when I saw highlights later), Martinelli and later Ǿdegaard could have scored. It was 0-1 at half time as the heavens opened, the thunder rumbled and the lightning flashed. Clearly the Gods were unhappy. 

Eddie was brought on for Trossard on 46 minutes. Early in the second half Calvin (Shirley) Bassey was booked for time wasting during a goal kick. Arteta made more good subs on 56, bringing on Zinchenko and Vieira for Partey and Havertz. Everyone moved over one, moving White to right back and Kiwior to centre back. Vieira had an instant impact. Strong, demanding the ball and finding space. Who was wearing the number 21 shirt and what had he done with the Fabio from last season? This Fabio I liked very much. He was taking up a very advanced left sided position when Martinelli rolled him in. He advanced strongly into the penalty area and was too quick for Tete who scythed him down right in front of us. Nailed on penalty which Mr Tierney gave immediately. Ǿdegaard picked up the ball ….and passed it to Saka. He had to endure several delays as first of all VAR checked for offside (it wasn’t), then Paul Tierney pompously strode up to Saka and moved the ball about one inch onto the penalty spot. Dean-esque “it’s all about me” behaviour. Then various Fulham players decided to come into the area and offer their opinions. Rice came in and, without ever risking being booked, firmly indicated that they should fuck off back behind the line.  They complied. You don’t mess with Declan! The whistle blew, Saka stepped up, sent Leno the wrong way and scored. Balls of steel!

Zinchenko was having an impact. Saka was played in and had a heavy collision with Shirley Bassey in the area. No penalty, said Mr Tierney. Bassey was left sprawling on the goal line and stayed there as Fulham played on, spurning the chance to put the ball out. We won the ball back and played out to Vieira on the left side. He played a quite fabulous ball towards the penalty spot where Eddie, between the centre backs doing his best Ian Wright impression, finished beautifully. 2-1 up, 73 minutes gone!

On 82 minutes we cleared a cross into our box towards the halfway line. Eddie scampered towards it, with only one Fulham defender in his own half and, on the half way line, was egregiously blocked by the aforementioned and already booked Shirley Bassey. Another easy decision for Mr Tierney. Second yellow and a red.

On 86 minutes, bad Zinny surfaced. I love Zinny but he can give the ball away easily in his own half. So it proved as Traore dispossessed him in the left back slot. A corner ensued. The ball was swung in, all our defenders moved away from it. It fell to an unmarked Paulhina who swept the ball in past Ramsdale. Shocking defending. Why had Gabriel not been brought on, we were asking ourselves? Nine minutes of added time. A late break from the pacy Traore. He surged into the box, shrugged off Saliba’s challenge and fired in a shot which Ramsdale saved well. There was only just time for Vieira to pick up the ball on the right of their area and fire in a fierce shot which Leno, formerly of this parish, did well to tip over. All over, 2-2 and two points dropped. 

The case for the prosecution

As we drove home I was seething. Why had we moved away from the excellent back four of last year (White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko)? Why was Partey at right back, being asked to play two roles and not sitting in midfield behind Rice, allowing him to surge forward? We have lost the White/Saka chemistry that was so effective last season. Why is Havertz a first choice at left 8? Why, oh, why is Gabriel not playing? The Saliba/Gabi CB partnership last year was one of the best in the league. Why break it up? Arteta clearly has a theory. Is he being arrogant and stubborn in testing it to destruction? 

The case for the defence

Arteta is trying to improve us. Last season he picked a very narrow range of players and it cost us when Saliba got injured. This year, due to sound recruitment, he has a much wider choice and, with CL football ahead of us, has to find a full squad and systems he can use. The trial continues. We should have won this game. We had 71% possession, 19 attempts on goal, with 11 on target and an XG of 3.25. His subs were excellent especially the reborn Fabio Vieira and a clearly on form Eddie. We’ve dropped two points, which is annoying, but remain unbeaten. We’ve been unlucky in losing the highly promising Timber to an ACL. Keep the faith and trust the process. 

Looking ahead

Next Sunday, at home against United, the last game before the cursed interlull, is now a very important game. The Boss has a week to decide his best way forward. 

89 Drinks to “Formation Issues and Two Points Dropped”

  1. 1
    Sancho Panza says:

    An excellent summary thank you and I like the legal considerations at the end. Expectation levels after last season are probably a little high also. But rightly so. Would not a proper right back be anticipating a pass back rather than just bombing forward?

  2. 2
    TTG says:

    What a measured and informative report , thanks C100. It’s often useful to take time to reflect and your reflections are very sensible and proportionate .
    There is an elephant in the room – a German one who was the subject of a lot of texts I received yesterday . We’ve changed the balance of the side , primarily but not exclusively to accommodate Havertz . The early indications are very alarming. The first goal we conceded yesterday was ridiculous . Normally Saka would have found a right back in place who would have tidied up. Partey was nowhere to be seen and Ramsdale made a real porridge of trying to save . For the third time in nine games we conceded a ridiculous goal at home in the first minute .
    I’m happy to trust the process and hope Arteta is able to look clearly at the evidence . It was massively heartening to see Vieira play so well and it will be hard to leave him out next week as it will be hard to not start Eddie who transformed our attack . We need the defence to have a stronger framework ( we really suffered when Timber got injured )
    Every proper Arsenal supporter wants Havertz to succeed . Modern supporters often occupy positions where they care more about being seen to have been right than about the side flourishing especially if it flourishes in a way that devalues their views .
    I made my feelings clear on Havertz when he joined . I think it was a quite extraordinary decision to pay £65 m for him but I desperately hope he is a massive success and makes me look a complete Charlie .I can live with that if my team succeeeds . Arteta deserves our backing and clearly has a vision which while not fully formulated yet has plenty of time to develop .
    GSD posted a really heartfelt note last night which underlined his faith in the Havertz experiment . It would be wonderful if his faith is justified and let us pray that it is . If it is Arsenal will be much better for it . My sense is that some tweaks are going to be necessary and we must trust Mikel to make the right ones

  3. 3
    Ollie says:

    Cheers C100. Fair report. I was much impressed with Mr Vieira. I am slightly leaning back towards the prosecution being right at the moment….and I hope I’m wrong!

  4. 4
    BtM says:

    Great summary and I experienced most of the emotions you described during the game.

    I posted a version of your ‘case for the prosecution’ post-Palace. My hope then (I was expecting a comfortable win vs Fulham) was that we’d revert to our tried and tested back four, with TP5 as DM and Declan in the Xhaka role by the time the ManU game rolled around.

    I love experimentation and innovation as much as the next man. But I’m still hoping.

    I liked your ‘case for the defence’ too, C100. The stats tell a positive picture but don’t completely erase the feeling of two points swirled down the gurgler.

  5. 5
    Bathgooner says:

    Bravo! A characteristically accurate and measured account of events on the field and a masterful analysis of the conundrum that is Arteta’s current experiment with our defensive structure. You saw the same game and experienced the same reaction as I did.

    Camera shots of our bench during the first half and early second half showed a more pained, extremely nervous expression on Arteta’s face than I have ever seen. He was clearly watching the disintegration of his hopes and plans.

    I trust that like all good researchers, Arteta reflects deeply upon the lessons of this third iteration of his experiment and processes and understands its lessons rather than imposing his own pre-conception upon the data (the Crime of Procrustes familiar to all readers of Papworth’s Clinical Medicine). On the evidence of the three experiments that I have seen, the hypothesis that is their basis is flawed. Surely, we will revert to the system that the players who were here last season fully understand and can probably perform in their sleep as suggested by the automatisms that made us such a silky team last season? I shudder to think of the freedom of London our defensive set up will offer Marcus Rashford if we line up against Manure as we have done in the three matches to date. Terrifying!

    The Wagnerian Donner und Blitzen backdrop to that match portended catastrophe but hopefully not a full blown Götterdämmerung for the entire Arteta project due to a misguided persistence with a flawed hypothesis! Please!

  6. 6
    Up4GrabsNow! says:

    Good report C100. Two points dropped that we may well regret come May. Experiment in the Carling Cup, dead rubber group games or PL games when you are 3-0 up. I am 100% in the Case for the Prosecution camp.

    One bright light was Vieira.

    Barney Ronay: “Kai Havertz looked unremittingly confused, not just by his role on the left of midfield, but by the basic fact of taking part in a Premier League match”

  7. 7
    North Bank Ned says:

    Excellent, C100. Your summings-up go straight to the heart of the matter. At this point, the jury is still out and possibly hung (Matron!).

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    Getting into the detail, what is the logic of sitting back and conceding possession to an inferior outfit when one has just taken a winning position rather than killing them off by maintaining the momentum that got you into that winning position? Can someone explain this.

    It was nice to see Vieira play with drive, confidence and the skill we had previously seen in brief glimpses. Hopefully that Fabio is here to stay.

    Eddie was transformative. I hope rumours of a knee injury can be killed off as Jesùs looked a long way off being capable of leading the line against Manure.

    I have no comment on Havertz other than that he needs to work hard at Colney.

    On the other hand, what has happened to Trossard? A shadow of the player in pre-season, rightly hooked at half time. Work to be done on and by him.

    Maybe no-one can play the inverted FB as well as Zinny either on right or left but what a klutz he can be at times. Still, we just had to defend a corner. That was unacceptable defending by Rice and Saka.

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    I would add that Arteta is a profoundly introspective coach. I would conjecture that he is searching for a way to break the tactical stalemate among elite teams that has resulted from all of them adopting positional-based possession football and games between top clubs becoming machine vs. machine with automatisms, structured zonal occupation and organised pressing. Pep was doing the same last season. His three out-of-possession and four in defence fits that idea. However, allowing more flexibility in the system and letting players be more free-flowing comes at the cost of defensive security; the best defences are well-drilled, and positionalism inherently provides that structure. I doubt Arteta will go as far as experimenting with the seeming chaos of full relationship-based possession football tactics that are coming out of Brazil and that Croatia used so effectively in the last World Cup, but we are going to have to get used to him using Premier League games as a Petrie dish. Like yesterday, that won’t always be comfortable, especially if we don’t take our chances to win the games.

  10. 10
    Countryman100 says:

    Many thanks for the kind words above. As Sherlock Holmes used to, this is a three pipe problem.

    After all the thoughts above, here’s Mike McDonald’s view.

    Too Much Time To Think: does Arteta overcomplicate things? [ARS 2-2 FUL] (Positives Needs & Hopes)

  11. 11
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks C100, as mentioned by many an excellent and fair summary of a game that would have tested the patience of a saint. Fair play to Fulham, they showed up well after giving away two quick goals but we should have had at least four by the time they equalized.
    The idea of pushing an extra body forward into midfield is basically reasonable but if you keep missing presentable chances it doesn’t make any difference.

    Sadly I cannot answer Bath’s request as to why we were sitting back, it fucked me right off at the time too.

    I accept the well-written case for the defence personally and anyway wasn’t expecting MA to persist with the same approach against Man U. Let’s see.

    Be a good game next week. I want the Manure that folded at the new toilet and then went two down to Forest at the old toilet.

  12. 12
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers Countryman, excellent, thorough and well analysed. As ever.

    Lots of good posts above. I think Ned @9 is really onto something in his analysis of how the top games play out and what Arteta is looking to find ways around.

    However, I’d just start Gabriel at CB, White at RB and accept that whatever plan he had for Timber ain’t gonna work with Partey, who should not be playing RB for us.

  13. 13
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I saw the first goal a bit differently to some, relative to Partey at RB…

    White shifted over to RB when he played the ball to Rice. He further accentuated this by making a run for a wider return pass, in exactly the way he would if he were playing right back. Rice played it round the corner to Saka instead and this left White too close to receive the ball when an under pressure Saka wanted to play a backwards pass as.

    However, all of this is only going on because, when White drifts over to RB, Partey is covering him at RCB, in good position relative to Saliba at LCB. So, White has space to drift into Partey’s RB slot, as they have essentially just swapped positions.

    However, Partey then simply runs out of the vital defensive postion he occupies into midfield. This move means White is again the the RCB, but now in an awful position and miles away from Saliba (even though he has barely moved from 2 seconds before when he was covering RB and in a decent position relative to Partey at RCB and Saliba at LCB.)
    The space between our CBs is now wide enough to drive a bus through, and
    Saka plays a pass that some bloke miskicks it into the net.

    Whilst it is a bad pass from Saka (who needs to pick out a man, not just an area) it is also easy to sympathise because it is almost NEVER that the bloke in the CB position when you look up two seconds previously has used the time since you last looked to stride into midfield and leave the route to goal completely unprotected.
    It is the Chess equivalent of pawns leaping to sides in an effort to leave their King as exposed as possible.
    An odd decision.

    It’s probably born out of being told to play midfield and RB and not realising that these two positions take second fiddle to covering defence if your CB is out wide in your RB role. Partey makes a bad positional decision. But the system is set up to put him in that sort of situation and if it persists, then he will make more mistakes. It is a problem with the system, not the player.

    Arteta is just gonna have to shelve his plan for Timber until he has Timber to execute it.

  14. 14
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    This is just my opinion, and I’ve only watched the Palace game this season, so it isn’t based on as much viewing as some of you will have had…but I reckon Arteta wants Havertz to play the most nuanced, difficult role he has ever asked of any player.

    And I think he’s only got it into his head to ask it of any player at all because he has seen how good Havertz is and thinks he is capable of more than he’d ask of anyone else.

    I’m not saying he’s better than Saka, Martinelli or whoever, just that his ability to understand the role Arteta sees him in (which, in its fulfilment, will be pretty much unique) is different to what anyone else offers.

    I reckon it will take a few months before he gets it right. But when he does it will be the masterstroke that wins us trophies.

    I’m so, so on board with this Havertz signing. The guy is gonna be immense for us. But I really think he needs time. My major concern is that Arteta wants a major revamp of the midfield, which I’m fully on board with, but he seems to be trying to make it happen at the same time as he is pulling apart a very stable back line that should have been the solid base for a midfield that was always going to have teething problems.

    When we look wobbly at the back, and every ball lost in midfield looks worse and puts under more pressure, it invites scrutiny and criticism on the midfield. Odegaard is our tremendously popular captain. Rice is our record signing and new golden boy. All of the defenders and the keeper have previously done well for us…

    So, is it any surprise to anyone that Havertz is the lightning rod for fan’s frustrations? An ex-Chlesea player who underwhelmed there and who many feel we overpaid for. He seems like an easy target to me.

    That won’t help him, and whilst I’m sure he has a thick enough skin, it’d be great to see him get the full backing of our support (no one does anything well when their own fans are groaning at them!) and I’m not sure Arteta has done Havertz any favours, or handled the situation as well as I’d expect, by messing about with the defence before the new boy has bedded in.

    So, like I say, I’m not gonna blame him for the coach’s odd tactical choices, and I think he was always gonna need tike to find his role for us.

    Let’s hope he scores a couple against Manure and brings in some general good will!

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    GSD@12: Cheers. Mike McDonald, as linked to by C100, picks up on the same theme, framing it as a search for ‘unpredictability’.

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    GSD@14: That is quite the vote of confidence in Havertz. Your analysis would explain why Arsenal paid so handsomely to acquire him and then pay him more than anyone else in the squad. May you gloriously prove to be proven right.

    Your breakdown of Fulham’s first goal sent me back to the videotape. There is much in what you say, but I am not sure Partey made a positionally bad decision. He advanced into a space where he could have received the ball from Rice, but Fulham’s two-man press on Rice cut off that option. Rice’s first touch on receiving the ball from White was not the best. Instead of being able to return it to the advancing White with a lateral pass, he was forced to scoop it in Saka’s direction on the stretch. Saka’s options were a long pass back to Ramsdale or a forward flick around the corner to MØ8. He under-hits the ball towards Ramsdale or weights it perfectly to where Saliba would have been if Saliba and Gabriel had been playing CBs. Pereira then scuffs his shot and gets very lucky.

  17. 17
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Ned. Even if White had received it, where would he have played it? And can our positional play be relied upon to be so precise in that area of the pitch that we can avoid to vacate that defensive space? There is risk and there is risk. We gain little if Partey is in midfield that we wouldn’t have gained if we played a pass to Havertz or Odegaard. It’s not like his run makes him free for a pass.

    If we make the same error thirty yards up the pitch, then no problem. But, personally, I think White is only so far wide because he thinks Partey is covering him. As soon as Partey stops holding this position, we are fucked.
    So, I think it is a positional bad decision, born out of confusion with what to do in that situation.

    Also, yeah. I’m fully behind Havertz and happy to set my stall out. Ironically given my quibble with Partey in the last 3 games, it’s because I trust Arteta!

  18. 18
    Trev says:

    Excellent C100. Dry measured. Critical but constructive. Spot on, I reckon.

  19. 19
    Trev says:

    Dry ?? Very measured……

    Autocorrect is such a pile of ……….

  20. 20
    Trev says:

    GSD – I genuinely hope you are right about what an amazing player Havertz is – I never want any Arsenal player to fail. My problem with him at the moment is that he is just not affecting the game at all. I get that he is new, our formation is new, and some players are having to play roles and positions they are not used to. Havertz is one of these. I would, however, like to see him put a lot more urgency and commitment into whatever role it is he is performing.

    Maybe you are right about Arteta’s plan for him. Could you share with us exactly what this incredibly nuanced, difficult role is going to be ? At the moment I’m not sure many people are really sure quite what he is.

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    GSD@17: Had White got the ball back from Rice, he had a clear pass into Ødegaard’s feet or could have hit it over the top for Saka to chase. When White passed to Rice, Saka had half-turned to run up the wing and only turned back when he saw the ball was not going back to White. I don’t disagree for a minute that, had we had a back four, Saka’s pass would have gone straight to our conventional RCB, and all would have been well. I am arguing that Partey did not make a mistaken decision but did what he was instructed to do in transition, even if that carries a high risk if we do not successfully play our way out — a high risk that materialised as we saw.

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    Big changes in the Predictathon Leaderboard after Match Week 3.

    We have a new leader.

    Click on the GHF Contests tab to see who else is up and who is down.

  23. 23
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned, joint 15th is relegation territory for me. I prefer the view in Holics Ropey League to be honest 😂😂

  24. 24
    Countryman100 says:

    Enjoyable piece on Le Grove this morning.


  25. 25
    Sancho Panza says:

    OM, joint 15th is head dizzy territory for me.

  26. 26
    BtM says:

    @24, I read that earlier today C100 and was of a mind to share it too. Good man.

    I used to avoid Le Grove like the plague. It’s much more sympathetic to my own point of view these days.

  27. 27
    ClockEndRider says:

    Clearly the Predictathon standings are upside down.

  28. 28
    ClockEndRider says:

    C100 @24 – thanks for pitt8 g that link up. An interesting read.
    BtM @26 – I had the same impression of Le Grove. They seem to have mellowed somewhat and as a result are much more readable.

  29. 29
    TTG says:

    Thanks for drawing attention to Le Grove C100
    Pedro is much more on point than he was yesterday when his logic was a little flawed. This is a very sensible piece and gets into the reasons for Mikel’s mindset very well . There is too much media coverage nowadays and each game is analysed to death . Three games does not a season make . Big game on Sunday which will tell us much

  30. 30
    TTG says:

    Pedro has mellowed ( very pro- Arteta ). Wenger leaving was a catalyst. The opposition to the great man became overwhelming and out of proportion. It’s a good read now( if you leave out the comments!)

  31. 31
    Sancho Panza says:

    Thanks for the link to the article. It’s good to get different views. I understand the need for being unpredictable. If it’s a few bumps along the way for a greater good then I’m all for it. But I don’t expect Arteta to tell us his plans. That would make it all too predictable.

  32. 32
    BtM says:

    @31 Predictable unpredictability? Could catch on, but somewhat unlikely.

  33. 33
    Trev says:

    Great work on the Predictathon, Ned. – thank you !
    My personal slide continues down to 18th – great that we have 21 “ teams” compared to the 20 in the actual Premier League.

  34. 34
    Trev says:

    Thanks for the link, C100 – very interesting piece.

    I get the need to adapt, to change, to improve and that fundamental change requires time and patience. I still wonder whether we needed that degree of change so soon. A new formation dismantling the centre of our defence, new players in key areas, old players in new positions. Last year the team adapted to new players, long term injuries in key areas, a six week interruption to the season for the World Cup, the new way of inverting fullbacks, and mounted a brilliant challenge for the title and scored 85 goals (from memory).

    Maybe a season of consolidation with tweaking to include the new reinforcements to the squad and allow more rotation would have bedded in the confidence of players and fans alike.

    Changing every fundamental seems to have had the opposite effect with players looking uncertain of what they should be doing and where they shoutbe doing it.

    However, this season will be different. Different demands, like the Champions League, different expectations and different opposition as last terms failed sides have spent huge money to try to improve again.

    I’m not going to judge after 3 games and Arteta deserves the chance to do what he feels is necessary and correct with our full support. He’s been a complete revelation so far and the long term plan as envisioned in Le Grove’s article is intriguing. Hopefully Man €ity are already in negotiation with Fat Sam to take over when Guardiola leaves.

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@23: Congrats on going top of the Ropey League. The best that can be said for my position is that I can see the field clearly ahead of me.

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@24: Thanks for the link. The tenor of the piece chimes with a lot of the opinions expressed here.

    One point that caught my eye was the suggestion that the new ticketing ballot is adversely affecting the atmosphere in the stadium for home games.

  37. 37
    North Bank Ned says:

    Here is a video primer on positional play (predictability) vs. relationism (unpredictability)

  38. 38
    bathgooner says:

    Interesting piece in Le Grove. Pooachers who turn gamekeepers are generally evil bastards.

    What Trev said @34.

  39. 39
    OsakaMatt says:

    Best of luck to KT in Spain. I am glad he didn’t
    go to Newcastle and Sociedad will be a good
    challenge for him I hope

  40. 40
    OsakaMatt says:

    Stories that Rob will be next and I think it
    will be fairly straightforward to find a
    decent club for him. Edu will have to earn
    his money with Nuno and Pepe….

  41. 41
    TTG says:

    If there is a shred of truth in the story that we are willing to sell ESR and may trade him to Chelsea I will be appalled. I cannot believe either that we will part company with at this stage with Gabriel either leaving an under-resourced dogs breakfast of a defence that we saw on Saturday. These must ( please) be transfer window stories .
    To effectively swap ESR with Havertz while handing Chelsea a sizeable financial sum would be stupidity on an epic scale . It would leave what looked like it might be a superb transfer window in tatters . The misfortune with Timber is just bad luck. He looked superb . Rice is a wonderful addition although we’ve paid a big price for him ( justified in my view ). My views on Havertz don’t need repeating. Raya is a fine keeper but may not play much .
    We’ve lost Tierney , Xhaka are about to lose Balogun ( for a fair price ) but to lose ESR and Gabriel woukd (in my opinion ) leave us significantly weaker than before the window opens .
    I’m heavily supportive of Arteta and have been since he became manager but I’m not sensing progress over the last few months . I put us down for third this season but if we did lose ESR and Gabriel without replacing them we’d be struggling to qualify for Europe . We are a supportive house by and large here and I am conscious that I’m continually finding myself at the hawkish end of the scale but the duty of a committed blog is to be supportive whilst assessing progress at the Club honestly . I’m keeping my figures crossed that our outgoings are Tavares , Pepe , Holding , Cedric and Sambi Lokonga . I hope that is where the vaunted Edu is spending the rest of his week rather than selling vital assets

  42. 42
    bathgooner says:

    I hope the rumours that we are touting ESR around and that Gabriel was dropped because they think hishead has been turned by the Saudi/Real rumours are not true and if true, that they don’t come to anything. That would make this summer one step forward and two steps back in terms of squad building.

  43. 43
    TTG says:

    Exactly right Bath
    Whatever might be thought we don’t find selling easy and we have players we need to move on desperately . Retaining inferior players because you can’t shift them forces you to consider selling more effective players . We end up terminating contracts or loaning surplus players with no obligation to buy which ultimately has a significant cost implication for the club.
    These are three important days and we need to come out of it in good shape . Worrying rumours

  44. 44
    Esso says:

    Cheers C100!

  45. 45
    North Bank Ned says:

    What TTG and Bath say about ESR and Gabriel.

    Having the squad depth to win the league means having 24 players who are all good enough to start.

  46. 46
    MMTWP says:

    Time to chip in methinks. Like most others i was pretty disappointed with the Fulham game but its early days,…fair enough..Some strange not to say bizarre selections by MA. Kiwior i remain to be convinced of…is he really a better option than Tierney? I feel very disquieted with the loss of Tierney and now talk of ESR too…Clearly the management have more insights than i…but 2 ironed-on Gooners..i am troubled. Others differ with my view but i remain unimpressed with Eddie…trier but not that good. Loves his phone but doesn’t get the ball in the net enough…I know MA is being beseeched as the greatest thing since..well whom? He wants to be predictably unpredictable…fair enough but don’t you need some grafters/defenders ala Gabriel. In my lengthy involvement with AFC he’s up there (in my view) with the best…TA5, McLintock, Campbell and my all-time favourite Peter Stan Simspon….imperious..but not good enough for Alf Ramsay…Football is still football and it depends often on the brilliance of an individual or as against the Cottagers..some dismal decisions by very highly paid footballers, perhaps slightly confused with the new unpredictable nature of it all…just like its always been. Finally as a fully qualified GOM i can’t for the like of me, get to grips with this XG stuff…what does it all mean…from this dullard’s view its trying to impose science on what is an art. Surely football has always been unpredictable thats the beauty of it. Of course this now leaves me bereft of much of the analysis (which doesn’t really bother me..either we won or we didn’t). But at the end of the day if we don’t put the ball in the net often enough…well its….XGFFS

  47. 47
    TTG says:

    I found much to sympathise with in your post although I believe in Nketiah and think he will have a fine career . But you have the same fond memories of the criminally underrated Stan Simpson who was so unlucky to be a contemporary of Moore , Hunter , McFarland and Todd. I’d love him t9 be around now. Imagine a left sided centre back of his quality!
    I’ve had my say on Gabriel and ESR above and won’t repeat it but we are not entering the post-window phase in the rude health I had envisaged

  48. 48
    Trev says:

    Just signing in on the Peter Simpson fan club.

  49. 49
    Ollie says:

    *Kicks ball* (well I’m just back from actually playing football).

  50. 50
  51. 51
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half ton, Esso.

    That report on Sunday’s ref and VAR reads as if it was auto-written by a machine.

    Sign me up, too, for the Simpson Appreciation Society. A peer of all those mentioned by TTG. How he — or George Armstrong, for that matter — never won an England cap is beyond me.

  52. 52
    TTG says:

    Props to Theo Walcott. I think he won over 50 England caps – Geordie never earned one . I know who was by far the better player and that is without disrespect to Theo who got lots of important goals for us .
    AFC Camden is suggesting that we turned down a swap deal – Mudryk for ESR. It woukd seem that we are resisting any sale of ESR to them ( long may that continue ) . Sales from Chelsea to us have not worked out well historically.

  53. 53
    bathgooner says:

    Good to see you in this fine wstablishment MMTWP. There’s much to agree with in your deink. Add me to the Stan Appreciation Society. I need just to remind you all that Ramsey was a very strange man and a Spud to boot.

    TTG @52, your news from AFC Camden is the best I’ve heard all day. To coin a lady that many of you would doubtless burn at the stake, “No! No! NO!”

  54. 54
    bathgooner says:

    Esso @50, calmly taken half-century with your customary minimum of fuss, sir!

    Anthony Taylor is probably the best of the UK bunch now though I remained scarred by his maiden performance in our opener against Villa a few years back.

    We need a strong referee for that fixture.

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@52: Bailing them out over Mudryck after they hijacked our deal for him would be abhorrent in the extreme, and doing so by trading ESR would only rub salt in the wound.

  56. 56
    Sancho Panza says:

    Swap deal! Does that make ESR worth £80 million then?

  57. 57
    bathgooner says:

    Ned @55, abhorrent is right. That would be utter insanity. I do hope Havertz is a success but I find any business with those scheisters utterly repellant unless we shaft them so profoundly and so obviously that even little orphan Annie recognises it and pisses herself laughing.

  58. 58
    bt8 says:

    Thanks c100 for that report on a game I didn’t see. Probably just as well, at least the last part. On to the red manx.

  59. 59
    bt8 says:

    It looks like we will have to look out for this new Baleba signing by Brighton


  60. 60
    bt8 says:

    Chavs desperate to get rid of Cucurella with Man U looking to loan him according to one Manc blog.

  61. 61
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@59: The Seagulls seem to have a knack for picking up young talent relatively cheaply.

  62. 62
    Countryman100 says:

    Spurs. Can’t smile without them.

  63. 63
    Sancho Panza says:

    Time will tell with Brighton signings. We only hear about the successful ones. The flops won’t get a mention outside their circle. Quietly loaned on or sold at a loss like every other club.

  64. 64
    OsakaMatt says:

    @62 Even with a goal from the thought to be extinct Richarlison…….hahahaha

  65. 65
    bathgooner says:

    While the thought of ESR going to the Bus Stop gives me the heebie-jeebies, this excellent analysis of his position and progress by Keenos does underline that a move is probably in his best interest and Arsenal will probably accept a decent offer from a decent source but a swap-deal with Mudryk? Nah!


  66. 66
    Esso says:

    Varane out for a few weeks, apparently.

  67. 67
    Trev says:

    Spurs, so desperate to be a big club make 9 changes for the Carabao Cup and lose to Fulham 🤣
    Postacoglou post match, “Nah, no regrets at all ….”

    He’s either lying or been listening to too much Edith Piaf ….

  68. 68
    TTG says:

    Article on our ten biggest recent sales . It must be getting difficult to sell players based on this list

  69. 69
    North Bank Ned says:

    SP@63: Fair point. Brighton sold a couple of 22-year-olds at a loss in this window, though neither cost much to start with.

    What they seem good at avoiding is loading up with older high-earners on long contracts that they cannot sell or loan once surplus to requirements. They have spent over £85 million so far this window, but the oldest player they’ve bought is 25, and the other four are all between 18 and 21. 37-year-old Milner came on a free and has a one-year contract. I would bet he isn’t even earning half the £140,000 a week he got at Anfield.

  70. 70
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@68: What is eye-popping about that list is that Auston Trusty makes it at £5 million. Hopefully, sales of Balogun, Pepe and Lokonga will displace him, Torreira and Pablo Mari.

    Bath@65: A very fair assessment of where ESR stands. The club has long had concerns about his durability. I suspect also that Arteta sees ESR’s role as an in-game Plan C tactical option and not as one of his front-rank starters or closers. ESR would fit much better with a team that plays 4-4-2, the formation favoured by the England U-21s (but not Poch at the Bus Stop).

  71. 71
    North Bank Ned says:

    Balogun joins Monaco. We got £35 million for him, which, for the record, given previous drinks, I consider a fair price.


  72. 72
    North Bank Ned says:

    We are drawn away to Brentford in the League Cup.

  73. 73
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the link Ned.

    Yeah, £35m is a fair price to Monaco, though I would’ve wanted more if we had sold in the PL. Best of luck to him anyway (especially as we are apparently on 17.5% of any sell-on).

    I only just noticed Aaron, Martin, Willy and Saka made the PFA team of the season.
    Good to see Aaron recognized by his fellow pros.

  74. 74
    Bathgooner says:

    An away tie at Brentford is very disappointing given the large number of minnows it might have been. The latter would have allowed MA8 to select a mixture of top youngsters and second string squad members or to experiment with even more mind-boggling strategies than inverting both full backs simultaneously. Brentford are likely to take this trophy seriously and put out a strong team as its their best chance of silverware. Will MA8 still use it for development? I suspect so.

  75. 75
    OsakaMatt says:

    A debut for Raya? Unless he’s not allowed to play under League Cup rules?

  76. 76
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Perfectly summarized and expertly assessed report! Thank you C100!

    We do need to find tactical variations, unpredictability, and the ability to go through periods without certain key players available. Long term strategy innovation and adaptability always pays a near-term price, and I think we will see some hiccups in the early season that we fans will find unacceptable on the match day.

    Mikel and his staff have a wonderful opportunity to balance the ambition and scope of their originality with the pragmatism of results. The stage is set for them to write their names in Arsenal history, as it is set for these players.

  77. 77
    bt8 says:

    The first of 25 official training photos features Raya. But the next three feature Ramsdale providing some reassurance that change in that area is likely to be incremental.

  78. 78
    bt8 says:

    Those training pictures were sighted on the Arsenal app, as I believe the club stopped putting them on the website some time ago.

  79. 79
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@75: EFL rules apply to the league cup. Those don’t permit loan players to appear against their parent club.

    Bath@74: The Brentford league cup game is scheduled for two days after the home NLD. I would expect some rotation, at the very least.

  80. 80
    Trev says:

    A good piece by Stillman on Arseblog today – discussing Kai Havertz.

  81. 81
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned, that’s a pity but a fair enough rule I always thought. I suppose Hein is our 3rd keeper these days.

    Earlier my son told me it’s the CL draw later tonight, I was totally disinterested for a minute and then I realized we’re in it again 😂😂
    I’ve been checking who we can get and I would like Feyernoord, Copenhagen and Antwerp.

  82. 82
    Bathgooner says:

    Matt @81, unsurprisingly those are precisely my preferred group draws. However I suspect we should be prepared for Bayern, AC Milan and Galatasaray!

  83. 83
    North Bank Ned says:

    Congrats to Eddie on his call-up to the full England squad.

    That there is room in the squad among the centre-halves for the non-playing Maquire but not the playing Benny Blanco is just perverse.

  84. 84
    North Bank Ned says:

    Sevilla, PSV and Lens will be our CL Group B opponents. All beatable but no shoe-ins. At least we have avoided the big dogs, although all of them should make it through to the knock-out rounds. Only Group F — PSG, Dortmund, AC Milan and Newcastle — has a whiff of a group of death to it.

  85. 85
    North Bank Ned says:

    The draw in full:
    Group A: Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Copenhagen, Galatasaray
    Group B: Sevilla, Arsenal, PSV, Lens
    Group C: Napoli, Real Madrid, Braga, Union Berlin
    Group D: Benfica, Inter Milan, RB Salzburg, Real Sociedad
    Group E: Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid, Lazio, Celtic
    Group F: PSG, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, Newcastle
    Group G: Manchester City, RB Leipzig, Red Star Belgrade, Young Boys
    Group H: Barcelona, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Royal Antwerp

  86. 86
    Ollie says:

    Decent draw for us, that.

  87. 87
    Sancho Panza says:

    Lens is a local derby almost.
    Well done Eddie. Southgate won’t give him any minutes mind, but his quick feet are going to bury a few teams this season.

  88. 88
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah not a bad draw, didn’t really want PSV but it was just a feeling our results haven’t been great against them.

  89. 89
    scruzgooner says:

    it’s for a good cause.