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One of the cliches that is regularly trotted out on sports media programmes is that ‘Football is a game of opinions.’ Cliché it may be but the reality is that the debate and discussion between fans, which after all is one of the main reasons that the original Goonerholic blog was created, is one of the most enjoyable and occasionally important part of the supporters’ life.

To enliven yet another interlull we took the opportunity to seek the opinions of some Holics from whom we hear less frequently. Their views were strongly expressed and showed a range of opinions, although some are views clearly held by most fans at the moment. The five who responded to our call were MMTWP, based in Australia, Sancho Panza, a loyal Gooner for many years based much nearer to home, the always-interesting Dundonian BergkamptheMan (BtM) who has been a stalwart of the Goonerholic and GHF blogs for years, and Ollie who can be found commuting through the Channel Tunnel from Paris to follow his beloved Arsenal. Finally we were delighted to get the considered views of Uplympian. Uplympian is a long-standing Holic whose input is always very wise and highly appreciated. He now resides in the West Country.  Geographically dispersed, but united by their passion for Arsenal Football Club, their answers were a very clear insight into fan sentiment as we draw towards the end of 2023.

a quick note from scruzgooner: i screwed up, and thought i’d forwarded one more piece from a far away gooner: depressedgooner took the time to respond as well, and i dropped the ball. please see his responses at the top of each section in italics, and do respond to any points he raises as you see fit. my apologies, dg!

Overall, are you pleased with the season so far?

Depressedgooner: Yes & no, obviously we are still well placed but had we been playing the scintillating football of last season (until the end) I think we could have been better positioned, Mikel has fixed things that were not broken and created problems where none existed previously, Aaron does not deserve the treatment he has received and neither does Havertz, negative and positive reinforcement on the wrong players if you ask me.

MMTWP: Many thanks for the chance to put my two pennys worth…and more importantly many thanks to both of you and all of the others that make Goonerholics Forever such a a go-to part of my life….

Just by the by, I live in Adelaide, Sarf Ostraya after emigrating to Perth, WA in 1973…we get exceptional coverage of the EPL here. However I haven’t been to see the Arsenal live since 2017…and sad to say, after my Mum’s passing in 2021 in Bexleyheath, won’t be returning. I worked in Aviation from 1973 until my retirement in 2016…so got back to UK on over 50 occasions…and went often to THOF…my brother (deceased 2013) had 2 season tickets…not sure if my nephews still have them. I have a wonderful family and have recently been blessed with 2 Grandkids….but on a parallel is Arsenal. I was born at Royal Northern (now demolished) on Holloway Road. There is only Arsenal….not that i had a choice…and of course that was never ever a consideration. Generatons of Arsenal supporters in my mob. I recall my days at Finchley County Grammar School shortly after that lot won their 2nd ever Div1 championship…I was the only AFC boy…everyone went for the mob with a chicken on top of a beachball….(I started this on 09 Nov but visits from my daughter & granddaughter from Melbourne, have stymied my progress…they are so lovely though).

I’m relatively pleased [with this season]…wishing for it all to come together..and very good signs vs Sevilla & Burnley…I believe we will prevail.

Uply: My feelings about the season so far is that it has been a veritable mixed bag. The fabulous exciting play from last season is mainly missing from the performances so far (with just a couple of notable exceptions).

The performances may be below last years level but the team spirit and work effort are most encouraging – the will to win quite evident.

Sancho: Reasonably so. I wasn’t expecting us to be doing what we did last season and thought we would be in and around third or fourth at this stage. Performance-wise we seem to have dropped a little and there seems to be less attacking entertainment.

BtM: It sounds rather churlish to even hint at a negative response to this question given that Arsenal are the only trophy winners so far having thumped Cheaty 115 in the Community Shield and are currently second in the League, only one point behind the same bunch.

However, my expectations for the season were high and I’m disappointed in the following regards:

• The team’s performance hasn’t reached the high level achieved last season. Injuries have been very significant and, in particular, those affecting Timber, Partey, Ødegaard and Jesús have had a huge impact.

• Arsenal should have three points more than the 27 registered on the PL Table. Chelsea’s keeper’s assault on Jesus’ head should, without a shadow of doubt, have resulted in a penalty which would (again without doubt) taken Arsenal to a 2-3 win and two more points. Likewise, Newcastle’s ‘goal’ should have been disallowed for at least one of three reasons thereby adding another point to our tally.

• Obtaining tickets is now a lottery (literally) and consequently my attendance at matches is on a downward vector, potentially to zero.

Ollie: The football may not always have been as entertaining as last season, but I am fairly pleased: it was always going to be tough to keep that lavel, it’s mid-November and we are only one point behind City.

What have been the things that have pleased you most?

Depressedgooner: That despite the tinkering needlessly we have still been able to maintain a semi decent run and get the defence a little more solidly focused despite the odd brain fart.

Uply: Despite the less impressive play the team is only one point behind the league leaders and have achieved a long-awaited victory against them in the league.

Ollie: Increased resilience, patient game plans, and the continued excellence of William Saliba.

Sancho: Beating the Manchester clubs and looking likely we will qualify through the group stages in Europe. Being in the mix at the top of the table.

BtM: 1. MA8’s attention to the detail of total team defensive football has paid real dividends (but hasn’t completely eradicated brain farts – Jorginho vs Spuds).

2. William Saliba’s sustained emergence as the most talented young centre back on the planet.

3. Declan Rice’s total football contribution to the team’s performance from day 1.

4. The team’s ability to grind out wins while playing at no more than 85% of potential.

MMTWP:  I am in awe of our back 4…Saliba, White, Gabi#6 and lately with Tommi rather than Zin. The latter has his strengths but sometimes he drops some clangers and is not a patch on TT in defence. I liked Tierney and whilst he doesn’t do what MA wants…he is a left back of some stature…I miss him.

What do you think of the impact of Declan Rice on the team?

Depressedgooner: Excellent, he looks like he has always been an Arsenal player, the price tag has not phased him like it has others and he makes it all look effortless, he still needs the team around him to match his level, for me he is currently our best most consistent player.

BtM: Quite outstanding. His ability to cover ground at speed to recover defensive challenges is matched only by his willingness to build dangerous attacking moves via intelligent passes or lung bursting runs forward with the ball at his feet. He sustains this from minute zero to minute 90 plus x. His passion and drive is a superb example to all.

He needs to work on his calm and confidence in situations where a shot at goal will bring higher rewards than an easy lay off to other colleagues.

MMTWP: Declan has been better than I possibly could have thought he would be….and I’m expecting him to go from strength to strength….and the captains’s armband seems inevitable.

Ollie: Slightly offset by the departure of Xhaka and injuries to Partey but huge. He is also one of the answers to the previous question, but as he has his own… I didn’t particularly watch West Ham last season so I was only going by what I heard, but I didn’t realise he was THAT good.

Sancho: Obviously he is playing well in every game. Would love him to find the back of the net more.

Uply: Declan Rice has been a superb signing — he is proving to be the player we had hoped for. He is putting dominant performances week after week and has the personality that embodies the spirit that Arteta desires.

How about Kai Havertz? Has he been a disappointment, or do you see signs that he may settle effectively into the team?

Depressedgooner: Even the odd sign if him being able to complete passes do not take away from what I would call a cowardice in making decisions to benefit himself or the team, how he keeps getting into the team baffles me, off the ball he does very little and with the ball he seems to do less, I’m tired of watching he languidly make his way into good postions only to watch him pass it to the opposing team or put it out of play, his confidence may be low but that suggests he does not have the character or temperament for the fight needed to be an Arsenal player.

Sancho: He’s not winning us over is he? Is it his languid style or is he playing in the wrong position? Hope he finds his groove soon.

MMTWP: …Havertz..I think there’s a real asset there. I’m just hopeful he’s given a chance to grow into it. Back in my day, I recall when the boo-boys saw Jon Sammels leave. He was a real favourite of mine. Also, it took DB10 a while to settle.

Uply: Kai Havertz was always a gamble which so far has not paid off. His time at Chav$ki was mainly underwhelming and this has continued with us. Arteta, along with others, is convinced there is a “player” there but he has continued to underwhelm. A gamble, yes, but the transfer fee paid and high salary seems a bad judgement call. We can only hope that Arteta can unlock the alleged potential before he is officially classified a dud.

Ollie: Disappointment, especially for the money (can’t avoid that I’m afraid, as with Pépé before him). There are a few good signs, but also persisting bad ones. I never give up hope, but I’m struggling to believe. He has some qualities, and takes some part but does he have the personality? While he’s not in the same position, I see him a bit as a sub-Giroud, hell even a sub-Chamakh given his squad number. The other day I found myself thinking every great time needs a mid-table level player who puts a lot of effort, but they don’t usually cost as much. The truth is I think he has the potential and quality, but he’s been in this league a few years and played a few matches with us even and improvement seems very slow. The jury’s out but belief is dwindling despite a few slightly improved performances in play.

BtM: He hasn’t been a disappointment to me because I had zero expectations of a significant contribution from him. I always liked when he played for Chel$ki against us because his contribution was meagre, his skill-set and confidence low, and the likelihood of him squandering a chance was much higher than the alternative of landing a killer blow.

Kai has delivered all of these characteristics at Arsenal and is in danger of eclipsing Pépé as one of our worst signings. He doesn’t exhibit the balance, body positioning, passing, ball winning, or lay-off abilities that PL football requires. I’m astonished that I’d rather have retained Xhaka.

The goalkeeping situation is dividing opinion. Do you agree with what Arteta has done, or would you like to see Ramsdale restored to the team?

Depressedgooner: I completely disagree, we see Raya making mistake after mistake and staying in the team, what did Ramsdale do wrong, walk in on Arteta and a goat in a compromising position?

Uply: The goalkeeping scenario is very concerning. The Raya loan signing was a real left field movement as most of us believe Ramsdale was a top keeper and crowd favourite. He made many outstanding saves during the season. The manager saw things differently — there were occasional losses of concentration — sometimes critical, and he also has a belief that Raya’s ball distribution is superior. I and many others have not seen this in his performances so far and believe Ramsdale has been shoddily treated. This has created an unnecessary pressure for all those involved.

Ollie: I don’t agree with what Arteta’s done, really, as I didn’t see the need for an ‘upgrade’ that seems marginal at best. I don’t think it’s an ‘or’ though. As even the league cup performance by Ramsdale was not that convincing. I found Raya a little better against Burnley than in previous matches. But Ramsdale will play the next League match as it’s against Brentford, and that might be the time to stake a claim. Doesn’t look like Mikel is ready to switch back though.

Sancho: Ramsdale wasn’t perfect by any means but he was doing well. I thought Raya was an excellent keeper at Brentford but he hasn’t shown enough thus far for Arsenal. I think he is stuck with picking Raya from now on and Ramsdale will leave in the Summer. A failed experiment but what do I know.

BtM: I like Ramsdale, but I didn’t like the end-of-last-season errors that cost us critical points. I think the Raya experiment (he’s still on loan) is a good one and, while I might have prioritised recruitment differently, I’m aligned with MA8’s desire to drive the highest level of performance in every position. I’ll be happy to see Ramsdale displace Raya if his performance merits it. Meritocracy in motion.

MMTWP: …I am firmly behind Ramsdale and whilst a GK’s role includes distribution and allegedly Raya (cos I haven’t seen that much of it) is meant to be exceptional with his feet. Pity he looks so unconvincing when the ball is in the air. Ramsdale is my man (belatedly better against Burnley).

Do you believe we can challenge for the title this season?

Depressedgooner: Sadly no, we still need a goalscorer who can get one at least every other game and we do not have one, I love Jesus and Nketiah both, the commitment is there but the finishing ability is not, also our bench is not fully premier league ready and our on field decision making still leaves a lot to be desired, I’d love some January signings that make my 3rd place finish a stupid prediction and we win the league but I just do not see it, too much money wasted on the wrong type of players in the last few windows for me.

MMTWP: …Yes and I think there is a good chance. Shitteh look more vulnerable than usual….and Ange’s lot, IMHO, don’t have a chance. I reminded my golfing Spud acquaintance that I was 11 yo when they last were #1 and its unlikely to change. I’m now 73!

Ollie: If we’re still in the hunt in March, I will believe. Right now, with injuries adding up, I think the squad will be a little short again.

Sancho: No. I think we will be in and around but not challenging

BtM: Yes, but only if Partey, Ødegaard, Jesús, Saliba and Saka remain fit. Long-term injuries to even two of these players will result in a top four outcome (absent January investment for a Partey replacement which I think is unlikely).

Uply: We are in a good position to challenge for the title despite the spluttering performances. We’ve already beaten the Oilers (finally) who appear more vulnerable right now. Of course they are known to pick up the pace in the run in. There is the potential for us to improve our performances further and, as long as injuries do not decimate the squad further, we can be there or thereabouts again.

Where (if at all) do we need to strengthen the side in the January window?

Depressedgooner: Striker, striker, striker, better midfield back up and get rid of Raya.

Ollie: Centre mid to replace Partey, probably a more physical out and out goalscorer as an option.

MMTWP: …I believe we need a proven goal-scorer. Eddie doesn’t do it for me. Jorginho just about doing his job but for how much longer. Rice needs to take over that role, sadly Partey seems past it. Overall i think the squad is top class. Toney…obviously a knob-head…everyone knows the rules….maybe?

Sancho: Depends on injury situation. I don’t want to see Ivan Toney at Arsenal particularly and certainly not for 60 to 80 m.

Uply:  There are 2 areas where the squad need strengthening: midfield and striker. Unfortunately Partey, a magnificent player when fit, has become a sick note and can no longer be relied on. He is badly missed. Talking of missing we need a striker who can convert more of the chances that are being missed. Jesus is a fabulous player but does not have a matching conversion rate. Eddie is good but not the top level this team needs.

BtM: Our ‘first team’ is excellent, but despite a high level of spend, our second string isn’t good enough to win the League. Havertz and Vieira are little more than passengers, irrespective of the level of competition. Nketiah’s game doesn’t have a Swiss knife component and nor is he sufficiently lethal to carry a title winning team as main striker. Sadly, ESR seems unable to overcome fitness issues.

Partey’s fitness is a super major issue. Saka is unlikely to be able to sustain the requirement on him to play 99.99% of the time.

I would be happy to see Havertz, Vieira and Partey released to fund an outstanding Partey replacement plus one.

Have you still got faith in our management team?

Depressedgooner: Mikel’s tinkering this season has tempered my belief, we needed to strengthen the team and I would argue they have made us weaker, we are quite predictable and have lost that exciting verve we had last season that was starting to worry opponents.

BtM: Totally. Although Arteta is still in the very early stages of his career as a coach, to my mind he is an outstanding leader, communicator and tactician. His team seems to support him well, particularly the set-piece tactician [Nicholas Jover]. I like and endorse his pitch-side passion during games.

MMTWP: MA worries me from time to time with his histrionics and his stubbornness (e.g., Raya)…but after Emery, and prior to that Wenger (who I believe stayed 8-10 years too long), he’s done a great job & clearly is enamoured with AFC…well why wouldn’t he be.

Sancho: Yes but Arteta is a bit stubborn

Ollie: Yes, entirely.

Uply: Arteta and Edu have moved the club on tremendously in the time they have been here. In this they have been well-supported by the Board financially in both acquisitions and moving on players who do not fit the project. Some of the acquisitions have been very beneficial and their failure rate no worse than other top clubs we are competing with. There is still room for improvement — Arteta’s occasional experiments are detrimental viz playing Partey at RB at the start of the season. Our record in knock-out competitions is very poor of late — a mixture of squad weaknesses and poor team selection.

And, finally: VAR arguments have cast a shadow over the season. Would you scrap VAR or, if you would retain it, what changes would you make to it?

Depressedgooner: Get it run by a true team of professional, not ex referees with a buddy system, it may not be corrupt but it is entirely incompetent, Sky of all people did a review of VAR last season, I think I linked to it in an older Goonerholics post that showed benefits and losses to teams caused by VAR and even if you took out our end of season collapse the points taken from us and the points given to city would have seen us crowned champions, it is hard not to see conspiracy when there have been similar incidents already this season.

I loved Mikels rant about VAR but he failed to follow it up just because we won, I would have used the Saka push to ask the PGMOL what was the difference between Saka lightly pushing with both hands and Gabriel being forced down with both hands and a knee in the back.

And a PS: All I want for Christmas is the return of the rip roaring free scoring never boring all action Arsenal!

BtM: I’ve always been a strong proponent of VAR. Technology has a hugely important role to play in achieving fairness through better and correct decision making. However, the current practitioners, both on-field and off-field have proved to be completely inadequate in their efforts to deliver excellence. Consequently, dead spaces have appeared during games and completely incorrect decisions with very negative impacts.

Recruitment, development and appropriate levels of (honest) remuneration need to be dramatically improved to elevate the VAR package. The standards set in rugby and cricket offer excellent signposts for improvements in both on-field capabilities of the referees and entertaining technological support.

If technology is available to determine whether the ball has crossed the line between the goal posts, extend its use to the full perimeter of the pitch. If credible, proven, automated off-side technology is available, use it.

MMTWP: VAR…well I’m not sure where to begin. Rugby Union seems to have done it so much better. Mike up the referees…and why do most of them hail from Oooop Norf? I dont like to think about corruption but I’ve no explanation to justify the “goal” by the Geordies….Tennis can rule within millimetres when the ball is out…why can’t the EPL…I reread the offside rule…and its clear that the Newcastle bloke was off-side and then the push on #6 Gabi….well as they say down here…blind Freddy could see it…2 hands on the back??? How do the PGMOL refs get jetted off to Saudi-land and then ref games of the Saudi-owned teams? We need some voices, à la David Dein, the hideous Fergie, and people with knowledge of the game to question what is going wrong. Deep down I expect there have been problems/corruption (call it what you like) going back to the 1800s…just ask any Spud fan about AFC getting into Div1 back in 1919 or whenever it was …So should VAR be scrapped? Not now, it’s too late. But make the technology better….there’s never an explanation…sometimes the ref gets called to the screen…often not…maybe they need a hand-held device/phone to quickly look at and not rely on some DH at Stockley Park to make an “assessment”. Overall the standard of refereering seems to be going backwards…how many times does Saka have to be kicked in any one game…the days of Chopper Harris, Norman “bites yer legs” Hunter, Dirty Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Tommy Smith and even our man Snout should be behind us but players consistently get away with foul play.

So my apologies for it being a bit rambling…Like all of you at Goonerholicsforever and many others elsewhere…I live and breathe Arsenal. Finally like many I was a critic of the takeover by Stan Kroenke but have now to acknowledge that IMO they’ve sat back, seen whats needed to be done and largely done it. Do I like the Yanks owning us..no…But others have Qatar, Saudia, UAE, China, Thailand…..but the Russians have gone…but whats next…sadly its not about football but about power and the dollar.

Uply: VAR – there is little wrong in the concept. The problem is with the utter incompetents who are implementing it. The training & operation is being run by a failed organisation (PGMOL) whose main driver appears to be protecting their mates officiating on the pitch. I also find it incredible that the major conflict of interest in which officials are paid major fees to referee matches in UAE and Saudi Arabia and participate in matches in which their state owned clubs in the EPL are playing. In any other organisation the conflict of interest would mean such activities would be banned.

Ollie: Too much to say…I would change the referees…on the pitch and in the VAR room.

Sancho: No. We all know it’s the right tool in the wrong hands. Make it so we can hear what is going on.

P.S. – A Nice to have

Timber not to have been injured in the first game!

We are most grateful to our panel of Holics for their views which showed some of the thinking that Gooners share – the overall satisfaction with our form but with a feeling that we have not captured the swagger of last season, the delight with the impact that Declan Rice has made offset generally by frustration at the slow start from Kai Havertz. Opinions are divided on the goalkeeping situation (but there appears to be great sympathy for Ramsdale), and opinion is also divided on whether we can win the league, especially as there is no strong feeling about who we might be likely to sign in January. Overall there is no love for VAR despite a sense that the genie is out of the bottle and that the technology exists to facilitate better decisions.

Let us know what you think in the comments sections and how you think the club is positioned as we move towards the halfway mark of the season.

39 Drinks to “Goonerholics around the world discuss the season so far”

  1. 1
    OsakaMatt says:

    A long and enjoyable read, thanks Gents and thanks for organizing TTG.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Thanks to all for your thoughtful and well expressed contributions. BtM’s criticism of Havertz was blunt but fair and certainly for that fee we have every right to expect a player who takes the bull by the horns more than we have seen from him. His height in the forward line is an exploitable asset though, and seeing as he is replacing Xhaka who took quite some time to fulfill my expectations, I believe Havertz must deserve a while longer to prove his worth in that or another position. Probably not left back though but we shall see. Tomiyasu is a tower of strength wherever he plays along our back line and any coach would be envious of Arteta to have him on the bench, or otherwise. As others said we need players to recover from injury and our uninjured to stay healthy. Mikel has many positive attributes, not least of which is keeping mum on the status of our walking wounded.

  3. 3
    bt8 says:

    Some tentative good news as Gabriel Jesus returned from injury to play for Brazil, and unconfirmed reports that “Arsenal are set to win the race to sign Dusan Vlahovic in January, according to reports.” — as reported by the BBC gossip column which cited the latter item as reported by the Sun

  4. 4
  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    A whole lotta speculation is what it sounds like in the story published by the Sun:

    “Arsenal were linked to Vlahovic in the summer and last January, having missed out on the chance to sign him when he opted to join Juventus almost two years ago.
    But it appears Mikel Arteta and Edu are set to make another move for the 23-year-old, according to TuttoJuve.
    Vlahovic has been out of sorts since joining Juventus although he does have four goals in ten appearances this season.
    That means the Serie A giants could be open to selling – if the price is right.”

  6. 6
    bt8 says:

    But the same story in the Sun also says: “Arsenal are also lining up a swoop for Feyenoord striker Santiago Gimenez, who has scored 15 goals in 15 games this season.”

  7. 7
    bt8 says:

    Same club that sold us van Persie as you may recall.

    Here”s a link:

  8. 8
    Ollie says:

    Cheers TTG and scruz. Interesting to read the diverse (but somehow fairly similar on many points) views from over the world.

  9. 9
    bathgooner says:

    Good stuff, chaps. It’s interesting to learn that the relatively silent majority are largely of the same opinion as the more vocal members of this fine hostelry. Rational, measured, reasonable and patient. Very much in the image of the Guvna.

    I know that there are others in the Goonerverse with views that are less temperate on many of these points but, as when one chooses which newspapers to read, one’s choice of which blogs to frequent is dictated by the extent to which their tone reflects one’s own views. I suspect that those with markedly less measured opinions dismiss this blog as too soft and fluffy and insufficiently populated with ‘winners’.

  10. 10
    North Bank Ned says:

    A glass of the house’s finest claret on the bar for each member of the panel and their conveners. An excellent discussion. My intemperate predictions: Raya leaves at the end of the season, and Ramsdale returns having spent nine months learning how to pass; Havertz comes good; and we’ll be having precisely the same discussion about VAR next season.

  11. 11
    TTG says:

    Aaron Ramsdale is likely to be in goal for Arsenal against Brentford as Raya won’t be allowed to play as he is on loan and can’t play against his parent club

  12. 12
    TTG says:

    David Dein has been critical of Arteta’s outburst against Newcastle saying it wouldn’t have happened during his tenure at Arsenal?
    Sorry Dein oversaw the club when Arsenal were docked points for the brawl with United and Arsene Wenger had several bans for abusing referees / fourth officials etc during the Dein era. I’m not judging either situation to be wrong but I don’t think it’s correct to suggest that all was pristine and uncomplaining in the years before Arteta

  13. 13
    bt8 says:

    I was once ashamed to admit I didn’t understand the offside rule but that is no longer a problem as it is now evident that many of the referees do not understand the rule as it currently stands. Case in point: One of the three reasons why the goal at Newcastle should have been disallowed. You can ask 10 different former referees and get 10 different answers.

  14. 14
    scruzgooner says:

    interesting stuff, ttg and all the informants. thanks for taking the time to commit your thoughts for posterity.

    i think the highlight for me is the quality of declan rice, the lowlight timber’s injury. i think we are going to get better as the year goes on, and that we will see the best of kai after a year of working with ma8. and that we will find someone for the partey role who will do the job, hopefully to cover rather than replace.


  15. 15
    Noosa Gooner says:

    I recently read Dein’s book which I found interesting but was somewhat light on the real reasons behind his leaving, including failing relationships which I suspect were more complicated than he made out in the book.
    If true, I find his veiled criticism of MA inappropriate and note TTG’s comments @#11.
    Maybe he is still half-way in/out of the tent.

  16. 16
    Las says:

    TTG, scruz and all, thanks for the worldwide coverage of opinions. We see the same season so far it is hard to add meaningful comments.
    Expectation… hm… not easy. I’m totally in line with Sancho. The way we played and the result we achieved last season rather unexpectedly created new dreams. I, we want to dream on and I think we can. I am pleased with the result and on many occasions the performance. We are playing in a different style though. More control and less entertainment while we are close only a point behind the Oily Cheaters.
    Personally, my highlights are Saliba and Rice. Their work rate, bravery, technical ability and cool-bloodedness were spectacular. I love to have them.
    We know now that MA8 always have a plan. He undoubtedly had one for Kai and another for Raya. In both cases, the jury is still out. I feel for Ramsdale, he was (is?) more than a good keeper. He has a presence at the back, he is a fan-favourite and he is a leader on the pitch. It would hurt losing him.
    About Havertz, I don’t know. For MA8 he is good enough to start many games, he sees something in him that I don’t. But the results are coming, we beat Oily Cheaters we are controlling games so let’s see.
    It would be great to find a new Partey and a new TH14 or a Wrighty but I can’t see who could be that.

  17. 17
    Trev says:

    Thanks TTG, scruz and all contributors. A long and interesting read – some good points made too.

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    It is tough being a keeper. A club’s third or fourth-best midfielder will still get plenty of minutes. But the second-best keeper just gets very familiar with the bench. It is natural to be sympathetic to Ramsdale because of his exuberant character, which makes him a fan favourite. That empathy has washed away the doubts, let us not forget, some had about him last season. Clearly, Arteta had an introspective summer pondering why the team faltered towards the end of last season. In Raya, he saw the need or the opportunity to make a marginal improvement or to fix something he reckoned needed fixing and was typically ruthless in making the change. He did the same with Tierney, now out of sight and mind. Had Timber not been injured, would we be having similar conversations about Zinchenko and Tomiyasu to those about Ramsdale?

  19. 19
    Las says:

    Ned @18 If Ramsdale would be a Cup keeper and got his chance in the CL I think he would be happy with it. And it would be a fair race between the keepers. But putting him in the goal behind the second string of players in the fourth cup is just not fair.
    Let’s hope MA8 knows

  20. 20
    bt8 says:

    I’ve got to agree with Uply about some of Arteta’s experiments being detrimental to our early season coherence as a unit, and certainly about playing Partey at right back (the experiment he mentioned) but at least Arteta is trying different things to improve the club after others seemed to have figured out our magic formula just before the finish line last season. A manager who tries to hold on without improving things is destined to fail, and hopefully enough of those experiments will succeed to make this season an improvement overall. It’s certainly better to finish at a gallop than to start at one, for those who don’t know horse racing. 🏇

  21. 21
    bt8 says:

    Very glad your contribution made its way into the blog along with the others, dp. And thanks to scruzgooner and ttg and any others for your work in organizing and getting this fine piece up in the bright lights. Also I’m glad that you didn’t pull any punches, dp. Cheers!

  22. 22
    bt8 says:

    Ramsdale will get another chance against Brentford. Hoping he takes it, and his feelgood vibe filters back into our performances.

  23. 23
    Bathgooner says:

    I couldn’t agree more with DG in his observations on the needless tinkering with the GK position , the impressive contributions of Rice, the disappointing contributions of Havertz and the overwhelming need to sign a goalscoring striker. We are certainly less inspiring to watch and I get the notion but I’m not sure our controlled start guarantees there will be more miles in our legs come the last weeks of the season.

  24. 24
    ClockEndRider says:

    Some great comments , All and DG, I too feel your pain re Havertz and some of the apparently needless tinkering from Arteta. I still feel we’ll come on strong in the second half and it’s all to play for. .

  25. 25
    Gunnersauraus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers to all the contributors and TTG and Scruz (and anyone else who helped) for putting this together. Lots of interesting stuf.

    Personally, I am amazed at the complete and utter way some have written off Havertz despite the fact that we are a mere 12 league games into his first season. His attacking stats are poor so far but there is a lot of consensus that he is effective off the ball, and anyway the team is still doing well, so I am more than happy to give him more time and hope he can find an effective role in the team. One good sign, is that he seems very popular amongst the other players, and I reckon you only earn that in this squad with hard work and the right attitude in all the behind-the-scenes stuff that fans don’t see.

    Just my opinion, but I suspect that Arteta reckoned Ramsdale was too comfortable as the unchallenged number one keeper and decided to shake things up. Ramsdale’s dad says there has been little communication about Ramsdale’s future role and I rather suspect Arteta is deliberately letting him swing in the wind to see how he reacts. He did the same with Saliba and that has worked out pretty well. It is just a gut feeling, but I think Arteta sees Ramsdale as the long-term number one, and is using Raya to drive Ramsdale’s desire and commitment (whilst also getting a close look at a keeper we have known to be interested in for years in case Ramsdale doesn’t fancy the challenge). Any top professional footballer already has these attributes in spades, but mining those last few percentage points can make a huge difference to results and careers. I think it is tough love for Ramsdale, and knuckling down and eventually seeing off Raya’s challange, as well as remembering never to get complacent and think himself immune to replacement if he stops pushing, may well be the making of him.

    I’m hugely on board with Arteta but have to agree with everyone in the world who is not Mikel Arteta that playing Partey at RB is an abomination.

    Declan Rice is phenomenal.


  26. 26
    Trev says:

    Depressed Gooner,
    I’ve just heard that your replies were originally missed – an honest mistake by a very busy man. I’m off to read the whole lot now – I’ll be back !

  27. 27
    Depressedgooner says:

    It’s in my name sadly, Despite best efforts I am a depressive personality and things big and small can have an effect that is not always on par with the incident itself.

    Doing anything these days takes a lot out of me, I never doubted my omission was accidental but it did trigger a depressive phase in me, my health and mental state are not great at the moment but that is my problem and nobody else should answer for that

    I apologise if I’ve overreacted or offended anybody.

  28. 28
    Trev says:

    DG, a really good, honest set of responses, thanks !
    I agree with a lot of it while finding some of it a little bit harsh.
    I was a bit irritated and puzzled at Arteta’s early season tinkering – Partey at RB seemed mad but Mikel is hell bent on inversion and maybe he saw Partey as a more attacking option at full back. That, in itself, is odd given what a wonderful job Ben White did last season in that triumvirate with Odegaard and Saka – and how good Partey is in the middle.
    Gabriel being left out was odd too, but there were rumours of him being tempted away to Saudi – something I never personally believed – so maybe all was not peace and love behind the scenes.

    Arteta also has to try to pull off a huge magic trick to beat the financially doped City to the title and to do that he must evolve. All magic tricks take a lot of practice and he doesn’t have that much time to experiment. At least he realised it wasn’t working and replaced the blueprint with another system of play – trying to control games further up the pitch. That will take time to refine as well – but we’ve already beaten the financially doped City this season so, who knows.

    I think Mikel must have had doubts about Ramsdale at the end of last season and sees Raya’s reported qualities as an upgrade. However, like you, on balance I far prefer Ramsdale. Raya would be known to our ex-Brentford goalkeeper coach but then so was Runarrsson – and he was hopeless. Maybe Raya doesn’t have the mentality to step up to a club where expectations are higher than at Brentford – he certainly looks all over the place so far.

    I agree with you about Havertz – although some people certainly don’t – but genuinely hope we are both wrong.

    And I agree with you about Declan Rice who has already proven that we are both right.

    Thanks for your contributions again – we all appreciate it can be a real effort for you.
    Keep ‘em coming !

  29. 29
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    It’s always good to see you in here DG. There’s a drink on the bar for you. (I’ve put in on Kai Havertz’s tab! 🤣)

  30. 30
    scruzgooner says:

    dg your response was not an overreaction or offensive to me! hang in there, and in addition to gsd’s drink i’ll offer you bach’s cello suite no. 1 in G major, bwv 1007 to listen to while you drink it. it’s in the jukebox…

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    GSD@25: I am in agreement with you about Ramsdale. David Seaman is right to say that Ramsdale is too good to be our No 2. I’ve said before that I think Raya will go once his loan is up.

    DG: Stay strong and take it one day at a time. You are always among friends here.

  32. 32
    Trev says:

    Ned, I do hope you’re right – just hope we don’t lose Ramsdale in the meantime. It’s ok to criticise him for the end of last season but the question as always is “who do you get who’s better?”
    In the Premier League I’d say only Ederson or Allison would be upgrades and I’m not sure how much better they are overall.

  33. 33
    Ollie says:

    Cheers DG!
    Very interesting replies. And I get where you’re coming from and your lucid 27.
    Keep fighting: what Ned said @ 31.

  34. 34
    TTG says:

    You are a very important part of the Goonerholic fraternity . We formed it to perpetuate the culture so beautifully and worthily created by the late Dave Faber. He developed a blog that loved to welcome anyone who loved Arsenal and respected other Arsenal fans . Sometimes we have disagreements on here but they are temporary and soon forgotten because what matters is that we continue to discuss and debate Arsenal in the tradition that Dave encouraged us to.
    Nobody on this blog typifies that kindness and dedication more than our dear friend Scruz . He was mortified to omit your excellent contribution. Thankyou for your stylish acceptance of his very genuine apology . And Thankyou also for adding to the range of opinions on the season so far . Now Kai Havertz has converted into a left back we may see great things from him and he may be able to illustrate why Mikel and Edu believe in him so steadfastly .
    Enjoy GHF and we will do all we can to help you in what we know is a very tough and continuous battle mate!

  35. 35
    ClockEndRider says:

    What Ned, Ollie and TTG said. You’re always welcome and your input valued in this establishment.

  36. 36
    TTG says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends on here !

  37. 37
    TTG says:

    Despite some reservations from Holics on here re Raya , Edu has decided to trigger his deal and he will sign next summer . Source Romano .

  38. 38
    ClockEndRider says:

    I am hoping that this is purely clever pre match mind games from Brentford. Note the verb used.
    This is what I want to believe.

  39. 39
    Bathgooner says: