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I never enjoyed getting half-term reports at school. Being the subject of intense scrutiny and evaluation of performance was not as common when I was a schoolboy as it is now and the recipients of the report were very heavily invested in my progress emotionally and financially and their expectations were high.

That might describe most Arsenal supporters. They have a huge emotional investment, many pay a fortune to follow the side and their expectations after last season are very high. Let us try to assess if we are living up to those expectations.

Results and Performances 

The season began at Wembley in early August, a good place to start, with the Community Shield and our first trophy of the season. It came after a penalty shootout which was necessary after a goal by Cole Palmer was cancelled out in injury time by a deflected Trossard effort. Our most notable performer on the day was Jurrien Timber who looked a terrific acquisition at left back. 

The league  season began at home against Forest. The team set-up looked ultra-complicated with Partey at right back but a fine early start saw a 2-0 lead at the break. Sadly just before the break, Timber was stricken with what looked a serious knee injury. He reappeared after the interval only to break down immediately and a breakaway Forest goal made the last ten minutes much less comfortable than they should have been. Timber was later confirmed to have sustained a severe ACL injury and the rest of his campaign was immediately thrown into doubt. A GHF celebratory meal was also hit by late withdrawals due to a combination of car problems and illness (thankfully neither of the latter proved serious).

We moved on to Palace where we triumphed 1-0 with an Ødegaard penalty. Our superiority was compromised by a ridiculous sending-off for Tomayisu whose second yellow came for ‘delaying a throw-in’ when he had only just picked up the ball. The next home game saw a stumble against Fulham as we conceded a goal in the first minute which Ramsdale might have prevented. After getting control and moving into a 2-1 lead after Bassey was red-carded we conceded a late equaliser from a corner to drop two valuable points. 

Our next home game was against Manchester United. Rashford opened the scoring with his obligatory goal against us only for Ødegaard to equalise immediately. A Garnacho strike was ruled out for offside with a few minutes to go and late goals by Rice and Jesús gave us a deserved victory. Rice had settled seamlessly into the team looking every inch the top-class midfielder we had craved. We then won at Everton despite the best efforts of VAR who found a way to rule a fine Martinelli goal offside. A Trossard strike in the second half gave us the points. The big talking-point was the introduction of David Raya, a loan signing from Brentford, in place of Aaron Ramsdale. A controversial move and one which many Gooners deemed unnecessary.

Champions League football returned to N5 in mid- September and saw us crush a PSV side on a long  unbeaten run in Holland. We celebrated our return to the big time with a sparkling 4-0 win. Sadly in the next game, the North London Derby, we were much more profligate squandering the lead twice to enable Son to notch a brace in a 2-2 draw. A Carabao Cup win at Brentford followed where Reiss Nelson celebrated a rare start with the only goal of the game. We then travelled to the Vitality to crush Bournemouth 4-0 with Kai Havertz being given the chance to open his Arsenal account with a penalty. Havertz’s progress was almost exactly the opposite of Rice’s whose assured entry continued. Havertz appeared overawed by the move and made little impact in his early games.

We suffered our first defeat of the season at Lens in our second CL game. Jesús had given us the lead but a Raya error let them back into the game and we finished looking a little naive in the ways of top European football.

Our next game saw us welcome last year’s Nemesis, Manchester City. A tight, attritional game followed but we grew increasingly assured as the game wore on and with a few  minutes to go a deflected Martinelli effort earned us a well-merited and momentous victory. We moved on to Stamford Bridge expecting to overcome a very inconsistent Chelsea side but found ourselves 2-0 down after a ridiculous penalty decision against Saliba and a mishit Mudryk cross gave them the lead. We found a way back into the game when Rice scored from distance after a Sanchez error in goal for Chelsea and then Trossard popped up at the far post to touch home a Saka cross meaning the points were shared. 

Our next European away-day saw a very much more mature performance in Seville where we triumphed 2-1. The win owed much to a superb performance from Jesús who clearly relishes CL football. He scored one and laid on another for Martinelli with a sumptuous assist. 

Our next GHF gathering preceded a very comfortable 5-0 triumph over Sheffield United who looked every inch relegation candidates. A Nketiah hat-trick was an encouraging feature of the match but he was unable to help us progress in the  Carabao Cup in the next game, where a heavily rotated side lost 3-1 to West Ham at their place. Many Arsenal fans were appalled by the clumsiness and intrusiveness of the security arrangements in the Hammers’ rented home. 

Having tasted defeat domestically for the first time we moved on to Newcastle who were threatening to  become serious title rivals. The game turned on a multiple controversy when Newcastle were credited with the only goal of the game. Was the ball out? Was Joelinton fouling Gabriel? Did Joelinton handball it and was Gordon offside when he scored from a few feet out? I was incredulous when the goal was awarded and it highlighted both the amateurishness of the VAR regime and the degree of anti-Arsenal prejudice that exists around the game.  We defended well but looked very blunt in an attacking sense.

We returned to London and to the Champions League with the return fixture against Seville. Again, we played with authority and class and recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory. We followed this up with a 3-1 defeat of Burnley at home. Vieira was sent off just after coming on but we won comfortably with Zinchenko notching a spectacular strike. We then travelled back to Brentford with a clearly nervous Ramsdale replacing Raya against his parent club. The game was notable only for a very valuable late winner by Havertz who headed in at the far post a few minutes after coming on as a substitute to give us a 1-0 win. This kickstarted a change in fortunes for the German who at last began to look like a quality player. A few days later we entertained Lens at the Home of Football and produced an extraordinary first half performance where we were 5-0 up by half-time. Havertz started the scoring and we looked as fluent and exciting as we have looked all season. That put us top of the group with a game to play, a very satisfactory resumption of Champions League hostilities. 

We then beat Wolves, but not without some alarms. 2-0 up after Saka and Ødegaard scored within the first quarter of an hour, we conceded with ten minutes to go to a team we had outplayed until then. It was reminiscent of the Forest opener back in August.

Our away trip to Luton then proved much more taxing than we anticipated although Luton are finding their form and proving a tough nut to crack. They certainly were on this occasion. 2-1 up at half-time, we conceded twice in the early minutes of the second half with Raya looking very unconvincing. However, Havertz equalised and then deep into injury time Declan Rice produced a decisive header to win us the game 4-3. Opinion was split between those who worried about our defensive fragility against a pretty ordinary team and those heartened by the fighting spirit of the side. A big test awaited next at Villa Park against a Villa team revitalised by Unai Emery. McGinn gave them the lead after seven minutes. We dominated the game, had two goals chalked off by VAR and were denied a stonewall penalty when Jesús was fouled by Luiz. It was difficult not to feel hard done by but the fact remains that we were toothless in another big away game against a rival.

Our trip to PSV in the Champions League was the ultimate dead rubber but Arteta sent a strong side to Eindhoven to play a team who had carried all before them other than on their trip to London in September. The  need to risk Saliba and the failure to blood promising youngsters underlined the lack of trust Arteta has in parts of the squad. A creditable 1-1 draw saw us emerge top of our group  and we now face Porto in the last 16. 

Brighton were next up at the Emirates and we produced an excellent performance of authority, creativity and teamwork which saw us emerge 2-0 winners. Jesús and Havertz scored and we moved on to Anfield for a crucial clash just before Christmas. An early Gabriel header was cancelled out by some Salah magic facilitated by slack defending by Zinchenko. That 1-1 draw saw us top at Christmas but unfortunately we have hit a mini-slump in our last two league matches.

Against West Ham we had a huge share of possession, an incredible number  of touches in their penalty area and countless shots on goal. Yet Areola barely had a serious shot to save in ninety minutes. It was Artetaball at its most frustrating and that 2-0 loss was our first home defeat this season.  Any hope that we would bounce back away to Fulham on News Years Eve was dashed after a promising start when Saka scored an early bobbler. A modest Fulham side that we had outclassed at the Cottage eight months ago won deservedly 2-1 against a very leggy looking Arsenal team. 

The FA Cup defeat at home to Liverpool, added to the current prevailing disappointment among supporters because it was such an unnecessary defeat. We dominated the first half but just couldn’t score and we also seem to have developed a fallibility at set pieces which led to Kiwior’s own goal. Our own set pieces are becoming increasingly frustrating and a late Diaz goal gave an unrealistic score-line to a game we could and should have won.

So, we enter the league break in downbeat mood after leading the table at Christmas, and after being well worth a hard fought draw at Anfield. What conclusions can we draw?

Compared with last season’s (exceptional) form we are some way behind the curve:

 Juego de Posicion – the salvation of Arsenal or over-complication ?

I met a couple of mates for a drink at the ground before the first game of the season. We spent most of the time trying to figure out what the formation might be. Nobody really believed Partey would play as a  conventional right back and we waited to see how Havertz interpreted the left 8 role. I spent the first half admiring the football and being bewildered by the incredibly complex positions that Arteta demands his players take up. He is a slavish disciple of Juego de Posicion, a coaching concept that divides the pitch into zones. 

The players have specific tasks and responsibilities within these zones depending on the phase of the game.  The options are predetermined by the position of the ball. If the ball is on the left wing in midfield,  the zones that must be occupied are entirely different than if the ball is on the right half of our penalty area or by the opposition’s left corner flag. 

The team must use continuous ball-oriented formations  when in possession. These must be coordinated to give the team as many passing options and running lanes as possible. Still with me? (I raided a coaching manual.) The days of on-field spontaneity are largely over but it seems this season that every team is both heavily coached and highly organised.  We seem much more formulaic and much less willing to see our players demonstrating the individual flair that so excited us for most of last season. 

Nevertheless, there have still  been real  positives . Declan Rice has proved a superb signing and justified every penny of his huge fee. William Saliba is a superb centre half who is improving still further from a very high base. He has a great partnership with Gabriel.  In his briefest of cameos, Jurrien Timber looked a marvellous acquisition and, lest we forget, the team up until Christmas had lost only twice in the league and both defeats occurred in the most unfortunate of circumstances. However, the last two defeats were different, were worrying and have affected the belief levels of most Gooners going forward.

There are significant questions to be answered and I will touch on a few of the most obvious as  I conclude this half-term report 

  • Why are we finding it significantly harder to  score or to create chances this season? Are we seeing football with the handbrake on and if so why? Is it because of a change of style, attitude or have Arsenal, to an extent, been worked out?
  • Did we really need to replace Ramsdale with someone who,  so  far, doesn’t look remotely an upgrade and who has absorbed quite a bit of our available transfer budget? We are told Edu has already agreed to conclude the transfer at the end of the loan period which will inevitably force Ramsdale out of the club. Is the ability to play out with feet surpassing the traditional and basic goalkeeping skills that have served us as a club well for a very long time?
  • Recent transfer dealings appear questionable. Raya has been mentioned, Kiwior does not impress me, Jorginho is a place holder, Vieira has yet to remotely look capable of challenging Ødegaard and even Trossard after a great start has become becalmed. Our two Citeh recruits are talented but one can also see why Citeh let them go!  Add that to Pépé, Willian, Tavares, Lokonga, Cédric, Runarsson, Marquinhos and Mari and maybe we haven’t invested with quite the acumen often attributed to us. Particularly, is Havertz a good acquisition? Has he adequately replaced Xhaka who was so effective as a left 8 last season. And most importantly has he come close to justifying an eye-watering fee of £60 million? He can’t be classified as a failure yet but he certainly hasn’t proved a success either. Our left side just isn’t working like it did last season.
  • What will become of ESR, a bright shining hope of the club two years ago but a peripheral figure nowadays? Will he be with us at the end of this transfer window? Similarly does Arteta give enough chances to emerging talent or is he distrustful of  emerging talent from the youth programme?  Note how Klopp was prepared to bring in youngsters into the heat of an even and  goalless FA Cup tie. 
  • Should we retain Partey given his injury record and with rumours circulating around alternative explanation for his absence?  I think we’ve missed him terribly this season but his fragility is increasing to a worrying degree. Zinchenko, Jesús and Vieira are similarly fragile and have missed several matches this season. One is tempted to wonder  about the due diligence of the medical input to our recruitment team. 
  • What would constitute progress this season? Is it realistic to target the title this season or did we overachieve last season? Is the Champions League, where we have looked so comfortable this season a feasible target? 

As I write this, there are strong undercurrents of discontent circulating around the Goonerverse (one of the most entitled places in football) with Arteta’s performance. Let me say that I personally find this quite extraordinary. Whatever the relative shortcomings of the team this season (j which was quite amazing) and despite two poor performances over the holiday period, Arteta has rebuilt this club almost from its foundations upwards. He has turned us from a mediocre mid-table side (and one which under Emery was flirting with the relegation zone) to one that is considered one of the finest in the country and one that the PSV manager, carrying all before him domestically this season, considers among the very  finest in Europe. 

Arsenal is a very hard club to manage. Graham and especially Wenger made us habitual winners and in Wenger’s case, winners in an incomparable style. But look what Arteta inherited – a dysfunctional club, a very torn dressing room and a fan base that had ceased to believe. 

 In Charles  Watts’  recent book he opens with a press conference in which Arteta underlines that his first big aim was to rebuild the connection between the fans and the team. He did this emphatically last year. It is undoubtedly less vibrant this year but might that be because the fan base has started to develop expectations that are unsustainable for a club working to be self-financing? 

I believe in Arteta. He is not the Messiah and sometimes he is a very naughty boy. (Just ask Richard Keys!) I do think that he has a stubbornness that works against him and it seems from the outside that he is a very difficult manager to impress once you’ve lost his confidence – reference ESR in this respect. Yet Arteta is the very best hope we have of returning Arsenal to the very top table of European football. Give the man a chance and accept that his way may not be yours but that he deserves our unwavering support at this time. 

34 Drinks to “Half-term Report: Are We Making Progress?”

  1. 1
    Bathgooner says:

    An excellent review of the first half of the season, sir and a fitting post to mark what would have been Dave’s 67th birthday. Boy, would he have loved this team.

    Raise a drap o’ the cratur to the memory of a lovely man. 🥃

  2. 2
    TTG says:

    Dave Faber 🍺- your legacy will continue at GHF .

  3. 3
    OsakaMatt says:

    To the guvnor 🍺 and to you TTG for a fine report 🍺

  4. 4
    North Bank Ned says:

    What Bath and OM said. And a birthday glass raised to the Guv’nor.

    You’ve asked all the right questions, TTG, and identified Arteta’s Achilles heel(s). However, one man’s stubbornness is another’s sticking to their principles. Knowing when to apply principles flexibly and when to remain steadfast is often the mark of sure-handed leadership. If anyone can teach themselves that, it is probably Arteta. Perhaps CER could give a professional opinion on whether it can be self-taught or whether experience is the only mentor.

    To pick up on Arteta’s microscope/telescope image, there is a terrible, self-destructive danger, ever present in the Goonerverse, of looking at our club through the wrong end of the telescope, seeing only even the slightest flaws and then magnifying them, to the exclusion of everything else. There is so much right with the club that Arteta has been instrumental in creating or restoring from its recent dysfunctional state. And it is not as if every other club is an idyl of perfection.

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    So refreshing to read so much factually based common sense. Thank you TTG for this definitive summary of our season to this point. Also for your call to support MA8 who has shown he knows his way through choppy waters. Dave would indeed be very proud of this blog!

  6. 6
    bt8 says:

    And a very happy new year to all friends of GHF!

  7. 7
    ClockEndRider says:

    TTG , excellent piece reprising the season so far and setting out the issues we have to date. For my two penn’orth, and coming in to Ned’s point @4, our failure to kick in from last season is to be laid at Arteta’s feet. I feel he has under utilised the squad depth we have, as well as making purchases , in the cases of Raya and Havertz which have clearly not only failed, thus far, to improve us but have actually had a deleterious effect. However, he is a new manager with strong principles which clearly emanate from the right place. In that regard, he is a worthy successor to George and Arsene. I remain 100% behind him, for what it’s worth.
    T9 respond to Ned’s question above – the border between principle and flexibility is the sweet spot that every leader seeks to find, assuming they are not an autocrat. On the premiss that no one individual holds a monopoly on wisdom, the most important things for a leader to have are firstly wise counsel around them and secondly the wisdom as to when to take that advice. Arteta is a member, I believe, of a group of elite coaches from different sports which gets together to discuss tactics and strategy. I would also expect such conversations to stretch to the more touchy-freely side of management once the relationships have been built. I would also expect the club’s owners, with vast experience in managing sports franchises, as well as senior executives such as Tim Lewis and Richard Garlick, to offer support and advice. Arteta strikes me as the kind of guy with sufficient self-awareness to be able to take advice on board, reflect and then act. Of course this doesn’t mean all his decisions will be correct. However I do trust them to come from the heart.

  8. 8
    bt8 says:


  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@7: Thanks for your illumination of the opaque world of senior management. Your point about good leaders needing to surround themselves with advisors they listen to (and from whom they get sound and honest counsel) is well taken. My two cents would be that that is the position that Arteta finds himself in, and also that he is the sort of person who is a driven self-improver.

    In that light, the Raya acquisition could be considered the wrong decision made for the right reasons. The marginal improvement sought has turned out not to have been delivered, and the opportunity cost of potentially losing Ramsdale is high.

    Havertz is a more open question, in my book, in terms of what he adds to the team; I think he will eventually prove to be a huge asset (and, after all, how long did it take Xhaka to get to that point?). My concern is the financial cost, both the fee and the wages, which may have tied our hands unnecessarily. Again, on the basis of no knowledge, apart from an off-hand remark by TTG some time back (so it must be true!), there may have been serious misgivings within the club about ESR’s brittleness and, thus, his long-term capacity to take on the physically demanding role of the first-choice left-sided 8.

  10. 10
    BtM says:

    Really good, TTG.

    I’m firmly in the “another’s” camp (well expressed, Ned) in terms of sticking to principles and continue to be greatly impressed by MA8’s leadership skills and consistency of communication and purpose. We’re fortunate to have him.

    I think that Partey’s absence is massive and agree that, that and Timber’s early exit, are very significant contributory factors to the fall of in stats versus last season.

    I’m troubled by the ESR situation. He has the potential to contribute substantially to a successful second half of the season.

  11. 11
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I haven’t read the post yet, but I just wanted to drop in to raise a glass for Dave on his birthday. I miss him.

    Lots of love to everyone.

  12. 12
    BtM says:

    Some thought provoking builds on TTG’s superlative post by Mike McDonald at Gunnerstown this morning. The video of Alvaro Barreal (Who?) there is definitely worth a watch. That is some left foot.

  13. 13
    Uplympian says:

    That’s a marvellous half term season review TTG. You have touched all the salient points
    – there is nothing to disagree with at all.
    Yes, we are not quite where we want to be – both position wise and performance wise. A combination of injuries, change of tactics and opposition coaches finding ways to frustrate us. Most importantly our strikers finding great difficulty in putting the ball in the onion bag along with a more than fair share of dubious referee / var decisions. No doom & gloom from me – we are still in the mix for the EPL and Champions League.
    Mikel has certainly transformed the club in his relatively short tenure at the club but he still has lessons to learn. Better utilisation of the squad to avoid overplaying certain team members and more effective timing of substitutions ( ESR for example ).
    Lots to look forward to in the second half of the season.

  14. 14
    North Bank Ned says:

    One crude test of over- or underperformance would be to compare expected goals for (xG) and against (xGA) to actual goals for and against.

    In the league, so far this season, our xG, 36.4, is almost a perfect fit to our 37 goals scored. However, the defence has conceded four more goals than expected over the first 20 games. If that seems counterintuitive, our view is probably clouded by the five most recent games in which we have scored only four times, not the expected nine. Yet some of the wisest heads in the bar have noted defensive failings all season.

    A more nuanced approach might be to create a P-W-D-L record based on xGs. If our xG is higher than our xGA, that counts as ‘win’, and so on.

    A simple, head-to-head comparison would give us a PL record of P20 W15 D0 L5 Pts45. If you were to repeat the exercise but round up or down to the nearest whole number of goals, the record would be P20 W14 D6 L0 Pts 48.

    Neither is quite up to last season’s pace at this point, but not far off it and much closer than our actual record of P20 W12 D4 L4 Pts 40.

    As goals, not xGs, win matches in the real world, that implies the system is less at fault than the goal scoring and defending — which coincides with the evidence of our eyes.

    At this point last season, our xG was 32, but we had scored 40 goals while the xGA was 15, and we had conceded 14. The bigger picture is that our attack, for whatever reasons — injuries or opposition coaches finding ways to frustrate us, as Uply suggests — has reverted to the mean. At the same time, our defending has become marginally more porous.

    There remains no substitute for putting the ball in the net.

  15. 15
    Countryman100 says:

    BtM @12. Here’s the link to that Mike McDonald piece you reference.

    Chew on this: how to solve Arsenal’s “Goals Issue” – A Deep Dive (Positives Needs & Hopes)

  16. 16
    TTG says:

    What an intriguing post by Mike McDonald ! He has addressed the practical side of balancing options rather than taken the view that mid-season transfers are on the too difficult pile .
    If Giroud returned it would be intriguing( and very much upset the bloke who sits behind me and a couple of other regular Gooners I know !) . He certainly brings something different . He wouldn’t be a starter ( or expect to be ) , he was very durable and he brings a strong aerial presence in both boxes . I just don’t think he’s an elite finisher but he’s had some career . Spinazzola , if fit , would be a very interesting option. Varane’s salary would threaten our FFP position but we do need more cover for Saliba . I’d prefer Zubimendi to Onana for the sort of money Onana would cost – and selling Eddie makes sense and wouldn’t pee off too many Gooners

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@15: Thanks for posting the Mike MacDonald link. A thought-provoking read, as ever.

    Borreal looks talented, but they all do in their highlight reels. We are well stocked at left-back once Timber and Tomi are fit, and Sousa seems well-regarded as one for the future.

    Bringing back Giroud is a suggestion out of left field, although not all that crazy if he was willing to come. I’m not sure he would, though, swap regular starts at Milan for half a season coming off the bench at the Emirates. He is out of contract in the summer, and I would guess he would see continuing employment more likely in northern Italy than north London (and we shouldn’t be offering any interim striker more than the second half of this season so as not to get in the way of signing a long-term elite striker in the summer).

    MacDonald’s shuffling of our existing pack is imaginative. The notion of playing Saka as a left-sided 8/old-fashioned 10 is a good one, not least because it means he wouldn’t have to play 90 minutes plus every game, with ESR as the natural rotation. It would also give opposition coaches something new to solve.

  18. 18
    bt8 says:

    Interesting story about minnows Girona’s success in La Liga, even as they are affiliated with Citeh. The story says Citeh haven’t infused tons of cash into the club, which I tend to doubt considering the dozens of financial violations they are accused of, but Girona’s several fans certainly won’t be complaining.


  19. 19
  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    These are the youngster who have travelled to Dubai with the first-team and so potentially on Arteta’s radar: Ethan Nwaneri, Myles Lewis-Skelly, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Charles Sagoe Jr, Reuell Walters, Lino Sousa, Mauro Bandeira, Jack Henry-Francis and James Hillson.

  21. 21
    Trev says:

    TTG – just “thank you !” Brilliantly summarised, enjoyable to read and perfectly evaluated questions in conclusion.

    Very good drinks to follow too. Not a lot left to add which is just as well as I am currently overwhelmed with work, waiting on Mrs Trev’s broken ankle – and the rest of her – and a year’s accounts and tax return to complete before the end of the month. It might turn out to be a very short Nottingham Forest preview !

    Finally, a belated, with apologies, glass raised to the Guv’nor for his birthday – which I sadly missed. Cheers, Dave !

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    From our where are they now dept: Matt Macey, the 6’7″ keeper formerly of this parish, has re-joined League One Portsmouth after leaving Luton in September in search of regular football. We let him go to Hibs on a free transfer three years ago. He is 29 now. I always thought that, although not elite, he was good enough to have landed as a regular starter somewhere higher in the pecking order than League One.

  23. 23
    Trev says:

    Ned, we don’t seem to be very good at goalkeepers. We let Martinez go who, although he can act like a bit of a twat, was clearly better than Leno. We took Petr Cech from Chelsea seven years after we were first interested in him and at an age when his abilities were only going in one direction. We were somehow persuaded to buy Runarsson from Brentford by the same bloke who recommended Raya as an upgrade on Ramsdale.

    I know Raya’s statistics are reported to have him as an all round better keeper than Ramsdale, but my eyes tell me the opposite is true. A part of a goalkeeper’s role is his presence and relationship with his defenders. I don’t see Raya has either, at all. His positioning is awful and that is not helped by his lack of height, which translates as a lack of length when diving to reach shots and make fingertip saves. He looks list in the Arsenal goal and while Ramsdale is not perfect when trying to play out under pressure, neither by a long chalk is Raya. It would be a big mistake to ditch Ramsdale for Raya and the situation needs rectifying before both of them have lost all confidence.

    That doesn’t mean I’m confident that it will happen.

  24. 24
    TTG says:

    I’m totally in agreement with you about our goalkeepers . Since Seaman left we’ve only replaced the previous incumbent with a better goalkeeper when we signed Mad Jens. He wasn’t as good as Seaman at his best but he was as Seaman declined . We then had Almunia , Mannone ,Szczesny , Fabianski , Cech , Leno , Martinez and Ramsdale . I think most of them were better than Raya as shot-stoppers but maybe weren’t sweeper keepers although last week Ramsdale showed great ability with his feet Chelsea sell us all their cast-offs and few succeed and Cech certainly didn’t .Martinez is a world-class keeper and has loads of that presence you describe .
    As for Runarsson I think he came from Dijon to us. The Brentford connection came because he was recommended by our keeper coach who was at Brentford and somewhere in his career worked with Runarsson . Goodness only knows why he thought Runarsson was good enough to play for Arsenal. People who follow goalkeeping developments at Arsenal weren’t impressed with Gerry Peyton when Wenger appointed him and they don’t rate the current coach either . I’ve never understood why we didn’t appoint Seaman who must be close to our greatest ever keeper

  25. 25
    bathgooner says:

    Seconded Trev. I am totally non-plussed by MA8’s decisions on our goalkeeping situation.

  26. 26
    Sancho Panza says:

    I agree totally with Trev and TTG. When we signed David Seaman he was by far the best keeper around and we were blessed to get him. Jens was also a fantastic signing.
    I was a bit meh when we signed Ramsdale. He obviously did well last season. I wonder if MA was after Raya at the time but he wasn’t available.
    I think there’s a dearth of keepers who are any good and can handle the Premier League.

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@24: oooooo00000Spina, too.

    We do seem to be good at driving keepers out of the club. Szczesny was an even bigger loss than Martinez in that regard in my book. He should have been our No 1 for years and could have rivalled Seaman in our affection had that happened.

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    Smoking in the showers? I dunno, but that does sound like a relatively minor transgression to me, especially if it was a one-off offence. Certainly, of the keepers in TTG’s list SZCZ stands out as the best one to me, and at a much younger age than Emiliano Martinez was when either was our first choice man. Rather than discipline him by keeping him out of the team for a spell we sent him to dine on northern Italian delicacies for near on the next decade. Not necessarily the best transaction in that case.

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@23: Your point about stats v observation is particularly salient for goalkeepers. Much as I love numbers, I recognise their utility is limited by what they measure (and can measure). As you suggest, there are many aspects to goalkeeping that the numbers do not capture, and far more so than for outfield players. Given Arteta’s attention to intangibles like winning mentality, team identity and club culture, you would hope he recognises that.

  30. 30
    Countryman100 says:

    A glance ahead to the fixture list shows we don’t have much football in the next few weeks due to going out of the FA Cup

    20/1/24: Crystal Palace (H)

    30/1/24: Forest (A)

    4/2/24: Liverpool (H)

    11/2/24: West Ham (A)

    Pros and cons but on balance not a good thing Ithink.

  31. 31
    TTG says:

    I didn’t do any research for that list and left out Ospina which reflected the fact that I thought he was pretty disappointing ( and I had completely forgotten about him!) . I do remember his awful display against Olympiakos at home where he chucked in two and his flap at the Costa shot that allowed Chelsea to equalise in the 2017 Final.
    I’m similarly unsure about whether that fixture list is an advantage but Liverpool will have to fit in games away to Fulham and an easy fourth round tie at home as well as Bournemouth away and Chelsea home before they play us and that is without Salah ( probably )
    At least fixture congestion isn’t a problem given our relatively small squad

  32. 32
    BtM says:

    @30, plenty time then to settle in the multiplicity of January window signings.

  33. 33
    ClockEndRider says:

    C100 @30 – I definitely don’t want to hear how our players are tired in the second half of the season…..

  34. 34
    Bathgooner says: