Arteta’s Men Exposed In The Air

Online Editorial – Arsenal frustrated at home by Sheffield United

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Mustafi - Surprise return to starting eleven

Ah, an old-fashioned 3pm Saturday kick-off. It feels like we’ve had a few more of those this season, in spite of the Europa League. Even so, as fans continued to take their seats with the game already ten minutes old, I joked with my neighbour that many people were as late as a Mustafi challenge. Yet, but for one poor pass in the second half, the unwanted centre back, who started the match because Sokratis was apparently ill, actually had a passable game, aside from aerial dominance, but I’ll get to that later.

The defence was helped by the surprise availability of Lucas Torreira in front of them, and with Aubameyang suspended, it was no surprise to see Martinelli start in his position. The first half went ok, capped by a goal shortly before the interval by the young Brazilian, who had fluffed two earlier efforts. What we saw though was two organized teams who had the ability to largely restrict their opponents from getting clear efforts on target. On one level it was very refreshing to see an Arsenal side do this – and it was noticeable how they had been prepared for Sheffield United goal kicks to be launched to the left side of their defence with Granit Xhaka lining up between Saka and David Luiz in the backline. On another it didn’t make for entertaining viewing. Right now though, the priorities have to be points, and Arteta is working hard on the defensive aspect of his team, with obvious discipline and players filling in for each other so the shape is maintained, even if Bukayo Saka is caught upfield.

The second half showed how much this is a work in progress, because the visitors almost scored twice due to their getting clear headers at Bernd Leno’s goal, and when they finally scored, the assist was another header just outside the six yard box. There was another good chance from a header in the opening few minutes of the game. Chris Wilder’s side played to their strengths, and ultimately Arsenal paid the price, via two dropped points. There was an argument for Pepe to win a penalty at 1-0 up, but VAR concurred with Mike Dean, and I have to say the winger played for it. Were it at for Liverpool at Anfield, it would probably have been given, but so it goes. Pepe should have tried to get through the pair of defenders and then gone down, but he was too early.

Fans were understandably disappointed with the draw. I was emailed yesterday evening by Upper Street with the following:
How many more games are we going to draw (or lose, as against Chelsea) because we can't defend to save our lives? How many points have we lost this season - and for the last God knows how many - because our defensive organisation is terrible?
How much do we need at least one defender in this window; preferably a centre back who can actually defend? No, don't answer that. Arsenal haven't done defence for 15 years. 
Meanwhile, Arteta (who, like his mentor Guardiola, couldn't organise a defence to save his life) is given a free pass because he's the new manager who speaks well. So that's OK then. 
It's already come back to haunt him. Because it doesn't matter if you're a supposedly brilliant coach, if you have rubbish defenders like Sokratis, Luiz,and Mustafi, you're going to pay for it.

I think it is fair to say that Guardiola relies on attack as his best form of defence, and that what his side do with the ball is the priority. Defensively, the priority seems to be the ‘hunt in packs’ tactic to win the ball back, but it could be harsh to say he is on a par with someone like Arsene who was genuinely not interested in the defensive side of the game, as reflected by his lack of attention to this area in many transfer markets, even when his team conceded more and more goals. What I would say about Arteta is that he has clearly defined positions for his players when his team attack and when the opposition have the ball. What he can’t do – certainly in the space of a few weeks – is make his players dominant in the air. Truth to tell, that almost certainly needs addressing in the transfer market.

The other aspect with being able to dominate games and dictate play is the physical aspect. Arsenal aren’t fit enough to produce the football their head coach wants for 90 minutes, so if they fail to take advantage of their dominant periods by scoring more goals, they will be vulnerable, as recent matches have shown. Sheffield United were very organised and limited the home side’s chances – hence it was a pretty dull game overall. This is often the way with the Blades’ matches – but it certainly works for them, and you can’t argue with their position in the table. It’s up to the opposition to outwit them sufficiently to really open up the game, and as I stated yesterday in the match preview, rarely are there more than two goals when they are on the road, and there are a lot of draws. So the 1-1 was no great surprise.

There’s no question that Mikel Arteta will need some fresh personnel to carry through his plans, but at the moment, he has to make do with the squad he has inherited, with a number of injuries to defenders not helping him. But if people cannot see that the players are more organised, I am surprised. The problem yesterday was that too many aerial duels were either lost or simply didn’t happen because players were not marked tightly enough. So United had enough opportunities to score for the law of averages to take effect. Martinelli scored a good goal, but he had two decent enough chances to have sealed the match for his team. He’s young, he’s getting in good positions, and he should improve. It’s possible this game might have been won with Aubameyang starting, but we’ll never know.

I think we’re now is a situation where we are seeing incremental improvement, with the club’s immediate aim to make up the gap to the top six – which is certainly achievable, so as to ensure the financial benefit of Europa League football next season. There is of course the wildcard of actually winning the latter competition, but that will most likely come down to the luck of the draw and the return to form of injured defenders currently waiting in the wings. There are flashes of excitement in games, and memories of past failings, but overall, I can see what Arteta is trying to do, and in the modern game, where let’s face it, the kind of defending we used to see simply isn’t legal anymore, I can see the sense in it.

There is no debate the club need to get active in the market, starting this month. And we wait to see whether it was worth securing William Saliba at the high price the club paid St Etienne for the teenager. This season has been a write-off ever since the club dallied getting shot of Unai Emery and allowed too many points to be haemorrhaged. The necessary change in head coach was made six months later than it should have been, so now Arteta has time to implement his ideas so that the bedrock exists as new faces arrive.

However, as part of this process, we will have to watch more turgid matches like this. It’s a necessary evil, but there is hope of light at the end of this tunnel. Not losing on Tuesday evening at Chelsea would be progress of sorts. At the moment, the team are trying to master the art of not losing matches. And but for the individual errors in the recent home match against Frank Lampard’s side, they are delivering on that front. No doubt patience is required though. Jurgen Klopp didn’t win a trophy with Liverpool until his fourth season at the club. Look at them now. Granted, they have a more supportive owner, but the one thing you’d have to say about Kroneke is that he’s not going to sack anyone lightly, so Arteta will at least be given time.


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  1. Exiled in Pt

    Jan 21, 2020, 08:05 #116293

    Ron that 4-4 cannot get over how many of them suddenly reappeared next to us that night as at one stage they had nearly all left the ground. What is it with ex players always getting a freak goal against us.. Seem to recall it was a nightmare getting home on the train that night just making the last one back... Happy days ha ha

  2. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 22:35 #116292

    Cultured player Sammels was. Used to get stick from the fans for some reason. Must have been something about him that he did or didn’t do before I went to Highbury. I really liked him. Hit a ball sweetly. Played in a very good Leics team later with Weller and Birchenall and them under Jimmy Bloomfield. Yes. It was Webster. Willow pulled out late I think ? Not sure he ever played again ? Recall lots of Utd fans in the North Bank had been quiet but they went nuts when Best made it 2-1 and it kicked off a bit. Exiled - Pepe shows glimpses of class every so often then goes back into his shell. A player in there but I’m not sure what his position could be? Agree tho, wasn’t needed and it was an early dive. He d have got a pen had it not been such a pre mediated action. Dean has often been a thorn in our side for sure. I feel that’s informing a lot of opinion on the pen shout to be honest, the fact of it being him reffing. There were others tho who we had gripes with. Poll was one. Riley. Steve Dunn. We can’t keep saying they’re all Gunners biased or we ll sound like Wengo ha ha. Ps. Just seen some of that 4-4 with The spuds. What a horrible night that was. Amazing to think it was 12 yrs ago. To follow that was snow on the M1 as couldn’t get to M40 cos of bad smash up mid afternoon. Took 4 hrs to drive home on top of that atrocious give away game.

  3. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 20, 2020, 21:15 #116291

    I Remember that Sammels goal, didn't he hit it, like a missile. If memory serves me Webster was in goal and gifted Best one of his 2 goals. Shame Jon Sammels faded away in the double year, he played so well in our Fairs Cup final year. He got injured at the start of 70 - 71 season and was never the same - he really loved Arsenal.

  4. Exiled in Pt

    Jan 20, 2020, 21:15 #116290

    Funny to see le fraud saying now what we all new years ago about the move from Highbury, funny how he doesn't seem to acknowledge any blame himself....

  5. Exiled in Pt

    Jan 20, 2020, 21:13 #116289

    The real beauty of seeing Best in his heyday and I was not lucky enough to see him live, was look at the state of the pitches he was playing on like you say chaps he would score for fun on the pitches of today.. In my opinion the nearest thing to Best would have to be Maradona. I have to say I am with you Ron on the Pepe penalty I thought he dived before he got any contact but do also agree with those that say it would of been a penalty elsewhere. Let's face it we have never get anything from Mike Dean... Like most modern day players Pepe in my opinion goes down way to easy looking for free kicks and penalties!! In my opinion I would rather see Saka playing in his position once we have a left back to play as a left back. Pepe is a waste of money that we should of spent on defenders..

  6. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 20:53 #116288

    Eve lads. Yes, Bestie was Wagner and Rembrandt in a ball wasn’t he. First time I saw him was at Highbury in 69. 2-2 draw. A fab Sammels goal. We 2 up then GB went and turned us inside out for 2-1 right on HT. Utd in top second half. Pulsating game and atmosphere. As you say lads it was the way the ball stuck to him. Magical. It was a pleasure to concede to him !!! Nothing he couldn’t do on a pitch ....... and didn’t he just pee us all off with that hair and the looks and the image. Nothing like him before and nor since guys.

  7. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 20, 2020, 19:58 #116287

    Ron/Bard - Of all the players I have seen in over 50 years of watching football GB was my all time top player. When he ran with the ball it was a thing of beauty and he was as tough as old boots, kicked from behind in every game, yet he just shrugged and got on with it. Would love to have him back as a 20 year old in today's non contact Premier League - 50 goals, Ron he 'd have that many by Christmas, with all the girls screaming each time he touched the ball.

  8. Bard

    Jan 20, 2020, 19:06 #116286

    Fabulous detour into Best territory. Best player I ever saw by a county mile. Hard as nails as well as super skilful. A tragedy that he fell apart and retired so early. Remember that goal he got against Chelsea with chopper Harris kicking lumps out of him as he went through.

  9. markymark

    Jan 20, 2020, 18:09 #116285

    Hmm jumpers for goal posts. Malcolm Alison . Penultimate job was to be transported by helicopter onto the pitch of Fisher Athletic as their “Big Time Manager” Fisher in turn were owned by the Arif’s (Kings of the Old Kent Rd). From memory if you had a disagreement in a Rotherhithe pub and had Mr Arif’s number he might turn up to make peace. I understand that this was done by putting a loaded gun in the mouth of the chap on the wrong side of the argument. Funny enough it seemed to work . The Old time Kings of the Old Kent Road appear to be no more or at least not courting publicity, nor is Fisher Athletic and their push for the big time , whilst and Big Mal has joined John Bond in their Sheep Skins in the Sky ! Memories indeed.

  10. John F

    Jan 20, 2020, 17:49 #116284

    I remember a phone in when a Newcastle fan blamed Asprilla for having the same derailing effect for their title bid as Marsh did at City.Marsh has a redeeming feature, he is an Arsenal fan.

  11. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 17:34 #116283

    Best was long finished footie then wasn't he mate. Remember that. He was an embarrassment to him self wasn't he. Yes, them at Fulham. It was a jolly as you say. About 1976 time that was, 1977 maybe. I never thought Marsh was much good to be honest. A poser who loved himself. He was OK to have v crap teams though. Loved to think he was same type as Bestie. Never even close. Francis Lee was a far better player than him back then. Allison only bought Marsh because Utd had signed Ian Storey Moore (he was a great player to see too but badly injury ravaged and it shortened his career) from Forest a few weeks before for big money and Allison was obsessed by trying to show City were bigger and better than Utd and tried to rub their noses in it.

  12. John F

    Jan 20, 2020, 17:23 #116282

    Good stuff Ron ,I remember George,Bobby Moore and Rodney ending up at Fulham of all places.Their Attendances almost tripled.I can't imagine what the after or even the before matches drinks were like,it was probably why they nearly got relegated.I think it was just a bit of a Jolly for them.One incident I did find distasteful was when George appeared on the Wogan show drunk.I felt they should of taken him off rather then carrying on filming an all just so the audience could laugh at him.

  13. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 17:08 #116281

    SK - this so called 'high press' and the 'deep block', that they laud now. Bestie would have loved it. Meat and drink. Teams would commit suicide doing that with Best around. He d have ran through either like a knife through butter. Clubs cant teach players how to dribble but im amazed why clubs dont try harder to encourage players to try. Im sure some can do it to a certain extent. I like the kid James at United. He s going to be a real handful if they allow him to do his thing and give him free rein to do as he likes some times. OGS seems to want to but he harnesses the rest of them too much. Cant see him surviving there unless they improve markedly. Utd expects cavalier football and creative footballers.

  14. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 16:55 #116280

    meant 'transcended' football - typo.

  15. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 16:52 #116279

    SK - Allison dropped Neil Young to play Marsh. Young was a real City stalwart and a lovely footballer who the fans there loved. I think many of the players resented Allison for it and they fell to bits. Many had little time for Allison as they were Mercers lads in the main. They were a great attacking team and of the reason why i always laugh at these people who just think the football back then was crude. many who say that never saw it and only know what SKY has fed them. Colin Bell was the best midfielder i ever saw back then and since. Brilliant. Bryan Robson is the only one whos ever been close in my view. I saw Bell play in goal once. He was great at that! He was the footballing Ben Stokes for City. Power, fit. Headed as good any any and scored 12 to 15 goals a season from midfield. A few of us used to and stand on the Kippax at City when they were home and then go to OT to see Georgie when Utd were home. Great student days. Utd were starting their decline then. City used to beat them more often than not. GB was fantastic though. As young guys we all wanted to be like him!! Ha ha The best footballer i ever saw for sure by a mile. Georgie would score 50 a season like Messi nowadays v these shite defences and static PL teams. He carried Utd on his own for a couple of seasons then went off the rails. He gave up on Utd really. They thought after 1968 EC win there was nothing left to motivate them i guess and a few were getting old. Gerogie was only about 24 and wanted them to sign new better players. We ve had some great players and we had a few back then but for me, seeing George Best at his very best was the best experience ive ever had as a football fan. He ascended football. Team loyalty was put aside to watch him. Sheer pleasure.

  16. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 20, 2020, 16:11 #116278

    Ron - If I remember right, Bob Wilson had started his TV work and was at Man City during the season that Marsh arrived, I think Bob was on record as saying that he jinxed City. Once Marsh arrived City's dressing was shot to pieces and they blew the league big time. I remember someone asking big Mal at the start of the 70 - 71 season, did he think anything would head south, (in football honours terms) he replied with a big grin "rain"

  17. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 16:01 #116277

    John - He took one of his porn birds into the bath once at some away ground. There she was in the photo of her in the bath with about 8 of the Palace players. Modern tech stuff today would love Big Mal! He d keep the news outlets happy on his own these days. No characters in football today bar the odd one or two. Its all far too serious because of the money.

  18. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 15:52 #116276

    Hi John - Yes mate. The Fedora hat and His big sheepskin coat about 2 sizes too big even for him. I saw yr Sons saga of a day the other day. Awful. Theres a quite a few from the Scottish arm of the official SC who have that hassle all of the time. Masochists mate!! Ha Ha. I used to do the train run from first Leics and then some years back from Bham International on the trains before we took to drive share. It used to be about an hr and 10 mins into Euston when it ran smoothly. It often didnt.

  19. TonyEvans

    Jan 20, 2020, 14:50 #116275

    On the Pepe penalty shout I thought it was a penalty. Certainly seen them given for less.

  20. John F

    Jan 20, 2020, 14:43 #116274

    Sorry Ron that was a penalty .On big Mal my memory of him is with his large coat ,big hat and causing a riot by putting two fingers up to the Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge .

  21. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 13:03 #116273

    hi Marky - not making a point. I just dont think the defender had intent to foul Pepe, accepting at the same time that there s whats looks like an element of defenders sandwiching him. Theres no point to make. Had i have reffed it, i would nt have called pen. To have done so would mean that defenders have to wave a player through in those situations. Its all subjective. Dean saw it his way and the VAR ref sees it theirs. VAR has done little other than to exchange Refs decisions for those in a unit at Heathrow some where as i see it. I prefer refs decisions and would end VAR tomorrow save for perhaps off side calls (arguably). Refs get it wrong of course some times but thats part of the dynamic of football ie the controversy it creates. All VAR has done is make fans angry as its so arbitrary with no guarantee that its any more accurate than the referees take on a situ. The error was thinking that film can always be indisputable. This stuff about 'had it have been Salah etc is pointless and just smacks of fans finding a reason to justify their resentment of such as him and others being successful and looking to make out that their teams are only the same as ours but get given the rub of the green. They need to focus on the real reasons why we re no longer at the races. That a wasted exercise.. We are where we are because we re poor on one hand and on the other hand, the better teams and player always did and maybe always will get the rub of the green. We certainly did during our halycon years under AW.

  22. markymark

    Jan 20, 2020, 12:14 #116271

    Ron2 - have a look at the penalty shout on you tube the knee of the defender is raised to hip height and put in front of Pepe as he jinks through . Pepe has nowhere to go . Why should we not get “flimsy” as you put it. Others say Stone Wall penalties if Salah can? Still don’t see your point.

  23. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 10:26 #116270

    On Allison, i recall 1972 i think it was, as i lived up there at the time and used to go and see MC quite often as a student. The team was going great guns and looked like holding off Liverpool to go on and win the title. Allison got wind that Rodney Marsh was available from QPR and nearly broke City by pressing the chairman, a guy named Swales to stump up about 200K to buy Marsh ( a massive sum back then). Marsh went there, did next to nothing and the team imploded and ended up about 3rd as i recall. He screwed up what looked like another title win after the one 4 years before. He never achieved much else with City afterwards, unless you count spending stacks of cash on rubbish players, in his own image. A total fraud he was.

  24. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 10:11 #116269

    Nos 89 - i saw that team of the 80s thing too. It was good wasnt it. It was surreal really back then when they had that team with Hillaire and Co. Recall it well. It was only Venables and the London media that really believed that message though. Most others sniggered at it given that it was Crystal Palace after all. Allison was well into his decline by the time he landed there scratching about in between sh-----g porn stars. He almost bankrupted Manchester City with his barmy transfers some years before. He was certainly the con man of the 70s and early 80s was nt he. He d stabbed Joe Mercer in the back to become head coach at MC after being Mercers assistant during their glory years from 1968 to 1972. Once he got the job he couldn't hack it as the main man. I dont think there are any parallels between he and Arteta thankfully. MA is a measured sort of guy and i think hes a man whos knows the limitations of the package Arsenal have offered him. Allison was a dreamer, a clown really with a great big spiv type ego who carried a lot of resentment towards Joe Mercer and couldnt accept that JM was the architect of City knocking Man Utd off their perch in the late 60s. In Allisons favour, he was a good Coach and its thought his views on football were ahead of his time. His man management though was appalling. He alienated many City fans back then after he orchestrated Mercers removal. The documentary didn't touch upon his pre Palace days and why he ended up at that dump. It didn't need to really though as its aim was to show how that team of youngsters collapsed in a few months, never to recover.

  25. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 09:49 #116268

    Hi Bard - youre right but the mentions earlier of it being Arsenal etc etc is nt saying that the club can take the league by storm. My mention of it was that because of the size and nature of the club its highly unlikely that we ll fall down headlong towards mid table in the Championship type of thing. The club always does enough, but never more than that , as we ve done for 10 years, hence the sterility of it all now. The worry is though , that the decline has taken a marked plummet from its previous gradual trajectory.

  26. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 09:41 #116267

    Yes, but it wasn't Salah and Co was it. Im happy for the first time for many, many years to support Ref Dean on that one lads anyway. These flimsy penalties oft given to yr Kanes etc etc are making a mockery of football and in my view its good to see a ref not falling for it for once.

  27. GoonerRon

    Jan 20, 2020, 09:15 #116266

    @ Ron2 - you come off it. It’s a pen all day long. If that was Salah, Mane or Kane getting fouled it gets given 10/10 times by the ref or overruled by VAR if he doesn’t give it.

  28. markymark

    Jan 20, 2020, 08:05 #116265

    Ron2 that imo was a clear penalty 9 out of 10 times given pre VAR . Leg high and dangling in way of body . Can’t see how you saw anything else. VAR of course can decide there is a hairs breath between you . Real time it’s a penalty all day long. Arsenal do though need to start grinding out those 1-0’s

  29. Bard

    Jan 20, 2020, 08:04 #116264

    Another meaningless midtable rumble. Feel sorry for MA. Realising how sh*** this mob are. I agree they look a little more organised but the lack of tactical professionalism will take years to sort out. I disagree with those that see this as a blip before we take the prem by storm because we are the Arsenal. The club dont have the money or the prestige to attract top players. Unless we can produce a crop of worldies this is going to be as good as it gets.

  30. itsRonagain2

    Jan 20, 2020, 00:18 #116263

    GR. come off it. Being pro our team is one thing but borrowing Wengo s specs to show it is a tad extreme. First you saw nothing wrong with Auba s tackle the other day when it was clearly and ankle tendon ripper and now the Pepe shout? Dean got it spot on. Pepe had a pen in mind 5 secs before he jumped down for it.

  31. Nos89

    Jan 19, 2020, 21:47 #116262

    It is not the owners patience that will be tested with Arteta, it is the supporters patience that will be tested. I recall in the not too distant past when Arsenal supporters were getting bored of finishing in the top 4 and playing in the champions league. Qualify from group stage lose in last 16, win the FA Cup. So boring wasn't it. Now we are stuck in mid-table mediocrity, playing mid-table football. It's all a bit strange as last season we were 1 win away from finishing 3rd, securing a champions league place and playing in a European final, which had it been a non-English club playing against us, Emery would've won it. All this with virtually the same squad of players. After watching team of the '80's documentary I hope Arteta doesn't turn out to be a Malcolm Allison. A successful coach at Man City appointed manager of then low to mid table Crystal Palace, and managed to get them relegated twice.


    Jan 19, 2020, 20:48 #116261

    Presently we are well down the road to becoming a feeder club for the "big boys" - which is a complete damnation of our colourless owner - we are Arsenal ffs!!! The only passion our Stanley has exhibited in his privileged life is that which he showed when he evicted long-standing tenants after acquiring the Waggoners Ranch. I've seen enough of Mikel to see that he will be a top class manager but he will need time & support - but the one thing he won't see is AMBITION so he will bugger off sooner than later along with the likes of Gabriel & one or two other emerging talents. We really should be working hard NOW, by whatever means, to get rid of his negative influence on our Club.

  33. markymark

    Jan 19, 2020, 19:38 #116260

    Leicester’s form starting to go sideways now. I’m wondering if they will start to tumble. GoonerRon - I don’t thinks it’s outlandish that we could beat Chelsea . Hopefully the players are building up a real sense of grievance with the present luck and will go full out. Let’s hope so anyway

  34. GoonerRon

    Jan 19, 2020, 19:13 #116259

    One thing Arteta has done is make us concede fewer shots and big chances. We are having some pretty rotten luck with decisions and deflections this season - they say it evens out but we’d be right in the CL league mix with a fairer balance of decisions. The tackle on Pepe is just a penalty and should have been given. Unlikely I know but beat Chelsea on Tuesday and the gap is down to 7 ;-)

  35. Pauljames

    Jan 19, 2020, 19:03 #116258

    Very frustrating and I was bemused by starting Mustafi instead of Holding. I think talk of top six is fanciful right now, we just aren’t good enough. I agree with Ron that we just don’t need another EL campaign next season, and finishing 9th or 10th will surely send the message upstairs that we need serious investment this summer.

  36. ArsenalMagna

    Jan 19, 2020, 14:49 #116257

    Hey Ron, I see what you mean - I agree that 5th/6th is most likely the optimum with the current squad. Also agree that we're too big a club to decline perennially - in that sense the stadium is a genuine asset, even if it played a role in us declining in the first place! Also think our academy is starting to produce more top players and that our scouting network is and for a time has been very good - £15m for Guendouzi and Martinelli is symptomatic of a scouting system that can produce top drawer results. By the way, I think we're more or less in agreement on positions that need upgrading - who would you bring in (with or without budgetary constraints in mind). I think ideally we'd get Adama Traore, Dakonam, Koulibaly, Ndidi, Rabiot and Richarlison. Sadly that would cost about £300 million, and we're unlikely to raise more than £150 million on player sales. Realistically, think we'll just buy like-for-like replacements based on player sales, and I don't even know who would be worth buying on a low budget.

  37. itsRonagain2

    Jan 19, 2020, 14:29 #116256

    PS. The accountants will say otherwise but I hope we re out of Europe next season 9 th will do this time. It ll give MA the chance to build a team free from the nuisance burden of the EL which in itself is no great loss.

  38. itsRonagain2

    Jan 19, 2020, 14:24 #116255

    AM. Hi matey. The 5th to 6th suggestion I made was intended to mean those positions attainable generally using these players with barely any new additions/replacements to the squad. Agree with you , they’re not getting 6th this season. 6th from bottom perhaps??. ! It’s an alien sterile feeling for many of us isn’t it being mid table as it’s been 25 to 30 years since we ve been rooted like this. Saving grace is that gradually the feeling of also being rudderless is disappearing under MA. Basically I think if he stays long enough and on the assumption cash stays ltd, he ll need 4 to 5 years as Klopp has had to build a proper team again. That in itself means all of the 30 and 30 plus yr olds need to be sold in the next year to 18 months. The main positive is that it is Arsenal. We ll be back eventually and it’s not like some clubs where you can see decline being clearly a more acute decline that’s going to end up in disaster. Even under this owner we ll have enough players to avert total chaos.

  39. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 19, 2020, 14:10 #116254

    Hi Ron , you are so right about Chris Wilder being a good guy, don't forget he took SU up amid a takeover battle at the club. He just got on with it and never used any set backs as an excuse, it just proves good coaching will prevail whatever the circumstances. Our players have had this "play play play" bullsh*t drummed into them over the years and I just hope MA finds a laxative strong enough to purge it from our club.

  40. ArsenalMagna

    Jan 19, 2020, 13:57 #116253

    *Oh yeah, and I think Leno and Martinez are probably good enough long term too.

  41. ArsenalMagna

    Jan 19, 2020, 13:56 #116252

    I'm not sure if we're consistent enough to get 6th place, especially as we have some real tough fixtures to come inc. Liverpool and Leicester at home, plus Wolves, City, Spurs and Chelsea away... In any case, agree about the magnitude of the task Arteta faces. The squad really is lacking the right balance, and he's also got to factor in major transition as some players' style or age means they need to leave or can't be integrated easily. Jury's out on whether Bellerin is good enough, esp. post-ACL injury. What I'd give to have Adama Traore at RB... RB backup needed anyway: M-N is not a RB, nor does he have the brain to play CM. He's got the making of a great winger, but sadly gets overlooked in that role because of other players' development for that position. We're stockpiled with CBs: Chambers and Holding probably finished given their ACL injuries, Mustafi inconstent, Socratis too erratic and Saliba/Mavrapanos too raw and injury prone. Luiz can be rock solid there, but feel DM is where he'd be best used. One or two top CBs needed to buy then. Kola and Tierney are good enough at LB and should be kept - why on earth are we in for Kurzawa? The PSG fans delighted to hear we're after him, and so short-termist to get him in to cover a short-term injury crisis there (assuming he's not Kolasinac's replacement? I hope not...). Torreira is at least a proper DM in style, but we need an upgrade on him to hit the next level probably - he's too diminutive physically. Xhaka is great as a deep-lying playmaker, but needs a solid DM next to him to handle defending, and has to sit deep the whole time to cover his lack of mobility/tackling, which isn't good for a box-to-box CM as he can't contribute to attacks enough. He's for a counterattacking team mid-table. Guendouzi isn't ready and let's hope he calms down again and returns to his old form - therefore a box-to-box (goalscorer preferably) needed. Ozil at 10 isn't ideal - he can be great if the rest of the team dominate but otherwise he's too weak there and we need a long term replacement (Lacazette ideally for me). Saka and Martinelli should be great wingers on the left, but like all younger players they needed to be bedded in slowly - we've seen too many players given loads of games young, causing them injury problems long term. As for Laca and Auba: Laca is great and I'd love to see him in the 10 role, but he doesn't have the sharpness of finishing to be a 9 anymore. Auba I'd maybe keep and move to the 9 role, as he's the one in team right now who can bang in goals regularly, but he could decline over the next couple of years, easily so if he gets injuries. All the younger players, as I said, need to be integrated at the right pace. We've finally got a great coach who can motivate and does defence, which is a huge relief, but the right work needs to be done in the transfer market. Getting CL football this year could be pivotal in keeping Auba/Laca and getting in other players in key areas. I know we're mid-table but feel we really have the nucleus of a side that could comfortably sit in third over the next few years.

  42. John F

    Jan 19, 2020, 11:21 #116251

    Arsenal has never been given credit for being ahead of the times. They banned heading long before the Scottish FA did for junior football.

  43. itsRonagain2

    Jan 19, 2020, 11:09 #116250

    PS. I meant to say too, the phrase ‘ exposed in the air ‘ describes AFC for 15 years doesn’t it !

  44. itsRonagain2

    Jan 19, 2020, 11:07 #116249

    Hi Kev. All correct stuff and all bases covered there as to where the club is. Injuries wise though, I m not sure the injuries make much difference mate to be honest as the injured players have no standing as being vital to a massively improved performance anyvwhere in the pitch. He really has a massive job there. It’s hard to see that those players can be drilled collectively to make them tighter or coached to make them better individually. Too many Mavericks and too many journeymen there who are used to being at a club where defence is a forgotten concept after the dire years of defensive neglect by Wengo. Add to this the need to score enough to stave off the risk of falling to the basement and it’s hard for him to focus enough on defensive discipline. Until he’s got 5 , 6 or 7 far better players , he ll struggle to find a balance between attack and defence to be honest. We are mid table and it can’t be forgotten can it. We are rightfully fighting Sheff Utd and other such clubs. SU are a team 3 or 4 year s into being built too. Wilder is a fantastic guy for that club. His continuity there is reflected in his teams play. Will they sustain it longer term? Probably not but we ll see. MA isn’t going to be given any money either so it seems. It all seems a recipe for more ‘ make do and mend ‘ to me. I think you can see what he s trying to do since he came in. There seems a level of commitment that’s been ratcheted up by various players from where they were too. It’s not possible to build a Merc using Vauxhall Viva parts though Kev. I truly think that MA under this regime will do well to effect some rigour and stability into the clubs game , get us to a solid 5th or 6th and then hope to move in to better things with a bigger club with greater scope. I’m sure that s how he sees this career move for him. He’s taken a gamble though going to Arsenal. That shows courage in his part. Personally , for MA though I’m not sure the offer was made to him , I think he would have been a great fit at Everton as a platform to build his career as a main man. It remains to be seen though. Good luck to him. He’s a classy chap. I suspect the owner imposed glass ceiling he ll bump his head in there though will ultimately do for him.