Molde v Arsenal Preview and Lineup: Five Youngsters In Front of Xhaka – Balogun/Eddie CFs

Not much time today so I shall be brief. The big question for our fourth UL group match is: do we go all guns blazing for a win and with that qualification for the next stage OR risk dropping points by not playing our strongest team (on paper)? We have another big game against Wolves this weekend and then nine(!!) games in December. Arteta will want to wrap it up asap but he also needs key players to be fit and stay fit. He also has a keen group of ‘second-tier’ players and they need games for various reasons.

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Your guess is better than mine as to how Arteta will start v Molde. We know they are no pushovers and it will not be warm in central Norway despite this seemingly gorgeous town being situated on the shores of the North Sea. The home team will fancy themselves and will give it a real go, and we need to mix steel, experience, hunger and youthful enthusiasm with the right skill sets. My team would look like this:

Luiz needs a game, Kola is out so AMN to play, Soares is a good replacement for current nr1 RFB Hector, Mustafi will be up for it. That is the defence sorted. Keeper could be Leno but I guess Runarsson will get another start. In midfield we need Xhaka as both Partey and Elneny are not available for the game. In front of my favourite Gunner I would like to see two/three attack minded, ball-tidy midfielders and Willock and Nelson, and ESR a bit ahead of them will do a sterling job I reckon. Finally, I would play both Eddie and Balogun in attack with a licence to roam and help out midfield and full backs as much as possible. Hungry bunnies with a zest for goal.

Looking forward to the game and remember it is an ‘early’ kick-off (17.55h).

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 06: of Arsenal during a friendly match between Arsenal and Charlton Athletic at Emirates Stadium on June 06, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

By TotalArsenal.

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Is Mikel Arteta just a George Graham in disguise?

Unless you are old enough to remember first half of 1940s, it’s very likely that you live in the worst era of your life. Era of pandemic, lack of trust, paranoia, fake news, inflation of informations, Spuds managed by Mourinho finishing weekend as top of the table…all happening live and at neck-breaking speed. 

Given all that, it’s perfectly logical to presume we have been sucked into a worm-hole due to which Multiverse has been going to compression. It’s only matter of time when we will see a T-Rex becoming a goalkeeping coach at Napoli where his great-great-great-great-great-grandson David Ospina plays, late Herbert Chapman becoming a pundit at Match of the Day, late Michael Jackson winning the U.S. Presidential election or aliens from Roswell acting like VAR and – instead of red cards – making abductions of players who commit a violent conduct. 

Or even more incredible – that Mikel Arteta, who was supposed to be our own bridge between Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola, is actually a George Graham v2.0. 

You don’t believe me, right? 

Well, listen to this:

In his first (full) season Arteta has managed Arsenal through nine league games. We have won four, drawn one and lost four – 13 points, nine goals for and 10 against. 

In his first season, Graham had picked 12 points in his first nine league games. We won three, drew three and lost three while scoring mere six goals and conceding five. Two of those three victories were against Manchester United (at Highbury) and Sheffield (Wednesday, though). In our third league game we lost to Liverpool away. At home, we won our first two league games only to fail to score in the next two. 

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After a roller-coaster of a season, we finished fourth, behind eventual champions Everton, runners-up Liverpool and, gulp, Spuds but ended a trophy drought by winning League Cup. 

Oh, and you know what happened in the League Cup Final against Liverpool? 

They scored first before our Charlie Nicholas scored a brace to win us a cup at Wembley. 

Sounds familiar? 

You know, Aubameyang scoring a brace after Pulisic’s opener. 

If that’s not enough for you, take a look at few other things. 

Before Graham took over, Arsenal had been going through a barren spell in terms of league titles. We hadn’t won the league since Graham’s playing days – 1970-71. As you probably know, we won the league at White Hart Lane, on the last day of the season.

So, Arsenal had gone through 15 full seasons without winning the league between 1971 and Graham’s first season in charge. Arteta took over halfway through our 16th barren season, Graham was appointed at the start of our 16th. 

Graham’s first season in charge was, as I’ve already written, a rollercoaster. Our team wasn’t the most prolific (to put it mildly) but our defence was the second best in the league (only Everton shipped fewer goals). Our attack had just one scorer with double digits (Martin Hayes 19) so no wonder we had only seventh best attack in the league. 

Two years later, Arsenal won the league in what will probably remain the most exciting title decider of all times. 

What is, exactly, my point? 

Arsenal put trust in George Graham because he was obviously changing something in the club that had been in the mud of mediocrity for over a decade. He restored defensive solidity and brought in talented youngsters. He gave the keys of the defence to a young lad with No.6 on his back.

Now, Arsenal have put trust in Mikel Arteta, also a former Arsenal man, to steady our ship and then turn it into a battleship “Arsenal”. 

In the era of neck-breaking speed in which months have become hours and years have become months, a few years in mediocrecy equals a decade from the old days. Arsenal have slipped out of Top 4 in 2016-17 and out of Top 6 last season. We have had quite a few poor transfer decisions in the same period despite increased transfer budget and right now, we are in Top 4…of the bottom half of the table! 

I won’t say Arteta will repeat Graham’s feat (or his betrayal from the late ‘90s) but maybe we are yet to find out how his meal looks like. It may not have the best look or, indeed, smell right now but we have to be patient until we hear the beep from the oven.

By Admir

It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll) – YouTube

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Arsenal Have Steel and Saka And That Goes a Long Way

When reviewing an Arsenal game I take the wider picture, as I see it, into consideration: Arteta took over the team in very difficult circumstances, made much worse by the C19 crisis. After the football lockdown he worked with what he had and achieved three massive things: we won the FA Cup, we qualified for Europe AND we beat big teams over the summer months. I will never forget how Arteta gave us so much pleasure during these dark times. Now Mikel is working on building the team up from scratch and this will take time. I don’t expect anything this season but just hope to see gradual progress towards a team and way of playing that will conquer all. There will be bumps in the road and that is okay.

I think Allezkev summed it up the game excellently last night:

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Argentinian manager, therefore Leeds are very adept at all those irritating snide elements that Argentinians are very good at especially at our corners where it was a wrestling match, but again we aren’t cynical enough, you need to go down when you’re being obstructed at corners, make the referee make a decision, he pretty much gave us sweet f a all afternoon anyway.

Some of the Leeds challenges were borderline reds especially the two footed lunge on Gabriel that left him hobbling, poor poor performance by referee Taylor but not for the first time with him.

And the hand ball in the box off of the Aubameyang shot, is it ‘only’ Man U who get those and the late tackle on Saka, again ignored. Leeds walk a thin line between aggressive tackles and recklessness, I though we were lucky none of our guys were seriously injured.

As for Tierney it’s a shame a few more of our players didn’t gang up on the cheat who got Pepe sent off, as a team we’re just too passive, we really need an injection of Vieira/Lauren/Keown into this mob of nice guys.

Great performance from the 10 men, they showed some bloody mindedness and that was welcome. Pleased to see Willock start but gutted he was subbed off, no choice really. I thought Nelson did ok, he was certainly an upgrade on the useless Willian, I’m really beginning to dislike that lazy ex Chav layabout.

Leno put in a great performance and he seemed to be releasing the ball quicker, which was encouraging, shame that Aubameyang didn’t get a break, sometimes you just need a bit of luck to end a goal drought but he can’t buy a goal at this time.

Yeah, Pepe was being wound up but what he did was just dumb and now we lose him for 3 League and League Cup games, so it’s the Europa for him and Nelson taking his place.

We really need to do some serious and I mean serious, no larking about, serious work on corners, free kicks and throw ins because we are just so so poor in that discipline.

As games go after international breaks it was pretty standard fare and I’m not surprised that we looked a bit disjointed, Leeds pretty much had their entire squad together during the break and it showed. All the shame I’m a bit concerned by the negativity I’m seeing elsewhere, it’s both irritating and surprising at how quickly Arsenal fans turn these days, I do hope that the ownership show some resolve because never mind the Wolves game, if we get a tanking by Tottnum then it’s going to really get toxic.

It was a strange game from the start; it felt like a cup game in which both teams needed to win. We sat deep but also tried to push up, with Granit protecting the defence and Ceballos and Willock trying to connect with the attack. Neither of them shone last night with both lacking the overview and nous to dominate the midfield. Xhaka sat too deep for my liking but it was necessary as the opponent really loves to get in front of our ‘D’ and shoot from there or make deadly passing combinations. Leeds did well to keep us from establishing our formation and dominate the game; they had us rattled and only strong defending in the box kept us from conceding.

Our attackers were too isolated and the chemistry between them was once again missing. In fact, all over the pitch we were lacking that much needed connectivity between the players AND between the lines. It felt like the first game away from home after an….. interlull. There were so many bad passes and we had little flow throughout the game. I also fully agree with Kev that the standard set-pieces stuff needs much improvement. We played poor for big parts of the game and were seldom in control, and I don’t think that would have happened with either (or both) of Partey or Elneny on the pitch.

Pepe’s sending off was a painful and avoidable set-back but very much out of character, so one he hopefully will learn from. He needs to speak out on how he was provoked by the Leeds’ casualty of grievous bodily harm as to make contact with his head.

The introduction of Saka made a big difference and he was involved in our two best chances to go home with all three points, but both Auba and he fluffed their opportunities. Of course we were lucky not to concede at least one goal last night with the woodwork favouring the boys from the home of football all night long.

Leno was in his element, Gabriel was a rock, the full backs did their bit with verve – that measured billiard-ball pass by Bellerin to Saka late on has totally restored his credit for me – Holding and Xhaka put in a shift, Auba is getting close to scoring again and Nelson and Willock put themselves about. Saka is class.

Of course there is much to improve on, but once you have accepted that this is inevitable – that we are watching a restoration progamme – it is a lot easier to enjoy the game more and take the positives from it. The boys did us proud and fought for that point and more – there is steel in this team.

Bring on Molde and Wolves in just a few days time!

By TotalArsenal and Allezkev

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Arsenal v Leeds Preview and Lineup: 3-4-3 with Starts for Three English Youngsters?

Arsenal v Leeds – November 22nd  2020

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Leeds United Football Club is an English professional football club based in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire. The club was formed in 1919 following the disbanding of Leeds City by the Football League and took over their Elland Road stadium. The club currently competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football, following promotion from the EFL Championship during the 2019—20 season. Most of their history has been spent competing in the first tier of English football. Their longest continuous spell inside the first tier was a period of 18 years between 1964 and 1982, while their longest period outside of it spanned 16 years between 2004 and 2020.

They have won three English league titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup, two Charity/Community Shields and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups. The club reached the 1975 European Cup Final, losing to Bayern Munich. Leeds reached the semi-finals of the tournament’s successor, the Champions League in 2001. The club were also runners-up in the European Cup Winners Cup final in 1973. The majority of the honours were won under the management of Don Revie in the 1960s and 1970s.

Leeds play in all-white kits at home matches. The club’s badge features the White Rose of York. The club’s anthem is an original song released in 1972, “Marching on Together”. Leeds share rivalries with Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as with local teams such as Huddersfield Town, Bradford City, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday

In 2003, Peter Reid commented on the support at Elland Road after being relieved of his managerial duties, saying that “In 30 years I’ve never seen support like I did at the Leeds/Arsenal game a couple of weeks ago. The fans at Leeds are fantastic.” Two other former Leeds managers have also spoken highly of the club’s supporters; Kevin Blackwell said “fans will follow them everywhere” and David O’Leary commented “There is an immense fan base and they are still with the club”.

Leeds supporters are renowned for singing the signature song “Marching on Together” before and during matches. Other notable songs Leeds fans sing during games include “We Are The Champions, Champions of Europe” (more commonly known as WACCOE) in reference to the 1975 European Cup Final which Leeds lost due to dubious refereeing decisions. Riots by the Leeds fans during the match led to UEFA banning the club from European competition for four years, although this was reduced to two years on appeal.

Famous Leeds supporters include: actor Russell Crowe, Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones, Mel B of The Spice Girls, the band Kaiser Chiefs, actor and former footballer Vinnie Jones, YouTuber Simon Minter, former England cricket captain Nasser Hussain, Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, boxer Josh Warrington and many more.

An LGBT fans’ group was formed in 2017 and will sit on the club’s Supporters’ Advisory Group.There is a well-known hooligan firm amongst the fans known as the Leeds United Service Crew.

Arsenal v Leeds – EPL Home Games
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Arsenal v Leeds – EPL Away Games
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It’s hard to call this game, Leeda are only two points behind us with a record of W3, D1, L4, GF14, GA17. So their defence is looking shaky which could bode well for our goal starved strikers.


TA’s Predicted (and preferred line up – preferred is with those players mentioned between brackets).

Luiz in three at the back is still our best defence imo and Xhaka needs protection in midfield, and AMN can do this. Upfront, I would like to see two players who are strong on the wing, so Saka and one of Willian or Willock to work with Auba in the middle for me. Leeds play fast and furious football and organisation is key against them. If we stay calm and play a good passing game then we will get chances whilst keeping them away from our goal.

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Arteta’s Got to Do Something: Time for 4-2-3-1?

It is time to consider experimenting

While Einstein in fact never said that „the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different outcomes”, I would still argue that if you want different results than what you’re getting, you have to try different approaches.

I am not a seasoned football manager (as long as video games don’t count), so my opinion is strictly hypothetical. But I am positive that football is similar to chess or table-tennis in a way that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, and if you approach every challenge in the same manner you are in for a lot of – avoidable – disappointments.

As in table-tennis you play differently against an attacking player compared to someone else with a defensive style, and in chess you might follow different strategy against an opponent who is very experienced in opening play but less familiar with endgames than an opponent who plays quick, intuitive moves but are vulnerable to sudden sacrifices; it seems similarly self-evident that you play differently when you visit Anfield/Old-Trafford than when you host Aston Villa or West Ham.

It is not just about tactics. It is about priorities, possession, players and formation. Elneny might be a more useful asset (I hope there is no disrespect in the term in English, I have no such intention) than Xhaka, when it comes to break up counterattacks, but the latter would be my preferred choice when looking for defense-splitting passes against an opponent parking the bus. Against a team who seldom possesses the ball it might make sense to sacrifice a defender to have another body in the attacking third, but against a superior opponent the other way around could be more reasonable and trying to score from quick counterattacks and set pieces. While the trend of the XXI century that everybody has to defend, when the opponent is not interested in maximizing ball possession, we might involve a creative player who is less famous about his defensive contributions but has the capability of creating a handful of chances with sharp key passes and pinpoint crosses.

Hence my conclusion: a great manager must make his team ‘fluent’ in 3-4 different formations and playing styles! It will make it more difficult to predict his next line-up and strategy, furthermore it makes it easier to make substantial change during a game in the case when the opposing coach managed to predict the formation and found the effective countermeasures. Unless we dominate and win most of our games, there will be situations where Arsenal needs a game-changing substitution beyond the Willian-Pepe or Lacazette-Nketiah swaps.

Here comes the trap: if you agree with me so far there is a connotation. There should and will not be such thing as ‘Arteta’s system’ or Southgate’s system’. There could (and probably should) be his preferred playing style, but not being able to deviate from it – and not having enough experience in the alternatives – is a weakness. When after 25 minutes the opponent is leading by 2 goals, then it is a different game, and you might want to change formation before the 70th minute…

Coming back to TA’s previous topic, my intuitive viewpoint would be that both Arsenal and England have the right ingredients (players, backroom staff, facilities). It doesn’t make sense to replace half the squad when the opponent predicts your play and spoils your plans. Many of the people who were celebrating when we signed Willian are already demanding to sell/bench/release him. Which is obviously premature and unnecessary. As TA argued convincingly in August he can play as an AM, in a similar position as Fernandes for MU. But our belief means nothing as long as there is no data/evidence that supports or disproves it. Nevertheless I am confident we have the players to field a strong 4-2-3-1 team, without major compromises or having to spend 100+ millions in the next transfer window.

Formation A:






Formation B:






(Luiz and Ozil were excluded for their age/future, Sokratis, Mustafi and Kolasinac assumed to leave Arsenal in the January transfer window, no arrival is taken for granted. We have Macey/Hein, Saliba, Smith-Rowe, Willock, Balogun for the bench who didn’t appear in either formations.)

Don’t take me wrong, I am far from insisting that these line-ups above are the long term solutions of our problems (in fact, believing that there is a single formation solving all our problems would go against everything I wrote already). But the notion ’there is no place for an AM in Arteta’s system’ is no longer an excuse, as in Arteta’s system we have lost as many games as we have won (with a negative goal difference). I would like to see winning more games, and – with my admittedly limited managing experience – I don’t see any other way than experimenting. Maybe with an AM, or maybe with an entirely different approach. We probably don’t have to start experimenting against Leeds on the road, but we have the cup ties when playing imperfectly would be balanced by the squad quality. So at the end of the day the squad could get experience in different formations and tactics before they are thrown into the water on the deep end of the pool (Hungarian phrase, I hope its meaning is clear).

Arteta has my utmost trust and full support (maybe not ’ unreservedly’ as TA recommended, but not far off). Yet when he takes full responsibility for the big home defeat and the lethargic play against Aston Villa, I’m not feeling completely at ease. Admitting responsibility means that losing is not mostly the players’ fault and that Arteta is an honest and good guy. My problem is that WE ALREADY KNEW that he is a nice guy, and that the same team was already capable of defeating MU at Old Trafford.

What I would like to be reassured about is that he understands what went wrong – what mistakes he made – and he will not repeat them in the future. There are plenty other mistakes yet to be made. And with most of them I’ll be comfortable with, but the number of ’mea culpa’ cards in the deck is limited.

I’m not sure there is a way to defeat Liverpool at Anfield or Manchester City at the Etihad. But I’m pretty confident that there are many ways to win against Aston Villa in the Emirates stadium. So it is time to start exploring them. Maybe by experimenting with attacking midfielders. Or by something completely different…

By PBarany

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An Ode to a Player Who Won Everything Including Gooners’ Immortality

Thierry Henry: 1999-2012.

Thierry appeared in 377 games over a 13 year period and scored 228 goals.

Thierry was born and raised in Les Ulis suburb of Paris which, despite sometimes being seen as a tough neighbourhood, provided good football facilities. As a seven-year-old, he showed great potential, and was recruited by the local club CO Les Ulis. He joined US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club, so Henry moved to ES Viry-Châtillon and played there for two years.

 In 1990, Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch Thierry, when he was just 13 years old, he scored all six goals in a 6–0 win. Catalano asked him to join Monaco without even having a trial first, later he joined Arsène Wenger’s Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, he signed professional forms and made his professional debut in August 1994. Although Wenger suspected that Thierry should be deployed as a striker, he put him on the left wing because he believed that his pace, natural ball control and skill would be more effective against full-backs than centre-backs. He was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996, and in the 1996–97 season when Monaco won the Ligue 1 title. By his third season, he had received his first cap for the national team, and was part of the winning team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He continued to impress during his tenure with Monaco, and in his five seasons he scored 20 league goals in 105 appearances.

Thierry left Monaco in January 1999 and moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus for £10.5 million. He played on the wing, but found it difficult playing in an unfamiliar position against the Serie A defensive discipline, and scored just three goals in 16 appearances. Unsettled in Italy, he transferred from Juventus in August 1999 to Arsenal for an estimated fee of £11 million, reuniting with his former manager Arsène Wenger. 

It was at Arsenal that he made his name as a world-class footballer. Brought in as a replacement for fellow French forward Nicolas Anelka, Thierry was immediately moulded into a striker by Wenger, a move that would pay rich dividends in years to come. However, doubts were raised about his ability to adapt to the quick and physical English game when he failed to score in his first eight games. After several difficult months in England he conceded that he had to “be re-taught everything about the art of striking”. These doubts were dispelled when he ended his first season at Arsenal with an impressive goal tally of 26. Arsenal finished second in the league behind Manchester United, and lost in the UEFA Cup Final against Turkish side Galatasaray. Despite recording fewer goals and assists than his first season, his second season with Arsenal proved to be a breakthrough, as he became the club’s top goal scorer. Armed with one of the league’s best attacks, Arsenal closed in quickly on perennial rivals Manchester United for the league title.

Success finally arrived during the 2001–02 season. Arsenal finished seven points above Liverpool to win the league title, and defeated Chelsea 2–0 in the FA Cup Final. Thierry became the league’s top goal-scorer and netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club. 2002–03 proved to be another productive season for him, as he scored 32 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists, remarkable returns for a striker. In doing so, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph, where he was man-of-the-match in the Final.  Even though Arsenal failed to retain their Premier League crown, he was named both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year. His rising status as one of the world’s best footballers was affirmed when he emerged runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award

In the 2003–04 season Thierry was again instrumental in Arsenal’s exceptionally successful campaign; together with team mates the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès, he ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten, claiming the league title in the process. He was named as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, for the second year running. With 39 goals scored in all competitions, he led the league in goals scored and won the European Golden Boot.

In the 2004–05 season he maintained his reputation as one of Europe’s most feared strikers as he led the league in scoring, and with 31 goals in all competitions, he was the co-recipient (with Diego Forlán) of the European Golden Boot. In mid-2005 Thierry became the Arsenal Captain. The 2005–06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Thierry on 17 October 2005, he became the club’s top goal-scorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright’s record of 185 goals. On 1 February 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham United, bringing his league goal tally up to 151, breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin’s league goals record. He scored his 100th league goal at Highbury, a feat unparalleled in the history of the club, and a unique achievement in the Premier League. He completed the season as the league’s top goal-scorer, and for the third time in his career, he was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year.

In a surprise move Arsenal sold Thierry to Barcelona on 25 June 2007, for €24 million.

Henry left Arsenal as the club’s leading all-time league goal-scorer with 174 goals and leading all-time goal-scorer in Europe with 42 goals; in July 2008, Arsenal fans voted him as Arsenal’s greatest player ever in’s Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players poll.

Following his time with Barcelona, he signed a four-year deal for a reported €6.8 (£4.6) million per season, with the Red Bulls of the MLS.

After training with Arsenal during the MLS off-season, Thierry re-signed for the club on a two-month loan deal on 6 January 2012. This was to provide cover for players participating in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. He made his second Arsenal debut as a substitute against Leeds United in the FA Cup third round and scored the only goal. In his last league game on loan, he scored the winning goal in stoppage time in a 2–1 win against Sunderland.

Awards and honours:


Ligue 1 (1): 1996–97

Trophée des champions (1): 1997


Premier League titles: 2001–02, 2003–04

FA Cup: 2002, 2003, 2005

FA Community Shield: 2002, 2004


La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10

Copa del Rey: 2008–09

Supercopa de España: 2009

UEFA Champions League: 2008–09

UEFA Super Cup: 2009

FIFA Club World Cup: 2009

New York Red Bulls:

MLS Eastern Conference: 2010


1998 FIFA World Cup

UEFA Euro 2000

FIFA Confederations Cup2003


UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year (1): 1996–97

PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2): 2002–03, 2003–04

PFA Team of the Year (6): 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06

FWA Footballer of the Year (3): 2002–03, 2003–04, 2005–06

Premier League Golden Boot (4): 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06.

Golden Boot Landmark Award 10 (1): 2004–05

Golden Boot Landmark Award 20 (1): 2004–05

Premier League Player of the Month (4): April 2000, September 2002, January 2004, April 2004

Goal of the Season (1): 2002–03

UEFA Team of the Year (5): 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006

MLS Best XI (2): 2011, 2012

MLS Player of the Month (1): March 2012

Onze d’Or (2): 2003, 2006

European Golden Boot (2): 2003–04, 2004–05

French Player of the Year (5): 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

IFFHS World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year (1): 2003

FIFA FIF Pro World XI (1): 2006

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): Germany 2006

FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball (1): France 2003

FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Shoe (1): France 2003

UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament (1): 2000

FIFA 100: 2004

English Football Hall of Fame: 2008

A statue of Thierry statue stands outside the Emirates Stadium honouring him as one of

Arsenal’s all time greatest legends.


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Arteta May Already Have The Attacker to Solve Arsenal’s Goal Drought

I did touch on this whilst scribbling my last post, so I’ll kick off with it this time as it may explain the changes we are currently seeing.

There has, so I’ve been informed, a wave of new thinking among the sports science community regarding the benefits or not of the rest and the rotation of footballers.
This new thinking seems to believe that it’s more beneficial for players to keep playing even during busy periods rather than resting altogether. Now this doesn’t mean starting and playing every game and it isn’t suitable for every player but in general it seems that it may be more advantageous for players to be coming off of the bench for 20 or 30 minutes and keeping themselves ticking over is the way to go rather than putting their feet up. As I say this may vary in terms of the position and physiology of individual players but it may explain the new policies being pursued by Arteta and Mertesaker.

I really enjoyed those League Cup games under Arsene Wenger as we often saw many youngsters given their first taste of senior football whilst our 1st XI got a well earned rest. The funny thing is that on many occasions after a rest our players instead of coming out all guns blazing in the next game after a break, would instead look a bit slow, sluggish and take time to warm up, it was something I never really understood.

Guardiola doesn’t take any game lightly and nor it seems does Arteta and so we may have seen the end of those grand old days when Wenger would rotate virtually the entire team with 9, 10 and sometimes 11 changes in games he viewed less important.
So far Arteta has picked close to a full strength team in the majority of our cup ties and most certainly has all his big guns on the bench. It’s led to some disappointment among those of us who enjoy the youth as we’d expected more youngsters to be involved, more new faces but that hasn’t been the case at all. Therefore, if Arteta isn’t going to give the youngsters the avenue they need for the first team then they need that experience somewhere else thus the 14 (now 13) players from our U23’s being sent by Mertesaker out on loan.

This has left our U23’s looking like an empty pot of tea and a soggy slice of toast and has meant some urgent recruiting was needed by BFG to try and plug the gaping holes in the squad. I quite expect to see more additions arrive in January most of them will be passing through but will hopefully do a job in the meantime whilst our more promising youngsters develop at Ipswich, Swindon and Oldham etc.

To me this goes a long way in explaining the poor results we’ve seen in the U23’s this season; whilst our U18’s, a settled squad, have played to their expected level. We have by the way a great generation who’ve moved up from last seasons U16’s, thought of as the best Arsenal have developed in many years, the opportunities they have in possibly an accelerated move up the ladder into the U23’s might be hugely beneficial to the senior squad in 2/3 years time, so let’s wait and see before we crucify Uncle Bouldy?

Scoring goals seems to be the major discussion point among Arsenal fans at present and there’s no doubt that attack is an area that needs some attention.

Coming up through the academy we have Folarin Balogun a striker who is fast, aggressive, strong, technically sound and has a great eye for a goal but whose contract expires in the summer. Arteta came to the Balogun scenario late in its evolution and is trying to smooth those troubled waters, but it’s not looking as if Flo will sign. Arteta gave Flo his 1st team debut vs Dundalk but as of yet there’s been no progress and we could be losing another Gnabry for virtually peanuts.

Nikolaj Moller was one of those summer signings brought in to reinforce the U23’s, but I suspect that he was someone we’ve been watching for awhile. Only 18 and from the land of Freddie Ljungberg, he is a tall, physical centre forward and he’s already leading the line in the U23’s. His style gives the team something different, a focal point to play off of and although it is very early days he has been compared to ‘I am Zlatan’ which is probably unfair at this stage of his career, but if he is anything like the ‘Great One’ then that has to be something to look forward to.

Further to the above, I’ve since seen some more highlights of Moller in action and he looks very strong, quite mobile for a tall striker and very technical, in fact for those with memories that stretch back to the George Graham era I would say that he reminds me style wise of Alan Smith and Smudge was a brilliant centre forward and a key focus of Graham’s attack,  he was key to those teams that won two championships, two domestic cups and a european trophy, so if Nikolaj turns out anything like Smudger then we’ve got a good one on our hands.

George Lewis is from Norway, he’s 20 and was spotted playing in the lower leagues in the land of the Fjords. He has pace to burn and has demonstrated that during the early U23 fixtures scoring at least one goal. Like Moller I’ve only seen snippets of him so it’s difficult to give a detailed opinion but from what I’ve gleaned via Jeorge Bird he’s promising (as is Moller) but also very raw. He’s currently injured and that’s not a good sign.

A bit further down the line Kido Taylor-Hart another tall forward who can fill in several attacking positions and into the 1st year scholars we have the exciting Khayon Edwards and Billy Vigar, both bring different qualities to the table but Edwards from what I’m hearing is the real deal. These lads are 16/17’ish so there’s a long way to go but it’s good to know that they’re coming along.

By Allezkev

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Southgate’s Struggle is Like Arteta’s Struggle And They Both Need One Thing…


Watching the interlull footie over the last few days, I realised again how important system of football is AND how hard it is to change it. The Dutch play 4-3-3 in general and depending on the quality of players available they can make a success of it or not. Most Dutch players know this way of playing inside and out, and this leads to an organised form of football and a chance to make it to the finals of a major tournament. Over the last 50 years the Dutch national team have made it to a final or semi-final in a major tournament every decade, and mostly so on the basis of a 4-3-3 formation.

Southgate’s England are also trying to play an internally well-discussed and trained system of football but, despite the good quality of players available, they remain a work in progress. De Rode Duivels were a bit lucky to score two goals in quick succession, and the England manager needed to go out and attack rather than sit back and absorb pressure in order to spring a counter-attack or benefit from a turnover – as far as I can tell that is the desired way of playing football for England now. Under the leadership of Mr Sexy-Carves, Grealish, and Half-Moon-Face, Kane, England took the game to the Belgians but it all lacked ‘system’, inter-connectivity, and a team-wide intelligence/focus on what needed to be done to crack the easily-surviving defensive walls of the Belgians.

The much loved by the fans Grealish kept probing and dancing in between the walls but should have used the players around him much better imo – I lost count on the number of times he received the ball from Saka but then never returned it back to him. Bukayo made good runs and positioned himself well, but Sexy-Carves had no eye for him it seems. And I wonder how the equally talented Mason Mount felt at the end of the game… Kane made himself available time and again but was not there in the right spot when it mattered, or simply too knackered to take one of the many half-chances that came his way. The right wing of attack was hardly used and it left a neutral like me bored and frustrated. Having said that, it is clear that Grealish is a fine prospect and one who will go places.

Should Southgate change course and develop another system of football, or, the usual response to a loss, get rid of most of the players? I don’t think so. It takes time to evolve a team and make them play a new system of football. If I were the FA I would sign him up for the next 6-8 years and let him build something that will last, just like the Germans did with the fifth Beatle; they really have made a paradigm jump in terms of style of football and developing young talents in the last ten years or so.

There are similarities with Arsenal, of course. Wengerball was no longer fit for purpose after the arrival of Guardiola and Klopp. It does not mean it’s dead in the water but it certainly needs tweaking, and perhaps it is time to play a different sort of football as to compete again with the blue and red football powers of the North-West.

Arteta has a big job to do, and his Russian Dolls approach of building up carefully our team to an all-conquering machine will need a lot of patience. The recent loss against the team of Martinez and Mr Sexy Carves was a painful example that we really are not there yet, and I can sense the impatience getting worse now. And there is a risk it will start to undermine Arteta’s excellent progress until now.

Two trophies and beating Liverpool, MC, Chavs, MU etc should have given us the trust and calm in supporting Mikel unreservedly. He has given us sooo much already. If we really want to get back to being title contenders we need to be patient and stand behind the manager AND all the players.

To have a solid defence is vital in this league; next step is to get the balance right in midfield and Arteta is close to doing just that. I am excited to see what he will do next with the midfield, especially in terms of making the midfield play closer to the attackers. With Xhaka, Partey, Elneny, Willock, Saka, Ceballos, Willian, ESR, etc he has great players to turn the midfield in a fortress that dominates all proceedings. To get the midfield balance right without losing our defensive solidity is THE next challenge for Mikel (and Southgate… and many other managers) and it is unlikely we will get there in one go. The next Russian Doll will be pivotal and it is highly likely Arsenal will both win and lose big games as well as ‘expected to win games’ this season. It will just need time, simple as that and we the fans should stay behind Mikel and the players, as this will speed up the process rather than hinder it.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

The Greatest Arsenal Defender Ever: Mr Arsenal

 Tony Adams: 1983-2002

Tony played in 669 games over a 19 year period.

Born in Romford, London, Tony grew up in Dagenham before signing for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980. He made his Arsenal first team debut in November 1983 just four weeks after his 17th birthday and became a regular player in the 1985–86 season, winning the Football League Cup Final, his first major trophy, in 1987.

Alongside Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, he was part of the “famous back four” that lined up in Arsenal’s defence – they became renowned for the use of their well-disciplined offside trap. On 1 January 1988, he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21 and remained as such until his retirement 14 years later.

Their, strong and disciplined defence was  a major a factor in Arsenal winning the League Cup in 1986–87 followed by two First Division championship titles; the first in 1988–89 and the second in 1990–91 after losing only one game all season. In 1992–93 he became captain of the first English side to win the League Cup and FA Cup double, and he lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following year.

All along Tony had a ghost in his closet, namely his battle with alcoholism, which started in the mid-1980s and became increasingly worse; reportedly he was often being involved in fights in nightclubs. On 6 May 1990, he crashed his car and when  breathalysed his blood alcohol level was found to be more than four times the legal drink-drive limit, in December of that year, he was found guilty and he was imprisoned for four months. Unfortunately his alcoholism continued and he was involved in further alcohol-related incidents. In September of 1996, he went public admitting that he was an alcoholic and was receiving treatment. Since his recovery he has become one of the most high-profile recovering alcoholics in the UK and his battle with alcohol is detailed in his autobiography, “Addicted”.

The arrival of Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager in October 1996 has also played a significant part in his recovery as Wenger reformed the club’s dietary practices and the players’ lifestyles. Wenger showed his faith in Tony by sticking by him and keeping him as the club’s captain, the improvements in the regime probably helped to extend his career by several years. Arsene’s trust was rewarded with Tony captaining the club to two Premiership and FA Cup Doubles, in 1997–98 and 2001–02. He is the only player in English football history to have captained a title-winning team in three different decades.

In August 2002, just before the start of the 2002–03 season, he announced his retirement from professional football after a career spanning almost 20 years in which he played 669 matches for Arsenal making him second on the all time appearance list, he is also the most successful captain in the club’s history.

He made his debut for England against Spain in 1987, and played in Euro 88, scoring one of England’s two goals. He was the first player to represent England who had been born after the 1966 World Cup win. In total he appeared 66 times for England.

Nicknamed “Mr Arsenal”, he was honoured by Arsenal with a testimonial game against Celtic in May 2002 with many Arsenal legends playing, including Ian Wright, John Lukic and Adams’s fellow back four stalwarts, Dixon, Winterburn and Bould. The game finished 1–1 with Lee Dixon, in his final appearance for the Gunners, getting their goal.

In 2004, Tony was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game. A statue of Adams was placed outside Emirates Stadium in celebration of the club’s 125th anniversary on 9 December, 2011. He has also been honoured with the MBE for his contribution to football.

By GN5

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The U23 Goalkeepers: Who Is The Next David Seaman?

With the majority of our better U23’s out on loan and with the heart of that squad playing elsewhere but at the same time gaining invaluable experience, we have had to endure some quite disappointing results at the under 23 level, which when you look at it logically is understandable given the mishmash of U18’s, rejects from other clubs given a chance and general long shots that make up Steve Bould’s squad. Bould has actually, in my opinion, taken a lot of unfair flak for the teams results up until winning 6-0 at Blackburn. He’s had to turn a sows ear into a silk purse with a collection of players who have had virtually no pre-season, who are in the main new to each other, the club and are really at quite varying levels in quality.

The soul of Bould’s squad are scattered across the Championship, League One and Two whilst in their place are a selection of players who a year ago were playing U16’s alongside some more experienced players harvested from other academies who are mostly filling in while the 16 and 17 year olds grow. It seems to be a new policy to me and I’ll touch on that later in this series of rambles.

I don’t get to see the reserves, U23’s or ‘Stiffs’ much these days, the slog to Borehamwood isn’t really a realistic option for me which is a shame as I loved popping into Highbury in the middle of my shift to take in a Combination match or maybe an evening game in the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup, it was a joy way back when. Therefore most of my knowledge is second hand, but you can still access the odd reserve game on You Tube and then there is the peerless Jeorge Bird and a few notable Twitterers who I access from time to time for info.

Looking at the present squad, the rump so to speak, it’s difficult to really pick out any players who I think may make it to our senior squad or even for that matter stay in the Premier League with another club, but I’m willing to give it a try so that Total can take a well earned break and attend to his sporran and tartan clogs.

Let me look at the goalkeepers to start with:

We have a clutch of goalkeepers at Arsenal at this time, which makes it all the more mysterious why Bould went into a game recently without a sub goalkeeper. Bould is an experienced coach, he isn’t an idiot, so we can only guess why that was and the reason will probably remain in-house as it should, but I reckon that it was possibly injury related or disciplinary?

I don’t currently see anyone who can step up as the new Emi Martinez and that probably explains why Arsenal doggedly pursued the Brentford goalkeeper and latterly brought in the Icelandic goal minder Runarsson. Both were recommended to the club by our goalkeeping coach who has worked with them both in the past but time will tell if his judgement was sound or not?

I guess that the long serving Matt Macey might have been harbouring, post Emi Martinez uprooting for the West Midlands, some ambitions of becoming the No.2 to Leno this season, but it seems that our goalkeeping coach and the others on the coaching staff doubted that he’s really up to it – those same self coaches who were comfortable with selling Martinez to Leeds last winter if the Elland Road outfit had come up with the required fee, thought to be £10m, so let’s park that thought….

After Macey is Dejan Iliev our Macedonian goal minder, but I suspect that at 25 and after numerous loans that his future lays away from North London. Iliev is among that group of aspiring keepers who are in a kind of a twilight zone, clubs’ need back ups in case of injury but despite the injury to Leno last season those opportunities arise very rarely and so you are stuck in a routine of training, playing the odd game in the U23’s, going out on loan or if you’re really lucky getting a seat on the subs bench in a League Cup tie or a dead rubber in the Europa. Ultimately you are not thought to be good enough to get the 1st team gig and eventually you’ll leave to join a lesser club and be left wondering why you wasted so many years in the forlorn hope of becoming the next David Seaman?

I think that James Hillson and Karl Hein fall into the above although Hein is I understand thought to be the best of that bunch.

The one who could make it and who is the most naturally talented is in my opinion Arthur Okonkwo, but he’s had quite a troubled last 18 months with losing the entirety of last season due to health issues and recently I’ve read that he’s had some disciplinary matters so, it true, that’s not great. Young Arthur has not had a good time of things so I reckon that the club will give him time to recover his equilibrium as he has undoubted talent.

After Arthur my knowledge is sketchy, Tom Smith is on loan with Dover Athletic and there is Hubert Graczyk and Ovid Ejeheri, both 2nd years and Remy Michell a 1st year.
Schoolboy goalkeepers are Alex Kovacevic and James Telfer who I believe both made the subs bench in the U18’s last season.

If any of you know anymore than me about these youngsters then I’d be delighted to be enlightened…

Onwards and Upwards.

By Allezkev

WARREN STRATFORD~RARE~TAXI~Child Driving while Adults Drink in Backseat |  #1992015752
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