Great Start by Arsenal and Next Seven PL Games Will Tell us How Far We Can Go This Season

Seven games in and so far, so good. Getting all points at difficult away grounds such as Palace and Brentford, was especially pleasing. Yet we need to stay ‘humble’, as Mikel would say, and continue to live by the principle of OGAAT -One Game at a Time.

I rewatched our game v the Mancs at Old Toilet and it was really good to see again how well the boys played for most of the game. We were a bit naive in our defending in the second half and we paid an unfair price for it, but the boys will learn from this. It was criminal to leave sooo much space between our back line, and Ramsdale and the MU attackers could not believe their luck to escape our press and score two relatively easy goals.

But this is the price to pay for making progress. Coming to Manchester and playing such daring, controlling football for almost the entire game is something to behold. Playing this sort of football away is naturally not without risk and MU have always craved space and re-bound/counter football. Key is to take more of our chances in these sort of games. It will come.

The next seven PL games are tough ones. Spuds, Pool, Leeds, Southampton, Forest, Chelsea and Wolves. Three home and four away games, and two of those home games are v Spuds and Pool (other one is Forest). This will be big tests and after those seven games we will know how good this team really is.

We need Partey to be fit for these games, especially now that Elneny is out for a long time. We need Granit to stay fit. But our defence is looking good and our attack has much improved, and that goes a long way.

I think we could do with a little boost, and I am hoping that the likes of Eddie, Marquinos, ESR and Vieira will provide it.

Let’s push on on an OGAAT basis. I cannot wait for the restart.

How are you feeling about the next seven games before the World Cup?

By TotalArsenal

Inside Hale End – What an Arsenal Film!

“Inside Hale End”, one of the best sport documentaries I’ve ever seen!

“Style and Content”

As an Arsenal fan, never more proud of the club he supports than on the days when yet another Hale End graduate finally makes it to the first-team’s starting XI, there was very little chance such a film would put me off, but the first thing that blew me away was the purely “cinematographic” quality of it.

The film-makers have built up a thrilling narrative, alternating between interviews (coaches, players, parents, …), sequences of games magnified by the voice-over, subtle strokes of personal information about the characters – the kids – which make us empathize with them, elegant moments when we are made to feel the first-team’s managers/players’ presence, as a dream so real for the kids you understand they’d never want to wake up from it, something so close they can touch it, and yet so far away it might end up vanishing as suddenly as a mirage in a desert, for those who will be left behind. These film-makers are also shrewd story-tellers, who bring us along with them to the end and/or beginning of all proper teenage-movie – Graduation Day, and I’m pretty sure they had the “genre” in mind, when they wrote and filmed the documentary.

They must have taken all the time needed for a proper prep work too, since they obviously ended up making the presence of the camera forgotten enough, so much so that none of the people in the film looks like acting; on the contrary, all of them feel confident, relaxed … true.

“The adults”

I have to admit what role Per played in the club wasn’t exactly clear to me – I didn’t spend too much time searching, tbh. After watching this, you understand how central he actually is. He’s the heart of the club, pumping new, refreshed and cleansed blood out of the arteries of Hale End into the veins and tissues of Colney, and he does it in both a very “Germanic”, professional, and yet so humane way, with the help of Chris Thurston, the “Academy Player Care Manager”.

The central characters are our wonderkids, of course, but to me the heroes are the coaches, the two “Adam”, Birchall (U16) and Pilling (U15). For someone who played at a decent level in one of the (bullied by coaches – with a few exceptions) 1970’s youth teams of a professional club, the way they deal with these extraordinarily-gifted kids is jaw-dropping. No shouting, no obsession with results, always a smile on their faces, always a personal, gentle word ready for the lad who is about to “lose it” in one way or another. You can feel the love they have for each and every one of the boys, but also for the beautiful game, after all these years – to me, the most exhilarating illustration of this was when Steve Leonard’s finding, Maldini Kacurri, had his trial, and the beaming smile Birchall had on his face when he realized what a proper, no bullshit defender Steve had gifted him with. At the end of the film, you feel like buying them “1 or 3” rounds, just to football-chat the night away with them.

That’s the former teacher speaking now, but I also wanted to tip my hat to the way they remain (oh, so) demanding – repeating, insisting on, the knowledge, the survival-kit skills the kids will need in the jungle of professional football. They do so without over-complicating things, they control their speeches in order for them to picture out only positive thoughts in the minds of the boys, and if – very rarely – failure is evoked, they always take the precaution to remind the youngsters that not achieving success in football won’t be what will define them; on the contrary what’ll define them will be the hard work they put in, and how they’ve been improved by it. Hats off to them, really.

The parents are given the recognition they deserve; we all know it, but the film highlights how important their support is for a boy to make it all the way to Colney. Whether they be Luis Brown’s, Alexei Rojas’s, or Romari Forde’s parents, you end up in bewildered awe of their dedication to the happiness – not the success at any cost – of their kids.

“The boys”

What to say? Their talent is mesmerizing; I think it’s great the film-makers chose to edit out the showy stuff they must have witnessed in training sessions, and to have us focused on the images of what the lads can deliver in competitive games – some of their opponents catch the eye as well, some Everton boys in particular. They’re so gifted you can’t help wondering what it is they lack not to make it to top-level, but you always feel that way after watching this kind of film; after all that’s what the “originator” (“Hoop Dreams”) of this “genre” was all about.

Eventually, “IHA” might go down in history as the first time when the talent of Ethan Nwaneri was brought into light, but – mark my words – we might hear of Myles Lewis-Kelly sooner than later, too.

All of them are so mature, talented, funny, … intelligent too, that thinking so few will eventually fulfill their Arsenal dream, is truly heartbreaking; but one thing you know for sure is each and every one of them will always be Arsenal through-and-through.

What a film.

By Le Gall

My DNA Is Called Arsenal

This was originally posted in December of 2010.

We all have blood running through our veins; I’m just the same with the exception that my red and white cells equal Arsenal. You see Arsenal is as much a part of me as my blood we are totally inseparable, one without the other is simply impossible.

My family ties with Arsenal go back to 1913 (109 years) when my maternal Grandfather witnessed the first game at Highbury. I have no idea if he was already an Arsenal fan but there was never any doubt in his later years. He lived on Stavordale Road and delivered coal by horse and cart around Highbury, a big strong man standing six feet five inches tall, arms like tree trunks, with coal dust permanently embedded in his face, an imposing figure of a man and someone to be feared.

On match days Stavordale Road became a parking lot and Grandpa saw this as a source of revenue. When a car got parked, he would be there to open the car door and greet the driver, he would place his hand, heavily, on the driver’s shoulder and say “hey mate, if you give me a bob (shilling) I’ll make sure that nothing bad happens to your car”; the driver would look into his coal grained face and then down at his hob nailed boots and quickly cough up a bob. The fear factor (what Grandpa might do to his car if he said no) rarely failed. When the street was full he’d zip up to the Drayton Arms and down a few pints of brown and mild then trot up the hill to Highbury to watch his beloved Gunners – he was very wise in the use of his ”bob’s”.

My paternal Grandfather (who funnily enough also delivered coal by horse and cart), lived on Caledonian Road N7, was also a fan; our combined family was huge I had twelve uncles and thirty plus six male cousins, all Arsenal fans, well except for four sad souls who were Spuds supporters. I never got to meet him as he and his eldest son both died within two weeks of one and other whilst serving with the British army during WW11, leaving my grandmother with six sons and three daughters to raise on her own.

To say that we lived and breathed Arsenal is a monumental understatement: family occasions were dominated by Arsenal dialogue, before Sunday dinner the men would all go up the pub and we kids would stand outside listening to all of the Arsenal banter and waiting for our bags of Smith’s crisps, with the blue twist of salt and bottles of Tizer. I really had no other choice than to become an Arsenal supporter and I’m happy to say that it has remained as a dominant part of my life, so much so that all family, business and social functions were always scheduled around Arsenal games.

So you see my DNA is also known as a….Dysfunction Named Arsenal.

Not that I’m complaining.

GunnerN5

Eight Observations: Arsenal’s Super Spine, Youngsters Impress, Bem-vindo Vieira!

Brentford 0 – 3 Arsenal. A late summer stroll in the park.

Ah what a happy return to PL football. I wanted to see attitude, pride and professionalism and that is exactly what we got from our boys.

Garth Crook’s Team of the Week contains key players of Arsenal’s Spine

Eight short observations from a masterclass performance:

  1. Partey and Xhaka together makes such a difference. I am less of a Partey fan that most on this blog, but his influence cannot be underestimated. Thomas is imo a limited passer of the ball (too many unforced errors) BUT he offers great midfield ‘presence’ and his positioning is simply excellent. Thomas gives us shape and structure, and nobody messes with him.
  2. Xhaka in a more advanced role is working really well (to my surprise). His ability to see the right pass and execute it quickly is second to none in the team, except for the Ode maybe. His left foot can deliver balls with both speed and feeling, as was demonstrated by his fine banana shaped cross towards GJ9 for our second goal. Granit moves the game on quickly and yet he also defends his area well.
  3. The defenders dealt really well with all the high balls pumped towards them. Rather than one defender going to meet the ball it would often be two, thus sandwiching the CF and not allowing easy lay-offs for the second attacker. It made the Bees attacking plan stingless. The defence also dealt well with the Stoke-esque throwies into the box and corners. They really meant business today.
  4. Our full backs positioned themselves very well today. Both White and Tierney were excellent in balancing out supporting our attack and not leaving too much space at the back.
  5. I think we missed the Ode but Fabio did a good job for the team. His goal was pure class and he fitted in very well. I also noticed how Martinelli had a free role during large spells of the game, and I need to watch the game again to see whether he in effect was playing the Ode role rather than Vieira. Martinelli may not have played well in terms of goals and assists but he covered a lot of space and brought the ball forward on many occasions. Really mature game by him.
  6. I praised the midfielders and I would like to add the fab performances by Saliba and Jesus. WS,GX, TP and GJ gave us a mighty strong spine today. William brings calm and natural dominance, and Jesus brings energetic leadership. We could add Aaron to this spine as well. He brings to the back what Jesus brings to our attack. This spine can win us a lot of games this season.
  7. There was something old fashioned about Arsenal’s outfit today, especially with those long grey socks, but I loved it. It made us look like hard, no-nonsense workers.
  8. Ethan Nwaneri first PL game minutes was a very nice move by Arteta and I look forward to seeing more of this promising 15 year old. His forhead reminded me of that of a young, just starting Cesc somehow. But this last point is really about the other boy wonder we have: Bukayo Saka. He just turned 21 and is once again delivering the goods. I don’t think he is at his normal best yet, and yet he is the PL second highest assists maker after the genius KdB. What a player.

Two weeks rest now and then we will face the mashable Spuddies. How do you like your mash?! 🤩

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Brentford Preview and Lineup: Arteta’s Motivational Speech Will Be So Easy

After what seems a small eternity, and before what will feel like an eternity as we face an international break, Arsenal will face the Bees away tomorrow.

Citeh and the silly Spuds won their games today, so we need to win to go TotL again. We all know what happened at the Gtech Community Stadium last season, and the disrespectful tweets that were issued by Brentford players afterwards should motivate the boys to give their all.

We know that the Bees’ supporters and players treat these games as a nothing to lose, carnevalesque occasion. So we need to mean business from the start, show them who is boss and also finish them off when the opportunity comes. I want to see us push very hard and never let them settle.

Lineup:

Ramsdale

White, Saliba, Gab, Tierney

Partey/Sambi – Granit

Saka, Ode, Marti

GJ9

Partey is a fitness doubt but my guess is he will play. I would be tempted to play GJ9 in, Martinelli’s position and Eddie in GJ9’s. Eddie needs a start and he just takes his chances quicker than Martinelli. I also like the extra height that he would bring in. Oth boxes.

Anyway, enough of the talking, we need action on the pitch. I want to see us play at our most focused and hardest yet this season.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal

Vieira Snookers, Marquinos Makes Instant Statement and Eddie just Delivers: 8 Observations

Zurich 1 – 2 Arsenal

Eight Observations:

  1. Seven changes to the starting eleven is a lot and it showed. The team dominated from the start but we lacked the crisp passing and natural team movement to produce quality chances. Zurich were well organised defensively and they made the pitch look small,and it was often a bit scruffy to watch.
  2. Our first goal came from a smartly worked counter attack, utilising the available space fabulously. Vieira produce a snookerball-pass into the running path of Eddie. The latter looked up and found Marquinos in space and time for him to place the ball high into the net. Boom 1-0.
  3. Marquinos played very well and made us forget Bukayo. He seems to have a similar skill set and with a goal and assist he really delivered. His crossing into the box was of a very high standard and I was impressed with his physical strength too. Early days but it’s looking promising.
  4. Eddie delivered too, aslo with a goal and assist. His header from Marquinos’ fabulous cross was text book excellent. Head it down with a bounce and the keeper will have little chance. Martinelli had a similar chance v the Mancs on Sunday but headed the ball high-diagonally and De Gea was able to make a good safe.
  5. Martinelli really missed his Gabi brother. Plenty of effort as always but he looked lost without Jesus on his side. But then who wouldn’t?! 🤩
  6. The defence lacked its usual calm but did the job well in general. Four individuals who needed time to gel. The pen was poorly conceded as a result of a lack of coordination in defence. But individually all defenders did well.
  7. Xhaka and Lokonga did quietly a very good job and Arteta did well to stick with the duo, both for the sake of continuity and balance. Vieira showed a lot of promise and reminded me of young Jack. It feels like he needs easing in for a while, as we certainly missed Ode’s ability to string it all together for us. Yet that pre-assist for the first goal was a pure Ronnie O’Sullivan snooker placement on the St Gallen grass surface, and one of the passes of the season.
  8. Tomi and Kieran did well and especially Wishaw’s finest had a great game, getting back to his very best. Tomiyasu still looked a bit rusty but playing this game will have done him good.

Altogether a good game and great result, and a brilliant prep for Sunday’s game v the Toffees.

By TotalArsenal

FC Zurich v Arsenal Lineup and Preview: Time for Matthew Smith, Marquinos and Vieira.

Tonight (early kick off!) Arsenal are playing Zurich to start their European campaign. There’s more romance in playing the lesser European competitions, as we meet often unfamiliar teams in unknown cities. The CL is so predictable and set up in such a way that the big clubs will have a very strong chance to reach at least the last eight. The Europa League is much less predictable and it gives the supporters a great opportunity to travel and discover some unknown beauty of that great continent, mainland Europe.

Zurich is a city full of bankers – and feel free to change that first letter to a ‘w’ – but it has a rich history and plenty to offer. For a start, there are 1200 water fountains with high quality drinking water. Muesli was invented there. It’s the birthplace of Dadaism which had a huge influence on surrealism and post-modernism. You will find James Joyce’s grave there and the largest church clock in Europe.

But Arsenal are actually not playing in this fine city, but up the road in St Gallen. The Diamond League athletics event is in town so the football has to be played somewhere else.

Most likely, and rightly so, our wider squad will be used, although I expect Mikel to totally rest only a few first team players. A good start in the EL is important and for that we need to take it seriously from the first game.

Proposed Lineup:

Turner

Soares-Tomi-Hold-Tierney

M Smith-Granit

Marquinos-Vieira-Martinelli

Eddie

I would expect Mikel to not start with so few first teamers, though. Maybe more like this:

Turner

Tomi-White-Gab-Tier

Loko-Xhaka

Marquinos-Vieira-Marti

Eddie

A solid defence, another chance for developing a good partnership between Sambi and Granit, and trying out a new attacking combination…… What is not to like about that?!

Bring it on.

By TotalArsenal.

MU 3 – 1 Arsenal | 8 Observations: Awesome Midfield, So much Talent in Attack, Painful Lesson

Eight Observations:

  1. If you play like the big boys, you can get beaten like them. Arsenal are seasons ahead of MU. They want to play football like us, dominate like us, pass like us. But they can’t. Instead they have to play counter football. We were outdone by a few well executed moves to which we lacked pace and positioning. But this is exactly the risk our style of football carries within it; the same happens occasionally to City and Pool. It was a painful but excellent lesson for the team.
  2. When you play high press total football, you have to score at least half of your chances. We had plenty and we did score two. One was cruelly taken away by the farce of VAR. In a game like this it is clear we miss another experienced attacker. Martinelli and Saka and Odegaard are making leaps forward, and Bukayo did score, but I think Jesus was the only one not bothered by nerves during such a tough away fixture. We should have scored a couple before we finally did.
  3. Still, I also want to stress what great talents we have in Saka, Martinelli and Odegaard and they are learning so fast from experiences like this and outperformed their home side counterparts. They are worth their weight in diamonds, and the ly shine like them.
  4. Our midfield was awesome and we hardly missed Partey. I thought that Sambi played with confidence and he positioned well, and Granit and Martin bossed proceedings.
  5. The gap between our high line and Ramsdale was too big. I wonder whether Aaron was not fully fit for this one as he decided to not come out and put off the attackers on the key moments. Rashford had too much space and time to put his shots away.
  6. Vieira and ESR brought something to the game straightaway and that was encouraging, especially from the young Portuguese sensation. It was nice to finally see him play.
  7. A question: when we play a very high line are White and Zinchenko our best full back options/ are they quick enough?
  8. Of course it is now important to learn a few lessons and move on swiftly. Win the next game and we are still TotL. A draw between City and Spuds will see us three points clear then; a win for one of them will see us create a four point gap with the loser. We played fabulous football and should have won but for an awful VAR intervention and some lack of confidence when we could have scored. The Big picture is extremely bright. Bring on the Toffees (but first we go to Zurich)!

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Manchester United Preview/Lineup: Great Opportunity for a Statement

Arsenal are going to Old Trafford with the unbelievable luxury that after six games, whatever the result tomorrow, we will remain TotL. Yes we have struggled there often in the last fifteen years but this time we are going there without the usual pressure of needing a result. No pressure.

It’s the home side that need a result and have to make up ground on us this time round, and this has been more often the case in recent years. They will be worried to get beaten and outplayed and that their fragile momentum, much needed after two early losses, will be shattered again.

So win, draw or lose, Arsenal will be fine. Key is of course that Arsenal play well, show character and resilience and fight till the end. No shrinking, ill-discipline or flippancy please. Just play with a high tempo, pass the ball round, make them work and take our chances when they come our way. Key is for the boys to start with focus and without too many nerves. It’s normal to be a bit nervous there, especially for such a young team, but we go there as league leaders because we are beating teams whom our competitors struggled against. So let’s go for it boys and give those Ten Hags a proper game.

The Guardian’s predicted lineups

The Guardian’s lineups are usually close to the actual ones. They have the Ode and Aaron as doubts; the same goes for Zinchenko. It would be great if two out of three could start but the replacements – ESR, Turner and Tierney – are all capable of rising to the occasion, although Turner may find this a really big challenge if he were to start.

Emile is due a start anyway, and he will relish it. Lokonga will face a big test against this very attacking midfield but he has two great defenders – White and Saliba – behind him. No doubt, Bukayo will also help out defensively.

The two attacking Gabis will have to play really well on the left, and Granit will be key again. He needs to stay focused and avoid provocation. The new Granit should be able to do that. The same goes for Big Gab and Ramsdale, if he starts.

I am looking forward to this game at OT, which I cannot say has often been the case. A real challenge to judge our progress in a game we could afford to lose. Of course we don’t want to do that. 3-1 to the good guys. Bring it on!

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Villa Preview/ Lineup: Forced Change in Midfield, Eddie and GJ9, Tomiyasu Start?

The Villains are coming to THOF and Arsenal have a great opportunity to make it 5/5 wins and stay TotL.

It looks like Stevie Gerrard’s time as Villa manager is nearly up, but the Scouser is a fighter and he will not go down without a fight. Villa are both a physical and technical team and they have some fine players. Yet they are not growing under the former Mr Liverpool and some are even saying they may well be in for a relegation fight this season.

I expect a hard match and I hope the ref will be on top of things from the start. Ings, Watkins, Coutinho and Buendia are of course good footballers who can score all sorts of goals, but it is the lack of cohesion in the Villa team that makes the team less than the sum of its parts. They got beaten by Bournemouth, Palace and the Hammers and the only win came at home against the sorry Toffees.

The big question for us is whether to play the current first choices or to rotate again. It looks like Partey is still out and Zinchenko is a doubt. There are rumours that Elneny is also injured, but I am not sure what to make of that.

I expect and in a way hope that Mikel goes for the strongest team and worries about the MU game later. Three points tomorrow please.

So the lineup is likely to be:

Ramsdale

White, Sal, Gab, Tiern

Elneny/AMN-GX

Saka, Ode, Marti

GJ9

Part of me would like to see the squad used v Villa but with some continuity:

Ramsdale

Tomi, Hold, Gab, Tierney

AMN, GX

Saka, ESR, GJ9

Eddie

What is your preferred starting eleven?

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal