The One Move Arteta Could Make to Beat the Villas and Brightons of the PL

Arsenal have been awesome against the top teams under Arteta with wins against MU, the Chavs, Pool and Citeh in various competitions, but there is a feeling amongst some supporters that we have struggled against the ‘lesser’ teams (and absolutely no disrespect to them!). Recent lost games v Aston Villa, Spuds and Brighton are often mentioned by supporters, and they may – or may not – have a point.

I thought we were quite unlucky against Brighton and the injury to Leno unsettled us as a team. Furthermore, Guendouzi lost his focus and so did we as a team, and we lost the game very late on when the thorn in our side – who was the main reason for Guendouzi’s ‘losing it’ – scored the undeserved winner.

We were poor against Villa, probably our worst game of the Arteta-era, but the boys were knackered after a heroic FA cup win against Citeh and these things just happen now and again.

But there is a bigger question regarding our 3-4-3 formation and potential lack of creativity in midfield. Unless we push up high and hem the opponent into their own half, which let’s be honest is not our natural game right now, we leave a lot of space between the midfield and the attackers in the central part of the pitch. Under Arteta, we have developed very strong wings, especially on our left, but through the middle we lack that bit of bite and invention.

And when we play the ‘lesser’ teams i.e. those that prefer to sit deep and let’s us come on to them, we can look a bit one-dimensional. So you would say, those are ideal games for Mesut’s magic, but that boat seems to have sailed – and probably with good reason.

I feel strongly that when Arsenal play 3-4-3 with adventurous, attacking wing-backs, Arsenal need to keep it tight in the middle. I think Arteta recognises this too (and much better than he predecessor). This means a disciplined midfielder next to Xhaka is required – the pivot in the team; one who can either defend very well (Elneny, AMN?) or defend reasonably well but can also move the ball forward well through passes, runs with the ball or dribbles (Ceballos, Willian, AMN, Partey?). I think Arteta is almost there; and surely, if we were to sign Partey and keep Auba we are in super fine shape next season – I would even argue that the Partey signing is not really essential and may hold back playing time of other good alternatives, but there you go. Happy if we get him/ okay if we don’t.

The one thing that could make us more balanced and more creative is to make a change to the three attacking positions. Do we really need three attackers without a ‘traditional’ nr.10 to feed them? Do we need wingers – Auba and Pepe – without a typical strong-in-the-air CF in the middle whilst we have fabulous wingbacks to feed the central attackers with quality crosses and passes?! I don’t think so.

Laca often moves into the ‘hole area’ and is effective in disturbing opponents’ midfield play and winning the ball back, but he is a CF and not an advanced attacking midfielder and we suffer from this. Now I would imagine that if Ozil were to put in the sort of shift that Laca does, he would have featered in many a game since the lockdown, but love him or loach him, Mesut is just not that sort of player. And that is why the Spaniard was keen on getting Willian from Chelsea on a free.

So to cut a long story short, if we play Willian in the hole/as a false nr9 and play with two attackers with loads of freedom to play on the wing or centrally, we should become much more effective in attack yet lose nothing in terms of denseness of our midfield and protection of our defence.

This would be the team I would LOVE to see getting starts against teams who will sit back and play us on the counter:

A relatively simple adjustment if you ask me, but what are your thoughts?

By TotalArsenal.

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50 Responses to The One Move Arteta Could Make to Beat the Villas and Brightons of the PL

  1. Rooney calvince says:

    Arsenal should stop this stingy behavior and bring us partey and Aouar …we have only spent 27 million pounds and the board lacks money yet Chelsea have spent over 200 ….God will surely punish u

  2. pbarany says:

    It makes a lot of sense.
    I would also consider reinventing the 4.2.3.1 formation with an AM and 2 wingers supporting the lone striker, but you are perfectly right on the limitation of the strong wingplay without a tall central attacker.

  3. “Lesser teams”? Brighton have embarrassed Arsenal more often than the form book would warrant since we came up, not because we sit deep but because we attack. We’re not scared of you, and it shows. We’ve done the same against all the so-called top clubs, except City and Liverpool.
    It’s that labelling of supposed inferior sides that undoes a “past glories” club like Arsenal. You’re not top notch at this point, some better players of course, but in their minds they’re meeting a lesser opposition and it shows in their attitude. The top sides will roll over everyone. Maybe start with a bit of self-awareness and humility about your real status and you might see an attitude shift. Clubs like ours are locked in a struggle for survival compared with yours, and that breeds a different mentality. Semantics is important – respect the opposition whoever it is and you might fare better.

  4. Highbury Harmony says:

    The problem we have against low blocks is that we lack runners who are willing to make those runs to break opposition lines, in addition to playing intricate one twos to break the defensive shape.

    Dani showed glimpses that he could do this, but the defensive responsibility of playing a midfield two in a 3-4-3 makes that very difficult (I actually believe he could connect well with Ozil in these low block games). Auba and Pepe both like to run onto the end of balls, so they are also not fits to make those runs between the lines.

    Willian, however, IS one of those solutions but not in the traditional sense. Willian is able to pick up the ball and dribble at defenders, creating something out of nothing when the attack is stale. I do think he will be critical against teams playing a low block.

    But, you need more than just Willian to break a low block or else that becomes predictable. You need a runner (or runners) who are willing to make those runs to either receive the ball or to dummy defenders to pull them out of position. The only internal solution we have to that problem in midfield is ESR. He might not be the finished article yet, but I would love to see him get the chance, as his creative ability and work rate off the ball are top notch. Of course, we could always bring in a Partey type CM to help solve that problem, but I chose to look internally for the time being.

    Side note: If Laca is still dropping into midfield as basically a 10, it means we haven’t improved our midfield enough.

  5. Tarquin Duck says:

    @Niall
    Learn to understand grammar and you’ll become aware the author wasn’t directing insults at any team, simply implying that we struggle to break down the teams more willing to put players behind the ball. It’s literally complimenting your defence, your attack is irrelevant in this context. Just because Guendouzi lacked class against you don’t take it out on the rest of us, he’s been rightfully punished, unlike Maupay who’s challenge was reckless and unwarranted, so too his post-match interview which completely lacked sportsmanship or class (what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch), but as Arsenal fans we aren’t going to take it out on the Brighton fans… or go on an opposition teams’ message board and bemoan articles we haven’t read properly. I’ve always felt a relative rapport between Arsenal and Brighton fans personally, I’m sorry you don’t. And to say ‘so-called’ top clubs about teams that play in europe and regularly win cups is just utterly hypocritical given the stance you’re trying to make.

    We had 60% possession the last time we played you at the Amex, and 13 shots, but just one goal, the author is discussing ways to play against teams we have struggled against – who happen to be in the lower half of the league. A year gone May we had 70%, 20shots and 16 corners, and still lost. You may attack, but for the large part you frustrate our game-plan, and being rational adults a discussion has occurred to find a way to improve on this – as we are well aware our team needs to improve to reach the status we held previously. Maybe see that this is actually rather complimentary and don’t make it all about yourself?

  6. Highbury Harmony says:

    Lol since when did fan mentality matter for the players? We should have the mindset that we can beat any team, doesn’t matter where you are in the table.

    Seems like the panties are in a bunch up in Brighton again!!

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers PB, I think four at the back will happen when the likes of Mari, Garbriel and Saliba are up to speed with PL football and Luiz can retire. For now Luiz is too important but to get the best out of him we need to play with three at the back. And yes up-front we would need a strong header of a CF who can play with the back towards goal as to get the best out of the three behind him.

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Niall,

    I like a proud and passionate supporter but you must read the whole post in order to comment.. or at least the first sentence… “but there is a feeling amongst some supporters that we have struggled against the ‘lesser’ teams (and absolutely no disrespect to them!).”

    The non-top teams, to use another term, offer a challenge to us that is different from the top teams. There is no disrespect from me or fellow Gooners. BHA are doing a fine job in the PL and I like watching you play.

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    Good comment, HH. You wrote: “But, you need more than just Willian to break a low block or else that becomes predictable. You need a runner (or runners) who are willing to make those runs to either receive the ball or to dummy defenders to pull them out of position. The only internal solution we have to that problem in midfield is ESR. He might not be the finished article yet, but I would love to see him get the chance, as his creative ability and work rate off the ball are top notch. Of course, we could always bring in a Partey type CM to help solve that problem, but I chose to look internally for the time being.”

    I have seen signs that Xhaka and Ceballos are encouraged to make more of those sort of runs, and this will be made easier if they have Willian in front of them (rather than the ‘midfield-limited’ Laca), as he can either combine with them or take over their position when either Xhaka or Ceballos commit forward.

    ESR seems a long way off but like you I see great potential.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Tarquin Duck, thanks for a great ‘defence’ of my intentions for the post. 🙂

  11. dawud muhammad says:

    Simply put, I understand your thinking TA, it could work, not bad at all..

  12. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, the types of runs I’m referring to are unfortunately made more from more athletic CMs than Xhaka and Ceballos. These players need to be very fast and strong to pull players out of position like a Partey, Doucoure, Soumare, Zakaria, Pogba, De Bruyne, Ox etc.

    However, what Xhaka and Dani have improved with more familiarity over time is combining on one-twos to break down a low block (Ramsey could do both!). Hoping to see more of that this coming season.

  13. pbarany says:

    My answer to the phenomenon is the lack of chances (key passes), but since I had the opportunity to phrase my concerns in a separate post (on the 3rd of August) I don’t intend to reopen the issue.

    Tarquin Duck, that was indeed an elegant and smart comment on Niall McGowan’s critiques. I just want to reiterate that the “lesser team” is not an insult. Take it as the comparison of the squad market values from TransferMarkt. While it is true that Arsenal is calculated more than 3 time of BHA, City and Liverpool allegedly worth almost twice as Arsenal, yet we don’t feel ourselves inferior. (However Chelsea’s spending spree pissing me off. Where is FFP, when they hardly had spectator income in recent months.)

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    I dont see any problems there, HH. Ceballos and Xhaka can make those sort of runs if they are asked to do so, especially if we start to push up more.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    PB, lack of key passes is indeed a big factor. But if we push up and take more risks we will see an increase in these; unfortunately, we will also see an increase of conceded key passes, shots on target, and goals against us IF we don’t get the balance right, as was so painfully obvious when Unai was at the helm. I have high hopes in Willian and Saka, both very talented players who can produce those sort of passes, as can Xhaka and Ceballos. But we will know soon as our first PL game is in just five days.

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    I watched Xhaka and Leno today and both had excellent games. Really good as well that both did not get injured and are now going back to London.

  17. Jnyc says:

    I loved this post TA. So well laid out and I agree with most. There are some things I’d like to mention though, the disagreements.

    Xhaka has emerged as the great player we bought, because Mikel has kept him tethered back, he cannot make runs or get too advanced, because he is too slow to get back, especially in this fast league compared to Germany. That is how Wenger messed up his game, and Emery too. The fans got on his back for not recovering fast enough, for having to make rash tackles because he couldn’t get back fast enough. He’s an excellent distributor, a very good defender from deep, strong, smart, fearless and a leader from there. But let’s not kid ourselves fantasizing about him making forward runs. I don’t think your last comment is realistic at all. That kind of play would bring back the dysfunctional Xhaka and we’d lose a big part of what we’ve gained under Arteta.

    And with all that in mind, my daily complaint about you drawing up teams that have Xhaka playing with Elneny. That combination is death for us, especially against inferior teams set up to defend to the end. We’ll be frustrated and drop so many points against mediocre teams again.We all watched while there was no connection between front and back last year, in desperate need of midfield skill , and you want to add Elneny to that situation? We have superb forwards and no way to get them the ball, long periods, even under Arteta where we were just hoisting up long balls because we couldn’t get through any team. Watch the first couple matches back after the lockdown break. Xhaka next to a one dimensional dm like Elneny is ok as a conservative, professional lineup to get a 50/50 chance of a win or draw against a top attacking team and top 4 rival. Disciplined, though boring tactics that are necessary against the best clubs, Mourinho kind of tactics that Arsene never used, and generally ended up in humiliating losses against big clubs. We all remember.

    Ceballos has a little more athleticism, and I can see him doing it a little, but im open to a false 9, to your idea of maybe using Willian centrally, especially if Ozil not used. I’d also like to suggest, since we’re blessed with wide talent, Saka maybe as CAM. Some of his passes in the charity shield showed great vision and instinct, and it made me wonder if he could be tried there. I think we might have a kid who is more than just a pacey wide player with dribbling skills- he might have all aspects of the game, a potential superstar.

    I also love your last paragraph about Laca dropping into the hole area to molest opponents and get some sneaky steals. I think that’s just a bonus skill and something he likes to do, and I really appreciate it. But he’s still a classic striker, and not a false 9. I also can’t imagine we’re keeping him, unless we want another contract to run down and walk away for free. We need money to bolster this midfield. He knows he should be starting somewhere now and is in his prime. Did I hear that Eddie had a hat trick the other day for Under 21s?

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Hey J, one of your best comments yet, even if I don’t agree with it all.

    Key for me is that Arteta understands (better than Unai and even Arsene) that we will get the best out of Granit when combined with a fellow midfielders who plays in line with him most of the time, has good defensive discipline and ideally can do box to box running. If so, he will also be able to make those runs into the box if that is what we want, but I grant you that is not his natural style and we get the best out of him when he is the deepest midfielder. Yesterday v Germany he pushed up quite high and had a few decent long distance shots on goal. He also produced the pre-assist for the Swiss’ equaliser. Having Xhaka closer to the opponent’s box makes him dictate our attack much better but he needs cover behind him. The Swiss team had this sorted and we can do this too, even with your much unloved Elneny.

    Saka as CAM! Yes. He really is the one to watch this season, but I will write something about him soon.

    I get your point re Laca and money. We would have to replace him though as an injury to Auba would leave us weak in terms of experienced attackers.

  19. pbarany says:

    Good comment, Jnyc
    I agree with the entire paragraph on Xhaka.
    Especially the part concerning Elneny, as him (and Guendouzi as well!) are in fact “mini- or beta-Xhakas”, meaning that they are also supposed to distribute the ball, facilitate the transition from defense to attack, and their core skills are similarly interceptions, quick passes, defensive contributions. Maybe Matteo is faster than Granit, and Mohamed was surprisingly effective with long balls in Turkey, but my point is: they are more replacements to Xhaka than complements. If 2 out of them 3 are on the pitch (Community shield somehow excluded) that is half a position wasted. As Xhaka was best with Ceballos, Guendouzi could baybe play with AMN, Elneny maybe with Willock, but we cannot afford to employ 2 more-or-less 2 guys in a midfield dou with almost identical competency profile.

    Saka as a CAM is indeed a mouth-watering possibility. Again, this could be a defensive risk with 3 other attacking player on the pitch, but time will tell if he can better collaborate with 2 wingers and a striker, or rather 2 strikers with winger skills (Auba, Pepe, Martinelli) without classical wingers on the pitch.

  20. pbarany says:

    TA, I didn’t see the Switzerland-Germany game, but managed to read this article. I don’t see Xhaka falling down the pecking order (whoever we may sign), if he has the skills – and balls – to do this against a bunch of WC winners:
    https://www.givemesport.com/1597714-arsenals-granit-xhaka-pulled-off-an-incredible-pass-in-switzerland-11-germany

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    It was an impressive performance but then I would say that, wouldn’t I? 😀

    Germany were subdued and were content to play on the counter after their early goal. The Swiss have a few raw talents up-front and Xhaka knows how to find them.

  22. allezkev says:

    Interesting post Total and some equally good comments, I left it to all you tactical guys to sort out as I’m old school, you know ‘get it in the box’… 😉

    But J, I like your description of Xhaka, a player I struggled to see any good from in the past but who I see now as a player reinvigorated by Arteta and his intelligent coaching and who I really really like. He reminds me a tad of Petit, he goes about his job in an unfussy fashion and snuffs out the danger, but I’m not sure I’d want to see him getting forward too often because we’re not good yet enough to allow him to do so.

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    It is interesting Kev, how many Gooners feel that Xhaka has been invigorated by Arteta. I think this is partly true: he plays exactly the same as he has done since his arrival under Wenger, but Arteta has a) shown renewed confidence in him and b) has given him the protection he needs, and now he is strutting his stuff again.

  24. allezkev says:

    Against the teams that set up to suffocate the centre of the pitch maybe we need to go with a back four, but football is constantly evolving and maybe we’re moving into a period of catenaccio style defending by those who can’t cope in a more open contest. I wonder if Arteta might have been experimenting in those two recent ‘behind closed doors’ friendlies vs QPR and Villa with a different approach to the low block?

  25. allezkev says:

    Good point Total, I guess that Arteta has isolated Xhaka’s weaknesses and set us up to cover for them, he’s no doubt done it with quite a few of our players, for example he wouldn’t have had Petr Cech playing out from the back or Mustafi and Luiz in a back four or Kolasinac as a left back, being a top coach is surely bringing to the fore the positive skills a player has and suppressing his faults.

  26. allezkev says:

    But let’s not ignore the responsibility of other players in our team to hit the back of the net, we are still terribly wasteful in front of goal and that’s an issue that can only be solved with more intense coaching or by bringing in different players.

    Lacazette despite his changing role in the team really has to contribute more if he is staying at Arsenal this season, Nketiah did ok last season but he has to step up a level this season, Arteta can help up to a point but ultimately he has to be more clinical in front of goal and so does Pepe, hopefully the addition of Willian will provide even more ammunition but the chances were there last season they just weren’t taken often enough.

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    Correct Kev. You cannot ask Xhaka to do both organising the game and feed the ball forward constantly AND be some sort of super, beast of a DM. Look at Pool with Henderson and Milner and WIjnaldum… they are not great alround midfielders and never were, but Klopp got them to work together in various combinations and then they won the CL and PL in the space of 12 months.

    That is why I am less fussed about the lack of apparent attacking qualities of Elneny, especially IF Willian, Ceballos or indeed Saka get to play in the hole position; I think we will be a completely different team then. If we can add Partey to the proverbial then even better.

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed also re Laca… it is neither fish nor meet with Alex at the moment, and I think this is to do with the position he plays in and the formation Arteta prefers him to play in. Still I prefer to keep him because of his experience and him being a plan B if Auba would get injured.

  29. Highbury Harmony says:

    I love all the varied opinions on Xhaka, makes for very interesting perspectives and debate. There’s no right or wrong answers, just differences in how we see the game.

    I don’t agree with TA on the runs at all, but I enjoy the positivity that you continue to show. I did think he had a great match vs Germany, but he was doing all the things that I would expect him to (dictate from deep, spray passes, keep the Swiss team organized, hit a few long shots etc.). It was a forward thinking performance that I hope will carry over into the league this coming season, but I wouldn’t want him doing more than that (ie making runs without the ball and doing those box to box runs with the ball).

    As JNYC says, it’s just not Xhaka’s skillset and it doesn’t have to be. That’s why we should buy someone who’s skillset it is to complement that so that we can allow Xhaka to continue doing what he does best. Arteta has transformed him completely since taking over and we shouldn’t fix or change what isn’t broken.

  30. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, I worry about our goals output too if Laca leaves and we don’t bring in another ST. I think Eddie has potential but he’s still learning and not ready to become our second goal scorer behind Auba just yet.

    I think we have yet to see the best of Laca (despite his good 3/4 of a season under a random Emery), we we have relatively failed to provide him service on a consistent basis with the waffling lineups Emery trotted out, which often saw our more creative players on the bench (Ramsey, Ozil etc.).

    Saka at CAM or CM is a very enticing prospect and one I want to see more of. However, he seems to be relatively set on wanting to play more advanced as a winger, so it’ll be interesting to see if Arteta can convince him that his future lies more centrally opposed to as a wide playmaker.

  31. allezkev says:

    Arsenal and England U18 midfielder Charlie Patino is the fourth guest on The Secret Scout’s ‘Academy Life’ series.

    TSS: Where does your love of football come from?

    CP: I’ve always been around the house, just kicking a football since the age of two. My dad was a big football fan. I had a match every Saturday for St Albans City, my local team, and was about seven or eight at the time.

    Luton came in for me, I went for a trial and was there for five years. Luton will always have a place in me and my dad’s heart. We were also season ticket holders there and used to go back home after matches, get changed, and go to Kenilworth Road where they played.

    TSS: How important were those five years at Luton for your footballing development?

    CP: I learnt a lot when I was at Luton, playing three years up usually. The coaches would say to me don’t pass the ball, just keep it and dribble. I used to do futsal at Luton which also helped.

    When I used to play up, the players were faster, stronger and bigger but it allowed me to think and move the ball quicker. I wasn’t able to dribble the ball past everyone, so it was about using my footballing brain and intelligence to overcome different scenarios.

    It’s also about having that confidence to play with older people – playing three years up was difficult and put me out of my comfort zone. It was exactly the same last season. The first couple of games I didn’t start and came off the bench for the 18s, but kept working hard and made the starting line-up. I gained their trust.

  32. allezkev says:

    TSS: Just how difficult was it having to say goodbye to your boyhood club at 11?

    CP: It was a very hard decision. Luton played a massive part in my development and helped me so much. They wanted me to leave because they felt it was the right thing for my development. I still go down to watch some of their games when I have the time.

    Four big CAT 1 teams wanted me, which was a big shock and I was very grateful. My family and I had to think logistically and we went to visit all of the clubs. We decided that Man City was too far away, along with Chelsea, because I didn’t really want to go into digs and preferred to stay with my family. I didn’t think that Tottenham had the greatest academy at the time, and then we went to see Arsenal.

    I really liked the family feel around the club, and they’ve helped me ever since. I didn’t know any of the players or how good they were at first, but I just kept working hard and didn’t really change anything.

    TSS: As a progressive, central midfielder yourself, why do you think England have historically struggled to produce players in the mould of your Iniesta’s etc?

    CP: I think England is becoming a lot better with their youth. Spain and the Latin American countries have got flair and creativity in their midfield. At England camps, the coaches tell us all the time to play with freedom, encouraging us to do what we think is right. That is a message that is now being taught from early. From U15 level, they wanted us to show our skills and the players enjoy that freedom.

  33. allezkev says:

    TSS: You are now one of 16 new scholars in what is considered to be one of the most exciting intakes that Arsenal have had for a long time. What personal aims do you have for the new season?

    CP: I try to keep focused. The scholarship doesn’t gas me because it is something I’ve been working towards. I’ve got to move on to the next target. My goals are to be in and around the 23s, to be selected for the England 18s and train some more times with the first team. Treat every training session like it’s your last so that you have no regrets.

    I didn’t start any of the games at the start of last season for the 18s, and only came on to see them out if we were winning, or to make an impact if we were losing. It will probably be the same this season for the 23s. I know a lot of the players, having played with the second years that moved up to the 23s last season in the 18s. Communication and friendship won’t be an issue. I’m going to have to be fighting for a position in the team. A lot of players in the 23s have gone out on loan recently which has hopefully opened up a few spaces for me.

    It has always been about proving myself and taking the opportunities when I get them. Last season I was a schoolboy so I was still training with the 16s and had to worry about different things like exams, but now as a scholar, I’m there from Monday to Saturday and I can fully focus on what I need to do and work on.

    TSS: You mentioned training more times with the first team as a goal of yours. Can you talk us through the first time you found out you were training with them in January?

    CP: I got to London Colney and Mikel Arteta asked for me to go because Freddie Ljungberg, who is now part of the first team, was my coach as an U15 and wanted me to train with them. It wasn’t just to make up the numbers which was pleasing to hear and it gave me a lot of confidence going into training and the rest of the season. All the first team were there and they knew that I was a lot younger. I had seen Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock before so they knew who I was but people like David Luiz were really welcoming and everyone came over. I felt a bit nervous, but they were good nerves and I was pretty comfortable once we started.

  34. allezkev says:

    TSS: Arsenal U18s struggled a lot last season in the league. Do you expect to be challenging for major honours come next year?

    CP: The boys didn’t do well in the league. It was a bit of a funny season because there wasn’t that much chemistry between the first and second years, which would then translate to the performances on the pitch. You could see from the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals against Blackburn that no one really fought for the badge.

    This season I think we can go really far. I was surprised we got as far as we did last season in the FA Youth Cup, but this season I think is going to be better because [the U18s] will have known each other for much longer and will have better chemistry.

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    Here is hoping for the best yet to come from Laca, HH. Let’s keep him at least till January.. 👍

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Great stuff, Kev. He oozes confidence and also humility if that makes sense.

  37. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, interested to know your thoughts on ESR and how long it’ll be until he fulfils that high end potential we are all expecting him to deliver on.

  38. allezkev says:

    That’s how I saw it Total and you made perfect sense, you can see that so many of our young players come from good families, they’re polite and humble when being interviewed and are well taught at Hale End how to deal with the media, on the pitch as you say they show their quality.

  39. TotalArsenal says:

    HH, he is a ferocious talent but I sense that he may struggle to make it at Arsenal. What about you?

  40. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, for me, he is everything we are currently missing in midfield right now from a creative sense. He combines the positives that Willock (work rate, dribbling, off ball movement) and Ozil (vision, key passes, driving a team forwards) bring without the weaknesses of each one (Willock: awareness, composure, final product and Ozil: work rate/determination, physicality and pressing).

    ESR reminds me a lot of KDB, but health is the thing holding him back right now. Every time he seems like he’s about to take off, he’s gotten an injury that derailed any momentum he would have gained.

    He’s long been considered the crown jewel of around his age group in the academy (which even includes Saka!) and the interest from teams all over Europe is a testament to that potential.

  41. TotalArsenal says:

    Maybe those high expectations are weighing him down and he is playing too forced, which is causing injuries. I can see the talent and hope he comes good. Willock is clearly ahead of him right now, but we will see how they both develop over the years.

  42. Jnyc says:

    Total,
    I’m just remembering that I may have picked up the idea of Saka playing centrally from your writing here, I seem to remember you mentioning it in the past. It was a couple sequences in the shield that made me say it. So credit to you for that one.

    HH, I think Nketiah is more polished than people give him credit for at his young age. Most of his play seems instinctual to me. I love the runs he makes, and I’ve seen him score so many types of goals. For a team with the financial constraints of ours, he should be worked in as much as possible….. just remember I’m the one who has been saying, “Eddie is ready”.

  43. TotalArsenal says:

    J, I may have gotten the idea from 17HT, the tiger of Tahoe.

  44. TotalArsenal says:

    Eddie is ready will be used in a headline soon, J. Cheers 🙂

  45. GunnerN5 says:

    Oops I just realized that Eddie scored his hat trick on Friday, I guess it’s another senior moment.

  46. TotalArsenal says:

    Nobody had pointed it out yet, GN5, so well done my friend. As Confucius once said: “The past is a reservoir of truth!” 🙂

  47. Highbury Harmony says:

    Villa stepping up their pursuit of Emi and have submitted a bid closer to our £20 mil valuation according to the Athletic. Apparently, we won’t sell until we’ve found a replacement and top of the list is Brentford’s #1, David Raya, who would cost somewhere between £10-15 million.

    If the cost is over £10 million then I don’t see the point of moving Emi unless Villa come in with an even bigger bid.

  48. TotalArsenal says:

    I am with you, HH. Keep Emi unless he is desperate to play first team footie.

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