A Beast of a DM and AM and Three More Arsenal Summer Wishes

So the season is finally over and everyone will get a much needed break. Arteta needs a break. Many of the players need a break. The supporters need a break. However, Kroenke and Co. do not need a break but need to work their socks off to salvage their involvement in the club. This summer will be crucial.

There will be no European football and after finishing twice 8th in the PL, next season is all about making real progress in the PL and maybe win a domestic cup competition. We can really do without the management and players having a game late on Thursday and then having little time to prepare for the league game. All European games should of course be played on Tuesday/Wednesday but we all know why that is not the case. Thursdays = Spursdays, whereas we need to be in the A-games.

Pepe plays croquet

I have high hopes for next season. Once you decide to do things significantly different, it always takes time to embed them. Arteta is learning fast and has guided Arsenal onto the road of recovery. The third best team in the PL since January should be noticed. That is a significant period. We were also a little bit of luck away from making it to the final of the Europa League. Arteta has beaten at least once all main top-four competitors in his fledgling management career. We finished the season with a strong defence and a number of good back up players. The centre of midfield has options with Partey, Xhaka and Elneny able to share the load between them. ESR and Saka bring the extra attacking dimension and we have experienced strikers to take chances when they arise. Pepe and Laca have come good in 2021. Tierney, Soares and Chambers offer good full back options.

There are a few areas that need addressing. I would love to hear your views re this.

If you ask me I would say we need to:

  1. Think carefully about the nr1 goalkeeper position. Leno can be great at times but he is not settling nerves in the team when it matters. A keeper who is more confident in the air and whilst passing the ball out would be great.
  2. Look for a good back-up on the LFB position. Tierney will get injured occasionally and Xhaka is not the ideal solution.
  3. Buy another Beast of a Midfielder. Xhaka is getting on a bit and Partey is not the sort of player who can play 38 PL games at a full force. We need another one there and this would be my priority. Elneny to stay of course.
  4. We need another attacking midfielder who can create things whilst also working hard. ESR was a revelation this season. Odegaard at least occasionally showed us what we had been missing. If we can improve on the talented Norwegian then that would be great. MO11 for another season (at least) would be great too. He will grow and grow.
  5. Finally, I would love another CF, one with great physical presence in the box and who loves high balls into the box.

Of course we need to make space and free-up money for this and I have no doubt that this will happen as part of Arteta’s evolution.

By TotalArsenal.

118 thoughts on “A Beast of a DM and AM and Three More Arsenal Summer Wishes

  • Morning all,

    Total I am complete agreement with all of your points, however I doubt that that many new additions will be made.

    I would prioritize them and concentrate on items 1, 2 and 5.

    We definitely need to find ourselves a new number one goalkeeper, it tugs at me that we sold so many super keepers that are now playing elsewhere – Martinez being the latest example.

    Both of our full back positions are vulnerable but left back needs attention first.

    Our lack of goal scoring cries out for a top class striker – but it’s possible that Zaca could turn a page and improve his scoring stats.

  • Good one TA, I thought this was one of the better games to watch with the right tempo and especially good central play. We used flanks and middle of the pitch very well in the attacking third which ideally should have bought Auba into play. He did have couple of one on one situations.
    I feel that Auba is going to be a problem next season. If you see his movements in the box for crosses he seldom attacks them , but usually hangs on the far post expecting the ball to miss all teh defenders. If he attacks the ball at the near post he will have better chances to score. But it’s very worrying and I feel center forward is going to be a huge challenge for the next season.
    We have found a good balance in the middle with Partey and xhaka. That pass from Xhaka to Partey and his take and hitting the post was sensational. I think the solution seems to be for Xhaka to stay slightly back and Partey to be box to box.
    For me the priorities are Left back, Right Back, midfielder and a striker. If 4 is not possible would drop right back due to Calum’s performance. Goalkeeper looks ok for the next season but would like Matty Ryan signed for backup. Arteta should not nominate anyone as #1 and it should be up for grabs.

  • Here are the results of the final weeks predictions.

    Total, GN5, Eris and Kez all got 4/6 plus 1 bonus point each.
    Now for the final totals of the season including the full audit.

    Pre audit totals were:-

    Kev 136.33
    Eris 134.66
    GN5 112.33
    PB 99.66
    Total 95.99
    Le Gall 27.33
    NJK 15.00
    Audit results

    Kev -2
    Eris +2
    PB -1
    Total +1
    Le Gall -1
    njk 0
    Post Audit totals:-

    Eris 136.66
    Kev 134.66
    GN5 113.33
    PB 98.66
    Total 96.99
    Legall 26.33
    NJK 15.00
    The final results were very upsetting for me as two simple data errors caused the top two to be reversed, for this I offer my apologizes.The main errors occurred in two weeks:-

    Week 18 Kev won with 4/6 but I only gave him 2 bonus points instead of 4 – hence an increase of 2 points

    Week 25 – I gave both Kev and PB 4/6 plus 2 bonus each.

    In fact they only correctly predicted 3/6 along with Total and GN5.
    So in fact there were 4 winners each with 3/6 so the adjustments were plus 1 bonus point for both GN5 and Total
    and minus 1 prediction point and 1 bonus point for Kev and PB.
    Now I don’t want to leave it there as the last thing I wanted was the winner to be decided by an audit adjustment – it just does not seem right to me, even though the final audited numbers are correct.

    Here is what I would propose if both Eris and Kev are in agreement.
    You both have a two game playoff using the Europa League and the Champions League games.

    You would have to predict the half time and full time score of each game plus the winners.
    You would get 1 point for a correct half time score plus 2 points for a full time score and 3 points for the win on both games.

    If after that you end up in a tie then the final audited total will prevail.

  • Kev and Eris, if you agree with my proposal then I need your predictions prior to the Europa League on Wednesday, if I don’t get your predictions in time the final audit totals will have to prevail.

    Total can you kindly contact both Eris and Kev to advise them of the proposal.

  • TA, like you I have high hopes for next year. I believe that we are on the right trajectory but there are some areas that need addressing, some of which may be created by people leaving or wishing to leave.

    1. GK. I’m totally with GN5 on this. Martinez has just been awarded player of the year by the Villans. Macey is beginning to show his mettle at Hibs, did you see his double save in the Scottish Cup Final? Maybe Ryan is the answer but we haven’t seen enough of him in competitive matches.

    2. I definitely agree that we need a backup for Tierney. Will Bellerin and Cedric both leave? The former is widely rumoured to be going but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is unhappy at the moment. He has put in some good performances at RB and LB but, for some reason, Arteta sees him behind even Xhaka at LB.

    3 and 4. Before looking to bring in more midfielders we need to decide what to do with the loanees coming back. We need more goals from midfield as well as guile and strength. Joe has been scoring for fun up north, surely we should be looking at fitting him into the team and playing to his strengths rather than selling him unless he wants to move? AMN is another who has developed well away from the nest but he wants to play regularly. so might be pushing for a move unless he is firmly in Arteta’s plans. There’s also Guendouzi and Torreira but I would be surprised to see them playing for us next season.

    5. I agree with you TA, it was a mistake to have sold Giroud and not replaced him. There have been times when teams have parked the bus and it has been glaringly obvious that we need someone with physical presence in the middle. Like Madhu, I am worried about Auba and I have been perplexed as to why he has been starting instead of Laca. I’m also not convinced that Eddie has a long term future with us.

  • GN5, you are one hell of a regulator. The PGMOL need to take a leaf from you in thoroughness and drive for justice.

    Hey! Why don’t we all play for those two games while you use the predictions from both of us (Kev and I) for the play-off stats? That way we all join the fun only, while it will be a dead rubber for others, it has relevance for Kev and I. Just a suggestion and it is without prejudice to what Kev (or Total) reckons.

  • I’ll kick off the predictions:-

    Villarreal v Manchester United
    Half time = 0-0
    Full time = 2-1

    Manchester City v Chelsea
    Half time = 1-1
    Full time = 3-1

  • Hey GN5, it’s cool mate, I’ve really enjoyed it, blimey it’s only a bit of fun, I expected to come last in any case, but yeah, I’ll give the Europa and CL a go, thanks for what you’ve done this season. 👍🏼

  • Villarreal 0-2 Man United HT
    Villarreal 1-3 Man United FT

    Man City 0-0 Chelsea HT
    Man City 2-2 Chelsea FT
    Man City 3-3 Chelsea ET
    ManCity win on pens 😉

  • Ok Folks we have agreement from both Eris an Kev on them having a playoff to determine the winner of our prediction game, as Eris said it will be only for fun for the rest of us who want to give it a go
    I’ve already given my predictions so I await those from Kev and Eris and any body else who wants to participate – before Wednesday’ Europa League Final.

  • Oh I forgot about extra time and penalties so my predictions will be at the conclusion of the game so a win for Villarreal and a win for Manchester City.

  • Good post TA, we are going to discuss this all summer that’s my prediction, we’ll also muse over the departures a great deal because our squad needs some serious culling.

    I’m with GN5 on the cover at left back, that area of our squad is crucial and a serious weakness that needs addressing although Chambers has, in recent weeks, made a new right back less important in fact I think he may have solved that issue.

    Centre mid is a must for me, it’s the engine room and it needs attention as we don’t have have any youngsters developing in that mode, Bissouma for me not least on his performance on Sunday.

    Odegaard on loan for another year works for me, it gives Emile some help and allows one or two of our youngsters to emerge because we’ve got some very interesting young prospects who can play that role – not least Saka as it goes. I’m really keen to see how Azeez fits into the squad next season.

    I think we’ll see more go than arrive despite all the rumours of new faces, I don’t have any faith in KSE riding to our rescue, it’ll be what we can raise from sales is what we can spend.

  • What a giant of a man you are, GN5!

    Great solution and now we all can have a bit more fun! 😁

    Villarreal v Manchester United
    Half time = 0-0
    Full time = 2-1

    Manchester City v Chelsea
    Half time = 0-1
    Full time = 2-2 man City win on pens

  • Thanks for all the great, detailed comments, guys.

    We have a new puppy 🐶. He is called Basil and is keeping me busy. But I will get back to you. 😊

  • Good luck with the puppy, TA. I’m sure you and your family will have tons of joy with him.
    You have to post pictures, though. 🙂

    On the other topics, our opinions didn’t get closer. I still think Arteta is mediocre coach (at best) and a lousy tactician. The last 5 games could be misleading: apart from an away win against Chelsea – who were preparing for a cup final – we didn’t do anything remarkable or unexpected. In fact, the only improvement was that the in-form Pepe played a lot, apparently meaning that neither Willian is a must-start not does Arteta stick to a SmithRowe-Odegaard-Saka trio, but seeing that when MO11 plays AM then ESR plays LW ahead of Martinelli and that our best attacking player – Lacazette – didn’t start the last 8 games, I can hardly interpret this as Mikel takes the current form much into consideration.

    And while I have no doubts that Arteta will likely do better next year I am not sure at all that it will be enough, as probably you and I would improve upon this pathetic 8th position. Furthermore I don’t think keeping Arteta sends the right decision towards the league, the academy players or the fans, I expect you to disagree. So I will do my best to minimize my disappointment towards him and pointing out his several, fact-based numerical shortcomings until the end of the summer transfer window. I am a known advocate of a small squad, and without mid-week games I think a team of 21-22 would be aplenty, I am willing to support Mikel as long the squad size doesn’t exceed 24. If it will be above 25 I will criticize him without mercy – obviously only when deserved – as he will keep destroying Arsenal value . something he shouldn’t have gotten away with in the first place.

    Therefore I think the success of the summer transfer window will not solely be based upon the new arrivals, but (for me even more so) about how Arsenal disposes of players – a trait that we are infamously terrible at. However it is less on Arteta: we were rather poor at department during Wenger (however Mikel started to make a habit out of “giving away” 10M+ players as gifts). Since there is a chance that we can get back to Europe after a “sabbatical” year, we might need to increase the squad size in 2022 to 27-28, so I really hope we have a good loaning manager, as Arsenal have plenty of players who are too good to be sold – especially for cheap within the lowest market conditions ever – but need competitive minutes to come back stronger.

  • Hi TA,

    Your wish list sounds entirely sensible but unlikely to be fulfilled in its entirety.

    1. Yes – I have also come to the conclusion that Leno will not return to his best in a team that has as strong a bias towards playing out from the back as we have under Arteta. He is still a very good keep but his fit seemed to be better when he joined. Not sure we have budget for a new number 1, however, unless we get a lot for Leno.
    2. Absolutely, no way can we rely on Xhaka to cover again for next year
    3. A deeper midfielder, yes, but does it need to be “a beast”? Thinking back a few years we had Santi play more or less in a 8 role. Hardly a physical presence but his passing and dribbling meant he could always get out of trouble. Not only that, he allowed us to progress the ball in a way we could have done with against Villareal. My next midfield addition would need to offer passing, dribbling, throughballs and preferably some pace.
    4. Arteta is essentially moving in the direction of Wenger’s system of one creative centre plus one creative winger with the other winger a more direct attacker. With Willian never settling and most likely to leave, we definitely need an addition here on the creative front. Odegaard would be great but he probably did too well for Madrid to let him go.
    5. I would be happy if we could put Laca on a diet that makes him grow a couple of inches. Whilst height and hold-up play would be extreme welcome, I am not sure I would want to lose the excellent link-up play we had from Laca, especially with Auba a totally different type. Where we are now, I would prefer to see Auba leave rather than Laca to make room and create budget for a new addition but I fear there is now market for him on his wages and at his age.
    6. Right-back. Chambers had a really good spell but I am not yet convinced that he is the best we can have in that position. Neither Cedric nor Bellerin could convince this season and I would expect at least one of them to leave.

    Without European football we will not need as large a squad and maybe the strategy should be to bring in two excellent additions and cover the other positions with academy players where available rather than four average players.



  • To answer your points, TA, I would only sign a DM/CM. I don’t see AMN good enough to become a starter, and Willock is a box-to-box CM that shouldn’t play in a midfield duo. Elneny had some good games but unfortunately still half a player advantage to the opponent against equal or inferior teams. If we sign Ceballos or keep Guendouzi, I wouldn’t even request further reinforcements, but I’m aware that I belong to the minority here. Not only for appreciating Dani and Matteo, but also for not being the splash-the-cash guy…

    I don’t think we are in a position where we should demote Leno to backup. We need a player who could compete with him, but from the #2 position – like Emi did a season ago. Ryan could do that. But it’s a shame that he played only a lousy 270 minutes during his stay. So far I don’t mind signing him permanently, but we didn’t see too much of him, so another candidate could also do just fine. But probably it would be as important to deal with Rúnarsson and Iliev.

    I don’t want to seem too skimpy, but again, I think we shouldn’t spend on LB. Tierney is a player who has undoubted skills and a stamina to play the majority of the 42-44 games we will likely have next season, so both spending on a talented player or a free signing (with bonus and a huge salary) seems a waste of money to me. We have Soares who deserves some game time, so him being deputy for both fullback positions will be just fine. An in an unlikely scenario where he is needed yet unavailable (or should play in both positions when the first-choice fullbacks are injured/suspended) we can still have Xhaka or Saka playing LB/LWB for a game or two.

    While I think ESR could cover for the AM position – with Willian as back-up (come on, his not going to China or the MLS) – we might sign a permanent AM. Calhanoglu and Coutinho are experienced, but risky and expensive alternatives, Buendia is the standout player of the Championship that might mean high PL-quality, and I agree with TA, that Odegaard will be a fine choice too. But don’t forget: a permanent signing would mean less playing time for Emil and/or Martinelli as ESR used to play LM/LW recently.

    Regarding center forwards, we are stuck with Aubameyang – which is not necessary a bad thing if the manager can motivate him properly and find the right tactics to involve him. But we have a better striker capable of holding the ball in Lacazette, who couldn’t play enough even with Nketiah and Balogun were both out of competition. So if we desperately want to sign a striker than we should find somebody who is a clear improvement over Lacazette, doesn’t cost a fortune, and would be interested to join a mid-table PL team. If we found somebody checking those boxes we just need to get rid of the other 3 CFs, as we obviously don’t need 3 players without playing in Europe. We can sell Alex (possible to Atletico Madrid), but I would rather loan Nketiah and Balogun, if we can find good host teams for them. However I doubt Folarin would be enthusiastic about going on loan after signing the new contract a few weeks ago.

  • We have so much talent out on loan, particularly Joe Willock, but also have potential permanent loanees playing now and also many options available on the market, including apparently Harry Kane, who I’d buy in a minute. There isn’t a pressing need for a new keeper as both Ryan and Leno are more than adequate, especially Leno has made some fine saves and while still developing, will be perfectly able to fufill our needs for the near future. I fail to see any need for reinforcements at the moment but know that we will bring in some new faces over the summer.

  • Sorry, GN5. Was out taking in the Victoria Day fireworks display with the kids.

    So, it’s a go, then. Here are my predictions (got to admit it is more of a wish than actual gut feeling, inspired by my biases 😉😎):

    Villarreal 0-1 Man United HT
    Villarreal 1-1 Man United FT
    Villareal 1-1 Man United AET (Villareal win it via pens).

    Man City 1-0 Chelsea HT
    Man City 3-1 Chelsea FT
    ManCity win UCL!

  • Good food for thought, TA and like Kev stated we shall be talking about the subject for a while, through the summer. You are also spot on with those 5 areas needing upgrades or bodies, for that matter, but it is unlikely any club of our status will go all out for 5 new players, given the disruptive effect of such wholesale changes (okay, Wenger did that one time, when he also got Arteta and Per. We needed bodies and some distraction after that ill fated visit to Old Toilet). At the moment, it is all about the finance so, there should be far more out- than in-comings.

    Following from the above, the ideal thing is to prioritize and for me, that would be LB, Striker (with the qualities you mentioned, including one who isn’t afraid to put his foot where it hurts and an ability to bring others into play) and attacking midfielder, for me. I feel Partey will come good next season and may overcome his fitness problems to show he can play every minute of all the games we have to play. In which case, I’d shelve the idea of a “beast of a midfielder” (very overrated) and look to bring in a creative midfielder instead. Bissouma does look like he can play further up the field if given license to do so, and I say why not get him where he can interchange the role with Partey?

    Leno deserves another chance, especially since financing player purchase will be something we must be careful about.

  • Hi Guy’s here’s a little bit of fun.

    Who can guess the breed of TA’s puppy? as a clue it’s all in the name (Basil).

  • GN5, your three priorities sound right to me. I am not talking about spending loads of money necessarily, but I expect the club to go and spend this summer.

  • Madhu, I was also thinking how poor we were in terms of attacking the near post area. Laca is much better at this than Auba or Martinelli.

  • OX10, good comment. Soares is a squad player and I reckon Hector will be sold. XhakA is left footed and that is why he started ahead of Soares I reckon. But we need cover, unless Big Gab can do it?

  • PB, thanks for expressing your opinions. There is not much I agree with and I certainly will not bother about the exact size of the squad. Why is this so important to you as a fan?

  • Cvk, great points. A beast DM is key for me as Partey is injury prone, but they have to be able to play footie too. A young copy of Partey is what I am after; one who can play at PL level.

    Agreed re keeping Laca over Auba.

  • PB, your second comment I am much more aligned with. All good points but we need a left footed LFB. Tierney is too injury prone to play most of the games.

  • Eris, fine comment and mostly agreed. Bissouma could be a fine addition. I think next season we may see more of 4-1-2-3 with Partey in the ‘1’. If so we need back up.

    I would love a CF who puts his foot in!!

  • I will go with a Terrier (maybe, a Greek one)? Could also be a Shepard.

  • Some extraordinary choices but so far Basil is being very elusive.

  • I’m not convinced, TA, that even if Tierney has to miss the quarter of the upcoming season we wouldn’t be able to properly deputize him with the different skills and specializations combined from Soares, Xhaka and Saka. Still, it is quite probable that there is a LB-transfer on the table, yet I don’t think the new guy – if any – will play beyond 1000 minutes.

    By the way, minutes. It’s not only important to me, I’m borderline obsessed. 🙂 And it is directly translates to squad size.
    Besides (the slogan of) being loyal to the club and the manager, I sympathize with the players, too. In my opinion – expressed on this very blog almost a year ago: https://bergkampesque.com/2020/08/31/mikel-artetas-biggest-dilemma/ – in order to properly develop (and also satisfy) a player, he needs at least 2500 minutes in a season. While 2500-3000 should be the preferred range, at least 2000 senior, competitive minutes should be acceptable. But below that it’s like depriving water from plants: without over-dramatization, the club is hindering development, limiting market value and reducing individual morale – which often leads to lower team morale as well.

    This season Arteta failed to provide sufficient playing minutes to Nelson (450), Martinelli (800), Chambers (1050), Nketiah (1100), Mari (1450), and Soares (1700). Some might argue that many of them were struggling with one long or multiple shorter injuries, checking the data would only justify Mari’s exclusion. (Martinelli recovered in early December.) The 0 senior playing minutes of Saliba in the first half of the season is also closer to a sin than to an honest mistake. And I haven’t mentioned yet that the 96 minutes combined senior appearances of academy players (Balogun: 76, Azeez: 7, Cottrell 13) makes anyone ashamed who looks up to Wenger’s legacy.

    So yes, I consider playing minutes quite seriously. However this is all spilt milk this season. But next campaign – after loosing 14.000 minutes – we will play only about 44.000. Even if I reduce my playing expectations to 2000 with a heavy heart, we shouldn’t have more than 22 players. So when I say starting the season with 25+ players is a sign of major incompetence, it is really not as arrogant as it may seem at the first glance, and doesn’t make it less true either.

  • Cheers PB, for me this is entirely a matter between the club and the players. The club will have to cover for eventualities and players have to find a balance between income and playing times. But if it keeps you awake then this is the place to vent your frustrations 😤 😤 🙂

    Arteta has let a lot of players go and that is another reason to appreciate him.

  • With the immortal words of one of my favorite fictional character, Turkish from ‘Snatch’: I fail to recognize the correlation between refusing to sell Sokratis to PSG in the summer, then after half a season without a single minute of competitive senior playing time (and £2.5M in salaries!) terminating the contract – possibly paying some severance, but I don’t know for sure – eventually letting him go and a good deal.
    But Total, you have some remarkable skills to find a reason to appreciate Arteta. 🙂

    The same applies to Saliba – but I don’t want to insert multiple links, as we all know the story to well anyway. Praising Mikel for letting William go on a loan is like appreciating me for (incidentally) dropping a vase, but at least I threw out the shards. 🙂

  • Please never use dodgy sources to convince me, PB.

    The problem with you my dear Peter is that you are not thorough enough and thus see correlations too quickly. You may also suffer as much from conformation bias as I do.. 😁
    Arteta The Great will surprise (even) you next season.

  • According to certain German media reports Schalke 04 are negotiating for the permanent transfer of Sead Kolasinac who they view as a ‘leader’ – hmm fair enough.

    I think a permanent deal would suit Arsenal as we almost certainly pay a considerable slice of his salary while he plays elsewhere, but these things are always complicated by agents and ‘what’s in it for me’…

  • I can’t lie, but I do find it rather odd that Norwich would consider (if true) selling one of their key players as they return to the Premier League in Buendia.

    Now I can’t say that this guy has ever really caught my eye when I’ve watched Norwich, which isn’t that often tbh, so maybe I’m missing something, all the same he certainly seems to be the name on everyone’s lips. If not mine.

    What is it about Emi Buendia?

    If the rumours are true then Norwich, as you would expect, will want a fairly hefty fee with the sum of £40million being banded about and that I would guess would be pretty much the lions share of our transfer budget this summer.

    We also need a reserve left back and a partner for Partey and Xhaka therefore we have to find some dough for those upgrades and I can’t see Enos weighing in anytime soon even if I’m waiting fervently to be surprised by KSE and to see if they’ll pull a rabbit out of their Stetson.

    Talks may well be ongoing between Arsenal and Norwich and Buendia’s people, as they will be with Madrid and Odegaard’s people and that’s where it is.

    I’m still in the Odegaard on loan for another year camp myself.

  • Great stuff, Kev. It is all exciting to me. Norwich may want to sell as they will have spotted good replacements and know they cannot keep hold of Buendia forever?! Arsenal will have options so they will not be forced into paying over the odds.

    My money is on us signing Ode permanently.

  • Frankly I was disappointed with Ogegaard and felt his performances were very inconsistent. But on the plus side he’s still young and perhaps needs more time to adjust to the rigors of the EPL.. However on the occasions he played well he showed us glimpses of his capabilities. Overall I think he would be a risky signing and I would prefer us to find a proven play maker.

  • I can’t agree more with you, GN5. What we lacked last season (and many below par seasons before) was consistency; that only comes from having consistency from key performers, so “occasional glimpses” won’t help us. Odegaard, if he is the one we choose eventually, must have to play well about 80% of the time for it to be worth it. A proven, EPL-ready play maker will be ideal unless a permanent contract for him now brings out the best in the young Norwegian.

  • A bit off topic but I saw this and had to think I felt the same way upon reviewing both of our games against Villareal. I have seen Chukwueze dance all over many defenders and lamented the inclusion of Xhaka vs this tricky player. But other than the goal he made and one moment he escaped his marker, I didn’t see enough from him.

    Read : https://metro.co.uk/2021/05/26/samuel-chukwueze-names-arsenals-granit-xhaka-as-toughest-europa-league-opponent-this-season-14649246/?ito=newsnow-feed

  • I’m really looking forward to being surprised, TA. 🙂
    No irony or sarcasm here. I’m loyal to the club, and I wish Arsenal to succeed. If it has to be with Arteta, then so be it.

    And while I wouldn’t challenge the existence of some confirmation or other cognitive biases, I have to respectfully decline your – otherwise generous – offer to be peers here. No offense intended.

    I have a counter proposal.
    I will pick/select a number A and you will pick a number B.
    This number should represent the expected Premier League points after 19 games, when Arsenal will have played once with each team.
    My number (A) should be the threshold if reached I would – smilingly – stand behind Arteta, and demand a contract extension. (For me it would be no problem, not even stretching. My view is not on Arteta, but his mediocre – and often piss-poor – job this season, thus it has nothing to do with next season’s results. If he becomes a top manager I will gladly support him, while I can still think he wasn’t doing too good in 20/21.)
    Your number (B) should be the threshold which if NOT passed you will advocate ArtetaOUT. It wouldn’t mean that you should resent your support retrospectively, since you had plenty of reason to grant your trust and faith to Mikel, just a simple admission that after 2 years he is not yet on a level to lead us back to Champions League.

    I will not start to advertise the importance of setting performance indicators well in advance, because this is your profession, therefore you are way more knowledgeable and experienced in that than myself or anyone else here. But we were so blown away by the FA Cup victory that we forgot to do that last summer, so it is reasonable (or at least understandable) that we find ourselves in a situation that seems like an organic transformational change to you, while it seems like the anecdotal jar with the frog and the slowly boiling water to me. So in order to avoid that I offer to set the target in June, and would propose the mid-season PL points as the performance indicator.
    In an ideal case the A and B numbers would be the same, or really very close. But I try to be realistic here and accept a narrow zone – between B and A – where you are not yet convinced of Arteta’s inadequacy and I’m not yet convinced of his competencies either, but we can keep agreeing to disagree, which we are quite skillful at. 🙂 We might even extend the game to the end of next season.

    So if you accept my proposal and come up with a reasonable target (B) – that would show that after a temporary fall-back period we are on our way back to fight for silverware and test ourselves against Europe’s top teams – I would happily accept you being an Arsenal-man, not an Arteta-man. And feel free to propose slight changes to the offer if you have a different indicator in mind (position instead of points), or would recommend a shorter period (I wouldn’t go further than mid-season), etc. However if you evade the target setting on grounds like “performance is more complex than numbers”, or you are not a betting man, you will lose some grounds on condemning my – unfortunately existing, but under conscious efforts to elimination – cognitive biases.
    And a final reason: if the Kroenkes have any leadership abilities, they would have some similar expectation in place. I’m not sure if it is mid-season PL points, but it would be an obvious choice…

    What do you think?
    Is anybody else interested in playing?

  • Yeah Total, Buendia has had a great season with Norwich scoring quite a few goals as they returned to the Premier League, the season before when Norwich were relegated from the EPL he scored once!

    I get what you say about Odegaard GN5 and he has been average at times but generally I’ve been encouraged by what he’s given and potentially how good he could be and that he was coming into England on the back of no football prior to January.

    Adapting to England is not easy, many top players struggle in their first season let alone half a season and on top of that when he was playing well his International manager mishandled totally his ankle injury and that banjaxed the key period of our season with him. Tak Norge.

  • Joe Willock scored his seventh goal in seven games on Sunday afternoon, notching after just 23 minutes in Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

    Our young midfielder drove at the heart of Scott Parker’s defence before unleashing a low shot in the bottom left-hand corner to open the scoring.

    Willock now joins Alan Shearer as one of only two players in Newcastle’s history to score in seven consecutive Premier League matches.

  • Hey Peter is this some kind of prediction thingy viz a viz how many points we’ll get in the League by Christmas, which if so then I’ll be happy to join in, the fixtures will be out soon and maybe waiting until we’ve done some transfer business would be preferable. 🙂

  • Hi Peter/Kev,

    I like that idea and would be happy to create a spreadsheet and administer it – as well as our prediction contest.

  • Peter, Kev, N5. Count me into a ‘points by Christmas’ comp. Although, like Kev, I would be happier to make the prediction when we know who has left and joined the squad.

    Peter’s challenge though was to set a target by which we can measure whether Arteta has been successful or not. That’s a bit different and our Christmas prediction vs our individual targets for Arteta might be quite illuminating! I still think that we should wait before setting the Arteta target as well though. If we do it now we are setting a target by which we judge not just Arteta but Edu, the Kroenkes and some others. If we make some stellar signings Arteta’s target should be higher but if we lose key players through injury at the Euros or transfer then maybe the target is lowered. I hope that makes sense!

  • Kev, GN5, this is indeed a game, and everybody is welcome to join.

    However – and this is quite important – this is not a prediction game where the goal is to be as precise as possible. This is more of an expectation game, therefore it is not about how well we know Arsenal, but what should we expect from the (Arteta-managed) team. The main purpose of my proposal – which I managed to put across unnecessarily long (as always) – is to set up a mid-season target for Arteta before the campaign even starts and hold ourselves accountable. This is an important issue for me, because I really want to remove as much emotion of it as possible, to avoid being lethargic after an unexpected loss as well as being over-enthusiastic after 3 consecutive wins (against mid-table teams). But maybe this is not an issue for you.

    Nevertheless if you are excited to shift the “shall we stick to Arteta, or shall we demand his replacement?” decision from subjective emotions, transfer window saticfaction and press conference perceptions to a quantitative performance expectation you are more than welcome to participate. If you could administer it GN5 that would be splendid.
    While I am heavily disappointed in the current season – in fact every competition to be honest – I gladly undertake to support Arteta if Arsenal collects ‘A’ points (to be specified in early June) in 19 games. Would you be interested to take such pledge? It doesn’t have to be the same number, but shouldn’t spread too much either.

  • Thanks for the summary and interpretation, GunnerOX10.
    You made good points, too.

    I agree to wait until the season starts (to see the performances and injuries of the Euro2021) as well as the pre-season results and the early transfers, but I would close the target setting a couple days before the first round, withtransfer window sill open for a few weeks.
    Is that an acceptable alternative?

  • Peter, yes I think we have to submit our figures before the season starts even though the transfer window will still be open (which I always think is a bit daft).

  • 0x10, I understand the transfer window has been changed to agree with the timing of the European window.

    Here are the key dates we need to know:-

    New schedule comes out on June 16th.

    2021/22 season opens on August 14th

    Transfer window closes on August 31st.

    So it’s obvious from the dates that we cannot wait for the transfer window to close and include all of the games.

    We will need time to get all the predictions in and posted so I’m going to suggest that we have a deadline of August 7th to get all of the predictions made and recorded.

    All other suggestions are welcome.

  • August 7th seems fair and do’able GN5, we’ll still have some last minute business to do by then no doubt but you’ve gotta start somewhere and that seems eminently sensible.

    Count me in…

  • Cheers Peter and others.

    I hope to see a step improvement next season depending on circumstances of course. I am certainly not going to set a target for Arteta at Christmas – not falling into that trap, Sir.

    But I am always happy to join a friendly competition. 😊

  • If it’s not too late, GN5, here are my predictions for both European finals.

    Villarreal – Manchester United (half time) 0:0
    Villarreal – Manchester United (half time) 0:1

    Manchester City – Chelsea (half time) 1:0
    Manchester City – Chelsea (half time) 3:1

  • Sorry for the rookie copy-paste error. My second predictions refer to the full time.

  • Well done Villarreal, now just keep it tight for another 45 minutes

  • That was also cool with 11 penalties scored.
    Well done, Coquelin. Well played, Emery.

  • My fav moment when Coquelin stepped up to take his pen and Robbie Savage said he is going to miss. I huh up yours Savage.

    That was until those miserable sods from United collected their medals, sheer pleasure

  • What was it that Mesut Ozil said to Unai Emery in Baku in 2019 when he substituted him after Ozil had stunk the place out?

    “You’re no Coach”…

    Well Mesut, you’re no judge of a Coach, enjoy the rest of your career…

  • Hey! It was such a pleasant experience to see United finish the season trophy-less. I can just imagine the tabloids bleating about how much greater Ole is than Arsenal’s Arteta, completely ignoring the fact that Ole’s challenge vs Emery was a one-off game while we had to navigate a closely fought two legged tie; different approach for both scenarios.

    11 penalties scored to 10 is no mean feat by both sides, it must be said. So, kudos to both sides for trying hard to win it. Congratulations to Emery for once again, showing that his famed pedigree in Europe is no fluke.

    After Saturday, Arsenal fans can experience world peace, hopefully.

  • That last line there, Kev, brings me to the “challenge” PB has thrown to TA, re: setting “points at mid-season” targets for the Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta. It would seem to me that what PB wants is more about testing TA’s resolve given his (along with a few others’, on here) unwavering stance in support of Arteta’s retention as our coach, in the fair hope that he gets it right next season. A kind of “Dare” for TA to put up or maybe fall on his own sword, if Arteta isn’t reaching a certain mark after 19 games…… of course, the consequences will be the same for PB, should Arteta meets/exceeds his set target.

    For me, the thing is we all want Arsenal to succeed, irrespective of who is manager, so it may be counter-productive to set a standard for 19 games for a manager in a 38 game season, knowing how quickly things change in round-robin competitions (just see Leicester who spent the longest days in the top 4, losing out to Liverpool and Chelsea in the end). No matter the points scored, no body wins and everyone loses. Let’s say PB gets his way (Arteta fails to hit both TA’s and his set targets), the implication is we start an online demonstration to get Arteta out, stop our support for the manager and how this will affect the team, no one knows. The converse is a more pleasant scenario (where Arteta meets/exceeds TA’s/PB’s target); so, we assume it is nirvana by Christmas and chorus “Arteta is the man”, only for the wheels to come off by April and we are no better than the current placing…. we all look silly.

    It would serve some excitement if it were a mere “predictions of scores to Christmas, based on the fixtures” kind of game; rather than a game that may only serve our respective egos. The job of the manager’s target setting belongs to Edu, the board and owners. Let them worry. If Arteta hangs himself, it will be on him.

    As part of Kev’s last line to Ozil stated, who are we to judge a coach (I am paraphrasing, I know)?

  • Exactly, Eris. As a famous Albert once said tout est relatif. I want to see step progress by Arteta and the team taking into account all circumstances. Setting a half way target in current circumstances is a a no goer for me, but I will know what progress will looks like by then.

  • Emery has played chess with both Arteta and OGS and came out victoriously twice. Very boring but effective and well done to him and the yellow submarine.

  • Thanks for your thought, Eris.
    I want to stress though that there is absolute zero emphasis on any online demonstration. It’s up to everyone’s temperament. And believe me, that I will not start a private crusade either; I don’t have a Twitter account (and never will), and I won’t post a single FB-status on Mikel either. So it is not about the consequences.
    In fact, I want to see the progress as anybody. I have 2 reservations though. First, I don’t see many. And second, it is difficult to debate about it, as there is a hell lot of bullshit around it. I understand (some) reason behind it, as it is quite complicated – and subjective – what constitute as progress. And what is the opposite of progress. We should be happy that Elneny scored long range goals, Chambers stepped up, Pepe found his scoring shoes, we beat Chelsea and Manchester United on the road. But on the other hand Willian turned out a flop, Aubameyang scored less than half than his tally in the last 3 years, and Arsenal was given an extremely high number of red cards. So it is indeed difficult to find the balance of it.

    All I want is less bullshit.

    You can argue about setting a standard for 19 games for a manager in a 38 game season, but what would be your counter proposal? I’m flexible for reasonable alternatives, but the complete lack of expressed expectations just doesn’t work for me. And I would prefer SMART targets over subjective perceptions, but I’m open to all ideas.
    I don’t overestimate our significance; whatever we shall do it will – obviously – have no impact on Arteta’s position. But the obvious fact that Mikel’s job is in the hands of the board or the Kronkes just motivates me even more to make it more transparent and more up front. Because I don’t really trust them to make the optimal decision. I don’t know them, they may be too soft or too harsh. Nevertheless Arteta is working for them legally, but I am – as you all are – one of his customer. So I don’t mind having a separate (or at least transparent) performance expectation.

    About the risk of tides turning mid-season and eventually look silly. I don’t mind it at all. But I don’t force anybody to do it; looking silly might not be everyone’s cup of tea. 🙂 However as far as I’m concerned there are worse things than the possibility of looking silly, and giving up expectations and blindly trust the owner are clearly among them.

  • Morning all .

    Here are the results of the first leg of our season ending play off between Eris and Kev.

    Eros scored 5 out of 6 available points
    Kev – scored zero

    TA and GN5 got 3/6
    PB got zero.

    So Eris has taken an commanding lead of five points going into the last leg.

  • I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions based upon anything appearing in the Sun!

  • PB, I am relieved yours is an intent to merely have SMART expectations about our manager for purely footballing reasons and not about a campaign to ease him out (it may yet result in that if he messes up bad and I expect the board to be the first to act, should that be the case). Frankly, we have had one too many of that in recent years, where fan (and media) fury will force out an Arsenal manager. Recall when our fans were warned to “be careful what you wish for” as Wenger was hounded out of the club, unceremoniously.

    I do not advocate tolerance for mediocrity by any stretch, but after studiously making a decision to hire, the decent thing to do is to hand-hold, guide, support and defend such a coach (internally, he can be read the riot act) so as to help stability. I read Alex Ferguson’s story and am convinced that so long as you give a chosen manager the basic elements to work with, eventually, something good comes of it.

    As a club, Arsenal must have standards/goals and a phased process flow towards attaining those standards/goals. Arteta must have impressed them enough; so did Emery, by the way yet, we allowed fan angst to hound him out when he looked like he had a bit more to offer, if supported.

    So, to your challenge, it may be best to see the fixtures before setting any points expectations for the manager. GN5 has confirmed we would know Mid-june. We see how it goes then.

  • Interesting article, PB. Coming from the Sun, you can’t help but feel they are taking the mickey. It would have been more helpful if this was pointed out early in the season.

    I recall a few times where we had condemned some of the calls which go against us, including penalty denials. In one case, a goal was chalked off for a non-existent foul…. after the review. Like there was an unspoken resolve to disorient and frustrate the whole club and fan base, knowing how much our fans can be influenced by narratives. The online media smile to the bank with every click/buy…..

  • GN5, nice to know the results of the mini-contest, but it is just halfway for now.

    Lol @ Super Eagles Eris. 🤣🤣

  • I’m not comfortable with the news that Arsenal are willing to sell Granit Xhaka to Roma, I think that that could be a big big mistake, but of course maybe Xhaka himself wants to move and maybe he and Arteta came to an arrangement last summer?

    When I think of the many player’s we do actually need to move on Xhaka doesn’t come anywhere near the top of the list.

  • Eris, I wasn’t familiar with the phrase ‘taking the mickey’.
    I had to look it up. I’m still smiling. 🙂

    Good that we got rid of the misunderstanding on the intention.
    There is plenty of time before the season starts. Let wait to see a glimpse of the transfer window, the fixtures and the pre-season performance. So no rush, we’ll do it in August.

  • Kev, I couldn’t agree any more.
    I hope that this is clickbait bullshit. We know that Xhaka is underappreciated among the fans, but popular in the dressing room and indispensable for any Arsenal manager so far.
    If everybody is fit only Granit, Partey and Tierney should be guaranteed to start, everybody else have competition.

  • Taking the Micky is a kinder way of saying taking the piss Peter, taking the rise or taking liberties are other variations on the same theme, I’m sure that Retsub knows even more of them than me as he’s a lot older than me and can remember back before the war. 😄

  • Well as I mentioned above Peter, I can only imagine that it’s Xhaka himself who wants to move on as I can’t think that Arteta wants him gone. It would be rather ironic if Xhaka leaves just as the Arsenal fans are beginning to appreciate him fully.

    Apparently Mourinho is a big fan of his and is the main driver behind Roma moving for him, if in fact they are moving for him?

    I think a new contract and the armband would do the trick…

  • Hahaha!, PB. Glad to think I added to your already brimming repertoire of English phrases. But the likes of Kev and GN5 would probably be more reliable at that, as you can see.

    How ironic that Jose Mourinho was an admirer of our Granit; maybe some fans who don’t appreciate him would do so now. For that reason alone, I would be happy for him to get a better offer with an important role at the side to boot.

  • I remember a boss of me once saying in a trade union meeting “Now you are taking the proverbial”. Had never heard of it and It made an impact. I repeated it a year later to a female colleague I liked to impress and it had teh same impact. 😄😄

  • TA, the Xhaka rumours seem to have been started by https://gianlucadimarzio.com who say that we want £25m for him and that they are not sure if Xhaka actually wants a move. I’m not sure whether that site is reliable or not. Of course, lots of other sites are now reporting it as fact.

  • It’s quite interesting how the Xhaka narrative is driven especially on line.

    I’ve just read Arseblog News and Andrew Mangan who runs the site and does a really top notch and professional job at it, has never been a fan of Xhaka and that’s fair enough.

    We all have our likes and dislikes. But he rarely, if ever, gives Granit any credit after a game despite the fact that he’s probably been Arteta’s most consistent and reliable player since he took the job.

    I noticed in his piece on the Xhaka rumours that he made reference to the two mistakes Xhaka made in our two games vs Burnley this season and ignored the rest, that was his critique.

    Of course the many easily led readers of his blog immediately get on board with that narrative and we get the ‘usual’ in the comments section with contributors going on about his lack of pace and that he slows everything down whilst ignoring the control he brings and his passing range which we always miss when his absent, his tackling, his leadership, his organisation, his versatility and so on, all forgotten because it doesn’t suit the narrative.

    Be careful what you wish for…

  • Great points, Kev. I struggle to have respect for anyone who doesn’t see what XhakA brings to the game and club. The exception being Retsub of course 😉

  • I would be amazed and disappointed if we were to sell Xhaka in the summer. Whatever his market value is, right now he is worth more to us. He is a known quantity and a consistent performer who has developed his game and become mature with us. Wenger admitted after he bought Xhaka that he knew he couldn’t tackle and that was evident on the pitch at the time. Look at him now, more than capable of standing in at LB or CB if called upon (not my first choice though!).

    The only thing we can be sure of with >95% of the posts/articles/reports about our players right now is that they are based on very little or no evidence whatsoever and, that nearly 100% of them are clickbait using us to fund someone’s revenue stream.

  • I’ll try to refrain from writing British saying’s as I could fill up pages with the.

    However there is one that I heard here in Canada from the American owner of a computers parts company who retained me as a consultant.

    He was very proud of his achievements as a self made multi millionaire and spoke in very flowery lavish language and he would typically end one of his self appreciating dialogues with – “Of course I exaggerate to make a point”

  • Well now you mention it 0X10 I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts lately.

  • GN5/OX10, you are both on a roll. Clearly, you have not lost your touch. I bet you can go on all day.

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