A Flying Start by Arsenal – Five Areas of Improvement

Three games gone and all is looking rosy for the boys in red and white. Of course it is early days but what nobody can take away is that we started very, very well. This is not just about the nine points from three games and being the sole TotL team right now, but a general sense of improvement in a number of key areas.

Arsenal areas of improvement:

  1. The obvious one is the quality of our squad-depth. More than decent back up in defence and midfield, and we are almost there in attack. Rumours remain strong that Arsenal are after a left winger and they would allow Martinelli to play more regularly as our CF. I have said before that with Jesus we are effectively getting two CFs/attackers, as Martinelli is clearly growing under the tutelage of his ‘older brother’. Getting GJ9 was just such a clever move. I still believe Gakpo will come our way but any of the alternatives mentioned in the papers would also be an improvement.
  2. Our currently ‘first-choice’ full backs may not be pure, classic ones but they are so effective in Arteta’s system. They can squeeze into midfield and form a wall with Xhaka and Partey. They can also get forward and interchange with the central midfielders, making it hard for opponents to pick any of them up. White and Zinchenko are no-nonsense defenders when it comes to it, with the only potential weakness of not being able to block out speedy wingers. Yet Xhaka and Partey are happy to help out then by doubling up. This is still a work in progress as especially on our left we have been porous a few times, as Leicester’s Maddison showed us last week. I really like the way Big Ben is developing his passing and crossing skills and he is getting better at this every week. With Tierney and Tomiyasu we have great back up and competition, allowing Mikel to rest and interchange players. It would not surprise me if Arteta will put either or both of White and Zinchenko in central midfield at times.
  3. The central defence duo of Tequila and Big Gab is even stronger than the Big Ben/Big Gab one. Early days of course and sterner test will no doubt follow, but Saliba really is looking very calm, composed and decisive when it matters. This goes well with Big Gab who is by nature more explosive and extrovert. With Big Ben and Holdingho as back up we really cannot complain about our cover in central defence.
  4. Our pressing has been so much better since the start of pre-season. Not only do we do it more, it is now also leading to dominance in the opposition half/box, and with three goals per game scored we are starting to see real payback from our concerted efforts. This is where Gab Jesus, and Xhaka’s presence higher up the pitch, really make a difference. Granit, Gabriel, Martinelli, Saka and especially the Ode are awesome pressers, helped very much by the likes of White, Partey and Zinchenko keeping it tight behind them. I thought Laca always gave his all when we were pressing but it did often result in what looked to me like fatigue when it came to taking his chances. With GJ9 we have a player who can press, dribble and take his chances for (best part of) 90 minutes. The man is simply electric – a turbo boost to the whole attack.
  5. Goals and assists are coming from everywhere. Of course I would like GJ9 to become top scorer this season, but it is also important we don’t become over-reliant on him. We have goals by GJ (2), Martinelli (2), Saliba, Xhaka, Ode (2) and an OG (forced by Saka). We have assists by GJ (3), Xhaka (2), Zinch (1). This is just great. We have not even had any goals or assists by Saka and ESR yet, our two top scorers of last season, so there is more in the tank, much more. On top of that we have Eddie waiting in the wings who clearly knows how to find the net if given a chance.

I am fully aware that we will face some really tough challenges this season. The way Liverpool, MU and Chelsea have dropped points already against teams they should have beaten tells us this is going to be a tough season in which, on the day, any team can beat any team. That is why I believe so strongly in the OGAAT – One Game at a Time – approach. Remain humble and totally focused, see games out till the last minute, work as a unit and for each other, and celebrate every win as a huge one.

By TotalArsenal.

42 thoughts on “A Flying Start by Arsenal – Five Areas of Improvement

  • How many fans thought we would lose to Bournemouth? Our big problem this season is an injury to Partey.We cant end up with Xhaka and Elneny again.Thats why we need another midfielder before the window shuts

  • Here are last weekends results:-
    For the week:-

    1st Kev with 5/6 plus bonus for most correct predictions = 9 points
    2nd Total, Eris, Madhu & LEgall with 4/6 = 4 points
    6th Stuart, OX10 &GN5 with 3/6 = 3 points
    Season to date:_
    1st Kev & Ox10 with 18
    3rd Stuart with 15
    4th Total with 14.33
    5th Eris with 13.33
    6th GN5 with 11.33
    7th Madhu with 8.00
    8th LEGALL with 7.00
    First time we’ve had a tie for the lead.

  • Just a reminder – here are next weekend selections:-

    Southampton v Manchester United *
    Brentford v Everton
    Arsenal v Fulham *
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle
    Nottingham Forest v Tottenham *
    Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt

  • Don, I think we will be fine with Elneny and White and Saliba behind him. Of course I would not mind a new signing for the position. Let us see what will happen next in the TW..

  • Southampton v Manchester United * 2-2
    Brentford v Everton H
    Arsenal v Fulham * H 3-1
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle D
    Nottingham Forest v Tottenham * 1-1
    Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt D

    Really hard for the soul to have to predict a Spuds’ game.

    Thanks for the update, GN5.

  • The Invincible Cabman!!
    “Mr Bloom and Stephen entered the cabman’s shelter, an unpretentious wooden structure, where, prior to then, he had rarely if ever been before, the former having previously whispered to the latter a few hints anent the keeper of it said to be the once famous Skin-the-Goat, Fitzharris, the invincible, though he could not vouch for the actual facts which quite possibly there was not one vestige of truth in.”

  • Iโ€™ve been driving a cab for 33 years but have yet to meet the fearsome Mr Fitzharris ๐Ÿ˜„

  • Well, “not a vestige of truth in it” is true, then โ€ฆ
    33 years! How’s that for being a living memory of London and its changes?
    There’s something about London that runs in my family too, you know
    My grandpa (on my mother’s side) was from Roscoff, a Breton village where men used to be either agricultural labourers-onion sellers, or fishermen
    My grandpa was one of the former; these men went by the name “Onion Johnnies” and sailed over to the Isles in order to sell the Roscoff “oignons rosรฉs” (forget about oil and butter when you cook, mate, just try a bunch of them instead – your doc will love that too) they had grown earlier in the year
    Many went to Wales, other to Scotland, but my grandpa had a store in Wimbledon (I have the address somewhere, I’ll put my hand on it again someday, but order and me are two very, very distinct things)
    Anyway, I was very young when he passed, but I know for sure cycling around London in order to sell his onions had made him fall deeply in love with the city; I can remember him singing childrenโ€™s songs to me in English, and the only teddy bear I ever got was the one he brought me back from there โ€“ I tore his head off pretty quick, though, as I used it as a football for the games I recreated in my bedroom
    The 21st century is great, which allowed one of my cousins to dig a photograph of Baptisteโ€ (his first name) out of the Internet. So, exclusively for Bergkampesque, and from one London lover to another, here he is:

  • An absolutely perfect post T!

    When did you last write one that I couldn’t find even the slightest point that I couldn’t dispute?

    Now we have confirmation of your genius !

    Haha actually you are really my football Sensei. When I met you I was just learning the game. Nobody has taught me as much, especially the subtle nuances.

    I’m still learning and even challenging the professor sometimes now…

  • Southampton v Man United…. Draw (2-2)
    Brentford v Everton…………….. Home
    Arsenal v Fulham ………………..Home (3-0)
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle… Home
    Nottm Forest v Tottenham……. Away (1-3)
    W Bremen v E Frankfurt………. Home

  • I couldnโ€™t download it LG…

    I recall as a child seeing a guy on a bike cycling down my street with onions all over his bycycle, it must have been around 1961 and we lived in a street close to Newington Green and Dalston Junction.

  • Our window cleaner used to cycle carrying his ladders etc and we also had an ice cream guy who used to carry his wares by bycycle with the ice cream in a large cold box on the front of his tricycle. The coal man delivered using a horse and cart and of course there was the rag and bone man on his horse and cart.

  • Congratulations, Kev. Nice going. Youโ€™re having an Arsenal-esque start to the โ€œseasonโ€ and thatโ€™s the way to go. OX10 is equally on a roll. Good to see. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ

  • My predictions for the weekโ€™s selections:

    Southampton v Manchester United * D (2-2)
    Brentford v Everton H
    Arsenal v Fulham * H (3-1)
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle D
    Nottingham Forest v Tottenham * D (1-1)
    Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt H

  • I think point #3 are the one that most fans, pundits and bloggers concentrate right now, but #5 and especially #4 are equally important, yet underrated factors of our recent success – apart from the lucky drawing with low- and mid-tier opponents.

    However #1 seems a bit premature, and kind of wishful thinking to me at this stage. There is a clear improvement to the starting XI, mostly because of the quality reinforcements of Jesus and Saliba, plus the capable – temporary or permanent – solution at LB by Zinchenko, and also because the squad is a year older and more mature, which is only a good thing when (almost) everybody is really young and somewhat inexperienced. But the depth of the squad can only be assessed when actually tested, and the first 3 games had nothing to do with it. We already knew the capabilities of Smith-Rowe and Nketiah coming from the bench, and seemingly Tierney and Tomiyasu aren’t substituted to change the dynamics or fine tune the original tactics, but rather to add a few minutes to them. Meaning Arteta is still sticking to the same line-up every time – which can be a good thing, but I don’t think it necessary is by definition – so we’ll have to wait until the cup season starts to test the depth of the squad as well as Mikel’s rotation and game management abilities.

  • Yes LeG, the link doesn’t work but great story and I love the story of the travelling onions with their growers. So much better than the dire stories in Emil Zola’s stories.

  • J, I am genuinely humbled by your comment. ๐Ÿ™

    I learn about the beautiful game all the time, including loads from you. The game keeps evolving and the PL has all the best managers who just love to work at this level.

  • Thanks for responding to the actual post, PB (just like J did). How do we determine depth? For me it’s a quality player for each position in case of injury or suspension to the ‘first eleven’, which I see as a fluid arrangement anyway.

    Of course when we lose three normal starters in one go, we are likely to struggle a bit, as most teams would do until they are worked into the team properly.

    There are a few players who look quality, like Turner and Vieira, but still need to be tested. I give you that.

    In defence and midfield we have good back up in all positions. Attack is a bit tight as yet.

  • Ramsdale = Turner
    White = Tomiyasu/Soares
    Saliba = White/Tomiyasu
    Big Gab = Holding/White
    Zinch = Tierney/Xhaka
    Partey = Elneny/White(?)/AMN
    Xhaka = Zinchenko/AMN/ESR
    Martinelli = ESR/new buy
    GJ9 = Martinelli/Eddie
    Ode = ESR/Vieira
    Saka = Nelson/Vieira/Marq

  • Europa dates:

    Matchday 1: September 8

    Matchday 2: September 15

    Matchday 3: October 6

    Matchday 4: October 13

    Matchday 5: October 27

    Matchday 6: November 3

  • Knockout round play-offs:

    February 16 & 23

    Round of 16: March 9 & 16

    Quarter-finals: April 13 & 20

    Semi-finals: May 11 & 18

    Final: May 31 (Budapest)

    So everyone around to Peterโ€™s house… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • How do the groups work?

    The 32 clubs are seeded into four pots of eight in accordance with the club coefficient ranking.

    Teams will be drawn into eight groups of four, each containing one team from each seeding pot.

    Clubs from the same association cannot be drawn against each other.

    To ensure that paired clubs from the same country (including those playing in the UEFA Europa Conference League) have different kick-off times where possible, the eight groups will be distinguished by colour: Groups A to D red and Groups E to H blue. When a paired club is drawn, for example, in one of the red groups, the other paired club โ€“ once drawn โ€“ will be automatically assigned to one of the blue groups. Pairings will be confirmed before the draw.

    Who has already qualified?

    16 teams have already made it to the group stage:

    Roma (ITA)Manchester United (ENG)Arsenal (ENG)Lazio (ITA)Braga (POR)Feyenoord (NED)Rennes (FRA)Real Sociedad (ESP)Real Betis (ESP)Union Berlin (GER)Freiburg (GER)Nantes (FRA)Monaco (FRA)Sturm Graz (AUT)Union Saint-Gilloise (BEL)Midtjylland (DEN)Who will the other 16 teams be?

    The six losers of these Champions League ties, which take place on Wednesday night, will drop into the Europa League:

    Qarabag (AZE) 0-0 Viktoria Plzen (CZE)Bodo/Glimt (NOR) 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)Maccabi Haifa (ISR) 3-2 Red Star Belgrade (SRB)Copenhagen (DEN) 2-1 Trabzonspor (TUR)Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) 0-2 Benfica (POR)Rangers (SCO) 2-2 PSV Eindhoven (NED)

    The eight winners of these Europa League qualifying ties, which take place on Thursday, will also join us in the group stage:

    Dnipro (UKR) 1-2 AEK Larnaca (CYP)Gent (BEL) 0-2 Omonoia (CYP)Austria Wien (AUT) 0-2 Fenerbahce (TUR)Zurich (SUI) 2-1 Hearts (SCO)HJK (FIN) 1-0 Silkeborg (DEN)Malmo (SWE) 3-1 Sivasspor (TUR)Ferencvaros (HUN) 4-0 Shamrock Rovers (IRE)Apollon (CYP) 1-1 Olympiacos (GRE)Pyunik (ARM) 0-0 Sheriff (MDA)Ludogorets (BUL) 1-0 Zalgiris (LTU)

    Who Arsenal could face?

    Due to our UEFA club coefficient ranking (based on our European performances during the last five seasons), we have been seeded in Pot 1 alongside Roma, Manchester United, Lazio and Braga, so will avoid those four plus another three top seeds, until the knockout stages.

    As we await confirmation of the other 16 teams following the qualifying rounds, the majority of the pots are still in flux, although we do know that Monaco (Pot 2) and Union Saint-Gilloise (Pot 4) have already been placed, meaning we could be drawn against either, or both.

    It has also been confirmed that Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Nantes and Sturm Graz wonโ€™t be included in Pot 1, so are all also potential opponents.

    How does the group work?

    All the group winners will progress straight into the round of 16, which is due to take place on 9 and 16 March.

    The second-placed teams go into a play-off round on 16 and 23 February, where they will face off against the eight teams that finished third in the UEFA Champions League groups to earn the right to reach the round of 16.

    The third-placed teams drop into the UEFA Europa Conference League, where they will face the group runners-up from that competition in the play-off round, also on the 16 and 23 February.

    Anyone finishing fourth will be eliminated from European competition.


    As usual, the knockout stages will be home and away legs, although the away goal rule has been scrapped.

    (Online Gooner)

  • About #2
    I agree with the possibility of a White-Zinchenko partnership in midfield, we might see that sooner than later. Actually, it is one of the reasons why I don’t think it necessary to spend big on Tielemans.
    If the club aims at upgrading on Partey, De Jong would be the obvious (only?) choice; rumour has it Bellingham is a very promising young man too, but I’ve seen too little of him to make a valuable personal opinion. There would be Kimmich as well, but I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell Bayern will ever sell him (even though he might be tempted by the PL at some point in what’s left of his career)
    If it’s a backup they want Tielemans’s way too expensive imo – PSG have just released Ander Herrera, and paid him 1 and a half year of the 2 he had left on his contract, so he can be had for free now, and might not be greedy wage-wise, so why not?
    About #1 there’s the Neto rumour which I don’t quite understand tbh – he’s too expensive to be a backup and yet Bukayo’s backup he’d be so what’d be the point? We might as well let Pรฉpรฉ run down his contract, and there’s also Vieira, Marquinhos (more likely), not to mention Reiss (although right-footed) to do the job on the right-wing if needed
    Right now we have:
    โ€ฆ which doesn’t look bad at all to me. Actually Turner’s my only worry – I do wish Aaron might keep out of harm’s way all season – after all, if things should stay as they are, nothing prevents Hector-Aisnley-Nick from working their socks off at Colney so as to be firing on all cylinders when their time comes, and come it will, given the insanity of the 2022-2023 schedule

  • Thanks Kev, for the comprehensive info for the competitions. I like this tournament at this stage of our development. Just the right thing.

    Shame the games are on Thursdays but there you go.

  • Like you, LeG, I am happy with our midfield options. White is learning to improve his forward passing and may well be Parteys best back up.

    I believe that IF we get Tielemans then Partey will become the back up, not the other way round. It’s better passing that Arteta may be after…

  • All agreed re Nr1. We need an established guy for our leftwing cover. Gakpo would need time to settle but he can play in both positions. Depay would really fit well with Jesus and Saka and Martinelli.

    Let’s give Turner a few games before we make judgement.

  • Thanks Eris, OGAAT.

    Depth isnโ€™t having 30 or 35 players itโ€™s having 22 players who can all be chosen for any game without the overall level of the team dropping and then having say another another half-a-dozen who can fill places in the early stages of the cups against weaker opponents.

  • LeGall, I’m so relieved not being the only one being upset about the Neto rumor and hoping to be agent-driven bull$shit.
    Pedro is not a bad player at all, but his stats imply a clear downgrade from Pepe, and he would cost a lot for a backup player. Even Vieira’s purchase was strange: paying 31.5M (possibly rising to 35M with add-ons) for a guy who you could only accommodate in team C.
    I’d rather go for Pepe not being replaced, and let the trio of Nelson, Marquinhos and Vieira battle it out who should be Saka’s backup. They all have the talent, let’s not splash the cash every possible time – especially if we are really under investigation for possibly breaking FFP rules…

  • Interesting points Peter, maybe the Neto rumour is a smokescreen for the Spanish guy or the Ukrainian or even Gakpo?

    But Pepe, hmm I think weโ€™ve seen that he just doesnโ€™t fit, which is a shame as I was so pleased we signed him despite the fog surrounding his feeโ€ฆ

    Nelson is a definite option considering his recent injury, I like Reiss, he has the talent but maybe he has confidence issues?

  • TA, good post and depth wise purely from quality we still have work to do. A winger who can play across the front three, A midfielder who can cover for Partey and take over from him next season, possibly a left 8 to replace xhaka longer term (may be Viera or Sambi). The one issue that i still see is the use of subs. For Ex, We have to expect an injury for Partey, so it makes sense to start giving 10-20 mins for Elneny every game to keep him ready when he has to deputize for Partey. This would also let us gauge if Elneny can perform the role better than last year since he has a Zin and White/Tomi beside him and a Saliba/Gab behind him. TO be fair last season when he played he didn’t have anyone except may be White. This will also ensure that he is match fit and feels part of the team and ready to go.
    We should also integrate Viera and Marquinous into the team as and when possible. Give them 10-20 mins so that they can start getting a feel of the team and forge partnerships.

  • I’m not campaigning for Pepe, Kev. You know me, I’m quite prone to preaching, but usually for a small squad and to give opportunities to academy players.
    Not replacing Pepe would achieve both. We save cash on the purchase, save on the salary (a player of Neto’s prestige would surely cost us 6 digits a week), we save the locker room morale – possibly even improve on that as Pepe must be among the disappointed players, and giving chance and minutes for Nelson, Marquinhos and/or Vieira in cup games and EL group stage would surely increase competitiveness.
    On the other hand buying a new winger would definitely bury Nelson hopes and chances, possibly Marquinhos’ too. If it is indeed a confidence issue as you suggest, then buying a 50M player (whom the crowd will surely demand to see play) will not be the solution.

  • Southampton v Manchester United * A (1-3)
    Brentford v Everton D
    Arsenal v Fulham * H (2-0)
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle A
    Nottingham Forest v Tottenham * A (1-2)
    Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt H

  • All good points, Madhu. There will be games in the weekend and midweek continuously from now on, so everyone will get minutes. Arteta likes to keep the balance right and get the current first eleven really used to each other, so I have no problems with him given them as much as possible time together.

  • I think we should not believe that 20 year old Bukayo will be a winger for the rest of his career now. Saka can play anywhere and a quality winger who delivers like he does is always welcome. Pepe is totally not suitable for Artetaball, so he really has to go. Nelson is a work in progress and so will be other new signings. Saka could play almost anywhere and I think we may find Mikel has very exciting ideas for him.

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