Isn’t it great to have a break from club football? I probably would not be saying this if the Euros weren’t about to start, but I feel we all needed a break: the players, managers and supporters.
Last season can only be seen as a transitional one and we’ll need to see a step improvement in the coming one. Arteta will need this summer to make the required squad changes: a few more need to leave after the successful winter moves and a few additions would be nice. But the squad is good and working with them to implement the next stage of the Arteta revolution is key. It’s more about style and system of football, and having good time to work on this, than player acquisitions.
Still, I think Arteta has the following squad-related questions to deal with:
The GK situation: who is Nr1 and Nr2? Do we need to buy a Nr1 or Nr2?
What to do with Saliba and Mavropanos? Let’s assume Holding, Mari and Big Gab are all staying, who is to become the fourth CB?
Are we sorted with FBs? Do we need an extra LFB? Do we need a top RFB?
Central midfield: will AMN and Willock’s return be enough for strong midfield options? How to get the best out of Partey?
How to get more assists from midfield? Will ESR be our main man? Do we need to buy? Can we get Odegaard for another season? Can Azeez step up?
How can we get more goals from our experienced attackers: Auba, Laca, Pepe and Willian? Do we need to sell one or two and get a strong in the air CF?
Who should be captain?
What to do with the loan returnees: Guendo, Torreira and Kola especially?
To avoid unnecessarily long posts Part I-II. will deal with general and defensive statistics in the PL, followed by offensive and passing performances in Part III-IV. and conclude it with all of the above in the Europa League. Don’t expect expert analysis though, I will use the ranking to see if there is an Arsenal player in the Top20. Maybe a sentence to evaluate – to invite discussion among the comments, but I’ll do my best to refrain from criticism. Some of the attributes are cumulative, some are calculated on a 90 minutes ratio, but they can all be compared to other players’ similar statistics.
Appearances & mins:
There are plenty of players with 38*90 minutes under their belts (including Martinez). However we don’t have an Arsenal player in the Top20. In fact, Leno is #50 with 35 games and 3132 minutes. (If you’re interested, Saka comes second with 30+2 and 2562 minutes.)
I don’t think this should be a competition though, and hope for a less imbalanced GK situation next season, with our #2 – whoever he may be – more involved.
As you know, Kane won with 23. Lacazette is #9 with 13 goals. Which is only a bit more than half of Kane’s, but if we take the game time into consideration, Harry scored every 134 minutes, so Lacazette’s 148 is only about 10% worse. And while the trend from winning the Golden Boot 2 seasons ago, running up last year and being ninth now is not reassuring, but looking at the big picture and context, it is not that bad either.
This is something I’m less proud of. While there are 5 players with more than 10 assists (with 2 from Tottenham, including Kane, who came first in this category too), our best is Willian with 5, which places him az #29-48. He needed 1407 minutes to accomplish that, but compared to KdB’s 12 assists in 2001 minutes it’s not particularly efficient.
Again, there is a statistic with an Arsenal player in the Top10. John McGinn won the title with 12 (in 37 games), while Bellerin is at #8 with 8 yellow cards in 25 games. (Xhaka follows with 7 in 31). This shouldn’t be too alarming, as I’m not particularly satisfied with the impartial refereeing; and especially as I expect this figure to go down next season as Arteta must prioritize reducing red cards, which will likely bring down the number of faults and yellow card warnings.
Only Lewis Dunk got 2 red cards in the PL this season, and there are 35 players with a single marching order by his name. Statistically – with 20 teams – one should have 1,75 players, but Arsenal actually had 5 (Luiz, Leno, Xhaka, Pepe, Gabriel). This is way too much, and even though some of it was unjust or even biased, it should really be a priority to bring this down to 1-2 next season, as it obviously contributed to missing out European football. Especially as we don’t play particularly rough or aggressive.
Aerials won (per game):
Don’t ask me what this indicator does in the ’general’ category; my guess is that it doesn’t belong under defensive, offensive or passing either. And this is also a general statistic, as you can find players of all positions at the top. Benteke (ST) leads with 6.8, Soucek (CM) is second with 6.2 and Tarkowski and Magurie come at #6-7 with 4.6 duels won. Our towering trio of Mari (2.6), Gabriel (2.5) and Holding (2.4) are around the 36-44 places.
Man of the Match awards:
With Kane claiming the Golden Boot and the most assists it is not surprising that he won this category too. With 13 awards he is way ahead of KdB (8) and Mané (7). Our best candidate is Pepe with 4, sharing the 9-27 positions. So let’s say he is #9. J By the way, Nicolas Pepe needed only 1614 minutes for the 4 MotM awards, this was only beaten by Bale (923) and Saint.Maximin (1568 minutes, and 5 awards). This is not the same as a fanblog’s such award, as theoretically a blog would give this 38 times for a member of the team (often even shared), but WhoScored grants 1 award each game for the best player on the pitch. So Arsenal got (only) 20 in the whole season. Behind Pepe Lacazette and Willian (!) got 3, Saka and Ceballos 2 each and 6 players (Holding, Bellerin, Elneny, Partey, Auba and Martinelli) 1.
Fun fact: Pepe wins the most EL MotM award category with another 4, but I’ll talk about it later.
Apparently this statistic favors attacking midfielders as 4 players from the 2-6 positions (behind Harry Kane, obviously) are AMs for trade. HK leads this category with 7.79, Mason Mount is #6 with 7.33. Arsenal’s best is literally Ryan with a 7.1 average in 3 games, but we should exclude him due to the small sample. So in reality our best rated player – according to WhoScored – was Lacazette with 6.89 (placed at #81 on the list), followed by Saka, Ceballos, Chambers and Holding. (Our 4 worst players with 1000+ minutes in the PL this season were Willian [6.65], Leno [6.56], Luiz [6.51] and Elneny [6.43].) But let’s not forget that substitute appearances decrease the rating, so players with many 10-15 minute cameos are not assessed properly.)
This was the first batch of statistics.
What are your opinion? Where shall we improve individually next season?
Assuming that WhoScored has no anti-Arsenal bias, where/why do you think it under- or overrates players?
Please let me know if you’re interested in the other indicators, as I know that not many are such number-muncher comparison-freak than yours truly.
Dutch media – NOS which is the Netherlands’ equivalent to BBC for example – have been reporting that Andre Onana is likely to go to Arsenal. Other clubs are keen on Onana but they have Nr1 goalkeepers he would have to compete with. NOS reported that Arsenal do not have that issue apparently….. Leno could be on the move.
Onana is a great goalkeeper with truly superb distribution and he is in effect an extra defender for teams who like to push up. He is unlikely to be available in 2021 due to a drugs related ban, although shortly an appeal will be heard.
One to watch I guess?!
Finally, GN5 is running an EUROs competition, and all are welcome to join it (don’t need to be a regular!). 😊 ⚽ ⚽ ⚽
Here are the rules for the competition:-
1. Predict a win, draw, or loss for the home team a correct choice gets – 1 point. 2. In each group of games there will be 3 games where you predict the correct score – a correct score gets – 2 points 3. The person who gets the most predictions in item one correct gets a bonus of – 4 points. 4. The correct score games are indicated with the asterisks.
There will be 4 groups of games falling on consecutive days, they will vary in the number of games due the date the games will be played.
The next round of predictions will be posted on June 6th to give you ample time to make your next set of predictions.
It’s just for fun and everybody is welcome to join in…………………
June 11th Turkey v Italy *** June12th Wales v Switzerland June12th Denmark v Finland June12th Belguim v Russia June 13th England v Croatia *** June 13th Austria v Macedonia June 13th Netherlands v Ukraine June14 th Scotland v Czech Reb June14 th Poland v Slovakia June14 th Spain v Sweden ***
Tonight is the final of the Champions League and two teams that finished in the PL top-four, but were not champions of their league, are in it.
It is nice that for once none of the BBRm are in the final. Barcelona, Bayern and Real Madrid were ousted in previous rounds. Instead we have a Sheikh competing with an Oligarch; massively deep pockets have turned Chelsea and Man City in big success machines. As an Arsenal fan am I bitter? I don’t think so. Winning silverware this way would not give me much satisfaction to be honest. I am sure the Chelsea and MC fans will care less, if at all, about how they have made it to finals and silverware ever since the many hundreds of millions were pumped into them.
Football is now totally determined by money and I cannot see a way out of it unless the governments would intervene, which is very unlikely. For sports to be really enjoyed there needs to be the romantic, yet reasonable, idea that any team at some point can win the biggest prices. A good team and a good manager, with a clever, financially astute BoD should still be able to win the Champions League these days. This is nigh impossible of course. Totally gone are the days when a Nottingham Forest or Aston Villa, a Porto, Feyenoord, Steaua Bucharesti, Benfica or Celtic, etc will win the Cup with the Big Ears.
If this does not matter to you then enjoy the final.
How many games has Granit played on average since his arrival? A whopping 44 my friends. Five seasons in which his lowest total was 40 and his highest 48. Every manager loved and played him, yet he remained marmite among the fanbase.
His bones and muscles are those of a workhorse, his brain has the overview of an eagle and his left leg is as swift and deadly as a jaguar. He always gave his all and wore the shirt with pride. But it was obvious that UK/USA supporters especially were judging him mostly on his lack of speed and the relatively few mistakes he made. Many fans projected their wider Arsenal frustration onto him, and I have found this one of the most disappointing and shameful things of being a Gooner.
Now the rumours have started that Granit is looking to leave and Roma (now managed by the self-celebrating one) are apparently very interested in him. Granit will be 29 in September and he knows that he can make one more significant move.
I don’t like to take these rumours seriously but am still expecting Xhaka to want to move on. And who would blame him? Granit is a European-style midfielder and should never have come to the UK. Midfielders in the Premier League, especially the deeper laying, ‘DM’ ones, need to be both athletes and tanks to be appreciated here. Yet every team needs a Xhaka to organise things and look after the tactics and structure of the team; and I have no doubt that he would have looked good in every other PL team, had he gone there. Unfortunately, only a minority of Gooners saw this and his fate in the UK was always going just one way.
The supporters never loved him and he will be dreading to start playing again in front of a (half) full Emirates. So, although I would be gutted to see him leave, I feel in my bones he will. Why would he stay here if he can go to Europe, be appreciated there and finish his career on a high? Wouldn’t you?
You will get your wish sooner or later, Xhaka-haters. It will be a sad day for me when it happens, but nothing I didn’t expect.
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.
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:
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.
Look for a good back-up on the LFB position. Tierney will get injured occasionally and Xhaka is not the ideal solution.
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.
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.
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.
Denis appeared in 423 games over an 11 year period and scored 120 goals.
Born in Amsterdam, Denis was the fourth of four sons. He was brought up in a working-class suburb; his father who was an electrician played amateur footballer in the lower leagues. He was named in honour of Scottish striker Denis Law but in order to comply with Dutch given name customs, an extra “n” was inserted into his first name, by his father, after it was not accepted by the registrar.
He was spotted by Ajax and was brought up through their famous youth system, joining the club at age 11 and making his professional debut on 14 December 1986. He scored his first senior goal for the club against HFC Haarlem on 22 February 1987 in a match Ajax won 6–0. He went on to make 23 appearances in the 1986–87 season, including a European debut against Malmö FF in the 1986–87 European Cup Winners’ Cup, Ajax won the competition, beating Lokomotive Leipzig 1–0. In later seasons he established himself as a first-team player for Ajax. This culminated in a period of success for the club, which won the Eredivisie title in the 1989–90 season for the first time in five years. Denis scored 29 goals in 36 games the following season and became the joint top goal scorer in the league. Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup Final, beating Torino through the away goals ruling. He was the top scorer in the Eredivisie from 1991 to 1993, and was voted Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1992 and 1993. In total, he scored 122 goals in 239 games for his hometown club.
Denis attracted the attention of several European clubs as a result of his performances for Ajax. He was insistent on playing in Italy. as he considered Serie A “the biggest league at the time” and preferred a move to either Juventus or Internazionale, on 16 February 1993, he agreed a £7.1 million move to Internazionale and made his debut against Reggiana on 29 August 1993. In his first two seasons at Internazionale, the club changed managers twice and Denis had a difficult time, troubled with stress injuries and fatigue from the 1994 World Cup, he only scored five goals in 26 appearances. Off the field, his relationship with the Italian press and fans became uncomfortable. His shy persona and his propensity to go home after matches was interpreted as apathy. Because of his poor performance on the pitch, one Italian publication renamed their award given to the worst performance of the week, L’asino della settimana (Donkey of the Week) to Bergkamp della settimana.
Denis left Internazionale and signed with Arsenal in June 1995 for a transfer fee estimated at £7.5 million. He became manager Bruce Rioch’s first signing at Arsenal and broke the club’s transfer fee record of £2.5 million. On the opening day of the 1995–96 league season, he made his full debut against Middlesbrough. He struggled to adapt to the English game and failed to score in the club’s next six league matches, prompting ridicule by the national press, he ended his first season with 33 appearances and a goal tally of 11.
The appointment of Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager in September 1996 marked a turning point in his career. Wenger, who had moderate success coaching in France and Japan, recognised his talent and wanted to use him as a fulcrum of the team’s forward play. Both were advocates of a continental style of attacking football, and Denis was happy with Arsene’s decision to impose a strict fitness and health regime. Despite making fewer appearances in the 1996–97 season, he was more influential in the first team, creating 13 assists. The following season he was instrumental in helping Arsenal complete a domestic league and cup double. He became the club’s top scorer with 22 goals and recorded a strike rate of 0.57. In 1997/8 he was the recipient of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, becoming only the second foreign player to be recognised by his fellow professionals as the outstanding performer in English football.
After 3 seasons of finishing second more success finally came in the 2001–02 season. Arsenal regained the league, beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the penultimate game of the season to complete the club’s second double under Wenger; Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2–0 to win the FA Cup four days prior. Denis played in 33 league matches, setting up 15 goals. After a 3 game red card suspension he made his return against Newcastle United on 3 March 2002. Early in the match, Arsenal midfielder Robert Pirès played a low pass from the left flank to Denis in the edge of the opponent area with his back to goal. Under pressure from his marker Nikos Dabizas, he controlled the ball with one flick and went around the other side before placing the ball precisely into the bottom right-hand corner to score. Arsene described the goal as “unbelievable”, adding “It was not only a magnificent goal but a very important one – I enjoyed it a lot”
Denis reached a personal landmark during the 2002–03 season, scoring his 100th goal for Arsenal against Oxford United in a FA Cup third-round tie. On 20 July 2003, he signed a one-year extension at the club. The 2003–04 season ended on a high point as Arsenal reclaimed the league title, becoming the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten. He committed himself to Arsenal at the end of the season, signing a further extension to his contract.
The team finished fourth in the league in his final season at Arsenal. After much campaigning from Arsenal supporters, the club designated one of its Highbury match day themes, organised to commemorate the stadium’s final season as home of Arsenal, to Dennis Bergkamp. “Bergkamp Day” took place on 15 April 2006 It celebrated his contribution to Arsenal; fans were given commemorative orange ‘DB10’ T-shirts – the colour of his national team, his initials and his squad number. Denis came on as a second-half substitute and set up the winning Pirès goal moments after Nigel Quashie had levelled the score. Fittingly, his 89th-minute goal proved to be his last for Arsenal in competitive football.
He was the focus of the first match at Arsenal’s new ground, the Emirates Stadium. On 22 July 2006, a testimonial was played in his honour at the new stadium as Arsenal played his old club Ajax.
Denis made his international debut for the Netherlands national team against Italy on 26 September 1990. He was selected for Euro 1992, where his national team were the defending champions. Although he impressed, scoring three goals in the tournament, the team lost on penalties to eventual champions Denmark. In the qualification for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, hep scored five goals and was selected for the finals, staged in the United States. He featured in every game for the national team, getting goals against Morocco in the group stages and the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16.
Against Wales in the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification on 9 November 1996, he scored his first hat-trick for the national team. The Netherlands finished first in their group and qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, held in France. Denis scored three times in the competition, including a memorable winning goal in the final minute of the quarterfinal against Argentina. He took one touch to control a long 60-yard aerial pass from Frank de Boer, brought the ball down through Argentine defender Roberto Ayala’s legs, and finally finished by firing a volley with the outside of his right foot, past the keeper at a tight angle from the right, he described the goal as his personal favourite in his career. His international career ended with 37 goals in 77 appearances.
In April of 2007, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame by viewers of BBC’s Football Focus. A year later, he was voted second by Arsenal fans behind Thierry Henry in a list of the 50 Gunners Greatest Players.
This is a summary of his achievements in chronological order:
Dutch Football Talent of the Year (1): 1990
Dutch Footballer of the Year (2): 1991, 1992
Eredivisie Top Scorer (3): 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93
UEFA European Football Championship Top Scorer (1): 1992
UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament (1): 1992
World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year (1): 1992
UEFA Cup Top Scorer (1): 1994
Premier League Player of the Month (4): August 1997, September 1997, March 2002, February 2004
PFA Team of the Year (1): 1997–98
FWA Footballer of the Year (1): 1997–98
PFA Players’ Player of the Year (1): 1997–98
Premier League Goal of the Season (2): 1997–98, 2001–02
FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): 1998
English Football Hall of Fame
His statue now stands outside Emirates Stadium honouring him as one of Arsenal’s legends.
Roy Hodgson has announced that he will be retiring at the end of this season. His name has been synonymous with football for as long as I can rememember he has managed 22 teams including the Engand 1st team and the under 23’s.
Respect is an overused word but it’s impossible to talk about Roy Hogdson without realising that he is one of the of the most respected managers in English and European football.
Manager Roy Hodgson will leave Crystal Palace when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The 73-year-old former England boss said “the time is right to step away from the rigours of top-flight Premier League football”.Hodgson has been in charge of Palace since September 2017.
His final match will be against Liverpool, one of his former clubs, at Anfield on Sunday.
“It’s been a particularly rewarding period of my football life and career to have been able to spend these last four seasons with Palace,” said Hodgson, whose last game at Selhurst Park will be against Arsenal on Wednesday.
“I feel now that at the end of another successful season, in which we have secured our Premier League status, the moment is right for me to step down from my responsibilities of being a full-time manager.
“I have had so much support from my wife and family throughout my career and I have been contemplating this decision for some time, and now I believe the time is right to consider them and to see what the future holds for me.”
Hodgson, who supported Palace as a child, replaced Frank de Boer as manager with the club bottom of the Premier League having lost their first four matches of the season without scoring a goal.
Despite losing his first three games in charge, Hodgson guided Palace to an 11th-place finish They have finished 12th and 14th in subsequent seasons and are currently 13th with two games remaining.
“It has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to work alongside Roy, who is both a magnificent human and an outstanding football manager,” said Palace chairman Steve Parish. I know how much it has meant to Roy managing the club he supported as a child, adding to his distinguished and unparalleled career in football management. His record with us simply cannot be overstated, he is the only Palace manager to secure four years in the Premier League and he has helped give us stability in the most turbulent of times.”We will be forever grateful for his immense contribution.”
I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed watching young Joe strutting his stuff for the Barcodes. A loan to another club is often seen as a negative, but for the development of a young player it can be very valuable. Take a child on a foreign holiday and notice how they seem to be smarter and communicate better two or three weeks after you’ve returned. The same goes for a promising talent going out on loan: the new environment gives them a different perspective and opportunities to learn and so they become more rounded and skilled players.
Joe (and also Ainsley but this post is not about him) has done well during his loan. Willock has got 9 goals and 3 assists in just under 1400 minutes of football for both Arsenal and Newcastle (Europe and PL) this season. That is one hell of a return for a young player. What is even more impressive is how quickly he adapted at the Magpies, getting better by the game: in the last five matches he scored a goal every time; one against Spuds, Hammers, Pool, the Foxes and Man City. The boy is on fire.
Some credit needs to go to Steve Bruce who clearly has given him confidence and allowed him to play in a role that suits him. The big question is, can he do this at Arsenal? Joe was struggling a bit to get into the Arsenal team by the end of 2020 and then he went on loan. Key for me is to play to Joe’s strengths, which in my view are his forward runs with the ball, his engine, his ability to battle AND his ability to score. He wasn’t doing the latter at PL level whilst a Gunner but is now doing it with some ease for Newcastle United.
I love this development and look forward to his return. However, Arsenal are in need of money and Willock has played himself into the wish list of many a manager, no doubt – Steve B is for example very keen on him. Selling him is not without attraction. Finally, it could also be good to loan out Willock again next season, say till Christmas as to allow him to learn even more and join Arsenal at the business end of next season.
I reckon that there is now a very suitable position for JW at Arsenal, which was not really the case during the first part of the season. With Arteta moving Xhaka to LB and mostly Ceballos playing in a free role between the sole DM, Partey, and the attacking players, we have entered a different stage. It had mixed success until now but with the right players it could work a treat. Ceballos or Elneny can do a decent job for sure, but the ideal player for this formation is somebody with a great engine, strong ability to drive forward with the ball, great battling ability AND ability to score. I give you Joe Willock! Then again the money could give us options… and another loan spell could complete his development into a fully ready PL player…
So what to do with Joe? Push, Loan, or Marry to the Arsenal this summer?
We welcome both comments from Gooners or Newcastle fans…
In our vacuum of post-European exit and not much to fight for – other than the off chance of still finishing in a position that will see us play in Europe somehow – the only thing we could ask and hope for is committed performances by the team. And that is exactly what we are getting. It means there is still spirit in our team and there is trust in Mikel Arteta, and there is nothing more valuable than that.
The Tuchel Train was on full speed and Arsenal could have easily buckled under this enormous force, but Arteta was not going to have it. We sat deep and sucked up pressure all game long. Jose Mourinho will have been proud of Mikel, no doubt. 😀
We had two great bounces of the ball going our way, to be fair: the wasted opportunity by Havertz after Mari got caught out and then the pounce of the Gunner-Hyenas a few minutes later that led to the only goal after a bad back pass. 1-0 the Arsenal it was and stayed, and the boys fought for it. Holdingho, Mari and Big Gab were a wall to reckon with; big-sausage-legs Tierney was on fire; Saka played with tactical discipline; Elneny and Partey did tons of dirty work; artists Ode and Auba put in a great shift and ESR was our star man. It was of course no total football and the purists will have suffered, but the rebuilding started two games ago and Arsenal have to reinforce the foundations and walls first… and that they did.
I am pleased we were able to win a couple of games without (my current favourite) Granit in the team. For a long time, we struggled to win games without him leading the team tactically, but we have looked good without him in those games. The Partey-Elneny combo was especially strong and I hope to see more of it in the future. But the big, big plus were ESR’s performances in the recent games. Emile was totally in his element and it was great to see him work the ball and space around him with very intelligent yet instinctive football. Against West Brom he played well but Saka stole the show; against Chelsea it was ESR turn to be our MOTM.
Arteta can build a team around these two super talents, especially if they are supported by a no-nonsense midfield and a number of centre backs with a great work ethic. In Auba and Laca we have attackers who will score plenty of goals if we create chances for them; and they have done so much more since the start of the new year. In Tierney and Pepe we have players who will grow over the coming years and are likely to become better and better. There are some good experienced wider-squad players to use like Cedric, Willian (just give him one more season to come good hopefully) and (now possibly) Xhaka. And then there are some promising youngsters to hopefully add to the team’s skill-set and ability. Buy a couple of players and let a few more go, and Bob’s your uncle.