Arsenal v BHA 8 Observations

BHA 0-0 Arsenal

Not a game for many words, but here are my eight observations:

  1. BHA had the better chances but we only gave away half chances. The defence stood strong on the ground and, most pleasingly, in the air too. Another clean sheet after conceding nine in the first three games, now that is a great turnaround (one goal conceded in the last four);
  2. We missed Granit. Lokonga looks like a Partey type of player, not the conductor type that Xhaka is for us. It’s early days of course but we did not own the midfield last night and it made us second best;
  3. The Ode was not found quickly enough and he was well marshalled by the Seagulls. As a result attack was disconnected from the rest of the team.
  4. Auba’s linkup play was below par. The conditions did not help but he needs to be more ball tight. I was glad to see Laca come on and I hope Mikel will play him more going forward as he is good at keeping the ball and bringing into play others.
  5. Tomiyasu had a tough first half against the best player on the pitch, but he recovered well in the second half. A big test for him and he came through it.
  6. Bukayo and Emile did their best to sow a purse from a pig’s ear and they were a joy to watch at times, but the pirates just could not steel it for us, unfortunately.
  7. Arteta made some important substitutions at the right time and with a bit more focus and luck we could even have won it at the end. That would not have been deserved of course, but Arteta almost achieved it.
  8. But the big plus is that despite the horrible weather and the considerable pressure the team did not lose the game. If you cannot win make sure you do not lose either, and in the past we failed doing that so often. There is resilience in this team. Something to build on.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v BHA Lineup and Preview: The Rocks, The Pirates and The Sambi Partey

How many times have you watched those first 35 minutes v Spuddies again? I am currently at four and what a joy they bring. All goals sprang from deep, where we won the ball and then weaved and meandered our way to the Spuds’ goal. It was easy on the eye and at the same time devastating to our much loathed NLD opponents.

The question is can Arsenal do the same against Potter’s high flying Brighton, especially now that our conductor Granit is unavailable?

From our last post it became clear that most of us believe that Arteta’s best options are to either play Partey as a lone DM or to stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation and play Lokonga next to Big Tom.

Brighton are a well drilled and settled team and will come with their own plan, no doubt. They pass the ball round well and are strong at set pieces, and they have a couple of players who can add that little bit extra up front.

I think it would be good to let them come to us as we did with the Spuds and then take them on the break. Therefore, I prefer to play the Sambi-Partey combo in midfield today.

The defence (the Rocks) and attack (the Pirates) pick themselves, but I do hope to see half an hour of Pepe and Laca as well.

Ooh to, Ooh to be….

So my predicted and preferred lineup is:

The Rocks, The Pirates and The Sambi Partey

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!

By TotalArsenal 🚀 ⚽ ⚽

Saka for Xhaka. How to Replace the Left Footed Conductor?

Anybody who regularly visits the blog will know how big a fan I am of Granit Xhaka. So I am not going to sum up what we will be missing once more, other than stating the obvious that we will be missing his left foot and his ‘keeping the structure’ skills. He is the embodiment of Arteta on the pitch and this is hard to replace.

The Joy

Who should replace him or could we even not do so at all?

The options:

  1. Play 4-1-2-3 with Partey as lone deep midfielder as much as possible;
  2. Replace Xhaka with Ainsley – straight swap;
  3. Replace Xhaka with Lokonga – straight swap;
  4. Replace Xhaka with Partey and play either Lokonga or Ainsley on the mid-right;
  5. Move Ben White next to Partey;
  6. Move Chambers next to Partey;
  7. Move left footer Tierney next to Partey;
  8. Play ESR next to Partey;
  9. Play left footer Saka next to Partey;
  10. Play AMN, Lokonga and Partey in midfield.

There plenty of options and it will be interesting to see what Arteta will do. But what option would you go for?

By TotalArsenal

Arteta may Finally Have His Perfect Trio in Defence

Our central defence is starting to take shape and early signs are very promising. With Tierney and Tomiyasu we have two tenacious full/wing backs who can both defend well and be a great support to our CBs and GK.

But this short post is about the all important triangle of GK-2CBs.

Ramsdale: a very dynamic, extrovert goalkeeper with great leadership skills. I called him ‘obsessed with excellence’ in the previous post and he loves nothing more than a house full of clean sheets. His aerial control is an improvement on Bernd and his shot stopping is looking promising too. But his biggest attribute is his quick and accurate passing game. Passing out from the back successfully is about accuracy and speed of thinking and acting, and we have been far too slow in that department in recent seasons. Aaron gives us that all important extra second of speed.

Ben White: after a bit of a rough start, Ben is settling in well. It’s early days but he seems to offer calm and organisational skills to the defence. Much more of an introvert than Aaron, White has a calming, very focused impact on the team, it seems. Aaron brings energy and action-focus and Ben brings calm and organisational-focus. This is a great combination! Did you see White asking Ramsdale to not be too hard on the central midfielders at some point in the second half v Spuds? It was a great and promising moment of getting the balance right in defence. White is also vital in moving from defence to midfield/attack in a jiffy. Like Ramsdale, Ben gives us an extra second with his quick thinking and accurate passing. There is clearly so much more to come from him, but I am a fan already.

Gabriel dos Santos Magalhães, or simply Big Gab, has been with us longer and is having a great start to the season. He is the rock in our defence, the first soldier. He is our Obelix and just loves clearing the ball and taking on big CFs. Gabriel also acts quickly and has a decent forward pass in him, but his biggest and most needed quality is being the aerial King in the box. In terms of character, Big Gab, who is still only 23(!), is, a mixture between Aaron and Ben; and this suits our central defence triangle perfectly. Gabriel has fine organisational skills too, but with White and Ramsdale doing the leadership/organisational stuff he can fully focus on bossing the aerial zone in our defence.

Together they form a promising central defensive trio, one around which Arsenal can build a solid future.

Currently, Leno, Holding, Chambers and Mari are in the back-up positions and it is hard to see how they could dislodge the current trio. But a season is long and success can only be achieved by having a strong wider squad and healthy competition. Especially Holding will play a key role in adding something different to the team when required.

Our almost totally new central defence is one to build the team on. No doubt there will be setbacks on the way, but there is every reason to be excited about Arteta’s transformation of the defence.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Spurs 8 Observations: The Green Shoots of the Arteta Revolution Have Arrived

Arsenal 3 – 1 Spuds

Ontketend Arsenal duwt aartsrivaal Spurs dieper in de zorgen

Well what a treat that first half was for us, hey?! A well deserved NLD win that was was easy on the eye and will offer us hope for the Arteta Revolution. The first half was simply sublime and Arteta seemed to show mercy in the second half when, just like Guardiola often does, he asked his team to control the game and sit back to do so.

Eight quick observations:

  1. Not a single player played below an eight today. This is the really big point to take today: they played like a unit, with a plan and with a level of cohesion we have not seen for a long time. Emile is the official MOTM and I think that was the correct decision, if indeed you would have to pick one. But everyone was just brilliant and what a team performance did we witness at the Home of Football: they totally blew me away. It was like the players realised that they were now all part of the a single jigsaw and all pieces were in place at last.
  2. Ramsdale is possessed with excellence. Think about the companies you worked for and how rare it is to have an employee like Aaron in your midst: someone who will give their all and set themselves and others the highest standards. It is infectious and you can see how the others are warmed, and sometimes even scared, by it. We have a leader from the back who is obsessed with clean sheets and it is totally amazing how Aaron has settled into the team. He pulled some great and crucial saves today and it just looked like he has been with Arsenal for a decade already.
  3. Tomiyasu was also playing like he’s been with us forever. Such a quick thinker and passer: one touch, no nonsense. Crucially, twice he was there to pick up the rebound from a Ramsdale stop before anybody else could get onto the ball. Takehiro anticipated really well and had no problem at all with the Spuds’ physicality. He was solid and as a result Saka could play higher up the pitch which was vital today. Tierney was also great on the left and together they were very important weapons of attack today.
  4. Ben White stood tall and formed a great partnership with Big Gab. Understandably, there were some doubts about giving Ben a start in this NLD, but he looked at home alright. White uses his head well and he will be the calm leader in our defence before you know it. There is a bit of Mertesacker in White and I can now see better why Arteta was so keen to get him.
  5. Partey-Xhaka partnership was king all game long. They really made it look like the Spuds had no midfield and would not let anybody through their gate as long as the game went on. They were both at the base of many attack and Xhaka was involved in all three goals. Partey perhaps produced the pass of the season which was only spoiled by Auba’s loose first touch. The double DM-pivot in big games like these is still a formidable weapon for Arsenal and today it worked a treat.
  6. Key to our mobility was the free role of Odegaard. Time and again, Xhaka or Partey would find him from deep midfield and then the magic happened. This really was key to our success and although ESR and Saka got the big stats of goals and assists today, I thought Ode was equally as important. We have a special young trio in Bukayo, Emile and Martin at Arsenal and they will find each other better and better going forward. Such a joy to watch today.
  7. Auba was a fab captain today. He ran and ran and created so much space for the other attackers. On top of that, he scored a good goal himself. It was good to see Pierre back to his best, and happy and what a contrast he made to the Spuds’ CF.
  8. The other really big point to make is how much balance we had in the team, based around a number of very good partnerships with complementary skill-sets. I really don’t know how Arteta managed to get us so balanced for this game. This line-up just worked a treat with a midfield that protected the back four really well, a defence that was just calm and solid for most of the game, wings that were very effective and an attack that was simply dazzling.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal V Spuds Preview: 4-2-3-1 With Three Key Couples in Midfield and Attack

Just a few weeks ago the Spuddies were poking fun at us: TOTL with three wins whilst Arsenal were rock bottom. An ever-lasting international break and two PL games later, and with a NLD ‘six-pointer’ to be contested this Sunday, we are already offered a great opportunity to catch up with them. It all reminded me of a diptych painting in the waiting room of my childhood’s GP back in the deep south of the Netherlands, very close to the German border. The sub-text reads ‘Wie du mir, So ich dir’ – something like ‘As you do to me, I will do to you’.

It is never clever to poke fun at the Arsenal when your trophy cupboards are dust’s best friends; and now we are right below them and ready to put our teeth into them… and just one game away from catching up already.

Yet we have no right to be full of hubris as our one nils to the Arsenal were hard fought for victories and the Spuddies are a much more established team than Arteta’s newly picked ensemble right now. A loss to either team would be doubly painful and we must of course be wary of the likes of Kane and Son doing damage on the break. Nuno Espirito Santo’s Spurs will probably like to absorb pressure and play on the rebound and counter; Arteta’s Arsenal, playing at the home of Football, will mostly likely push up and take the game to the North-London rivals. As always, getting the balance right, especially in midfield, will be key. The really good news is that ALL, yes all, players are fit to play! Yeehah!


It is hard to exactly predict the line-up but I would like to think that Laca, who had a good game v Wimbledon, should start this time. Alex has been involved in six goals in eight games v the Spuds and he scored in the last three NLDs. Does that mean that Auba should start on the bench? Well maybe, but this may well be the right game to play both of them once again. It partly depends on whether we play three at the back and include Big Rob into the lineup. I don’t think we will.

The other big question is whether Granit walks back into the team. I know not everybody would like that to happen but I expect and want it to. Our left works much better with Granit in the team and he will be careful enough to not get send off again.

How many goals will we score, Granit?

I think the defence picks itself and I would like to include Partey, Saka and ESR and Ode for this one. Pepe and Eddie can come on later and do some more Spuds-mashing.

For me there are three key couples: ESR and Ode, Laca and Auba and Xhaka and Partey.

So this is my preferred – and possibly also expected – lineup for the 204th NLD:

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!

By TotalArsenal.

When Real Men Where in Charge of The Arsenal

An Arsenal Blast from the Past

Sir Henry George Norris

(July 23, 1865 – July 30, 1934)

Born in Kennington, to a working class family Sir Henry left school at fourteen to join a solicitor’s firm. Eighteen years later he left to pursue a career in property development, partnering W.G. Allen in the firm Allen & Norris. He made his fortune building houses in south and west London, Fulham in particular. He was commissioned into the 2nd Tower Hamlets Rifle Volunteers in 1896, but resigned the following year. From 1909 to 1919 he served as Mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham, a member of the London County Council from 1916 to 1919, and as a Conservative MP for Fulham East from 1918 to 1922.

During World War I Norris was a military recruitment officer for the British Army. He served in the 3rd Middlesex Artillery Volunteers and in 1917 he was knighted and given the honorary rank of colonel for services to his country. He was also a prominent Freemason, rising to become Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of England, and a well-known local philanthropist with close connections to the Church of England; he counted the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Thomas Davidson as a personal friend.

He purchased Woolwich Arsenal in 1910 and controlled his club like a dictator. Unlike other club directors and chairmen of his era Sir Henry never served on boards to raise his standing in the community, he did things his own way. He made numerous powerful enemies both in and out of football due to his questionable tactics and bullying nature. His company, Allen & Norris, was responsible for transforming Fulham from a semi-rural outpost into an urban jungle. In the process of constructing, renovating and selling houses, he made a large network of contacts in building and banking, many of whom owed him favours. Photographs and written accounts suggest that his physical stature, actions and mannerism’s made him a man to be feared.

The Woolwich Arsenal board welcomed Norris with open arms, having heard of his political ‘prowess’ when he was a director of Fulham. He had negotiated their rapid rise from the Southern League right up to Division Two. Fulham’s rise in divisions took place in only four years and that led directors of other clubs to suggest that the Football League had received substantial inducements, but no firm evidence was ever found. Sir Henry was already the undisputed master of subterfuge. On buying his majority stake in Woolwich Arsenal, he proposed a merger with Fulham and a permanent move to Craven Cottage to create a London ‘super-club’ but he was blocked by the Football League. Unable to merge the two clubs he set about rejuvenating Woolwich Arsenal and proposed that the club should be moved to North London enabling them to benefit from a local population of 500,000 in the districts of Finsbury, Hackney, Islington and Holborn. Chelsea, Orient and Spurs protested the proposal over concern for the erosion of their fan bases. The Tottenham Herald described Norris as an “interloper”, and a cartoon portrayed him as being the equivalent of the Hound of the Baskervilles, prowling around farmyards in an enormous spiked collar, ready to rip apart the Tottenham cockerel and steal its food.

An FA enquiry was set up to investigate the move but, once again, Sir Henry used his “influence” to stack the deck by appointing many personal friends to the committee and giving them information that would be favourable to Woolwich Arsenal. The committee ruled that the opposition had “no right to interfere”. The Tottenham Herald placed an advertisement begging its readers not to go and support Norris’s Woolwich interlopers stating that “They have no right to be here.” A group of Highbury residents were equally indignant about the possibility of the undesirable elements of professional football creating a vulgar presence on their doorstep. But true to form Sir Henry launched a charm offensive on the group, assuring them that they’d barely notice a football club in their midst, and in any case, that 30,000-plus fans in the district every other Saturday would be excellent for local business. The next hurdle to cross turned out to be the Church of England, many on the ecclesiastical committee believed football to be ‘ungodly’ and local residents believed that the thought of the Church of England agreeing to a football club buying the land was inconceivable. But Sir Henry went right to the top and offered the church a donation of £20,000, the church committee accepted the offer and the Archbishop of Canterbury personally signed the deed to Highbury.

With several members of the team killed in the Great War and no football having been played since 1915 Sir Henry’s hopes of transforming Arsenal into a super-club appeared to be in tatters. Having invested over £125,000 into the club, he faced the almost impossible task of rebuilding Arsenal from mid-table in Division Two to his dream “Super Club”. But he was about to pull another rabbit out of his hat. When the FA reconvened in 1919, Norris was full of confidence having just been knighted for his work as a recruitment officer during the war. He was also granted the honorary title of colonel and in the 1918 General Election had been voted Tory MP for Fulham East on a platform of “common decency”, “family values” and “moral strength”.

An FA management committee, anxious to get football back on its feet, proposed that Division One be expanded from 20 to 22 clubs. This wouldn’t seem to benefit Arsenal, who’d finished fifth in Division Two in the 1914/15 season, Birmingham and Wolves finishing third and fourth. It was widely believed that Division One’s relegated clubs, Chelsea and Spurs, would obtain a reprieve but Norris got to work his magic tricks on the committee. He secretly ‘canvassed’ every single member of the FA committee, with the proposal that Arsenal deserved promotion – however Spurs directors were kept completely in the dark throughout and suspected nothing. He also maintained that the Gunners should be rewarded “for their long service to league football”, neglecting to mention that Wolves had actually been league members for longer.

As for relegation-threatened Chelsea, Norris assured the Stamford Bridge chairman that his club would be reprieved as long as Arsenal got promotion. When the vote was taken, Chelsea got their reprieve, and Arsenal received their promotion. White Hart Lane was stunned. Even Tottenham’s parrot, presented to the club on the voyage home from their 1908 South American tour, was unable to cope with the news. It dropped dead, thus giving rise to the football cliché “sick as a parrot”. ‘Lucky Arsenal’ and ‘Cheating Arsenal’ were two of the more complimentary titles bestowed upon the club at the time.

By 1925 Sir Henry had owned Arsenal for close to 15 years and they had still not won any trophies – he was convinced that the problem was his manager Lesley Knighton who he dismissed, shortly before he was due to receive a £4,000 bonus.  Huddersfield Town’s triple Championship-winning boss Herbert Chapman was appointed manager in 1925 but Sir Henry found the 5ft 6in Chapman, dubbed ‘Yorkshire’s Napoleon’ to be a real handful to manage. Chapman informed Norris that if he really wanted to see Arsenal win a trophy in his lifetime, he’d have to spend his cash: his main target, Sunderland’s brilliant striker, Charlie Buchan, was officially worth £5,000, but Sir Henry worked out a deal where he would pay £2,000 to Sunderland up front and £100 for every goal Buchan scored during the season.

In 1927, the Daily Mail ran a series of articles alleging that Norris was guilty of making illegal payments to Charlie Buchan. Norris, they claimed, had given under-the-counter sums to Buchan to compensate for the loss of income he would incur from his move south – the player had to give up his business interests and buy an expensive house in London. The FA was strict about payments made to players, even though everyone in football knew that sweeteners regularly lured players to big clubs. Sir Henry had also personally ‘overseen’ the sale of the team bus in 1927 for £125, which somehow found its way into his wife’s bank account. The revelations were sensational how could such a high-profile member of the Conservative Party indulge in such financial malpractice? Norris challenged the Daily Mail’s allegations in court two years later, but the charges were upheld by the judge. An investigation by the Football Association followed, which uncovered that he had also used Arsenal’s expense accounts for his personal use to, namely to pay for his chauffeur. He sued the Daily Mail and the FA for libel, but in February 1929, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Hewart, ruled in favour of the FA and the Daily Mail. As a result, Sir Henry Norris was banned from Football – forever

After his death in 1934 from a massive heart attack, a kinder, gentler Sir Henry Norris could be glimpsed. His estate was valued at over £71,000 – the equivalent of over £4m today and not only were his widow, three daughters and two sisters taken care of, but Norris also looked after many of the Arsenal staff he used to terrify. Former manager Leslie Knighton was staggered to receive a cheque for £100 from the Norris estate, enabling him to take early retirement. Trainer George Hardy and groundsman Alec Rae received £50 each – over a year’s wages. Rae was likewise dumbfounded, as Norris was “always on to me if the pitch wasn’t quite like the croquet lawn he wanted”. The Fulham chapel where his funeral took place overflowed with friends and well-wishers. The vicar who conducted the service summed up: “Of the dead, speak nothing but good.” To this day, the regulars over at White Hart Lane might beg to differ

Although Sir Henry Norris died over 80 years ago, his name continues to provoke controversy.


Arsenal v Wimbledon preview/ Lineup: Some Wider Squad to Pick from!

Tomorrow we play Wimbledon in the league at the home of football, and this is of course a great opportunity to give the ‘nr2s’ a chance to play a game.

Hard to predict the exact lineup but I think it will be something like this:

It is important to win the game as the cup games are very useful at this stage, so a strong bench is key.

Who would you select and why?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Burnley 8 Observations: Nobody Bullies Us, 2 MOTM, Time for Laca?

Burnley – Arsenal: 0-1

Martin Odegaard, free-kick, Burnley, Arsenal
The Ode to Joy

Having had a chance now to watch the game, here are my observations:

  1. We may not have an oligarch owner (thank God) but we do have our own Oilygaard. Martin really lubricates the new yet faltering machine and what an important buy he is becoming for us. He topped it off with the only real moment of quality in the game; his freekick was simply unstoppable and how good is it to score one again?! An Ode to Joy. Actually when did we score our last freekick in the PL- Admir? Martin could be found all over the pitch and was especially strong during the first 60 minutes or so. My joint MOTM.
  2. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of the other blonde in our squad. Emile wasn’t present(!) enough and I am still not sure what his role was on Saturday. Yet, when he picked up the ball in midfield he drove us forward with menace and speed, and it was clear that more involvement of ESR is key for the team going forward. In fact, making the triangle of Partey, ESR and Ode work much better is THE area to work on for Arteta. There was too much space between Partey and the Blondes and it made us slow and ponderous throughout the game.
  3. Part of the problem was that we were playing with the handbrake on and simply too deep. There was a lot of space between the back four + Partey and the rest of the team as a result, and Burnley found it easy to press us high without needing to be worried too much about the quality of Gunners they left behind them to potentially pounce on them.
  4. It was clear that Arteta really wanted to win this game on the principle of not giving them a lot of chances and expecting our quality in attack to sooner or later get it right. The formation was exciting and promising but the execution is a work in progress. It resulted in a second clean sheet and 1-0-to-The-Arsenal, and although it was nowhere near a game for the purists we need to appreciate Arteta’s need to get a few wins on the board. And this he did.
  5. The really important, big point to take from this game is that the boys were not out-Stoked. Nobody will bully us anymore. The defence worked sooo much better than they have in recent years when it comes to dealing with high balls and being roughed up in defence. Big Gab was a force, Tomiyasu added his height really well to the CB-pairing, Big Ben put in a real shift and Tierney was as tenacious and snappy as ever. There was still a bit of rustiness in White’s passing but as a unit they made up for it and Ben will only get better.
  6. And then there was our new goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale. A near faultless performance from our keeper was crucial for the clean sheet. What a great catcher of the ball, what a great communicator and team player and what a great redistributor of the ball. Together with Ode he was my man of the match.
  7. Auba up-front rather than Laca is still hard to digest for me. We needed a CF who is comfortable playing with their back to the goal and able to hold on to the ball under pressure, on Saturday. Auba is a tiger who loves running with the ball into the available space; then he is simply unstoppable. But Laca is much more comfortable in such a role but for some reason Arteta is not playing him as yet this season. In general, the passing between the attackers was under-par and with a bit more sharpness they could have scored a couple more goals which would have made things much easier for the defence. In the end, the defence and a moment of genius by the Ode gave us all the three points, but the attackers should be working their socks off all week to get much better connected. We definitely have more goals in us, and sooner or later (hopefully this Sunday when we are spuds-mashing duties) this will come to fruition.
  8. Arteta’s subs raised some eyebrows at the time but they really made sense and saw us through till the end. Partey had been very influential but he was fading and new blood was needed. Tierney also looked like he could not finish the game and ESR just wasn’t in the game. Lokonga, Tavares and AMN all played diligently and ensured a happy ending to a hard-fought game.

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By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal Preview/ Lineup: OSE behind Laca or Auba / Power Midfield

A quick preview for another game in which only a win will suffice to keep the fans from throwing eggs and verbal abuse at Arteta and the boys. It’s a shame we remain at this knife-edge stage, but hopefully we’ll get that second PL win and climb further up the table.

It will not be easy as Burnley, who play nowadays half decent football, will also try to put their foot in and disrupt us as much as possible. The home crowd will try and make things worse of course.

So we have to field a team of men with attitude and purpose and who play a high tempo game that leave the Clarets bamboozled from the start.

If we mean business we can get those precious three points, and I reckon something like these 11 fine Gunners will bag them:

I prefer two in deep midfield for this one and really would like to see Partey and Sambi play together. The attack combines Ode and ESR, and should have either Auba or Laca leading the line. I prefer Saka to Pepe as he is the better all round footballer, but the latter has been working hard to get into the team so he would be fine too.

The back five got a clean sheet last week so let’s not make any changes there.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunnners!!!!!

By TotalArsenal