All I Want From Mikel

The Great Reset.

Have you ever seen a team that needed a fresh start or reset more than this Arsenal? 
It’s not the same as other clubs on losing streaks or poor starts. We’re trying to forge a new team identity. I hope this includes a playing style, and some spirit. All that has been lacking for too long now.  

   When we always wanted more signings in the transfer window ( like all football fans), Arsene warned that it’s hard to incorporate more than one or two new starters at the same time. I’m sure we’ll have some pretty serious growing pains, with not only new players, but young ones also.

  This is all reason for patience with the manager. I worry that in asking for so many young players, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. In theory, all the signings make sense, defenders who are comfortable on the ball, and of course, Ødegaard who can give us a central option finally, and feed our strikers to their feet.

  I worry that we left ourselves light in central midfield.  I love Sambi, but I’m afraid that he is not going to be as positionally aware or quick to sense threats as a veteran midfielder would be, even though we love the youthful ability and potential. If Partey can’t stay fit for the next few games, things will continue to be difficult. I’m not saying we should have spent more, just that we needed more focus on cm.

 I want to have patience, as we all wish we can have in life, but rarely achieve the level we aspire to.

 I’d like to see some results of course, but since we’ve been so unpleasant to watch for the past year, I’ll be looking for signs of Arsenal quality play. Slick passing, domination of inferior clubs.  Less of a dependence on Tierney, because opponents can easily shut that down when it’s our main game plan. Tuchel literally used it against us. I also believe that Kieran, in his frustration at lack of scoring and winning, was trying to do too much himself, and got too far forward to get back in time. He never used to do that, and it’s a sign of frustration from one of our leaders. He should be a weapon we use occasionally to overload defenses that are looking everywhere  for threats.

I hope Mikel can inspire our guys to come out expecting to score and win in the first halves of games, not just scrambling in the second halves. With our attacking talent, we should be taking leads more often, and running up the score on teams who are trying to chase the game, instead of that happening to us. 

I’m looking for signs like Saka and Smith Rowe scoring and assisting more. There’s no doubt that there’s talent there. That Pepe is utilized much better, and Martinelli also, because he was invisible in our first two games. That can only be improved by game planning and coaching.

Basically that’s some pressure on Arteta, I know. Fair or not, Coronavirus or not, it’s where we find ourselves. I’m looking forward to watching this play out, so that must mean I’m optimistic, right?


Arsenal Best-11 and My Biggest Wish

Now that the TW business is finally over, we can all fantasise what our best formation/11 is, and I like to hear your thoughts about it.

Obviously, it does depend on Mikel’s footballing philosophy, which I am sure will become much clearer now that he has almost all his chess pieces on the board.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. I like both Holding and White to play. Without Luiz in the team, we need Rob’s leadership as well as his aerial qualities. Ben offers that quick thrust forward from defence which will give our play another dimension.
  2. Partey is THE man in midfield but unlike Xhaka he is injury prone and this makes it hard to build the team around him. Scapegoat Granit is still a key player but should become less pivotal this season, which I am pretty sure he and Arteta agreed will be his last.
  3. ESR and The Ode will both need to play so we have options for creating chances and play the superior passing game.
  4. Can Auba and Laca play together? We need the added goal threat but Auba lacks the footballing skills to play LF imo. We also need a super sub offering real impact.
  5. We need height in the team for dealing with set pieces on either end.
  6. We need real thrust from the wings but also great capability to hold on to the ball and pass it well in tight spaces. Saka and ESR are such players, Pepe struggles with this, especially in PTB games when there is little space to operate in. Pepe is super sub potential.
  7. The GK needs to be dynamic and assured, both in the air and with his feet. Ramsdale looks the better option but Leno is still the first choice.
  8. We need a regular starting 11 with the right personalities and character that gradually will ooze title winning aspirations and conviction.

So on the basis of this here is my Arsenal Best-11:

Leno (for now)

TBD* – Hold – Gab – KT

–White—-Partey – –



* I want to see our new signing from Bologna in action before deciding on the strongest RFB option.

I think this is quite close to the strongest eleven. Defensively very solid and a really dynamic and strong (with !Presence!) midfield with a great balance. Four dynamic, great passers of the ball in tight spaces in attack, and all able to take on a man. Saka becomes more our second attacker with Laca our main one. Ode and ESR and of course Partey to unlock defences from midfield and higher up.

Only issue I have is lack of regular goalscorers in this set up, and my biggest wish is to see Saka, Emile and Martin all get double figures this season.

Auba, Pepe and Balogun / Eddie should also start games but especially the first two could become great super subs this season.

What is your ideal starting eleven?

By TotalArsenal 🚀 ⚽

One Window Closes, Another One Opens: The Arteta-Era Starts Now

Now I have no doubt that in the deep dark seas of the Internet there will still be much moaning about Arsenal’s TW business, but this boy is very, very happy with our new toys.

The club has spent a hell of a lot of money and is obviously backing Arteta with their heads and wallet. If anything should be taken from this transfer window it is the change of direction. All players bought are promising talents in their early twenties. Big boys about to become men; perfect materials for development. This is now a long term project which sets us apart from most other top clubs, and I love it.

The defence will look very different once everybody is fit and settled in. Holding will have a big job on his hand to work the back line into a solid, well-clicking unit. The return of big Gab will also be very welcome. White, once settled in, will give us another dimension.

We desperately needed a quality RFB and let’s hope Tomiyasu is that man. We made place for him by letting our disputed Nr1, Hector, go out on loan. Now Chambers can be back up CB again, Soares back up RFB and all is well.

Midfield has been strengthened significantly with the additions of Anderlecht’s young captain, Lokonga, and Magic Martin. AMN provides further strength in depth which is important for covering the ACN departures of Partey and Elneny. I’d imagine Ainsley will make a move in late January, unless he manages to claim a position. The immininent return of Partey will be like a big new signing in itself. And this will be another great developmental season for wonder kid, Emile.

Upfront, just as in midfield, we have a fine balance of experience and youth and healthy competition. I am glad we held on to Auba and Laca, and Balogun, Eddie and Martinelli, Saka and Pepe will give us great options.

I guess Eddie was not in the plans but the move to CP fell through as these things sometimes go.

Willian’s early departure was a well worked move by all; Reiss will gain experience in a temple of football and in a competition that is on the up again, Azeez will develop further at Portsmouth, and other than possibly Kola and maybe Eddie, Arteta is now working with his chosen team. The club did well to reduce the squad through sales and season long loans.

New, carefully selected faces and plenty of space to breath in; maybe the Arteta-era only starts now.

I think we all know now that success will not come immediately, unless we have a good cup run which is in the club’s DNA of course.

I am not going to focus so much on a goal as in a top four or top six finish, even though I think we will do well. No, I will look mostly at how Arteta develops this team now, the lines he sets out and the quality and potential of our football. That will be the structural focus of for the foreseeable focus. So you know where I will be coming from. 🙂

Or as the inimitable Robert Pirsig put it:

“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”

CoyrrGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

RFB/CB in the Bag and Edu isn’t Finished Yet

Oh it’s crazy crunch time in the football transfer window. 10 hours to go and the Guardian just confirmed that Arsenal have signed a new RB/RFB subject to a successful medical. Takehiro Tomiyasu is to join us from Bologna:

He is 188cm tall, fast and ball tight from what I saw on YouTube. His Bologna defence stats are mostly in the top three and he was twice MoTM last season.

I have not seen him play but it all sounds promising.

This must mean that Bellerin is indeed on his way out. Hector always gave his all and he added personality to the team, but a departure now seems right for both parties.

It would not surprise me if there are more comings and goings. We need a clean slate as much as possible and all those who stay to be fully committed to the cause.

Will Ainsley be allowed to leave (on loan)?

Will Eddie leave for Crystal Palace?

Will Kola leave (on loan)?

Will we sign another attacking midfielder – Aouar or Bisouma maybe?

Will Auba slip out at the last minute?

What are your predictions fine fellow Gooners?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal Need a Sagna Beast at R-FB: Three Options

Just two days of TW left…

The squad, once everyone is fit and available, looks pretty good to me in terms of having all the ingredients for Arteta’s great project, whatever that might look like (we will find out in the next few months hopefully). 😊

The exception is our right back situation. You could argue we need also a beast of a CF, but let’s park that thought for another post.

Our right back position, or should I say right wing back position, is well covered in numbers but all are much more back up material than able to claim the spot like King Kieran does for us on the left side. The final missing piece of the jigsaw is a wee beastie of a right back.

Soares is my ideal back up RB. Chambers and, if he stays, Bellerin are also good nr2s. I need to see more of Tavares in that position and he seems to mainly be back up for Tierney. There are other internal options but none of them will claim the Nr1 spot in all likelihood.

So I think we need to buy. We need someone who sets the right wing on fire like Bacary Sagna used to do for us. He was never really replaced, even though Bellerin showed a lot promise after Bacary left us for the Oilers.

In recent times Arsenal have a history of hanging on too long to undepar full backs, and this position has become even more important in the last decade.

So I welcome the rumours of Arsenal being interested in another Kieran: Kieran Trippier. His age is a draw-back (31 next month), but there is no doubt he would hit the ground running and provide real bite on our right.

In terms of getting a player who can develop with the rest of the team, Noussair Mazraoui of Ajax might be our ideal man. He is only 23 and a star in the making if you ask me.

Cash strapped Barcelona might want to sell the beautifully named Sergiño Gianni Dest who will become 21 in November. This American has it all.

There are other options and I invite you to share your suggestions with us on the blog.

So, here is hoping our main focus is on getting a wee beastie RFB/RWB. Just two days to go!

By TotalArsenal

I am behind you Mikel Arteta

5-0 is a deep cut.

Oh we are feeling low.

It’s very disappointing but it was to be expected.

This was not going to be the bounce back game.

The wall was too high the wind too ferocious, the water too deep.

But I can see the fight in Mikel’s eyes, the hurt in his voice and the commitment in his body language.

We’re in it deep but now especially we need to stick together and hope for better.

I am going to stick with beleaguered Arteta.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal V Man City: 4-3-1-2 with Auba and Saka behind our New Weapon

After a very pleasant pratice session at the Hawthorns, Arsenal face the huge challenge of getting at least a point against Man City.

The start to the PL season is very tough for Arteta and Arsenal and after two losses there is so much pressure on the team to turn things round against the champions.

We know that Man City will aim to push us back into our own half as much as possible. The boys need to absorb the pressure, keep it tight and be lethal on the break. Or do they? Should/will Arsenal perhaps play their own game instead? Take the game to City at least a bit?

To be honest, I have no idea what’s the best way to go tomorrow, but I would like us to start with confidence and a good plan.

Who to start?

My preferred line up:


Soar – Hold – Big Gab* – Tier

Lokonga – ESR – Xhaka

—- Odegaard – – – –

Saka – – – – – Auba

* only if fit, otherwise it’s Mari..

With this formation we keep it tight in midfield, have speed and thrust on the wings through the full backs and can pass the ball well out of trouble. Saka and Auba will keep the MC defence on their toes and Magic Martin and his football twin Emile can find the gaps to launch our boys on goal….

What’s your preferred lineup?

By TotalArsenal

Magic Martin, Bukayo is Back, Ramsdale Rocks, Auba’s Look: 8 Arsenal Observations

WBA 0 – 6 Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completes his hat-trick.

I will say this only once in this post: I know we played a second string team, and even though it was an away game, we should not read too much into our performance. Having said that, here are my eight quick and dirty positive observations:

  1. RAMSDALE: looked like he has been playing for us for years. Confident in those green short sleeves and bright orange, fire-resistant gloves. He has ‘overview’, good sense for the best redistribution and is calm and accurate with his feet. I also loved his spontaneous energy when in danger.
  2. Auba: I saw a look on his face at the end of the game I had not seen for over a year. Mature and Present(!) with real focus in his eyes. He needed that hattrick, those goals so badly. If he stays he may get back to his best again.
  3. Bukayo is back. He has got his drive and focus back, so strong and nimble when running with the ball, so accurate with his passing, so attack focussed in all he does. The racists lost, Saka is back.
  4. Odegaard, our nr8 played like a nr10 and after a rusty start was producing all his Martin-magic again. Arteta has given him trust, belief and a home and we know what this did to Bergkamp – they lift you up where you belong.
  5. Kola! Flipping heck, Kolasinac as LCB! I didn’t see that one coming. He and Rob Roy formed a fine pair on the night and they never made me feel uncomfortable.
  6. Tavares: looked lively and he dealt well with the Baggies’ physicality. I didn’t miss Tierney on the left today and Tavares seems a great understudy.
  7. Pepe in space is a joy to watch. Loved his energy and positioning today. If only we could give him such space in the PL. Loved his assist for Laca’s goal. Auba was free but Laca needed a goal: voila Laca, boom in the net.
  8. The midfield pair of Xhaka and Elneny worked very well and was pivotal to our win. They ran the show in midfield and provided the impetus for our attack. Xhaka was everywhere and the ball once again kept coming his way – or was it the other way round?

By TotalArsenal 🚀⚽

Arsenal v WBA Lineup: A Fresh Attack and No Nonsense Def/Midfield

West Brom away will be another challenge for Arsenal, and although Fat Sam is no longer chewing his gum at the Hawthorns I have no doubt that they will try and rough the boys up tomorrow.

We need a committed performance tomorrow, of course, but what really needs to shine through is the incredible quality within the team.

I have not much of an idea what Arteta’s lineup will be, but I would go for something like this.

Preferred Lineup:


Soares – Chambers – Holding – Tavares

—- AMN – – – – – Elneny – – – – –

Saka – – – – – Ode – – — -Martinelli

——–Lacazette – – – – – – – –

Robbo could do with another game and Mari needs a rest. Same goes for Lokonga and AMN needs a start. Laca and Ode could have their first starts this season, and Martinelli, if fit, should start. Saka also needs a good game.

Looking forward to this one.

CoyrrGs ⚽ ⚽ ⚽ ⚽

By TotalArsenal.

Eight Arsenal Observations: Lukaku does a Drogba, Sambi Impresses, Need CF backup.

Eight quick observations from Arsenal v chelsea:

  1. How did we give them so much space on the left? In the modern game space is everything and when we give so much away it is going to cost us. Tierney was out of position and Saka did not provide enough cover. It seemed a real tactical omission by Arteta.
  2. Upfront we were toothless. Martinelli is not ready for this level, Bukayo was rusty, Pepe was painfully limited on the ball. They did not get great service it should be said, but they also lacked togetherness and Lukaku-like presence. We really missed our experienced attackers today.
  3. ESR was good but that is relative to his age. There is every chance Emile will become a great Arsenal player but a team carrier he is not as yet, and that is why we needed Odegaard to join us, and maybe even one more creative midfielder needs to join this season. I would always play two of them.
  4. Lokonga had a great start and we can see his potential. He faded a bit after that but there is great hope that with him and Elneny we now have good cover for Xhaka and Partey.
  5. Mari and Holding worked hard but clearly struggled with the awesome Lukaku, who had the Drogba effect on our team. I thought we dealt with him much better in the second half – a real team effort at that – but then it was already too late.
  6. Leno was much better and he made a fab safe from Lukaku’s bullet header.
  7. We really have an issue with strength in depth for the CF position. Balogun, Martinelli and Eddie will have moments but, like ESR, they are not as yet team carriers. We need a second/third CF who competes with Laca (and Auba) for the most important position in the game. Hopefully this is on the shopping list.
  8. The boys clearly lacked confidence and there was not enough cohesion in the team, but we also lacked that vital bit of luck when we play a team on top of the wave’s crest and obviously further boosted by the arrival of the giant Belgian. Saka should have had a penalty, Rob almost scored, Saka had a poor touch in a promising position, and when these things don’t go your way, it’s just not going to happen. Let’s not read too much into this game. We will do much better when our best players are about all fit and the boys have settled down a bit.

By TotalArsenal.