Where Should Arteta Spend his Money? A Proper CM: Cristante, Douglas Luiz, Aleñá or Koopmeiners

Arsenal’s new differentiator to take on all competition…


Please be warned: this post might rather be an interesting piece than a wise or deep one.

20 years ago, Wenger and Arsenal were the innovators of British football. Smart investments in young and misused players.

15 years ago, Arsenal was equivalent to the best team in the UK. The biggest clubs in Europe signed our established players.

10 years ago, we were all about consistent quality, challenging for silverware, always qualifying to and from CL group stage.

5 years ago, we probably still played the most attractive football in the league, but not nearly as effective.

But what distinguishes Arsenal now from the other clubs?

My answer is as follows: we are the Premier League club with the smallest distance between the (quality of) the first-choice players and their back-up.

I wish I could say something more cheering, but I’m afraid that this is the harsh reality. So, let’s embrace the positive side of it. In the next few paragraphs I will try to provide arguments for the claim above, and in some extent touch the topic of who could/will be sold, and where the squad needs reinforcement(s).

Disclaimers: I will assume that Auba and Lacazette will sign new deals – otherwise we need replacements – and will use Arteta’s recently favoured 3-4-3 line-up as default. When evaluating who is the first choice for a certain position I will try to apply/guess Arteta’s preference, otherwise would put the younger player as the second choice.


We have been talking about it in the last few weeks, we have 2 highly competent keepers at the club. They are about the same age and same size, and apparently enjoy the competition. Leno is a bit more experienced, but Martinez is the most senior member of the squad (Arsenal career). Long story short: even when our first-choice keeper is injured or suspended we don’t suffer. No reinforcements needed.

Central defenders:

It might be controversial, but with the back three option the obvious middle defender is David Luiz. He needs a left footed partner on his left, and a right footed partner on his right. When everybody is available, they are Pablo Mari and Shkodran Mustafi. Yes, we have a first-choice trio where 2 of them didn’t play for Arsenal a year ago, and the third was the object of many fans’ prayers never to play for Arsenal again a year ago. 😊

I didn’t include Holding in the first 3 as he is the obvious choice for the middle defender in the backup trio – as well as Luiz’s probable successor as he retires. I would put Calum Chambers to his right, that’s a no-brainer. But to his left we have limited options. Kolasinac and Tierney are left footed defenders, but both are too valuable in supporting attacks and providing crosses than to leave them behind (literally). I have to go with Kolasinac here, mostly because the Scotsman will by my first choice LWB/LM, and also as Arteta used the Bosnian Hulk in the LCB position for 3 games in a row – but I think it was mistake and he probably knows it.

That means we have the reliable but ’unfancy’ Sokratis as surplus to requirement. And if the club manages to sign the free transfer Malanga Sarr (21y, left footed French U21 international CB/LB) then Kolasinac could face difficulties finding playing time too. And I didn’t even place Saliba, as I haven’t seen him playing, hence I don’t know where he is best suited to play. Mavropanos will likely go on loan to the Bundesliga (he is a fine player, I really hope he will not be sold), and probably the same fate awaits Ballard and Medley. One of them could be sold as we don’t need that many young prospects, but they both are quality material. Anyway – Sarr aside – we don’t need reinforcements here either. I know it is really hard to digest, but paying 70M for Koulibaly (29) is just crazy.

Wingback and wide midfielders:

This is again an easy subject. We have Tierney and Bellerin here who are expected to become the best wingbacks in the league in the next couple of seasons. And with Saka (LM) and Soares (RM) backing them up, we are not in a bad position at all. (Sorry, young Bukayo is not a first-choice player; and probably LM would be his best position as he can both defend and attack.)

It means that we likely have to say goodbye to the loyal Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who was tenacious and always ready to go, didn’t complain to be a guinea-pig in position experiments, but he couldn’t deliver consistently convincing performances. The silver lining here that he would very much like a transfer to blossom, and be the next Oxlade-Chamberlain, becoming the next big thing when given the chance.) Obviously: no reinforcements needed here.

Central midfielders:

Let’s go with the Xhaka-Ceballos tandem as first-choice midfield duo for now, as we have seen a sparkle of creativity there (for the first time since the restart). I really hope that we can sign the Spaniard for a reasonable price. That makes Torreira and Guendouzi our back-up engines. Which makes sense, as Guendouzi does the same job as Xhaka – but less efficiently – and in cup games he wouldn’t seem out of his depth. Torreira can make up for Guendouzi’s less defensive contribution and can support the attacks, but with less passing range and precision as Xhaka or Ceballos.

Since I focus here on the preferred positions, I wouldn’t consider Luiz or Chambers as makeshift DMs, even though that could boost Arteta’s tactical options. And don’t even bother with AMN, only Wenger would jeopardize valuable points for this sort of loyalty.

So, I would focus all the available transfer budget here. Not for a new DM, as Torreira is not a bit inferior to Zakaria, Ndidi or Neves, but we need a proper CM to serve the attackers. That could be Thomas Partey, who is an expensive but hard working and dependable midfielder (with only a single assist this year in 3500 minutes), or cheaper alternatives like Cristante .(maybe we can swap him for Mkhitryan), Douglas Luiz, Carles Aleñá or Teun Koopmeiners If we must splash the cash, I would rather go for Houssem Aouar (possible swap with Guendouzi?). We have the talented Matt Smith (19) and Miguel Azeez (17) in our ranks, but such a step could be too deep water for them next season.

You haven’t seen me writing on Willock. That is because he has no place in Arteta’s 3-4-3 system; and the same applies to Ozil and Smith-Rowe. But that doesn’t mean they have to go, as there are several formations (4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-1-2-3) where their skill can be utilized. But a Xhaka-Willock or a Guendouzi-Willock midfield duo would lead to a disaster at this point.

happy arsenal v bournemouth


That is – again – a no-brainer, as all our coaches first trident consisted of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe; while we have the young and extremely talented Martinelli-Nketiah-Nelson trio waiting for their chances. And they are all very flexible as Auba, Martinelli and Pepe are capable of playing SC, Saka can (and would) play on the left wing, while Ozil, Willock or John-Jules can operate as RW. And we have some great talents in the academy too: besides the above-mentioned John-Jules, we (still) have the extremely prolific Folarin Balogun (19) and the universal Sam Greenwood (18). So as long as we can keep our senior stars, we are good in this department; and the fact that Auba is 31 and Laca is 29 could give hope to the youngsters that they shouldn’t request transfer as there will be vacancies here in a few years’ time. No reinforcements are needed here, either.

So, coming back to my main point: while you may argue that our first-choice XI I not necessary Champion’s League material, our second best lineup:





is not significantly weaker than the primary XI:





You may think this is not a big deal. But a Tierney-Saka, Luiz-Holding or even the Lacazette-Nketiah gaps is not even close of a Cazorla-Coquelin, Giroud-Welbeck, Lehman-Mannone or a Campbell-Cygan ‘discrepancy’.

The only big gaps are – in my opinion – between Xhaka and Guendouzi, and between Ceballos and Torreira. But the latter is not a quality issue, but a generally unfair (yet necessary) comparison of fine players of different profile. That’s why I recommend to focus our reinforcement to the midfield, using the available cash, the future transfer fees from Sokratis, AMN, Mikhitaryan and Elneny (and maybe Kolasinac, if we manage to sign Sarr) to buy a decent first-choice CM and maybe a young DM/CM prospect, especially if we lose Guendouzi or Ceballos.


My last point: why is it good to have such a small gap between the first-choice and the backup players?

Because we go far in cup competitions, where traditionally the young and/or backup players tend to feature. That was clearly the reason behind our recent FA Cup titles as well as our presence in this year’s semi-final, even though many clubs sitting above us on the table have dropped out.

Anyway, looking at the backup players of the top 6 teams:

  • Liverpool would have a defence of Matip, Lovern and Williams (in front of Adrian or Karius), while attacking with Minamino, Shaquiri and Origi,
  • Manchester City would probably still kick our asses in all departments,
  • Leicester would defend with Fuchs-Bennett-Morgan-Justin, and attack with Perez, Slimani and Diabaté,
  • Chelsea would have a tame midfield of Loftus-Cheek, Barkley and Drinkwater
  • Manchester United would be attacking with Mata, James, Lingard and Ighalo
  • and the Tottenham hitmen of Lamela and Bergwijn don’t look that terrifying either

What do you think? Where do you see the big gaps between the second and the first-choice player? And where do you see the most painful gap between our finest and the world-class level?

By PBarany

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Arsenal v Liverpool Player Ratings: Nelson and Laca Bully Back | 3 MOTM

First 15 minutes of this game were awful. We showed the Champions far too much respect and let them simply bully us. But then we did a bit of that to them with pressing them high and forcing mistakes… and soon we were 2-1 up. I was so pleased with this mentality turnaround. After that Pool tried to get a goal back but the boys fought like lions and the old and experienced players showed  us why Arteta believes in them, whilst the youngsters played with guts and desire to succeed in Mikel’s revolution. In short, a very good preparation for our FA semi-final v Man City and three precious points in the League.

arsenal nelson

Player Ratings:

Martinez: 8.5MOTM a few nervous moments early on but after that as safe as a house. One word: Presence!

Tierney: 8 – nobody messes with this wee beastie. One word: tenacity.

Luiz: 8.5 –  MOTM beast in the air and led the defence throughout. One word: experience.

Holding: 8.5MOTM beast in the air and keen to fill the gaps left in defence. One word: omnipresent.

Saka: 6 – worked hard to help the defence but struggled to get into our attacking game. One word: adaptable.

Cedric Soares: 6: see Saka. One word: adapting.

Torreira: 6 – struggled a bit with the tempo of the game but worked hard to cover the defence. One word: progressing.

Xhaka: 8 – a few mistakes but there is a reason Arteta just cannot sub him and he was awesome on the last 30 minutes. One word: warrior.

Nelson: 7 – one extra point for the way he took his goal. Youngsters assisting and scoring against top teams should never be underestimated. One word: coolheaded.

Pepe: 5 – the man is so out of place in Arteta’s team(s). A wonderful left foot when he gets a chance to use it but he is mostly away with the fairies. One word: lost.

Laca: 8 – one extra point for taking that goal and his work rate was admirable. One word: busy.


Ceballos: 7

Willock: 6

Auba: 6

AMN: 7

Kola: –

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

Arsenal v Champions Preview/ Line-up: 4-5-1 with Auba central – Time for Willock and Nelson?

Arsenal v Liverpool – July 15th, 2020

Liverpool v Arsenal 

Our first game against Liverpool was on October 28, 1893 – a Division 2 home game at Manor Road before 7,000 fans – they gave us a rude awakening and beat us 0-5.

The Arsenal team on the day –

Billy McOwen, Andrew Hannah (c), Duncan McLean, John McCartney, Douglas Dick, Jim McBride, Matt McQueen, Malcolm McVean,  Harry Bradshaw, Jimmy Stott, Hugh McQueen.

(Note – I enjoy bringing to light the names of our players after 127 years in the dark, it looks like many of them were Scottish – I’ll do some research).    

 The Pall Mall Gazette wasn’t impressed with the referee, reporting on October 30,1983: “The referee was the same gentleman who ordered two players off the field in the Arsenal v Walsall match. Many people considered that he acted in an extremely harsh fashion on that occasion. On Saturday he went to the other extreme and was too lenient. Hence the rough play.”

So BKer’s it’s now a proven fact that we have always been the victim’s of poor refereeing – how many other teams have suffered for 127 years?


Unlike a majority of Arsenal fans I’ve always had a soft spot for Liverpool as my wife was born in Liverpool and my in-laws are devout Liverpool fans. Over the years my in laws managed to get me into five Arsenal games at Anfield and I was always treated well despite being among thousands of Liverpool fans – I found the atmosphere to be electric and wished we had the same level of support at Highbury.

In the mid nineties I helped to turn a struggling local pub into a soccer pub (my son took care of all of the electronics and installed all of the TVs)  once word got out the turnaround was astonishing with four main groups of fans, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool. The only trouble we ever had was from the Man U fans and had to call the police in several times, the Man C, Liverpool and Arsenal fans were friendly and just enjoyed watching the games and being among soccer fans.

Many of the Liverpool fans ended up as personal friends and we still meet on a regular basis. So it’s always been difficult for me to understand the animosity between Arsenal and Liverpool fans as my experience has been the exact opposite.

Liverpool have run away with the Premiership this season and with three games left they are an astounding 23 points ahead of the second placed team – Manchester City. Arsenal is way back in 9th place, 43 points behind.

Our games against Liverpool have always been difficult to predict with our last home win being on April 4th 2015 – I anticipate a nervous Arsenal team but I hope we get a result for both us fans and the new boss. The only trophy hope left to win is the FA Cup and I think it would be fantastic to see Arteta use the final three league games give some more of our younger players the opportunity to show their skills in the Premier League.

Arsenal v Liverpool EPL – Home Games
Date W D L GF GA
31-Jan-93     1 0 1
26-Mar-94 1     1 0
12-Apr-95     1 0 1
01-May-96   1   0 0
24-Mar-97     1 1 2
30-Nov-97     1 0 1
09-Jan-99   1   0 0
13-Feb-00     1 0 1
21-Aug-00 1     2 0
13-Jan-02   1   1 1
29-Dec-02   1   1 1
09-Apr-04 1     4 2
08-May-05 1     3 1
12-Mar-06 1     2 1
12-Nov-06 1     3 0
05-Apr-08   1   1 1
21-Dec-08   1   1 1
10-Feb-10 1     1 0
17-Apr-11   1   1 1
20-Aug-11     1 0 2
30-Jan-13   1   2 2
02-Nov-13 1     2 0
04-Apr-15 1     4 1
24-Aug-15   1   0 0
14-Aug-16     1 3 4
22-Dec-17   1   3 3
03-Nov-18   1   1 1
Total : 9 11 7 37 28


Arsenal v Liverpool ALL – Home Games
Date W D L GF GA
Div 2 0 0 2 0 7
Div 1 31 22 13 107 56
EPL 9 11 7 37 28
Total : 40 33 22 144 91


TA’s Preferred Line-up…

Would be nice if Arteta mixed it up a bit and and go 4-5-1 v Pool with nice bit of width in midfield. This is my line-up but please give us yours!

Liv v Arsenal lineup


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Arsenal Player Ratings: Obvious MOTM, Midfield Bliss, Lessons for Arteta

Spuds 2 – 1 Arsenal

I was not looking forward to this NLD at all. I will never put money on Arsenal loosing a game, but if I had to have done it, it would have been with this score. I knew we would be the better team, or at least be playing the better football, but get more and more frustrated as the game went on and then would concede… and sadly we did.

A Mourinho team will suck the blood out of you and try to finish you off when you are at your weakest. Arteta probably knew this but still wanted to go out there and play his football. He is building a team and has no time for negative tactics. Good for him and for the development of the team. We were not ready to play a Mourinho team, but there was no way out of it. Unfortunately, for the supporters this was a hard game to watch given the history we have with Mourinho teams.

We have to hope that Mikel uses this NLD encounter to see who has the personality to stand up in a game like this; who can be counted on and who just does not make the grade. It is just one game of course, but we will face a different but even harder challenge in a few days when we host the brand new champions, so he will have another opportunity to judge his players ability to stand up and be counted..

I saw a lot of good stuff today, and some less inspiring stuff, and here are my player ratings.

Player Ratings

Martinez: 9MOTM superb and faultless performance. Intelligent, brave, athletic, present when it matters.

Mustafi: 5 – possibly a game too many for him. Started well but faded late on, especially as he was left exposed time and again by his colleagues (Bellerin and to some extent Ceballos). But he also made poor defensive decisions that cost us.

Luiz: 7 – tried hard to control the defence but there is only so much he could do with wild boys Mustafi and Kola on each sides of him today.

Kola: 4.5 – cardinal mistake after we just went one up. We need more calm and maturity in our defence and Kola is all energy but not much else.

Bellerin: 4.5 – poor game all-round. He is not a wingback and at this stage of his career he should be Mr Arsenal – carrying the flag for the team. Something is missing.

Tierney: 6.5 – tried hard to make things happen from the left wing but the Spuds doubled up against him and he was often left isolated by Auba. Our attackers need to try harder in anticipating his whipping crosses.

Ceballos: 7 – good first half but became less influential in the second half. Left his defensive duties too often behind and as a result was co-guilty of making our right side our weakest point from which the Spuds eventually succeeded to beat us. Still some fine attacking moves and passes, and good partnership with Xhaka.

Xhaka: 7 – balanced performance and good contributions to Laca’s piledriver of a goal.

Auba: 6.5 – tried hard to make the difference but did not take his chances (at least three) when they came his way. Bit unlucky when he hit the woodwork. Hoped for a bit more leadership by him.

Laca: 7.5 – great goal and worked his socks off in attack and midfield (and sometimes defence).

Pepe: 6 – some good moves and link up play but still much too tame for PL footie.

Subs did not play long enough to rate them.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Arsenal v Spurs Preview/ Line-up: Auba Saka to Mash the Spuddies

Arsenal v Tottenham – July 12th, 2020

Tottenham Laca

The first meeting between the two teams was a friendly on 19 November 1887, when Arsenal were located in Plumstead (then part of Kent but now in Greater London), and known as Royal Arsenal.

The match, played at the then Spurs ground at Tottenham Marshes, was abandoned 15 minutes before it was due to end “owing to darkness” with Spurs leading 2–1. The first completed match between the two teams was held the following February in Plumstead; Tottenham could only field nine players, and were thus beaten 6–2. Another notable match was in 1898 played at the Spurs ground at Northumberland Park.

The match with the then Woolwich Arsenal was attended by a record crowd of 15,000, and the refreshment stand collapsed when spectators climbed up onto its roof in the overcrowded ground, resulting in some injuries and prompting Spurs to start looking for a new ground. The next year the club moved a short distance to what would become known as the White Hart Lane ground. The first League match between the clubs was in the First Division, on 4 December 1909; Arsenal won 1–0.

Tottenham Arsenal 1895 - 96 (3)

However, a proper rivalry between the two teams did not begin until 1913, when Arsenal moved from the Manor Ground, Plumstead to Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, just four miles from Tottenham’s White Hart Lane, a move resented and opposed by Tottenham as they considered Highbury their territory. The move made Arsenal Tottenham’s nearest neighbours and thus began a natural local rivalry. The two teams first faced each other as “north London” in a War Relief Fund friendly on 22 August 1914 at White Hart Lane. Although Arsenal were in the Second Division and Tottenham in the First, Arsenal won 5–1. They would go on to meet regularly during World War I in the London Combination, the regional wartime competition of the time.

The rivalry escalated in 1919 when, after World War I, the First Division was to be expanded by two teams, and the League held a meeting of the clubs to decide the two clubs by means of a vote. 19th-placed Chelsea, who would otherwise have been relegated, was allowed to stay and thus they took the first of the two spots. The second spot could have been awarded to 20th-placed Tottenham, or Barnsley, who had finished third in the Second Division, but Arsenal (along with four other clubs) also bid for the place, despite their only finishing sixth in Division Two, although an error in the calculation of goal average meant Arsenal had actually finished fifth, an error which was corrected by the Football League in 1980.

tottenham ramsey

After an endorsement by League president and chairman of Liverpool John McKenna on account of their longer membership of the League, Arsenal won the vote by eighteen votes to Spurs’ eight (Barnsley got five, Wolves four, Nottingham Forest three, Birmingham two and Hull City one) and were thus elected to the First Division.

It has been frequently alleged that Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris used underhand dealings in order to bring this about, although nothing has been proven. The decision infuriated Tottenham and their supporters.

We rarely win away games against Spurs and in the Premier League we have only won five times in twenty seven visits.

Arsenal v Spurs – EPL Away Games
Season W D L GF GA
1 1992 1993     1 0 1
2 1993 1994 1     1 0
3 1994 1995     1 0 1
4 1995 1996     1 1 2
5 1996 1997   1   0 0
6 1997 1998   1   1 1
7 1998 1999 1     3 1
8 1999 2000     1 1 2
9 2000 2001   1   1 1
10 2001 2002   1   1 1
11 2002 2003   1   1 1
12 2003 2004   1   2 2
13 2004 2005 1     5 4
14 2005 2006   1   1 1
15 2006 2007   1   2 2
16 2007 2008 1     3 1
17 2008 2009     1 0 0
18 2009 2010     1 1 2
19 2010 2011     1 3 3
20 2011 2012     1 2 3
21 2012 2013     1 1 2
22 2013 2014 1     1 0
23 2014 2015     1 2 1
24 2015 2016   1   2 2
25 2016 2017     1 0 2
26 2017 2018     1 0 1
27 2018 2019   1   1 1
Totals: 5 10 12 36 38

Overall we have only won twenty four out of eighty eight games – 27%

Tottenh skinny chicken

Arsenal v Spurs Away Games
League W D L GF GA
Non League 1 2 4 7 15
Division 1 18 12 25 81 95
EPL 5 10 12 36 38
Total : 24 23 41 123 147

Some of our victories have been very memorable.



Our dominance as the number one team in North London is shown in the major trophies won by each team. Spurs last won a trophy in the1991 FA Cup. Since then Arsenal has won eight FA Cups, One Division title and the Premiership on three occasions.

Overall we have won twenty six trophies to Spurs eleven, it’s striking when one realizes that their last FA Cup win was twenty nine years ago and their last league win was an incredible fifty nine years back – before many of their supporters were born

The FA Cup Division 1 EPL
  Arsenal Spurs Arsenal Spurs Arsenal Spurs
1 1930 1901 1931 1951 1998  
2 1936 1921 1933 1961 2002  
3 1950 1961 1934   2003  
4 1971 1962 1935      
5 1979 1967 1938      
6 1993 1981 1948      
7 1998 1982 1953      
8 2002 1991 1971      
9 2003   1989      
10 2005   1991      
11 2014          
12 2015          
13 2017          

Even given the fact that our away record against Spurs is so poor I’m hopeful that we can come away with a victory. Arteta, having played in the NLD’s himself will have our team fired up and ready to go.


TA’s Preferred Lineup: stuff the midfield and use Laca and Saka to mash the Spuddies into pulp. Bring on an extra attacker late on to cover them with gravy. 🙂

Tottenham line up july 20

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!

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There’s Just One Vacancy Left in Arteta’s Arsenal: Xhaka’s Part(ey)ner

You’ve got to fight for your right to Partey…

Arsene loved his midfielders more than any other positions, and he had so many (potentially) good ones over the years. In a way we were spoiled with all this talent at our club but we have also suffered at the hands of Arsene’s  inadvertently poor choices, especially in the last decade. The problem with most of them was their lack of fitness/robustness to survive game after game in the PL.

Most of our midfielders in the last 15 years or so either went too early or were far too injury-prone to become part of a title-challenging team. Cesc, Hleb and Nasri went far too early, Ramsey never became a reliable player in our midfield, Diaby and Jack were such promising midfielders but it stayed with that, Song and Coquelin looked promising for a long time but were let go by Wenger and, sadly, I can mention more unsuccessful Arsenal midfield sagas.

Emery was given the talented and promising Torreira and inherited Xhaka and Ramsey. The former has not really established himself yet, but there is still time. The latter has left for the Juve as to sit out the best years of his life on the zebra-bench. 


I know that not everybody rates Xhaka but all his managers have done and do. He may be a bit slow and now and again misplace a pass leading to danger, but he is the metronome of our team, our nerve centre, our heart/the pivot of the team. I am a massive fan and am convinced he will be strutting his stuff at the home of football for years to come. Arteta needs him and sees the Swiss maestro as his embodiment on the pitch.

There really is only one vacancy left in Arteta’s team and that is the position next to Granit the Great. Who is going to take it? This player needs to be able to do box to box footie, needs to able to defend and work closely with Granit when we sit back, and he needs to link up with attack constantly. He also need to have the physical strength and discipline to stay fit for at least 30 PL games. Xhaka sits back naturally and his team mate needs to be drawn forwards without forgetting his defensive duties.

Joe W looks made for this but needs to grow into the role. Ceballos is showing promise in recent games so he MAY be the answer; it is a big decision for Mikel to make regarding making Real an offer they cannot refuse… I am still not sure he is the answer, but if Mikel goes for him…

Lucas could still come good and Granit rates him a lot, but this combo has not really worked well as the Uruguayan also likes to sit a bit deeper naturally. AMN has a lot of potential but just like Joe he is a young work in progress.

So if Arteta goes with Ceballos then we should be covered in all areas, but if not he will need to buy, if at all possible given our financial position in the C-19 era. The name of Atletico Madrid’s Partey is mentioned and he may well be the answer. Some believe he would be a replacement for Xhaka but I think he is much more likely to be an ideal box to box player, and would sit next to Granit.

Not that Granit will not venture forward ocassionally. Arteta wants all his central midfielders to move into the box at times and try and finish off an attack. Xhaka did so recently and it was a welcome sight. The man has also a howitzer of a left foot that has been underused far too long.

But from the videos I have seen of Partey and his stats – 1.7 dribbles per game, 0.8 key passes per game – he looks like the ideal replacement of Ramsey. No doubt he could also play instead of Xhaka when required, as his defensive stats are good too, but to me he looks like somebody who would be the final link in Arteta’s midfield and with that the team.

Our current midfielders have a good chance in the remainder of the season to convince Arteta they have the right to party in the team next season. They better take it.

By TotalArsenal.


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Arsenal Player Ratings: MOTM played on the Left Side | Boys Did us Proud!

An almost perfect first half and dogged second one were just not enough to take all three points.

After a disciplined start in which the Foxes were given the initiative, Arsenal started to venture forward and soon we were in front. A fine throughball by Ceballos finds Saka who then finds Auba with a measured and deadly cross past the Leicester box. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

The Foxes are rattled and we produce a couple of good chances for the as always hard working Lacazette. He should have taken one of them to give us that all important second goal cushion; but as he didn’t we knew the second half would be hard. The visitors were slightly better in that half, even though they did not create much. Arteta tried to change the momentum of the game by making some substitutions and putting fresh legs on the pitch… but then Eddie gets a very harsh red card and we have to play 10 v 11 for at least 15 minutes.

This proves too much and the Foxes equalize soon with a dollop of offsite-luck through the most-fox-like-looking person on earth. After that we hold out for a point and the boys can be proud of themselves.

Player Ratings:

Martinez: 8 – solid, king in the air, and a good understanding between him and his CBs.

Tierney: 8 – solid, full of energy and intensity in his game. Final ball in the box always looks promising but a little bit more composure is still needed. A joy to watch though and truly un-droppable for Arteta now.


Luiz: – 7.5 – led the team and read the game so well for almost the entirematch.

Mustafi: 7.5 – fought like a tiger and seems to feel at home next to Luiz.

Bellerin: 7.5 – much improved attacking play and unlucky not to have an assist to his name due to Laca’s aerial scoring limitations.

Xhaka: 7.5 – worked his socks off against a strong Leicester midfield.

Ceballos: 8 – same as Xhaka – with whom he forms a good partnership now – but extra half point for his fine throughball for Auba’s goal.

Auba: 9 – MOTM sublime team game and he scored the only goal. Great support to his left-sided defenders and just such a great leader to have in the team.

Laca: 6 – worked his socks off but did not fulfill the first line of his job description.

Saka: 8 – created chances and chaos in the Foxes defence and a very fine assist to boot.

Subs: none of them played long enough to score them fairly, and the reduction to ten men strongly influenced their ability to help us protect/extend the winning position we had.

By TotalArsenal.

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Arsenal v Foxes Preview/ Lineup: Saka and Torreiro to Feed LacaMeyang, Start for AMN?

Arsenal v Leicester City – July 7th, 2020

 Formed in 1884 by a group of old boys of Wyggeston School as “Leicester Fosse”, the club joined The Football Association in 1890. Before moving to Filbert Street in 1891, the club played at five different grounds, including Victoria Park south-east of the city centre and the Belgrave Road Cycle and Cricket Ground. The club also joined the Midland League in 1891, and were elected to Division Two of the Football League in 1894 after finishing second.  In 1907–08 the club finished as Second Division runners-up, gaining promotion to the First Division, at that time, the highest level of English football. However, the club were relegated after a single season which included the club’s record defeat, a 12–0 loss against Nottingham Forest.

In 1919, when League football resumed after World War I, Leicester Fosse ceased trading due to financial difficulties of which little is known. The club was reformed as “Leicester City Football Club”, particularly appropriate as the borough of Leicester had recently been given city status. Following the name change, the club enjoyed moderate success in the 1920s; under the management of Peter Hodge, who left in May 1926 to be replaced two months later by Willie Orr; and with record goal scorer Arthur Chandler in the side they won the Division Two title in 1924–25 and recorded their second-highest league finish in 1928–29 as runners-up by a single point to Sheffield Wednesday. However, the 1930s saw a downturn in fortunes, with the club relegated in 1934–35 and, after promotion in 1936–37, another relegation in 1938–39 would see them finish the decade in Division Two.

They bounced around through Div 1, Div 2, the Championship and the Premier League from 1937-38 until 2013-14 when they finally settled down in the Premier League.…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Leicester won the 2015–16 Premier League, their first top-level football championship. They are one of only (now) eight clubs to have won the Premier League since its inception in 1992. A number of newspapers described Leicester’s title win as the greatest sporting shock ever; multiple bookmakers had never paid out at such long odds for any sport. As a result, the team was dubbed “The Unbelievables”, a spin-off harking back to Arsenal’s undefeated team “The Invincibles”. The club’s previous highest finish was second place in the top flight, in 1928–29, then known as the First Division.

Throughout their history, Leicester has spent all but one season in the top two divisions of English football. They hold a joint-highest number of second-tier titles- six Division 2 and one Championship. The club have been FA Cup finalists four times, won the League Cup three times, and competed in four European campaigns. 

If football were simply a game of numbers then Leicester City would stand no chance of getting any sort of result at The Emirates on Tuesday. They have only taken home a single point on Arsenal ground in thirteen attempts and that was twenty five years ago on February 11th, 1995, and overall we have out scored them thirty six to eleven.

Arsenal v Leicester EPL Home Games
1 11-Feb-95   1   1 1 0
2 12-Apr-97 1     2 0 2
3 26-Dec-97 1     2 1 1
4 20-Feb-99 1     5 0 5
5 07-Aug-99 1     2 1 1
6 26-Dec-00 1     6 1 5
7 25-Aug-01 1     4 0 4
8 15-May-04 1     2 1 1
9 10-Feb-15 1     2 1 1
10 14-Feb-16 1     2 1 1
11 26-Apr-17 1     1 0 1
12 11-Aug-17 1     4 3 1
13 22-Oct-18 1     3 1 2
14 07-Jul-20            
Total: 12 1 0 36 11 25

Our overall historic home record is very impressive with Leicester only winning four games in sixty three attempts and they have been outscored one hundred and fifty one to sixty four.

Thierry Henry Statue

But we all know that both teams have changed immeasurably in the past few seasons with Leicester sitting in third place and nine points ahead of us in the Premier. Brendan Rogers joined Leicester City from Celtic in February 2019 and has them playing some top class football. Mikel Arteta has only had a few months to mould Arsenal in his style of play and in the last three games it appears to be coming to fruition.

This is a very difficult game to forecast but my earnest feeling is that Arteta has the team well enough drilled to keep the winning streak alive.

All Home Games v Leicester City
Division 2 5 5 0 22 11 11
Division 1 24 12 4 93 42 51
Premier 12 1 0 36 11 25
Total 41 18 4 151 64 87


TA’s ideal team to beat the Foxes:

arsenal v Leicester

3-4/5-2 with a return of El Torro and a start for Laca. Saka in the hole or a bit deeper to keep the midfield tight. A start for Ceballos is also okay with me and maybe Pepe gets to play and celebrate the birth of his baby,,,


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Eight Arsenal Observations: Arteta The Career-Salvager, Fab Use of Subs, But Not Creating Enough

Arteta is a career-salvager genius – 8 observations from Molineux Stadium (Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Arsenal).

Arteta July

  1. We are so lucky with Emiliano Martinez. Not just because he is a capable keeper with quick reflexes and fine distribution, but also because he is patient, doesn’t mind playing second fiddle behind Leno, and yet doesn’t disappoint when he is given a chance. I don’t know how many teams have a back-up (cup) goalkeeper with 6 clean sheets out of 8 league starts. He was humble in his years with the club, and I’m happy he is making up for lost time. He made a long journey from his blunder against Reading in that unforgettable 5-7 game to having back-to-back clean sheets in away games.
  2. Kolasinac has been reinvented big time! He was signed with high expectations, as he was the LB of the Bundesliga team of the season just before his (free) transfer. And after a few decent performances we had the understanding that his best position is LWB as he is a beast in attack (’the Bosnian Hulk’), but largely unimpressive – if not untalented – when it comes to defence. Well, yesterday he was WhoScored’s MOTM, and while we know that this is a statistics-fetishist bunch, hats off to Sead for his 4 tackles (field high together with Xhaka and AMN), 5 interceptions (field high), 2 clearances, 1 block and 1 dribble. And I didn’t notice Wolves were deliberately targeting him.
  3. TA sometimes has demonic prognostication skills. He didn’t only foresee all 11 starting players (and 2 substitutions) in his lineup-prediction below GN5’s fine preview post, he also foretold this being young Saka’s evening. And Buyako – who has recently signed a new 4+1 year contract, committing his future to the club – did deliver, scoring his first Premier League goal. Thus becoming the youngest Arsenal goal scorer in a PL game since the Ox in 2012, the youngest British Arsenal goal scorer in an away PL game since Robson in 1981 and the youngest Academy graduate ever scoring in the Premier League (assuming Fabregas is a La Masia graduate).
  4. As LeGall pointed out perfectly, Lacazette showed not only his greatness as a striker but as a team-mate as well by not complaining about the internal competition with Nketiah, but playing full steam when coming in, pressing and harassing the defence. He has the skills and experience to use the occasional technical or mental slip as the opponent’s CBs grew tired, and he finished with aplomb. That was surely good for his confidence, but was good to Arteta’s and the team’s self-esteem as well. Him competing and mentoring Eddie is a great promise for the upcoming seasons (unless he ends up swapped for Thomas Partey).
  5. Arteta is gambling with substitutions, but so far it seems to work. To be frank I didn’t expect to substitute AMN for Tierney. If I would have to replace the tired Scotsman I would either have substituted him with Holding and have swapped Rob with Sead, moving Kolasinac into LWB/LM, or have substituted Kieran with Nelson, moving him to RW and reposition Saka to LM. Anyway, bringing in Ainsley was a genius move that AMN acknowledged with a solid performance – his best of the season. The Saka-Willock move was also unexpected – especially as he had a genuine RW on the bench – but was similarly successful.
  6. Let’s keep Joe Willock. If you followed my comments, I wasn’t the biggest fan of young Joseph. I saw him as a diligent, hard-working, muscular athlete, but I wasn’t fond of a midfielder with such limited passing skills. I never doubted his dribbling and shooting abilities, but he didn’t feel Arsenal quality for me. And while I still wouldn’t prefer him a starter the last few games showed me how valuable his pace and aggression as a late sub are. He can make up for his lack of technical savvy with his speed and energy in the final phase of the games, he is driven, can bully midfielders and defenders alike. Well, I still don’t know if Willock is an AM, B2B CM or a winger, but if he can maintain this intensity for the last 20 minutes, pressing high and creating chances, then who cares?
  7. Despite the obvious and important improvement at the back, this is not Wengerball, not even Emeryball. Probably it will never be. But putting this clearly fine performance into perspective, we painfully didn’t create enough chances from open play in the middle. Yes, Arteta changed our luck with VAR, hitting the post or forced errors – peace be upon him – and greatly improved our wing-play, but without Sanchez, Ozil and Ramsey we don’t have a squad capable of playing attractively and scoring the eye-candy goals like we did against Leicester and Everton Last season. I’m obviously old school but I would swap 2 dangerous crosses from the byline to a through ball from the middle by our CM/AM any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
  8. Arsenal has developed game management skills. This might be even stranger than beating a team above us on the table in an away game. We played focused – especially in closing minutes of both halves, without the trademark lapses of concentration. We responded to the changes made by the opponent. We played a disciplined way – even though I didn’t particularly like the time wasting in the end. We pressed as a team when trying to dominate the game and we defended united when the opponent put their pressing in the 5th gear protecting our lead. We committed some tactical fouls to release some pressure. I’m not saying I would prefer to see this in every game, but it is good to know that the boys are capable of this side of the game, too.

By PBarany

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Arsenal Player Ratings: Sumptuous Saka, Unsung Hero MOTM, AMN/Joe/Laca Superb-Subs


A battling, fine win at Molineux that all of a sudden offers a way into the top five. We will analyse the game over the coming days, but here are BK’s player ratings.

Player Ratings

Martinez: 8 – Did he make a mistake yet since replacing Bernd? Great interceptions and anticipation of danger. Offers real presence from set-pieces and on one-to-ones with attackers. Love him.

Mustafi: 7.5 – MOTM according to BBC football. Offered real presence and showed again his ability to outleap his opponents time and again. His distribution and passing out of defence was below par but he did well defensively and has become one of Arteta’s first choices.

David Luiz: 7.5 – Had a fine game and lead his defence effectively. There were a few moments when Wolves threatened to overwhelm us in the second half but Luiz’s presence and decisive interventions redressed the balance straightaway. This was vital.

Kolasinac: 7 – Slowly improving game by game. Closed a lot of gaps and did not allow his opponents any time on the ball.

Soares: 7 – Tenacious and energetic. Just looks like he has been playing for us for ages. Great pass to Auba for our first goal. We needed that quick thinking and accurate pass to break open the stubborn, well-organised Wolves’ defence.

Ceballos: 7.5 – Disciplined and tenacious. This time he had to sit deeper to protect the defence with Xhaka. So no sexy throughballs on this occasion but graft and discipline instead. He nevertheless produced some lovely touches and passes. Is growing on me.

Xhaka: 8 and MOTM – Another great shift by the Swiss maestro against a very strong Wolves midfield. A good DM is often at the place of danger at the right time – it is a sense Granit has in abundance; Xhaka did that time and again. His passing was crisp, he interceptions forceful and his positioning spot on all night. Einfach Wonderbra.

Tierney: 7 – Getting better every game. There is more than a bit of an Ashley Cole about him.

Saka: 7.5 – Sumptuous goal that made all the difference. In my overenthusiasm I called it Messi-esque but there really are only a few who can ‘pass-volley’ the ball in like that from such a high bouncing ball at speed. Would like him to play a bit more central than he did but another good game.

Nketiah: 7 – Put in a shift and was unlucky not to score with a fearless attempt before Saka scored. Linked up well with the other attackers and plays with great energy and confidence. Really gives Laca a run for his money now.

Aubameyang: 8 – Put in a great shift and had such desire to do well for the team and set an example, which of course is super important in games like these.

The Subs:

Bellerin: 6 – Took over well from Soares. Couple of a good interceptions.

Torreira: – Not long enough on the pitch to rate him.

AMN: 7.5 – Loved his presence on the pitch straightaway. A couple of great tackles and he helped us to re-boss the Wolves again. Great tactical sub by Arteta.

Willock: 7 – Similar to AMN, he added presence and a good passing outlet. Joe topped it off with a fine assist for Laca’s goal.

Laca: 7.5 – Superbly taken goal with a smooth first touch and a wicked diagonal shot into the far corner. Alex needed that goal badly and so did we, the supporters, too.

By TotalArsenal.


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