Akpom composed & deadly | Zelalem plays like Ozil: U21 Match Report

The Young Guns – Aston Villa v Arsenal

Under 21’s


This was a game Arsenal should have been expected to win, as they have been in good form this season, and they were aided by the experienced pair of Diaby and Coquelin. However, they were made to work hard for their victory, which keeps them at the top of the table.

The full line up of: Martinez in goal; Ormond-Ottewill(B54) LB; O’Connor and Hayden the CB’s; Bellerin RB. Midfield: Diaby And Coquelin Holding, and Crowley AM; (1st half) Zelalem CAM, and Akpom up front. Maitland-Niles was sort of somewhere between second striker, winger and AM.

The first piece of action from the Gunners’ came on the counter, with the ball played out to M-Niles who showed good pace, drifted into space from the left and hit a beautiful controlled curler that hit the bar, with the keeper beaten all ends up. Sadly, that was the last time he was seen out there during this half. Arsenal really struggled to control the game through some sloppy passing. Zelalem hardly got a touch of the ball, Coquelin and Diaby were trying difficult passes that Villa were able to cut out.

However, the solid central barrier of O’Connor and Hayden – the latter had the captain’s armband – meant Martinez was never troubled, despite getting a series of corners off other defenders. These were not always cleared effectively, but Martinez claimed everything that came his way.

Going the other way, Crowley showed some good skills, but had a couple of long range shots when a pass might have been better. Akpom’s 1st goal came about not from a tremendous build up play, rather more a case of a defender trying to be too clever and allowing Akpom strength to rob him just outside the Villa box. He showed a neat bit of skill in committing the keeper one way, skipping past him and cutting it back into the bottom left hand corner. A real composed finish which was all  by his making. He had a glorious chance to double the score when showing some real pace to get clear of the defence, one on one with the keeper, but he took it too close to the keeper who just managed to get an outstretched leg to it. And the half ended with just the one goal lead.

Whilst Arsenal had the better chances, Villa could, or should have made more of theirs. On one occasion they had a man over when both Bellerin and B54 were caught up-field, leaving acres of space behind them. Both the full backs made some great overlapping runs down the line which did not bring any joy in front of goal, so one suspects that one of the ‘holding’ midfielders were not holding their positions?

It was to change in the second half.

Bellerin’s runs over the halfway line were noticeably curbed. Zelalem suddenly became Mr Available rather than Mr Invisible in the first half. M-Niles now was instructed to stay on the right, and thus keep Bellerin from advancing too far forwards … But it was Villa that came out with the greater threat.


Their first attempt went through Bellerin’s legs and deflected past Martinez’s far post. Another saw our keeper make a last minute stop as a ball sped towards the inside of the upright. Although his parry went straight to a Villa player, he was ruled off-side when the ball came in … and from two yards he skied it anyway, which sort of summed up Villa’s night.

Meanwhile our attacks were looking much more menacing with Zelalem getting involved much more. M-Niles cut in from the left and hit a tame shot on his weaker side. Hayden found himself in the opposition box and cut a precise pass/cross to the far post. Unfortunately, both M-Niles and Akpom were waiting, and the former put it wide. A similar thing late on with Bellerin: having a mazy run off the right wing took him past three defenders, one of our strikers, only to come to a halt when Akpom helped make a double barrier with the defender clearing.

Finally though, Akpom was on to a trade mark Zelalem pass that Ozil would have been proud of, squeezed past two defenders as the keeper came out, and as he was falling he toe-flicked towards the far post with the keeper helpless, and it curled in off the post. Similar to Sanogo’s 4th against Benfica, except this had further to travel.

So top honours went to Akpom, who might have had a second hattrick, but has now scored 6 in 3 games for the Under 21’s!

Of the others, Diaby got through 90 minutes. Held on to the ball well, but will need a few more games like this to get his real sharp passing going.

Bellerin was ever keen to get forwards but played a more disciplined role in the second half. He made some good defensive tackles too, but also lost out a few times when over-doing the trickery.

Hayden had an impressive game, giving out an unruffled calm worthy of Per himself. If I was to be picky, I would say he could direct his clearances at teammates rather than just clear the lines, but that is being really picky!

Coquelin was hard working, but sadly he doesn’t look the part for a step up, and time is running out. He will get more opportunities at this level, but his passing is a bit wayward.

B54- Brandon Ormond-Ottewill to give him his full title made some great runs down the left, and followed it up with some dangerous crosses. He has not had the exposure that Bellerin has had, and has a little more time to develop, but is a lively sort who may just be right to take over from Nacho in a couple of years?

O’Connor is only in his first season and will benefit from having Hayden around. He should take advantage as he will get a new partner pretty soon, I think?

Whilst talking of defenders, Martinez in goal looked like somebody who had stepped down a level. I think he will be anxious to strut his stuff with the first team whenever he can.

Crowley has a touch of goal thirst on him from what I saw. Somebody will be having a word in his ear to tell him he is a creative midfielder, and that creativity should be directed at others first, and should only shoot when there are no better options available. That was not the case tonight, but he is one of the younger ones stepping up. Skillwise he looks the part.

Zelalem was a tale of two halves. When he can nail his second half display into a 90 minute performance, he will be a force to be reckoned with, and this second 45 will do his confidence the world of good.

I felt I was robbed of seeing the true Maitland-Niles tonight. He may not have the high profile of some of his team mates, but I see a very good player developing in him. He may not make it through to Arsenal’s first team anytime soon, or maybe not at all? But he will do any side proud for effort and no mean skill on the ball.

Chuba Akpom? What don’t you know already? He is tall, strong, quick, with a deft touch around goal … and he has got his head down to get a first team start. The COC beckons, and with a slight vacancy for pace down the left side, he could make more than one appearance … this season.

Overall, it was Akpom who made the difference in the scoreline, but all can be happy with some parts of their game. As to claims for a spot in the Southampton COC tie, Hayden is the standout for me. Others will have to see who is rested.

Written by: Gerry.

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Arteta/Rosicky DM pivot, Zelalem in hole, Ox & Ryo on Wings? Coventry preview

FA Cup 4th Round



This is not your usual preview, where most of us are familiar with the opposition, their players, and their style. So, bear with me if I spend a little longer on what we might expect. I asked for this assignment because CoventryCity is my home town club, and despite their well documented off-field problems, I still follow their results and progress keenly.

I would like to open this report up with this link for an insight into their manager’s self awareness, and hopefully through that, allow you a more rounded respect for our opponents on Friday night?


So, from the above I think Coventry will play with the freedom that will allow them to be at their very best, even though a victory is very unlikely. That is a dangerous combination, if the Arsenal players simply think they only have to turn up and they are in the 5th round. Coventry will play to the 95th minute and if there is the slightest chink in our application, they will pounce.

Here are a few players to look out for from the team I expect will play for the Sky Blues:

Franck Moussa – Belgian youngster who plays as an attacking midfielder, and scored last weekend with a 35yd rasper in injury time. Very popular with the City fans.

Carl Baker – Now the senior pro in the midfield. Plays out wide, with pace. Skilful; takes the penalty shots, and has got the most assists, with 8 this term.

Cyrus Christie – Young, athletic left back. Likes to get forward a lot. Pacy with it.

Leon Clarke – He is the senior striker of City’s front pair. He scored 10 goals from 14 appearances last season. He is their leading scorer with 18 this season. However, there is talk of a transfer to Wolves, but as they are out of the Cup, I guess he will want to play this game before any move is completed?

Denzel Slager – Recently signed late entry for a start.

Joe Murphy – A very capable ‘keeper on his day, and has been with City for the last 3 seasons. Has made more saves this season than our Chezzer!

Predicting the Arsenal line up is tricky, given surprise injury recoveries, but this will be something like it. They will rest a few seniors, but there will be a solid core:

Ars v Cov

Subs: Szcz; Sagna; Frimpong; Ozil; Santi; Eisfeld; Podolski.

It is a youthful midfield that will not last the 90, but by having Ryo ahead of Gibbs means that latter can monitor the dangerous Baker. In a more 1-4-1-4-1 formation, I think Rosicky will do the prompting, feeding Zelalem to find the key passes to both wide men. Good crosses will suit Bendtner’s better heading ability? Ox and Rosicky can interchange to provide another threat in the central area.

Coventry line up will be something like this:

L.Clarke – D Slager


Moussa – Fleck – Baker


Christie – Webster – D.Seabourne – Adams



Subs will include: Midfielder Adam Barton and J. Clarke, defender.

Callum Wilson – Usually the pacy young partner to Leon Clarke, but he is injured and misses the game. Big loss for them.

How the game will be won or lost:

Overall, Coventry score regularly, 55 this term in League 1, with 45 against.

I think they will play the two up front and really go for it. It may be tight in midfield, but they can break equally quickly, and Moussa capable of firing in from any range.

It does mean they will be vulnerable if they go to open, but it should be an exciting game. Their manager will expect them to put in a good effort, so if they lose it will not be because anybody shirked their responsibility.

Well, possession, as always, will be key but it is not the whole story. Coventry will play on the counter and hope to win the ball in midfield. They have pace down both wings, so balls played inside to the dangerous Moussa means any lack of concentration will be punished. With the team above, Arsenal should have the numerical advantage in midfield and I expect them to win this area comfortably enough, but with Ryo on the left, and Ox and the overlapping Jenkinson, on the right, I think less will be played through the middle … unless of course they do play the full senior squad in midfield?

Personally I do not think it will be necessary. I think our strong defence will be too good for the likes of Slager and Clarke. Moussa is a bit of a maverick, so best not let him get any clear shots on goal. Ox and Rosicky helping out Arteta to stop Fleck from getting the ball through middle, and Gibbs is probably the better option (over Monreal) to handle Baker’s pace. Jenks will have to be quick on the other side if he gets forwards himself, but hopefully Ox will be on that side to help out.

Zelalem is my quirky option to start. It should be a game that suits his passing game a treat, and with Ozil on the bench, it can be rectified if he looks like getting overwhelmed. Both Rosicky and Vermaelen are subject to their fitness. With a good break before our next game Koscielny is the obvious replacement in defence. If Arteta is not available, then Wilshere may have to partner Frimpong or Yennaris, as both played in the Under 21’s last time? Therefore if Arteta is fit, I think Rosicky’s better defensive work holds Santi out? Whilst Ozil could start and have a real influence on the game from the start, I think they will save him for midweek?

Zelalem up against Fleck might be a different challenge? I can see Podolski coming on, or even starting, and the switch will take place with Bendtner around the 70th minute. The rest will be score dependent, barring injuries.

Goals should come from Bendtner’s heading at set pieces, and Rosicky and Ox should have plenty of opportunities too. I do not see us keeping a clean sheet, but I think 3-1 to the Gunners, even if it will be late on before it is wrapped up. I will repeat, Coventry will keep it going right up until the final whistle.

So remember we play Southampton on Tuesday and Coventry are a League 1 side:

Q.1 Would you rest some of our key players? If so how many?


Q.2 Who from the YouthAcademy would you like to see get some game time?


Q.3 What is your score prediction?

Written by: Gerry

Gnabry and Zelalem to start, Santi and Theo in middle? Match Preview.

Arsenal vs Spurs Preview: Road to the FA Cup Final



It has only been a few days since our breathtaking last minute surge against Cardiff. Now we face a big test: a North London Derby. In a cup no less! A loss here is far worse than any normal loss in a NLD, as it means elimination from a cup that we really have a shot to win this season. We need to win here. We just need to put up a strong fight and play without fear. We are the better side and deserve to win. This game is for bragging rights and progression in a cup that we want to win.

This fixture last time:

The last time this fixture occurred was earlier this season. It was a massive turn around after a terrible loss to Aston Villa. It was a simple 1-nil to the Arsenal. Giroud scored a cheeky outside of the foot, near post shot against Lloris. Walcott swung in a great cross for him and Giroud took his chance well, on the one touch finish. Sadly we are missing Giroud this time, but we do have Theo and a strong squad.

Here is my expected line up for tomorrow:

PredictedvsSpursFA cup

I think Gnabry and Zelalem will be making a huge start. Theo will fill in at striker, seeing as Podolski wasn’t great there against Cardiff. Podolski will then slide back on to the wing and Santi will take up his best position in the center. Monreal will fill in for the injured Gibbs at left back.

Key Battles:

Sagna vs Eriksen:

Eriksen is an incredibly creative player (a player I wish we’d bought), but due to Spurs new two- striker system, they don’t have room for a true CAM. Therefore Eriksen is being played in more of a Santi role, as a CAM playing LW. He could punish us, as he did Manchester United, if we’re not careful. However, I have faith Mr. Reliable will shut him down.

Podolski vs Walker:

Walker is a class right back who will do everything in his power to shut down our service from the wing. Podolski will have to be 100% and ready to run his socks off to beat Walker’s work rate. He will have to be prepared to dribble around Walker and swing in quick crosses to avoid being shut down. I think Podolski will struggle with this for a while, but if Santi begins to drift to the left more, he will have the support to break him down.

Zelalem vs Expectations:

I don’t know about everyone else, but I have huge hopes for Zelalem in the future. He just has to make sure that he doesn’t screw up and become a scapegoat on his debut. Debuting against Spurs could put him in the history books. If he just focuses on not losing the ball and taking the opportunity to try the occasional tricky ball, he might just get an assist and put his name in our history books.

Casualties of War:

WengerWincing (1)


Bendtner, Gibbs, Ramsey, Diaby, and Ox are all definitely out. Ozil and Giroud both face late fitness tests, and Wenger says it is likely both will be out. It’s unfortunate that we will be without our two out and out strikers, who are both in great goal scoring form, but we do have Theo, Poldi, and Gnabry who can all play striker. I’ve wanted to watch Gnabry play there, but it’s unlikely as Theo is in incredible goal scoring form. If Ozil was fit, I’d actually be tempted to try him there and see if he could really be like Bergkamp, but that’s unlikely.


Vertonghen, Paulinho, Kaboul, and Sigurdsson will all be out. Holtby, Defoe, and Townsend are all just returning from injury and are unlikely to play. Adebayor also faces a late test, but claims he is fit to face us. Let’s all secretly hope he’s not fit so he can’t score against us.


I predict a shock 3-0 to Arsenal. We will come out firing on all cylinders and Spurs will be cocky after their away victory over Manchester United. I think Walcott will score a great goal, as he has been in fine finishing form. This goal will likely be assisted from Lulu on the left. Next, I think Gnabry will score a simple tap in from a one on one, assisted by Zelalem. Finally, in the dying minutes Zelalem will score a self-assisted screamer, and put his name in the hearts and memories of Gooners everywhere.


1. What are your predictions for the game?

2. What is your preferred line up?

3. What do we do about our striker situation?

COYG! Let’s win another NLD!

Thanks for reading! 😀

Written by: Dylan.

Arsenal’s future: Ottewill, Hayden, Bellerin, Yennaris, Eisfeld, Zelalem, Akpom, Gnabry, Campbell, Sanogo, Lipman, etc?

Gedion Zelalem: Cesc potential?
Gedion Zelalem: Cesc potential?

To buy, or not to buy. That is the question?

The big questions over transfers are:

A; What position? i.e. to replace who? in the short/medium/long term, and with that comes B.

B; Do we really need somebody if we have someone in the academy ranks that could do that role in a year or two years time?

We, as intelligent supporters tend to stick with the A, often without the secondary thoughts of how well they might fit in with the team? And then, later to whom it might affect?

I will run through a few names from the academy, who in the near future could develop into our main squad/first 11:

GK – No real problems here, imo. Martinez is out on loan and will be an able deputy long term. Plus Iliev, and the new guy from Bristol, Macey who from reports is big and commanding despite his age, just 19. So unless we are replacing our current Number 1? I doubt we will be buying anyone?

CB – Only one name in the frame here. Isaac Hayden. He must be a very good listener as AW is clearly rating him highly, but not necessarily in this position? But he is versatile. That could leave an opening for Ignasi Miquel, currently out on loan. If that is successful, he could be a useful back up? While Boateng and Fagan’s turn is probably a little way off, should they be of such quality?

So I think new blood here is pretty certain.

LB – Again, one name that has blossomed recently, Brandon Ormonde Ottewill, aka BOO54.

Seriously good prospect in the period beyond Monreal’s tenure.

Position covered in the short and medium term. BOO54 could be such a talent to take us beyond that?

RB – No question, Bellerin is the one. …. (if he stays in this position? – personal note!). Recently injured in the Dortmund junior game, after playing well. He looks like overtaking Jenks especially when/if Jenks goes out on the loan which would give regular games to get more varied experience? That may be harsh on Jenkinson, but the alternative would likely mean a transfer in? We just need Sagna to sign up for another 3 years – I year playing at top level. I year as mentor/rotation. 1 year back up. Not to mention usefulness at CB throughout?

Essential note to management – Do it!

Midfield: sub division; Defensive; Isaac Hayden looks to be the one at the present time to take over or cover for Flamini? He needs to be guided, but as I said earlier, he must be a good student. He is also the marker for the younger ones hoping to make it one day. Not unlike many a young player, prone to try too hard to impress, but he has all the attributes to become a great DM.

Not forgetting Nico Yennaris. Alas his progress has been stalled by injuries at crucial times. If he can secure a decent loan deal where he can play week in week out, and stay out of the treatment room, then you could be looking at Arteta’s natural successor, although he can play RB too. Very few deserve it more, but sadly, it may not happen? Such is the pressure for the here and now? It is likely a new face will be brought in that will change the whole dynamic in this area. We shall see?

Other areas of midfield are so competitively covered it is hard to see who can break through, or where? However, such is the talent brewing, that current players, and those on the fringes may need to improve just to keep their places in a year or two?

The candidates are plentiful, but perhaps not all will make it at Arsenal?

Attacking/creative midfielders: Eisfeld looked nailed on to force his way into the first team squad, yet has hardly made the bench this season? Niggling injuries, some criticism of his ‘team play’, and others breaking through, all seem to have contributed to him slipping out of contention. He probably needs a loan spell to develop his undoubted talent further? His position, or where he performs best, is probably the one that Podolski plays most often: near the main striker, where he can ghost into the box and shoot with either foot. That is strength, and his weakness for a future here?

If ever we do sign a second striker, his potential is at most risk? In the deeper role, Ozil seems to have the only other option, and that position looks secure for some time to come?

Second striker?

Zelalem surprised many on tour pre-season, and showed he lost none of his flair in the recent Dortmund game. Again injury halted his progress so he missed the COC matches, but he looks destined to play, despite his young age, in that all round creative role that Ozil or Cazorla play? In the short term, he will find opportunities, longer term he could be the real reason why Cesc does not return …. as a player at least?

Position covered!

Jon Toral is another who made a comeback from injury in that Dortmund game. Made one goal, scored another, missed two easy chances. Rosicky mark 2 by any other name? I would go so far as to say, he is the only player at the club that is closest to the TR7 in style. When he breaks through into the squad, and with enough mentoring from the same TR7, he will be an absolute star. Not only that, he can play anywhere behind the strikers.

Positions covered – In spite of my tendency to covet another young player in the short term, it will have little effect on young Toral’s advancement into our list of great players.

The deeper lying Kristoffer Olsson has also claims on the box to box role, but has several young players ahead of him already in the squad, and he too, may need to go out on loan to get game time. Then we might see how he fits in at a later stage? Quality player none the less, and should any of the senior player fall by the wayside he could be ready to take on that role seamlessly.

That is all the midfield positions covered. Re-read this list in two years time, and tell me I am wrong?

Striker/Front line? The most talked about roles in terms of transfer in news presently.

Mostly because it is thought the young players are not enough like Giroud to lead the line, or not experienced enough to either support him in the second striker role, if we should ever demand that starting position. Alas, all of this is true, with the exception of Gnabry, who is gaining experience, and adding width to our play. The others have yet to experience this.


I will put Gnabry in this category, because, although untried, he could be a contender for Giroud’s understudy? If anything, he has more claims than Walcott for example, given he can shoot with either foot, he can dribble, has pace, above all has the physical build to bully his way past defenders. But like all of these young players, close support around them in the early stages will be necessary, whilst they fully learn their skill to do it alone? None are at the stage that can take on the Giroud role in the way he does, but Gnabry is just one who could do a job there if called upon?

Akpom heads the queue of those outside of the current squad, and although is different in style to Giroud, I believe he is not far behind Gnabry in skills and build, to command a leading role? It is whether the team can adjust to his style of play? He is a ball player, rather than a hold up guy. You play the final pass to him in and around the box and he will work a shot away almost every time. Expecting him to hold off two or three defenders near the halfway line, take a ball down with a deft headed touch, and you will be disappointed. Play a ball to his feet and watch him twist away for a couple of one-two’s and he’s your man. He is your RVP replacement far more than Giro is, but he needs playing time to get to that level? In the meantime, he would be your Podolsksi deputy ..if only Podolski held a regular spot in the team? Or playing with Podolski would be equally interesting for him and Gnabry?

Sanogo has all the attributes to be a top class striker, except the physical body to match. I believe physically he is a late maturing type, and his injuries have held him back considerably. He is going to be a slow, long term project that I hope the club persevere with. If he follows the Gibbs line and develop his core strength through exercise, whilst gradually getting the confidence to withstand what is the norm in the EPL we could have a real star on our hands. Ignore stories of him going back to France, or out on loan. What he needs is right here, and Gibbs has shown it can pay off in a big way, that what you do off field will bring all you deserve it you want it badly enough. I hope he sticks with it and achieves his goal for himself and the club. It may take another year before he blossoms, so providing that space has not been filled by some big name transfer, we should see the benefits for years to come?

A similar type of player to the above is currently on loan, but may well return next season? He is the slightly in and out Joel Campbell? He would bring a Thierry Henry type flair to the team. Skills to burn without a doubt. Hopefully he is learning all the time how to put it all together. The big problem with these players is they need playing time. I think he might like the regular game at a lesser club rather than irregular games here? No disrespect to him, but for visa issues he has not been able to ‘associate’ himself with the club. That needs to change if we are going to profit from his undoubted talent?

He has got the Walcott position very much in his sights. A striker who can play out wide, and cut in and score goals from the most unlike of angles. Not bad at developing his assists to his repertoire either?

Should Walcott fancy a move to where he got married, then we need look no further than this lad to fill his shoes, as long as he continues on this upward curve?

Austin Lipman has been prolific in his scoring recently, and is the other name that has the potential to develop further, and could be considered down the line, but he has to displace a lot of others to get there?

Sadly, any signing will knock the prospects of all back a little, and in football, timing is everything. Most of these strikers are a year or so behind the club’s need, and need that time to break into the squad to develop? But if nothing happens in the forthcoming windows, next season could change our view of who we need?

I am caught in the middle of my own argument here, as, like many others, I see a young striker of huge potential and think, Yes, he’d be great in an Arsenal shirt … and then I look up this list and think, yes so would these in a year or two? I am hoping that Arsene Wenger will make the right decisions and we get to keep the best from those I have outlined above, and at the same time can secure players that will get over the line in the short term. But quality is essential.

I will not name players, but from the above I think we do need a DM for when the going gets tough, and our current small squad is stretched beyond its limits.

A CB, beyond what we have in the squad at the moment.

Sagna’s signature at RB, a priority.

The luxury of a Rosicky back up, as well as his signature on an extended contract, also a priority.

Main striker, who can also play alongside Giroud, and be a model for those I named above?

The one signing I will name, Dennis Bergkamp as coach to these fine prospects would be the icing on the cake?

 Written by: Gerry

What a Difference a Year Makes: 5 Reasons for Optimism

One year ago, today: Arsenal had just come out of another transfer window where we lost our captain and arguably our second best player, these players obviously being van Judas and Song respectively. The player bought to replace the previous Premier League’s top goal scorer had not yet scored a goal in Arsenal colors, and we had also failed to replace our primary defensive midfielder.

The season looked grim, but there were positives in that Arsene had seemingly finally ended his policy of buying young players; Arsenal had signed three major international players; and we seemingly had a good squad.

Over the course of the season there were many ups and downs. From being eliminated from two domestic cups by lower league teams, to beating the eventual champions of Europe away. In the end, the mighty Arsenal went on a large run of games unbeaten to top the Spuds and clinch Champions League football once more.

Going into the summer, it seemed that Arsenal just needed a few additions in key areas. We heard stories of a £70 million transfer budget and this was essentially confirmed when, early in the summer, Ivan Gazidas came out and said that Arsenal FC was entering an era in which they could compete with top teams, both in monetary and footballing terms.

The fans were excited to see what kind of super quality signings our team would make over the summer: the names were mouthwatering. Lars Bender, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria, Adil Rami, Julio Cesar, and more were linked, but didn’t move anywhere in the end. Then gooners were forced to watch the likes of Jovetic, Higuain, Luis Gustavo be “having a medical” or be “about to sign for Arsenal”, only to go elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the only signing Arsenal had made thus far in the window was 20 year old Yaya Sanogo from Ligue 2. It seemed that fans were divided. You were either very optimistic or very pessimistic, with many optimists diffusing to the pessimistic side slowly over the course of the summer. I am proud to say I was an optimist. Of course, at times I worried, but I always had faith that Wenger would deliver. He had to have a plan, the small group of optimists were sure of it. So sure to the point, where I even bet my Gunner loving mom $100 that Arsenal would sign a super quality player before the window closed (which will now be spent on an Ozil jersey).

Deadline day came with our only two signings being free transfers. However, in the end we brought in a goalie and a world class player, Mesut Ozil. I won’t do an in depth analysis of our summer because that has been done a few times already on this site, but I felt a quick recap of this past year was in order. Now let’s check in on the five main reasons we should be optimistic about this season.

  1. 1.  We have a complete squad!

This current Arsenal squad can field two full line ups when everyone is fit.

Line-up 1:

10 Sep 1

Line-up 2:

Ten Sep 2

And even with these two line ups we’re still leaving out the likes of Fabianski, Frimpong, Diaby, Park, Gnabry, Ryo, and Bendtner who are all first team players, as well as young players who could make the step up to the first team, at some point during the season. All of these players will allow for competition for places, cover for injuries, and challenges for all trophies available to us. Arsenal has a fairly deep squad and that is something that most people will agree on, especially since we are still rumored to have £40 million to spend in January.

  1. 2.   Most of the team had a full pre-season!

For the first time in a while players like Jack and Rosicky had full pre-seasons and are fit and ready to go for the new season. This has allowed the squad to gel while being together in foreign places and this has helped contribute to reason number three. Overall, pre-season was very positive for us with Giroud finding scoring form and our defenders gaining better understanding with each other. Pre-season also contributes to point number five by allowing our youngsters to show their stuff. Expect to see a better understanding between the boys this season as we have kept our core squad together with a full pre-season to learn from each other and gel.

  1. 3.  The team has good spirit!


The squad this year seems to have a togetherness that not many teams have. This can partially be put down to the few new additions and no major first team departures allowing our current squad to gel, while quickly accepting our new signings. The end of the North London Derby highlighted this perfectly. For the last five minutes of the game Arsenal buckled down and defended as a team and kept Arsenal’s lead. As the final whistle blew, not only did the fans and players on the field go crazy, the bench went crazy too. The substitutes, used and unused were on the field genuinely thrilled with the victory. This squad wants to win, but not only that, they want to win together. There are no selfish players in this squad.

This is a team of experienced and young players, but all are mature and ready to win trophies. This is a squad that is growing around a young English core with small pockets of Spaniards, Frenchmen, and now Germans forming. However, the most important thing is that they are growing around a very ingrained philosophy that has been around for years and steady management and coaching that continues to work with our players and help them grow. It’s important that this squad doesn’t undergo too many changes in players or coaches over the next few years as this squad grows together and Wenger understands this. Let’s hope this spirit grows within the squad and helps us win trophies sooner rather than later.

  1. 4.  The team is off to a good start!

Aside from an unlucky opening day loss (that no one wants to relive), Arsenal are off to a fantastic start. They have easily gotten through the Champions League qualifiers and have secured victory over Fulham and a key victory over the Spuds. The previous three factors have all attributed to this one and not much more can be said other than Arsenal have only lost one game in the past six months. Now let’s keep up that streak. COYG!

  1. 5.  The future is still bright!


And of course, we save one of the most important (and one of my personal favorites) for last. Many of you know of my love for Arsenal’s young players, especially young Zelalem. I believe that this will be the breakthrough season for many of Arsenal’s youngsters. Gnabry and Zelalem have all been seen on the bench on many occasions already this season, and it’s only a matter of time before Ryo joins them and they start getting chances in games. I think all three will feature heavily in the domestic cups, with sporadic substitute appearances to prove themselves in the Premier League, and maybe even late substitutions in the Champions League. I also expect Akpom to get a few chances in the Capital One Cup, as well as Bellerin and maybe even Eisfeld or Olsson. Overall, expect some shining cameos from all of our youngsters especially Gnabry, Ryo, and Zelalem.

These five points are just a few reasons to be excited about this season and seasons to come. Now that the transfer window has closed it’s time to really get behind the boys and support the team with everything we have. COYG!

Thanks for reading! 😀

Written by: Dylan.

5 Reasons Why Gooners Shouldn’t Give Up Hope!


I’ve noticed a lot of pessimism surrounding Arsenal over the past few days. People saying we’re not really here to compete, that we never have or will spend any money, that this squad is destined for mid-table failure, etc.

However, I am here to brighten you pessimistic gooner’s thoughts! There are many reasons why we should still have hope for next season and the seasons beyond that.

1.      The Transfer Window isn’t closed yet!

For all you fans out there complaining about the lack of signings, let’s remember that the window isn’t closed yet. We have over a month left to do business and we’ve been told countless times this summer that we have money and will spend it. For all those who say that they’ve given us false promises, I’m sorry to say you’re wrong. They never said they’d splash cash all over the place early in the window. They just said that we have money to spend and will spend it. With over a month left in the window, no one can say that is a lie.

2.      There are plenty of quality players still available!

Many people have also been whining about how many so called “Super Quality” players Arsenal have let slip by and go to other teams. Names like Götze, Isco (Glic 😉 ), Cavani, Falcao, and more have been cursed because we let them go elsewhere. And while most of you will probably agree Arsenal aren’t the type of club to spend silly money on a Cavani or a Falcao, it can be seen as concerning that Gotze’s release clause was around £32 million and Bayern was quickest to trigger it. But, if you were Gotze would you rather go to the most recent winners of the DFL-Supercup (the German version of the FA Community Shield), DFB-Pokal (the German version of the FA Cup), Bundesliga, and Champions League, or a club that hasn’t won a trophy in 8 seasons? Let’s be honest, you’d choose Bayern every time.

Similar things can be said of Isco and Real Madrid. Money isn’t all that talks, trophies do too. So if we are to attract these kinds of players we need to win a trophy this season and for now, focus on people who want to come here and are willing to listen to and accept our project.

Missed players aside, let’s focus on some names still available and why Arsenal could/should bring them in: Özil, di Maria, Khedira, Pedro, Alexis Sanchez, Tello, Gustavo, and Kroos are the main ones that I will focus on for today.

Let’s start with the Real Madrid contingent:

The main two arrivals at Madrid this summer have been Isco and Illarramendi. This means Madrid do not have room for one attacking midfielder or winger and one defensive midfielder. Based on how valued different players are at Real, I’d say the players available are Özil, di Maria and Khedira. All of these players could add depth to Arsenal and be very useful players. Özil or di Maria could be available for around £20-£25 million and Khedira for around £15-£18 million. Özil and Khedira would both add to our growing group of German players and all three players would reinforce our squad in places it is weak. Both Santi and Arteta played a lot, and with Özil and Khedira backing up both those respective positions, our players won’t get overtired. Also, with rumors circulating that Gervinho is leaving, di Maria could be a huge upgrade on him.

Next up, the Barcelona crew. With Neymar in at Barca, it is likely one of Barca’s wingers will leave the club. Pedro, Sanchez, and Tello are the names most likely to leave. Similar to the di Maria situation, Arsenal are in need of a winger, especially if Gervinho does leave. Pedro and Tello could both add to Arsenal’s Spanish contingent, and it is thought Wenger had been interested in Sanchez previously. Pedro or Sanchez should come at around £20-£25 million, but interestingly enough, Tello has a release clause. Similarly to Thiago’s contract, Tello has a clause in his contract stating that if he didn’t play X amount of games in the 2012/13 season then his contract can be bought out for a mere £8.5 million. Wenger is known to be interested in Tello from last summer and he is a very realistic option for Arsenal.

Finally, on to the Bayern duo. It is fairly well known that Luis Gustavo is very undervalued at Bayern and with Bayern being linked to Sebastian Rode, and having brought in Thiago (who can play the DM and CM role if required), Gustavo is unlikely to have much of a role in the Bayern squad in this upcoming season. Currently Gustavo should be available at around £10-£12 million, and if Bayern bring in Rode, around £5-£8 million. Gustavo could add some needed steel to our DM spot and allow Arteta to take breaks at some point next season. Lastly, Toni Kroos; with Götze and Thiago (who can also play in the CAM role) coming into Bayern, I’d guess Toni Kroos will be the CAM to make way in the squad. He is still valued highly at Bayern, however, so I’d guess his price tag is between £17-£20 million. Along with this, Toni is basically two footed, like Santi. Kroos coming in would allow Santi to rotate with someone less injury prone than Rosicky and, along with a winger, would allow Santi to take some games off next season.

So, to finish this reason, let’s make some lists:

Least to Most Expensive:

  1. Christian Tello, LW/RW/CF/ST, Age: 21, £8.5 mil
  2. Luis Gustavo, CDM/CM/LB/CB, Age: 26, £10-£12 mil
  3. Sami Khedira, CDM/CM, Age: 26, £15-£18 mil
  4. Toni Kroos, CAM/CM/CDM/LM, Age: 23, £17-£20 mil
  5. Angel di Maria, RM/LM, Age: 25, £20-£25 mil
  6. Pedro, LW/RW, Age: 25, £20-£25 mil
  7. Sanchez, RW/LW/CF/CAM, Age: 24, £20-£25 mil
  8. Mesut Özil, CAM/CM/LM/RM, Age: 24, £20-£25 mil

Most to Least Likely to Join Arsenal:

  1. Luis Gustavo, CDM/CM/LB/CB, Age: 26, £10-£12 mil
  2. Christian Tello, LW/RW/CF/ST, Age: 21, £8.5 mil
  3. Sami Khedira, CDM/CM, Age: 26, £15-£18 mil
  4. Angel di Maria, RM/LM, Age: 25, £20-£25 mil
  5. Pedro, LW/RW, Age: 25, £20-£25 mil
  6. Toni Kroos, CAM/CM/CDM/LM, Age: 23, £17-£20 mil
  7. Mesut Özil, CAM/CM/LM/RM, Age: 24, £20-£25 mil
  8. Sanchez, RW/LW/CF/CAM, Age: 24, £20-£25 mil

(Disclaimer: Prices and order of lists are my opinion. Different factors such as the new manager at Barca may have unknown effects on these lists. Please leave your own lists below. Also, other quality players are available such as, Gundogan, the Benders, Rami, and more. Feel free to list below.)

3.      Arsenal have the money!

“The money is there if Wenger wants to spend it… “. These are the words of Ivan Gazidas earlier this summer. Now, on July 26th, Wenger has said this, “We want as many top players as we can but we have to focus on the players [already here] and develop them as well”. We know Arsenal have money to spend we just need to be patient. Once the squad is back from the Asia tour and have finished (and won) the Emirates Cup, Wenger can sit down and put everything into signings with no excuses. As stated in reason one, there’s time left in this window.

4.       The current squad is strong!

Our last season ended on high with a long unbeaten run, and now the Asia tour has showed us that many players in our squad are set for a big season. Giroud bagged six goals in four games, Podolski looks 100% fit, Rosicky looks a viable option to back up Santi, and Ox looks to be becoming a huge player especially for someone so young. The Ramsey/Arteta DM pivot looks strong and I’m sure is making Wenger think about where a DM fits into the squad. Jack also looks ready to start a new season and Sagna looks a good option at CB if we need it. Overall, the squad is strong and taking into account player development, this squad can challenge for trophies and with a few world class additions can be nearly unstoppable.

5.      The future is bright!


This Asia tour has also shown us how bright the future of Arsenal is. Gnabry and Ryo look ready for the step up to the first team, Akpom bagged a good number of goals, and Eisfeld and Olsson (among others) look like fantastic prospects. And of course Zelalem continues to be fantastic for us and could play a key role in our Capital One Cup run this season. This is coupled with good news back home where promising youngsters Sanogo, Crowley, Pleguezuelo, and Raage have all been signed. Even though it may not help immediately, it’s always good to know that the youngsters of the club are looking promising. 😀

In conclusion, have faith!

Signings will be made, Arsenal will grow, and trophies will be won in the years to come. Whenever you’re feeling pessimistic or wondering why you support Arsenal go watch some highlights from last season, go on YouTube and watch some of DB10’s brilliance, or watch the highlights from that final league game of the 1988/89 season. Just remember that Arsenal has always won trophies and will win trophies again.


Have faith fellow Gooners!

Written by: Dylan. 

Eight early-season Arsenal conclusions and line-up v Urawa Red Diamonds

Will we see more of Mr Reliable as one of our CBs on Friday?
Will we see more of Mr Reliable as one of our CBs on Friday?

Whilst the transfer shenanigans continue without any let-off, Arsenal’s current team has actually been playing some very watchable footie. It is fair to say that the opposition has not been much to write home about until now, but nevertheless our football has been good.

It is only early days and things could change a lot over the next four weeks, but based on the first three games of the campaign we can pull a few conclusions:

  1. Wall of RamTeta: it looks very much that Arsene will continue with Arteta and Ramsey in the double-DM pivot. Enough has been written about this in recent posts, so no more on this from me now.
  2. Our AM, whether it is Rosicky or Wilshere, have been very quick in turning the game from defence to attack. They very often opt for the ball over the top, or a diagonal ball to find one of the wingers with a precision pass. Our AMs have been very mobile and driven to move the game forward quickly, and long may it continue.
  3. The team has been pressing the opposition really well given the rustiness at this stage of the campaign and the humid weather in Asia. Ramsey has been leading by example with regards to this but the whole team has been chipping in, and collectively they have been very successful in winning back the ball regularly until now.
  4. Theo, but also Gnabry and to a lesser extent Ryo, are being ‘launched’ constantly from midfield. This is all part of our quick defence to attack turnaround approach, and for the first time in a long while Arsenal are now really utilising the speed of Theo and others. It has led to many very good chances for Theo and I expect to see more of it this season, with our Speedy Gonzales hopefully converting more of his opportunities. Theo has got the speed and the good first touch, and now he needs to improve his lethalness. He will improve further this season, I reckon.
  5. The full backs – one at a time – are once again key in setting up attacks from the wing. Unfortunately, Jenkinson and Gibbs have looked rusty until now, but they are both players who appear to need a number of games in a row before they start to shine.
  6. Giroud has looked very positive and focussed until now, and six goals in three games will help him to build further on this. He will, of course, face tougher opposition this season, but his sharpness up-front is a very welcome sight.
  7. Zelalem has been showing us lots of promise until now. He is very confident, calm and classy on the ball and can pick a through-ball with incredible ease. A great prospect.
  8. Ox and Jack have looked really up for it and, IF they can stay fit for long spells this season, they will be……dare I say it……like two new quality signings.

All in all, plenty of positives and let’s hope the team will continue to progress over the next few weeks.

Predicted Line-up against Urawa Red Diamonds:

Urawa Red Diamonds

I reckon Fab will start in goal, and Jenkinson and Gibbs will get another chance to become more effective both in defence (especially Jenkinson) and up-front. I expect Sagna and Mertesacker to start, although there is a chance that Sagna will play with Miquel. I am expecting Arteta and Ramsey to get a rest and for Arsene to try another double DM combination tomorrow. Ox needs a start and Aneke should get a proper test as well, so I am going for these two tomorrow.

I expect Jack to play in the hole from the start and Myachi and Theo (or Gnabry) on the wing, and Giroud will probably not start this time round, so I am going for the Pod as our striker. The latter needs a good game and I have a feeling Wenger will give him the striker position tomorrow.

Enjoy the game fellow Gooners!

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Zelalem even better, Arteta true captain, light in defense: MR


Here are my thoughts on today’s pre-season friendly against Nagoya Grampus.

In today’s match, Arsenal came up against much tougher competition than we have faced so far this Asia Tour. We had another quick start with another good goal from Giroud, but the Japanese side showed their class and held us for a while after that.

Our first goal was an excellent cross from Rosicky to an unmarked Giroud, who headed it calmly past the near post. I have to say, the unsung hero of this pre-season has been Rosicky. His most memorable moments being his assist to Olsson, his assist for Giroud’s first in the Vietnam game, and this cross today among other things. If he can stay fit all season, he will be big for us. He seems to be someone in the squad who connects well with everyone, and I hope when he decides to retire he will go and get his coaching badges and stay with Arsenal.

It took until the 25th minute for Arsenal to break through again. Theo picked up the ball and brought it down, slipping it past the defender to Giroud with the outside of his foot. Giroud saw he had no space and as he was slid, tried to lay the ball back for Ryo.

Many people are saying it wasn’t a penalty as Giroud was never really hit by the tackle. They are correct, BUT the penalty was NOT called for a foul. It was called for a handball by the player who slid at Giroud, therefore the call was correct. Arteta stepped up like a real leader and let our young Japanese winger take the penalty in his home country. Ryo stepped up and put a powerful penalty just inside the left post. It was a fantastic penalty and he, the crowd, and the Arsenal players were thrilled for him to score in his home country.

At halftime Arsene made only a few changes. Wilshere came on for Rosicky; Zelalem came on for Mikel; Podolski on for Giroud; and Gnabry came on for Ryo. It was after these changes that Arsenal picked up the pace. Gnabry made a few good runs on and off the ball, and had a couple of chances. Theo also had a few shots and the team looked far better. I will put this down to Zelalem.

Zelalem came on and looked even better than before. His normal composure and desire to do well was there, but coupled with good movement from Walcott and Chuba, he had a few defense splitting balls that left the opposition’s defense standing in awe.

One of these through balls led to our third and final goal. Zelalem picked up the ball, saw Theo, and placed a pass with pace, on the ground, between three or four defender, and Theo took a good touch and chipped the keeper from close range.

A few more changes were made throughout the game with Miquel coming on for Gibbs, Aneke on for Ramsey, and Akpom on for Theo. After Miquel came on for Gibbs we must note that there were no defenders on the bench. Wenger really ought to think about buying a new defender, preferably one that plays centre back, but can play as a right back as well. This would mean we have two full defensive lines, as well as a CB who can play left back and a CB who could play right back. Two defensive injuries and an absence should not leave us with only four first team defenders, especially when one is playing out of position.

Nagoya Grampus’ goal was poor marking by our defenders, but Fabianksi really should’ve had the relatively weak header Kisho Yano put in.

Overall, the team played well today, but we need to test ourselves against an EPL strength team to make sure we’re truly ready for the season.

For now I’ll leave you with a few questions;

  1. What did you think of today’s friendly?
  2. Does Arsene need to bring in a new defender? If so, what position/positions should they play?
  3. Will Rosicky be a key player for us this season?

Thanks for reading. 😀

Written by: Dylan.

Match Review: Ollie and Akpom impressive, Zelalem does it again, Theo sloppy

Gedion Zelalem: Cesc potential?
Gedion Zelalem: Cesc potential?

Here are my thoughts on today’s pre-season friendly against Vietnam.

In today’s match, Arsenal looked a bit sluggish. After a quick start and a Giroud goal, the tempo of the game slowed down for a bit. This is surprising, considering the strong line-up with which Arsene started. However, in the end we picked up the tempo and put seven goals by yet another team.

The first goal involved a smart, chipped through ball from Rosicky to Giroud. Giroud received the ball, was calm, and fired it across goal without even looking. He got a bit lucky, as the goalie got a touch to it and it hit the post, but in the end it was in.

After that goal Arsenal became too comfortable. The midfield looked off the pace and the possession was not good. We didn’t use the wings as much as we should’ve and it stopped us from creating chances. Later in the first half Poldi wiggled his way into the box and tried to lay it off to Giroud, but in the end they weren’t on the same page. Then Poldi again would take a shot similar to Giroud’s first and hit the post, with the rebound from Gnabry being saved by the Vietnamese goalie.

It took until the 43rd minute for Arsenal to regain their tempo again, with Giroud putting a nice curling shot into the upper corner; and then a minute later, a nice run from Ox with a smart through ball at the end, saw Giroud in on goal and he calmly chipped the goalie for his hat trick.

At halftime Arsene changed nearly the whole team. Right away Theo had a nice chance, but his first touch let him down and he had to turn to lay the ball off to the Ox, who instantly curled it into the top corner; so, no complaints on that one. However, Theo’s first touch was untidy throughout the whole game and he ruined countless opportunities. It’s only the beginning of preseason, but if Theo wants to play striker, his touch needs to be well above the level it’s at now.

Akpom would also show his potential in this game. In the 55th minute, Ramsey poked a nice ball through the defence. Chuba timed his run well, stayed onside, calmly turned around a defender, and bent a ball into the far post with his favored right foot.

Only a few minutes later Zelalem did it again. He played a nice 15 yard ball on the ground, through the Vietnamese defense to Ox, who smartly squared the ball for Akpom to tap home his second. However, this goal was all about GZ. He got the ball a few yards outside the box, got his head up, and hit the ball with the perfect pace and power to find Ox’s feet. For a 16 year old, Zelalem is class. If he keeps his head down and works hard, we really might have the next Fabregas on our hands. He should be given a few Capital One Cup games this year for sure.

Finally, good combinations from Eisfeld and Miquel down the left saw Eisfeld play a good ‘negative’ ball to the Spaniard’s feet, and Iggy fired it across goal into the far post’s side netting. It was a poacher’s goal for the left back.

After that seventh goal, Arsenal sat back and Vietnam got a lucky goal. Martinez’s foot work on this goal was not good as he struggled to get off the ground. Wilshere came on and looked fit, even forcing the opposition’s keeper to get a red card for handling the ball outside of his box to stop Jack from scoring.

One final interesting note: two of Arsenal’s four centre backs today were not recognized centre backs! In the first half Sagna played in the middle of the defense and looked very fit (and much sharper than Kos). In the second half Aneke replaced Sagna in the middle. It’s interesting that Aneke has played in the middle two games in a row now. Perhaps Wenger is looking to convert him? Or is there just no room for him in our crowded midfield? Please let me know your views below.

Overall, Arsenal looked tired today. Maybe it was the heat or the constant training or the long nights and early mornings. Or maybe it’s just preseason. Zelalem impressed again (even earning some praise from Jack in a post-match interview), Giroud looks set for a big season, and the future still looks bright.

Here are a few questions for you:

  1. What did you think of Arsenal’s performance today?
  2. Is Wenger looking to convert Aneke to CB, or does he just not fit into Arsene’s plans for our midfield?
  3. Do we need a fourth choice CB or could we use Sagna there when necessary, put Jenks on the right, and have Bellerin as backup on the right?

Thanks for reading. 😀

Written by: Dylan.