Where now for Arsenal?



What next for Arsenal?

By Tony Attwood

It seems a very long time ago, but it was just 26 December 2019 when Mikel Arteta picked his first Arsenal team as manager.   The game was away to Bournemouth, and Arteta had been at the club as manager for just six days.   The team was


Sokratis  David Luiz  Xhaka  Maitland-Niles

Saka Nelson Torreira Ozil

Aubameyang   Lacazette

 The result was 1-1.  Pepe, Mustafi and Willock came on as subs.   The only players left from that day are Xhaka, who we are told is about to move, Reiss Nelson of whom the story is that a third offer has been made to him to try and keep him at the club, and of Saka, of whom it has all been said.

For the first match of the next season 2020/21, in the Community Shield just four of those players remained:  David Luiz, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Aubameyang.  Making appearances from the bench were Soares, Willock, Nelson and Kolasinac. Maitland-Niles was man of the match.

By the first match of the 2021/22 season we had Leno back in goal, Mari, White, Chambers and Tierney at the back, Xhaka, Lokonga, Smith Rowe and Pepe in the midfield and Balogun and Martinelli up front.  The club of course had been swept by covid related problems but in its judgement, the league said no postponement could be allowed.  A few months later when Liverpool had some covid problems, which were then proven to be the one and only ever outburst of wholesale false positives in covid testing, they had matches postponed.

So we can see just from these snapshots how great, and indeed constant, the turnover of players is as Arteta puts his vision into practice.

But we have also seen how fast he will change the team around.  12 players that were in the squad for Arteta’s first game are actually no longer at the club (10 if you count Pepe and Maitland Niles as still being at the club, but I can’t see them returning).

And so we heard Arteta say, about the Brighton game, “When you have to play in these moments, you cannot do what we did in the second half. Then we have to look. If a team is capable of doing that when it comes to the biggest stage, there’s a lot of things to analyse and think about, because it cannot happen.”

So who is up for sale?

Kieran Tierney, because of his regular injuries I guess.

Rob Holding who has shown himself still to be effective but who at 27 must surely think he is at the age where a regular place playing each week is what he should be looking at.

Granit Xhaka we are told is on his way.

Fabio Vieira made 31 appearances, and some have him down for departure, but I am not sure.  He is only 22.

Smith Rowe didn’t make it to the team after he came back from injury, but with the need for a larger squad I suspect he will stay.  And of course it may be sentiment but I would keep Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and welcome back Folarin Balogun.

Now it is being said that Arsenal have to believe that they can compete with Manchester City, but I am not sure that is so – at least not immediately.  None of us know what the outcome of the Premier League hearing into Manchester City, but the sheer scale of the infringements that they have been charged with (106 I think) suggests that they are the footballing equivalent to a privatised UK water company.

If it is true that Manchester C have been cheating in their accounts, it is not logical to think that Arsenal should be able to play clean and fair and be able to beat a club engaged in such wholesale illicit workings.

Meanwhile, we have the media blaming the crowd for leaving early and suggesting that some of the crowd should apologise to Arsenal’s players for drifting away.  In fact only a small minority of the 60,000 left early, and if anyone should be apologising it should be all the media people who predicted Arsenal would finish 5th or 6th this season.  It is in fact a typical media cover-up of its own grotesque failings in terms of understanding what is going on in the game.

Arsenal have broken the rule book this season and are totally out on their own with four players who have scored 10+ premier league goals this season.  If Haaland had got scuppered this season, Manchester City would have slipped back.   Same with Salah at Liverpool.   And Tottenham with Kane – although to be fair they do have Son Heung-min.   But let’s be clear, no other club is operating with a format like Arsenal, where Gabriel Jesus got ten having been scuppered in the WC, Saka has 13 from the wing, while Martinelli and Ødegaard have 15 each.  

However, as long as Manchester C are allowed to get away with what they are doing financially and as long as Haaland doesn’t come a cropper, they will go on winning.  That won’t be the competition: the competition is staying as close to them as possible without indulging in their type of financial activity.  And absolutely making sure that we hold on to Mikel Arteta AND Albert Stuivenberg whose importance to the show cannot be over-estimated.


2 Replies to “Where now for Arsenal?”

  1. I don’t think anyone though that Haarland would possibly score 60 goals in a season. I do hope that we try and get 2 players to try and score 20 goals per season . That our captain scored 15 goals was a indeed a bonus .
    If we get goals from all over the pitch , and 40- 50 from our main strikers , we will be within a shout of City .
    Am looking forward to the close season to see how MA goes on to get our club further up the scale.
    Up the Gunners !

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