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October 2020
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Partey: It Feels Great To Continue Being An Arsenal Fan…

 

By Tai Emeka Obasi

Whoever is still an Arsenal fan needs commendation. In the modern craze of ‘get rich quick’, being an Arsenal fan has that subconscious assurance that one can be relied upon in areas of patience, diligence and conscientious living. Liverpool fans come close in this regard.

From 1996, when I followed Nwankwo Kanu to Arsenal, it has been all about loyalty and dedication. From about eight years of perennial taunts of ‘trophyless’ Arsenal to eventually drifting off Champions League football, we continued to endure.

I repeat that Arsene Wenger loved the club so much that he didn’t know when to quit. But truth be told, it is not just in name, where man and club sounded very similar. The French workaholic is everything about modern Arsenal. From building the ultra modern Emirates stadium to laying the foundations for a truly big business entity, Arsene managed his dear outfit to outlive him far into many generations.

But unknown to many, Le Prof was carrying the failings of the club on his shoulders alone in the spirit of a truly conscientious and dedicated man. In better slang – taking bullets for the board without any outward sign while every transfer season came and went. But Wenger had shown he is a born winner. He wanted to win every single match, every trophy competed for. He wanted to produce Ballon d’Or winners from his dear club, most adorably from his well-structured academy. But apart from Thierry Henry, who was actually denied, his wish was not fulfilled.

He played football the only way he knew how. He followed every rule of engagement in the game religiously. His transfer involvements were done strictly to the book. His players never cheated on and off the field.

The new dynamics in playing and club management eventually caught up with Le Prof. He managed to convince  FIFA to put Financial Fair Play in place but the big and sugar daddy clubs still found ways around it in a world suddenly being dominated by insincerity.

And Wenger and his fans continued to endure, often times heaping his frustration on the zippers of his very familiar overcoat. They referees and English press never helped matters. They combined to frustrate one of the most honest of men. They tried everything to break him but Arsene never once stepped out of character to cut corners. Even a huge faction of the club’s fans broke before him and wanted him gone. But forever, Le Prof remains a great man.

Today, after three major transfer windows since he left the club, every fan of the great club must have been coming to the realities that it was the Arsenal board, and not Arsene, that failed to sign desired players for the club while the team gradually slipped out of competitiveness.

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Today, after taking huge gambles on Mikel Arteta and Edu, the club seem to have found perfect partners to not only step into the moral foundation of their great master but also grapple adequately with the dynamism of the modern game.

Whereas Wenger could be accused of being obsessed with particular type of players, Arteta has shown from day one that appropriately balancing the squad is his priority.

He’s from La Masia and has played under Wenger as well as learned coaching under the greatest apostle of tiki-taka, Pep Guardiola that no one will expect the rookie manager to play unattractive football. But from every indication, the 38-year old is not only interested in playing attractively, he is also very much interested in winning and being very competitive.

With Captain Pierre-Merrick Aubamayang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, Arteta met one of the most fearful attacks in the Premiership. With Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez, the goalkeeping department was solid enough.

But in defence, Arsenal were leaking goals like basket and he knew that must stop or he wouldn’t achieve anything before following his predecessor into the labour market.

Having been signed in the middle of a very chaotic season, he couldn’t change personnel. But he could and did change structure. He quickly adopted to playing three central defenders in a 3-4-3. formation.

Clearly, safety first was his priority. He couldn’t salvage much in the League but he made the most of it in the FA Cup he met from the off.

His change and overall tactics caught big teams unawares but ‘smaller’ teams could prove difficult and they did. Some players were to pay for the swift tactical change. Mesut Ozil became the biggest casualty. Arteta’s tactics required total commitment from every player in defence and attack…and we all know the stuff the playmaker is made of.

Arteta is a great disciplinarian too and couldn’t take stubbornness from the likes of Matteo Guendouzi. Lucas Torreira didn’t fit his structure. It was glaring that he was very lightweight in midfield. Even when Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos and remarkably, Mohammed Elneny all improved under him, the middle was calling for a solid DM.

And none could have fitted better than Thomas Partey!

Arteta had signed Gabriel Magalhaes and the Brazilian fitted seamlessly to improve the back line. He signed Willian and the Brazilian has added experience and dynamism to the attack. Now, Partey is the final jigsaw.

Yes, the Gunners lack a world class creative midfielder to be called a complete team but no one makes his team perfect in just one window. Besides, there are Ceballos and Willian to share creativity in the middle until next window. Pepe can create from the flanks too. And who says that having balanced the defensive unit, that Ozil won’t come in to take over creativity till his contract expires?

With Partey, Arteta has solidified a defensive unit. And he has a vibrant attack.

He can alternate play from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3, depending on the opposition. Partey fits both structures perfectly.

Not to mention that in young players like Ainsley Maitnand-Niles, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Reis Nelson, William Saliba, Arsenal have a fantastic back-up that will be very useful in Europa and the domestic cups.

21 comments to Partey: It Feels Great To Continue Being An Arsenal Fan…

  • Val

    I do not feel great that Guendouzi had to go!
    He was a talented player so why has Arteta got rid of him??
    I am only hoping that he returns to Arsenal next year a better player than ever so Arteta will have to use him.

  • Daveo

    Every chance Saka plays his way into the 1st XI with Partey adding much needed creativity. My prediction on our main XI over the course of the season is:
    Leno
    Bellerin-Luiz-Gabriel-Tierney
    Partey-Ceballos
    Pepe-Willian-Saka
    Auba

    Willian and Saka playing very interchangeably in AM/LW roles are perfect balance to the direct threat of Auba-Pepe. Partey and Ceballos look perfect to compliment each other through their tireless workrates, interchangeability, passing ranges, and now with Partey we finally have someone that can turn players on the ball and drive the team through the middle in possession opening up spaces behind opposition midfield. BIG BIG addition IMO. Rather excited.

  • carl shadbolt

    People need to remember Areta had to go with what he inherited and what the clubs mentality had been allowed to be. He changed so much in such a short time period and this season he has gone along way to making it the team he wants bar being short of one outstanding play maker, but i still think we have that play maker like you rightly say Ozil but we have another which hasnt been spoken about that much and that is Smith-Rowe given the game time and the belief he can easily become that player !! onwards and up wards COYGs

  • K Fourie

    Tony if the foundation is good and build on the right principals as you so rightly pointed out, success will eventualy come although it might take some time. That is why i decided to be a Arsenal fan about 4 years ago when Arsenal was very much in a low.Arsenal for life!

  • Chris

    I believe that the fact we can call up player from the bench that can make a difference right away is a real asset.
    Look at Pepe the other day. Look at the young guns the matches before.
    Competion or the starting eleven is heated. Any substitute player is motivated to a max.

    I remember a Hull player saying after our FA Cup win that when they saw the substitutions coming (among them Rozicky) they knew the game was lost…

    Yeah, we’ve got a squad full of talent. Can you name a team with such squad depth ?

    And I trust Mikel Arteta will know how to handle it and keep everyone motivated

  • Josif

    “From 1996, when I followed Nwankwo Kanu to Arsenal, it has been all about loyalty and dedication.”

    From otherwise fine article… Kanu signed for Arsenal in 1999. Lovable player, amazingly skillful given his height and it was one of those Wengerian’s believe-in-a-player cases that paid off as Kanu had a heart condition.

    @Val

    “I do not feel great that Guendouzi had to go!
    He was a talented player so why has Arteta got rid of him??”

    Guendouzi – for all his passion and, erm, colourful character doesn’t fit into Arteta’s vision. We are yet to see whether I’m right or wrong but I reckon Guendouzi has played his last game for Arsenal. He lacks positional awareness, he is tactically raw and technically not good enough to be excused for his other flaws. The fact Arteta has frozen him out of the team suggests Guendouzi lacks professional manners as well.

    As for Mesut… Well, I miss him a lot. I also think Arsenal miss him a lot but we have still picked nine points out of twelve available, beaten Leicester and Liverpool in Carabao Cup and won two trophies, all that without a single minute of Mesut on the pitch.

  • Tez

    Arsene was/is what arsenal are now… He set the foundations of the massive club we have become… I loved Highbury and the traditions that came with it but time does not stand still we’ve had to evolve like we did when Arsene took over. The rest of the clubs just played catch up.. We’ve evolved again we’ve moved to a bigger ground with higher takings in line with the money orientated sport we love… Gone are the days of tradition and loyalty we’ve moved into a time of money being everything and we now have a manager who understands the new way of life in the money orientated LEAGUE, there’s still room for those traditions but there no longer the main thing… Arteta has started to build a side that looks on paper to be heading for the great days of wengers arsenal but we will have to be paitiant and give the boys and Arteta our support.. It may be a bumpy ride but I think at last we are heading in the right direction again…. Away from that I really think we should try to find a position FOR Arsene Wenger at the club he obviously loves…. His knowledge of the game is 2nd to none as long as Arteta does not feel threatened by him at the club why waste such an immense presence

  • Tai

    @Josif…

    Thank you so much for that correction. My blunder! Yeah, Kanu was one of Africa’s finest. What he lacked in physical strength he more made up with astonishing football brain.

    On Guendouzi, I think Arteta didn’t want to gamble with what he didn’t want. He improved every player he met at Arsenal, including goalkeepers and could have equally improved Guendouzi, Ozil and Terriora.

    But it seems Arteta didn’t want to play them in order not to make the board feel the trio could be managed along. He got Gabriel, Willian and now Partey – all strong players that fit into the total commitment he desires.

    Which makes me worry if truly William Saliba will eventually make it with Arteta in charge.

    Arteta is smart, hardworking and a lucky manager. Within so short a time he has stamped his authority that the board will give him almost whatever he wants. Any player he doesn’t need, however much he cost the club, is a goner!

  • Seriously, the sooner we could stop harping on about Ozil the better. I’m also disappointed with the whole Guendouzi saga ( I loved the kid’s passion and courage on the field of play), Mezut Ozil, l fell in love with him since i first saw him in the 2010 world cup and was overjoyed when he landed on Arsenal’s doorsteps, but it is what it is, and I trust Arteta fully, he has earned it.

  • Nitram

    Tai Emeka Obasi

    “Today, after three major transfer windows since he left the club, every fan of the great club must have been coming to the realities that it was the Arsenal board, and not Arsene, that failed to sign desired players for the club while the team gradually slipped out of competitiveness”

    I think that is a very misleading observation if I may say so.

    Whatever Arteta is doing it is being built fair and square on Wengers legacy of recent signings and youth development, NOT in place of. This is the squad from our latest victory against Sheff Weds, and when the players were signed.

    WENGER = Wenger era players, 18/19 and19/20 and 20/21 summer window signings

    LENO………..18/19
    BELLERIN…….WENGER
    LUIZ………..19/20
    GABRIEL……..20/21
    TIERNEY……..19/20
    CEBELLOS…….19/20
    ELNENY………WENGER
    SAKA………..WENGER
    WILLIAN……..20/21
    NKETIAH……..WENGER
    AUBAMAYANGE….WENGER
    RUNARRSON……20/21 (Just replaced Martinez another Wenger recruit we couldn’t keep because he was actually too good for a back up)
    HOLDING……..WENGER
    MAITLAN-NILES WENGER
    WILLOCK……..WENGER
    XHAKA……….WENGER
    PEPE………..19/20
    LACAZETTE……WENGER

    WENGER = 10 Players

    18/19 = 1 Player

    19/20 = 4 Players

    20/21 = 3 players

    In the background we have.

    MUSTAFI: A Wenger era player who still may have a role to play.
    Ozil: A Wenger ere player that in my opinion still should have a role to play given our lack of creativity but may be out for political reasons.

    MARTINELLI: A 19/20 signing that is a definite for the future
    SALIBA: A 19/20 signing that is as yet an unknown quantity

    PARTEY: A 20/21 signing that is obviously as yet un played

    So 3 years down the line that’s still 10 out of 18 players in our latest squad that are Wenger era players, with a majority looking almost certain to maintain their team/squad status into the foreseeable future despite new signings.

    There would also be 3 others in that squad in place of more recent signings if it wasn’t for age in Cechs(Leno) case, age/loss of form/political reasons in the case of Ozil(Cebellos) and Martinez(Runnarson) who was simply too good to keep.

    As such how anyone can make the suggestion that the club failed to sign ‘desired players’ is beyond me. Of course not every player signed worked out. It doesn’t at any club. Of course we didn’t get every player we wanted. Who does except perhaps the oil sponsored clubs?

    Wenger was recruiting and assembling a squad in much the same way as he had done for years by promoting youth, finding gems and buying the odd big(ish) signings. Lets not forget our budget meant, and still means we buy very few ready made superstars.

    so whatever the reason was for the ONE season of failure, and that’s all it was, ONE season when we didn’t either win a trophy or finish in the top 4, it had nothing to do with our Wenger late era recruitment, and it seems Arteta agrees.

    Okay I think it is clear that Artetas style of play is built more in Peps image than Wengers, which is obviously fine as Pep is a wonderful coach, but lets be clear Artetas squad is clearly being built on Wengers solid squad foundations, much as Wenger initially built his on Grahams, so there’s no shame in it or critisism of it, in fact it is entirely sensible and actually shows how he hasn’t fallen for this ‘all Wengers later signings were bellow standard’ notion that you seem to of bought into.

  • Tai

    @Nitram….

    Hmmmmmm…

    I truly find it difficult to understand why you have to pick on me again regarding an article I made crystal clear.

    As much as top 4 can be regarded a success, it never was all Arsene targeted for all of the 19 of his 22 years at the club.

    If I recall…

    1. Wenger wanted Eden Hazard but didn’t get him.

    2. He wanted Gonzalo Higuain but didn’t get him.

    3. He wanted Juan Mata and fell short.

    4. And very controversially, he wanted Suarez but it ended in chaos.

    He continues to expose other names he would have got – Ronaldo, Messi, etc.

    And God knows how many players we didn’t know about that the board denied him funds to sign.

    More heartbreaking was losing Vieira, Flamini, Hleb, Fabregas, van Persie …the list goes on.

    He evidently didn’t want to sell them but the board forced his hand. In fact, I thought Wenger would have quit the season after Fabregas left. It was so so heartbreaking. I believed Fabregas going when he did most certainly started the fading of the dream Le Prof must have had of winning the title before retiring. It was abruptly ending a well-planned journey.

    Imagine Ferguson taking van Persie off him just for one-on-the-road before retiring.

    Of course, Wenger signed good players every year but there really wasn’t a year of his last 10 that he truly had a squad to have won the EPL. He knew it, the board knew it but he continued to cover up for them. All to his great quality as a perfect gentleman.

    A man like Wenger deserved far better parting gift than leading his greatly loved club out of Champions League before handing over the baton. But it wasn’t his fault. The great man had been punching far above his weight while the board allowed his teams to depreciation season after season.

    Before I wrote this article you’re criticising, I wondered if Kroenke would have triggered Partey:s release clause if Wenger was still in charge.

    I’ve seen clearly that Wenger wasn’t supported to sign the real players he desired. He only managed with what he could lay his hands on. That he transformed many into great players doesn’t mean they were really the best he desired.

    How couldn’t he have loved winning the UCL, the best coach in Europe/world and leading his players to ballon d’Ors as nominees?

  • Nitram

    The reason is I don’t agree with you.

  • Chris

    @Tai,

    More heartbreaking was losing Vieira, Flamini, Hleb, Fabregas, van Persie …the list goes on.

    well, if you go back in time and look at how much money was earned from all transfers from the start of the Emirates project to Van Persie, you’ll find out that

    – all these sales added together financed the Emirates, with Barcelona footing a large portion of the bill (at the time – before Fabregas, I believe it was around 70 %), and if you add ontop of that Manure, Cit$ and Sp*rs, you probably get close to the whole bill.

    – many of these players if not most left Arsenal to see their performance decline at Barelona or other clubs, which shows that under Mr Wenger they were coached better – Van Persie being the exception by one year.

    This is just top class player management. As for van Persie, I am convinced nothing, I mean no ammount, would have stopped him from joining Manure. His was a voyage to win the PL, and he did not give a damn about Arsenal. Can we really blame him ?

    As for Mr Wenger leaving because Fabregas has to follow his DNA, just the idea is ridiculous…you betray me and I quit ? Not like Mr Wenger.

    He just kept doing what he believed in, and the fact that there are still so many excellent players from the Wenger era in the 25 is a testament to his greatness. Not only are these players damn good, but they were instilled an Arsenal DNA that kept them sticking with the club the more so that Mr Arteta has an ‘philisophy’ that is close to Mr Wenger’s.

    You definitely have an axe to grind with Mr Wenger, which is your absolute right. A few of us don’t share that perspective and our right is to contradict you respectfully.

    PS : the one player I did not mention was Gnabry. Wenger believed in him but he decided to try the Bundesliga, betting he’d get more playing time. How right he was. And how successfull he is. What few people know is that at Bayern he has been re-united with one of his classmates during their youth spell at VFB Stuttgart : Kimisch…

  • Tai

    @Chris…

    Let me commend you for being civil enough.

    As pet having an axe to grind with Arsene Wenger, you’re very wrong.

    You missed one thing about me – I’m forever loyal but never a slave.

  • Tai

    @Nitram…

    It’s your absolute right to disagree with me. And mine not to agree with your disagreement.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    While I thank you ,Tai ,for this fine article ,and the research that you did , still I have a feeling that we may not have all the facts of the circumstances that hamstrung AW during those years where the money was tight . We all were aware of the immense costs and sacrifices that was needed to move the club to the next level. We were never ever going to achieve them by staying put at Highbury . We had to take that calculated risk , and we are better for it . Although we still have ways to go.

    I don’t know if AW was denied the Arsenal board the funds to buy the players that he desired , sorely for financial reasons , or for some other reasons. Board infighting is not totally unknown , and sometimes emotions win over reason. But knowing AW , I am guessing that he was always planning for the long term , and was willing to compromise by buying young unknowns , or short term reinforcements , in the hope that become good and thus strengthen the team.

    I do hope that under MA , we can further move up , and become a regular contender in all the trophies we compete in.

    Up the Gunners !

  • Nitram

    Tai Emeka Obasi

    The following are all your quotes about Arsene Wenger:

    “So I reckoned that having played four seasons with Wenger that Arteta knew exactly why they were failing season after season”.

    —Failing season after seas? Really?

    “Any year he didn’t win the title should be considered a failure”

    —Really?

    “A man of such pedigree should regard mere top four finishes as failures”.

    —Really?

    “Why didn’t Wenger win the title 14 years after his last? Stubbornness! And that is the plain truth”

    —So it was all down to Wengers stubbornness then ? Really?

    “Then after 2006, Wenger seemingly forgot the very vital physicality of the English game and suddenly became interested in just technical players”.

    —Really?

    “However, my undiluted love for the great man shouldn’t stop me from honest assessment, especially in this new era”.

    —-It seems not!

    Tai, you claim to ‘love’ Wenger, and you may well do, but you have a strange way of showing it. The above is just a selection of YOUR quotes over the last few months or so, which suggests to me that if indeed you do ‘love’ Wenger as you say, given your endless snipping at the man, it is anything but undiluted.

    You even take another little dig in this article:

    “The new dynamics in playing and club management eventually caught up with Le Prof.”

    “And Wenger and his fans continued to endure, often times heaping his frustration on the zippers of his very familiar overcoat”

    ”””dig dig dig.

    And then all of a sudden, after this endless sniping at Wenger, you’ve suddenly changed tac:

    “Today, after three major transfer windows since he left the club, every fan of the great club must have been coming to the realities that it was the Arsenal board, and not Arsene, that failed to sign desired players for the club while the team gradually slipped out of competitiveness.”

    —-So now it’s the boards fault for not allowing Wenger to buy the players he wanted? Make up your mind. Who’s fault was it then that we ‘failed season after season’ during Artetas playing tenure ? Was it Wengers or the boards ?

    ————

    By the way, just to show again where we stand with your idea of ‘failure’ this is the period you call ‘failure after failure’. The following is our performance over the duration of Artetas 5 year tenure, plus the season after he left, where it seems, by your standards, we continued to ‘fail’.:

    2011-12 3rd
    2012-13 4th
    2013-14 3rd FAC
    2014-15 3rd FAC CS
    2015-16 2nd CS
    2016-17 5th FAC

    —————

    As I said back in September, How in the name of all that’s reasonable can those 6 seasons, that saw us win 3 FAC’s, achieve top 4 finishes in all but 1 season, claiming a 2nd and a 3rd in the process, be described as ‘Failing season after season’.

    And another thing you seem to of changed tac on. Back in September you said:

    “Don’t tell me about money bags hijacking the League. He came second to Leicester in 2015/16. And this pained me most!”

    —–So it’s not about the money then ? Based on what, Leicester’s 1 title ? But wait, today you say:

    “He managed to convince FIFA to put Financial Fair Play in place but the big and sugar daddy clubs still found ways around it in a world suddenly being dominated by insincerity.”

    —-Dominated by “insincerity” ? What do you mean by ‘insincerity’ ? What you really mean is dominated by money, and lots and lots of it. Financial Fair Play had nothing to do with ‘sincerity ‘in’ or otherwise, and everything to do with money, as you well know. The clue is in the name.

    In conclusion Tai, you talk in riddles.

    You claim to ‘Love’ Wenger but as I have shown you endlessly criticise him.

    In one breath you claim the money acquired by the oil clubs was irrelevant, basically on the back of one event, Leicester City’s title, then in the next you concede the failure of FFP did impact on Wenger. As I say, riddles.

    And before you start accusing me of calling you names with groundless accusations as you did in September (Tai, 6 September 2020 at 17:22 I believe we can debate without calling names. If that is all it is all about, then I can only tell you to enjoy the rest of your day.). I did not then and have not today called you names, so please no more false accusations.

    Moving on, I have in the past given you credit were credit is due as you do make some interesting and valid points, but I also disagree with much of what you say and as such have posted those points of contention. Surely that is the whole idea of this blogg.

    Have a nice day

  • @Nitram…

    It’s a huge pity how you reason and this is the last time I ever debate with you.

  • Nitram

    I’m gutted

  • Nitram

    Oh, and that doesn’t mean I’m not going to call you out every time you have yet another veiled dig and Wenger, make another massive presumption as to why we did or did not buy someone, or change your mind on who is or isn’t to blame for something depending on your mood.

    Your silence speaks volumes.

  • Menace

    I am not a diplomat so accept what I say as my opinion.

    Nitram is right on most points and Tai your assessment of Wenger is not only wrong but sadly vile. Calling his success of maintaining financial stability, failure in not winning the league or trophies is truly uncalled for.

    Wenger was and will be one of the greatest football managers that ever graced the sport.

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