Arsenal 21-22: Brexit FC

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Absolutely indefensible. We’ll trot out excuses about injuries, Covid, etc but it’s all hollow.

A bunch of terrible decisions from the Arteta era all on display in one match - Xhaka built around, Cedric, Holding extension, four RBs that all suck, Saliba banished, Mari so terrible that Kola preferred. Arteta owns all of that.

The bottom line is that the Kroenkes have no idea what they're doing and nothing will change until we either have new ownership or they just blunder into hiring an actually competent football executive like Rangnick or Campos to run everything. They handed the keys to two essentially unqualified people with no experience in their respective roles as DoF and manager and hoped for the best.
 
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Royal Reader

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I went to the game. Honestly in person it was embarrassing how little Arsenal even seemed to be attempting in terms of stopping simple through balls into their box.

The Arsenal fans were chanting "Championship, championship, we are coming" by the end.
 
oh absolutely every single one of you will owe me a personal apology when this season is over.
If they get relegated, absolutely. If they finish in the bottom half of the table, maybe. But there are 35 league fixtures still to be played, and not every match will be against Top 4 opposition or away to a team making its Premier League debut to start the entire season.

(And no, of course Arsenal is not going to get relegated. That happening would be like, oh I don't know, Leicester winning the title or something.)
 

mikeford

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If they get relegated, absolutely. If they finish in the bottom half of the table, maybe. But there are 35 league fixtures still to be played, and not every match will be against Top 4 opposition or away to a team making its Premier League debut to start the entire season.
We got humiliated by Brentford. This is not just a reflection of getting owned by the title holders.
 

OCST

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Absolutely indefensible. We’ll trot out excuses about injuries, Covid, etc but it’s all hollow.

A bunch of terrible decisions from the Arteta era all on display in one match - Xhaka built around, Cedric, Holding extension, four RBs that all suck, Saliba banished, Mari so terrible that Kola preferred. Arteta owns all of that.

The bottom line is that the Kroenkes have no idea what they're doing and nothing will change until we either have new ownership or they just blunder into hiring an actually competent football executive like Rangnick or Campos to run everything. They handed the keys to two essentially unqualified people with no experience in their respective roles as DoF and manager and hoped for the best.
Not taking any joy in saying that they’ve been beyond awful. Put another kit on them and I’d believe they were Championship. I watched Everton struggle with Huddersfield in the Cup tie this week and they had more endeavor and cohesion at the back than Arsenal.
 

mikeford

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It's like... what is the justification for playing Kolasinac at CB?

#1. he is a RB
#2. you are trying to terminate his contract or otherwise move him on to Turkey
#3. YOU ALREADY TRIED THIS AND HE WAS BAD AGAINST WEST BROM B

I cannot imagine being Pablo Mari right now. Why would I ever put in a shift for this manager again? Yeah, he was absolutely terrible against Chelsea. The outcome yesterday would have been no different with Mari in there instead of Kolasinac. But Mari is going to CONTINUE BEING ON YOUR TEAM where Kolasinac presumably is not.
 

mikeford

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All those contracts make Edu look corrupt as hell. There is no justification in the world for this stuff unless you're getting something else out of this.
 

mikeford

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I guess you don't assume Arsenal could attract an actually good manager in this state then?


Reiss Nelson: loaned to Feyenoord.
Miguel Azeez: loaned to Portsmouth
Eddie Nketiah: probably stuck at Arsenal while his contract expires after the year
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Tory): Everton was turned down and AMN has taken to Instagram to basically cry for help and ask to be sent somewhere he is wanted
Willian: fucked off to Brazil. good riddance.

Marc Overmars: reportedly texted Ray Parlour to basically say he wants Edu's job and to come fix this mess. PLEASE LET THIS ONE HAPPEN.
 

Tuff Ghost

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The first three games have been hilariously bad, but this team is not this poor and they'll likely finish right around 60 points (+/- 5 points) yet again. They are young, so there will be growing pains, and they have had plenty of important players missing time to start the year. Excuses only go so far, but they are coming off a 24 game streak in which they were good, so it's hard to get too overemotional in regards to 3 poor games against 2 great teams.

With all of that said, I shut-off Saturday's game before the 90 minutes were up and I never do that. The things that have really annoyed me are:

1. The starting XI on Saturday was bizarre. If you are going to play a back 3 against City, I don't know how Kolasinac and Cedric make the cut. There are some players with the flexibility to give you a lineup like the below (accounting for Gabriel, White, and Partey being unavailable, as they obviously would start otherwise).

Leno (or Ramsdale, not too caught up in this yet)​
Holding - Mari - Tierney​
(AMN or Bellerin) - Lokonga - Xhaka - Saka​
Odegaard - Smith Rowe​
Aubameyang​

Tierney plays in a back-3 for Scotland and could certainly have done it here. The net result is you lose Kolasinac, Cedric, and Chambers, and gain Mari, Lokonga, and AMN or Bellerin.

Fine, maybe he prefers Tierney to not be in the back 3 and really does not want AMN/Bellerin to touch the field, then the following is still better and neither option hangs Xhaka out to dry in the midfield:

Leno (or Ramsdale)​
Chambers - Holding - Mari​
Saka - Lokonga - Xhaka - Tierney​
Odegaard - Smith Rowe​
Aubameyang​


2. The Xhaka contract extension makes me mad every time I think about it. I'll never understand it. I probably like Xhaka more than the average Arsenal supporter, but there was no need to extend him.

3. They seem like they are asking too much on players that they don't want or have room for, such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nketiah. If you want a squad refresh, then don't get hung-up on getting an additional few million pounds or whatever, especially if you end up extending them when you cannot get optimal value (i.e. Xhaka).

It's been frustrating, but it's not indicative of what the future holds, in my opinion.
 
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shaggydog2000

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The first three games have been hilariously bad, but this team is not this poor and they'll likely finish right around 60 points (+/- 5 points) yet again. They are young, so there will be growing pains, and they have had plenty of important players missing time to start the year. Excuses only go so far, but they are coming off a 24 game streak in which they were good, so it's hard to get too overemotional in regards to 3 poor games against 2 great teams.

With all of that said, I shut-off Saturday's game before the 90 minutes were up and I never do that. The things that have really annoyed me are:

1. The starting XI on Saturday was bizarre. If you are going to play a back 3 against City, I don't know how Kolasinac and Cedric make the cut. There are some players with the flexibility to give you a lineup like the below (accounting for Gabriel, White, and Partey being unavailable, as they obviously would start otherwise).

Leno (or Ramsdale, not too caught up in this yet)​
Holding - Mari - Tierney​
(AMN or Bellerin) - Lokonga - Xhaka - Saka​
Odegaard - Smith Rowe​
Aubameyang​

Tierney plays in a back-3 for Scotland and could certainly have done it here. The net result is you lose Kolasinac, Cedric, and Chambers, and gain Mari, Lokonga, and AMN or Bellerin.

Fine, maybe he prefers Tierney to not be in the back 3 and really does not want AMN/Bellerin to touch the field, then the following is still better and neither option hangs Xhaka out to dry in the midfield:

Leno (or Ramsdale)​
Chambers - Holding - Mari​
Saka - Lokonga - Xhaka - Tierney​
Odegaard - Smith Rowe​
Aubameyang​


2. The Xhaka contract extension makes me mad every time I think about it. I'll never understand it. I probably like Xhaka more than the average Arsenal supporter, but there was no need to extend him.

3. They seem like they are asking too much on players that they don't want or have room for, such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nketiah. If you want a squad refresh, then don't get hung-up on getting an additional few million pounds or whatever, especially if you end up extending them when you cannot get optimal value (i.e. Xhaka).

It's been frustrating, but it's not indicative of what the future holds, in my opinion.
I try to not let short runs of bad form drive me nuts, and I also think that in the long run this team is nowhere near this bad. But, like you've noted Arteta's player selection is just bizarre every now and then. He's also been working with the team for a while, and had a full preseason, but it still doesn't feel like the team is the tightly coached squad you'd expect out of a manager who is supposed to be a brilliant X's and O's guy. Most often when they fall apart, it's because of individual mistakes, but ones that are forced because the team play isn't setting up flawed players for success. They also have way too many players who were brought in to be starters or at least challenge to be one, but aren't even sevicable backups. You look back over the last 6-7 years, and the recruiting has just been a complete flop. I took the following list of incoming players from Transfermarket:

2015/16
Petr Cech
Mo Elneny

2016/17
Granit Xhaka
Shkrodan Mustafi
Lucas Perez
Takuma Asano
Rob Holding
Cohen Bramall

2017/18
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Alexandre Lacazette
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Konstantinos Mavropanos
Sead Kolasinac

2018/19
Lucas Torreira
Bernd Leno
Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Matteo Guendouzi
Septhan Lichsteiner

2019/20
Nicholas Pepe
William Saliba
Kieran Tierney
David Luiz
Gabriel Martinelli

2020/21
Thomas Partey
Gabriel
Pablo Mari
Runar Alex Runarsson
Cedric Soares
Willian

I think the hit rate is higher the last few years, but the flops are just as prevelent. For example, Partey and Gabriel are good players I think, and can be part of the next champions league level Arsenal team if the players and tactics around them change. Mari looks questionable as a backup right now. And Runarrson, Soares, and Willian are all completely useless roster cloggers. At least Willian is going away. But from 2015/16 to 2018/19 you've got a good goalie that doesn't seem to want to be here any more, and two high priced declining strikers who are besties off the field, but don't play well together. And Xhaka, who is like a perfectly servicable work truck that will randomly catch fire every few months and burn down your garage. For every Kieran Tierney there is a David Luiz. For every Gabriel Martinelli there is paying almost 30 million pounds for Saliba and then deciding to make sure he never gets a chance to play for the team. If they didn't have a good (or lucky) academy, this team would be a complete cluster fuck.
 

mikeford

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Maitland-Niles has been told he will no longer be training with the first team.

Caudillo Arteta isn't here for sad instagram posts, I guess.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Long twitter stats thread on apparent new RB signing Takehiro Tomiyasu. I know nothing about him (shock, don't watch a lot of Bologna matches...) but he seems like a good all-around defender - good size, good tackler, solid positionally. Upside seems kind of limited due to his lack of game forward but it should help stabilize us simply to have somebody on the right who can be relied on to do the basics of defending well. He has a good age profile and seems like the type of player that other managers will find useful over the next 4-5 years, either as a starter or as a utility man covering either RB orRCB. At this point I just want guys who will be assets to the club once the Arterrorist is gone.


View: https://twitter.com/adamvoge/status/1432670860305965059?s=20
 

mikeford

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The Kroenkes bare massive responsibility for the mess the club is in right now because they hired all these failing people in the management structure but no one in the fanbase is allowed to complain about spending or oil clubs or anything this year. All these moves are probably being financed by loan (read: debt) but still. We've shelled out around 147 million if transfermarkt is to be believed. That is including taking in the money for Willock and deducting it from spending.
 

shaggydog2000

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Long twitter stats thread on apparent new RB signing Takehiro Tomiyasu. I know nothing about him (shock, don't watch a lot of Bologna matches...) but he seems like a good all-around defender - good size, good tackler, solid positionally. Upside seems kind of limited due to his lack of game forward but it should help stabilize us simply to have somebody on the right who can be relied on to do the basics of defending well. He has a good age profile and seems like the type of player that other managers will find useful over the next 4-5 years, either as a starter or as a utility man covering either RB orRCB. At this point I just want guys who will be assets to the club once the Arterrorist is gone.


View: https://twitter.com/adamvoge/status/1432670860305965059?s=20
Arteta really seems to want a defense first player on that side, like a RCB in a back three, which explains the Chambers experiment and why Bellerin fell out out favor (although he seems to have lost a lot of spark in his play after his ACL went). But Chambers just isn't that good defensively, so from what I've read, this guy makes sense. I just get concerned with the attack being so one-sided so often.
 

Tuff Ghost

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Arteta really seems to want a defense first player on that side, like a RCB in a back three, which explains the Chambers experiment and why Bellerin fell out out favor (although he seems to have lost a lot of spark in his play after his ACL went). But Chambers just isn't that good defensively, so from what I've read, this guy makes sense. I just get concerned with the attack being so one-sided so often.
Yeah, I think Arteta likes the inverted full-back on one side concept (City-esque), where one full-back tucks-in to the midfield on the attack. If you break the attack out into 5-channels, I think it has decent balance, shifting around in real-time, but with a base state of:
Wide Right: Saka (or Pepe)​
Half-Space Right / Center: Odegaard​
Center / Half-Space Left: Aubameyang​
Half-Space Left: Smith Rowe​
Wide Left: Tierney​

It's not the Liverpool formula of having two full-backs attack on the wide right and left (with a front three in between), but I think it is a reasonable use of the attacking players and giving them the space to play.

I'm hoping that we'll see the below starting XI (tweet by James McNicholas / Gunnerblog) sometime in the near future and the Cedric, Kolasinac, Holding, Mari, Chambers early season nightmares will fade:
@gunnerblog
Ramsdale
Tomiyasu White Gabriel Tierney
Partey Sambi
Saka Odegaard ESR
Auba

Can’t imagine there’s an Arsenal fan out there who isn’t at least curious to see how what that team might look like.
(Tweet link)
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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A competent manager really should be able to make top six with this squad. I don't know if we have a competent manager.

Hindsight is 20/20 but its worth considering what the squad could have easily looked like right now if Arteta didn't do a few obviously dumb things that all seem to come back to his dictatorial obsession with establishing a certain kind of club culture and preference for lower-ceiling players that follow his tactical orders to a T over higher-ceiling players with more athleticism that aren't just Yes Men.

-No Cedric from the beginning, focused more on AMN's development.
-Sold Laca to Roma last summer when we supposedly received an offer, bought a younger striker.
-Sold Holding to Newcastle when we could last summer, developed and worked with Saliba instead.
-Sold Xhaka to Roma, used some money from the above plus the Xhaka sale to bring in a replacement like Guimaraes, Neves, or Bissouma.

These probably shouldn't even have been Arteta's calls. A well run club would have a sporting director telling the manager that he needs to find a way to work with the younger, talented players at the club. But we're not a well run club.
 
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I'd like to know how Spurs were so quickly able to get out of Jose's signings while 18 months in Arsenal is still trying to get out of the last of Wenger's signings and Unai's crop
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I'd like to know how Spurs were so quickly able to get out of Jose's signings while 18 months in Arsenal is still trying to get out of the last of Wenger's signings and Unai's crop
What signings from Jose were Spurs able to get out of? Their major signings under Jose were Hojbjerg, Reguilon, Doherty, Rodon, and Bergwijn. All five are still there.
 
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I was thinking of the clearing of the deck of Hart, Sissoko, Aurier and Alderweireld, but the latter three had been there for a while. Didn't realize Rose and Lamela were frees.
 

coremiller

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I was thinking of the clearing of the deck of Hart, Sissoko, Aurier and Alderweireld, but the latter three had been there for a while. Didn't realize Rose and Lamela were frees.
Technically Lamela wasn't a free, he was part of the deal for Bryan Gil.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I was thinking of the clearing of the deck of Hart, Sissoko, Aurier and Alderweireld, but the latter three had been there for a while. Didn't realize Rose and Lamela were frees.
They bought out Aurier's contract, Hart was sold for 1m, Sissoko sold for 3m after the club had paid 30m for him, Alderweireld similarly sold for a negligible fee having refused much bigger offers not that long ago (initial reports of a bigger fee turned out to be wrong). The only player they got any meaningful amount of money for was a player they probably would have liked to keep in Juan Foyth (who had a release clause). Hardly a masterclass in selling players.
 
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mikeford

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Swiss FA confirms Xhaka is not vaccinated.

Could be a lot more than 3 games. Good thing we have... one... other fit midfielder?
 

Tuff Ghost

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All things considered, if Xhaka was going to get COVID (and I obviously do not wish that on anyone), now is probably the best possible time. He is suspended for the next 3 matches:
9/11: Norwich City
9/18: Burnley
9/22: AFC Wimbledon (League Cup, 3rd Round)

That means the earliest he would be available would be 9/26 against Tottenham at the Emirates. He may still be working his way back to fitness (it sounds like he is symptomatic with COVID), but at least that's 3 1/2 weeks in which he was not going to be able to participate in matches anyway.

They played a behind closed doors match at London Colney today:
@afcstuff
Arsenal XI vs. Brentford (behind closed doors friendly today; 4-0):
Ramsdale; Chambers, White, Mari, Gabriel, Cedric; Maitland-Niles, Elneny; Martinelli, Lacazette, Pepe.

Subs: Patino for Elneny (33’) Holding for Gabriel (69’) Hutchinson for White (76’)
(Tweet link)

Judging by that starting XI, it looks like they probably played a back three (White, Mari, Gabriel) with wing-backs (Chambers, Cedric) and two holding midfielders (AMN, Elneny).

If Ainsley Maitland-Niles was ever going to get a start in the midfield, now would be the time, but it still seems far fetched. Arteta must be thinking about it at least.

Partey is supposed to be back in training imminently, so he may be available before Xhaka's suspension is up, but almost certainly not for Norwich City. If Elneny is still here, I think they will use Lokonga and Elneny until Partey is ready, but if they do sell Elneny, it's either going to be AMN or White filling in next to Lokonga, I'd think.

In other news, the Kolasinac injury yesterday (Daily Cannon link) sounds like it was pretty brutal, so he is probably not being sold to Fenerbahce or another Turkish club, and also is going to be unavailable for a while.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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1-0 win over the worst team in the league doesn't feel great, but the scoring line didn't really tell the story as Arsenal dominated the game reflected in their 2.69 - 0.58 xG. I think the biggest factor is due the first time this season it felt as if the lineup was actually full of players that should be playing in the premier league and on top of that there were some quality options like ESR, Laca and Partey available as subs. They are still having problems finishing which will kill them against quality opponents, Auba of two years ago played way above his xG. Feels like he's slightly below it right now which makes a massive difference. His finishing used to be clinical.

Tomiyasu made his debut and I thought he looked great. Just looked up his age and he's 22. Nice to have a lot of youth in the team. And since they aren't really competing for a CL spot, this is a year where the young players should get that development.
 

mikeford

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Takehiro looked really good for the 50 or so minutes they let him be out there.

Beyond that I thought Arsenal were really poor. 30 shots and we generated only 2 actual chances. I assume one was the goal and the other was ESRs that was saved.

They'll have to be a lot better if they're going to beat Burnley.
 

shaggydog2000

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That was a good first step. Tomiyasu looked like a lot more than a defense first player, and it didn't look like they were asking him to stay rooted to the backline with the central defenders during attack. He wasn't nearly as high up as often as Tierney, but few backs are. They generated a lot of shots, and looked like they were a lot better balanced in attack than before, taking a number of routes to the box. Let's see where they go from here.
 

mikeford

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That was a good first step. Tomiyasu looked like a lot more than a defense first player, and it didn't look like they were asking him to stay rooted to the backline with the central defenders during attack. He wasn't nearly as high up as often as Tierney, but few backs are. They generated a lot of shots, and looked like they were a lot better balanced in attack than before, taking a number of routes to the box. Let's see where they go from here.
They were a lot more balanced, the numbers were almost completely even across all 3 phases.

 

shaggydog2000

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I'm warming up to Ramsdale. He seems to control his area well, is a good passer, and has great energy and seems to interact well with the defense. This team felt like it had a leadership void last year, and I can see that being part of why Arteta wanted Ramsdale so much.

And that was some goal by Odegaard.
 

mikeford

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Ramsdale definitely seems like a much better personality fit for this team. He's far more vocal than Leno and seems to direct traffic and command the box better as well. Thought that was the biggest difference between Leno and Martinez during Emi's FA Cup run as well.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Comfortable 3-0 against League One Wimbledon today. Streams seemed largely unavailable so I didn't watch but you can't argue with a relatively easy win in which we only had to start one player likely to be in the first XI next Sunday and in which we didn't pick up any injuries. No Charlie Patino sighting unfortunately.

Its impossible to predict how NLDs will go but I think we're playing better football than Spurs right now and they are both pretty banged up and also working some of their top players really hard (ie, Kane started last Thursday, went 90 on Sunday, 90 today, assumedly will start on Sunday; N'Dombele also started Thursday and Sunday, went 90 today). I like our chances but you never know, neither team is very good.

Pretty slick here by Eddie. Too bad he'll spend the rest of the year on the bench then leave for a tribunal fee next summer.

View: https://twitter.com/ArsenalTerje/status/1440775774223548422
 

OCST

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So are the Gunners going to turn it around and play good football?

Asking for my FPL team a friend.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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I mean the only matches they've looked like offensive threats in have been against lower league opponents so I wouldn't bet on it.
There's also a massive massive differences in the players in the lineups between the first 3 games and the last 3. I think it is still a major unknown at this point, but in the first games they were running out players that should barely be starters in the Championship league.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Is Thomas Partey injured, or is he no longer a player that Arteta uses?
He got hurt in one of the pre-season friendlies and missed all the games in August. But he has been back for the last few matches. When healthy, he is the first name on the team sheet and his lack of fitness since coming to Arsenal has been a huge problem for the squad.