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  1. Can our new striker come from within? Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard, Kai Havertz, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus. If we stick with that current line one of them, at least, will have to start banging in goals in a way that they haven’t so far. Or we need someone else as suggested by Jamie Carragher if we are to win the title. Gaby our centre? Why not? So can one of these do a Thierry Henry like conversion from their current position to start hammering in the goals like a certain Frenchman? On the surface it is hard to perceive. We do see Martinelli and Saka, with backup from Trossard and Nelson, and even Jesus, marauding along the wing, aiming for that cross or pullback that will unleash a goal. That must be frightening for any team. So pulling Martinelli or Saka from their role seems unlikely. Unless I am mistaken, Martinelli would like to tackle the centre but I don’t honestly see that happening, and nor with Saka. I can’t remember reading that Saka would like a centre role but nor did Henry and that is the critical aspect to this argument. Not what they might like but can they do it? He will need to be given patience The one big drawback is that it might take time to find their feet, like Henry. Old timers like myself will remember Henry struggling to get goals despite showing some flashes of top play. All of the above names are in that category, they have shown flickers of light at scoring goals and causing mayhem for the opposition, but none have really been given a long enough chance to show whether they are capable. I suspect that Jesus will not become a goal machine, though. But a switch with Martinelli could well work. I feel Martinelli can score goals. That for me, is one option to transform the team. Has Eddie really been given a chance? Of course Eddie, as probably the only dedicated centre forward in that line-up could start to blossom. He has at underage. He does need a longer spell and patience as was given to Henry. I reckon he won’t get it, though, and maybe we will never know if he could turn into the goal machine we need. I doubt if many fans would vote for Eddie, but then fans don’t pick the team. A surprise turns up? So, let’s take a step back and look at the rest. Reiss Nelson? He can score goals under pressure, we know that. He is quick, he is strong, and to me, he has a bit of a Henry look about him. Henry’s biggest attribute, in my opinion, was the arrogance he found as the goals flowed. He had the belief he could score against anyone and that is what we need and don’t have at the moment. Reiss? It could be but again there seems little indication that such a gamble would be taken. Emile? I really think this boy could do it Smith Rowe? Have you noticed how often he gets into dangerous positions? Even with a short match time? I feel he could very easily be a focal point. I would like to see him given a chance. I would see him as a Son type player, popping up to score goals from everywhere. He may be a Spud, but Son is a super player. This may well be my preference. Who else? Saka I don’t really see in the centre. For sure he could shine with the ability he has, he wouldn’t let us down, but the mayhem, the wing focal point of the attacks that are so crucial would be lost without him. Getting the ball to Saka always gives players a chance to score. Trossard? Again a Son type forward, to pop up across the line. He knows where the goal is and a sustained run could see him undroppable. If given a chance he could well do exactly what we are hoping for. Odegaard - the new Bergkamp? Martin? A Bergkamp style forward? He could do it, you know. He keeps getting better and he is scoring. He is deceptively strong, able and willing to pick up the ball, and with his confidence up, could make that leap. There would be a sacrifice in his distribution if he was further forward and there seems little indication Arteta would be willing to risk such a move. Paul Scholes comes to mind when I see Odegaard. Oh Kai? And lastly Mr Havertz. We just don’t know, do we? He has shown less goal ability than any of the above for us or Chelsea. He has talent, he has nous, he has size, and perhaps it is that belief that comes from scoring goals that will give him the arrogance to get in the box and find the back of the net regularly. He is the wild card of the lot. All we can really say is that the backroom team and the statisticians decided he was worth the huge money paid and crucially, Arteta believes in him. He has got on the pitch in most games so far. As a midfielder, though, surely he is not above Rice, Odegaard, Partey or even Jorginho? Can he be a forward above Eddie, Jesus and Trossard? If not, then I suspect a bit part role is his destiny. He must score or die. It is what I would tell him. Does he Havertz a chance? The only job open at the moment is the striker’s. The internal candidates are the above. Only Saka, Martinelli and Odegaard are safe in their positions. The others, if they jump on the striker’s role, could also be first choice like Harry Kane at Bayern, and the rest would have to pick up the scraps. Jesus - out wide for the good of the team? And my preference? Martinelli in the centre with Jesus out wide is probably the move that could work. Martinelli gets in the right positions. He can score goals by himself. He does seem to have the arrogance required despite his humble words. I feel he believes in himself. The only way we will ever know is if he is given the chance. I say give him that chance. Ps. You may say why did I not include Vieira? I just don’t see him as a focal point for the attack. I could be wrong, of course.
  2. Please please us with goals What do Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Granit Xhaka, and Eddie Nketiah have in common? These 6 players were our main goal-scorers last season. The first four with 15 and the next 2 with 9. 78 goals across all competitions with Xhaka’s arguably the most impressive as he is a defensive midfielder. He did start most matches though. Eddie Nketiah started the least at only 18 so his nine could be argued as the most impressive and they did include some very crucial ones which kept us believing. I was there for the Man Utd one and we celebrated like crazy. 20 plus this year, Gabi Jesus started 27 plus 6 as sub for his 15 and again these are good figures so our two strikers did well considering they had limited playing time and both had long term injuries. I feel that if either one had been first choice and injury free we would have won the league as the more you play with your assistants the more of the telepathy you share. They are 2 different players and you have to find them differently. Jesus is everywhere and Nketiah is more of a traditional striker. So the midfielders and wingers had to adjust each time as to when and where to pass. I would imagine that Nketiah’s positions are easier as he would be in and around the box. We can work it out both ways It meant that Arteta had to train the players both ways. You have to know where a player is likely to be and also how they like the ball. To the left foot, the right, the head, can they handle the ball at mid height, have they good control of a fast moving ball, how are they for receiving the ball under pressure, behind or in front, do they have the pace to get to a ball in a sprint with a defender? It is fair to say that those 2 players are quite different as we all can see. It has to be a challenge for the players to adjust mid-match or even from one match to the next. And 20 plus from you, Eddie If anyone watches Match of the day, they have a predominance of strikers as their main commentators, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and our own Ian Wright. They all agree that they want the midfielders and wingers to find them as quickly as possible when they run into a good position and get angry if they are not found. Jesus is not really such a player as he gets more involved in the build-up and is often found on the wings or receiving the ball in the middle. It does mean, however, that he is quite often not in the strikers position. He is no goal poacher whereas Nketiah is. Alan Shearer got angry if he didn't get the ball One can guess, judging by the start of the season, that Arteta has decided to play both ways, possibly depending on the opposition, to give an unpredictability to how we play. It will probably mean that If Jesus starts, Nketiah will come on with some time left and vice versa to disrupt the opposition. We need goals here, there and everywhere I feel that Saka, Martinelli and Odegaard will be required to have strong figures like last season and Trossard, Havertz and Viera will be required to step up and score. 8 solid scorers gives us a great chance. How about 15, Guy Havertz? Judging by Nketiah’s positioning and runs, Arteta wants Nketiah to be more like Jesus and yet not abandon the striker role. And judging by Jesus’s goal, perhaps Jesus to be more like a striker. He put the goal away superbly just like Henry. A total of 24 goals last season for our 2 main strikers is not a good return but as I have said above, not too bad considering their limited game time. We have to hope for a better return this season. Norwegian’s good Arteta’s vision seems to be moving away from Pep’s to a more total football style. All players to defend, win balls and participate in attacks. Pep has a generational player in Haaland, and he is as close to a pure striker as I have ever seen. The trend has been to move away from such players in favour of more all round players but Haaland’s numbers mean you can rely on him to score the goals and the other players can just give assists. They will be enough to keep the City machine winning. I suspect every team would love to have him. And we do have our own Norwegian genius in Odegaard. No less than 15, Leandro But we have to play with what we have, 2 flying wingers who can score, move inside, win balls and defend if necessary. Midfielders like Odegaard and Xhaka (read the guys mentioned above) who thunder forward and bag plenty of scores. And of course, Jesus and Nketiah. Nketiah is closer to Haaland in style but I feel that Arteta is right. We need variety, scores from everywhere, changes in style, a mix-em up approach to give final results better than City. Nketiah is not Haaland. Don’t let me down Despite Haaland’s astonishing numbers, we only finished 6 goals behind City last season and we were well ahead of all the rest. Arteta got a lot right. And the team looks better balanced all round with players ready to come in that won’t weaken the team. I am not happy with moving Tierney on but I have to assume that he does not work as Arteta wants him. Kyle Walker had such spells at City where Pep said he does not do what he wants but Walker kept coming back. I hope Tierney can do the same. To me he brings a better goal threat and is a better defender than Zinchenko. Arteta does not agree with me at the moment, but I hope that is why he is the manager, not me. Be the first Portuguese to score 15 for us, Fabio My conclusion is simple, we will not have a super scorer this season. We will need lots of guys to hit double figures or close, which should be a benefit of the total football approach that Arteta seems to be tweaking this season. I am pretty certain of one thing, though. Jesus and Nketiah will have to hit better numbers, and we could do with a mostly injury free time this year for those two guys. I have a feeling if that is so, that they will both have a similar number of total games as both get a run out most times. Strikers always get subbed. The different qualities both bring could be the key to a big season for us. The opposition will have to change tack every match as one or the other comes on. C’mon the Arsenal!
  3. The Table of Doom Update Arsenal Current 74 Max 95 Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) 7 games left Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) 8 games left Man Utd Max 83 Brighton(a) Tottenham(a) 8 games left Newcastle Max 80 Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) 8 games left Brighton Max 76 Man Utd(h)Man City (h) Arsenal(a) 9 games left Tottenham Max 74 Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) 7 games left And so it was a mixed time in the Table of Doom. Man City are surely a live danger and we most likely cannot afford any slip-ups. Newcastle and Tottenham lost and now the Spuds have virtually no chance of catching us. Brighton won but even our point made it harder for them. A win at Southampton on Friday means both will be gone from the table leaving only four left and guaranteed CL spot, the first team to do so this season. I just hope that reaching that goal, probably our real target at the start, will not cause the players to relax. Newcastle and Man Utd will be next in our targets. That 77 may well be enough for second as it stands, particularly if the Spuds teach the two of them a lesson. Go the Spuds! The Spark was kindled by Manchester City This week my focus is on what it takes now to be champions. Three of our group understand this, the imports from Man City. You can throw in Jorginho as well. The arrival of Jesus and Zinchenko seemingly ignited this belief that we could do it. We need them to reinject that spark. It is there to be won, still. This is our template Ice cold water in their veins? What if I told you Arsenal showed the grit of champions in the last 2 matches against West Ham and Liverpool? Coming back with a dominant display in the last 30 minutes to score 2 goals and rescue a point from being 2 goals down? Playing extraordinary football the likes of which any team would be proud of? Yes, I have to turn the matches on their head to come to this conclusion but if we do, we say Arsenal are fighters to the end and that is what will make us champions. We would be disappointed with the result but far less with the display. Jesus: A Brazilian warrior has come to us One thing is certain, we have struggled for consistency. We rarely play strongly for 90 minutes and we have got a lot of goals and wins late on. Scoring early for us seems to make us fall asleep. Young teams always struggle for consistency, it is well known. If I was to pick out one in particular it would be Martinelli, who looks electrifying at times then drifts out of the match. I also question Jesus’s positioning, playing way too deep to make an impact on the scoring. He seemed to be having difficulties with getting bashed about as well against West Ham and was taken off, but I for sure would have taken him off earlier. I suspect he has picked up a knock. Zinchenko: the guy who said we could win it A Frenchman out and we are out? Saliba out has been our biggest loss of the season. Holding has mistakes in him. He needs to improve to make the defence a wall again. Maybe he can but if not we will leak goals, I feel. If Saliba comes back soon, say against City, he might steady the ship and bring stability to the team. A Spanish demon who knows how to win There is no doubt in my mind about one thing, serial winners learn to move on from setbacks, and that is the true hallmark of champions. 2 away draws at tough grounds are not so bad really. We just need to start winning again and City will know they are in a fight. City also know how to drop points But can they also drop points? Well, let’s take a look at their PL wins over the past years. Last season they had this: over the last ten matches they had 3 draws at Palace and West Ham away plus Liverpool at home. The previous season: lost at home to Chelsea and Leeds plus Brighton away. 2019 they won all. 2018 drew to Huddersfield at home and lost to Man Utd at home. 2014 they drew with Sunderland at home, lost to Liverpool away and drew with Arsenal away. 2012 lost to Swansea away, and drew with Stoke away and Sunderland at home. They rarely manage a clean sweep. The mentality monsters were very fragile in the run-in to the league And what about Liverpool, the mentality monsters? In 2020 they lost to Arsenal, Man City, and Watford away plus drew with Burnley away and Everton at home. The last ten games are generally nervy for all teams. These statistics show that. Squeaky bum time as Fergie used to say. Inject ice into our veins The only certain thing is that if either us or City win all their matches they will win the league. Arteta will be aware that he must keep the players positive, try to introduce an icy steeliness into their veins that when you have a team on the ropes, you knock them out. You show no mercy. None should have been shown to Liverpool or West Ham. Stand on their throats when they are down. Arteta knows what happened at City in 2019 when they won all 10 of their last matches. He helped them do that. He has to replicate that ruthlessness at Arsenal. He has to pick the players up and crucially, get them to keep their form for longer in matches. We seem to get into pretty but ineffective keepball when in front instead of killing them with attacks. Will the Saints guarantee us Champions League? And so we are looking at Southampton. It, like I suspect all our matches from now on, are must wins. Getting to 77 points may mean some of the nervousness dissipates as CL is assured. Or it could mean the opposite as I have suggested above, and we relax. We all need to believe, the fans, particularly those at the ground to push the players on, the staff, and above all the players. A team that can make Liverpool look like donkeys can win this league, and that is the team we need. Let nervousness be banished. We are Arsenal.
  4. Invincibles Our best ever? New Boys Or could these be? Player + age Lehmann 34 Ramsdale 24 Lauren 27 Tomiyasu 24 Cole 23 Zinchenko 26 Campbell 29 Saliba 21 Toure 23 Gabriel 25 Gilberto Silva 27 Partey 29 Vieira 28 Xhaka 30 Bergkamp 35 Odegaard 24 Pires 30 Saka 21 Henry 26 Jesus/Nketiah 25/23 Ljungberg 27 Martinelli 21 Are we better than the Invincibles? Ramsdale above Lehmann? Of course, Gus, you are joking, right? Better than the Invincibles, our greatest ever? I think we have to call BS on this one. Eh, no, let’s take a look at what we have and what we had and then we can say more clearly. Now, for sure, we are looking at different systems, different eras, different challenges but still there are similarities, maybe the most massive being a giant from Manchester is standing in our way. Plus, the Invincibles were a seasoned, hardened team who knew how to win big trophies. In comparison, we are a bunch of kids with potential and we are unsure if they have that killer instinct, that never say die attitude, or even the skill level required. Sorry Jens, I am a bitter man But let’s start at goalkeeper Lehmann vs Ramsdale. I am going to go Ramsdale as I was never a huge Lehmann fan. Maybe it is the Champions League final that sways it for me but it seems I am a petty man with a grudge. So 1-0 to the Arsenal, sorry, to the new boys. When I see 1-0 I automatically say to the Arsenal. Lauren vs Tomiyasu. Now first I have to say that I am choosing Tomiyasu over White as I feel he can put players in his pocket better. Lauren was a super player, unruffled and reliable. A good body of work with Arsenal and 7 trophies, I probably have to give it to him just about. Tomiyasu is similar, reliable, works hard and doesn’t let us down. A very tight 1-1 so. Cole vs Zinchenko. Tricky but if we take Ashley Cole’s career as a whole, his 107 caps for England, his huge trophy cabinet and compare that to Zinchenko’s body of work for us it is hard not to give it to him. Cole was under-rated at Arsenal but not at subsequent clubs or internationally. A lot of Arsenal fans can’t forgive him but I feel they should have recognized that he was world class. We had Gael Clichy waiting in the wings and I feel that was a big influence on the decision but Arsenal have always had a touch of stinginess about them. Maybe they should have given him the money his class deserved. Zinchenko might surpass him and I would love if he did but for now 2-1 to the Invincibles. Sol Campbell vs William Saliba William Saliba reminds me of Campbell. Both unruffled, classy in the tackle, comfortable with the ball and above all reliable. Big names can appear against us but these type of guys give us confidence. Campbell is a huge favourite of mine and he was part of the holy Trinity at Arsenal, him at the back, Vieira in midfield and Henry upfront. You have no idea how happy I would be if Saliba turned out to be better than Campbell. But for now it is 3-1 to the Invincibles. Kolo Toure vs Gabriel Magalhães This is tough. Toure combined very well with Campbell and was almost Bobby Moore like in how he won the ball but his career was never as good when he left Arsenal. I feel he was in the right defence and maybe looked a bit better than he was. So I am going to give it to Gabriel. I would certainly pick him if forced. 3-2 and one back for the new boys. Gilberto Silva vs Thomas Partey The easy answer every time for this exercise is Invincibles first but Partey is good, very good. If he had gone to Barcelona or Real early on I might have to give a different answer here but marginally the vote goes to Gilberto, I mean he won the World cup, his body of work is stronger. Again, though, Partey could change my mind over the next seasons. 4-2 to the Invincibles. Patrick Vieira vs Granit Xhaka Xhaka has done miracles, we can all agree, but Patrick is Patrick. Maybe we will never see another midfielder as good as him. 5-2 to the Invincibles. Bergkamp vs Odegaard Dennis - better than all the rest? Of course here the systems make it difficult and Odegaard plays a different role but I feel it is the closest comparison I can make. Bergkamp did not play on the wing so I can’t compare him to our wide men. Thierry Henry says that Bergkamp was the best he ever played with, which means he is up against Messi and Zidane and wins. The amazing thing is that maybe Odegaard could surpass Dennis. He is good but Dennis was Dennis. 6-2 to the Invincibles. Robert Pires vs Saka Nowadays, Pires would be criticized because he wasn’t a great defender whereas Saka can and does do both. Pires body of work is greater but I am just going to give it to Saka because I love him so much. 6-3 and another back for the new boys. Thierry Henry vs Gabriel Jesus/ Eddie Nketiah Well, you all know the answer to this one. Our greatest ever up against either Jesus or Eddie Nketiah as I am truly not sure who is better for the team, but Henry would go in all day long. We had 4 unbelievable strikers in Henry, Bergkamp, Wiltord and Kanu then, and maybe we will have 4 similar in Nketiah, Jesus, Balogun and Trossard to terrify the opponents, but at the moment I would certainly put Henry, Bergkamp and Kanu above anyone we have now. 7-3 to the Invincibles. Kanu- an Invincible sub would get into our new team? Ljungberg vs Martinelli Freddie just kept on doing it, he was loved by us all and Martinelli is also strong in our affections. Ljungberg had a more all round game and played a different role than Martinelli and I feel that I have to pick him for now but that could change in the future. 8-3 to the Invincibles. So, there you have it. A comprehensive win for the team of 2003/4. I doubt if anyone would give me a serious argument at the moment but in all seriousness, if this team could surpass our legends and go on a ten year run like the great Liverpool and Manchester United teams of the past, winning leagues and Champions league with abandon, then you can all come back to me and say, Gus, you were talking nonsense, our new boys, let’s call them the Incredibles, are better than the Invincibles and hardly any would get into an Incredible 11. Ah, I can dream.
  5. Our United Nations An Easy Pick? Ha ha. Supposing Don Corleone got Luca Brasi to put a gun to your head and pick 11 players from the current squad from different countries do you think it would be an easy choice? Surprisingly it’s not that difficult, except when it comes to the English and Brazilians. It begs the question – why does Arteta buck the trend of most managers of appointing players from their own country? In the team I have picked there is not one candidate from Spain. I decided that on loan players don’t count but anyway Pablo Mari would not have made mine or anyone’s final 11, I reckon. It is very unusual and, as he is there around 3 years, a bit surprising. I can’t think of any topflight manager who has done the same. Only one choice for goal - Matt Turner Anyway, getting back to my task, and difficulty with the 3 English players players currently first choice in the squad, Ramsdale, White and Saka. I am a big fan of Emile Smith Rowe as well and can’t wait to see him back but at the moment I am going for Bukayo Saka, he plays for England and is a constant threat to opposing sides. Which means Matt Turner the American gets in goal. Saka - we need our star boy fit and well The Brazilians are immense And so to the Brazilians, In some ways this is harder as all 3 are crucial but I will go for Gabriel Magalhaes in order to keep the defence as strong as possible. It kills me to leave out Martinelli and Jesus though. Alongside him the easy choice of William Saliba the Frenchman. Gabriel - won't go to the World Cup this time And so to fullbacks and I have decided to go for Kieran Tierney from Scotland and Takehiro Tomiyasu from Japan. Aleksander Zinchenko from Ukraine is a strong candidate but I have decided to have him as my 12th man as he is very versatile and he hasn’t had the body of work for Arsenal yet as those two have. Xhaka up front? Defensive midfield is a bit of a problem as I feel that I will move Granit Xhaka of Switzerland closer to the front as he seems to be revelling in his forward position. Which means Thomas Partey of Ghana and one other of Mohamed Elneny of Egypt or Sambi Lokonga of Belgium. Probably Lokonga is the best longterm option but for now I will go with Elneny. Xhaka - Immense for Switzerland The next midfielder is easy in Martin Odegaard of Norway. No argument there as he is one of our best. Out wide I will go for Fabio Vieira of Portugal and Bukayo Saka of England. And in the middle as a false nine I will put Granit Xhaka to see if he can plunder lots of goals. The only real other option is Nicolas Pepe of the Ivory Coast but I have already excluded loan players. We will struggle without our Brazilians in attack Yes, one of Jesus or Martinelli should be included but that would mean a rejig of the defence. I could put Tomiyasu in the centre with Saliba and Zinchenko and Tierney as fullbacks. But I feel that would weaken the defence and the understanding built up between Gabriel and Saliba. So my team is in Arteta’s established 4 3 3: Matt Turner Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Margalhues, William Saliba, Takehiro Tomiyasu Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard, Mohamed Elneny Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka, Fabio Vieira And Aleksander Zinchenko as 12th man All our squad will go to the next World Cup? It isn’t a bad team and not too far off our first 11. But what it tells us that we need our Brazilians and our English players badly, probably particularly our Brazilians. So maybe it is good that only Saka is likely to be first choice for the world cup of the Brazilians and English picked. The next world cup in North America will I feel decimate our squad as our players will be established top players by then. Luckily it will be in summer and not in the middle of the season. Partey - we need him to come back safe. Is it strange that 2 countries are highly represented but no other country has 2 players? It seems strange to me. And no Spanish players currently vying for a place at all? This team seems to be bucking all trends that I have known all my life. Arteta seems to have a focus that I have not seen before. Wenger liked the French, Ferguson liked the Scots, Mourinho liked Portuguese and so on and on. Is he the only foreign manager in the Premier League that has none of his fellow countrymen? George Graham sometimes had only Englishmen and rarely had Scots but I am not sure why. Those were different days and the pool of players were mostly English and UK and Ireland. Arteta the Alien No Spanish players needed here Anyway, what do people think? Could you do a better job of picking an 11 plus one sub from different countries? Does the makeup of players matter at all? Certainly when it comes to major tournaments it can make a difference. The African cup of Nations happens exactly when the English Premier League is going on, leading to complaints from managers. Jurgen Klopp anyone? Now only Partey, Elneny and maybe Pepe is a problem for us. Not so bad at all. And if all our players come back fit from the World Cup it could be a big bonus for us as other teams will have virtually their entire squads there. Some will come back injured or jaded. Maybe we can start to dream. It is a long time since I have dreamed of a big title with Arsenal, so can a Basque, with his only focus on the strength of his team no matter where they come from be the one to bring us back to the top and stay there? Let’s dream and c’mon the Arse!
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