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  1. The real top six? In every full decade since I became an Arsenal supporter Arsenal have won the league except 2010 to 2019. I came onboard in 1969 and in 1971 we won the famous double. In 1989 we won at Anfield on the last day. In the 90’s we had 1991 and 1998 and in the new millennium we had 2002 and 2004. Since then nothing. But I am very hopeful for this decade to correct this blight. Surely this is the best set of players since Arsene Wenger’s heyday? Martin Odegaard: Our Captain Supreme However, If we don’t start winning trophies again we could go out of the top three English teams as Man City and Chelsea are coming up behind us. In this table of most successful English teams here 15 most successful English clubs in football history by major trophies won (givemesport.com). They exclude certain trophies because of their limited reach such as the Charity Shield and World Championships. Arsenal are 3rd with 30 trophies. Man City, if as expected, win the league and the FA cup will have 28. Chelsea are on 25. Surprisingly, Aston Villa are next on 20, but they will surely not catch us in my lifetime even if Unai Emery performs miracles. But, if we don’t start winning trophies soon, City will surely overhaul us, possibly by next year. Ian Wright right again Of course, City are facing charges going back to 2009 so they could lose all their modern trophies which means they go out of the top six and the Spuds come in. Arsenal drop down the top six? I will diverge for a moment to talk about the top two, Liverpool on 46 and Man Utd on 43. I cannot see them being caught possibly ever, although that top two could change positions quite easily. But we are the vulnerable ones. If Chelsea can get back to the Abramovich glory days they could also catch us in a few years. 18 of their major trophies have been won since 2000, an astonishing haul. We could go down to 5th place if we don’t start winning. Are there really more trophies in this team? And that is the real top six: Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Aston Villa. They include the final top four of this season 2023/24. Chelsea scrambled into 6th so 5 of the real top six are in the top six. City and Chelsea are the cuckoos, though. Incredible wealth and clever football policies have brought them a majority of the 21st century trophies. City, I should point out, have won 18 trophies over this time and possibly this month that will go up to 19. At least we can’t fall further What does it all mean for Arsenal and its support base if we go down to 5th? I should point out that 5th is our bottom position for a long time as Spurs are 7th on 17 trophies and Everton 8th on 15. They and Villa are not coming near us anytime soon. So we will remain 5th, if that happens and not lower. Still, it will have an impact on our standing in world football. And on our support. Can Emery hold Villa together? Chelsea and City fans are mostly new, young people attracted by the success and claiming bragging rights over the still current top three of Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal. Existing fans rarely change so the demographic changes over time if you don’t win. The current top three have probably lost some new support to the upstarts and if Liverpool go backwards after Klopp that will get worse. Who will make the top four next season? It is becoming hard to see where the contenders are going to come from next season. City and Arsenal look solid but the rest? Villa have imploded at the end but I guess Unai Emery will have them ready. There is no better expert at juggling European football so I would expect them to handle the Champions League well. But can they be contenders or even retain their Champions League spot? Man Utd look a shambles at the moment and they must move quickly to get back to the top to retain their position. To me, looking at their squad, they need too many new players to quickly turn things around. A new Slot machine or Poch marked Pensioners? With Liverpool it is almost impossible to say. It is rare for a new manager to take over from an iconic one and do well but Liverpool have form in this regard. Bill Shankly resigned and Bob Paisley took over to make Liverpool possibly the greatest English team of all time. But Arne Slot? Can he take the jump up in class and the huge pressure that comes with managing European royalty? We shall see but I would not be optimistic. I have a feeling that big personalities, which even Klopp struggled to keep in line, will prove too much for Slot. He will need a clearout like Arteta did but will he be given the chance? I doubt it. Somehow I see a short run for him. Howe can Eddie do it? Chelsea may improve but I am not convinced that Pochettino has really got the mojo he had at Spurs. They had a pretty good end to the season and without Champions League may be able to capitalise on the teams that have. Such a big squad means that handling the lesser European trophies is easier for him. Newcastle sell up and Spurs have Ange’st? Newcastle have also run into financial problems and may have to sell some players. Eddie Howe is good but his team have been very inconsistent. They need to improve a lot to contend and if Isak and Guimaraes goes it is hard to see how (forgive the pun). Spurs fans think Postecoglou is the crazy one Tottenham walked themselves into a lot of bother at the end. The supporters threw away a chance of Champions League just to do over the Arsenal causing Ange Postecoglou to have a meltdown. I cannot say this any stronger, every team is trying to get any little margin in their favour, from dark arts, improved training and diet, set piece setups, statistical analysis, mindgames, but crucially, getting the fans behind them to give that little extra push when they need a hard fought win. Is it possible that Son, normally so clinical in one on ones, as I understand it the best in the Premiership, was subconsciously thrown off by the vibe from the crowd to lose? It was certainly not consciously as Son is an excellent professional. There is now a rift and if such a superb manager as Postecoglou goes, whither Spurs? I think he will have offers. Can they get rid of Daniel Levy and get a chairman who wants to win? Doesn’t seem likely. And the winner is? Last year I tipped Villa to make the top four along with Arsenal, City and Man Utd. Utd fell apart but I didn’t do badly. Arsenal could have struggled with Champions League as Newcastle and Man Utd did. And so next season? It is hard to see beyond City and Arsenal again. I cannot see a team beyond the eight I have mentioned making top four and I feel that the next six will battle it out for the bottom two spots. I have absolutely no confidence in any choice but I am going to plump for Chelsea and Villa. We always are So, Arsenal, finally, then City, Chelsea and Villa. Regular readers know that my predictions have been good so far, getting many things right or at least close to right. However, this next season is very hard to call. So many teams have problems that anything can happen. But maybe we can capitalise on that. Good old Arsenal, we’re proud to say that name.
  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!
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