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  1. 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!
  2. A Day Out at the Emirates The 12 Pins lifts our hopes It all started by getting the train from Homerton to Highbury and Islington on a cold, wind-biting Sunday in January, the day after my birthday in which I had a great day, meeting old friends. Normally I walk to the stadium from here but this time I had to meet up with my brother Myles and his son Niall, both huge Arsenal fans and fairly regular travellers from Dublin. They were in the 12 Pins in Finsbury Park, which merited a change to the Tube and one more stop, a fabled Irish pub which accommodates enormous numbers of verified Gooners both inside and out. They have at least one mighty attribute, the drink comes quickly no matter the numbers, a testament to the ability of the Irish staff working there and always served with a smile. The best pub in London? The songs constantly break out, from Super Mik Arteta to North London Forever and back to the old favourites we all love to hear. Tributes to Rocky, winning the title at Old Trafford and many more increase the good vibrations and the happy expectation that we would get revenge for the unlucky loss earlier in Manchester. We fell asleep that day, and Var was unkind, but we are home, we are top of the league, and Arsenal are the greatest football team. Ah, it is great to be back, the buzz and the thrill level increasing all the time. Deep talks about the future But of course, a trip to the Arsenal and meeting with my family is always replete with serious discussions of where Arsenal are, are the buys likely to be good, and can we finally do it? We all agreed that Leandro Trossard could be the perfect choice as he can provide competition and cover all across the front three, an area where we badly need it at the moment, an injury could have been a calamity but now we can breathe again. I opined that a win today pretty much guarantees top four as we would need relegation form from now on. Myles laughed and said top four is certain, we want the league. We do, indeed. Me and the gang I also said that United will defend without embarrassment, same as they did at home, particularly without Casemiro, they will be afraid of a tonking. They will look forward to a Rashford or an Anthony finding us asleep again as they hammer a long ball upfield. I really hoped we would be vigilant, use our awareness and our speed to guard against such tactics. They both agreed that we must not outplay them and lose. The Hungarian Emperor My next stop was the Arsenal supporters club bar and a meeting with the extraordinary Alexander Sztranyovszky, a major superfan who tries to attend all matches. Everyone knows Alex. He is Hungarian, and I had to deliver some ASCB presents from Georgi Stoyanov , our esteemed chairman. I found him around the corner with Peggy, the fabled owner of the shop which supplies refreshments to all Arsenal explorers, both physical and mental, as can only be found in the presence of so many dedicated Gooners. Alex alone brightens up your day with his broad smile, his welcoming attitude and the inevitable selfie which is an enduring memory of a fantastic day. Alex and me at Peggy's place There was one bad note for me, though. I had printed out my ticket in case my phone wouldn’t work but I couldn’t find it. I was staying in my friend’s Krum’s apartment in Homerton not far from the ground but had spent the previous few days in a hotel in Lancaster gate. I guessed I must have left it there. As my ticket had no name on it I was worried that someone had got hold of it and may try to use it so I left the superb atmosphere emanating from the Supporters Club to get to the ground early so I wouldn’t have any problems. Maybe they wouldn’t let me in Krasi, Lily and me I got in no problem and quickly as normally I leave it a bit late and the queues can snake around quite a bit. Inside I had a beer and then found my seat. The position was great, a nice spot in the corner, at a convenient height to watch the action well. We got a present of a clacker to make noise tucked into our seat and on inspection it was the campaign against discrimination. Good, I thought, and it had the added bonus of increasing the noise levels to unprecedented intensity which reminded me of my days in Highbury in the George Graham 1980’s. My next surprise was my Bulgarian buddy Krasi Kolev and his wife Lily came along to sit beside me amid much hugs. They were accompanied by Kristian, a Bulgarian ensconced in Scotland who I had never met before. A mighty nice man with a big smile on his face. More selfies followed. They all made plenty of noise, singing and cheering all the time. Sometimes I am on my own and the atmosphere is never as good. I was so happy to see them. When we got our goal to equalise a Rashford breakaway which I had feared, the stadium erupted in a cacophony of high decibels which the local residents of the graveyards could hear. A half-time surprise Despite a 1-1 halftime, our feeling was good, we were playing much better than the Mancs, and surely our pressure would lead to goals. I got a big surprise when we went to the bar as my old friend Tsvetomir Tsetkov was there with a selection of beer waiting for us. He is Arsenal, a great ambassador for Bulgaria, for Shumen, and London where he has been living for 15 years. He always lifts my spirits, and this time was no exception. I owe you pints, old friend. Krasi, me and Tsvetomir at halftime We went back inside. Soon we scored, a Saka masterpiece, and we jumped so high we thought we would never land. Mancs, prepare to die. No more humiliation for us, and a few more goals would be very nice. We shall overcome But we are Arsenal, and you need a strong heart to be an Arsenal supporter. A mix-up in the box and Lisandro Martinez loops a header over the stranded Ramsdale to get back to a position their play never merited. Saka the master It went on, us pressing, Utd defending, and all the while the noise and the singing never stopped. We all believed despite the clock ticking and ticking. Our hero, Eddie the undroppable, sneakily tucked the ball in the net and we had done it, the clackers, the singers, the screamers and the shouters coalesced to frighten the poor local graveyard residents out of their tombs. What noise, what atmosphere, what smiles on our faces, but then the demon VAR was summoned. Ah, we will be cheated once again. I couldn’t see how, though, the goal looked good. As the ghosts settled back peacefully into the ground, a searing crescendo erupted to frighten them up once more. The Arsenal had won, and the almighty sounds erupted and boomed throughout the stadium, and all the pubs, clubs and gathering places worldwide. We were united, not Manchester. Arsenal ARE the greatest football team! Go home crying, Ten Hag, Rashford, Martinez and all the rest. You have come to our home and we have shown you the Champions! Eddie is our winner Ps. I predicted the correct score here. The printed word doesn't fly away.
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