Onwards and Upwards with Mikel Arteta’s Red and White Army

Morning all.

A very brief blog today as I am heading out early doors for our first home game of the season. Today feels like an Alwyne kind of day.

I would not expect the team to be much changed from last weekends win over Crystal Palace. In fact I expect it to be the exact same starting XI.

One area that Mikel Arteta needs to improve on is the use of his squad.

In the second half of last season he used the same core of 12 or 13 players and basically ran them into the ground. This led us to fall off due to exhaustion towards the end of the season.

You have to wonder if things would have been different if he trusted Eddie Nketiah or Mohamed Elneny earlier? Or gave a run out to Nicolas Pepe which would have given Bukayo Saka a rest.

I guess the argument is that in the second half of last season we chose to cut the squad down to the bare bones and Arteta did not have enough players that he could trust.

The acquisitions of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira gives the club more depth at left back & central midfield (Zinchenko) and in attacking midfield & out wide (Vieira). Whilst William Saliba coming back off loan gives us a 3rd quality defensive option.

Some will say we still need another right back. I just can not see this happening taking into account how highligh Brooke Norton-Cuffy is rates within the club.

The 18-year-old signed a new long-term deal yesterday and will be expected to be loaned out to a Championship side. If he continues his development I expect him to be part of Arsenal’s first team squad next season.

Considering Djed Spence cost that lot up the road £19million, Norton-Cuffy could save us a lot of money.

I think we still need to strengthen outwide.

We have Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe. the later of which is not trusted.

Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira can also “do a job” out wide but will be needed regularly in their primary positions.

If we are talking about increasing strength in depth to take strain off players, then we should not consider Jesus a winger.

I still maintain we will not be in for Youri Tielemans. I just can not see the deal happening when we have quite a few “number 8s” now in Martin Odergaard, Granit Xhaka, Fabio Vieira, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Emile Smith Rowe.

Two games into the season, it is a bit too early to be resting and rotating so I expect the same line up as Palace.

Expect Kieran Tierney to make another cameo off the bench and get 30 minutes under his belt whilst Vieira will come in with 10-15 to go.

Onwards and upwards following Arteta’s Red and White Army.


Leicester City, Aubameyang & £7.50 a pint

Leicester City

Once one of the best run clubs in England – which led them to winning both the Premier League and FA Cup in recent years – the bubble looks to have burst at Leicester City.

Recent accounts showed their wages were 105% of turnover. This means they were spending more on wages than they earned. And does not take into account all other expenses.

This has led them to still not signing anyone this summer and captain, leader and legend Kasper Schmeichel departing.

Things could get a lot worse in the coming weeks as Wesley Fofana, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans are linked with moves away.

Often in football you hear the saying a “club needs to sell before it can buy”. In Leciester’s case, they need to sell just to balance the books. It is unlikely any of the above mentioned sales will free up cash to purchase replacements.

Leicester are a warning to all clubs not to over spend just because you have a temporary high (looking at you West Ham).

A couple of consecutive seasons in the Champions League or Europa League might make you think you’ve made it, but if you then give out long term contracts based on remaining in those competitions it cane quickly go wrong.

Europa Conference for Leicester last season and no European football this season means that they do not have the money to pay the contracts signed when they did have mid-top level European football.

The seasons will only get rougher for our opponents tomorrow.


If you have not watched Arsenal All or Nothing, look away now as the below contains spoilers.

Anyone that has watched it will understand exactly why Aubameyang was stripped of the captaincy and then allowed to leave to Barcelona on a free transfer.

When your employer has a folder of disciplinary issues on you, clearly you are the problem.

It is unbelievable that some fans still back Aubameyang and blame his demise on Mikel Arterta’s “poor management”.

It was not poor management that leds Aubameyang to be consistently late to training – and even not turn up. Nor was it Arteta.s fault that Aubameyang – despite being in his 30s, the captain and a senior player – decided to still be the class clown.

If you look back at Aubameyang’s history, he acted in exactly the same way at Dormund. A quick google of the key words “Aubameyang discipline” will bring up countless different examples which eventually led to the German club suspending him.

He is clearly a bad egg who does what he wants with little disregard to management. And anyone who has worked with a character like Aubameyang will understand how poisonous it can be.

£7.50 a Pint

This week some pictures of West Ham’s pint prices went viral – £7.50 for a (plastic) glass of the amber nectar.

Tomorrow we might find that Arsenal’s prices have gone the same way.

Food and drink prices are most clubs are not set by the actual club but by the company they sub-contract refreshments too; Arsenal and West Ham both use Delaware North.

This means what happens at one club is likely to happen at another.

At Crystal Palace last Friday my pint of Heineken at half time was £5 – it was my cheapest pint of the day.

£7.50 will be enough to put me off grabbing a quick pint at half-time and will probably just encourage me to return to the pub quicker.


Why are Arsenal the only side criticised for loaning out players?

Nuno Tavares scored a beauty at the weekend for Marsielle.

This lead to the usualy suspects to jump on the highlights and use it to bash the club.

I really do not get these fans.

The majority hate the club due to what happened with Mesut Ozil. they then jumped onto Matteo Guendouzi (whose problems have followed him to France) and William Saliba. It seems Nuno is the next Arsenal player they will obsess over.

Now we know why they do it.

Any player loaned out by the club, they write the narrative that it is due to Mikel Arteta not rating them. That the Spanaird can not develop young players so would rather loan them out then do the work with them.

We all know this opinion is built due to their hatred for Arteta – built due to him being manager when Ozil left – rather than due to any sensible football opinion.

It is almost as if no club, ever, loans players out for first team experience and to help with their development.

Going from talented youth player to senior regular is not an easy step.

More players fail to make this step then succeed. And one of the biggest issues – especially when at a big club – is senior game time.

The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City just can not give a player the senior game time required for them to develop.

Not every player is a bukayo Saka or Phil Foden,.

This season, with 5 substitutes, we will see an increase in academy products getting game time. but does coming on continually in the 88th minute really help develop a player?

Decades ago, clubs would use the reserve leagues to integrate talented young players alongside senior pro’s that were not selected for that weekends game. It was a useful tool.

But the introduction of more substitutes basically made reserve leagues defunct. This led it to be rebranded the U23s in recent years.

It was hoped this would bridge the gap between youth team football and senior football. But the mjaority of teams simply play their teenagers in U23 games to get them used to playing twice a week.

Loan moves for experience are not new things.

David Beckham spent time on loan at Preston in 1995. Frank Lampard a spell at Swansea around the same time. John Terry was loaned out to Nottingham Forest.

Jack Wilshere spent time at Bolton Wanderers whilst Harry Kane had 4 loan deals (Leyton Orient, Millwall, Leicester City and Norwich City).

Mason Mount had spells at Vitesse and Derby County whilst Andreas Christensen spent two seasons on-loan in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Jamie O’Hara recently claimed that Saliba due to his loan deals.

“I mean you’re asking me about players, I have no interest in Arsenal whatsoever. If you have loaned him out and he has been there three seasons, you’ve loaned him out twice [then] he obviously ain’t good enough. Get rid of him.”

Now we can always ignore what O’Hara says. A failed footballer who is now a rent-a-quote gobshite that will say anything for attention to keep the pay cheques from TalkSport coming in. He loses his place on that show he will struggle to keep up his child maintenance payments.

But those quotes are shared by some in the media – as well as so called Arsenal fans – who act like loan deals are not part and parcel of the game.

It really does feel like Arsenal are the only club ever criticised for loaning out a player for them to get week in, week out senior game time.

How many of them have claimed Kane was not good enough due to his two loan spells? The answer is zero.

Saliba clearly is good enough, whilst Nuno will show on loan whether he is or is not good enough.

Whilst everyone got hyped by the goal, if you watched the whole game it would have been impossible for you to ignore Nuno’s horrendous defending. And this is why he has been sent on loan.

The club clearly think there is a player in there, but he needs to play week in week out. Something which Arsenal could not do. So a loan deal was the sensible option.

Now this has nothing to do with Arteta being “unable to develop youngsters” and everything to do with training ground development being inferior to getting senior game time.

Take a look at the latest England squad.

The 3 goal keepers selected have all spent time on loan – a combined 16 loan spells between them.

Gareth Southgate selected 9 defenders for the last squad. 7 of the 9 have been on loan. Also a combined 16 spells.

The only two not to go on loan – John Stones and James Justin – started their careers in the lower leagues which basically meant that by the time they moved to a Premier League club they had played plenty of senior football.

Of the 6 midfielders selected, only 2 have had a loan spell (6 combined spells). But like in defence 2 of the midfielders began life in the lower leagues. Only James Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice have only ever player Premier League football.

That is a total of 12 out of 18 players combining for 38 loan spells. And we are not even onto Harry Kane and the strikers yet!

7 players were listed as forwards in Southgates last squad (I will leave yo uto argue over whether wingers are midfielders or forwards).

Of the 7, 3 had loan spells in the lower leagues. A combined 8 loan spells between them – of which Harry Kane accounts for 50%.

Of the remaining players, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden were all “wodnerkids” who were playing senior Premier League football at 17/18. The last is Jarrod Bowen who came up through the lower leagues.

So we end up with a senior England squad where:

  • 15 out of the 25 players have been on loan
  • Of the remaining 10, 5 started their careers in the lower leagues

Every club up and down the country uses loan deals to give senior game time to young professional. But it is only Arsenal that receive criticism for using the loan system.

Enjoy your Wednesday.