Tag Archives: She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

Arsenal new boys “best signings in years”

Over the summer criticism of Edu creeped in as the transfer window rolled on.

The criticism was not unfounded, as Arsenal publicly struggled in their pursuit of Houssem Aouar and only completed the signing of Thomas Partey on the last day of the season.

But praise actually needs to be given for the transfer business we did over the summer. Especially with the recruitment of Thomas Partey and Gabriel.

Arsenal signed Brazilian centre back Gabriel on September 1st for a fee in the region of £24million.

He came with a good reputation in France, having impressed for Lille last season.

But there were questions marks.

Prior to 2019/20, he had a couple of uninspiring loan deals at Troyes before joining Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb, where he made just one league appearance for each club’s senior team.

His statistics, however, held up well.

Whether it was aerial duels, ground duels or passing, he was producing better statistics than anyone at Arsenal. Although this came with the caveat that he was playing in France.

He has taken to English football like a duck to water and should already be considered one of the best central defenders in the league.

When you consider Manchester City and Manchester United have spent so much on central defenders in recent years, and Chelsea had to settle on vetran Thiago Silva, Gabriel feels like a real coup.

Virgil van Dijk aside, it is a struggle to name a better central defender in the league than Gabriel. And at 22 (and with van Dijk out for a year), Gabriel will quickly establish himself as the best in the league.

Thomas Partey was signed on the last day of the transfer window.

We have only seen him for 90 minutes in the Europa League, but he confirmed what we already know about him – that he is a beat of a central midfielder.

A few people expected Partey to replace Granit Xhaka as the midfield anchor. But this would result in Partey losing 50% of his influence.

Just because you are a defensive midfielder, does not mean that your job is to sit in front of the defence.

Take Patrick Vieira for example.

One of the greatest midfielders to have ever played the game, he always played with someone behind him – Emmanuel Petit or Gilberto for Arsenal and Didier Deschamps for France.

That allowed Vieira to press forward, to bully players across the park. If he was the anchor, he would have to be more statics. Cleaning up rather than dominating.

Partey is in a similar mould.

You want the Ghanaian to have the freedom to press opponents regardless of where they are on the pitch.

Against Rapid Wein we saw this.

He would push forward, bullying players, with Mo Elneny playing behind him providing that cover.

Partey’s game is ready made for the Premier League.

In Partey and Gabriel Arsenal have made two big signings. Two players that we have missed for a decade.

A dominant central defender and an equally dominant central midfielder.

They are the men Edu now needs to build the team around for the next 5 years.

We might have finished the transfer window not adding the creativity we craved, but through Edu’s recruitment and Mikel Arteta’s coaching, we now look more defensively solid.

Once a manager has built that solid foundation, he will transition into a more attacking style of play.

Partey and Gabriel are Arsenal’s best signings in years.

We are looking good.

Keenos

Leicester will test how far Arsenal have come under Mikel Arteta

733 days ago, it felt like the dawn of a new era at Emirates Stadium. Just over two years ago, the Gunners put on a scintillating display to brush Leicester aside and climb into the top four. It was without doubt one of the most memorable matches in Unai Emery’s ill-fated time in charge. Sunday’s repeat of the fixture, two seasons on, could be the catalyst that kickstarts the Mikel Arteta era at Arsenal.

In their first European game of the season, Arsenal made hard work of beating Rapid Vienna. It was a laboured and lethargic victory, the kind which have become common under Arteta, as he seeks to toughen the core of a previously brittle squad. 

The debut of £45 million summer signing Thomas Partey was symbolic of the strength his manager is attempting to instil across the whole team. The Ghanaian won 10 of 13 duels he contested, also completing five tackles. On the ball, he had 102 touches and finished with a passing accuracy of 83%. Partey was purposeful, whilst his team-mates often lacked intent and incisiveness.

Despite an accomplished debut from their new recruit and a win in Vienna, Arsenal still have several issues to fix. Most importantly, they must become more unpredictable and dynamic when in possession. On too many occasions since the start of the season, they have looked passive and pedestrian, struggling to make killer passes into the final third. 

This has led to an over-reliance on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to bail them out of trouble, which he did once again on Thursday. Although the Gabon international is a serial goalscoring threat, he needs help up front. The lack of support he often receives is one of the downfalls of Arteta’s favoured 3-4-3 formation. 

This shape makes Arsenal more difficult to beat defensively(they have conceded the second-fewest goals in the Premier League so far this season) but nullifies aspects of their attacking threat as a consequence. In his first 10 months at the helm, the Spaniard has preferred a more cautious approach, attempting to keep his team in games from first whistle to last. 

This sound and pragmatic philosophy has so far payed off. But, for Arsenal to avoid a repeat of the manner in which they stagnated under Emery, his successor must allow his players to be more adventurous in attack. Arteta did this to great effect in the second half against Rapid Vienna, when he introduced Hector Bellerin. The full-back’s runs down the right flank afforded Nicolas Pepe time and space to take up dangerous attacking positions. When Pepe cut inside, this allowed Bellerin the time to deliver dangerous balls into the penalty area, which resulted in Arsenal’s winner. 

That winner serves as a sign that Arteta is intent on creating a side that will evolve into an attacking machine, if all goes to plan. The first phase of making his Arsenal team tougherlooks to have been completed. Now comes the next phase of crafting a squad that attacks with ruthlessness and scores for fun. 

For that, there is no better place to start than going toe to toe with a high-flying Leicester, who sit above the Gunners on goal difference. In a clash of great importance for both sides, a convincing win could be one that signals the arrival of Arteta’s Arsenal.

Zac Campbell

Like Project Big Picture, a European Premier League will be a non-starter; but could the 2nd half of the season be played abroad?

European football starts for The Arsenal today as we face Rapid Wien away this evening – a 17:55 kick off.

Earlier this week we had the leak that Manchester United and Liverpool, amongst others, were in talks with financers to discuss the possibility of a “European Premier League”.

According to Sky Sports, the key details are:

A European Super League has been mooted for decades.

Talk often increases when domestic clubs want a bigger slice of the pie, and use it as a threat to national federations.

It is no surprise that this has been leaked shortly after the Premier League rejected Liverpool and Man U’s “Project Big Picture” .

This is the two northern clubs way of saying “if we do not get our way, we will go it alone”.

The problem is, a European Super League with no relegation will never work. It is why it has not happened yet.

Promotion and relegation is the key sticking point.

Winning the league, qualifying for Europe, the Play offs and relegation keeps teams interested for the majority of the season. It is what keeps fans watching, keeps fans entering the ground.

You remove promotion / relegation and within 5 or 6 games many of the matches become pointless.

Say Arsenal lose their first 5 games. Already 15 points off the top. Not going to win the league. Unlikely to make top 4 for the end of season play-offs. Why would Arsenal bother to put out a strong XI for the remaining 29 games?

With proposals that a super league would take the place of the Champions League and run alongside the Premier League, Arsenal would be best off putting out their youth team and leaving the strongest XI for the domestic games.

And then all of a sudden you have Bayern Munich facing Arsenal B. The integrity of the competition will be bought into question.

Whilst the theory is “everyone will want to tune in to watch Barcelona v Manchester United”, would then many be bothered about watching 17th place Porto face 18th place Marseille, both of whom are putting out 2nd string sides as they know they do not have a chance of winning it?

The odds of a Porto winning the league are dramatically reduced when you have to play every side twice. A lucky penalty, a strong rear-guard action, a favourable draw no longer work in your favour ala knock-out football.

So we will end up in a situation where by Christmas, half the sides in the European Premier League are putting out B teams, and fans have lost interest.

So we have had Project Big Picture rejected, and I am sure the European Premier League will go the same way. What this leaves is “competitive games abroad”.

Competitive games abroad has been mooted a few times over the years. Most recently Game 39 in the late 00s, that was finally put to bed in 2014.

With COVID19 restrictions in England, games abroad could rear its ugly head again.

In the second half of the season, if games are still not being played in England, it could be proposed that fixtures be taken to “COVID19 safe countries” where crowds are admitted.

Whether this be across Asia, Russia, America or Australia.

It would be proposed that these are games that would currently be held behind closed doors, so domestic fans would not be missing out. Clubs would be taking advantage of the opportunity to take the Premier League around the globe. Playing in front of packed houses in countries that allow capacity crowds.

The issue is this would not be a one off. It would open it up to happen the year after. And so on.

Project Big Picture and a European Premier League are non-starters. The real fear is the second half of the season is played abroad. It would be a pandora’s box that could never be closed.

Keenos