How Arsenal can create more vs Villarreal this time around

Arsenal started last week’s game with a couple of obvious chinks in the armour:

  1. No striker as Smith Rowe played up front
  2. And Xhaka continuing to substitute as leftback

But those weren’t the only reasons why Arsenal created so little against Villarreal. There are several chinks that need fixing because while trailing 1-2, The Gunners now have to improve their chance creation.

Having rewatched the game, these were some of Arsenal’s biggest tactical issues in the first leg in Spain and how to potentially fix them.

Continue reading “How Arsenal can create more vs Villarreal this time around”

Balogun signs – what it means for Lacazette and Nketiah

The first piece of Arsenal’s upcoming transfer window puzzle has been put in place.

After months of negotiating, stalling, convincing, and despite seemingly having one boot out the door, highly rated academy striker Folarin Balogun finally renewed his vows at Arsenal.

It’s great news for Mikel Arteta and co but it further complicates the decisions to be made about their more senior strikers this summer.

The Gunners have a dilemma on their hands.

Continue reading “Balogun signs – what it means for Lacazette and Nketiah”

All the data: How will the league finish?

Only ten games remain of the Premier League season. Looking back at the previous 28, it’s hard not to use ‘unpredictable’, ‘close’, ‘bloody weird’ as part of your assessment. It’s as if someone or something has grabbed hold of the league and its mechanisms and shook it really hard. Like a world-wide pandemic, maybe.

That being said, let’s examine just how the teams battling for Champions League and Europa League spots might fare in the closing stage of the season.

Where might they finish on the league table, by comparing their form, match schedule, new injuries and returning players, previous results and analytics like xPts and more?

Continue reading “All the data: How will the league finish?”

Interview: The creator of OptaJoe and how xG came about

There has been an explosion in popularity regarding football statistics and analytics in recent years.

It is no longer just about which team had the most shots on goal, or enjoyed most of the possession, or even who scored the most goals for some. There’s so much more to consider now, so many more colours to paint the image of the game with.

Among the people igniting the fuse at the other end of the analytics boom was Rob Bateman, also known as “Orbinho” on Twitter.

Continue reading “Interview: The creator of OptaJoe and how xG came about”

From extraordinary to ordinary

Arsenal bossed it a week ago at Old Trafford — a place they haven’t won at for 14 years — and won.  They were tactically convincing and exciting, and it’s far from the first top team they’ve beaten since Mikel Arteta took charge. They were extraordinary.

This weekend, however, the Gunners stumbled on a familiar speed bump against Aston Villa. Taking on the weaker teams on the schedule, they struggle, they lack creativity from their midfield and individual brilliance from their forwards. Arsenal looked completely ordinary, if that…

Continue reading “From extraordinary to ordinary”

Pepe’s enigma

Bagging a goal and an assist against Molde, Nicolas Pepe is now Arsenal’s top goal contributor so far this season with five goals and four assists in 12 games — already reaching half his goal contributions from last season.

It sounds wrong…

But there was something very familiar about his performance against the Norwegians that could explain why.

Continue reading “Pepe’s enigma”

Interview: A chat with Arsenal Twitter’s youth expert

Like many football addicts Jeorge Bird wanted to translate his thoughts and observations of his favourite team into something more tangible, something that he could share and produce as he likes: a personal shrine to Arsenal.

For years and years, as far back as 2006 in fact while still in college, Jeorge has spent countless cold mornings watching Arsenal’s youth teams play at Meadow Park and Underhill on the outskirts of London.

A year later his Arsenal blog ignited from the sparks of knowledge gained and his urge to write. And not long after that, he shifted his blog’s vision towards what it preaches today: Arsenal’s youth teams. It was a pond nobody were really fishing at. Information about the youth teams were scarse, and Jeorge saw his chance.

Continue reading “Interview: A chat with Arsenal Twitter’s youth expert”

The final acts of Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal – a long read

A stroll through the final 12 years of Le Professeur’s time as “the boss”.

While riding the tsunami of success from the Invinsibles season in 03/04, and the six other trophies Wenger and Arsenal plundered since his appointment in 1996, they set out on a bigger adventure as the club announced a new stadium to stand ready in 2006. This is when the final acts of Arsène Wenger’s reign in north London began.

A time Wenger himself described in May 2017 as, “That was, for me, the biggest period of pressure between 2006 and 2014. If you told me today I’d do that again I would say ‘no thank you, I’ll leave that to someone else.’”

It is a tale of a new time, difficult choices, successes and failures, and a surprise ending.

Continue reading “The final acts of Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal – a long read”

Another crazy transfer window shuts

Fans have followed their club’s respective transfer sagas with extreme attention and articulation all summer. Reporters turned into the cool, older kids you felt honoured to hang out with for 20 minutes after school. And clubs have just finished — some impressively, some not — a bloody tough exam that could determine which European competition they get into next season.

One can argue that Arsenal fans occupy the more extreme part of the spectrum. Evident on social media, which is used as an echo chamber telling the world of their every thought about the latest rumours. Euphoria and depression are hours apart. And on deadline day, it all accumulates into one sweeping emotion.

Continue reading “Another crazy transfer window shuts”

The Arsenal youth’s impact this season

The League Cup tends to give a good indication of who will be the first teams’ B level players for the upcoming season. Who will live in the shadows of the first team, in the dreaded “limbo zone”, where they fight just to get a seat on the bench.

This is often where the team’s younger players operate. So, who are they, what can they expect from the 20/21 season, and should they stay, be loaned out or sold?

Continue reading “The Arsenal youth’s impact this season”

How Arsenal’s attack evolved since Wenger

Besides obvious focal points such as the start of the new season and new, flourishing signings Willian and Gabriel, was the impressiveness of Arsenal’s attacking.

How the Gunners attack has changed massively through the club’s many tactical changes and philosophies in the last three years, and it looks like it has arrived at a place of modern sufficiency. Let’s take a look at Arsenal’s attacking evolution since Arsène Wenger, shall we?

Continue reading “How Arsenal’s attack evolved since Wenger”

Analysis: Arsenal’s top prospects of the last 15 seasons

Us Arsenal fans have always prided ourselves on the culture of giving young players a stage to flourish. A scheme at the foundation of Wenger’s philosophy for the club and football in general, and something Emery has said to continue.

It colours the history of the club with great and unlikely stories of courage, trust and integrity.

Fabregas, van Persie, Ramsey and Bellerin are some of Arsenal’s most important players in the last decade or so, and their stories of overcoming the odds as young players at a top club is worth remembering.

Continue reading “Analysis: Arsenal’s top prospects of the last 15 seasons”

Guendouzi: A shining light in a pretty dark place

There haven’t been too many shining stars from the midfield down at Arsenal this season (except Torreira), but 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi has sparkled beyond anyone’s expectations.

The French kid’s impressive performance away against Man City in Sunday’s 3-1 loss – and throughout the season – demonstrates just how brilliant he is and how excited we should be to see him develop in an Arsenal shirt.

Here’s a list of what to be grateful for:

Continue reading “Guendouzi: A shining light in a pretty dark place”

Are Özil’s days numbered? Should they be?

  • Continuous omission by “tactical” reason bad sign for Özil’s future
  • A mis-fit to Emery’s tactics
  • Sacrifice the queen

How valuable is Mesut Özil to Arsenal – to Unai Emery – really?

Özil’s place on the fringes of the Arsenal starting lineup is evident in his relocation to the bench in this weekend’s loss against Man United in the FA Cup, last weekend’s important win against Chelsea and his complete omission from the squad against West Ham the week before that. It exemplifies Emery’s ruthlessness and pragmatism, and the tactical mis-fit of Arsenal’s brightest star.

Continue reading “Are Özil’s days numbered? Should they be?”

Mislintat’s exit a major blow for Arsenal – but something stinks…

  • Sven’s exit leaves Arsenal vulnerable
  • Similar replacement desperately needed
  • Something stinks…
  • From Arsenal 2.0 to Arsenal 1.5

Fourteen months after Sven Mislintat joined Arsenal after a nasty breakup with Dortmund, “Diamond Eye” moves on, again, after a reported breakdown. This time it’s said he was overlooked for the position of technical director at the club, which he wanted and also marginalised his current position as head of recruitment.

Continue reading “Mislintat’s exit a major blow for Arsenal – but something stinks…”

How Arsenal are untying their transfer knot

Earlier this week Unai Emery exposed just how close Arsenal are to their Financial Fair Play limits while considering new player signings.

In an honest but self-defaming comment on Arsenal’s transfer situation, Emery, amid speculation that Barcelona’s Denis Suarez and/or China-occupant Yannick Ferreira Carrasco could be arriving at Colney any day, said this about the January window:

“We cannot sign permanently. We can only loan players. (…) We can sign players later on.”

Continue reading “How Arsenal are untying their transfer knot”

Ramsey in January: Sell or keep?

As this blog wrote earlier about Ramsey and if he’s worth a contract extension or not (before the news about contract talks breaking down last week), it concluded that he does deserve an extension but nowhere near what he is reported asking for.

Now, everything points toward the exit door for the Welshman, even more so than when Özil and Alexis where in a similar position one year ago, as his agent have commented, “The club made a decision. Life goes on,” and, “He didn’t want to leave, but now there’s no other option,” when confronted about the news on Twitter.

Continue reading “Ramsey in January: Sell or keep?”

Thoughts up to dry: Is Ramsey worth an extension?

Similarly to Alexis and Özil’s situastion at this time last year, another key figure at Arsenal, Ramsey, is edging uncomfortably close to the tipping point regarding his summer-expiring contract.

Why he is yet to extend his contract no one knows. Is it a money issue? Does Ramsey want to play more centrally? Is the Welshman yet to click the pen ready because he wants to see how Emery’s Arsenal unfolds? Or is it Arsenal who are stalling? Again, we don’t know. But regardless, is he worth an extension?

What does his stats, comparisons to others, potential for replacement and his role at the club tell us?

Continue reading “Thoughts up to dry: Is Ramsey worth an extension?”

Making some sense of Arsenal’s transfer window

The summer transfer gossip always gets way out of hand, especially for glistening Arsenal eyes. Media put their flashiest bait on the hook and don’t have to wait long before we eagerly bite. Ousmane Dembélé is available for sale? Of course he’ll join us, even though we don’t have Champions League football or the money, and the fact that a number of bigger clubs would be drooling at the opportunity.

It makes dreamers out of all of us. Even the most cynical bastards, like me. But let’s be realistic for a moment.

Continue reading “Making some sense of Arsenal’s transfer window”

Arsenal can make moves this summer. Here’s how

Taking a close look at Arsenal’s squad registration and Short Term Cost Control situation before the summer spending begins.

The transfer window has opened, and before every silly season I, and hopefully the club, go through the logistics of the squad and how much the club can actually spend on recruitments before it shuts on August 9th.

There haven’t been any deals yet from Arsenal this transfer window. Although, as usual, many have been reported close to signing for the club. The only changes have been in the staff at the Emirates.

Wenger and two handfuls of staff have so far only been replaced by the new head coach, Emery. The Spaniard’s own staff has yet to arrive: Perhaps the reason Arsenal haven’t finalised any player signings yet.

A massive overhaul of the staff is imminent, there has been significant changes to the squad in the last year and the potential for further changes in the squad is there too, in Emery’s first summer at Arsenal. But how?

Continue reading “Arsenal can make moves this summer. Here’s how”

Keywords for Arsenal ahead of the last battle in Madrid

Negatives and positives, the club’s dreadful away record and Wenger’s thoughts.

Arsenal had grabbed hold of the long straw in London before Atletico’s Griezmann snatched it right out of their hands with ten minutes left on the clock. The Gunners were left with the short straw in a performance only held back by an absolute calamity of a goal conceded, but the signs were promising. It’s now time for Arsenal to go to Madrid and nab the long straw back.

Continue reading “Keywords for Arsenal ahead of the last battle in Madrid”

Arsenal leave stars in London against Man Utd

Squad info and how the team will likely line up against Man Utd, and in Madrid on Thursday.

Arsenal facing Man United on Sunday, between the two ties against Atletico Madrid, is awkward to say the least. Even with nothing to play for in the league, a lot of pride and importance is involved in a rivalry like the one at Old Trafford. It might also be Wenger’s last ever battle with Mourinho. It puts the Frenchman in a tough predicament.

How should the Gunners line up against Man United when every one of their starting players are crucial against Atletico on Thursday? Which is also one of Wenger’s most important games of his career.

Continue reading “Arsenal leave stars in London against Man Utd”

The managers most fit to take over for Wenger, according to Arsenal’s stated wishlist

Arsenal have begun their search for a new manager for the first time in 22 years, with possible competition from Chelsea’s Abramovich if his notoriously fragile patience runs out again after the season.

On Friday’s already infamous announcement, Gazidis revealed the different principles the board will be looking for in their candidates for the fresh Arsenal job.

Continue reading “The managers most fit to take over for Wenger, according to Arsenal’s stated wishlist”

A compilation of tributes to Arséne Wenger

“I am in a job where you always look in front of you. Unfortunately, the older you get, the less distance there is in front of you.”

“When I retire, I will buy a season ticket, wear red and white, and hope Arsenal win on a Saturday”

– Arsène Wenger.

There has been a thunderstorm of tributes and people wanting to give their last appraisal of the manager since the announcement on Friday morning, which revealed he will be leaving after the season.

It seems like actually every person in the football sphere has contributed. And that speaks volumes to the impact Wenger had on them and the world of football.

Here is a fraction of what people have said.

Continue reading “A compilation of tributes to Arséne Wenger”

From Russia with concern

(This was written before the Newcastle game. There’s obviously more reason for concern now…)

Arsenal were almost victim of another comeback story in Moscow. If not for a moment of shocking brilliance from Welbeck, who suddenly seemed to channel his inner Neymar to put the tie to bed, in a period when CSKA had seized all the momentum. Arsenal’s season could have concluded then and there.

At 0-2, few Arsenal fans could help but envisage CSKA’s comeback coming to fruition. “It’s happened to Barcelona against Roma, it happened in spirit for Juventus against Real Madrid and Salzburg is currently doing it against Lazio. Of course it’s going to happen against ARSENAL!”

Continue reading “From Russia with concern”

James McNicholas: The football writing/acting chameleon, and the back side of sports journalism

How a fan became one of the most prominent voices on everything Arsenal, and stories about Sir Alex Ferguson and how it all came down to the colour red.

James McNicholas’ story of how he became a successful football writer depicts the back side of journalism that contains freelance workers, as well as two passions which compete for his time and energy in two extremely ambitious occupations.

Continue reading “James McNicholas: The football writing/acting chameleon, and the back side of sports journalism”

Arsenal today and evaluating Arsène Wenger’s possible successors

The heated and never-ending discussion about Arsène Wenger’s future at Arsenal seems to reach new heights every year. After two consecutive seasons of sub-par results, even by rare optimistic fan’s standards, Arsenal seem to have lost more and more identity in their style of playing. And that was what us fans usually held onto when we under-performed, we might not be winning enough but we “played beautiful football”.

Continue reading “Arsenal today and evaluating Arsène Wenger’s possible successors”