After Brighton made it clear that Moises Caicedo wasn’t for sale in this January transfer window, Arsenal turned to Chelsea midfielder Jorginho to help plug in any gaps. The Brazilian has signed from Chelsea for a deal worth £12 million on an 18 month contract with the option to extend by one year.
Though this is a controversial signing, with Gooners getting #NotJorginho trending after the announcement we were interested in signing him, he will bring experience with him being 31 years old. He has also been very successful with Chelsea, winning the Champions League which is a dream for Arsenal next season. He is also a much improved option to cover Thomas Partey, should he get injured, as his usual cover, Sambi Lokonga, is set to go on loan to Crystal Palace, which in my opinion is a much needed developmental loan as Sambi seems to be the only player Arteta has signed not to flourish under him; Tavares is playing brilliantly in Ligue 1 and even academy players are bringing a higher level of play than Sambi, so this loan will be vital in the decision to keep or sell him.
Many are comparing Jorginho to Elneny, who is set to be out for the rest of the season with an injury picked up in training. It has been a stinker of a season for Elneny, who will have missed at least 75% of it through injury. When comparing Jorginho to our current midfield, he actually doesn’t do too badly. In 18 games he has scored two goals, created seven chances and made twenty one interceptions, compared with Thomas Partey on 16 games with two goals, fourteen chances create and nineteen interceptions. It is also important that these statistics are from the Premier League; he is already Prem proven and can compete at the highest levels which is essential for us in the title race.
With Jorginho only costing £12 million, it leaves us in a good position financially to buy midfield reinforcements in the summer, such as Declan Rice who is expected to cost around £80 million. It feels as though we have come away with a reasonable deal as we have upgraded on replacements, and it has to be said that £80 million for Caicedo who would have been a backup is a lot of money. Arteta clearly backs the player and he has rarely been proven wrong when putting his trust in a player, so it is essential that we all come together to support Jorginho as we continue the title charge!
Arsenal have completed the signing of Belgian International 28-year-old Leandro Trossard for £27 million. With the disappointment of missing out on the highly rated Mykhailo Mudryk, the Gunners have moved on fast to look for alternatives to improve their squad depth to be stronger in the attacking positions and to push for the League title for the remainder of the season. It is clear that Arsenal needed some reinforcements in their attack as they push for the League Title. With Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson on the treatment table, this January was do or die for Arsenal to add to their already established squad. The Gunners were always a big admirer of the Belgian as Mikel Arteta has said in an interview ‘Leandro Trossard will bring composure and versality to Arsenal, and he was willing to join the club those are the players that we want at the club’.
Leandro Trossard is a very clever buy from Arsenal as he brings Premier League experience to a young Arsenal team and it will not take him a while to adapt to the League. Although, Mykhailo Mudryk was highly rated by Mikel Arteta and the Arsenal boss pushed to sign him, the idea of paying close to £100 for a 22-year-old with zero Premier League Experience under his belt and only this season the young winger came onto the spotlight would have been an immense risk for the Gunners to take, not to mention that it would take him longer than it would Trossard to adapt to the physicality and pace of the Premier League. Once Gabriel Jesus is fit again, Mikel Arteta will have a stronger bench to call upon if his side needs a late goal.
Furthermore, the risks of Leandro Trossard not working at Arsenal will be minimal and not be seen as waste of money if Trossard doesn’t hit the ground running as this is short team investment from the gunners to help them cross the finish line and win the Premier League title for the first time in 19 years, as well as Trossard will not be guaranteed to be a starter with Martinelli, Saka and Nketiah being on top form this season for the Gunners. The reason Leandro Trossard is a clever buy is that not only he was cheaper but also more versatile than Mudryk, as he can play various positions in attack to make it more unpredictable for the opposition to defend against the Gunners. Trossard’s best strength is his versatility enabling to play all three positions in attack would enable Arsenal to give a rest to regular players like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who have started every match this season for the North Londoners if Mikel Arteta chooses to rotate the team in some fixtures. An additional strength is that the Belgian will bring to this Arsenal side is his eye for goal. Leandro Trossard has already seven goals this season including a hat trick against Liverpool at Anfield earlier in the season, the Belgian has proved that he is a big game player having scored 13 goals against the traditional ‘Big 6’. The 28-year-old Belgian international contributed to 0.4 goals per 90 for Brighton which most of them came from the Left Wing. Trossard is a very composed player around the box and loves to link up with his teammates well.
Leandro Trossard will also give Arsenal more maturity in the dressing room for the young players to look for advice when they need to step and perform to a higher level. The conclusion being although Leandro Trossard was not Mikel Arteta’s primary target the Belgian is smarter buy than Mykhailo Mudryk because of the price, the versatility and being experienced in the Premier League. The Arsenal fans are eager to see Trossard in action and that could come up sooner than expected. The Belgian could feature against Manchester United on Sunday as Arsenal completed the signing on Friday midday wich will enable the club to use their newest signing.
Arsenal made the trip to the Tottenham Stadium to face their arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur’s in a match which is predicted to be a classic. Arsenal is chasing the League title whilst Tottenham will need to make ground on the top 4 race. Both needed a victory, with Tottenham’s 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace last week they came in with strong beliefs for today’s encounter. On the other hand, a disappointing draw at home against Newcastle left Mikel Arteta and his players displeased. The Gunners had the chance to increase their lead at the top of the Premier League with Manchester City dropping points against Manchester United yesterday, the Gunners had the chance to take a huge advantage in the title race, which they executed perfectly, and Spurs is the perfect opposition to do it against. As predicted, Mikel Arteta started with the same lineup from the Newcastle game.
Always dangerous in the derby Arsenal need to pay attention to the old enemy Harry Kane as he edges close to become Tottenham’s all-time leading goal scorer.
Arsenal kicked off from left to right. In the early stages of the match Spurs dominated the ball as they gained confidence from the home crowd, but the Gunners were pressing really high, and it seemed that that could be a weakness. Oleksandr Zinchenko won a free kick in the Arsenal half as Spurs attempted to copy Arsenal’s tactic by pressing really high up the pitch to stop the build up of play by Arsenal.
Great attack by Spurs as Kane dropped deep to feed Ryan Sessegnon but a poor cross by the left winger. Tottenham tried to play from the back, but Hugo Lloris didn’t see Eddie Nketiah closing him down and the Frenchman nearly gifted Arsenal the lead, but a volley by Eddie Nketiah was really well save the Frenchman and he apologised to his teammates. Arsenal were really starting to put Tottenham in trouble and looked to open the scoring, but a Ben Whites cross was misplaced for a Tottenham goal kick. It seemed Arsenal were targeting the left-hand side as Ryan Sessegnon was not playing great defensively, Bukayo Saka and Ben White were causing him a lot of trouble down that flank.
A foul on Eddie Nketiah in the 11th minute of the game, saw Martin Odegaard take the free kick, but Thomas Partey’s header went way over the bar. Tottenham players have surrounded the referee after a blatant handball by Thomas Partey stopped a possible Tottenham counter but no booking for the Arsenal defensive midfielder. A very clever spin by Thomas Partey which opens tons of space in the midfield and then he plays a clever lobbed ball to find Saka. Arsenal took the lead after a massive howler by French captain Hugo Lloris who parried the ball into his own net. It did not come as a surprise as Arsenal started in a better manner and totally deserved the lead.
Huge chance for Spurs as a ball by Eric Dier found Ryan Sessegnon; a great reverse ball in for Son but Ramsdale came on top with a great save. Arsenal were consistently targeting the left side of the Spurs defence. Good build up play from Arsenal once again and Martin Ødegaard took a shot from 20 yards out, but Lloris came out on top this time.
Am amazing volley from Thomas Partey after the failed clearance of Ryan Sessegnon but it was the woodwork that saved Tottenham this time around; this could have been the goal of the season contender. Every time Arsenal had the ball they attacked with an intent of doubling their lead as the Tottenham defence could not handle Arsenal’s momentum. Tottenham players were clearly getting riled up as Cristian Romero fouled Gabriel Martinelli and the defender took a booking for the dangerous challenge. In the 36th minute an amazing attack by Arsenal ended in a goal as Bukayo Saka plays Martin Ødegaard in a central position and Hugo Lloris could not stop the low shot by the Norwegian. Arsenal deservedly doubling their lead as the Tottenham players hang their heads in shame.
Harry Kane with a late chance in the first half as he tried to head the ball home following a cross from Højbjerg, but was unsuccessful. Arsenal headed into the break with a 2-0 lead and Tottenham did close to nothing to trouble the Arsenal goalkeeper.
Tottenham were early on the pitch for the second half as Antonio Conte needed his men to put up more of a fight in this 2nd half of the game, which resulted in more intent and urgency from Spurs in the 2nd half. Kulusevski cut in on his stronger left foot after a pass from Harry Kane but his shot went over the bar. Kulusevski was once again in the mix as he won the ball in the Arsenal half which was then passed to Harry Kane, but Aaron Ramsdale saved it for a Spurs corner. The chances were coming thick and fast for Spurs, as this time Ryan Sessegnon receives a through ball by Harry Kane but again the wall protecting the Arsenal goal prevented to all from finding the back of the net. As they have done in the past, Tottenham played much better in the second half than in the first, maybe the halftime team talk by Antonio Conte works every time. Kulusevski whipped a cross to the back post but to no avail as there were no Spurs players there to tap the ball into the back of the net. It seemed that Kulusevski was the main creator for Spurs in the 2nd half, but the Tottenham players were not as clinical as Arsenal were in the first half.
The tension started to rise once again an already booked Cristian Romero caught Granit Xhaka this time but the Spurs defender did not get booked. Arsenal played on and smart control by Nketiah but a very poor shot which didn’t trouble Hugo Lloris.
Arsenal needed to keep the ball for a few minutes to slow the pace of the game down as the Tottenham players were onto the Arsenal players like hyenas as expected. Kulusevski was causing Arsenal all sorts of problems since the 2nd half began. In the 60th minute the game was more even than it was in the first half, it looked like Tottenham had woken up from the terrible first half, something typical with Spurs this season. With Tottenahm pushing men forward and with nothing to lose the space opens for Arsenal as Xhaka plays in Nketiah but a poor touch and Arsenal could not score the 3rd to end the contest.
Tottenham looked to bring on attacking reinforcements as Richarlison was introduced into the game to replaced Doherty. The tackles were flying in from Tottenham, they were running out of time to score, with 20 minutes until the full time whistle and Arsenal are pleased to just waste more time and slow the tempo of the game in their favours.
Another dangerous free kick was awarded to Arsenal after a foul by the already booked Cristian Romero but Xhaka shot over the bar.
Substitution for the Gunners as the booked Martinelli was taken off to be rested against Manchester United for next weekend. Then a series of small chances by Tottenham as Arsenal failed to clear the ball numerous times, the ball found Richarlison but his low shot was well saved by Aaron Ramsdale. The Gunners resisted a tough second period of the game as they kept a clean sheet against their arch rivals away from home.
Absolutely great performance by the Gunners as they move 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League. Next for the Gunners a visit from the in-form Manchester United. After the final whistle blew a Tottenham fan came onto the pitch and kicked the Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
An unsurprising seven changes from the side that grew 0 – 0 to Newcastle, Matt Turner made his first start since October and Emile Smith Rowe came on from the bench for the first time since September, a huge relief to see. We played Oxford United away in the fourth round of the FA Cup in our white kit as part of the ‘No More Red’ initiative to take a stand against knife crime, a ‘cursed’ kit which saw us knocked out of the same competition on the same day last year to Nottingham Forest.
The first half was incredibly frustrating and underwhelming. Slowly but surely the game started to settle down and Arsenal B managed to link a few passes together. Tomiyasu had an early chance but it was easily claimed by the Oxford goalkeeper, McGinty. There was not a lot of drama, a few physical challenges on Saka and Tomiyasu, otherwise we just knocked the ball around without any real drive or determination to put the ball in the back of the net. The best chance of the first half came from Eddie, who hit the ball just over the crossbar from close range in a very crowded box.
In the second half, Eddie had a chance which he didn’t capitalise on, and then it was Turner’s turn to be alert to deny Taylor as he came rushing off of his line to claim his ball. After an hour of unsatisfactory football from Arteta’s perspective, he sent on the reinforcements; Xhaka replaced Lokonga and Zinchenko for Tierney. The dynamic totally changed after this substitution as we suddenly looked much more of a threat.
It only took Arteta’s substitutions to make an impact. Vieira took a free kick after Martinelli was fouled and swung in a beautiful cross to set up Elneny, who scored a bullet header. He enjoyed his moment and celebrated in front of the away fans.
The goal seemed to make the youthful side a lot calmer, and Eddie doubled our lead only seven minutes later. He calmly rounded the keeper to put the ball in the back of the net of an open goal. As recently as two seasons ago, Eddie would likely have panicked and missed this shot, so it was a real credit to his development and maturity this season. This marked Vieira’s second assist of the night, a definite player waiting to burst out.
A lot of fans were worried as Saka picked up a knock and was promptly replaced by Emile Smith Rowe. Arteta has since confirmed that Saka is fine, and it is an exciting prospect to see the duo back together on the pitch again. Martinelli then set up Eddie to make the score 3 – 0. Eddie has been immense since Jesus’ injury, with four goals in four starts since the World Cup, rewarding Arteta’s faith in him in the summer. Smith Rowe almost scored on his return but the shot was deflected and went just wide.
The first half in particular was difficult to watch. The midfield in particular were lacklustre and really highlighted the importance of our lack of squad depth in that area; if Partey or Xhaka were to get injured we would find ourselves in a very tricky situation, and it is clear Arteta knows this as Partey didn’t set foot on the pitch. One big shock for me was that Saliba was left back in London. The Frenchman has not been playing like his usual self since his lack of game time at the World Cup and this would have been the perfect opportunity to get some game time and get back to himself, but it was Gabriel that started instead, the only one of the usual four starters in the Premier League.
Next up in the FA Cup we play Manchester City in a trip to the Etihad. Psychologically, this will be a massive game as it is the first time the two side will meet this season, but if history repeats itself and we beat City we will be on track to win the FA Cup, but let’s not jinx it! In the Premier League, we play Spurs in the second North London Derby of the season, this time taking the short trip to White Hart Lane. Personally, I’m hopeful for a victory, despite our abysmal track record away to Spurs, but at this point even a draw would feel disappointing.
Arsenal welcomed 3rd place Newcastle United on which was a fiery match for the neutrals with 9 bookings in total in the match. For any fan who thought this would be a spectacle and a contender of match of the season, they were far from it as in the first half there were 5 bookings. However, the match was entertaining as the tackles were flying from both teams, but neither Arsenal nor Newcastle United troubled the opposition goal as much as they would have preferred. Newcastle came with the game plan of stopping Arsenal’s lethal attack and defend with their lives. Newcastle did close to nothing in the game to trouble Aaron Ramsdale. Arsenal started quickly as expected and Martin Ødegaard came close after the ball found its way to him but failed to control the volley and the ball went well over the bar. That was the only big chance Arsenal had in the first half, which meant they played right into Newcastle’s hands and the tempo of the game slowed down which benefited Newcastle. After the first half chance of the game, the contest between the two teams became a little bit rush with the players of both teams throwing themselves into challenges with 3 yellow cards bookings going towards Granit Xhaka, Eddie Nketiah and Martin Odegaard of Arsenal and the other 2 going to Bruno Guimaraes and Callum Wilson of Newcastle.
The two teams going into a stalemate at the break holding each other’s throats at 0-0. In the second half Arsenal attacked the North Bank. The second half has begun the way it was expected with Arsenal in cruise control of the ball trying to breakdown the Newcastle’s defensive wall but to no avail. Minutes after resuming the second half Newcastle breaks on a counterattack but Callum Wilson was fouled by an already booked Granit Xhaka. Newcastle players surrounding the referee Andrew Medley to show a second yellow card to the Arsenal midfielder. Kieran Trippier takes the free kick and a chance presented itself to Fabian Schar but his heading effort goes wide of the goal. After the chance Aaron Ramsdale potentially could have costed the Gunners after a defensive blunder by the Arsenal Goalkeeper trying to play out from the back but Callum Wilson closed the Aaron Ramsdale down quickly and Newcastle failed to convert the gifted chance to them.
Arsenal keeps pushing men forward, dominating possession as expected but could not open the Newcastle’s defence which once again proved why they have the best defence in the Premier League. The second period of the match is going like the first went with both teams scrapping to keep possession of the ball but minimal chances on both sides. During the match, the ball has been in play 47 minutes out of the whole 90 which demonstrates how poor both teams were in creating chances and keeping the ball ticking. In the 60th minute of the game, Arsenal were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area. Bukayo Saka took the free kick and huge appeals for a penalty after Dan Burn had hold of Gabriel Magalhaes’ shirt, but the referee said no penalty. Arteta in his post-match said “two scandalous penalties” the second referenced the handball made by Jacob Murphy in the penalty area after he blocked the cross by Granit Xhaka with his arm in the closing moments of the game.
Fast forward to minute 88 a lack of concentration in Newcastle defence, Eddie Nketiah spins behind Fabian Schar but his shot was stopped by the long-left foot of Nick Pope. That was the chance that could get Arsenal scrappy 3 points, but it was not meant to happen.
This specific game shows what Arsenal lack if they will go toe to toe with Manchester City for the Premier League crown. With the January Transfer opened Arsenal should monitories alternative options in order to build a stronger squad depth and have a plan B, C, D and so on coming off the bench in scrappy matches like today. It is not a loss however, Arsenal fans left disappointed, but the Gunners stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League to 8 points waiting until Manchester City face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday at 20:00 to see if the lead remains at 8 points or if Manchester City will close it down to 5 points.
Arsenal ended 2022 on a high, beating Brighton away for the first time since 2020. This victory was extra sweet as we extended our lead at the top of the Premier League table to seven points as both City and Newcastle dropped points earlier on in the day. Zinchenko was the only change to the team that beat West Ham on Boxing Day as he displaced Tierney to reclaim his place in the starting XI.
As far as starts go, Saka provided the dream by putting the ball in the back of the net in just 66 seconds! After our first attack was dealt with by the Brighton defence, Partey stole the ball from Lamptey which allowed Zinchenko to set Martinelli up, but his effort was deflected twice and landed in Saka’s path where he took a touch and put the ball in the back of the net, cool as you like. This domination remained for much of the early stages as Zinchenko came close to doubling the lead, as well as Nketiah and Martinelli having a go at goal too.
Brighton then settled into the game and had a good chance from a corner, which had to be retaken, with Gabriel clearing the third shot off of the line. We responded to this danger quickly. Ødegaard played a naughty flick into Martinelli but the ball was cleared. Partey then had an opportunity but the shot went over the goal. Seven minutes before the break. A corner was cleared, but only as far as the edge of the box, and Ødegaard found the top corner in what wasn’t the best of contact but made for an excellent strike and puts him on seven goals already this season.
The second half start was just as impressive as the first half, with Eddie making it 3 – 0 just two minutes after the restart. Partey again set up Martinelli who had is effort saved by Sanchez, but Eddie found himself in the right place at the right time and scored from the loose ball; a much deserved goal for our striker, and two goals in two starts since Jesus has been out from injury. With the three goal cushion, we sat back and allowed Brighton to take a few shots, including a goal from Mitoma which made the score 3 – 1 and definitely made all us Arsenal fans sweat a little, remember when Newcastle came back from 4 – 0 down to draw?
It only took Martinelli five minutes to regain our three goal cushion as he scored straight through Sanchez’s legs. Gabi did brilliantly, but it was a beautiful pass from the captain to set him up and that really made the goal. The game continued from this point pretty end-to end. Brighton managed to score again with Ferguson and it was clear that Arteta wasn’t impressed. We clearly suffered from taking off both White and Zinchenko at the same time, but Arteta was just weary of the big game against Newcastle on Tuesday, in my opinion. Holdini was sent on, putting many fans at ease, for the final five minutes and Mitoma scored again, only to have it disallowed through VAR for offside. From then on, the game was very scrappy and the players looked nervous, but managed to hold on to the lead and get the three points.
Our first game of 2023 is on Tuesday, at home to third place Newcastle United. This will be a tough fixture as Newcastle have been on an impeccable run of form lately and very shockingly couldn’t break through against Leeds yesterday. It makes sense that Arteta wanted to ensure White and Zinchenko would be at their best for the game, but after a poor performance from Saliba since the return from the World Cup, maybe we will see him dropped in favour of Ben White playing as CB with Tomiyasu filling in the RB role. We enter 2023 top of the Premier League table and people are finally starting to realise we are genuine title contenders, this isn’t just a fluke. Happy New Year!
The Premier League has resumed, and it meant only one thing; that Arsenal is back under the flood lights against London opposition West Ham United. This was also a special game because it marked Arsène Wenger’s return to the Emirates, this time in the supporting capacity, for the first time since he left the club in 2018. Arsenal picked up from where they left off before the World Cup break with a point to prove to the rest of the Premier League that Arsenal is truly back. The Gunners were victorious, 3-1, with goals from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah. The front three scored a hattrick and enlarged Arsenal’s points tally at the top of the summit to a whopping seven points clear. Zinchenko made a second half appearance following an injury he picked up before the World Cup which put the fans and players alike at ease, as his presence is dominating and he is essential .
The only change which came from Arsenal was predictable as Eddie Nketiah replaced the injured Gabriel Jesus to lead the front line. Arsenal have started as expected in dominant fashion and it did not take long until the Gunners took the lead through Bukayo Saka, but it was short lived as the linesman flag was raised for offside. Arsenal could have and should have taken the lead in the first half, but the dominance came to no avail. Against the run of play, West Ham went on a counterattack and Jarod Bowen was brought down by a miscalculated slide tackle by William Saliba. Saïd Behrama converted the penalty to make it 1 – 0 to West Ham.
After conceding the Gunners did not let their guard down and dominated possession with West Ham dropping deeper and deeper. At the break Arsenal found themselves 1 – 0 down but the game was far from over.
The second half started like the first concluded with Arsenal in total domination and possession. The message from Mikel Arteta was simple to be more direct as in the first half Arsenal tried to be cute and walk the ball into the net, instead of taking shots and run at the West Ham defenders with pace. It did not take Arsenal long and they equalised after a hoofed shot by Martin Ødegaard which found Bukayo Saka by mistake and he converted the chance to make the score 1-1.
And after the equalizer spirits were high as Arsenal with 71% to West Ham’s 29% possession were minutes away from scoring another goal and asking a lot of West Ham’s resilience. It took Arsenal just 5 minutes to come back from behind; Granit Xhaka found Gabriel Martinelli and was able to squeeze the ball past the reaches of Lukasz Fabianski. West Ham had a monstrous task in turning the game around as before Arsenal took the lead West Ham managed only 1 shot on target and that came from the penalty spot.
Even when Arsenal took the lead West Ham did not trouble Aaron Ramsdale in the Arsenal goal enough to show that they intended to get back in the game. Another impressive display by Arsenal put the game to bed as Ben White passed to Martin Ødegaard and then played a magical through ball to Eddie Nketiah to slot the ball in the back of the net with a neat little turn that put the ball in the back of the net.
Once again impressive win and performance by Arsenal which sees them seven points clear at the top of Premier League table ahead of Manchester City’s fixture on Wednesday. Next up we face Brighton away which will be a tough game and really test the boys’ integrity, but with the fans behind Eddie and a full 90 minutes under his belt, I think he will really come through for us alongside Saka and Martinelli, still a very strong front three despite Jesus’ absence.
Tuesday marked three years since Mikel Arteta replaced the miserably failing Unai Emery as Head Coach at Arsenal. Fast forward three years and not only has Arteta been promoted to manager, but he also has an FA Cup and Community Shield under his belt, and Arsenal are currently top of the Premier League. Towards the end of last season, he also signed a new contract which will keep him in the job until 2025. The past three years have been undeniably tumultuous, with a huge percentage of the fanbase being ‘Arteta Out’ as we underperformed, particularly at the beginning of last season, but we have definitely turned a corner this season with the atmosphere in the Emirates back to buzzing and the fans have fallen in love with the players again. It is a good time to be an Arsenal fan; they do say good things come in threes, after all.
After hanging up his boots in the 15/16 season, Arteta landed a job under Pep Guardiola as assistant coach at Manchester City, who he now leads at the top of the Premier League table with a five point cushion as the student is slowly becoming the master.
Giving Arteta the job was obvious a massive gamble. This was his first managerial role, but the board clearly believed in him and have given him time to invest in quality signings and nurture the young talent coming through the academy, which is definitely something Arteta has an eye for. Saka, Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe are current fan favourite who have blossomed under Arteta, but Amario Cozier-Duberry has been dubbed ‘Saka Junior’, and the seventeen year old is fighting for his place in the starting XI, alongside Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah who have also played for the youth teams and are slowly being given opportunities in the first team; Reiss Nelson scored a brace against Nottingham Forest in a 5-0 victory earlier in the season, and Eddie was heavily relied upon at the end of last season after Aubameyang’s contract was terminated and Lacazette was consistently missing sitters, and it was Eddie who singlehandedly kept us in the top four fight.
In a recent interview with Jamie Carragher, Arteta discussed a few things about his time as manager. He has learned a lot of lessons and his desire to improve is clearly rubbing off on his players. He also knew the importance of self-belief, as he stuck with his ideologies and foundations despite results not always working in his favour. Instead of chopping and changing, he brought in players with a profile that suited his style of play and evolved other players, such as Granit Xhaka, and he is already reaping the rewards of this. Arteta also spoke about how important it was to have everybody on board, including those at the top. In regards to Aubameyang, he had a difficult decision to make but was backed unanimously and he clearly knew what he was doing. He also discussed bringing back the enthusiasm to the club, which he has achieved through turning players into fan favourites and developing young talent.
Going back to the beginning, Arteta’s first game in charge was Boxing Day 2019, where we drew 1-1 away to Bournemouth AFC thanks to a late equaliser from Aubameyang. Of the eighteen players selected for the game at the Vitality Stadium, only Xhaka, Saka, Nelson and Smith Rowe have survived Arteta’s cull as ‘Arteta’s Arsenal’ is finally coming into fruition. The first win under Arteta was a big one; a 2-0 victory at home to Manchester United. However, it wasn’t all positive as Arteta recorded the worst start to a Premier League campaign for Arsenal in the 21/22 season, where we lost our first three games, conceding nine and scoring zero. He then totally flipped this in the current 22/23 season to have the best ever start to the Premier League, and we are currently sitting in first place as a result of this.
We have also seen six different players start as captain under Arteta; Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ødegaard, Bellerin, Holding, and Xhaka. The captaincy was a touchy subject as Arteta quickly stripped Xhaka of the captaincy due to a bad attitude and gave it to Aubameyang, and we all know how that ended. It was a bit of a mess after Auba’s departure, as Lacazette filled in as captain but his performance dropped and he was no longer making the starting XI, so Ødegaard took on the responsibility unofficially at the end of last season, with an announcement coming at the beginning of this season that he was the new captain, and is currently sitting on 21 starts as Arsenal captain in the Premier League.
Under Arteta, Bukayo Saka at only 21 boasts the most PL appearances (202), followed by Xhaka (90), Lacazette (80), Gabriel (72), and Tierney (71), which is quite an achievement for the youngster as he has really impressed everyone with his clinical, mature style of play despite his age.
The atmosphere around the stadium has changed; fans are now a lot more confident that Arsenal will win whilst playing beautiful football. From his first interview, Arteta made it clear that despite other, more experienced coaches being available, he was the man for the job and he engaged with a lot of the fanbase on that day. His passion is infectious and his desire to return Arsenal to its former glory has rubbed off on the players who are now hungry to win trophies. I truly believe we are seeing something very special unfolding at Arsenal.
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – Despite a shaky start that I’m sure would have left his dad with his heart in his mouth, Ramsdale has been elite so far this season for Arsenal. Always reliable and composed in goal, doesn’t crack under pressure and is very good at playing out from the back. He has made some spectacular saves and is the main man responsible for us doing so well so far, and his ball distribution is incredible and really helps with progression and taking the game to the opposition. A+
GK: Matt Turner – The American has proven to be a good signing so far. He has been solid in the Europa League, although he didn’t make the best first impression. Turner has definitely improved already this season, as well as proving solid for the USA in the World Cup, where he didn’t concede a single goal from open play in the group stage. There is always room for improvement but he is doing well for the Gunners and hopefully will get more game time as we have the FA Cup just around the corner. B
RB: Ben White – White has been arguably one of the best players for Arsenal this season, transitioning beautifully from CB to RB without compromising on his defensive abilities. He fits in well with Arteta’s evolved game plan as he often finds himself playing out wide and isolated. He has been noticeably better in one-on-one situations and has proven himself reliable as he has kept some of the league’s best attacking players quiet, and helping break down the right side of the opposition’s defence. A+
RB/LB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – Tomiyasu has played strongly in both positions, as Arteta has called upon him in the LB position when Zinchenko was out through injury and Tierney just wasn’t up to playing the full 90 minutes, even managing to keep Mo Salah quiet. He has been effectively replaced by Ben White due to his proneness to injury but has played his typical lockdown defence role. He is definitely no Zinny, but has done a fantastic job covering for him, and he is vital in playing a ‘Rob Holding role’ to help see out a slim victory in the closing stages of a game. A
RB: Cedric Soares – Cedric is now firmly the 3rd choice player for the RB position, as he has failed to impress in the 2 hours of match time he has had this season. He has also missed out due to a muscle injury, but even so Arteta seems hesitant to rely on him in big games, but luckily with our squad depth now it doesn’t look like he will have to. He does what it says on the tin, brings a good energy to the dressing room and training facilities, but it looks unlikely that we will see much of him this season. C
CB: William Saliba – His loan last season did him the world of good as he has earned the title of a ‘Rolls Royce defender’. He has undeniably risen to become one of the best defenders in the league, only making the occasional misjudgement which reminds you of just how young he is. He finds himself in the 94th percentile for passes completed and 74th for pass progression. He is vital to Arteta’s game plan as once he gets control of the ball, he gets it up the pitch and has even scored himself. It is a pleasure to watch Saliba play as he is so confident on the ball, although he doesn’t get much time with it as Arsenal have been defending so well and maintaining high levels of possession this season. A++
CB: Gabriel Magalhães – Gabriel has been reliable for as long as I can remember, and this reliability has improved this season as he plays so fluidly with William Saliba, but can also link up well with his former CB partner, Ben White. The CB duo is only rivalled by Manchester City’s defence, in my opinion as they have both been exceptional this season. He has played a vital role in the 7 clean sheets we have kept this season as well as only conceding 11 goals from 14 games. He is assertive and dominant on the ball and was unlucky not to have been chosen for the Brazil squad with the other two Gabi’s. Criminally underrated as he has found himself in Saliba’s shadow this season as the shiny new addition to Arteta’s world class defence. A+
CB: Rob Holding – Holdini has played his role well this season. He knows he is depended upon by Arteta to help see out a victory in the closing stages of a match and he is incredibly good at it. He is a good quality backup player, past his prime, but his mistakes seem more noticeable this season, perhaps because they haven’t been happening as often, or maybe because he just doesn’t fit into Arteta’s system. He is in the 86th percentile for class completion and about the 90% percentile for aerial duels won, which is exactly what Arteta wants when a desperate opposition are lobbing balls into the box left, right, and centre. B
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – Zinny has transformed the Arsenal side and demonstrates exactly what Arteta is looking for in a defender; someone who can seamlessly transition into midfield with Partey to get the ball up the pitch, but with enough pace that he can get back and defend when needs be. He has singlehandedly strengthened our left side, which, along with our well established right flank, makes it very difficult to defend against Arsenal attacks as they can come just as strong down both sides of the pitch. He helps to regain possession high up the pitch in dangerous areas, and we saw how vital he was when he was out through a calf injury in the build up to the World Cup, as the left side looked a bit flat and we depended more on the White x Ødegaard x Saka right side to make progress. Not as solid in defence, but the other three members of the back four are strong enough to cover for this and he is so vital further up the pitch that it’s not so noticeable. A-
LB: Kieran Tierney – One of my personal favourite players seems to have lost some of his spark this season, whether that’s through missing long periods through injury or being replaced in the starting XI by Zinchenko, it is a shame to see. Tierney has been solid when used and he is very good at getting the all into dangerous positions with his threatening crosses into the box, but just not the same as he was, and now third choice LB to Tomiyasu, it really is a shame to see. He brings plenty to the table and would easily be in contention to start for the majority of Premier League clubs. Arsenal fans still love him and the passion he brings to the side as he leaves it all out on the pitch. He is definitely a better traditional defender than Zinchenko and may well be deployed in games which we struggle to dominate. Another factor is ESR’s injury. Tierney and Martinelli don’t seem to have that on pitch chemistry that he shared with Smith Rowe, who prefers to play more centrally as opposed to Martinelli who massively overlaps where Tierney makes his runs in. Let’s not forget the absolute beauty of a goal he scored against FC Zürich in the Europa League, where he has got most of his game time this season, he is still an immense player and I for one hope he has a future at Arsenal. B+
CM: Thomas Partey – Partey is the key to Arsenal’s system at the base of the midfield. He links up beautifully with Zinchenko to help the ball progress down the pitch while also being very resistant to the press from the opposition. We are a totally different side without Partey and definitely lack a threat. He has a very slim margin for error and it is only on a rare occasion that he makes a mistake. He is definitely a reliable player, the only downside to Partey is how prone to injury he is. A+
CM: Mohamed Elneny – Elneny has spent much of the season sidelined through injury but he is definitely a part of the furniture at Arsenal as he is firmly established as a backup to Thomas Partey, although they are definitely not interchangeable. He has looked strong in the games he has played, much like Rob Holding he knows his job is to have an effect or the bench, guide the younger players, and play his part in the squad rotation in lower stakes games, such as the Europa League group stage and early rounds of the FA Cup. C
CM: Granit Xhaka – My personal favourite player this season, Xhaka has come full circle in his redemption arc as he is now a firm fan favourite, even with his own song now! His form has been outstanding and he performs incredibly well under Arteta’s new system as he has adapted seamlessly to his role as a box-to-box player this season. He is a big personality in the dressing room and Martin Ødegaard seems as though he needs Xhaka as a sort of co-captain. He leads the younger players well and they admire him as he now plays with maturity and leadership, qualities he lacked in the past which cost Arsenal big time. In my opinion, the most improved player this season as he has totally levelled up with his mindset. A++
AM: Martin Ødegaard – Captain Ø has had an amazing season so far as one of the most threatening players in Europe. He frequently for under the radar but is so vital to this team, especially being our leading goalscorer with 6 goals so far this season. He had a slight wobble at the beginning of the season which had many, myself included, worried about the captain’s curse striking again, but any worry has been put to bed as he captains this youthful side with confidence, definitely a player to look up to for the youth players and essential to this team. A+
AM: Fábio Vieira – Vieira came to the Emirates with big shoes to fill. He is most comparable in terms of position with Ødegaard, but needs time to mature and improve his confidence on the ball in big games. He is young and his performances have been inconsistent, but he definitely shows promise especially considering his 4 goal contributions already this season. Vieira is one to watch and, in my opinion, will be a vital part of this team in the next few years. C
AM: Sambi Lokonga – Sambi has been forced to play at his unnatural position of a 6, with both our natural 6s out through injury, where his performances were questionable. He is still a young player, only finding himself third choice at his preferred number 8 position. It would be a wise move to send him on loan to Ligue 1, as we can see the magic this league has worked on Saliba last season and Balogun this season, and that is exactly what Sambi needs; regularly starting for a strong side to improve his confidence on the ball and to help him progress in terms of maturity. There is no doubt that there’s a player in there, he just needs a chance to breakout and shine. C-
RW: Bukayo Saka – Despite a lot of criticism for a ‘slow start’ to the season, Saka is already into double digits for G/A this season. His game has improved and he had a very mature footballing head on his shoulders, proving to be a constant threat for defenders. He is another vital component to Arteta’s system, which sees the goals being shared out pretty equally as opposed to just the forwards, and Saka helps make this happen with his threatening crosses into the box. A
RW: Marquinhos – Marquinhos was signed with the intention of playing at U21 level to really develop as a player. However, he has broken into the first team on a couple of occasions, including his impressive debut performance against FC Zürich. Arteta and the coaching staff can clearly see a player in him, but he seems to have fallen behind Reiss Nelson in the pecking order. I hope we will see him progress much like Saka, Martinelli and Smith Rowe have to make it into the first team. C
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – Constantly seen bombing up and down the left flank, Martinelli has a ridiculous pace on him that allows him to get back to help defend when necessary, and get down the pitch, usually as a leader of a breakout. He is immense in playing on the counter and is definitely an elite progressive dribbler, His partnership with Zinchenko makes the left side just as solid as the right and it seems that Arteta has worked his magic with Gabi this season as it was only last season that he simply wasn’t getting enough game time. He already has 5 goals to his name and rarely has a bad match, Mr Reliable up front. A
LW/RW: Reiss Nelson – I think many, myself included, thought Nelson would leave Arsenal to get game time at another club, as he was seriously lacking minutes with Arsenal and definitely has a lot of talent. However, an outstanding performance at Nottingham Forest which saw two goals and an assist to his name may have given him a new lease of life at Arsenal, potentially growing in to a role at the club, but could definitely be used to provide a boost from the bench. He is young and hungry, much like Martinelli last season and sometimes this desire to impress leads to mistakes, but there is undoubtedly a player in there and hopefully he has a future at Arsenal C
CF: Gabriel Jesus – Our marquee signing of the summer and the totally transformative signing, Jesus is responsible for our incredible start to the season. He is fantastic on and off the ball, will get back defensively if needs be but is outstanding up front with 12 G/A already this season. He will be missed as he is out through injury until mid February at the earliest, especially his elite press ion, chance creation, and top tier dribbling ability. He also brings that winning mentality from Manchester City and has a real desire to win. Despite falling off in the scoring over the last couple of months, he has been vital in creating opportunities for other players and the scoring will undoubtedly return. A++
CF: Eddie Nketiah – Nketiah has played as Jesus’ understudy so far this season, with Balogun on loan in Ligue 1. He’s scored for the Gunners and his game is definitely improving as he has Jesus to learn from, but he has missed out in the Europa League not putting away chances that he really could have done. He is still young and fully expected to break out into the first team, which he did reliably for us last season and will probably have a role to play at the beginning of 2023 with Jesus injured. He easily would start for the majority of Premier League clubs because he really is a class player, he just needs to enhance his game and work on staying cool under pressure to secure a place in the starting XI and maybe even give Jesus a run for his money. B+
Earlier this week, Arsenal confirmed that our CF Gabriel Jesus has undergone surgery on his right knee. The news from the Brazilian Camp is that he suffered a meniscus and partial collateral ligament injury and is rumoured to be out for three months. Our striker picked up the injury in Brazil’s 1-0 defeat to Cameroon in the World Cup, where he was quickly ruled out for the rest of the competition and returned to London for specialist consultation. As of right now, Eddie Nketiah is our only striker and is currently in Dubai competing in the Super Cup, where he secured a goal and assist against Lyon. This leaves the question, what will Arsenal do?
Working with what we have, our first game back is West Ham on Boxing Day at home. This will be before the transfer window opens, and with our CF out and both our first choice wingers still away at the World Cup, it currently that seems that our front three will be entirely different; Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson on the wing, and Eddie Nketiah as CF. Brighton away follows, which is always a tough fixture, especially with Brighton’s amazing run of form this season. In my opinion, we can expect Martinelli, Saka, and Eddie as our front three. Eddie has already proven himself dependable as he kept us in the top four fight until the very end last season, and will have had time in training with Gabriel Jesus to learn from, and Smith Rowe has flow out to Dubai with the squad and hopefully will get some time out there.
Another possibility is to recall Balogun from his loan in Ligue 1 with Reims. However, he is clearly benefitting from this loan as he has been taking Ligue 1 by storm, with 8 goals in 15 appearances, so I think Arteta and Edu would be hesitant to do this.
There are options to sign on loan or long term. This upcoming window we are expected to sign Mudryk, who said in an interview with Zinchenko’s wife that he hopes to sign for Arsenal. He will help with the build up of play, as he has 18 G/A already this season in 18 competitive matches, including in the Champions League, which proves he can compete at the highest level. Shakhtar Donetsk have now lowered their price from €90 million to €40 million. PSV star Cody Gakpo has also been linked to Arsenal for quite some time now, and has really broken out at the World Cup for the Netherlands. Gakpo has 18 goals and 18 assists from 33 competitive appearances this season. Despite hoping to hold out until the summer, PSV are likely to allow him to leave the club if an offer in the region of £40 million comes in.
I have also heard calls from people to sign Ronaldo on a free transfer, and personally, I am totally against this idea. In both the Premier League and the World Cup, when he has been sidelined, his team have played better. Ronaldo coming in would disrupt the squad harmony which we’re seeing at the moment and could disrupt the progress Arteta has made which has recently come in to fruition. Ronaldo has made it clear he wants to be playing 90 minutes of football, which I don’t see as sustainable long term at Arsenal.
Thinking long term, there will be strikers coming up through the academy in the coming years. With Gabriel Jesus out, some may be thinking this will be their opportunity to prove themselves on the big stage, especially if we stick with Eddie as he doesn’t seem like he could play more than once a week, and with the Europa League and FA Cup competitions still going for us, it seems as though one of them could get a chance.