Mikel Arteta’s obsession with control might just lead Arsenal to Premier League glory


Last season, Arsenal were playing free flowing, attacking football. Up until April that was enough to have us at the summit of the Premier League. After we lost William Saliba to injury and some other factors, we ended up losing the title to the juggernaut that is Manchester City – who had a phenomenal season winning the treble.

This season, the approach has clearly changed. Mikel Arteta has spoken many times about control and his ruthless nature in obtaining this has seen us have a more considered approach to games – with more control. It’s also led to the Arsenal manager dropping fan’s favourite Aaron Ramsdale – who to be fair to him has been outstanding for Arsenal and hasn’t done much wrong to lose his place.

What David Raya brings is more control, and is far more comfortable on the ball. In his first game for Arsenal, his distribution and control on the ball helped us win at a ground we hadn’t won at in 6 seasons. And despite having issues yesterday, we beat Manchester City for the first time in 12 attempts.

Based on Everton and Manchester City alone, we’re already doing better than last season.

Last season we were devastating in attack, with Saka, Martinelli, Jesus and Nketiah all in goalscoring form. This season we might not making as many chances but more importantly, we’re not conceding needless goals.

Being an attacking team last season, we were prone to conceding goals on the break. When we lost the ball in transition, we struggled. Unfortunately for Aaron Ramsdale, it happened twice this season and that’s when Mikel Arteta thought enough is enough.

Against Fulham when Saka cheaply lost the ball, the team were caught out for the opening goal. Then against Manchester United, Havertz lost the ball and they scored with Rashford on the break. It’s no co-incidence that after that game (even though we won), Ramsdale was dropped.

Raya has come in and we’ve beaten Everton, beaten PSV, drawn against Tottenham, beaten Bournemouth and beaten Manchester City. If you looked at that set of fixtures before we played them I don’t think many Arsenal fans would have thought we’d win all of those.

Of course, we lost to Lens (ironically, due to a Raya mistake) but Mikel Arteta doubled-down on this when asked after the Manchester City game, basically saying he is telling Raya to play like that and if anyone has a problem take it up with him.

Pep Guardiola is a man who is obsessed with control and you can see it in the way he gets his teams to play, which players he signs and his whole approach – so it’s hardly a surprise when Mikel Arteta has a similar outlook.

Will this new approach be enough? There’s still a hell of a long way to go this season but based on the games we’ve played already (the Everton and Manchester City games in particular) then Arteta is giving us the best possible chance.

Why David Raya is now Arsenal’s Number 1, and why that’s a problem for Arsenal fans


David Raya was signed on loan from Brentford in the summer transfer window (with an eye to make it permanent next summer) and since then, there have been many debates on the goalkeeping situation at Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta has said that he wants two top quality goalkeepers, in keeping with trying to create a squad that have two strong options in every position on the pitch. And he’s also said that he’ll deal with having two top goalkeepers by rotating them. But it’s clear even now, at this early stage, that David Raya is now Arsenal’s Number 1.

The fact is, even from my untrained eye, David Raya has clearly added another dimension to this Arsenal side. Aaron Ramsdale is good with his feet, but David Raya is just far better – he is so reassured and the passing between him, the defence and even the midfield is obvious – his short and long passing is generally spot on, and he’s so calm with the ball at his feet.

With Ramsdale, there’s always a feeling he might give the ball away or make a mistake with the ball at his feet.

And the statistics back this up. This excellent video from Tifo Football IRL explains exactly why and how David Raya is a significant upgrade on Aaron Ramsdale.

One problem for Arsenal fans, and myself included when Raya first signed, is that Aaron Ramsdale is an excellent goalkeeper. I don’t think anyone can argue about that.

I don’t think many people would argue that he shouldn’t be England’s Number 1 as well, ahead of Jordan Pickford.

Ramsdale make some truly outstanding saves last season (and also the season before). There have been countless times where he’s made some really unbelievable saves which have caught the eye of fans and experts alike.

But the biggest problem I think with all this is that we’ve seen the evolution and growth of one of the most likeable players at the club in Aaron Ramsdale. He is known for his, let’s say, “spiky” nature on the pitch. And we Arsenal fans love it. But most importantly, he has come into the club at a young age (he’s still young now obviously) but we’ve seen him develop into one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.

We’ve seen him develop, mature and help this young Arsenal side almost win the Premier League. His improvement has been amazing and the problem for most Arsenal fans is that he will keep improving, given the trajectory he’s on.

But the bottom line is Mikel Arteta has seen an upgrade in David Raya who, he feels, can take Arsenal to the next level now. We’ve seen the Arsenal be ruthless in the past, including when he brought Aaron Ramsdale to the club and Bernd Leno ended up leaving. And we all know about what happened to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But how do you think this situation is going to affect Arsenal this season? And who do you think will end up being Arsenal’s Number 1 goalkeeper? Can Aaron Ramsdale work his way back into the team?

Why Arsenal will struggling badly in the Champions League this season


Everyone is excited about Arsenal’s first Champions League game since 2017, after 6 long years in the wilderness.

The Champions League is where it’s at, where all the best teams in the world are playing. Being stuck in the Europa League, and watching from the sidelines has been tough.

But after an outstanding season in the 2022/2023 season, we’re finally back.

And while the excitement is understandable, many Arsenal fans have got carried away with how we’ll do in the competition this season. Some Arsenal experts have said we’ll reach the Quarter Finals, others have said we’ll even make the Semi Finals.

But that is just delusional.

Mikel Arteta has done a phenomenal job at putting Arsenal back on the map. But that’s been in the Premier League. European football is a completely different ball game (pun intended) and how you perform at domestic level has no bearing on how you do in Europe.

Look at the great Arsenal teams that have played in the Champions League. We had the Double Winning 1997-1998 team, who failed to progress passed the group stage the following season. The outstanding 2001-2002 team failed to get passed the second group stage, and they again won the Double that season.

And then how about the immortal Invincibles team? They only managed to get to the Quarter Finals that year.

So to say we’ll get to the Quarter Finals or Semi Finals is quite frankly, insane.

And the we come to winners of the competition. You’ve got Manchester City, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Liverpool taking up the bulk of winners in the last 10 years, and bar Manchester City, all of those teams have history of winning the competition.

And look at the Europa League – previous winners include Sevilla, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United. Those are teams that aren’t exactly tearing it up in their domestic leagues, but they have European knowhow and experience.

We all know certain teams like Sevilla just have a knack for winning games in Europa, it’s in their DNA.

Arsenal have been in the Europa League for the past few years and their previous performances have been knocked out at the Round of 16, Semi Finals and the Round of 32 – hardly outstanding European pedigree.

And Mikel Arteta has limited experience in managing a team in Europe, which is another steep learning curve. He’s doing great things in the Premier League right now, but it still took time for him to reach that level – everything takes time.

So whilst it is amazing Arsenal are back where they belong, patience is needed. We might do well in Europe, but that won’t be this season – especially considering that we are fighting for the Premier League as well.

So sit back, enjoy the ride and let’s see how far we go in the Champions League, but don’t be disappointed when it’s not that far. That time is yet to come.

Arsenal beat 6 year hoodoo over Everton – with stunner from MOTM Trossard


As I wrote yesterday, Arsenal’s record at Goodison Park is atrocious.

We haven’t won there since the 2017/2018 season, and lost the 4 of the last 5 there and drew the other.

Everton have officially taken over from Bolton Wanderers as our hoodoo team. But fortunately, Arsenal managed to break the hoodoo with a stunning strike from Leandro Trossard.

Gabriel Martinelli scored a well taken goal after 19 minutes, but the strike was ruled out for the closest and strangest of offsides. Despite the ball coming off an Everton player and Gabriel Magalhães playing the ball square (and not forwards), Eddie Nketiah was deemed offside in the build up.

Everton’s gameplay was clear, deny Arsenal space in behind, play with 11 men behind the ball, and catch us on the break or a set-piece.

It was always going to be a difficult afternoon for Arsenal, with most of the ball being in front of the Everton players, but we did manage to fashion a few chances.

Fabio Vieira got in behind on the left side and played a good ball across the goal but no-one was there. Saka and Odegaard combined well on the left which resulted in a shot from the Arsenal captain but unfortunately it was straight at Jordan Pickford.

But with Trossard’s introduction for the injured Gabriel Martinelli on 24 minutes, he was involved in most of our best attacking plays and on 69 minutes, Saka, Odegaard and Zinchenko combined well, with Saka cutting the ball back to Trossard, who first time scored an absolute stunner with this left foot.

It was truly an outstanding finish with his “weaker” foot and he deservedly won the Player of the Match award.

Predictably, once Everton conceded they actually decided to attack, primarily by long punts up the pitch by Jordan Pickford.

Arsenal managed to see the game out and took all 3 points from a place we’ve usually left with none.

A good, patience performance from a focused Arsenal team and we come home with all the points. Can’t ask for any more than that.

Why the whole Harry Maguire situation is Gareth Southgate and Manchester United’s fault

Poor Harry Maguire….

It’s finally go to a stage where I actually feel sorry for Harry Maguire now.

I completely agree with Michail Antonio, when he says it’s become embarrassing now. And even Harry Maguire’s Mum has chimed in now, saying that she wouldn’t wish this kind of abuse on anybody.

But how did we get here?

Harry Maguire joined Manchester United in the summer of 2019 for £80 million and still, even to this day, I don’t understand why. He had been at Leicester City for 2 seasons and for my money, hadn’t been particularly outstanding, much less be worth anywhere near £80 million. He wasn’t involved in any of Leicester City’s recent successes, not being in the team that won the Premier League in 2016 or won the FA Cup in 2021. The buy was baffling in all honesty.

But you can’t blame Harry Maguire for that. A big club like Manchester United comes along, offers your club a massive fee and offers you massive wages. Anyone in their right mind would be taking that offer, I don’t care who you are.

The blame is down to Manchester United, who seem to have one of the worst scouting teams in European football.

So in that sense, Harry Maguire was destined to fail from the very beginning.

Manchester United, for some reason which I cannot fathom, pay outrageous money for players who just don’t cut it. The spent £80 million on Harry Maguire, and look at what they have spent on failed players over the last 10 years:

PlayerSigned FromFee
Antony Martial AS Monaco£30 million
Paul PogbaJuventus£89 million
Henrikh MkhitaryanBorussia Dortmund£30 million
Eric BaillyVillarreal£30 million
Romelu LukakuEverton£90 million
FredShakhtar Donetsk£47 million
Aaron Wan-BissakaCrystal Palace£45 million
Donny van de BeekAjax£40 million
Jadon SanchoBorussia Dortmund£73 million
Lisandro MartínezAjax£49 million
AntonyAjax£82 million
Mason MountChelsea£60 million

By my calculations, that a whopping £665 million spent on players who haven’t improved the team at all, and I’m sure I’ve probably missed off a lot of other players from that list, including Daniel James which has just popped into my head. It really is astounding.

I’m not a highly paid employee of Manchester United, but for me none of those players in the above list are good signings, even at say £30 million. I honestly don’t know how a massive club like Manchester United decide on spending this kind of money on these kinds of players.

So back to Harry Maguire.

Manchester United have a reputation for vastly overpaying for players, leaving most of them in a position where they don’t perform well for the club (shocking) and then have a depreciating asset on extremely high wages.

That’s why from the list above, only Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Bailly and Lukaku aren’t there. The other players are on crazy money and why would you want to walk away from that?

Maguire got a lot of flack for not moving to West Ham United in the summer, which was reportedly very close. However it collapsed because the defender couldn’t agree a severance package with Manchester United.

People will say he should have gone regardless just to get first team football, but when have you seen a footballer walk away from money. They have agents working for them, making sure that they get exactly what they’re worth, or in Maguire’s case what they’re due. If he was on a long contract and was due to be paid a certain amount, you would be stupid to leave that on the table, especially the way Manchester United have treated him.

And then we come to Gareth Southgate’s role in all of this.

He will clearly pick Harry Maguire for his squad, regardless of whether he never plays for Manchester United.

Harry Maguire would have had a chat with Southgate about his England place, especially considering there is a massive tournament next summer. Most International managers usually say that they need to be playing regular football but obviously Gareth Southgate has said you’ll be in the squad no matter what – hence why Maguire wasn’t really going all out to join West Ham United.

So when it comes to this whole mess, there’s no-one to blame except Manchester United and Gareth Southgate.

The bottom line is that it’s not Harry Maguire’s fault he’s not being picked for Manchester United, and it’s not Harry Maguire’s fault he’s being picked for England.