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.


Why Arsenal fans have no-one else to blame except themselves for this mess!

The way the Arsenal fans treated this great man was disgusting…

Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in the summer of 2018, which was only 3 short years ago. Since then, Arsenal have been in absolute free fall.

In Arsene’s final season, we finished 6th in the Premier League and reached the semi-finals of the Europa League. Things we would probably kill for now.

The final seasons of Arsene’s reign were uncomfortable to watch and at the time, I was always an Arsene supporter. He had single-handedly dragged our great club to the peak of the Premier League, when the only side that was winning was Manchester United. Clubs like Newcastle, Leeds United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham were all fighting to compete in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but it was Arsenal who would offer the biggest threat and would even topple the red side of Manchester a few times.

Arsene also had great ambition and vision, which lead to the move to The Emirates Stadium. This was to ensure we could compete with the biggest teams when it came to spending money in the transfer market – and that’s certainly true as Arsenal have spent around £400 million alone on transfer fees since Arsene Wenger left the club. So we’re in a healthy position financially.

But while we have the funds to compete, we are is a right mess. 3 games into the new season, we sit bottom of the league, with our friends Tottenham Hotspur sitting at the top. Bad times indeed.

But how did we get to this? I guarantee that if Arsene Wenger was still at the club, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now.

Arsene commanded great respect in the dressing room but also in the board room. None of this mess with the board, Edu and the men at the top who have since left would have happened. We signed dead wood like David Luiz and Cedric because Edu is mates with their agent! We’ve had the money but signed absolute duds just so we could line the pockets of Edu’s pals. It’s a disgrace.

On the pitch, it’s not much better. I like Mikel Arteta, I really do, but why on earth did we bring him to the club? This is a man with ZERO management experience.

You can laugh and joke all you like about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and other ex-professionals that have tried their hand at management – but at least they have SOME management experience! It’s absolutely insane to think that someone who has never managed in their life would come into the club and improve the situation. But that’s a reflection on the people running the club.

And I think the biggest issue right now is we have no identity. When you watch any other team in the Premier League, after 5 minuets of watching them you understand how they’re trying to play – there’s a game plan and method to their patterns of play. With Arsenal, I don’t know what I’m watching, seriously. What are we trying to do? We’re not direct, we’re not playing through the wings, we’re not playing through the lines – what instructions is Mikel Arteta giving the players? Because they look completely clueless when they’re on the pitch!

At least with Arsene Wenger, we had a plan. It was attack, attack, attack, and although it left us exposed, at least we scored goals! Now we have ZERO goal threat and just concede goals.

I’ve always said with Arsene Wenger we would score goals and concede goals. With Unai Emery, we scored less goals but conceded less goals. Now, with Arteta, we don’t score any goals and just concede loads of them. So in 3 seasons we’ve dramatically gone downhill.

We are currently 20th in the Premier League after 3 games, and there’s a long way to go and we probably won’t be there at the end of the season. But unless things change, and quickly, then we’re not going to get much higher in the league!


It’s finally time to forget about Mesut Özil – he is not the “victim” in all this

“Please please feel sorry for me…”

On Friday I wrote that the real reason Mesut Özil wasn’t in the Arsenal squads for the Europa League and Premier League was because he didn’t try hard enough, and wasn’t producing what Mikel Arteta wanted.

I wrote that because there was so much hype and rubbish about Özil’s comments about Uighur Muslims in China, and the refusal to take a pay cut.

Despite the fact that (a) he played the following 10 games after making that statement and (b) two other players refused to take pay cuts as well, but are starting games week in week out for Arteta.

But despite all the facts, a certain section of the Arsenal fanbase are insistent that Özil is the victim in all of this, and that he is being wronged by Arsenal and their manager.

Some of the Arsenal fans are so gullible when it comes to Mesut Özil it’s untrue. The club and manager have made no comment, except that his exclusion is down to “footballing issues”.

Over the last few weeks, Özil has tried to influence his 22 million odd Twitter and Instagram followers with his own narrative, making out he is the victim in all of this – trying to justify his collection of £350k per week for essentially being at home.

But let’s look at his Arsenal career and relationship with managers since he joined shall we?

Under Arsene Wenger, he was given special allowances to take days off and regularly missed Arsenal matches. That’s right, a professional football who regularly took days off during the season. And Arsene has reiterated this in various interviews promoting his new book, stating that some players need an arm around their shoulder and need to be treated differently to the others. Yeah, that seems fair.

Under Unai Emery, he wouldn’t get in line and was regularly on the bench. Under Freddie, he was in and out as well, and now under Arteta he’s out in the cold. How many chances does this man need?

Now let’s look at the current situation.

He’s being paid £350k per week and focuses on his other commitments, like playing / selling Fortnite, launching his own fashion label and has investments in certain cafes in London. Why would he want to leave Arsenal?

He doesn’t have to play football, gets paid handsomely and has business interests to take care of. For Özil, it’s a win-win situation.

And on top of that, he can paint his own narrative that means he’s the victim in a great big Arsenal conspiracy where the club are akin to a ruthless regime where people’s heads get chopped off or players are sent to prison.

He goes on and on about wanting to play football. Well why not move on and play somewhere else then? Oh that’s right, that’s because the new club will find out how much of a fraud you really are.

But you’re wrong, it’s ARSENAL he wants to play for! Oh right, again I’m sorry – is that why since signing his brand new contract he’s consistently strolled around the pitch? Arsenal fans have short memories – let’s not pretend Özil performed like a peak Dennis Bergkamp following his new deal!

It’s all smoke and mirrors, a battle of the PR companies. Mesut Özil is on an extremely sweet deal and instead of moving on he’s content to sit there and pick up his massive salary.

And my point is this – there’s nothing wrong with that. The club offered him a new deal, and he agreed to it and signed it. That’s the whole point of a contract. Özil honouring his contract isn’t the issue, he can do what he likes.

The issue I have is him stirring the pot with these stupid social media posts and polls, trying to make out he’s the victim. If he persists in collecting his massive wage, fair enough, but for goodness sake just be quiet about it and stop disrupting the club, the manager and the players who are giving everything when they wear the shirt.