Arsenal 20-21: Artetenal and/or Kia Joorabchian Futebol Clube

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The 2020-21 fixture list is out, and in their first seven games Arsenal have to travel to Liverpool, Man City and Man United. Which...could work out great, if those fixtures have no crowds but games further down the line do. (The first North London derby is also away at Spurs on 5 December; Arsenal's first home fixture against a traditional powerhouse isn't until Boxing Day, against Chelsea.)
That was my thought as well. An absolutely brutal lineup of fixtures but potentially a stroke of fortune if they delay the reintroduction of crowds. At this point, I think the plan is tentatively still to reintroduce supporters on October 1, but that date could be moved back. They also might reintroduce the supporters at greatly reduced capacity, which might still attenuate the home advantage.

I do wonder if the fixture list will complicate Arteta's plans to move to a back four. He might decide to hold off on making that transition until that run of difficult away fixtures is over.
 

mikeford

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They do have the benefit of a fairly soft landing at the end of the season. After they play Liverpool at home it's basically nothing but bottom half of the table dross with Chelsea mixed in.

Whether those matches really matter for Arsenal by then is anyone's guess though.
 

mikeford

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No one seems to be reporting anything concrete but Aubameyang has been Arsenal'd up on all his social media, including having his whole family in Arsenal kits and stuff.

He's certainly not acting like a dude who's going anywhere.
 

The Gray Eagle

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I really hope Arsenal fans can be patient with Saliba and Gabriel. They are both young and probably raw, with great potential, but coming to a new tough league, new club, new language, etc. When they inevitably make any mistakes early on, there will be a lot of people dumping all over them. If they are given time, they both have a lot of potential but there will be high expectations and pressure.
Saliba is extremely young for a defender, he won't even be 20 until March. Gabriel is 22 but not that experienced. In baseball terms, they're like prospects coming up from AAA this season, and there will be struggles. They'll need to be broken in slowly and protected by the manager.

Gabriel is an exciting signing for sure.
 

mikeford

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Gotta say, even though the xG stat was WILDLY in Liverpool's favor (something like 0.65 to 1.97), I thought Arsenal played very well for most of yesterday, especially in the first half. Eddie had a couple chances maybe a more senior man buries. They seemed to run out of steam around 65-70th minute but they've had like 2 preseason games to get ready for this match and we started fuckin Mohammed Elneny so uh... I'll take that kind of performance against the reigning champs.
 

shaggydog2000

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Reports out of Spain (as parroted by The Guardian below) suggest Ceballos is coming back to Arsenal on another year-long loan:
Which is nice.
He certainly played hard and looked good after the restart under Arteta, but even with him in there the productivity from midfield was pretty bad. I think they're well set-up at the front with Saka, Martinelli (after he gets back from his injury), Auba, Pepe, Willian, and Lacazette (who could possibly be on his way out). In the back they've added Saliba and Gabriel (most likely) to hopefully create the future of their central defense, and Bellerin and Tierney at the full/wingback positions are all you could ask for (when Bellerin is healthy). If they can just find the right player to add to the central midfield to bump Xhaka to the bench, they'll really have something. Torreira, Guendouzi, and El-Neny have all been incapable of making a difference in there. A move to a back 4 eventually once the central defense gets their shit together will help the midfield, but they need better players most of all.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Ceballos coming back is great. But shaggy is definitely right that we need at least one, and ideally two, more new midfielders on top of him. We need an attacking midfielder who can play between the lines and create chances (a la Aouar) and we really need somebody better and more athletic in Xhaka's role (a la Partey).
 

mikeford

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They really need someone with power and pace to actually drive the play forward and be able to provide some cover to our beleaguered back line.

Obviously the prototype for this is Patrick Vieira or Yaya Toure in their heydays. Not sure who that guy actually is in 2020 or if Arsenal could even afford that guy. But they really need that kind of player in the worst fucking way.
 

shaggydog2000

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The Gabriel signing is official.


Now lets get that Auba signing announced, and maybe add another midfielder! Oh, and move out all of the deadwood. Crap, they have a lot left to do. I saw some rumors about possibly being able to move Ozil on to clubs in the middle east, but they didn't seem to be that trustworthy.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Lots of buzz about selling Bellerin to PSG, including from David Ornstein at the Athletic. This looks to have real legs.

He has been a good player for us but I think his ceiling is limited, the emergence of AMN and existence of Soares gives us adequate coverage on the right, and we badly need the money to buy midfielders. I would push for £35-40m but sell for £30m if it came to that.
 

deconstruction

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From what I can tell the team had talks but we have decided to keep him, probably with the intention of selling Bellerin instead. To me its the smart move. AMN is younger, has more potential to improve, makes less money, and would have fetched a smaller fee.
Yes, and using the funds to invest in central midfield is smart.

View: https://twitter.com/David_Ornstein/status/1300891713427439622


"This would likely see Maitland-Niles stay & be 1st choice RWB, Soares back-up. Arsenal interest in Partey remains + discussions taking place over Aouar. Ceballos returning to London in coming days - hearing #RMFC will waive loan fee in exchange for #AFC paying full wage this time"
 

Tuff Ghost

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It will be nice to have a couple of big defenders (Saliba- 6'4", Gabriel- 6'3") ready to take on some responsibility in aerial duels. Gabriel's aerial numbers from the Arseblog piece linked above are great:
Aerial Duel, Total – 5.39 per 90, 84th percentile, rank 58
Aerial, Won – 3.49 per 90, 85th percentile, rank 59
With Arsenal also bringing in Andreas Georgson to the coaching staff (formerly Brentford's "Head of Set Pieces and Individual Development"), there may be some hope for set pieces to become a positive at Arsenal instead of a perennial problem.

I also love how Gabriel's first goal scored at Lille was a header on a cross from Pepe while playing against PSG. From the Athletic:
For Gabriel, it was another day of particular significance. He came on as a substitute shortly before half-time, when the scores were tied. A storming second-half display was crowned in the 71st minute when he rose highest to nod home Lille’s fourth goal — his first in French football. The cross was swung in by Nicolas Pepe. As he ran up to deliver the dead ball, Gabriel’s father Marcelo shouted from the stands, “Nico, put it on Gabi’s head!”

Pepe duly did and Gabriel’s feet have barely touched the ground since.

“It was a dream moment,” says the defender. “Before the match, the coach names the team and I am not starting. I see great players on the other side, those of PSG, and I had never been even once on the bench in front of them.
The last piece of putting together this squad is definitely the midfield. I look forward to seeing how that shakes out.
 
The Ornacle is reporting in The Athletic that Aubameyang is indeed about to sign a three-year contract (subscription required, but really, just friggin' get one already):
 

Tangled Up In Red

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Hearing it will be the highest wages on the club. That suggests more than Ozil's £350k/week.
If so, very risky.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Hearing it will be the highest wages on the club. That suggests more than Ozil's £350k/week.
If so, very risky.
I've read a few things that suggest 250k per week with bonuses that could raise his wages slightly above 350k per week if they're all hit. That seems fairly reasonable to me, as most of those bonuses are probably things like Golden Boot, CL qualification, winning the league, etc that are good problems to have. Its also the case that many players have these kinds of bonuses but usually only the base wage is reported, so when somebody says that Anthony Martial is on 250K per week, its probably actually a contract that can rise higher under certain circumstances. From that perspective, the contract seems fairly market rate to me as most top strikers in the PL are on somewhere in the 200-300K per week range.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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A few random Arsenal thoughts with the season starting tomorrow:

Given the fixture schedule, abbreviated pre-season, and slow movement of the transfer market so far, I think its highly highly likely that we will continue to play the same tactical system with which we ended the year. I do think its a little misleading to simply call it a 3-4-3 as the wrinkle that Arteta eventually introduced, and which brought us the most success, was having the system be really a 3-4-3 out of possession (which meant defending in a 5-4-1 shape when deep) that transitioned to a 4-3-3 when in possession as Tierney shifted from LCB to LB and the LWB tucked into midfield, which in shape terms was sort of a 2-3-5 when attacking the opponent's box. We might eventually transition to more of a straight 4-3-3 system but I don't expect that to happen for a couple months.

In terms of selection issues, I think Tierney is a lock at LCB, Xhaka and Ceballos locks as the CMs, Pepe a lock at RW, Auba a lock to start either at LW or CF, and that we are very likely to see Leno as GK given the seemingly solid rumors about Emi's impending departure. Everything else is a bit murky and complicated by the fact that some players that would otherwise have been selected may be kept to the bench if a deal for them is closer than we expect.

1. CBs - Luiz is a lock to start as the middle CB if fit but that seems uncertain as he has some mysterious neck issue. Arteta will need to pick one from the Holding/Saliba/Gabriel group if Luiz is fit, two if he is not. This will give us the first insight into his appraisal of the readiness of the young CBs to play.

2. Wingbacks - I really don't know what to expect here as much depends on whether either Bellerin or AMN is close to an exit. PSG's interest in Bellerin seems to have cooled and my sense is that Arteta does not want to sell AMN. I wouldn't be surprised to see them both start, just like in the cup final and community shield.

3. Attacking trident - The other really big question, not just for tomorrow but the rest of the season, is how committed Arteta will remain to Auba on the left with Laca/Eddie in the middle, as opposed to Auba central with Willian/Saka on the left. My guess is that he will stick with Auba on the left for the time being, for the sake of continuity, but maybe not.

In terms of the transfermarket, I think the club simply has a tough hand to play. Every club without a megarich owner willing to absorb losses is looking at huge revenue uncertainty over the next year, so every club wants to hoard cash and instead do loan deals, free transfers, and swaps. That's a hard market to sell players. The most likely exits seem to be Torreira to Torino or Fiorentina, Emi Martinez to Aston Villa, and Sokratis for a nominal fee to Napoli. That would net us enough to buy a player like Aouar if we could agree a fee with Lyon. Any other additions would seem to depend on being able to sell at least one if not two of the Bellerin, Laca, and Guendouzi group but their market seems pretty slow and I don't think we're interested in giving any of those guys away for pennies on the dollar. I do think there is some possibility that clubs are waiting until the very end of the transfer window, when they will have greatest insight into whether fans are likely to still be allowed in stadiums and what the rising numbers of Covid cases in many countries means for their revenue projections.

Finally, this Amy Lawrence piece is a good read on Arsenal's new arrangements in terms of club management. We'll see if they can produce a turnaround on the field, but I think there is substantial reason to be optimistic about finally having a decent set of arrangements and personnel in place. Its certainly night and day with a year ago, when responsibilities were unclear but Raul and Emery were effectively the leading figures.
 
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Martinez not in the squad to face Fulham tomorrow:
I kinda hate selling him after his breakthrough last season - particularly after the debacle of letting Szczesny go - but I would acknowledge that selling a not-automatic-first-choice goalkeeper for £20m or more to raise funds needed to strengthen other areas of the squad is probably good business.
 

BostonJack42

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Am I the only one who thinks that Auba through the middle would be his best position? I feel that we keep moving our best player out to the wing to accommodate Laca/Eddie who don't produce as much.
 
Am I the only one who thinks that Auba through the middle would be his best position? I feel that we keep moving our best player out to the wing to accommodate Laca/Eddie who don't produce as much.
I think the idea behind signing him longer term is that playing him through the middle is his ultimate destination, particularly as he starts aging and slowing down somewhat.
 

lars10

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Am I the only one who thinks that Auba through the middle would be his best position? I feel that we keep moving our best player out to the wing to accommodate Laca/Eddie who don't produce as much.
Yeah.. I think he’s wasted our wide.. but he also does seem comfortable taking through balls from his right side which allows him to control with his left and put it immediately on his right foot shot. Seems like he’s allowed to attack into the middle on diagonal runs which then makes playing on the left make sense.

I worry more often about there just not being enough space in the box for three forwards and them all taking space/ balls away from each other.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Gabriel and Willian we’re both excellent.

Fulham are really really bad but Gabriel’s debut was very encouraging. The goal was nice but I was more excited by his defensive performance after the initial mixup with Leno. Won everything in the air, was tough in one on ones, and pretty calm on the ball.
 

shaggydog2000

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Reports are that Torreira and Emi Martinez are pretty much out the door, with a total of about 45 mil coming back. Is that enough to pay for an upgrade in midfield, or are we still going to have to dump Guendouzi on the cheap to get there? The teams we want to deal with don't seem to want him back as part of them. It will be interesting to see. One of the central defenders is going to have to go too. It looks like Holding is sticking around, Mustafi has a short term injuriy so we may not be able to sell him right away, and Chambers isn't going to be going anywhere while coming back from his ACL, so Sokratis seems to be the only one they can move.
 

Tuff Ghost

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Reports are that Torreira and Emi Martinez are pretty much out the door, with a total of about 45 mil coming back. Is that enough to pay for an upgrade in midfield, or are we still going to have to dump Guendouzi on the cheap to get there?
It's difficult to guess what Arsenal are willing to spend on Aouar, but I am hoping that this gets them close enough to make something work. It sounds as if Aouar is valued roughly around £55m.

I have been surprised that Elneny has been playing and looking pretty good (Community Shield and @ Fulham). I did not expect that, but it seems as if Arteta may be taking a liking to him. I wonder if he is proving to be a useful enough contributor that the need for someone like Thomas Partey (rumored to be valued around £45m) is lowered and Arteta/Edu can target a creative attacking midfielder with whatever money is available. If Elneny, Xhaka, and Ceballos can cover central midfield (two at a time out there playing like 6's / a double pivot), then maybe the focus could be directed at Aouar.

There are so many moving parts and questions left to be answered in this transfer window. I am doing my best to not get too caught up in the latest rumors because they are all so ephemeral, but it is an intriguing time.
 

mikeford

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Elneny is a squad player you can play in meaningless games or against relegation trash but the idea that he supplants the need for a real player in that position is deeply misplaced IMO and I hope Edu and Arteta aren't thinking the way you are.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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We are heavily rumored to be on the verge of signing Icelandic keeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson from Dijon to replace Emi for a very small fee in the area of 1.5m. From what I can tell from the very limited info out there, he is pretty good with his feet (basically a must given our style of play), maybe not so good in other ways, but has worked in the past with our keeper coach Iñaki Caña when he was in Denmark before coming to Dijon. So I guess he comes recommended or they think he can be coached up. Overall, I'm just glad that we're not spending half the Martinez money on another keeper, as was previously rumored, as that seemed like a stupid use of resources.

Most importantly, there has to be some good supporter song potential for an Icelandic player named Runar Son of Runar.
 

shaggydog2000

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It's difficult to guess what Arsenal are willing to spend on Aouar, but I am hoping that this gets them close enough to make something work. It sounds as if Aouar is valued roughly around £55m.

I have been surprised that Elneny has been playing and looking pretty good (Community Shield and @ Fulham). I did not expect that, but it seems as if Arteta may be taking a liking to him. I wonder if he is proving to be a useful enough contributor that the need for someone like Thomas Partey (rumored to be valued around £45m) is lowered and Arteta/Edu can target a creative attacking midfielder with whatever money is available. If Elneny, Xhaka, and Ceballos can cover central midfield (two at a time out there playing like 6's / a double pivot), then maybe the focus could be directed at Aouar.

There are so many moving parts and questions left to be answered in this transfer window. I am doing my best to not get too caught up in the latest rumors because they are all so ephemeral, but it is an intriguing time.
I think the idea behind Partey is that he is a Xhaka upgrade, covering a lot more range more competently defensively and still being able to get the offense started from deep. So you can go to a back four and give your midfield an extra creative player. Or let a creative midfielder push up more even in a back 3. I can't say whether this is true because I've never seen him play. But I don't think the idea is for him to solve the midfield creativity issue by himself, he's just part of the rebuild.
 

ElUno20

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Looks like the key for Arsenal was hiring a male model to coach the team.
 

mikeford

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Wins a win but that 2nd half... peeee-eeew

Definitely need a box to box midfielder who can actually pass the ball forward instead of us having to constantly go side to side to make it a few yards up the pitch at a time.