Arsenal 22-23: Time to Deliver the Goods

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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After an encouraging season that ended in disappointing fashion, Arsenal enter a very important summer, what the Kroenkes and club brass have long described as the second stage of a phased rebuild.

My view from 20,000 feet is the following:

The club went through a complete dumpster fire period between 2016-2020 in terms of squad building, organizational dysfunction, and poisonous team culture. At its root, a lot of it had to do with the transition away from Wenger. Its taken a few years to get out from under the staggering number of bad decisions made during that period, but if we have a good summer we'll basically be on the other side of it. The roster will be completely turned over and stocked with younger players brought in with a particular footballing vision in mind, the culture within the locker room and with the supporters is much more positive, and the club is being run in a largely rational way at director level. But one implication is that there really can't be any more excuses for performances on the pitch. Arteta will be expected to continue improving results, fighting hard with Chelsea/Spurs/United for the 3rd/4th positions and having a real go in the cups. And if he doesn't, then hopefully we'll look to bring in somebody else next summer. All in all, these are good things.

In terms of summer transfer business and squad reshaping, here are a few general thoughts and predictions:

Forwards: David Ornstein reported today that we are close to signing Nketiah to a new deal. We also are very very highly rumored to be after Gabriel Jesus, with a lot of reason to think that gets done given his relationship with Edu and Arteta, the fit in a footballing sense, the tendency of Brazilians to like to go to teams with other Brazilians, etc. I think we will also look to sign another forward this summer, but it could be dependent on Pepe leaving, which will be tricky. Pepe has gotten a new agent and I think he wants to leave, given how clearly Arteta has communicated that he isn't in the plans. I also think the club would be willing to take a huge loss. But you still need to find some other club to pay a reasonable fee and take his wages, which aren't massive but aren't small either. If we do manage to move Pepe and bring in a replacement, I wouldn't necessarily assume it will be a RW. Jesus is capable of playing anywhere across the front line and actually seems to have some preference for playing wide. So it could be a striker.

Projected first team depth chart: Saka, Jesus, Martinelli, Smith-Rowe, Nketiah, Pepe or His Replacement

Midfield: Elneny signed a one year renewal, which I think is smart business. He is basically a hedge against the possibility that Sambi never shows enough to become Partey's backup/heir as the CDM in the 4-3-3. At the 8 roles, we clearly are looking to bring in at least one starting quality player to supplant Xhaka or rotate with Xhaka/Odegaard. Tielemans is the most rumored but nothing feels particularly locked in here. I think it would be a good deal at the reported price (25m) if it happens but who knows. Even with one 8 addition, this part of the squad still feels a little light to me. We might see more Smith-Rowe in these positions going forward. Charlie Patino could also get some run in the Europa League/Carabao Cup if he doesn't go on loan. I also wouldn't completely rule out another 8 being purchased, but likely not for significant money.

Projected first team depth chart: Odegaard, Partey, Tielemans (or alternative), Xhaka, Lokonga, Elneny, Patino.

Defense: Arteta has come out and clearly stated that William Saliba will be coming back to the team and part of his plans next year. We are also reported to be offering him a new contract. So if we can take that at face value, we seem set at CB with Gabriel, White, Saliba, Holding. At fullback, we seem likely to bring in a better back up to Tierney, with fellow Scotsman Aaron Hickey the most highly rumored target. Hickey is a remarkably two-footed player - like Cazorla-level indifferent between his feet, not necessarily in terms of quality - so it seems like he could probably back up both sides. My guess is that Cedric sticks around and Nuno either gets loaned out or hangs around the squad without playing much.

Projected first team depth chart: Gabriel, White, Tomiyasu, Tierney, Saliba, Holding, Hickey (or alternative), Cedric.

Keepers: We already bought Matt Turner and everybody assumes Leno will go, so it looks very likely to be Ramsdale and Turner with Arthur Okonkwo as the third keeper or maybe some random veteran.

Projected first team depth chart: Ramsdale, Turner, Okonkwo.


In terms of outgoings:

Bellerin wants to stay at Betis and I assume something gets done, with Arsenal receiving a very small fee as part of the deal. Torreira still seems likely to move permanently to Fiorentina for about 15m euro, despite a recent ruckus between his agent and the club chairman over contract negotiations. Guendouzi will complete his move to Marseille for around 11m euro. Same deal with Mavropanos to Stuttgart, but for a paltry 3m. Maitland-Niles should have some suitors in England as a young experienced PL player who somehow was once capped by England, but I wouldn't expect the fee to be very high, maybe like 8-10m pounds. Leno will almost certainly go somewhere he can play, but again for a small fee in the 5-10m range. Udinese supposedly want to keep Pablo Mari. I don't know whether they can make the wages work, but I assume from Arsenal's end a bag of footballs and a thank you note would get it done. I have no idea what happens with Reiss Nelson. He actually had a pretty good last few months for Feyenoord but I don't think he'll be in Arteta's plans and I'm not sure who would really pay money for him right now.

Promising youth players who should either get loaned or be on the fringes of the squad: Folarin Balogun, Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson, Marquinhos (just bought from Brazil for 3m), Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Miguel Azeez, Marcelo Flores.

Summary:

I think there is a good plan in place and that it will improve the roster. Hypothetically, bringing in Gabriel Jesus, Tielemans, Hickey, and Saliba would improve the first XI in two key positions while also bringing up the quality of our depth pretty substantially. What could turn this from a pretty good summer to a really exciting one would be moving Pepe and bringing in a top player like Gnabry or Osimhen to take his place in the squad, as that would really have knock on effects for the quality and depth of the forward line. But a lot has to go right for that to happen, including being able to attract that level of player.

If Jesus, Tielemans, and Hickey were the only purchases, we'd only be talking about £80-90m in gross spending on transfer fees. And just from the deals that seem already agreed or virtually certain to happen (Torreira, Guendouzi, Mavro, Bellerin, Leno) we'll be earning about £35-40m in fees, so I think the money is definitely there for another big addition in theory. And I would expect the club to face some criticism if the net spend is only in the £50m range given what other big PL clubs are likely to be spending, so it does feel like another shoe could drop.

The league is only getting more and more competitive, so I'm circumspect about where this leaves us specifically for next year. But I think completing the rebuild in this way would leave us very well positioned for the next 5-6 years, whether its Arteta at the helm or somebody else, and that is more important to me.
 
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teddykgb

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I think it would be a mistake to make Jesus the center of your attack. He’s a fine player and would be good at Arsenal but the expectations may end up too high for what he actually is. His work rate is unparalleled and he truly can lead a press as well as anyone.

As a striker, though, he just doesn’t trouble Cbs and he’s been a “nearly “ man for years for City. His miss against Villa is almost exactly what I willremember about him : sliding in at full extension trying to get on the end of a cross and just not quite making it. He’s not big enough to hold up play but not fast enough to threaten behind. Not a natural poacher, which he seemed to be when we first got him. I like him more as a winger buthe has more of the movements and instincts of a striker.

Maybe his issues at City are more mental and Arteta can find a way to get him finishing again. He looked likely to displace Aguero when he first showed up in Manchester but it has been a long time since he has shown that promise. Now he’s a good, really solid hard working Prem player but spending 50 million or so on him will likely bring expevtoibdont think he’s capable of living up to
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I think it would be a mistake to make Jesus the center of your attack. He’s a fine player and would be good at Arsenal but the expectations may end up too high for what he actually is. His work rate is unparalleled and he truly can lead a press as well as anyone.

As a striker, though, he just doesn’t trouble Cbs and he’s been a “nearly “ man for years for City. His miss against Villa is almost exactly what I willremember about him : sliding in at full extension trying to get on the end of a cross and just not quite making it. He’s not big enough to hold up play but not fast enough to threaten behind. Not a natural poacher, which he seemed to be when we first got him. I like him more as a winger buthe has more of the movements and instincts of a striker.

Maybe his issues at City are more mental and Arteta can find a way to get him finishing again. He looked likely to displace Aguero when he first showed up in Manchester but it has been a long time since he has shown that promise. Now he’s a good, really solid hard working Prem player but spending 50 million or so on him will likely bring expevtoibdont think he’s capable of living up to
That all scans. To me he seems like a really good all around footballer who can play across the frontline, has a great team first attitude, but is kind of a tragic finisher.

I think he makes the most sense as a jack-of-all trades who moves around the front three but isn't the main striker or in a scenario where your wide forwards are prolific goal scorers and he does a variety of things to enable them, a la Firmino at Liverpool. A big source of uncertainty for Arsenal going forward is whether Saka or Martinelli can take the leap and become 15 goal a season type widemen over the next few seasons as they move into their primes.

Realistically, we need to add another quality forward this summer, whether an alternative striker that would allow Jesus to play wide or an alternative wide forward that would raise the level at those positions and allow us to depend on the kids less. Saka played 38 league matches this season at 20-years-old. It shouldn't happen and its asking for trouble in the long run.
 

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That all scans. To me he seems like a really good all around footballer who can play across the frontline, has a great team first attitude, but is kind of a tragic finisher.

I think he makes the most sense as a jack-of-all trades who moves around the front three but isn't the main striker or in a scenario where your wide forwards are prolific goal scorers and he does a variety of things to enable them, a la Firmino at Liverpool. A big source of uncertainty for Arsenal going forward is whether Saka or Martinelli can take the leap and become 15 goal a season type widemen over the next few seasons as they move into their primes.

Realistically, we need to add another quality forward this summer, whether an alternative striker that would allow Jesus to play wide or an alternative wide forward that would raise the level at those positions and allow us to depend on the kids less. Saka played 38 league matches this season at 20-years-old. It shouldn't happen and its asking for trouble in the long run.
Were there realistic hopes of getting Vlahovic or was that just Transfer Rumours? He would have been perfect.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Were there realistic hopes of getting Vlahovic or was that just Transfer Rumours? He would have been perfect.
I think we made a real effort and had an agreement with Fiorentina but that Vlahovic and his agent had some kind of secret agreement with Juventus all along and were just waiting for them to get the money together to enter the picture. Or maybe using Arsenal's interest to extract a bit more money from Juventus.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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William Saliba gave an interview today in which he explicitly said that he was returning to Arsenal, fully committed to the team, and excited for that next chapter. So that should put to a rest a huge amount of (largely unnecessary) speculation from the last year.

He still seems raw in certain parts of his game, as will be the case with any 20-year-old CB. But the tools are off the charts and given his making Ligue 1 Team of the Season and winning the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award, it seems safe to say that if he was a Marseille player being sold to a big PL club right now he'd probably cost somewhere in the £40-50m bracket. There's not much difference between him and Gvardiol, for example.

The next step will be signing him to a new contract, given that he is only contracted to 2024. My guess is that this will be relatively easy, simply because he comes from a fairly tough background and he hasn't made much money yet in his career (I think his current deal is in 30-40k per week territory). Even if he remains a bit uncertain about whether Arsenal is the club for him long term, he should have huge incentive to lock in "take care of my family for life" money. I think it will happen sometime this summer or fall at the latest.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I see this as more statistical curiosity than anything else but Saliba just completed one of the odder statistical seasons I've seen for a defender, particularly a young one.

First, he completed the most passes in a season in the history of Ligue 1, at least since these things have been tracked. This was close to 30% more than the next most prolific passer in the league. Some of this is playing more 90s than any other players, but its still a lot.

52253

At the same he also carried the ball much more than anybody else in Ligue 1, including by far the highest progressive carrying distance. So he was both the most prolific passer and the most frequent carrier. Basically, he had the ball A LOT.

52252

One interesting thing here is that when Saliba was signed everybody really raved mainly about his physical profile and the obvious potential it carried as a defender. But its really his skills with the ball that jump out statistically. He actually looks a lot like Ben White from a statistical perspective.
 

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Lots of reports this morning that Arsenal is very close to signing Fabio Vieira from Porto for about £30m. He only really broke into the starting lineup last year once Luis Diaz left but he put up 6 goals and 14 assists in just over 1300 league minutes. He just turned 22 and really hasn't played a ton of first team football. I think he is probably mainly a backup option for Odegaard and Saka, not an alternative target for the starting left 8 position.

Its the Portuguese League so all production needs to be taken with many grains of salt, but this list of most similar players statistically is....not too shabby.

52491
 

litigator02

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The Athletic reporting that Arsenal are making a run at Ajax CB Lisandro Martinez (30M+ transfer fee) to add depth to the left side of the defense, and that Jesus is still in play.

Linky
 

litigator02

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Arsenal landing Jesus is the big news tonight, but I came across this and thought it really fantastic - Arsenal’s work with Save the Children to set up football clinics in refugee camps for boys and girls. Makes me do a little fist pump and feel better about having paid $80 for a hoodie from the team store, lol.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Pretty sure Arsenal need to be planning for life after Thomas Partey at this point.

My general thought is that we don't necessarily need to buy a new DM so much as buy players like a new left 8 and a player like Lisandro Martinez (I think he goes to United, but he isn't the only guy in this mold) who can compete with Tierney at LB and provide some useful cover in at least one more position. We have two DMs already, its just that Elneny is limited and Sambi is still pretty raw. In my view, we should be trying to raise the quality - especially technical quality and ability against pressure - of the players around the DM, so that less rests on his shoulders. Dream signings would probably be like Milinkovic-Savic and Martinez but there are a lot of players out there who could fit these roles.
 

67YAZ

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If it is Partey, this also guts the Ghanaian squad for Qatar. He more or less single-handedly dragged them to qualification. Ghana was already one of the least talented squads in the WC. Losing Partey probably cements them as the worst.
 

teddykgb

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Pretty sure Arsenal need to be planning for life after Thomas Partey at this point.

My general thought is that we don't necessarily need to buy a new DM so much as buy players like a new left 8 and a player like Lisandro Martinez (I think he goes to United, but he isn't the only guy in this mold) who can compete with Tierney at LB and provide some useful cover in at least one more position. We have two DMs already, its just that Elneny is limited and Sambi is still pretty raw. In my view, we should be trying to raise the quality - especially technical quality and ability against pressure - of the players around the DM, so that less rests on his shoulders. Dream signings would probably be like Milinkovic-Savic and Martinez but there are a lot of players out there who could fit these roles.
It’s just too important a position in a Pep system. Arsenal seemed to really struggle while Partey was injured last season, didn’t they? I think it would be imperative to get that player who can fill that very big role or all the rest of the investment may be for naught
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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It’s just too important a position in a Pep system. Arsenal seemed to really struggle while Partey was injured last season, didn’t they? I think it would be imperative to get that player who can fill that very big role or all the rest of the investment may be for naught
Its a hard problem because there clearly won't be enough funds now to address all the needs in the squad. While I agree that the Partey role is very important, we already bought a promising understudy in that position in Sambi Lokonga and there is an argument for just trying to accelerate his development (although that is a big risk too). Lokonga was thrown into some bad situations last year and had some struggles but he has a really good skillset and everybody who has ever worked with him raves about his mentality, especially Kompany. So I don't think its crazy to think he might take a leap forward if put into a good situation in terms of the system and surrounding players. I'm loathe to spend the bulk of the rest of the summer budget on a high priced DM as that would both leave other big holes and pretty much kill Lokonga's development. If we could get a cheap veteran 29-30ish guy on a free or for a small fee and sign him to a short deal, that would be fine.

A lot of the reason we struggled last year without Partey was that other players happened to be absent at the same time. He missed the first three games of the season, a time when we were also without Gabriel, White for several games Tomiyasu, Ramsdale, and various others for a game. Then he missed the last 10 or so games when we were without Tierney, Tomiyasu for a large portion, White for a decent stretch, etc. Basically, its difficult to tell how well Sambi or Elneny would hold up in the system because they've largely played in contexts where they were surrounded by guys like Nuno Tavares, Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, and of course Xhaka, who is very limited in his own way as an 8 in that 4-3-3.

I think if you buy a LB/LCB like Martinez and then a good left 8 player you hopefully have a situation where Arsenal are rotating six very good defenders who are all (bar Tierney, who is just average in my view) excellent with the ball and then have a pretty technical and skillful 8 rotation with Odegaard, Vieira, the new addition, and a deprioritized Xhaka. Do that and I think you can carry a DM that is either limited or pretty raw, at least for six months before reevaluating during the winter window.
 

teddykgb

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But a player like Witsel is out there on a free. Maybe you could tempt inter for Brozovic. Some teams were starting to sniff around Laimer who could probably move forward if the young kid works out. I get what you’re saying but it still feels like a position that is impossible to carry in that system.
 

Zososoxfan

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If it is Partey, this also guts the Ghanaian squad for Qatar. He more or less single-handedly dragged them to qualification. Ghana was already one of the least talented squads in the WC. Losing Partey probably cements them as the worst.
Saudi Arabia would like to have a word! More seriously, is there much daylight between Ghana, Saudi, Australia, Tunisia, and Cameroon?

Also, I didn't realize Lisandro played much LB. From what I can remember, he's never played there for Argentina NT and my sincere hope was that he would supplant Otamendi for the LCB spot next to Romero, as that's by far the weakest spot on the team. I think Foyth is right-footed, but he's another Argentine who I think has more CB/FB swing to him than Lisandro but I can't say for certain.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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But a player like Witsel is out there on a free. Maybe you could tempt inter for Brozovic. Some teams were starting to sniff around Laimer who could probably move forward if the young kid works out. I get what you’re saying but it still feels like a position that is impossible to carry in that system.
If we could get a relatively cheap veteran that didn't kill the budget, then I'm definitely all for it as another option. Laimer I like a lot but he seems intent on Bayern. Brozovic would be fantastic, but probably tricky as I think he just signed a new deal.

Also, I didn't realize Lisandro played much LB. From what I can remember, he's never played there for Argentina NT and my sincere hope was that he would supplant Otamendi for the LCB spot next to Romero, as that's by far the weakest spot on the team. I think Foyth is right-footed, but he's another Argentine who I think has more CB/FB swing to him than Lisandro but I can't say for certain.
I don't think he has played that much LB but Arteta's vision for that position is sort of like a hybrid LB/LCB/left sided defensive midfielder. Defending deep the LB does have to play like a traditional LB in being on that side of a block of four. But in buildup its sort of a 2-3-5 or 3-2-5 with the winger being the widest player and the "LB" either being part of a back three or jumping into midfield. And when you're camped in the other half its definitely 2-3-5 with the LB primarily needing to be a midfielder behind the five circulating the ball and being ready to counter-press quickly to break up transitions.

Lisandro's primarily skills from what I can tell are progressive passing and front footed aggressive defending, which are both really important for this kind of role. He probably has a better skillset than Tierney to be honest, since this role doesn't involve so much pushing high along the touchline, overlapping, and banging in crosses as in other systems. I think he would only make sense if the club is confident that he can handle the one-on-one defending that is necessary for an LB when defending deep, so that is definitely an issue. But if their scouts think he is up to that, he seems like a good fit.
 

Zososoxfan

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If we could get a relatively cheap veteran that didn't kill the budget, then I'm definitely all for it as another option. Laimer I like a lot but he seems intent on Bayern. Brozovic would be fantastic, but probably tricky as I think he just signed a new deal.



I don't think he has played that much LB but Arteta's vision for that position is sort of like a hybrid LB/LCB/left sided defensive midfielder. Defending deep the LB does have to play like a traditional LB in being on that side of a block of four. But in buildup its sort of a 2-3-5 or 3-2-5 with the winger being the widest player and the "LB" either being part of a back three or jumping into midfield. And when you're camped in the other half its definitely 2-3-5 with the LB primarily needing to be a midfielder behind the five circulating the ball and being ready to counter-press quickly to break up transitions.

Lisandro's primarily skills from what I can tell are progressive passing and front footed aggressive defending, which are both really important for this kind of role. He probably has a better skillset than Tierney to be honest, since this role doesn't involve so much pushing high along the touchline, overlapping, and banging in crosses as in other systems. I think he would only make sense if the club is confident that he can handle the one-on-one defending that is necessary for an LB when defending deep, so that is definitely an issue. But if their scouts think he is up to that, he seems like a good fit.
Sure, all of that makes sense and is consistent with modern attacking football. But the question I have is whether Lisandro has the mobility to move into that "midfield 3" in attack. The question isn't necessarily directed at you, but rather I'm trying to articulate my biggest question about the move. IOW, I think he's probably mobile enough to be in the back 3 in your 3-2-5, but that's usually more common for 3ATB base formations. You guys have a quintessential 3ATB guy in Tomiyasu (he can play either side correct?), and perhaps Lisandro makes it 2/3. Do any of the other CBs profile well into a 3ATB? Has Arteta shown a willingness to go that direction? And finally, is that the best shape for a squad that features Tierney (I assume he's part of any best XI)?

Just to be complete, I suppose you could have a 4ATB primary shape that shifts into a 2-3-5 but that's at least 2 mids or the 2 FBs way up the pitch and I can't recall any side doing that as a primary plan.
 

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Doesn't quite free up everything needed for wages and transfer, but Partey is Arsenal's most expensive player by wages right now at £200,000 per week or about £10M annually. I would imagine that if he's not on the team this year, they're at least not on the hook for that, which will free up some money.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Sure, all of that makes sense and is consistent with modern attacking football. But the question I have is whether Lisandro has the mobility to move into that "midfield 3" in attack. The question isn't necessarily directed at you, but rather I'm trying to articulate my biggest question about the move. IOW, I think he's probably mobile enough to be in the back 3 in your 3-2-5, but that's usually more common for 3ATB base formations. You guys have a quintessential 3ATB guy in Tomiyasu (he can play either side correct?), and perhaps Lisandro makes it 2/3. Do any of the other CBs profile well into a 3ATB? Has Arteta shown a willingness to go that direction? And finally, is that the best shape for a squad that features Tierney (I assume he's part of any best XI)?

Just to be complete, I suppose you could have a 4ATB primary shape that shifts into a 2-3-5 but that's at least 2 mids or the 2 FBs way up the pitch and I can't recall any side doing that as a primary plan.
I don't think we will play 3ATB in terms of a baseline formation but tactically will often be in some variation of 3-2-5 or 2-3-5 when we have the ball. Arteta seems to really like these hybrid players in defense who are very mobile and also comfortable in possession - Ben White played at lot of RCB in a three at Brighton and has also played RB in a four and a little DM, Tomiyasu has also played RCB in a three in Italy and RB in a four but mainly plays as a CB in a four for Japan, Saliba also mainly played RCB in a three at Marseille and broke every Ligue 1 record for progressive passing and carries so he is very used to operating with the ball in that kind of outside role.

I don't think Tierney is necessarily in our best XI if we buy Lisandro or a player like Lisandro. Arteta is kind of a nazi about footedness so for defenders so I think his vision is to have three left-footed players essentially splitting two positions (Gabriel, Lisandro, Tierney) and then three right-footed defenders essentially splitting the other two positions (White, Tomiyasu, Saliba), with a couple guys left over (Cedric, Holding) for garbage minutes. Whether Tierney plays or not with everybody healthy is probably a matchup/tactics dependent thing.

All this said, I think Lisandro is like 90% likely to go to United as they will almost certainly offer more money and also have Ten Hag. Unless he secretly didn't like ETH or really wants to live in London, I'm not sure how we win that race.
 

Zososoxfan

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I don't think we will play 3ATB in terms of a baseline formation but tactically will often be in some variation of 3-2-5 or 2-3-5 when we have the ball. Arteta seems to really like these hybrid players in defense who are very mobile and also comfortable in possession - Ben White played at lot of RCB in a three at Brighton and has also played RB in a four and a little DM, Tomiyasu has also played RCB in a three in Italy and RB in a four but mainly plays as a CB in a four for Japan, Saliba also mainly played RCB in a three at Marseille and broke every Ligue 1 record for progressive passing and carries so he is very used to operating with the ball in that kind of outside role.

I don't think Tierney is necessarily in our best XI if we buy Lisandro or a player like Lisandro. Arteta is kind of a nazi about footedness so for defenders so I think his vision is to have three left-footed players essentially splitting two positions (Gabriel, Lisandro, Tierney) and then three right-footed defenders essentially splitting the other two positions (White, Tomiyasu, Saliba), with a couple guys left over (Cedric, Holding) for garbage minutes. Whether Tierney plays or not with everybody healthy is probably a matchup/tactics dependent thing.

All this said, I think Lisandro is like 90% likely to go to United as they will almost certainly offer more money and also have Ten Hag. Unless he secretly didn't like ETH or really wants to live in London, I'm not sure how we win that race.
Good point--I agree that ETH gets all of his Ajax guys that are affordable, and maybe even FDJ too.

What do you think is Arsenal's best starting backline, both in 3ATB and 4ATB setups? I gotta say I came away super duper impressed with Tomiyasu from what saw of him this past season. I think Spurs were in on him as well and I'm bummed he plays for the Scum!

I've also been impressed by Tierney from previous matches, and I've even come around on Bellerin--although I think he's a liability in defense, he has pace to get back into position and is a talented attacker. Is it clear if he will stay at Arsenal or are they trying to move him?
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Good point--I agree that ETH gets all of his Ajax guys that are affordable, and maybe even FDJ too.

What do you think is Arsenal's best starting backline, both in 3ATB and 4ATB setups? I gotta say I came away super duper impressed with Tomiyasu from what saw of him this past season. I think Spurs were in on him as well and I'm bummed he plays for the Scum!

I've also been impressed by Tierney from previous matches, and I've even come around on Bellerin--although I think he's a liability in defense, he has pace to get back into position and is a talented attacker. Is it clear if he will stay at Arsenal or are they trying to move him?
Bellerin is almost definitely going to move permanently to Real Betis for some small nominal fee. I think its mainly a matter of negotiation at this point.

IMO, if we got Lisandro the best backline for now would Lisandro/Tierney---Gabriel---White---Tomiyasu, with the LB choice just depending on tactics (Tierney if we wanted to attack the opposing right side with more crosses from the wing, Lisandro otherwise) and also to some degree on who else is playing on that side (Tierney fits better with a left 8 who is more conservative in positioning like Xhaka and probably less well with a guy like Pablo Vieira who seems very attack oriented).

Saliba had a really impressive season last year at Marseille but there are a lot of unknowns with him. On some level, his raw tool kit is probably the best of all our defenders but he is still very young and inexperienced and I think he'll be a backup/rotational player mostly this season.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Partey is traveling to the US and the club has released a statement essentially implying he’ll train and play unless he is formally charged.

So much for my “Partey will never play for Arsenal again” take.

I think there is another hearing in August, but no clue whether they expect to make a charging decision by then. They still haven’t made a charging decision on Greenwood and it took nearly a year to formally clear Bissouma so it seems like this stage can take a while in the UK.
 

teddykgb

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If I remember correctly when City took a bit of grief over playing Mendy many said that UK employment law almost requires continuing employment if there are no official charges. I could not be less of an expert but in terms of the law and contract stuff it may be that Arsenal at least need to treat him as a normal employee
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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If I remember correctly when City took a bit of grief over playing Mendy many said that UK employment law almost requires continuing employment if there are no official charges. I could not be less of an expert but in terms of the law and contract stuff it may be that Arsenal at least need to treat him as a normal employee
Interesting. I didn’t realize that.
 

hube

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Surprised there’s not much reaction in here to the 4-0 thrashing they gave Chelsea last night. All the goals were remarkable and for the first time in a few years I’m both excited and optimistic.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Surprised there’s not much reaction in here to the 4-0 thrashing they gave Chelsea last night. All the goals were remarkable and for the first time in a few years I’m both excited and optimistic.
You have to be cautious about reading too much into pre-season but that match was a lot of fun.

If the situation with Thomas Partey doesn't result in his suspension, I'm very optimistic about the season. But that's a massive "if" obviously and I just don't have any good way to handicap the outcomes, which makes it really hard to project how the season might go more broadly.

But if Partey stays in the team, I think this side will play some very good stuff this season. From about December to April last year I felt we finally started to see the type of football that Mikel Arteta really wants to play. But we did it the entire time with a CF that didn't actually threaten to score goals and we were so paper thin that a couple key injuries could derail the season. Gabriel Jesus simply looks like a massive upgrade on Lacazette at this point. And I think adding Zinchenko and Saliba, who has been incredibly impressive all pre-season, should also allow us to weather some of those defensive injuries without the side basically falling apart like in the last 10 matches in the spring.

The PL is an arms race and so Arsenal could improve a lot and still not really improve their position in the table. But I haven't felt this good about the team (again, Partey situation aside, which I don't feel good about on multiple levels) since probably the 15-16 season.
 

litigator02

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The thing I wonder is, will Zinchenko and Saliba be starting once Tierney and Tomiyasu are back? Or does Tomiyasu bump White into the middle and send Saliba to the bench (aside from FA cup and opening round Europa games) with Tierney doing the same to Zinchenko (with occasional midfield starts)?

(In case this is a dumb question, I’m a noob - my son and I have decided to follow EPL in earnest this season and went for the gooners…)
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The thing I wonder is, will Zinchenko and Saliba be starting once Tierney and Tomiyasu are back? Or does Tomiyasu bump White into the middle and send Saliba to the bench (aside from FA cup and opening round Europa games) with Tierney doing the same to Zinchenko (with occasional midfield starts)?

(In case this is a dumb question, I’m a noob - my son and I have decided to follow EPL in earnest this season and went for the gooners…)
First of all, excellent choice to be gooners!

I don’t think it’s a dumb question at all. We’ll have so many matches in a packed schedule that I expect to see a fair bit of rotation. But if I had to guess I’d expect Zinchenko to start more matches than Tierney becsuse I think he fits Arteta’s vision a bit more. Saliba is harder to predict for me. Right now if everybody is healthy I think Arteta would start Gabriel-White at CB and Tomiyasu at RB in a big match. But I think Saliba might make those decisions pretty tough before long. And even before then he’ll get plenty of minutes just as a rotation option.
 

JimBoSox9

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I don't know that I'd back Tierney and Tomi to be healthy at the same time for more than a third of the season, anyways. It'll sort itself.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Partey's accuser is on twitter laying out her version of events. Apparently she found out that the case will be dismissed on some kind of technicality and she is extremely distraught and tweeting about the situation, in violation of an NDA. A big mess. I tend to believe her, which would mean Partey is a real scumbag, but the evidence even without this technicality doesn't seem that strong.

Key points:

-They were dating for much of the last year, she seems to have been one of many girlfriends.
-In Spain she claims that she was passed out drunk and woke up with Partey slapping her in the face with his dick and trying to get her to suck it. Its not clear if anything happened beyond that.
-There is a text exchange where he doesn't really deny it but doesn't totally admit it either.
-She makes reference to another alleged sexual assault that occurred last fall but doesn't give any details about that.
-They seem to have fought a lot about his seeing/fucking other girls too, and there are texts about that mixed into her timeline.
-She apparently signed an NDA and took a payoff of about 150k, with Partey not admitting any fault.
-She found out today that the legal case won't proceed because I guess the incident occurred on June 19th and it was only on June 29th that a law was changed allowing UK prosecution for such offenses that occur outside the UK, or at that is what she says at least.
-She seems genuinely very distraught and very much not in a good place.

The situation that seems most analogous is the Cristiano Ronaldo alleged sexual assault, in that the legal case didn't go anywhere, the alleged victim signed an NDA and took a settlement, and then the alleged victim broke her silence afterward.

Edit: just realized something important. I think this might be Partey’s other accuser, not the woman he allegedly assaulted in June 2022.
 
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67YAZ

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I’m going to Chicago’s Ghana-fest this weekend with a friend and had planned to talk a ton of shit about the Black Stars’ chances at the WC. But now I’m going to steer very clear of all of that because this will quickly slide into some pretty ugly misogyny (folks using the dismissal on technicality as vindication).
 

Rustjive

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Edit: just realized something important. I think this might be Partey’s other accuser, not the woman he allegedly assaulted in June 2022.
Looks like that could be the case -

https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/12660951/premier-league-footballer-arrested-on-suspicion-of-rape-no-longer-investigated-for-one-of-the-three-alleged-incidents

The Metropolitan Police have told Sky Sports News on Thursday that no further action will be taken in relation to the alleged offence in June 2021; the 29-year-old man is still under investigation for the alleged incidents in April 2021 and June 2022
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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Even if the technicality means that Britain/England can't prosecute him for the events happening in Spain, can't Spain still put out an arrest warrant for him (and possibly ask the UK to extradite)? (It actually seems weird to me that England would have been able to arrest him for events in Spain in the first place, but a barely know anything about US laws let alone anything internationally).
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Legalities not withstanding Arsenal should have Partey training with the U-23s until he gets fed up and asks for a transfer to some fascist Belgrade team less concerned about such niceties.

edit: mind you, that might not work either concerning him being from Ghana.
 
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litigator02

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I’ve been wondering about the effects of Partey (or any other midfielder, for that matter - we feel pretty thin at the position still) being out. Where is the soccer world in having a WAR equivalent? I was hoping to find a stat line somewhere saying “Arsenal with Partey is .2 exG/90 better than without Partey,” but didn’t come up with anything. Am I just not looking in the right places? Or is soccer not to the point of being able to quantify individual contributions yet?
 

Mighty Joe Young

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I’ve been wondering about the effects of Partey (or any other midfielder, for that matter - we feel pretty thin at the position still) being out. Where is the soccer world in having a WAR equivalent? I was hoping to find a stat line somewhere saying “Arsenal with Partey is .2 exG/90 better than without Partey,” but didn’t come up with anything. Am I just not looking in the right places? Or is soccer not to the point of being able to quantify individual contributions yet?
For attackers there’s xG etc .. but for defensive midfielders it’s much more difficult to boil it all down to a single stat.

The Athletic has a nice overview of some of the advanced stats available …

https://theathletic.com/2746113/2021/09/12/a-guide-to-smarterscout-and-understanding-the-athletics-pizza-charts/?source=user_shared_article

Most of the current crop of advanced stats are measuring on the ball characteristics. The next generation is analyzing the whole field … not just a single player but his effect on the other 21 players. This is only possible with complete time stamped tracking of every players location and vector. The biggest clubs in Europe are spending a fortune on companies like Statsbomb to effectively analyze this stuff.

edit: and I agree with you. Arsenal kind of fell apart last season when Partey went down. Having a solid DM is obviously really important - especially for teams that try to control possession. They are vital to breaking up counter attacks.
 

67YAZ

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I’ve been wondering about the effects of Partey (or any other midfielder, for that matter - we feel pretty thin at the position still) being out. Where is the soccer world in having a WAR equivalent? I was hoping to find a stat line somewhere saying “Arsenal with Partey is .2 exG/90 better than without Partey,” but didn’t come up with anything. Am I just not looking in the right places? Or is soccer not to the point of being able to quantify individual contributions yet?
I like to work between WhoScored, which has some great detailed stats, and FBRef for their scouting report comparison graphs.

I really like StatsBomb’s spider charts, but they don’t publish a whole lot since their business is selling analysis to clubs. This chart is great, but 2 years old. But they’re a great Twitter follow.

and agree with @MightyJoeYoung that the Athletic’s pizza charts are really good, but I don’t think they publish them on a site to search through. They get embedded in stories.

edit: more specific to your comment, American Soccer Analysis has their g+ stat that measures how much each players on-ball actions contribute to scoring. It’s a lot fun, but only applied to MLS still (I think).
 
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Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Lots of movement on outgoings over the last week or so, albeit not for very good money.

-Leno to Fulham for 8m all but done.
-Torreira seems headed to Galatasary for a similarly small fee.
-Balogun loaned to Reims.
-Nuno loaned to Marseille.
-Bellerin seems likely to give up the rest of his contract/loyalty bonus if we let him join Real Betis for free.

That would leave Pablo Mari, AMN, Reiss Nelson, and Pepe (who probably only goes if another winger is coming in) as the remaining outgoings.

Overall I think this team is two players away from being "complete," but we're only likely to add one more.

-A pacy, technical winger (to replace Pepe) who can play on either side, rotate with Martinelli or Saka, and provide many of the same things. I think we might still sign this kind of player this window.

-A high quality 6/8 player who provides an alternative to Xhaka at left 8 but also can do a better job than Elneny as the Partey backup. This is the player everybody hopes Sambi might become but he is clearly not there yet. My guess is that we give him a year to see if he becomes that player and if he doesn't we buy somebody else.

If we can get that winger and get Saka and Saliba signed to new deals it will have been a fantastic transfer window.
 

shaggydog2000

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So Leno is confirmed, Mari appears really close to going to Monza for a loan with a guaranteed purchase if they stay up, and Torreira was all agreed and was about to hop on a plane to Turkey for physicals. Then he didn't, because of course not.

Bellerin is going to go somewhere eventually, but they're probably going to wait things out to see if they can get a small fee somewhere else before basically giving him away.