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21/22 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Arsenal 1-0 Norwich City: Premier League – 11/09/2021

It’s been a trying opening few weeks for Arsenal fans, defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City have left a stale taste int he mouth for some time. However, the closing of the transfer window, which saw Arsenal just about bring in Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna, has given the place a slight boost.

Heading into their game against Norwich, Arsenal fans were perhaps cautiously optimistic with the refrain “The season starts against Norwich” being the constant reminder Arsenal needed.

There were already a few changes abound for Arsenal. Number 1 Bernd Leno was dropped in favour of new boy Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White and Gabriel Magalhães played their first game as a defensive pair, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (fresh off the back of his Instagram outburst) partnered Albert Sambi Lokonga in midfield, while Emile Smith Rowe dropped to the bench.

Arsenal started furiously. They pressed Norwich hard and high. It was the kind of high-pressing game that Mikel Arteta has been begging for his team to play more often.

Such was the intensity of Arsenal’s press, that they began to force some errors from Norwich, none more so than Tim Krul, who seemed to crumble whenever Arsenal strayed too close to him.

However, in typical Arsenal fashion, the team took their collective foot off the gas and allowed Norwich more breathing space. Norwich slowely began to creep back into the game and by the time the half-time whistle had blown, Norwich had had more shots than Arsenal (though most were off target) and Arsenal looked like the break hadn’t come soon enough.

You can see what it means to Arsenal as they score their first Premier League goal of the season.

Arsenal again started brightly in the second-half. Norwich looked a little more worse for wear and although they too created chances and began to hurt Arsenal, it was always the home side who looked to be in total control.

Soon enough, Arsenal managed to find their breakthrough! A slide rule pass allowed Nicolas Pépé loose with the ball, and he galloped into the penalty area, only for his shot to cannon off the post, his follow-up was blocked by Brandon Williams and the Ivorian’s tumbling foot managed to connect with the ball, drifting it into Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s path who will never have an easier tap-in.

VAR looked at the goal, but Michael Oliver gave it and Arsenal had their first goal of the Premier League season.

There were still a few scares to come from Norwich before the half was out and soon enough, Arsenal had just about managed to scrape through intact and with a cleansheet to boot.

It hadn’t been the prettiest performance from Arsenal on the day, but they won’t care a win is a win and the three points were all that mattered.

Arsenal could have had plenty more if they had had their shooting boots on. Nicolas Pépé, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martin Ødegaard, Bukayo Saka and substitute Emile Smith Rowe could all have had goals if they’d been a bit better in front of goal. Smith Rowe’s shot in particular looked gilt-edged.

Aaron Ramsdale made his full Premier League debut today.

There was however a very promising performance from new boy Takehiro Tomiyasu. Initially though to be too soon for the Japan international owing to visa and work permit issues, he was thrown into the team immediately and looked like he’d been there all along.

Tomiyasu’s performance was stunning. He looked a real threat going forward and was a very competent defender when Arsenal needed him, winning 5 out of 5 aerial duels in the first-half. His substitution will perhaps raise some eyebrows, but it’s understandable why Arteta would want to keep his new boy fit and ready for Burnley next weekend, especially given his cramps towards the end.

Meanwhile, the performance of Ainsley Maitland-Niles will raise some eyebrows. Despite his baffling progressive passing rate of 6 (the joint-highest in the team), the youngster did not look comfortable in midfield, and it would perhaps be welcome to see Thomas Partey back in the mix next weekend, though, in Maitland-Niles’ defence, he hasn’t played for Arsenal in a Premier League match for some time and would perhaps have needed a bit more time to bed in.

It’s a monkey off the back for Mikel Arteta and co., but Arsenal need to keep their feet firmly on the ground as they travel to Turf Moor next weekend.

Arsenal team:
32.) Aaron Ramsdale
18.) Takehiro Tomiyasu (Smith Rowe 62′)
  4.) Ben White
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
  3.) Kieran Tierney
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Cédric Soares 82′)
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga (Partey 62′)
19.) Nicolas Pépé
  8.) Martin Ødegaard
  7.) Bukayo Saka
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c)

Arsenal subs:
  1.) Bernd Leno
22.) Pablo Marí
21.) Calum Chambers
17.) Cédric Soares
20.) Nuno Tavares
  5.) Thomas Partey
10.) Emile Smith Rowe
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette

Norwich City team:
  1.) Tim Krul
  2.) Max Aarons
  5.) Grant Hanley (c)
44.) Andrew Omobamidele
21.) Brandon Williams
   7.) Lukas Rupp (Idah 80′)
20.) Pierre Lees-Melou
23.) Kenny McLean
10.) Kieran Dowell (Cantwell 62′)
18.) Christos Tzolis (Rashica 69′)
22.) Teemu Pukki

Norwich City subs:
28.)Angus Gunn
15.) Ozan Kabak
  4.) Ben Gibson
  8.) Billy Gilmour
16.) Mathias Normann
17.) Milot Rashica
19.) Jacob Sørensen
14.) Todd Cantwell
35.) Adam Idah

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21/22 First Team General New Contracts Transfers Youth

Summer 2021/22

The transfer window finally closes with a snap for six months.

What teams have at their disposal will have to last them until January at this point, so any players looking for moves to and from Arsenal will need to wait another six months.

Here’s how Arsenal faired over the summer window:

Ins:

DateNameFromFee
10/7/2021🇵🇹 Nuno Tavares🇵🇹 Benfica£6.7m
19/7/2021🇧🇪 Albert Sambi Lokonga🇧🇪 Anderlecht£17.2m
30/7/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Ben White🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Brighton£50m
20/8/2021🇳🇴 Martin Ødegaard🇪🇸 Real Madrid£29m
20/8/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Aaron Ramsdale🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Sheffield Utd£28m
31/8/2021🇯🇵 Takehiro Tomiyasu🇮🇹 Bologna£16m

Total: £146.9m

Outs:

DateNameToFee
24/6/2021🇬🇷 Kostas Mavropanos🇩🇪 StuttgartLoan
21/6/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Zech Medley🇧🇪 KV Oostende£1m
1/7/2021🇧🇷 David Luiz🇹🇷 Adana DemirsporFree
6/7/2021🇫🇷 Mattéo Guendouzi🇫🇷 Marseille*£10m
7/7/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Kieran Petrie🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Swansea CityFree
15/7/2021🇫🇷 William Saliba🇫🇷 MarseilleLoan
13/8/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Joe Willock🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Newcastle Utd£25m
25/8/2021🇺🇾 Lucas Torreira🇮🇹 FiorentinaLoan
30/8/2021🇧🇷 Willian🇧🇷 CorinthiansFree
31/8/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Reiss Nelson🇳🇱 FeynoordLoan
31/8/2021🇪🇸 Héctor Bellerín🇪🇸 Real BetisLoan

* Mattéo Guendouzi’s move to Marseille is a season-long loan, with a purchase obligation for £10m at the end of the loan spell.

Total: £36m
Total Net Spend: -£110.9m

Overall, a fairly mixed bag from Arsenal. A huge amount of money invested, and comparatively very little received in return.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an effect on the transfer window and on the way things have played out so far this summer, but a paltry £36m (£10m of which will not actually arrive in the accounts for another season as Mattéo Guendouzi is technically on loan for another season before the obligation comes into effect) to offset a stupendous £147m spent on new players is not a good look for Arsenal’s accounts this year.

Let’s take a look at Arsenal’s business this summer.

Mattéo Guendouzi was always likely to leave the club in some capacity.

Incomings
Arsenal’s incomings are a respectable bunch, decent signings that address the medium to long-term future of the club, but there is very little for the short-term.

Martin Ødegaard, Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu certainly fulfil issues the club has now, however, Nuno Tavares is signed as cover for Kieran Tierney (though the failure to offload Sead Kolašinac has immediately made the transfer redundant in the short-term); Albert Sambi Lokonga is a long-term replacement for Thomas Partey and Aaron Ramsdale is more of a Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson replacement at this point than a Bernd Leno replacement.

The deals that have been done have either been completed entirely too late or for a greater sum than the player’s market value.

Ben White is perhaps the best example of this. White is tipped for a bright and beautiful future in the game, however, questions are raised, even among his biggest supporters, over the whopping £50m fee that Arsenal have paid for the England youngster.

Whatever White’s abilities and potential are, they don’t seem high enough to merit such exorbitant spending. £50m should be signing you the finished article, not a “might be”.

White also seemed to represent the same problem as with other recruitments; the seeming lack of a Plan B.

Edmond Tapsoba was of interest, briefly.

For White, names such as Edmond Tapsoba and Jules Koundé were mentioned in passing as viable options, but neither ever really seemed serious. The same too can be said for Aaron Ramsdale. The prices being quoted are eye-watering for the players being mentioned and yet, Arsenal seemed totally unwilling to fish in another pond; Newcastle’s Freddie Woodman was again fleetingly mentioned, but overall, Ramsdale always seemed the priority.

As for the other signings, Mikel Arteta is well within his rights to demand of Edu, why were they not signed earlier?

Arsenal came out the other end of their 2-0 humbling at the hands of Brentford, with only three new signings, one of which was only starting owing to an injury to another player.

Arsenal showed against Brentford that they were in dire need of reinforcements and yet, there were none available. Martin Ødegaard would have likely lightened the load on Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu would have been a more welcome sight at right-back than Calum Chambers.

The age profile of the players is however a comforting notion. All the players signed are either 23 or under and represent the club thinking long-term, as opposed to the usual here and now signings that the likes of Willian represented.

Arsenal decided against recruiting last year’s target Houssem Aouar.

The failure to not bring in a goalscoring midfielder or a striker will sting however. Lyon were practically begging to offload Rayan Cherki and Houssem Aouar, yet, Arsenal refused to take them on. As for strikers, Lautaro Martínez and Tammy Abraham were mentioned as viable options, but Arsenal never tabled a bid for either player.

There is also the bizarre dodging of Brighton’s Yves Bissouma. The Malian midfielder was calling Arsenal all summer and yet, Arsenal were uninterested in pursuing a deal.

There is always a frustration around Deadline Day deals. The same thing was true last season when the club unceremoniously snatched Thomas Partey from Atlético Madrid by activating his £45m (€50m) release clause. Why, if Tomiyasu was so high on the club’s agenda as their prime right-back target, did it take so long to sign him up?

The fee paid for the Japan international was not unaffordable and the club have need a new right-back since around October of last year, why was he only signed on the last day of August?

Takehiro Tomiyasu is a welcome addition to Arsenal’s growing back line.

Some may point to the fact that Arsenal needed to sell before they could buy, but this too seems to have a flaw. Tomiyasu will be Arsenal’s fifth right-back.

Though Héctor Bellerín has left on loan, he will be back next season and will need to have his future resolved, unlikely to be happy to play second fiddle after a season of presumably being first choice at Real Betis. Calum Chambers and Cédric Soares are also still at the club. Arsenal have the option to extend Chambers’ deal by a further year and Cédric’s deal does not run out for another three years.

Elsewhere, Ainsley Maitland-Niles will also be hungry for game time as he too has nowhere to play after the club blocked his Deadline Day move to Everton and no chance of a reconciliation with Mikel Arteta anytime soon following his ill-advised Instagram SOS call.

Which brings us onto the outgoings.

Outgoings
It is worth prefacing before focusing on Arsenal’s outgoings that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the finances on all teams not named Manchester City or Chelsea (or Arsenal, given the relative spending to those two), so shifting players was always going to be a task.

With that in mind, it’s difficult to be too harsh on Edu’s inability to find homes for certain players.

However, on the other hand, there have been several situations this summer that have been very poorly handled from the start.

William Saliba’s situation is perhaps the best place to start. Saliba returned from a six-month loan deal at Nice prepared to break into the Arsenal first team and with David Luiz’s departure, he looked ready to finally accept a place in Mikel Arteta’s side.

William Saliba was unnecessarily loaned out once more.

However, questions were raised over the Frenchman’s experience, having only played 12 out of the past 24 months owing to the early closure of Ligue 1 during his time with Saint-Étienne and Arsenal’s failure to secure a loan deal for him until January of last year.

Saliba, it was decided, needed to have more experience at senior level, with the club keen for him to receive more top-level experience in the Premier League with Newcastle. However, Saliba opted for a move back to France, where he joined Marseille.

This too seems a baffling choice. Saliba cannot be as far behind the likes of Rob Holding or Calum Chambers in terms of being prepared and why did the club no insist that he take a loan in England to acclimatise? Instead, Arsenal have loaned him back to the only league he’s ever played in which, doesn’t provide enough experience that he needs.

It is also arguable that Saliba’s loan out also created the need to sign Ben White, as Arsenal lacked depth.

Elsewhere, the Granit Xhaka situation also raises several eyebrows.

Xhaka had been of interest to Roma for a while, with Roma manager José Mourinho speaking highly of the player and reiterating his stance of signing him for the club.

The club decided to offer Granit Xhaka a new contract after his failed move to Roma.

The two clubs ultimately failed to agree on a fee. Arsenal, to their credit, stood firm on their £17.1m (€20m) price tag and Roma failed to even come close to matching it.

So it seemed that Xhaka was destined for at least one more year in North London, which few could really argue with given his performances last season.

However, the club took the increasingly bizarre move to extend the midfielder’s contract, ostensibly to “protect his value”.

This seemed an odd move. Not only was Xhaka’s contract two years off expiring, but the one-year extension the club have given him makes it harder to rid themselves of the player as his value continues to plummet.

Although its early days in the season at this point, he’s not done much to show why he should be offered such a deal. A red card in Arsenal’s 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Manchester City was yet another cameo of the kind of performances Arsenal fans have come to expect from Xhaka.

However, there is some good to come from this summer in terms of outgoings. Arsenal were able to turn a huge profit on Joe Willock as he secured his move to Newcastle United for a staggering £25m and Arsenal were able to save a reported £20m on Willian’s contract after he agreed to a mutual termination and moved back to Corinthians in Brazil.

Arsenal turned down £10m for Eddie Nketiah, who will likely now move next summer for free.

Then there’s Eddie Nketiah.

Crystal Palace allegedly issued a “take it or leave it” offer of £10m to Arsenal for the striker, which Arsenal turned down.

This seems to be the very apex of incompetence.

Not only is Arsenal’s valuation of the player entirely too high (the club reportedly wanted as much as £20m), but the fact that the club have turned down tangible money for a player that will walk for free next summer is baffling to the nth degree.

What value is there in keeping Nketiah? He is behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Folarian Balogun in the pecking order and even Gabriel Martinelli is starting more games than him as a striker, so why hold on to him? Surely it’s better to compromise on an offer to guarantee some funds than to stick with him for another year and lose him for nothing? In fact, his sale could have helped fund 62.5% of the fee for Tomiyasu and have resulted in a slightly better accounting sheet.

However, this is not even the worst situation this summer.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles came close to securing himself a move away last season. Wolverhampton Wanderers tabled a £20m bid for the young England youth player, and personal terms were agreed, however, a last minute intervention from Mikel Arteta saw Maitland-Niles ultimately stay put, having been given assurances of playtime.

Despite this, Maitland-Niles never really established himself int he team and was hastily loaned out to West Bromwich Albion in the January window.

The drama surrounding Ainsley Maitland-Niles was not a helpful distraction for Arsenal.

This summer, Everton put in an offer of a one year loan with a purchase option at the end of the deal. However, given Maitland-Niles’ contract situation (his deal runs out in two years) Arsenal rejected the offer, encouraging Everton to return (if at all) with a more enticing option, either with an obligation to buy or a straight bid.

However, Maitland-Niles did not react kindly to this new development and took to Instagram to vent his frustrations with the club and his situation.

No sooner had the post been made that Maitland-Niles held talks with Edu and Arteta to discuss his situation. The club made it clear, he would not be sold and his Instagram stunt had earned him a spell of training on his own.

Now Arsenal are encumbered with a player who doesn’t want to be at the club and someone who is very angry with the club’s treatment of him, again, why keep him?

Arsenal’s outgoing business has been shambolic, poorly thought through and incompetent to the point where the club were penny-pinching on assets they were perhaps likely to receive any money for whatsoever.

Now the attention turns to what Arsenal can muster on the field. The distraction of the transfer window will no longer loom large over the field of play, now is the time for Mikel Arteta and his players to turn around their dismal start to the season.

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21/22 First Team General Transfers

Arsenal Sign Takehiro Tomiyasu

Arsenal have signed defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna for a reported fee believed to be worth £16m with £2.57m in bonuses. Tomiyasu joins the club on a four-year deal with the option for a fifth. The player completed his Arsenal medical in Italy and will wear the number 18 shirt.

Tomiyasu is likely Arsenal’s final signing of the window, with Héctor Bellerín joining Real Betis.

Tomiyasu seems to fit the hybrid player style that Arsenal have gone for all summer. Arsenal have looked to sign young players who can play in multiple positions, with Tomiyasu capable of playing as both a right-back and as a centre-back.

Arsenal seem to have the same ambitions for Tomiyasu as they do for for other summer signing Ben White, as someone who can help the club build up play from the back as Mikel Arteta works desperately hard to make his playing out from the back system work.

Tomiyasu is Arsenal’s fifth signing this summer.

It was not only Arsenal who were interested in Tomiyasu, however. Tottenham Hotspur had long held an interest in the right-back, however, as they switched their interest to Barcelona’s Emerson Royal, Arsenal were able to swoop in to complete the deal.

Tomiyasu began his career in Hakata, a city in the Fukuoka Prefecture, with Avispa Fukuoka. Tomiyasu impressed with the club and was offered a place at Barcelona’s academy, however, the deal was unable to be completed as it proved difficult for Tomiyasu to travel to Spain.

“Takehiro is a strong defender with good experience in Serie A and at international level. He’s a versatile defender with great defensive qualities, high technical ability and composure on the ball. He will be an important member of our squad. We look forward to Takehiro joining up with us when he returns from international duty.”

Mikel Arteta

Following impressive displays for Avispa Fukuoka, Tomiyasu then moved to Sint-Truidense V.V. int he Belgian league. Tomiyasu impressed in Belgium and won the club’s Player of the Year award, for his performances.

By this point, Tomiyasu was beginning to attract interest from all over Europe, however, Tomiyasu joined Italian side Bologna for £7.7m (€9m), becoming the second Japanese player to play for the club since midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata, who was on loan at the club for a season.

Tomiyasu’s performances for Bologna have once again shown an impressive elements about the player, with his tactical versatility likely to be a key asset going forward, especially if Arsenal decide to rotate between a back four and a back three.

Tomiyasu spent two years in Italy.

He has made 23 appearances (scoring 1 goal) for the Japan national side and has been described by Bologona’s Technical Coach, Emilio De Leo as having “… the ability to read and manipulate time and space in a modern way”.

For his part, Mikel Arteta has reportedly pushed very hard for the move internally. Tomiyasu fits the profile of the kind of player Arsenal are looking for and has asked Technical Director Edu to complete the deal as soon as possible.

Arsenal will hope that Tomiyasu will be available for their next Premier League match, a home fixture against struggling Norwich City.

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21/22 First Team General Transfers

Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson Leaves The Club On Loan

Arsenal have announced that Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson has joined Belgian team, OH Leuven on a season long loan, though there is a purchase option included in the loan deal.

Rúnarsson joined Arsenal last summer from FC Dijon for a £1.8m fee in the wake of Emiliano Martínez’s departure for Aston Villa. Rúnarsson was signed on the recommendation of Iñaki Caña Pavón, who coached the Iceland international at FC Nordsjaelland.

It’s fair to say that Rúnarsson’s time in North London has been a fairly mixed bag. Initially signed as the club’s third choice keeper, Rúnarsson never looked totally comfortable between the sticks for the club.

Things have not worked out for Rúnarsson at Arsenal.

The transfer itself had always looked to be surprising one, considering that Rúnarsson was not even the second-choice goalkeeper at Dijon when Arsenal signed him and his presence in the side most certainly mimicked that of the third-choice goalkeeper for a relegated French team.

After a series of fairly uneventful Europa League performances, Rúnarsson was unfortunately brought into the spotlight following a disastrous performance in Arsenal’s 1-4 loss at home to Manchester City in the League Cup, where he fumbled a number of chances, even spilling a fairly innocuous free-kick into his own net.

Heading into what is expected ot be a busy summer for Arsenal and one that has already seen the likes of Mattéo Guendouzi leave the club, Rúnarsson was always expected to leave the club in some capacity, with a loan deal preferred.

Rúnarsson during his time with FC Dijon.

Despite the transfer seemingly looking like a very poor investment by the club, it is a fairly low-risk potentially high-reward transfer. If Rúnarsson turned out to be the next Bernd Leno, then Arsenal would be guffawing over a £1.8m price tag and a job well-done. If Rúnarsson shows promise, but is unable to stake a claim in the team, then he can be sold for more than he was signed for or can be loaned out to gain some more experience.

It’s a shame to see things end so abruptly for Rúnarsson, however, the former Dijon shotstopper had fallen very far down the pecking order at Arsenal. Brighton & Hove Albion’s Maty Ryan was brought in on a six month loan deal to give Arsenal some serious cover options, while Rúnarsson was merely allowed in the team as and when Ryan was unavailable for selection.

Now that Rúnarsson has left, Arsenal are left with three goalkeepers at the club. Bernd Leno, Arthur Okonkwo and Aaron Ramsdale.

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21/22 First Team General Transfers

Héctor Bellerín Joins Real Betis

Héctor Bellerín has joined Spanish side Real Betis on loan for the remainder of the season. Arsenal had initially hoped to use Bellerín as a makeweight in a deal to bring Emerson Royal to the club from Barcelona, however, their €15m fee with Bellerín included was not enough to entice the Catalans and Arsenal have since turned their attentions to Bologna full-back, Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Bellerín has endured a torrid time at the club since returning from injury under Unai Emery. He has failed to appear in any of Arsenal’s first-team selections this season and was replaced by Calum Chambers last season.

His time at the club is an inspirational one however.

Bellerín initially broke into the first team following a suspension to Calum Chambers and an injury to Mathieu Debuchy. From there, Bellerín was instrumental in heloing the club win their second FA Cup in two years.

Bellerín has featured throughout pre-season.

Before that, Bellerín had been a part of the La Masia academy in Barcelona, before switching to North London. From there, Bellerín has been loaned out to Watford for one season.

Since then, Bellerín has been Arsenal’s main choice of right-back. Following Arsène Wenger’s departure, he was given the number 2 shirt and was made one of the many vice-captains under Unai Emery.

Bellerín was in top form for Emery and looked like a man reborn, however, disaster struck when he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against Chelsea.

Since returning, his form has taken something of a nosedive and produced a considerable drop-off in quality (as these injuries often do).

He his no longer first choice under former captain turned manager Mikel Arteta and he has been looking for a move all summer.

Bellerín’s deal does not include a purchase option.

Interest in Bellerín reportedly came from a number of clubs including Inter Milan, Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, however, Bellerín was only keen to return to Spain for either Barcelona or Real Betis, having grown up a Real Betis fan.

Arsenal will hope that Bellerín receives plenty of game time while at Real Betis and is able to return in form or with his value significantly inflated.

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21/22 First Team General Transfers Youth

Reiss Nelson Joins Feynoord on Loan

Reiss Nelson has joined Dutch Eredivisie team Feynoord on loan for the remainder of the season. Before leaving, Nelson extended his stay with the club further, until 2023.

It has seemed likely that Nelson would leave all summer, given his issues at the club in recent months.

After first breaking into the team during the club’s pre-season tour of Australia in 2017, by manager Arsène Wenger. Nelson continued to appear, though sporadically, for the club in the Europa League and in the Premier League.

Nelson has struggled to break into the team since Mikel Arteta’s appointment.

Following Wenger’s departure from the club, Nelson was loaned to 1899 Hoffenheim in Germany, scoring 7 goals for the club. Though he was not ever-present under Julian Nagelsmann, with rumours of poor attitude leaking to the press.

Following his loan deal, Nelson was used more often by new head-coach Unai Emery, however, he was unable to nail down a starting spot in the first-team and as the club’s form took a nosedive, so too did Nelson’s confidence.

When Mikel Arteta took over, Nelson was an instrumental part of the team that reached the FA Cup final, scoring against Leeds United in the process.

However, following the signing of Willian from Chelsea, Nelson saw his game time drastically reduced and was never able to appear for the club on a regular basis.

One thing that did catch Arsenal fan’s eyes however, was the repeated omissions from the senior squad and his regular outings for the U23s, something that was, strangely for Arsenal, kept under wraps.

Nelson will benefit from more game time.

Nelson seems unlikely to break into the first-team this season with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Ødegaard, Nicolas Pépé and Bukayo Saka all occupying the roles that he would normally play in.

Feynoord, for their part, had intended to take Manchester United youngster Amad Diallo on loan instead, however, the Ivorian’s injury in training has scuppered any chance of a deal being struck.

Arsenal will now turn their attentions to signing players ahead of tonight’s 23:00pm deadline.

Categories
21/22 First Team General Transfers

Willian Leaves The Club

Arsenal have announced that Willian has left the club, after just one season in North London. The former-Chelsea winger will re-join Brazilian side Corinthians in Brazil (managed by former-Gunner Sylvinho), where he was a youth player and made 41 appearances for the team.

Willian’s tenure with Arsenal has been an unmitigated fiasco for both player and club.

Joining Arsenal at the beginning of last season, Willian was already off to a bad start from the fans.

First off, the transfer looked like Willian chasing one last big retirement contract in London. Second of all, it seemed like the usual black magic of his agent, Kia Joorabchian, a man Arsenal fans were already highly unhappy to see the club working with.

Willian’s time at Arsenal has not gone well.

Willian made his first appearance for the club as Arsenal thrashed Fulham on the opening day of the season, registering three assists in the game, perhaps Arsenal fans were wrong to doubt him.

However, from there, things went slowly downhill.

Willian, though he finished the season as the club’s lead assist-provider, he failed to register a single goal from open play, and his only goal for the club being a free-kick against West Brom at home.

His poor form did also coincide with Arsenal’s terrible on-field performances, however, even among the terrible Arsenal side, he stood out the loudest.

For his part, Willian has maintained a stoic silence around the constant criticism of him. He has made no public statements and has not criticised either the club or his manager during his time with Arsenal, which has not gone unnoticed.

The Brazilian winger’s only goal for the club was a free-kick against West Brom.

However, Willian’s conspicuous absence from the Arsenal first team in recent weeks has been noticeable and unmissed. Mikel Arteta seems to have acknowledged that the transfer has not gone well, with the Spaniard recently hinting that it may be time for the Brazilian to seek pastures new.

Though Arsenal will perhaps see this as a win as they only had Willian for one season, it is not a great look for the scouting department.

Willian looked like a bad transfer even before he pulled on the Arsenal shirt and he’s since proven to be just that. The fact that, journalists, pundits and fans like had all predicted a notable drop in form from the player, it’s worrying that the club’s data and analytics department did not pick it up.

It would be unfair to say that Willian will not be missed by Arsenal fans, but equally, its not inaccurate either and in reality, Willian likely won’t miss Arsenal much either.

Categories
21/22 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Manchester City 5-0 Arsenal: Premier League – 29/08/2021

It’s been a pretty dismal start to the season for Arsenal and a trip to the Etihad at Saturday lunchtime was hardly ever going to brighten the mood around the club.

Despite an emphatic 0-6 drubbing of West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup, it had been preceded by defeats to Brentford and Chelsea respectively.

A truly tortuous opening set of fixtures which saw Arsenal start the season with a number of injuries and COVID-related incidents, not least to new summer signing Ben White, who was unavailable for the trip to Manchester.

Mikel Arteta decided to start with a back-five. The formation had worked wonders when Arsenal had beaten Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final in 2020 and would surely work this time.

How wrong he was.

Bukayo Saka was one of the few bright sparks of the day.

Manchester City tore through Arsenal like a hit knife through butter.

It’s easier to speak about the chances that Arsenal didn’t concede. So numb to the pain of conceding, it’s actually difficult to recollect just how Arsenal managed to concede five goals.

While Mikel Arteta will have his critics, the recruitment in the summer has done very little to ever really alleviate the issues that permeate in the squad.

Arsenal enter their third game of the season, away at the league champions with Calum Chambers and Rob Holding being partnered in defence by Sead Kolašinac. Surely this was result was the only ones on the cards?

Even with such a makeshift defence, Arsenal looked sluggish. They didn’t even look like a team that were that bothered by the result. It seemed as though Mikel Arteta had told them that he expected them to lose and the team went out and did just that.

The afternoon was worsened further by the red card of Granit Xhaka, the only saving grace being that Arsenal fans won’t see him again for three matches.

Xhaka hadn’t been having the worst game in the world up until that point and his red card was perhaps hastened by the play-acting of João Cancelo, however, the Swiss captain should really know better than to dive in two-footed, even if he did win the ball.

The display obviously raises questions on just how much longer Mikel Arteta will be able to stick this out for, but so too, for Edu.

Martin Ødegaard battles his way through the Manchester City midfield.

Arteta’s job is perhaps contingent on the next run of results. Wins were never expected against either Chelsea or Manchester City, even their game against Brentford was perhaps a little up in the air, given how many absentees there were, but his performances against Norwich, Burnley and Tottenham will be an interesting indicator on his viability.

As for Edu, the clock is most certainly ticking, perhaps not at board level, but certainly with the fans.

A COVID-affected market is understandable, as his inability to shift under-performing players in a market that doesn’t exist, but the lack of a proven goalscoring midfielder and a competent right-back is not doing anyone any favours at all.

Arsenal have (at the time of publishing) two days remaining in the transfer market and while the outgoings will be watched with great interest, the incomings are so much more important.

Arsenal are crying out for a decent right-back and are practically having Houssem Aouar shoved down their throats by Lyon and they are still inexplicably yet to act.

It’s almost as if Arsenal are deliberately waiting as long as possible to sign players and it’s costing them on the field as well as off it.

An international break is a welcome sight for once and the transfer market closing will likely be welcome too, but Arsenal need to sort their season soon, or else be confined to yet another season of no European football.

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
17.) Cédric Soares
21.) Calum Chambers
16.) Rob Holding
31.) Sead Kolašinac
  3.) Kieran Tierney
34.) Granit Xhaka 🔴
10.) Emile Smith Rowe
  7.) Bukayo Saka (Elneny 45’)
  8.) Martin Ødegaard (Maitland-Niles 71’)
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c) (Lacazette 59’)

Arsenal subs:
32.) Aaron Ramsdal
33.) Arthur Okonkwo
22.) Pablo Marí
20.) Nuno Tavares
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
25.) Mohamed Elneny
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette

Manchester City team:
31.) Ederson
  2.) Kyle Walker (Zinchenko 45’)
  3.) Rúben Dias
14.) Aymeric Laporte
27.) João Cancelo
20.) Benardo Silva (Sterling 58’)
16.) Rodri
  8.) İlkay Gündoğan (c)
  9.) Gabriel Jesus (Mahrez 61’)
10.) Jack Grealish
21.) Ferran Torres

Manchester City subs:
13.) Zack Steffen
  5.) John Stones
  6.) Nathan Aké
11.) Oleksander Zinchenko
25.) Fernandinho
69.) Tommy Doyle
80.) Cole Palmer
26.) Riyad Mahrez

Categories
21/22 General League Cup Match Reports

West Bromwich Albion 0-6 Arsenal: League Cup – 25/08/2021

Given their appalling end to last season, Arsenal begin their League Cup journey in round 2, for the first time since the mid-90s.

Perhaps a bruised ego would be the worst to come out of the night, but Arsenal are in panic mode all the same. Losses away to Brentford and at home to Chelsea have done very little to raise the already dreary mood around the Emirates Stadium, so a win against last season’s Premier League dropouts West Bromwich Albion was needed.

Though West Brom fielded a fairly weak team, Mikel Arteta was taking no chances, seven changes from the side that played on Sunday, including full-debuts for Aaron Ramsdale, Nuno Tavares and Martin Ødegaard.

Despite their relatively inexperienced lineup, West Brom came out of the blocks at 100mph, barely giving Arsenal any time at all on the ball. Arsenal didn’t help matters with several loose passes placing their teammates in greater danger, including new boy Aaron Ramsdale.

New boys Nuno Tavares and Martin Ødegaard celebrate with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka.

West Brom threw themselves into tackles and tried as hard as they could to pin Arsenal down.

But for all their high-pressing, West Brom were eventually undone by Arsenal. Unable to properly clear the ball or get it from underneath Bukayo Saka, the Englishman rifled a shot at Alex Palmer, who was unable to hold it and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was there to tap in the rebound.

West Brim kept some pressure up from there, but soon Arsenal were through again. A terrific ball from Mohamed Elneny released Nicolas Pépé, who was through on goal from a magnificent run and his shot…cannoned off the post, straight into Aubameyang’s path for another clear tap in.

It felt harsh on Pépé for him not to have a goal to his name, but he was soon rewarded as this time Aubameyang was let loose on goal for a first-half hat-trick, but his cute little chip was denied by the goalkeeper, the Arsenal captain then produced a brilliantly acrobatic overhead kick to give the ball to Pépé, who tapped in the third.

It may be a scoreline entirely brought about by tap-ins, but Arsenal didn’t care, as they were 0-3 up at the break.

It didn’t really take long for the scoring to resume in the second-half. A wonderful backheel from Martin Ødegaard, beautifully dummied by Aubameyang allowed Bukayo Saka into the box for a terrific right-footed finish into the far corner. Nothing “tap-in” about that one.

Arsenal extended their lead further when Ainsley Maitland-Niles (on for Ødegaard) fed Aubameyang on the edge of the box, who took a touch outside and curled a brilliant effort into the top corner to complete his hat-trick.

Alexandre Lacazette was brought on next and his impact was immediate. A free-flowing Arsenal move saw the Frenchman feed Nicolas Pépé, who’s deft chip bounced off the crossbar and out.

But soon it was Pépé returning the favour for Lacazette. Great work from the Ivorian on the wing allowed him to fizz a tantalising ball across the penalty area and for Lacazette to emphatically smash home for the final goal.

It was a good night for Arsenal, but few will be carried away by it all. It was a 0-6 drubbing against a team a full division lower than them and who were also ostensibly playing their B-Team.

Nevertheless, there were still some interesting points to take from the game.

Saka, Pépé and Aubameyang were unstoppable on the night.

Nuno Tavares looked enthusiastic but erratic. The left-back seemed to have made his mind up on what he was going to do well in advance and was unable to control his excitement of doing it. More often than most, Tavares was unable to control his speed or his general ball control, which led to him either losing balance or losing the ball. Several loose passes were enough to give the impression that he is still not yet ready for Premier League football.

It was a good night in front of goal for Aubameyang as well. A hat-trick is great in anyone’s books, but the forward really did look to be back to his very best once more. Arsenal fans will need to see this more consistently if he has truly turned his form around, but it was a fantastic showing nevertheless.

It was another great performance from Bukayo Saka. His slow start to the season is clearly down to his late start in pre-season and an extended break following his EUROs excursions. He worked well with Ødegaard and linked up well with Aubameyang where needed.

Of course, Arsenal’s next game is away to Manchester City, anyone expecting a repeat performance from Arsenal is perhaos wishing their life away, but a win against West Brom will certainly have calmed some troubled waters for now and serves as a reminder of the quality Arsenal still have.

Arsenal team:
32.) Aaron Ramsdale
21.) Calum Chambers
16.) Rob Holding
31.) Sead Kolašinac
20.) Nuno Tavares
25.) Mohamed Elneny
34.) Granit Xhaka (Lacazette 67’)
19.) Nicolas Pépé
  8.) Martin Ødegaard (Maitland-Niles 61’)
  7.) Bukayo Saka
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c) (Martinelli 76’)

Arsenal subs:
  1.) Bernd Leno
22.) Pablo Marí
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
10.) Emile Smith Rowe
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette

West Bromwich Albion team:
36.) Alex Palmer
21.) Cédric Kipré
33.) Caleb Taylor (Richards 82’)
31.) Saul Shotton
34.) Ethan Ingram
32.) Quevin De Castro
23.) Robert Snodgrass (c) (King 74’)
20.) Adam Reach
41.) Tom Fellows
29.) Taylor Gardner-Hickman
  9.) Kenneth Zohore (Faal 65’)

West Bromwich Albion subs:
37.) Ted Cann 
39.) Zak Delaney
30.) Rico Richards
38.) Toby King
40.) Modou Faal
42.) Jovan Malcolm

Categories
21/22 First Team General Transfers

Lucas Torreira Joins Fiorentina

Lucas Torreira has left the club on loan to join Italian side Fiorentina on loan until the end of the season. Arsenal will receive a £1.2m loan fee and have inserted a clause to make the deal permanent, should Fiorentina wish to, for £12.85m.

This is Torreria’s second loan in as many years, having spent last season on loan at eventual La Liga champions Atlético Madrid. The Uruguayan didn’t have quite the impact that many would have hoped for, however, Torreira was still a useful cog in the machine for Diego Simeone’s team.

Since joining Arsenal, Torreira has been a fan favourite, scoring against Tottenham in the North London Derby and general tenacity in midfield, showed just how good he was under Unai Emery.

Torreira after Arsenal’s record-extending 14th FA Cup win.

However, following Aaron Ramsey’s departure, Torreira was used in a more attacking role that ill-suited him, which meant that he slowly lost confidence and was eventually dropped.

Torreira has struggled for game time under Mikel Arteta, who doesn’t see him as part of his plans for the new season. For his part and to his credit, Torreira was willing to remain at the club and fight for his place, but Arteta’s mind is made up.

Torreira’s time in England has also been marred by constant references to feeling homesick and wanting to leave the country. While not entirely unexpected, given the propensity for players to miss their favourited countries and for England’s famously bi-polar weather system, Torreira and his agent, Pablo Bentancur’s constant references to Torreira wishing to leave the club has not gone unnoticed by Arsenal fans.

Torreira during his time with Atlético Madrid.

Fans were also quick to notice that not only had Torreira reported back late for training (an incorrect assessment, as Torreira had been legally required to quarantine in Spain for 10 days before returning to the UK), but also that Torreira had been visiting a theme park with his family during Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat to Brentford on the opening day of the Premier League season.

Fiorentina were previously interested in Torreira when his former coach Marco Giampolo was at the club and the club’s scouting department seem to have kept their interest in the player up.

It remains to be seen just what Torreira will bring to Fiorentina or how he will develop when there, however, Arsenal will be hoping it’s enough to entice him away from the club for good as they look to clear the decks of deadwood players.