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.
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.
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
Arsenal will be the focus of the famous Amazon documentary series All or Nothing. The documentary will cover the inner workings of the club across the 2020/21 season, giving fans an insight into the work behind the scenes and also and the kind of preparation required for senior football.
Previous All or Nothing documentaries have focused on Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus, the Brazilian national team and Tottenham Hotspur, with Mikel Arteta contributing greatly to the former during his tenure as Manchester City coach.
The documentary series grants a rare, unprecedented level of insight into the inner-workings of the club. Though fans will be treated to seeing how the players and manager prepare for games and an exclusive look at half-time teamtalks, the documentary will also show the work of other important figures at the club, such as Josh Kroenke, Vinai Venkatesham, Edu Gaspar and Per Mertesacker.
The documentary will be filmed across the course of the season and will likely be shown in its entirety at the end of the season in May, exclusively on the Amazon Prime video subscription service.
All or Nothing: Arsenal will be produced by 72 Films, executive produced by Mark Raphael, Clare Cameron and three-time BAFTA winner John Douglas.
Dan Grabiner, Head of UK Originals at Amazon Studios said: “Arsenal is a historic club going through a fascinating period, and we can’t wait to take viewers behind-the-scenes on the journey of this crucial season. All or Nothing is about intimate access to the passion and commitment behind elite sport, and in Arsenal we have the perfect subject for the next chapter. We are looking forward to Prime members around the world experiencing another Premier League season with a new club, through All or Nothing’s signature quality storytelling and access.”
While such unprecedented access to the club is certainly an enticing thought for fans, it is nevertheless a cause for concern. Documentaries of this nature are almost always a “tell-all” kind of scenario that usually leaves no stone unturned and in the case of a disappointing season, often becomes a central hub for memes and unnecessary insight into the way the team works.
There is also something sacred about the dressing room atmosphere. Mikel Arteta’s half-time team talks being broadcast for everyone to see, while fascinating, also provides people with insights into how the team works and what sort of tactics the team are likely to use, which is usually best kept behind the curtain.
Much like a magician revealing how he did his trick, some things are perhaps left behind the scenes.
We are looking forward to giving our fans around the world a unique insight into how we work day to day. We have one of the biggest global followings in the game and one consistent thing we hear from fans is their desire to see more about what happens behind closed doors at the club, All or Nothing will give our fans and sport lovers an opportunity to learn more about what makes Arsenal such a special club, our trophy laden history and our ambitions for future success.”
Mark Gonnella – Arsenal’s Media and Communications Director
However, one fascinating question remains, who will narrate the series? Manchester City’s documentary had Ben Kinglsey, where Tottenham had Tom Hardy, so who will narrate Arsenal’s?
Arsenal are not short on celebrity fans, with JAY-Z, Piers Morgan, Dido, Idris Elba, Roger Daltry, Prince Harry, Roger Waters, Mick Jagger and the Queen are all Arsenal fans, though any royal inclusion seems unlikely, if not impossible.
The beginning of the transfer window has seen the usual flurry of transfer rumours swirl around the club as Arsenal begin their preparations for the 2021/22 Premier League season. The club faces its first season without European football of any kind, for nearly 25 years and now have the unenviable task of mounting a push to get back into the Champions League for the first time since 2017.
Preparations for the new campaign will begin on the 8th of July, when the Arsenal squad returns from their holidays, though there will be a few notable exceptions; Kieran Tierney, Bernd Leno, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka will all be either on holiday or (hopefully) continuing their excursions at EURO 2020. Meanwhile, Lucas Torreira is unlikely to feature owing to his involvement at the Copa América and as he will likely be sold; meanwhile, both Gabriel Magalhães and Gabriel Martinelli are likely to miss the start of the season, owing to their involvement in the Olympics.
Aside from this, there is also a hope that Arsenal will have new signings Nuno Tavares, who is expected to be announced in the coming days, following his successful medical in Portugal, and Albert Sambi Lokonga, who’s move from RSC Anderlecht edges ever closer. Also on the transfer front, is the situation of Brighton defender, Ben White. Though a deal is yet to be struck with Brighton for the England international, it is thought that Arsenal are likely to have the player signed up and a part of the first-team squad after the EUROs are over, though like Saka, Xhaka, Torreira, Tierney and Leno, he will likely require a holiday before joining up with Mikel Arteta’s squad.
Given the absence of Gabriel, Pablo Marí likely will partner one of Rob Holding and Ben White on the opening day of the season. William Saliba would have been in with a chance, though his impending loan move to Marseille means that Arsenal will likely only have one defender to choose from, two if White signs.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s attention will also likely be drawn to the other members of the squad that need to be attended to. Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Mattéo Guendouzi are all expected to depart the club this summer, with the futures of Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Sead Kolašinac and Alexandre Lacazette still yet to be sorted out.
Arsenal are unlikely to commit to any further deals until they have managed to shift one or two players along the way; not for financial reasons (though these will likely still help) but mainly to help trim the fat of such a big squad. Though rumours have persisted recently that the club has made an opening bid of around €40m for Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli, sources at the club deny that such a bid has been lodged, despite the assurances of Sassuolo president Giovanni Carnevali that Arsenal’s bid is “significant”, though Arsenal do hold a significant interest in the player and will likely lie in wait for the midfielder waiting to pounce properly if Juventus are unable to agree a fee with Sassuolo, however, given the relationship between the two clubs and the player’s desire to play for la Vecchia Signora, it seems unlikely that Arsenal will be in the running.
Though Locatelli would likely be a very attractive signing for Arsenal fans, Rúben Neves of Wolves is thought to be a more immediate replacement for Xhaka.
The new season is also likely to see Arteta finally adopt the 4-3-3 formation that he has wanted to play since he arrived at the club. This would mean that Partey, Neves and Locatelli (if Arsenal were to procure both players) would play in the Arsenal midfield. A very tasty option if Arsenal can pull it off, but given that Neves is likely to cost around £30m and Locatelli around £34m, coupled with the impending arrival of Lokonga for £20m, an £84m outlay for the midfield seems a fairly unlikely undertaking.
Another issue still yet to be resolved is the future of Emile Smith Rowe. Though Arsenal sources remain outwardly confident that the youngster will sign a new contract with the club, there is still a fair amount of anxiety among Arsenal fans as talks drag on even further. Reports suggest that Smith Rowe will not sign his deal until his holidays are over, however, the news that Aston Villa have made two seperate bids of £25m and £30m respectively is causing a fair amount of unease. Whether these are just inventions of an agent looking to ensure a rise in the wages that the club would need to offer Smith Rowe or are genuine bids, these are still worrying times.
Arsenal have maintained on multiple occasions that they will accept no less than £75m for the Hale End graduate, though Villa seem undeterred by Arsenal’s stance and may yet return with a third bid.
As for creativity, Arsenal are still in the market for a creative attacker who can relieve some of the workload for Smith Rowe. Mikel Arteta’s first-choice was Martin Ødegaard from Real Madrid, who spent the past six months on loan with the club, though the chances of Ødgeaard returning to Arsenal look slim, especially given his most recent Instagram post and with Carlo Ancelotti reportedly keen on giving the youngster a chance to prove himself.
Other targets have been mooted, such as Leicester City’s James Maddison, though his price tag is likely to be an obstacle for the club. There haven’t been any concrete links to other names, although the club’s long-standing interest in Julian Brandt, Houssem Aouar and Christopher Nkunku are known, it remains to be seen if Arsenal will move for any of them in the forthcoming window. Arsenal failed in a bid for Aouar last summer, though may be tempted to return this summer if the leaks regarding Lyon’s financial situation are true and if Arsenal are unable to land any of their prime targets before the end of the window.
Then there is the club’s rather worrying homegrown quota. Though Ben White is likely to be joining, the club are likely to sell Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson this summer, which would see four homegrown players leave the club. The club have identified Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale as someone who can not only become the club’s second-choice goalkeeper, but one who can also provide healthy competition for Bernd Leno, though Ramsdale has mainly been targeted as he would provide additional cover for the club’s homegrown quota, though his price may again prove too costly and Arsenal make look elsewhere, with Brentford’s David Raya and West Brom’s Sam Johnstone both admired by the club.
In terms of the youth players coming through this season, Arsenal will likely hand more chances to Folarian Balogun, who recently signed a new long-term contract with the club and will also likely hand some minutes to Miguel Azeez as well, who has also caught the manager’s eye in recent months. Though it is unlikely that Arsenal will rely on both too heavily, they will provide useful cover for the future.
Over the next few weeks, Arsenal will play a series of friendlies with games against Hibernian, Rangers, Inter Milan, Everton or Millonarios, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, which will provide useful glimpses at competitive football before the Premier League season starts on Friday the 13th of August.
The lack of European football in the calendar is a very unwelcome sight for Arsenal fans, but may prove to be a blessing in disguise. Without a European fixture taking up a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night, Arsenal will have ample chances to recover for their next few games. Small comfort, especially when the League Cup (assuming Arsenal get far enough) and the FA Cup fully kick in.
There will also be a distinct lack of experience at the club this season as well. Following the expiration of their contracts, Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz have since left the club, but so too have Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mesut Özil, both of whom departed in the January window amid a shroud of controversy. Though Arsenal have been known to supplement any younger signings with older players, the club’s recent transfer strategy suggests that Arsenal are aiming for younger players this time around and although stalwarts such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Willian, Rob Holding, Bernd Leno, Pablo Marí and Cédric Soares are all on hand to provide first-hand experience for those who need it, it does look as though Arsenal will be entering the season with a distinctly younger squad than most of their competitors.
The forward line is also an area that will need to greatly improve this season. Though no major departures are expected, Arsenal will be hoping that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been training in Greece with A.O. Mykonos’ academy side, will find form once more. The future of Willian is also one of great interest to Arsenal fans too as the Brazilian has already priced himself out of a move to Inter Miami, with club, fans and player all keen to see an end to the former Chelsea winger’s time with the club.
Then there is also the issue of a right-back. While Héctor Bellerín is expected to leave the club this summer amid interest from Spain, Italy and France, Arsenal will need to move for a right-back before the season starts. Calum Chambers deputised impressively in the position last season, but is clearly not the favourite to start there regularly. This could prompt a move for RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams, who Arsenal are reportedly keen on. Adams’ ability to play as a holding midfielder as well as a right-back will make him a very enticing target for Arsenal.
If Arsenal are able to land all of their primary targets this summer, then a 4-3-3 shouldn’t be out of the question, but a 4-2-3-1 is a more likely formation on the opening day of the season.
The fixtures for the 2021/2022 season have finally been announced. Mikel Arteta’s side ended last season in a very poor manner, failing ti qualify for a European competition for the first time in 25 years.
With new boys Brentford, Norwich and Watford now in the Premier League, the fixtures have been announced.
Depending on Arsenal’s progress in the remaining two competitions, the League Cup and the FA Cup, the fixtures are subject to change, as well as their opponents’ progress.
Looking at Arsenal’s opening three matches, the need to strengthen in the transfer market is more pressing than ever.
August 2021 14th: Brentford (A) 21st: Chelsea (H) 28th: Manchester City (A)
September 2021 10th: Burnley (A) 11th: Norwich (H) 25th: Tottenham Hotspur (H)
October 2021 2nd: Brighton & Hove Albion (A) 16th: Crystal Palace (H) 23rd: Aston Villa (H) 30th: Leicester City (A)
November 2021 6th: Watford (H) 20th: Liverpool (A) 27th: Newcastle United (H) 30th: Manchester United (A)
December 2021 4th: Everton (A) 11th: Southampton (H) 14th: West Ham United (H) 18th: Leeds United (A) 26th: Norwich City (A) 28th: Wolverhampton Wanderers (H)
January 2022 1st: Manchester City (H) 15th: Tottenham Hotspur (A) 22nd: Burnley (H)
February 2022 8th: Wolverhampton Wanderers (A) 12th: Chelsea (A) 19th: Brentford (H) 26th: Liverpool (H)
March 2022 5th: Watford (A) 12th: Leicester City (H) 19th: Aston Villa (A)
April 2022 2nd: Crystal Palace (A) 9th: Brighton & Hove Albion (H) 16th: Southampton (A) 23rd: Manchester United (H) 30th: West Ham United (A)
May 2022 7th: Leeds United (H) 15th: Newcastle United (A) 22nd: Everton (H)
Arsenal have been announced as one of the 12 forming members of the European Super League, which was announced in a statement on Sunday evening.
A European Super League has been in the offing for a while now, with Europe’s top clubs having been disgruntled with the officiating from the top leagues, FIFA and UEFA for a while now.
The other founding members of the league are:
Arsenal released a statement late on Sunday revealing their part in the organisation of the league. In the statement, Arsenal announced their hope for discussions with the football governing bodies FIFA & UEFA in order to find an agreement.
What is the European Super League? The European Super League is a league that contains the biggest clubs in Europe for a mid-week competition, which is governed by the founding members of the league.
In a statement released by the European Super League, “a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable”.
How will the league work? In addition to the existing fifteen, there will be five other teams who will qualify for the league every season. The games will be played midweek in home and away fixtures, and are expected to replace the existing UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.
The league is expected to start in August, with teams playing in groups of ten, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals of the competition, while teams finishing in fourth and fifth will compete for the remaining quarter-final spots.
From there, a two-legged format will follow, which will then lead to a final in May played at a neutral venue.
It is also rumoured that the founding clubs will not be relegated from the league for a minimum of fifteen years.
Will Arsenal still be able to play in the Premier League? While the league’s founders have said that they plan to “…preserve the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the game”, FIFA, UEFA and the official domestic league bodies have said that this will not be the case.
In fact, the blowout from the creation of the league could cause significant ripples throughout football. If such a league were created, Arsenal, along with the other fourteen teams, could see themselves kicked out of the Premier League, the League Cup, the FA Cup, the Champions League and the Europa League, as well as any European Super Cup games and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Another significant issue, is that players playing their football at one of the fifteen clubs in the European Super League, could find themselves banned from playing in any international competitions as well and will be served lifetime bans.
Whether or not these threats are followed through, remains to be seen.
Why is this league being created? The somewhat precarious nature of the founding member’s finances in recent years have forced them into action. Also, the prospect of more money is far too alluring to turn down.
For many of the founding members, there are a number of financial issues. Barcelona and Real Madrid both find themselves in dire straits financially as a result of poor investments and the COVID-19 pandemic, Tottenham Hotspur have only recently begun playing in a new stadium estimated to cost them anywhere between £800m and £1bn and AC Milan are still clearing up the financial mess of their previous ownership.
The aforementioned COVID-19 pandemic has likely accelerated plans for the league as clubs are beginning to see their bottom line grow smaller and smaller with each passing season.
Outside of the usual financial reasons, the European elite’s issues with FIFA and UEFA has long been a point of contention, with the soon-to-be announced Champions League reforms reportedly upsetting many of the Super League’s founding members.
The prospect of controlling a league/knockout-format competition, with more money and the guarantee of no relegation for founding members within the first fifteen years or so is another tempting offer.
Do any clubs oppose the idea? Though there has been no official statement from any of the clubs talking about the idea, it is thought that Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain strongly oppose the idea. Borussia Dortmund also confirmed in a statement today that they too will not be taking part in the Super League.
Though neither club has released a statement or made any comment in the press about the idea, their unwillingness to join is shown by their absence in the founding members list, though they could be in the list of the unnamed three.
Who has spoken about it? The notoriously quiet Stan Kroenke has so far been unavailable for comment on the situation, however, Florentino Pérez, President of Real Madrid believes that the league “…will help football at every level”.
Joel Glazer of Manchester United has echoed Pérez’s statement and has spoken about the impact of wider financial support for the wider footballing pyramid.
Meanwhile, Andrea Agnelli, the Chairman of Juventus released a statement of his own speaking of the league’s importance and has resigned as Chairman of the ECA (European Club Association) and the UEFA Executive Committee.
What are the clubs doing? At the time of this article being published, there are no concrete reports of anything happening beyond the initial statements being made.
It has been reported that Liverpool are the first team to depart from the ECA, which would mean that they could no longer participate in the Champions League or Europa League, though this is still unconfirmed.
What does this mean for Arsenal’s Europa League? For now, Arsenal will continue their Europa League journey until either the competition ends or until Arsenal are knocked out, whichever happens first.
It was thought that Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, the only remaining English teams in European competitions this season, would no longer be permitted to complete their European exploits, however, it has since been announced by UEFA that they will be allowed to compete as normal.
How much would Arsenal make from the European Super League? While no figures have been formally announced, and likely won’t be, it is reported that the founding clubs will recieve around €3.5bn, which will be split among the fifteen clubs upon joining.
Now, it is unknown if this means that this will be €3.5bn each or if this will mean that the money will be divided equally. In this instance, Arsenal would likely be receiving €233,333,333 or £202,117,759.
Who is funding the league? Again, nothing formally has been announced by the league itself, but JP Morgan are the only people that have been mentioned in terms of the league’s finances.
JP Morgan will underwrite the league by debt financing and will then set this against any broadcast revenue in the future.
In fact, JP Morgan confirmed to Reuters this morning that they will be financing the Super League.
How will I be able to watch it? There have been a number of broadcast partner’s names bandied about at the moment, with no fixed answer revealed.
The rights for such a lucrative league will likely mean that companies such as BT Sport or Sky Sports will likely be priced out in the initial stages, however, the league may opt for a unified broadcaster, rather than splitting broadcasting among multiple companies.
It was thought that up and coming sports broadcaster and streaming service DAZN would be partnering with the league, however, DAZN have since distanced themselves from these reports, though an as yet unnamed global tech streaming giant could be announced soon.
What role will Stan Kroenke have in the league? The Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, dubbed “Silent Stan” by fans and press alike, is thought to be at the very heart of the discussions and seems to have been pushing this idea along wioth Liverpool’s John W Henry and Manchester United’s Joel Glazer.
As for Kroenke’s role, it is thought that Kroenke will be given a vice-chairman role along with Henry.
What will happen with Arsenal’s standing in the ECA? With Agnelli’s departure, it is thought that many others will either follow suit or be forcibly removed from their position for their role in the creation of the league.
Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s Chief Executive has, as of this morning, stepped down from his position on the ECA board. The move comes as something of a surprise, given that Venkatesham formally joined the ECA on the 8th of March 2021.
Is there no chance this can be sorted out? For now, the league seems fairly set in stone. The founding members have yet to formally discuss the proposals with FIFA, UEFA or their respective domestic leagues or FAs.
The resulting penalties may be enough to assuage the clubs from going through with the plan and the potential fan backlash.
The potential of losing star players may also affect the team’s decisions as well. Players like Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being unable to represent their national sides could well mean that the teams are unable to retain their top talent.
What does this mean for the players? The players have not been consulted over this decision. For Arsenal, Vinai Venkatesham will today address the Arsenal players and will field any questions that they have over the European Super League.
However, in a more shocking development, Aleksander Čeferin, the President of UEFA has today announced that any player who partakes in the Super League, will be banned from international competitions.
This would mean that players are therefore unable to play at the upcoming EUROs in the summer, while participation in the FIFA World Cup would likely be similar.
This would be a particularly large blow for players like Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka and Dani Ceballos, all of whom are expected to compete at the EUROs this summer.
Such an idea has long been in the offing, with discussions dating back as far as the late ’90s, however, things began to really kick off around the mid-2000s.
Twitter users were quick to point to yet another prophetic statement by erstwhile Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, who predicted the league’s formation in 2009, who believed that the league would be formed within the next ten years.
Though Wenger’s prophecy was perhaps only two years earlier than the reality, it is not tough to follow the Frenchman’s logic.
The Premier League has long been ahead in terms of financials, with the lucrative TV deals and the sponsorship deals often meaning that England has been well remunerated for the league’s premier talent.
The increasing frustrations with UEFA, who are expected to announce reforms to the Champions League for the start of the 2024/25 season, have finally worked as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
From here, it’s difficult to see what the next move is. The founding clubs seemingly hold all the cards with the league, as billions are expected to be spent on the league and the notion of dictating what does and what does not happen in their own league is a temptation that few are averse to.
On the flip-side, it’s difficult to see how the league can still go ahead. With clubs threatened with worldwide bans for football competitions and players looking at potential bans for international football, it could be very difficult for clubs to still go ahead with the idea.
Therein lies the problem. Can FIFA and UEFA realistically impose these sanctions on the clubs? The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) could well be forced to intervene.
The league’s formation has seen widespread condemnation, even Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer both strongly opposing the idea. Football fans seem to be divided on the idea, though the vast majority seem to be against the idea.
The formation of the league seems to be yet another example of the growing divide between football fans and the owners of the clubs. The league’s formation now means that football fans are expected to make long-haul trips in order to support their teams in the flesh, meanwhile other fans will likely have to pay premium bucks for a new streaming platform just to watch it.
It remains to be seen if this is just a power-play from the European elite or if the league is a reality, but one thing is for certain, this will get very bloody, very quickly.
With their abysmal league form proving to be a sombre reminder of just how far Mikel Arteta’s side still has to come, Arsenal can take some comfort from the fact that in cup competitions they are still going strong.
Though the quality of opposition in the Europa League is perhaps not as scintillating as it is in the Champions League or the Premier League, Arsenal still boast a healthy 100% win record in the competition this season and were still very much alive in the League Cup.
Having beaten Leicester City and Liverpool along the way, the next test of Arsenal’s steel was the visit of Manchester City, Arsenal’s first game at the Emirates Stadium in the competition.
There were a few surprises sprang in the lineup, with Cédric Soares, Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson and Sead Kolašinac all surprisingly given the nod while Gabriel Martinelli made his first start in over nine months.
Things did not start off well for Arsenal as they found themselves behind within two minutes. Terrible defending from Arsenal allowed Gabriel Jesus to head in Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross at the near-post. Shkodran Mustafi seemed unwilling to stick his neck out for the ball and Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson dived wildly anywhere but near the ball and City found themselves in front.
However, those thinking that goal would represent something of an opening of the proverbial floodgates were sadly mistaken. Though Arsenal seemingly blundered their way out of trouble for the most part, City never looked particularly likely to score again.
Arsenal’s best player on the night was clearly Gabriel Martinelli, the Brazilian youngster having recently returned from injury and who looked desperate to prove himself and show why he is one of Europe’s hottest talents and the Brazilian was a nuisance for City’s rather nervous defence.
Soon enough, the Brazilian found himself in a crossing position and though his initial cross was just about beaten away, Dani Ceballos soon managed to engineer the ball back to Martinelli who made no mistake with his second cross and Lacazette was there to head the ball in.
It looked as though Arsenal’s second-half tactic would be to contain City as much as possible, as they had done in the FA Cup semi-final last season and try and either grab a counter-attacking second goal or to try and take the game to penalties, as they had done at Liverpool in the previous round. However, these plans were scuppered when Martinelli, who had taken a pretty hefty blow in the first-half courtesy of Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffens, found himself unable to continue in the second-half and was withdrawn for Nicolas Pépé.
From there, Arsenal seemed to lose their shape and confidence, none more so than Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, who had looked shaky all game. The Icelandic summer signing fumbled an easy save from Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick and City found themselves in front once more and Arsenal looked totally at sea.
Shortly afterwards, Phil Foden found himself put through from an exquisite ball from Fernandinho and the England international dinked the ball over a grounded Rúnarsson and gave City a two-goal cushion. Though VAR might have ruled the goal out for offside, it was a very tight call for the assistant to make and Arsenal could have very few complaints as City began to run riot.
Poor defending from Arsenal following a short corner, found Phil Foden whipping in a sumptuous ball for Aymeric Laporte and the Frenchman headed in the final goal of the game. Arsenal looked glad as the final whistle blew.
Though Manchester City had thoroughly deserved their victory and had looked the better side throughout the game, the scoreline was perhaps a little flattering. Rúnarsson’s fumble had gifted them their second goal and the third was, however infinitesimal, offside. However, City had dominated and bowed out as deserved winners on the night.
For Mikel Arteta, there were negatives and positives to draw from.
From the negative standpoints, Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson’s performance was a very distinct cause for concern. The Icelandic goalkeeper looked as though he struggled with the concept of playing-out-from-the-back or indeed generally having the ball at your feet and regularly seemed to be at odds with his defenders as to where the ball should be sent to. His fumble for Mahrez’s goal did little to aid his confidence and despite an impressive earlier save, it was difficult to see Rúnarsson as anything other than a very average goalkeeper flailing his arms around wildly in the hope he may connect to something whenever an attack was formed.
Elsewhere, the performance of Shkodran Mustafi was likely to raise eyebrows too. With rumours swirling that Mikel Arteta had been keen to extend the German’s stay in North London (Mustafi’s contract runs out at the end of the season), Arsenal fans have every right to question why the Spaniard was so keen for Mustafi to remain with him.
Mustafi’s performances since signing in 2016 have been fairly controversial for Arsenal fans anyway – capable of brilliant tackles and slide-rule passes one minute and then capable of utterly losing his head and struggling with even basic-level understanding of defending the next – however, his performance last night will lead many to wonder just what Mikel Arteta sees in the German defender that would merit entertaining the possibility of retaining his services.
However, the performance of Gabriel Martinelli was sure to be a boost for Mikel Arteta as his attentions turn to Chelsea, whom Arsenal host on Boxing Day. Martinelli was a handful for City all evening and they seemed utterly incapable of containing him and his withdrawal at the beginning of the second-half was a sign of how impressive Martinelli is, that Arsenal are relying on a 19-year-old boy to carry their hopes forward.
Though his injury looked extremely painful, the Brazilian looks to be okay for Saturday’s visit of Chelsea and Arsenal fans will hope that he can deliver in the same way as he did at Stamford Bridge last season and all Arsenal fans will be hoping that they can sort their league form out before things become too drastic.
Arsenal team: 13.) Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson 17.) Cédric Soares 20.) Shkodran Mustafi 6.) Gabriel Magalhães 31.) Sead Kolašinac 15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles 25.) Mohamed Elneny (Smith-Rowe 66’) 8.) Dani Ceballos 28.) Joe Willock 35.) Gabriel Martinelli (Pépé 49’) 9.) Alexandre Lacazette (Balogun 77’)
Arsenal subs: 1.) Bernd Leno 22.) Pablo Marí 3.) Kieran Tierney 32.) Emile Smith-Rowe 19.) Nicolas Pépé 30.) Eddie Nketiah 38.) Folarian Balogun
Manchester City team: 13.) Zack Steffen 27.) João Cancelo 3.) Rúben Dias 14.) Aymeric Laporte 11.) Oleksandr Zinchenko 16.) Rodri (Walker 77’) 25.) Fernandinho (c) 26.) Riyad Mahrez 20.) Bernardo Silva (Torres 70’) 47.) Phil Foden 9.) Gabriel Jesus (Agüero 74’)
Manchester City subs: 31.) Ederson 5.) John Stones 2.) Kyle Walker 8.) İlkay Gündoğan 7.) Raheem Sterling 21.) Ferran Torres 10.) Sergio Agüero
In fact, both Jürgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta are likely sick of the sight each other right now, having played each other four times in the past twelve weeks, with last night thankfully bringing an end to the constant fixture match-up for 2020.
Mikel Arteta made eight changes from the team that was comprehensively beaten on Monday night, with Granit Xhaka being restored as Arsenal captain a full 340 days after his on-pitch meltdown during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in the final days of Unai Emery’s reign.
Arsenal started off in much better fashion than they had in their previous meeting, with Arsenal identifying the weak spot in Liverpool’s defence being Neco Williams, which allowed them to exploit Nicolas Pépé’s pace down Liverpool’s right-hand side.
From there, Arsenal began to wreak havoc on the Wales international, but the Gunners failed to take their chances, with Eddie Nketiah coming closest, but a moment’s hesitation from the usually deadly centre-forward led to Adrián recovering quick enough to tighten the angle.
Liverpool had plenty of chances as well, mainly from corners, however, the best chance of the half fell to the home side. Williams’ wonderful ball into the box fell to new signing Diogo Jota, who’s headed effort was acrobatically kept out by Bernd Leno, only for the ball to fall to Takumi Minamino who managed to rattle the crossbar, despite the open goal. It seemed as though the ball had fallen too quickly for the Japanese international to convert.
The second-half told a different story. Liverpool asserted their dominance and forced some spectacular saves from Bernd Leno, who seemed to be the only thing keeping Arsenal in the game. Leno had come under fire in the wake of Emiliano Martínez’s move to Aston Villa, however, the German proved why Mikel Arteta was right to trust in the former Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper.
Soon Arsenal began to venture forward more, with Rob Holding coming the closes to scoring, forcing an impressive save from Adrián. The game was not without controversy however as Arsenal’s claims for a penalty were waved away by Paul Tierney after James Milner’s handball.
Unable to find a winner after 90 minutes, penalties beckoned. James Milner, Alexandre Lacazette, Georginio Wijnaldum, Cédric Soares and Minamino all managed to convert their penalties, before Mohamed Elneny and Divock Origi missed. Further penalties followed before Joe Willock’s penalty crept in under Adrián, a hammer-blow for the goalkeeper who had gotten a hand to the shot and had had an overall impressive game for the homeside. Willock’s effort and Leno’s heroics meant Arsenal progressed to the quarter-finals.
Though the result favours Arsenal, the performance would likely not have impressed Mikel Arteta. Though a second-string team can be forgiven for not dominating possession, sloppy play in midfield led to Liverpool creating far too many chances and were it not for Leno’s heroics, Arsenal would likely have been resoundly beaten.
The performance seemed to be indicative of previous wins against Liverpool; Liverpool dominate and fail to take their chances, Arsenal take theirs and hang on for dear life.
Arsenal won’t be too upset with the result however, as Mikel Arteta extends to an impressive 75% win rate over Liverpool since taking charge in December.
For now, the attention for Arsenal is on their upcoming match against Sheffield United and the remaining three days of the Transfer Window, as a quarter-final tie against Manchester City in December beckons.
Liverpool penalties: ⚽️⚽️⚽️❎⚽️❎ Arsenal penalties: ⚽️⚽️❎⚽️⚽️⚽️
Arsenal team: 1.) Bernd Leno 17.) Cédric Soares 16.) Rob Holding 6.) Gabriel Magalhães 31.) Sead Kolašinac 34.) Granit Xhaka (c) 28.) Joe Willock 8.) Dani Ceballos (Elneny 68′) 19.) Nicolas Pépé 7.) Bukayo Saka (Maitland-Niles 86′) 30.) Eddie Nketiah (Lacazette 82′)
Arsenal subs: 13.) Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson 23.) David Luiz 3.) Kieran Tierney 15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles 25.) Mohamed Elneny 24.) Reiss Nelson 9.) Alexandre Lacazette
Liverpool team: 13.) Adrián 76.) Neco Williams 46.) Rhys Williams 4.) Virgil van Dijk (Gomez 61′) 7.) James Milner (c) 16.) Marko Grujić 17.) Curtis Jones 59.) Harry Wilson 20.) Diogo Jota (Wijnaldum 76′) 11.) Mohamed Salah (Origi 61′) 18.) Takumi Minamino
Liverpool subs: 62.) Caoimhín Kelleher 12.) Joe Gomez 26.) Andy Robertson 3.) Fabinho 5.) Georgino Wijnaldum 67.) Harvey Elliott 27.) Divock Origi
The Carabao Cup, or League Cup as it is more commonly known, has surprisingly alluded Arsenal since 1993 and was one of the few trophies that surprisingly escaped the clutches of Arsène Wenger.
For Arsenal fans, the League Cup has presented a great chance for Arsenal to introduce many a youngster to the fans, with players such as Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Gabriel Martinelli making their marks in the competition over the years.
This year, Arsenal may perhaps need a bolder look at the competition. Though the trophy is likely fairly low on the list of priorities for Mikel Arteta and his side, the lure of wrapping a piece of silverware by February is a difficult proposition to turn down.
Arsenal’s trips to the King Power Stadium over the years have been fairly joyless affairs, with Arsenal failing to win at the stadium since 2015, in which an Alexis Sánchez hat-trick secured Arsenal all three points in the Premier League.
Arsenal started well in Leicester, with academy products Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka wreaking havoc on the Leicester City defence. While Sead Kolašinac was positioned as the left-footed central defender in Arsenal’s back three, the Bosnian was given ample license to bomb forward and provide support for the Arsenal attack and to drop back into midfield in times of transition.
Arsenal created a few opportunities early on; Saka can feel aggrieved that he was not awarded a penalty after Daniel Amartey’s clumsy challenge when unnoticed by the referee, who also did not have the benefit of VAR. Saka also fired a wicked ball across the six-yard area, which alluded in the onrushing Nelson and Joe Willock.
Despite Arsenal’s dominance, it was Leicester who came the closest, with James Maddison collecting the ball and firing a spectacular effort onto the post, which was gratefully collected by Bernd Leno.
In the second-half, chances were few and far between in the early stages as both sides struggled to gain a real foothold in the game. Many of Leicester’s efforts were fired over the bar, before Arsenal broke forward with Nicolas Pépé.
The Ivorian did well to break into the box, but his somewhat tame right-footed shot was saved by Danny Ward, however, Pépé was quick to the rebound, which cannoned off the post and ricocheted in off Christian Fuchs to give Arsenal a not entirely undeserved 0-1 lead.
From there, Leicester did very little to threaten Bernd Leno, until the introduction of former Newcastle player Ayoze Pérez. A beautifully whipped in free-kick by Maddison was met by Pérez who inexplicably fired his header wide from close-range.
With Pérez’s miss, Arsenal set about punishing Leicester for their lack of composure and while it had looked like Arsenal were happy with time-wasting football in the corner, the illusion was broken after Héctor Bellerín broke forward with pace and power into the Leicester box, before slipping the ball through for Nketiah, who after a desperate struggle and admittedly very poor goalkeeping from Ward, was able to poke the ball into the back of the net and double Arsenal’s lead just before the final whistle blew.
It was an assured and composed performance from Arsenal’s largely inexperienced side, with Arsenal’s Hale End graduates working well to preserve Mikel Arteta’s unbeaten record in domestic cup competitions.
The main talking points will likely be reserved for Reiss Nelson, who’s performance impressed the most. Nelson proved too much to handle on the left-wing for Leicester and combined well with Kolašinac and Saka, though the youngster’s finishing left a lot to be desired. Though Nelson’s creativity was essential for most of Arsenal’s attacks, there was a definite show of wastefulness from the 20-year-old.
Mikel Arteta has reportedly made Nelson available for loan and although last night’s performance had lots of positives, it was made abundantly clear that the youngster is in desperate need of another loan move to gain more experience.
As for the team performance, it was a definite improvement on their slippery win over David Moyes’ West Ham, but with elements that are to be expected of a makeshift, second-string side. Mohamed Elneny was particularly sloppy in midfield and the usual youthful ignorance that tends to plague most fouls was to be expected of players like Joe Willock, but for Mikel Arteta, there was a lot to be excited about and plenty to work on as Arsenal comfortably book their place in round four.
Arsenal team: 1.) Bernd Leno 15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles 16.) Rob Holding 23.) David Luiz 31.) Sead Kolašinac 7.) Bukayo Saka (Bellerín 87′) 25.) Mohamed Elneny 28.) Joe Willock (Ceballos 78′) 19.) Nicolas Pépé 24.) Reiss Nelson (Willian 72′) 30.) Eddie Nketiah
Arsenal subs: 13.) Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson 4.) William Saliba 2.) Héctor Bellerín 34.) Granit Xhaka 8.) Dani Ceballos 12.) Willian 9.) Alexandre Lacazette
Leicester City team: 12.) Danny Ward 18.) Daniel Amartey 5.) Wes Morgan (c) 28.) Christian Fuchs 11.) Marc Albrighton 20.) Hamza Choudhury 32.) Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Pérez 76′) 33.) Luke Thomas 7.) Demari Gray 10.) James Maddison (Praet 72′) 14.) Kelechi Iheanacho