Arsenal get kicked by Everton in a pre-season friendly

Arteta’s Arsenal outclassed Frank Lampard’s Everton, pressing them into turnovers and turning them into a Stoke on Merseyside for 90 minutes. Right from kickoff Everton’s game was dismantled by the Arsenal press with Arteta’s men hounding Everton every time they tried to play the ball out the back.

Barracuda swim in schools, called a “Battery”. A Battery of Barracuda is one of the most fearsome predators in the ocean.

Arsenal’s press was perfectly organized, with the players moving like a battery of Barracuda, as if they were all of one mind. Gabriel Jesus led that press, the point player who closed down on Everton’s defenders to spring Arsenal’s traps. It’s a subtle thing and could have been lost on the terrible quality of my stream (which I paid $7.50 for from but the angles Jesus took up in his pressure were key to making the entire press work properly. It was a joy to watch Arsenal press that way.

And the pressure paid dividends almost immediately, as Everton were trapped time and again and forced into poor passing decisions. In the 14th minute Jesus nearly scored after the Arsenal pressure led someone (I couldn’t tell who because my stream was so atrocious) to literally just pass the ball to the top of the 18 yard box. Jesus picked the ball up and crushed a shot at the far post, forcing a huge save from Pickford. From the ensuing corner, Xhaka won a header and flicked on to the far post and found Jesus lurking. Jesus’ diving header was just an inch off target and crashed off the post (I think, I couldn’t see clearly since the arsenal stream was almost literally useless).

Everton responded with some longball play and a lot of kicking. The kicker in chief was once again Ben Godfrey. You might remember that he’s the guy who stepped on Tomiyasu’s face. Well, in this match he took it on himself to just run around kicking and elbowing players. Honestly, and I hate to say this because I’ve always had a soft spot for Everton supporters, if they are going to play like Stoke I hope they get relegated. There is literally no place in modern football for these caveman tactics.

Arsenal struck first from a corner (apparently we are still good at corners) as Jesus took one silky touch to control the ball and blast it into the roof of the net. Watching Pickford flap at the cross and fall over was delightful.

A minute later Arsenal had the ball again and this time Gabriel played an wonderful line-breaking pass 40 yards up the pitch to Gabriel who turned and drove at the Everton defense. This time he played an outside the boot pass intended for Gabriel (which would have given us our first triple Gabriel) but instead it just plopped across the dogshit Everton defense and landed at Bukayo Saka’s feet where the young Englishman just punched the ball in from 1 yard out.

From there on out it was an easy match for Arsenal. Plenty of changes at half time and a few half chances in the second half but the result was never really in doubt. Two first half goals from Jesus and Saka gave Arsenal the win over an Everton side that resorted to snide fouling and rough play from the start because they were simply outclassed.

For me the highlights of the match were that we got to see Jesus play and a preview of how Arsenal might set up this season: high press with lots of verticality from the back. Both center backs (Gabriel and Saliba) played long, line-breaking, passes along the ground to forwards. And both Arsenal center backs showed awareness and speed to catch up to Everton’s attempts to beat them over the top.

If this is the way we are going to play this season – a hybrid of Wengerball from 2007 where we actually press high – then I am very much up for it. However, it is a pre-season friendly, so I probably should cool my jets.

On the transfer front, it looks like Arsenal are set to pick up Oleksandr Volodymyrovych Zinchenko from Man City for a fee in the £30m range. I’m a huge fan of Zin, I think he’s a wonderful option to have as both a left back and also a player who is a very capable midfielder. I’ve watched him a lot since he signed for City and I think you all will be stunned by his technical ability and touch.

Arsenal are also linked to Paqueta and if we manage to land him it’s a huge signing. He’s 5’11” and weighs 160lbs, so he’s no slip of a lad. And again, having watched him play for Lyon I can tell you that he’s immensely talented, two footed, and would be an all star addition to Arsenal’s midfield. He would easily start over Xhaka in my mind. I know he mainly played on the right for Lyon and in a more advanced role but he’s a high-pressure type midfielder who has a pretty good tackle in his locker. If the interest is real, I suspect that he’s being targeted to play in either or both of the LCM (Xhaka) or RAM (Odegaard) positions. And given that Xhaka played very high up the pitch last season on the left, I think that suits Paqueta perfectly. But let’s not get too excited here. Lyon are notoriously tough negotiators and I’ve also seen Arsenal linked to Artur Melo again and we could get him instead, which would be a huge letdown.



  1. It’s surprising to hear the Arsenal stream was so crappy. I have to admit to feeling a little guilty for making zero financial contribution these days to the Club I love, but the illegal streams I tap into are usually crystal clear, and the Khazakstanian commentators are actually better than their American counterparts even when I can’t understand a word. Besides, after stealing all that change from my mum’s purse to pay my 2/6 to get into the North Bank back in the day, I feel I’ve paid my dues. Or my mum has, at any rate…

    1. I emailed them my disappointment and their response was some canned thing that looks like a receipt.

      1. i paid for their crappy stream, too. i don’t know why i didn’t go on everton’s website to see if they streamed the game. i did that for the nürnberg game; arsenal are thieves but i was an idiot. btw, it was xhaka’s header from the corner that his the far post with jesus missing the follow up with a stooping header hitting the side netting.

  2. Wow, a 7amkickoff blog by Tim, covering a match that we won play very well & rounded off by some transfer news. What more can one ask for, for a sun.

    Awesome, thank you!

  3. I’ve missed ur posts, first time commenter, U’re a gifted writer… I enjoy ur blogs like I enjoy my favorite food… Thanks for all you do

  4. Sorry to hear the stream sucked. I was lucky enough to go last night with my wife, 2 of my teenagers, and a friend. It was a long day because we started it coming back from a week at the beach in Nagshead, NC, and didn’t get home until after midnight, but it was worth it for sure. Lots of Arsenal fans, as you’d expect, and we were in decent voice given the difficulty to get chants and songs going in a US stadium.
    We were central and in the low part of upper deck which was great to see how the team setup and positioned. It was interesting to watch Jesus and Martinelli swap position frequently. There were also times when Xhaka and Odegard did the same. Jesus’s work rate is incredible and so welcome – e.g. when playing left wing, he chased back repeatedly to break up Everton on their few forays into our half. Our coordinated press was fantastic to watch. Especially in stark contrast to Everton’s lack of any coordination. All the offered were long balls which were gobbled up by Gabriel and Saliba.
    Everton did have more of the game in second half with all the changes but never really threatened. It was interesting to watch us transition to the back 3 when Holding was brought on. And then later went back to back 4 with Mari coming on.
    Its been so great to rediscover the joy of Arsenal over the last year and I am beyond excited for the coming season with our increased goal threat and hopefully more additions.

  5. You need the FotMob app. FotMob listed Stadium TV for viewing the match. I logged into their website, easy peasy, free and not a single interruption. Roku TV also has the Stadium TV feed in it, if you have Roku.
    All this is old news, but why Arsenal charged and provided a crap feed, when even the Everton website was supposedly streaming it for free.

  6. I had the same issues with the stream dropping out during play (appx six times) and it seems at the same times as you did Tim. Also contacted the club and await a response from them.

  7. Excellent offering, Tim.

    You know what else are organized into batteries?


    ‘Nuff said. As you were.

  8. i tell you what, gabi jesus has already exceeded my expectations.

    i was very impressed with the press. it looked very much like my press, which i stole from klopp when he was at dortmund. the coaching staff has either changed their press or come up with a more comprehensive way to explain how it’s done. regardless, big up to them for making the necessary changes. the front three had clear instructions while the midfield did an amazing job denying everton easy passing options in midfield. once again, well done.

    the crowd seemed amazing as well. all in all, a fantastic match. i’m considering going to the chelsea game in orlando. we’ll see.

  9. I’m happy to see such a positive vibe from the match report. I didn’t watch the game. I refuse to pay Arsenal for pre season matches on principle and while I could have hunted around for streams it was the middle of the night and I prioritized sleep over a meaningless game.

    Arteta seems to have Frank Lampard’s number and it may not be the same with other opponents would be my only dampener to the excitement on the blog but like I said, I’m loving it. I can’t wait for the season to begin.

  10. Yeah even the full length replay of the first half was atrocious video quality. The second half was better.

    In terms of the football, I second all of that. I think preseason is weirdly important from the perspective of individual players. This is the chance for fringe players to show the boss how much they want to be a part of things. While I loved the cohesive football in the first half, I was equally interested to see who would step up in the second. I was a little disappointed but not surprised that nobody really took their chance to impress, except Nketiah who has pushed his game to a new level. I didn’t see anything from Nelson, AMN, Mari, Pepe or Bellerin to suggest that they would push their way into an important role in this squad. Torreira didn’t even get on. Pepe is still talented and productive enough that he will contribute if we don’t manage to sell him, but I got the feeling that a lot of these guys don’t really want to be here. Bellerin especially was a husk of his former self. The technique is still there but the desire and the physicality are gone. It’s dumbfounding because he should be in the prime of his career now but he looks and plays like a 35 year old. Seemed odd to give him so many minutes over what could have been valuable reps for an academy player.

    My chief concern is still our dependence on the PARKA midfield, although the Zinchenko transfer helps with that. The gulf in class between Thomas and ElNeny or Lokonga remains abyssal, and that deep midfield role is so so crucial to making it all work. With the premium we are paying to ensure we have quality alternates for the likes of Odegaard, Ramsdale and Tierney, I’m kind of surprised that the club feel ok with ElNeny as the deputy there. I’m guessing Zinchenko usurps that alternate role from Mo? Does he also back up Xhaka in the LM role?

    The depth chart is staking shape… this is my interpretation with the length of the lines between players meant to depict my assessment of the gap in quality between them. For example at this point I view Ben White and Saliba as neck and neck, but Rob Holding is comfortably behind both of them.

    GK Rambo, ——Turner, ——————Okongwa

    RB Tomi, ———Soares, Ben White, ———-AMN

    CB (2) Gabriel, —- Ben White, Saliba, ———Holding, ——— Mari

    LB Tierney, Zinchenko,————— Tavares

    DCM Thomas, —— Zinchenko, ———-ElNeny,—— Lokonga

    RAM Odegaard, ——-Fabio, ESR

    LM Xhaka, Zinchenko?, ———————Maitland-Niles, Lokonga

    WING (2) Saka, ———Martinelli, ESR, ——Pepe, ———————Marquinhos, Nelson

    CF Jesus,———- Nketiah, —————- Balogun

  11. Great post Tim. I did not watch the game and can only make judgements based on what you wrote and what is said in the comment section. That said it sounds like we really looked good.

    Its certainly not a coincidence the more money we spend and the more good players we purchase our ability to execute dramatically improves and we can play the type of football we as fans and the clubs management wished we could have played for the first couple seasons Arteta was in charge. When you have to start a complete rebuild from scratch the first thing before you can bring in a lot of new players is to is move out the players who are not part of the long term plan. There will always be mistakes and some churning of players and it takes time and results will almost inevitably suffer early in the process. The managers ability to create the type of aggressive pressing and attacking game plans he and we want is limited by the ability of the players in his squad to execute those game plans and any manager will look a lot smarter when he has better players.

    1. More and more I find fans treating players as mere chess pieces. Unfortunately this is a consequence of how many managers tend to see the game too. All in my opinion of course.

      Personally I think Arteta has improved since he first came in rather than the players then letting him down. If anything the opposite is true. Spending money on players has raised the floor of the squad maybe. But the true test will be if the manager can raise their ceiling. So far i feel like he holds them back from their true level because he’s too rigid about his plans. Until he can let the players rule the field I’m not hopeful we will see the best from our players and instead will keep finding blame among them.

      But he has improved. He’s got nearly a 100 PL games under his belt now. Maybe he will improve in this regard too.

    2. nah. the press is not complicated. it’s a matter of either arteta has changed the way the team presses or he’s explained more comprehensively what the player’s roles are in the press. needing better players to do something as simple as a press is nonsense; there are no special skills require. in fact, the only players that did that press in the first half that haven’t been at the club for at least 1.5 seasons is g. jesus.

  12. Hello Shard, I’m pretty sure I’ve got a good handle on your Arsenal takes these days, but would be genuinely interested in your Russia/Ukraine takes, considering you were sort of Putin’s apologist around these parts.

    I know this is a football blog primarily but hopefully Tim won’t mind.

    1. I appreciate the ‘sort of’ there.

      I’m not an apologist for anyone with the power of the state behind them. I just don’t think it’s entirely accurate to portray him and the Russian State the way he and it is. It’s also probably not accurate to portray him the way he is in Russia either and if I spoke Russian or had that discussion with someone making him an angel I’d probably be called an apologist for the West.

      What is the point of the discussion and what is meant to be achieved?

      I have friends in the donbass who told me their situation something like 7 years ago and since. You probably won’t like hearing what I have to say about what led up to this war.

      I’d also argue that since there’s this demand and expectation that Russia be excluded from all sport, polite society and so on just shows the rest of the world how we’re seen by the architects of the ‘rules based international order’.

      Lastly, I’m currently far more concerned about what’s happening in my country and honestly, the world should be too. But we’re probably more useful as a counter to China than anything else and so we’ll end up fair game for someone or the other like the people of Ukraine.

      1. “What is the point of the discussion and what is meant to be achieved?”

        I consider myself openminded and always willing to consider counter arguments and a different point of view.

        Do you still believe Russia is a democracy with a functioning parliament ?

        1. Tom, I generally don’t mind off topic conversations but this question seems awfully pointed. Maybe you two can get together offline and hash this out?

  13. Doc nails it, on Bellerin, and on others not looking like they wanted to be there. Spot on, sir. This is weird thing about the pre-season. Some fellas are the departure lounge, and they and the rest of the know it. Must cause a weird vibe, on and off the field.

    Jesus looks like he will be huge (not for the first time in recorded history). He’s got a hunger that I’m loving. Eddie is looking sharp. His turns, off a close marking defender, sometimes left his man for dead. Looks like he’ll play centrally off the shoulder of the last man, Jesus will have the freedom of the front line, and there will be runners everywhere across the forward line. We dont have a Mesut level player to orchestrate it, but Im a fan of Ode (sorry, Shard my bro 🙂) and it sure looks like it will be fun. Someone will lose out. Im intrigued about Emile’s place in all of this; although he’s done some conditioning and toning, and looks to be in great shape.

    You know who was terrific in that game? Elneny. Spraying passes OTT, showing for the ball out of D, surging into the space… we already know that he likes a pop from long distance. You probably know by now that Im not a fan, but when presented with evidence of something, Im happy to change my mind and my position. On the (admittedly small and inconclusive) evidence of this game, he looks ready to play a positive role. Looks like contract security has freed his mind.

    Know who also looked terrific? Saliba. Game reading, speed, marking. Few will beat him in a foot race when playing a high line, and few will pass him with ball at feet. Again on limited and early evidence, he is our best CB.

    Want to see more of Matt Turner and Marquinhos. Did not reassure me at all on first viewing. Goalies are great shot stoppers, great distributors or both. Turner, on the early evidence, doesnt look like either. Can I say again, “early and inconclusive?” Not every player makes you sit up and rub your eyes at first viewing.

    Oh, btw… the trailers are out for the Amazon fly-on-the-wall doc of the past season. And while these things are distillations and summaries of much bigger wholes and can tell whichever storyline it chooses to, there are too many clips for my liking of Arteta losing his temper. Of pashun. Can’t wait to watch it. Please note my fat caveat in there, about how documentaries go.

    1. I have notes on Saliba’s games last season. I should coolate them and publish an article.

      1. I seem to remember that you shared some with us. He’d not perfect or the finished article. Who is? He’ll make mistakes. All our defenders did last season. But the man is a Porsche of a player. Im getting Koscielny vibes.

        1. ha! i remember we had a chat at the end of last season when ben white scored an own goal. there was a position white was supposed to take up but got their too slow. when the ball came in, white had to reach for the ball and put it past the keeper. fast forward a few weeks later, i’m watching france against someone and it’s the very end of the game with france either tied or with a single goal lead. saliba has to rotate over in a similar predicament. he sprints to the spot and the opposition attacker has to play a much more difficult ball that simply goes out for a france goal kick. i, immediately, thought about ben white failing to get to that spot against newcastle. we’ll see.

          1. Good obs, Josh, I am staying free of directly comparing White and Saliba. That’s going down the AKB/AOB road. If you watch football long enough (and you have, along with your coaching chops) you can see a player’s quality almost instantly. We’ll be well served by having both of them. Ben has a full season under his belt, and will be a better player. If he can anticipate gathering danger more and be less reactive, he’d be a much better player. He’s already a pretty good one.

            Here’s an interesting tidbit… Lisando is 5’8″. To me, ArtEdu were looking for someone to match Tierney for quality, not to understudy, because I cant see how he plays as Gabriel’s alternate LCB in the premier league.

            Zinc means we keep Rob Holding, because Zinc’s alt position is midfield, not LCB. We’re OK on the right side of defence, because White and Saliba can play in either position (and cover for Tomi in a pinch), and we also have Cedric, not shabby for a 4th choice.

  14. I could very easily see a Saliba/Gabriel pairing being our starting CBs. And White being the backup, and perhaps also a backup CDM. Seems a shame to have paid that much to shift him to backup, but on the evidence so far, Saliba is better.

    1. I would temper that a bit: based on the games I watched last season, Saliba has the higher ceiling and it’s very close but Ben White is the better player right now. And I base that largely off the errors that Saliba makes.

      1. i agree with that as well; ben white is a little more refined and makes fewer errors. he has this quality that emmanuel eboue used to have where he believes his speed can bail him out of many poor decisions. my agreement with slc is about how much arsenal paid for ben white when they already had saliba on the books.

        1. Saliba is going to be central defence mainstay for France. White (who is a good player), isn’t going to be a defensive mainstay for England. Theyre both good athletes. I like having them both. I hope all 4 or 5 CBs get a fair shot at starting, based on what they show the coaches.

          Mistakes? Unless hard stats show otherwise, that’s certainly not an area I’d give BW any edge. Darn, I watched most of our matches last season. The one big chink in his game is that he doesn’t read the play, and throws himself into last ditch tackles a lot. His mistakes are mainly around defensive positioning and tracking runs. I like Ben White, but don’t agree at all that he is “a little more refined”. If he was, he’d be a little less Greg Louganis, and a little more VvD.

          But hey, every defender makes mistakes. As Alan Hansen used to say, if you don’t have defensive mistakes, you won’t have goals.

  15. shard, you hit the nail on the head. arteta is better now than when he first got to the club. but he had zero experience so that’s kind of a “duh”. we should still acknowledge the fact that he’s getting better; we’ve both given him plenty of smoke. his learning curve has been steep but it’s shallowing.

    claude, i don’t agree with yours and doc’s assertion that the players look disinterested. it’s in their best interest to be at their best at all times. even if they’re not in arsenal’s plans, potential coaches and scouts are watching. it’s a testament to their quality. i’ve never seen the hype around hector, even before the injury. what i do agree with you about is elneny. people forget he only cost the club £5 million. likewise, he loves the club and is happy with a place on the bench. he’s good enough to start for lots of other clubs. who can you bring in that has mo’s quality for £5 mil? elneny is the reason arsenal didn’t need arthur from juventus back in january.

    where i agree with doc goes to a post he made last week about the arsenal transfers. shard touched on it higher up and it’s the way i felt when i read doc’s post; edu and arteta are raising the floor of the team. josh kroenke has big belief that arteta can make arsenal like man city, which is they have fierce competition for just about every place in the team. last summer, it was £30 million for odegaard. this summer, it’s £30 million for fabio. that’s a lot of money for backups. who’s the starter? the same for zinchenko.

    i believe this is an edu thing. many former players have talked about how the invincible’s training sessions were often more intense and competitive than the games. if arteta can create a competitive enough atmosphere with players of similarly high levels competing for the start on match day, that leads to better training sessions and raises the floor even higher.

    but will arteta do that? for instance, if it were me, i would have gone to pepe and said to him quietly, “why is bukayo taking all of your minutes? can you move that mf’er to the bench?” that’s a challenge to his manhood. if pepe steps up, i give him minutes. if he plays well, i give him a start…then i go to bukayo and say “dude, what happened to you? nico’s taking all of your minutes.” the cycle continues. as a coach, i’ve done that so many times. young men have egos and accept the challenge. i had one lose his spot and quit; what a puss. bottom line, if arsenal can create a situation where the training sessions are harder than games, we’ll have a good thing going.

    1. despite the talk about raising the floor, i believe sergej milinkovic-savic raises the ceiling. imagine a midfield of partey, milinkovic-savic, and odegaard. that’s got potential to be terrifying. just think coqzorla/ozil. it could probably be better than that. we’ll see if it happens.

      1. I was reading over on Arseblog that nobody knows where those links came from. It doesn’t sound like our interest in him is real.

        1. I follow a fair bit of Italian football and feel very strongly that any talk of Milinković-Savić to Arsenal is his agent. I think his agent does this every year.

  16. On Zinchenko this Pep interview is interesting:

    Sees him best as a mid although he played him at FB. The City fans I know are sad to see him go but say if he has a weakness it’s defensively.

    He’s one of very few examples of a low cost youngster breaking through at City which speaks to his tenacity. Doesn’t get injured much.

    Oh and Everton are f**ked next season playing like that. Bet FF gets the first taxi.

  17. There was a lot of speculation on what happened with Saliba and why he was loaned out without being given much of a chance to play any first team minutes. A lot of the speculation that I recall centered around Arteta having issues and just not liking him not wanting him around. I also remember a lot of commenters suggesting that Arteta would never let Saliba play for Arsenal and Saliba would never come back because his pal Guendouzi would be telling him to stay away. I think all of that negative speculation was way off base.

    Much simpler explanation is our front office felt like he was very young and needed time to mature before they threw him into the meat grinder that can be the PL. You could make an argument that we should have brought him back last year but his performances last season certainly indicate the extra season in France did him a world of good and I think the strategy that we used could pay off in a big way over the long term. I think it was certainly much better for his long term development and the long term outlook for our club to bring him back 1 year too late rather then 1 year too soon.

  18. There are a couple comments about whether the money we have spent and the players we have acquired raise our floor or our ceiling but I think the reality is getting better players raises both. I believe if you look at the group of teams which consistently finish in their leagues CL spots and look at which clubs in their league consistently spend the most money there would be a very very high positive correlation. Obviously there will be clubs that spend a lot and don’t succeed but I think its 100% certain the single most influential thing any club can do to improve its chances of success are spending a lot of money and acquiring the best possible players.

    I think our front office deserves a lot of credit for the way they have handled this several year rebuilding process. They stuck with the plan and looked to the long term despite a couple of 8th place finishes and a lot impatience from a segment of the fan base. A few mistakes were inevitable but overall I think they have taken a club which clearly headed the wrong way in almost every aspect when Emery was sacked and turned it around to the point where there is legitimate reason for optimism.

    Like it or not I think the Kronke’s deserve some credit also. They recognized that it was going to take time and lot of money needed to be spent but it certainly looks like they have been willing to work with our football people and give them the support they needed while the process moved forward.

  19. Bill, that last point is a very good one. I don’t think many of us would have expected this level of spending from the Kroenkes 2 or 3 years back. To the extent we’d have likely made a John Henry esque comment to anyone who suggested this would happen.

    Never mind the cash outlay, for context we have just purchased two first team players from Man City, both of whom are approaching their prime. That’s some outstanding business, irrespective of their contract situations etc.

    1. Absolutely no one anticipated the investment Kroenkes have made and hats off to them for that. I also like that the spending is targeted and it’s clear to see the squad building plan. That’s been absent for some time.

      I think the Kroenkes speculate that the Super League will come to fruition soonish and Arsenal need to be in the mix as a credible participant rather than whipping boy. Nothing like a bit of FOMO to grease the wheels.

  20. This is shaping up to be the best transfer window we’ve had in like 15 years. Didn’t expect it, love it.

  21. Josh @ 9:11AM on 7/19/22

    “the press is not complicated. it’s a matter of either arteta has changed the way the team presses or he’s explained more comprehensively what the player’s roles are in the press. needing better players to do something as simple as a press is nonsense; there are no special skills require.”

    Josh. If its that easy to press and you could do it with any group of players no matter the skill level then why doesn’t every manager in the PL from top to bottom in the league just copy what Klopp or Pep do. Every manager in the England has access to hundreds of hours of film and they have scouts that can figure out how Pep or Klopp press but none can match the success because their players are not as good.

    I think Arteta spent 4 years working directly with Pep and he was probably involved with several hundred training sessions and probably several thousand hours of film review. One thing he definitely would have known how to do when he first arrived at Arsenal was how to give accurate instructions to the players and coach a team to press effectively. I am sure he always wanted to press but he could not organize an effective press at first because he did not have the right players. Its no coincidence that our ability to press seems to have improved significantly after we spent hundreds of millions on better players.

    There is only so much a manager can do if his players are not able to execute the things he wants to do.

  22. One thing that didn’t really occur to me while writing the post above is the possibility, nay, probability that we are buying Zinchenko primarily to compete with Xhaka as the first choice box-to-box LM. This would makes sense from the player’s perspective if he is looking for a greater role than he would have had at City, which, by all accounts, was an important motivator for both he and Jesus to make the switch. His versatility and City’s abundance of riches in midfield ahead of him meant that he didn’t get that chance at his former club. It would also make sense for Arsenal because of Zin’s greater mobility and creativity in that role as compared to Xhaka, who I must stress again, had a really good season for Arsenal in that role. The fact that Zin can also ably provide cover for Tierney is the icing on the proverbial Ukrainian cake. The fact that all of this cost Arsenal about the same price as Newcastle paid for Joe Willock represents the delicious marzipan decorations on said cake.

    So I would update my depth chart above to show Zinchenko as first choice in the LM role but Xhaka not too far behind him. This makes me really happy.

    One does wonder where this leaves Sambi Lokonga. At present he’s projected to be third choice behind Thomas and Mo in the CDM role and also third choice behind Zin and Granit for the LM role. I liked a couple of the bursts he made with the ball from deep midfield positions against Everton, and by the looks of him he has bulked up quite a bit as well. Overall though you don’t get the sense that he’s not close to breaking into the first choice XI. He’s still young but at an age where he needs to be playing week in, week out in meaningful matches and having to fight to earn his place on the team sheet. I think a loan will benefit all parties.

    One also wonders where this leaves the Tielemans transfer that has been mooted since before the summer. I don’t really see where he fits if we assume I’m correct about Zinchenko’s anticipated role in the team. My prediction: RIP Tielemans transfer.

    1. i always saw zinchenko as competition for xhaka…especially how arteta has played xhaka a lot at left back.

  23. Zin, Zinc or Zinch?

    Can we… like… have a vote on the short handle for our new ute? 🙂

    1. Lil Zinny? There’s an amateur hip hop video of him circulating online. Worth the click…

      1. A ‘My Cousin Zinny’ remake on the cards?

        If so, I hope that they re-cast the incomparable Marisa Tomei, even these many years later.

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