In Time To Come… (Where does the current team stand in Greatest All-Time Arsenal list?) [Positives Needs & Hopes]

In time to come

An Arsenal blog from a coach’s perspective

It’s 2026. You are in the pub talking to your mates about the Arsenal team of 2022–23. The discussion is about where they rank as the greatest Arsenal teams of all time.

These conversations will happen in the summer of 2023 also, but it’s really hard to compare when everything is so fresh. A few yards removed make it easier to tell.

What I’m starting to realize though is that there is undoubtedly a chance that this particular team could become the greatest ever Arsenal team.
Seems ridiculous to say that, but every time people talk about the greatest ever, they have a tendency to just mention players that played in these teams rather than the team as a whole.

Arsenal are currently a team intentionally designed without superstars, no ego, a team where everybody is about as good/valued as each other.

I feel nudged to talk this way, because so many things that Arsenal Football Club are doing embodies the word ‘team.’

Back to the pub.

You are sitting there and the arguing has started. You are there with Phil and two other mates. Everybody has an Arsenal fan called Phil.

The discussion starts at the end. Most discussions like this normally do. The question is simple. Which team was better? Arsenal in 1971, 1989, Invincibles, or 97/98?
Everybody seems to come to the conclusion that the Invincibles were better. They certainly had better individual players. No fighting needed there. Then the argument starts when comparing points. It doesn’t go anywhere and has no resolution because every era is different.
It then starts following the path of ‘the team who went beyond expectation’ should be the best but then Phil makes the good point that this is a different argument.

Then Dave, no not Dave. There are too many Spurs fans called Dave. Let’s go with Chris. Chris is the peacemaker. The quiet in the storm of disagreement. Chris states that we need a rubric to compare. This is agreed upon. The discussion then goes on to 1:32am as 2 hours are spent deciding on the bullet points of the rubric.

The third member of my pub squad has naturally got a nickname ending in ‘y.’ For those that don’t live in the UK, or haven’t may not understand that everybody has a nickname ending in ‘y.’
Millsy takes charge and picks the rubric points.

Which Arsenal team won the league with the least?
Well, the current group were least favoured and have expertly recruited without buying any stars.

Which Arsenal team improved the most?
This is simple. The current team have improved player for player and from last season to this season in a far more dramatic way than any Arsenal team I’ve ever supported or watched.

Who was more consistent?
Seems like this one should be easy. We should pick the Invincibles because statistically they didn’t lose. I would argue though that the current team look like they are going to end the season looking like the Arsenal team most likely to win and statistically might just prove that.

Which was least reliant?
Again, I think it is the current team. Without the need for star power and proving that when key players in Partey, Jesus and Saliba were missing, we played as if their replacements were equals.

Which could win in a multitude of circumstances?
This one is closer. I think this is hard to differentiate as any team that wins the league has no choice but to do this.

Which Arsenal team would you least like to face?
Also, very difficult to differentiate. The teams in the late 90’s/early 2000s were more devastating. The current team looks fitter, and arguably more serious. They seem to have a greater desire to not concede, and they have the unique quality of ‘buy in’ from absolutely every member of the football club.

Which team was/is the best ‘team?’
Well, the best team is the ultimate question. As much as I preferred watching players like Henry and Bergkamp, I feel like I can trust the current team more. I don’t wonder what kind of performance I’m going to get from them and if they will focus and be serious. I think Arteta is the best coach that I’ve ever seen at Arsenal and Wenger might’ve been the better manager of people, but I think Arteta improves players, is significantly more tactically aware and flexible, understands all areas of coaching and is therefore the coach with the broadest skillset that Arsenal have had.

I think that Arteta may well have the best ‘team.’

Millsy and Phil shake their heads as they will never be able to see beyond Arsene Wenger. I think they’ve made clay pot statues of him in the back gardens. Chris cools them down and tells them that I might have a point and in time, they might see it.

What has all of this got to do with yesterday though?

Well, we mustn’t forget that we don’t know everything that is going on, even though we see much of it with our eyes. Apparently, it wasn’t just Saka and White that had been ill but a large group of the first 11 also.

Some corny platitudes are just corny and some are the whole truth.
‘Winning when you don’t play particularly well being a sign of champions’ is the whole truth.

Another obstacle overcome. A building block for a team that look like a team. A real team. A team that in time may well be known as the best ‘team’ we ever had. And largely because we were good on the bad days.

What is also quite wonderful is that we look like a team that are starting to resemble Batman. Batman when the bad guys start shooting at his armour, unaware that they are wasting their time.



Take a look at this graphic:


Amongst the many impressive changes that Arteta has made at Arsenal, he has started to fulfill his statement that Arsenal have to consistently score more goals. Be more ruthless.
This hadn’t actually dawned on me until Leeds but was mentioned by their new coach after the game. Which leads me on to this….

How extremely cool is it that there is now talk of teams like Leeds intentionally not playing their best team in order to rest players against teams that they can realistically beat. I’d hoped for this day, but like everything else currently at Arsenal, I wasn’t convinced it was coming this quickly.

This thought could easily have been in the opening piece. Another of the ‘have you noticed’ thoughts. Arsenal have been impressing those that are paying attention this season. Individually though, if you talk to fans of other premier league teams, they don’t see it or get it. Arsenal have quite a few players that have been and are being undervalued. Gabriel could well be the best CB in the league yet he is not been chosen by Brazil even when they pick second string players. He should comfortably be in the Team of the Season. They will find a way to put Lisandro Martinez in there simply because he is small, but good. Not sure what Ben White has on Gareth Southgate, but he should be one of the first names in the squad who is consistently very good but it’s his versatility that Southgate could really utilize rather than complain that he’s not playing centre back. When all is said and done this season, I bet you that Arteta will point to the introduction of Jesus and Zinchenko as the turning point and the reason why we were successful. You have probably all heard the stories of both of them telling the squad that they should stop talking about playing in the Champions League and focus on winning the league. Zinchenko in particular, has clearly been undervalued by Manchester City and spent most of his time there finding ways to not play him where now he is seen as part of a new evolution in the game, and there will be players around the world in years to come that will be asked to play the ‘Zinchenko role.’

I understand why England pick Pickford. He has been very important in tournaments and it is fair that he has been rewarded for his consistency, even though he has been disappointing for Everton. What has surprised me though is that he seems to get picked for every game regardless of the opponent and the status of the fixture. If Southgate wants to evolve England to the next level he has a goalkeeper who doesn’t just kick the ball extremely far like Pickford, but an 11th field player in Ramsdale, who is capable of between 3 to 5 assists per season. Even more common when talking to non- Arsenal supporting friends is getting asked the question ‘how does Xhaka start for a team at the top of the league?’ My response is always that he is not a highlight reel but a coaches player. He stands in the right positions and has supreme movement off the ball. He’s reliable, consistent and available every game. He plays for the team and not himself and that’s exactly what he’s asked to do. He is a huge help at set plays and wins more duels then he loses. He has now added goals and assists which might actually one day get him his own YouTube highlight reel. He has also transformed himself to a player that 98% of the fans wanted kicked out and would’ve been ok if he disappeared without a transfer fee, to a player who is considered pivotal and now has his own song regularly sung. Quite the turnaround.

Most think that Rob Holding isn’t good enough, but he keeps proving that he actually is. We have the best second choice goalkeeper in the league. You then add 2 January signings that very few apart from Arsenal fans are talking about, but one who deputizes for arguably the best defensive midfielder in world football right now, and doesn’t disappoint. The other who is unspectacular in his position compared to others who play in the same areas but who is more effective as a winger per minutes played than most any other winger in Europe in Trossard.

I suppose my point is that we may win the league and I think that many non- Arsenal fans will wonder how we did it when others had better players.
Maybe they should read my opening piece.

I’m sitting here watching Newcastle finish off Utd. The general game has been fairly back-and-forth but Newcastle is creating significantly more. Nick Pope has really just had to cuddle the ball three or four times so maybe this isn’t the best game to judge but many want to say that he will be considered the best goalkeeper in the league this season. Now I don’t watch Newcastle every week, and I’m perfectly fine with him being applauded but I don’t think they are paying enough attention to the fact that Ramsdale has consistently kept Arsenal in games for at least half of the fixtures this season and he under the big pressure to do so, more so than Nick Pope who’s playing for a team that is currently overachieving. Yesterday was another one of these occasions. Arsenal were in trouble in the first half but Ramsdale keeps such determination and lightning reflexes. If we do win the league my eyes will be on him because I think he will enjoy it more than any player out there celebrating, maybe apart from Zinchenko.

So, football is changing. Another phrase that can be cheaply thrown around, but it’s certainly true right now especially if you are part of the elite game and playing in the Champions League. We have a choice in the Europa League as to how seriously we take certain games or even the tournament itself but you can’t do that if you are participating both in the Premier League and Champions League. I say all of this because our players are now having to adapt to having careers that look very different. Rob Holding is one of them. He has a role at Arsenal and telling him that it is important is the truth even though a casual observer would say that that is nonsense. He is in the leadership group. That has daily values especially in an industry where disappointment is a regular occurrence. He is a closer in games that are tight and our coach hasn’t given him this leadership role to make him feel better about being a squad player and sticking around, he is the best player for the job. Our coach values the psychological side of the game and the importance of trusting the next player in line to do his job before a ‘better player.’ We were doing mental gymnastics when Saliba was out trying to figure out who was going to take his place rather than trusting the player whose job it is to step in. He is proving worthy and like every player in our squad he has improved, particularly in his passing and general confidence.

There are some players in the team who we want to be largely invisible and simply play with stability. I think Jorginho is one of these. It’s probably insulting to think this way, but I didn’t notice him much on Saturday which I think is what we want him to do. You want him to simply do his job without any fuss and not make mistakes or be responsible for the situation is that Thomas Partey will take care of differently. He’s a better player than this, as he is capable of changing games on both sides of the ball and I think we forget that.

I think it’s a positive that Saka played the last 30 minutes. His physical capabilities must be so much greater than we believe as it seemed a little nuts to not let him rest the entire game at the point in which he came on. I think the piece the fans don’t value is rhythm. Some players need to play every game or they lose their groove. We are ‘what if’ driven and worry too much.

The trust that has been shown in Rob Holding was also shown in giving Jesus the penalty kick. At the point which he took it Leeds looked more likely than Arsenal, and it was a huge moment for a guy clearly not in top form in front of goal. If you don’t use him there then he knows that as the main goal scoring threat that he isn’t fully trusted. By letting him have the opportunity to boost his own confidence by scoring, but it will have given him a feeling of trust by letting him take the kick regardless. I think it’s also very clever in the run-in to allow Jesus and Zinchenko to both take care of pressure moments. They are far less likely to feel the pressure having done it multiple times before than anybody else in the team.




As I’ve already stated, perhaps, the first half performance had more to do with the physical health of the starting 11, but we have had a few games recently where we have started with a very slow tempo. Nothing diffuses the tension more than the comfort of feeling like you are comfortably winning. Would love to see Arsenal diffuse the tension in the last nine games this way. It suits our look this season to think that we have made the majority of our games look easier than in the past.


Have you thought about the dilemma? The dilemma of Sunday. Which three players do you choose to start upfront.? As I’ve explained, I think that it is less of an issue than we will make it, but it is interesting. Arteta isn’t calling subs ‘impactors’ just to motivate players who might be demotivated, but the truth is that in the high energy Premier League when the energy dissipates, substitutes are winning games, consistently. I think I would put Martinelli on the bench because his energy could win the game in the last 30 minutes. Because all four of the players are in form, I hope that they take the decision well without drama.
I am able to do a podcast today and so I’ll let my transfer thoughts sit there. Take a listen and click on the link at the bottom.


Arsenal, aren’t just club clicking on the field. I don’t know what other clubs are like, but I can’t believe that there is another club that has better quality content for its fans to consume. I think particularly of the world of podcasts. My amateurish version is just a little add-on even though I hope that it is thoughtful and decent. I listen to many of the others. Arseblog, of course. Handbrake Off and Not Another Arsenal Podcast, which is the hidden gem. Wrighty’s House, The Gooner Podcast, and The Arsenal Opinion are fantastic. I wish The Tuesday Club would return also. I listen to ESPN FC and Stadio to stay in touch with players and teams throughout European football. It is also important
for me to be able to compete with the knowledge of Max who knows Napoli defensive midfielder, Stanislav Lobotka’s monthly electricity bill.

I wanted you to be aware of what Arsenal Vision are doing though.

My feeling that Arsenal having the best content is largely due to the Champions League quality of those on the ArsenalVision podcast. I struggle to think of how anyone could have a group as knowledgeable as they do. My personal favourite. They are currently trying to raise money for those less fortunate than us and I encourage you to click on the link and give for no other reason than like me, you have probably been blessed with hundreds of hours of free personal content from them that you would otherwise pay for.

Me thinks that we break the Anfield curse and in quite impressive fashion.

Check out the podcast below. It’s dedicated to potential transfer targets for the summer.


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One Response to In Time To Come… (Where does the current team stand in Greatest All-Time Arsenal list?) [Positives Needs & Hopes]

  1. Andy April 3, 2023 at 11:10 am #


    Arsenal team circa 90/91. Only one loss away from being invincible and not sure Wenger would have been as successful without this teams defence. Also won the league despite being deducted two points! people forget how entertaining this team was and how many goals they scored. Also won a European trophy which has eluded the others. Walked through the Turnham estate the other day where Rocky and Wrighty (notice the y?) grew up together as kids. I remember them combining to score against United in one of the few games they played together. That’s my addition to the The endless pub arguement.

    Thanks as always

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