Tranquilo – Relax Gooners, Arsenal have upgraded, but have our rivals?



MA knows!

The Arsenal fanbase have gone through various states of losing our collective mind over the course of this pre-season. First when we completed the signing of Declan Rice, having already secured the signatures of Havertz and Timber and extended Saliba’s contract. At this point everyone was OTT on optimism because we were going to win the League, maybe even the Champions League, FA Cup, World Cup and the Ryder Cup too.

Then after the MLS All Stars skills challenge, Havertz was a disaster, and we couldn’t see how our midfield was going to function (a fear temporarily allayed by beating the MLS Team). Then after the loss United, we were a mess, before we smashed Barcelona, and all was right with the world again.

Mikel Arteta summed the situation up perfectly when he told everyone at his press conference to chill out. Pre-season is as much about fitness as playing around with the system and getting new players bedded in. Playing Timber at left back for example could be for as simple a reason as MA wants both him and Ben White to get game time. It doesn’t mean that the manager doesn’t know where everyone will be playing or that he’s still experimenting with line-ups. Now that that’s out of the way, we can discuss our rivals in comparison, but remember; tranquilo.


Our rivals

The first fixture we look for when they’re announced is the North London Derby, and I’m hoping that by the time we take them on towards the end of September they’re still reeling from the loss of Harry Kane to Bayern Munch. It’s been mentioned constantly in the media how much he wants to break the League’s goal scoring record, which is probably true. What isn’t spoken about is how fragile a legacy that would be, because as they say, records are made to be broken. If Harry Kane does take Shearer’s crown, Shearer is still a title winner, something that can never be taken away. How long before Haaland or some other forward takes it from Kane? At that point Kane has nothing, and with recency bias being what it is, people will quickly forget how good a striker he is (remember how good Di Natale was?). Furthermore, when the inevitable argument occurs over who was better, Kane or whomever, the answer will be simple. Kane never won a trophy.

I wasn’t happy seeing James Maddison or Manor Solomon sign for the spuds, especially as I think that Solomon has been signed to replace Son on the left, with the Korean moving into a central position to replace Kane, with Maddison in a 10-role supplying the ammunition. Despite this however if Kane does make the correct career decision and leaves, they’ll be weaker without him, irrespective of who they bring in over the rest of the transfer window.

Why Tottenham finally signed James Maddison to end eight-year pursuit | Evening Standard

United have had an interesting pre-season, beating us but losing to pretty much everyone else. The 75 million Euro gamble on Rasmus Hojlund could turn out to be a master stroke. It could also be an expensive disaster. He’s 6.3”, strong and by all accounts he’s very quick and at only 20 years old, he has time on his side to improve. What he doesn’t have is great number of games under his belt, so the United scouting department didn’t have a lot to work with when looking at the player, hence why I say he’s a gamble. It’ll take him time to settle, both in the team as well as the League so we won’t get too much a gauge on how much of problem he’s going to be for a few months. Fingers crossed he’s like Wout Weghorst, just younger.

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Onana is an interesting signing as he’s a quality player, and he can play out from the back. What we as Arsenal fans know however is that sometimes the transition to playing that style takes a season and can come at a price.

Nobody knows what to expect from Liverpool. They have lost a lot of experience in Henderson and Milner but gained some quality replacements in the form of Mac Allister and Szoboszlai. Van Dijk at 32 years old is still a top-class defender, but age appeared to be affecting him last season. Klopp’s side still don’t seem to have gotten over the loss of Sadio Mane, but it would be remiss of me not to point out that his successor Luis Diaz spent to large part of last season injured. I expect them to have a much better season this time around. They’ll have their forward line in order, their midfield has real legs that can play the Klopp intense press and they still have real quality at the back. I don’t think that they’re going to be back to their absolute best, but they’ll be close to it.

Chelsea were a mess last season and I fully expect Pochettino to sort them out. I think that they’ll be dangerous this season under his leadership, with some good players at his disposal such as Nkunku. They appear to be shifting focus to signing younger prospects such as Nicolas Jackson and Diego Moreira, which is quite typical of Todd Boehly as he loves nothing more than looking at what we’re up to and pressing copy+paste. Although they don’t necessarily have an out and out striker, I don’t think this is an issue for them as I think they’ll be looking at a more even spread of goals from across their front line (a bit like us). The bar is low for them so anything in a European space is a good, but I expect them to be aiming to get back into the Champions League.



Newcastle have signed Tonali from AC Milan and Harvey Barnes from Leicester who will both improve their starting XI. I think that this puts them in a good position to defend their position in the Top Four, but not necessarily fight it out with us or City in a title challenge. The heavy caveat here is that the window is young, and like all of the clubs mentioned here, they may end the window having spent a lot of money. They’re a well-coached team with a fantastic home support. The question is how they’ll fare with European games coming up. I would suggest that Howe will want to see how the season is progressing before he prioritises the domestic Cups or the League/Champions League. Their next progression is silverware, which they’ve not had a St James’ Park for decades.

Finally, we get to Manchester City who I believe are currently weaker (but don’t forget the caveat). Mahrez has yet to be replaced, and Gundogan was a massive player for them last season. Whilst Kovicic is very good, he’s not as good as the German, which makes this move a downgrade in my book. It’s more likely that Stones will play more in the midfield as he did at the tail end of last season (reminiscent to what Pep did with Lahm at Bayern) and Kovacic will be an option from the bench, as I don’t see City spending a fortune on Gvardiol only to bench one of him, Stones or Dias. There is an option where he plays all three, but none of them go forward like Walker or Akanji.


Huge loss

The rumours around Bernado Silva’s future have persisted, but Pep loves the player and if I were City, I wouldn’t be letting him go at the moment, especially with no obvious successor on the market. Once again, I think that City are currently a point or two weaker, but that would still have won them the league last season, so it’s up to Mikel to ensure that we’re 6+ points better off (which I think he’s done).

Whilst we can revisit this discussion when the transfer window gently closes (I don’t think it slams shut) as things currently stand, I don’t feel that any of our rivals are significantly improved. As mentioned before in the case of the spuds and City I think they’re potentially worse off for transfers that have or may happen shortly. This makes our progression stand in even more contrast and with rumours of Raya starting to rumble, we may yet get even stronger.


“Gonna win it all, innit!!”

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