2018/19 Fixtures, Leno, Torreira, with a Bad Dose of Morals

Released this morning, the 2018/19 season fixtures give Unai Emery a testing start, to say the least. City at home, Chelsea away? Welcome to English football, Unai. The recent furore over how the fixture list is ‘engineered’ to avoid big matches is thrown into question with that opening day clash. Either that or we’re no longer viewed as a big club.

If by some fluke, we find ourselves in the position of vying for a top-four finish, we have a strong chance of getting it judging by the run-in. Our last ‘big match’ is mid-March; thereafter, they are all games we would view as winnable. That’s, of course, getting ahead of myself. We could as easily be plummeting toward mid-table obscurity. You’ve got to hope for the best, however. Especially with a new coach in tow.

It’s only a rough guide at the moment, a note that on any given weekend, you will play x or y. Date and time are finalised when the TV men finish wreaking havoc across the top-flight.

Half-a-dozen pre-Christmas fixtures will move to accommodate Thursday Night Football anyway. Of those matches directly impacted by the Europa League, all bar one is in London – Southampton away – so the worst TV will do is make us a Monday Night Football team.

There’s still plenty of scope for BT/Sky/Amazon to make a complete clusterf*ck out of various weekends and supporters inconvenience is not even considered. They want advertisers revenues and viewing figures drive those.

Not that Chelsea will be any strangers; there’s a pre-season friendly in Dublin a couple of weeks before which has people up in arms about ticket prices. The operative phrase is “pre-season friendly”. If the tickets don’t sell, the organisers will soon realise their mistake. Even a 35,000 crowd is a disaster for the ICC.

Morals and Ethics: Relatives You See Every Decade

This is an extract from an interview given by Charles Stillitano in 2016 when ICC denied they were movers and shakers behind a European Super League:

“But we talked about everything. One of the things was what Arsenal came out with a comment about afterwards (surrounding a Super League). Okay. You’re sitting talking with friends and we chatted.”

Don’t expect Arsenal to take any lead on moral and ethical grounds. Not over anything, but especially not ticket prices. Morals and ethics are words abandoned when professionalism surfaced more than a century ago. As far as football is concerned, they are quaint ‘Olde English’ terms which belong in a bygone era.

And don’t forget, this is Arsenal in ‘Harlem Globetrotter’ mode: wherever the cash is, they go. The fee is paid by the organisers;  Arsenal turn up, fulfil media obligations, put on a show and complete media work, before jetting off back to London.

Talking of media obligations, Lucas Torreira is a ‘done deal’ according to a website I’d never previously heard of. His Mr20% and Arsenal ‘raced’ to Russia to complete the deal yesterday. Apparently. There was a clip of Torreira on social media yesterday, gabbling away about signing for Arsenal. I think, however, it was a fake; those ears are utterly unmistakable. If he was a Bash Street Kid, Torreira would be Plug. Ask your parents, kids.

And we’re also ready to announce Jay Leno as soon as the minor details of a fee and personal terms are agreed. But it’s almost a ‘done deal’.

Minor Details TBC

So that’s it for today. In summary, the only confirmed fixture announced yesterday was a hellishly over-priced friendly in Dublin. The rest are all agreed, bar the minor details of date and time. And the two transfers which are set to be announced are all agreed, bar the minor details of fee and personal terms.

Finally, if you want to take part in the ACLF World Cup Mayhem competition, email me at competitions [at] aclfarsenal dot co dot uk for more details. And having seen Damon’s entry, you’re in with a good shout…

All of which leaves me to bid your farewell.

’til Tomorrow. At some point…

47 thoughts on “2018/19 Fixtures, Leno, Torreira, with a Bad Dose of Morals

  1. It’s an uphill task for Emery from the first game.

    Wilshere getting all cryptic. It doesn’t suit him.

  2. I have heard that Spurs fans are getting offered season tickets at their new stadium for over £2000 for just the 19 league games. This is an uplift of over 50% on the comparable prices at the old tin can.

    And I thought Arsenal were taking the pi$$ with their ticket prices.

  3. Mixed feelings about the two opening fixtures. I will take positive feelings as one expect Emery and players to kickoff with a positive start to the season. If they can deliver on those 2 early fixtures, it will boost confidence going into the season. We win at the Emirates I envisage, it’s futbol mates…coyg👊🏼

  4. Cithe at home, it wasn’t our home form were we were shit and I’m of the mind, mine as well test yourself early and often.

    Jack getting cryptic, if we are all being honest, his time is up at Arsenal which is sad but the truth. He had a couple of matches of superb form where he looked like he was finally figuring it out and then the last couple of months he was average at best. If Xhaka continues to build on how he finished the season(minus that phantom tackle on Pogba) and Emery give him back his aggression but teach him to harness it coupled with Torriera and that could be quite a midfield.

  5. In with a good shout, haha. Running late on filling out my brackets but will do so right away. I’ll make Damon’s look like a conservative oddsmaker’s choice, no doubt!

  6. Coming up against City and Chelsea early is perfect for us. It will allow Emery to see we’re we need to be if we’re not at the races and every chance we could catch City cold 1st up. I can’t remember when I was so keen for the season to kick off. Brilliant!

  7. @Wailesy,
    Couldn’t agree more. It’s just the right test for a new broom and the new look Arsenal will be more than ready for it. 😉

  8. Ok, got them in under the wire. As far as the fixtures and complaints about Spurs. Why did the PL violate its competition rules to allow them to play home games at two different places? They are having trouble completing their stadium on time. Amateurs bailed out by PL creeps.

    As far as our own, it is a baptism of fire for Emery who doesn’t have a great record with Valencia and Sevilla (or even PSG) facing big teams with top managers. So it could be a rocky start but at least the next spell of fixtures could help us get into stride if our away form improves to acceptable levels.

    The interesting issue is how prepared we will be at the start of the season. Will Emery’s approach to WC participating players be different than AW’s? Honestly I thought his policy on this a little permissive to no apparent positive effect over all as far as I could tell. Will the team be tactically and physically ready? Our early season results over the last few years were somewhat disappointing. It might be hard to judge since City and Chelsea are a tough ask, especially City. We have no idea what the state of Chelsea will be exactly, so perhaps they will be suffering some disarray of player departures and manager troubles and owner disinterest. One can hope.

  9. YW, I didn’t get to comment on yesterday’s post, but I thought is was superb and full of excellent analysis elaborating on Sagna’s comments. I always liked Sagna and remember his Tottenham goal and comments afterwards about needing to fight and beat “The Enemy”–I think it was honest of him to own up to the fact that he was willing to go along too much with the prevailing culture in the dressing room.

    But I also have to give you major credit, YW, for noting the silliness of the cult of Ornstein. Yes, he has some highly placed sources inside Arsenal who give him good factual information about player transfers when completed. But he is a prisoner of those sources and not necessarily so great on genuine insight and analysis of Arsenal affairs. He tends to repeat and promote some ideological PR from those same club sources without critiquing or contextualizing it. He tends to be more reliable on the bare facts of a deal and when it really is done, but this basic knowledge doesn’t warrant the doting on his every word as some have or suspending critical analysis of the club line he often peddles.

  10. Need to get the new players in soon. I do not think against the City Emery is more disastrous than Wenger. Indeed, I feel that Emery will analyse City’s weaknesses before the game and set up the team.

  11. I hope you will at some point, YW, elaborate a bit further on that nugget regarding the ICC support for a super league and where Arsenal might be involved. With our decline of status from CL and other aspects of underperformance over the last 5-8 years and irrelevance in the PL title race for a decade, are we confident we would be included in such plans? Would the PL have 5-6 representatives? The global supporter base would certainly help such a league but our recent record of a few cups, nothing of note in Europe, and never challenging for the PL needs to be improved upon. Not that I want the formation of such a league. But if it ends up happening–and we know many plans are being floated/discussions being had right now–woe to the club on the edge that doesn’t make it in! We may need Ivan to be the operator he fancies himself to get AFC included… Let’s hope that as plans develop, AFC performance on the pitch makes us requisite to any such scenario.

  12. Uruguay plays tomorrow. I think it would be beneficial to have had him sign da ting yesterday! Otherwise, it could be postponed until Uruguay are eliminated, and the last thing we need is an extended saga where things are ambiguous. If we can’t get him in, we still need a combative central midfielder. Will his aggressiveness allow him to deal with physicality of PL or will his stature be a detriment with injuries in the future as he tries to battle physically bigger and stronger players in the rougher PL? Will he be a Kante or JW? This is the question. But I like his obvious toughness and am very encouraged that we are trying to make this happen, as much as I would have loved a really powerful and athletic DM with a decent ability to pass in short and medium range.

    One thing that concerned me about the story was that Napoli were interested–same league and country he has been playing in, good attacking team that would ask him to replace Jorginho role, CL football. The real attraction of Arsenal right now would be that we could pay more. Hopefully we have tempted him with our filthy lucre!

  13. Opus,

    Given the caliber of opponents we’d have played in preparation for the new season’s unveiling, Manchester City with a plethora of their stars barely match fit post-World Cup, may just be the right time for Emery to lay down a marker.

    Bring it on! But not before the final pieces of our new look squad has embedded. 💪🏽

  14. If the Torreira deal is happening, either Ramsey or Jack will go. My bet is Jack, considering he’s just paid a hefty amount for a new home gym, i’m guessing he’s staying in London even if he leaves.

    My only issue is there is a lot of “torreira/Leno/Sokratis is a sure thing” but i don’t believe any of this until i see it officially happen.

    Torreira would be a good signing, as would Leno and Sokritis! And lets not forget we’ve tied down Maitland Niles who i think looked great last season. The one advantage we have is the majority of our squad isn’t at world cup so we’ll be better rested than City and Chelsea are still considering a new manager, longer they wait better for us as.

    We’ve got potential in team to beat City, we just always played with suicidal tactics under Wenger (high line with ball and no pressure without) and that will hopefully change under Emry. Opening game us always a gamble for the champions as they’re fully expected to walk it. Arsenal have a new manager, potentially 4/5 new players on pitch and home advantage.

    I’m shocked there hasn’t been any major departures though…If Jack leaves, frees up some wages for someone else. I’d like Dembele on loan, or Gelson from Sporting as we’re lacking out and out wingers.

  15. Gonna throw it out there and say a free for Fellani and Marital would really strengthen the side……Only a year left on contract for Martial and he’s quick and powerful, i’d definitely take him

    Fellani, never really been a fan, but he does give us grit and he’d be on a free…

  16. MesutsLeftFoot,

    I said the same thing about Fellaini. But some people cannot wrap their heads around having him @ Arsenal. Give him a 2 year contract and lets have a different option instead of being nice guys, lets have a real spoiler.

  17. lari03,

    He’d be useful in games where we need to grind out a result and also for Europa next season for rotation.

    I’d be happy with Leno, Sokritis, torreira and Lichtenstiener though. Add in Mavrapanos coming into the team as well as the possible addition of Yacine Adli the squad looks ok for next season.

    Tehre are times i wish we couild turn back the clock and have a fully fit younger Santi in the team

  18. Hello all good stuff today, gotta say it does feel good to be filling up our defense this early for a change, regardless if it all works or not.


    Reminds me of early chicago bulls with michael jordan… They got banged up by a bunch of big lumps on the Detroit team (they invoked rotational fouling ‘the jordan rules’) for a couple years . Eventually we bought the craziest MF’er (dennis rodman) and he came over to protect the stars a little bit. Doesnt hurt to have someone go out , impose your physicality, and lay down some pain for once. We’ve been taking it from everyone for over a decade now, time to man up and start (literally) bruising up some guys on the pitch instead of dancing around them like ballerinas. A delicate balance of brute/beauty seems to be the order of the day.

  19. Wow — did Wenger take over for the Saudi team? looks like Arsenal V Stoke out there we get thrashed quickly with a few loose passes and quick counter attacks!

  20. With Leno apparently being close as well… I wonder if we’ll sell Cech or Ospina, one or the other will have to go as wages won’t allow for 3 keepers on +40k a week.

    Also shocked we’ve still got Campbell and Perez on the books. Wilshere currently on 90k a week, doesn’t deserve that never mind more….

  21. I am guessing a lot of bets were misplaced on this match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Incredible scoreline.

  22. C,

    Suppose that works for him. Quite excited about Torreira and Leno if it works out. Guessing that means Soyuncu won’t happen if so but seeing more Martins rumours kicking up. Once again, I’d like a proper winger purely for the benefit of Auba, someone quick out wide and his positioning and speed would make counters lethal. Especially if we combine Henrikh and ozil etc in the mix.

  23. lari03,

    The scoreline is deceptive. Russia, undoubtedly, will come up short against better oppositions with well drilled defenses.

  24. lari03,

    Prior to kickoff, I had jokingly teased a Saudi national I knew that her nation would lose 3-0 to Russia. But a 5-0 thrashing, was beyond my reckoning. Home advantage does help against a side whose participation in the World Cup party is akin to catapulting a League Two side into the EPL.

  25. If all the signings go through as expected(not including Soyuncu coming in and wild rumors of Mustafi being sold), we could line-up against Citeh:


    In a high pressing system, I like that.

  26. Reports say that Torriera is a done deal and just like Sokaraitis but will be announced at a latet date. Wonder if they are wanting to announce all the transfers together or waiting to sell players as a sort of: ‘we sold these players and bought in better players’ thing.

  27. C,

    Not sure that Xhaka is the answer in a high-pressing system – he’s a bit of a cart-horse – particularly with Ozil at no 10. Surely, Torriera and Elneny

  28. C,

    Bellerin—-Mustafi?? —–Sokratis—–Kolasinac

  29. C,

    Or even this wishful lineup

    Bellerin—-Mustafi?? —–Sokratis—–Kolasinac

  30. FREDDO,

    I would certainly prefer Elneny and Torriera but I can also imagine Emery using Xhaka similar to Nzonzi and allowed him to sit and dictate play while Torriera does the link play.

  31. I wasn’t Xhaka’s biggest fan last season, but i think he was definitely misused by Wenger…Watch him when he played for Mönchengladbach, he was solid player, always moving and a hell of a long range passer. When he signed, i thought he’s be given a role in front of a CDM player, have someone else beside him who can win the ball back and give it to him for a quick break to Ozil/Sanchez/theo/Welbeck/Iwobi etc. His passing ability would have allowed the a pacy front line to chase balls…Alas, he was put into a CDM role in a low pressing slow system, so it’s no wonder whenever he got the ball he was either passing it sideways (no space to pass it forward as we played so slowly at times) or he got the ball outside out box and was immediately pressured and made mistakes. This season will see if he’s got what it takes to fit into Emry’s high pressure system. But his long range passing could be key to Emry’s high pace counters

    For me:

    Bellerin Sokratis Mustafi Kolasinac
    Mhkitaryan Ramsey Ozil
    Lacazette Aubamayang

    when defending, have Ramsey to drop back beside Torreira and Laca into Ramsey’s spot forming banks of two and three allowing Auba a quick counter if we get the ball back, with Ozil and Mhk pressing ball out wide Laca and Auba chasing.

    Tbh, the biggest thing i want to see is a change in tactics, i can’t deal with another season of sideways passing and slow slow slow build up. Way i see it, if we can get that many points playing that slowly, then we can surely get more with a change of tactics.

    It’s already annoying me that all we’re seeing is Emry’s record against Pep and Jose from Spain….Shall we add up the costs of Sevilla’s team in conjunction with that of Barca and Real at that time? Even Athletico’s team is costly.

    Can’t wait for new season, not expecting miracles but as long as i see progress i’m happy. Given the fixture list, i’d take 1/2 points from opening games as long it’s not a performance like last season or 4/5 drubbing

  32. Should also add we’ve got Mavropanos and Maitland-Niles to throw into that mix. Maitland niles really impressed me in that CM role. The pace of he and torreira could be pivotal. i wonder if Wilshere is being allowed to leave in favour of Maitland-Niles coming through….

  33. MesutsLeftFoot,

    I think thats the thing that people forget about Atletico, sure they kept a tight budget, but they spent and spent more than Arsenal.

    I agree about Xhaka and thats why I think puyting his next to Torriera could be brilliant. Torriera doing the leg work and Xhaka sitting essentially playing the Nzonzo/deep playing role. His ability to play long balls and balls to the flanks is superb. He might not have to foot speed but like Nzonzi and Krychowiak, he cam focus on positioning and knowing when and where to be in the framework of whats going on.

    I wouldn’t be suprised to see more of Torriera and Elneny in midfield with Elneny doing more of the sitting and tempo setting with Torriera doing the quick transition and link play. I could see Aubameyang playing on the flanks and being wide when we done have the ball and playing in the narrow flank along with Lacazette when in possession. People need to realize that what Lacazette needa is more touches and Auabmeyang works better with less touches but not necessarily at CF.

    We could see the best of both along with Ozil and Mhkitaryan, it might lead to possibly less assists for Ozil but more of the pre-assists by releasing Aubameyang and Mhlitaryan into space thus having a bigger influence but still big assists.

  34. skywalker,

    On reflection Jack is dreaming if he thinks he is playing for Juve

    I think just uk centric bollocks

    I am odds on favourite for Boom

  35. Too bad Wenger punted Coquelin. Emery would have love him. Just wind him up and watch him press all day. Not bad with the ball at his feet either, except when he tried to pass for more than ten metres. Then it looked like he was kicking a beach ball. Oh, well.

  36. C,

    I get what you’re saying, but I suspect that in an all singing, all dancing, all pressing Unai Emery team EVERYBODY has to do the leg-work. There are absolutely no passengers where pressing is concerned. He wants 10 piranahas on the pitch. Nobody gets a pass because they offer another skill. But we’ll see!

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