Exclusive – Michael Thomas talks Tottenham, Xhaka, Arteta and the future

The Michael Thomas Column

What a great week it has been and turn around of fortunes for the club. Three weeks ago, Spurs were top of the League and Arsenal bottom and now we are above them. Hopefully they continue to move in this positive direction.

This win has taken Arteta out of the firing line, and now the spotlight has moved on to Nuno Santo, with Tottenham faltering badly after his promising start to the season. Nuno needs the players to work harder and right now Kane is not firing, which doesn’t help along with the fact he doesn’t know who he can trust in the midfield.

But Tottenham’s troubles doesn’t hide the fact that it was a really solid performance from Arsenal. It had energy, goals and tactical prowess. Arteta did a good job in preparing his team and the players responded to the challenge. If they can keep that same level of performance week in week out, we will see a very good season incoming.

Arteta always needed time to bed in the players to his way of thinking. It’s a young group with enormous potential. What Arteta needs now is consistency from the squad and you will see more and more performances like that first half.

There were a lot of critics before the game when Arteta picked Xhaka in the line-up, but Xhaka is an experienced pro. Yes, he has made some mistakes and they have been highlighted more than others, but he still has quality when he plays his game. Xhaka had a very good game on Sunday and I think it was unfortunate that he had to come off injured. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery and the likes of Lokonga, AMN can fill in and bring their qualities to the field.

Spurs fans are adamant that they should have had a penalty when Kane was tripped by Ben White, and I do think Kane was slightly unlucky. The challenge went in and I’m not sure how much of the ball White took, but this happens in football and you don’t get every decision going your way. White got the decision his way and I thought he was excellent on Sunday.

There were 60,000 fans in the stadium (although most of the Spurs fans had left by half time!) and the fans were electric! It makes players put in that extra lung-bursting press when needed and gives them more energy. This will be massive going forward and you’ve heard all the players and manager speak about how much it lifts them, so it is of the utmost importance that the fans stay behind the team for the duration of the season and going forward.

Saka and Smith-Rowe were immense on either side of Aubameyang, so this could be the stepping stone for Arteta to bring more youngsters up from the Academy. There are some promising youngsters at the club. Azeez has recently gone out on loan, Balogun, Patino, Hutchinson to name a few. These players are being amazingly prepared from Per and the coaching staff at Hale End and this can only lead to future success with them pushing into our first team.

As mentioned above there is a long list of good players on the Arsenal academy books but my one stand out is Patino who is creating waves across the Arsenal fan base right now, and Hutchinson for me is a really exciting player so don’t sleep on him.

With Saka, Odegaard and ESR integral to Arteta’s new youth policy, so Alex Lacazette is not getting much of a look in at the moment. Well, Lacazette is in his final year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move on at the end of the season. He is an excellent pro and we all know that he has a great influence everyday on the young players so it will be a blow, but a blow Arsenal will have to be prepared for and replace accordingly.

With Gabriel being joined by Tomiyasu and Ben White, and Tiernet back to full fitness, the back line was absolutely immense on Sunday. It looks as if they all want to defend and conceding is punishment for them, and that’s how it should be. They have a real leader in goal behind them who can be heard and seen commanding the players in front, which is always helpful, not to mention they are all younger than 25. This is a big foundation for Arsenal to build on and touch wood so they don’t get any injuries.

It was also an immense day for Mikel Arteta, who is showing signs of proving his faith in the project is coming to fruition. It’s a stepping stone that he will be glad he stood on. Now let’s push on as the season is a long one and go from strength to strength. He is the right man for the job in my opinion.

Onwards and upwards! COYG!

Michael Thomas

Tags Michael Thomas


  1. The game in Brighton will be tougher, because their CBs are very good in aerial duels and we’ll have fewer supporters there

    1. GOI
      Brighton seemed to have found a way of scoring this season but watched the Palace game and they were unlucky to lose the 3 points at the death
      As long a were start as we left off from Sunday all good.
      Keep the same team together (minus xhaka)and especially the back 5 then I can see us going on and claiming another 3 points
      Onwards and upwards 😃

    2. Our away support is fantastic though, gai. They’re sweating on the fitness of up to 6 players… let’s keep this run going!

      1. Yeah Sue, I was amazed when the supporters kept watching our lousy performance in Manchester. I couldn’t even continue watching it after 3 – 0, so those people must’ve really loved Arsenal

  2. The winning formation should not be tinkered. The three amazing young attacking midfielders (Smith, Odegaard, Saka) should not be replaced or even change position.
    The bond between the three of them should begin to grow stronger and bond well.
    Pepe should remain on the bench because he is quite inconsistent. Maybe he can come in second half.

    The shape of a team matters a lot. So this shape should be highly maintained.

    Lokonga should take up Xhaka’s central midfield role.
    I mean he is even Arteta’s choice of signing for a central midfielder instead of Bissouma most fans wanted desperately.
    Lokonga has the pass, he is faster, he has technique. He can work on his strength, though, which is the only thing I think Xhaka has better than him, just strength.

    I will love to see this formation against Brighton on Saturday.


    Smith(10). Odegaard(8). Saka(7).

    Lokonga(23). Partey(5).

    Tierney(3). Gabriel(6). White(4). Tomi(18).


    Sub – Pepe, Lacazette, Tavares, Niles, Leno, Chambers, Martinelli.

    1. What to do with the current squad?

      Leno – sell asap and replace with onana to compete with ramsdale.
      Ramsdale – keep
      Okonkwo/Hein – loan out both in January if Obama is signed.

      Tomiyasu – keep
      Cedric – sell in summer, bring back Bellerin
      Tierney – keep
      Tavares – keep
      Kolasinac – sell asap no replacement
      Chambers – sell asap replace with Harry clarke
      White – keep
      Holding – sell in summer replace with daniel ballard
      Gabriel – keep
      Mari – sell in summer replace with William Saliba

      Partey – keep
      Odegaard – keep
      Lokonga – keep
      Elneny – sell asap, replace with Torreira or Akinola
      Xhaka – sell asap, replace with Guendozi or Azeez
      Maitland-Niles – sell asap, replace with Patino

      Smith-Rowe – keep
      Martinelli – keep
      Pepe – keep
      Saka – keep
      Aubameyang – sell in summer to Dortmund in p/ex for haaland
      Lacazette – sell asap, replace with john-jules
      Nketiah – sell asap, replace with biereth
      Balogun – keep

      Runarrson – sell asap
      Mavropanos – sell asap
      Nelson – sell asap

  3. …………………………Ramsdale……………………
    Tomi…….. White……..Gabriel……. Tierney
    Smith Rowe……..Partey……….Odegaard
    Saka…………Aubameyang…………N. Pepe
    I go with Auba cuz he’s the coach’s choice. A 4-3-3 formation will fit the bill & we need ball holding players 2 make sure we keep possession 2 ourselves, that way we can win.

  4. OT. Guendouzi’s team mates are fed up with him in the current bust up.

    I believe some fans will find a way to blame MA on this too 😂😂😂

  5. My bad..pls pardon me..in the Same time I want to learn English..but me Is true arsenal supporter..since wright day…in my early days as arsenal fan we are proud of the academy product..not mention Ashley Cole ..I mention in between..fabregas long hair..Chelsea buy a whole squad of man..😕

  6. We have a lot of youngsters playing with each other for the first time and playing for Arsenal with the right motivation and spirit. Arteta seems to have found out his best line up and tactics and this should be a proper foundation for further success. It wont be easy to replace Laca though if and when he leaves and I for one hope he gets an extension.

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