All or Nothing: Arsenal is an important doc that must be appreciated – and so should the players

Date published: Saturday 6th August 2022 8:08 - Jason Soutar

Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard

Like their Premier League counterparts Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal granted Amazon permission to capture everything behind the scenes for a whole season in their docuseries ‘All or Nothing’.

 

Having spoken to Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe and Cedric Soares, the experience seems like it was a good one, but I get the impression they don’t want to do this sort of thing again.

Cedric admitted it was strange at first, but he got used to it pretty quickly.

“It was definitely something different, especially in the beginning when you are not used to it so you are a bit aware in the beginning but I think during the time and during the season you end up forgetting about those cameras,” the 30-year-old defender said.

“I think it just became normal again and in the end, it was a good experience I think because I’m very curious about what is coming.

“I think it is something good for the club and also to learn from it. I look forward to watching it… I am very curious to watch it all.”

Odegaard said: “Sometimes you were not too happy with the cameras and I am not the biggest fan of the cameras and the attention.

“Sometimes you don’t like it too much but they did it in a very good way, there were cameras on the wall so you didn’t think too much about it.

“Maybe a little bit in the beginning but after a while it was natural and when you got used to it it was completely fine. I felt like we could be ourselves.”

Mental health was a huge talking point and something that is emphasised throughout the Amazon show. Smith Rowe explained how he opened up to one of Mikel Arteta’s coaches before his own parents, and while Cedric admits there is a long way to go in this regard, all three players do believe the club are doing a lot to ensure the squad is in a good place mentally.

People on social media tend to forget that footballers are human and not robots, despite how they come across in some interviews due to the jobsworth PR folk who don’t want you to say anything more than ‘I’m very happy to be here’ or ‘Getting the three points is the most important thing at the end of the day’. (No offence to the PR folk, they’re just doing their job).

One of the first scenes was Benjamin White describing an encounter with someone online. ‘£50million? You’re s**t,’ he says.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and White probably doesn’t care what people think of him. He is a £50m footballer with a strong mentality, but it can’t feel good to read this sort of thing.

Online abuse is never going to go away. Whether it be racist, homophobic, or any other kind, it will always be there on social media thanks to a minority of people who just want to watch the world burn.

Certain players hold themselves in a very good light in the docuseries, such as Aaron Ramsdale, who faced mountains of abuse from Arsenal fans before joining, forcing him to turn off all comments from social media.

After emerging as a great signing and even better sh*thousery master, it wasn’t the Arsenal fans who had a problem with him, it was basically everyone else because how dare a professional footballer show some character on the pitch. The bloody cheek of it.

All or Nothing gives you the chance to see players as people – Ramsdale is a perfect example – and it should not be taken for granted.

Arsenal fans may wince at some of the content in the Amazon documentary, but it is quite important to appreciate what they have at their disposal.

Any fan should be delighted to have fly-on-the-wall access to the club they support. I couldn’t imagine anything much better as a young fan. They will get the opportunity to feel like they know their idols and favourite players, which is something incredibly unique and an overall exciting experience.

“When I was younger I always liked to see off-the-pitch stuff and things from players, what they do and how they behave.

I” think for people it will be great to see, especially for young people, they will enjoy it and to see a different part of our life and to come closer to us,” Odegaard said.

It isn’t just a great experience if you are an Arsenal supporter, but for a football fan in general. Get the popcorn in the microwave, put your feet up and enjoy being able to see how a Premier League club operates on a daily basis.

The Tottenham and Manchester City documentaries were great – the Arsenal one has the potential to be even better.

Arsenal are a bit of a laughing stock these days having not won the league in nearly two decades. Their lack of a Champions League or European Cup is also not ideal, and as soon as that card is played in an argument, it’s curtains.

You are a bit of an easy target when you play for the Gunners, or when you manage them in Arteta’s case.

When a clip emerged on social media of the Spaniard blasting You’ll Never Walk Alone through speakers during a training session so his players could try and experience what Anfield will be like for their upcoming Premier League match, this was used as ammunition. Ammunition to criticise and mock something that was quite creative, but nothing out of the ordinary or completely ridiculous.

Supporters of other clubs had a laugh at Arteta and Arsenal’s expense and the #ArtetaOut clan used it as a great excuse to have a little cry and moan.

Liverpool fans, in particular, found it amusing, and it should be taken as a compliment because it actually shows the Merseyside club in a positive light, given the bizarre length the Spanish manager went to as he looked for a positive result in the most difficult away ground in the country, if not Europe.

The Reds get a few compliments in the opening three episodes. Arteta tells a story about the only time on a football pitch he didn’t really know where he was and hid as a result of that. That was the 5-1 loss at Anfield in 2014.

Smith Rowe commented on the stadium, saying: “Anfield is crazy, I couldn’t believe it, to be honest, I couldn’t hear myself speaking.”

Club captain Odegaard had this to say on Arteta’s unique strategy to get a result away to Jurgen Klopp’s side: “It shows the way he is.

“He wants to do everything to prepare the team in the best possible way. He is very creative. I thought it was nice and a fun way to prepare for the atmosphere.

“Anfield can be the loudest stadium in the country. I think it was a nice way to prepare.”

The players liked the tactic and it was just another reason why Arteta is regarded as one of the most detailed coaches in the sport.

However, Arteta was ridiculed for this and his speech before his side’s fourth league match of the season.

Arsenal were bottom of the league with zero goals scored and nine conceded in the opening three fixtures. To motivate his players before their match against Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium, the 40-year-old spoke about a heart problem he had as a child, called the club his “family”, spoke about his “purpose as a coach” and what his squad, or “family”, mean to him.

Of course, this is taken as something weird or silly. As if Arteta should say “Lads, it’s Norwich. Easy win today.” Arsenal went on a nice unbeaten run in all competitions straight after, starting off with their scrappy 1-0 win over the Canaries.

“I think Mikel tried to bring the group together; he had a really good speech,” Cedric said.

“He always tried every week to change the speech, try to interact a bit with us, try to get a bit more emotions sometimes together with his plan tactically and you need to respect this.

“Just before we got to the pitch he tried to touch on some points where he knew was going to become much more emotional. I think it was good, very important and helped to turn the season around.”

But no, let’s listen to someone on Twitter with #ArtetaOut in their bio. They know better and are completely spot on when they say the speech was ’embarrassing’ and ‘cringe’.

Say what you want about Arteta, but he has fixed the culture problem at the club – and it was one hell of a problem. The squad is likeable for the first time since the days of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in their prime and is now oozing talent and potential.

Importantly, the players love and respect the manager. Thankfully, people’s opinion on Twitter doesn’t matter, but the #ArtetaOut brigade can be pretty brutal at times.

Odegaard touched on social media, admitting that he would be mentally unstable if he went online after every match. On Arteta, however, he is full of praise and says he learns from the Spanish manager “every day”.

Smith Rowe told Football365 that players can go to the manager “whenever they want”.

Cedric could not pick out a specific moment his boss went so in-depth it bordered insanity, instead telling us that it would be easier to pick out a time he was not left amazed by the former Gunners captain, because there is such a low number of examples if any.

Touching back on the important subject of mental health, Kieran Tierney has a pretty intense scene discussing losing close friends to suicide, and it was a conversation that should be had, no matter how tough it may be to open up about.

Using this platform to raise awareness about such a serious topic is brilliant and crucial in winning the fight against such a prolific killer.

The Amazon documentary is a brilliant fly-on-the-wall documentary that fans dream of being able to experience and it should not be taken for granted; it hits all the right notes and is a very personable programme.

It should be appreciated and applauded, not used as an excuse to take the p*ss out of someone for doing something completely normal, unique, creative and/or inspiring.

A lot of it is banter but Twitter has become a cesspit full of people who need to take the positives out of All or Nothing: Arsenal. Here’s hoping some people change the way they treat footballers and realise what qualifies for a good old-fashioned ribbing.

Arteta’s speech before the Norwich game clearly worked.

Getting club photographer Stuart MacFarlane to speak before the north London derby worked.

Asking the team to rub their hands together and closing their eyes before the win at Leicester worked.

Letting Smith Rowe join Huddersfield Town on loan worked.

The training ground speakers strategy absolutely did not work, but nothing else seems to do the trick when it comes to a trip to Anfield.

Going away from the documentary, Arteta’s treatment of Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba worked. Who’d have thought it? It’s almost as if the Arsenal manager should be trusted over Twitter experts.

Enjoy the programme and don’t be a d*ck.

 

You can watch All or Nothing: Arsenal on Amazon Prime Video.

Episodes 1-3 are released on Thursday, August 4.

Episodes 4-6 – Thursday, August 11.

Episodes 7-8 – Thursday, August 18.

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