Hits and Misses: “All or Nothing” (Episodes 1-3)

The highly anticipated new season of “All or Nothing” arrived on Amazon Prime Video on Thursday. The new installment of the series follows Arsenal, marking an immensely rare occasion in which the club allowed cameras behind the scenes. Over the course of Arsenal’s first 17 Premier League matches, the first three episodes display Gunners’ emotional journey to start the season in detail. Below are the Hits and Misses from those episodes.

WARNING: This article will contain spoilers for the first three episodes of “All or Nothing: Arsenal”.

HITS

The Ramsdales

One of the most heartwarming bits in the opening trio of episodes was when Aaron Ramsdale’s parents came to cheer on their son during his Arsenal debut. Watching their anxiety levels yo-yo up and down as the younger Ramsdale fought to keep a clean sheet against Norwich was highly stressful. At one point, Nick Ramsdale gets out of his seat and walks toward the concourse, muttering “Fucking hell, it’s doing me heart in!” When full time was signaled, the family’s celebrations were incredibly heartwarming. Aaron’s victories were their victories.

Josh Kroenke

Over the last few years, the Kroenke have received an onslaught of criticism, and mostly for good reason. But one thing “All or Nothing” ‘s opening episodes demonstrated was Josh Kroenke’s consistent involvement during the season. The American director strolled onto the pitch to greet Mikel Arteta before the season started, and chatted with Bukayo Saka about shaking off the disappointment of missing his penalty in the final of Euro 2020. After Arsenal’s 5-0 loss to Manchester City, Kroenke can be seen consoling Arteta over lunch in the club’s mess hall. He interacts with club staff on a regular basis and really comes off as highly involved in Arsenal’s operations. The portrayal may be a bit polished, but Josh Kroenke seems a more caring figure than before because of the series.

Edu

The club’s technical director also sees his reputation improved in “All or Nothing”. Edu, as previously portrayed in club media for new players such as Fabio Vieira and Gabriel Jesus, takes it upon himself to check in on players. He pops into the dressing room to say hello to the team, and at one point is seen chatting with Kieran Tierney and asking the Scot if he is okay. He even seems to watch out for Arteta in a way. At one point during Arsenal’s unbeaten run, Edu discusses how the manager seems happier, more relaxed. By now, it is probably reasonable to say Edu has demonstrated that he is a good technical director. In “All or Nothing”, he also demonstrates that he is a good friend.

Kieran Tierney

It has not been the best of times for Tierney recently. In the wake of yet another season-ending injury, his long-term future at Arsenal has faced speculation. The arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko means his starting position is likely at risk. But “All or Nothing” serves to remind us of the character he is. His quips about Martin Odegaard’s salary and tanking Cadbury’s shares are solid comedic relief in what is largely an emotional show. But when the left-back opens up about losing friends to suicide and having his own mental health struggles, it is hard not to be reminded of the admirable strength of Tierney’s character.

Carlos Cuesta

Until now, Cuesta has not received much in the way of attention from the Arsenal faithful. But his Wendy Rhoades-esque displays in the show have certainly piqued Gooners’ interest. On multiple occasions, the development coach sits down with players to offer encouragement. With Saka, Cuesta charismatically encourages him during a chat in the cafeteria. With Nuno Tavares, he asks why the Portuguese left-back opens up some days and not others, reminding him that he has everything he needs to succeed, including people around him who are willing to help. Cuesta looks particularly gifted at supporting players and taking a modern approach that includes maintaining their mental fitness in addition to physical and technical fitness. He clearly plays an important role at the club and could go on to be a very special coach.

MISSES

Mazes

At one point, Saka mentions a maze at Thorpe Park while having a meal in the canteen and is met with blank faces. One by one, he asks Sambi Lokonga, Karl Hein, and Alexandre Lacazette if they know what a maze is. None of them do, much to the Englishman’s bewilderment. It is one of the most hilarious moments in the show so far. But perhaps it also speaks to a massive loss of relevance by mazes generally?

Granit Xhaka’s car

The “All or Nothing” cameras appear to have captured hours of footage of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cruising around in extravagantly wrapped Lamborghinis. But they also reveal Granit Xhaka’s surprising ride of choice: a Smart car. Surrounded by pricey SUVs and sleek sports cars, the Smart looks particularly dinky. Indeed, Cedric (perhaps the Arsenal player most suited to a Smart) is filmed approaching his teammate’s vehicle and asking, “What is this shit car?” Xhaka tries to talk up his ride, but it’s probably quite difficult to be taken seriously in a car that only occupies half a parking spot.

Leicester’s away team dressing room

The Premier League is home to several of the richest clubs in the world. Even the worst clubs in England’s top flight rake in more money than the best teams in other top European leagues. And yet, the dressing room Leicester grants to Arsenal looks like the mock trial room at a barely-accredited law school. It is odd to see approximately two dozen millionaires preparing for a professional football match under fluorescent lighting with nowhere to hang their kits. Perhaps when they sell James Maddison or Wesley Fofana, Leicester can put some of those funds towards more suitable accommodations.

Mikel Arteta’s detractors

On a serious note, the big question on everyone’s minds from the show’s outset concerned what kind of leader Arteta is. As it would happen, “All or Nothing” portrays him to be a rather excellent one. He vows early on in the series to take the blame publicly for results. He constantly offers constructive suggestions to his players. His team talks are occasionally out of the box and slightly corny, but also oddly inspiring. He is warm and energetic, calm under pressure, and unwavering in his commitment to excellence. He is not without flaws. But it is clear from just the first few episodes that Arteta has the respect, trust, and admiration of not just his players, but everyone at Arsenal Football Club. To come away from this series with any other conclusion would amount to willful ignorance.

If you enjoyed this article, follow me on Twitter @dopegooner.

Leave a Reply