It’s finally here! After months of anticipation, the first three episodes of Amazon’s All or Nothing Arsenal – which tracks the Gunners throughout the 2021-22 season – are released on Thursday, August 4.
Ahead of the official release date, GOAL has had a sneak peek, so here is what to expect from the opening three episodes...
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Saka the early star
Given what had happened earlier in the summer, it’s perhaps no surprise that Bukayo Saka is the early star of the opening episode.
The documentary tracks Saka’s return to training after the disappointment of missing the crucial penalty in the Euro 2020 final and focuses on how he was welcomed back after the social media abuse that came his way.
Thierry Henry features as he praises Saka for having the bravery to step up in the shoot out, while Saka discusses the attention that has come his way during a chat with Emile Smith Rowe and Folarin Balogun in the canteen at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground.
Within 10 minutes of the first episode starting, it has reached the opening game of the Premier League season against Brentford.
Arsenal fans across the world are well aware of what went on before that match in west London, with a Covid-19 outbreak ravaging Arteta’s squad.
The situation got so bad that Arsenal spoke to the Premier League to determine whether the game could be postponed, but were told it was impossible.
Arteta was far from happy with that decision and most would have been expecting that situation to have been one of the major themes of the early part of this series.
Yet it is barely mentioned, aside from a quick comment from narrator Daniel Kaluuya that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette had fallen ill just ahead of kick-off against Brentford.
That felt like a bit of a let down as some behind-the-scenes footage of what was going on at London Colney during the build-up to the game would have provided supporters with some valuable insight.
Kroenke’s personal touch
It’s not long before Josh Kroenke features, with the son of owner Stan Kroenke appearing 15 minutes into the first episode.
He is shown meeting with technical director Edu and chief executive officer Vinai Venkatesham at the training ground to discuss Arsenal’s progress in the transfer window.
What’s clear during the footage of Kroenke is his backing of Arteta during those difficult early weeks of the season.
At one point the pair are talking on one of the training pitches and Arteta admits it has been a "tough week" and that the "tsunami is coming" and the "clouds are dark".
But you see Kroenke putting his arm on Arteta’s shoulder. It's a small but significant gesture.
Later on, you see the pair together in the canteen at Colney after the Manchester City defeat that left Arsenal bottom of the table after the opening three games.
Again, you see Kroenke reassuring Arteta during a conversation over lunch.
Arteta’s team talks
One of the most eye-catching things during the first three episodes are the pre-match team talks you see and hear from Arteta. They range from emotional to motivational.
Before the Watford game, he opens up to his players about the heart issues he faced as a child during a speech about high performance, and he thanks them for the way they have lifted him since the Manchester City defeat.
Perhaps the most interesting team talk comes in episode three ahead of the Leicester away game when Arteta gathers his players in a circle and tells them to close their eyes and rub their hands together while imagining what is going to happen in the match.
It has to be said that there is a hint of David Brent about it, though!
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North London Derby emotion
Episode two of the series is almost entirely focused on the north London derby.
It’s an episode that captures the emotion of the game and the build-up to it very well indeed.
For an Arsenal fan, it is a good watch, although for supporters of other clubs it might feel a touch over the top that almost the entirety of one episode is devoted to an early-season game.
Some of the best moments are from the training ground and focus around Smith Rowe and Saka.
You see the pair of Arsenal academy graduates talking in the canteen ahead of the game, imagining what it would be like to score in a north London Derby (which they would both go on to do).
For the first time in the series you get to hear properly from Aubameyang, who reveals the emotional reason why he always has a star cut into his hairstyle ahead of a game against Tottenham.
The footage around the game is excellent, as is the footage from inside the Arsenal changing room before kick-off, when you see Arteta and Stuart MacFarlane, the club photographer, speak passionately about what the match means to the fans.
Aaron Ramsdale features quite heavily in the opening episodes.
You see the goalkeeper when he first arrives to join from Sheffield United, you also get to hear from his family as he makes his debut in the win against Norwich.
But the bit with Ramsdale that really catches the eye is his reaction to conceding a late goal in the 3-1 win against Aston Villa at the start of episode three.
While the squad and manager are happy with the result, Ramsdale is furious in the changing room after the game that he was unable to keep his clean sheet.
Arteta's pre-Anfield plan
You see Arteta try something a little bit different in episode three as he tries to prepare his team for the trip to Anfield.
In a bid to get his players fully prepared for the atmosphere and challenge that awaits them, he brings speakers out to the training pitch at London Colney.
The pre-match session is then played out while ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ echoes around the training ground.
Arteta admits beforehand that it is a bit of a crazy idea. Given Arsenal went on to lose 4-0 at Anfield, it might not be one he tries again.
Tierney and Tavares open up
The first time we really get to see some of the players open up are in episode three, with Kieran Tierney and Nuno Tavares sharing their stories.
Both players discuss the difficulties they faced after making the move to north London and how hard they found it to adjust.
While documenting his return from injury, Tierney speaks candidly about his early struggles with homesickness following his move from Celtic.
It’s a similar story for Tavares, whom Arteta identifies as struggling during a conversation with doctor Gary O’Driscoll.
Other than Ramsdale discussing his move to Arsenal in episode one, this is the first time you really get to hear from some of the players and is a welcome addition to the series.
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No sign of Aubameyang-Arteta fall-out
The fall-out between Aubameyang and Arteta is one of the most eagerly anticipated parts of the whole series.
But, if you are hoping to find to exactly what happened between the manager and Arsenal’s former captain during the first three episodes, you will be left disappointed.
You won’t have to wait too long, however, as episode three ends after the defeat at Everton in December, which proved to be Aubameyang’s final game for the club.
Just like Arsenal’s season in 2021-22, All or Nothing is slow to get going.
The first episode is disappointing, especially the lack of any sort of detail about what went on behind the scenes in the build-up to the opening game of the season at Brentford.
That felt like a missed opportunity to really give fans an insight into just how difficult things were as a coronavirus outbreak decimated Mikel Arteta’s squad.
The series improves as it goes on, however. Arsenal fans will certainly enjoy episode two, given it focuses almost entirely on the north London derby win against Tottenham.
But it’s episode three where it really feels like things start to get going. For the first time you really start to feel like you are learning something new. The features on Tierney and Tavares are excellent, as are the clips from the training ground, especially in the build-up to Anfield.
It does leave you wanting more and with the Aubameyang situation to come during episodes 4-6, the series promises to keep getting stronger.