‘All or Nothing: Arsenal’ review: Mikel Arteta is the rare saving grace

Too much focus on Mikel Arteta’s coaching methods along with another disappointing Arsenal season makes for an uninteresting viewing experience, but a thinly-veiled message from the Kroenke ownership reveals itself

Too much focus on Mikel Arteta’s coaching methods along with another disappointing Arsenal season makes for an uninteresting viewing experience, but a thinly-veiled message from the Kroenke ownership reveals itself

The series that brought us behind-the-scenes footage of football clubs like Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur is back on Thursday with an in-focus look at another popular Premier League club. All or Nothing: Arsenal covers the ups and downs at Arsenal Football Club during their 2021-22 season.

It’s tempting to think that it might have been a better idea for Amazon to go into the Arsenal locker room for the upcoming 2022-23 season instead. Things are now looking on up for the Gunners with the arrival of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, and for the first time in years, they look ready to challenge for the Champions League places again. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s project looks set for fruition.

Missing out on the UEFA Champions League spot for the fifth year running, and not winning any trophies are the two biggest reasons why Amazon Prime Video covering Arsenal for the 2021-22 season comes off as a damp squib.

While the first three episodes of the fly-on-the-wall football locker room series are full of giddy optimism for Arsenal’s top four chances, consequently, the series does tug at emotional strings for supporters, since objectively, Arsenal never reached their season objectives.

What to expect from ‘All Or Nothing: Arsenal’?

“Arsenal is written on his forehead,” remarks former striker Thierry Henry on the 22-year-old Emile Smith-Rowe, who is revealed to be a shy young footballer. This sets the tone for the rest of the series, as Arteta and co. set about forging a modern-day identity for the club. Meanwhile, Henry looks gloriously sleepy in pastel sweaters, nothing like the sharp Frenchmen we know him to be. Pixelated footage of his solo goal against Tottenham Hotspur, introduces the legend in All or Nothing: Arsenal.

The first three episodes showcase how the fans’ perception of Mikel Arteta keeps changing. After a catastrophic start on the pitch, there was a sour taste in the Gunners’ mouths. But by the time episode three ends, Arteta has seen a sudden change in fortune with victory against Aston Villa, celebrations for which are captured through videos of fans’ Instagram stories.

Club owner Josh Kroenke is also shown backing Arteta and the smart transfer activity this season corroborates his claim. But bringing back club legends as managers have often given mixed results. The series brooms all the other shortcomings of the Kroenke ownership under the carpet, and just like the football team, Amazon has doubled down here. It may all may be for naught if Mikel Arteta cannot improve upon the last season.

From a cinematic perspective, All or Nothing: Arsenal disappoints and fails to hit any kind of personal chord. Arteta’s voice — monotonous throughout the series — is bereft of any modulation, so his emotionally-intelligent approach sometimes appears lifeless.

The docu-series also sheds light on player exchanges with club staff, personality quirks, sports cars, bling fashion, on-the-pitch struggles, and features an unnecessary number of slow-motion knee-slide celebrations after goals are scored. Kieran Tierney advocating mental health, Nuno Tavares working with Carlos Cuesta for an individual development session, and Emile Smith Rowe receiving one-on-one training with club coaches are some other interesting plot points to look out for.

While the Aubameyang-Arteta flashpoint will be addressed in the later episodes, we will have to wait and see if the Arsenal fans’ protest of the ownership — for their role in the European Super League drama — makes the cut.

A rare saving grace

Mikel Arteta’s personality is a rare positive in All or Nothing: Arsenal. Scenes involving him are a direct attempt to speak with loyal fans from the past, and Arteta and co. display an excellent connection to the Arsenal club culture right off the bat.

Arteta’s tireless work to engrave the Arsenal DNA into his team’s workflow is evident, even if it’s sometimes funny watching the manager — who reportedly pockets a cool £5 million ($6.2 million) from his Arsenal deal per year — draw a heart, a brain and a hotdog wrapped with an Arsenal scarf with limbs to hold each other, before the north London derby.

By the end of the third episode, Arsenal has risen to fifth in the Premier League table, which is where they end up finally when their 2021-22 campaign finishes.

Will the next five episodes to come make for more interesting viewing? Only time will tell.

Who is in it, what are the release dates ‘All or Nothing: Arsenal‘, and more

  1. The first team squad, Mikel Arteta and coaching staff, non-playing staff, Josh Kroenke, Thierry Henry, and Arsenal fans feature heavily in All or Nothing: Arsenal
  2. The first three episodes will release on August 4, episodes 4 to 6 release on August 11, and episodes 7 to 8 release on August 18, 2022
  3. The series is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Daniel Kaluuya, who was born and grew up in London, and is a life-long Arsenal supporter

(All or Nothing: Arsenal will stream on Amazon Prime Video, 4th August 2022 onwards.)

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