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Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo

'All or Nothing: Arsenal' goes behind the scenes of club's season

TV series spotlights Arsenal Football Club

Amazon’s original series “All or Nothing: Arsenal” was released on the Prime streaming service on Aug. 4, 2022.

The very first season of “All Or Nothing” in 2016 followed the Arizona Cardinals and provided a groundbreaking insight into life behind the scenes at an elite sports team. Since then, Amazon Studios has taken this format and repeated it with elite rugby (the All Blacks), college football (Michigan Wolverines), ice hockey (Toronto Maple Leafs), soccer teams (Brazil, Juventus, Manchester City, Tottenham) and a handful of other NFL franchises. The most recent installment in the series goes behind the scenes at Arsenal Football Club and follows their progress through the 2021/22 season. 

Since debuting in 2016, “All Or Nothing” has done very little to evolve in terms of format or formula, so if you are looking for the thrill of watching a groundbreaking documentary film, you might be disappointed. What “All Or Nothing” does well is apply its tried and tested formula in a variety of environments. If you’ve liked the previous entries, you’ll almost certainly like this. 

As usual, the thrill comes from getting an up-close look at sporting icons we usually only get a fleeting glimpse of in their heavily sanitized media appearances. We get to learn about the personalities of the players, coaching staff and a handful of other peripheral figures at the club. 

Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s falling out with Arteta and the subsequent stripping of his captaincy is captured in-depth, as is the Granit Xhaka debacle. Viewing what goes on behind the scenes of private issues such as these is what makes “All or Nothing: Arsenal” worth watching.

This season, the show takes a good look at the story behind a soccer club with a long history of success that has underperformed ever since they waved goodbye to their long-serving visionary manager Arsene Wenger. Under the management of the youngest manager in the league, Mikel Arteta, Arsenal is a work in progress. It’s a team in transition with a core of young, hungry players that need to be molded with the support of the coaching team around them. 

There is the usual matchday footage, and as a soccer fan, it’s always fascinating to see how the top managers conduct their team talks. In one particularly memorable scene, Arteta brings a matchday photographer and lifetime supporter in to give a pre-match speech that underlines how much the club means to the fans. However, most interesting to watch are the casual conversations between players. For example, little observations were made by newly signed players from abroad about how obsessed their mums are with Ikea. It is these small moments of humanity that make usually remote millionaires feel more relatable. 

If there is a complaint to be made about “All Or Nothing: Arsenal,” it is the usual complaint that can be made about any of the previous “All Or Nothing” series — it is perhaps just a little too polished and a little too media-friendly. One gets the impression that agreeing to take part comes with a hefty number of conditions by the club — such as showing enough of what happens behind the scenes to be interesting, but not too much that it paints the club in a bad light. Then again, what else can be expected from such a large production in the Premier League era? 

If you are a sports fan, you will like “All Or Nothing: Arsenal.” If you are a Premier League fan, you’ll love it. If you are an Arsenal fan, it’s must-watch TV.