If Maitland-Niles is the answer….what the hell is the question?

Ok that headline is pure click bait, and I predict we will see a number of comments from people who haven’t read the post telling me that I should leave our homegrown talent alone and that he is a wonder kid in the making. Let me be clear I won’t disagree with any of that and that is why I am writing this.

I’m sure I cannot be alone in being a tad discontented with Arsenal performances of late (understatement of the decade), what have I had to get excited about? Well in all honesty three things give me faint hope that we could still turn this slump round and become a force to be reckoned with again….step forward Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Jack Wilshere. Homegrown, super talented, unphased by the game at this level and the hysteria that sometimes surrounds our club.

These three have been at Arsenal for much of their life, combined they have 40 years big club experience, and 15 years international experience at their respective levels. They have seen the good times and bad at the club, they have experience of what it’s like to play for a club that the minnows want to beat (even if that’s in youth leagues and cups). I’m sure there are plenty of others through our ranks with similar attitude. The biggest compliment I can pay Maitland-Niles is that his teammates never worry about giving him the ball, compare that to when they look at some of their other teammates and turn away to find a safer option.

Whats my point? Look at some of our recent signings for what is frankly silly money these days (insert your own choices here) can you honestly say you wouldn’t rather be watching homegrown talent in those positions……yet still the only solution offered by many fans and pundits to our current malaise is sign more players, where exactly has that got us in recent seasons? As far as I can see more discontent on the terraces and more disjointed performances on the pitch.

I have often speculated that not all of our recent signings have been purely football related, I think there is such a clamour to sign players that the club has got itself into a belief that any signing is better than none, keep the fans and media off their back, “there you go we are spending some f***ing money”.

We need a change of mindset, we need to get back to what made us different but also led to enjoyable attacking football that the supporters enjoyed watching with a team that played with freedom and without fear.

As depressing as the League Cup Final defeat to Birmingham was that side was better to watch than this current team, and if we could have kept it together had more chance of winning titles. Perhaps most importantly it had one player who was a star when we signed him, and he was already on the wane for us. Over the four years leading up to that final we had a transfer net income of £31m.

The team that started against Birmingham….Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy, Nasri, Song, Wilshere, Rosicky, Arshavin, BSR. (Cesc and Theo both injured).

Ok not home grown but assembled for very little money, Jack was the first to emerge from a youth setup that had been given a root and branch overhaul on the type of players it valued and the style of play. Arsene had bought cleverly in the post stadium move/Abramovich/Sheikh era when the big hitters left for big money he assembled a side for relatively little money still able to compete. No they didn’t win titles, but neither is the current side, that over the three years preceding and including this season has cost £165m to assemble (without managing to get £30m plus for Ox that could have been nearly £195m). Has it been well spent? Is spending more now going to bring us any more chance of success or bring better football? Won’t we be throwing good money after bad chasing the elusive final piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately our jigsaw seems to have been spread far and wide with many bits lost down the sofa. You may also need to consider what our competition has spent in that time….City £479m, United £438m, Liverpool £75.5m (helped by recouping £108m for Coutinho), Chavs £36.2m (their youth acquisition policy very helpful) and Spuds £9m. Probably explains why we are lagging behind City and Untied, not so much why we are lagging behind Chavs, and obviously Spuds benefited hugely from discovering a £50m striker in their youth setup.

I hate to look across at Spuds and say I wish we could be like that, but they have a side more akin to our 2010/11 team than ours is now, they play uninhibited football and work bloody hard and even their best player hasn’t yet got too big for his boots that he is demanding the club buy players to match his ambitions, they have been able to build that side because their fans have been beaten into submission by years of abject failure that expectation or entitlement to be challenging for titles is not present in the fan base, they are enjoying the ride and why shouldn’t they.

What have we as a club really achieved in recent years that leads to such high expectations? High expectations that when you look at the spending of United and City is more often than not going to be kicked in the b******ks.

I think it’s time for the club to reset, and get back to basics, whether under new management or current, give the kids some game time and forget about superstars for a while until we find our identity again. I’ll have much more fun watching Maitland-Niles and friends bring some joy back to watching Arsenal than sitting there eternally disappointed that the last £40m midfielder we signed can’t actually track a runner from midfield and has worse attack and defence stats than a £12m midfielder bought 4 years earlier, or a £47m striker has as good a goal to shot ratio as the much maligned £12m striker from a few seasons previous who in my opinion actually brought more to the overall play of the team.

If our support was influenced only by titles there would be many bloggers that frequent this site that would have given up in the 60’s and again in the 80’s. They didn’t because football isn’t all about the trophies, first and foremost it should be enjoyable to go to or watch, to achieve that you need to reset your expectations.

Gooner in Exile

105 Responses to If Maitland-Niles is the answer….what the hell is the question?

  1. mickydidit89 says:

    Bloody love the title

    Busy. Looking forward to digesting an Exile later

  2. Jay says:

    I think I understand where you are coming from but I know it is not the answer to go back to buying cheaper unknown players. The reason why we are buying the wrong players is down to the manager and staff. There has been huge holes every season that needed to be filled but Wenger never does. I don’t think he can be trusted to spend any money anymore and hopefully leaves in the summer. This way the new manager can spend the money and mold a team to the direction he wants them to go. The defensive side of the game has to be drilled into the current squad and it will take some time to solve!! The club is in a huge mess right now.

  3. Juan Branesell says:

    Mainland-Nyles is gonna be a star. Get off his back, bro.

  4. Big Raddy says:

    ontoGIE. Very enjoyable read.

    Having seen the early rounds of the EPL and Carabao it seems as if you are onto something. The fans certainly enjoyed those performances.

    However, despite this season’s disappointments the highlight of almost every game has been Sanchez and Ozil’s wizardry.

  5. Chris Green says:

    Yeah you’re quite right mate.

  6. chas says:

    Excellent post, GIE.

    Expectations at all clubs are at ridiculously high levels.
    When mediocre clubs are shelling out £30m here, there and everywhere for average players because they feel impelled to spend Murdoch’s money to appease fans, hopes and dreams will fall by the wayside.

    I’m convinced the spuds are heading for a fall – they won’t be able to sustain that team on their current wage structure.

    Conte will be off in the summer as he’s already being disrespected for not building on last season.

    Mourinho usually engineers his own downfall in his third season at any club.

    Pep will get bored with pissing the League.

    Liverpool are a few crucial injuries away from their usual ‘flatter to deceive’ season.

    My expectations for Arsenal are at rock bottom – I literally cannot lower them anymore.

  7. Rasp says:

    Great read, thanks GiE. I am in full agreement about M-N, Jack and Nelson … I’d add Nketieh and Willock to that … and maybe Macey.

    I think the essence of a good team is all about the blend in terms of talent and experience, but just as importantly it is motivation, hard work and everyone buying into the same dream … much like the shower down the road.

    If the players think that the dream of an EPL or CL is not achievable, but could be achievable with another club, then that combined with the prospect of higher wages elsewhere is going to cause unrest and a lack of harmony and fight on the pitch. So in that respect returning to our grass roots as you describe would be a solution.

    I think the expectation of the fans is something which sadly can’t be tempered by simple reasoning … it’s a reflection of the modern world.

    Like you and others, I just want to enjoy watching my team play without all the angst and bitching … but it is hard when some of the decision making by those who run the club is a major factor in poor performances on the pitch.

  8. VP of Oz says:

    great great read GIE

  9. Eddie says:

    Epic, thanks GiE

    you are right, our on a shoe string budget teams performed better than this lot. They are just awful, don’t even look like a unit.

    Building a new team, presumably by a new manager is going to take years with results not guaranteed. I still think 2 good strikers could move us to the top four, return to CL and then gives us some slack to build a new team in the background.

    I agree that buying expensive superstars didn’t work for us. But why didn’t it work?? It worked for other teams so why not for us?

    This is a genuine question – how many home grown players at in the starting XI at Real and Barca?

  10. Eddie says:

    Juan Brunasell – you tool 🙂

  11. Big Raddy says:

    Eddie. You really make me laugh 😀

  12. Eddie says:

    why is that Raddy?

  13. Eddie says:

    raddy – I sent you an email

  14. well done GIE.

    Something no-one’s mentioned…
    Maitland-Niles and Nelson are both being played out of position.
    Just like Ox.

    I fear those two young stars will opt to “resurrect” their barely-begun careers elsewhere once a big club makes an offer.
    Part of the offer being to play them in the “correct” position they’re happier to play in.

    Anyone noticed that Ox is no longer a wing-back, and also seemingly enjoying that situation.

    I’m now waiting for the arrival of FGG.
    Of late, sort of a refined astute version of Mister Angry.

  15. fatgingergooner says:

    Hi Big Al, I’ve just eaten so I’m happy, although I’m still going to disagree with you! 😄

    Wenger often plays younger players out wide or in positions where they cannot be too exposed. Wilshere was played as a winger at 16 if
    I remember correctly, but was moved into the middle when he’d developed properly. I fully believe that AMN will be drafted into the middle next season and I think the sale of Coquelin has made the hole for him.

    As for gaps in the squad, Wenger has always had that. Look at the Invincibles squad and you don’t find a decent player outside the first 16. Players like Hoyte, Tavlaridis, Aliadiere, Stack etc. These were our back ups if injuries occurred. Youngsters who were on the verge of breaking into the squad. That hasn’t changed during the whole of Wengers time at Arsenal. My belief is that he intentionally leaves spaces where he feels he has a potential youngster coming through, and why wouldn’t he? He obviously gets massive satisfaction from that side of his job, so why would he give that up to shut up a few moaning fans who will only moan about something else anyway.

    As for spending money not working for us but working for others, I think the issue there is we don’t have unlimited money. Real or City or Chelsea etc can waste £40m on a player and not worry if he’s rubbish because they can just go buy another one. We don’t have the same luxury. A £40m player for us needs to work, and if it doesn’t then that’s where we have problems, which is exactly the situation we are in now.

    In response to the fantastic post, I would say that I’m with Rasp in that the balance has to be correct. I think I’m the past we’ve had good youngsters but poor senior players to teach them, or better senior players but the youngsters haven’t quite been good enough. It’s been a while since we’ve had a good blend where the youngsters produce and the senior players are the right types. When you find that though, that’s when you end up with a side like the United one that dominated for years.

    I’m really looking forward to some of these youngsters coming through as we seem to have found a very good crop, however, for it to work we still need the people in charge to buy the right types of players and get rid of the ones who don’t want to be here or are too comfortable.

  16. chas says:

  17. Chas,

    Just waiting for Ox’s 3 month hamstring injury. Should be due any time now.

  18. GoonerB says:

    Thanks GIE. Will come back to yours in a moment but just wanted to say a belated thanks to our Canadian Gooner for yesterdays marvelous post. I really enjoyed the read.

  19. Eddie says:

    GB – which part did you enjoy the most?

  20. Eddie says:

    rumour has it that arsenal players cannot stand Sanchez and want him sold. I might be true, but then again it might be true that kim kardashian’s tits are the real thing, who knows

  21. FGG

    I don’t disagree with your above comments at all.
    But… my post regarding M-N and Nelson isn’t written from Arsene’s perspective, or even Arsenal FC perspective.
    Simply, from the actual players’ perspective.

    Ox wasn’t happy playing as wing-back. Fact. He made it clear he wanted a midfield role, preferably central.
    So, I repeat my concerns of Nelson and M-N possibly leaving for the same reason.

    However, if Arsene persists with his “3-at-the-back” nonsense, then only four midfield positions will be available, as is the case now.
    A flat back four would mean another (5th) place is available in MF.

    You may be right as regards M-N’s role in MF next season.
    However, with probably only 3 places in MF up for grabs (Xhaka’s place guaranteed) he has stiff opposition, as follows.
    Xhaka, Sanchez’s replacement, Ozil (or replacement) Ramsey, Wilshere, Elneny, Wellbeck, Maitland-Niles, Nelson.
    Cazorla – no comment (respectfully).
    So, next season, if he’s considered not quite ready for MF, then he may well continue at full-back, which brings me straight back to my main point, see 1st para).

    Note – I have refrained from using the word “shoehorned” (haha).


    By the way, I hate the “back-3” formation, if you hadn’t guessed.
    I’m not discussing that tosh now, as I’m going to cook and eat. Some other time.
    Keep up the good work, FGG.

  22. FGG

    I forgot to mention Iwobi (MF).

  23. GoonerB says:

    Another excellent post GIE. I so often find myself agreeing with much of what you say and other bloggers like Rasp, FGG, and many others, but often have a couple of areas of a differing view.

    The crux of your post I totally agree with. I have always enjoyed seeing the youngsters come through and as it stands would love to see space made available for Nelson, AMN and Nketiah who I all believe can influence us at 1st team level even at their young ages. Willock I feel is just slightly behind these in terms of feeling he can impact the first 11 at this stage.

    If we are labouring anyway, why not get these players who can represent our future in the team. Where I would disagree is with the resetting of expectations.I think it is right to have high expectations at our club and if we are failing to meet those harsh assessments need to made, without being influenced by sentimentality and irrespective of past achievements.

    We are at the higher end of a business, with competitors surrounding us, in many ways the same as in any other industry, although it has to be recognised that football has aspects that separates it from other industries. Making decisions based on sentimentality and allowing for the same repetitive mistakes without addressing them can be the start of the downfall of any big company.

    I have to be a bit careful these days with what I say because it can come across as if I can see no right in Wenger, which couldn’t be further from the truth, but in reality my views on him as a coach in recent years hasn’t changed, and I am saying the same things I did a few years ago.

    I think he has hit a ceiling in modern football where the addition of better players makes little difference in him getting the team to a higher level. I feel he has a blind spot in certain positions and balancing the team out, and lacks some modern tactical and coaching insights. He has not become a bad manager but is 10% behind now (but wasn’t in the past) what we need to get back challenging at the top of the EPL.

    In that sense we are probably better off with your suggestion GIE and there is a potential argument to keep the funds for the better more ready made players for a new incumbent. Having said that I do feel that he needs to pull out the stops for a last time to get this TW right and sort out the ins and outs so that we have a healthy squad for the next man to inherit.

    I believe this can be done and still introduce 2-3 youngsters into the 1st team. I do however have the same reservations as Big Al regarding his handling of youngsters these days as they progress into the first team and don’t think he is getting this right in recent seasons. Hopefully he will this time.

  24. Rasp says:

    Am I being naïve here? … or don’t we consider a player’s best position before we acquire them? You don’t employ a GK to be a striker. We’ve needed a proper ball winning DM for years … but bought pseudo DM’s or asked AM’s or B2B midfielders to fill the role.

    If we want a 4:4:2 system, a proper DM would still allow the full backs to go forward. As it was, with the likes of Bellerin, it used to leave a massive chasm in our flanks when we played 4:4:2 and that made us susceptible to being hit on the break.

    If you consistently play someone in a position in which they cannot flourish, they become disillusioned, their performance suffers and eventually they want out or they just settle into lethargic acceptance.

    Obviously filling in for injuries often requires a player to be played out of position … but the player would realise this and hopefully do his best for the team.

    I disagree with FGG. I think continually playing a young player out of position is counter productive. It doesn’t reduce the pressure on them, it increases it because they are less likely to be able to perform in that role.

    In M-N, we have an exceptional prospect. Not only does he seem able to adapt to a number of roles, but his calm, confident demeanour seems able to thrive under pressure rather than buckle.

  25. Rasp says:

    On another note, I do hope the stories of Jack being asked to take a pay cut in his new contract are fabrication. I know he’s had problems with injuries, but just now he’s doing everything right. He’s worked hard to get back to fitness, he’s taken on a new healthier diet, and he’s performing well on the pitch.

    Let’s not do another ‘Ashley Cole’ and lose a good home grown player for the sake of a couple of thousand a week …

  26. Afternoon all, thanks for comments, hope it had the intended effect of just asking for a little re assessment.

    I like Rasps suggestion and if I am honest it is where the thinking for this post started out, go back to when GG took over Howe’s team, big time charlies with very little to show for it on the pitch or in the trophy cabinet, some good players no doubt but not quite good enough.

    GG came in and promoted youngsters, added players he knew from around the leagues. Once that team were in place and managed to win the League Cup he added a couple of other faces where necessary, more established players superstar signings but there was a core.

    Wenger’s start was very similar, yes DB10 was here and the back 4 but elsewhere we had players like Selley in midfield, an ageing Wrighty and some others, Arsene came in added some players to the mix, rebuilt and added again for the Invincibles side, and forced to rebuild again after the Stadium Move.

    If anything that Carling Cup side came a season too soon and a few of the players matured too early and wanted success before we had cleared the Stadium debt, we could have matched their ambitions with wages and players only one or two seasons later. But by then so many were on the move.

    And like BR I enjoy watching Ozil’s wizardry and there is a place for it, but I just think the underlying core has been pulled from pillar to post by strange squad additions when there are players waiting who could fit in, as Maitnland-Niles has.

    I am pretty sure his main position through youth set up has been as a winger, and he sees that as his natural position, so wing back is not a ridiculous position for him to be playing although he is probably more offensively minded than defensively.

  27. fred1266 says:

    well for every Niles, Nelson theres a Iwobi

  28. Rasp says:

    Here’s a thought ….. If the media have it right …. we could be looking at Theo and Sanchez out, Mkhiaryan and PEA in ….. does that mean we are strengthening our bargaining position as regards Ozil?

    Mik and PEA are 2 first teamers replacing 1 first teamer and 1 bench warmer. Would Mik come to us without an assurance of first team football? I appreciate they are different players, but maybe we are looking at a front 3 of Mik, PEA and Lacaz … where does that leave Ozil? … and where does it leave Giroud?

  29. chas says:

    Giroud off to Dortmund in part ex for PEA.
    Lacaz to ride the pine.

  30. chas says:

    There’s no way AFC will want to make Mkh top earner and it doesn’t sound as if he wants to take a cut in wages, so the whole thing will fall through.

  31. chas says:

    Back to singing Alexis Sanchez baby to a Chilean dog-botherer who doesn’t give a shit about the Club.

  32. Gööner In Exile says:

    Fred why so quick to write off Iwobi, yes he is suffering a dip in form, he is bound to, but he never hides in a game, and if the fans stay behind him who knows what he can do.

  33. Rasp says:

    You think the Sanchez deal might fall through?

  34. chas says:

    I don’t really think anything, Rasp.
    Just posting bollix as usual. 🙂

  35. chas says:

  36. Eddie says:

    GiE – Iwobi is thick. He goes to a all night party before a game and plays shit. He will never ever in a million years make it. I said so last year and I am saying it this year. Amen.

  37. Eddie says:

    dog-botherer?? ey?

  38. chas says:

  39. Eddie says:

    (1) Someone who partakes of bestiality
    (2) An imflamitory libel, most likey causing the libeler to get a smack from the libelee
    (3) The name given to men who make a habit of pulling the really ugly girls at 1.50am as the nightclub is winding up.
    (4) OMG

  40. Rasp
    following from your 3.51 post

    First, allow for both Sanchez and Ozil leaving and 2 replacements purchased, rather than promoted from Academy.
    Secondly, allow for Arsene continuing with his wretched back-3 nonsense.

    Now for the maths…

    1 goalie, 3 centre-backs, 2 full-backs = 6
    That leaves 5 outfield positions remaining.

    Subtract 1 striker. That leaves 4 outfield positions remaining.

    Subtract Arsene’s love-child, Xhaka That leaves 3 outfield positions remaining.

    Subtract 2 replacements for Sanchez and Ozil.
    That leaves just 1 place up for grabs. In midfield (incuding wide).

    Ramsey – Wilshere – Iwobi – Wellbeck – Elneny – Maitland-Niles – Nelson. ( Cazorla )


    If Arsene reverts to a flat back 4, then that allows for TWO of the 7 (+1) above to feature. If only !!

    FGG, sorry to repeat but… difficult for M-N and Nelson to push for a regular spot next year, unless playing as “wing” backs. My guess is one may go on loan. Possibly both.

  41. chas says:

    Take a look

  42. Rasp says:

    We certainly don’t want Mik if his heart isn’t in it! He should be grabbing the chance to escape from Maureen and relishing the prospect of impressing his new club … any reluctance and he can do one as far as I’m concerned

  43. fatgingergooner says:

    I think my earlier comment about youngsters playing out of position has been taken slightly out of context. My point was more that Wenger tends to play the youngsters in wide areas to keep them out of the firing line and it also helps with their close control, but it’s only short term. He will move AMN inside next season, I’m sure of it. The same as he did with Wilshere. Once he’s happy they are good enough then they will play. I dont worry too much about our ‘first XI’ as ultimately we end up with a different team every week anyway, so saying that AMN will have to play wide to get in is rubbish. What he will have to do is accept that some weeks he will be on the bench, and that should go for all players and should be a good thing to drive a competitive atmosphere. Maybe that’s why Sanchez has been disliked as it seems regardless of form he’s always chosen.

  44. Chas, et al

    The 3 “contenders” :

    1. Mkhitaryan is 28 years old
    Sell on value in 5 years time?
    If next to nothing then it’s bad business as far as I’m concerned.

    2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is 28 years old
    Sell on value in 5 years time?
    If next to nothing then it’s bad business as far as I’m concerned.

    3. Malcom is 20 years old

    My opinion for what it’s worth re Sanchez to Man Utd :
    If the Mkhitaryan part of the deal is off, Sanchez will still join Man Utd for 35m approx regardless.

  45. chas says:

    Theo’s twitter profile pic.
    Starting to look like Aaron Lemon already.

  46. Rasp says:

    It appears Theo has gone, the deal is official! … according to “reliable sources” … LB will be devastated 🙂 🙂

  47. chas says:

    You can uncross them now, LB.

  48. chas says:

    Big Al

    You’re making me laugh talking about 5 years from now.

    5 months from now is long term planning.

  49. 5 months indeed!

    Serious fact is, Chas, I don’t like signing players of that age.
    Which bring to the fore again the hope(s) of GIE, FGG, myself, and possibly/probably all on AA, that the like of M-N and Nelson are given a fair crack of the whip.

    The news of the (possible) signing of one, or two, 28 year-olds is in my view rather sad and disconcerting, especially after reading and enjoying GIE’s post, and others’ input.

  50. chas says:

    Sanchez is 29.
    Think of it as signing a younger man rather than frittering money on an old scrote.

  51. chas says:

    Walnutt is 28.
    Did you want to sell both and replace from within?

  52. chas says:

    Theo is looking forward to working with Sam Allardyce.

    What a preposterous circus it’s all become.

  53. fatgingergooner says:

    Big Al,

    This is where we disagree. Weve tried a squad of mainly young players and it didn’t work. You must have a balance between youth, peak, and experienced players. For me, I’d say 20/60/20 is about the right ratio. You want a core of players between the ages of 25-30 who are close to their best in terms of development and form, mixed with a group of hungry youngsters who are looking to break onto the scene and prove they have what it takes, and a bunch of experienced players who can guide and share their experience. The last group is vital and something we’ve missed at times in the past. Given how much Wenger trusts his players, it’s imperative that there are leaders within the group who garner respect and do Wengers job when he’s not there. If your senior players are sulky and thinking about leaving (Sanchez is 29 and one of the older players who’s been there and done it) then that’s a real problem. Cech is a great person to have in the dressing room it would seem, and Wenger has kept hold of Mertersacker for no reason other than his experience.

  54. GoonerB says:

    FGG, I can see the point you make regarding Wenger protecting the players and improving other aspects of their game by the positional swap before moving them into the correct position. It seems Arsene has a somewhat Dutch total football outlook on their development. The big question is, is he correct in his approach with this? That would be the question I would put to him.

    Just because something can make sense when explained it doesn’t automatically mean it is best policy and will work in practice, (and I am aware you are not saying you necessarily agree with it although you might). The Wilshere example could be a good one to back his motives but there could be others that suggest the motives are wrong.

    There seems to be a mounting number of players that arrive to our first team as a precocious young talent that are utilised in this way and then fail to progress. If anything many of them start to almost go backwards.

    More and more I feel that talented players at 17-18 can be ready to adopt and develop into their best position. There will always be a bit of fine tuning that could be developed temporarily from a different role but I feel Arsene is overplaying it and tend to agree with Rasp and Big Al that it is proving counter productive.

    I do feel there is more evidence suggesting we are failing the young players in that final transition of rough diamond to top class player in position “A” than evidence that it is working, and unfortunately I feel it is one of the areas that Arsene has slipped behind in.

  55. fred1266 says:

    WTF is that Chas

  56. fatgingergooner says:

    Re 5:23

    I mentioned before that Wenger is not in control of transfers in the way he has been in the past. How true that is I don’t know, but it can’t be coincidence that we’ve got Mislintat from Dortmund and then gone straight for Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan. Once we get the guy in from Barca, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see a few Spanish based players heading our way.

    If they’ve taken some responsibility away from Wenger then I think that can only bode well. Part of me wonders if having vast amounts of money to spend is a struggle for him and not something he’s comfortable with or espescially good at doing. In the same way that some managers thrive on tactics whilst others are better at man management, surely there are managers who thrive at clubs with loads of money whilst others work better on a shoestring budget.

  57. GoonerB says:

    Al, I think a PEA and Mik signing would be good. As Chas points out Sanchez is older. If we got £35m for a 29 year old( I think what we paid for him?) then it is ok. If we get a swap deal with a slightly younger player then not bad business for me. I also think that injuries are potentially on the horizon for Sanchez with his style of play and refusal to have a break at times, and once they hit they may become a regular recycling feature.

    It also makes the best (economically) fist of a dodgy situation with contracts finishing so soon. If we end up with a little net outlay and have those 2 but lose Theo and Sanchez I think we will have somewhat pulled it out of the bag.

    I probably shouldn’t say this for fear of ridicule, (having read many comments on this recently), but I think I stand alone in feeling that we wasted Walcott as much as he wasted his opportunities to progress.

    At this stage I am not against him going because no-one was benefiting from him being at us, but I always felt there was a potent striker in Theo but more in an out and out striker way that would just know how to stick the ball in the back of the net once other players with better technical ability had created the dangerous situation. Almost like the icing on the cake. Maybe I saw him potentially as a bit more of a Michael Owen or Van Nistelrooy than a Neymar or Messi.

    Lets face it, sticking the ball in the back of the net has been an Achilles heel of ours for some time and goals make points and points make prizes, so I was never that bothered about some of the other things that seemed to bother others, like tracking back and whether he would fly into a 50-50 with Shawcross.

    All the fancy build up play means nothing if we don’t score. Creating a fancy food dish with a few sublime components means nothing if you don’t add the salt. The dish ends up a bit naff despite looking good and leaving you scratching your head. Salt is basic but it brings all the other components together.

    I feel we wasted an opportunity to give him more regular time as a striker, and coach him in how to be his best in that role, and conversely overplayed his time as a winger. I am interested to see if Allardyce plays him up top and if so what happens. I am very happy to hold up my hands if he doesn’t thrive in it, but I just have a sneaky feeling that he may start to score quite a few goals. I might have to consider him as my cheap striker option in my dream team 🙂

  58. GoonerB says:

    FGG, your 6.06 is spot on for me. Through the grapevine it has been said that Arsene and Dein would sit down and discuss the players he wanted at which point Dein would intimate that he would deal with it and that Arsene didn’t need to be involved any further unless said player was going beyond what Arsenal could cover then he would return for a discussion on alternative options.

    He has an economic degree I believe (Arsene) but I don’t think that automatically qualifies him to have been the best in the transfer market in assessment of a players value in a transfer.

  59. Red Arnie says:

    Ha ha ha, GiE. Brilliant stuff. 🙂 Ruffled quite a few feathers, I would suspect, not having gone through the comments yet. 🙂

    But, heh! Much as I am with you on the youth project, and on principles and tradition, an interesting time to make the point, no? You surely know what I mean: Ox some time back and now Theo! Nevertheless, I agree on the principles.

    Look, I still believe Plan A was a good bet! The problem was the appointment of Bonkers followed by Henry (tin hats on!). Imagine where we would have been now if we were able to manage the youth setup just a little bit better over the past 4-5 years.

    If only …. Here’s hoping. Onwards and upwards! 🙂

    Finally, interesting choice of Nelson to make the point, rather than Neketiah or even AI. I live in hope!

  60. fatgingergooner says:


    .My original point was not whether Wenger was right or wrong in playing AMN at LWB, just more an observation that we shouldn’t be surprised or think that he will continue to play there as he’s done similar things in the pas i.e. Wilshere.

    Before questioning Wengers ability as a coach of young players, I would ask how many young players do we see now making it at the club they are at when 15-17 (Espescially in the big sides who buy countless amounts of ‘future stars’)? Does Wenger really perform worse than other managers? Also, I’d ask how many players have left Arsenal under Wenger and really gone on to be a star? You could argue he’s ruined them before selling them, but I’m not sure that’s fair!

    Wenger does still being young players through, but in recent times have they been good enough? Gibbs, Jenkinson, Miguel, Szscesny, Coquelin, Toral, Aneke, Adobe, Akpom, JET etc do we really believe these would’ve been stars at other clubs? Also, is it all on the manager or does a youngster making it also have to do with a lot of factors aligning i.e. a player getting injured to give them a chance, the youngster having the right attitude, the youngster having the right players around him, the youngster avoiding injury, the youngster getting good advice etc?


    Excellent GIE

    I completely agree with your gist. I feel what your alluding to is a change in culture and purpose.

    I once awoke in a hospital bed not knowing who or what I was. It was a terrifying experience. I later found out that it was the day after Totnumb beat us in the 91 semi final.

    With the loving care of the medical staff I slowly began to discover my identity. A nurse observed me transfixed whilst watching the Terry Wogan show, he was interviewing Samantha Fox’s bosom. After a close vote, it was decided that I be christened Terry, just edging out Tit. A short while later a Doctor caught me stealing money from another patient, so it was evident that I was an Accountant.

    This is what I feel has happened to the Club. Ever since the stadium move forced us to dismantle our Invincibles we have been scratching around trying to find a strategy to assemble a winning side. We currently have a mishmash of youth and readymade signings, but performances have dipped.

    I have no idea whether the strategy of playing home grown talent will yield better results, but one things for sure, I would rather lose that way than the current set up.

    Besides, if things keep going the way they are I will probably find myself waking up in a hospital bed again with no idea who I am. I just hope that if that happens Graham Norton is not interviewing Kim Kardashian’s buttocks

  62. fatgingergooner says:

    With all that in mind, my point is that surely when it comes to youngsters, the norm is to have lots of failures and the odd gem. Not the other way round.

  63. GoonerB says:

    I agree FGG, I think there are many factors and comparisons worldwide don’t necessarily show Wenger as failing more than others, and you are right the numbers are more stacked in favour of a few that will make it rather than most will.

    There can similarly be many factors when comparing us with other clubs as well. Chelsea for example have hoarded many top youngsters but have failed in their development process as well. Chelsea however have a different outlook to us as a club so a comparison is difficult.

    Chelsea seem to be more about the here and now as a model which doesn’t allow for the introduction of young players to the 1st team at the expense of the ready made ones that they can buy in. Arsene (and many of us fans) has prided himself of being the manager that gives them a chance and in it being one of his key strengths. Remember the “we don’t buy stars we create them” line.

    Arsene has been a consistency at Arsenal over the last number of seasons so has had that opportunity (as oppose to a club with a managerial merry-go-round) to develop those precocious talents once they are knocking on the 1st team door.

    If the opportunity and time and have been there and it remains his forte, then I just wonder what has been happening over recent seasons? We just look to be failing in this final transition phase in recent years and for me it raises the question of something being fundamentally wrong in our approach to them and how we are coaching and using them.

    It is all a matter of subjective opinion but mine is that something is wrong in his approach now. I question that maybe things have just changed around him in what is required to develop a world class player from that age, and unfortunately I feel he hasn’t adapted with it. His old tried and tested methods are maybe a bit out of date but he doesn’t see it?

    I can see the sense in the arguments and comparisons you make FGG but I still feel there is something wrong in our approach to coaching and 1st team use with these players that sees that precocious talent we all got so excited about not only not progress but in many instances seemingly regress.

    I tend to feel the out of position approach is only useful to a degree. I always feel he wants a lot of multi adaptable multi positional types of players in his squad, but I tend to think we end up with too many jack of all trades master of none, and that it is a Utopian idea too far. I also harbour a feeling that he under coaches players in the modern era where you here of many managers that leave no detail unaddressed.

    I haven’t liked (at least in recent years) this idea that the players can work it out for themselves when I look at the intensity of coaching and detail that others are using, which to me feels far more relevant and modern. Just my opinion though FGG and I fully respect yours if you feel he still has this area covered as he once did.

  64. Red Arnie says:

    Not a great fan of the natural positions idea. Works well at the two ends of the string, ST and GK, but not in the centre. But maybe that’s just me! (apols to Mario!) 🙂

    Iwobi and discipline, tetchy, yes, but what about Jack then? And Aub? 🙂

  65. Red Arnie says:

    sad day, actually.

  66. Red Arnie says:

  67. Chas @ 5:39
    “Walnutt is 28. Did you want to sell both and replace from within?”
    Is that post for me, Chas ?
    If so, it’s a fair enough question. I would say NO, because there is nobody ready yet.
    FGG suggested M-N next season in midfield; I didn’t.

    FGG – your post @ 5:56

    you say “This is where we disagree.”
    Disagree on what?

    Read all my posts again – I have never even hinted at bringing into the squad any young players.
    I have only talked about 2 players who are already in the squad. And I’m unhappy that they are played out of position. I’ve never suggested we should have a squad of young ‘uns. As I’ve just said to Chas, no-one’s ready yet. And I said I think they may go out on loan next season, either one or both.

    GoonerB – your post @ 6:16

    You say “As Chas points out Sanchez is older.”
    Perhaps you don’t realise Chas was making a (very funny) joke – 29 years old versus 28y old.

    I don’t like Arsenal spending millions and getting very little if anything in return. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often.

    Buy at 28yo, sell 5 years later at 33yo.
    How much do 33-year old’s go for these days?
    Selling at a loss is not good business.

    Buy at 24yo, sell 5 years later at 29yo (Sanchez’s age).
    Selling at break-even isn’t necessarily bad business.
    Selling at a profit is good business.

    Analogy in question form:
    Would you be doing good business selling a house at a loss ?

  68. fatgingergooner says:

    BIg Al,

    Maybe I’ve misinterpreted your comment, but surely if you don’t want us to buy players without sell on value then you are suggesting that we have a squad full of youngers players? After all, they are the only ones who have sell on value 5 years they’ve signed!

  69. fatgingergooner says:


    I think what changed around 13/14 was two fold. Firstly, a huge demand from the fans and media and possibly from above him to buy players. Secondly, a group of youngsters who weren’t good enough. Would Wenger really have gone and bought Flamini if Frimpong or Eastmond were good enough? No, and they left. Is it like Wenger to go and buy 4 or 5 first team players (Gabriel, Ospina, Chambers, Debuchy, Sanchez) in a season? No, and Ansah, Aneke, Afobe, Boateng, Eisfeld and Miguel all left whilst countless others were sent to get experience elsewhere.

    Then came another change, as in the next season we only bought 2 players, and hardly anyone left. Wenger had a new batch of youngsters coming through, youngsters who looked like they had more about them. The youth team included the Willocks, Nketiah, Bielik, Reine-Adelaide, Maitland-Niles, Gnabry, Nelson, Mavididi etc not to mention that Martinez, Zelalem, Iwobi and Bellerin had burst onto the scene. All of a sudden Wenger had some prospects who looked like they could make it into the team and in recent seasons we’ve seen transfers reflect the need for quality senior players rather than trying to take away from the youngsters opportunies. Cech, Xhaka, Mustafi, Lacazette, and Kolasinac have all been signed with a specific first choice position in mind, whilst Elneny was brought in with Wilshere and Cazorla being injured. Only a couple of project players have been signed in Holding and more recently Mavropanos, but note how we haven’t really had any defensive prospects coming through the youth ranks.

    I think Wenger will continue to fill the first team gaps that arise i.e. Sanchez, Walcott, Debuchy but I suspect that gaps where he has a prospect will once again start to be filled by the youth team. That Coquelin shaped hole looks perfect for Willock or AMN to grab, and even the Walcott position could be left half open for Nelson to step through. I also expect to see one of the GK’s in the squad soon. Dont forget aswell that had Gnabry and Chris Willock chosen to stay, they would no doubt have been given an opportunity to prove themselves.

    So whilst I think Wenger went away from developing quality youngsters for a while, I don’t think it was down to a loss of ability to do so, but more of a conscious decision to sign some more experienced players whilst he waited for a better group to come through.

    Of course GB, I could be talking utter bollocks! 😂

  70. jjgsol says:

    For that money I would prefer taking Rashford.

    I am not impressed that we should swap a first team certainty, with a certain non- player,

    No logic, I am afraid.

    By the way, TW does not look that happy.

  71. fatgingergooner says:

    The logic went out of the window when we let our best, most valuable 2 players go into the last year of their contracts! Unfortunately it’s now a case of taking a relatively small fee of about £30m or Mkhitaryan. Can we buy a player of his quality for £30m on the current market? I’m not sure. I’d probably go for the Armenian and hope he produces the form he did for the 4-5 years before he joined United. It’s not like he was one season wonder at Dortmund, so there’s a strong chance he could produce for us.

  72. FGG

    You have indeed misinterpreted (sort of), but I actually don’t blame you. Some of my comments were written a little too hastily and I perhaps didn’t explain clearly enough.

    If young players already at the club are not ready for regular 1st team games they can patiently wait, or go out on loan.

    That’s my opinion as things stand today at the club – M-Niles and Nelson are good prospects but not yet ready.

    Therefore we need to purchase replacements for some, or all, departing players. Sanchez, Walcott, Coquelin, Ozil (maybe), Giroud (maybe), Debuchy (maybe)…

    In the case of Sanchez, it’s apparent that a cash + player arrangement could happen. We purchased Sanchez for (correct me if I’m wrong) 35 million. That’s what we are possibly going to receive.

    Arsene, by all accounts, actually wanted Martial not Mkhitaryan.
    It’s widely considered our new Swedish bloke wanted the latter.
    Martial is 22 years old. Mkhitaryan is 28.
    Taking the age difference alone into account, it’s hardly surprising Arsene wanted the younger man.
    If one were to consider them as equals talent-wise, it’s therefore a no-brainer. I’m not surprised Moaninho said no to selling Martial.

    If we were to sign Martial at 22, after 4 or 5 years he would have sell-on-value. In fact, 27 is when players reach their peak (generally) so we’re told. We would hopefully break even at the very least. Judging by the Sanchez figure, 29 might be OK for break-even.

    In an ideal world I would like most, or all, of our signings to be 21-25 years old.

    Arsene’s major signings – first 4 seasons

    Arrivals 97/98
    Patrick Vieira £4.82m
    Nicolas Anelka £684k
    John Lukic Free
    Arrivals 97/98
    Players Transfer sum
    Marc Overmars £6.75m
    Emmanuel Petit £3.38m
    Gilles Grimandi £3.38m
    Matthew Upson £2.52m
    Arrivals 98/99
    Players Transfer sum
    Nwankwo Kanu £5.63m
    Freddie Ljungberg £4.05m
    Oleg Luzhny £2.48m
    Nelson Vivas £1.98m
    Arrivals 99/00
    Players Transfer sum
    Thierry Henry £14.49m
    Sylvinho Free transfer

    These are typical of most seasons. He bought at a young/young-ish age, and sold before they were “old”.
    Good business almost always.

    SOLD 2017/18
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain £34.20m
    Theo Walcott £20.25m
    Francis Coquelin £12.60m
    Wojciech Szczesny £10.98m

    Arsene buying players at 28 years old. And expensive.

  73. GoonerB says:

    Thanks FGG. Not bollix. You could be utterly right. I dont want to believe that wenger has lost his coaching touch. The rest of the season may reveal more insight.

  74. LB says:

    Good riddance.

    Phew, I thougt it was going to be another false dawn.

    Not in UK.

  75. fatgingergooner says:

    Big Al,

    Makes sense, and I agree that back in those early days when Wenger had free reign over most of the transfer market that his strategy was different. The problem now is anyone worth having is snapped by some huge club for crazy money before they’ve gotten anywhere near the age of 23. If they turn out to be good enough then they stay with their huge club, or they run down their contract and move for silly wages to another huge club, or another huge club pays crazy money to sign them, or they are not good enough and tossed back into the market having not reached their potential. It’s very difficult now to find 20-24 year olds who would strengthen our team who is not already at a big club.

    This is a list of the top 14 young players in the world that was printed in the Independent just 2 years ago. How many of them are available? How many are at huge clubs? Brackets shows the clubs they were at when this article was printed.

    1. Pogba – Man Utd (Juventus)
    2. Varane – Real Madrid
    3. Sterling – Man City
    4. Dybala – Juventus
    5. Kane – Tottenham
    6. Lukaku – Man Utd (Everton)
    7. Gimenez – Atletico Madrid
    8. Martial – Man United
    9. Weigl – Dortmund
    10. Bellerin – Arsenal
    11. Sane – Man City (Schalke)
    12. Icardi – Inter
    13. Coman – Bayern
    14. Stones – Man City (Everton)

    That list of clubs is ridiculous. I don’t doubt our transfers could be far better than they have been, and hopefully the new transfer team will help us find some of these players before these big clubs do, but the market now compared to 20 years ago is totally different and it will be very difficult for us to have a team that can challenge if we restrict ourself to only buy players who have a sell on value.

  76. With respect, FGG, you’re showing us a list of the “top 14 young players in the world”. Arsene wasn’t snapping up “top players in the world”, young or not. But he turned a good many into top players.
    Most of his purchases were not on everyone’s radar at time of purchase.

    He bought at a tender-ish age, sold when they still had a good sell-on price.
    Good profit almost every buy-and-sell deal.

    How many of these purchases weren’t even close to 28yo !
    It’s desperation, re selling Sanchez.

    Arrivals 03/04
    Players Transfer sum
    José Antonio Reyes £18.00m
    Jens Lehmann £3.15m
    Cesc Fàbregas £2.88m
    Philippe Senderos £1.35m
    Gaël Clichy £338k
    Arrivals 04/05
    Players Transfer sum
    Manuel Almunia £4.50m
    Robin van Persie £4.05m
    Emmanuel Eboué £1.98m
    Mathieu Flamini Free transfer
    Arrivals 05/06
    Players Transfer sum
    Aleksandr Hleb £13.50m
    Theo Walcott £9.45m
    Emmanuel Adebayor £9.00m
    Alex Song £3.60m
    Abou Diaby £2.70m
    Carlos Vela £2.70m
    Vito Mannone £450k
    Arrivals 06/07
    Players Transfer sum
    Tomás Rosicky £9.00m
    Denílson £4.50m
    Júlio Baptista Loan
    William Gallas Swap deal
    Arrivals 07/08
    Players Transfer sum
    Eduardo £12.15m
    Bacary Sagna £8.10m
    Lukasz Fabianski £3.92m
    Lassana Diarra £2.61m
    Arrivals 08/09
    Players Transfer sum
    Andrey Arshavin £14.85m
    Samir Nasri £14.40m
    Aaron Ramsey £5.76m
    Mikaël Silvestre £855k
    Arrivals 09/10
    Players Transfer sum
    Thomas Vermaelen £10.80m
    Arrivals 10/11
    Players Transfer sum
    Laurent Koscielny £11.25m
    Sébastien Squillaci £5.85m
    Wellington Silva £3.60m
    Marouane Chamakh Free transfer
    Arrivals 11/12
    Players Transfer sum
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain £12.42m
    Gervinho £10.80m
    Mikel Arteta £10.80m
    Per Mertesacker £10.17m
    André Santos £6.30m
    Ju-yeong Park £5.85m
    Carl Jenkinson £1.01m
    Joel Campbell £900k
    Arrivals 00/01
    Players Transfer sum
    Sylvain Wiltord £15.75m
    Francis Jeffers £13.77m
    Laurén £9.63m
    Robert Pirès £8.82m
    Igors Stepanovs £1.35m

  77. fatgingergooner says:

    Big Al,

    Wenger himself has admitted that it’s nearly impossible now to find hidden gems. Every single club is aware of every single player, and if that player shows any signs of being quality, then the bidding war begins and the big clubs come out on top. That list of 14 players is just the tip of the iceberg. Each of those clubs (Bayern, Barca, Man U, Man City, Juventus, PSG, Real etc) has another 5-10 players a season that they will sign under the age of 24. The selling clubs are smart now aswell. They know that the English clubs are the richest in the world and the prices reflect that.

    Look at the list of Arsenal signings you’ve put up, they get worse as time goes on. The whole point of buying a player is not with an eye to selling him for profit 5 years later. What you actually want is a player who is so good that he ends up leaving 10 years later on a free transfer or retiring a legend. If we end up selling them it’s usually because they’ve failed.

  78. Rasp says:

    Some dodgy defenders in that list 😳

  79. Rasp says:

    I think you should rethink that last para FGG ….. RVP, Cesc, Henry, Nasri, Sánchez …. not exactly a list of failures

  80. Rasp says:

    😂😂 loving this, 2 re cards for the chavs …. diving cheats

  81. fatgingergooner says:


    As a transfer rule of thumb if a big club sells it’s usually failure. Unfortunately for us we are not quite a big enough club so yes, you are right, some of our sales have been because bigger clubs have come calling rather than failure.

    In fairness though I was responding to the list that Big Al put up, and there was only really Cesc and RVP where that situation has happened. I’m not convinced Nasri was a great success for us seeing as he f*****off rather quickly, and Henry and Sanchez weren’t on the list.

  82. Rasp says:

    Come on the canaries

  83. Rasp says:

    Fair enough FGG. I’m being entertained by the chavs losing it at home to Norwich …. they have more divers than any other club. What I want to know is why hasn’t Conte been sent to the stands for his OTT remonstrations with the officials

  84. fatgingergooner says:

    Didn’t realise this was still on. Just in time to see some diving and a great Norwich goal.

    Chelsea have been as bad as us recently. I wonder how a defeat here would go down.

  85. fatgingergooner says:

    Exactly Rasp. Wenger got dealt with for calling Dean a cheat. What’s betting nothing happens to Conte?

  86. Rasp says:

    Nothing will happen to Conte …. the divers win on pens ….. Hazard wins it for the chavs … after diving against us and winning a pen

  87. chas mobile says:

  88. chas mobile says:

    I thought 100% Willian dived.
    Shearer thought it was a shambles.

  89. chas says:

  90. Red Arnie says:

    motning, Chas. motning all.

    separated at birth. ha ha. 🙂

  91. Rasp says:

    Morning …. I thought the ref was spot on last night, the idiots in the studio were talking rubbish. Chav players dived 5 times in that game against lower league opposition … that must have been some kind of a record!

  92. Eddie says:

    who was sent off? and who dived – Moratta no doubt

    did we buy anyone yet?

  93. fatgingergooner says:

    Wenger being quite open in the pressure.

    Sanchez likely to leave although could break down at any time.

    Likes Mkhitaryan and the player loves the club and the way we play.

    Özil will be here in Feb.

    Koscielny, Monreal and possibly Özil back for Palace.

    AMN been sick and might be out.

    Asked about Aubameyang and he said ‘it’s best to keep these things secret’.

    Nothing happening with Malcom.

    No word on Evans.

  94. Eddie says:

    don’t bother, I googled. Pedro and Morata. Good, chavs will lose to brighton on saturday

  95. Eddie says:

    where is Didit? selling his bitcoins 🙂

  96. mickydidit89 says:

    Certainly not selling Eddie

    However, internet down again. What did they join the cable together with, ‘effing sellotape

    If I was Maureen, I’d pretend I was going to buy Sanchez, then do a City and pull out with a minute of the window left. Just for fun. That way we get lumped with a zero value asset and grumpy dog fancier

  97. fatgingergooner says:

    Arsenal offered Sanchez everything they could afford to keep him.

    Sanchez is 29 so this contract very important to him as it’s his last one.

    Wenger has no issue with United paying big money as he admires the fact they find it themselves. Slight dig at other clubs there I think!

    Says fans have to accept we can’t compete financially but doesn’t mean we can’t compete on the field.

  98. chas says:


  99. mickydidit89 says:


    If it does go through, Maureen has to factor in having grumpy players of his own ie Martial, Rashford etc

    Then there’d be the wage envy thing. Good luck to them I say

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