Nearly Kieran Tierney

June 29, 2019

According to AA’s transfer correspondent RC78, all the signs are that Kieran Tierney will be the first top quality player to join Arsenal this transfer window.

In characteristic  style, we are testing the water with bids well below Celtic’s valuation. So far offers of £15m and then £17.5m have been rejected with Celtic holding out for a package thought to be in the region of £25m. It seems likely that if we dig a bit deeper and come up with £20m plus add-ons, the player will be ours.

Celtic are prepared to sell and the player wants to come to The Arsenal. Much as I admire Nacho, he’s been a great servant to the team, but we need to invest in the future and 22 year old Tierney is a much needed upgrade.

The Celtic supporters love Tierney. Although still only very young, he has captained the side and consistently put in performances to a very high standard. He has his own song on the terraces, and this one  was was released … it’s worth watching for the bullet left foot shot into the top corner from 40 yards ….

Don’t get too carried away by that goal, he’s not (currently) a prolific goalscorer having scored 5 goals in 102 league appearences for Celtic, but he does embody all the attributes that it appears Unai Emery seeks in his players.

He’s strong, aggressive in his play, works very hard but has the pace and skill to get forward and deliver quality crosses into the box. Physically he’s perfectly built for the role of left back. He’s 5ft 10in, lean and muscular … and brave. He’s not a player to give up on a 50/50 ball or to shirk a hard challenge .. he’s a winner.

We need to spend our £40m transfer budget wisely. If half of it goes to buy Tierney and we can find another player of similar age and quality to reinforce elsewhere on the pitch then the task or rebuilding Arsenal will be off to a good start.

Arsenal have had many great players from North of the border over the years … and from Ireland for that matter. Let’s hope that with KT, we return to some of those great old traditions and put some Scottish steel in our back line.

Rasp 

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World Arsenal Exclusive …. this is the real thing …

June 28, 2019

NOT!

We are all being subjected to the usual summer torture inflicted upon us by the click harvesters who will go to any depths to get you to take the bait. We know we’re being conned, but we still can’t resist clicking on that ‘exclusive’ story to see if we really are going to sign that world class player.

The title of this post is just such an example … oops! … but rest assured, no one on AA profits from a click … we just want to get you involved in a healthy debate whilst we while away the days/hours/minutes/seconds before the new season starts and we experience a different type of torture all over again.

This is one of Nick Hornby’s many brilliant quotes from Fever Pitch  …

It is a strange paradox that while the grief of football fans (and it is real grief) is private – we each have an individual relationship with our clubs, and I think that we are secretly convinced that none of the other fans understands quite why we have been harder hit than anyone else – we are forced to mourn in public, surrounded by people whose hurt is expressed in forms different from our own.

Now I know that you (like me) won’t be able to do it, but if you really want to reduce the self flagellation, here are some of the phrases in headlines just this morning that you definitely should avoid clicking on ….

“Arsenal star” … who ever says that?

“Arsenal fans react to” … yeah right, lazy journalism and some tweets from muppets!

In fact anything that uses the word ‘fans’ … fans are for geishas … we’re supporters

Any headline containing the phrases containing “hint, rumoured, set to happen”

“Transfer boost”

“Set to leave”

“The player Arsenal should …”

I could go on and on … but as this is a return to an old AA format of Rant Friday, I’d better stop … no one reads on a Friday any way … so I’m wasting my time …. and  that’s another rant off my chest 🙂

If you’ve got a rant … share it with us and we can all get upset over nothing together.

Alternatively, have a relaxed weekend fellow gooners, bask in the sun and give yourself a rest from the media’s bovine scatology …

Rasp


Shkodran Mustafi – can we trust him?

June 27, 2019

According to Mustafi’s Instagram account he’d like us to believe that, like an eagle, he’s going to use ‘the negative energy of a storm to fly even higher’. It must be hard for a player to know how the fans feel about him, I haven’t seen many articles supporting him staying with Arsenal.

He has been guilty of losing concentration and allowing the defense to be breached on too many occasions to not question whether he should be replaced. His experience as a World Cup winner with Germany is one reason why we should keep him ……….. we don’t have many winners in the squad.

When he joined us in 2014 we went on a great run of unbeaten games, in fact he beat Bacary Sagna’s run of an unbeaten start with 18 games and boasted that we never lost when he played. Sadly that came back to bite him on the behind as he was unable to shore up the defense in the way that we needed.

If his partnership with Koscielny had worked out it would have been perfect for us as he was only 24 when he joined and therefore Koscielny could now be passing him the baton.

 

Luckily we have a couple of young CB’s in Holding and Mavropanos coming through and Sokratis who has impressed but if we can’t find a buyer for Mustafi we’re stuck with him and we don’t have funds available to add another better CB to the squad.

How would you feel if Mustafi was still lining up for us in August?

peachesgooner


Lacazette’s our best player … Xhaka only just scrapes in … but Ozil is gone

June 26, 2019

First let me start by making it clear that what follows is just my subjective view of the qualities that are needed to make a top footballer … you may well disagree.

This is a pictorial representation of how I would define those qualities.

Let’s look at these criteria in order of importance …

Attitude … a player can have all the skill in the world, but if he isn’t fully committed to the team and prepared to ‘leave it all on the pitch’, then that counts for nothing. I give you Paul Pogba. An unhappy player can drag the whole dressing room down.

Technical Ability … every football fan’s favourite attribute in a player, and the one that adds the most value if the player possesses the other qualities.

Football Brain … a much maligned term. Ability in terms of technique is not necessarily connected with making the right decisions on the pitch. Great players have the vision to see things others don’t. I’m a fan of Iwobi. He has impressive technique, but all too often his final ball is the wrong one = his football brain needs tuning! If he can improve in that department we will have a top quality player. Santi Cazorla was an example of a midfield Maestro with an excellent football brain, if only we could find another player of his quality.

Strength and Pace … these are important attributes in the modern high intensity EPL. Pace is required at the back as well through to the front now, especially if we play a high press with a high defensive line.

Age and Injuries … players inevitably go into physical decline in their early thirties. A player in his late teens would be regarded as an asset as they have yet to gain experience and their transfer value is more likely to go up than down. Players who have a succession of injuries, like Welbeck, Wilshere etc may be loved by the fans, but they can’t contribute unless they’re on the pitch. Can anyone think of a player who has had a constant string of injuries (excluding one off injuries like breaks and ACL problems) who has ever subsequently gone injury free for the rest of their career?

Experience … most would agree that a blend of experience and youth is the right balance. But not all older players have good attitude and therefore their example to the upcoming players is not helpful to the team. The experienced players need to be the leaders on the pitch, the ones who steady the ship if things begin to go wrong.

It seemed only logical to apply these criteria to our current squad members to see how their total contribution to the team could be assessed.

The table below ranks the players based on the criteria I have described. The rating is on a scale from 0.1 to 1.0 for each category, with a maximum total score of 6. You may think the scores are all too high, but they are relevant to one another and so it serves as a comparison.

There is no mention of wages as that is a matter between the club and the player and should not be relevant to performance on the pitch. If a player is committed, it doesn’t matter how much he’s paid.

I would suggest that a cut-off point of 4.5 and above determines whether a player is worth keeping. Below 4.5 and they could be sold to provide funds for players that would score higher in the ratings.

I’ve given you loads to disagree with … as stated at the start, this is all just my opinion … tell me why I’m wrong ….

Rasp


The 2019 Academy Rewards … “We love you Freddie ….”

June 25, 2019

The club have pretty much spelled out that they are putting a lot more emphasis on the development of academy players, and there has been a subsequent staff reshuffle in order to do so. On that basis, I’m going to take a leap of faith and say there will be more players promoted from the Academy than in previous years. It’s obvious that they must have some confidence in what we have currently, in order for them to highlight this approach in their recent PR campaign.

This quote from Raul Sanllehi was widely reported in the press last week.

“Promoting young players from within has always been a key part of Arsenal and what we represent,” Sanllehí says. “We want to continue that tradition for a number of reasons but you could boil it down to two main ones. Firstly, these players grow up with the club and we think having players with this natural bond around what it means to play for Arsenal is good in the dressing room and for the connection with our fans.

“Secondly, despite the huge investment we make into our academy, with rapid inflation in transfer fees it is financially efficient. It’s not about cutting costs or being ‘cheap’, it just means we can then focus funds to make the biggest impact, to get better players when we need to go to the external market.”

 

Freddie Ljungberg has moved from the Academy into the first team coaching team. He will no doubt continue to have a close bond with some of the stars from last seasons 2nd place finishing U23 squad (pipped by Everton). Along with some returning loan players, we should be able to add serious numbers to the first team.

Personally, I love this. These players coming through are well versed in Emery’s style and the Arsenal way in general. You can pretty much rule out settling issues with these recruits and for the most part they will have a really good understanding of what to expect in the league. I say this with Torreira in mind. It would be a massive shame for him to leave as, judging by the pats on their own backs, the club were quite pleased with the acquisition last summer.

Add the fact that a typical Academy graduate will probably have a lot more loyalty to the club that raised them. Think Bellerin, Wilshire, Ramsey all of whom declared a lot of love for the squad. I believe that we should be looking to embrace this new system as fans, rather than mourn the lack of expensive signings. After all, where has that gotten us of late.

We dipped into the transfer market for ‘Star’ players with the likes of Ozil and Sanchez towards the end of Wenger’s reign and we are still dealing with the financial fall out of that now. I think it’s safe to say we rolled the dice on these guys securing us Champions League football and came up snake eyes. Sanchez moving on and causing issues amongst the squad, and the financial burden of Ozil’s contract forcing us to say goodbye to players such as Ramsey who (probably fairly) believed they should be on a similar wage.

So we have taken a safer route. A path that when things go wrong you have a situation like losing Serge Gnabry. I’d take that over the loss of an established cup winning maestro like Aaron Ramsey. By creating an obvious and realsitic path for young players to make it into a premiership 11 that challenge for champions league football we will surely become a desired destination for elite youth players once again.

For me this is the right time to do it. There are teams in Europe that have provided first team players from their academies. Athletico Bilbao and Ajax on a consistent basis. Ajax have had some serious success that have raised their profile. If we follow in their footsteps and look to actually promote players and give them game time, the baying mob that is our fan base may be open to the prospect.

For me the fact that we played Elneny only a handful of times last season creates a bar for players to reach. Surely having his space taken up by a Chris Willock or Reiss Nelson would be preferable?

I am hoping to see a good few of our loaned out players make up vacant places next season, with a lower wage bill and less transfer activity needed from this point forwards. Hopefully the transfer money we do spend, can go on established winners that will provide guidance on and off the pitch.

Which academy players do you think deserve their chance next season?

Written by Els

This is a 24 minute interview with Vinai Venkatesham & Raul Sanllehi if you’ve got the stamina to watch it …  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs5KfWVp4kU

 


V.A.R. … Very Accurate Result … or … Vexing And Ridiculous

June 24, 2019

Are you, like me still (just) in that you think VAR will eventually be the right way forward for OUR game, because it will correct significant injustices?

Have you been watching the Women’s World Cup carefully to see what we are letting ourselves in for next season? I have, and I think we may not be ready.

First let’s put aside what most of us would agree with is the main current reason for controversy, that being the changes in the offside, handball and penalty rules. Is the Premier League ready for VAR?

Have our referees had enough training? Surely a way of making the decisions much more quickly is required. Is fifteen minutes of extra time largely through VAR decisions, acceptable for the Premier League?

Football is about momentum, next thing we know we will have Diana Ross singing on the centre spot as they make their decisions. There was a German League game last season involving Freiburg, when an incident occurred just before the halftime whistle. The players all went off with that whistle and then had to be brought back on to the pitch as the VAR decision meant the half should not have finished! And this is in Germany where they are “experienced” in using the system!!

Can the refs be miked up so the crowd can be told what is being assessed? Should the crowd see the replays? Will they revolt? Last night it was because the players saw the replay that THEY kicked off!

What about the technology? Are the cameras always level with the incident, or even on the right side? Is the action stopped on the right frame for the VAR decision makers?

I am worried. What do you think at this point before the trauma even begins?

Written by LBG

 


The Beast over Beauty Any Day …… Oh for another Lauren

June 22, 2019

The nos won convincingly in response to yesterday’s poll asking whether supporters would sell Aubameyang in order to fund some top quality defenders/midfielders.

Mike M’s response was more analytical, but still came to a conclusion held by many about the mentality of the team.

Here’s what he had to say …..

It’s an interesting question when you look at the stats over the last 15 years. Scoring the most goals will probably win you the title. Ditto for conceding the least.

Basically if you only score 54, you probably wont make top 4 even if you concede 31. If you concede 51, you have little or no chance of top 4 (Liverpool conceded 50 a few years back and finished 2nd but they scored 102). The answer lies somewhere in between.

I think my main point would be the overall mentality of the team and the mental fragility we very often on display. Anyone remember going 0-1 up at Anfield?? That lasted 8 mins or so and another 10 more, we were done. How does that happen? How do we miss a PK to pass up winning at Spuds? Or capitulate 3-1 at Wolves, 3-0 at Leicester etc etc.

I’m not sure it’s a question of attacker over defender. I think it’s the type of mentality we should be looking for. I’m undecided on the PEA question but I do think we desperately need a TA6 or Sol23. One of my favorite players of all time is Lauren. Gifted? Fast? Skilful? Great passing range? Probably none of those. But he’d score the penalty in a NLD in a crunch, run through a wall for his team mates and no one ever messed with him. Xhaka, not so much.

Do you agree ….. is recruiting players with the right mentality paramount if we want to return to the days when no one messed with The Arsenal?

Mike M