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

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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


Would you swap a little bit of Arsene for a bit more George?

June 21, 2019

I’m going out on a limb here ….. I know I’m only a girl so what do I know but …… we actually need to stop conceding goals rather than worrying about who is going to score them. Although I have to say that Aubameyang does really excite me, I love watching him play and he has scored some great goals for us but Arsenal conceding 51 goals in a Premiership season is just ridiculous.

Aubameyang won the Golden Boot with 22 goals, which I love, even more so because that Kane bloke from down the road didn’t. But there’s a good chance that someone else …. or a few others could have stepped up to score his goals and maybe even scored more overall. And I would give up so many of our high scoring games to have conceded fewer …….. actually there weren’t that many high scoring games last season but you get my point.

This rant was as a result of the following comment from Mike M discussing the prospect of selling Aubameyang to buy better quality defenders and midfielders …

When we sold Van Persie to Manure he won them the title because that’s all they needed. Even if they bought PEA, they (like us) are a million miles away from winning anything.

I still believe we need a mentality shift, so I think we need a slightly different type of player for the next couple of years than we have always wanted. If we score 20 fewer goals next season but concede 20 fewer also, I think we’ll finish in the top 4 no problem.

“George Graham said, he wanted us to keep it tight and win 1-0 not 4-3. But still as it happened we scored a hell of a lot of goals that season” a quote from Alan Smith about the 1991 title winning side.

Probably not many people remember the Graham years with too much fondness but that was nearer the end when Ian Wright was our only goal scoring threat. But ’89 and ’91 were great teams with lots of flare, an inbuilt strength and mentality that we’re in desperate need of right now. PEA is probably not essential to that. On the flip side, I love his attitude and how he seems to enjoy the game and that’s something we also need. Its’ a tough call.

I’m not writing a book any time soon (although many of my comments are book length !!). I am just a huge Gooner that likes discussing by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen.

Those who have blogged with me for years know that I’m of the opinion that defending is a science that can be taught whereas goal scoring has a bit more luck and artistic flare attached to it. Footballers who think their only job is to score goals might find this upsetting, but if you’re up against a good defense you’ve got less chance of scoring than if you’ve got a rubbish defense to breach.

So, would you settle for a few more 1-0’s to The Arsenal, no possibility of the Golden Boot and no high scoring games next season? How do you think we can achieve this?

peachesgooner 


Sell Aubameyang for £70m …. Deal or No Deal?

June 19, 2019

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, our 2018/19 golden boot winning striker turned 30 this week. There have been rumours that Man Utd are considering making a £70m bid for him. If we accepted such a bid, we would make a nett profit of around £14m, so not a massive return on our investment on the surface. But, in these times of austerity and with a rumoured transfer budget of a paltry £40m … what could we do with that extra £70m? … or even a £100m+ if we sell Xhaka as well. Seal a leaky defence? Buy a midfield maestro to replace Ramsey? Bring in proper wide attacking players? Maybe all of the those options?

This question was posed by blogger LBG a few days ago …

So let’s heat things up!
If we get an offer of 70m for a 30 year old Aubameyang from Manure, and an offer of 35m for Xhaka, I say sell them both and use the 100m to fill the gaps we actually have.

These are some of the responses it has drawn …

From Sue …

Atletico want Xhaka (you’re having a giraffe, right?!) albeit I’d quite happily drive him to the airport & bundle Mustafi in the car too & tell them it’s a bogof deal… oh happy days 😝

This from Els …

LBG – too risky for me to sell Auba and Xhaka. We already have too much business to do and too many first teamers to replace. We need to keep as much consistency as possible now. Other than that £105m for those too would be nice. I’d want to replace with a good few academy promotions and then some free transfers. Then we give all that money to Ramsey see if he’ll come back.

RC78 posted this …

I am happy to let both El Neny and Xhaka go but I d like to keep Auba unless we have an offer exceeding 50 Mln pounds for him.

From GoonerB …

LBG in answer to your question, if we were to get £35m for Xhaka and £70m+ for Auba I would take it. I love Auba but at 30 years old those figures are tempting and those funds could secure a key but expensive option elsewhere.

Aaron’s thoughts …

Sell Auba and Xhaka for $100+ million, in a New York second. I will be encouraged if we buy some CB’s and another strong DM. We do not want any injury prone hail mary’s or 35 year old cast off’s. Bring up someone exceptional, a 20-25 year gem that actually has a body that can take the EPL punishment.

It would appear from the above that there is an acceptance amongst some of the fanbase that we may have to do a ‘Liverpool’ and sell one gem (or maybe two) to buy different gems that could plug some gaping holes in the team … or do you think otherwise?


Gabriel Martinelli … Be Excited … Be Very Excited

June 18, 2019

All the signs are that the Brazillian hot prospect Gabriel Martinelli will be announced as an Arsenal player in the next few days. He was 18 yesterday and is now eligible to sign a professional contract in the UK.

We should be excited for 2 reasons …

  1. He is a highly regarded emerging talent and was being courted by several top clubs.
  2. He points to a new way forward for Arsenal. A new more vibrant and energetic era for the club begins here.

The late season capitulation showed us that whatever it is that had seeped into the fabric of the club in recent years still persists. The only answer is to bring in new blood and to change the culture and that process is taking place this summer.

Martinelli was at Corinthians when Edu was Sporting Director and seems likely to be the first player brought in by our soon to be new Technical Director as part of further shakeups behind the scenes that have already seen Freddie Ljunberg swap jobs with Steve Bould. Francis Cagigao is highly regarded at the club and has also played a role in the transfer after having previously been a scout. He was responsible spotting players such as Lauren, Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin so we can see that his credentials are first rate.

Edu will be announced as the new Head of Recruitment when he takes up the post officially on 7th July. We are getting things right behind the scenes and this should enable us to be more effective at the sharp end with qualified and competent specialist management making the important decisions.

So why get excited about Martinelli?

A few facts:

  • He was born in Guarulhos, São Paulo
  • He signed his first professional contract on 4 November 2017 with Ituano FC
  • He was promoted to the first team for the 2019 Campeonato Paulista where he scored six goals during the competition, the club’s top goalscorer
  • He’s a predominantly right footed wide attacking player who can also play as a striker
  • He’s quick, and direct and loves to dribble.
  • He has trialled for Man Utd and Barcelona.
  • He’s rumoured to be joining for around £6m.
  • He’s seen as a replacement for Welbeck.
  • He scored 10 goals and had 6 assists in 31 games last season.

There is a new order that is emerging in the EPL. Most clubs that are being sold are being snapped up by owners who have agendas beyond football and are prepared to invest heavily in search of success. Arsenal may be in the bottom half of the league when it comes to funds available for transfers so we have to spend wisely.

Of course Martinelli is a risk, as are all young players.  Let’s hope we invest in some of the youth under our very noses already in our academy too …. the likes of Willock, Nelson, Bielik, Nketieh, Smith-Rowe and Sheaf could negate the need to look any further.