Arsenal set to sign two players, also play football

I  guess there is a football game tomorrow but I can’t be too sure because I’m blinded by the fact that Arsenal may have, just maybe, spent in the neighborhood of £100m and purchased three major signings this summer.

At his press conference ahead of the match against… uhh… Hull, no Watford? Wenger said he is 99% positive that there will be new players arriving. Meanwhile, last night, Arsenal’s official reporter, David Ornstein of the BBC, tweeted that Arsenal are set to sign both Mustafi and Perez. I’m not going to speak about anyone else or set up any straw men to knock down, I’m just going to simply say that for me this summer has been a crazy roller-coaster ride of emotions.

If you’ve been following my blog this summer you know that I was pretty down on Arsenal’s chances of signing Mustafi. In fact, after Wenger started in with the whole stuff about “we have to pay 600 employees” and “show me the names of strikers” and how if Holding had cost “£55m”, I figured our transfer business was done with just Xhaka and Holding. Wenger’s pronouncements combined with the Chief Executive’s statements that Arsenal “can’t outgun competitors with far more money” in the transfer market and with Wenger’s talk about how there were two transfer markets, one for England and one for Europe, made it look like Arsenal had gone into their fallback position: the keep of Arsenal tower, where they store all their dry powder.

Like I said, I’m not going to get into other people’s opinions here about Kroenke holding the team back. I’m saying that for me the whole system seemed broken. The messaging from the club was way off. The CEO and Manager were talking across each other (when Wenger contradicted Gazidis the next day after Gazidis said we can’t compete) and the worst of all when they did both get on message it was to say that Arsenal were just too poor to buy players, an opinion which is easily refuted with facts.

And worst of all, I understand why they are saying these contradictory things. I get it. They can’t just come out and say “we are trying to get Mustafi but Valencia are being dicks because they know we have money and we are being dicks because we know they need money, so we are going to wait until the last minute on this signing, even if it means that we drop points in the Premier League because the harsh reality is that despite the money we have we still need to be fiscally prudent and can’t just ‘get it done’ like so many fans want, I mean we literally can’t just spend £50m on a center back, it’s just not something that this club can afford, so we have to play hardball with these guys and that means in the short term we lose a few points but hopefully in the long term (Mustafi is going to be with us for five years) this signing saves us many points — oh, and we are trying to buy a forward because just like you, we recognize the need but we need to be very careful here because we are trying to do something sneaky and a bit underhanded so we are going to be quiet about all of that which we know is nerve wracking but this is Arsenal in 2016 and despite our history and the new stadium and promises of competing with the Oligarchy we aren’t really a top tier club, we are a second tier club. Oops, did we say that last bit out loud?”

As harsh as that last sentence sounds it is the reality. Think about it for a minute. There are the clubs who have a sugar daddy or who are super rich by dint of the fact that they won everything in sight for the last 20 years. Those are the elites. Arsenal can’t compete with those clubs on any level and neither can clubs like Tottenham or Liverpool. Even a great club like Borussia Dortmund doesn’t really compete with the likes of Bayern Munich. But neither are Arsenal like Everton. Everton were left behind in the 90s and never managed to escape. Arsenal modernized after George Graham, thanks to David Dein and Arsene Wenger, and moved the club into a new era. And so now, Arsenal have a massive fan base, a huge new stadium, and revenues to sort of compete but not really.

But what truly frustrates people is that Arsenal don’t do things the way that a normal second-tier club operates. Think about Tottenham and Liverpool: they buy and sell dozens of players, fire managers, and are constantly fighting for top four until they get lucky with that one magical player (Suarez or Kane) who can get them into a title race or the promised land of Champions League football. The reason the press give Liverpool and Tottenham a free pass is that they do things in a predictable way – which is basically huge player and managerial turnover. Meanwhile, here is Arsene Wenger, manager for 20 years, lecturing people about how buying players isn’t the panacea that they think it is, talking about stability, not buying players one year, spending £100m the next, doing crazy things like trying to put together a youth team to challenge for the Premier League title, and talking about how they don’t have money when they do (but they really don’t).

As far as I can tell Arsenal have always been like this. For me, this sort of Punk attitude toward the rest of the League and toward football, in general, is what drew me to the club. We are The Arsenal and we do things our own way.

I also understand that this is hugely frustrating. It frustrated me this summer. When it looked like Arsenal were done in the transfer market, when Arsenal were talking about how “if Holding cost £55m” and all of that, I was right there with everyone else thinking that Arsenal dropped the ball again. That we were finally going to drop out of the top four.

I also understand the frustration with the club not getting things done earlier in the transfer window. I don’t think Wenger wanted to start the season with one hand tied behind his back in terms of center backs, but I also don’t think it’s fair to say that Arsenal should have just paid “whatever” or that we should have come in with a bigger offer to “get the deal done”: if Arsenal came in with a £40m offer for Mustafi, what’s to say that Valencia wouldn’t just counter with £50m?? Like they did when we came with the £25m!

But look, Xhaka is a fantastic signing. If we get Mustafi, that’s another fantastic signing. If we get Perez, we have reinforcements for the forward position and huge potential to be a hidden gem. And along with Holding, this all means that Arsenal have spent about £100m this summer rebuilding the squad and addressing every single key position that Arsenal needed to address. We didn’t sign Griezmann, we were never signing Griezmann. I dream of Griezmann too, maybe he will pop out of an old bottle that washed up on shore after we crashed our space capsule. I’m pretty sure that’s how we landed Özil. Arsenal are not a top tier club.

Arsenal are not a top tier club and I say all this not to lecture you, but to lecture myself. We are not going to buy a championship. We need to find value. We need to scrap for players. We need to bargain with teams.  We need to play hardball to get the guys we want at the price we can afford — don’t misconstrue this as me saying we are poor, we aren’t poor but we are not rich — so that we can afford to buy all of the parts that we want and get in the quality that we are looking for.

That’s what Arsenal did this summer. They spent (or will, please, spend) £100m to get Xhaka, Mustafi, Perez, and Holding into the team. The ride sucked but I guess we got there (maybe).

Oh hey, Arsenal play Hull, no.. Watford tomorrow at 7am. After that, I’m taking my daughter to Mt. Rainier for a hike. It’s free National Parks Day in the United States as a celebration of 100 years of National Parks and I plan to avail myself of that freedom.

Qq

 

120 Comments on Arsenal set to sign two players, also play football

  1. well, i step away for a couple of days and look at what done happened.

    if this kid is a legit center forward than i’m happy with this deal. i never felt the need for a big name or someone better than giroud, just someone who can provide arsenal with competent center forward play if giroud is unavailable or playing poorly.

    to call this kid vardy-like seems disrespectful. his awareness, close control, and ability to find his team mates seems to supersede vardy’s, implying he’s actually better than vardy. i don’t think he’s as fast as vardy but he seems a more technically sound player. we’ll see.

    i don’t think valencia actually raised their asking price to €50 million. i was always under the impression that 50 million was the buyout clause in mustafi’s contract. to me, it sounds like valencia gave arsenal a number significantly less than 50 million but arsenal dicked around so long that they disregarded arsenal’s interest as legitimate. valencia had their season opener on sunday where they gave up four goals. they have a top defender rostered who could have helped but was left to train on his own due to his impending transfer to arsenal. problem is valencia don’t have a replacement because they haven’t received arsenal’s transfer fee. valencia can’t afford to drop more points waiting for arsenal so they’ve, essentially, told arsenal if you want this kid, pay his buy out (€50 million) or piss off, and ordered mustafi back to training. makes sense. if any of us were in valencia’s shoes, we would have done the same thing.

  2. well, i step away for a couple of days and look at what done happened.

    if this kid is a legit center forward than i’m happy with this deal. i never felt the need for a big name or someone better than giroud, just someone who can provide arsenal with competent center forward play if giroud is unavailable or playing poorly.

    to call this kid vardy-like seems disrespectful. his awareness, close control, and ability to find his team mates seems to supersede vardy’s, implying he’s actually better than vardy. i don’t think he’s as fast as vardy but he seems a more technically sound player. we’ll see.

    i don’t think valencia actually raised their asking price to €50 million. i was always under the impression that 50 million was the buyout clause in mustafi’s contract. to me, it sounds like valencia gave arsenal a number significantly less than 50 million but arsenal messed around so long that they disregarded arsenal’s interest as legitimate. valencia had their season opener on sunday where they gave up four goals. they have a top defender rostered who could have helped but was left to train on his own due to his impending transfer to arsenal. problem is valencia don’t have a replacement because they haven’t received arsenal’s transfer fee. valencia can’t afford to drop more points waiting for arsenal so they’ve, essentially, told arsenal if you want this kid, pay his buy out (€50 million) or piss off, and ordered mustafi back to training. makes sense. if any of us were in valencia’s shoes, we would have done the same thing.

    • The Valencia president said that Arsenal needed to pay the buyout clause. That was in the Spanish papers.

      • right-on. i haven’t read the spanish papers.

        bottom line, valencia’s stance implied a willingness to walk away from this negotiation unless arsenal, essentially, made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. it seems a simple enough approach to put yourself in another’s shoes and ask what’s reasonable.

        the shame in it all is that both arsenal and valencia conceded four goals in home openers. they both may have done better if this deal had been done back in july.

    • That is exactly right, Joshua. Couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph in your original post. The buyout clause was there, but they were willing to trade lower, but above that Arsenal were asking. That is a matter of public record. Arsenal’s now you see me now you don’t approach irked them.

      By Wenger’s own admission, we put transfers on hold to concentrate on the start of the season. Think about that for a minute. A club of Arsenal’s size not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

      We MUST be able to conclude transfers more quickly than we manage to. It is hurting us in the market, on the field and in the stands. Our approach irked both Valencia and Lyon. Thankfully, we found an out to the Lyon negotiation.

      • Where is it public record that anyone from Valencia is quoted saying that they would have taken X bid? They have always publicly maintained that Arsenal need to pay the full buyout clause.

        • I don’t yet have the info, Tim, but I’ll provide it soon as I can. t’ll take a search beyond a snatched reply. It is clear, to me at least following the saga that Valencia moved on their insistence of paying the full clause. I think that Josh reads it right. If I’m wrong on that, I’ll come back here tonight and say so.

          I’m not bellyaching for the sake of it. We do take a stop-start approach to transfers, and clubs are happy to leak the details.

    • Ok, but now put yourself in Arsenal’s shoes.

      You have about 95m to spend. (An estimate by the AST who really aren’t pro Arsene or Kroenke) You’ve spent around 40m on Xhaka, Holding and the two prospects.

      Valencia want say 30m, while Lyon want at least 40 for Lacazette. Arsenal apparently bid around 25m for Mustafi and around 30m for Lacazette. That’s the remaining 55m estimated we had left.

      Once negotiations couldn’t bring the price for either of them down, they got the cheaper alternative at striker and the longer term buy at CB. Even if this meant having to pay 5 million extra to Valencia, it is 5m they now knew they had available to spend without leaving a gap in the squad.

  3. Nice post. Though i’m honestly surprised that you were surprised with the ride. This has always been how we’ve done it, for all the reasons you stated. Nothing new this summer.

  4. Mt Rainier will be a complete zoo tomorrow. I admire your bravery heading into that traffic cluster f**k!

    I have to say, though, that the National Parks system is one of the best ideas the US has ever had (thanks, Franklin!). There’s now also a kind of romantic aura about them, a permanent sense of nostalgia that I also love, and which was no doubt exacerbated from watching too many reruns of Yogi Bear as a kid. The other thing I love about the parks is that the impetus to preserve nature through conservation seems to run so counter to the modern pathologically greedy drive to develop the land into ever more condominiums and suburbs, or, as that great Canadian Joni Mitchell put it, “pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”

    As for Arsenal, the signings are welcome of course. Let’s hope they acclimate well, because our leaving it late in the market means they need to hit the ground running, especially Mustafi. Two games in and we’ve already dropped five points. League positions have slipped for less come May.

    I’m still miffed that we were characteristically listless in the transfer market for so long, but needs have been addressed, and I’d rather it was late than never.

  5. I also want to reiterate what I said yesterday: it seems like Arsenal targeted many positions of weakness, built a plan with many backup options and with price ceilings to address those weaknesses, and executed that plan.

    It’s also clear that Arsenal also “spent the resources they have”.

    We can complain that we don’t like the plan, that we wish the players were different, and I’m sure that in 6 weeks we will be talking about how Xhaka sucks or something but overall, Arsenal did what the fans keep asking them to do.

    • if these deals go through, i’d be happy, although it would have been nicer to have had these deals done before the beginning of pre-season training. i guess beggars can’t be choosers.

      • Come on man, Mustafi was in the same team as Ozil. Even if he’d signed earlier Liverpool would have come too soon. This was a complicated deal and we’ll end up paying Alexis money for a defender. That’s not peanuts.

        Barcelona have been trying to wrestle Alcacer from Valencia and that one’s still ongoing.

        And Antonio Conte (whose English is somehow better than Arsene’s) said he’s had the same struggle landing targets. Maybe it’s less a case of “beggars” and more the market is as crazy as Wenger and Conte say it is?

  6. Arsenal are in this kind of weird position. They are the 7th or 8th richest team in the world but they are 3rd/4th in their own country.

    Because of that they don’t guarantee silverware and the top players are less likely to join. This also leads to them not being a serious threat to go deep in Europe further making elite players nervous about joining.

    Because of this it puts them down the pecking order compared to where they would be on finances alone.

    Chelsea are about even with Arsenal in terms of revenue but they get around the Arsenal hurdles by throwing money at players and a savvy plan of getting as many young prospects to join their loan army to maybe someday breakthrough or help with funding future player trading.

    If I was to rank the teams in order of attractiveness to players it would look like this:

    Top Tier:
    Real Madrid
    Barcelona
    Bayern Munich

    Second Tier:
    Manchester United
    Manchester City
    Juventas
    PSG
    Chelsea

    Third Tier:
    Arsenal
    Dortmund

    Fourth Tier:
    Liverpool
    Atletico Madrid
    Tottenham
    Roma

    • That list makes sense. The division between tier 1 and 2 in your thinking made me pause, but when I think about all things being equal in terms of the offer (or perhaps even not), if a player had to choose between, for example, Barcelona and Manchester City / United, they’d choose the former 9 times out of 10.

    • I like your list. However if we’re rating attractiveness to players I would swamp Arsenal and Atletico – I think a lot more players would prefer to play for Simeone, in Spain and in Madrid vs. play for an aging Wenger, in England in London.

      • I don’t think that is wrong but I think Arsenal’s ability to pay more might give them a bonus thus I put them ahead of them.

        I haven’t put a ton of thought into this. Maybe that is an idea to do.

      • Yeah, Athletico are at least our equals now, in terms of attractiveness for players (accept perhaps not in what they can pay on average in wages?). That Griezmann wanted to stay put says it all really. That’s what two Champions League finals and three legitimate title challenges in three years will do for you, unfortunately.

    • I see what you’re trying to do but it’s quite arbitrary. Are we rating based on finances, history or “attractiveness” to top players overall? In terms of finance, City, Chelsea, PSG and Man United are all top tier, and that usually goes hand in hand with “attractive.”

      Juve is top tier in terms of history but they are only splashing the cash they got from Chevrolet. Arsenal can outspend any non-PL club not newly rich on player sales except for PSG and Real. Bayern and Barca don’t just spend to win and in that respect they’re the model Arsenal is trying to follow. They have the advantage of being so desirable they don’t have to always overpay for the players they way.

      • Aah. I didn’t realise Juve had a bumper Chevrolet deal of their own. Did their higher up have to resign again after this deal was signed?

      • My idea was that it isn’t just financial because Arsenal are the 7th richest team it also has to do with the ability to win things, and being quite a bit behind two over teams and tied with a team that has an owner willing to take losses in their own country hurts that.

      • Doesn’t “attractiveness” cover all those? i.e. even if Real, Barca or Bayern offer less wages, the chances of an A list player choosing them over a Tier II team offering higher wages is extremely high. Of course it’s an arbitrary rating, because there’s no way to measure a player’s preferences for a club. Some players like money and could care less about winning or even playing (Adebayor). For others they grew up life long fans of a club.

        • Just as you say, attractive to who? This argument is interesting but at the end of the day basically subjective.

      • PS Juve are my odds on favourite to win Champions League with the moves they’ve made. That’s 80 million if you make it to the end. Juve are gaining in reputation with a new generation of players and gaining financial firepower. They’ll be Tier I in a couple years, the Bayern Munich of Italy.

  7. Tim, I’ve been a big fan of your blog over the past few years. I enjoy your thoughtful commentary, and especially the statistical interpretations of Arsenal players/targets that I don’t see anywhere else.

    I’m visiting Seattle this weekend, and want to watch the game in a bar/pub with exciting atmospheres lots of other Arsenal supporters. Do you have recommendations on some good locations for this?

    Looking forward to a fun game tomorrow, and to Arsenal scoring more goals than the opposition.

    • As far as I know the Atlantic Crossing is the most populated pub in Seattle. The George is run by some publicans who claim Arsenal as their second team but they are NOTORIOUS for not opening early for the matches. In Tacoma we have Doyle’s and they will welcome you.

      All of that said, we don’t have a vocal supporter’s culture in the PNW outside of Sounder’s Fans. It’s a bit unusual.

  8. Please note: I knew we were playing Watford, Hull got in my head because I was listening to the damn Guardian podcast last night and the last team I heard before I woke up was Hull.

    Brains work funny.

  9. Great article. One of the best of the summer. I agree with pretty much everything you’re saying here.

    • Amen to that.

      On finances and the stadium move, I wonder if one of the “miscalculations” was the relative importance of game day revenue, given the rise of TV revenue. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been hard/impossible to predict. But with TV revenues rising so dramatically, it seems that higher game day revenues don’t give as much of a advantage as was originally anticipated.

      • It does mean 22,000 more fans can go see them live at home.
        anybody who is a red card member would never get to see them live if we hadn’t built the stadium.

  10. Yaayy!! Tim doesn’t hate Arsenal.

    Kidding. I never held it against you, because I understood why you felt the way you did, even if I disagreed about certain things. At least in intensity if not import.

    I too was doubting us signing anyone after the ‘we have Sanchez, we have Walcott’ bit, though I did say that I thought (or hoped) it was just annoyance from Wenger always having to talk about signings and his supposed reluctance to make them. I was more confident after the next presser.

    Still deals not officially announced, so waiting for something to go wrong. But if they go through, I’m happy to see my faith rewarded, and good to see that the club mean business. Like you Tim, I don’t think it reasonable to suggest that Arsenal should have had these signings done early. Desirable, yes. The stupid window should shut before the season starts (actually the window shouldn’t be there at all)

    Takuma Asano goes to Stuttgart on loan. Would be interesting to see how he does there. Germany has been the entry point for a few Japanese players in recent times, so hopefully it works out well for him.

    I think Gnabry will stay and be a member of the first team squad along with Iwobi, Jeff, Akpom and perhaps Bielik. At least till January. But Schalke did say they and all German clubs except Bayern are looking at him, so maybe he demands a move. (By the way, you called it in pre-season that Chambers is behind Holding and Bielik in the pecking order right now.)

    Not that I intend to add to any remaining transfer drama, but the only real question mark for me at this point is Debuchy’s position at the club. It seems like he’s staying put as backup RB. If he’s got his head on right, I will be pleased about that. If not, who knows? But Holding can play there, and Mustafi too apparently. So I guess we have options.

  11. Thierry Henry announced as Roberto Martinez’s assistant for the Belgium national team?!

    That will be interesting. Not quite sure what to make of it.

    • There is something awry with Henry, Vieira and Wenger. I think the younger men deeply disagree with Wenger’s methods but respect him too much to really lay into him.

  12. Nice post. I do wish people stop talking about it as five points dropped though…Don’t think man city fans expect 6 points against pool and leicester? Sure it could have been better, but…

    • Agreed. There is no telling if Mustafi and Perez would have meant we collect 6/6. It’s quite the leap of faith to assume so.

    • I’m curious about your “as” points dropped language, as if it was a hypothetical that we dropped five points. News flash: We dropped five points. In reality. Not talking about it won’t make it go away. Sorry. And yes, five points has real consequences with respect to league position. Some people would prefer to white wash everything. Why are some people so bothered by the commingling of good and bad? Yes, it’s good we bought late rather than never. No, it’s not good we left it so late and also dropped points in the meantime.

      Also, it’s not “quite the leap of faith” to assume we would have fared better with new signings solidly embedded in the team in positions that caused us problems against Liverpool (defense) and Leicester (attack). Nobody is talking about guarantees here, we’re talking about probabilities and possibilities, and I think it’s perfectly legitimate to imagine we would have had a better chance of claiming six points with a better team on the pitch. Buying a defender and striker earlier in the summer would have improved the squad, and meant we didn’t have to field the hapless Walcott in attack, and an incredibly green center-back pairing.

      Quite the opposite, I think it’s “quite the leap of faith” to assume we could take six points from the first two games with the squad as unprepared and uneven as it was going into the season.

      • And yet the club didn’t. Why? Because they didn’t want to? Because they prioritise money over points? But then why’d they spend around 90m to fill the gaps in the squad?

        Signings MIGHT have helped. Though with the Liverpool game, I genuinely feel it was a mental failure rather than any physical or quality deficit that was the defining factor. (In fairness, signings can help the players’ mentality too, but this is a minor effect)

        But, the window is there to strengthen. I honestly have never heard such vehemence about not only signing players in the window, but signing them a month before it shuts. It’s weird.

        • Possibly because the season starts before the window shuts. The strong desire to get in players early is not in the slightest bit “weird”; rather, it’s reflective of the desire of fans to see their club be as successful as it can, and that means getting players in as early as possible in the window so they have time to bed in before the season starts. You think that’s weird? If so, is it any more or less weird the desperate need to shore up any criticism of the club? Like I said, good and bad. Good and bad.

          • ‘As soon as possible’ being the key part. Do we know that it definitely was possible before? How reasonably can we expect it to be done before the season starts?

            This vehemence to paint the use of the length of the window to strengthen as a delay/negligence is new, and yes, weird.

            Of course ideally we should have had a settled squad before the season started. Things don’t always go as per ideal.

          • Well, of course it’s weird to you, someone who reacts to any and all criticism of the club with a degree of defensiveness normally reserved for a cornered drunk.

          • @Bunburyist
            Comparing a fellow fan and long time poster who happens to disagree with you to a “cornered drunk” is unnecessarily rude. It’s the kind of ad hominum attack one would expect from a visiting Chelsea troll.

            (OK, it’s a more vivid image than they typically muster but you get the point)

      • I have to agree here. It is good that we (are Signing) Mustafi, but the fact that we had to play Chambers, who is clearly not going to make it as an Arsenal player (I’ll talk more about this in a blog some time), was at least partially a reason why we lost to Liverpool. And if we were going to sign Perez, maybe we should have done it earlier? So we didn’t have to play Alexis so soon and through the middle? It’s good and bad, guys.

        • I don’t disagree. I just disagree with the apportioning of blame on Arsenal for this. Especially about the defense. We lost Gabriel to injury a week before our opening game. We’d already bought Holding. Kos wasn’t available due to his Euro exploits, and buying Mustafi, even if it were put on the fast track after Per or Gabriel’s injury, would likely not have had him ready to play on opening day anyway.

      • “Better chance” is not the same as “Five points dropped.” That’s the entirety of my argument. I don’t think I ever said I was assuming we’d collect 6/6 points from those games and it’s a bit naughty of you to imply that I did.

      • Great you set that straight. Some always manage to find ways to excuse the unprofessional manner the first team was prepared in the summer. Other top teams all had key players in Euro so why they had similar issues like Arsene FC?

        If the Arsene FC were a bank, it’d have failed most of the reg stress tests and so on. A 6th or 7th richest club, nor a 11m pa handsomely paid manager, simply cannot be so unprepared.

        We already in catch up mode for God sake.

      • @ Bunburyist
        You are easily one of my most favorite posters on here but I have to disagree with you on the points dropped. In reality we dropped 6 points ( goal difference) in reference to league leaders.
        If past seasons are anything to go by, Arsenal’s goal difference is always inferior to the likes of City, Chelsea or United, which ever ends up winning the league.

        Also, the points dropped against Leicester and Liverpool represent 4 less points we got out of those fixtures last season.
        We are going to have to make them up against other opponents and somehow I don’t think it’s going to be against Chelsea, City or United.

        It always amuses me how easily some fans get over points lost at the beginning of the season, as if somehow a point earned in May was worth twice the point earned in August .

  13. Loved the giant run on sentence summarizing Arsenal’s transfer approach this summer. Agreed we are not a top tier club; never really were top tier for any sustained period of time except in the days of Chapman. Always been there or thereabouts, won some titles here and there but no consistent domination. Closest we got to that status was under Wenger when we lucked into several generational talents on the same field at the same time. That will probably never happen again. Definitely haven’t been top tier since the evolution of the super clubs bankrolled by foreign countries and that looks unlikely to change. We should simply embrace our identity as iconoclastic white collar underdogs who win stuff once in a while.

  14. “I’m just going to simply say that for me this summer has been a crazy roller-coaster ride of emotions”

    This is why precisely why I have stayed away from commenting on blogs the past few days. Football is an emotional sport for fans – I’m pretty sure I’m biased but I feel like it’s more emotional than other sports. At the very least it’s more palpable because of its global appeal. A vast majority of the fans react emotionally but some are better at justifying those emotions than others (like a lot of the commentators here). That wasn’t meant as a slate but just that it only takes a day to change people’s emotions, reactions and their outlook. It’s also not meant as an insult to commenting on football on a daily basis but for the sake of my sanity, I had to stay away and not try not to react too much until the transfer window closed or till I knew for sure we would/wouldn’t be doing any more business this summer.

    As far as Arsenal not being a top tier club, this is nothing new – especially in the transfer market. Bergkamp was an anomaly. Most of the players in the Invincibles era were bought early in the careers. The difference now is that Wenger no longer has the inside track to young French players like he once did and even if he did, he is not the one to dish out £60 mil for a talent like Martial. He is trying to build with a mix of players from our youth team, some experienced internationals and one or two world class players that we might be lucky enough to grab because of their former club’s whim. It’s not a bad plan but neither is it a plan that will see win the league on a consistent basis. That’s the reality. However, if planned correctly it at least gives us a chance to challenge for the title. Given the timing of Perez’s arrival, it’s quite evident that he wasn’t plan A, maybe not even plan B. If I were to make an education guess, I think we “swooped” in for him because Wenger feels there isn’t going to be any big name strikers moving in the next few days. I am okay with that because given Arsenal’s status in the transfer market, this is exactly what we should be doing. Perez seems like a good, value buy. If he scores at a 15% clip, he will be an excellent buy. Can he take penalties? If so, that alone is worth about £10 – 15 mill given our dreadful penalty misses the past few months.

    £35 mil for Mustafi seems like a lot but I could give a donkey’s dick. None of really know what the real story is behind the scenes but this move alone must be worth a few million:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kpA2MT8wVI

    I feel like this is the first time in YEARS we are going into a season with a proper squad. Sure I would love a world class CF but at least we don’t have to overplay Giroud or be forced to play Sanchez or worse, Theo in that position. I still would love to see Wenger develop one like he used to. Who knows? Maybe he will surprise us all and turn Iwobi into one. I personally think he has all the traits to be a CF.. but one thing for sure… I’m starting to feel excited about our season again.

  15. Hmm.. my rather long comment didn’t get published. 2nd time this has happened. Tim, is there any way you can put me in a white list or something?

  16. That we can’t credibly claim that points were dropped, true.

    What’s also true is that we started an inexperienced centre-back pairing, and one of them is now deemed surplus to requirements. It is also true that the squad had an unsettled feel and look at the start of the season, and we should reasonably expect that not to be the case — yet again. I mean is is really an argument that we shouldn’t buy and integrate asap, and the advantages of doing so are clear? The inference that we should and probably could have done this earlier is a fair one.

    It’s possible to feel that way AND be happy with the business we’ve done of late.

    I’m cock-a-hoop, and I am happy with the players we’re getting. But as Arseblog noted, other clubs seem to identify and pull the trigger on transfers (even cheap ones like Nolito) comparatively quickly.

    I don’t believe that we are some special case of transfer purity. Lots of other clubs besides us want smart transfers and value.

  17. Athletico Madrid in 4th tier…let’s suppose that is how it really is…how is it then a top player from 4th tier would not want to make jump to 3rd tier(Arsenal) or Top Tier(Barca) and sign a long term contract with 4th tier club that cannot even guarantee him any trophy season after season…Just because ManU spent 100mil on an overrated player(Ha!! I said it), they are in 2nd tier…Football is much simpler and complicated than that..I can’t believe any player in his right mind would not want to come and work with a top class coach, amongst world class facility and have a super class players as their team mates, earning decent wage(If I am not wrong we are amongst the top 5 club who pays their players top wage) and is surely going to improve as a player.The only and perhaps the most important criteria now-a-days is that Arsenal has not won any major trophy for centuries which has created this class 3 perception..I hope like everything, he proves this wrong too..Just as a side note, if Mourinho would have been the coach of Arsenal and if the press had harassed him with the “Player not wanting to come to Arsenal BS theory”, I am pretty sure, he would have released a list to the press containing player names who had “begged” to come at Arsenal(along with ex-players 🙂 )

  18. Ok, I had to get this off my chest. Sorry for the epic length!
    There’s all of a sudden been a sea change on a bunch of blogs, including this one, about Wenger and the club’s performance this transfer window: everyone is suddenly an optimist. I want to be optimistic as well, and am at least relieved we bought players in all the areas we needed, but I feel the truth is somewhat less clear cut than many are making out. Have Arsenal spent quite a lot of money? Yes (though not clear that’s literally all we could spend). But does that move us significantly towards being serious title challengers this year? I hope so, but I worry that the answer is “not really”, given our lack of quality in attack:
    1. Walcott is terrible
    2. Sanchez is not a CF
    3. Giroud is solid but (let’s be frank, Arsenal fans) has a very limited skill set
    4. Perez is almost 28 and has had one (ONE!) good season playing for a club in a top European league. Let that sink in (and before anyone brings up Vardy, he’s obviously the exception that proves the rule)

    If Perez fails to hit the ground running and have a great first year (a distinct possibility) then that means relying on Giroud once again, and he’s shown year after year that his limited, ponderous style holds back our attack from becoming the vintage, slick Wenger-style machine it could otherwise be (ok, last year the bigger problem was losing our midfield passing game in the middle of the year, but we have better midfield cover now).
    Now, we clearly don’t have endless funds, but given how serious our need is up top, why didn’t we pass up on Mustafi, get a short term budget solution in defense for 12-15 million, and put that money towards at least having a serious go at signing, e.g., Lacazette? Of course we wanted to strengthen defensively, but Mertesacker’s coming back at some point this season, in the very short term we have Holding, Chambers, and Koscielny (plus Monreal at a stretch), and Gabriel’s only a month away. Assuming Wenger hasn’t already given up hope on Gabriel coming good (and if he has, after only 18 months, that doesn’t reflect well on our earlier transfer business!), a partnership of Kos and Gabriel, with Holding and Chambers as backups, doesn’t look too bad for the autumn. I can’t help but think we’ve gone bargain shopping in the one area of the pitch–at centre forward–where we really, really needed to not do so.

    Finally, what about actually selling a few players? I’m all for stability and I think some players (e.g. the Ox, Wilshere) still have plenty to give if given time and luck with injuries, but the following estimates do not seem crazy, even factoring in we might have to sell low so as to effectively subsidize these players’ huge wages for their future clubs:

    Hayden: 1-2 million (I think we did this, right?)
    Ospina or Sir Chesney: 5 million
    Debuchy: 3 million
    Joel: 10-12 million
    Theo: 15-20 million

    That’s hardly that much selling, and still leaves the vast majority of the squad intact. Nor do those sums seem overly optimistic at all. And yet just this little bit of business could have raised us another 35-40 million!! Add that to the Perez fee and you have over 50 million to spend on a striker, while STILL getting Mustafi (for a very sizable fee that *maybe* could have been smaller if we had moved for him 6-8 weeks ago, but let’s set that aside…). Decide to pass on Mustafi for a bargain experienced defender option instead, say one costing roughly what Perez cost (no doubt there’s a defensive equivalent to Perez that the scouting network has identified), and that becomes £35 (fee that Mustafi cost) + £35-40 (from the player sales) = £70-75 million to spend on a top quality striker. (And all of this is reasoning under the assumption that the almost £90-100 million we’ve spent is absolutely maxing out our available cash for transfers, which is probably unlikely. Consider: we all know that if (perish the thought) Olivier Giroud was struck by lightning today and died, Arsenal could scrounge around under the sofa and find another £25-30mill to purchase a new target man before the end of the window, without bankrupting the club.)
    Look, I’m not naive: I know this stuff is harder than it looks, harder than I’m making it out to be. But that’s why the manager gets paid £8 million a year and has a whole team of well paid experts surrounding him to assist him.

  19. Financially,we are in the 2nd tier,agreed.But are we getting the best out of the squad?Was our squad last year superior to leicester and spurs?When problems inevitably come,how does the manager go about solving it?We bought players,that’s great but it is not an end in itself.A lot of work still needs to be done.The football is important.Regardless of the other team’s finances,I think it is quite possible for a club of our resources to consistently get 80+ points every season.You may not win the league every season but this much is possible if you are smart.Taking 4 teams as top class teams,that’s 24 points.Even if you lose them all,there is still 90 points to play for.You really should be getting 80+ points every season.Regardless of the players we buy,its our home form against teams who sit deep and the midtable clubs like liverpool,soton etc away from home that has been our problems.Xhaka is one fantastic remedy against low block teams but the positional structure must be better.

  20. I wished that Arsenal could sign another Eduardo and in Perez I may just have gotten my wish. He could be more of a certainty than me getting that million I wished for.

  21. bunburyist and claude

    The club has been under attack in the media, often unfairly, for well over a decade. If I try and defend them from unfair criticism,then that isn’t ‘spin’. Where’s the spin involved in saying that we don’t know how the market works and so we don’t know whether the club could have got these deals done any faster, or cheaper, or better deals?

    If you aren’t happy with the players, or aren’t happy at the delay, that is one thing. But I don’t agree with the idea that not getting these players in earlier shows negligence. Especially as concerns the defense (Mustafi would likely not have played anyway, and the planning was fine until it was hit by two injuries. Name one club that won’t suffer with that)

    Maybe you can stop with the accusations of spin and just concentrate on the argument. Which is, that you do not have adequate facts to pass judgment on Arsenal’s handling of the window, except merely expressing a vague disappointment with it (and hence, them) because it didn’t go perfectly.

    And as for the weird thing. Can you tell me any time before the two arguments about ‘buying late means paying more’, and ‘buying late in the window shows the club don’t care about points’ (or variations of this) were ever used before in this fashion. Or is it simply another example of the shifting goalposts by which we must keep Arsenal under the cosh?

    But of course, it’s soooo offensive to say we’re all affected by the media, but no. It’s perfectly fine to laugh of any alternate argument as spin, or compare it to a stupid drunk.

    • First of all, Go Gunners!

      Secondly, glad to know that you’re a one-man rebuttal army against the mean press.

      May have escaped your attention that youre debating not the press, but Arsenal fans, at least one of whom has been supporting this club far longer than you.

      And been in the trenches defending Arsene long before you found the EPL and settled on which club (or more accurately which manager) to support. This is my monicker at Guardian, the best and most active football commentary forum. Go read my record of defense of Wenger. Until 2 years ago when he lost me, no one defended him more robustly, against what you correctly state were unfair attacks over the years.

      So Im not going to let you don the shield of truth on behalf of this club. No one has a monopoly on love for the good name of AFC, not even you. Many people who have been where you are now (AKB, extreme in your case) have turned. You’re talking to one of them.

      Also, both of us show a balance you don’t. I’ve said for example that I like the recruits, and I’ve praised the foresight that got us Holding. Bunburyist has said plenty positive as well. Balance. How do you do it? Arguing that everything is rosy in the garden no matter what the issue? That the pile of steaming do is in fact peanut butter?

      Karl Rove stuff.

      To the question you raise, the salient point is that we were not ready for the start of the season, and consistently haven’t been, most egregiously with the 8-2 and the supermarket sweep that followed. I do not think it’s acceptable for the 6th straight season we should find ourselves in the same position. And it very likely cost us points. Heck, we haven’t been since taking a B side to Old Trafford for the 8-2 and then making a supermarket sweep.

      I do think that our transfer management is good, and moreover think it’s been poor for years. I do not need to be privy to the inner workings of our deals to come to that conclusion. It’s called a pattern. It’s called critical thinking.

      • Yay. Go Gunners!

        No man, I’m just a one man army here.

        And yay you for caring so much about fans’ opinions, when mine is just spin to you.

        I don’t see too much wrong with the club, and I happen to trust that they do know what they are doing because I see progress. Also, I don’t know enough about certain things to pass judgment either way. Such as tactics. I rarely have a comment on those. When people say Wenger’s tactics will mean we never win, I don’t normally dispute it, except by saying that our league positions through the years can’t all be accidents.

        The 8-2. A different era where qualifying for the champs league 3 days prior allowed us to complete business. We were so skint we paid Arteta less than Everton were. And that was also the first time in a long time we bought older players with no resale value. Which was another progression in our transfer policy. I don’t see our transfer policy as stagnant. And I don’t see why signing someone before the window shuts gets a ‘Stupid, negligent Arsenal’ rather than at most an ‘Aww shucks, wish we had this before’.

        Guess what I’m saying is, there’s degrees of ‘wrongness’. Based on reading the comments here many a times you’d think Arsenal were at the homicide end of the scale, rather than closer to the white lie end of the scale. In such an environment, I don’t believe I can reasonably criticise Arsenal even if I were so inclined because it goes from Grr Arsenal, to hang on, it wasn’t THAT bad really. (And I have laid into Arsenal on occasion when I feel they’ve deserved it.) Hell, even when I criticise Arsenal, such as after the Liverpool game, I get attacked for ‘spin’. Only because I didn’t feel that transfers were the major cause, or that the players could use fatigue as an excuse.

        So when you say Arsenal suck at transfers and point to 6 years of evidence, I don’t think it’s ‘spin’ to a)question the evidence, and then b) ask if Arsenal could have a reason to behave this way. (Such as with joshuad’s (reasonable) speculation about Valencia and the Mustafi deal)

        There isn’t much difference in our viewpoints though. It’s only a matter of degrees. A matter of emphasis. I would just appreciate it if you could focus on the argument rather than my motives.

        However, let’s just move on from this for now, and bask in the victory tonight, and hopefully signings to follow over the weekend. We’ll have a whole two weeks to keep arguing.

        • Why use words like homicide? Why be so hypersensitive on Wenger’s behalf?

          The worst things I’ve said is that he plans transfers badly, and he’s become stale and ossified.

          I’ve also said he’s one of the most consequential figures in Arsenal’s history (player or manager), its greatest manager, and one of the best in the history of the premiership. I also feel he’s lost the plot. He’s left us short season after season in recent years, notably the last. It is possible to hold those views simultaneously.

          I worry about folks who take benign criticism to heart as much as you do. You were even lecturing me last thread on why can’t I just be happy with X. This isn’t Cuba. And no one called for the old man to be jailed.

          • I’m bad at analogies. I didn’t mean ‘homicide’ literally.

            I know your views on Wenger. I don’t deny that you are generally balanced or have Arsenal’s best interests at heart, and not once have I ever said your views are impossible to hold together. But I should be able to challenge you when you take up a position which I don’t agree with, without being accused of spin, no?

            Perhaps I am hypersensitive. Might need to step back a bit. But it’s been years that Arsenal have been fighting to get into this position where we can spend near 100m on transfers and fill the gaps in our squad. I guess I just hoped that for one day it could be seen as an unqualified positive, as a unifying hurrah across the ‘factions’ that have formed over the years. But I guess, ‘balance’ demands otherwise.

          • One last thing before I leave.

            I really appreciated Tim’s stance on this. That he said it seems there was a plan because we went after two, or even three similar CFs, and that we executed that plan. Maybe it could have been sooner, maybe it isn’t the right plan. We’ll find that out later. But we executed a plan utilising our resources, which is what we’ve been demanding.

            I don’t agree with everything he said, but I just thought it was the correct emphasis in balance. Refusing to run with the Arsenal delayed grrr grrr emotion, mentioning it, mentioning why Arsenal could be this way, but mainly focusing on the immense positive that had just happened, and which hadn’t happened before.

            No hard feelings ormy. I appreciate your views generally. And I don’t doubt I’m annoying at times. Don’t always quite know how to get my meaning across. But yeah, let’s just let this go. My main gripe with you (and Bunbury) is the accusations of spin thrown my way. That’s all.

      • Seems to me your one of these supporters who belive what they type is the truth.
        Like all those who taught the’d hold a Wenger out protest at the end of last season that went well.

    • Shard, thanks for all the pixels, which gave us a nice biiiiiiig picture of your neuroses. If I could sum up your posts on here, it would look like this: 1) Everything is awesome!, then 2) Longwinded essays about how everyone is misinterpreting ‘everything is awesome’.

      You’re so misunderstood, Shard. I suggest cigarettes, black clothes, and emo.

  22. Arsenal have bought reasonably well this summer. Four players who immediately improve the first team squad (Xhaka, Holding, Mustafi and Perez)is the most you can expect from a coach that demands cohesion and stability like Wenger. Two top prospects (Asano and Nwakali)is also par for the course for long-term strategic planning. However, I feel that the club can engage its fans and the media better in order not to foster the image of bumbling inefficiency and “dithering” which, rightly or wrongly, has come to be associated with its transfer operations habitually. I think this is Arsenal’s deepest squad in years. While we could have done with the top quality centre forward we haven’t had for four years, so do many other top clubs. That Griezmann hasn’t moved yet speaks volumes. We wouldn’t get him in an open auction and yet he remains at Athletico on relatively modest wages (compared to his talent). We were the only top club in for Lacazette but would’ve had to pay a real premium to get him despite doubts about his suitability for our current playing system. Tellingly, having played for Lyon all his life, the lad never kicked up a fuss in order to force an exit. Aubameyang, whose wages are also likely to be modest, was never seriously tempted to leave Dortmund this summer. So we have a situation where apparently attainable central striking options appear to be curiously cosy at their current clubs and would only be seriously tempted by moves to tier one clubs like Barca/Real/Bayern or the mega-rich tier two clubs like the Manchester Two, Chelsea and PSG. Arsenal should have made this Perez move right after the Vardy “snub” but probably avoided it because it would have felt even more underwhelming then than now.

    • We did bid for Lacazette between that apparently.

      Arsenal also need to be wary of other clubs coming in and taking their targets (like what we did to Everton with Perez) Timing can be a factor there too.

      I’m all for Arsenal engaging with the fans to get them to understand the club’s stance better. Perhaps they should be more open in what is happening in the market? But we know they don’t like doing that, possibly because it could hurt them from actually getting it done. So what else can they do?

  23. An unfortunate consequence of our protracted style of doing transfers is that everything plays out in the public eye and there’s always the crippling fear that another “snub” or “blow” is on the way. This infuriates fans who then go out of their way to create a toxic atmosphere at our games whenever they sense that the team is not in the game. None of Xhaka, Mustafi, Perez or Holding is CURRENTLY an A-list player. At least two and possibly three of them may eventually became that caliber of player. However, I doubt if any of the rival clubs at or above the level of Arsenal were seriously in for them. With a better transfer committee in place, Arsenal could and should have wrapped up these four transfers within a month of each other and had a more or less settled squad before now.

    • Honestly, I don’t think it’s really that our transfers are protracted much more than anyone else’s. It’s that we are unusually tight-lipped about them. Which increases scope for media speculation. Some of them react to not being kept in the loop by making up rumours, or by coming up with angles like ‘Perez was rejected by Arsenal a month ago’. With how active the online Arsenal community is, such articles get a lot of clicks and mileage, which makes it easy and profitable to do anyway.

      • So, let’s see, it’s not the thing that makes the club in any way look bad?

        Hm. That’s an interesting take for you, Shard.

        • The issue in this comment was about transfers playing out in the public eye. I don’t know whether our transfers are any protracted than others. I see us make quick deals and I see us make deals which seem to take forever. Just because it doesn’t feel like forever to us when it’s other clubs doesn’t mean they don’t take as long. (maybe they don’t. I just don’t know)

          But we are totally silent about our business. Wenger gives away next to nothing and the club make no comments on any speculation. Even obviously false or mischievous articles.

          Good or bad didn’t even enter into this.

          • It didn’t? Oh, I’m sorry, Shard. It’s so hard to distinguish these days, what with you policing every 7am comments thread to correct everyone’s opinions about Arsenal, particularly if they at all smell of criticism. What’s your word count at?

          • So bunburyist, I police these threads, and you in turn police me. You seem to get your kicks from it too.

            I suggest you remove that chip on your shoulder from that stick up your a**.

            I may be a naive, annoying, wordy, neurotic, drunk idiot, but at this point, you’re just behaving like a bully. It’s not the first time either. You’re not as witty or funny as you think you are.

  24. Interesting comments by Wenger on the transfer market

    on frustration at not doing deals earlier…
    Yeah, but you are not the only one who decides that. Especially when you deal with leagues that start late, if you start in June. This season I thought we had the most easy transfer window ever, because we knew what we wanted and who we wanted and it didn’t come off so you have to restart. When you restart, when you handle some leagues they are holiday, there was the European Championship and nothing happened, you couldn’t find anybody. I met some people in the VIP rooms before games but it is not the best place to do deals but that is why it was very late, it is not ideal for us.

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160826/wenger-on-spending-and-transfer-market

    Allied with his comments in the press conference, this is the most open I can remember Wenger being about the transfer market (even if it is after the fact). It seems the club are taking steps to engage with fans about this.

  25. @Shard, I think it’s unhelpful when Wenger openly talks about transfers being ” a game of poker” and explicitly suggests that the best deals are often done in the last few days of the transfer window. It creates the impression that Arsenal are a reactive club, one that makes things up as events unfold. If you were a selling club, you would be wary of doing business with Arsenal because the way they do business gives you little time to address your own squad needs or sign suitable replacements. Increasingly, Arsenal have to pay a premium (as in Mustafi’s case)for this style of approach. There’s also something somewhat predatory about “swooping” in to “gazump” Everton and taking advantage of the straitened circumstances of clubs like Malaga and Valencia to buy the likes of Cazorla, Monreal and Mustafi on the cheap. And yet maximizing all our player sales (with the obvious exception of Fabregas) over the years. Arsenal are a capitalist entity like other big clubs. We just seem to be less good at getting the balance right between investment and return in terms of trophies! Having said that, the quality and quantity of players brought in this summer is good and I believe that a trophy is very possible at end of the campaign. I also think we’ll crack the round-of-sixteen barrier in the UCL this season.

    • Hmmm. I don’t agree that it costs us money to leave it late, but perhaps it’s a new phenomenon? I’ll wait on that one. (It should also be pointed out that Wenger did say that we don’t always get to do an early transfer so perhaps the selling club leaves it late in some cases too?)

      Don’t all clubs swoop or make use of a selling club’s weaknesses to some extent? I know we had it done to us before we got our new shirt and sponsorship deals.

      But the rest are good points. I’m not sure when Wenger started calling it poker. Was it after Ferguson said Wenger was a great poker player regarding the Van Persie transfer? You’re right, it doesn’t send a great message, even if he’s only looking for an analogy.

      I also think it is possible certain clubs/presidents/managers/agents don’t like to deal with us. Trying to get the absolute best possible deal might be a factor in it. I suspect it is also more than that, but that’s speculation entirely.

      But I think we’re seeing us do increasingly more in the transfer market, and maybe our reluctance to spend even a million or two extra will go away now that we are in less of a financial tangle than before. If the assertion on us overpaying on Mustafi is correct, that might already be happening.

    • Good, thoughtful comments today, T.

      The poker thing is not an unfortunate word formulation on his part, it’s the essence of his approach. And playing poker requires patience.

      Xabi Alonso’s transfer foundered on a figure of between 1m and 2m. Important parts like Welbeck (the fans had been expecting something more upmarket because the glaring shortage had gone unfilled for years) and Ozil were last day acquisions. I like Danny as a person, but does anyone think that he was really what we wanted, we got him through careful planning, or seeing what the market shook out?

      We sometimes make early purchases (Sanchez, Xhaka), but generally our aproach has been reactive. Certainly our bidding process should be determined. We bid for Lacazette, and roughly a month went by before we engaged in follow up.

      Early decisive recruitment lifts everyone — players and fans alike.

      It does cost the club, any club, more to leave it late. Top players are harder to prise away because squads are being settled. It is rarely the case (the exception being Ozil) that big players, and likely the ones you want, move very late in the window. Clubs would want silly money, because often THEY have no time to replace.

      • Where do get the figures you keep quoting I see them once in press articles that turn out to not to be true.
        But once they are written they can be used as a stick to beat the club and manager.
        So you think Welbeck is not good enough for Arsenal wow that says it all.

        • No I don’t think he is. Shoot me.

          You really need to bring more to the table than hurt on Wenger’s behalf.

  26. @Shard. The point is whether Arsene should be the one personally running all transfers. I feel his place should be on the periphery: identify the player and make discreet contact with the player through his agent, then leave transfer negotiations to Dick Law and his team (if he has a team!). The negotiators know what the club has budgeted for player incomings. Let them get on with it. If the club feel that Dick Law is not up to the job and requires Wenger’s guidance every step of the way, then it’s the duty of the club to bring in someone who can. What happens to Arsenal tomorrow when Wenger, with all his clout and experience in the murky world of transfers, leaves?

  27. 1. Arsenal are a rich club. That’s simply a fact. Regardless of where exactly you put them, they are world top 10, and England’s 4th richest. Additionally, for whatever reason Abramovitch isn’t spending huge money this season, or last, so the competition from Chelsea is less currently than it has been.
    2. The new transfer deals address obvious weaknesses in the squad. Better late than never, but they should have been done earlier. It’s game week 3, we have 1 point from two games; the deals are still not done and the players won’t be in the squad until after the international break.
    3. Regardless, Arsenal are going to experience the same old familiar problems this season as they have for the last 2/3 years and these signings won’t change that. There is a major problem in the footballing culture at Arsenal and that hasn’t changed just because it looks like Arsenal have signed a good centre-half and a backup striker. It won’t change until we get a new manager, but oh well.
    4. That’s a misuse of the word ‘punk’.

  28. Arsenal start slow against Watford but came on strong at the end of the first half. There are more goals to be had for us in this game for us.
    That Xhaka has some passing range so much so that he started to inspire Holding to give it a go at the cross field diagonal ball.

  29. How good was Xhaka? Those long passes were eye catching, and allowed us to get behind the Watford defense. Good movement by Alexis too. Ozil seemed a bit rusty, but a goal and a ‘pre-assist’ with the penalty. What’s up this season? Refs are actually awarding us penalties and not only are not manufacturing them against us, but even allowed us to get away with one at Leicester. Long may this continue because refs have cost us points every season.

    Walcott had a good game. There, I said it. I was annoyed by the Ox though. That shot when he had two players to square the ball to for a goal made me shout ‘get him off’ even knowing that there was no speedy winger on the bench.

    Hope Monreal is okay. He seemed to twist his ankle a bit.

    Two weeks off now. Though some players will go off on intl duty again. But at least a chance to get the rest up to speed, perhaps integrate some new signings, and welcome back some injured players like Ramsey and Iwobi. 4 points from 3 games. Hardly idea, but I like our squad now (provided those signings are done) and reckon we can fight for the title. Long way to go.

  30. Moment of match was Santi shaping to take an outswinging corner with his right foot, changing his mind and taking an inswinging one with his left. Genius.

    Ozil’s run and link play with Alexis. Class. Good to have em back on the same page.

    Ox is not going to make it. Plays with head down, no positional awareness.Goes for flashy chip of the keeper on the break when he should have to Walcott or Alexis both free and unmarked.

    Rob Holding is going to become one of the best pieces of business that Wenger ever did. That said, our defence gave up a lot of chances to Watford and on another day it could have been 3 – 3.

      • On another day it could have been 7-3 so what’s your point seems you saw all the Watford scoring chances and missed all of the chances Arsenal missed, Oh wait you saw Ox’s and you have decided he’s not going to make it.

      • Yes he was. Credit where due. Not at all afraid to acknowledge. Beware of black and white arguments.

        They created more clear cut chances than we did in the second half, but we had all but killed it as a contest by half-time.

  31. I’ll have more thoughts after I watch the whole game, but just to follow on the comments already made…

    1) I’m finding myself jumping to Walcott’s defense more and more often. Before you boo and hiss, consider that: a) He’s a pace dependent player who was coming off ACL surgery last season; prior to that he was in terrific form b) He played CF in our most complete team performance of the past season at home to Man United. c) After our midfield became a dysfunctional mess he suffered more than most because his game is not to come to the ball d) He actually worked very hard tracking back vs. Leicester and Liverpool. I think Adrien Clarke said on the breakdown that Theo had several interceptions and ran more km than anyone else vs. the champs e) He’s already scored and assisted this season. More will come.

    I don’t know if it’s improved fitness, improved midfield functioning or the imminent arrival of a player who basically plays exactly the same role as him, but Walcott looks like he is willing and able to be a big cog in this team this season. My prediction is it will be the Ox, not Theo, who will sit when Perez is available.

    2) I’ve already basically drowned Xhaka in praise so I’m glad he was able to show off a bit in this game and make people notice what he does. Counter attacks can only start with excellent outlet passes and that’s Xhaka’s best skill. I read that advanced analytics guys are looking at a stat that can describe how many defenders are beaten, on average, by a player’s passes. It’s bascially a description of how well the player can break the lines with his outlet pass. Xhaka was one of the best, if not the best, in this category. Passing from deep in midfield is so underrated but so important. Leicester wouldn’t be champions without Danny Drinkwater, for example, who also excels in breaking the lines from deep, as did Arteta and Santi Cazorla. Xhaka though is younger and a better athlete than any of those three which makes him a rare beast indeed. Like I said the other day, I wish we could clone him so we could have two of him.

    • Regarding Walcott, I do chuckle a bit when fans complain he’s not regularly involved in the game. I would rather ask do you really want him involved in the game, other than in the penalty area? Theo probably has the worst general technique and skills of any player in the first team, and heck probably including some of the academy players. Coq is a better passer, better dribbler, and has better close control. I cringe whenever Walcott gets the ball outside of the final third. What Walcott does have is a passable first touch and reasonable composure in front of goal. Around the penalty area, if he’s receiving a ball with space to run into, he can come up with a good pass or shot. If he’s playing, In possession, I want him to stay high and wide, always threatening to make his most effective play, the diagonal outside to in run. And I want him to mind his defensive duties. The problem is, does he score often enough to justify having a passenger in possession.

    • Agree, Doc. Thought Walcott was really good yesterday. But Ox. Oh man. That guy’s form has been in the toilet for a long time now, and shows no signs of resurfacing.

  32. I’m suprised you actually think we are done after Xhaka and Holding. Lack of information I guess.

    Even if we dont have any injury, a striker and a centre back is our plan this summer.

    About Mustafi situation, can you see it’s just mind game? When we bid for him Valencia rejected. We used Ornstein to give the news of considering Toprak and Kjaer as option B, Valencia responsed by saying Liverpool joined the race but they denied it right away. What Im saying is do not look at what media or even Wenger said to judge the situation. Its all diversion.

    You may not believe it but we are actually trying to sign a world class striker and Griezmann is one of them (there are 4). If we didnt pull it off we would consider option B, Lacazette but when Lyon asked a stupid fee we choose the next name, Lucas Perez.

    We are still trying to get a deal with one of the world class strikers who will cost us more than 60m and Wenger will happy to pay that amount if the seller clubs can find a replacement. Its possible but very unlikely. The point is we are trying to go big this summer although it needs a chain of big deals to give us a chance.

  33. Theo was very impressive yesterday. At one point I noticed he SPRINTED back to defend. It seems like he has been working on strength this summer because he is not fallen my over as much. Other players did very well but Theo seemed the most improved. He deserved a goal yesterday for his performance.

  34. no doubt, theo has very questionable technique. however, that doesn’t mean he’s useless. he needs to be carefully managed. wenger’s been negligent and could have lost him, like he’s lost so many other strikers in recent history, trying to shoehorn theo in at center forward. luckily, theo stopped lying to himself about being able to play that position and accepted what he can do effectively.

    i’ve never said walcott should be sold. in fact, after he signed his new deal, i said it would be impossible for arsenal to sell him. personally, i’ve only ever had two gripes with walcott at arsenal. first, he needed to recognize that he’s not a center forward. he seems to have done that. second, arsenal paying him £140k a week. i certainly can’t blame theo for that. with walcott finally accepting he’s a striker/wide man, he can focus on doing his best there instead of moaning about a central role. that shift in his attitude, coupled with theo staying healthy, means i’m expecting him to have a career season. we’ll see.

  35. Will be glad to see the back of the transfer window. Either it should never close or it should close before the season starts. I’m guessing different starting dates for different leagues has something to do with it but it’s certainly not ideal.

    I’m pretty excited to watch the new guys in action. Xhaka was one of the stand out players of the euros for me and I’m looking forward to seeing him pinging passes all over the pitch over the coming years.

    I don’t know much about Mustafi but if he plays for the German national team if can’t be too bad. I’m sure the German lads will help him settle in. If he can cover right back that’s a bonus.

    Perez is probably the guy I’m most excited to see. Sounds like he can play in a few positions and might even be the ‘Griezman’ type needed to bring the best out of Giroud. I wonder if he’ll get the no.9. That’s still available right?

    • I read a few scouting reports on Mustafi. He partnered Otamendi (prior to his sale to City) as the sweeper complement to the former’s more aggressive, nippy style. His strengths are reading of the game, positioning, aerial duels, and passing from the back; main weakness is a lack of genuine pace. If that sounds like Per Mertesacker, well, it should. Gabriel was recruited as Koscielny’s heir in waiting just as Mustafi will step in to Mertesacker’s considerably large boots. Just as Josh said, I don’t think we had planned to invest in Per’s replacement just yet, but his injury forced our hand probably one year sooner than intended. It’s a sign of the club’s ambition for this season that we were willing to make this investment a year early essentially to replace Mertesacker for the next three months, although with this purchase the BFG’s long term future with the club is in serious doubt. It seems our recent tradition of injured/benchwarming captains will continue.

  36. The accusation is that Wenger is both parsimonious and ponderous in the transfer market. It’s a narrative that is seized and amplified by a media industry that is hungry for controversy, and loves to stoke anger and resentment. You can agree or disagree with the narrative, but let’s at least acknowledge there is a history to it.

    Until Abramovich and Mourinho got together Wenger was seen as the transfer genius who found undervalued players and uncovered hidden gems, pulling them out of his magic hat. Exactly the same transfer approach, totally different spin. Then the year the invincibles won the league Chelsea spent an unprecedented GBP 110 million, and 93 million the following summer, winning the league that year. They changed the whole English football economy and, to a large extent, the culture.

    Meanwhile we built a stadium instead of an expensive squad, embarked on project youth, which is when Wenger really got his reputation for being stubbornly anti-spending (and the taunts for liking kids got out of control – in my mind, the two accusations are close to each other in terms of their basis in reality).

    Today people argue that the football economy has changed but Wenger has refused to adapt. To some extent I think that’s true but I disagree that he is not willing to pay the new market rate. He has shown time and again that he will pay over the odds for talent, and will break the transfer record when necessary. So I disagree with the accusation of anti-spending.

    Some say we’re slow on transfers where other teams are fast. Again, he’s shown many times that when a target is identified, available, and wants to come, we can pull the trigger very quickly. Likewise many other clubs also struggle to bring in players that they obviously need. So I don’t really see any difference between Arsenal and other clubs, except again the biggest draws like City, United and Chelsea who have more financial weight.

    Where I agree he is slow (and stubborn, if you must) is that he understands opportunity cost and will not just buy any player to fill a hole in the squad – unless he really has to – because he recognizes that that’s the quickest way to build a mediocre squad that will not challenge for anything. He is accused of taking gambles, but I think he is generally risk averse, and when it comes to a choice between the risk of dropping points in 2 games or the risk of filling an important position in the squad for up to 5 years with a player who is just not good enough, he will risk dropping the points. (I think because he’s been burned in the past with bad decisions). This approach drives some people nuts. But I think it’s the right strategy for us. And it is a strategy, it is a plan, and it is usually – but not always – executed well.

    • It’s a storm in a teacup, Greg. Media, agents, certain Twitter “personalities” and selling football clubs all benefit directly from the attention that the annual transfer market side show brings in terms of clicks, visibility, perception, marketability and eventually, fees. Wenger doesn’t want to participate in the circus, so he’s cast as all the things you’ve said. Some of it is justified but in my opinion the overall image is falsely skewed. But he’s far from alone in feeling the way he does…

      “I believe with this market it’s very difficult. It’s very difficult to believe in something.
      “I have some targets, and you understand these targets are very difficult to buy.
      “I repeat: this transfer market is very crazy, very difficult to reach the targets for us.”
      He said he still hoped “to have some more players than now before the deadline.”

      -Antonio Conte

  37. a perspective that’s come to me over the weekend concerning arsenal’s transfer business is that maybe wenger didn’t plan to buy a center half this summer. i know that going into the off-season, there was no pressing need to buy a center half; next summer, definitely but not so much this summer. perhaps wenger’s plan for the summer was to bring in xhaka and a top center forward (lacazette or morata), but mertesacker’s long-term injury changed his plan.

    understand, rob holding is a very good signing. i watched him play, ironically, along side calum chambers in the toulon tournament this summer. he did well for a u-21 but arsenal needed someone ready to get it done in the champions league right now. to pay £35 million for a central defender is a lot of dough, especially for mustafi. that’s what one would expect to pay for the likes of varane or laporte. obviously, that late in the window, they were absolutely unavailable.

    i can understand arsenal’s reluctance to pay such a fee for mustafi. likewise, valencia had to pay a 10% sell-on fee to mustafi’s previous club so i can understand their reluctance to settle for a lesser fee. that money, in all likelihood, was supposed to be used to help arsenal sign a big-name forward this summer. wenger even came out and said so. transfers are not always so black and white. as you can imagine, this is just some sh*t i made up, like always, but it’s not beyond reason.

  38. Wonder if there will be any big name surprise moves in the next few days. It sorta feels like all the big English clubs have most of their big deals done but who knows? Looking forward to seeing the new guys in the Arsenal kit.

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