Wenger open to more signings; I’m open to winning the lottery – but I don’t buy tickets

Wenger has signalled the end of Arsenal’s transfer dealings by announcing that Arsenal are “open to more signings” but want to focus more on the things that Arsenal got wrong last season and correct them (as a team) rather than focus on new signings. It’s a statement Wenger makes, with some variation, every year when he’s done shopping the transfer market.

I have some complicated and contradictory thoughts on this. Maybe not complicated, just contradictory.

On the one hand it is inarguably correct to say that Arsenal need to improve the players and system that they already have. If you can get a world class season out of Aaron Ramsey that would be a huge achievement for both him and the team. I can go on: Theo Walcott needs to improve his passing and ball-handling skills, Ox could improve his defensive awareness and decision making with the ball, Mesut Ozil could improve his defense, Mustafi could improve his aerial ability.. Every player has something they could improve and individual improvements help the player in their career as a professional and help the team.

Meanwhile, Wenger’s all out attacking system could use some refinements. Not playing the center mid as a fourth forward would be one, and working out a way to score against teams that pack the final third would be another. Wenger could also be organizing the defense so that it’s not so open when a player (Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ox, etc.) does bomb forward – overlapping runs cause chaos but need to be balanced by teaching other players to cover for the runner, something Arsenal routinely don’t do.

There are so many things that Wenger could, should, and absolutely might possibly I hope be working on: winning the ball back in dangerous positions, pressing, sitting back and soaking up pressure, free kicks, counter attacking with speed, keeping possession, defending corners and set plays, eating right, how to read Raymond Carver’s deathbed poetry a course taught in German by Jens Lehmann, YELLING AT PEOPLE (also taught by Jens), do you really need an agent Hector I mean really, how not to throw a tantrum in the middle of the field when things aren’t going your way Alexis, etc. ad nauseum.

Wenger is 100% correct to say that Arsenal need to work on things and that working on things should be the priority.

Also, Arsenal need more signings – these two things aren’t mutually exclusive, which is the lie in Wenger’s statement. Yes, we can and should be improving the squad in training and we also should be improving the squad with awesome purchases. Which Wenger is probably hopefully and I’m praying to Joe Pesci also doing that right now but I’m not at all confident he really is unless Alexis does go to PSG and then maybe Arsene will go out and get a player(s) but damnit if Arsenal’s injury record to key players isn’t one thing that scares me.

Aaron Ramsey has only played 45+ games once in his career and averaged just 36 games a season over the last four seasons. Ramsey’s hero, Frank Lampard, only had three seasons at Chelsea where he played less than 45 games and averaged 49 games a season over his 13 year career. That means, Wenger has to plan for at least 20 games a season without Ramsey and possibly a similar number of games without Xhaka.

Again, here, Wenger has choices but again you don’t have to chose just one! He can make players in his squad fit into those holes when those players go down, with minimal loss of quality, he can hope his new head of fitness can work miracles, AND he can buy replacements. So, he can turn Elneny into a top quality, line-breaking passer like Granit Xhaka and teach him to play defense (not that Granit is a rock in defense or anything) or he can replace him with another number 8 who can slot in along with either of Ramsey and Granit for when they inevitably get injured. But he has to do something and prepare for that eventuality now. And, obviously, improving fitness is a huge boon to the team. I lean toward buying a player while also doing those other two things, but that’s just me. Wenger leans toward not buying a player and sort of working on those other things: it’s a formula that hasn’t worked in over 12 years.

I also (like you – because we both probably read Arseblog News) heard that PSG are back in for Alexis. That may provide you with a tempting outlet to be shot of this player if that’s your inclination. My inclination is that I don’t want to lose him and if we do, we need a world class™ replacement.

Worryingly, I noticed that Wenger is experimenting with Lacazette on the left and Giroud in the middle. And it worked. That seems to indicate that regardless of whether Alexis is with Arsenal next season, Wenger has a plan and that it might not include signing a new player, unless something miraculous happens and Arsenal are offered another Özil.

Right, well, I guess I’m off to buy some lottery tickets. Like the old saying goes, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a replacement for Alexis.

Qq

91 comments

  1. Props for the George Carlin reference.

    It would be a mistake if Arsenal don’t buy a midfielder. I’m not sure how high profile this midfielder needs to be, but I feel we really need another competent and experienced player in there (Unless one of the youth are ready to step up and be an awesome option, but that’s not very likely)

    I still think we’ll buy a midfielder, but yeah, I understand why that seems overly optimistic.

    1. Maitland Niles may be an option in mid-field, even Ox. None of the two have convinced enough though. Would surely want to see Nelson playing alongside Ozil behind the striker at some stage.

  2. I’m having trouble blaming him when the young high ceiling players we ahould be in for, Lemar, Naby Keita, have 80mm asking prices. What do you think Pulisic or Dembele would cost? 100mm?

    While we’re being offered 8 and 10mm for our former young high ceiling players who didnt become world class, Jack and Woj.

    If, by some miracle we close the Lemar deal, then we should look to deal Alexis to PSG for cash and Veratti.

    1. agree so long as we upgrade elsewhere- as I think our goals would suffer with lemar but less Alexis- only thing I can see is buying players we are sure will help us concede less and support quick transition

      1. If we’re going to sell Alexis to PSG, we could do worse than trying to get Rabiot or even Matuidi (how old is he now?) in part exchange. Draxler is the other one, obviously, but they won’t sell him and he won’t come (ditto Verratti, of course).

        1. I also think Pastore’s an underrated, gem of a player, but not sure he’s what we need (also, reckon he’s had injury issues?). Now, if they were going to give us 50m and throw him on top, that’d be nice…

          1. Completely agree, and I think he’d make a great partner to Xhaka, except that they’re both left-footed, which probably wouldn’t matter too much. He seems like he might be a bit of a d**k (can I say that on here?), but maybe even that is not a bad thing. No way we could get him, I suspect.

            But, if it’s even possible…as much as I rate Alexis, selling him to PSG and bringing in Lemar, Rabiot, Lacazette, and Kolasinac would represent an absolutely brilliant transfer window. Easily our best in recent memory.

        2. Man, Matuidi is awesome. I mean he’s been awesome all the (few) times I’ve watched PSG. If there’s any kind of possibility to get him (Or Rabiot) I think I’d be okay with selling them Alexis. Especially if we can also get Lemar in. Or even if we just hold onto Perez.

          1. Crazy thing about PSG is they spent a metric tonne of cash to build their super-team but not that much on their central midfielders. They got Matuidi for about 8million euros from St. Etienne, Motta for about 10, Verrati for 12 (TWELVE!) from 2nd division Pescara and Rabiot’s an academy product.

            Really jealous of that midfield. They all functioned so well together and PSG’s rise is entirely down to the platform built by those guys keeping hold the ball. Would still take Matuidi in a heartbeat and Rabiot will be an immense player. Him and Xhaka would be majestic together.

    2. Why not play Wilshere as the midfielder providing cover for Xhaka/Ramsey and hope against hope that he stays fit.

      1. Yes, I would (at least if we’re not going to buy anyone else of quality in there), but we look increasingly likely to sell him.

  3. The idea we are done fills me with horror. We can and should improve our defensive output in midfield. All those players that *could* improve – surely we have learnt that we should buy a few that don’t need to?

    If Alexis is held to contract buy Keita and Koulibaly – both are secure in defense and have great distribution – we have a better balance and a stab at the title.

    1. wenger would have to do a lot more than buy lottery tickets to get keita or koulibaly to arsenal.

  4. Yeah you have to read between the lines when Wenger speaks:

    “I have always said we will spend the money if we find someone who will immediately improve the quality of the squad” — The cash is in the reserve account and we not moving it unless there is a revolt

    “Yes we are trying but it’s very hard to find top, top quality players” — The people in charge of transfers are vacationing in Belize

    “We are open to buying new players” — Fk off. We are done with transfers

  5. I love George Carlin but this post is depressing but so much of it rings true.

    Oh, and “Walcott needs to improve on…”. Not happening bro, WE need to improve on Theo Walcott.

    Solid guy, would like to write a children’s book with him one day but the boy cannot play football with any degree of consistent quality.

  6. If we can get Coq and Carzola rolled into one, even if degraded by say 20%, we’ll be there. Know the ailment and the 1st step in getting the cure has been taken. We need the well rounded midfielder.

  7. Is anyone going to have a breakout season? Iwobi? Holding? The Jeff? Who is going to step up in 2017-18?

      1. Would love to see this also. I have my doubts this can happen. The thing about old dogs and new tricks.

    1. Of those three I feel like Holding has been the most consistently impressive when he’s played.

  8. Stupid comment in that u cant be open to winning the lottery without buying a ticket to do so guessing yr another bitter WOB still looking to mock at every opportunity

  9. Maitland Niles is the Answer to all problems in Arsenals midfield. He is not a gamble like a buying a ticket, but we won the lottery of youth development. The choice is him or buy. Arsene says him. I agree. I like it when a great youth prospect is shown this level of trust. Arsene wenger has once again gotten pitchforks out against himself to protect him. I love it. Its literally the most anti mourinho/pep thing he could have said or done. I think this is the part of the plot missing in your statistical analysis. Not a criticism, its just that your primarily analytical style doesnt allow for faith…. in youth because theres nothing to analyse.

    1. That’s a lot of faith and pressure to put on a 19 year old who had one cameo in the league for us last season.

      1. Don’t forget he also had a good game against Southampton in the FA Cup. He made 90% of his passes and 6/8 tackles. He also had 5 turnovers. Meh.

        My feeling is that if he were truly ready, Wenger wouldn’t hesitate to use him. AMN is almost 20 years old. By 19 years old Fabregas had three full seasons starting for Arsenal.

        1. Expectations and the overall fan base have increased since, the time when Fabregas was playing as a 19 year old. It is so much more difficult to give a youngster a proper run in the team those days.

          Both Coquelin & Bellerin got their chance born out of necessity and desperation. Iwobi in parts got it in bits and parts and he still isn’t a first team regular thanks to Alexis & Ozil.

          If AMN plays in mid field and flops, everyone would go for Wenger’s head. Its a balancing act and he needs these players to play well (when given a chance) not only to build their confidence but, to ensure fans see enough and are patient with them.

          1. Correction : It is so much more difficult to give a youngster a proper run in the team now than in those days.

      2. Pressure is only on Wenger at arsenal. He handles it like a boss. Or le boss. Pressure is what top level football is about. I have faith AMN can handle the pressure.

    2. Has Wenger come right out and said AMN is a/the reason he’s not looking to buy in the middle of the park? I mean, obviously Wenger wouldn’t come out and say that in so many words, but if you know how to read Wenger you know when he’s implying as much regarding a youth prospect. I know that in the spring he mentioned that AMN would get some chances with the first team this season, but other than that, I haven’t seen any quotes to suggest Wenger’s plan is to put his faith in him. And I haven’t seen anything from AMN to suggest we should be putting our faith in him. He looks a tidy footballer, one that MIGHT make it at a top club and probably will make a decent career at football somewhere, but I don’t see WC potential or anything close to it–like we all saw in Bellerin and Wilshere and perhaps even Iwobi.

    3. 1. I like developing youth. I would love it if Wenger just got rid of all the 29 year olds and went for another youth project. The problem is that the Arsenal academy has produced a single bona-fide Champions League starter under Wenger, just one (Ashley Cole, Wilshere is not at that level, probably could have been but isn’t, Bellerin is Barca trained, I can’t give you Szczesny or Cesc even though they were signed as a 16 year old because Arsenal did give him the experience needed to become top quality, but it wasn’t at the academy, it was in the first team). So, Wenger doesn’t have much of a track record in that department. But Arsene COULD buy a bunch of young players like he did during the Cesc era – though uncovering another gem like Fabregas seems unlikely in this era when Mbappe is already worth £100m.
      2. I’ve seen AMN play, he’s extremely underwhelming in CM but could make a good right back at a Championship Level team. He did make a few tackles that had people super excited (6/8) but his ability on the ball is very limited and his decision making with the ball was poor. He lost the ball 5 times in the 5-0 win over Southampton and that is completely unacceptable for a CM. But I do believe he will end up playing somewhere, just not at Arsenal level, much less at the level needed to challenge for the Premier League.
      3. Feel free to criticise my thoughts. Not a problem.

      1. Agree on AMN. He looks decent but nothing that suggests he is going to develop into world class midfielder. I think, at best, he could go on to be a good player for a mid-table team or a squad player for us. Would love him to prove me wrong.

        On another youth project: No thanks! Been there, done that. We know now that Wenger doesn’t have the managerial style to organize a group of youngsters with the kind of specific instruction necessary to produce results on the pitch. Neither are we recruiting top talent at youth level either. I am not even going to go as far down as the academy. Since Cesc and RVP, we haven’t even recruited anyone in the 16-21 age range who turned out to be world class. That was over a decade ago. Bellerin might but he isn’t there yet. Wenger absolutely has no edge when it comes to recruiting young talent anymore.

        1. Isn’t this criminal? A club of our resources with such a paucity of academy talent? You look at Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus… even now Ajax, Monaco. I think it’s a crime and speaks to a lack of vision with the club. Then consider that other clubs in the Premier League are way beyond us even if the paths to their first teams are even more blocked than ours (Chelsea, City, Utd).

          At the end of the day can we compete with United, City, PSG, Chelsea, Real and Barca in the transfer market or on wages? No. So the path to creating a truly great team has to be through growing our own talent, Arsenal born and bred. We have the resources to create the very best academy in the world. I hope Mertesacker, being German, can copy what’s done in the Bundesliga. The difference there is that it’s mandated that their first team rosters carry a certain number of youth players.

          1. I don’t see evidence that City/United/Chelsea are “way beyond us” with respect to their academies. They may be, I just don’t know where the evidence of that is.

          2. Criminal? Not really. The environment and context matters. Though I agree with the fact that Wenger isn’t the guy to bring through academy players. It’s ok. That’s not his primary job.

            We got in early before or just after selling the Invincibles and brought players like Cesc from abroad. Even the players who were much maligned, like Senderos or Song were good enough to keep us in the CL spots (and on a couple of occasions really push in the CL too)

            In the meantime clubs like Chelsea and then City raised prices for the academy prospects too (and for a long time we had to contend with the 50 mile rule)

            The club obviously saw a gap in the academy and over the past few years has committed to a revamp.

            I’m not sure why Szczesny, Cesc or Bellerin have to be excluded, because though all age limits are arbitrary, the rules count a player as homegrown if he’s played 3 years at the club between the ages of 15 and 21. They fit that criteria. (Though so do Walcott and Ox) But even excluding such guys, we have had a few players get into the first team right through the ranks, like Gibbs, Wilshere and Iwobi.

            It’s not the greatest record, but at the same time it’s not terrible. Gazidis did say recently our aim is to have 1 player from the academy break through every 2 years. We’ll see if we can do that, but I suspect that’s something that will take a little while longer. Especially if we apply Tim’s criteria of excluding players brought in from abroad.

      2. I think Wenger absolutely can uncover gems. Remember that he was trying to buy Mbappe a year before his breakout season. I count Rob Holding as a gem too.

        It is all a bit hit and miss too though. Not every player will live up to his potential, and we obviously won’t have a free ride to obtain such players.

        I disagree on AMN. I think he’s not the most talented, but has the right attitude and motivation to make it at Arsenal. Just a hunch though.

    4. Maitland-Niles has a big career ahead of him if he keeps developing. Like quite a few of the victorious England U-20 squad, he already looks very astute tactically. Painful to admit this, but it’s his teammate Josh Onomah (who plays for that lot up the road) who looks the more complete player at this stage.

      Gonna be exciting to see Niles, Bramall, and Nelson getting European club experience. Hopefully we keep the first team focused on the title and get the young players as many games as possible in the other competitions.

      1. Nelson genuinely looks the real deal and I hope he makes the breakthrough this season and puts Theo out to pasture for good. And the youngest Willock also looks like he has the talent, though whether he realizes it is very much a different question (ditto the Jeff). AMN already looks more polished than the latter two, but also less talented. I think he could contribute this season, but does he offer anything that, e.g., Elneny doesn’t already give us?
        I think none of us have actually seen enough of him (unless you regularly watch the youth teams!) to be sure one way or another. So I’ll reserve my judgment; and I’d love for him to establish himself in the first team like, e.g., Iwobi did. But I can’t see him being “the answer” to our midfield issues this season. That would be a HUGE step up.

        1. Nelson just embarrassed some of those Sydney guys with his first touch – always a step ahead of them, sending them the wrong way, head-faking them left and right, changing direction and leaving them on the floor in a couple of instances. That was the most impressive thing because in the league nobody gives you space or time on the ball, and he looked like he knows how to find it. We’ll have to see if his bag’o tricks works on big league players though.

  10. no doubt Wenger an award winning manager of decades will take full note of your managerial, tactical system, advice to heart.

    1. new guy, he’s just talking about how he interpreted an interview that wenger gave. some of you guys get so serious for nothing.

    2. Interesting, I can turn this around on you as well. I am a well respected writer who has been blogging almost daily since 2006. No doubt, I will take your criticism to heart when you get to my level.

      See how the appeal to authority is a losing argument?

      Kthanksbye.

      1. I think he’s being sarcastic. He’s mocking Wenger’s testy responses to questions about his tactics the past few seasons.

  11. i was happy to see lacazette at striker and giroud at center forward because that works. lacazette at center forward? the jury is still out on that one but i’d say no. in fact, i’m no gambling man but i’d bet good money that lacazette would flop at center forward in the bpl. in fact, i can’t think of a single player over the past ten years that’s come from france to england and had bigger success at center forward than olivier giroud. all the others that have tried, from el hadji diouf to remy to falcao to batshuayi have all flopped. bottom line, lacazette replaces alexis, not giroud. does that improve the team? no. alexis is better than lacazette but alexis seems to want to leave and lacazette wants to be at arsenal. lacazette replacing alexis is a very good option. however, lacazette replacing giroud is an awful option.

    as for the french team, the reason lacazette doesn’t play much is not because of giroud but because of griezmann.

    1. I’m not ready to completely write-off Lacazette as a centre-forward without actually seeing him play there first. I guess I’m with the “jury is out there” camp. Would like to know your reasoning though. Is it simply his size? I think you will agree there is more to centre-forward play than just holding up the ball. I think if his movement his clever enough, he will be effective against teams like Liverpool, City and Tottenham who like to play with a high line. It might be more difficult for him against teams who come to the Emirates and park the bus.

      My guess is Wenger will start by playing Lacazette wide at first to get him accustomed to the pace of the league before moving him centrally. He also wants to Giroud to stay (as he should) and perhaps this is also a way of showing Giroud that there is space for both of them in the team.

      1. “He also wants Giroud to stay (as he should) and perhaps this is also a way of showing Giroud that there is space for both of them in the team.”

        This fills me with dread, and it’s why I won’t be too sad if Giroud does go: we shouldn’t be playing someone, and rearranging ourselves tactically, JUST to convince a non-essential player to stay. He should play if he deserves to be in the lineup, period. But, as Gunnerblog pointed out in a video a few weeks ago, Wenger does seem to be consistently “tempted” to bring Giroud back into the starting lineup after any number of games with OG on the bench, as if he feels he “owes” him games. I don’t hate Giroud and I’m not opposed to the idea that sometimes he deserves to play on merit. But we shouldn’t slow down the development of other players, and of team chemistry, in the name of accommodating backups who have proved, over MANY years, that they don’t have what it takes to lead us to a title challenge.

        Lacazette was bought for 50m presumably in the hopes that he does have what it takes. He was obviously bought as a CF. That’s where he played for Lyon (including on his own) when he scored all those goals. He’s taller than Aguero, who’s one of the best CF’s in England and the world. We shouldn’t be taking half a season to start him up top. Every once in a while on the left or in a genuine front two with Ozil behind–fine. But, good gracious, it’s summer 2017! Please tell me we’re finally beyond relying on Giroud in the starting lineup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Opening day

          4-4-2

          Cech
          Bellerin/Mertesacker/Koscielny/Monreal
          Ramsey/Xhaka/Ozil/Lemar
          Lacazette/Giroud

          1. Ha! No way.

            3-4-3

            Cech
            Per, Koz, Mon
            Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhakha, Kolasinac
            Ozil, Laca, Alexis

            Lemar is not gonna happen.

          2. NYC – I was supposing that Alexis gets sold, we have the cash to buy Lemar.

            No Mustafi in a three-back set-up? Wow, what a waste of money that was.

        2. I would like Giroud to stay as a secondary option from the bench. He is a proven super-sub (much better than Welbeck and obviously Theo, who is completely useless as a sub). Time and time again, he has scored coming off the bench for both club and country. He is also very streaky – a run of 6 consecutive games in which he scores can easily be followed by a barren run of 6 games. There is a definitive place for a player like that in a team and it’s called the bench.

          I think Wenger sees the value in Giroud. Also, what happens if we Lacazette gets injured? Welbeck is notoriously unreliable as a goal scorer, even though the team looks better with him playing CF. So I am hoping I am right in thinking that playing Lacazette on the left is nothing more than a way to 1) get him used to how the team plays, 2) get him used to the pace of the league and 3) dangling a carrot in front of Giroud.

      2. I saw an interview with Wenger on the Arsenal site.He said Lacazette will mostly play as a CF. He did say that he’s got the ability to be a provider as well and can play behind and left of the CF and so can combine with Giroud. But the impression I got was that Lacazette will clearly be our new CF.

        While Giroud can worry about his game time, that is more down to the way we would prefer to play. Lacazette is essentially in competition with Welbeck. It’s him who should be worried (Or start finishing better)

    2. Wenger says we have to analyse properly where we wrong last season and this post lays out quite a laundry list. We know the capabilities of our players. What we don’t know is whether they can put together a 38-game season. Wenger splits the season into the very good, the bad and the very good parts in his comments but it’s all one season. The early unbeaten run with those memorable attacking performances covered up the fact that Arsenal couldn’t control the midfield area without Xhaka in top form.

      The four crucial defeats in our season, two against Bayern plus the City and Everton games, were lost in midfield. We went the whole season without a first choice pairing there and any combination that didn’t involve Xhaka was scary bad. And one thing I noticed from the pre-season games was Xhaka isolated in midfield with defenders building up play passing the ball around him. Doom is round the corner if we start the season that way but a few pre-season games against better sides hopefully irons that out.

      1. Left my comment in the wrong place, but I understand why some are sceptical about Lacazette. I think we got a versatile player who knows how to play wide and Wenger values that versatility and will use it. Giroud is a one-touch player and when he has to take a second and third touch defenders get the better of him.

        That and the fact that he cannot press in a league dominated by pressing teams mean I’d be okay with letting him go if we invest in another forward. Lacazette’s physique won’t be the main factor in his success, it’s whether his teammates can spot his movements early and get him the good service Giroud didn’t always get. And we can’t do that unless we control the midfield.

    3. “However, lacazette replacing giroud is an awful option.”
      Josh,
      If by “replacing” you mean “be the same sort of player and offer the team the same sort of attributes,” then of course that’s fair enough. But if by “replace” you just mean “be our new CF in a lone-CF formation,” then I’d like to see some kind of rational argument for this view. “Other strikers from France haven’t been successful,” on its own, does not strike me as a very convincing argument.

      1. We can solve the French argument once and for all this window – buy ALL the French players! Mbappe, Lemar for starters.

  12. Arsenal’s game is very much hinged on the MF. Aiding the defense, beating the press, transitioning the ball quickly. With Xhaka and Ramsey; aiding the defence 4/10; beating the press 6/10; transitioning the ball 8/10. Total = 18/30 or 6/10. Any other combination of players currently available sums at less than 6/10 and IMO 6/10 is not good enough for us to challenge.

  13. I remember absolutely believing that TGSTEL would have a 20 goal season for us at some point.

    One of the many reasons why I will never have a job in football.

    1. I think I can top that. I bought a Jack Wilshere shirt on his debut season for Arsenal and never wore it thinking it would be a collector’s item one day.

      Oh the naivete.

  14. The Guardian article is written like they are being used to communicate with the fans, but the underlying message is to Sanchez’s suitors. The bottom line is we have financial reasons not to sell and the price that has been mooted, 50mm, doesn’t even buy a youth replacement.

    I happen to agree with the economic argument. Keeping Sanchez and foregoing the 50mm now is a good investment in qualifying for the PL against five top quality sides. It’s an even better investment if we could win the league. Which I think is feasible if we buy a world class CM and aggressively rotate for the Europa league. I will be disappointed if we don’t make another buy, because Ramsey is unlikely to stay healthy and his backups are unconvincing. Hopefully Ox or Wilshire will prove everyone wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.

    The subtext is that Arsenal are hoping to call Sanchez’s bluff. If we qualify for the CL would he still want to go to City? Sadly, I suspect he has lost faith in Wenger and would leave even if we won the league.

    Finally, if we are far apart from other clubs when it comes to pricing our players, eg Gibbs, Szczesny, we should ask for picks from their youth system. It doesn’t hurt the other club’s cash position, which is typically much worse than the PL teams. We won’t be able get their next breakout player, but if we step down the age ladder to the U18s it might yield another Bellerin. These are the kinds of lottery tickets Wenger should be buying.

  15. Actually giroud is world class–in the air. All you need is a Beckham and that’s one reliable source of goals. Ozil treading throughballs to lacazette is another. Attack is all sorted out!

  16. Agree with Tim, AMN is not the answer.

    Though I think R.Nelson and Willock have great potential. Yup, watched the majority of both friendlies.

    They both look very promising outside of highlights. I like Willock’s ability to keep possession.

  17. AMN got promoted to the first team just like Jeff last season. However, we saw very little of the Jeff last season. Really hope we get to see both of them and some of the other academy players more involved this season.

  18. Could Real Madrid’s purchase of Dani Ceballos mean they would be open to selling a midfielder? Maybe Kovacic? I reckon much like Santi he can maintain possession and beat a press with his dribbling, which is where Ramsey struggles, and would thus make a good combo with Coquelin.

    1. Perhaps. Never thought of the possibility but, seems likely now that you’ve mentioned it.

    2. potentially, but i don’t think ceballos is going to play much for real madrid either. kovacic has had his head blown up quite a bit for a young guy who hasn’t done much. i think he’s got huge potential but i don’t know if his ego would prove an impediment at a team like arsenal. he needs a zidane-like manager.

      1. What do you mean Zidane like manager?

        Real Madrid have Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Llorente, Kovacic, Ceballos, Lucas and Asensio. I think Casemiro and Llorente are their DMs, while Isco, Asensio and Lucas are the more attacking guys. Ceballos though he is flexible, will mostly be competing against Modric and Kovacic for game time.

        It depends on what the pecking order is, and Real wouldn’t want to sell Kovacic because of Modric’s age, but I can’t imagine Kovacic being happy if Ceballos is ahead of him, nor vice versa.

        Still, my question was more to do with whether Kovacic is someone Arsenal should look to sign.

        1. kovacic seems to be a player who needs a manager with a stronger, more authoritative personality than arsene wenger. that’s where i think a difference between the two french managers supports kovacic at real madrid over arsenal. i certainly wouldn’t mind having his quality on display at the emirates stadium but he could potentially be a problem in the dressing room. mind you, wenger doesn’t do the best job minding his dressing room.

          1. Maye, but Wenger also has a decent track record of taking players who were considered misfits or troublemakers are fitting them into the team. A lot depends on the players in the dressing room of course, though that’s probably the case everywhere.

  19. when i consider the body of work from lacazette, i don’t see a top center forward. he’d thrive as a striker but fails to convince me that he can lead the line for arsenal and find success at the bpl or the champions league level. he’ll play against the meanest defenders in the world every single week. they’ll regularly bump him to throw off the timing of his runs, elbow him in the head, or make cynical challenges simply to frustrate him; this approach isn’t exceptional, rather weekly tradecraft in england. lacazette’s got to have that dog in him to fight through that or he’ll be chewed up and spit out. the days of scoring 4 goals against ajaccio or 5 against dijon in a single game are simply not the kind of days he’ll have away against stoke city or west brom.

    let me be clear. do i believe lacazette can play center forward? yes. is he a better option at center forward than alexis or theo? absolutely. is he better than giroud? not even close. lacazette is loic remy, 2.0. i think he’s even a step down to batshuayi. look no further than falcao, who was a top striker at monaco. falcao moved to england and had the chance to show his quality at two of the top teams in england and flopped at both teams. now, he’s gone back to monaco and is playing well again. is that a conicidence? no, it’s a testament to the difference in quality between the two leagues. only a fool would fail to respect that.

    lacazette is a tidy player but he hasn’t shown me that he has that dog in him that he’ll need being a little guy to hold the ball against powerful, 6’3″ defenders. it’s especially important when you have an attacking midfielder who drifts like ozil does instead of staying close, like fekir. is good hold up play the only quality you need to be a good center forward? no, but if you’re going to play center forward in england, you’d better know how to do it. if not, your team isn’t going to score many goals from open play. without good center forward play, your team won’t establish possession in the opposition half; you would have to go with two strikers up top like leicester city or atletico madrid (defensive, counter-attacking teams). these unquantifiable qualities are the difference between a center forward and a striker. many people don’t recognize these qualities and hence fail to appreciate them.

    maybe i’m wrong about lacazette. arsenal play fc bayern this morning. perhaps wenger should give lacazette the opportunity to showcase his quality. as for the now, i’d take giroud, adebayor, or even chamakh over lacazette as players who’ve recently come to england from france and played center forward.

    sorry i wrote so long but i was trying to be thorough.

    1. You know, I appreciate your inputs as informative and thought provoking but why do you feel the need to say things like only a fool would fail to accept a fact that you deem self evident which may or may not even be under dispute?

      I think Falcao is a bad example for your point. He was struggling with injuries, was not playing regularly, and in any case he did decently well for ManU. The only reason he was a bust was because of how much they were paying him. He got them top 4 though. He tore it up in La Liga too prior to France.

      I also think you’re exaggerating how dirty players are in England compared to other leagues. Defenders in France are no angels. There’s no denying England is a step up in quality, and refs tolerate more physical play (especially against Arsenal) but if Lacazette won’t make it, I don’t think this will be the reason.

      What I like about him is that he can find space for himself, both running in behind and coming short (I think he can hold up the ball). His passing is good (not great). And he’s a good finisher. I happen to think he will fit in very nicely with Ozil and Alexis and Asenal will score more goals as a result.

      1. don’t take offense to me using the word, fool. it’s just what came to my head when i was hastily writing and was meant to exaggerate the significant difference between england and france, defensively and not about anyone being a fool if they don’t agree with me.

        your point about falcao and his injury woes is legitimate. however, if he were fully fit, he still wasn’t the answer. it wasn’t about his stats. he simply was not involved in the game when he did play. mind you, i’m a monaco fan and was rooting for falcao but never thought he would do well. i was glad arsenal passed on him.

        likewise, your point concerning how much referees tolerate from defenders in england is legit. however, the better defenders don’t stay in france, they move to england, like bailly. some move to england and fail miserably, like cygan, squillaci, yanga-mbwia, and quite a few others.

        ozil drifts too much for lacazette to establish a good partnership with him as a center forward. as a striker, i think it works but center forward is another animal. we’ll see.

        last, i wouldn’t put too much value in what wenger says he sees as the best position for lacazette. he’s gotten it wrong so frequently in the past with song as a defender, walcott as a center forward, fabregas as a 10, etc. let’s just celebrate wenger appearing to get it right. we’ll see if it lasts.

        1. I wasn’t offended. Just find it oddly jarring.

          I think I see your point about Lacazette and Ozil, and in a 4231 I would agree. But we’re playing basically with two #10s now and that should work well.

        2. Falcao didn’t come out of nowhere at Monaco, and then suddenly get found out at United. He was a huge star already from his Porto and especially Athletico days. He was widely considered one of the best forwards in Europe before he had that horrendous injury at Monaco before the 2014 World Cup. That he found his footing back at Monaco isn’t at all surprising, and that’s no doubt in part because Ligue 1 is a weaker league, but there are other obvious factors that have contributed to him finding his groove again (though few would say he’s ever been the player he was before the injury).

          Di Maria also played horribly for United and then has looked terrific again at PSG, but few think that shows he’s only made to look good by poor French teams. He’s widely regarded across Europe as world class or close to it (and I’m not even much of a fan of his). Sometimes moves don’t work out for good players, and post-Fergie United have had a lot of those cases.

          Proof will be in the pudding with Lacazette. I think you’re wrong because you have too narrow a view of what good CF’s must look like (you and Deschamps seem to be on the same page in this respect), and Lacazette doesn’t fit that mold. In particular, the idea that someone like Chamakh would be a better bet for us as a CF is not very credible. But we’ll see over the course of the upcoming season.

  20. Hi Tim,

    Ive been reading your blog probably since 2010 but this is probably my first comment on your site. I know that this is way off topic but its something that came recently, especially after reading the latest Arseblogs, is how Arsenal keep running into contractual situations like that of Oxlade Chamberlain or RVP or Sanchez. Which is a valid question. My problem is when supporters complain about situations like this happening (again, a valid criticism) but fail to acknowledge that part of trying to avert situations like this leads to situations like Walcott. If I remember correctly, the last time Walcott was up for a renewal, he had a very good season and everyone was yammering on about him having to sign the contract. Now that he is out of favor, it is yet again Wenger’s fault for making the contract extension. I am willing to bet that if Oxlade Chamberlain stays and in 2-3 years his form drops, most people will still blame Wenger for having “dead weight” on the team.

  21. I think Nelson shoild get that first team spot over Niles … he’s stronger and even more skilful and calm headed than the ox…my opinion tho.. the game against Bayer showed how vulnerable it could be when you play people like elneny out of position … I hope Sanchez stays but I see ozil, lacca and Nelson lighting up the league if given a chance… where the hell is Walcott?

  22. Boys worked up a sweat against BM today. A bit of a step up in class that BM team, eh.
    We played with a makeshift back line of Monreal-Elneny-Bielek. Mertesacker was out ill at the last moment.
    Kolasnic and Meitland-Niles as wing backs flanking Xhaka and Coquelin.
    Welbeck-Lacazette-Özil up front.
    Ribery looked like the second coming against Maitland-Niles in a new position.
    Bernat dives in the box to ‘win’ a PK for Lewandowski off of AMN.
    We get a break when a good goal (Tolisso) was waved off for offsides. Makeup call maybe.
    BM were dominant in possession and Cech kept the score 1-0 through the break with key saves on deflected shots and a James volley in the box.
    Lacazette had a 1 on 1 chance saved by Stark, the BM keeper.
    2nd half was disjointed as multiple subs came on for both teams.
    Arsenal standouts in the 2nd half were Iwobi who constantly made attacking runs and kept possession under pressure and Ramsey who assisted Iwobi for the tying goal in injury time.
    Emi Martinez saved 2 Pks and Renato Sanches shot over the bar and Arsenal beat BM 3-2 on PKs. Clearly Martinez is a better penalty stopper than Cech was last season.
    Our best penalty taker was Monreal who hammered his goal in the top corner. Wenger sign him up as the designated penalty taker.
    Worryingly, Kolasinac went off early in the first half and hopefully that was just the heat because the trainer never came on for an injury.

  23. We’ve all become Wenger babes. Focused almost exclusively on attack, attack, attack. Am happy with our front 5 as a unit (includes Xhaka/Rambo). Am unhappy with with our back 6 as a unit (includes Xhaka/Rambo). Defense, defense, defense!

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