Alexis proves that Arsenal wouldn’t have won the League with Suarez

Five years ago I wrote a series of articles which served as a warning to the Arsenal supporters who wanted Luis Suarez at Arsenal: he’s a ridiculously talented player who will score loads of goals and who creates for his teammates but you will eventually hate him, I said, because he’s so selfish and because he turns the ball over so much.

Suarez stayed at Liverpool the summer that Arsenal tried to buy him for forty-million-and one Pounds and Liverpool had their best season since 1990, finishing 2nd in the Premier League. The complaints from Arsenal supporters rained in: if only Arsenal had Suarez in 2012/13 2013/14- we would have won the League.

It took Wenger two seasons to nail down his own version of Luis Suarez and that player came in the form of Alexis Sanchez. From the moment that Alexis scored his first goal for Arsenal – taking the ball off Wilshere’s toes – you could see that he was different from anything we’d had at the club. He was aggressive, he demanded the ball, he took on his opponents, he created for his teammates, he tried to get his teammates to press with him, and he was hustling up and down the pitch.

Alexis reached peak Alexis in 2016/17 – he scored 24 League goals and created 10 assists – but more than just goals and assists, Alexis was everywhere.

In my original series of articles (which are still on my old server and which I can’t import into this new site for some reason) I measured the offensive output of a large number of strikers, including Higuain, Messi, Ronaldo, van Persie, and of course Suarez. In those comparisons, I looked at all of the positive things that these players do for their teams and all of the negative things. Suarez, I said, would drive you all NUTS because he turns the ball over 24-25 times a game! He’s a ball hog! No one likes playing with a ball hog!

And now Arsenal have Alexis. And he’s almost exactly the same as Suarez. And some supporters hate him for it.

Let me show you, though, all of the positive and negative that you get with Alexis. First, here’s all of the attacking actions that I included in my original matrix.

Note that I didn’t include tackles and interceptions, which if I did would just make Alexis look even better. He had 81 tackles and 25 interceptions in 2016/17 – another 106 actions. Suarez had 58 tackles and 18 interceptions. First, look at how many actions per90 Messi was making at Barcelona that season. Almost 1 thing every minute. But notice how many things Alexis and Suarez were doing per game.. Almost exactly the same. These were players who loomed large for their teams: they wanted the ball all the time and they got it.

Alexis passes the ball as often as Messi while also dribbling and shooting like the Suarez that Wenger bid on (2011/12). Seen in this context, Alexis’ 2016/17 season is hugely impressive. And he’s only picked up where he left off, this season he’s trying just as hard, if not harder, and demanding even more of the ball.

And when we look at all of his positive actions per90, Alexis is getting a shot on goal, a key pass, a successful dribble, or making a successful pass, once every 2 minutes or so. Not quite as impressive as Messi, but I mean, no one is/was.

But it’s the failed events that drive everyone crazy. The bad passes, the missed shots, and the times he is dispossessed.

Suarez’s faults were that he over-dribbled. The reason his “dispossessed” number is 0 is because he actually lost possession through dribbling more often than the opponent took it away from him while he was in possession. Alexis, you’ll note, is a good dribbler but has the opposite problem; he tends to dwell on the ball too much and gets caught. Interestingly, he gets caught about as often as RvP did in his best season with Arsenal.

But there it is in number form: Alexis in 2016/17 was basically the same in terms of negative possessions per90 minutes as Luis Suarez. And he was actually also slightly better than Luis in terms of positives. But they are remarkably similar.

And Arsenal finished 5th that season when Alexis was peak Alexis. So, I think that even if Arsenal had gotten Luis Suarez in 2012/13 we would have seen him play just about like Alexis did in 2016/17 and I think given Arsenal’s well documented structural problems in midfield and defense, we probably would have seen Arteta eating grass in the final game of the season rather than Steven Gerrard.

Qq

62 comments

  1. Um, am I missing something: Arsenal didn’t finish 2nd to Leicester in 2016-17, they finished 5th and failed to qualify for the CL, right? I feel like I must be just reading something wrong..

    As for the comparison, Luis Suarez was an accomplished center forward, something Sanchez has never been (he played well there in the first third of the season, but arguably his tendency to drop deep unbalanced the attack, with Ozil in particular having to significantly adjust his play, and once Cazorla got injured…well, we all know the rest). I’m not saying that means Suarez would have won us the league, only that the fact that their best positions are different is probably a more salient distinction than whether they each cough up the ball the same amount.

    1. PS Alexis actually got injured for a middle chunk of the Leicester year, and when he came back he was pretty crap out on the left (people forget that, but at the end of that season Ozil arguably had the reputation as the best player at Arsenal). If we had had Suarez for THAT year, when all the other big teams were awful, we may well have won the league–though on the other hand, our Cazorla-less midfield was so bad then, it’s hard to say for sure.

      1. Might I point out that had we bought Suarez, we would have no Ozil. There is no f’n way Arsenal were going to spend 80m for two players in 2013, regardless of how good they were or how much Wenger may have stumped for both. Fact.

        So all scenarios with Suarez should imagine him playing without Ozil feeding him the ball. Let’s not discount the chemistry that Ozil and Sanchez have and what they’ve meant for each other in terms of production.

        1. Question:
          If kangaroos had no tales, would they fall over?
          (A) Yes, because without tales, they would be terribly unbalanced.
          (B) No, because if they had no tales, that would be because they had evolved that way, in which case, their bodies would have evolved to balance without them.
          (C) There’s no one right answer to this question. It depends on the context of evaluation.

          The right answer, surely, is (C): counterfactual statements, in the form of what philosophers of language call subjunctive conditionals (like “if kangaroos had no tales, they would fall over”), are highly context dependent, which means their truth or falsity depends on the interests and intentions of the people having the conversation.

          So, if Suarez had signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2013, would they have won the league?
          (A) Yes, because his goals would have been the difference between our actual performances and title-winning performances (even accepting that our defense was shaky). Plus, Liverpool wouldn’t have had him, and they were very close to winning it that year, whereas they probably wouldn’t have posed a threat without him (and wouldn’t have beaten us 5-1!).
          (B) Probably not, because if Suarez had signed Ozil wouldn’t have, and though Sauarez’s impact would have been greater than Ozil’s, without the German it wouldn’t have been sufficient to bring us title glory.

          Clearly, there is no one right choice between (A) and (B). It depends on how much of the actual course of events we’re “keeping fixed” and how much we’re imagining changing in our hypothetical scenario.

          As such, I’m puzzled by your insistence that “all scenarios with Suarez should imagine him playing without Ozil feeding him the ball.” I agree with you that it’s unlikely (though not impossible!) that Arsenal would have flexed their financial muscle sufficiently to sign both of them.

          However, given that (1) it would have been far from impossible (or even obviously imprudent) for the club to do so, given our financial resources, and (2) the WHOLE POINT of entertaining this hypothetical scenario (at least as far as I can see) is motivated by wondering something like “what might have happened if Arsenal had been more ambitious/risk-taking/smarter in the market over the last several years, and in particular what might have happened if Arsene Wenger had used the full financial resources of the club to adequately strengthen his squad the way that the fans and pundits have wanted him to?” it’s totally legit to ask about the counterfactual scenario in a way that assumes that the only thing that changes about our financial dealings that summer is that we up our Suarez bid to get the deal over the line (if we wish, we can also imagine selling a few other squad players, e.g. Podolski, to make up some of the difference).

          1. Point well made about counter-factual arguments.

            But, despite the perils of that type of argument, I’m going to disagree with Tim and say it’s far more likely that we would have won the league with Suarez, instead of Giroud, Welbeck and Walcott. He scores goals of all kinds — headers, tap-ins, in the box, outside of it…. his game was made for the premiership. He has speed, and he’s skilful. He’s got that niggly, tenacious game that works in the EPL.

          2. I was merely pointing out that looking at Sanchez’s stats with us between 2015-2017 one has to consider that he was playing with possibly one of the top 3 playmakers in Europe feeding him the ball and drawing attention. Suarez had a great year at Liverpool playing with Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard feeding him the ball, perhaps Ramsey and Walcott would have provided the same for Suarez at Arsenal? Maybe, but I doubt it.

  2. Great article. Lot of work went into BUT the bid for Suarez was the summer of 2013/2014 not the year before. And of we had Suarez that year I think we would have won the league as we were far more stable that year. It was the last year we had any type of title challenge. We were top of the league longer than any other team that season, including City who won it.

    1. That’s right.

      That was the year Arsenal were dead set to spend £40m and we got Ozil instead of Higuain or Suarez.

      Do you remember why we lost the League that year? I had to go back and look it up…

      Match day 25: Liverpool 5-1

      The official match report on the dot com says “So a bad, bad day for Arsenal at the start of an important run of fixtures.

      But it happened. In a bizarre first quarter, Liverpool were excellent offensively while Arsenal were uncharacteristically poor at the back.”

      Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/match/report/1314/post/first-team/liverpool-v-arsenal-match-report

      I’m not sure if we were uncharacteristically poor at the back. That was the season we conceded 6 to City and 3 to Villa on opening day.

      After that:
      0-0 Man U
      Stoke 1-0
      Chelsea 6-0
      2-2 Swansea
      1-1 City
      Everton 3-0

      We took just 7 points from our 9 matches between 8 Feb and 15 April.

      1. But those huge shellackings–while obviously happening enough to suggest there was something deeply wrong with the team (the way AW set us up to play too openly against big opponents would be a good place to start)–do not show we were terrible defensively. We weren’t. Per and Kos were pretty solid. They needed a more athletic DM than Arteta ahead of them (Arteta was great, just not as a proper DM), and for Wenger to not constantly expose them by instructing both fullbacks to bomb forward. But over all, if we look at the results/performances that season, I think we’d see that we were not terrible defensively in most games (certainly better than we are right now, for instance).

        If Suarez signs for us, he doesn’t play for Liverpool in what was BY FAR his best season for them (much better than the two before, which are the two you looked at in your chart above). So they don’t go on a crazy run in the spring that included that 5-1 win over us. I don’t think we can possibly say that 5-1 loss is “why we lost the league that year,” but it was certainly a huge momentum shift for our season (and a huge boost for theirs) and it very probably wouldn’t have happened if Suarez had been lining up for us not them that day.

  3. You win the league when your attack and defense are both at the top of their game. When Leicester won the league, it wasn’t just Jamie Vardy who had the season of his life: Wes Morgan was unbelievable for them (as well as Huth and Fuchs). You look at Chelsea in their heyday, and it was about Drogba, sure, but Terry and Carvalho formed an incredible partnership (with Makelele protecting the defense). Now we’re seeing City, and the difference between last year and this year is that their defense and goalkeeping have improved (Otamendi, in particular, is a different player to last year’s version). Their attack has always been potent.

    The reason Arsenal wouldn’t have won the league with Suarez or Alexis has more to do with our shoddy defensive set-up than it is with them (though admittedly our attack in recent months has been pretty woeful, too!). It matters who plays up top, yes, but until we fix our madcap approach to our own third, we will never win the league.

    1. Surely it’s very unlikely that we would have won the league with a not-great defense, but not impossible.
      For one thing, as I say above, our defense circa 2013 was not in the terrible state it is now.
      For another, Liverpool almost won the league that same year with an average defense. I know they ultimately didn’t win it, but they were really, really close, and it was some flukey things, rather than some inevitability based on their so-so defense, that meant they lost.

      If we had Suarez in 2013-14 I think we would have been in with a great shout to win the league. Saying this is not a knock against Sanchez, as they’re positionally different players (even if similar in other ways), our team has had different issues in the years we’ve had Sanchez than it had in 2013-14, and arguably the league was easier to win back then than it is now. That said, he obviously wouldn’t have been a panacea.

      1. They were really close not only because Suarez had an astounding season, but also because their defense was NOT “so-so” that year. Joe Allen and Lucas had, by their standards, an amazing season, as did the central defenders, especially Agger. They played a strong defensive system.

        But sure, everything’s possible. I shall amend my original comment so that the point stands while the hedging satisfies:

        “For the most part, you win the league…” etc.

        Fixed.

        1. I wasn’t trying to quibble. I was trying to point out the plausibility of the claim that if we had bought Suarez in 2013-14 (or had a similarly talented CF the “Leicester year”) we would have had a great chance at the title, despite problems in other areas of the pitch.

  4. First, a comment about dispossession when discussing strikers; I wouldn’t consider it a “problem” per se, depending on where it occurs on the pitch. If you are dispossessed in the opponent’s back quarter of the pitch, to me that’s indicative of a striker getting on the ball and trying things. It’s only a negative if you don’t have the defense to win the ball back and keep giving it to the strikers so they can keep trying. There is nothing worse than watching a stale, conservative attack in the opponent’s third of the pitch where the ball is circulated in possession waiting for the opponent to voluntarily make a mistake rather than asking questions of the defenders.

    I hate Suarez. I thought he was a diving, racist, bitey prick. I was grateful that we failed to buy him that summer. But he’s better than Sanchez, otherwise why would Barcelona basically jettison Sanchez to make room for Suarez? He’s bigger and stronger and has been successful under a number of managers with varying tactics. He pulls off some really spectacular finishes, including against us a few years ago, and while Sanchez can be special at times, I don’t know if he frightens defenders in the same way Suarez does.

    But your basic hypothesis is correct – even had we got Suarez that summer, we weren’t ever going to win the title again with Wenger. I think even if you gave Wenger the City or United squads he’d still only manage them to a 5th place finish.

    I’m actually surprised Guardiola wants Sanchez. Yes, he’d be a good pressing, up tempo forward. But as you say he holds the ball way too long. He would totally bog down their ball circulation which, I have to say, is the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t think even Barca in their prime circulated the ball from flank to flank like this City team is doing.

    1. I don’t think Pep would let him demand the ball as much as he does at Arsenal. Guardiola’s managed him before. When he did, Alexis didn’t dribble as much and still was dispossessed a lot (2.2 per game, not as much as 3.4 per game as he does at Arsenal).

      1. Was he a starter under Guardiola though? Wasn’t it David Villa, Messi and Pedro as the front line? I think even Bojan got time ahead of Sanchez back circa 2011-2012.

  5. Open question: How many clubs (if any) have had structural problems similar to Arsenal’s and solved them? How did this process occur? It’s depressing to think about the club’s problems without considering how the situation could improve.

    1. Lots of clubs have been in this situation. Barcelona in the late 90’s was a basket case if I remember correctly, but they pulled it out. Dortmund was staring at bankruptcy a few times and had to rebuild. Atletico was a laughingstock for ages. And on and on. What we’re going through is not unique.

      But you need a leader with vision, whether that be ownership, director or manager. That’s where we need to fix things first IMO… what are Arsenal? Answer that question and the rest follows.

    2. Liverpool.

      The big clubs don’t allow things to stagnate like Arsenal have. Barcelona, Bayern, Chelsea, Man U, Man City, Real Madrid, PSG, all would have fired Wenger back in 2010 or so.

      1. “Liverpool. ”
        It’s funny because the Reds are taking Arsenal’s spot in the Premier League. They are signing Arsenal players (Ox), signing players Arsenal would need (Van Dijk, Keita), and targeting players Wenger wants (Lemar). Where would Arsenal be if John Henry was the main shareholder and not Kroenke…?

  6. Arsenal wouldn’t have won the league in the last decade with messi, never mind Suarez. Arsenal had every opportunity to win the league in the Leicester season. Wenger couldnt win the league that year, when it was basically on a plate.

    1. Let’s not be silly. Your first statement is questionable to say the least. Of course if Arsenal had had Messi (and the rest of our team was basically the same) our chances of winning the league at least once would be very, very good. An extraordinary talent can cover over a multitude of sins in the rest of the team.
      Given that’s the case (you can disagree, but I think the point is massively plausible), the question then becomes: how other-worldly would an attacking talent have had to be to compensate for the deficiencies in our squad in 13-14 or 15-16? I have no idea, but all I’m suggesting is that the answer is not *obviously* “no amount of talent would compensate” or “only Messi level talent would compensate”.

  7. I agree.
    Of course it’s actually Wenger who proves that Arsenal couldn’t /didn’t win the league with Suarez or Alexis or Ozil or…

    Can we swap Sanchez with Manchester City for Arteta and install him as boss? I’m half joking but also half serious.

  8. Hypothetically, what would the line-up had been with Suarez in 2013?

    Szcesny
    Sagna/Mertesacker/Koscielny/Monreal
    Arteta/Ramsey
    Podolski/Cazorla/Walcott
    Suarez

    Wilshere, Ox, Vermalen, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Giroud, Fabianski on the bench (if half of them are healthy)

    C’mon. Seriously. That doesn’t win the league. Even in 2013-14. Remember that was a team pre-Bellerin, pre-Cazorla moved to the pivote, pre-discovery that Podolski was crap.

    1. Rosicky played a fair bit that year, and Podolski/Walcott were hardly ever present.
      And you’re still stubbornly failing to acknowledge my point about kangaroos above: you can assume that we wouldn’t have bought Ozil if you want, but I can equally interpret the question by assuming we would have. I’m not arguing we probably would have won the league if we had held off on Ozil and bought Suarez instead. I’m arguing we probably would have won it with both. Those two purchases were thoroughly within the financial capabilities of our club at the time. So it’s reasonable/interesting to ask the question about Suarez in that way.

      1. There’s a lot of purchases that are hypothetically within Arsenal’s reach. We could have easily bought Lemar this summer for 80m… and not have sold Sanchez. But, respectfully, you are moving into fantasy speculation if you think Ozil and Suarez would have been on the same team that year. Tim was trying to make a more realistic comparison of performances and interpolate what they might have meant to our results. Why don’t we just speculate then also if we’d nailed getting Gustavo and Higuain that year as well, we made bids on both.

        1. We signed one of them, we had the opportunity (assuming a second bid after the “plus one” would have been accepted) to sign the other. Both players would have been worth it (CF was needed more, but an Ozil-level talent was a great bit of business that signaled our intent to compete with the best). Plenty of other clubs of our size spend big on more than one signing in a single summer. We clearly had the cash (even if that would have meant we were more cautious in subsequent windows, e.g. not going after Sanchez the next year). I don’t know what’s so fantastical about this. Plus, no one has ever come out and given evidence that the two signings were linked, in that if the first had happened, the second never would have (yeah, yeah, I get that historically we’re stingy).

          So a perfectly reasonable way to interpret the question “would Arsenal have won the league had they signed Suarez in the summer of 2013,” is to assume Ozil would still have been signed as well. This is my point. I don’t think I can explain it any clearer.

          Obviously you can insist on imagining only Suarez without Ozil. Fine. And what’s your point? That Sanchez and Suarez are equally good players? That they would have had roughly equivalent impacts at our club? I’m not sure either of those is true, but I don’t object to you thinking that. So what? What’s the larger takeaway?

          The point of asking the question my way, in the context of recent discussions about AW’s late Arsenal career, is that it gets at a deeper issue: “if Arsenal had flexed their financial muscle just that little bit more, in ways in which they were eminently capable, could they have won the league in recent years?” The question is interesting because there’s a myth going around–as evidenced by the laughable claim about Messi by Eduardo above–that AW’s such a bad manager, virtually no amount of superlative attacking talent, or no amount of plain old proper squad investment in general, would have won us the league in recent years. This is silly. The point about focusing on Suarez in particular is just that that case was one of (a) a superlative talent, in (b) a position in which we had a great need, and (c) who was, seemingly, realistically gettable that summer (and in a way that did not directly threaten also getting Ozil). But imagining Higuain-plus-Ozil coming in that summer makes the point just about as well (Higuain was slightly cheaper, if memory serves, though obviously less of a win-games-on-his-own player).

          I’m not insisting we actually *would* have won the league if we had bought Suarez, since (a) I have no magic powers to say what would have happened, and (b) you may be right that (as philosophers like to say) “in the nearest possible world” in which Suarez comes, Ozil doesn’t. The point is just that the club *were* in a position to buy both. And that, if they had, it’s perfectly reasonable to think that our chances of winning the league were really good. One lesson from this thought exercise is that (contrary to some claims flying around in gooner cyberspace) our failure in the market is still probably as big or bigger a reason for our recnt failures as Wenger’s poor coaching/tactics.

          1. Yeah the recruitment has not been stellar.

            The whole conversation around transfers has been muddied by tabloid gossip, unrealistic expectations, simplistic thinking and – my personal least favourite – the concept of “showing intent”.

            For the most part I push back against a lot of this. No, player x would not have come to us if we’d only bid another couple of million. No, the players we have are not as shit as you keep on saying, and no, the players you covet because they play for a different team are not better then the players we already have – remember that familiarity breeds contempt. No, the gaps in our squad are there because of bad luck / injury, not because of poor planning. No, we can’t actually compete financially with the biggest clubs. Yes, of course there is a strategy, do you think anyone at Arsenal would keep their job if there wasn’t? No, “showing intent” is an utterly meaningless phrase that basically means “giving the fans a pony”. No, there is no transfer trophy, etc. and so on.

            But – obvious mistakes aside, which every club makes –
            while I see a rational transfer strategy where some only seem to see chaos and timidity, I think we have been more miss than hit in recent years and the players that we have brought in have not been the quality that we were hoping for / needing. So something went wrong somewhere.

          2. Look, in my humble opinion you’ve moved into a fantasy football manager discussion. Your perspective continues to hinge on a belief that Arsenal would have acted in 2013 in a manner radically different to any year prior. In 2017 I would buy the argument that we might buy both Ozil and Suarez in the same summer. When we made that bid for Suarez it was, frankly, shocking. It more than doubled our past transfer record (Arshavin I believe, 16m). Mind blower. The idea that we would have spent 80m on two players in a single summer is an extraordinary leap of the imagination. There is no past pattern of behavior in the transfer market to justify that.

            And my point is that Sanchez has been more productive than he might have been without Ozil. In my opinion he’s probably 20-30% more productive when he plays with Ozil.

  9. Bunburyist,
    I wasn’t trying to quibble. I was trying to point out the plausibility of the claim that if we had bought Suarez in 2013-14 (or had a similarly talented CF the “Leicester year”) we would have had a great chance at the title, despite problems in other areas of the pitch.

    1. Ok, from egregious spelling errors to egregious double-posting errors. It’s obviously not my day on the comments board…

    2. You dastardly quibbler, you!

      Four degrees? Good God.

      Hm…let’s see. Most people don’t do two BA’s, nor do they do two PhD’s, so I’m guessing it’s one BA, two MA’s (where the second one was where you figured out what you really wanted to do), and one PhD?

  10. I’ve decided to watch the game today and thus forgo my usual rule not to watch Arsenal play a top six side. After all, it’s a league cup game, and I could care less.

    And, at half time, I’m pleasantly surprised to find we haven’t conceded a goal! Sure, we’ve created basically nothing at the other end, and they’ve had better chances, but, still! Holding and Chambers have been…not bad! Mustafi has been…not bad, even if he needed a spectacular move by AMN to cover his blushes on the Hazard run.

    So, can I ask…how is Xhaka still taking the set pieces? Everything he’s done from a dead ball has been shockingly bad, and yet every time, there he is, time and time again queuing up another doozy. Wouldn’t you let another player have a go?

    Here’s to a spectacular second half, which will see, no doubt, several goals from Danny Welbeck.

    1. 72′ Iwobi: I shall go on a long, impressive run before passing it to the goalkeeper. I cried! LOL.

      1. I shouted in anger.

        But here’s the thing, for all the Iwobi haters out there: you can teach better decision making in the final third (in his defense, the players in front of him didn’t make great runs to get open); you can’t teach the power/control at speed that Iwobi’s run displayed. And he did that several times throughout the game. The boy still has a bright future, if the right coach gets a hold of him.

    2. 77′ Alexis on a break with Welbeck streaking in front, and the excellently weighted pass bounces harmlessly off Welbeck’s back heel! LOL! Welbeck’s highlight reel continues!

    3. FT: Hey, that was fun. Some moments of comedy, but also, I like the clean sheet! Well done. Turns out when you protect the back line, and don’t force them to play a high line, that you can defend! If only we had a counterattack to speak of…

  11. It’s impossible to say whether we would have won the league had we bought Suarez. First of all, I don’t think Liverpool would have sold him to us even if we bid more than £40.000001 million. If we are doing this exercise for sh*ts and giggles it really comes down to if you are an optimist or a pessimist. One can argue that in the 2013 season, all we needed was a striker to win the league. Our defense was actually not bad and we had a functioning midfield. Personally I think City would have still won the league and Arsenal, being Arsenal, would have arsenalled it up in some shape or form. Maybe we could have won it in 2015-2016 instead of Leicester but again, it’s Arsene, it’s Arsenal. If there hasn’t been a defensive f*ck up that hasn’t been discovered yet, I am guessing we would have discovered it that season.

  12. Dumb question, but could someone tell me what was so wrong about bidding 40m+1? Do teams really pay above a player’s release clause just to not offend the selling team? Or were liverpool just being jerks and making a fuss about what is commonplace?

    1. Technically there was nothing wrong with it but Liverpool were butt hurt. It probably just made them more determined to keep Suarez by not honoring the release clause. If it was Man City for e.g. who bid the same amount and offered Suarez a boat load of money, I am quite sure he would have forced a move. My guess is he didn’t want to force a move to Arsenal even though he knew he didn’t want to stay in Liverpool.

    2. It wasn’t wrong. It was provocative.

      We were being a bunck of clever dicks in telling Liverpool that we knew about the clause and its value.

      Singing “neh nah neh neh neh neh” would have been a better strategy.

      So Liverpool said. “screw you, we’re not”, and they called our bluff, even though the clause obligated them to let us talk to the player. Who was open, till Steven Gerrard told him that his talents deserved a better team, and he should wait.

  13. The difference between the Hazard penalty (that was given) and the AMN incident (that was not) was that Hazard reflexively dove and AMN only went down after his brain had processed that he had been kicked. That kind of diving muscle memory has to be cultivated over the span of long years of diving.

    Tim, I hope you are completely outraged at the attempted tackle on AMN that did not result in a penalty for Arsenal.

    1. I’ve only seen the incident twice, but it looked to me as though his momentum and change of direction all while moving at speed to avoid the challenge from (Moses?) caused him to go over. Also he was having trouble keeping his feet anyway, as his slip led to one of Chelsea’s best scoring chances.

  14. “The difference between the Hazard penalty (that was given) and the AMN incident (that was not) was that Hazard reflexively dove and AMN only went down after his brain had processed that he had been kicked. That kind of diving muscle memory has to be cultivated over the span of long years of diving.”

    Agree with the first part and not necessarily with the second doc.

    More likely scenario is that Arsene goes out of his way to convince his players to be honest and stay on their feet in a league that’s full of players willing to go down at the slightest hint of contact.
    It’s a trait commonly found amongst strikers and attacking players of all age .
    Nelson embellished to win the free kick in the Forest game and he’s only 18.

    AMN has spent most of his young career in midfield and as a left back now and diving to win free kicks in these positions is sometimes less awarding and more dangerous when not given.

    And since Tim has written about Suarez to Arsenal failed transfer and what might’ve been, let me give a few thoughts about that as well.

    One thing for sure that might’ve happened had that transfer gone through , all those tv pundits bending over backwards trying to explain and justify Suarez’s antics while he was at Liverpool , like play acting , sulking , diving….., would’ve most likely adopted a much harsher stance once he became an Arsenal player.

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