Jump to opinion

Good morning all. Nice win for the Arsenal this weekend. Watford (it was Watford, right?) proved to be a bit tougher than expected and gave Arsenal heartburn in the second half before Cech closed the game out with a string of great saves.

After the game Arsenal announced,via dribs and drabs and through the manager, that they are signing two players, Mustafi and Perez. Regular readers know that I have been negative about Arsenal signing anyone all summer. If you need to vent on me about it, go ahead. It was a call, I got it wrong. So what?

Last summer I was certain, 100% certain, that after Cech Arsene was done with his business. That was an easy call because Wenger was trying to tell us that he was done in the market. Even though most people didn’t believe me and right up to the closing day they were still begging Wenger to sign a forward, any forward.

This summer my call was much different: it was clear Wenger wanted to sign a Vardy-like forward and a center back but this summer I made the call that we wouldn’t be able to get the job done because of various problems in the market. Still, even at the lowest ebb I wasn’t 100% sure that Arsenal couldn’t get the job done. I think I reached my nadir at 10% and, naturally, it was at that point that Arsenal started announcing (via the press) that they were signing two players.

I had logical reasons, and emotional ones, for why I thought Arsenal weren’t signing players. They mostly came down to availability and money but I was also sure that Arsenal wouldn’t sign anyone because of quotes like this one:

“It’s strange that when you want to buy a player, the other teams don’t want to sell player. Something is changing compared to last season. Not just for [us], but all the teams. Teams of a ‘medium-level’ now prefer to keep their players and not sell. That’s good news for the English league because it makes it even tougher, but not good news for the clubs who want to buy players.

“Something is changing. Not only for English teams or Spanish teams, but teams all over the world. Many clubs who are financially strong prefer to keep their players, to fight to stay in the league. To fight. We didn’t ‘refuse to spend money’ on the right targets. The situation is that those targets are not available to buy or spend the money on.

“I’d prefer to spend a lot of money on the right, great player, not a medium player. That’s a different situation. It’s important to be clear on that. So this market is very crazy and, now, we are seeing that it’s very difficult to reach our targets.

“But you have to understand that, in England now, every team has money. So you have to solve the problem with hard work. Sometimes you could solve the problem with money. Now you have to solve the problem with work. But that’s fine. I have no problem. Work is the bread and butter.”

That’s Antonio Conte, manager of the bus stop in Fulham. Manager of the team who were famously portrayed as “parking a T-38 on our lawn and firing fifty-pound notes at us” when they were caught tapping up Ashley Cole. Manager of the club who at one time offered to buy Theirry Henry for £100m. I thought “If Chelsea can’t buy players then what hope does Arsene have, with his famously cheap methods?”

I also thought that Wenger had a hard time attracting players.

But I was wrong and I love being wrong. I love being wrong because I learned several valuable lessons, lessons I have learned before but which I forgot and needed reminding.

It’s common in this blog-twitter-faceboog world for people to jump to an opinion. As far as I can tell, that is all Twitter is: people jumping to an opinion. Everyone seems to want to be the first to have an opinion about something, no matter how malformed, and they want to get it out there on public record as soon as possible. They want to get their opinion out there because this opinion jumping gives people a sense of moral superiority as in “I’ve been saying that for weeks (months, years, hours, and even minutes*) now, dude.”

I’m guilty of this, of course. And this is why at times my blog can veer wildly from one place to the next. I think that my opinions are founded in facts (and they usually are) but the problem is that I form the opinions before I have all of the facts. I’m not alone in this, I think almost everyone on twitter — all of us amateurs — and most writers on their blogs are guilty of doing this.

This leaves me with a question about myself as a writer. Is it important to have an opinion, no matter how malformed, just to be the first to that opinion? Or is it more important to have an opinion that is well thought through?

I think the latter.

So, I’m going to try something a bit different. I’m going to write every day but instead of publishing, I’m going to hold off. I’m going to publish when I feel like I have the idea more polished.  For example, here’s an idea I would have written about today: Arsene Wenger seems extra harsh on center backs. I have some data to back that up, he’s dropped Per** and Chambers in the last two years and I bet you can name countless others. Wenger seems to burn through center backs faster than any other position on the pitch. Tim Stillman wrote a piece*** that explains how the problem is tactical but I think there might be something else here, or maybe not. Maybe all I can do is provide some facts about Wenger and center backs.

But the point is that I need to be a little more calm in the race to publish. I want to be anyway. Maybe I’ll fail at that. I don’t know, but I have to try.

One thing I’d like to keep is the community that we have built here. It’s a community based on dialog and I admit that I love your comments and learn a lot from the thoughtful responses you all (mostly) post. In order to keep that going, I might just post “news” here every day. Just links and rejiggers of articles — no (little) opinion. That will give you something to comment on without me getting too heavily into the opinion jumping.

Does that sound fair?


*People will @ me if I tweet something they tweeted a minute before me.
**You probably don’t believe me that he’s dropped Per but go look at his games at the turn of the year. He was on the bench a lot. He was dropped, people.
** Stillman was first! Except I wrote a piece years ago (during the high line chicanery) about how I wouldn’t want to be a center back in Arsene’s system because they get exposed so often and so ruthlessly. But honestly, I’m trying not to care who was “first”, even though I did just “first” him.


  1. Personally, and I speak only as a reader and commenter, obviously, I’d rather have your content more or less regularly than have to wait for you to feel ok about hitting the ‘Submit’ button. Why? Because a) I enjoy the refreshing honesty, edginess, and even sometimes inchoateness that comes from something more organic, more personal, less managed, and which therefore raises the interest level of the ensuing debates and comments; and b) Who cares about being right all the time? The people here who will take you to task for being wrong or enjoy pointing out they were right all along and you weren’t…well, they’re in the minority. I think we can all spot them pretty clearly, and we can also sense their egos. Remember, too, that the internet is blessedly ephemeral (even while paradoxically keeping a record of pretty much everything that isn’t purposefully removed). Don’t worry about getting it wrong. We all do.

    1. (And actually, ‘being wrong’ is a good writing opportunity (witness above). Unlike many others, who will double down when facts or reality impinges on their viewpoint, you’re completely honest about it all. So I say keep it up. Being wrong about a sport or in predicting what a club will do is pretty low stakes, don’t you think?)

  2. Tim,

    I think I have been a fan of this blog since pretty much the very beginning (2007 was it?). I have seen your opinion change on various issues as the information we process from various outlets – be it the news media, the matches, the stats – changed over time. I think it’s fair to change one’s mind based on these changes. As long as the thought process is logical or shows a level of critical thinking, I will continue reading your articles.

    Reading through some of the comments in the Arsenal blogosphere, it felt like the hate against Wenger had gone a bit far. Although, I’m pretty firmly in the “Wenger out” camp these days, I feel like he has done enough this transfer window to get behind him for now. Although late signings are not ideal, I don’t buy into the view that 5 points dropped in August is the same as 5 points dropped in April. Mathematically they are the same of course but having 35 games in hand to make up those 5 points is not the same as having to make up 5 points in 3 games. I do have an issue with how unprepared we looked on match day 1. I do have an issue with the fact that we still look shaky in dealing with set pieces and counter attacks after all these years. I also have zero faith that the board will hire the right manager when Wenger’s time is up. I remain skeptical about our transfer strategy and would love to see us be more aggressive in the market – not just in pursuing a world class player but also identifying a young talent around 21-22 who we think is on the verge of breaking out and taking a chance on him. Despite all these reservations however, I think we have done fairly okay this summer. We don’t have the best first XI but I think we have good squad depth which should work out in our favor over the course of the season.

    After many years of financial constraint, we have now spent over a £100 mil in one summer. If you told me 10 years ago we were going to spend this kind of money in one transfer window, I would have laughed in your face. Wenger has shown once again he is willing to spend the money. Whether the scouts have done their job, remains to be soon. However it starts with making sure we have a deep enough squad to play 50 games in a long season so I think that’s the positive that we should all be focused on right now.

    One final thought: we all have our own way of supporting the team and we are never all going to agree on what’s going on because we perceive things differently. In the end though, we all want Arsenal to win. Something to keep in mind before we start attacking one another over our different points of view.

  3. From the first day I was introduced to this blog, early last season, I have read every single post and I will say at leas 90% of the comments. I went online for the first time 23 years ago and not one blog or site has taken so much of my time. Even still, In privately berate you for not ‘working’ on weekends. That’s not all, in that time, I must have commented on blogs/sites about 5 times – 2 out of the 5 times was here. Why? Of course I am a gooner and thus feel at home in goonerdom. In addition you write well, you write consistently, when you seemingly stray outside of football, you either give an insight to your person, character behind the blog, or you give an education. I have not seen a blog where people disagree so agreeably. I can point out a few more reasons but none of them will be because you are always right or that I think you should be. When you are wrong there is still a lot to learn here between how you arrived at your opinion and other Gooner’s thoughts and opinions.Jack action supposedly stopped reading/commenting because you pointed out trump’s (he doesn’t deserve a capital T)deficiencies. I still thought of him this morning and wondered why one will cut his nose to spite his face.

    What I am trying to say is don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. Not unless you have a news source outside of what we can get online. E.g if you have usb cabkes permanently plugged Wenger’s brain and well as the brains of the board and the teams. Pep, Conte, and maybe Mourinho too. Anything less and the blog will be worse off.

    Kudos to you.

  4. You seem a bit down and are unnecessarily beating yourself up over this. None can predict a club (especially one like Arsenal)and their dealings in what everyone is concurring is a bizarre market. So you were wrong, seriously who gives a shit? Does anyone apart from you even remember? In the shouting competition that is todays unsociable media isn’t everyone too busy screaming and venting over the next big issue of how shit our purchases are before a stud (that’s the proper term for a cleat American chums 🙂 )has even touched the turf.
    Don’t fuck with your style, just don’t do it. Have confidence, write it and hit the button. Wenger was wrong thinking Vardy was a cert. Ferguson was so confident in signing Ramsey he left it to the Neviller to show him round Carrington, everyone gets life wrong. The main purpose for doing what you are doing here has to be enjoyment, the minute you start getting overly worried and pulling apart your writing and doubting yourself is the time when that stops. That’s neither healthy for you nor your readership.

  5. My view on this window and the hundred million spend is that we also have to give kroenke some credit. I think not many people thought that he would actually sanction the spending and it makes me think we are capable of dropping 80 million on Griezzmann. Not in the same window as a hundred million spend perhaps, but definitely capable. Maybe next season.

    And so, think about it, how many clubs in world football can actually do what we’ve just done in this window without having to sell to recoup (like Liverpool)? Sure, maybe it’s the commercial income that we’ve spent but then that’s the point of self sufficiency right? Most clubs aren’t spending the tv money on transfers, even though this is a record window so far.

    We are never going to compete financially with oligarchs but I think our club, however flawed, is bigger than we want to believe.

  6. On your **point Tim, I was reading the Stillman article and remember feeling someone equally knowledgable – it WAS you Tim.
    I can’t see the problem with you proffering an opinion everyday. It’s a victimless if an opinion turns out to be wrong – no harm no foul I say.

  7. A lot of people will probably tell you to keep submitting what you’ve been writing, but to be very honest I for one would be thrilled if you went back to your deeply forensic, data driven approach and then added your opinion/interpretation with context. I know that’s a ton of work and I salute you for it. It’s why I love your “by the numbers” column.

    Speaking of Stillman, he’s my other Arsenal blogging hero. But I’m willing to bet his weekly columns on Arseblog sound so polished and well thought out because he obsessively revises and edits them. It shows; it’s almost always an excellent read. In the end it depends on what you want your blog to be, but I think you accumulated the community you have because of years of thoughtfulness and hard work.

    And if I may offer advice, forget about primacy. Even in academia, primacy only counts as long as the evidence is high quality, and even then someone usually comes along and does a better, more polished version of the same thing some time later. It’s the message of the body of evidence, not the first piece of evidence which is the deciding factor. Nobody keeps score and these little victories and defeats are as fleeting as links with Arsenal in the summer transfer window.

    1. Speaking of Stillman, he’s my other Arsenal blogging hero. But I’m willing to bet his weekly columns on Arseblog sound so polished and well thought out because he obsessively revises and edits them.


      Yup. Remember, he writes one column per week, and that gives him the luxury not only of refining the prose, but of taking the longer view as well, tempered as it is by a reflection on a whole week’s worth of musing and news. I think what’s remarkable about the very best bloggers out there (including 7am) is that they produce work of interest and erudition not just once a week, but every day. And that’s not at all a knock on Stillman, by the way, whose work I love reading, even if just for the lovely turn of phrase.

  8. You’re doing the best you can with all the resources at your disposal from a distance of 4,799 miles away from the action in North London and you’re doing a better job than most the media ITKs and pundits who live around the corner.
    Whatever you chose to give off, I’m fine with because it will always be quality and worth reading and giving my own sometimes tangential opinions.

  9. I read all your blogs.
    I don’t comment too often and in some cases, as in this one, I didn’t agree with your opinions. I always thought Wenger would spend, simply because he is so close to finally having a squad that is genuinely capable of winning at the highest of levels and he is in the twilight years of his career. And leaving a legacy is what its all about now for him. He will of course want to win the League, but its in Europe where he wants to win most. Giroud is actually a player that suits the Premier League. But Giroud is not as effective in Europe. I think this is the main rationale behind finding a fluid “Vardy-like” player who can move at pace. I think Griezmann was the primary target and Perez a very logical alternative.
    But its not about being “right” or “wrong” necessarily. There are many many variables that influence behaviour or outcomes that are not obviously visible even to the ardent fan or blogger. Writing is about providing entertainment. Or giving people a cause to think differently about something they love. And you do that very well on here. Your daily musings, are always a pleasure to read!

  10. Of course it’s OK to be wrong, especially on a fan blog, but to call 7 am Kick Off merely a fan blog does it some kind of injustice.

    You’ve evolved and so has the blog and its readership and whatever the next evolution I’ll be here for the journey.

    Right or wrong, be careful about “walking back” your comments, especially on immigration er, transfers. It’ll alienate your base.
    See? Too much CNN and not enough 7 am Kickoff.

  11. What Bunbyrist said.

    I wouldn’t change a thing in the way you post, Tim. All you have to do is insert little caveats like “it seems to me”, “I think” etc and I think only a mad man will complain that you are wrong about a thing. Besides, what if you’re wrong? You’re only human and you have no duty to be right about anything really. Keep the blog organic and a reflection of your personality and don’t sweat the small stuff.

    There’s no point reading opinion if you wait a while for it to become the most popular opinion anyway. And as Bunburyist said, asides from your excellent posts, the comments to your posts are unbelievably engaging and intellectual that I would read them alone even if there were no blog.

  12. “I’m going to publish when I feel like I have the idea more polished.”


    It’s your blog and of course you can change it and shape it in any direction. I’m sure I’ll still be reading. But don’t overthink it, OK?

    Many years ago as a young musician I auditioned for a gig and I was told I was absolutely, technically perfect. I began to blush from toes to head right until I heard, “But that’s why I hated it. Playing something that technically perfect is just like not playing it all”

  13. I stayed quiet for the most part these last few weeks because I had hope that Wenger would buy and I had faith that Wenger would be bringing “madness”* in this transfer window. What constitutes transfer “madness” is in the eye of the beholder and so be it. My reading of our situation was that he had to buy because where he is at in his career and he has to take on the lessons from past failings in the transfer market.
    Someone and I will be that someone needs to praise the hard work that Wenger and Arsenal did to get these last 2 transfers across the line. The transfers themselves and this transfer window environment where the rules that money (£) talks and bullshit walk no longer seemed to apply. This is the new world order where we are battling with West Ham (f**king) United and neither one of us can get the deal done.
    Timing is everything and we know we’ve been burn on deals because of poor timing and I’m sure that it was not always been our fault. Take this Lucas Perez deal for instance, there is a report out today that Barcelona made an inquiry about the player on Wednesday only to be told we had the deal done.
    FGunny how now that these deals are all done but the announcements, you have pronouncing judgements on whether these are Arsenal ‘quality’ players or labeling these transfers: “panic buys”, the ultimate diss. These players will have and be the last word on those critics. Will those critics loan us the money so we can give Bolton 55m retroactively for Holding. No, I didn’t think so.

    * ITK named Camden on Arsenal reddit.

  14. It’s fine to get a call wrong. At least you justified it. Tim, you always support your arguments. And that’s all that can reasonably be asked.

  15. Tim says: “I might just post “news” here every day.” No thanks, Tim. Arsenal “news” is already overdone elsewhere. When I watch Arsenal playing, my main attention is on team shape and structure, defensive strategy, attacking strategy. It’s team sport. Giroud said last season, “I am a cog in a machine.” Yet the coverage of the mechanics of this machine by commentators on the Internet is shallow and perfunctory — with occasional exceptions. Arsenal club itself pretty much doesn’t talk about it. Arsenal club outputs an almost constant stream of “news”, yet almost nothing about how their playing strategy is designed to work.

    Strategy should leverage the strengths of individual players, and so should somewhat change when new players are playing, even when the nominal shape stays 4-2-3-1. A few years ago 7amkickoff.com had some articles analyzing the team’s playing strategy. Mostly written by a guest writer. I believe Tim has the ability to do some articles about this himself. Such articles are harder to do well than articles about stats and articles about news.

  16. You don’t need to apologize Tim..we all get it wrong sometimes…Your’s is perhaps the best blog amongst the lot(according to me) about Arsenal. The poetic and the story-telling way in which you describe matches is how we fans are supposed to see the match. The intricate details/tactics and the finances are best left to the players, management and CEOs and all those top level people.
    When you first released the story(in 2 parts..i guess) of how certain financial strength was needed to win the EPL was the first time I had read your blog and had bookmarked it instantly and over the years I have never been disappointed and find myself one of those fortunate ones who has the privilege to follow both your blogs and thoughts here as well as on twitter. We, you as a writer and us as a reader have had till now a tremendous journey..from the move to emirates, to the disappointment in the final, from the highs of 07-08 to the lows of Eduardo, beating barca 2-1, then the carling cup loss and the dismantling of team belief and losing the season, to the cesc-nasri saga, to the Persie 30+, to the persie saga, from highs of Mesut till last year disappointment. Outsiders look at us and say that we are perennial fourth place finishers but barring those 2 horrible seasons, we always have been in the mix, amongst the top, only losing out because of injuries and loss of form/physical strength/mental strength in those crucial moments. We have been uber-ambitious and to certain extent a bit naive in imposing our style of play when it would have been easier to buy experience and shut shop in the middle and be pragmatic in approach but then we (I know atleast me) would never have got attracted to this club in the first place.
    You have been doing a tremendous job till now maintaining this level of work and hope so will continue to do in the future too(with a little more optimism 🙂 ). Thanks for writing and making our(atleast mine) day a little bit better

  17. You are a brilliant writer Tim and few other writers would dare to do a post mortem of their thought process like you did here.
    But how can you have all the facts in matters involving transfers where virtually all parties involved are trying to hide or distort those facts?
    You have eloquently defended and explained some of the thoughts / values of Wenger but ended up taking a stand which looks rather pessimistic in hindsight this transfer window, which is fine.
    Like they say in that Spidey movie how long can you fight the relentless negativity before you yourself trip into it😉
    Welcome back and hope our 100mil is enough to bring us some silverware this season.

  18. I think it’s all down to intentions for me. If the mindset was being the first to put an opinion, i felt that’s not the right thing to do. I don’t think having an opinion that end up wrong, is that sanctimonious anyway. If your opinion is to induce discussion, temper an over expectation that could be harming, to do what you think is right at the time, than put your opinion out there. On the context of this article, i think one of your best article and something that you should held your head high is that “Arsenal need to spend 100 million to keep up with the big boys” one. Each year, every summer i kept getting reminded of there’s this guy who get so much slack, including from me, because of some article, and that article still relevant even in this transfer windows. So, be proud of yourself Tim.

    On the blog itself, ideally I would want what Bunburyst described, but I’m actually that kind of people who need to be at least close to what i think is ideal, before doing something. On one day, it could be the right thing to do, but another day, it would transform into indecisiviness, which is bad for you. So it all come back to the intentions, do what you think is right, and if it comes down wrong, as a human, we live in a social world where people might bring you down for that but there’s also people who will put you right up. Don’t focus too much on people who bring you down and just keep moving on, Tim.

  19. Thanks everyone. I guess this is my now annual “woe is me! I’m a terrible ass of a writer.” post.

  20. I will now not worry about when players will play, where players will play, who will play unless I become an Arsenal player.
    Depth is wonderful thing.
    I watched Sporting vs Porto just to see Campbell come on in the last 20 min and have some nice touches.
    Have you noticed how Walcott is no longer playing ‘matador’ defense.
    I am bothered that Man U, Chelsea and Man City have gotten their acts together quicker than Arsenal here at the start of the season.
    A guy comes out my local Lowes in Poughkeepsie, NY with a Sp*s shirt and all I could think of was shite.
    I’ve missed Rebecca Lowe. Good to see her back.
    Wenger has been very, very busy scrounging through Kroenke sofa cushions and is looking to come up the money the Lanus winger Almiron according to the unreliable Tuttomercatoweb.

  21. I’m sure it’s perfectly understandable as a writer to worry sometimes about how good a piece is. While there are times when it’s possible to be more sure a piece is good because of how it makes you feel or see something, there are surely other times when what’s written does not seem so special or important to oneself but can provide insight and perspective to someone else. Just another point of view can be good sometimes.

  22. I fully agree with the sentiments expressed by Bunburyist and Nikki. You being wrong about this transfer window (or anything else Arsenal related) does not matter one bit as long as (1) you express the reasoning for your opinion and (2) you were honest about #1. Being wrong does not make your blog any less enjoyable. I echo the above encouragement for you to publish regularly, i.e., when you are ready.

    While I feel that your writing also reflects the view of the “silent majority” of fans of the club, because it is more level-headed and well-reasoned than most (including nearly everyone in the “mainstream” media not working for The Guardian), there is no need to criticize your own work from the mantle of the unofficial historian of AFC. That is too heavy a burden to place on yourself and your labor of love.

    1. I also think that Arsenal were fucking with everyone in order to manage their position in the market. If we (including Tim) were all taken along for the ride then such is life. It means they did a good job of that.

      The article you wrote just after the news broke about these two signings was one of the most refreshingly honest and well thought out I’ve read in a long time.

      Don’t go changing

  23. i, too, agree with bun. vescucci also states the caveat option and that’s a very sound option. i’m not even the author and i do that all the time. often times, i’ll post a comment where i won’t feel a certain way but i’ll make a statement merely to spark a discussion. sometimes i’ll write stuff on here and even announce that it’s some shit i made up. who cares? bottom line, no one cares if you’re right or wrong. everyone here always thinks they’re right until proven otherwise anyway. besides, if we thought you were a douche bag, we wouldn’t read and post here everyday. clearly, you’re doing something right. it’s all good.

    if it’s really bothering you, you can simply write your posts as objectively as you can stating various view points and sign them as tim. then you can join in the banter in the comments section under the imothyt moniker and tell us how you really feel. right-on, right-on!

  24. Opinions we all have them some times those opinions can be wrong others they are right.
    But a willingness to accept that opinions can be wrong is a good thing and can be a learning experience.
    Now what is worse is to have an opinion back it up with falsehoods and lies to convince anyone who will listen or ready and never except the fact that thier opinion could be or is wrong.
    Tim I’ve been reading your blog for a long time under a number of num de plumes. I have never seen you once try to stand over an opinion you knew to be wrong.
    As a dyed in the wool Wenger supporter I must admit he doesn’t help himself when it comes to tranferssometimes.

  25. My last post was taking up so much space it seems I decided to leave out the gaps between words.
    “Tranfers sometimes”

  26. So how about one Mr. Theo Walcott? Waaay too early of course but a couple of Gooners I know absolutely believe he is on The Road to Redemption, an opinion somehow confirmed by Big Sam making him an England International again. (I know, I don’t get how Allardyce can shape anyone’s opinion either).

    Look, he was one of my favourite players for a few years running but if he does finally find his form again will it be another one of those “just enough” seasons (I.e. 10 goals and a few assists) or is this the year? I for one , am not holding my breathe.

    1. I guess the question here is what you think his ceiling is. At his best, he’s still not a great player, at least he’s never shown that he could be except back when he was all the rage at 16 years of age, and even then it was mostly manufactured by hype. However I do think he is a good player, certainly one who brings something unique as an outlet with elite speed to this Arsenal team full of players who love to have and to come to the ball. If he gives us a 10+10 season, which is not at all beyond him, I would call that a roaring success. He’ll never score 20 from the RW, which looks to become his position long term once again, but he could well be one of our most productive offensive players given a run of good fitness and afforded the time to build partnerships with a stable front four.

  27. Tim, lighten up!Your musings have created a cosmos of intellectual ferment here that’s pretty unique for sporting discourse. The atmosphere of rigor admixed with generous repartee is always refreshing even if we at times disagree with either your opinions or those of fellow commenters. That’s as it should be. As a sage once said ,”The chief danger in life is that one can take too many precautions.” The obsession to be always right can also paralyze.

  28. Apparently Arsene is considering loaning Wilshere so he can get some playing time. Is this a way of letting know that if the right offer comes he could be sold? That would be uncharacteristically rudderless from him but having spend 100 mill maybe he is looking to recoup some of the money. It doesnt make sense to loan him because eventually the injuries will pile up and we need depth.

  29. Slightly off-topic… if Wenger sees Xhaka as his latter-day Petit, then who’s his Viera? The best fit for the role is Ramsey. A common misconception of Viera was that he was a defensive midfielder. No he was not — he was a box-to-box and got a fair few goals. He was, though, an exceptional box-to-box, one who had absolutely unreal stamina, and one who could tackle like a DM stopper.

    In any case, Xhaka may already be the best passer in the league from the back of midfield. He hit someone on the left with a lofted ball (think it was Alexis or Ox). There was so much traffic in his way, I dont know how he spotted the player. From about 60 yards, he put the ball on his bootlaces. His best partner is a runner, and I can’t wait for Aaron to get fit. Still, we have Santi for cultured ball-distribution, and two-footed corner taking.

    Food for thought.

    I also like Xhaka because he’s got a bit of nasty too

    1. The midfield is still not quite settled without a long term partner for Xhaka back there. I agree a runner is the best complement. Vieira was a generational talent, there isn’t anyone like him anymore, except maybe Pogba, and I agree the closest thing we have is Ramsey who had his best season alongside Arteta, a similarly cultured and disciplined passer as Xhaka. Ramsey doesn’t have the sheer physique to bully and intimidate people like Vieira did, but at his best he still puts in a huge shift and logs quite a few tackles, interceptions and recoveries. His problem has been that he can’t resist the sniff of glory and charges forward way too often and sometimes, it seems, without thought. This has led to imbalances and openings in midfield which better teams have exploited. Cazorla provides a more stable partnership because he chooses his moments better and is more technically sound, although we lack the same dynamism and thrust as compared to Ramsey, especially in the final third where Cazorla has been too static. Ramsey’s, hmm, let’s be kind and call it “adventurousness” is further compounded by Ozil’s relative lack of defensive contribution, and this has often left us outgunned in midfield against more powerful, more disciplined sides. Of the other options, Coquelin is by some distance the best ball winner in the squad and will be indispensable for that reason, but consistent integration into the team is unlikely given how his poor awareness of team mates and spaces cripples the attack, and teams know he is not a threat to assist or score. Essentially we play a man down in possession with Coquelin. With his size, stamina and security in possession, El-Neny has the potential to offer a unique combination of offensive and defensive talents but right now he doesn’t look consistent enough on either side of the ball to warrant selection.

      Although it’s generally preferable to allow players to develop consistent partnerships, Xhaka may find himself surrounded by a rotating cast of characters given the severe offensive or defensive limitations of his potential partners. It may be too much to hope that this is the season Ramsey becomes the two way goalscoring and ball winning midfielder which he has always threatened but not quite delivered. Perhaps the steady presence of Xhaka will unlock the balance his game has always lacked.

      1. “Adventurousness.” Heh. You’re correct in that Ramsey’s problem is fitting in with Özil. Mesut’s lack of defensive presence mandates that his midfield partners take responsibility for the bulk of the defensive work. Ramsey needs to develop more awareness and curb his attacking instincts just a little. We still want him to attack the box because that’s one of Aaron’s strengths but he can’t simply bomb forward at every instance. In coming to Barca, Ivan Raktic had to undergo a similar transition. In his previous two seasons at Sevilla, he was an energetic box to box player with a nose for goal, scoring 21 goals. At Barca, he’s learned to play with more caution but he’s still become an important part of their midfield by still covering enormous amounts of ground as their midfield runner. And yet he still contributes with goals.

    2. to compare xhaka to petit is understandable as certain components of their game are similar. however, to compare aaron ramsey to patrick vieira is downright disrespectful. ramsey doesn’t compare technically, tactically, physically, psychologically, realistically, or even hypothetically with patrick vieira.

      you’re trying to compare the ultimate team player with the ultimate glory seeker. a 3-time bpl winning, 3-time scudetto winning, 5-time fa cup winning, world cup winning, european championship winning invincible who’s widely regarded as the most complete midfield player to have ever, ever, ever played the game is being compared to aaron ramsey? you can’t be serious.

      with vieira, it was like cheating; like having an extra man in midfield. with ramsey, it’s like being a man down in midfield. the closest thing to ever compare to vieira is michael essien but to quote jose mourinho, there’s not even a bad copy of patrick vieira. pogba might prove in time a very legitimate comparison but aaron ramsey, even at his very best, will never compare legitimately with patrick vieira. never!

      1. Two thumbs up for joshuad. I like Ramsey but he isn’t fit to polish Vieira’s boots. Not yet anyway.

      2. I love Paddy as much as the next guy josh but you might be overstating it a little there.

    3. Doc, solid analysis. And it’s Vieria like you correctly stated, not Viera (a sub-brand of Panasonic). Joshua, no one is saying that Ramsey and Vieira are like-for-like. Both Doc and I make far more nuanced arguments, and in fact say in our different ways that Vieira had no equal.

      I get it that you don’t like Ramsey, but read, man, read.

      As for Pogba, the only comparison is that they’re tall, black, athletic Frenchmen so I can understand the temptation. Their games are very different. Pogba can also play wing, and Vieira didn’t. Pogba may be even more versatile than the great Pat, my favourite gunner of all time. If he fulfils his potential (by no means a slam dunk), he’ll be an even better player.

  30. I concur with the majority of those above. No ‘news’ please; I can get that from the Guardian. I’d rather just read about your hiking trips with your daughter, or your view on pretty much anything else.

    This is by far my favourite blog of any that I read (which has been whittled down to a pretty short list these days) and I’d be disappointed if it started to look like everyone else’s?

  31. come to think of it
    you’ve been more right than wrong

    I can remember when we were going for vardy and the way things transpired, you were saying vardy wants to use arsenal as a tool to get a better contract and you supported it with valid points….I didn’t believe….i felt- come on its vardy Leicester and arsenal ..this should be a simple signing..This is just Tim being worried and overthinking..oh well

    I’ve realized nothing is for certain…I remember the demba ba issue we had with ‘moanrihoe’ and how he slied us at the last minute just so we don’t get a striker and demba
    then came the Cech incident too-an even bigger player .the logic points to us not getting Cech and being slied again but he ended up signing for arsenal
    I remember you being highly sceptical about this signing even though it was reported at reputable sites but you justified it by saying ‘only when it’s on arsenal.com you would believe’
    we can’t read wengers mind or the players’
    we make our assumptions based on the little we see
    and at the end of the day…you form the best opinions about arsenal issues I’ve seen/read

  32. Do what you feel you have to do, Tim. When I read a blog I know I’m reading opinion. And I know opinion is just that: opinion. We all have them, shaped by our interpretation of the information we have at any particular time, You heard Conte and processed his views based on Arsene’s known antecedents to form your own opinion. So things turned out different, big deal. If you feel strongly enough about it to want to do this review, so be it. Me, I’m indifferent; I have no doubt your output will remain uniquely enjoyable, and 7amkickoff will remain one of the handful of Arsenal sites out there – along with Arseblog and Untold Arsenal – where the atmosphere is still congenial.

  33. I think you got many things right Tim. I thought you were on the right track when you claimed Wenger does not do business in two weeks leading up to the first game, preferring to focus on preparation.

    1. I’d like us to keep Jack. He’s our No. 10 after all, and as we used to sing about Freddie, Arsenal through and through. We always have plenty of injuries. He’ll get games.

      This is clearly a reaction to a conversation with the new England coach, Sam Allardyce.

      The tragedy of Jack is that he’s still unsure of his best position (I think he’s Ozil backup mainly, as he’s a pretty good final third decision-maker. In a pinch, he can play the Santi position alongside Xhaka).

      I’m more puzzled by the Elneny perchase as time goes on. Clearly he, Ramsey, and Santi are fighting for a single spot. So that limits’s Jack’s options even more.

      1. Jack Wilshere’s career so far has been a tragedy, but it doesn’t have to end that way. It was on loan when he really got his legs under him to start with (anyone remember Owen Coyle?) but his career has been assassinated by a barrage of injuries. He reminds me of van Persie a little, petulance and all. I still remember the vociferous calls to sell RVP after the Chiellini injury and he only came back from that to have his best ever season and basically single handedly keep us in the top 4 in 2011. Like RVP, Wilshere is a player who at his best is capable of taking over and deciding games, but he hasn’t played at all and he’s a shadow of the player he could be (forgive the cliche). Hard to remember he is still only 24. There are massive problems with his game right now and quite frankly I couldn’t really see how he fits into the side at all in current form. Training sessions and reserve squad outings or dead rubber games won’t give him the competitive edge he needs to play himself back into genuine contention with us. I don’t see him rediscovering his mojo in a reserve role; Jack is the type who thrives on being in the thick of things. I know Arseblog said the move isn’t good for Arsenal, but I disagree; if we get a fully fit, competitive and sharp Jack Wilshere next season then it was completely worth it. LANS and all that. Maybe a return clause should be inserted into the loan agreement though on the off chance that he rediscovers his best form sooner than anticipated or, more likely, if we suffer a rash of injuries to players all in the same position (like that’s ever happened, pfff).

        1. Agree with everything here, especially the loan back clause. That Bolton loan spell was the making of him. It was also one of the most successful loan arrangements from an Arsenal point of view (Song’s to Charlton is up there too). owen Coyle and Bolton made Jack a better player. He needs to go downtable to get the involvement he needs, ideally a good club like Southampton or Everton.

  34. Whether your predictions or theories turn out to be ultimately ‘true’ or ‘false’ is less important to me than the effort and research you put into presenting a balanced and informed point of view that you hope to be an accurate representation of the truth.

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