Post-transfer recap: how are players like Milik and Brooks doing this season?

This is a follow up on some players I thought would be good additions for Arsenal this summer.


Lacazette: 6 goals in 4 games for Lyon, including a hat trick in his home opener after Arsenal refused to pay 1.21 gigawatts of money for him. He was injured in his fourth match and the prognosis was short term at first but Lyon have since activated their “joker clause” and signed 19 year old Mateta. I wonder how his season will turn out now that he’s injured?

Lukaku: No player generates as much fervent hatred as Romelu Lukaku. He’s scored 4 goals this season. A hat trick against Sunderland and then the most dubious of dubious goals against Middlesbrough. The latter was clearly a goal by Bolaise which Lukaku threw a foot at and then claimed he got a touch. Has been dispossessed an astonishing 3.5 times per game. He has also apparently started dribbling like crazy. He’s gone from a career 50% dribbler, with about 1 dribble per match or so to someone who is making 3 dribbles a game at a 75% rate. He’s also only winning 12% of his aerial duels, which is god awful for a guy with his size. He was never great, 40-50%, but this is a huge new low. Still looks like an inanimate lump up front but scores goals. And I guess if you are only going to have one talent, that’s the one to have.

Milik: Moved from Ajax to Napoli. Big body, heir apparent to Lewandowski. Has scored three braces this season, beating AC Milan, Dynamo Kyiv, and Bologna. Hasn’t been dispossessed even one time this season.  His aerial duels record, though, is super weird. He’s 1 for 6 in Serie A and 3 for 4 in Champions League play. Also, three of his goals have been scored off headers. Watch this player, I have a feeling he will be Man United’s next record signing. He’s a Man U fan, by the way.

Griezmann: 4 goals in 3 matches, still the only man in the world who looks good with a mustache. He has scored two goals with headers and two goals from outside the box. All of them have been from open play which is weird. I expected the headers to come from corners or set plays but I guess not. Atletico are in 6th place in La Liga and in typical Simeone fashion, have only allowed 1 goal this season. Amaze.

Vardy: The 29 year old rejected Arsenal this summer and frankly I hope him and Leicester get relegated.  Has scored 2 goals in 5 starts. Still doesn’t do much else for the team. He is a fast runner.

Center back

John Brooks: Plays for Hertha Berlin, leads the Bundesliga in clearances with 9.5 and makes 3 interceptions per game. Hertha have won all three of their opening matches including two clean sheets. Hertha average 77% passing but Brooks leads the team with 89% and he’s a 71% long ball passer. He is also a beast in the air and has won 83% of his aerial duels, to the tune of 2.5 per game. One thing that is off is that he makes 2.5 tackles per game, which he is 83% successful, but the fact that he is making so many tackles and for a big center back it could be a bit of  problem.

Comparing him to Mustafi is a bit problematic because the teams aren’t in the same league and don’t play the same style of football. Mustafi passes the ball at an almost 93% success rate, but his long passing has been awful connecting on just 1.5 of 5 long passes per game. Obviously, Arsenal’s lack of a target man hurts Mustafi though Koscielny is completing long passes at double the rate of Mustafi, connecting on 61% of his long attempts. Mustafi also tackles a lot, 3.5 per game, and he’s apparently been 100% successful. I say apparently because I thought Cavani dribbled past him once but I guess that’s just faulty memory?


Granit Xhaka: scored a screamer this weekend against 10 man Hull City but struggles to get consistent playing time at Arsenal. His tackling is about 50%, his long passing is about 50%, his interceptions are down, and his aerial duels numbers are down. Basically, he’s not putting up anywhere near the numbers he did last season. That is to be expected, though, because his playing time is way down and he’s no longer the focal point of his entire team. Interesting to see how Wenger integrates him into the team.

Mkhitaryan: started one match for Manchester United and was dropped at half time. Currently playing backup to Wayne Rooney and his walker. No sense even looking at his stats. I do fear for his career however. Mourinho is notorious for hating players and this weekend saw Mou bring on Juan Mata instead of Mkhitaryan. This is important because Mou hates Mata and if he’s playing Mata over Mkhitaryan then clearly the player has fallen way down the pecking order. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him loaned out this January.

Mahrez: has just one goal in the Premier League but 2 in the Champions League. Leicester look like a team suffering from a post-title hangover and yet Mahrez’ numbers have stayed pretty consistent. Shame that he didn’t make the move to Arsenal, I suspect he would have been fantastic.



  1. I hope our other loanees are making out better than Wilshire at Bournemouth who was widely panned for his performance against City.

    Curious to see how some of our fringe players do tomorrow against Nott Forrest.

    Maybe we’ll get to see Sanogo v Bendtner? Wouldn’t that be a treat?

    1. Let’s be fair though, being thrown in against the best team in the league away from home in your first start of the year with team mates you hardly know the names of at this point; that is a tough spot. The real issue is, how does he react now?

  2. Griezmann’s moustache? I don’t know, Tim, I like him much better without it. Maybe it was the combination with his do, but I always thought it made him look a little too Sound-of-Music-HitlerJugend.

  3. Morty,

    Good point about Wilshere. I haven’t watched the match. I am going to do that tonight. The stats though were pretty awful. 10/10 passes in 69 minutes. I also heard that he gave the ball away and made a foul for City’s first goal.

  4. It would be pretty amazing if Mkhtaryian was already in Jose’s black book after two months at the club, even if his tendency of alienating players has only gotten worse as the years go by. I always thought there was a chance for an epic Downward Spiral at MU: March of Pigs, Reptile, Closer, the whole gamut, but didn’t think it would happen this fast. Jose is already blaming the players for the losses, and continues to pick his teams based on size and size of reputation. I just read that 91% of Manchester United supporters want Jose to drop Rooney, but who is Jose to say where Rooney plays? Same goes for Pogba and Ibra. And if they lose, it’s clearly Luke Shaw’s fault.

    1. Mourinho is quick to cast off players. He’s not interested in developing them or finding roles for them in a squad. The very best example which will haunt Mourinho when he’s a finalist for the Balon d’Or is DeBruyne. But Mourinho’s also gotten rid of Schurle and Cuadrado – both very decent flank players… didn’t Mourinho sell both Higuain and Kaka? Mhkytarian will be gone in January, loaned back to Germany somewhere.

    2. Mourinho to ManUre was never going to be a good fit. Certainly they had serious reservations and I believe Jorge Mendes, reputedly the most powerful agent in football, got Mourinho the job he coveted. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Man U lost Renato Sanchez, a Mendes client, to Bayern because they were holding Mourinho at arms length. Anyway, Mourinho’s pragmatic, conservative, defensive approach was never going to go over well at a club where winning in style is valued so highly.

      And I believe Mourinho is feeling the pressure of delivering attractive, attacking football. He actually tried to press ManShitty and his team were taken to school. Only Bravo’s mistake let them back into a game which should have been out of sight by halftime. Mourinho has failed miserably whenever he’s tried to move away from his trusted low block, counter attacking style, especially when faced with good opposition. Real Mad 0 Barca 5 anyone? His offensive philosophy has basically consisted of get the ball to Drogba at Chelsea v1.0, Ibra at Inter, Ronaldo at Real Mad, and Hazard at Chelsea v2.0.

      The most interesting aspect of his tenure so far is catering so much to Rooney and trying to shoe horn him into the lineup. Rooney was a fantastic player and has been the face of United for a decade but what is he now? Their fourth best center forward after Ibra, Rashford, and Martial. Third best #10 after Mhkytarian and possibly Mata. Winger? Please. Herrera and Pogba are better box to box midfielders. Schneiderlin and Carrick are better deep playmakers. How exactly does Rooney start over those other players? I wonder if his dizzyingly spectacular fall from grace at Chel$ki and the way he utterly lost that locker room has dented his considerable ego to the point where he doesn’t know how to handle the fallout from dropping Rooney to the bench? And the locker room fallout from that will be huge.

      Watching a midfield in which Felliani is your deep playmaker, Pogba is schackled by defensive duties and Rooney occupying the spaces he wants to run into, and Rooney spraying passes out of bounds is priceless.

    3. A United fan asked me why he’s starting Fellaini and the simple answer is that Fellaini ticks a box that all Mourinho teams have: total bastard. He had Essien at Chelsea, Materazzi (and Ibra) at Inter, etc.

      1. What do you think is going on with Schneiderlin? This is a player most of us coveted and I felt really frustrated that he picked ManUre over us. Put him out there with Pogba and Mhkytarian and that’s a potential title winning midfield. Instead, he’s buried on the bench behind f***ing Felliani. Was he overrated? Or are van Gaal and Mourinho just that spiteful and/or that poor at talent evaluation?

        1. Definitely a good footballer, probably overly ballyhooed the summer Saints sold him on, definitely should be starting ahead of Fellaini and Rooney on talent. His main problem though is that Man United bought the world’s most expensive player to play in his position. He was always more forward thinking than his erstwhile partner, Wanyama. Maybe Schneiderlin is just too nice. Too nice to try to upstage Rooney or Pogba, too nice to get into fisticuffs with Fellaini on the training pitch, and ultimately too nice to convince Mourinho to start him in his midfield. Sometimes careers hinge on things like this. What United have instead is a very good midfielder who they paid 35 million or so for, not to mention wages, who is lost among the substitutes and has little in the way of confidence or match sharpness. In a couple of years, some club is going to do great business by picking him up. As for Arsenal, we already have Xhaka.

      2. As for total bastards, don’t forget Pepe at Real Mad. When he becomes the face of your team at Madrid rather than Ronaldo, something is seriously f***ed up.

  5. Listen, I still rate Wilshire. The best outcome would be for honors one back to the Arsenal after the most successful loan spell ever.

    Yeah, the chances of that? I know. But I would be so happy to have a better, seasoned and injury free Jack Wilshire back in Arsenal colors. Fingers crossed.

    1. Wilshere is the player, Wiltshire is the place.

      I am 50-50 on Wilshere’s career at Arsenal. Half the time I think it’s over. The other half the time I’m with you. Like I said a few weeks ago: bipolar.

  6. I’m often curious about the performances of players we (fans or the club) wanted but never signed. It also makes for a fun bit of schadenfreude if a player’s performance dips after rejecting us…as I hope is the case with Vardy and the Leicester team in general (just as I enjoyed Liverpool’s massive choke the season after we were asked about our smoking preferences). Milik, I thought, looked terrific at the Euros, and I’m not surprised to hear about him doing well, but I don’t think we were interested, and I only heard a very small handful of Gooners arguing the case for a move.

    Anybody watching United’s performances? I’d be curious to know how Ibrahimovich is doing, since quite a few Arsenal fans were disappointed to see him to go United instead of us (i.e., we got Perez, they got Ibra…it sounded like most felt we were the losers there).

    1. Man U performances for Gooners = schadenfreude.Long may it continue. The worry of course is that the manager we all so want to beat will have his team recover just in time to spank us once again.

      Not this year. No, we will prevail both at The Emirates and Old Trafford. Vengeance will finally be ours!

    2. Ibra being Ibra. He is a match winner and easily one of the purely best technical players I’ve ever seen. He has lost all the steps but he’s still powerful in the air and capable of moments of sublime skill on the ground. When he dropped deeper to collect and help set up the faster, young forwards, the team looked great but he can’t do that because Looney has “plugged” that position up.

      He also gets away with a lot of bullshit shoving and pushing. Basically, expect him to score a hat trick of headers when Mike Dean is the referee in our match against them.

      Also, Rashford is a great player. Just scary how good that kid could be.

  7. Renaldo and Messi get a lot of attention but Ibra has scored something like 113 goals in 126 appearances in his 4 years at PSG. He’s already scored 2 or 3 for Man Utd. He really is The Zlatan and for all his bombastic schtick or perhaps because of it, I’m happy to see him in the Premier League his colours notwithstanding.

  8. To be fair, Mkhitaryan couldn’t have come on against Watford as he was out of the team with a thigh injury picked up on international duty. But Mou will ruin him, deservedly so, and I couldn’t care less.

  9. People: Really – how great was that goal from Xhaka? Reminded me of some of Bergkamp’s greatest goals, most of which were scored well outside the box. Even the famous Newcastle goal was just barely scored from the corner of the box.

    Our more than capable midfielders need to do that much more often.Have a go lads, just f$&king leather the ball and have yourselves a go.

    1. I am so grateful for a midfielder who will shoot. I know, I know… it’s a low percentage shot – but maybe that’s because it’s an undertrained skill. If we took more shots from distance wouldn’t that force teams to come out? Next time Xhaka has the ball in front of the midfield line I can guarantee you a midfielder will step out to stop the shot thereby opening up a hole behind him.

      You have to have all the tools in your drawer.

  10. I would have been very happy with Milik as our striker because I think his potential is huge. But it kind of was the wrong fit and wrong time for that. He’s not the counter attacking player we were apparently looking for and we really couldn’t look to bed in more potential instead of a seasoned striker. Shame. Also, shame that he’s a ManU fan because he’s going to make a great Ibra replacement for them in a season or two. In fact, when I saw him at Ajax, I was reminded of some of Ibra’s moments with them.

    Mkhitaryan is the real miss. I thought he would fit in really well for us (and also allow us to rest Ozil now and again) In fact, Mourinho probably paid off Raiola to get him to ManU simply to stop us from getting him. Watch Raiola talk about Arsenal having the money but lacking the balls to do this. Yeah, Arsenal should feed fat f***s like him more and more. I personally believe he dislikes us since we refused to do him a solid and sign Balotelli.

    Watching Pogba struggle at ManU is funny while it lasts. I guess it all stems from Rooney, and he will be dropped sooner or later. The later it is, the more fun it’ll be to watch ManU, and also the more huge that decision will seem, thereby causing more locker room drama. Long may the Mourinho meltdown continue.

  11. As great as Xhaka’s goal was I read some where only 3%( or closeto this number) of shots from outside the box go in.😊

    1. Hit-and-hopers don’t tend to go in very often, there’s an amusing article on Statsbomb comparing Andros Townsend and Neymar – unsurprisingly the latter outscores the former despite being out-shot because he shoots from high percentage areas.
      There are certain situations where a long range strike is a very valid option – keeper off the line, keeper on the far post etc.
      Then there are engineered situations which result in a shot from distance – dribbling into traffic from the RHS of the field before squaring to an unmarked player on the LHS who now has a clear shooting lane while the defence tries to reorient. Theo was somewhat of a specialist in providing the Dutch judas with those sorts of shots.

    2. I’ve read 4% but yes, very low.

      That said, maybe most modern players taking pops are just shit at it. I seem to remember a lot more shots from distance going in 20, 25 years ago. Then maybe it went out of style, it wasn’t taught as much at youth levels, the conversion rates went down and in sort of a self-perpetuating cycle managers emphasized teaching and encouraging the high percentage plays.

      If Xhaka scores a couple more like that he’s going to start a trend. We’ll see more young ones taking pops from distance. The skill will return and conversion rates rise.

  12. Tim
    I’m surprised you would want Leiceater to get relegated when there are much better candidates for the drop from the Arsenal point of view. Stoke City anyone? How much fun would it be to go to Stoke next year and see them try to chokehold Alexis ,while fighting off relegation in front of their inbreeding ,knuckle dragging fans ,by which time Arsenal will have been comfortably out of the title race anyways.

    This is where I would normally tell everyone how I’m a bigger man and don’t take pleasure in misfortunes of others , but when it comes to United, I simply can’t.
    For one, Mourinho is a major tool and if he got hit by a car while crossing the street, I would probably say well done to the driver. And two, I like to see SAF squirming in his expensive seat, while watching his beloved , and until recently referee favored United play without much of cohesion or purpose.
    Karma is such a bitch.

    I wonder if Arsenal were more successful, would we still be so petty 🙂

  13. Wow, I thought Milik was pretty average at the Euros. Guess we’ll see if he keeps this up, I’d be really surprised if his ceiling was as high as everyone seems to suspect.

  14. Tim, I have a theory on Xhaka, I wonder if you agree? The real reason Granit has warmed the bench recently is that Arsene is waiting for Ramsey to return. He has spoken about partnerships being essential so I feel the Coqzorla axis is only temporary as he wants Xhaka and Ramsey to form that 1st team bond. Hopefully bringing the best out him – ala 13/14.

    1. Funnily enough I was just thinking the same. The quote of Wenger seems to back up the assertion. It’s almost like Xhaka was Wenger’s gift to Ramsey to make him perform better

  15. Following up on the comments about Raiola, Guardiola has said in his Press Conference that Yaya Touré will never play for Man City again until his agent apologises for saying that he (Pep) had humiliated Touré for not including him in the European Championship squad.

    Self important agents are mostly full of sh*t, and Touré’s agent has form in being a moron – remember the “his birthday cake from Man City was not big enough” farce.

    I think he is matching swords with the wrong one in Guardiola.

    1. Yes. If he apologizes he has to swallow his pride in a huge way (and keep his mouth shut in the future, for fear of it happening again). If he refuses to apologize he’s basically saying his ego is more important than the welfare of his player, which is the last thing that any agent wants to be known for (agents might all be amoral greedy bastards, but the one supposedly unbreakable rule in their moral code is that they do whatever it takes to promote the good of their clients; leaving Yaya stuck on the bench is obviously not promoting his good).

  16. Regarding Xhaka and what you’ve said here and on the Arseblog News BTN piece for the Hull game, I don’t think Wenger should be refusing to play Xhaka because he’s afraid he’ll hog the ball too much from Ozil and Cazorla. An example is the Miami Heat from several years ago – three “high usage” players banded together into a superteam and while they previously hogged the ball on their previous teams, they worked together in the new team and only took shots that were most effective. Efficiency (effectiveness) should only go up when good players come together because they’ll know when and where to pass the ball. You need to give them some time to adjust though.

    Another example is the Barcelona front three, Suarez and Messi were huge usage rate players by themselves but they didn’t get into each other’s way when put together.

  17. Another Xhaka goes booooom goal against Forrest albeit with a slight deflection on the way past the GK who could only get fingertips to it. 2/2 for Xhaka.
    Perez with 2 goals (1 PK) and the second a goal that showed his hunger and strength.
    We played within ourselves and had a nice game against an over matched opponent. I would have liked a bit more pace in our play though.
    Bendtner was never a threat and Lansbury was auditioning for the ‘Fellaini’ award.
    There was a sighting of the competent Ox in this game that he needs to be show in the EPL.

  18. Chelsea having to go through extra time against Leicester probably doesn’t matter a whole lot for our match on Sat.

    1. it’s tough to blame rodriguez. dortmund were rampant yesterday. they just hit a switch and there was nothing that wolfsburg or anyone else could do.

      right now, dortmund are playing the most sensational counter-attacking football i think i’ve ever seen, including the invincibles. the jury’s been out on tuchel since he allowed all of those senior players to leave but people are loving him at the moment. the real beauty is it simply doesn’t matter who’s on the pitch. no mhki, auba, reus, kagawa, sahin, or goetze and it simply doesn’t matter. dortmund still blow teams away. we’ll see how they do in a tough game but right now, dortmund fans are enjoying the show. they’ve scored 17 goals in their last three games (1 champions league and 2 in bundesliga).

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