Which Arsenal players would walk on to Bayern Munich’s team?


That was the original content and title of this post. Arsenal lost 3-1 (to WBA) in the most predictable fashion possible (WBA are dead ball specialists) and I was not surprised, hurt, depressed, or angered. I was sanguine. And with Arsenal currently in 6th place, even on points with Everton, I’m resigned to Arsenal finishing below Spurs and very likely out of the Champions League places.

This team has been a slow motion train wreck now for two and a half years. I know many will disagree and that’s why I have this site, so you can disagree.

I know a lot of people, smart people, have been talking about the importance of partnerships. This is hipster football 101 now, diagnosing a team’s problems in terms of partnerships. Partnerships are important and I’m not denying that. I would only say that yes, matching up two players who complement each other is hugely beneficial – but more important is to have quality players who don’t NEED a specialist partner next to them in order to raise the level of the team. This is Arsenal’s fundamental problem. We lack the quality of players who can play in multiple positions. And we have now for years.

Now, obviously, I don’t mean all the players. Özil is talented enough to play in the 10, 7, or 11. He doesn’t like playing wide but he has the engine, speed, dribbling, and quality to play wide. A 100% motivated Özil, who is willing to sacrifice for his team, could play in any of those three positions.

Alexis is another player who has the talent and training to play in a variety of positions in the Arsenal attack. He can be a 9, 10, 7, or 11 and has proved that he can play all of those positions. You probably disagree about the number nine and maybe the 10, though he’s Arsenal’s most creative player from open play over the last 3 years, but you have to agree that he’s versatile.

Bellerin is another player who I feel is technically and tactically gifted enough to play in a variety of roles at Arsenal. I don’t think he would be at all out of place played further up the pitch. He is Arsenal’s most gifted crosser and is able to break defenders down with a deft dribble. Bellerin would thrive in a 352 and is able to play in a flat four system with a high line. I think he would even get a look as a wide midfielder in a straight 442.

Welbeck is another player who seems at ease playing wide and centrally. Though, it’s tough to tell because he’s not played much due to injury. And I have to admit that Ramsey is a player who has played in a variety of positions. There is some room for argument that he’s not been entirely successful in any of them but I did like him wide, preferred him there actually.

The question here, however, is which of these players, which Arsenal players at all, would make it into Bayern Munich’s starting XI?

Why Bayern? Well, that’s the standard I expect Arsenal to aspire to. I think Arsenal, the fifth richest team in the world, should be building teams that are top five in world football. I also see Bayern has a number of older players who are getting ready to retire or who need to be replaced: Alonso, Robben, Ribery, and Lahm at least.

But let’s do a thought experiment. Assume that Bayern need a player in every position. Which Arsenal players would they take? For me it’s only Alexis, Özil, and Bellerin. Maybe Koscielny and maybe Ramsey (if you can get him to sacrifice his desire to be a center forward for the betterment of the team and get him to move the ball more quickly). But remember that Bayern require tactically adept players in all positions.

And if those five players are our only five players who are at the required level then, doesn’t Arsenal need a complete rebuild?



  1. Not saying he is sufficient quality, like Ramsay there are weaknesses, but I wonder whether Walcott would thrive in another league with a dominant team?

      1. Probably PFo, but who knows what some of our players could do with the right kick up the backside. To be honest, that and match tactics they actually deploy could be the making of several of the team.

        Sadly, I think these are both lacking. To much protection and mollycoddling, until AW snaps and looses patience with an individual.

        1. Yeah, I’m not sure I agree with you about Walcott, since I think his deficiencies are technical, but with others like Ramsey and Ox, you might have a point.

    1. Walcott would thrive playing for a reactive smaller team like West Brom. Imagine him running behind our back line time and time again; he thrives on space and playing the type of sterile possession we did last week, he gets none. He needs a team that springs quickly from deep; that’s what maximizes his talents. That’s why he tends to play better vs. “big” teams who come out and leave more gaps.

      He might do OK on a counterpressing team provided he buys into the ethos; he can use his speed to devastating effect without the ball when he wants to but it’s rare to see him defensively switched on for 90 minutes. He’s not on the same planet technically as any of the leading wide midfielders of his generation, plus when he doesn’t play defense it makes him a very expendable player. You can see a much better player in there which is what made him wildly frustrating throughout his career. At this point he is what he is and Wenger has done a poor job playing to his strengths.

    2. This may be controversial, but I’ll say it: Theo’s lost his pace.

      After his last long-term injury, maybe a couple of years ago, he hasn’t been the same. He doesn’t rely on his searing pace to bully defenders. He doesn’t run past anybody anymore. He’s done well to reinvent himself as a bit of a poacher, but gone is pacy Theo.

      When was the last time he did that? Seriously.

      I’m not sure why nobody else talks about it. He’s no longer a speed demon – he’s a poacher.

      1. I think you’re right, but I think the reason no one talks about it is that it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say he’s “lost his pace”. Rather, his pace has diminished. He’s obviously still fast, I mean, obviously faster than Xhaka and Per and Chambers and Monreal and Giroud and Ramsey and Coquelin and Cazorla and Elneny and…(you get my point). And, as you say, he partially compensates for the loss with the quality and timing of his runs being so spot on. But the bigger issue is, and always has been, that his lack of ball skills makes him incredibly limited for a starting attacker on a top team (insert joke about how we’re not a top team here).

        1. You are right – he’s still fast. What made him special, I think, was that extra speed he had which made him faster than, well, everybody. Now he’s just fast.

  2. “This team has been a slow motion train wreck now for two and a half years. I know many will disagree and that’s why I have this site, so you can disagree.”

    My disagreement would only be in that it’s been a slower motion train wreck going back 10 years. We spent, literally, years on the old Arsenal America site (eventually getting kicked off for it). Then a few more years on whatever replaced that. The Wenger Loyalists vs. The Realists.

    For my taste, there hasn’t being any left to argue about for years now.

  3. Mate, great article as usual, but also remember Xhaka was in the Bundersliga team of the season for two seasons in a row. At that time he would have made the a Bayern team. Some guys just need time.

  4. I don’t think anyone from Arsenal would be a walk-on for Bayern Munich.all of their starters are as good or better than anybody we have right now inclusive of Alexis, Ozil, Bellerin and Koscielny.

    We are just not good enough for a like-for-like comparison. The Bayern players rewarded Carlo Ancelotti’s 1000th game as a manager by humbling their opponents 8-0.

    How did our players reward Wenger’s 1000th game as Arsenal Manager? Yes, it was Chel$ki vs Bundesliga cannon fodder but still…

  5. Full strength Vs full strength, not a single arsenal player would get into Bayerns first team. Sanchez would maybe come close as a replacement for Robben or Ribery but that’s about it.

    Bellerin looked like he might become something special but he’s going backwards, lahm is still the best RB in the world by far, kimmich is looking like an able long term successor for both Bayern and Germany.

    Kos is nowhere near boating, Martinez or Hummels.

    1. 1. Disagree about Kos being nowhere near their defenders. He’s maybe not quite as good on the ball as them, but arguably he’s better at defending than either Martinez or Hummels. He’s not having his best season, but he’s aging, and he’s also not helped out by our terrible team defense (not just the shambles of a back five, but defending as an 11).

      2. But I agree about Bellerin. He’s obviously got the talent to be world class someday, and his speed is something that really sets him apart from even many of the very quick defenders in Europe today. But I think he’s struggled to find his best form since coming back from injury earlier this campaign, and I can’t agree with Tim about his crossing. I think his final ball is often woeful, relative to the terrific positions he gets himself into (though we don’t have a lot of other good crossers either).

      1. Pfo, Martinez is massively underrated by everyone, he is truly amazing at the back. Hummels is a difficult one to assess, he did an out of this world tackle last week, something very few defender’s in today’s game could do, but it was his attacking instincts that caused the gap allowing the break in the first place.

        I like Kos, you may have a point about the back links e having zero protection, but given the cards he picks up, his decision making needs to significantly improve. Game Vs Bayern a perfect example, it was a silly tackle that cost arsenal bigtime.

    2. Koscielny is a better pure defender than either Hummels or Martinez, especially in terms of quickness, but they are both really good with the ball which is where Kos is merely adequate. That, plus the fact that he plays for Arsenal, is why he’s never in the conversation for best CB. Arsenal makes all our CB’s look awful unless they are just superlative talents, i.e. Sol. It says a lot about Kos that he’s been able to hold it together for us back there more or less for 6+ years now.

      1. I also don’t think it finishes 5-1 in either leg of the Bayern tie with him on the pitch. Lynchpin.

  6. I think Wenger will stick it out for 1 more year. As much as I think he should have hung it up after the last FA Cup trophy, I hate the idea of seeing him going out like this. Sad days.

  7. I don’t want to be seen defending the quality of our players right now, as I’m pretty disgusted with most of them. And I don’t deny that we’ve got a fair few “almost” players and not enough consistently class performers. But having just watched the City vs. Liverpool game, I have to say I stand by my thoughts earlier in the season that our current squad is fundamentally good enough, if not to challenge for the Champions’ League, then at least to challenge for the PL (I don’t consider the last few campaign train wrecks as “challenging,” even if we finished close to the top).

    What’s my rationale? Well, look at Liverpool (or Spurs for that matter, but I prefer not to think about them). While a case can be made that the teams (perhaps not the squads, but the first 11’s at least) of the Manchester clubs and Chelsea are significantly stronger than ours, I don’t think, on talent at least, that the same can be said for Liverpool’s team. In fact, much of the criticism that Tim and others are likely (and justly) to level at our current group of players, as just not being good enough, could be directed at Liverpool’s team as well. I mean, Milner? Origi? Kline? Can? Even a decent midfield player like Wijnaldum or Henderson is not getting anywhere near the Bayern squad, much less the first eleven. Are those players really more talented than e.g. Monreal or Welbeck or Xhaka or Ramsey or Ox or Mustafi (etc, etc)? Coutinho is talented but overrated. I don’t even know the name of Matip’s central defensive partner. They’re hardly journeymen, but also not the kinds of players that it would have been too difficult for Arsenal to sign over the last few seasons, and if you dropped most of them into the current Arsenal squad, I don’t think they’d significantly improve us (not saying the likes of Mane and Firmino or even Lallana wouldn’t make us better, just that, if surrounded by our squad and with our tactics and training methods, not sure they would be tearing up any trees). Yet watching Liverpool today, and against us recently, they look lightyears ahead of us.

    Yes, I know Klopp’s a bit of a one trick pony, and yes, they still struggle against lesser, defensive teams (they would likely have struggled against West Brom yesterday, for instance), but they also look cohesive, quick, hardworking, technical, vibrant, energetic, and like they actually belong on the same pitch as the other top teams, which is more than can be said for us recently.

    Anyway, my point is not to praise a team for which I have zero personal affection. My point is that, even though many of our players have significant weaknesses which make it seem like a near impossible task for us to find the perfect balance whereby teammates cover for each others’ weaknesses, I feel like really good tactical preparation, and a coherent, well-drilled style of play, can make up for individual deficiencies as much as finding “partnerships” can. E.g. of course Ramsey and Coquelin have a problem building possession from the back (one reason why they’re not making it into that Bayern side any time soon), but, rather than needing to surround them with lots of tidy technical players every time they’re on the pitch, or just deciding to sell them at the first opportunity (not against this solution, for the record), another solution is to play a high pressing game which somewhat diminishes the need for the kind of composure and skill on the ball that you need in order to build up from the back (my point here is not to argue for a high press per se, it’s just an example).

    All this yet again reflects poorly on Arsene’s management and on our current players’ attitude/application/mentality, two explanations that I hate to bring up, because my natural inclination is always to want to defend AW, and because I’ve always found the latter sort of explanation for why a football team is struggling to be simplistic and tedious. But there we go. It feels like that’s where we are with Arsenal at this point.

      1. But I regularly criticize him on this blog and say I think he should step down. I like the guy, but I think he isn’t doing a very good job.
        You have a problem with that? You have an articulate critique of my position, or do you just like posting obnoxious responses to others’ opinions?

        1. ‘But I regularly criticize him on this blog’
          No you don’t.Atleast not regularly.Your default position is,as you yourself stated,to defend Arsene Wenger.Most of your ‘opinions’ start from this basic standpoint.
          I do find it strange that as a fan of a football club,you would still want to back a manager who has clearly been holding the club back due to his ego,and who has nothing but contempt for fans and their opinions and wishes.
          Most managers in world football would have been sacked after the summer fiascos of 2011 and 2012.It is because too many of the fans (and presumably the board) have this strange personal loyalty to the manager that he has lasted this long. It’s hard to believe but there are still plenty of fans out there who still believe Arsene Wenger should be given a new deal.

          1. Don’t presume to tell me what I regularly do or don’t do. And don’t presume to inform us how Arsene Wenger feels towards the fans (it’s his internal mental life, not yours).
            I have often said I like Arsene and have spoken up in defense of him with respect to particular criticisms. I have also regularly criticized his management, said the buck stops with him for our unacceptable performances, and stated I think he should leave.
            Only small-minded people could fail to conceive how one could think all of that at the same time. Life and football are complicated, and require nuance, as staggering as that might be for you to comprehend.

    1. I agree that these players are generally good enough. Perhaps not in midfield, as is becoming evident, but everywhere else.

  8. In goal, Neuer is the obvious choice over Cech or Ospina. At rightback, Lahm is smarter than Bellerin and he can play as a central midfielder, too. Assuming Lahm retires, it would be very close between Kimmich and Bellerin. At leftback, Alaba has more pace than Monreal and is more sound defensively than Gibbs. At centerback, Hummels is better than Koscielny and Mustafi. However, I would take Koscielny over Martinez or Boateng. Boateng is out of shape and Martinez is not a natural tackler. In central midfield, I’d take Xabi Alonso over Xhaka as a deep-lying playmaker. Xabi Alonso is old but still more influential than Xhaka. If the choice was between a fit Cazorla and Xabi Alonso, I’d take Cazorla. For the other central midfielder, Vidal is simply better than Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Elneny. For midfield backups, I’d prefer Kimmich and Sanches to Coquelin, Ox and Elneny. In the playmaking role, I’d take Alcantara over Ozil because of the work-rate. On the right wing, I’d take Robben or Muller over Walcott or Ox because of consistency. On the left wing, I’d take Sanchez over Ribery or Douglas Costa. Up front, I’d prefer Lewandowski to Giroud, Welbeck or even Sanchez. To sum up, only Sanchez and Koscielny would be in a Bayern starting lineup this season.

    1. I’m sorry, did you say Martinez is not a natural tackler? I think you need to watch some actual games. Boateng has been injured for most if this season but he was a bit out of form earlier on, but he has still been one of the best central defenders for the past 5 years.

      The reason why Sanchez wouldn’t get into this Bayern team is because he does what he wants and leaves the team exposed. He’s a good player, no doubt about it, but his team play and attitude leaves alot to be desired.

      1. “I’m sorry, did you say Martinez is not a natural tackler? I think you need to watch some actual games.” I watched Martinez at Athletic Bilbao where he played as a central midfielder. Martinez can tackle but he doesn’t have Koscielny’s defensive instincts. And while he’s more comfortable on the ball than Koscielny, he also lacks a bit of pace. I also watched the Spanish national team, where Martinez is a second choice behind Ramos and Pique while Koscielny is the cornerstone of the France defense that reached the Euro 2016 final. Just sayin’.

  9. I’d say Alexis, Ozil and Bellerin as well.
    But watching Clichy today made me realise that I can’t remember more than a couple of Arsenal players that when they left the club, managed to thrive elsewhere.
    Apart from that one season Van Persie had at ManU and Cesc at the beginning when he signed for Chelsea, all others I can remember were probably highly average.
    I’m still trying to figure out what this means. Is it that Wenger made them better than they actually are, or we are just not so objective and tend to overvalue them just because they play for the club we love?

    I mean, Koscielny is the best Arsenal defender in the last 10 years, perhaps even more. At PSG he probably wouldn’t be this Steely Eyes Defending Machine as some of us see him, but just your solid centre back who I’m not even sure would start every single game.

    So, yeah, none bar Alexis and Ozil would walk into any other team, and that is why these two probably will.

  10. I was talking about this before the Bayern match and was told by some that this is the best squad since the Invincibles and that all our failures are down to Wenger’s mismanagement. I would agree that right now they are less than the sum of their parts and Wenger has to take blame for that, but I would once again reinforce that this squad is not even on the same planet as Bayern’s. From top to bottom, goalkeeper to center forward they are better and/or deeper in every position. They are that way because they’ve done a great job of buying, retaining, and developing players and I give full credit to them for that.

    1. I would agree with those saying that it is the best since the Invincibles, because really I believe that we have a lot of good and talented players. Perhaps this Bayern exercise tends to portray them as worse than they actually are, but we are comparing Arsenal to Bayern.
      If we did the same thing with Chelsea and Bayern, the results would probably be more or less the same, with Chelsea perhaps having three players in the German squad as well, but they are 19 points ahead of us in the League.

      And if we compare ours to that of Chelsea, or City, or even Spurs, I would say quality wise we are better than them, and probably this is where the mismanagement thinking comes into.

    2. I’ve been banging this drum, and I’ll continue to. Recruitment. What is the point of Welbeck, Giroud AND Perez? Elneny, Wilshere, AND Coquelin? We buy/nurture average. Have been doing that for a number of seasons now. It’s caught up with us. Who’s our centre forward, btw? Yesterday it was Welbeck. This past year and bit it’s been Walcott, Sanchez and Giroud. Anyone else remember Arsene comparing Sanchez to Suarez? Thought you might’nt.

  11. I would take Lewandowski or Muller over any forward in a current Arsenal shirt any day, all-day.

  12. Far more pertinent to play this game vs. Chelsea’s squad and our other top 4 rivals.

    Cech vs.

    Bellerin vs.

    Mustafi vs.

    Kos vs.
    Cahill-Ragnar the Viking-Aldelweireld-Otamendi-Smalling

    Monreal vs.


    We don’t even know what out best midfield is, so it’s almost pointless to compare, but I’ll try anyway. I picked the player on the opposite teams who is the most comparable in the same position.

    Xhaka (enganche) vs.

    Ramsey or Ox or Cazorla (shuttler) vs.

    Ozil (maestro) vs.


    Again, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ who is our best forward line? or even just CF? Loose but important distinctions between positions here mean there are no pure comparisons. Ibra is both a CF and maestro, which is why he is so specia, Alexis is a bit of everything, Aguero is an IF deployed in the CF position and so on.

    Giroud or Welbeck (center forward) vs.

    Walcott or Alexis (inside forward) vs.

    Iwobi/Ox/Alexis (winger) vs.

    Insert/remove a few players here and there if you want, but what jumps out at me when I look at this:
    1) We don’t know what our best team is after the back 5
    2) The players we have are a reasonable comparison to the players our opponents have. No clear advantage for any of the clubs in terms of pure talent.
    3) Most of our rivals have gone away from a back 4; way I see it we are the only ones still playing a back 4 consistently.
    4) Most of our rivals don’t use a pure CF; the only other plodder besides Giroud is Ibra and he’s a short term rental who doesn’t play like a typical CF. Kane and Costa are more typical but also more talented and much more often fit than Danny Welbeck.
    5) We are definitely the only one who accommodates a maestro in a central role.

    Thanks for reading.

    1. Really interesting comment. I definitely won’t do it justice by responding to everything, but some quick initial thoughts:

      1. Totally agree about not knowing our best lineup, and this to me is partly down to our horrendous injury record but mostly down to Wenger not being ruthless, single-minded, or whatever, enough. We’ve got lots of nearly players, yes, but honestly (and this was the point I was trying to make in my comment above about Liverpool), I think at other clubs under other managers, many of these same players would finally make the step up and reach their potential. Other managers would give them much more tough love, and there would be more of a sense that if they didn’t perform they’d be sold. But other managers would also give them a clearer playing philosophy and clearer instructions of what they needed to improve on if they were going to make it within said philosophy. Of course our players should take a lot of the blame for not stepping up when given their chance, but ultimately the buck stops with Wenger. (Maybe I’m wrong about much of the above–it’s obviously speculation–and maybe Arsene’s training and prepping the team and individual players is brilliant, but ultimately the proof is in the pudding, and the team just hasn’t been performing for him, except in rare spells, for a long time now.)

      2. As I said in my long post above, I think there’s a case that United/City/Chelsea have stronger starting elevens than ours, but probably not deeper squads (ClaudeIvan surely has a point about our squad having more quantity than quality, but it’s still a bloody good squad), and surely Liverpool and Spurs do not have better teams or squads, and arguably theirs are worse.

      3. Liverpool almost always play a back four, yes? How often has Mourinho moved away from it this season? My guess is (not having watched most of their games) that it’s only when playing another big team, and maybe only when playing Chelsea or another back three team, that he switches to a back three.

  13. Looking at the 1st and 3rd West Brom goals, it’s evident that Ramsey doesn’t have a defensive bone left in his body.

  14. Wenger is going to sign another contract. Honestly, it hurts to watch. The poor, stubborn, lovable, deluded man thinks he can turn this around, all the while making the same decisions about the squad and tactics year after year after year. More pain lies ahead, I’m afraid.

  15. boys, we’re all upset about the state of affairs at our beloved club but come on.

    koscielny all day every day. no way any of the bayern central defenders are better defenders than the boss. as a dortmund fan who’s watched hummels play for many years, mats might be better on the ball than laurent but only just; certainly not enough to drop koscielny. hummels is clearly a better leader but koscielny absolutely dominates in every other category. unless my team is leaderless, like arsenal, no way i’m dropping koscielny for hummels. we saw how sensational boateng was during his man city time. for me, koscielny easily gets into this team.

    if you had alexis on your roster, would you really start ribery, muller, or roben over him? “not i”, said the joshuad. those players are good but alexis is a freaking alien. once again, easy.

    if mesut ozil is on the fc bayern roster, they would make room for him to play, especially with him being german. he’s way too good to not play. this may not be as easy a call as the other two but it’s difficult to bench someone with ozil’s talent. do you know how many goals he could create for bayern with lewandowski leading that attack?

  16. One of the reasons why we are behind clubs like Bayern is that one of Wenger’s key competitive advantages, finding diamonds in the rough, has been slowly whittled away as other teams have stepped up their scouting game and asset price inflation has pushed the price of prospects into the stratosphere.

    Wenger’s previous homeruns include buying RVP 4M, Lehman 3M, Cesc 3M. Prospects of that quality are already discovered now and cost 30M or more.

    How many times have we been linked to players who ‘are not the finished product’ but still command 30M price tags? Greizeman, Draxler, Gabriel Jesus immediately come to mind. In the end Arsene manages transfers like it’s his own money and doesn’t seem willing to make very risky 30M bets on unproven talent. This isn’t necessarily wrong, as we’re not likely to get bailed out by our owner if we make a series of bad 30M bets. But we miss out on the best of the young talent. So instead of moulding top prospects we rely on Tier 1b prospects or second tier prospects, who still cost a fortune. To make do we try and find speculative/under the radar third tier prospects like Asano and Holding. Or buy nearly finished Tier 1b/2 players like Moustafi and Xhaka. Our only truly world class players are cast offs from the two very best teams in the world.

    One of Bayern’s big advantages is that they have superior knowledge and drawing power in a superior, more skilled, deeper domestic league. You can see this in the Germanic stars who came out of Bayern’s youth system (Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Hummels*, Kroos, Muller, Alaba**) versus our English product (Wilshire, Gibbs, Jenkinson). Our best academy products were poached from other footballing nations (Szczesny, Coquelin, Gnabry, Iwobi and Bellerin)

    Bayern has an additional advantage of being a mature team that hasn’t had to dip into the completely crazy transfer market of the past few years to buy Tier 1 talent. Ribery has been there 10 years, Robben 8 years, Neuer 6 years, Thiago 5 years and Lewandowski 4 years. Trying to replace those players on a budget will be extremely challenging for them. Although Sanches and Costa are very good, we’ll see if they will live up to Robben and Ribery and become the type of player who can take over a match. Higuain gives you an idea of what buying a top striker like Lewandowski would have cost if he hadn’t come on a Bosman.

    Finally, and I hate to beat the dead horse. We have been a selling club until 2013. If you look back at our net spend over the past 10 years (since Robben) Bayern has outspent us by 58%, 273M to 173M. If you look back 6 years (since Neuer), we’ve exceeded their net by 11% 203M to their 183M, but we didn’t catch up to them until this year. If you stopped in the 2015 window they’re still far ahead, outspending us by 47% or 54M. If you add in that they got Lewandowski on a free even though he was worth a conservative 44M then the gulf between the clubs opens up even more.

    The bottom line is that just like the scoreline shows, we have a ways to go before we truly catch up to Bayern and it’s going to take another couple of boatloads of money to add the necessary quality to our squad.

    *Debuted in 06, loaned to Dortmund 07, sold in 09 and bought back in 16.
    **yeah I know he’s from Austria. I said German-ic.
    All prices in pounds converted at current exchange rates.
    All data from Transfermarkt, spreadsheets on request.

    1. I agree with your assessment wholeheartedly on how the changes in the transfer market and scouting have shifted our recruitment policy. But do you think that to at least some extent Wenger has lost a little bit of the pull he once had with these younger prospects? Who was the last highly touted youngster Wenger brought into the club – Nasri or maybe the Ox perhaps?

      For example it was hardly the fee for Ousmane Dembele that prohibited that transfer (a paltry £12m considering his talent) but rather he merely felt his development would be better served at Dortmund under Tuchel. Has Wenger lost his touch in the transfer market? Has his reputation for nurturing talent so far diminished? Either way it seems we’re stuck in this middle ground, where we no longer attract the young up-and-coming stars let alone the established ones. When we do happen upon a rare castaway star from Barca/Real we then surround them with mostly mediocre talent and are thus a gulf apart from the complete squads possessed by the Bayerns and Madrids that challenge for European trophies. Which then begs the question, how do we bridge that gap?

      1. I agree, but I think there’s a bit more to recent transfers of talented young players than just where they think they’ll best develop (e.g. Dembele), namely the influence of agents. My sense is a lot of agents don’t really like Arsenal, because we don’t play their games. Of course, the end result is the same as you mention: we’ve lost our ability to draw these sorts of players. And our recent trouble with getting the best out of the likes of the Ox, Ramsey, Wilshere, etc, probably won’t help matters going forward.

        1. I guess in the end it just comes back to what’s economical and being beholden to the ridiculous demands of modern football agents certainly isn’t. In principle I’m inclined to agree with the club’s stance on this, but it’s tough though as it often precludes us from acquiring a whole tier of talent.

      2. Excellent points.

        Personally, I think a young player who chooses Dortmund over Arsenal is making an excellent choice. They play in an excellent high skill and well refereed league that does not tolerate, much less celebrate, the skulldudgery that the prem is known for. I don’t know what their media is like, but I find it hard to imagine it is nearly as unfair or malevolent as our own. The salaries aren’t as high, but you’re given a chance not just to play, but also develop and prove yourself.

        Furthermore, unlike Porto or Benfica, Dortmund seems to be willing to sell their players on at a high but reasonable price.

        Is Tuchel/Dortmund-Klopp better at developing young talent than Wenger? Hard to tell. Part of it is undoubtedly the superior German youth system. Maybe they have a better scouting system too. But you could figure it out by looking at changes in market value or Squawka/Whoscored performance numbers.

        Ah the agents. I often wonder how much remaining honorable and ethical has cost us. What would you be willing to do in order to have a chance at winning? Bribe an agent? Bribe an official? Pay off a team to lose without a fight? Engage in child trafficking? A little light slavery? All interesting questions that others have finessed and Arsene has said no to. Honestly, I’d rather lose with my honor intact.

  17. I will get some stick for this, but I have said for a very long time Koscielny is one of, if not THE best CB in Europe. Our side collapses without him in the backline (both Bayern matches). He wasn’t great against WBA the other day, but even the best can have a bad day. I think he would make it into the Bayern side, at the very least as their third choice CB behind Hummels and Boateng… until he established himself and became an undroppable first choice, like he has now down with France.

  18. A squad overhaul would be great, if you can spend insane levels of money to do it. But like most other clubs in the world, aspirations have to be tempered with reality. We all want to get to Munich’s level. We’re not going to manage it in one big revamp and we don’t have the funding to do that anyway. Spend 300m in one window, maybe we can do it once. But that is a huge risk. You may have a chance to jump up to Bayern’s level, but you could also bottom out for a longer period with the latter being more likely in my opinion. I don’t think the board takes that risk. More likely is spending around 100m every year and hope to catch up eventually. (Unless there is a great ‘draft class’ available. Then you go all in)

    Claude is right that we have quantity over quality. What I don’t agree with is that this is poor in itself. A lot of our players are here as a legacy of our days of being a selling club, and our newer purchases are often because we couldn’t buy the player we wanted to and had to settle for buying lesser players. I remember when the criticism was to buy someone anyone, rather than no one if we couldn’t get the ideal candidate. We’ve moved on to buying decent to good players to fill out our squad. Nothing inherently wrong with that.

    But what it does mean is that we have to be ruthless with players we already have. I think this has to happen anyway now that we (will) have more than the prescribed 25 man squad. But to buy better players and pay them comes down to money, and to get the most out of them comes down to the manager.

    1. Funds is only one aspect of team building. Another is to have it in you to “kill” a player when a better player becomes available at a price you can afford.
      Kante the latest example. Wenger has been watching him for years and years and by his own admission he’s been a big fan.
      Unable to pull the trigger before Leicester did at a price and wages comparable to Coquelin’s.
      Kante, who by many neutral observers , has been the most valuable player this season , just as he was the last.

      Unwavering loyalty is Arsene Wenger’s greatest attribute , and according to some of his ex players , his worst undoing.

      1. That’s why I mentioned ruthlessness.

        Yes on Kante. I don’t disagree. But you also have to acknowledge that he may not have been as good or ready to step up if he hadn’t gone to Leicester and played there. I think Tim even wrote an article about it (Vardy and Mahrez) and why Arsenal may not be able to take that risk. Though I could be wrong about this.

        Also this season, when Kante moved, claudeivan was adamant we should get him. He was right in hindsight. I just thought we had other priority positions. But that said, apparently Wenger did try to sign Naby Keita. I don’t know if that was before or after buying Xhaka, or indeed if he tried for Kante this summer only to lose out to Chelsea.

        While I agree Wenger takes his faith in players to almost an extreme, I think that affects more his team selection rather than recruitment. I think if Wenger believes a player who is available and attainable, is clearly better than a first team player, he would buy him.

        That ‘killing’ quote was from a different era. But that is what makes any sweeping statements about Wenger’s ‘idiosyncrasies’ so difficult. His longevity and the vastly changed environment of the club and the league make it hard to clearly demarcate between pragmatism and philosophy.

  19. By the way, just as out of curiosity. Since I used the term draft class above, how do we feel about tanking? Dropping out of Europe altogether to go for a focused run on the title next year? It probably makes it harder/more expensive to recruit/retain top players though.

    Personally I would never agree to intentionally drop down the table, but I have heard it suggested, since people think top 4 is not going to happen anyway.

    1. No, we shoudn’t. Play Europa, and try to win it. Trust me, the fans will take anytrophy. And Europa just happens to be a European one 🙂 Lemonade from lemons. We may not be of Champions League winner calibre, but we are fully capable of winning Europa.

      1. Great point. And then instant champs league qualification, which in this increasingly competitive PL environment, is nothing to be sniffed at.

  20. While I understand comparing Arsenal to Bayern, I feel like if we’re going to measure our success by how many players we have that would get in their team I don’t think that comparison is ever going to be kind to us (would love to be wrong).

    Like if we had say 6 players really good enough and consistent enough to walk onto Bayerns team do people really think we could hold onto them and keep them from going to Bayern or Barcelona or Real given the opportunity an money available for those teams? I’m not trying to be defeatist or make excuses honestly it’s a genuine question.

    And I don’t want to deflect blame onto other teams at all but if we apply the same measurement to say a team like Man City or even Chelsea how many of their players would walk onto the Bayern team? 5 or 6? I don’t know. I guess while it’s good to aim high I don’t think there’s many teams that will do well if the question is going to be how many players on the team would walk onto the Bayern team.

    Out of curiosity what would people consider an acceptable number for Arsenal? 6 or 7? More?

    Do people think we’re a club capable of having 7 or 8 world class players good enough to walk onto a team like Bayern and still be able to hold onto them in today’s market?

    Not trying to make excuses or anything. I’m just curious.

  21. Claudeivan said I should have watch the end of the WBA debacle to see which players were up for a fight.
    Sanchez will now miss several weeks following that ‘red card’ McLean tackle and now we will all see whether the team is up for the fight without their talisman.
    Right now, I say we drop Mustafi, Ramsey and Ospina because the way they played at WBA, they wouldn’t get into the BM ‘Z’ team.
    Even better would be to start the Arsenal Ladies because they don’t find the shirt too heavy.

    1. I think he’s got potential to be a really good player, but right now I think I agree with dropping Mustafi. Bring back Per. The defense can’t get any worse, and it might benefit from his aerial ability, his calmness, his organizational skills, etc. Yes, he’s slow as an ox and obviously not a longterm solution, but we managed to look like a fairly stingy defensive unit (and Koscielny was at his best) for a decent chunk of the time he was a regular in the side.

  22. To Tims question my answer is none of our players would start for Bayern. Sanchez would be in the match day squad but we all know how much he likes sitting on the bench and Kos and Cazorla and Ozil at their best could find a place on the pine too. And it’s a resounding yes to the rhetorical question of the squad needing a rebuild. across the top 6 sides in the EPL I think we come off 4th best when playing the match up player for player game. 3rd best isn’t too far off but 1 and 2 are a lot of investment away.
    Bayern are light years away and only worth the comparison because of silly comments made by Ivan years ago that were hard to believe then and in hindsight are just ridiculous. We are going to stay 4th best as far as resources go in the EPL for the foreseeable future. Bayern get the pick of German talent and we get the 4th look in at English talent with heavy competition also coming from Liverpool and Spurs. It’s going to take Chelsea or City like spending to get anywhere near Bayern and then still some incredible recruiting to pad out the squad with enough homegrown talent. With our business model it’s going to have to be superlative recruitment all around plus superior coaching than the top 3 resourced teams to challenge for the title again. Not impossible but not as simple as a change in manager, a better squad will certainly be needed too and without mega-spending that will take time and be a massive challenge.

  23. A bit unfair to draw these comparisons at a time when Arsenal players experience their biggest slump in form. Also a bit unfair to compare them to players in another league, under managers like Heynckes, Guardiola and Ancelotti, who are all well equipped to deal with big personality players , unlike Wenger.

    Does anyone believe Sanchez would’ve been the same patulant player he’s been under Wenger, dictating his terms , under any of the aforementioned three?

    Fabregas, Henry and recently Galas have all stated the vast difrences between managers like Guardiola and Mourinho in practice preparations when compared to Wenger’s.
    The attention to detail, the intensity and execution ( and you can include Conte in this) are simply far superior to what Wenger demands from his players and it shows on game days.

    The Arsene Wenger way of letting players express themselves and work things out on their own has been proven inferior to the hands on management style of other top managers.

    Until you see our players being managed by the sort of coaches Bayern players have been managed in the last four to five seasons, the only thing we can compare are their technical and physical capabilities.

    1. Totally agree. Even when it comes to technical abilities, I would say there is a case to be made that our players haven’t developed well technically under Wenger. Theo and Ox are prime examples here. They don’t pass well and when they dribble, they don’t look up. It’s telling that our best technical players in recent years like Bellerin, Cesc , RVP all developed their technical skills elsewhere. I used to think Wenger was a great technical coach but over the last few seasons I have come to realize his technical coaching isn’t perhaps as good as I once thought.

    2. Is that Mourinho the one trick (plenty of kicks) pony and Guardiola the Micro-Manager of Tactical Soup that have the mighty Manchester Clubs in a race for the 4th place trophy that you refer to as examples showing far superior results? What an underwhelming lot to have above you!
      (playing just a little here so don’t get upset but I do believe we would need a lot better management than either of those guys can provide with our squad to see a title challenge)

  24. No worries, I don’t get upset that easy pal.
    Yea, it’s the same Mourinho, Arsene Wenger hasn’t beaten in a competitive game in 13 tries.
    And yea, it’s the same Guardiola who’s record against Wenger is 9 played , 5 wins, 2 draws, 2 loses.

    Both of whom are above Wenger in the tables in their first season at new clubs.

    And just in case you are thinking about coming back at me with the net spend by both aforementioned managers that should justify Wenger’s losing records against them, allow me to cite Klopp’s record against them which is a winning one.

    The only reason I didn’t bring him up in my earlier post was because there were no players crossing over
    from Wenger to Klopp or vice versa.

  25. I wonder if one of the biggest problems with almost all our players is consistency. We’ve a lot of players who can be very very good on occasion but very few who seem able to string together a really significant run of impressive performances.

  26. Everybody blames the defenders for the defensive problems. The biggest problem is that the team doesn’t defend from the front. Every other major side closes down sides with tremendous energy. But Arsenal (or should I say, Wenger) isn’t interested in the whole pressing business. His philosophy is: they can have the ball and then we can have the ball. Less technical teams like West Brom shouldn’t be allowed to breathe. But the team just backs off.

  27. “Less technical teams like West Brom shouldn’t be allowed to breathe. But the team just backs off.”
    Though, to be fair, every once and a while Wenger does decide we’re going to press, and it generally works pretty well. And it’s not just about pressing. We don’t exactly look good in a low block these days either. As GNev likes to say, “Arsenal let you play.” Our team defense has been pretty atrocious all season. We’ve had spells over the last few years where we’ve looked much more solid defensively, but those usually coincide with us not being able to score…

    1. As I’ve said on here a bunch before, I think the 4-3-3 with Ozil moved to the forward line has promise, and Xhaka-Ox-Ramsey is probably as good a midfield trio as we currently have to implement that formation (excluding Cazorla), but until Ox and Ramsey learn to harry opponents (and then move the ball) with even a fraction of the intelligence and relentless intensity of Lallana and Winaldum, we’ve got no chance, as Xhaka is hardly Kante when it comes to providing defensive cover. He’s a good player but he needs lots of help from his midfield partners. Ox and Ramsey were poor both on defense and attack on Saturday. Especially with our fullbacks bombing forward all the time, our defense is going to get repeatedly exposed to the counterattack unless our midfield trio can find the right balance between going forward and working to win the ball back.

  28. A couple of points-

    Need to change the formation up asap. The BFG goes straight in, with anyone else who can be bothered to play D, and that means no F’n 4-3-3. that crap has got to stop. And get Mesut back in with Elneny to control the ball and create.
    just my lousy one cent.

  29. with all this talk about who’s good enough to get into the fc bayern team, i have a question. what does it mean to be good enough? more specifically, what does it mean to be a good player?

    this is a question i’ve asked the players i coach. they’re u19 so they’re intelligent young men in high school and a handful of college freshmen. long story interesting, i went on to clearly demarcate the difference between being a talented player and being a good player. one is based on technical skill and the other on tactical skill. i also added that those qualities manage to be both mutually exclusive and not; exclusive in that they’re clearly different skill sets and not because if you’re not good at one, no one cares how good you are at the other (at the elite level).

    arsenal have talented players but do they have good players? ramsey, hector, ozil, walcott, koscielny, sanchez, xhaka? are they good players? i recall having a discussion a few weeks back about how vermaelen is, arguably, arsenal’s most talented central defender ever but is he arsenal’s best central defender ever? could it be that because he was so weak tactically, no one cared about how talented he was? few would argue that arsenal miss cazorla right now but is it because of his obvious technical brilliance or his tactical responsibility? mertesacker is notoriously slow so why does he not get caught out five times a game due to his lack of speed?

    again, what does it mean to be a good player? why is it that arsenal don’t seem to have players good enough to play for fc bayern? is it on the players to become good for the sake of their careers or the manager? what does it mean to be a good player?

    1. Players now days have to be both. At the level of Bayern, Barcelona, Real Madrid, you can’t have players who aren’t well trained in tactics and also technically superior.

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