Sell Alexis, fire Dean

Good morning gang.

Another day in the “festive” schedule and another day that Tim has to collect stats from 5 matches. Man, this December has been crazy and I feel like I’ve been doing nothing but collecting shots stats non-stop for a month. I’m actually looking forward to a break from this and I get one after the match on Wednesday – Arsenal play Nottingham Forest and Chelsea in the FA Cup and League Cup and get two weeks off from the Premier League. Well, 11 days off anyway.

Yesterday we saw Mike Dean take two points from Arsenal and after the match Petr Cech confronted the referee. Cech didn’t curse Dean out, he didn’t call him names, he simply asked why the penalty was given. Cech asked Dean to explain why it is that the Premier League sends referees to tell players (they have a pre-season meeting with the refs) how they are going to interpret the laws of the game and that the referees specifically say that when the ball is that close they will not call handball. Mike Dean’s response was to give Cech a yellow card.

I love the imagery of pure impotence there from Dean. Dean can’t answer, won’t answer, and is offended by the question. He can’t really do anything but issue a yellow card. It reminds me of the very first episode of Red Dwarf where Lister and Rimmer are doing their duties and Rimmer writes Lister up for insubordination because he wouldn’t stop whistling, clicking, and making noises. Mike Dean is the Arnold Rimmer of referees.

But we know Dean is biased against Arsenal. I have proven it I think at least 6 times. How is he allowed to referee Arsenal matches?

One other weird thing is how Arsenal supporters are saying “we should beat teams like West Brom by more than 1 goal”? I get the complaint that our attack isn’t good enough – it really isn’t, it’s one of the worst of the top six in terms of conversion – but I don’t understand that thought process. I remember a match against Newcastle where Arsenal scored 4 goals and the referee made two completely insane penalty calls against Arsenal. Should Arsenal have scored 5 in that game?

The other problem with this so called argument is that it just accepts that Arsenal should have to play against 12 men. I understand where this impulse comes from, I feel it myself sometimes, but I have a hard time getting behind it today, after getting Deaned.

And then one last thing. I have been in the “sell Alexis” camp since this summer. I love the guy for his tenacity and I understand why some people are afraid to sell him but here are the main reasons to sell:

1. Our defense isn’t good enough to make top four.
2. Our offense isn’t good enough to make top four and he’s on the team, in fact he’s the entire focus of the offense.
3. If we are keeping Alexis for the money we are(n’t) going to get for top four then we should sell him for that amount.
4. I’m not convinced that the “prestige” of Champions League is much of a factor in getting players to Arsenal. We have consistently struggled to get players in regardless of whether we have Champions League or not. But this is an uncertain promise.
5. A bird in hand: if Arsenal can get £35-50m for him it’s worth more than the prospect of perhaps getting such and such from him IF he plays well.
6. The theory that he’s going to help us win something hinges almost entirely on him giving 100%. Can you honestly say he’s done that so far this season?
7. Wenger’s teams have averaged 72 goals a season over his career. Arsenal are on pace to score 69 goals this season. Since Alexis signed for Arsenal they have had just one above average season – 2016/17 when Arsenal scored 77 goals – and the other three seasons since Alexis signed, Arsenal have scored 71, 65, and this season we are projected to score 69. This is an Arsenal team which abandons midfield routinely BECAUSE the attack is so poor. This is a team where Wenger demands both fullbacks to stream forward at will because the attack is so bad. And a team where at least four players are absolved of defensive duties in order to focus on attack. This is a team which is geared toward attack and yet, isn’t a great attacking team. So, I don’t think there’s any evidence to support the idea that Alexis improves Arsenal’s attack. Whether that’s the manager’s fault (it is) or the player’s (it is – it’s both) is irrelevant. The point is that Arsenal’s attack has not been improved with Alexis.
8. Ozil is the endgame: getting Champions League is supposed to help Arsenal keep Ozil. Ehhh… Maybe. That’s such a weird thing to bank on because Ozil, who is the single most talented player at Arsenal since Fabregas, isn’t the be-all end all of the team. This team needs a massive overhaul: we need a Cazorla, a center back, another left back, a keeper, and a replacement for Alexis. Obviously, losing Ozil would be yet another blow and would require replacement adding further burden to the club but why would Ozil stay unless we get Champions League (see #1 and 2) AND ALSO replace all the parts that need replacing?

So, do you keep Alexis? Just because he “wins us games”? Or because you think he MAY help Arsenal get to 4th place this season and that MIGHT pay out with slightly cheaper buys next season or MAY help Arsenal hold on to Ozil in the summer?

Me? I’m in favor of starting over: new manager, new players, thanks. I think Wenger is gone this summer anyway, so I’d love to see the clear out start now.



  1. I guess if you’re an Arsenal supporter Getting Deaned has always been a thing. But now it has a name. Happy New one and all.

    My wish is that in our personal lives we all avoid Getting Deaned in 2018.

  2. Bang on about Alexis – sell the man and take the money, all day and every day.
    Totally agree with all your arguments. Super talented tho’ he is, he’s now just disruptive, his very presence indicating our transfer ineptitude and denial about our decline.
    He wants out – let’s accept reality and move on: selling him will force the club to focus on the future and address the various deficiencies you’ve so accurately detailed.

    Re Dean, VAR would make the issue academic. It would improve the game, improve the spectator experience and remove any potential for bias. The Premier League are behind the curve here.

    1. I’ve seen 20 years of American team sports adding their versions of VAR. Its just about ruined the spectator experience for American Football – after every big play you have to wait to really celebrate because all scoring plays and change of possession plays are reviewed. Then, once they’re reviewed, you get a completely arbitrary decision that is usually left unexplained and then you get a bunch of retired referees on Twitter and television saying the call was wrong. Its a horrendous experience.

      Granted, the NFL is an overly officious game to begin with but it’s hardly any more fun in the NBA or NHL, which are more similar, faster paced games.. When replay first became discussed, I was heavily in favor of it being used more and more. At this point, I’d rather take some bad decisions while keeping a more watchable product.

      1. The tech can be sparingly applied. Cricket and tennis give each side a finite number of appeals, and the flow of the game barely suffers, especially in tennis. I don’t know what’s so sacrosanct about the flow of football. I’d rather the game slowed to get more decisions right. Even better if the teams have, say, two reviews a game each.

        No, they do not even themselves out in the end. Ask Alex Ferguson.

        1. The flow of football is one of the more distinguishing features of the game. This is the reason that I didn’t mention baseball above, where replay seems to work just fine.

          1. I’d like Arsenal to manage its financial affairs wisely, of course, but I’m a football fan first. I don’t see the sense, footballing or financial, in selling him now. True, he’s underperforming. But an underperforming Sanchez is a lot more effective than, say, a fully switched-on Iwobi. We decide to keep him, and what’s he going to do? Sleepwalk the second half? Don’t think so. Silly, vanDijkian money, ok. I’d relent. No other way. Cut price mid season? Go jump off a cliff, Mr Oil Shiekh.

            Honestly I’d not have minded if we’d made a firm, decisive decision in the summer to (a) sell him EARLY AND QUICKLY IN THE WINDOW, and (b) make an endgame move for Lemar, his replacement, early and quickly in the window. Now sell him to City, and we are basically telling them that we are solving their Gabriel Jesus injury problem. As much as we have fallen as a club, we shouldn’t be helping them so obviously. Unless we deviously want a City with Alexis to be more certain of taking points from our rivals!

            A mopey Alexis will still get us goals and create goals.

          2. Claude’s right: of course in a perfect world all decisions would be made correctly by officials the first time, but if you gave each team say 2 challenges per game, that could hardly ruin the flow over most of the 90 minutes. No other sport has so many games decided (ruined) by bad calls, and something should be done.

          3. “The flow of football is one of the more distinguishing features of the game. ”
            That’s a myth. You only have 50 to 60 minutes of effective play, not 90 minutes. A goalkeeper can waste 30 seconds with every goal kick. In the West Brom game, there was one full minute between the moment Dean awarded the penalty and the moment Rodriguez took the spot kick because players surrounded the referee and argued. If you watch rugby, VAR can be smooth and players even stop complaining because the assistant referee reviewing the play is not on the field.

        2. Yep, cricket style reviews make sense.Limit the number of calls to 2.
          Leave call for review to Captain on the pitch, he will discuss it with the player concerned/nearby.
          If it’s as obvious as last game, player will certainly ask for review.
          Fear of exhausting the reviews will force the player to think twice before asking. This helps in maintaining the flow of game.

      2. I think the better comparison would be with rugby. A game where the clock is more important even though the game is largely free flowing (Penalties excepted)

        It seems to work well enough there, with every score looked at to confirm (sometimes this just takes seconds) and dangerous tackles being called to attention by the video ref as well. Another good thing about rugby is that the ref has the mic on for the public and we hear what he says to the players or his assistants. No reason football can’t do that if they want to.

        VAR won’t be a panacea because you are still relying on the same refs to make the decision. It will take away their excuse for only seeing it once or from an inconvenient angle. It should ideally, also force a conversation on what is and what is not a foul in the public domain rather than in the shadows. They should put up video examples for the public, like the NBA does. The NBA still gets stuff wrong and people still accuse them of bias or bending the rules for money, but at least they don’t just act like Mike Dean and completely abuse their power.

  3. Yes, I too found it a weird line of argument, especially from this blog’s comment community, that Dean f***** us, but we didn’t play well anyway. Those are two separate issues, and yes, we deserved all 3 points. We play well and draw games we should have won on the balance of play. I watched the game between Newcastle and City, the new flavour of the season. City were outplayed by Newcastle at times. Pep’s players wasted much time, and at least a minute and a half of the 4 added on, yet Andre Marriner didn’t play a second more. I can assure you that he wouldn’t have done that had the situation been reversed. Sterling scored a 96th minute winner, with 4 added on against Southampton. The point is we shouldn’t conflate refs’ performances and playing well.

    Back to Dean, I’ve seen (lip read) Wayne Rooney swearing at Dean and he did nothing. I’ve also lip read Dean telling Cesc FAbregas “I am the referee”, when Cesc, then Arsenal captain, asked him why he’d made a contentious decision. Dean is what friends in club going days used to call a “clipboard nazi”.

    It was a ridiculous decision. Dean was also the a/h who banished Wenger from the touchline for kicking a water bottle.

  4. Keep or sell, i only hope we figure out what we are and replace with players who have strong technical ability, drive and determination within the framework of an organised team formation/shape/roles with a dash of the unexpected.
    In the short term, takeaway Alexis, leaving us with just Cech, Jack, Oz and Bels as the only ones at home at an elite club

  5. Dean continuing to referee Arsenal matches is an atrocity. The penalty call was absurd and yet utterly to be expected. I don’t know what else any of us can really say on the matter.

    Re: Alexis, I think he should have been sold in the summer and I’m equally skeptical that Arsenal can make the Champions League this year. I expect he’ll be kept and Arsenal will finish somewhere between 5th and 7th in the table. If we know that for sure, he should be sold now. I can’t imagine City paying for him now, though and everyone abroad can already sign him to a pre-contract. Maybe with the Gabriel Jesus injury Pep will plump for him now but I really suspect the ship has sailed.

    I mostly agree the recruitment scenario is largely pointless – anyone big enough to really care about Champions League football is also too big for us to be willing to spend money on. This summer has to see a rebuild, in addition to losing the two biggest players, another 5-6 players could leave. I really imagine Arsene will still be here but its malpractice on behalf of the club to let him preside over another rebuild. This club has shown quite frequently that it is more than capable of malpractice, unfortunately. Regardless, if we’re rebuilding, we’re likely going to be buying several players in the £20-40MM range, not shopping at the top of the market.

    So yeah, I think selling Alexis makes a ton of sense as a thought exercise, but practically it isn’t going to happen, I’m not sure it is plausible for it to happen even. Not selling him in the summer was an enormous mistake, one the club will pay through the nose for when Arsenal fails to qualify for the CL again.

  6. If we could get PSG or another foreign team to buy Sanchez or perhaps a swap deal then that would be ideal. It would really rankles selling him to city.

    I think our defence and attack are good enough to make top four BUT BUT I agree with you about the team needing an overhaul. I’d like to think some of the solutions could be internal with a couple of the youth teamers stepping up.

    I think we need a new GK a CB (although again I’m hopeful Chambers and Holding come good) a proper DM and not the half baked half hearted make dos we’ve had for years and a winger.

  7. We’re finishing 6th this season. Bet on it. And the fact that we’re doing it WITH Alexis just shows how stupid a decision it was not to sell him this summer / wait until the absolute last minute with the deal depending on yet another last minute improbable signing. This club is ridiculous.

  8. I think we’ll make top 4. Despite our struggles. With or without Alexis. Unless we keep getting Deaned.

    I also think we should sell Alexis but of course that depends on who is offering what, if anything.

    I’d like to keep Ozil because he’s so much fun to watch, but I’m ok with a rebuild if he leaves, and go back to playing 433.

    I don’t think this is Wenger’s last year, unless we fail to make top 4.

    There’s a rebuild definitely required, but that’s where the staff changes might help. Also, I bet we’ll fill some holes with our youth players.

    For instance, I don’t think we’ll buy a left back until we give Cohen Bramall a chance. Especially with a back 4 as Monreal will play at LB. At CB we re-upped Chambers recently because he’s going to be Mert’s replacement. Holding is well thought of as are Ben Sheaf and Bielik. Unless Kos is completely out of it, I think we stick with Kos and Mustafi with Chambers, Holding and one of the youngsters as 5th choice. We might buy a RB to challenge Bellerin.

    I think our two main purchases will be a midfielder and an Alexis replacement.

  9. Wenger has been more assertive when talking about referees. For him to say we know what is going on but don’t talk about it, to me is as close to an accusation of corruption that you’re going to get from him. While he’s still managing in the game at least.

  10. Of topic, but Tom, regarding your comment on the previous post about ManCity being met with increased physicality. You are correct. England has a major problem allowing bridging any technical gap through physicality, which often crosses the line. Of course Arsenal already know this and have paid a big price for it in the past.

    But I don’t think it is limited to that with Arsenal. As far as I know, Arsenal have been traditionally disliked as one of the best southern clubs, while football in England was seen as a Northern ‘manly’ pursuit. To top it off we hired an ‘unknown’ Frenchman who went about revolutionising the league with other French players who when they couldn’t be accused of being soft, were accused of being dirty. Or in Pires’ case, very unfairly, but effectively, accused of being a diver.

    Ironically, our being dubbed the Bank of England club might have been where the dislike for us started, but I am certain our refusal to indulge in some of the transfer and agent murk is seen as a danger for the league’s brand and for ‘earnings’, and to me this is a very possible explanation for why we get the press and the decisions we get.

  11. There’s this guy who gets around the various Arsenal blogs (Merlin) who usually talks a lot of sense and who made the point that until Dean self exploded and awarded that penalty he was actually having a decent game. Missed a call on Barry for the bad tackle on Kolasinac, but was doing OK.
    Also worth noting that he’s not been too bad for us lately in other matches he’s officiated in. So by reverting to type in this match and at that point looks to be just a poorly made (but not deliberately so) decision which he may be held to account for. Expect to see him in the Championship or as fourth official for a number of games any time soon.
    Re VAR. The teams are not (yet) permitted to request reviews.

    1. Or he can’t make his biases too obvious, so he was saving up for the opportunity, if it arose, to make one big, match changing call.

      1. Yeah! And that! He’s such an exhibitionist that maybe being out of the limelight made his mind up to revert to type.

  12. Aren’t we in fanned if they do, damned if they don’t territory here? If Arsenal sell Ozil and Sanchez and make a pretty profit and fail to land replacements and then finish 6th, wouldn’t we all be howling for their heads and confirming the previously popular version of the club existing in corporate collusion with Wenger for profit?

    That’s not to say that the club didn’t have money on the brain: CL funds, merch and upcoming sponsorship deals all loom large with decisions to keep the players. But it does seem as though they are being judged retrospectively as if they should’ve foreseen current events and acted accordingly.

    Last thought: This team is not that bad. If they come together the talent is more than there for a second half push and deep cup runs.

  13. I think selling or keeping Alexis and /or Ozil are moot. Neither scenario will make a difference to getting into a Champions League place, unless we keep them AND get knocked out of the domestic cup competitions reducing our game load substantially. Only then is there is a decent chance of top four in May.

    For now it looks like with the inevitable injury crisis has hitting us, we will take zero points from Chelsea tomorrow. That will drop us to sixth, looking at 7th after Sp&^s win their match this week.

  14. “The theory that he’s going to help us win something hinges almost entirely on him giving 100%. ”
    The trouble is that Sanchez, even at 90% of his best, provides more goals and assists than Welbeck and Iwobi at 100% of their potential (or whoever plays in Sanchez’s position).

    1. I’d like to see some other players get the ball and see what they can do. Until they are given as much of the ball as Alexis we will never know.

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