Will Walcott ditch the penthouse and can Arsenal land Aubamkhi?

“You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough
Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
I’ve finally decided my future lies
beyond the yellow brick road.”
– Elton John

I’m not telling you to get on twitter – to get a twitter account so that you can reply or like things – but I will tell you that you need to go look at David Ornstein’s Twitter feed. It’s a miracle.

Ornstein is a BBC reporter and one of the most trusted sources for Arsenal-related transfer news. His tweets are just boring old BBC news – you know, verified sources, facts, real news, stuff like that. But the responses… lord have mercy. Twitter can be quite obnoxious and Arsenal twitter is one of the most obnoxious groups out there but for whatever reason whenever Ornstein tweets, people calm down and just tweet funny memes about what a god Ornstein is.

My favorites are the memes that boil all of John Cross’ piss. He’s the reporter for the Daily Mail The Mirror (I get these two confused because they are equally garbage, but the Mail is also racist, which I should remember) who is widely considered unreliable. And so, you get memes like this:

That’s “The Orn” as Maradona punching in the Hand of God Goal over John Cross. Anyway, it’s funny to me and I recommend you follow him if you’re on the Twitter. https://twitter.com/bbcsport_david/

Today he wrote an article about Theo Walcott on the verge of joining Everton. From the article it sounds like this is far from a done deal. Theo is having a (lengthy) fitness test with the Everton medical team while all parties negotiate.

Walcott still has to agree to leave the penthouse of Arsenal and pick up the plough at Everton. Walcott has been so comfortable for so long at Arsenal that it would be a bit of a shock to see him move on and take on the new challenge.

As I’ve said many times before, playing in Sam Allardyce’s defense-first system would probably suit him down to a tee. Walcott needs space to operate. He never picked up the knack for dribbling in tight spaces and doesn’t have the touch necessary to take the ball down under pressure, but in a Sam Allardyce 442 with him and Tosun up top and Sigurdsson lumping balls for him to run onto, he could be dangerous. I’m thinking he could even get 5 goals and 5 assists. 10 goal events is a good return for the final 15 games of the season for Walcott.

Here’s a chart of Walcott’s goal contributions over his career. It looks bad (because it’s going down) but going down here is actually good because it means more goals per time played on the pitch.

If Walcott plays every minute of the last 15 games, that’s 1350 minutes. If he averages a goal event (goal or assist) every 116 minutes, which is his average over the last three seasons, then you’re looking at 12 goal events. My guess is that he will play closer to 900 minutes and thus 7 goal events will be more likely but I went for the middle ground earlier with 10.

While his goals and assists contributions are outstanding Walcott never developed his other skills; dribbling, passing, crossing, etc. This is the “penthouse” I’m talking about with him.

But at Everton he won’t need to do those things. His job will be to chase long balls, score goals in one-v-one situations, win corners, and cross to Tosun. I think he will do that well.

The other big news out of Ornstein is the imminent transfer of Alexis Sanchez. According to the Ornicle.. Alexis has agreed to terms with United and Arsenal have agreed to let him go in exchange for Mkhitaryan. The only stumbling block here is Mkhitaryan. Ornstein isn’t saying that he’s dragging his feet, in fact he says that Mkhitaryan and Mourinho have a “different football philosophy”, but that the decision is up to Mkhitaryan. Ornstein also said that there are other options available but quite what those are I’m not sure.

I’m officially lukewarm on Mkhitaryan. He was good at Borussia Dortmund for two seasons in his entire career. He’s a good dribbler and creator and I guess it makes sense to replace Sanchez with a player like Mkhitaryan but he’s not anywhere near the level that Alexis is.

The other big story is Aubameyang and Malcom to Arsenal. I don’t believe that Auba wants to come to Arsenal at all. He has publicly laughed at the suggestion in the past and I would guess that he’s going to China where they will pay him all of the money.

That said, there was a story in the Guardian, my only other source for transfer news, that said Arsenal “are confident” of signing him. The Guardian reports that Sven Mislintat – the new Arsenal head of recruitment and the guy who brought Auba to BvB – is the one leading the charge to get Aubameyang.

The Guardian is not a “fake news” paper and I believe that they published this story based on a reliable source. The only thing I would caution is that the story sounds like it’s been fed to the Guardian by Arsenal. I don’t doubt that Arsenal are interested in Aubameyang, I do doubt that he is interested in Arsenal.

The one outstanding question in all this is Arsene Wenger. Wenger has increasingly made noises that he’s being cut out of transfer business. When asked about Alexis before the loss to Bournemouth, he said “I don’t master the rhythm of it, but it could happen today, tomorrow or not at all.” This is a far cry from the Wenger of a few years ago who cheekily looked at a reporter, smiled, and said that Arsenal have a surprise – before signing Mesut Ozil.

A lot of Arsenal supporters have tweeted at me that this is a good thing, that it’s the club slowly taking the power away from Wenger and laying the groundwork for his retirement this summer. I want to believe that. Arsenal are slowly getting rid of the Wenger players like Theo Walcott who have hung like an albatross around this club’s neck for a decade and bringing in players identified by the management team. Whether that will be successful remains to be seen but at least it will be different.

And finally, there are suggestions out there that Ancelotti is being lined up to replace Wenger and while I don’t think Ancelotti is a great manager I welcome him: at some point you have to get rid of Wenger and start over. Unless Arsenal have a young, bright manager lined up and are ready to invest 5 years in a project the next manager at Arsenal is likely going to be a fall guy and if Ancelotti wants to be that guy, well then let’s have him.

Rebuilding this club is going to be a long, slow, process. It’s going to have up and down seasons. We will have big name players and big flops. But at least it will be something different from Wenger’s odd consistency over the last 10 years.


Sources: Guardian, BBC, Opta


  1. Auba has agreed personal terms at Arsenal I believe – I think the issue is transfer price with BVB.

    1. So it means nothing. Dortmund wants 60m. We’re not getting any cash in the deal for Sanchez because any money United were willing to pay is getting sucked into Raiola’s fee and United having to pay Mhkitaryan a lump sum so he’ll take the lower salary from Arsenal. I know we’ve made money off Coquelin, Walcott and from the summer, but do you see us stumping 60m for Auba if we don’t get any cash from United? Won’t happen.

      Pessimistic prediction – Sanchez is staying with us. No Auba. No Mhyki. No Malcom.

        1. I think its still pretty 50/50 on Sanchez going. I think its entirely possible Utd are involved to keep him from City and will just gum up the works long enough to make sure he stays until the summer. If Sanchez stays, I’d guess we buy nobody, even if Walcott goes (no sure thing, as Tim eloquently states above.)

          Personally, Malcom is the only one of the three targets who excites but I’d guess its an either or between Mhkitaryan and Malcom.

          Aubameyang is simply a guy with a name for us. I think its entirely plausible we sign him but I think its equally likely the club plants the stories to distract the fans from the Sanchez guff.

      1. Oh man, Raiola is SUCH a c*nt. I think you’re absolutely right about what’s happened to the fee that we were supposed to be getting for Mikki and what that might do to our other business. The guy has no shame; he disgusts me. Sooner football does something about these leeches the better.

        1. Latest is he’s asking for a PAY RAISE for Mhyki to come to Arsenal.

          We’re not doing the deal. And frankly, Raiola and Mendes are two agents we should be steering far clear of.

        2. O n the other hand personally I think this case pretty muhc illustrates why it is so important for a player to have a good agent. ManU had just bought him from BVB after two stellar seasons and invested a lot of money, agreeing to pay him a big wage that he wasn’t getting anywhere else. Now their coach throws a fit, their transfer strategy is shown up as being just buying up anything and anyone. Now all of a sudden he’s surplus to requierements and they want a brand new shiny toy.

  2. Cross is The Mirror. Just saying. And he was the sanest voice in the room when everyone else was losing it over Arsenal’s Ozil tea gif to the Daily Mail hack (whose name I cant remember), who picked all-Spurs combined North London XI. His lack of animus towards Arsenal makes him ok for me.

    Theo needs a restart, and good luck to him. Hopefully playing regularly will restore his confidence, which at the moment looks shattered. I don’t get all this bile towards one of the decent guys in the squad (“albatross” etc). He got his 19 goals last year, but the switch to a back 3 and wingback system underscored his limitations as a player, and Laca arriving and Giroud staying killed off his Arsenal career for good.

    Godspeed, Theo. At least we’ve got Welbeck to stick ’em in the net.

    1. He’s blocked me on Twitter because he’s so thin-skinned that he can’t take any criticism. Also, he’s a font of factually incorrect knowledge which I pointed out too many times and which was the reason he blocked me. I don’t care if he supported Arsenal in the Ozil teacup, that’s what everyone should do.

    2. Cross is an access merchant, he’said Arsene’s Duncan Castles. He gets by by having access and not having anything substantial to say.

  3. Ummm… you don’t think Carlo Ancelotti is a “great” manager? Three Champions League titles with three different teams, four visits to the finals. Wins the titles in Italy, England, France and Spain and Germany? Oh man. When he got fired from Real, Ronaldo and the others were furious.

    I agree – he is not a long term solution. But you could not do better for an interim solution. Tactically he will go toe to toe with the other “super” managers in the Premier League even if we may not have the talent he’s used to working with. Plus he has a chip on his shoulder about what happened to him at Bayern. And he seems like a super nice amiable guy in general.

    That said… we’re f**ked. Wenger’s not going this summer. Not based on his comments this past week about seeing out contracts. And we don’t have the stones to fire him or we’d be doing it right now.

    1. I was a big fan of Ancelotti, I read a biography, his Autobiography and other books but his time at Bayern really soured me on him. He really did not just seem relaxed, he really did look like he didn’t care. He is not a tactician and the Bayern team lost their structured attacking play from the Pep era very quickly. He was pretty devoid of ideas and the players, accustomed to Guardiola’s intensity moaned about a total lack thereof. He really had his dismissal coming. So I’m not so sure he’s the right profile for a top to bottom rebuild that is in order. I don’t think he’s that bothered. On the other hand he could be our ferryman to bring calmness to the club when the upheaval is coming.

    2. The reason he was fired from both Bayern and Real Madrid is because he’s like a Wenger – offers very little tactically but tells his players to “go express themselves”. He’s been fired from every job because of this exact reason.

      He won the Champions League with Sheva, Inzhagi, Kaka, Gatusso, Seedorf, Cafu, Nesta, Maldini and some guy named Pirlo.

      And that Chelsea side he inherited (just like the PSG, Real Madrid, and Bayern sides later) was STACKED and were already all champions. At PSG he spent 90m in his first season and 134m in his second. At Bayern he lasted just one season before the players basically pushed him out. If Arsenal are going to hire him and get in the likes of Kaka, Ronaldo, Pirlo, di Maria, and a host of world class defenders then maybe he will work out but from what I’ve read he’s a really average manager who has just been put in charge of some really great teams.

      But the good news is that he usually lasts just two years (or less) so…

      1. I know I will not convince you, but I feel I have to defend the man against accusations of “average”.

        I don’t disagree that he’s had some great players and teams to manage. And so has Pep and Mourinho. You’re dead wrong on the tactics; he’s customized his approach wherever he’s gone and made pretty astute tactical adjustments to fit his personnel. He’s a guy who learned his football from Arrigo Sacchi. You aren’t successful in Serie A and don’t win Champions League that many times without being tactically astute. You mention Pirlo – he made Pirlo. Pirlo was a late bloomer who came into his own under Ancelotti.

        I follow Bayern, it’s basically my other team. He shat the bed there, no doubt – if winning the league and cup is failure. Guardiola turned out to be too hard an act to follow and German football demands a certain intensity (as does German culture); an amiable relaxed Italian was never going to succeed long term. Some players pushed him out, but not all.

        Anyway, I think it’d be great if we got someone with that kind of pedigree. My opinion.

          1. Now you’re playing at reduction. “Bah, he just changes the formations, big deal.” I’m not sure why you’re so dismissive. If it’s the 2-3 year stints that’s colored your opinion of him I’d argue that’s also a function of the clubs he’s gone to work for; Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern and PSG – all of them rarely keep managers for longer than 3 years.

            Truthfully, if Zidane gets fired this summer he’d be my number one choice – star power and a proven ability to manage. I like Carlo and Luis Enrique as options 2A and 2B. That’s just me though. We’re not going to grab some relatively unknown Pocchetino-like manager to back-fill Wenger.

  4. Ancelotti would be the perfect caretaker. That’s what he’d be… a caretaker. High profile, decent record, manager of big talent. But not the long-term solution.

  5. Ancelotti at Arsenal?On balance, thumbs down.

    As a person – top class – with more composure and dignity in his Italian pinky finger than a certain Portuguese’s whole body. But as a coaching upgrade on Wenger? His accomplishments need to be assessed in the context of the resources he’s had at his disposal in some of his those gigs. A sack of turnips could have managed some of those teams to titles.

    I mean I can get some great sound and tone out of an Ibanez or a Gretsch but give me a vintage Fender Strat or Tele or a Les Paul custom?

    1. Man oh man. I can’t believe how spoiled and entitled we sound as Arsenal fans sometimes. Ancelotti has won twice as many trophies as Wenger. One could also argue that with some of the talent Wenger had (Bergkamp? Henry? Vieira? Pires? Overmars? Petit?) that a sack of turnips could have managed that group to titles as well. C’mon. Now we’re being silly.

      I notice that argument is not allowed when discussing Pep Guardiola’s reign as the greatest-manager-ever. “It’s not his fault he inherited Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, or Lewandowski, Robben, Alcantara and Lahm”.

      1. I’m with Jack, mostly. If it was so easy to win things with great squads then everyone would do it when they get the big gig, e.g. Benitez at Real. Ancelotti would be a great short term choice until we find our next young visionary. He’s not perfect, but he’s far from average.

    2. There was once I time when I would take a Jackson (Klopp) but no more. Carlo seems more like an ESP and it’s a fine transitional piece since the truly great ones like a PRS custom (Pep) are already take. At least we are getting rid of that old Yamaha.

    3. ‘His accomplishments need to be assessed in the context of the resources he’s had at his disposal in some of his those gigs. A sack of turnips could have managed some of those teams to titles.’

      I don’t disagree with you, but you could say the same thing about Guardiola….although Pep’s successes are in the more recent past in fairness.

  6. The obvious danger of Ancelotti is the VanGaalisation of Arsenal. A great manager, past his best, in a situation that requires serious reform and fresh thinking. Ironically, that’s what United went for first time in installing Moyes, but the job was and club were too big for him. Ancelotti, at least, knows what it’s like to work for a big club (let the slams begin for describing arsenal as such 🙂 ) with complicated internal dynamics.

  7. I guess people think Ancelotti is just a giant con-artist who sweet talks owners into hiring him and waltzes into jobs managing superstar gilded teams until he gets found out as a fraud. Rinse and repeat. That is a talent in and of itself. The only one better at it might be Alan Pardew.

    1. He would just not be a good fit. He’s not someone to re-energize the whole club and build it from top to bottom. Not someone who will bring back intensity and sort out our tactical deficencies. He’s mainly a man manager, a calming influence. I don’t think that ‘s what we need. If we stick with italians, I would like Allegri very much.

  8. I actually like Carlo but I do feel that to beat Wengerball out of our players (especially the young ‘uns), we need more of a disciplinarian/tactician. Carlo seems like a really nice guy but I think right now nice is not what we need. Hopefully whoever comes in will prioritize our joke of a midfield. That would be a good start.

  9. Oops! Try this again:

    I tend to side with Jack on the Ancelotti question. He has shown himself tactically flexible over the years, depending on personnel at his disposal and demands of the game. He’s also a class act, which would be welcome, and provide some continuity with Wenger in that regard.

    In many ways, his tactical philosophy is similar to Guardiola’s: structure and organization in your own third and the middle of the pitch; creativity and freedom in the final third. He also likes a pressing game.

    Plus…he’s married to a Canadian! Always a bonus to have a Canadian connection, in my opinion.

    1. As a fellow Canadian – I approve.

      Plus he’s appeared in a Star Trek movie because he’s friends with Zoe Saldana.

      And we all know Star Trek>>> Star Wars.

      1. WTF? As a Canadian AND Star Trek fan I can’t believe I don’t know this.
        Wait…was he a Klingon in the 1st reboot? I seem to remember those arched eyebrows somewhere…or a Vulcan?

        1. He had a 2s cameo as a doctor in the second Abrams movie. Apparently Zoe Saldana is a Chelsea fan and became friends with him during his stint there. She got him the part.

      2. Jumping in because I’m currently watching every episode and movie of Star Trek ever. 4 episodes from the end of TOS. It’s not as bad as some have made it out to be-a little too many plot artifacts from the Cold War environs in which it was crafted. The hardest thing for me to get over has been the gender roles. Bracing for a Captain Kirk #metoo moment.

  10. Why would Arsenal want to bother with another caretaker manager when we already have the best one in the business.
    A safe pair of hands safeguarding from relegation, with an occasional cup run and no demands what so ever for a big transfer kitty.
    And did I mention that the players absolutely adore him?

  11. Walcott sums up what’s wrong with Arsenal: we have too many players who would be great for mid-table teams, but not good enough for a contending team.
    Not sure Ancelotti would be a good choice. On the one hand, the team might be more sound defensively. On the other, Ancelotti is not a squad builder, which is what the club needs. Also, you don’t want Nelson, Nketiah and other youngsters to leave because they get less playing time. And finally, if Ancelotti signs a deal, it means the club gets stuck for 2 or 3 years, missing out on better managers who might be available in 2019 and 2020.

  12. I basically view Ancelotti as an Italian, journeyman Wenger. His career is probably what Wenger’s would have been had he taken the Real Madrid job when it was on offer. By all appearances, he’s a nice man, relatively erudite – a definite way to ease into a post-Wenger world. He’s certainly no tactical genius – few managers are – but I’d put him in the lower echelon of top managers for that.

    I think someone like Ancelotti, a guy with a pedigree, older, only ever intending to take charge for a few years is the right next manager for the club. He can come in, let the recruitment team turn this mish-mash of a squad over, guide the team to some more lazy 4th-6th place finishes. Or he can get nothing out of the squad as it goes through constant turnover, finish 12th and get sacked. Either way, no big deal in terms of the next manager.

    The next longer-term manager can come along after, preferably someone young with fresh ideas. Just hoping against hope that new manager comes this year.

    1. Yes, exactly. I’m not so sure he’s that bothered. He’s a high-class mercenary. He shows up, does his job, manages egos, is a calming influence and then he leaves again. He will not be interested in rebuilding much, he won’t be one to instill discipline and tactical awareness and he will certainly not promote and develop young players, that’s just not what he does.

  13. Send the lukewarm reception about Angelotti potentially managing arsenal. He belongs to the same generation of manager as Arsene but he took a very different career path, jumping between lots of different high-powered clubs. He came in to Chelsea under similar circumstances and excelled, so there could be worse choices for sure, but he is also a manager who is nearing the end of his career in the game has passed him by a little bit. He represents a very safe choice but one which is likely to Accomplish the same type of results that we have become accustomed to, assuming the same level of investment.
    As part of an entirely separate point, I disagree with those who would take his accomplishments away just because he had good players. And he was able to mold those good players and to grade teams and that is what a coach is supposed to do. Wewe will never know what would have happened in an alternate universe, but qualifying his accomplishments because of how good his team looked seems silly to me.

  14. It’s been a very busy and sometimes difficult time for me so I’ve missed much of the debate here and all of the noise around Arsenal. It feels weird to look in and see all this talk about Walcott leaving and us getting Aubameyang..Like an alternate universe.

    I’ll be sad to see Walcott go, but mostly as a representative of the club. I agree he will be an effective player for a club like Everton and we can and should do better.

    Once again I have to disagree with the interpretation that Auba laughed at the idea of joining us. He had a laugh at the situation with the fan waylaying him and asking him to join Arsenal, it’s not quite the same thing. But he does seem a bit of a weirdo anyway. I mean he could have joined one of the really big clubs I think, but chose to stay at Dortmund and then fell out with them. It’s possible he goes to China.

    I really wanted Mkhitaryan at Arsenal before he joined ManU for the money. If he can recover from being under Mourinho’s system, he could still be a very good player for us. But of course, Raiola isn’t going to make this easy. Not for us, and not for ManU.

    I’ve always liked Ancelotti and have always seen him as a potential Wenger successor to be a stabilizing influence. I do realise he’s not considered to be the best tactician, but his stint with Chelsea was amazing. He got them playing some fantastic football and to actually stop diving and cheating. The question is, can he get more out of these players? Probably not. I don’t think Wenger’s leaving (nor getting sacked) anyway. Either way, the club does need some pretty big spending on the squad, or to just give the youngsters more playing time and accept the consequences.

    1. I don’t think Aubameyang ever really laughed at Arsenal, you’re right. But the thing with him is, he did want to leave for some time but no big gun came for him. BVB was open to selling him for a lot of money, but they only had an offer from China which Aubameyang refused. It’s the last chance for BVB to get big mney for him, so they’re probably happy to sell, we’ll see.

      1. The glass half full way to look at these guys is that both Auba and Mikki will have something to prove in coming to Arsenal, even if it’s far from their first choice destination.

        1. Mikki (I really can’t be bothered to learn how to spell his name) has been treated abysmally at Man United by Mourinho, but then what did he expect? It’s his fault for chasing the money, or probably more accurately, for entrusting his career to that scumbag Raiola. Even if you set aside the obvious fact that he’s a greedy leech that always takes an obscene cut from himself, I don’t think you can even justify his behavior by the whole “he does good by his clients by getting them maximum money,” line. Mikki is a good example why this argument doesn’t work, unless you think money is everything: they both made more (and perhaps so did Dortmund?) by choosing United over Arsenal two years ago, but it was never going to be a great fit with Mourinho. Now, they’re holding up the Sanchez swap deal–and, I believe, Arsenal’s other business, e.g. PEA–by holding both United and Arsenal to ransom. Demanding 300k a week in salary from Arsenal just because that’s what we reportedly offered Sanchez is ridiculous. They’re different players in different situations and it’s silly to suggest Mikki’s contribution is likely to be comparable to what a focused Sanchez’s would have been. But of course all that falls on deaf ears with Raiola. He’s demanding more because he can. Oh well, that’s capitalism for you, you might think. But in the process Raiola risks one or both clubs pulling the plug on the whole deal, which would leave him at a club that is very publicly trying to shove him out the door, with a manager that doesn’t rate him, and to add to that he’d then be the target of the ire of the club and their fans for screwing up the deal. Better case scenario is that the deal eventually goes through, but we’re left with less money and more importantly less time to get other reinforcements through the door, with the result that Mikki’s new club is considerably less competitive, with less of a chance of getting back in the CL, then they might otherwise be on Feb 1. And this is supposed to be Raiola looking after the best interests of his player?!

          (Another example: Pogba could probably have gone to Real Madrid last summer if he had made clear that that was the only club where he wanted to go and that the money was of secondary importance. He’d be at his dream club, in a better team (even though they’re struggling now), with a couch that’s not an utter douchebag, and in all likelihood would have won the league and CL double last year. But no, he’s got Raiola as his agent.)

          1. Story is that Real would NOT pay Raiola a cut of the transfer, but ManU would. Same goes for Chelsea and Lukaku. Seems Man Utd are willing to pay off Mendes and Raiola. So long as big names sign up with agents that request additional money just for them, Man U leads those chases. Sounds like City are having the same problem with Sanchez’ agent.

            The transfer market is going to lock up very soon for English clubs. The fees demanded (and salaries) are going to be so exorbitant that nobody, not even Man Utd will pay. It will be frozen for 2-3 years and then we’ll see prices come down to earth.

          2. Yeah, exactly, but if Pogba was smart/mature/tuned-in/assertive enough, he could have insisted to Raiola that he only wanted the Real move, and then Raiola would have to back down on his requests for a cut from Madrid (as much as he would spin it otherwise, he needs clients like Pogba WAY more than they need him).

  15. Question for everyone: the chief problem I have with getting Auba and Mikki this window is that I can’t for the life of me see how we get Lacazette, Ozil, and those two in the starting 11 all at the same time without it feeling pretty forced (I have some ideas, but none ideal), and I don’t really think it’s worth moving for both of them unless we can start all four (unless we’re planning to sell Ozil this window, which seems very unlikely); anyone having any suggestions??

    For reasons I’ll spare everyone from right now, it seems to me that getting the two former Dortmund players is the most likely “good case scenario” for us this window (whether it’s more likely than the most likely “bad case scenario” (selling or keeping Alexis and getting 1 or 0 new players in) is hard to say). But while I’m relatively positive on both of them compared to many of you, I just don’t quite see how we fit all our best attacking players in the same team.

    1. Mhki is a replacement for Ozil. His best performances at Dortmund were in the #10 spot… behind Auba or Reuss.

      I have a theory – Malcom is Mislintat’s recommendation for how to fill the Sanchez gap.

      Auba and Mhki are Wenger’s push. Even though Mislintat scouted both of them for Dortmund, this is Wenger’s play.

      Wenger’s already sh*tted on Mislintat a few times in the last couple of months. He clearly doesn’t think he needs help to build the squad back up. (But then he backtracked the other day and said the Greek kid won’t go out on loan, he’s been surprised)

      I think we’re witnessing a power struggle. Two 29 year olds at the peak of their powers and demanding huge wages? Two players that have no natural insertion in our line-up meaning we’ll have to customize the set-up again? That’s not good planning for a club – those are stop gap solutions to help the current manager save face. The best clubs spend big money on players 18-23. Get them before they hit their prime years which (depending on position) is 23-29. I’m sure the new brass know this.

      Let’s see who wins.

      If we got Mhyki and Auba I would guess we’d have to go 4-3-3


      Wow, we will concede goals aplenty with that lineup. It will in execution be a 2-2-1-5. That lineup will exacerbate our problems, not solve them.

      1. Jack,
        I know you don’t think much of Wenger these days, which is totally understandable, but your reconstruction of what’s likely going on behind the scenes looks to be biased against him and uncharitable in the extreme.
        First of all, where has Wenger “sh*tted on” Misinlat? That’s strong and vulgar language (and ungrammatical? surely ‘shat’ is to be preferred?), and I don’t think anything Arsene has said, or even insinuated, backs it up.
        Second, beyond the commonsensical inference that Mislintat has at least a significant hand in getting the two former Dortmunders, every bit of press I’ve seen–including the fairly reputable places–has said that he’s given glowing reviews of both players; whereas I’ve seen a few places (perhaps speculatively) saying that Wenger has reservations. Less speculatively: Wenger clearly wanted and asked about getting Martial for Alexis rather than Mikki. Given that Martial is much more an Auba type than an Ozil/Mikki type, and that we still have Lacazette, it’s only natural to infer that if ManU had agreed to that one, Martial would have been coming in in place of BOTH the Dortmund players. So it hardly looks like Wenger is the one pushing hardest for them.
        My guess is that both Wenger and Mislintat like Malcom but Bordeaux is playing hardball, there may be other PL clubs circling which will drive up the price, and Wenger and/or others at the club have doubts about how ready he is to slot in immediately and make a big impact. Given that Wenger’s job security quite possibly depends on him getting back to the CL at a minimum, it’s only natural that he’s thinking short term (only wish he had been thinking short term about 18 months ago!). And it’s obviously good for the club too to push hard for that CL spot, rather than write off the season prematurely. The CL is still very much a possibility, especially given we have the Europa route.
        I don’t disagree that getting two soon-to-be-29 year olds in the middle of the season is poor planning, for all the reasons you say. Wenger may not be the only one to blame for the mess we’re in, but he’s obviously most to blame. I just don’t think we have any evidence or rational reason to suppose he’s exclusively pushing for this short-termism now with respect to Auba and Mikki. On the contrary, signs all point to Mislintat very much backing the attempts to bring in his former players.

        1. As for the (more fun!) question of lineups:

          Assuming (and I’m really not yet!) we get the former BVB players, I can see a few options for a lineup with all four of Auba, Mikki, Ozil, and Lacazette in it. None of the options look ideal, but then I at least am equally against benching one of those four or constantly rotating for the rest of the season. Surely we’ll be strongest with our strongest 11 players and all four of them are in that 11 (or put it this way: if bringing in those two means one of those four becomes an elite backup, that’s money we’re wasting that could be spent on strengthening our obviously non-elite starting defense and defensive midfield positions).

          Here are the options as I see them:
          Bellerin – Mustafi – Kos – Kola/Nacho
          Ramsey/Jack – Xhaka/AMN – Ozil
          Auba – Laca – Mikki

          This is basically your suggestion, Jack, except that, based on how Ozil has performed in a midfield three in the past month (e.g. against Liverpool) I think it’s more likely he’s deployed there over Mikki. Wenger has talked about what he brings there, i.e. a bit of the Cazorla class under pressure, and he sees more of the ball (though he clearly can’t “do a Santi” and play in a midfield two).

          Neither Laca nor Auba are best anywhere but up top, but Auba’s got the outright speed to be played as a wide forward the way he was when he first went to Dortmund and the way Wenger has deployed Welbeck and Walcott in recent years. He’s obviously a huge upgrade on those two, and I think Wenger has been itching for genuine speed in the forward line to stretch defenses for a while (Laca’s decently quick, but he doesn’t have the afterburners), but without having to bring the overall quality of our attack down by playing Welbz or Theo. It’s also a bit reminiscent of late-career Henry playing wide left in a front three for Barca…

          1. A very loose 4-4-2
            Bellerin – Mustafi – Kos – Kola/Nacho
            Ozil – Ramsey/Jack – Xhaka/AMN – Mikki
            Auba – Lacazette

            This has the advantage that Auba and Laca both get to play more-or-less centrally as a strike partnership, but the obvious disadvantage that Mikki and Ozil both have to play as wide mids, which neither of them will love, but it could work if you give them both LOTS of freedom to go where they want. It could also end up morphing into the 4-3-3, with Mikki pushing on and Ozil tucking in. Would be defensively suspect, mind…

          2. Finally, 4-2-3-1
            With Ozil at the 10 (obviously he might walk in the summer, in which case Mikki would play there, but I’m thinking only of this season), Mikki on one flank, Auba nominally on the other, and Lacazette up front. There’s obviously not a big difference between this formation and the 4-3-3, except that if one plays Ozil just off the CF as a true 10, then that puts pressure on one or both of the wide attackers to play more as a midfielder (e.g. as Iwobi does at times), and neither Auba nor Mikki are really suited to that. Better to drop Mesut a bit deeper into midfield (personally was always skeptical of this move, until recently), and push the two Dortmunders forward where they want to be, and where playing “from” the flank shouldn’t annoy them so much.
            Lacking in blistering pace, Lacazette is certainly the one for me who’s least flexible. He’s good on the ball but it would be a massive waste of his best qualities to push him wide or play him behind a central striker, though he can obviously interchange with Aubameyang.

          3. “What about a back three?” I hear you ask (the like one person who might be reading any of this…). I don’t see how we can do it without benching/rotating one of those four attackers, most likely Mikki or Lacazette.

            If we’re willing to do that–and I’ve already said why, other than for one-off games, I wouldn’t want to do so–it would be easy to play either a 3-5-2 with Ozil in the playmaker role behind Auba and Lacazette, or a 3-4-3 with Ozil and Mikki in the inside forward roles behind Auba/Laca.

            Personally, I hope we get AMN inserted as a DM soon and switch back to a regular back four.

          4. But… none of those line-ups you suggest improve on mine in this main regard; we will be overrun in midfield. Ramsey nor Wilshere will sit in with Xhaka and shield the back four. Xhaka is already poor at that. Auba, Ozil, Mhyki and Laca will not track back, that is not their strengths, and none of them are exactly bossing it defensively. If a team escapes our press (that’s the only way I can see defending with these five, and we don’t seem to coach pressing well), then it will be like storming the castle with the drawbridge down.

            I see disaster. Counter-attacking teams will lick their chops at the chance to play us. Kiss Europa league goodbye. If we run up against an Atletico? oh boy.

          5. Jack,
            1. I didn’t claim they do improve on your formation, except that I think Ozil is more suited for the midfield then Mikki. Otherwise, if I had to pick, I’d go for the 4-3-3, like you.

            2. Completely agree about the obvious defensive weaknesses, but that *could* cut both ways, i.e. we’re easy to score against defensively but few teams can live with our attack (a bit like Liverpool at times over the last few seasons). So we get basketball scores, and OBVIOUSLY this is not the way to win/challenge for the title, but we’re not thinking about that now. We’re thinking of sneaking into the top 4 and/or winning a cup competition, something that this lineup could pull off, with all it’s flaws (NOTE: saying “could pull off” is very different than saying we’re favorites for the Europa; of course we could get humiliated by someone like Athletico, but that’s true regardless of what we do in this January window!).

            3. Other than for the odd big game where he gets very specific instructions and follows them, Ramsey cannot be trusted to hold his position, I agree with that one. I think Wilshere is more inclined to be disciplined and shield the back four if he’s asked. A midfield two of AMN and Wilshere might be our best chance of looking decently solid in that department (plus Monreal reinstated to LB for Kola, in the short term), if we’re going to play the “Fearsome Four” (copyright me) in attack.

            Not suggesting any of this is ideal. But I guess I’m optimistic that overall it could lead to better fare, and better results than what we’ve seen in the first half of the season.

        2. Paraphrasing, Wenger has been quoted in the papers saying the Mislintat will help them find some obscure player in Germany (a slam), that they’ve gotten some kid in (the Greek CB) who is not able to play in the Premier League (might be true, but why advertise that publicly) and that they are still trying to work out their relationship (Wenger and Mislintat). These quotes strike me as Wenger at the very least being reticent about having Mislintat on board.

          Look at it this way – Wenger’s #1 talent over the years has been? Spotting talent. Undervalued and underappreciated talent. From Henry to Koscielny, that’s been his strength and what got our club through the austerity years. Now he has stats gurus and some new hot shot head of recruiting telling him who Arsenal should buy. And he resents it.

          1. I think that’s probably very loose “paraphrasing”. Show me the quotes! (Or don’t: like me, you probably have a life and a job you should really get back to 🙂

            E.g. saying the Greek kid isn’t ready yet for the PL is a perfectly normal comment, which I’m pretty sure AW has said about other youngsters we’ve bought in the past. You’re stretching if this is one of your examples of him “sh*tting on” Mislintat.

  16. Thought?
    For starters, the couch/ douchebag combo is a terrible idea for a piece of furniture so thanks for an immediate clarification.

    As for the second part, Arsenal have been doing this for a while now – putting square pegs in round holes that is, so this will be nothing new if it comes to pass.

    It’s kinda exciting tbh. Forget the valuation and wages, and reasons why we might be getting these players.
    At least something is happening that I for one wasn’t expecting in this TW at least.

    1. Completely agree with that last sentiment. In some ways it’s “more of the same,” i.e. not really seeming to have a plan, not really addressing our deepest problems (deep midfield and defense, obviously).

      But then again, it *is* very different than the usual Arsene schtick this time of year, i.e. “we are working very hard every day, we only want to do a deal for exceptional quality, that can improve our squad,” and then end up signing an Elneny/Gabriel type, or nobody. At least Arsene is putting it all on the line. It’s may be last chance saloon for him, but at least he’s going out swinging (to mix my metaphors)! I like it!

    2. Jack
      I don’t think City ended their interest in Sanchez due to agent fees.
      Reports are suggesting Guardiola and especially Txiki B. are big on keeping promises and sticking to agreements , which they say they had made with Sanchez and his agent in the Summer.

      Moving the financial goal posts due to interests from other clubs indicates Sanchez is interested in making the most money available to him and not necessarily which club , manager, or style of football might suit him best.

      Maybe United is a better fit for him after all seeing how he wants to play in every game and how Jose , based on the Lukaku approach, doesn’t mind doing that with his star players.
      While at City he would’ve been rotated with their strike force.
      I guess we’ll see.
      Either way good luck to him. I have no problem with Sanchez leaving and going to United.

      1. I lost almost all respect for Sanchez this past couple weeks. I get wanting to leave Arsenal for footballing reasons; the club is never going to match his ambitions with Wenger in charge. I sympathized with that. But now he just sounds like a greedy c**t. Seriously – Man Utd are not winning the title or Champions League this year or, based on how things are looking, next year even. City are only going to keep growing, Liverpool are on the front foot, Chelsea never seem content for 3rd place. The style of football at Man U is gross and I can’t imagine it’s a great joy to play there. It’s all about money. Then go, a$$hole, and enjoy playing right fullback for Mourinho.

        1. So you — of the Ronald Reagan avatar — are angry with a guy for maximising his value on the open market? Say it ain’t so, Jack. 😀

          So City = footballing reasons, and United = money only? Are you Guillem Balague in disguise?

          You seem to think that City winning the CL is nailed on, as is United not winning it. I’d love you to tell me what next week’s lottery numbers are.

          Alexis’ choice is perfectly rational. Financially and footballistically. He’s not stupid. He would have discussed his role. From what I read, h’ell play wide right, Martial/Lingard left, Lukaku/Martial/Rashford leading the line. That’s some forward line right there… potent, and interchangeable. Zlatan won’t even get on the bench.

          I respect the fact that you preferred him to join Pep rather than Mourinho, who’s something of an ogre in these parts. But everything else you state is pure conjecture.

  17. Jack, look at it this way.
    Alexis is getting China money without leaving the PL.
    He’s agent probably told him he had already had his Guardiola experience and for an extra £135k per week Mourinho’s football is starting to look more attractive by the minute. 🙂

  18. Cue the “ Ive always dreamed of playing for the biggest club in the world and the best manager in the league, and Im looking forward to winning many trophies with United” speech.

  19. Also, how out of touch are Wenger and Arsenal for thinking there was a chance to resign Alexis.

    Makes you think of that line from “Dumb and Dumber “ when Jim Carrey character asks the hot girl what his chances were for dating her.
    One in a hundred?
    No, more like one in a million, she replies.
    Sooo, you’re telling me there’s a chance 🙂

  20. Viewed completely dispassionately, United are getting a world class forward, premiership tested, in Sanchez. With the exception of Lukaku (and to a lesser extent Rashford, whose minutes have been limited by Martial) their two other forward players, Martial and Lingard have been in sumptuous form. Zlatan is coming back from what is potentially a career-ending injury, and has barely had minutes.

    If you’re Mourinho, especially with Gabriel Jesus out for a while, you have to believe that you can push City with Sanchez in your arsenal (no pun intended). I think the gap is too big and City can’t be caught, but I also believe that the title drama has several more acts. Liverpool showed that Pep is beatable. I wouldn’t underestimate that chipping away of the league leaders’ fear factor. It also sets United up nicely for next year.

    Their problem is that they have bought like drunken sailors these past few years, and will have to trim their squad. And they’re unbalanced. They have tremendous quality at forward and midfield, and precious little at the back.

    I do hope, for the sake of having a competitive league, that they can push City this season. This is not a love letter to Mourinho, whom I dislike as much as a buttock pimple. But he’s pulled off a master stroke here.

    As for City, puzzling. Gary Neville did the math, and there’s virtually no difference between what they were prepared to spend on Sanchez last summer, and what they’d have been required to spend now. There’s more to this than Petroleum City — they of 50m Kyle Walker — suddenly discovering financial frugality. Hopefully it’ll all come out.

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