Arsenal may be about to sign Aubameyang

Good morning, have any good stories to tell?

I don’t. I spent the last 10 days sick with the flu. Not an ordinary “cough cough sniffle sniffle” cold. Not the brown bottle flu. But an actual “soaking through the sheets every night with sweats, body wracked with aches, headaches, and fever” flu. Fortunately I have health care and I did myself a massive favor last year and quit smoking and drinking, and so far I haven’t had any opportunistic infections come along. I probably could have written sooner but I left my computer at work when I had to leave work with a fever.

What happened while I was gone? Not much. As I got better my daughter and I did get to sit on the couch for two afternoons and read to each other from the book The Wonderling. It’s a beautifully written book about a magical land and each of us reading to the other while doing the voices of the main characters was a little slice of heaven in what was otherwise a dark week.

As for the Arsenal, when last we spoke Arsenal swapped Alexis for Mkhitaryan and people were arguing over that. But since then, things have changed and also not changed. Just yesterday the Guardian reported that Arsenal and Dortmund had agreed a fee (£56m), that Aubameyang agreed a contract (a measly £180k), but that there was no deal unless Dortmund could get a striker in return.

You know what that means? Dortmund are doing to us what we just did to City and Man U over Alexis! HA!

Dortmund originally wanted Giroud but he didn’t want to go, so then Arsenal started shopping Giroud around and Chelsea got interested because (DUH) they had just been rummaging around in bins of Carrolls and Crouches for a striker. Chelsea said that they would sell Batshuayi to Dortmund, he agreed to go, but – like some old Western poker game – called Arsenal’s hand and low-balled us for Giroud. (Again… where have I heard of such tactics being applied.. oh wait! Arsenal!) Arsenal rejected the Giroud bid and for a day things seemed at a stalemate.

Then this morning Aubameyang flew to Luton and is apparently at London Colney getting a physical. So, deal to be announced soon?

Everyone will now fill their void with the hot take of how they think Auba, Ozil, Laca, and Mkhi will all play together. I’ve not changed from my previous position. I still think the biggest problem isn’t the front 3 or 4 but the midfield.

The other big problem here is that this isn’t a team constructed to break down opponents who don’t want the ball – the strength of Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, and (most people don’t know this) Ozil is actually in their transition play. That said, Wenger did try to sign both Mahrez and Vardy a few years back – which I suggested at the time was clearly part of a plan to overhaul Arsenal’s attack. So, maybe Wenger – or whoever is running the tactics and transfers now – finally got their dream?

That last bit raises a number of questions. This deal for Aubameyang has Sven Mislintat’s fingers all over it. It’s even been slipped conspicuously into reports that he’s “championed” the transfer and noted that Mislintat was the one who was “instrumental” in bringing Aubameyang to Dortmund in the first place.

Arsenal have also sold Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin and whatever you thought of them as players I can tell you for certain that Arsene Wenger loved them. He spoke glowingly about their work rate in training and there’s little doubt in my mind that, especially Walcott, they were given so much time because Wenger liked working with them as people. He only took the decision to drop both of them after it became painfully clear that they were never going to fulfil the potential he saw in them.

The normal course of action after being dropped at Arsenal is for a player to bump around for a few years still on the books. They go on loan here and there but literally can’t or won’t be sold. Szczesny was still on the books until he was sold to Juventus this summer, Joel Campbell is still an Arsenal player (since 2011), and Lucas Perez is on loan. There have been a number of high-profile transfers recently which is a good sign that the club is maturing or that the salaries Arsenal pay players are falling back in line with reality.

The questions that all this raises is “who is building this team”? Maybe I’m reading too much into this but it looks like Mislintat is putting his name out there as the responsible party for all of these changes.

Anyway, that’s the news for today. Arsenal will probably “announce Aubameyang” soon – maybe even before we play Swansea.

Oh yeah, Arsenal play Swansea. It’s a “winnable game” and Arsenal “should take all three points”. Moreover “it’s a chance to put pressure on Liverpoor and Hotspoors”. So we got this, right?



      1. I hope I’ll have met you before then. You’ve genuinely become a hero of mine. Mostly because you are an overseas Arsenal fan like myself, and lack the I’m-A-North-Londoner and secondly because, I absolutely enjoy your blog posts. Your BTN articles at Arseblog News are my favorite news/blog/commentary articles on any topic.

    1. The CDC estimates this year’s flu shot will only prevent about 20%, probably fewer, strains of flu that will actually infect Americans.

  1. Welcome back Tim. Glad you’re recovered.
    I hadn’t realised Perez was on loan. Don’t even know how he’s doing wherever it is he’ s doing it.
    I also didn’t now that the deal for Aubameyang had progressed as far as him coming over to the UK. That seems pretty conclusive doesn’t it.
    I must keep more up to date on the ins & outs at Arsenal.

  2. I was somewhat convinced that you had actually frozen over so I had to check Twitter to make sure that you were still alive.

  3. Lets not over-dramatize the Mislintat influence, glad as we all are that some9ne else is fully focused on that aspect of the club, but if Wenger isn’t interested, those players don’t come in. It is not as if we’ve not been linked to Mhki and Auba all these years. If Mislintat helps to ease the inside angle of the negotiations, so be it and that’s why he gets paid. Oh, and Arsene did sanction the new appointments, once Gazidis indicated the direction the club will go as we prepare for Wenger’s exit. Wenger is “building this team” and the club, to have a strong German influence and sprinkling of Spanish input. Think Ozil, Mustafi, Mertesacker as academy head, Lehman back as assistant, players with German league experience in Xhaka, Kolasinac, Mhki and now, Auba. Give the man credit due.

  4. There is no doubt that the new transfer team are in charge of the transfer activities. However we know that Arsenal have made bids for both players in the past which confirms they are Wenger’s choices.

    I remember us playing against BVB and Auba’s speed and determination to get to the ball made our fast players like Theo look slow as Mertersacker.

    He has been my dream striker for arsenal for years. At last we will give Ozil the tools to destroy defences.

    In regards to the other point of signing counter attacking players….. we still do better than most against the smaller teams. However The Arsenal should be rolling over ‘big’ teams on a regular basis and it’s this issue that Wenger had been trying to resolve.

    Mikhi, Mesut, Mahrez, Laca & Auba…….. Wengerball is BACK AGAIN!!!

  5. So now a scout carries out transfers beyond providing a recommendation? Ok, so both these players have history at Dortmund along with Mislintat, but I would say you are definitely reading too much into it. Wenger still runs transfers or he would walk. He made that clear with his comments on a DoF (though that also had to do with the tone and the implication of the question)

    I don’t know why people are so ready to see a feud or competition among people who perform the different functions they are supposed to for Arsenal. Maybe because they saw Wenger as a dictator.

    I believe it impossible that Wenger doesn’t want to have good people around himself. If at all he was miffed at StatsDNA and their recommendations it could only be because he didn’t think they knew quite how to make the best of it (and neither did he because he is the one who signed off on their transfers) Mislintat, by most accounts, bridged the gap between stats and the eye test at Dortmund. If he can do that at Arsenal, does anyone seriously believe Wenger wouldn’t welcome it?

  6. Man flu is always v bad!
    Excited about Auba, and Mkhi – basically just excited about change: it feels that we’re making up for our previous parsimony in the last 3 windows and going for a radical overhaul. V unWenger-like but like a breath of fresh air.
    Still, equally sorry to see Theo, Francis and Olivier go: good Gooners one and all, tho’ never top drawer and often frustrating to watch.
    No idea whether or not the team will work better, sure it will take some time to work out and gel so top 4 still unlikely, but more hopeful of a glorious Europa denouement to the season in May.

  7. Another thought – am I alone in thinking Chelsea are getting the worse of the Giroud for Batshuayi trade?
    Chelsea’s man is young, mobile, seems to know where the goal is and has a good conversion rate: what’s not too like?
    Whereas OG is a bigger but slower version of Morata with a similar/inferior strike rate.
    Dortmund, or W Ham, or W Brom, or Newcastle would have also made more sense for OG himself: I can’t see him working his way into W Cup contention by playing second fiddle to Morata.

      1. Batsman comes back at the end of the season, so they’re not missing much. 18m Giroud sounds like good business, until you read that they’re only offering him an 18 month contract because of his age. So at the end of next season he’s free to sign for us again, yay!

        In all seriousness though, it makes sense some sense if Giroud is seen as a Prem-proven, safe backup to Morata – an extended Plan A to rotate and keep fresh – rather than as a Plan B. I get it, it makes sense.

  8. That flu is miserable. Glad to hear you are recovered. Loved the story about reading books with your daughter. She will never forget it – and will probably do the same with her kids one day. My 12 year old daughter just asked me to sing the Beatles’ Good Night song to her last night. Used to do it every night when she was little. I made a vow never to refuse that request. Only so many more chances I will get.
    Anyway, Auba will be a big boon to the club. Or at least will give me reasons to keep following the Gunners and reading your blog!

  9. I’m going to be the sour person at the party here… I read that City are signing Aymeric Laporte for the same money we’re signing Aubameyang.

    I don’t get what we’re doing at all.

    As Ian Wright told Arseblog, we managed to “fall on our feet” with the Sanchez thing. We should have sold him in the summer and never mind replacements, just taken the cash. OK, so now we’ve dodged a bullet and we got a good player in exchange for Sanchez who could have walked in four months, but Myki’s more or less an Ozil-lite, an attacking midfield player. Is he a hedge against Ozil leaving this summer?

    And then we sign a prolific goalscorer albeit unproven in the Premier League, but we just signed one of those in the summer. And we’re about to let a very good Option B – super sub player go as make-weight in the deal.

    Nah, I don’t get it. I’m not going to get excited because it seems too slap-dash, too improvised. What happened to Lemar who we were so hot for last summer?

    GUARANTEED this is the extent of our spending in 2018. Maybe a few more Mavropolouseseses and fliers in the summer, but no first team contenders. We’ll resign Ozil despite having Myki, we’ll resign Wilshere despite having Ramsey and the sales of Mustafi and possibly Bellerin will get sucked up by salary bumps for those two.

    1. Well, I guess you could look at it that way. Or you could look at it like we’re replacing an aging benchwarmer with a starter in his prime. I don’t know. I’ve always had a soft spot for Giroud, but I’m thinking our attack looks better now than it did with Giroud in the ranks. The only worry is the Europa League, where PEA is cup tied, but with Mkh added to the mix, I think we have enough attacking talent to make up for the possible loss of Lacazette through injury.

      I have a feeling Mkh will prove a good bit of business for us.

      Anyway, this accusation of improvisation I’ve seen bandied about a lot in recent weeks, but you could make a case that most clubs, even the best of them, look like they improvise in the transfer market.

      1. City’s not improvising. They identify weaknesses and address.

        Liverpool’s not improvising. They have a very specific profile of player they want and they go out and buy them. And are willing to wait for their targets as they did with VVD and are doing with Keita.

        I would argue too that until Sanchez, United seemed to have a bit of a plan. Mourinho decides what he doesn’t like about his team and gives his recruiters a list of names he wants brought in. Aside from Perisic they got 3 out of 4 targets this past summer.

        Spurs are not improvising. They’re focused on young moldable players again with a certain profile that Pocchettino can work with.

        Chelsea are not improvising. They lead the league in crosses and decided they need a big player who can convert. Homegrown would be a bonus because they have roster problems. But they’re going to settle on Giroud because he checks off the criteria they needed.

        Improvisation in the transfer market is the hallmark of mid- and lower-table teams.

        1. I love sour Jack.

          When you get new scouting people in, you get new targets, right? Arsenal are not improvising, Arsenal just hired Mislintant and he’s delivering fookin Mkhi and Aubameyang.

          I mean it’s hilarious. I’m not 100% certain but when we hired him, someone probably made a sarcastic comment like – “oh yeah, just because we got Dortmund’s head of scouting doesn’t mean we’re suddenly going to buy Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang”. It might have been me. Or Tim, who was 100% nailed on that Auba would never join Arsenal because he literally laughed out loud at the idea when asked.

          And then what happens?

          1. Not sure how your scouting guy delivers two players who have been known as top-level stars for years. At best he can simply confirm that they fit the criteria set for him.

            For him to prove his worth, he needs to either identify the NEW Auba/Mkhi, or give a better idea if top stars, even known ones, will fit in with our system (thus giving us a higher success rate for transfers). That what I see our scouting department doing.

        2. Except if you’re willing to describe their business that way, you can do it for Arsenal, too. I could also find many examples of City, Chelsea, Liverpool, United acting in ways that you could call improvising: identifying targets, not getting them, or getting someone not their initial choice, or in a different window, or just reacting to a player who happens, unexpectedly, to become available. You can’t tell me Giroud was Chelsea’s target all along, nor even Sanchez as United’s. Sure, they sought players for positions they knew they wanted to fill, but Arsenal do the same thing.

    2. Agree to some extent, especially with the purchase of Auba. Between two consecutive transfer windows, we’ve spent over £100M on two very good but not top, top class forwards who may or may not be able to play together. Certainly if one of them can’t be effective out wide, you’ve bought yourself a very expensive reserve center forward while still failing to address this team’s biggest issue, central midfield. £100M and change gets you into Mbappe territory and if you’re spending that amount of money, I’d rather get one world class forward than two very good ones. Or stick with Lacazette and spend to upgrade midfield.

      I would say that some of our biggest issues of recent seasons-vulnerability to high pressure, careless possession play, ineffectual buildup, inability to defend counters-are primarily midfield issues. And we’re certainly not addressing that, either tactically or in the last two transfer windows, unless you count the addition by subtraction of elevating AMN to Coq’s position.

      Interestingly, the official site has stated Mislintat intends to make Julian Weigl Arsenal’s number one transfer target this coming summer. This transfer would get me excited. I would be severely disappointed if we missed out on him because of a shortage of funds due to us bringing in Auba. I would much rather we keep powder dry for that potential acquisition.

      1. The “official site” said that?! That seems very odd to me that they’d come right out and say it.

        1. Arsenal site has “media watch” section which links to other tweets and stories. So it’s not actually the dot com which is the source. It would seem strange to retweet untrue stories with no basis in fact. Although in this day and age, I guess it’s possible.

          1. Teesong,
            Oh ok, I thought maybe you were referring to that feature on the site.
            I can confirm, as someone who looks at it regularly, that they absolutely have stories on there that are as 100% untrue as your typical tabloid transfer made-up gossip. So while I’d be thrilled with Weigl (don’t watch BVB regularly, though), I wouldn’t be surprised if it has no basis in reality.

    3. In this market, Auba is underpriced for an elite forward, which he is. You take those transfer opportunities when they are presented. Competition is a good thing. Sure, fitting them both in is a problem, but that’s what the squad game is about. United have a glut of quality forwards, and Mourinho makes it work. We will have only two good strikers in Auba and Laca, which may not be enough squad depth.

      I’d be sad to lose Giroud, but going from second to third choice does him no favours in a World Cup year. from a footballing POV, we are solving the problem of a competitor team we need to, and can catch, to finish in Top 4. With Sanchez we had no control because he would have been a free agent in 4 months. With Giroud, we do. It should have been ABC… anyone but Chelsea.

      1. Agree, but they had us by the proverbial balls when it turned out that Giroud wanted to stay in London and (how bad is our luck!!) Dortmund’s first choice replacement, after Ollie, was Batshuayi.

        As desperate as they are for a backup target man, there’s no way they’re as desperate to get in Giroud as we are to get in PEA (especially at this point, where, if the deal fell through, it would leave us with serious egg on our faces–something I guarantee you Ivan Gazidis cares about).

        The mistake was wasting a week lowballing Dortmund when the deal could have been done quicker, while Chelsea were still looking to bring in Andy Carroll and hadn’t started sniffing around Giroud. That’s typical arrogance on our part, and it’s cost us. But once Chelsea were in a position to stop our move for PEA by refusing to let go of Batshuyai, we were screwed, and the best thing to do was let them have Giroud for relative peanuts. He’s well down the pecking order here and he’s going to be 32 in the summer. He’ll be missed, but sentiment shouldn’t blind Arsenal fans to the fact that this was still good business that’s improved us.

        Of course, we can’t defend and our deep midfield is still a shambles, so the team is still going nowhere until Wenger retires…

  10. Yes, I get the pessimism. but I always felt that as much as Giroud is a great goal scorer, he was a misfit with a more wide open, movement-based offense. If teams had big defenders, they could just harass and hang on him in the box, and we weren’t able to get him the ball in good spots. And he couldn’t make runs in behind. When you have players who can play through balls like Ozil, Ramsey, Jack, Xhaka, etc., Giroud seems like a misfit. And when you add Mikhi to the mix, now there are even more guys who share the ball and move without it. Sanchez and Giroud didn’t fit that mold. I’m not saying there was a grand plan to these moves – I think it was opportunistic at best. But a fast goal scorer like Auba seems like a better fit stylistically. And it should open things up for Laca, assuming he still fits into the side with Auba.
    Wenger wants to play the beautiful game, since we don’t believe in proper CDM’s or Defenders. I’m willing to reserve judgment.

  11. The only thing I spent more time doing over the past 10 days than googling “Aubameyang”, is fruitlessly refreshing the page for this blog. Welcome back, sir.

    Giroud for 18m. I’d be tempted to tell Chelsea to get lost. Even if it risked PEA. How on earth did we find ourselves in a 3-way tug of war? Business is business. Either BVB sell us PEA, or they don’t.

    It’s a strange old universe where we sell Giroud and keep Welbeck. Where Welbeck, the least reliable source of goals of the 5 strikers we started the season with, being the only point of continuity from last season. Laca is still new, so he barely counts.

    On the game itself, good to have Ramsey back, and hopefully our cup final specialist will stay fit for the Carabo finals. He must be asking what the hell happened. Last time he played, Coq, Walcott, Sanchez and Akpom were all Arsenal players.

  12. Welcome back to health Tim. I was adrift. It’s like when your local bar closes for refurbishment.

    1. Watching first half of Swans v Arse on a Myanmar stream, 1-1… miserable conditions… Nacho you strange genius… Leroy Fer in looks like he’s auditioning for that Arsenal DM role he’s always been linked with.

    1. More than most Iwobis? I don’t think I’ve seen him with the ball in order to lose it. Xhaka has suddenly worked out how to find Ozil on the right.

      1. What happened? You mean, besides us just being utterly useless all over the pitch? Not much. Still 2-1. Should be 3-1. If Giroud rescues a point, I don’t know whether I’ll laugh or cry. In any case, the most we’re getting from this insipid performance is a draw.

  13. I remember when we bought Cech, and Lampard (or was it Terry?) said that Cech alone was worth an extra 10-12 points in a season. I thought they meant an addition!

    1. He tried to clear it with his left because his right is no good. You see striker scuff shots like that all the time for the same reason.

      I will say I don’t know what Monreal was doing letting the ball go out of play before that and Mustafi’s decision to play it back to Cech wasn’t great either, given he knew both penalty boxes are like swimming pools. So yeah, it’s on Cech, but he should never have had to make that clearance.

  14. Utter lack of creativity, and ridiculous defending. Auba may decide to fly back to Dortmund tonight.

    1. Haha! Yes, you remembered that I no longer watch many Arsenal games these days. I should have stayed away today, but at least I got to see that — in league play, anyway — we are just as predictable as we were when I last watched this team with any regularity.

      Mostly, I feel sorry for these players, many of whom I genuinely like.

  15. My point proven. Aubameyang ain’t fixing a team that lets Swansea put 3 past them. What a joke.

    1. It’s easier to defend when you’re not chasing the game. Auba will help with that. Poor old Lacazette looked, well, not like someone you’d pay a lot of money to come play with you.

      1. Yeah he looked out of sorts right from the start. Not sure why because this is not usual for him. I mean even when he’s not very effective, he looks better than this. Maybe he resents the possibility (likelihood?) of losing his place to Aubameyang? He seems like a sensitive sort of guy.

  16. Dear oh dear oh dear!
    My post window optimism has just disappeared, in the same way our midfield and defense did.
    Rain and wind and away in Wales – it’s been a long time since we flourished in those conditions. I still like the idea of Auba and Mkhi, but we do need some backbone from somewhere.

  17. I have a long and storied history of trying to defend players from becoming scapegoats. It really rubs me up the wrong way. Despite that, I think Mustafi is currently a liability: he’s talented no doubt, but strikers are reading him, turning him, beating him and when he’s on the ball they press because they know he can be relied on to hit a daft pass. HYPE ALERT put Mavropanos in…

    Having now seen the goal, I’m not mad at Cech. It’s one of those errors, and he doesn’t usually make them. He was good earlier in the match, for example making a punch with attackers incoming and both feet set.

    1. Cech’s kicking has never been great (never had to be all those years at Chelsea, who never played out from the back all that much), and it’s been pretty atrocious for a long time now (a year at least?), something I’ve been surprised others haven’t seemed to pick up on.

      But I agree that the goal, while *obviously* his fault, is not as bad a mistake as it looks, if you catch my drift. It’s a howler, but an honest one, whereas Nacho and to a lesser extent Mustafi (and Xhaka on the first goal!), were just being stupid.

  18. With Giroud in the squad (and playing) for tonights match, it would suggest that he won’t be going to Chelsea or anywhere else. He was key to the Aubameyang deal going through, so is it all now off?
    Dreadful performance from us again. Monreal was the hero & villain and Cech completely miskicked a clearance straight to a Swansea forward to just tap in.

  19. And I don’t rule out the idea that Mustafi seems to be hindered by playing some weird all-action combined CB / No. 8 role

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a hot and cold player. One week he looks amazing. The next week like he’s only just learned to play football.

      1. This.

        In any event, he wasn’t the finished article when we bought him, and was never worth 35m.

        Plus, he’s small, and has only average speed.

        1. Have to disagree with Mustafi not being worth 35 million. Young CBs with some show of potential all went for around that price those few years. I can only remember Eric Bailly’s name right now, but this is a point I’ve made repeatedly. The problem with Mustafi is not how much he cost. Arsenal paid the going rate.

  20. Masterstroke, latest on Giroud is that both clubs (Chelsea and Arsenal) have agreed a fee in the region of £18m for him. On this outcome, you have to ask if that’s the right decision.

    1. The question is how bad you want Aubameyang, becaus ewithout Ollie going, there’s no deal with Dortmund.

    2. Besides that, he’s a 31 year old squad player, no challenge will depend on him. Like with Ox or Coquelin, replace them with better players with a better upside and get on with it.

  21. Sorry to hear about your flu Tim. Sounds like a nasty one.

    I hate to be a negative Nancy here but I will repeat what I said a couple of weeks ago. Arsenal could buy Messi and we would still finish no better than fourth. As long as Wenger keeps de-prioritizing the defensive/central MF position (and by that extension – the defense), it matters f**k all who we buy. So umm.. I think I may be one of the very few Arsenal fans who isn’t excited by Auba coming. It’s a shame really cos I should be. He is a fantastic player but we what we really need is a defensive minded midfielder.

  22. Xhaka looked like a disinterested bystander on the first and third goal. I don’t see how we can afford to continue carrying him in midfield.

    1. I called time on Xhaka a few weeks ago. It’s time to give AMN a run in the league and demote Xhaka to Europa.

      1. He runs a lot, more than most. It’s not a lack of motivation or caring. He has this inexplicable tendency to switch off in his own box and let defenders run off of him. It happens time after time after time. It’s like he doesn’t see that as his responsibility or something. More likely, he just watches the ball and forgets where the opponent is. It’s maddening because otherwise I see a highly committed player but these “brain farts” cannot be allowed to go on.

        1. Agree with Doc on that. He obviously cares. Maybe just not that bright? I didn’t think all those earlier “mistakes” were so bad (notably the Liverpool and United ones; the Bournemouth one was awful), but his play tonight on the first goal was just unforgivable. He absolutely needs to be dropped.

          Also–and this isn’t going to turn into a defense of Xhaka, because why defend the indefensible?–but I suddenly remembered the other day what Xhaka looked like on his first few starts for us: he would play these ridiculously good long passes over the top to Theo and others running in on goal. I even recall him doing it with his weaker right foot a few times. (Seriously, if you’ve forgotten what he looked like, go back and watch those first few games on the official website.)

          What the heck happened to that guy?? I don’t think he’s played a successful pass like that all season, and he barely even attempts it (and Lacazette is constantly trying to make runs in behind!). He still plays the occasional cross field Hollywood ball, but a) those passes are rarely as useful as they are cool-looking, b) he plays them less often than he used to, and c) even those he’s been mishitting in recent months.

          What’s happened to him? I accept he’s never been great at defense, but now even the things he’s supposed to be great at he looks utterly incapable of doing.

  23. Wenger made a huge mistake by taking Elnany off the pitch. He is the only deciplined midfielder who actually cares about collecting the ball from the defenders. He left us with the useless confused complex of Ramsey-Xhka
    It was predictable that we’re gonna collapse

    1. Or, if Mikhi (or anyone really) scores a goal, he’s a good coach who took a risk because he was trying to win the game. Besides, ElNeny was on a yellow.

      The real issue for me is that we have developed a near pathologic inability to perform at a high level away from home this year (some years it’s the reverse). Yes, the pitch was soggy, yes, Swansea were “up for it” but this was part of a bigger trend of laying eggs on the road all season. It’s too easy for opponents to play against Arsenal.

      1. I wouldn’t change my word even if we managed to win this game Dr
        Miky should have come in instead of either Xhaka or Ramsey or even Iwobi
        Arsenal after Elnany was exactly a spineless team with no one taking responsibility to cover up the spaces and make himself available for the pass from the defenders.
        I do not blame Mustafi or Cheq for the second goal
        Even with the third goal you watch Xhaka’s movement and positioning and marking… nothing

        1. Yeah, pretty much agree with this (not that I think Elneny’s all that great).

          Similar thing happened with his subs late in the Bournemouth game: Ramsey and Walcott came on, two runners, and we didn’t have enough players to knit the play together from deep (it wasn’t their fault, it’s AW’s for killing the team’s balance). He goes all kamikaze in those situations, not realizing that doing so kills the little cohesion we have, when we’re desperate to get some control of the game to put sustained pressure on the opposition’s goal.

          Come to think of it, AW’s been making horrendous subs for decades, so this is not really news.

          1. This is classic Wenger. As soon as we are chasing the game, his default move is to put as many strikers on the pitch as possible.

        2. I think the yellow is the only justification for that sub because Elneny was the most involved player of all of them. Xhaka was poor and I would have taken him off.

          I wouldn’t start him next game either, but not sure Wenger won’t. His patience with players is seemingly endless, until it isn’t and then there’s no way back. I think I can understand why he does that but I don’t agree with it in this age of deeper squads.

        3. I don’t think singling an individual out in context of a poor team performance is ever fully justified, but yes, Xhaka did have a stinker. I just think focusing on him misses a bigger point. Arsenal needed to play with less verticality, invite Swansea on to them (CB’s pushing up) and then hit quick combinations and passes through their lines, expanding rapidly much like a spring that uncoils suddenly. That’s exactly the sort of situation where both Lacazette and Ozil would be at their best. It would’ve suited our defenders better (and Xhaka too) because the game would’ve been more in front of them and they would’ve had less space to defend; Ayew and Clucas are quick but not much more than that. Take that advantage away and they’d just get marked out of the game. That never happened. We played exactly as they wanted us to play and it only worked even a little bit offensively because of Ozil’s individual quality. It didn’t work defensively from the first minute and we never changed it. The manager has to be realistic about what his players can and can’t do.

  24. We missed Jack and his ability to dribble and ferry between the lines. Their tactics weren’t rocket science… let us pass it endlessly square and wide, go through the congested middle, and hit us swiftly on the counter. We panic and fall to pieces when faced with quick attacks.

    That includes Cech. Mustafi was terrible, but the mistake was wholly Cech’s, a fact that he acknowledged. He’s clearly lost a step. He also punched behind the goal line a ball he’d have comfortably caught a few years ago.

  25. Wow, we were woeful!

    Unlike that sentence, we can’t seem to string 4 Ws together.

    Are we going to get the much coveted CL spot? It seems highly unlikely now, and I’m notorious here for being an optimist.

    Agree also on the frustrations with Mustafi and especially Xhaka. Replace those two with Chambers/Holding and AMN and we’d look much better.

  26. Mustaphi isn’t working at all
    Xhaka hates DM role
    Elneny isn’t arsenal fit
    #wengerout# is the only solution

  27. when samir nasri left the club, his biggest gripe was that there were always players on the pitch that didn’t deserve to be in the side and how this undermined any chance arsenal had to win a championship. he was absolutely right but many arsenal fans missed it because they were more focused on the fact that samir was an a-hole.

    fast forward to now. does granit xhaka deserve to be in the side? will playing him undermine any chance arsenal has of competing for a championship? i’m aware it seems like i’m scapegoating him but i’m not. the reality is that it’s not him that picks the team.

    xhaka’s talented, no doubt. however, it takes more than talent to be a top player. i believe that xhaka is the least intelligent midfield player arsenal has. when you look at what he does when he’s not on the ball, it’s appalling; he seems to be clueless to what’s going on around him. on the first goal, he actually looks at clucas as he’s making this simple diagonal run and does nothing about it. same with the third goal. i’m willing to bet the house that if he’s fit, he starts the next game. it’s an absolute shame. at 25 years, his play is unacceptable. he’ll never be a top player and wenger needs to swallow his pride and sell this kid to anyone stupid enough to buy him.

  28. on the second goal, i blame monreal more. it was an awful decision for nacho to play the ball to mustafi while in a corner, facing his own goal, and with an opponent on his back. mustafi shares his disgust with monreal’s decision but only after the goal. he knew he shouldn’t have received the ball and should have passed the ball right back to monreal (while calling him an a-hole for playing that ball). not only that, mustafi plays an awful back pass to his keeper under pressure, which is an absolute no-no; i’d rather concede a corner kick.

  29. lastly, in the summer, i declared that alexandre lacazette was loic remy 2.0. well, lacazette hasn’t changed my mind. i don’t care what you can do, if you’re playing center forward in the bpl and you can’t keep the ball, you’re not playing good soccer and your team isn’t going to create too many chances.

    there’s no way in hell lacazette should have ever played at center forward ahead of giroud. there’s only one manager in world football that would have started lacazette at center forward ahead of giroud and it’s arsene wenger. if wenger were smart, he would have played lacazette as a second striker behind giroud like griezmann plays for france. looks like samir nasri hit the nail on the head.


    1. Well, it’s not so much the decision to play Lacazette over Giroud but the failure to implement a style that suits Lacazette, rather, the failure to make changes soon enough when it’s clear things aren’t working. The same things happened when Giroud was our main focus. In both cases, our play became one dimensional and predictable and teams knew exactly how to snuff out our striker’s strengths. Lacazette is never going to outmuscle people or dribble through them. He needs service on to his favored foot and that service needs to be behind the lines as well as in between them. More importantly, Arsenal need to invite teams to come on to them more to open up those sorts of spaces. It’s as if Arsenal just aren’t even trying to do that. Instead, we squeeze right up on teams, try to thread the eye of the needle 3-4 times in the same move before shooting and inevitably find ourselves chasing the opposition into vast swathes of space with midfielders and defenders who are outmatched for pace. Every manager now is putting his quickest forwards on against us, knowing this is what will happen. Wenger’s response to that is to tell his players to play the same style but do it better. It can work if it’s done with the right intensity, chiefly because then we end up winning the ball back in their half, but we’ve never been able to string multiple games of that intensity together. Definitions of insanity and all that.

      Beyond that though, I am officially worried about Alexander individually after seeing him get beaten to a 50/50 ball over the top by Swansea’s CB. That just shouldn’t happen. He seemed like a player who had given up, on that particular game at least. It’s too early to say he’s a failure or whatnot but it’s hard to see a future for him as Arsenal’s lone striker, as long as Wenger is in charge at least.

      1. Not a ‘tactics’ guy myself, but smarter fans than me have said that Lacazette is the kind of player that thrives on smart through balls and such, while at Arsenal a lot of his service has been cut back crosses into the box which don’t really suit him.

    2. Lacazette is a very clever ballplayer — he’s more than a stick-it-in-the-net merchant — and as is clear to anyone who watches Arsenal games, he can do good link play with clever players, Ozil, Alexis and Ramsey, if not consistently often enough. It’s half a season in an intense, new league. Too soon for the doom mongering. Morata and Lukaku are struggling too, in case you hadn’t noticed.

      Laca is a better, more mobile CF than Giroud. Not even close. And more productive. All that said, I like Olly. Chelsea are getting a good player, who is the best header of the ball in the premier league. I shudder to think of Mustafi marking him.

  30. Hey Timmy,
    I’m so sorry to hear that you were sick dude. Should have emailed or called you up. I don’t remember ever seeing you not post for so long, so was wondering what was up.
    On a different note: Since I’ve moved to London, I have now been to 3 stadiums: The Emirates, Millwall, and Stamford Bridge. That seems to cover the whole spectrum nicely 🙂
    I just want to say that I wasn’t ready for the overwhelming luxury of the Emirates. Not what I’m used to when I go to see football…. but it’s the future, isn’t it…?

  31. If Ozil signing a new contract is true (The Ornacle has spoken) at 350k, and both Miki and Auba are signed at 180-200k, I reckon we’ll be about level on our wage bill as it stood prior to the business this January once Giroud and Debuchy leave.

    We’ve also signed a new commercial partnership so we can up our bill beyond the 7m annual cap. Important if we’re to get Wilshere and Ramsey to sign on. Also rumours we’re still on the market for one more signing. (Max Meyer mooted)

  32. Claudeivan, that’s the beauty of the transfer. We don’t get to play Chelsea again, this season. Hopefully, we’ve brought in competent defenders by the next season. With Ozil signed up and Jack likely to do same, we can look forward to the next season with some optimism.

  33. doc, understand, i’m not throwing shade lacazette’s way. i merely wanted to temper the expectation of arsenal fans if he was meant to replace giroud. btw, him losing that many 50/50 balls was not just yesterday, it’s been all season long. regardless of what formation you play, if you play with a lone center forward, he’s got to be able to win and keep the ball. i really don’t care how much he scores, as long as his play leads to chances created for the team.

    if the max meyer rumor is true, it’s bye-bye xhaka. meyer was my favorite player during the last olympics. it’s not to say he was the best as that honor clearly goes to neymar jr. and even for german team, that honor goes to former arsenal “legend”, serge gnabry. however, meyer was my favorite and i believe in his potential.

    maybe the january arrivals is wenger’s way of holding his hand up and saying he got some things wrong and he’s willing to finally admit to it. we’ll see.

    1. Max Meyer? Please don’t play with my emotions. I haven’t gotten excited about this this transfer window so far even with the arrivals of Mkhi and Auba. Meyer + AMN at the base of our midfield has the potential to be Santi+Coq 2.0. Now that gets me excited.

  34. I admit to not having seen him play. I thought he was a winger, but obviously I’m confusing him with some other young German. Who’s he like? Is he obviously better than Wilshere?

    I can’t imagine we have time to get him in today, but maybe in the summer.

  35. I had a longish post yesterday night that got lost in the void (maybe because it included the word h*ll?), the gist of which was:

    Remember when Xhaka was good at long passing??

    I don’t just mean long crossfield Hollywood balls. He still does those occasionally, albeit a) less than he used to, b) he’s messed them up several times of late, and c) they’re more cool-looking than affective anyway.

    No, I mean inch perfect, early balls over the top to onrushing forwards. Very early in his Arsenal career (go back and watch his first few starts), he did this quite often, and it was majestic to behold. He’d even pull off the trick with his weaker foot occasionally. I figured this is why we’d bought him, and it would bring a whole new dimension to our attack. Oh how wrong I was.

    So what happened?? We can point to Theo being benched (interestingly, I don’t remember Xhaka playing those sorts of balls that often at the end of last season, even when his form was pretty good), but we’ve had others, notably Alexis and Ozil, who can make that sort of run, and Lacazette’s been trying to do it for a half-season now.

    It’s one thing to be hung up on Xhaka’s defense, but he was never that good at that to begin with (the switching off is unforgivable, mind). But why isn’t he even doing things he’s supposed to be great at to a decent level any more?

    And more importantly: does ANYONE else even remember those beautiful long passes, or did I just dream them?

    1. Xhaka, interestingly, had a decent run of form in recent games. He played a more advanced role in Ramsey’s absence, and if you remember, got a good poacher’s goal against Chelsea.

      Look, we were shocking yesterday, but performances like the one against Chelsea make me want to temper things a bit. How to we go so easily from great to awful? Mustafi, for example. He was terrific against Chelsea. As was Xhaka. I’m not ready to frogmarch him out of the team just yet. The question you have to ask (and it kind of answers itself), is Wenger playing him right.

      My love for Ramsey is well known (chuckle), but it’s as plain as day that he and Xhaka can’t play together. Xhaka, you see folks, is an attacking midfielder. Tracking runners into the box and tackle/shielding the back four are not parts of his natural game. Yes, he can do the Pirlo-esque back of midfield quarterbacking, but that’s a part of his repertoire. It’s a bonus. It doesn’t make him a sitter. So we bought a good player and deployed him incorrectly. That’s not Xhaka’s fault.

      The other thing is that Arsene can’t please all of Jack, Ramsey and Xhaka, even with a 433. He’s going to have to make some tough choices. AMN is going to be key, but we still need someone of high quality in the middle of the park who can tackle and shield. I say we give Arturo Vidal one last, big payday. But one of Jack, Ramsey and Xhaka would have to make way.

      Elneny is a decent chap, a decent player with positional intelligence and a good squad man, but he’ll never rise above that.

      1. Claude,
        See, I don’t think Xhaka’s an attacking midfielder (and I wasn’t that enamored with his play against Chelsea, though I thought he was decent and put in a good shift for the team, as did everyone else). Or if he is, he’s an average one, and should be behind like 3-5 others in that role. It’s not just that he’s slow, it’s that he’s not at all nimble and has a sluggish turn. Sure, he can do less damage there when he coughs up the ball, but he can also do less good there than others.

        Of course, labels like “offensive mid”, “number 10,” “box-to-box,” “DM”, “deep-lying playmaker” etc, etc, are imprecise. Actual players don’t fit into these categories cleanly. I agree Xhaka’s not a DM. He’s shown he doesn’t have the discipline/diligence/speed to protect the defense by himself. I think his best position, the only one he can really excel at, is as a deep-lying playmaker who helps protect the defense alongside a quicker proper DM, which means Xhaka’s better when we have the ball than when we don’t, but not that he’s “offensive” in the sense of getting into the final third much.

        I also acknowledge that he’s ok as one of the more advance players in a midfield three. I guess that means he can be a “box to box” player, but here’s where labels fall short, since the way that, e.g., Ramsey will play the box-to-box role (a more natural fit), and the way Xhaka will play it, are miles apart. I certainly wouldn’t encourage Xhaka to make many runs into the box, for instance, or want him receiving the ball a lot “in between the lines,” as he’s too ponderous to play on the half turn. He was neat and tidy in that role the last few games (Chelsea and CP), but obviously is less suited to it than Jack, Rambo, Iwobi, Mikhi, Ozil, etc.

        But here’s the thing. In either role (deep lying or further forward), he’s hurt by Wenger’s insistence on only EVER playing with one deep lying midfielder (if that!). He not only doesn’t seem to believe in genuine DM’s any more, he doesn’t even want more possession-oriented players staying deep and clogging up the space. He always wants one Arteta type player staying very deep (in the last few games Elneny’s been so deep he’s dropping into the back line half the time), and NO ONE ELSE. The other two in the midfield three (or one in the midfield two) push quite high up the pitch, ostensibly to open up space for the defenders to pass between the lines, but often in practice, just clogging up the space higher up for Ozil et al, and making us vulnerable to the counter. That one deep player used to be Xhaka; currently it’s Elneny. But since Xhaka’s shown he’s not that good being the holding player by himself, it forces him to have to play higher up the pitch than he’s really comfortable with, if he wants to stay in the team (this is currently as part of a 3, but it’s the same basic issue we had when Wenger wanted Coquelin to push super high up in his partnership with Santi).

        Basically, it’s bad/outdated tactics, and further underscores the impression that we buy players with little sense of their strengths (hard to believe) and little idea of how we’re going to play them to get the best out of them (more believable).

        1. PS I think it’s ironic (not necessarily all wrong, just ironic!) that you’re saying Xhaka and Ramsey can’t be a partnership, and that Xhaka’s not a holding player, when everyone said for the first year we had Xhaka that the whole point of buying him was to partner him with Rambo, and Wenger also took a lot of stick when he suggested early on that Xhaka was a box-to-box player rather than a holding one.

          1. PPS I agree with you that Jack, Ramsey, and Xhaka can’t all be accommodated in the starting lineup.

            In fact, I’d say that, if all four of Auba, Laca, Mikhi, and Ozil are to regularly start (debatable, of course), then we probably shouldn’t even be starting two of those three midfielders.

            I’ve been thinking about it for the last week, and have come to the conclusion that our best hope of accommodating those four attacking players is either a 4-2-2-2, or a modified 4-3-3, or better yet, a system that transitions fluidly between those two. And the best chance of doing that without being constantly, terribly exposed without the ball is to play two central midfielders who
            a) are very comfortable in possession and pass accurately (strike against Ramsey)
            b) are actually diligent defensively and quick to see and snuff out danger (huge strike against Xhaka atm)
            c) HOLD THEIR POSITION in the vast majority of instances (with Ozil and Mikhi taking turns to drop deep to conduct matters, we don’t need another dedicated playmaker/attacker back there; this one rules out Ramsey (he can be backup to Micki and Ozil), and is a strike against Jack, though one I think he can overcome)
            d) Can tackle crisply and efficiently (Ramsey and AMN the best at this, but no one amazing)

            So, in the very short term (as in this weekend) I’d start Elneny and AMN behind that front four. They’re not sexy, but they’re diligent, will certainly protect the back line together a good deal better than the trio did against Swansea, and will also be good at recycling possession/building from the back with quick, crisp (though unspectacular) passing. Basically, with that front four we don’t need creativity in deep midfield, we need solidity, intelligence, efficiency.

            In the longer term I’d partner Jack with one of those other two (hopefully AMN in very long term). I wrote off Elneny a while back because he seemed too defensively lightweight, but the last few games have made me think maybe he’s improving in that department. He certainly looks better suited for that deep role than Xhaka at the moment, and AMN can probably learn a few things from apprenticing for him (and hopefully will turn out much better).

        2. it’s not only that xhaka is slow but he seems to read the game slow or fails to interpret developing situations as timely as most midfielders. initially, i chalked it up to him “adapting to the speed of the english game” and thought the decision to play cazorla ahead of him was sound. however, it’s been a year and a half. he’s 25. he’s had long enough.

          there is an eerie correlation between him and thomas vermaelen. both were exceptionally talented players but they both did a poor job reading the game and it cost them against top opposition.

  36. My first post went into the ether, so I’ll just say here, again, welcome back Tim. Your health and recovery is more important than the blog. Besides, like Trump, you managed to tweet from your handheld, so you weren’t completely silenced.

    I don’t know what I did more in the past 10 days… google “Aubameyang”, or fruitless refresh the 7amkickoff homepage.

  37. Olivier Giroud has left Arsenal. I knew it was coming, I understand the reasons for it, but I find myself feeling quite sad about this. You can tell by how the official site is treating his departure that he is seen as a member of the Arsenal family, and rightly so.

    1. There’s a description that Arsenal fans have of certain players… “Arsenal through and through”. They said that of Freddie Ljungberg, and they’re saying it of Olivier Giroud. Arsenal through and through. It’s the warrior spirit, not the silky skill.

      I feel more sad over OG leaving than Sanchez going, and OG isn’t remotely in the same league.

      He also had the best fans’ song, bar none.

      We will miss you, big guy.

    2. didn’t want this guy to leave. he was class. foolishly, he allowed himself to be played by that wannabe model at the hotel but, besides that, he kept his nose clean. he was a model pro and i can only imagine a fabulous team mate. tears almost welled up when he did his farewell clap to the fans last night.

      truth be told, i wasn’t excited about his arrival because i knew he’d been signed to soften the blow of the impending rvp departure. there was no way he was in van persie’s class as a player but what an excellent servant he’s been to the club. a centurion who’s scored some big goals in important games when no one else could. i’m sure goonerdom will still sing his name upon his emirates return. he’s the most successful center forward to come to the bpl from france in the last decade and he wore the shirt with pride. good luck this summer and in the future, oli.

      dang, his name’s already been removed from the players list on the website; stuff happens fast.

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