On Jack

Good morning. Continuing the theme from yesterday, I made “Thousand Island” deviled eggs this morning. Instead of mayo, I mixed in some of my homemade Thousand Island dressing. They are pretty ok. Not really elegant. Kind of more like “raccoon”. You know? Like something that people think is cute but really just eats garbage?

Speaking of “raccoon”, I had a long conversation on whether Arsenal should keep Wilshere over on the Twitter. And yes, I think both Wilshere and Twitter are raccoon.

Rumor has it that Arsenal have upped the offer to Wilshere to £100k a week and Gooner Twitter is pretty much unanimous that this is a crazy offer for Wilshere. Naturally, I’m not in that camp.

I don’t have an emotional attachment to Wilshere. I never thought he was the next great English midfielder, never bought into the hype (not the way I did with Ox who I maintained would be a great player from the moment I saw him play), and thought that he was a one-trick pony (dribble), who doesn’t really pass the ball well enough to be Ozil, cannot play defense at all, and often tends to hold on to the ball way too long. I even had an entire article about this problem with him holding on to the ball too long just a few weeks back.

So why the “change of heart”? Well, it’s not a change of heart. I like Jack as a squad player. You don’t need two Ozils on a team, but you could always use a guy like Wilshere who can come in and occasionally score goals, who can play in cups and in other competitions.

I also admit that Jack Wilshere has peaked, this is probably the best Jack Wilshere that we are ever going to see at Arsenal and it’s not that great. He’s really not that good of a player and he’s always injured. But honestly, a lot of the players on this team are always injured and aren’t that good. No one had a problem re-signing Mohamed Elneny and his main talent up to now has been that he “runs around a bit.”

Jack is like Rosicky in a way. We’ve held on to him through all of this injury hell, he’s not gotten any better, he’s only going to show flashes of brilliance from here on out, and his best role is going to be as a squad player. Wilshere could be a great late-game sub, when Arsenal are trying to break down the opposition and need someone to bring the ball in close to the strikers and play one-touch passes in the box.

He is also going to play differently under a new manager – which is the line everyone trots out when I say that Elneny/Xhaka/Kolasinac could go and is a fair enough point. But what’s great about re-signing Jack Wilshere is that if the next manager doesn’t want him, you can easily sell him on because he’s British.

That’s really his main selling point. Chelsea paid £40m for Danny Drinkwater and Jack Wilshere is better than Danny Drinkwater (younger too) so I think there will always be a market for British players in England as long as they have their affirmative action program in place. Imagine trying to replace him with a British player in this market? A market where Ross Barkley cost £17m?

I understand the frustration with Jack. I tend to think he was part of the reason why his career was stalled, certainly the partying and smoking haven’t enhanced his football career. I also think he was pig-headed about holding on to the ball too much and openly refused to change his game*.

But Arsenal also stuck with Jack for all these years, he’s been on the books since he was 9, and it seems to me like letting him go on a free this summer would be tantamount to throwing away a bunch of money. Yes Jack will make £6m a year, but if he doesn’t work out with the new manager, or whatever, you can easily sell him for £10, 15, or 20m depending on his performances.

It’s going to be really funny when we let him go on a free, he goes to the World Cup, has 4 assists, and is signed by one of the big clubs looking for an English squad player.


POST SCRIPT – I meant to say this before but ran out of time:

  1. I don’t care whether Arsenal sign or don’t sign Jack. I just think not signing him is throwing away money. But…
  2. I also don’t care about how much money Arsenal have, how much salary a player commands, or how much money Arsenal waste. Arsenal are one of the richest clubs in the world and honestly, the poverty act this club puts on is ridiculous. But I’m sick and tired of worrying about Arsenal’s finances and I’m not going to do it anymore. If this owner pulls a “Sunderland” on this club, then I might worry, but worrying about whether Wilshere is “worth” 80,90,100,110,70,50 blah blah blah isn’t something I have time for in my life.
  3. Clearly the club think Wilshere at £100k is a good deal and they are in charge of worrying about the money, they DO sit around worrying about the money (constantly it seems), and I trust that they also know what a player like Jack Wilshere is worth. These are GMs from Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund. I think we are ok.


*I remember back when he was a kid and I wrote an article which was basically “Jack needs to pass more and dribble less” – the response to me was “stick to NFL, Yank, the problem is that Wilshere needs to be protected by the refs”.


  1. Does resigning a player ever hurt? I know wenger held on to players too long.. also, during his era we hardly see him push a player out even though he is not in his plans.. thats a big problem but that also made him a players fav… imo.. You can always get your investment back if you can offload players at the right time. Resigning jack holding elneny makes a lot of sense..

  2. Keeping Wilshire only makes sense from an English (home grown) standpoint. Of course the new offer could just be an insurance against losing him for free during the summer. The new man may not want him but if he’s contracted we should be able to recoup some of the money lavished on him during his long absences through injury.

  3. The way to ensure easy pealing of boiled eggs, is to plunge them into ice cold water straight out of the cooking pan. The egg contracts as it rapidly cools, thus detaching itself from the inside of the shell.

    This advice is offered free by OrsonKaertscookerycookeryclasses.com. Orson Kaertscookeryclass.com accepts no responsibility for any loss, damage or injury sustained by users of this advice. Pealing eggs can be hazardous. Wearing appropriate PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) is advisable.

    1. it’s exactly wrong…

      what plunging them into cold water DOES do is expand the cooked egg back to fill out the shell where that air pocket forms and not leave a flat spot on the bottom.

      1. But I always pierce the rounded end of the shell before boiling, this allows the air inside the egg to escape. This means that the egg can expand during cooking and, thus, is able to shrink when cooled rapidly.

  4. I have a bit of a problem with us signing/re-signing/extending players before the new manager is embedded. Will a couple of weeks really kill us to wait? I know Sven and Raul are primarily going to be the ones building the team rosters, but the new manager should at least have some input. I get your point about Jack’s resale value even if we do sign him, but the bigger the wage we tie him to the lower the price we get for him on the market, because there will be fewer bidders. I would definitely have waited to extend Holding and I wouldn’t ink Ramsey to any new deal just yet.

      1. Because I’m arguing that maybe neither of those players suit the new manager. Unlikely, sure, but still a possibility. It’s a minor point. NM

        (I would sell Ramsey btw. I know I’m in the minority. I appreciate what he’s done for the club, scoring important goals at important times, but I’d still cash in now.)

        1. The problem with cashing in is the same as it always was. How to replace with equal or better quality. Plus, there is the issue of homegrown players too. Including the uefa club hg rule.

          Of course if he says he’s not signing then thats different. But i think he’s integral and will sign. And will get a huge payrise.

          1. I would tell Ramsey he must re-sign by August 1. If not, we’ll look for offers in the final two weeks.. I’m sorry, but the way we’ve managed contracts these past few years is abysmal. And while I concede it’s difficult to replace a player, the Sanchez for Mkyhi deal says it is possible. Don’t let a player run his contract down and get stuck with nothing. Some money is better than no money.

    1. Also remember that the transfer rush is going to be more intense this year. It’s a World Cup year and the window now closes before the season starts (August 9th if I remember correctly)

      Makes sense to get the business done early, at least the part the club know they want to do.

  5. “……his best role is going to be as a squad player. Wilshere could be a great late-game sub, when Arsenal are trying to break down the opposition and need someone to bring the ball in close to the strikers and play one-touch passes in the box.”

    Oh, if only HE saw things that way.

    Im going to mildly dissent, for a couple of reasons.

    One, given that’s he’s been hugely important to arsenal before, that he’s desperate to return as a big player for England and that he’s still young, he’ll never accept a squad role.

    Two, he’s fallen behind others in the squad, to the point that in any fair system of selection, he won’t even be making the bench. Elneny, on recent form, has edged ahead of him. Iwobi, who promises to be a stirring blend of craft, intelligence and physicality (even if he shoots like my mother) promises more. AMN showed against United that he’s ready to play more. Xhaka is the preferred backfield conductor, Ramsey is the box-to-box, Ozil is the preferred 10, Mikhi is the preferred Mr Versatile. And we still need Elegant Beast, ebecause we don’t have that Busquets-like skillset in the squad.

    So, three, he’s holding down a place that we need to free up .

    Theo had a big decision. Bench player at Arsenal, or regular for a mid-table team. Jack’s got the same decision to make. If he’s sensible — and if we’re an ambitious club that can show a ruthless streak when necessary — he’ll be going to West Ham… or Sampdoria, in a league where he can probably get the best out of himself.

    1. 1. He already has accepted a squad role.
      2. No, Elneny is never going to be able to dribble in tight spaces the way Wilshere can. Elneny does run around a lot.
      3. There are 7 open roster spaces on this team. No one is occupying any much-needed spaces.

    2. Funny to hear mention of Jack heading for a club like Sampdoria. They’ve a 22-yr old Uruguyan defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira who, though he’s even smaller than Wilshere, has bossed midfield battle games against some of the best in Serie A. On current form Jack wouldn’t crack Samp’s starting XI.

      There’s another young 22-yr old midfielder at Real Betis, Fabian Ruiz, whose scouting videos are worth a watch. He’s one of a number of young players out there who can do a lot of what peak-Jack Wilshere could do. We can’t be the club that gives young players opportunities if Jack is still taking up squad space.

      Agree with Jack Action – it’s a weird time for us to make another offer. If we’re protecting our investment, great. But it’s not a decision that’s gonna help us close the 30 pt gap to the top of the table.

      1. Point about the 7 available squad positions noted Tim.

        According to Jeremy Wilson at the Telegraph, even before he signed the 2 yr contract last year, Wenger was talking about keeping the squad small this season. Whether that was for economic or sporting reasons is hard to know.

    3. Accepting a squad role would be a climbdown for him, but so would accepting that he belongs at a mid level club .

      A few days ago I was sure he’s leaving but after reading his recent interview I get the sense that he wants to stay and is holding out for more money, maybe in appearance bonus, and of course assurances from whoever the coach will be that he’ll get a chance.

  6. I get the point of keeping him for resale value but with the ongoing issue of rising wages, they have to trim wages somewhere and I don’t understand how giving a squad player 100,000 a week helps in that regard. I would only keep Wilshere if Ramsey is sold. I think everyone agrees that midfield requires an upgrade and I worry that if Wilshere signed a new deal, we wouldn’t buy anyone in midfield due to the sheer numbers.

    1. We’re losing Mertesacker and Cazorla (sadly). We’ve also signed a number of commercial deals which increase our ability to pay wages. New sleeve sponsors also expected after renewing the deal with Emirates.

      Plus under domestic FFP rules, we are allowed to increase wages by 7m each year apart from this increase in income. Unless we’re planning to buy a whole host of players, it might even make sense to keep a player at the club on moderately high wages so that our allowed max wage bill is at a higher level in the year(s) beyond (contract management ftw)

      Of course, our low(er) turnover if we don’t make the CL again could result in us wanting to lower the wage bill to maintain the wage-turnover ratio.

      The fact that the club have offered Wilshere around 100k (plus bonuses) to stay seems to me that they’ve made these calculations and deemed that it’s better to have him than lose him on a free. And as Tim says, he can always be sold.

    2. 7 empty squad places this year. Plenty of open spaces.

      100k is what it takes to have an English squad player these days.

  7. Drinkwater is older than Wilshere?? Woah..

    As long as signing Wilshere to a contract doesn’t take away our ability/willingness to make the signings we need/want, then I’m for it. But as it is we have an excess of midfield options despite a lack in quality. Wilshere is probably the most dispensable, though I hear you that oddly, he is also the most saleable. Apart from Ramsey, but I don’t think we ought to do anything other than renew him.

  8. I’m happy to renew Jack to avoid losing him on a free. Just think it’s ridiculous to do so at 100k.

    1. Why do you care what his salary is? That’s just what we have to pay to keep English midfielders these days. Especially since he can go to, like, Everton and get that plus a hearty signing on bonus.

      If you’re happy to renew Jack but the price tag is the issue, then just ignore the price tag. Arsenal have plenty of money and we shouldn’t be forced into being accountants for the club’s finances.

      1. Ultimately, I don’t care what any athlete makes, or any actor/actress. Jack’s salary will not change my life for better or worse. That said, I don’t think he’s worth it given his current form or ability to stay healthy. To your point, if 100k is what English squad players run these days, then so be it. I won’t lose any sleep over it. Question though. If Jack signs for 95-100k per week, does that send a message to the Elneny’s of the world or the Welbeck’s? I don’t know what either makes, but I have to believe it’s well under 100k per week. Could it lead us to overpaying squad players as a rule? Arsenal do have plenty of money, but not Chelsea and ManU money.

        1. Scratch that reply, Tim. I didn’t read your PS before responding. This may be heresy to some, but I’m sympathetic to Wenger in going with his valuation for players and not what other teams are willing to pay. One of the many, many reasons I would not make a good GM. However it does serve me well in real life…and teaching my kids the value of a dollar.

        2. Good question about raising the other player’s salaries.

          The short answer is that I doubt it. The communist wage bill was a Wenger thing. I’d be surprised if the new group, especially with Josh Kroenke running the club which is what’s happening now, will agree to any deals that are based on “well, Wilshere makes…” JK is a very frugal businessman who will not allow players to enter the final year of their deals and doesn’t just pay players whatever they want.

          1. I have to disagree about the socialist structure being a Wenger thing. I think it was just the circumstances at the time. Honestly, I had tried to do a rearranging of the wages and nothing else made much sense.

            1)We were building for stability and that meant paying on potential.
            2) They were top 4 players paid like top 4 players.
            3) Saving a few thousand here and there would still not be enough to keep the top stars happy
            4)We had to make 20m from player sales, and that could only come from the top player sales rather than by gutting the side and then trying to buy more in an uncertain, and increasingly inflationary market.
            5) We made an exception for Cesc – the top top top talent. Not that that worked out too well for us but that’s different.

            Now that we have money, we don’t need to worry about losing a player and not being able to afford a replacement, or even benching him if need be. Hence, no more socialist wage structure.

            I agree with you. This will not be too much of an issue. We’ll offer improved contracts on the terms we evaluate them to deserve, not on a straight comparison with someone else in the squad. Not saying that won’t be a factor at all. Just not a major one.

  9. POST SCRIPT – I meant to say this before but ran out of time: 

    I don’t care whether Arsenal sign or don’t sign Jack. I just think not signing him is throwing away money. But…
    I also don’t care about how much money Arsenal have, how much salary a player commands, or how much money Arsenal waste. Arsenal are one of the richest clubs in the world and honestly, the poverty act this club puts on is ridiculous. But I’m sick and tired of worrying about Arsenal’s finances and I’m not going to do it anymore. If this owner pulls a “Sunderland” on this club, then I might worry, but worrying about whether Wilshere is “worth” 80,90,100,110,70,50 blah blah blah isn’t something I have time for in my life.  
    Clearly the club think Wilshere at £100k is a good deal and they are in charge of worrying about the money, they DO sit around worrying about the money (constantly it seems), and I trust that they also know what a player like Jack Wilshere is worth. These are GMs from Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund. I think we are ok.  

  10. It’s all a speculative debate anyway. I’ll be surprised if he re-signs. I disagree that he already sees himself as a squad player. He left last season when the club signed Xhaka and didn’t want to compete for a job and was prepared to go out on loan again this past summer but Wenger blocked it for whatever reason. He still fancies himself an England starting XI player.

    If – IF – I were in charge, I would never let a player enter the last year of his deal without getting an extension or new deal. Never risk losing a player for free. I was in favor of selling Sanchez, Wilshere and Ozil last summer if we couldn’t re-sign them and I’m in favor of selling Ramsey and Welbeck this summer for the same reasons, especially Ramsey who’s just had the best season of his career and whose market value will never be higher.

    Take the cash and reinvest.

    If we can sign Wilshere for 100k per week but then turn around and sell him this summer, I’m all in favour of that. But I don’t think he’s re-signing.

    1. Unfortunately, from now on, the vast majority of players will run their deals down more often than not to gain more bargaining power.

      Selling them with a year to go solves nothing as you get little money, the market then over charges you because you are short of players.

    1. I think this Barcelona side is crappier than their title would have us believe. Roma is sloooow. Liverpool have the players to punish teams with slow defenders and teams that cough the ball up in midfield. I don’t think Roma was ever that good. I think Barcelona was that bad. Also, Liverpool kept Roma from scoring just enough to keep it from turning into squeaky bum at the end.

  11. How American is your server?

    It’s so true blue American it rejects the word ‘Social i s t’ and sends it to spam.

    I find this hilarious.

    1. Oh man, I just tried that word and some related ones, and yeah, no dice! Lol

  12. Meh I don’t care me if he stays or go either. We have bigger fish to fry and Jack’s not it.

  13. Here’s the starting line-up: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Wilshire, Xhaxa, Ramsey, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette.

  14. that’s gotta be a full rupture for laurent. that sucks. a kid i used to play with went down the same way; had surgery that night.

    1. Partial ruptures hurt worse and he didn’t have the characteristic bulge that the calf muscle becomes just above the achilles, but I totally agree it was achilles tendon rupture, that’s the diagnosis. Could be a career ender at his age. It sucks so much, poor guy, World Cup year and France a real contender too.

  15. Minute 18 prediction…. 2 -1 to the Arsenal.

    Shame about skipper Laurent. It looked really bad.

  16. We knew it was a matter of time before his Achilles went snap. What a shame. Out for probably 8-9 months now, this was surely his last World Cup too.

    1. We didn’t know that, his minutes were managed meticulously to avoid just this occurrence. So unfortunate.

  17. Acres. ACRES of space on our right for Costa to run into. Where on earth were Bellerin and our right-sided CB?

  18. hector, you never let a striker get behind you. that’s bad soccer.

    ospina, stay on your feet for as long as you can; no reason to go down that early. that’s bad soccer.

  19. We need more in attack but can’t afford to weaken the midfield or defence. Take off the ineffective Welbeck and bring on Mkhitaryan.

      1. No! It absolutely depresses me. This season has been an unmitigated disaster.

  20. you know who had a good game?
    Jack Wilshere. In fact I’d say our best moments of control in the second half all came before he was subbed off. bad call.

    you know who was truly, truly, truly rotten tonight (well, several were, but most conspicuously)?
    Ramsey. worst game from him in 2018, I think. count how many times he gave the ball away in that second half. and gave no support in our buildup, which allowed them to press higher up the pitch and defend from the front.

    in other news, our entire defense is an embarrassment (Chambers did ok in tough circumstances, I guess).

    oh well, fitting send off for Arsene, if you know what I mean.

    1. that should read: “gave no support in our buildup after Jack went off, which allowed them to press higher up the pitch and defend from the front for much of the last 20 minutes.” (plus do lots and lots of cynical time-wasting, obviously.)

      1. also conspicuous (and why it’s a bit harsh to single out individuals like I’ve done, I suppose):
        incredible lack of movement with the ball, especially as the game wore on. in the latter stages we were back to looking like we did late in the game against City in the League Cup: person with the ball (and maybe one other close to him) moving, everyone else standing still watching.

        we looked out of ideas and physically exhausted. they just wore us down. that’s the difference coaching makes.

        1. PS Xhaka was also pretty decent, for the most part.

          Here’s the only interesting question to me after that: does not being in the CL next year make it considerably harder to recruit the manager we want?

          My guess is not as much as you’d think. Players, yes. But managers know they’d be coming to Arsenal for the rebuild, and would be in it for the (relative) long haul. A manager like Enrique may not want to come to us now, ditto Allegri (but my guess is he wouldn’t want to come anyway, unless he just really wants to try his hand in England, in which case we’re still an attractive option).
          But the talented young driven managers we should be considering will still be looking at this job as an absolute dream opportunity, perhaps the most attractive job in world football this summer (Chelsea will still spend more money, but much less job security and more recent success means you’re less likely to stand out and create a legacy).

  21. I’m so glad I decided against watching this entirely predictable performance and result! That’s 90 minutes of my life I spent doing other things that were not wholly depressing! I feel not bad!

    Honestly, though, it is too bad Wenger couldn’t end his reign with a trophy, but the reason his reign is ending is because we’re no longer capable of winning things like Europe’s second-tier competition.

    1. I had it on in the background while working on something else. Couldn’t really be bothered to be emotionally invested. At the end, the cameras panned to the Arsenal end and nobody was crying. One jetlagged gooner yawned into the camera. Sums it up.

  22. It was always a lot to ask to get a result in Spain against this squad. If you could build a team to do torpedo this Arsenal side, it would be Manchester City, but Atletico is a close second. I did have faint hope going in because it’s still only one game and anything could happen but this wasn’t as close as the scoreline suggests. So ultimately, it makes me sad but it’s exactly what I expected. I think the players gave it their all but this is a top class outfit and a better team right now.

    On topic, I couldn’t agree more with Tim, Wilshere is at worst a useful squad player and at best, a potential game changer. To get a player to replace him would cost a lot, either in terms of time invested into a raw import or youth player or in terms of a hefty transfer fee. I also agree he has plateaued and has serious flaws in his game that will never go away, i.e. the world against me mentality; see his petulant yellow card vs. Gabi. I still think we’re a better team with him in the squad though.

  23. My season finished tonight. In my mind Wenger is gone and I won’t waste another minute watching this team this year. Every time we play I will spend with my family and the only game I will watch is the CL final hoping Madrid can beat the scousers. I’m exhausted with this team and hope for a total rebuild next year, which I know is totally unrealistic.

    1. It is, but one hopes that a different manager will get more out of what is already here, including our young players. I don’t think we can just play “fun” with this squad, because it isn’t good enough to do so and win games (consistently). I think when you have limitations like we have, you think more about what systems might best cover our weaknesses the bring out our strengths. For instance, I would have no problem if the next manager played a defense first approach, and park the bus to some extent, because I think we have players who can perform on the counterattack, and I do think we could make our defenders look a whole lot better if they weren’t forced to play so high up the pitch (especially our fullbacks). Most of our defensive mistakes look like comedic howlers because they often occur while they’re scrambling back from terrible position. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to discuss this when we do actually appoint a new manager and speculate about what style he’s bringing to the table.

      1. Apologies for all the grammar mistakes. I’m not even on a phone, so I don’t have that excuse!

  24. We got into good positions in their box, but were terribly risk averse to taking shooting chances. Atletico are well-organised, and when they open the door a little, you have to rush through. Ozil, and Lacazette on more than one occasion, elected to look for the perfect opening rather than take the chance that was presented to them.

    And in the end, they contained us without too much trouble. How many shots did Oblak save? One? From Xhaka from distance. Can’t remember another. Where on God’s earth was Hector Bellerin? Chambers played well (and Mustafi had a decent game), but one of them, and Bellerin, left all of Central Park for Costa to run into.

    Laca looked bright without being really penetrative. Got into good positions, and against another defence, might have got something out of the game. Godin was a boss.

    Welbeck posed no threat whatsoever. I think that he needs to rethink his JD. Wide-something. Ospina looks like he’s on the beach already.

    Pfo, rather predictably slated Ramsey (his obsession with the Welshman is getting to parody stage), but more surprisingly, picked Jack as the best.

    Jack being subbed off a bad call? And had a good game? Methinks there’s a lot of predetermination in all of that. Jack’s most memorable act was to pick a predictable yellow for a foul, right after yelling abuse at the ref, a pretty blatant act of jackassery with consequences you could see coming from a mile away.

    Plus he had faded badly by the point of the sub, and was completely ineffectual for a good quarter of an hour prior to it. In fact I thought we needed some dribble penetration from the midfield (he was one who kept giving it straight back to Atletico), and expected to see Iwobi, who’s looked bright in recent games.

    Except for Hector going AWOL for the goal, I don’t think we can say that anyone stank out the joint. The forwards were all ineffective (Ozil included), and IMO, Welbeck was the most anonymous of the lot. Did Mikhi get a kick when he came on?

    And oh, Oblak to Arsenal? I don’t see anything special there.

    1. I didn’t say best. I said he had a good game. And that should probably have been read “had a pretty decent game, in particular considering the opinion of him expressed by most on here and most other Arsenal fans, and considering how bad his form has been in the last month or two.”

      As for Rambo: obsession or no (and I’m quite happy to say he’s been one of our best players this season), go back and count the number of times he gave away the ball in that second half alone. that’s a pretty objective measure. he was very poor (Tim noticed it as well, for one (shameless appeal to authority)).

      1. “Plus he had faded badly by the point of the sub, and was completely ineffectual for a good quarter of an hour prior to it.”

        Go back and watch the 10-15 minutes directly before he was subbed. seriously (I will if you will). I thought he was actually growing stronger as the game wore on. he had several really excellent moments with the ball: winning it, alluding defenders, bringing others into play, etc.

        I’m happy to be proven wrong. I’ll watch the tape again.

    2. Bit of hindsight talking, but Maitland-Niles or Iwobi probably deserved a start to be honest. Especially considering those young guys were the ones doing the heavy lifting early in the tournament. Wilshere and Ramsey both needed big games but looked very average. Wilshere was a gift to Atletico’s defend-and-counter style in the first half, and poor Ramsey lost all composure as the game went on.

      We also missed some vocal emotional leadership on the field. Ozil just is not a franchise player. Alexis wasn’t either, but in the last away 8 games we won he scored in every game. The guy had an edge you need in games like this and we could have used his ability to find Ozil’s dangerous runs. He’s gone back to being just the assist man but we needed him to be a goal threat too.

      1. Franchise player! I so dislike that term, but I agree with the sentiment; Ozil has always been the sorcerer’s apprentice, not the star of the show. He can’t control games the way Fabregas did and he doesn’t score enough goals, particularly in big away games. But this is nothing new.

        I remember back in 2012, we had probably much less talent overall than the team does now, but I always thought: As long as we have RVP up there, we have a chance, even against a team as good as Barcelona were then. He could always make a goal out of nothing, either for himself with a shimmy or for someone else with that venomous left foot off of a set piece. Tonight we were up against similar odds as we were then, for different reasons, but I didn’t feel there was anyone with that ability to change the game on his own, and the team, as usual, lacked the ability to play cohesively in the face of high quality opposition. Ozil in particular played within himself and so often chose the conservative option when he might have taken a risk. It played right into this team’s hands.

        To be clear, I don’t blame Ozil; he is who he is and that isn’t changing, the good or the bad. The system around him needs to be better to maximize his talents. For better or worse, we’re committed to him now and we need to get the best out of him. Wenger’s laissez faire approach to the team at large but in particular Ozil comes home to roost in games like this when the game requires more assertiveness than the player’s natural disposition might provide.

  25. What I saw tonight gives me hope that a new manager can succeed where Arsene failed. Wenger’s Arsenal teams of late can’t defend. Can someone take the raw materials that we have, and drill defence and organisation into them? I say yes. Chambers is putting his hand up. Mustafi is inconsistent (wildly so), but has good games. And we liked what we saw in Mavropanos. I saw Tim on twitter calling time on Koscielny’s career. That’s a big call. Could be right, but it could be a tad premature.

    Iwobi has bags of promise, Elneny is growing as a player, Xhaka can be effective sometimes and has goals in him, but his positional awareness and reading of the game can improve. Ozil is Ozil, Ramsey is one of the league’s best box-to-box players. Mikhi had both craft and toughness, and AMN showed against United that he’s ready for games.

    Laca will grow and produce after a difficult first season because his movement and awareness are excellent, as will Auba, our fox in the box, for the same reasons.

    We do need key additions… keeper, centre back, defensive midfielder. I’d start bringing through Nkeitah. We can forget sometimes that Danny is our third choice striker, but man, he desperately lacks penetration quality against the big teams. I’ve mixed feelings about him . An El Sharaawy can do everything he does AND supply productivity.

    1. Why do you think Nketiah will do well? He scored two headers against Norwich last year, and has come on a few games since to no effect, really. Do you watch him at our youth level?

      1. Not really, and that’s a fair comment. He’s got a bit of Ian Wright about him. Knows instinctively where to be in the box.

      2. Highlights can be misleading but it’s clear even from this short clip that he has tremendous composure in front of goal, and that is a rare trait that cannot be taught. I’m with claude, I like this kid.

    2. Agree with most of that Claude.

      Other than the obvious need to strengthen (read: get an entirely new) defensive spine, I’d say a really pacy, direct winger who can actually dribble and shoot (Salah and Mane anyone?) would be awful nice, unless we think Nelson is that guy, though apparently he’s more a 10?

      other than that, there’s the obvious and time-honored question of central midfield as always, but the biggest thing there is to first figure out what kind of midfield we even want: 2 or 3 men? We could certainly use a DM, but do we also need a Cazorla type? Or is there some kind of player that combines those attributes and/or can we find enough of those attributes in the squad already?

      Our priorities, I think:

      1. Central defense
      2. Keeper (only loses out to CB because the former is arguably more important a position)
      3. Figure out what the heck we want in deep midfield, and decisively proceed accordingly
      4. Winger

      1. I’d wait and see who comes in as manager before buying new players. My view is that this is a sneaky good squad that has not yet reached its maximum potential, not because I’m expecting all this great player development but simply because with a modern management style I think we’ll see a different side to all these guys, some better, some for worse. Then we’ll have a better idea of who needs to go.

          1. GK definitely, I think we’re ok at CB even without Kos. We have 3 young guys who we think are good enough who need to play, plus Mustafi who I still like and is still young for a CB, plus Monreal can play there and may finish his career there. One of the better stocked departments in my opinion. I think they look bad because all but the most transcendent defenders will look bad in a Wenger team.

          2. I don’t rate Mustafi that highly. I can see him developing into a very good (probably just shy of top class) defender, but only if he’s got a bigger, better, more composed defender beside him. He doesn’t have what it takes–certainly not at this point–to be the leader back there, especially with a Holding/Chambers/Mavro/Bielik next to him. He shouts a lot, but ends up making stupid mistakes too. And most of our CB’s are now on the small side. We could use a VVD type.

      2. The Mislintat-youth movement is afoot

        1. Mavrapanos, Soyuncu (rumor), Bielek, Chambers, Holding
        2. Bernd Leno (rumor)
        3. Meyer (rumor) on a free
        4. Malcom (the skids were greased in January)

        And I would not dismiss out of hand the Dembele for Bellerin + cash idea. Dembele is a Mislintat score at Dortmund, he’d probably be a big believer. In which case we’re going to need a RB.

        1. the Dembele thing is extraordinarily optimistic–that’s not like you Jack!

          no way Barca give up on a player they spent that amount for, at his age, and with such obviously huge potential, and no way he would agree to go to a club like Arsenal after such a short time at the top, unless he’s absolutely shoved out the door.

          1. He’s been a flop at Barca so far. Plus Barca have got Griezmann lined up. Dembele’s mate is Aubameyang. Mislintat was the one that scouted him for Dortmund. Barca have desperate need for a right back.

            Where there’s smoke…

        2. I agree it’s possible, but it’ll be either Malcom or Dembele I think.

          My reasoning that it is possible is because the club will feel that they can replace a RB more easily (cheaply) than they can get a quality forward.

  26. in the bible, the book of hebrews 5:12 says “for when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again”. arsenal’s defenders are professional players who don’t do the basics right. was atletico madrid awesome? absolutely not but arsenal played their predictably bad soccer, not doing what they, as professionals, should be capable of teaching; they have the need that one teaches them again. you can’t say it was mistakes because they do it all the time. it’s more apt to say this is how they play soccer. all atletico had to do was wait until arsenal did something boneheaded.

    in the first leg, there was a 1v3 but who covered koscielny on griezmann’s goal? just being back doesn’t constitute cover. on their goal today, why does hector let costa get behind the arsenal defense? this is stuff 10 year olds know but arsenal’s millionaire defenders, routinely, get wrong. they don’t deserve to be in the champions league. if they did the basics right, they could be a formidable team but one has to walk before they can run.

    i know people hate doing the simple stuff in training but it’s important; time spent sharpening the sickle is not time wasted on the harvest. sorry with the bible references but when the shoe fits…

  27. Hector was two zip codes away, so he didn’t as much allow Costa to get goalside, as to vacate his defensive position at RB… Griezmann simply laid a ball for Costa to run onto, into a huge acre of space that no Arsenal player was occupying. Heactor ran back to recover, but a bigger, stronger player was already goalside. And as you said, Ospina should have stayed on his feet.

    The other mistake, besides Hector’s positional indiscipline, was the failure the right-sided CB to cover the space.

    It was a really crafty run by Costa, who I’ve always liked as a classic CF, despite his huge streak of prickishness.

    1. he’s one of the biggest pr*cks in world football, and also absolutely world class.

      he was sensational tonight. just toyed with our defenders at times, especially Mustafi.

      Another thought: anyone else watch the goal and think “Bellerin of two seasons ago has the pace to get back goalside there”? (Of course Costa still may have shrugged him off to score.)

      I swear, I think Hector lost the pace that set him apart from other above average RB’s when he got injured at the end of 2016. He’s not really been the same since.

      1. He’s Cholo’s avatar. I’m fairly certain he’s a cyborg manufactured in a Madrid lab as direct retaliation upon the football world at large for the departure of Fernando Torres.

      2. I know I will get ripped to shreds for suggesting this… but Hector’s dip in performance might directly correlate with his adopting a vegan diet. There’s ample proof that it is much more challenging (note – I am not saying impossible) to maintain muscle mass and peak testosterone levels while on a vegan diet. Pace is directly proportional to one’s strength/body mass ratio. That’s straight from Ryan Flaherty, the speed expert.

  28. One of the crucial technical differences between us and them was their ability to recover 50/50s. Atletico would advance the ball, then pass it back to their defensive line where they had no problem playing it long. Even when Mustafi or Chambers won the first header, Atleti rushed the second ball as unit.

    I’ve said all season that we should never play Ramsey-Xhaka-Wilshere as a midfield 3, especially away from home. They’re not mobile or physical enough defensively and they lost those duels all night long.

    On the goal, they play back to the keeper, he kicks long and Chambers win the header, but Partey just steams past Wilshere and prods the ball onto Griezmann. Bellerin deserves blame but the way our flimsy midfield failed to protect our defense has been a feature of our losing run away from home, and Wenger either hasn’t recognised it or has been unable to resolve it.

  29. My feelings towards the club had been very muted for some time, but unexpectedly I was very sad seeing Kos going down and possibly his career end like that. That was a blow, even though I was aware that he had already retired as a top defender. Him and Sagna are two players I love and always felt they deserved more, even though I’m not sure what that “more” actually is.

    1. It will will be Interesting to see how Koscielny’s injury situation is handled by our new backroom regime. Under Wenger we kept players with chronic injury problems for way too long, Diaby, Rosicky, Wilshire, Cazorla for instance. Wenger even gave players with career threatening injuries contract renewals.

      Will the new men do the same should Koscielny’s injury turn out to be as serious as it looked?

      1. I mean, he already had chronic problems and honestly wasn’t very good anymore, I don’t see a way back (without even knowing the full extent). There’s not much the club can do anyways, there’s no way someone else picks him up, not that we should sell.

  30. We know that Hector listens to his coaches and doesn’t listen to AFTV but both would have been in lock step in how not to defend the most dangerous player on the pitch.

  31. Much love to your analysis Claude.for me you were really abservant not emotional bout d game.urgency intensity is most wat this team needs.toooo comfortable is thier biggest crime not how bad some think they are

  32. So… no European football next season. Guess we should do pretty well league-wise, then, eh?

      1. Yes.

        Trouble is I think 6th would have to play qualifying games in late July. That would be a huge pain, it’d be mostly a youth squad. A couple years ago West Ham got burned not playing their first team in the qualifying games.

  33. No European football for Arsenal and that could be a silver lining. It’s also a World Cup summer. The top teams who have their internationals coming back AND have to play European matches will be knackered before Christmas.

    This is a good opportunity to focus on the Premier League, fight for a CL spot for 2019/2020 and go deep in the domestic cup competitions.

    We can do this…

    “…It’s a new dawn
    It’s a new day
    It’s a new life
    For me
    And I’m feeling good”
    – Anthony Newlwy and Leslie Bricusse.
    Michael Buble did a decent job, but you need to her the version as sung by the incomparable Nina Simone.

    1. What are you talking about? We’re pretty much locked for getting into the Europa competition again next year. Which is perfect, that’s honestly our level for the foreseeable future.

      1. My bad. I misread the lines looking at the table over on SkySports and thought we were out of Europe. Totally spaced on the FA and League Cup slots.

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