Thursday roundup: Lichtsteiner’s numbers, plus Ramsey is good

Good morning everyone, a lot going on this morning and I better get right to it because I have to take the kid and the dog for a walk before work.

First re: Stephan Lichtsteiner I knocked up his numbers and they look like this,

This is exactly what I thought his output would look like, rapidly declining minutes and declining output. The only surprise is that people asked me to do this. You know that he will be a 35 year old man in January, right? As I have said now since I made up my mind on this: the best case scenario is that he doesn’t play very often and we are just paying him for the insurance and the worst case scenario is that he has to step in for half a season because Bellerin gets injured. My nightmare lineup is Lich – Mustafi – Sokratis – Monreal up against one of the top teams like City or Liverpool and all of their speedy forwards.

But of course, he is an elder statesman who knows it all, has been everywhere, and has played under some great tactical minds. He could be invaluable to the club simply by imparting his wisdom to the youngsters. Plus, I imagine he’s good friends with Szczesny and maybe we can use him to get Szcz back!

“We’re bringing Szczesny back”.

Second, a follow up to the article I wrote a few days ago about Marti Perarnau’s interview with Unai Emery. I spoke with Mr. Perarnau and he has agreed to allow me to publish the full article here in English on 7amkickoff. Mr. Perarnau is a true gentleman for doing this and I want to recommend once again that you check out his personal web site and his rather excellent magazine The Tactical Room. Perarnau uses the subscription fees to pay for travel and expenses so that he can collect interviews just like this one, so give him a subscription if you can.

I have a very rudimentary knowledge of Spanish (I studied via an app called Duolingo and I can confidently say that I speak about as much Spanish as an 8th grader who just finished their first year). So, I have to meet with my friend on Sunday and we will translate the article together. Expect to see that article on Monday and I will post a follow-up “what this means for watching Arsenal” on Tuesday.

There is also a nice piece in the Guardian this morning about Danny Welbeck. I’ve always liked Welbeck and appreciate his hard work. He did drive me mad last season with a couple of poorly timed turnovers but the whole team played poorly last season and I can’t wait to see what Emery chooses to do with him.

He could be on the way out the door, honestly. Not that I think he’s awful, but Emery might want to break up the remaining members of Wenger’s Jazz creche. With reports that Emery has told Lucas Perez to report to summer training, and with Lucas having a good season – 2nd in la Liga in chances created – it’s possible that there won’t be any room for Welbeck.

There are further reports that the club have offered Ramsey a giant new deal and that Emery is looking to build his squad around the Welshman. I think that’s a splendid idea as I outlined in my article “Folks, I think this Ramsey guy might be good”. If Ramsey played for any other team, we would be gagging to get him. In fact, I would say that we probably couldn’t afford to pay his transfer fee. I’m not exaggerating when I say that if he’s got two or three years left on his deal, he would be a £100m transfer. He just does everything: score, assist, create, tackle. It’s kind of amazing. What he needs is a structure around him, some defenders organized behind him, and teammates up in front of him who are pressing, and I think we could be talking about one of the best players in England.

Signing Ramsey is the biggest piece of transfer business they can do this summer.

And finally, I have signed off as the resident numbers guy on Arseblog News. This site’s not going anywhere and there’s no personal drama between me and Andrew or anything, I just thought it was time to move on. That’s all!

Anyway, time to walk the kid.

Sources: Opta, Transfermarkt




  1. I’m going to miss your “By the Numbers” column over on Arseblog. I think that’s how I first heard of you and this site, but my memory may be lost in the haze of red, white and gold.

    But, if I may say, I appreciate the Zidane-esque parallel of going out while you’re on top for no particular reason. It ensures you will always be a legend and may one day get your own statue 😉

    I’ve always been a Ramsey supporter and his biggest enemy has been his fitness and the lack of a proper structure around him in midfield. I’m going to reiterate my support for a proper 3 man midfield with Xhaka at its base and Ainsley and Ramsey as its pivots. Should be fascinating to see what Emery does with the players he’s inherited.

      1. Xhaka is poor. If emery is the coach i read he is i can’t imagine we’ll see too much of him. Thats my hope anyway.

  2. Duolingo is a good learning tool. For fans of GoT, you can even learn High Valeyrian if you want. Heh.

    Yes, Ramsey is great. I hope we can extend his contract. I’d even make him captain.

    I still don’t get the disappointment over Licht. He is a stopgap/insurance, but a decent to good one at that, at virtually no cost. Especially if it’s a 1+1 year contract. That there is a win-win. If we had a huge budget I’d be disappointed. As it is, I’m happy to see us add some winning experience to a position of need.

    If we can extend Welbeck I’d like him to stay. He’s a hard worker, athletic and brings some physicality which we don’t possess, and won’t even with Lucas whom I also like. Plus Welbz is Homegrown. Our HG quota is an issue believe it or not.

    Interesting, but probably nonsense, rumour was Balotelli on a free. If Welbeck isn’t extending, or we need the funds for other positions, would we want to add Mad Mario to the mix? Auba would have to play wide more often. But yeah, nonsense. We’re not going to pay 15m to Raiola for a ‘free’ transfer.

    Not too happy about Sokratis, but I think it could be a good signing.

    Great news about the Emery article. Look forward to reading it and your insights on it. Great work Tim. (And thanks to Mr. Perarnau )

    1. “I still don’t get the disappointment over Licht. He is a stopgap/insurance, but a decent to good one at that, at virtually no cost. Especially if it’s a 1+1 year contract. That there is a win-win. If we had a huge budget I’d be disappointed. As it is, I’m happy to see us add some winning experience to a position of need. ”
      There’s a cost: he would take the spot of a non-homegrown player that could be used for a more important position (CB, DM). It would be like keeping Debuchy. Also Lichtsteiner will take some playing time off Holding and Maitland-Niles, who can both play in that position. And there’s no guarantee that he’ll adjust to the pace of the Premier League: Serie A is a more tactical league but less physical.

      1. We have enough roster spots open. Right now we’re using 12 of 17 non-HG spots. Not worried about that.

        He will not take playing time off of anybody who is good enough to take his spot. If he’s not good and these guys can’t displace him then isn’t it better to have him?

        No guarantees with anyone, because I can’t see us buying from the PL. The plus side is that he knows the position, he knows how to win (He, like Sokratis, is supposedly a bit of a bar steward) and he allows us to not overwork Bellerin. We also have some young RBs at the club who could benefit from his guidance, or 1-2 years more developing. Also, he knows Xhaka from the Swiss NT.

        His wages are hardly going to be huge, and even if they are significant, they just increase our wage cap for next season when he leaves. I don’t care about the supposed waste there. There’s a cost to efficiency which we no longer need to bear.

        1. When Gomez was injured at Liverpool, Klopp used and developed Alexander-Arnold in the rightback position. And keep in mind that Alexander-Arnold is younger than Holding and Maitland-Niles. I would prefer Emery to use Holding or Maitland-Niles at rightback than sign a squad player like Lichtsteiner, who only has a year or two left at the top level. Don’t complain if he becomes the next Squillaci or Silvestre.

          1. Holding and AMN are both not RBs. I know, players’ positions aren’t defined etc. But I’d prefer them to play at CB and CM rather than at RB.

            And Licht brings the intangibles that is tough to quantify, but can be valuable.

            I think Licht is better than you guys believe him to be. Serie A is a weird league, but still. He’s not slow, and he’s going to add some knowhow, with things like knowing when to foul and stuff like that.

            Also we have Chiori Johnson and Osei Tutu as RB prospects. I think they plan is to get them playing, with Licht as insurance/mentor if they aren’t quite ready.

          2. “Holding and AMN are both not RBs. I know, players’ positions aren’t defined etc. But I’d prefer them to play at CB and CM rather than at RB.”
            Bellerin started as a midfielder before being converted into a rightback. So this is a very straightforward process for AMN, who can cross with his right foot, while he had to check back to cross when playing as a left wingback. Another example is Flamini who deputized in the fullback position although he played as a midfielder at Marseille before joining Arsenal. In the end, it’s about giving AMN some playing time and help him develop. There’s no way Arsenal can finish in the Top 4 next season if AMN is our first choice in CM. Same rationale with Holding. He’s not good enough to be our first-choice CB next season. And he has already played at rightback. Better players like Puyol and Thuram played for years in the fullback position before getting the nod at CB. They didn’t complain, they even learned from it.
            “And Licht brings the intangibles that is tough to quantify, but can be valuable.”
            You mean the Mertesacker role? That’s a spot lost then.

        2. Non-HG on the books:

          Cech, Ospina, Koscielny, Monreal, Mustafi, Kola, Lich, Sokratis
          Elneny, Mkhi, Xhaka, Ozil and Wilshere/Cazorla’s replacement
          Lacazette, Auba, Lucas Perez

          That’s 17.

          Lich is absolutely taking a spot from someone.

          I don’t want him getting any playing time. Why not give that time to a 24 year old RB who will compete with Bellerin for the starting spot and give the team some real depth plus have the upside of getting better and offering re-sell value. Also your argument that his wages “just increase the wage cap” for next season is weird: any player’s wages will increase the cap and if we just want to increase the cap we can give the money to anyone who plays well. We are signing an old man to a squad full of old men. The fallout from this over the next 3 years is going to be massive.

          In the next 2-3 years we have to replace Lacazette, Auba, Ozil, Mkhi, Monreal, Koscielny, Cech and Ospina, plus Sokratis and Lichtsteiner. This is madness, especially considering the fact that we are cash poor FC.

          1. How much would a 24 year old RB pushing Bellerin for a starting cost spot? How much do we have to spend this year? Where else do we need to buy? How can we push the cost of a quality RB, less or a priority, into next year or the year after, after we’ve plugged some other more pressing gaps?

            Licht makes sense if he can play. He makes no sense if he can’t play. It’s that simple. If the judgement by the scouts – whose job this is – is that, despite his age, he maintains the quality to fill in, then it’s a good move.

          2. Nah, I think the plan is to find an 18 or 19 year old RB prospect (or two), give him a year to acclimate and then bring him (them) into the first team.

            Iwobi, AMN, Willock, Nketiah, Nelson (he needs to re-sign), Bielek , Mavrapanos, Holding, Chambers, Bellerin, Macek, Martinez, Pleguezuelo, Mavdidi, Smith-Rowe… even if Emery makes solid first teamers out of just a third of these guys it will help our age profile. If he can do it with half of them it gives us a stockpile to sell and fund purchases.

          3. What about this 17-year old Yadli kid we reportedly just signed from PSG’s academy? There’s another young prospect.

            Stock the pond, Sven.

          4. Oh so you’re already counting the signings we haven’t made yet? Cool, but so what? We have 17. That’s the limit. Licht is like on a loan if it’s a one year deal. I really don’t get the issue. In fact, when we’re short on cash and have other more important/immediate needs, I think this makes sense.

            Of course, if we don’t sign anyone in those positions, then Licht is a bad signing. Because then a 24 year old FB is affordable if a backup RB is really what we’re going to prioritise.

          5. Non-HG players. Even including Perez is 13. Let’s assume we add Licht and Sokratis, and a CM. That’s 16. (Not 17 as you say) What else do we need? If we sign another CB, then Mustafi is going. If we sign another GK then Ospina will leave. But now with Xhaka’s injury, we might need to sign another CM, depending on how serious it is.

            Oh, and Koscielny can also be left off the list till January (He’s not going to be PL ready before that I’m guessing)

  3. Building around Ramsey means leaving out Ozil I’m afraid. Remember when Ramsey would bomb further forward than the striker and Ozil would be floating around somewhere occupying space and behind them would be just Xhaka? (Shudders in foetal position)

    1. I thought about that angle as well but to me Ozil is compatible with 4-3-3 as long as he is willing to put in the work tracking back on the flanks like he did for Germany and in his youth. The rubber will meet the road here for Ozil with Emery, who will not indulge him the way Wenger did. Although having a stud athlete in midfield would like Ainsley would mitigate some of that need, Ozil has never shown consistent aptitude for tracking back or participating in a press with great intensity, so the tension between his proclivities as nominal “best player” and Emery’s tactical focus will be one of the more intriguing plot lines to watch.

      1. The rubber will meet the road here for Ozil with Emery, who will not indulge him the way Wenger did.


        I’ve been thinking the exact same thing these past few days. Really curious to see how he’ll respond to this new system and how he’ll be used.

  4. I agree with your summary of Ramsey, his raw numbers are very Pogba-esque. My only issue is that I’ve said of Pogba before that he either has really great offensive numbers for a DM or really good defensive numbers for an ACM.
    As the third guy in a midfield three with two specialists, you definitely want either of those two and we all know what Pogba cost.

    Welbeck to me is the ideal ‘defensive’ striker that Emery likes for big games, someone who will press the goal-keeper and centre backs remorselessly for 90 minutes, forcing them to play long or wide passes. He clearly isn’t the go-to guy for breaking down a low block but could be very useful in matches against teams that build from the back.

    1. Totally agree re: Welbeck, not sure why but the usefulness you’ve just articulated doesn’t strike many as valuable or important in my experience.

      1. It appears that Wenger got him for other reasons but Emery seems much more Ferguson-esque in that he doesn’t compromise his principles but if you don’t like them, he has other principles.
        One thing that gives me a very positive feeling is that his Sevilla was the EL team who took the highest proportion of their shots from prime locations and we have two of the top strikers in Europe for taking their shots from prime locations. Both of whom like to operate in the half-spaces.

  5. I will really miss By The Numbers at Arseblog. Your articles were like watching again a movie, but the version with Director’s comments.

    Glad that this blog remains, I will be looking forward to some pie charts…

  6. I am okay with Lichtsteiner. With Per gone, Koscielny not available till a third of the season has passed and Mustafi being Mustafi, Monreal and Socrates are the only senior players in defense. When we play the kids in FA cups and Europa, we will need some experienced players in the back to support them and I think ol’ Lichty can play a part in those games. The risk of course, as you say, is that Bellerin gets injured and we have to play him in the league. I think it might be worth taking the risk though since we also have AMN who can fill in there. Having said that, I realize we are all giving Emery his honeymoon period. If we had bought in a young RB to compete with Bellerin we would all be saying that’s exactly what we needed – two young, talented players competing for the same position and improving the depth/quality of the squad in the process. Given our limited resources however (amortization be damned!), I think it’s a pragmatic move.

  7. Ramsey just had his best season ever. He’s not carried top form consistently and that’s in large part (probably) because he’s also injury prone.

    Sure – maybe a new coach/staff will help him stay healthier and more consistent. But even when he’s been healthy and in form he strikes me as such a… British player. Welbeck is in the same boat. Whether this is an unfair criticism or not, British players just seem to give less a f**k about tactical play. They’d prefer to run about, put in a good shift, get stuck in and see where the chips fall.

    Tim – you’ve done several post-match analyses where you have an LOL picture showing how far upfield our players are… and Ramsey is usually one of those players way out of position.

    Maybe I’m wrong, maybe his play was down to Wenger and a lack of structure and maybe we’ll see a more complete Aaron Ramsey under Emery. I’m guessing he’s going to go 4-3-3 and Ramsey will play with Xhaka and Elneny (guessing because of his energy levels), and Ramsey will be given (some) license to move up.

    Definite trade Perez for Welbeck. Like I said earlier – Perez will cotton onto the pressing, tactical instructions for the forwards a lot better than Welbeck, plus he has an element of finishing to his game. Welbeck is athletic and a trier, but we need more.

    1. Agree with all your thoughts about Ramsey. I think his ‘Britishness’ means there are on-the-ball technical things he doesn’t do well enough for us to build a team around.

      It’s a tough call for Ramsey to make on the contract offer. If I was him, I’d look at Ox and Gareth Bale and take up a new challenge.

      Like Zidane said in his leaving message, top players sometimes need change, a different voice, different instructions – they thrive on it.

      1. Jack and Kaius, ol’ buddies ol’ pals!
        Finally something we agree 100% on:

        “But even when he’s been healthy and in form he strikes me as such a… British player. Welbeck is in the same boat. Whether this is an unfair criticism or not, British players just seem to give less a f**k about tactical play. They’d prefer to run about, put in a good shift, get stuck in and see where the chips fall.”

        ” I think his ‘Britishness’ means there are on-the-ball technical things he doesn’t do well enough for us to build a team around.”

        I’ve been saying this for years now. A superbly talented and versatile athlete (Gerrard-esque, even); but tactical and (especially!) technical refinement is wanting.

        But be careful: after swinging wildly back and forth on the Welshman for several years, the Arsenal fanbase has moved decisively in favor of Ramsey in response to last year’s admittedly very good (though hardly earth shattering) performances.

        He’s our most wonderful, most important, most awe-inspiring player, don’t you know (plus handsome!), and we should absolutely build our entire team around him! To say otherwise can only be irrational prejudice!

        I reckon Claude is typing out a passionate defense even now…

        1. For the record, I’d give him a whopping big contract in the 200-250k a week range, unless (and Claude informed me sagely that this is literally impossible) a club were to come in for him and offer big money (say at least 50m) this summer.

          1. I would offer him 250k a week, but anything more… That seems to be the going rate for someone of his abilities (and British). But if he doesn’t take it and wants Ozil money (for whom we are dramatically overpaying and we will regret that deal in a year or two), then I won’t weep if we sell him.

            Ramsey has scored some big goals for us, he’s an important player and ideally we can keep him healthy and a regular. He has the energy that he should be great for an Emery system. But let’s not have another Alexis saga – give him until July 1 to sign, if not then shop him.

  8. I am very much liking to the idea of building around Ramsey. As you pointed very well, we can’t afford a Ramsey in the transfer window now. But I hope that does not stand in the way of us getting new CDM. It’s absolutely vital as it will give more freedom for Rambo to join attack.

    Rambo is special. He signed in 2008 since when I follow Arsenal and pretty much soccer itself. It also aligns with this site as well:D I ever got only two arsenal shirts. Those were Cesc and Rambo. Will surely get another if he signs the deal!

  9. The biggest surprise in this post is the revelation that Perez created the 2nd most chances in La Liga this past season. Honestly, I only ever heard that he had an indifferent season, so that’s welcome news, and I’m with Jack: Sell Welbeck, bring in Perez.

    About Lichtsteiner, I made my points yesterday, but even after looking at his numbers, I still think it’s a good signing. His goals and minutes have gone down, as we all knew or would expect, but his tackles and interceptions numbers look about the same or better.

    Having read a bit more about Sokratis over the last few days, my feeling about the signing has gone from severely underwhelmed to whelmed to hopeful. One bad season does not a dud make, and he’ll be entering an Emery-coached side instead of a Wenger one, which should be more structured.

    Honestly, if the only thing we do this coming season is get rid of The Art of the Scramble, our defense will improve greatly.

    1. Lichtsteiner is a one year stop-gap measure. I’m not sure why anyone would get too worked up about it. We obviously have a lack of RB’s that can back up Bellerin (Mislintat must have looked at Jenkinson and said “hell, no”) and we’re maybe moving past the idea of AMN and Chambers as anything other than emergency back-ups there.

      1. I agree. This is a no-lose proposition. I reckon he’ll get as much playing time as Debuchy did… i.e., not a lot. But a very solid option to come in for Hector when the games come thick and fast.

        Do have some sympathy for Tim’s argument, though… except that a good level backup to Bellerin would cost money, and in this window in particular we need to prioritise our spend.

        Lichy is a no-frills holiday romance that leaves everyone sexually satisfied, but in which you’re perfectly aware that marriage isn’t on the table.

          1. Reality. Something we don’t have to like or approve of, but is nonetheless true.

        1. An old fullback with one foot in retirement, dropping off the pace in the slowest league in europe.

          Remind me never to let you set me up on a blind date.

        2. But you’re left with an STD, yellow discharge and multiple rounds of intravenous medication to clear it up.

          WTF, your analogy…

          1. Stop being analogy police and Mark and argument. And oh, you’d pack some rubbers if you and any sense.

          2. Thanks for that Jack.
            Now every time Lichtsteiner plays I’ll have the visual description of yours creeping into my head.

        3. It does raise the question as to why we got rid of Debuchy in the first place, as opposed to just offering him more game time…

          1. The guy quit on the team. And likely on England. Getting injured like that isn’t easy.
            He wasn’t ready to fight Bellerin for his place. He wanted out. You don’t give assurances to someone who isn’t ready for the fight. I don’t blame Debuchy, but it was hardly a winning mentality.

  10. The encouraging thing is that Ramsey has said that he can’t wait to get back to the training pitch to work with Emery. That does not sound like a player who intends to play a prolonged game of contract poker, making everyone nervous. Not creating uncertainty is key. Alexis never recovered (even at Man U) from his last day transfer window letdown.

    It doesn’t mean that Ramsey won’t leave. I’m a big fan of the guy, but I’d be the first to tell him that if a Juventus comes calling, you owe it to yourself to answer. However, as of now, he’s making all the right noises. Correct, Tim, that keeping him would be one of the best pieces of transfer business that we could do. But it’ll come at a price. He would (justifiably) want near-parity with Ozil. watch that space.

    The shame, given what Aaron adds to the team, is that we’ll never get a full season out of him. But he’s one of the best all-round players in the premier league, and I’m rather surprised to hear gooners arguing that we should sell him now — moreover, in the last year of his contract.

    That would be retrograde step, from a footballing and financial point of view. I dunno that Emery bigged him up as reported, but I cant think of any incoming coach who would want to sell the club’s Player of the Season, before he had a chance to work with him.

    He’s been talked of a potential captain, but I think he’s too quiet for the role. I simply cannot see him getting up in the dressing room and giving the kind of authoritative talk that Arteta and Mertesacker used to. I like my captains a bit vocal (Koscielny, btw, was not a vocal captain). If Petr Cech can keep his place and improve his form, he’d be my choice. Xhaka, if he continues to a regular, would be next.

    But he was captain for Wenger’s last game (in which bothe Xhaka and Cech played), and I think that that is significant.

    1. Can we pick a captain that a) will be with us for a while and b) will be a regular player?

      I’m tired of us having captains that leave us the next year or are relegated to the bench. Don’t really care how vocal they are, they need to lead by example.

      Make Bellerin captain. Out of all the players we have a) he’ll probably play the most games and b) he’ll probably be with us for a few more years (I’m assuming he’s going to be happy with the Emery regime). Why not?

        1. I’m just sayin’. Who then?

          Ramsey – maybe, but might also jinx him so he’s out half of each season with injury.
          Kos – out, hurt.
          Xhaka – not here long enough
          Monreal – maybe, coming to end of his tenure though
          Cech – no way, he’s got one year left, that’d be the curse I mentioned
          Mustafi – don’t make me laugh
          Auba, Mhyki, Laca – not here long enough
          Ozil – phhht. He mopes and bitches on the field, begs off training. No leader there.
          Elneny – nice guy, but seriously

          See what I mean? Bellerin by default if we want a regular with longevity at the club.

          1. Gotta be Ramsey if he signs. I imagine Emery will look at the squad and measure the choice of captain according to three things: 1) quality, 2) career trajectory (whether the player is in his prime or not), and 3) longevity at club. Ramsey hits all three in a way that no other candidate does. The periods of absence might work against him in the decision-making, but my money is on Ramsey.

          2. Wait…what about Monreal? I think he would make a great captain, too. Also the Spanish connection to Emery.

          3. Nacho’s a good call, but I prefer Ramsey of the two of them. I really like Cech, though. He’s got the presence and the authority. Whether he can keep his place in the starting XI is another matter — as is, as Jack said, how long he’s got left as a player.

            A captain of AFC does a LOT off the field, and you’ve kind of got to look and sound the part in a variety of situations. Cech is a hugely impressive person, as is BFG. I hope that someone writes the book on how we gave the job to Gallas.

          4. Ramsey as captain and Nacho as vice captain. I would pick Cech as the vice captain but he may not even be first choice, is in his last year, and I think Monreal will be better placed to be Emery’s lieutenant.

            But I don’t see Nacho as club captain. He seems too nice a guy somehow.

            I don’t think being at the club for a long time needs to be a major criteria anymore. Squads change faster these days, so if someone stands out as a leader, even as a new transfer, give him the armband.

  11. Never been a fan of Welbeck, who at this stage of his career, should be looking for regular starts with a mid-table team, like Theo has. Sure he’s a good athlete, but his job description says striker.

    Still, part of me would be sad to see him go, because, as Arsene pointed out, he’s shown tremendous character to come back from the injuries he’s had. And as the referenced article points out, he’s got a good record for England.

    He just lacks that VERY critical split-second composure in the final third. The ability to see the bigger picture… who’s making better runs, and he’ll never be that good a fit in a team of Arsenal’s high technical level. If he’s willing to accept a diminished squad role, we can do worse than to keep him.

    Perez? Yes please. Besides his offensive numbers, he really puts himself about defensively. It was he who won the ball on the edge of our box… a play that led to Giroud’s scorpion kick goal.. He can be the Winger we’ve been looking for, and he’ll get goals. Who needs Draxler?

    How Miki and Iwobi fit in, would be interesting to see.

    1. Emery can improve everyone at Arsenal, but not Welbeck? 🙂

      Agree on Perez. I think Welbeck will be more a hard working winger rather than a striker really, which he’s always been to be fair. He brings some height and physicality that we lack now that Giroud’s gone to Chelsea (and everyone now says how awesome he is) Those are qualities that aren’t great on their own, but can be sorely missed at times. I think the longer he stays fit, the more reliable an option he looks. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to sell him and use the money elsewhere, but I’d prefer to keep him.

      1. Fair points Shard. But you need certain raw materials to begin with. Any coach would have a hard time teaching a 27 year old forward touch, technique, vision, awareness and composure. I wouldnt lose any sleep if we kept him, for the reasons that you state. It down to him (or up to him?) whether he wants to accept a diminished role in the squad.

  12. The By the Numbers column will be greatly missed. The level of work and insight that went into those was remarkable and I think it challenged and improved the way a lot of us thought about the game. You were way ahead of your time.

    On the Arseblog News post announcing your departure someone said,

    “Are we getting a new statsman from Dortmund?”

  13. Yeah, totally agree that By The Numbers will be sorely missed.
    Like watching again with the director’s comments was exactly it – it gave a fuller appreciation of what had happened and why it had happened. I can’t understand why the mainstream press or broadcast haven’t done a stats based analysis programme (“The Boot Room”? “In The Dugout”?), as there’s a massive appetite for more data appraisal, not least to substantiate one’s own opinions about what’s gone right (or, more often, wrong!).
    However, not sure you’ve applied the data correctly with the Licht. Looks to me that the advancing years have meant he’s played less and no longer bombs forward as before, hence fewer key passes, assists or goals scored, but he’s still tackling and intercepting like a young William Tell. As an experienced, and aggressive, back up option alongside Chambers and AMN, I think it shows a welcome pragmatism.

      1. Tim you’re acting like anyone believes Licht is ideal. But he’s better than nothing, and backup RB is really not our priority this transfer window. Besides, Licht is plenty quick even at his age. At least for short periods.

          1. Haha. Ok. We will see. Unless you meant Wilshere+Cazorla’s replacementS, it’s 16.

  14. Forgot to mention Zidane.
    Smart move I think. He’s made history with 3 CLs on the trot, so only/likely route was down. Plus Madrid need a rebuild in almost every department. Ramos, Modric, Benzema and above all Ronaldo all past their prime but that quality difficult to replace.
    An opening for Arsenal?

  15. Hi Tim, I’ve been reading your blog for as long as I can remember, and I really appreciate your work here. I’m a native Spanish speaker, so if you need help with the translation I would be more than happy to help out, it would be a small, really minimal, way to repay you.

    1. I’d prefer to see Wenger at a club I like (and no, let’s not restart that argument about who supported whom in the CL final and why that was morally reprehensible!). I’m going to follow his next club pretty closely, I imagine.

      1. I want Wenger to win the CL. PSG could have been an option. Real Madrid is one now.

        Also, it would be interesting to see how they play under him. They seem a side that is just right for Wengerball. Casemiro at the base, and two clever technicians in Kroos and Modric ahead. Varane and Ramos a strong defense, with marauding fullbacks. And a great(good?) front 3. With the money to rejig. Plus options like Asensio, Isco, Vazquez, Kovacic. It could be very exciting to watch.

        But then there’s the whole politics, and the effects of following Zidane and the respect he was held in. And actually, that is why I think Madrid might go for Wenger. Arsenal fans may have forgotten because of our circumstances, but Wenger still carries respect in the game.

      2. I’d love to see Wenger get the Madrid job, but I’d love to see Pochettino get it even more, for obvious reasons (and yes, I know he just signed a longterm deal, but some probably-bogus rumors in Spanish press say there’s a clause that would allow him to leave for Real…).

        How funny would that be!

        1. You may get your wish, PFO! Guardian reporting that Pochettino is Madrid’s preferred target. On the other hand, he just signed a 5-year deal with Spurs last week. A clever way for Spurs to get a shedload of cash, or a sign he really intends to stay there? Would love for him to leave Spurs and for them to rehire Juande Ramos, AVB, or Harry Redknapp! Fat Sam is also available!

  16. By The Numbers is wonderful. It takes the uninformed arguments out of football debates…. no, wait a minute. It should! never anything less than illuminating.

    That and Stillberto are my favourite things on Arseblog

  17. Oh balls, Xhaka injured in training, apparently. Hope it’s not serious. He’s a player many of us here have been excited about in terms of how he might develop under a new coach. I do remember his comments upon arriving at Arsenal that he was surprised how little guidance he got from the manager and coaches compared to what he experienced at Basel and Monchengladbach. Emery sounds like the opposite of Wenger in this regard.

    1. I’ll feel bad for him if it means he misses the WC, but not bad for us. Ideal would be out a month. Please let it not be a 6 monther!

  18. PSG “wonderkid” Yacine Adli, anyone? Thoughts? Lots of media buzz today….

    I like, but he’s one of the (not so distant) future. A lot of young Cesc about him, from the limited vid evidence.

    1. I wrote this on the previous post about Lidl Aldi.
      I find the Yacine Adli rumour interesting. 17 year old midfielder who made his debut for the first team at PSG in Emery’s last game. Presumably wants some first team action. While the attention has rightly been on AMN, the training ground video of Emery also showed him shaking hands with a now buffed up Zelalem who’s in last chance saloon I would think. Adli looks comfortable on the ball, and I think if we sign him we’ll see him play a few games.

      Xhaka-Ramsey-Elneny as first choice midfield, with AMN, Torreira (e.g.) and Adli as subs? I quite like that I think. Especially because Iwobi and Miki can also play there.
      In addition to Zelalem and Willock, there’s also players like Nwakali, Smith-Rowe, Dragomir who might be thinking of some first team action this season. And that’s just in midfield. It will be interesting to see how the youth development is handled.

  19. Thanks for that you two, a lot of folks here don’t care for Xhaka, to put it mildly, and I just don’t get that. First of all, you can point out a lot of things he did wrong last season (I certainly got on his case about switching off in his own penalty box repeatedly!) but you can’t say he doesn’t care or doesn’t work hard for this club, and you also can’t say he doesn’t have immense offensive potential. In my opinion he was put in impossible situations repeatedly that exposed the weakness in his game by the by errors of positioning and passing that forced him to backpedal like a center back or attempt tackles in the open field against quicker players; that is obviously not his strength.

    I suppose the question of whether you see value in Xhaka comes down to whether you see value in the offensive potential of the defensive midfielder. Emery himself comments extensively on this issue in the Perarnau interview that Tim has been speaking about, and the essence of what he has to say is that he would rather have a DM who is outstanding in possession than one who is outstanding without the ball, citing the examples of Xabi, Busquets and Motta. Xhaka would seem to fit right in with that group and personally I am high on him, and judging by this interview, Emery will be too unless he’s just not impressed by his offensive potential (I would be shocked!). Recognizing his limitations and putting him in a position to succeed is the hallmark of a good coach and I think that’s exactly what Emery will do. My prediction is that he will position him further back, almost between the CB’s during possession which allows him to keep the play ahead of him most of the time, partner him with athletic runners in midfield, and change the pattern of passing into the teeth of the opposition that led to low percentage touches and frequent turnovers. Where Xhaka, like most of the team, will have to develop most is in his positioning without the ball and his ability to diagnose and close down passing lanes in real time.

    1. That’s an intriguing read, Doc. Agree with much of it, especially the part about offensive potential counting for much in such a player’s game.

      I also read into his comments that he likes a midfield 3 — a conductor, a box to box, and a defensive stopper. The part about him trying get Rabiot to play more defence is fascinating (and it also tells me that we wont be pursuing him, because he’ll want to play the Ramsey role).

      I do think you misstate fans’ concern about Xhaka. It’s not a matter of not caring for him. It’s being exasperated by how often he goes to sleep defensively, and the really bad quality of his tackling. Even Arsene Wenger said, at one time, that he couldn’t tackle properly! A rare case of the great man exposing the flaws of one of his own players in foresnsic detail.

      I think that Xhaka, without having to be the last line of defence in front of the back 4, could really thrive if he had a no-nonsense minder — and in that respect I think I’m in love with Lucas Torreira (via YouTube). A small guy, but defensively nuggety, can dribble, and can distribute. He looks like Kante Plus. I hope that that rumour turns out to be true. the one question I’d have is whether their O games are too samey.

      If we don’t go to the market, we have Jack, Elneny and AMN. AMN excites (on the basis of what Wenger said about his ball-winning potential), while Elneny gives a measure of retention security. But I do hope, having seen Torreira, that we sign him up to that role. It does create a midfield surplus, though, assuming Jack and Ramsey sign on. Ramsey looks as if he will, Jack less certain.

  20. Tim,
    The end of “By The Numbers” on Arseblog is an incredible loss. I couldn’t wait to follow up my player rating catharsis with your column.
    It has always been a staggering education to discover that Granit and Aaron hadn’t misplayed every pass, though I would have sworn that was what my eyes had told me!!!!!
    Thank you for your wonderful contribution to my Arsenal world.

    1. Well, as Tim will tell you, stats don’t tell the whole story, including that of Lichtsteiner’s! 😃

  21. Jack, earlier upthread….
    “Ramsey has scored some big goals for us, he’s an important player and ideally we can keep him healthy and a regular. He has the energy that he should be great for an Emery system. But let’s not have another Alexis saga – give him until July 1 to sign, if not then shop him.”

    I agree. In fact, I’d said in a previous post that if he doesn’t sign by July 30th, he should be sold. I think that as a matter of policy, we should make NO exceptions for players at the end of their contracts starting the next season. You can quibble about whether it’s a month (or more or less) before the window closes, but that should be an ironclad rule.

    The episode with Alexis was hugely damaging, and Ozil had us over a barrel on wages. You can’t run a club like that. Everyone will try it on.

    It’s been stated several times that Emery has said he wants to build the team around the Welshman, but that doesn’t sound credible to me at all. It’d be mad for a new coach — yet to build trust or even meet the players — to favour any one of them so publicly.

    Secondly, he came well prepared, and must know that he’s more likely than not to lose Ramsey for a quarter of the season. Building around, whatever that means makes no sense in that context.

    Third, even if one could define what that means, it only happens in VERY RARE cases of the Messis of this world. And vintage Barca had a TON of top tier class besides Messi.

    So no, Emery is very unlikely to have said that, and there are no quotes in support of it. Saying that a player is important is far cry from saying that you’d “build a team around him.”

    1. He would not have said in an interview with IRS that he’d be building a team around a player whose contract situation was unknown. That would be placing pressure on IRS and providing Ramsey with leverage. That would not have gone over well. That report had to be complete b.s. Besides, Gazidis has basically said nobody but he, Sven and Raul know what happened during the interview process.

      The argument that we “would never be able to replace Player X for the amount we’d be selling him” is absurd. We lucked out on Alexis, swapping him for Mhykitaryan (turns out it was Raiola’s brain child). But we almost lost 60 MILLION – what City was willing to pay us. 60 MILLION that might have helped at least defray the cost of another player. That was insanity to me, regardless of the argument that Alexis would make us a better team and get us back four. BS. He didn’t help at all and was mailing it in at the end.

      There is no way – NO WAY – that IRSE will make that mistake again. If Ramsey isn’t signed by start of training camp, we can easy get 30-40m for him. Take it, buy Seri or Correirra or add another 30-40 and go get Tollisso. But don’t hold onto him like we did with Alexis.

  22. This Lichtsteiner deal is really disappointing. If we are looking at getting a senior player on a free we should be looking at Caceres. He’s 31 and plays LB, RB and CB and is good enough to step up when needed and not be at risk of being torn to shreds by the Mane’s, Sane’s and Alexis’.

    If Ramsey doesn’t sign the extension let’s sell him and get Max Meyer on a free as well. I’m tired of Arsenal being held ransom by above average players.

    1. Football is a business and this kind of thing happens at every club. We would all try to negotiate the best possible terms for ourselves if given the opportunity, particularly if we knew it would possibly be our last chance to cash in on a major contract.

      1. We shouldn’t let multiple players get to the last year of their contract though. The club loses leverage against the player and the market.

        Sanchez and Wilshire are perfect examples. We had very little wiggle room when trying to get rid of Sanchez and Wilshire looks like he will walk on a free

    2. Forgot to add that the Sokratis signing is really pointless and a waste of £16m. We are signing an above average player who had a below par season for his abilities/talent. We already have defensive issues so adding a CB carrying no form is counter productive.

      We should spend the £50m on a young top class CB who will solve some of our issues at the back and Emery can minimise the other issues through coaching. Look at what signing Van Dyk did for Liverpool.

      If we are looking at free agents why overlook Caceres and go for Lichtsteiner? He is 31, can play RB, LB and CB and he can be at the club beyond 1 year.

      Max Meyer is also on the free agent list and would be an ideal replacement for Wilshire if he leaves. As for the GK spot, a loan to buy deal for Trapp wouldn’t be a bad punt.

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