Thousand Mile Stare

I broke with my intended schedule posting yesterday’s piece on how to (legally) watch all the Arsenal matches on your TV/Computer/Phone but don’t worry, I did follow that up with some work that I promised myself I would do from now on.

However, today we are left with very little in terms of reliable news. There’s an article from the Mirror that has everyone atwitter: Elneny is being sold to save on salary. And Arsenal put out a picture essay on their practice sessions which I knew would have images of Leno, Torriera, and Monreal in them. 

To the first, this is the Mirror. I’m sure that they have a source for this story but I’m equally sure that they are slanting the story to make it sound as hyperbolic as possible. Are we really trying to cut salary? Probably. Will it make more room for a huge offer for Ramsey? Certainly. 

More to the point is that Elneny is surplus to requirements. Arsenal already have Xhaka, Guendouzi, and Torreira in his position. I know he’s popular among the fans but he’s at his ceiling. Guendouzi is well below his ceiling. And purely from a business standpoint, it’s a good move to sell the (extra) guy at the top of his game, clear his salary off the books, and give his playing time to a young player whose value will only grow.

Also from a footballing perspective, Guendouzi and Torreira have more to offer the team. They should get the majority of the playing time. 

I also scoped Bernd Leno on the dot com this morning and he also got a mention on Arseblog and to cap it off a lot of Arsenal supporters want him to start against Chelsea. Andrew suggested that maybe the new manager doesn’t trust Leno and I agree with him. Based on the stats that I have looked at (which almost entirely deal with saves) Leno is a huge gamble.

Is he better at passing out of the back than Cech? Perhaps. But Chelsea’s manager, Sarri, is known as “Mister 33” because he drills his teams with 33 set pieces. Remember that Chelsea scored on a corner against Arsenal in the pre-season friendly, Cech was in goal but the ball was played so far away from him that he literally couldn’t have done anything to “command” it or even save it. So, the question is which player is better commanding the box? Unai will know based on his time in practice. He will also know that Sarri is a set-piece specialist and will make his selection accordingly. 

The one thing I agree with the Mirror about is the fact that a lot of players on this team need to be sold or at least loaned. Ospina, Campbell, and Elneny all seem to be surplus. 

One last note: Welbeck would probably have been loaned but nothing came of his supposed flirtation with Everton. Unless a foreign team really needs a hard working forward, he’s going to be with us this season. And finally, Carl Jenkinson is still on the books and I seriously doubt he will be moving anywhere. He’s 26 years old and he’s made 5 appearances for Arsenal since 2014. In his last loan deal, Birmingham City, he was dropped by Garry Monk and only played 7 matches. I can’t see many takers. 

Not every person can make it as a professional footballer. Wenger said it took three components: Talent, Application, and Opportunity. If a person is missing any of those three things, they are very unlikely to become a star. Every time I see his photo on the dot com, I see a man who has the “thousand mile stare”. It looks hollowed out or you might even mistake it for scared. But he’s looking through you. It’s the look of a man who sees the end on the horizon and has fixated on it. Some of us got this in boot camp about half-way through. That’s when I realized that there were only four more weeks and no matter what happened, all I had to do was look to the future. It would eventually be over.

Carl Jenkinson's 100 mile stare



  1. He does look haunted but his fall from grace is puzzling – he was up and coming at Charlton and looked good, if better going forward than defending, when he first played for us and was being spoken about for England. He was then loaned but looked good for W Ham. The Birmingham loan obviously backfired spectacularly but I can’t recall anything specific precipitating the decline. Haunted, hollow eyed, totally bereft of self belief and confidence, …I miss the old, Arsenal adoring, player fulfilling his professional dream Jenko. I hope he does get a move and manages to resurrect his career.
    Campbell meanwhile being talked about in relation to a move to Serie A’s newboys.

    1. He got injured at West Ham and in his first game for Birmingham.

      Some Championship club might still loan him. I hope he gets to play and makes a good impression.

      All the same, he lived the dream and it’s something he’ll always have.

  2. Speaking of Cech and Elneny, the two transfer windows in which we signed those 2 playersin June 2015 and January 2016, will go down as the most puzzling of the Wenger era. He had tens of millions to spend, but took pleasure (openly, publicly) in giving the money back when we only got Cech. Elneny cost 5m or something like that, making him a cheap, financially expedient buy rather than an essential one.

    In both those windows we needed an assertive defensive-minded midfielder. We got zero in the summer, Elneny in the winter and Xhaka the next summer. That was sackable stuff from Wenger. Arsenal don’t roll over transfer budgets. No club does, far as I know. The money saved in the summer of Cech was money he never got back to build the squad. Inexcusable.

    btw, Jenkinson is out-earning Chambers and Holding (almost double money), Iwobi and Ospina, and almost certainly Guendouzi, Nelson and Martinez. He’s earning a fraction less than Lucas Torreira. Here’s a fun fact… Koscielny is earning a quarter of Mesut’s salary, and Ramsey one-third.

    Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis has left an absolute mess on the contracts and recruitment side.

    1. I thought Elneny was closer to 12m. Agree on all the rest. What a mess. Ozil should never have been given that contract, he needed to be sold along with Sanchez and Ox last summer. I have a feeling it will take a few years to clean up the mess.

    2. I’m really not sure what you mean by clubs not rolling their budgets. For instance, the club spent 100 million the next summer, so I’d argue it did get carried forward.

      Also, uefa ffp follows a 3 year cycle and I think clubs generally try to adjust to that. Liverpool’s spending must have been because they made money in the transfer market the past two seasons.

      I really think Arsene looked at his squad vs the big clubs and decided he could beat them. Didn’t see Leicester coming (no one did) and didn’t see such poor finishing coming either. And that really was where it went away from him after all. We never quite had the same style of play as before.

      1. Oh guys, please let’s not do this one again!!!!

        You two (or Shard and someone else who’s a regular on here, I can’t remember) had it out about this very issue a year or so ago. You might have completely forgotten, but I’m still carrying the scars!

        Instead, let’s put it this way: whether or not Wenger got some of the money “back” in the next window, Claude’s point is still a good one. Elneny was a shrewd budget buy, but that’s not what we really needed at the time. We needed a (preferably youngish) uber-talented starter, who could come in and boss our midfield in the absence of Santi and with Coq showing his obvious limitations. Given the considerable strength of the rest of the first 11 at the time (except at CF), it was indefensible to buy no one that summer and then only buy Elneny in January, when we were still in the title race (if memory serves).

        It was also odd to bring him in if the Xhaka buy was already in the works for early that summer (which it almost certainly was), given that they’re both valuable for their passing rather than defending (very roughly speaking, they’re Arteta types rather than Kante types). The Xhaka purchase made Elneny’s place in the side (and arguably the squad) obsolete in under 6 months. He’s not terrible, he’s at least more mobile than Xhaka, and his hard work, good attitude, and flexibility means he’s far from a total waste in the squad; but he’s a waste if his transfer/wages meant we didn’t buy better/younger/more suitable midfielders. E.g. Torreira and Guendouzi both look to fall into that category to me, and we’ve bought them at a time when we no longer boast CL football. Just think who we could have got in that position a few years back, with CL football and money in the bank!

        Go back and compare Liverpool’s transfer business with ours over the last 5-6 years and you’ll go a long way to explaining the recent contrasting fortunes of the two clubs, without even touching on Wenger’s tactics.

        1. Oh I don’t disagree with the point about the lack of signings. And I wasn’t aiming to duke it out about the budgeting. I just think clubs tend to balance budgets over a few seasons. For flexibility if nothing else.

          On Liverpool, we were trying to hold on to our players at a time they were willing to sell them.

          We should sell better,especially in the market as it is now, but I think we’d all had enough of being a selling club for a while after the previous decade.

        2. Youre right! 😂We duked it out on this already. Exhaustively. So feel free to ignore everything but the last paragraph. I’m still kind of worked up about our transfer management over those windows.

          1. Yep, the tragic thing about the January we bought Elneny is, we weren’t just in the title race, we were top of the table on New Year’s Day.

            45 pts after 20 games, City a point behind, Chelsea a point behind them.

  3. I have a soft spot for any player that puts in a good shift, even if they lack the talent (maybe because in my playing days that’s mostly all I could offer up). If Elneny, Jenko and Campbell go I wish them luck, I don’t know if we can accuse any of them of stealing a paycheque when they played for us; they all gave it a good effort when put out on the field. That’s all we can ask of any player that wears the uniform.

  4. Damn, Tim.

    I remember seeing that 1000-mile, or as my Top would put it, 1000-yard stare in many an OBC student’s face when they realized this Army thing was the real deal.

    When I saw it, I would let Top know to keep our phones on over the weekend…’cause we’d likely be getting a call. More often than not, we’d get that call and have to pick somebody up from a jail cell.

    More worryingly is when/if you ever see someone with bad/unclear intentions look at you with that stare. It usually means he no longer sees the humanity in you and is steeling himself to do you some serious bodily harm. If you see that look in a contentious situation you either need to get the hell out of there… like now; or hit that guy first…and hard.

    Now, I like the Corporal, and I am sad he couldn’t make a go of it. But at least he’ll have the memories. He got closer to that dream than I ever could.

  5. Selling Elneny would be a bit of a gamble. If we’re going to be pressing regularly, a couple of injuries could happen quick. Especially around the winter period. Which Emery has no experience in dealing with in terms of rotation. I know the fitness people will but I worry we’ll drop off then.

    Still, it does make a sort of sense to get some money for him. He refused a chance to join Leicester last season. But maybe Marseille is more his speed.

    1. Agree, unless Marseille are offering more money than they should be, and/or we’ve got a clear plan to use the money to strengthen (I think we can probably risk it until January).

      But I’d prefer to keep both him and Welbz this season, so we don’t get caught short with injuries. I’m all for trimming the squad, but they’re both valuable squad members: hard working, don’t complain, versatile.

      Ospina, Campbell, and Jenks, on the other hand, should definitely go, permanently if we can manage it.

    2. He’s not becoming more valuable by sitting another year on the bench though. I’d rather give his minutes AMN or find a replacement with a higher ceiling. Elneny is all he’s ever going to be, I’d rather set him loose before he becomes the next Debuchy’d.

      1. The reaction of the fanbase seems to have gone full circle from money doesn’t play on the pitch, to we should get good value for a player while we can.

        I can see the logic in selling him and getting someone else, but realistically, we’re not going to sign anyone better with the money we get from his sale. The other reason to sell him would be to free up wages. Which is ok I guess, but the risk of being caught short remains.

        Plus, I don’t see Elneny becoming Debuchy, whose problem was one of attitude rather than talent. Elneny is where he is talent-wise, but he’s got a good attitude and is always giving his all when he gets a chance. AMN is already out for 2 months. Elneny may just be a backup, but he’s the sort of backup a squad needs sometimes. Any more injuries and we might need him. We might need him anyway if others don’t perform.

        1. No, of course the Debuchy dig was a bit misguided, I was rather getting at someone whose value steadily declines while he’s not playing and we can’t get rid of. We’ve had so many players in an endless loan cycles or stuck in perpetual leaving mode leading to nowhere, I can’t get mad at offloading players when the opportunity arrives. I mean I like him, I see no problem with him, but selling squad players like him should be no big deal. But we agonised so much about buying players, we could never get our minds up about getting rid of players.

          1. Maybe Emery sees a role for him? He’s said that the only 3 up for sale are Jenkinson, Ospina, and Campbell and the rest will stay. Could change depending on any offer, but I don’t think it will happen.

  6. Players are under no obligation to help you to fix foolish salary levels. Jenkinson is human. He must to some extent feel not great about himself, but a millionaire salary is probably a great salve for low self-esteem, if indeed he feels that. He will never earn 45k Great British Pounds a week ever again after leaving Arsenal. In other words, every Friday for 6 years, Arsenal Football club has wired/will wire $US 57,000 into his bank account. A guy’s got Lamborghinis to buy and a property portfolio to build.

    It looks we’re pulling back a bit from Wenger’s nutso wage structure, because Torreira is “only” on 50k/week (which Im going to guess was double his Sampdoria salary). Auba and Laca joined at well over 150k. Lucas Perez was on 80k/week, more than Koscielny. By any reasonable measure, Ramsey on 110k is well paid, but we set a terrible precedent with Ozil, and that’s why we are where we are with the Welshman.

    It’s going to be hard to put that horse back in the stable.

  7. i agree, arsenal can’t afford to lose elneny . speaking of his transfer, arsenal were in 1st place but had injuries at center mid. it’s tough to get players better than elneny in january unless you overpay. no one wants to release their biggest talents mid-season. arsenal needed depth and 5 million for elneny was good business. xhaka was supposed to come in and give arsenal a boost but proved, despite his talent, that he’s not smart enough to do what wenger hoped for.

  8. I’m torn on Elneny. Decent squad option. Yes, you’re going to make a profit on him given his low buy price, but unless you’re promoting from within, what you’d have to buy would be more expensive. He’s also a player who’s content to have a bit part, and is great for squad harmony too. He’s Mesut’s new best mate as well, and we have to keep our star happy, no?

    OTOH, might be time to create squad space for one of the youngsters for the backup role Elneny plays. Im pretty excited about Emile Smith-Rowe, although he’s more attacking than Elneny.

    Going forward, we’re going to have to give the youngsters more chances. I’d certainly play Reiss Nelson, who had an excellent presaeson, in place of Mkhitaryan on the right. Mkhi started left but switched right against City.

  9. So we’re finally getting rid of Ospina but only on loan (with no obligation to buy).

    He’ll be back next summer and we’ll again be stuck trying to convince a club to buy him for actual money.

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