13 questions about Havertz and Rice

Who are Arsenal after? Looks like Kai Havertz and Declan Rice.

Kai Havertz? More like Why Havertz, AM I RIGHT?

Why Havertz? Well, I don’t know. His scoring, shot creation, and dribbling are very poor. But then again, so was Xhaka’s, before Arteta played him in the left half space behind the forwards. Havertz is also not great at tackling and other defensive metrics, and again, Xhaka was bad at tackling and most forwards aren’t good at that stuff. But they usually make up for it by being good at other stuff, like scoring or creating goals. The only thing that I can point to and say is a definite plus in his book is that he’s left footed and Arteta LOVES lefties on the left side of the core.

Where Havertz? My gut says he’s going to replace Xhaka on the left half space (I’m not using the term “#8” anymore because that’s a functionally dead term) but every time I say that I get someone saying “he’s never played there before” (not true) or “he’s coming in to play backup to Jesus as the false nein”. It’s a tedious conversation. Who cares? He’s a versatile LEFT FOOTED player who can play in the Xhaka role and also on the right and in the center. So, kind of a perfect player for Arteta.

Will he be a backup? I doubt it. He’s on 150k and Chelsea want 75m for him. If we pay him 200k (which is reasonable to expect) and give Chelsea somewhere more than 60m for him, it seems that he’s probably going to be a starter.

What about Smith Rowe? Yeah, I dunno. I dunno where he’s going to play next season, honestly.

Trust the process? Sorta, yeah. I mean, they aren’t perfect but Arteta and Edu seem to get things more right than wrong. They must have seen something in this player (he’s left footed) to make them want him badly enough to invest huge sums.

You keep mentioning he’s left footed, why? Because it’s a big thing for Arteta. He seems to favor lefties. His first summer as a manager, Arteta bought Pablo Mari and Gabriel, both of them are left footed. Kiwior, Gabriel, Xhaka/Havertz, Saka, Ode, and Zinchenko. I’m not sure if we have the most lefties of any club but it’s a lot. It’s an important part of his attacking and defending plan: left footed players on the left don’t have to pass across their body to play the ball out left – this changes the angle they can receive the ball and can speed up distribution, open up options for their passing. They are also better adept at defending (theoretically) with their left foot, so can defend wide left better in one-v-ones.

What about Rice? I cook mine in an instant pot. Depending on the variety, and what I want the final dish to be like, I will sometimes soak it a bit first.

No, I mean Declan RIGHT FOOTED Rice, where will he play? Look, I’m biased. I want Thomas Partey dropped from the team forever. So, my simple answer is that he will play in the CM role that Partey plays now. But I know that only a few weeks ago I thought Rice might come in to play the Xhaka role. So, am I contradicting myself? Not really. Rice and Havertz are versatile. They give Arteta options. And with Champions League football adding more (serious) games to the table, we are going to need options. I think the main positions for Rice will be the CM and for Havertz the left half space.

What if you’re wrong? I’ll give you a 100% refund of your money.

What about Caicedo? I haven’t seen any reliable information that he is still an Arsenal target. I hope he is, because he can play RB and CM and gives us OPTIONS! But sadly, I don’t see anything reliable.



  1. Kai rice baby. Not too keen on Kai but I trust the process so fingers crossed. A lot will depend on outgoings and like you, I think we can get a bit of money from Partey.
    Whatever it is, I hope we have another season in the premier league like the last one with an FA cup to boot. City is still too good to bet against.

  2. I assumed our interest was in him competing/rotating with Jesus, given that Jesus getting injured and going through a dry spell was the biggest difference between us and City last season.

    But yeah Xhaka replacement makes sense too.

    1. I do think we need competition for Jesus, but I’m not sure Havertz is it. He was terrible at Chelsea in that role. His entire season was a dry spell. He’s taller than Jesus, which is a plus, but we don’t need another striker prone to missing a lot of chances. He could fit in better behind the front line, but we already have ESR and Viera as options there. Doesn’t seem to me to make sense to spend a lot on another option.

      1. I think listing ESR and Vieira are options are good evidence for the need for Kai, unfortunately. None convince at the moment.

        1. And before anyone comes at me, all I mean to say is I would not yet trust either to be first choice Xhaka role for PL and CL this season. ESR specifically, folks will point to his 10 goals, but that was a good half season with not finishing when the team sucked and Tierney was one of our best players. The bar has been raised and we don’t have evidence that he’s there anymore, at least not yet.

        2. True, they are in unconvincing form. But they are also already on the roster, so don’t cost us any additional money. Havertz is in unconvincing form and might cost quite a bit of additional money.

  3. Sounds like we opened the bidding low for Rice, not too surprising. Also sounds like City is interested, which is more surprising, given they already have Rodri. Don’t really want to go too high on Rice, at some point, better to try to get Caicedo.
    As far as Havertz goes, he was good in the Bundesliga, but dropped off considerably at Chelsea (but that describes pretty much their whole team this year). He would be a decent Xhaka replacement, but I’m not sure that’s where we should be spending a lot of money given our other needs. And yes, like you, I wondered what this means for ESR.

  4. kai havertz is probably the one player i wouldn’t be placing value on based on his stats from last season. the main reason being he was at chelsea; the club that tries to ruin young players like mo salah, kevin debruyne, timo werner, mason mount, etc with poor strategy and player application.

    the bottom line is this; kai havertz is a center attacking mid. he was viewed as the heir apparent to mesut ozil. why is he playing with his back to goal as a center forward? because chelsea, that’s why. despite all the money they’ve spent in the position, chelsea’s best center forward of the past 10 years has been olivier giroud. however, giroud is gone and the likes of lukaku and aubameyang haven’t worked out so they threw havertz in up top…probably because he’s tall. he is not a center forward and we’d be fools to make assertions based on his performances as a #9. it’s why i often warn about playing guys out of position. it could ruin a player’s confidence, which could cause irreparable damage to their career. there’s no reason for it at a club like arsenal.

    this transfer has a granit xhaka feel to it for me. he wants to leave but i don’t think pochettino wants to lose him. so chelsea set the price at £75 million and won’t budge. no one will match that price point, allowing them to keep the player. however, if it were me, i’d look to bring him in to compete with odegaard. playing as a cam is his best position. if arsenal go down to 10 men, play him as a false 9. that’s all.

  5. I find Havertz very talented. He scored some very nice goals, goals that were unexpected, goals that needed more than just the finishing touch. He makes things happen. He is good with the head and both feet, with, indeed, a clear preference for the left. He is strong and fast. He can also miss easy stuff and lack impact. I think you’re right Tim: Arteta thinks he is a gem that good coaching can reveal. Buying from Chelsea is smart. Some underwhelming players can find a new life outside of the toxic environment that characterises Chelsea. And they need to sell players after the absurd signing spree of last year.

  6. Chelsea players are good hunting ground – by some accounts Chelsea needs to sell 125m+ of players by June 30, or be in violation of FFP rules. Havertz at Leverkusen was a brilliant talent. He’s 24, tall and highly skilled – he’s just never been able to settle with all the managerial changes at Chelsea. He was brought in by Lampard who got turfed 5 months later and then you had Tuchel, Potter then Lampard again. He’s definitely being eyed as a Xhaka replacement and I don’t think that precludes ESR being re-purposed as LCM – you need two quality players for every position. I think as we get closer to June 30, unless some Saudi team comes and buys Lukaku for a silly fee, Chelsea will become increasingly desperate to get rid of Havertz and Arsenal can probably scoop him up for <50m… Sterling, Azpilacueta, Aubameyang, Kovacic, Pulisic, Ziyech and Lukaku all must be sold and Chelsea have zero leverage to demand high fees.

    I do wonder if we're going to get beat to Rice by City. If that happens, there will be widespread deflation because he's been the main target since early March. Unless there's a pivot to Caicedo (which I doubt, because 80m when MacAllister went for 35m seems a hard over-valuation by Brighton), we may see Zubimendi show up in the headlines soon.

    But what I'm most interested in is the Edu left-fielders… Kiwior? Vieira? Tomiyasu? There's got to be one or two of those this transfer season.

  7. It would not be too challenging to compile a lengthy list of players whose careers stalled at Chelsea. If Havertz had suited up for any other club in the PL and had the season he had, I wouldn’t be too excited. I find myself optimistic he could get back to his Bayer Leverkusen potential if he moved away from the tragedy that is Stamford Bridge.

  8. Who wouldn’t want Rice and Caicedo in side, but we need another quality defender. As much as other factors. losing Saliba and Takehiro killed our title run.

  9. What if Arsenal is interested in Havertz because PSG is allegedly interested in Odegaard?

  10. I wrongly feel like our transfer business is way too predictable , them we are helping our rivals clear their mess its a big market we should look else where, to me looks like another groundhog loading ,mudryks,,Nunez the butcher our transfer game too loud

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