Arsenal and the Myth of Transfers


A Myth is quite simply “a widely held but false belief or idea.”

Positivistas, how many of you, like me, first daily instinct during the transfer window is to reach for whatever internet device is at hand to check if there is any new transfer story affecting our great club? Yup, I see many of you shaking your heads in agreement. But I know there is an unrepentant few who are reacting with disgust to such heresy, appalled that there is a majority who weakly submit to the twice yearly season of rumor-mongering, click-baiting and outright lying by all segments of the sporting media.

Despite my admiration for those of us who can resist the temptation to not religiously scan twitter and the lying mainstream media for transfer news, the fact is the buying and selling of players has a powerful hold over many supporters and cannot be ignored. Even yours truly was briefly caught-up in the madness last weekend after EuroSport-France proclaimed boldly that Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez decides to join Arsenal, €50m move close. So much so I became a member of scouting twitterati hanging onto every ball Mahrez kicked in Leicester’s friendly with Celtics that Saturday morning (EST). Predictably, nothing came of the transfer. Less than one-week later it became apparent this was a big con-job by either Mahrez or his agent to get a big wage increase from Leicester, using the same leverage as his team-mate Jaime Vardy; i.e. being publicly linked with Arsenal. Lesson learnt anybody?

So why does transfers have such a big hold on our thinking despite clear and repetitive evidence that transfers are no guarantee to footballing success? Is it because the facts are not compelling? How more compelling can that major 2013 study by Nick Harris of Sporting Intelligence for the Arsenal Supporters Trust, of all the people,  when he provided 13 years of data to come to the conclusion that:

Wenger is telling the truth when he speaks, often, about wanting value in the transfer market, and wanting to buy players when they are better than he already has. Because he knows, from that 2005-06 season, and from the following season and a few others, that all business is not necessarily good business. And too much business can have a negative impact on the team, if selection becomes too ‘unstable’, which we can show, in a general sense, for Arsenal and key rivals, is a bad thing.”

He ranked the ‘big six’ in the Premier League in order of their total net spending on transfers plus wages combined between 2000 and 2012 over the 13 years in question. Chelsea spent most, with £2.078 billion, then Man Utd on £1.43bn, then City with £1.4bn, then Liverpool with £1.3bn then Arsenal with £1.1bn and Spurs on £777 million.

Chelsea did not do better than their resources in any year, under-performing against their wage bill eight times and doing only as well as expected four times.

United did better seven times, worse three times and as well as expected twice.

Manchester City performed better once: when finishing ninth in 2002-03 when wages said they should have finished 10th. They have otherwise under-performed apart from the title-winning season when they did as well as expected.

Liverpool did better than expected four times in the period, worse four times and as expected four times.

ARSENAL out-performed their wage spending seven times, did as well as expected three times, and under-performed in 2005-06 and 2006-07. We’ll come back to that – but it’s better than any rival.

Tottenham did better than their wage bill six times – and worse six times, in the period under review.

Nothing since 2013 in the PL has changed from my observation. To the contrary Harris’ findings have been reinforced by the dramatic results of the last season.  At the end of the 2015 summer window the following was the top-ranking spenders vs eventual league position:

Man City 88.06 3rd
Liverpool 77.02 8th
Man United 68.95 5th
Villa 45.43 20th
Chelsea 40.60 10th
Newcastle 39.80 18th
Southampton 23.80 6th
West Brom 22.75 15th
Leicester 21.84 1st
Crystal Palace 16.73 14th
Arsenal 9.80 2nd

Despite Leicester breaking conventional wisdom and proving that one can win the League without breaking transfer records, the usual suspects have been screaming murder and throwing childish tantrums because Ivan Gazidis recently used two major media opportunities to pour cold-water on expectations that the club will “show ambition” in the transfer market. The latest was an interview with no less than the New York Times when he stated:

“We would not be successful if we simply went out into the transfer market and tried to outgun our competitors. We’re run in a self-sustaining way, and a way that we believe in, because we believe it gives us certainty for the future, and enables us to plan our future with confidence. That means we can’t afford to make huge mistakes in the transfer market. We can’t afford to outgun competitors that have far more money to splurge on transfer fees than we do. So we have to be very careful, very selective about how we do things.”

My fellow blogger and friend Stew Black has dismissed this statement as simply “public relations” but I would suggest that for the CEO of the club to make similar statements within a week to both ESPN and the Times, major media outlets in their own right, is a significant message to the fans and other key constituencies. Gazidis was fully aware that there was a major kerfuffle after his initial round of cold water. Even Wenger was forced to comment after the Lens game that the CEO was not ruling out a big transfer if the right player became available. Less than one week later Gazidis repeated the same mantra almost word for word. Outside of Stan this is the voice of the Board of Directors, we ignore him at our peril.

So despite the compelling weight of facts and figures and the admonishments of the CEO, bloggers and tweeters continue to believe that the club is showing no ambition or that Wenger is dithering in the transfer market. It would seem to me that if the club does not find the right player, many are in for a rude awakening.

Sooner or later myths must confront reality.

225 comments on “Arsenal and the Myth of Transfers

  1. Yes he did play really well when we beat bayern last season and yes he did score against Barcelona in a tough game.


  2. Asano scored for japan in their 5-4 loss to Nigeria in the olympics


  3. Shotts

    Looking at Timmy stillman’s latest efforts he too has been regurgitating the zeitgeist. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has proven on the football field that he is twice the footballer when compared to mules like Sterling, and they have the same agent yet I can write the above because of what he’s done upon a football pitch.

    To quote a great line from Kubrik, what is the Major Malfunction for these Experts? Did all that fence sitting lead to a sore Arsenal is that why he protested or was played like a chump during the Leicester game?

    The Brian/Annan is the only one worth reading on that site. It’s possible to have sane critique of stuff such as that given by the blogger ‘desi gunner’I don’t agree but at least he’s capable of talking about the bleeding football. But for some reason you don’t hear either I the podcasts out there:

    Mean Lean if you’re reading please sort it out good Sir – that unreasonable Groaner is simply not Arsenal quality we deserve better for the extortionate prices that we do not pay please stop this dithering and pull the hangman’s noose we know you want to IBSF

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Coquelin was looking in good nick last time out, a little over eager in some challenges but that’s all good.

    Interesting fight ahead for the three nominal CM positions.


  5. So Asano… Glad Naija Won. LOL this is international footy


  6. Sorry Asano… Glad Naija Won.. LOL. this is International Football with a stake beyond arsenal.


  7. Fascinating interview on Aunty Bleeb this teatime during yet another gripping test match with the England WK coach.

    When was the last time anyone saw or heard such an interesting interview with a goalkeeper or ‘keeping coach re: the football?

    I can’t. We just get the opinions of uber bloggers. Chamberlain blah blah yadda yadda yadda. Lucky us eh? IBSF

    Fortunately there’s plenty of sport to distract from the uber bloggers favourite trophy the Transfer Window Cup. Like the cricket. Or gnabbers in Brazil putting in a better performance then anyone has ever seen from, say a Sterling, on such a stage…

    Shotts when I made my comment on Mahrez being more mature and without horrific injuries in the past I was comparing him in my mind to Gnabry, who almost blew his career at AFC by choosing to go on loan last term to Pulis against the club’s wishes. At least that is the impression from the manager’s comments.

    Gnabbers was the other one alongside Bellerin that AAndrew kindly flagged up for us all to follow so long ago now. He’ll come good, I hope it happens for him at the Arsenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stefan O’Connor has joined Dutch side MVV Maastricht on a season-long loan

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160805/o-connor-joins-maastricht-on-loan#BbU0tadgOMoOfAXR.99

    Julio Pleguezuelo has joined Spanish Segunda Division side RCD Mallorca on loan for the season

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160805/julio-pleguezuelo-joins-mallorca-on-loan#TTUZf5A3eUOwdqtq.99

    Wojciech Szczesny has re-joined AS Roma on loan for the coming season

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160804/szczesny-returns-to-roma-on-loan#CMv4uqAbDLKSlEpz.99



    We have completed the signing of 18-year-old attacking midfielder Kelechi Nwakali from the Diamond Football Academy in Nigeria.

    The Nigeria youth international captained his country to victory in the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Chile last year, where he won the Player of the Tournament award.

    Kelechi, who joins us as a young professional, will look to gain experience with a loan move in the coming months.

    We would like to welcome him to the club.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160805/kelechi-nwakali-joins-arsenal?#6Pjc8u4duEbd5HIc.99


  10. Xhaka, Ramsey and Alexis all being saved for man city game


  11. Hangeland will not be asked back by ITV, he just said if Arsenal can’t get a world class CB to partner Koscielny, then they should stick with what they have. Its clear he has not got the “Arsenal must spend big money” message that ITV are going with, luckily for them Kevin Campbell is on message.


  12. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 8m8 minutes ago
    Deadlock broken! @ArsenalLadies open the scoring with @CaseyStoney powering in @fara_williams47’s delivery from a corner 1-0 (9) #ALFC


  13. 3 minutes in, Debuchy wins a penalty, good build up play, walcott, cambpell, ox and then debuchy is pulled back in the area

    cazorla has his penalty saved. it was a well hit shot, but good height for the keeper.

    Cazorla is then hacked down in the next phase of play


  14. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 8m8 minutes ago
    Deadlock broken! @ArsenalLadies open the scoring with @CaseyStoney powering in @fara_williams47’s delivery from a corner 1-0 (9) #ALFC


  15. 18 minutes keeper with a fine save from an Elneny header at a corner


  16. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 2m2 minutes ago
    HALF-TIME: @ArsenalLadies 1-1 Notts County – #ALFC


  17. 33 minutes Elneny with a towering header from a corner, Campbell might have got a slight touch on it right on the line, 1-0


  18. HT: Viking 0-1 Arsenal

    Cazorla with a penalty saved, Elneny or Campbell with our goal. Few dodgy moments at the back, but overall well on top. Elneny been our best player, ox and theo very hot and cold, doing some good things, but final ball or shot not up to it. Not been impressed with Campbell, or Coquelin, and Gabriel looks a little rusty. Debuchy been good, as has Bielik. Gibbs getting forward well. Cazorla good on the ball, but not on it enough. Ospina shaky at one corner.


  19. the theo haters are out in force across arsenal web world,


  20. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 4m4 minutes ago
    Goal for Notts County. Jess Clarke gives the visitors the lead 1-2 (52) #ALFC


  21. seeing replays, Campbell did get the final touch for the goal.


  22. Good loose first half, picking the passes well, benefits of having a midfielder who is not a short arse obvious


  23. Holding, Reine-Adelaide and Iwobi are all on for second half


  24. 49 minutes, Walcott lays the ball in to Cazorla, 30 yards from goal, and he fires a fine shot to the back of the net 2-0


  25. looks like the 3 to go off at half time were Gabriel, Coquelin and OX


  26. 52 minutes, Walcott fires in from a campbell pass.


  27. 54 minutes, after some great build up play a campbell cross is knocked in by a defender for an og, 4-0


  28. there is a bit of the Diaby about Reine-Adelaide


  29. 58 minutes, Campbell fires in his second, after a good run by Cazorla and a lay off from Iwobi. 5-0


  30. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 1m1 minute ago
    GOAL FOR @ARSENALLADIES! It’s @kelly_smith10 with an equaliser 2-2 (82) #ALFC


  31. Monreal, Bellerin, Willock, Zelalem, Akpom all on, Gibbs, Debuchy, Campbell, Elneny and Walcott off


  32. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 1m1 minute ago
    GOAL FOR @ARSENALLADIES! @fara_williams47 from the spot 3-2 (90) #ALFC


  33. 70 minutes, Cazorla unselfishly lays the ball off to iwobi who hammers it home from an angle


  34. A right doing – pulling them apart as and when we choose – 1st team, 2nd team – it’s all Wengerball

    Liked by 2 people

  35. with all the subs the game has dropped a little


  36. 80 minutes, Reine-Adelaide with a fine ball to Iwobi and he powers in a shot from edge of the area, keeper got a hand to it and it went in off the post, 7-0


  37. 88 minutes, Bellerin with a long range shot, and their third goalie of the night fails to hold it, just a minute after coming on, and Akpom is there to slot the ball home, 8-0


  38. FT: Viking 0-8 Arsenal

    opposition might not have been the best, but Arsenal totally dominated, and kept going for goal, Campbell (2), Iwobi (2), Walcott, Cazorla, Akpom and an OG with the goals.

    Iwobi full of confidence, and both his goals contenders for goal of the game, Reine-Adelaide with flashes of his talent, Walcott with a fine finish and an assist, Campbell with a good double too. Akpom kept up his goal a game pre-season. Bielik and Holding both cool and calm. Elneny is perpetual motion. Cazorla at the hub of most of our best moves.


  39. Another good workout, most players played well although real shame Theo’s confidence is shot. Debuchy still looks a little off the pace but overall the team looks like it’s progressing well. It’s a shame the friendlies are short this year as I think with two more games before the pool game we would be right on top of our game.


  40. Wenger comments after the game

    on the performance “We just focused on our own game and tried to play at a high pace. We stuck to what we wanted to do.”

    on Cazorla “It’s his first 90 minutes in a long time. We need him back in good shape. He’s a pleasure to watch.”

    “The Liverpool game will come too early for them(Ozi, Koscielny, Giroud).”


  41. Arsenal are in the market for new signings ahead of the start of the season; Alexandre Lacazette and Shkodran Mustafi among the players on the club’s radar.
    And Wenger insisted money isn’t an issue for the club in their search for reinforcements.

    The Arsenal boss watched on as his side put Viking FK to the sword 8-0
    ‘It’s not the prices, it’s the players. The money is never a problem for me if you have to pay what is requested.

    ‘The price of a player is down to four ingredients. The talent, his age, how much you expect him to improve your team and his resale value.
    ‘If he ticks all the four boxes the price is not so important. But you have to find the players. All the Premier League clubs have a lot of money, they look everywhere and there is not a lot going on.

    Alexandre Lacazette (left) and Shkodran Mustafi are two players on Arsenal’s radar
    ‘I focus on the players we have. Today we had not Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Alexis who will play on Sunday against Man City.

    ‘We still have Ozil, Giroud and Koscielny at home. Young players have done well. We do not have to panic but be on alert on the transfer market and make the right move when the opportunity comes up.

    ‘There is plenty of clubs with big ambition. Many big managers are in many big clubs. It raises the hope and ambition of everyone.
    ‘But only one will win it and we have to make sure it is us.’

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3726259/Arsene-Wenger-reassures-fans-Jack-Wilshere-fitness-midfielder-begins-light-training.html#ixzz4GUxO3l34



    Arsène Wenger took questions about transfers and his current squad following the convincing pre-season victory against Viking FK.
    Here’s what he said:

    on Santi Cazorla…
    It’s the first time he’s played 90 minutes for a long, long time because he’s basically been out since November. He played the last game of the season and 90 minutes today. Let’s see how he recovers from that. Of course we need him back in good shape. He’s a pleasure to watch, especially when it’s a demonstration like tonight. He’s one of the few players that you don’t know whether they’re right or left footed. It’s good that he came through well. We have no injuries tonight so that’s positive.

    on Per Mertesacker…
    Mertesacker will be out for at least four months.

    on Jack Wilshere…
    Jack has started running again today. He will train next week.

    on Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud…
    Liverpool would come too early.

    on transfers…
    It’s not the prices, it’s the players. At the moment I’m focused on the players we have. Today we didn’t have Ramsey, Xhaka, Alexis – he will play on Sunday. We still have Ozil at home, and Giroud and Koscielny too. We also have young players who came on and did well. We do not have to panic but we are on alert in the transfer market so that we can make the right move when the opportunity comes up.

    on the possibility of a new striker…
    The money is never a problem if you have to pay what is requested. The price of a player is down to four ingredients. One is the talent, two his age, three is how much you expect him to improve your team, and four his resale value. If he ticks all four boxes then the price is not that important. You have to find the player.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160805/wenger-on-transfers-and-individuals?#zEmJb6cLs3DxiZ7S.99



    Arsenal continued their pre-season preparations with a convincing 8-0 win at Viking on Friday night.
    Here’s what Arsène Wenger made of the victory.

    on the result…
    At the moment we don’t look at who we play too much. We just focus on our own game and try to play the way we want to play at a high pace, with lots of movement and overall it became easier in the second half. The score is not too important at the moment, it’s just for us to stick to what we want to do and get everybody good competition so that they can come out in a positive mood as well because we play to win.

    on having a selection headache…
    I have a headache everywhere because all the players do well. The young players do well and I don’t think about age too much. Overall, we have plenty of choice in midfield.

    on Aaron Ramsey’s best position…
    Aaron Ramsey’s best position is in central midfield. His second-best position is wide but his best position is in central midfield.

    on what he will do with the sword handed to him before the match…
    I don’t know!

    on whether Arsenal are short in central defence…

    on Gabriel, Krystian Bielik and Rob Holding…
    In these kinds of games they get experience and also get used to playing the way we want to play, but they are not tested enough to really be able to say. The Premier League is a different problem for them.

    on whether this could be the toughest season…
    There are plenty of clubs with big ambition. At the moment there are many big managers and many big clubs. It raises the ambition and the hope everywhere, but only one will win it. We just have to make sure it is us. The competition will be very fierce, especially with Leicester winning it last year. Nobody expected that so some smaller clubs could hope to be in the fight for it too. They can say that the bigger clubs will drop points against each other, so it will be more open than ever but also more interesting. We’ve got a difficult start against Liverpool, then it’s Leicester straight away, then to Watford. In the first three games we have to make sure that we are ready.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160805/wenger-on-the-viking-fk-performance?#f8gzHhJBigh8QKE3.99


  44. That was fun, I wish all our games were 8-0.
    It will shut up the miserableists.

    Liked by 3 people

  45. For an hour or two anyway.

    Liked by 3 people

  46. I would like to think that the score line reflects the fact that Arsenal won’t take their foot off the peddle when they are comfortable. I hope they will be just as cold and ruthless as Fergie’s golden generation.

    I still cannot express my frustration at Martin Hayes. He must be one of the worst commentators I have had to suffer. He has the vocabulary of a five year old and the irritating habit of saying “ya know” after every second word….but most of all he did actually suggest that winning 8 nil before taking on ManShitty may not be good thing….would having lost be better preparation?

    Liked by 2 people

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