Arsenal: Can Aubameyang and Mhkitaryan Save The Season?


As is usual after a win, and a resounding win at that, there is a mood of positivity in the fanbase after the 5-1 thrashing of Everton as the two new boys, Auba and Mhki made impressive joint debuts in the red of Arsenal instead of the yellow of BVB-Dortmund when they last played together. Mhkitaryan had three assists, more than Alexis, his counterweight in the swap with United, had for Arsenal in his prior four months this season. One of his assists was for Aubameyang who scored a classy goal, albeit offside in the build-up.

But moods change rapidly in football. Most fan-bases in the premier league, and I daresay in most of the big European leagues, are dominated by fickle, emotional supporters who, after a win, regard their team and manager as invincible and untouchable versus being the most useless, spineless, lickspittles after a loss. Auba, Mikhi and the hat-trick hero Ramsey may have been the toast of the town over the weekend but dare they fail to do the business in next weekend’s NLD and almost all said same fans will demand that heads roll starting with the manager.

It is a fact that professional football is a “results business” and, as we at PA always stress, no other club has been as consistently successful as Arsenal under Arsene Wenger over the past 21 years despite lacking the financial firepower of its rivals. Manchester United has always been a commercial heavyweight able to consistently outspend Arsenal on players but over recent years they have been joined and even surpassed by Chelsea and Manchester City whose oligarchic owners have invested massive outside money to make them formidable contenders; the three have monopolized the premier league title over the past 13 years with the Leicester City year being the notable exception.

Despite the financial shackles of paying for the stadium, which really took hold in the 05-6 season as big, experienced players were beginning to be sold and replaced by youthful prospects  or second tier talent, up to 2016 Wenger was successful in keeping Arsenal in the top-four. But the latter season, after 20 years, was Arsenal’s premier league apogee, finishing 5th.

In the face of a relatively studious silence by the mainstream media as well as the so-called Arsenal bloggers and podcasters since last summer, there has been a massive reaction from the club to its 16/17 failure. Last summer there was the acquisition of Lacazette for what was then the new Arsenal transfer record of £47.70 million. Most people have quickly forgotten how in that window Lucas Perez, Gabriel and Oxlade-Chamberlain were sold or loaned. The latter deal was a typical piece of transfer poker by Wenger, extolling the virtues of the Englishman and playing hardball up to the deadline, eventually rinsing Liverpool for £40 million. (I can’t stop laughing.)

In the blog I did after the 2017 summer window titled Arsenal Annihaliates The Agents & Speculators In The Window, while describing how City and Chelsea were forking over massive profits to the selling clubs and the agents involved, I made the following point:

Conspicuously absent from this excessive consumption is Arsenal which paid a mere £2.7 million surplus for the acquisition of Alexander Lacazette. Arsenal is 3rd only to Swansea and West Brom who through smart pricing and use of the loan system were able to generate value in excess of price from their acquisitions.

This is not to say Arsenal was afraid to pay big money for a special player. It emerged on deadline day the club was willing to pay up to £100 million for Thomas Lemar, a talented midfielder needed to fill a gaping vacancy that currently exists. Arsene Wenger disclosed publicly the deal fell through because the player was not ready for the move but pledged he would, when the opportunity next arise, make another attempt to do the deal.

Meanwhile the financial geniuses who dominate Arsenal twitter, blogs and podcasts post August 31st attacked the club for having the financial discipline and resoluteness to not fall for the agents hyping players of modest value for inflated prices. Adding to the din and hysteria was certain so-called Arsenal legends who seem more interested in giving credence to agent talk than protecting the club’s long term financial strength. It begs the question who is in bed with these agents, whether as friends or business partners. Why would a blogger mock the club for making a £30 million profit on deadline day with the capacity to go back in the market to make a £100 million acquisition in the future?

Today I feel a bit like a prophet but only just. I simply followed the data and let it lead me to the logical conclusion. Within five months the club was able to:

  • Exchange with United, what the media imagined to be its biggest star, in return for a world class midfielder who is less wasteful and less selfish with the football.
  • Sell two under-used 100 goal strikers for a combined sum of approximately £30 million.
  • Able to acquire for a new Arsenal transfer record a world class striker for £57.38 million.
  • Resign its greatest asset for an additional three years, arguably the best midfielder in the world, for what is unheard of at Arsenal, a princely but competitive salary of £350,000 per week.

Upon totting up the figures, one big blogger was moved to complain to his followers that the club was being deceptive with its spending as it ended with a £7.5 million surplus on transfers. It betrayed an abject understanding of the real cost of running a football club. It is not the transfers, it is the wages. Any money saved on transfers goes into paying the escalating salaries for the quality players need by a club, such as Arsenal, if it is to return to the top echelons of the Premier league and eventually compete for the title.

In retrospect there has been a massive rebuild. The first team squad is less in quantity but arguably greater in quality. Yet as Arsene explained the club would have loved to sign a defender but the quality was not available at the right price. Wenger pointed to the massive price City had to pay for their defensive reinforcement as an example of the difficulty facing buying clubs. That may explain why Arsenal’s reported interest in Johnny Evans ran aground.

Seemingly the club and Arsene Wenger have decided to grab the nettle and make a strong run over the remaining 12 games in the season while strategically preparing for a title run in 2018/19. As the graph at the start illustrates the club has so far this season earned a measly 1.73 points per game (ppg), substantially below the prior 21-year mean of 1.98 ppg. In contrast City is currently cruising at a 2.65 ppg, emphasizing the magnitude of the gap between 1st and 6th. This is the challenge that awaits Messers Anbameyang and Mikhitaryan as part of a streamlined, upgraded squad.

Arsene Wenger has been a model of consistency. History and the laws of probability predict his teams usually revert to and, if they are good enough, exceed the mean. Time will tell.

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143 comments on “Arsenal: Can Aubameyang and Mhkitaryan Save The Season?

  1. Forwards
    Tend to be outnumbered due to the tactics and formations played by teams in the last two centuries. During most of the game they tend to recieve lost of small fouls everytime the ball is passed to them, most are never called. The frustration can get to you if you make a half harted little contact challenge and the defenders go down and 9 out of 10 times that will be called(as it is easier for a Ref to call a foul in a non threatening position).
    Forwards are often going down under contact similar strength to what they recieve from defenders but those fouls are not called, so the forward will exagerate contact to get what they feel is due.
    The irony is contact is not necessary for a foul to be given but those fouls are rarely called for forwards.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like when Vertonghen obviously and haplessly dived in his own box to deny Ozil a clear one on one.

    Poch has perfected the “art” of diving in both boxes. Good for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Meanwhile Hackett writes that he’d have suspended the officials (not players) from the other night for not following the laws/rules (nothing to do with the diving).

    Shall we ignore that the officials have been observed to refer to TV when they feel like it although that is against the rules or is that not a problem?

    If some officials can be observed to act like they don’t even know their own roles, according to their former colleagues, then perhaps they’ve put themselves not in the best place to be making calls on whether other pros are following their the rules or not. Which is undeniably unfortunate and I would hope that no sensible soul would think it’s out of order to suggest that they shouldn’t put themselves in such a position.


  4. Perhaps the officials were of a mind that a draw would help The Arsenal.

    I’d just like them to mind and follow their own rules. Then they can worry about applying rules for others, till the cows come home.

    I hope that is not too much to ask.


  5. I love a bit of VAR controversy;


  6. The officials not following their own rules was also discussed on MOTD, Jason Muhammed was the presenter (i don’t watch it but that’s what i’ve been told), so if anyone would like a reference: there it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Seems Van Persie is saying it’s ok to go down sometimes when someone makes a foul on you which gains them an advantage (often advanced positions with him as he’s a forward) and which a ref would never penalise unless you try convince him.

    Same ballpark as Poch but closer to some Allardyce quotes yesterday.

    The thing is once you go there it is then only a relatively small step to trying to induce contact yourself, or try make a convincing foul from very minor contact which in fact doesn’t impede you…get a touch one way but ignore the ball, do everything you can to create contact, launch yourself in an entirely unnatural way, etc, etc.

    The sport is rotten with it but Spurs are in extreme territory.

    One huge difference between Van Persie and Spurs is that even if we say he was at it to a similar degree, which I seriously doubt, he probably wasn’t very successful. ( They’ve had about ten pens this year and last from their tricks. Huge impact.)

    I remember an infuriating period near the end of his time when he seemed to be having decent pen shouts very regularly- some contact, fall over- which were at the threshold of most pens in the league, and he was getting turned down again and again.

    Gervinho is an interesting example. He was embarrassing with it in his first game, did a couple of things up there with Lamela at his cynical worst. Got hammered for it in commentary and ended up in confrontation with Barton. Someone grabbed someone around throat and someone got red, I think.

    Anyway, never saw him like that again. Similarly Welbeck was playing it a bit like his Utd days early on, looked mystified a couple of times not to get decisions, and has since stayed on feet more and doesn’t look for anything.

    That could be a product of what happens when you don’t get those decisions, the result of not having a coach who tells you to do those things, or the result of having a coach who tells you ‘not’ to do those things. Some of each maybe

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I apologise for my typos above.

    having too much fun playing with the Interpolation factor of a weighted average component that is generating arithmatic means that are generating my geometry.
    I’m not as good as the mathematical draughtsmen from the 1930’s who could do this stuff by hand but hopefully I’ll be able to build something as beautiful as those craftsmen from yesteryear.


  9. What is maddening Rich, or it is to me anyway, is that an attacking player will be tussling for control of a loose ball with a defender in the box, feels “contact” > goes down > screams, rolls round > peers imploringly at referee etc. Sometime they are lucky, mostly not and they are ignored.

    If he had stayed on his feet, kept at his tussling, then he had a 50/50 chance of winning the ball and at least having a decent scoring chance.

    For some players perfecting the fine art of cheating has taken over from playing football.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Andy

    So Poch says it like it is. Ok, let’s accept that. VVD also said it like it is. That Kane and Alli are divers and no one is talking about it. The problem is not that both those things are exclusive, they very much are not. But only one gets acceptance, and then…what?

    You, once again say it is down to the managers and players to do something about this. Sure, ultimately the best changes come from within. But what about the system of reward and punishment? My contention that this is a larger problem than that of diving per se. I do not believe that the referees (as an organisation rather than individuals) are doing what they are supposed to do in the interests of the game. Only in the interests of those running the game. The reason Poch can say those things so confidently is not because he’s brave enough to tell it like it is, but because he knows he’s on the right side with the sheriff (not the law) running the show. As such all he’s doing is gloating.

    ‘I can do this and get away with it and to complain about it is pointless. You’d do it too if you had the chance anyway.’

    If that is telling it like it is to you Andy, If that’s what you really believe, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but despite appearances to the contrary, you are way more cynical than I am about this thing. (Banned sad smiley)

    Liked by 5 people

  11. I guess what I’m saying Andy, is that to take agency for change away from the tyrannical Pgmol, and give it to clubs and managers instead, is not an argument for democracy, but for anarchy. Anarchy in turn leads to tyranny justifying its presence – the wheel keeps turning (GoT reference FTW)

    Ok, the words are heavy and obviously ill suited to what is just a game, (or is it?) but the import is the same. This is a running theme with you. I think I get it. I very much think your heart is in the right place, and I also suspect you just like playing ‘the devil’s advocate’ and pushing our buttons sometimes, and that’s all ok. But I don’t agree that it is possible to affect any positive change in this regard because self interest trumps all. And as long as the Pgmol hold the stick and the carrot themselves, clubs are basically bound to follow their instructions, and bear any inconsistencies/injustices with neither recourse nor reason to affect change.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Anarchy, is also basically what the media are accusing VAR of. Speak a truism ‘It won’t solve everything’ (though they prefer to say ‘anything’) and then list all its problems to suggest it is not worth the disruption and chaos it would bring, thereby justifying the status quo.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. And I think that’s enough blabbering from me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. anicoll5
    I feel that all the criticisim is going towards the forwards in the diving debate.
    I think defenders dive just as much if not more .As defenders falling over under minimal contact happens where it is less advantageous areas for direct scoring, they are absolved of all questions.
    When a defender falls over and is not given the foul he and his fellow defense( especially if a goal is a result) will turn on the Ref.


  15. Michael Cox‏Verified account @Zonal_Marking

    Here’s a simple idea that I believe would dramatically improve football overnight – show a red card for any tactical foul

    I honestly think the three sides who make the most ‘cynical’ fouls are Liverpool, Spurs and City, in no order.
    This a big a problem as much cheating as diving

    Liked by 1 person

  16. quite right WWWB – Cheating is epidemic, defenders collapse as easily as forwards, and then of course there is the shirt tugging.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. players dive and cheat, this gains them and their club an advantage, and as andy puts it they get rewarded for gaining this advantage, often a bigger contract, if their diving and cheating has helped their club get success.

    So we can see why clubs are not down on their players for cheating and diving,

    What do the FA and PGMOL gain from turning a blind eye to this diving and cheating, what do they gain from continuous rewarding of it. What rewards are they getting for it. Why are they under using the dive panel and the retrospective punishment panel, why are there not players charged for bringing the game into disrepute for their diving and cheating. Why did the FA and PGMOL set up these ways to stop diving and cheating and then almost totally ignore them
    We know clubs are in the main only concerned with themselves and what benefits themselves, and not the wider game as a whole, so we can see why they might have their selfish view on diving and cheating. But the FA and PGMOL are specifically there for the benefit of the game as a whole, it is in fact their role to safeguard the game. Allowing, nay rewarding diving and cheating is a betrayal of their set out aims and function. So are the FA and PGMOL actually benefiting from turning a blind eye to the diving and cheating.

    We could much easier excuse a ref missing or mistaking or getting conned by players diving and cheating, as they only have one look (yeah the big get out of jail card for all refs), but you see they don’t just get one look, that is what all these punishment panels were set up for, the ref gets to rewatch the game as many times as he wants, any incident from all sorts of angles, all sort of speeds, not only that, but he can watch it with his assessor, his boss, they can discuss it, they can have a refresher on the rules. And if they see anything that suggest cheating or diving, they can, nay they are in fact duty bound, to report this to the FA so that Charges can be brought against the player. So why is it that they almost never do this.
    As Wenger would say, nay has said, they “are dishonest to their federation”

    The FA and the PGMOL are meant to be the guardians of the game, why are they not doing their duty. Why set up all these devices to punish the divers and cheats, and then barely use them. Is claiming 98% correct decisions more important to them than actually cleaning up the game.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. anicoll. Yeah, that must happen a lot. Sometimes it’s accompanied by the pearler from commentators about ‘why would he go down there if he wasn’t fouled (as he had chance to shoot)?’

    Kane’s latest got me wondering the other day if there are far less goals scored by rounding the keeper than in bygone years

    My impression that most of the time players aren’t interested in following the ball any more and only want to create penalties in those races with keepers suggests this should be the case.

    I have a real soft spot for goals scored that way. Remember classics from Giggs, Anelka, Ronaldo (Brazilian) and…did Ozil beat the keeper in that great goal last year?

    Anyway, some of them were standing up the keeper and beating him with skill * (might be a kanu memory in there?), so anyone with good memories can help me out here and say if there used to be more of them? Pretty sure Henry got one, maybe quite a few, ditto others throughout those years of our devastating attacks.

    Think I only ever managed it once myself, my first ever goal, at u9’s, but missed quite a few of them, as if you’re genuinely sprinting flat out you often have to sacrifice a good touch for getting there in first place. One I was literally by the corner flag, and that effort didn’t go well. Other times an acute angle on left foot, and they sure didn’t go well either.

    Ah, yes, another Kanu memory- his goal from near touchline in that magical hatrick at chelsea. Now that was a shot few could execute.

    Better odds just trying to draw or create a foul from keeper,alas. Then i think the habit becomes so ingrained that they stop calculating odds and seek pens in box automatically.

    * morally, same as diving that skill lark, apparently

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Rich
    Like this?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I’m altogether too bitter to add an opinion, but I’d just like to note how much I’m enjoying the ‘debate’.

    I want my (The Arsenal Way) football back.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I do Love Shotts posts and the myriad of discussions that flow from it like tentacles of a jelly fish.
    Arsene always says wait until May to see what unfolds and many a team have had the way their season is perceived change by the wins they have achieved in the last couple of months especially if there is a pot involved.
    The diving debate is interesting, obviously the more a team gets away with any indiscretion the more they will play on it. I think it’s almost accepted that English players get away with more than those from abroad especially if they are media darlings.
    As Shotts has already shown in previous posts ARSENAL’S lack of penalties means it really is pointless diving anyway. I would probably go further and say that given the data on pens, that it’s logical for us to receive less fouls all over the pitch. This obviously makes a difference in close games or games where we trying to break down a stubborn defence.
    The fouls per booking ratio also shows we are not treated equally and once again this makes a major difference during tight games.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Sometimes the use of Hawkeye in cricket could be considered to be absurd. Sure.

    Can hawkeye measure the humidity in the air, the dampness of the wicket in the morning when compared to the early evening? It probably could in 2018, but I digress:

    A poll of all players coaches and umpires in cricket will most likely tell all and sundry that no one wants to go back to how things used to be, even though that does upset the venerable old bird (no not Arsene Vulture!), Dickie Bird himself. he was never in favour, understandably so. unfortunately some of his colleagues from around the world were a disgrace to their federation, as we can all understand that it would be absurd to think that only some players cheat…)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. WwwB

    Real class there.

    Might have put a spud in real trouble that one, as keeper gave little to work with dive wise.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Rich
    Only because Nelson sent the goalie to the shops, to get the teas in early.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. The French Frank White just dropped a bomb at his latest presser.
    England players are now ‘The Masters of Diving’

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Saturday’s north London derby against Tottenham at Wembley Stadium.

    The Arsenal manager provided updates on Petr Cech, Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal, and this is what he said:

    on the team news…
    Basically, we should have a similar squad to what we had last week against Everton. Maybe Danny Welbeck will be back. We had a few problems with Petr Cech, who we are not sure about at the moment because he’s not trained. I don’t know if he will be available. Nacho Monreal looks alright again. It should be a similar squad.

    on whether a late call on Cech’s fitness is a risk in this fixture…
    I will not take any risk if he’s not 100 per cent fit, for sure, because I have full confidence in David Ospina.

    on David Ospina proving he can play in fixtures of this magnitude…
    I have no problem with [selecting Ospina]. David Ospina or Petr Cech: I will make that decision tomorrow.

    Copyright 2018 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 https://www.arsenal.com/news/team-news-welbeck-cech-monreal-ospina#oL8WTRD5SQrbwbcm.99

    Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/news/team-news-welbeck-cech-monreal-ospina#gr6roBwKj6J4Xuf7.99

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Wenger on Pochettino’s comments on diving

    I am convinced he wanted to see tricking your opponent is to be clever. Was it an apology for diving? I’m not sure.

    In my case, no. We want to get diving out of the game. It used to be the foreigners but I must say the English players have learnt very quickly and are maybe the masters now.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. “Sometimes players play a little bit with the rules. How far can you go? That is down to the referees.”

    Arsene Wenger

    Liked by 3 people

  29. I agree with the Arsenal Manager.

    He knows a thing or two about this game.
    And his record in dealing with cheats (banged up no less!) speaks for itself.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Well said Arsene. Diving is quite an issue considering our next opponent.
    Looking at the way the media and football establishment sprang to the defence of Tottenhams serial cheating, I suspect there will be attempts to make our manager pay some sort of price this weekend, but still, it had to be said.
    Quite amazing, so called Arsenal forums mention Pires, over a decade ago as an example of Arsenal diving, citing glasshouses and other metaphors for hypocrisy. That says it all really, there are Arsenal players who have dived, but have to go back a way to find them, Spurs, City- multiple examples just in recent weeks
    And Pires was not defended by the media either, quite the opposite

    Liked by 3 people

  31. mandy even more laughable is when the mention Eduardo, who was actually cleared of diving by UEFA.

    Liked by 4 people

  32. AFCPressWatch
    ‏ @AFCPressWatch2
    8h8 hours ago

    Charlton have confirmed Stephy Mavididi sustained an injury to his left hamstring. He has seen a specialist this week and the rehabilitation will be slightly more prolonged due to his previous injury & at this stage the tentative timescale has been set at around eight weeks.


  33. I’ve just read through PG’s “Soft City need to man up”, & the comments (at last).

    Sorry about your dog.

    Superb comments, thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Cech, Monreal & Welbeck all in full training today


  35. Good luck to them tomorrow, against these cheats, they will need it.
    The PGMOL have created a massive rod for their own backs as a result of years of indulgence of Utd, and more recently, the Leicester City project. Poch, and others of a cheating bent will have seen the fruits of Vardys dives, and Drinkwaters rotational fouling, Fuchs holding and treading on toes at corners amongst other things.
    The refs indulged them, Poch may have lost out , but liked what he saw and learned.
    After that season, the refs have lost control of enforcing the laws of the game when dealing with certain teams,at least until someone stronger, and less willing to indulge agendas than Mike Riley takes them over.
    I fear yet another penalty against us, we sit where we have done under many of Rileys years, with a healthy negative penalty balance, according to UAs stats, unmatched in its consistency by any of the top clubs

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I had an old git’s version of a Frank moment this morning while walking the dog. Me and Shep met up with our normal 6am companions Gemma and her Mamaluke, Matt and his Jack Russell. We have pretty much followed the same route and the same conversation for the last three years, chatting about nothing much and normally the rugby until today, out of the blue Matt suddenly came out with ‘and if England beat Wales and Spurs do a number on Arsenal it will be a perfect weekend.’ I had no idea. Seriously pissed off that I’ll now have to lose another 30 minutes in bed every day. Fucking Spud.

    Liked by 4 people

  37. foreverheady have you not your dog trained to bite spuds, or at the very least cock a leg on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Jeorge Bird
    ‏ @jeorgebird
    2h2 hours ago

    Arsenal defender Chiori Johnson on trial at Blackburn https://arsenalyouth.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/arsenal-defender-chiori-johnson-on-trial-at-blackburn/


  39. Arsenal have this week been linked with summer Bosman transfer moves for 3 midfielders, Emre Can, Max Mayer and former Arsenal Academy players Oguzhan Ozyakup

    always nice when you sign a good player for free

    Liked by 1 person

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