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Arsenal- Twinned With Wembley

We go into the opening showpiece game full of fear and trepidation. All of our good players want to leave ,are injured, or are not fit enough to start. We had to rig the result of our own tournament so we could win it. We have signed a striker we thought wasn’t good enough for four years and a leftback that couldn’t even get a renewal at his own club. Every other team has improved and we have,at best, stood still.

What? You don’t believe me? It’s true, I’ve been on twitter since May and that’s what seems to be the consensus.

I know what you are thinking ! “He’s gone mad “. But I kid you not.

I mean, I remember the wonderful way we won the FA Cup and think we have kept all the players we wanted too,  added a £50m striker and a beast of a wingback. I should be looking forward to the new season. What’s wrong with me?

Well the truth is I am excited by the prospect. I love the players we have and I like the new boys. If we can’t enjoy the season before any setbacks have had the chance to blight it, when can we?

I have no idea what sort of a team Arsene will cobble together for the game on Sunday and frankly, I don’t care. Whoever pulls on the shirt will get my support. Whatever the result, I will enjoy watching them try their best. A win would be lovely and will prove we are a force to be reckoned with, but if we lose I’ll find it easy to dismiss the result as just a friendly. Hypocrite you say? And then some.

So Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Football is supposed to be fun, enjoyable, entertainment even. I intend to be entertained for the next 9 months, others can suit themselves.

Oh, and by the way, we are going for our 9th consecutive Wembley win I think.

Up The Arsenal

156 Comments

Arsenal Well Set Halfway Into The Transfer Window

peeking through the window

Some background

Apparently sitting around at home watching a lot of football has convinced many Arsenal fans they are experts at management, coaching, scouting, contract negotiations, commercial deals and, last but by no means least, the proper color of the team kit. As some of my British friends have commented, it is similar to the delusion now held by many punters that they are now experts on furniture restoration after watching the long advert on the use of French polish by Quest tv during their broadcast of the recent Emirates Cup games. It is one thing to fumble through a DIY project over a weekend, it is an infinitely greater magnitude of difference to being the football manager of a multi-million business such as Arsenal Football Club.

The profound difference between being an amateur observer versus an experienced hands-on professional manager is apparently lost on many fans especially those who have gained some notoriety as tweeters, bloggers and podcasters.

When I first interacted with Arsenal fans via blogs some 11-12 years ago, my aspiration was to become part of a community dedicated to supporting the club we loved, to be the proverbial 12th man. Back then I thought this would be the goal of every Arsenal fan given the clear Man United bias in the mainstream media and the British football establishment. I could never have been more naïve in my expectations.

Far from becoming an alternative to the increasingly corrupt mainstream media, most, not all, Arsenal bloggers are less about supporting the club and more about their ego and identification with being a winner. Nothing was more illuminating than the absolute failure of most bloggers to communicate and educate their readers that post-2005 the club and Wenger in particular were competing at a ginormous disadvantage to Abramovich’s Chelsea and the commercial giant at Old Trafford. The club would have to sacrifice investment in players to pay for its new stadium. Worse was to come with the 2008 takeover of City by the sovereign wealth fund of the UAE. It meant Arsenal had slipped from the 2nd biggest club in England financially to at least 4th place.

It was during those lean years that most bloggers, some now turned tweeters and podcasters, began to assume an air of superiority to Arsene Wenger. His so-called failure up to 2013 to add any trophies to his three PL titles including being an “Invincible” as well as five FA cups, had not only sealed his fate in their eyes but they were now empowered to choose the color of the curtains in the manager’s office for the new occupant.

Most of these bloggers-tweeters-podcasters still remain unrepentant despite Wenger proving them stratospherically wrong since 2013, when the shackles imposed by deals necessary to obtain financing the new stadium were finally eased. Three more FA cups and 20 years straight in the Champions League has seemingly embittered rather than humbled them. Somehow they think the new commercial contracts with Emirates Airlines suddenly made Arsenal equally competitive with the three money-bag clubs. But as the historically pro-Manchester United newspaper, The Guardian, was quick to point out:

“£30m a year from the Middle East airline, who have extended their shirt sponsorship by five years until the end of the 2018-19 season and secured the stadium naming rights, which were due to expire in 2021, until 2028. This marks a significant increase in revenue on the previous deal but falls short of Chevrolet’s £357m, seven-year sponsorship of Manchester United.”

Fact is Arsenal remains the 4th strongest Premier League club in financial capacity. As our blogmeister and twitter legend, the one and only @BlackburnGeorge, frequently reminds the factually and financially challenged members of the twiteratti, Arsenal’s objective expectation at the start of every PL season is to come 4th and to make a good cup run. The fact that we usually punch above our weight is due solely to the outstanding leadership of Arsene Wenger.

Despite clear demonstration by the manager that he is approaching the new season with greater resolve, having thoroughly demolished his detractors in the board room battle over his new contract, the usual gaggle of bloggers-tweeters-podcasters continue their stupid little games hoping Arsenal fans will buy into.

As an American, most cringe-worthy is the role of certain gooners across the pond, who, from at least 3,000 miles away, have decided they have the gravitas to criticize the player management strategy of the manager and his transfers (Yes, I know that’s the info you want and I am getting there). They are the perfect carricatures of Graham Greene’s “The Ugly American”. Rather than being humbled by the generosity of our British friends in giving them a platform to speak, they act arrogantly and crow noisily on subjects they have no expertise. How longer will this embarrassment continue? Will this welcoming mat always remain?

Halfway Into This Transfer Window

Unlike my compatriots who prefer to highlight their own opinions, in preparation for this blog, I spent quality time retrieving and making sense of the data from Transfermarkt from an Arsenal point of view. Before I present my findings let me remind you of some of the main characteristics of the transfer market:

  • Unlike various well known stock or commodity markets, it was designed by FIFA and the big clubs to restrain trading activity to a fixed period of time and to restrict freedom of buyers and sellers. It is no supermarket shelf where Arsenal can identify and target, for example, all central midfielders available.
  • Knowledge of willing buyers and sellers is restricted. Due to restrictions on tapping up, player agents play the main role of putting buyers and sellers together. Arsenal relies heavily on agents, not Dick Law, to make initial contact and bring the parties together.
  • Information is restricted. Due to the opacity of the market, third party interests whether as owners or agents are now flourishing in the grey area of the market. Due to this grey activity Arsenal reportedly refuses to do business with certain super agents.

Findings as of July 30th based on the top 100 transfers:

  • £1.645 billion is the value of transfer fees worldwide mostly in Europe.
  • £1.363 billion is the market value of the players acquired.
  • Clubs worldwide paid a 17% premium in transfer fees vs market value.

Premier League is the biggest spender:

  • £649 million in transfer fees or 39% of total fees spent.
  • £415 million in market value of players acquired.
  • 36% premium in transfer fees vs market value, i.e. double the worldwide premium.

In contrast to the Premier League, the Bundesliga clubs are very value conscious:

  • £192 million in transfer fees.
  • £188 million in market value of players acquired.
  • 2% premium in transfer fees vs market value, i.e. 800% less than the worldwide premium.

Who doubts Bayern will hand it to a PL club in next year’s champion’s league?

Manchester City is the PLs biggest spender:

  • £194 million in transfer fees.
  • £103 million in market value of 5 players acquired.
  • 47% premium in transfer fees vs market value, i.e. nearly triple the worldwide premium.

Check/Cheque Guardiola indeed!

Chelsea is no slouch:

  • £119 million in transfer fees.
  • £69 million in market value of 3 players acquired.
  • 42% premium in transfer fees vs market value, i.e. 250% above the worldwide premium.

Manchester United have distinguished themselves as making the biggest splash in the transfer market so far. Their purchases show the same trend as City and Chelsea:

  • £102 million in transfer fees.
  • £61 million in market value of 2 players acquired.
  • 40% premium in transfer fees vs market value, i.e. 250% above the worldwide premium.

Contrast Arsenal with the big money  clubs:

  • £45 million in transfer fees.
  • £47 million in market value of 2 players acquired.
  • -4% premium in transfer fees vs market value, i.e. 400% less than the worldwide premium.

Value wise AFC has limited downside risk to the players acquired yet they are clear degrees superior in value to the players they are nominally replacing. Lacazette’s market value is £34m vs Perez which is £12.75m. Similarly Kolasinac is valued at £12.75m versus Gibbs who is rated £8.50m.

Most importantly, Arsenal has improved the quality of players in both forward line and in defense. It is self evident that the next area for improvement is in central midfield. My confidence is based on the research I have done demonstrating, with data, the critical importance of missing Santi Cazorla during our last two failed league challenges. Additionally I did two blogs in the second half of last season quantifying deficiencies in central midfield. I am therefore convinced this is Wenger’s focus.

By the way almost all the bloggers and podcasters are now singing the same tune we wrote months ago, i.e. the need for a central midfielder acting as a secondary playmaker. Seemingly they all read this blog while pretending they don’t. As we always remind ourselves at PA, we rely on the unbiased data. It is constant, silent and unemotional but it is undeniable. By trusting the data we almost always arrive at the correct conclusions.

As usual I leave the final word to the genius, who is again playing the transfer market like a fine fiddle, i.e. to Arsene:

“I believe there are actually two ways to improve the team. First of all to improve the quality of what we do in training to improve the squad and improve the players we have, and secondly to bring more top-level players in. 

“The difficulty is to bring top-level players in because you pay a huge amount of money for very normal players at the moment. As well, all the big clubs are chasing the same players and that provokes huge inflation. Maybe this will be the first time we [football clubs] pay over £200m, maybe over £300m with Neymar and around £200m with Mbappe. 

“So there is a huge inflation. But we are active, we are working hard and I think we have done well with Kolasinac, we have done well with Lacazette and we are continuing to work.

“There’s the usual acceleration in the final part of August,” added Wenger, “But I think you have always to be on alert every day, because a good opportunity might turn up. 

“Sometimes people you are after for a long time are not available and suddenly they become available. So you have always to be on alert. That’s what we do.”

I will do a follow-up at the end of the window.

177 Comments

Alexis Sanchez: A Classic Case of Fake News

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Whither Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal Football Club?

The way the media has spun this story since last May, not surprisingly, those who are most prone to their deceptions and fakeries, must be feeling like John Denver in “Leaving on a jet plane”:

“All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go
I’m standin’ here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’
It’s early morn
The taxi’s waitin’
He’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome
I could die”

According to the fakers, his suitcases are now packed for PSG, a few days earlier it was City, and prior to that it was Bayern. Disbelieve me at your peril.

In preparation for this piece, on Saturday afternoon EST, I did a quick search of Google News and in 45 seconds there were 2,500,000 hits on Alexis and his rumored transfer. As any informed person should know by now, Google is not being altruistic in generating this data. This is certainly one way of convincing advertisers they can gain the attention of those millions of eyeballs consuming the equivalent of transfer “junk food.” It is no wonder Alphabet Corporation, Google’s parent company, dominates the multi-billion on-line advertising space.

I am not for one moment blaming Google for this sorry state of news reporting, specifically sports coverage. With very few exceptions, like their political brethren, football journos and their bosses have decided facts be damned in the pursuit of a juicy transfer rumor.  It is all about ratings whether in electronic or print media.  Just as bad or even worse are the online websites and their twitter offspring who multiply like weeds at this time of the year. One can easily assume they are profiting from the increased web traffic during transfer season. Those of my readers, not using an adblocker when browsing, are suckers for pop-ups selling you dildos and sexy anime apart from being at risk for malware.

To understand the commercial benefit of peddling transfer rumors take for example the top listings, ranked by popularity, by Google from my 45-second search:

“PSG increasingly confident of signing Neymar and Alexis Sánchez” (Guardian)

“Arsenal transfer news: Alexis Sanchez to PSG, official bid to be made” (Fox Sports)

“Arsene Wenger attempts to ward off rivals’ interest in Alexis Sanchez” (Independent)

Arsene Wenger adamant Alexis Sanchez won’t join PSG” (ESPN FC)

“Alexis Sanchez meets PSG chief ahead of €50m move” (Goal.com)

Nearly 8 hours after Arsene Wenger’s clear and unambiguous statement that reports of Alexis meeting with PSG was “…only media imagination”, with the unusual exception of ESPN FC, both the mainstream media and, renown rumor-monger, Goal.com were still peddling the bullsh*t that Alexis Sanchez could be in both Chile and France at the same time. Moreover how could he, without the club’s permission, be discussing personal terms relative to his transfer, which is one of the biggest violations of the rules and regulations governing player contracts. This could not only land him in trouble but also put PSG at risk of a transfer ban as happened earlier to Barcelona and only recently to Athletico Madrid.

The facts is, as of the time of posting this blog, nobody knows, with perhaps the exception of Arsene Wenger, whether Alexis will be staying or leaving Arsenal Football Club this transfer window. Admittedly his future is somewhat up in the air.

The first sign publicly of his unhappiness or disgruntlement with the club is the strop he threw in February after the first of two defeats to Bayern Munich in last year’s champions league. It amuses me no-end to read and listen pundits and journos claim Alexis was let down by the rest of the squad in that game. The fact is,  he was relatively ineffective, coughing up possession on several occasions leading to dangerous counter-attacks by the Bavarians. Sounds familiar? This is despite his elevation by the media as a world class player who is a game-changer at this level. Have we forgotten the funny faces and contemptuous smiles he made after he was substituted?

In the subsequent week there were reports of him being part of a bust-up on the training ground. While the manager has never confirmed, it was self-evident that as a consequence he was benched for the start of an important PL game with Liverpool which followed thereafter. The fact that Arsenal lost that game added to the media myth of the indispensable Alexis, as if he was not part of both Bayern losses and a good many others.

Since the February-March decline in its fortunes, the media had been doing its level best to create a climate of doom and gloom around the club featuring the supposed denouement of Arsene Wenger as manager and the eventual departure of both Sanchez and Ozil, the club’s two best players. Apparently the two stars plan to not renew their contracts as they go into their final year because they are earth-shatteringly disappointed that AFC did not qualify for the champions league.

Has it struck anyone that none of the predictions made last April-May by the mainstream media and like-minded bloggers, tweeters and podcasters concerning the imminent demarche of Arsenal Football Club and Arsene Wenger has come to pass? None. Nada. Zilch.

The media has so carefully constructed a narrative of doom and gloom, it seems they have no choice but to continue promotion of rumors, half-truths and downright lies about Alexis.

As anybody who follows me on twitter knows, this defenestration of the media does not mean I am a fanboy of the Chilean.  To the contrary, I support those who think his individualistic tendency does more harm than good to the way Arsenal plays. Specially concerning to me is his desire to drop into the midfield to demand the ball but thereafter lose possession because of his less than 70% pass completion rate. This, in my opinion, is detrimental to team balance in both attack and defense.

But one cannot deny the importance of his 33 goals and 15 assists in all competitions. Of 77 PL goals by Arsenal last season Alexis contributed 24 or 31%. Until Arsenal can replace those goals it would be foolhardy to lose his services.

It seems to me the club is preparing for any eventuality. Surely it is not a coincidence that the service of Lacazette was secured early in the transfer window for a club record transfer fee of £49 million. Usually Arsenal will be conservative in its valuation of a player and take the negotiations into the ultimate week of the transfer window. Another significant piece of information is the public admission by Ivan Gazidis, when in Australia, that the club was club was trying to attract Thomas Lemar from Monaco is also evidence that a wide player to supplement or replace Alexis is being sought.

But I give Wenger the benefit of the doubt. He knows better than almost anyone how risky it is to depend on new players coming from a different league to come up to speed and to immediately produce. Without big money to spend, he took some pretty big risks in the past and was able to scramble into the champions league. In recent years he has repeatedly proclaimed, to those who would listen, that the PL is getting tougher and tougher as the so-called small clubs are acquiring better players and coaches etc.

I therefore take him at his word that he wants to keep Alexis for the final year of his contract and not sell him to a domestic or foreign club.  In the summer of 2003 he convinced Patrick Vieira, who was agitating for a transfer, to commit for a final year. Patrick renewed his contract and stayed. The rest, as we all know, is history.

By the way, two years later Patrick did get the big move he had been agitating for. Wenger appears convinced he can do something as big with Alexis.

If the Chilean does, however, refuse to extend his contract and agitate for a transfer, all bets are off. There is no way the board (big decisions are not down solely to Wenger) will easily allow him to walk for a free with 50 million in English or European currencies on the table. Only clubs with humongous non-football sources of revenue such as United, Chelsea and City can easily treat 30-40-50 million as monopoly money. At the end of the day football is a business, not a hobby. Owners, shareholders, managers must look toward the long-term interest of the club not only the short-term gratification of fans.

Happily we are not at that point yet. But the day of reckoning is coming sooner or later. There are 5 weeks more in the transfer window. That is almost a lifetime in football. Stay tuned.

55 Comments

Arsenal: I’m singing the Bird’s Nest Blues

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For a friendly I thought that was a decent game. Fair play to the RentBoys who deserved their win. 3-0 was a bit hard to take but we were regularly cut open during the first half, before they scored, and only poor finishing allowed it to stay at 0-0 as long as it did. We created very little in the CFC half during the first 45, and just one save from Courtois. Ospina really did the business on Pedro though, Floyd Mayweather would have been proud. And the referee gave the foul against Pedro ??

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/pedro-knocked-out-david-ospina-10850907

The second half was much more even and we could/should have got on the scoreboard. As far as I could see no injuries so unlike last year the tour games have not caused a headache for Arsene as we return to the UK.

Reasons or lessons ?

Conte clearly started with a stronger team and with what I’d guess is his first choice defence. We started with a far less experienced set up and the difference in defensive quality in the first half was crystal. That is what decided the result. No criticism of Ospina and one of his saves from Moses’ volley was a real peach. I shall not hang out AMN or Bramall. They were asked to step up but it found themselves confronted by fast, determined opponents. They struggled defensively and did not have enough quality going forward to trouble Alonso or Moses. Per was gasping early on and my impression was he was not fit, it may have been his food poisoning has not fully cleared up.

Going forward in the first half ? Attacking ? Chance (s) created?

A very flat first half. Lets move on.

Second half, as I say, I’d mark it 50/50. We made chances and on another day could have got 1-2 goals. Le Coq had a rocket up his arse – more of that please. Larry had fun. Sead is not the sort of bloke you’d want to meet in a dark alley. Alex Iwobi was probably our best player over the course of the full game. As the game went on and it became youngsters v youngsters I thought we edged the football. Pleased with Reiss and his short but confident cameo.

No complaints with referee, pitch was a bit rubbish but I am sure we will play on worse next season in the Europa.

Onwards and upwards from the Bird’s Nest to the Eagles next Saturday !

The season is surely coming – I can smell it.

 

229 Comments

In Love With The Arsenal

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(This blog is partially inspired by the 160,000+ Australian fans who showed their love for The Arsenal over two games in Sydney this past week. True love is based on shared values.)

Believe it or not football fans, July 1st is the official start of the new football year, at least in Europe. As of June 30th the books were closed on the old year.   The turning of the calendar is the start of new beginnings. Players’ contracts expired or advanced one more year. So it did for many administrators and staff who survived the twists and turns of the previous season. Some may have already been  collateral damage as owners engaged in the obligatory sacking of managers and their staff mid-season while others had to endure the pain of relegation knowing full well they would not survive the changed economic circumstances of their club.

In such a ruthless economic climate it is a wonder so many fans retain year-in, year out, that undying, innocent, enduring love of their professional football club. It seems to me that as of July 1st, most fans forget the pain, disappointments and frustrations of the past year and begin to look forward to a new year of hope and opportunity, in most cases, somewhat naively in my humble opinion. That is unless you are a bitter Wenger-outer who foresees a dark, bleak world until the Professor is sacked and a bright, new shiny manager is appointed who will immediately outspend United, City and Chelsea and lead Arsenal to a glorious, golden future of unchallenged success in both Premier and Champion’s Leagues.

Apart from such nonsensical delusions by the Wenger-haters, the vast majority of Arsenal fans remain proverbial optimists, ever hopeful that the club will challenge for the title next season. I happen to be among them despite cultivating the image (successfully I hope) of a cold, dispassionate analyst who despairs at our falling possession stats, lack of chances created from midfield, etc.

During my recent vacation, when I finally emerged from the 9-month football bubble that is the Premier League season, I discovered that such optimism is not shared by the average non-Arsenal football fan. In fact, those who are aware of my voluntarily writing a weekly blog for PA think, if not mad then I am clearly delusional. Why should someone in their right mind express such overt support for a football club that came 5th in the League even if they won the FA cup. These same persons by the way, particularly United supporters, are oblivious of the irony that the Red Devils came 6th in the League and only sneaked into the Champions League via UEFA’s consolation prize (Europa title) in one of (Ed.) the dullest finals in football history.

As for being delusional I must admit that, like most of my readers, I am a bit of an obsessive-compulsive. How else do you explain such devotion to a sport and a football club year-round.

I suspect only amateur psychologists would consider the mumbo-jumbo above sufficient explanation for our enduring love and optimism for club. If being an obsessive-compulsive was the underlying reason for the love of our marital partner or significant-other, then how does that explain our neglect of them during the football season. Evidently that obsession must be very fleeting or transient, i.e. anti-obsessive.

Like love of any type, supporting a football club is surely very personal and due to complex reasons.  I initially fell in love with the club 13-years ago because Arsenal played beautiful football. Like sex it was not always orgasmic and to be frank there were many, too many, poor games over the years. But the club was always genuinely committed to playing football the right way, even when it had to break-up The Invincibles and sell off several great players to pay for the new stadium.  Over time I learnt that the manager had a deep and abiding commitment to beautiful football. In his own words:

“Football is an art, like dancing is an art – but only when it’s well done does it become an art.”

I am convinced that the key to Wenger’s longevity at Arsenal, despite the haters, despite the many disappointments, despite the failure to win a title in 13 years, is his commitment to football as an art.  Playing the “Arsenal way” is now a commonly accepted part of football lexicon. Supporters of the club have deep, divisive debates as to whether so and so is an “Arsenal player”. How many other clubs dare hold such discussions and not hold themselves to contempt and rididicule? Can you imagine a United supporter proudly advocating the “Mourinho way”? Or fiercely arging that a 6 foot plus mountain of a man with the first touch of concrete is an ideal “United player”?

While it is easy to disparage him for the recent lack of titles, even though to date he has made Arsenal the 2nd most successful club in the Premier League, it is readily apparent to those who have two neurons and working synapse that Arsene Wenger is building a foundation and a philosophy of playing that will outlast by generations, if not ages. His legacy is in sharp contrast to the the transient work of the many cheque book managers who win titles but contribute nothing to the sustainable future of the football club with  which they were entrusted.

Going back to the metaphor of enduring relationships, Arsenal may not flash the most bling, not be the biggest spenders, have the most attractive bod, but it certainly has class and values that can sustain a relationship with its supporters. How else do you explain over 160,000 fans packing one of the largest stadiums in Australia in the recently ended tour of Sydney, to support the club over two games playing against League One level opponents?

Isn’t this demonstration that the values of the club are universally appreciated the wind in our sails as we embark on a new campaign? Players come and go, no matter how famous (note to Alexis Sanchez), strategy and tactics change, but the club stands for something beyond merely winning games. In the words of Arsene:

“I believe that despite all the money a club is about identity. Identity is about values and values have been carried through the generations through somebody. Is it the chairman, is it the manager, is it some players who stay for a long period at the club? I hope it will always be the case. It’s not only about spending money or sacking the manager.

“Football has to be a bit bigger than that. That’s why I believe the big clubs worry about values and identity. We have to be conscious that that is important as well.”

Naught more needs to be said.

 

142 Comments

Arsenal: Are you ready Positives ?

Gf60 writes:

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With our season about to start later this week I’m sure that many remember moaning and groaning about some of our starts to previous seasons. Perhaps it would be fun to contemplate our navels for a moment and reflect that back before the war, Manchester City won the championship and were relegated the following season!

I mean how about this as a start to the season from the champions?

P10 W1 D2 L7 including no less than a 7-1 whipping at Sunderland.

Whoops! You thought I was referring to Man City? Ah sorry, slip of the two fingers. It was us actually in 1953/4.

Oh as a new boy at a school with distinct scum leanings, it was painful. In those days, our first win of the season, in about our 8th game, Chelsea away 2-0, meant so little! I mean a blind man and his dog expected to beat Chelsea.

Bad starts are not uncommon …we’ve had at least 6 with no more than 2 wins out of the first 10 games…. but which is the only club to have gone nearly 100 successive years in the top flight? Everton believe it or not come closest to the Gooners….63 odd years and after them, our nearest rivals will be……??

That’s your Quiz question.

And then there’s just straight old losing and /or not scoring. How about 7 straight losses in 1976/7? Even in our real hey days, in 1998/9, we had a wonderful early season spell with 3 goals in 5 games and that was the year after the double.   Better still, 1 goal in about 8 successive games (It really is too painful to track that season back so forgive me) in one glorious Jan/Feb spell when we had been 1st or 2nd for most of the season and banging it in like sailors on shore leave.

So goal starvation is also not something that is uncommon to the faithful.

images-1.jpgSo keep the faith. Ye shall be rewarded.

138 Comments

Respecting Giroud.

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A guest post from Rich @AlternativeArse

 

Everyone, stop the press.

 

Our most hated manager has finally dipped way down into those deep, deep pockets, battled past the moth hordes and opened the war chest of squillions to purchase a player who is going to win us, well, everything.

 It’s bold move, a real statement and one that will hopefully give the squad that outlet for the weekly goal-a-thon we all pine for, especially against Huddersfield.

 Lacazette score an impressive 27 goals last season in the French league. The season before he netted 21 and prior to that in 2014/15, he put away another 27. That is some impressive striking, French league or not.

 I’m excited. You’re excited, we’re all excited. We might win something….again!  Ozil might find an outlet for the 98 ( yes ninety eight ) chances he created last season in the league. The potential is great. It’s the player that we have needed, he’s the keymaster, the one to unlock all the doors and turn our library into a performance theater.

But what if he doesn’t?

What if he gets to Arsenal and bags an injury? What if he doesn’t score for 10 games? What if he takes a whole season to settle in? What if he doesn’t settle in?

As exciting as it may be, we have to keep our feet on the ground. We have a quality squad and Lacazette is a handsome addition; an exciting prospect of great potential. But in reality, Arsenal have just spent £50 million on potential.

That’s a lot of money to invest in something that might not work.  Then what? What do we do if it doesn’t?

Well, we have Giroud.

You may scoff at that. Lacazette is far better than Giroud, he scores more goals and cost more money.

Yes he did and yes he does. But please be a little more savvy, oh connoisseurs en football.

Giroud wasn’t just a stop gap.

Giroud is quality.

Olivier was a steal of a purchase in a transfer market that Arsenal have inevitably had to link arms and play along with – played perfectly in a wonder deal by Wenger. You only need to look at the beautiful man’s form for France as explanation. In 67 games he’s netted 27 times. Over a period of 6 years.

Lacazette has netted once in 11. Over a period of 4 years. World class striker?

And let’s not gloss over last season statistics either. Believe it or not, Giroud was actually comparable to Lacazette in all match statistics bar one – His time on the pitch.

 You see for Giroud’s 1,209 minutes strolling the turf, he managed statistics that fall very close to Lacazette’s tallies, but the important factor that we must bear in mind is this:

He’s not as quick.

Giroud made 18 appearances as a sub, Lacazette made 2. Lacazette played for a total of 2408 minutes; Giroud only 1198. Effectively, Lacazette played over 1,3 90 minutes games more than big Olly.

No wonder he has better statistics, he had more opportunity.

Look back to 2015/16 and you get a better comparison;

Giroud played for 2431 minutes – Lacazette 2962 (an advantage of 5 games )  Giroud scored 16 – Lacazette 21. Giroud’s shot per game 2.7 – Lacazette 2.8 However, look deeper and for every 90 minutes played in 2015/16 and Giroud led Lacazette in shots taken 3.7 to 2.9

Sure, Giroud doesn’t appear to be as good a finisher, but his footballing prowess is comparable. Different, but comparable.

The question is,  is Lacazette  better than Giroud ?

Giroud offers elements to the game that Lacazette doesn’t and vice versa. He just didn’t cost a ridiculous sum, and if Giroud does leave the mighty Arsenal he will be missed. Not just for his chiseled beauty of course, but for his part in some of the finest footballing moments we have witnessed in the Premier League in recent years if not history.

In no way has he received enough credit.

The goal against Norwich. The scorpion. The FA Cup. The other FA Cup and the last FA Cup and all those near post touches to mention but a few moments of splendor.

 Giroud wasn’t a stop gap.

 Giroud has been class when you actually look at what he does.