What Does Arsenal Have To Change In 2017?
By Bobby Davidson
Last year was good, although inevitably not at as good as some Arsenal fans wanted. Not just because we were top of the league for a while, only to be overtaken by Leicester, but also because the opportunity of a third cup win – for the first time in the last 100 or so years, was missed with a defeat to Watford.
Of course for some people it looks like being a stormy season ahead on the grounds that there are not enough reinforcements being brought in. But to others the limited number of changes is a great encouragement, for as this site has constantly shown through evidence (rather than pure opinion), bringing in high value players, changing the manager and changing the approach of the team is most of the time, the way to lower the league position, rather than raise it.
Looking at the transfer net spend over the past five years then, if the league table were to be reflective of the net spend it would look like this
- Manchester United £66.6m (2 league titles) (4CL)
- Manchester City £48.8m (2 league titles; 1 FA Cup) (5CL)
- Chelsea: £37.2m (1 league title; 1 FA Cup, 1 Champions League, 1 Europa League) (5CL)
- Liverpool £28.6m (1 CL)
- Arsenal: £19.8m (2 FA Cups) (5CL)
- West Ham £18.0m
- Sunderland £11.1m
What is interesting here is that although the regular top four are in the top five slots, the difference between them in terms of net spend is massive. Chelsea have a net spend twice as high as Arsenal. Man U over three times as much. On the basis of an equivalence between spend and position, Man U should be out of sight by now.
At the foot of the table things are perhaps not quite what we might expect…
- Everton. £2m
- Watford. £50,000 profit
- Tottenham. £10m profit.
And yet looking at the odds, Arsenal are once again in the top 3, only preceded by United and Manchester City whose new manager, Guardiola, turned bookies and analysts into proclaiming City as the top favourites for this year.
But the odds are nothing more than predictions based on the current situation as perceived by those setting the odds, and are bound to change as the season unravels. Just look at the odds for Leicester City last year. They had 5000/1 odds and still won, which kind of makes you forget about betting tips and gets you thinking of going back to your favourite mobile slots. And yes, mobile casinos may not be as familiar as football bets, but they can be pretty straightforward once you have the most commonly asked Questions about mobile casinos answered.
But betting aside, the Gunners find themselves once again in a safe position, and whether they’ll make the final push and re-live their glory depends on a multiplicity of issues. It is never as simple as saying, “buy three players.”
If there’s one thing we can all agree is that some people think that the entire Arsenal club needs to push the Refresh button on their mindset and start the year fresh. They claim that we’ve repeatedly seen either a lack in motivation among the players or too much of it, up until a point where our defences became an unsteady pile of bricks that shattered whenever it was most needed.
And yet, when we ask such people for evidence, none is forthcoming, save either a call of “use your eyes” or a changing of the parameters upon which the debate was held. Arsenal hadn’t won a trophy for 12 years. They won the cup twice, so it becomes “Arsenal has not won the league”. Arsenal needed new defenders. Suddenly Coquelin and Bellerin turn up for nothing, but then we find they are discounted as new players because they cost nothing.
We saw it with Barcelona this year. Bellerin started playing and Arsenal were lambasted for using using kids to do a man’s job. Next thing we know there is a story that Bellerin is going back to Barcelona after they have offered £30m for him. Even then Arsenal get no credit for spotting young talent but are lambasted for not being able to hold on to players.
So as criticism after criticism is shown to be utterly false and largely invented by journalists with nothing to write about, the argument shifts to ground that simply can’t be examined through any evidence, the alleged downward spiral that the team’s motivation and attitude have been on for the past years is noted once more, and as always this is going to be the year in which Arsenal will drop down to mid table – as has been predicted in the summer every year for the past ten years.
Apparently you can see it in Walcott, who instead of living up to his projected potential is apparently stuck in a limbo, often failing to motivate himself into even collecting the ball, not alone striking it. As if Walcott was the first ever player to go through a difficult time after a year out. Somehow the argument is that every player who has a difficult period should be removed, because no one ever comes back from a bad spell. Except the evidence suggests otherwise.
Then Giroud is described as having stats which are “disappointing”, utterly ignoring the fact that Arsenal scored only three goals less than the champions and are using a perfectly legitimate and well established tactic of having several players in the side who can side. But no, this is “chronic underscoring” due to a “lack of skill, lack of motivation poor attitude” and goodness knows what – none of which the people who make these accusations can ever know about – unless they are claiming profound psychological insights which if published would revolutionise mental health science the world over.
There are even some who envy Tottenham’s “self-motivation” and their ability to “go full-throttle on the field” all the time. So that when all they needed was to keep heads against Chelsea, (who most certainly could have been expected to kick them to bits) they get into a fight, and then when they need to just play out a goalless draw in the final game against an already relegated team, manage to fail wholesale. Not just unluckily, but wholesale. And yes, there are people who seriously want to see Tottenham’s “drive” replicated in Arsenal.
The Transfer and/or Scouting Policy
Arsenal’s transfer policy has been the subject of much debate for long, most of which has been a trivial analysis of a handful of players, ending with pouring criticism and hate over Wenger who many believed was, well, let’s just say a bit “frugal” when it came to transfers. But the man has a sound logic when it comes to bringing in new players, as his approach is to never bring in something that can’t be better than what he already has. There are some who suggest that thinking about Giroud as the better replacement for van Persie is a bit hard to do. But it took RvP eight years to ratchet up 194 first team games, while it took Giroud four years to get up to 135 games. RvP might have been a natural goalscorer but he had two faults. One was that he was very regularly injured and so often was not on the pitch, and two when he finally made a breakthrough he immediately upped and left for Man U.
Of course the big problem is always that so-called analysts like to pick and mix.
Wenger is often heard saying that if he had known anyone better he would have went for it, which then allows people to raise the question about how the club could overlook N’Golo Kante from last year. As if somehow the club could click its fingers and pick whoever it wanted.
The reality is that Arsenal has had its own austerity programme which may have been painful but as Untold has shown has made the club one of the very, very few to have paid for its own stadium without either going bust or being relegated and playing for years to come in the lower leagues. We only just avoided it after the building of Highbury, but were nowhere near that position with the Emirates. Quite the reverse in fact.
Now Arsenal has raised its salaries for players more than any other club this year, as we have shown, but still can’t compete with Barcelona and Real Madrid with the low rate of Spanish tax and their “interesting” tax avoidance schemes, or the endless money of Chelsea, Man City and the high marketing income for Man U. Just because we want a player, that doesn’t mean the player wants us. Whatever could make someone think this is the case.
Drop what they already have
According to some commentators, Arsenal have always been about improving potential, but sometimes that faith in players proved to be more destructive than beneficial, as was the case with a number of players who only dragged along without breaking out of their initial success and becoming better with years.
To back this claim they then say that we might sign a dozen youngsters and only get on who really makes it. If that is the case it is still one better than Chelsea who have struggled with all their wealth to get anyone to move from being a youth player to a full time first teamer. While in the last few years we have had Ramsey, Coquelin, Bellerin, Campbell, and more on the way up.
But here’s the thing. Many people believe all this negativity, which means sometimes, just sometimes the odds can move in your favour.