by Bulldog Drummond.
A cheeky football journalist (you know the type – asks a stupid question and the writes down something the respondent never said) asked Mr Wenger this week if he thought that, given the fact that transfer doorway (or “window” as it is often known) expenditure had already exceeded last summer, and we haven’t had the last moment rush yet, would the current phase of wild spending exceed £1,000,000,000 (or one billion to the likes of us on normal salaries).
Mr Wenger replied: “A billion? Higher than that. I don’t know the final level but I’m convinced there are many, many clubs in England who have a big amount of money available who have not spent yet. Many. You can say all of them. Who has finished the market? Nobody. You will see how many transfers will happen in the next three or four days. You’ll be amazed.”
I wonder if that “not finished yet” includes Arsenal.
Turning to our latest accented player, Mr Pérez, he added, “He’s a late developer because he played in a different position. He has moved centrally and in a successful way. I think he has good link-up qualities, he’s good at receiving the ball and he’s a good finisher.”
And as Walter pointed out – he wasn’t even on the list of 100+ transfer rumours we’ve recorded through the summer!
Anyway, moving on… The PL league table is rather uninspiring…
As a result we are doomed to relegation, according to some, although for that to happen, Sunderland, Palace and AFC Bournemouth are going to have to do some catching up. So we are next to Watford, who last season were in many ways a middle of the road team on many parameters, but they were noticeable for their yellow cards. A grand total of 73 last season compared to Arsenal’s 40. Only Villa got more yellows.
This it turns out comes from their style of play. Their possession average of 46.3% took them to 17th in terms of possession. Arsenal had the most possession at 56.9% across the season. So as you might expect when we look at Watford’s home matches they were 15th in the league for possession. But Watford were over 10% less successful than Arsenal in completing passes – although again as expected they showed a greater efficiency at this at home than away.
Now this is an interesting combination. They have a low possession, but when they do have it they are good at completing passes. Which gives us a team that is good at counter attacking at home – and that’s the game plan.
To confirm this we look at interceptions and what do you know – they were top of the league with interceptions in home games – at an average of 20.4 per game at home, equal with Leicester in the number one slot. But they also foul a lot at home – they were the fourth highest fouling team in the league in terms of their home games last season.
So now we can predict the game. Wait, and attempt to intercept, and launch a counter attack. If that fails, commit the foul. No reason to think anything has changed this season.
Here’s our team. There’s one place I am not sure on – does the right wing attacking midfield go to the Ox or Theo?
Bellerin Holding Koscielny Monreal
Walcott/Ox Ozil Alexis
As for those who are beached….
Well the biggest beach bums of all still has to be the match preview team at the Guardian. Having had Gnabry in our squad while he was actually playing in Brazil, the Guardian is now including as Arsenal subs players who played last night for the under 23s! That, I can assure you, will not happen. So Reine-Adélaïde and Akpom who played will not, as the Guardian suggested, be on the beach today. Nor will Campbell – another of their beach party. He is, in case you missed it, already away on loan. Which more or less leaves the beach as containing…
Ospina, Debuchy, Gibbs, Elneny, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo, Cazorla.
That is rather a strongish looking beach, and when the two new players arrive ’twill be even more impressive. We really do need some more injuries to make more room – we are so clearly not living up to expectations in that department.
Thus and therefore, here is the injury file – and shock horror, anti-Wengerians close your eyes because again we are not top of the league!!!!!!!
|1||West Ham United||10|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||3|
Arsenal’s injured are (in order of possible return) Ramsey, Iwobi, Gabriel, Jenkinson, Welbeck, Mert. In theory at least Ramsey and Iwobi should be available for the game on the weekend of 10 September.
Onto the facts.
Arsenal have been drawing at half time and full time in their last four away games, so clearly time to get that sorted. In fact our away form at the end of last season was
- 3-3 at West Ham
- 0-0 at Sunderland
- 2-2 at Man City
Anyway, we all know Arsenal can’t defend which is why they have not conceded a single goal in five of the last seven league games. Watford have let in two goals in six of their last seven games however and have failed to win any of their last five games in the Premier League. They were also knocked out of the League Cup by the mighty Gillingham.
Arsenal have won their last six league games against Watford, scoring a total of 16 goals while Watford have won only two of their 10 Premier League home games in 2016. In both cases the Watfordian victories were against now relegated teams.
Watford have had three shots on target and 11 shots en masse, plus the lowest number of touches in the opposition penalty area in the two games so far this season in the league. Some of this can be down to the fact that they are the only team thus far to have picked a side with an average age over 30.
So it is time to remember that Arsenal have lost just one Premier League away game in 2016 (W2, D7) – a remarkable record and we are three short of becoming the second team, after Manchester United, to score 700 Premier League away goals. (You will of course recall that the road to the unbeaten season started with staggering away form including an unbeaten away season).
The BBC’s SAM computer gives the most probable score as 1-1, but with its normal sense of split personality it also has the most probable outcome as an away win. So Arsenal to win 1-1.
- Watford v Arsenal Sat 27 August – The Match Officials
- “New is just new” and other insights into the transfer market
- Premier League 2 – Arsenal v Liverpool – the preview
- Transfers: the two long awaited deals are done as we do the hi-jacking and the splurge.
Two of today’s anniversaries
- 27 August 1932: The run of three consecutive league championships began with Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1. The first goal of this unique run was scored by Reg Stockill. He only played four games in the season – but scored three.
- 27 August 1988: Steve Bould league debut for Arsenal in 5-1 away defeat of Wimbledon in the opening fixture of the campaign. Smith got 3 – the only hattrick all season.