- Arsenal: a gimmick when we do, a failure when we don’t
- Is Arsenal’s slippage from last season a disaster, or an inevitable regrouping?
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By Sir Hardly Anyone
An analysis by Football Observatory shows that Arsenal currently have six players on their books who are each valued at 100 million euros or above.
Now I know that each time we look at player values arguments can break out as to whether a particular player is indeed worth that much, but the fact is that if one is working from the valuations from a single source (in this case Football Observatory) then at least there will be a consistency in the valuations. If some are overvalued, chances are that all will be in the same way.
Arsenal’s six players most valuable players are not hard to guess. In descending order of valuation, they are Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Havertz, Saliba, Rice.
What is then interesting is to compare this level of valuation with that given by the same source for other players – the point being that if it is argued that Football Observatory constantly overestimates valuation, they will be doing this for all the clubs, not just Arsenal.
What we find is that compared with Arsenal’s six players, Liverpool have five players in this valuation group, as do Manchester City. Looking at the other teams at or near the top of the league Aston Villa have no players with such a valuation, Tottenham Hotspur have one, and West Ham United don’t have any.
This in turn suggests that Arsenal’s problems at the moment (problems in the sense that the club is fourth in the league and five points behind the leaders) are not to do with individual players, but with getting the individual players to play into the system required by the manager.
Now we have seen this problem before at Arsenal, particularly if we go back just two seasons to the opening of the 2021/22 campaign in which Arsenal lost their first three league matches and there were persistent calls among some journalists and “fans” for Arteta to be removed at once. Thankfully the owners had more sense than the pundits.
Of course, it is disappointing that Arteta has not yet got things persistently sorted out, given that he was brought in during the 2019/20 in which Arsenal won only two of their first five league games. But it does suggest that the problem is not with individual players, but more with getting his latest system tweak to work.
This season Arsenal have lost four games, as you will obviously know. Last season it was six in the whole season. But then go back to 2022, and in that campaign, it was 13 defeats which is 34% of all the matches. This season we have lost 20%.- last season it was 16%.
I would argue that the quality of the players we have now in the squad shows that progress continues to be made, but as I have argued before the one issue that has not been overcome is the psychological blip, which means that one bad or unexpected defeat or draw cannot be readily put aside. Instead, the downturn carries on and we get a whole series of bad results.
That is certainly what happened last season, and this, and that is a problem that teams that win the league don’t have.
But my point is also that we now have players who are, or soon will be, able to handle these “blips” and pull the club back on track. The only difficulty is that the team still has a number of youngsters who don’t yet have the experience of recovering from disappointment and loss of form.
In particular, Arsenal are under-scoring compared with last season, and with the club’s rivals at the top of the league. Arsenal are only the seventh-highest scorers in the league so far this season but the club is only eight goals behind the top-scoring team Manchester City.
I’m not suggesting Arsenal are going to score more than Manchester City this season, but I do expect Martinelli to regain his form, Eddie to continue his goal-scoring, and for Havertz to continue his improvement on the pitch.
But there are psychological issues to be faced, and the most obvious one this weekend is that Arsenal have only beaten Liverpool once in the last eight games between the two sides. That is the sort of issue that has to be put to rights.
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