Why it’s going to be a summer of failure for Arsenal – according to the media



It is also the anniversary for “North London Forever” and we have the live version of the full song today at the end of today’s Anniversary File. 

By Tony Attwood

The media are united in the view that Arsenal need to spend this summer.   Just as they were certain Arsenal needed to spend in January and indeed last summer, and indeed backwards through time to the days of Henry.

The argument is simple.  Every club needs one particular man playing who can be called a striker.   Arsenal have two such men available in the squad: Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah.  The former scored eight in all competitions and the latter six.   Clearly these numbers are not good enough so (according to the argument) the players need to go and someone new bought in.

But there is a problem: the FFP regulations, now known as the Profit and Sustainability Rules (a change of name introduced because of the number of challenges to the rules under the old name), make this impossible.

True, a certain amount of discredit has been brought upon these rules because of the way Everton had ten points removed under them, but then on appeal, this was reduced to six.   However a little of the credibility has been restored now that Nottingham Forest’s appeal against a four-point deduction deduction has been rejected.

This was somewhat to be expected since Forest’s argument was that the rule itself was wrong as it made life tougher for newly promoted clubs, rather than the fact that it wasn’t their fault they couldn’t close the Brennan Johnson deal earlier).

Those who analyse such things are suggesting that this summer Arsenal have very little wriggle room in terms of spending money on players under FFP.  Headlines such as, “Arsenal need to sell players in the summer” appear regularly, and the search is on for players whom Arsenal could sell in order to get the books to balance… in order to be able to buy.

Thus Pain in the Arsenal recently suggested that Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe will go.  Presumably if a new striker were to be the target then Gabriel Jesus might also go, to help balance the books.

But such arguments are all based on the notion that a club, to be successful, “must” have a prime goalscorer. 

So, a few days back NBC gave us a list of those in contention to be the top scorer of this season, and it is true that there is not an Arsenal man in sight   That list is given below, but I have added an extra comment in each case which the original did not have.  The position of the club in the league.

  1. Erling Haaland, Manchester City — 25 (current position – 2nd)
  2. Cole Palmer, Chelsea — 21 (current position – 7th)
  3. Alexander Isak, Newcastle United — 20 (current position – 6th)
  4. Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa — 19 (current position – 4th)
  5. Dominic Solanke, Bournemouth — 18 (current position –  10th)
  6. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool — 18 (current position – 3rd)
  7. Heung-min Son, Tottenham — 17 (current position – 5th)

So we might all agree that a top goal scorer can lift the club into the top ten, but then without such a player Arsenal are already in the top ten.   And having such a striker does not guarantee success for the club.

 Indeed 4-4-2 have details of 20 high-profile high-cost strikers who have totally failed to bring goals to their new club (anyone remember Vincent Janssen at Tottenham?).

Staying on that theme GivemeSport have an article on the 16 most disappointing players in the Premier League this season.   Arsenal turn up once with Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Now we can argue over all the details but the fact is that most transfers don’t quite work out in the way that was hoped – a fact ignored by the media so that they can carry on with their 100+ transfer rumours for each club each summer.

So let us consider Arsenal’s goal-scoring in all competitions this season…


Player Games Goals  Games per goal %
Bukayo Saka 45 20 2.30
Leandro Trossard 23 16 1.44
Kai Havertz 41 13 3.15
Martin Odegaard 43 11 3.90
Gabriel Jesus 21 8 2.62
Gabriel Martinelli 30 8 3.75
Declan Rice 46 7 6.57
Eddie Nketiah 13 6 2.17


So Arsenal have quite a wide array of goalscorers, and indeed one might also note that Havertz took his time to settle in with Arsenal. He has scored eight goals in his last 12 appearances which would give him a games per goal percentage of 1.5% – the best of all the players.

Give Me Sport argued that Arsenal’s need for a striker was “difficult to argue when looking at Gabriel Jesus’ stats”.   But it might be better to argue that it is hard to see why Arsenal need a new striker when they are the top scoring club in the Premier League.

For Arsenal to make any purchases of significance this summer, they will have to sell some players for a profit – and Eddie Nketiah would probably provide the most profit since he came through the Academy.

But the point remains, having become the top scoring club, and having Havertz who took his time to get going but is now scoring at the highest rate of all, Arsenal actually don’t need a new goalscorer.

So the media will present this as Arsenal going after some 30 or 40 strikers this summer and then failing to get them thus giving them the desired story: a summer of failure.  In reality, Arsenal most likely won’t go after any of them, and be very happy with the goal scorers they have.

16 Replies to “Why it’s going to be a summer of failure for Arsenal – according to the media”

  1. Nice try. But Jesus is supposed to be and was signed to be our striker. As you agree his figures are unacceptable .
    Arteta himself has said he would like ti add fire power and that we have missed too many chances in games. Our goals tally distorted by an usually high proportion of penalties I would suggest. Being top scoring club doesnt mean we dont need improvement. Knocking 5 and 6 past weak sides isnt the be all and end all. There is also Europe to consider and the need to give Sake more rest.
    Finally there is a need to improve squad depth. Nketiah and the ilk are not good enough now and wont be going forward, so i do expect something of a garage sale and imo 2 big purchases

  2. True, Jesus was signed as a striker, but the side has moved on since then. As for goals tally distorted by penalties, Arsenal have not had the most penalties this season (Chelsea have) but have had the fourth highest number of touches in the penalty box – which would suggest that all things being fair and equal Arsenal should be getting an above average number of penalties.

  3. @ Al m

    Jesus may have been considered a striker when he joined us but you and I have no idea what role Arteta intended him to play in our overall game. Indeed he may not have been brought in for his goal scoring ability but for his ability to help the team score goals. He may well have turned out to be exactly what Arteta intended and hence why we are top scorers in the league.

    Sure I’m hypothesising……isn’t everybody?!!

  4. I don’t see Arsenal getting a top scorer even if they wanted one. Anyone they would want to sign would be darn expensive and considering how well Haverz is now playing, he will know he is second string….
    Jesus is a known quality. We’ve got Trossard who can score. Eddie can score too, just he did not get that many opportunities. would he if he could play more often ? My guess is yes, but it would take some time.

    However, my worry is depth in the midfield and backline. Ok maybe Timber will be the solution for the backline, but that still leaves the issue of ben White who is quite alone in his position.

    And Partey and Jorginho may not be there. Is there a chance for some academy player to step in gradually ? My take is that we’ll not see many players coming straight into the team. And I hope this will mean some of the academy players will start getting game time they need to become first team players.

    And personnaly I still hope ESR will start being seen more often….

  5. How things can change…. Jesus and Zinchenko brought us to the next level last season. No doubt about that. But now the young team itself has stepped it up and seems to have gone further without Jesus and Zinchenko. They barely get a start anymore. I knwo both have been out for a while and I still like them and they can be top but now they are good backup players it seems.
    A problem I noticed with Jesus when you compare him with Havertz is his pressing. The way Havertz is capable of pressing the backline of the opponents for 90 minutes and more is just unbelievable. His stamina is amazing. Jesus reminds me a bit of the pressing done by Aubamayang in his last months at the club. He runs a bit but not really with much intent of making life very difficult for the defenders. And when he loses the ball Jesus doesn’t really track back like he did last season. Havertz does this and is also very helpful in defending set pieces with his height.
    Who knows maybe Havertz can become a scoring attacker. After all…. what did we say and hear about TH14 at the start of his career….. he doesn’t score enough…. Giving it is Havertz his first season I sure think we can see more of him in the next seasons….

  6. The media is already full of headlines about who Arsenal should buy, but will fail to do because Edu is so clueless and ambitious players don’t want to join, plus who we should sell because they are not good enough, plus the one or two “next Saka” academy prospects who will be leaving to join more successful clubs.
    Also headlines like looking for an “upgrade” on any one of our current squad. Or Spurs, or Liverpool, or Chelsea will “hijack” an Arsenal transfer deal.

    How long before we are being told that Arteta would jump at the chance to be the next Man.Utd manager when Ten Hagg is sacked.?

    A pity that some of our supporters fall for this rubbish.

  7. AI m

    Your entire post is utter nonsense. I have dissected it point by point. I have asked you to explain every point.

    Point 1: “But Jesus is supposed to be and was signed to be our striker.”

    Please show me how you know this?

    Point 2 : “As you agree his figures are unacceptable “.

    Tony quite clearly did not agree, all he was doing was stating what the consensus of the media was, which the following statement clearly says:

    “Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah. The former scored eight in all competitions and the latter six. Clearly these numbers are not good enough so (according to the argument) the players need to go and someone new bought in”.

    Point 3: “Arteta himself has said he would like to add fire power and that we have missed too many chances in games.”

    I haven’t seen this so please could you show me a direct quote from Arteta that says: ‘We would like to add fire power because we’ve missed too many chances'”

    And even if he did say that I find that quite odd, as we have scored well over our expected goals according to the xG matrix which measures goal expectation versus chances created. We are more efficient than both Man city and Liverpool. Now if you don’t put much ‘stock’ in xG fine, but it still intimates that we are efficient with the chances we create and certainly haven’t missed too many chances.

    Point 4: “Our goals tally distorted by an usually high proportion of penalties I would suggest”.

    I refer you to Tony’s answer.

    Point 5: “Being top scoring club doesn’t mean we don’t need improvement.”

    Please point out were in the article it says “we don’t need improvement”?

    Point 6: “Knocking 5 and 6 past weak sides isn’t the be all and end all.”

    Please point out were the article says it was?

    Point 7: “There is also Europe to consider and the need to give Sake more rest”

    Please enlighten me as to how you know Saka needs a more rest?

    And lets not forget, when Arteta made changes for the Villa game you said: “Just an over the top reaction of a different kind to the tsar pathetic and utterly predictable capitulation as Arteta unnecessarily tinkered with his team”.

    Point 8: “Nketiah and the ilk are not good enough now and wont be going forward”

    First off who are “the ilk” and what does ‘the ilk’ even mean? I assume they are all just players YOU don’t like. Charming.

    So go on. Answer every question one by one.

  8. @Nitram,

    point 6 : “Knocking 5 and 6…..

    just my thoughts :

    in previous seasons, we pretty much rarely if ever did that….so we are getting better at 1) really folding games 2) taking gare of the goal difference

    I don’t have any stats available right now, but I was wondering how many games we’ve won by 3 or more and how that compares to other Top 4 contenders.

    That being said, there are always some who will never be happy when we lose because we lose, and never be happy when we win because it diminishes their capacity to complain, bitch, criticise, etc…. wtf they should get a life…

  9. Off topic:

    I am pleased that Bayern were beaten by Real Madrid, in spite of Kane’s efforts to influence the referee.

    This must be the first season in living memory in which they have not won a trophy

  10. Whatever Schadenfreude we can have, fact is a refereeing error most probably cost Bayern a tie and a chance in overtime.
    Contrary to what has been done since VAR arrived, this time the ref blew his whistle before the action was finished – with a goal which makes it even worse. And the lineman raised his flag as well before the action was finished.

    At that level, this kind of error is just not acceptable.

  11. Chris

    I agree, absolutely horrendous error.

    As annoying as a wait can be when the ‘offside’ appears obvious, allowing the action to finish is actually one of the positives with regards to VAR.

    People say the ‘wait’ for a decision sucks the joy out of the game, and of course there is something to that, but I’ll tell what really sucks the joy out of football? A linesperson getting it wrong and a perfectly good goal getting ruled out!! And in any case, just ask Madrid if the ‘wait’ for a decision of offside/onside for their winning goal bothered them?

    Personally for me with regards to VAR, there ARE many problems, but the wait isn’t one of them. It’s the fact they use second rate technology and still get so much wrong.

    To me the problems are:

    -What does get looked at and what doesn’t?

    -They intervene when they shouldn’t and don’t when they should.

    -The thresholds applied vary dramatically.

    -The technology is sub standard. As pointed out by one of our regulars the other day, often as not the lines put down for offside calls are blurred, and in the incident he referenced the player crossing the ball wasn’t even in shot!!!. When you look at what is used in the European competitions it is obvious the richest league in the World is not even using state of the art technology.

    -It’s not done overtly so that everyone can see what is being looked at. Although of course secrecy is at the heart of everything our officials do so there’s no surprise there.

    I believe, in fact I get the impression many on here would agree, that the problem isn’t with VAR itself, the issue is with who is using it, and how it is applied.

  12. @Nitram,

    I believe that the example of the richest league in the world incapable of producing good referees and good refereeing standards is slowly becoming like a virus, expanding into Europe.

    Why should any league invest more effort then the PL if the horrendous level of refereeing in the PL is basically accepted as a fact by clubs and fans ?

    The Euro 2024 is going to be interesting in this regard and I expect it to be awful.

  13. Chris

    One thing that intrigued me about that decision last night was what one of the 2 commentators said, which was:

    “Once the flag went up play couldn’t go on” or words to that effect.

    But surely that isn’t so? Surely play continues until the referee blows his whistle?

    In other words, despite the flag being raised the referee could of waved play on if he felt it was that close, which of course it looked in real time?

    Or is the referee ‘compelled’ to blow if the flag goes up? I’m pretty sure he’s not, so ultimately the referee is to blame?

  14. Nitram, the linesman can raise his flag but it is down to the referee to follom him or to ignore him. I haven’t seen the incident itself but when I see pictures I cannot understand that in the VAR-era an assistant would raise his flag for such a close call. Maybe he go a nice watch to remember the occassion?

  15. Walter

    I was 99.99999 percent certain the referee could and should of ignored the Linesman.

    My question was really, how come the commentators didn’t know that, and said quite clearly that “once the flag was raised play had to stop’.

    Maybe they was just blinded by their love of Madrid they made so obvious all night.

    I have absolutely no doubt it was a deliberate act by the linesman. All night long the the ‘allow the action to finish’ rule was applied, until this crucial late attack.


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