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July 2021

An end of season review of the last summer buys

By Walter Broeckx

With the season over it is time to have a look at the new players we brought in last summer and see how they did in their first season.

And of course in case you bring forwards it is something that you do with looking at how their involvement is when it comes to goals. Not only the goals they scored but also looking at the assists. But of course that isn’t all. The time that attackers just stood there when they lost the ball and waited for the others to bring it back to them is well behind us. A long time behind us.

So let us have a look at the biggest striker of them all, Olivier Giroud.  Now when we bought him I said that he would score 15 goals in his first season. And when we look at his numbers we see that he scored 17 goals in total himself. So in a way Giroud has done better than I predicted and at the time people were rather laughing my prediction away. So yeah, let me have this moment of enjoyment of being right.

And Giroud also has given 11 assists from which a team mate could sore in his first season. And one could say that the lofted chip to the left channel is one he is rather good at. If we look at the goal of the season we see that it was his lofted pass that gave the ball to Podolski who buried it  expertly.

But I also think that Giroud has his importance when we defend. He usually is the big man that is covering the first post area when a corner is taken. Of course that is a job that goes unnoticed. Tell me who remembers which defender heads the ball away when we defend a corner? But it is an important task that was done by you know who last season so also in that aspect Giroud has taken on that job. Total goal contribution : 28. Not that bad for a first season in the PL.

 The other striker we bought was Lukas Podolski. The German forward is the most subbed player of the PL. He hasn’t played a lot of 90 minutes. But still he managed to score 16 goals in his first season. Not a bad result for a player that came from another league (just as Giroud of course). And he also gave 11 assists.

Podolski is the player with the best scoring ration of the whole team. And his left foot can be deadly. He launched a few bombs (the 1-1 against West Ham comes to mind). And like I mentioned his volley against Montpellier that was voted goals of the season was also a very spectacular goal.

So what are his good points and what are his points that could improve? I rather like him for his “German” attitude (oh those platitudes…). He doesn’t like to lose but if we lose it doesn’t seem to affect his confidence. We have seen him drag a few games around (West Ham even twice one could say, Newcastle) be it by scoring or giving an assist.  By the way I didn’t count the assist for the Newcastle goal as one of his. Should I do it? Well then it would be 12 assists. And that would bring his total goal contribution to 28 goals. Not that bad for a first season in the PL.

Let us move on to a player that could be overlooked at some times. Believe me when he is standing behind Per Mertesacker you will not see him. Cazorla. Not really a striker, not really a midfielder. One could say both of them.

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Left foot, right foot, dribbles, shots he can do it all.  I must admit I have never seen anyone as comfortable with both feet as Cazorla. When we bought him last summer I looked at you tube and on the videos I saw a guy that could play a cross ball with both feet and seemingly without any trouble. I thought: oh well they picked the best to put it in that video. Well after one season I know that probably that video could have been 25 times longer if they would have included them all. He can do it. 

And what is also so amazing is that despite him being the most gifted player technically speaking he also puts in a hard working shift.  He could be satisfied with being the “vedette” of the team and just hang around waiting for the ball to come to him. But he does his defensive job in a remarkable way. What did Wenger buy this time some shouted. A dwarf. A midget. He will be blown away by the Shawcrosses in the PL they said. I think those who said such things will now swear on their children’s head that they never said anything like that.  I must admit I was a bit afraid at first for his physical well being. I feared that those thugs would be out to get him. But so far he has shown remarkable skill not only to set up attacks but also skills in avoiding the most dangerous tackles.

After all this adoration I almost forgot to mention his goal contribution. Well that is not bad either. He scored 12 goals and he also provided 15 assists. That is again a goal contribution in total of 27 goals. Not that bad for a first season in the PL.

In fact after having seen him in his first season playing for our beloved club I think he has to change his name. I think we should call him Classorla from now on.  Yeah that sounds right. CLASSORLA. Put that on the back of your shirt if you want to buy a shirt with his number and name.

So far our new signings. Does this mean that all is well in our attacking part? No, things can always improve. Things can always be better.  Would adding another striker improve the team? Maybe it could. It probably would.  What we have missed was a player that could turn a closed game in our favour at times. But who could that be? Because bringing in another striker might give us a repeat of the Chamakh scenario who started of very nicely, was then put on the bench to make room for RVP and suddenly lost all confidence and is now completely out of the picture.  So if we find someone extra we should make sure that it will not create a gap in the existing team.

And then I didn’t even mention Theo. He might be worth a separate article.


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72 comments to An end of season review of the last summer buys

  • Mandy Dodd

    I stand to be corrected, but believe we scored more goals this last season than we did when the unmentionable played for us in the season before that. So huge credit to all concerned in what was a very tricky season. Next season, we can add depth and properly move on. We clearly need another striker, and backup keeper if fab goes, but I think the recent performances of Rambo and arteta provide food for thought on this CD role, though they of course need back up. This year, I think the management have to be maybe a bit more ruthless in assessing likely injury impact at the start of the season, the unfortunately predictable scenario of losing diaby seemed to cause problems for a while.

  • bjtgooner

    Mandy I think you are correct about the goals total and the Rambo/Arteta partnership that worked so well at the end of last season.

    Diaby will be out for approx the first half of the season, perhaps longer. My reaction would be to bring in a DM to complement our existing very talented and creative midfied – someone with pace and height.

    The three new signings last season were all a great success and once the team started to gel the new guys played a major part in our revival. On the question of another striker my feeling is that we do need another tall striker – who can alternate with Giroud/cover for injuries.

    Despite losing key players the previous summer, the guys who came in helped produce a more balanced squad and an excellent base on which to build further.

    The signs for this summer look good, we should not lose any core players and further we should strengthen the squad – if it works out we will challenge next season.

  • Mick

    An excellent first season indeed for all three of them. An additional striker would be nice but I think there is a lot more to come from Giroud and would hate to see his development curtailed by the arrival of a ‘marquee’ big name striker. This also applies to other areas of the team where we have youngsters such as Jenkinson and Coquelin waiting to make their mark. If reports are correct we have acquired the services of Yaya Sanogo the young French prospect and this is the type of signing that I find more interesting than buying established stars. As far as I am concerned Chelsea, Man City etc can have the household names, let us continue in the Arsenal way, we are heading in the right direction under the expert guidance of Mr Wenger.

  • AL

    I couldn’t agree more with all you say, spot on.

    On another note, I was dreaming of a quite season. A season without all the drama, the obvious manipulations of the media and refs. A quiet, post-fergie, era that would be fairly & fiercely contested and let the best man win. But then chelski go and re-hire mourinho, and there goes my dream:(

  • bob

    “I think there is a lot more to come from Giroud and would hate to see his development curtailed by the arrival of a ‘marquee’ big name striker.”
    Not that Untold would provide it (but could), have you looked into Giroud’s goals:shots ratio? Yes he’s good in the link ups, but you write like he’s fresh out of the once-heralded (but still held on to romance of the) youth project. Eyes open, you choose to put G’s further (presumed) development over the actual clinical world class poacher that we’ve badly needed in the last third. Our difference is I think it’s past time for the now affordable ruthless purchase (or three) of what you snidely label “marquee,” as if there couldn’t be a top quality in a pricey signing. You might find that more interesting; I’d find it more agonizingly boring to witness.

  • bob

    As you love quantitfication, what is Giroud’s goals:shots ratio? (I’ve asked you to kindly provide this now, numerous times.)
    Any howlers, sitters, missed game changers to note from last season? Sure, Giroud is good. But, your desire to justify the purchase duly noted, that ratio will, imo, indicate what others’ eyes tell us — Giroud is a nice bloke, but Giroud is not clinical. Victory in the EPL game as you well know, is decided on razor sharp margins. And, to date, this top striker frp, “another league” (what a turn of phrase, Walter, as if he’s been hauled in all the way from the fourth division of Mongolia) has been too profligate for a top top side’s first choice striker.

  • bob

    “This one’s for you,” as the company’s mantra gurgles forth 🙂

    Isn’t there a Belgian beer that would spare everyone across the pond the indignity of actually sampling what this company purports to be a beer?

  • FunGunner

    @ Walter
    They’ve all done well, and in Cazorla’s case astonishingly well, for a first season. Giroud in particular seems to me to have a lot more potential for improvement.

    @ Mandy Dodd
    Yes we scored a few more and conceded a lot fewer. The only way we missed the Dutch Skunk was in games when we needed a bit of magic – the Everton game in run-in stands out in my mind.

    @ AL
    ha ha

  • dan

    All signing’s did well, even Monreal.

  • Mick

    As you well know strikers in particular quite often take a while to get used to the demands of the premiership and their goal return thus shows an improvement in their second season, Suarez being a good example. Add to that the possibility of further improvement due to the Wenger effect and he could become the striker we all dream of.

  • WalterBroeckx

    in Belgium the top league is called “Jupiler League” with Jupiler being a popular Belgian “pils” beer. For us football fans who follow a league abroad enough reason to call it the “fluitjes” league. And a “fluitje” is the shape of a glass in which some like to drink their beer. It also has a few other meanings and one of them could be called “something rather rubbish” or something cheep and of no value. Like in ‘a fluitje van ne cent” meaning a worthless thing. .

    So when we talk of the Jupiler League I use the word “Fluitjes league” to say how rubbish they are.

    Now which Arsenal website will learn you this I ask you? 😉

  • Mandy Dodd

    Scoring more and conceding fewer, not a bad trend. We have had a few hiccups in the last year or two, and understandably so, no we just need a bit of stability and strengthening. Wonder if Wenger will keep us defensively strong, as in the last 3 months, or go back to defending a higher line and attacking more – or variations incorporating both depending on who we have available and who we are playing – ie a plan A, B and maybe C?

  • bob

    Yes, a “Fluitjes” beer! – that surely is Budweiser. The F in Fluitjes does give us a new twist on the meaning of the F-A under this new sponsorship. (As in: WT-F are they doing being sponsored by that beer? Then again, Bud’s long been the top Yank sports sponsor. Perhaps Sir F-man will become their new official spokesman. And on and on with the Fluitjes factor…)

  • bob

    As neither of us can know right now (despite your assuredness), just for ha-ha’s I’d take a wager that we’ve seen the fullness of the man. Your promising a far better goals:shots ratio, right? Let’s see. But my objection today is the (mis)use of Giroud’s potential to thwart the need for a quality clinical poacher. It would appear to me that you don’t think it necessary, as that won’t come cheap (enough).

  • Asif

    Has anyone read Koscielny’s statement? Has he already started posturing for a move to Bayern? I really can’t make sense of it…

    @Walter – apologies for going off topic but needed to get it out of my head…

  • Mick

    I would love a clinical striker, I simply differ from you in how we obtain one. I prefer to see us develop our own, either through the youth system or by polishing a rough diamond. You on the other hand think we should buy one.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Asif, think that Kos thing is a non story. The important part, he is happy at Arsenal, and wants success with Arsenal and I for one am glad to here it. We now have the resources to accomodate high quality ambitious players. Leading questions from a hack, naively answered, Kos is going nowhere.

  • A. Stewart

    @ Bob regarding qualification to give a more broad look at Giroud’s performance beyond solely numbers. This is going to be long so I’ll break it up into 2 parts.
    PART 1
    As taken from f365 via whoscored:

    “Having scored his 11 goals from 107 shots, a 10.3% conversion rate isn’t bad, but certainly isn’t a strike rate that will win you a league title. The Frenchman missed 19 big chances, which was the second most in the entire division, from a total of 23. His conversion rate from clear-cut opportunities was a pretty woeful 17.4%….”

    Feel free to ignore the commentary, but the numbers illustrate that he is not very efficient, and to be honest, it didn’t pouring over these stats for many gooners’ eye tests to see that he missed too many good chances.

    Further, timing of goals and their decisive nature makes a huge difference. I’m not going to argue whether we are a more or less balanced side with RvP being arguably and adequately replaced by Giroud and Podolski. But it’s not even close in terms of the number of points/results that RvP’s goals (and created) led directly to last season, I’ll research the stat but I remember seeing the the comparison to Giroud and or Podolski and it’s not even remotely close.

    The point of mentioning that is, it’s great to have balance, and good players to spread out production but there is no comparison to top quality that is often and precisely the difference between winning or losing a tight game. And Grioud/Podolski have had decent numbers (which I will further qualify in the next paragraph), but weren’t nearly as able to be decisive in tight situation when a moment of brilliance or even converting a clear chance was needed to make the difference, something which RvP provided to us last season, and something which he provided to United in abundance this season, with his goals/assists leading directly to more points/wins (and decisive outcomes in key moments) that any of their other players, and thus the title.

    Another thing to consider about the numbers is that a good bit of Grioud’s and Podolski’s goals (not saying nearly all) have come in some tennis score matches (often in the same match) against poor teams, in games that have in some cases long since been decided. Games like the following come to mind.

    6-1 v Coventry Grioud scores to make it 3-0
    7-3 v Newcastle Giroud scores to make it 5-3 and 6-3
    5-1 v West Ham Giroud scores to make it 2-1 (yes technically the winner) and 5-1

  • A. Stewart

    PART 2

    Another qualification that gives a bigger picture especially in the context of replacement for RvP.. Is that Giroud, Podolski, Cazorla scored quite a lot of their goals in the same matches, which were often high scoring games against POOR TEAMS (you can add in Walcott to that too in the context of replacing RvP’s goals). In other words it’s good when comparing numbers for numbers to RvP, but collectively a lot of their goals haven’t resulted in as many results as RvPs.
    Collectively their goals may be similar in numbers to RvPs but impacted fewer games, and fewer close games, and fewer games against strong opposition. Consider:
    6-1 v Southampton: Podolski (1) TW (2)
    6-1 v Coventry: Giroud (1) TW (2)
    7-5 v Reading: TW (3) Giroud (1)
    5-2 v Reading: Pod (1) Cazorla (3) TW (1)
    7-3 v Newcastle: TW (3) Pod (1) Grioud (2)
    5-1 v Westham: Pod (1) Giroud (2) Cazorla (1) TW (1)
    4-1 v Wigan: Pod (2) TW (1)
    3-3 v Fulham: Giroud (2) Pod (1).

    These just hand full of games against pretty poor teams (a lower league team, 2 relegated teams, 1 involved in relegation battle, and two mid tablers) represent a sizeable chunk of their goals and help to qualify the numbers argument. By the way I only include TW in the replacing RvPs goals argument as I’m aware this is about the new signing analysis and actually my conclusion on him is more positive as he has done things in big games in comparison.

    Now for further qualification take a look at close wins (I’m using one goal margin victories here for this purpose).
    2-1 Montpellier – Podolski
    1-0 QPR – Arteta
    1-0 Wigan – Arteta
    1-0 Swansea – Wilshere
    1-0 Stoke – Podolski
    1-0 sunderland – Cazorla
    2-1 Villa – Cazorla
    2-1 WBA – Rosicky x 2
    1-0 Fulham – Mertersacker
    1-0 QPR – TW
    1-0 Newcastle – Koscielny

    Podolski and Cazorla have popped up a few times with winners to their credit, but very very absent from this list is Giroud. And again in the context of replacing RvP it’s not even close in terms of how many close games RvPs goals (I’ve limited this to goals, but adding assists will still be in his favour) goals have won for us in the previous 2 seasons and for United in this past season.

    Now onto “big” games against top opponents, this is subjective so feel free to disagree as to the completeness of this list:

    v City 1-1 (Koscielny)
    Chelsea 2, AFC 1 (Gervinho)
    United 2, AFC 1 (Cazorla to make it 1-2 in 90+5)

    AFC 5, Spurs 2 (Pod, Giroud, Cazorla & Walcott with assists for TW, Cazorla and Podolski)

    AFC 0, City 2
    AFC 1, Chelsea 2 (Walcott)
    AFC 1, Munich 3 (Podolski)
    AFC 1, Spurs 2 (Mertersacker, TW assist)
    AFC 2, Munich 0 (Giroud on TW assist, Kos on Cazorla assist)
    AFC 1, United 1 (Walcott)

    The first things that become clear here is Giroud really hasn’t done much of anything in the big games, ( yes he scored against Munich in the game in which we were ultimately eliminated, TW has done very well in big games with goals and assists, and Santi and Podolski have been relatively limited impacts.

    On an aside, Not the subject really but apart from being a very good defender, when I was assembling this post one thing that really jumped out at me is how often Koscielny has showed up with goals in big games/v top opponents and close games. Including the season ender “big game” for the second season in a row.

  • A. Stewart

    PART 3 – Conclusion

    Anyway to sum it all up:
    Giroud – If you look at just goal numbers as the original post did, he’s done ok at best. Consider for comparison a few initially less heralded strikers that cost less have done far more (scoring) in ALSO their first season (including from a foreign country) in the league, Benteke with 19 league goals and Michu with 18 come to mind, both bettering Girouds 11 in the league and even 17 total goals , while being far more efficient. Even Le Fondre with 12 and Ricky Lambert with 15 have scored more in the league than Giroud and are also in their first PLseason and even far less heralded.
    On the top of efficiency he hasn’t been good with shots/goal ratio is not impressive, and misses too many “clear” chances you expect a top striker to put away. In big games and close games he’s been generally nowhere to be seen, and gets a lot of his stats in a handful of outlier high scoring games against poor teams.
    As rightfully pointed out in the opening post, he has had some good moments in link up play with some nice assists and chips, but he’s had as many poor displays with link up play as illustrated by too often poor passing, poor first touch and losing the ball easily. He may improve as he settles next season, but I don’t think his ceiling is much higher at his age, and with nothing much previous in his career to suggest he will be that much more prolific or that much more efficient.

    Podolski – It’s been up and down for him, decent enough numbers, but went missing too often, hasn’t really done that much in key moments, and either isn’t fit enough or trusted enough to last 90 mins.

    Cazorla – He’s been very good, but hasn’t done enough in big moments or against big teams, where he’s gone missing a bit.

    Not a new player but again on the topic since some of the discussion after the original post centered on judging these players in relation to replacing RvP….

    Walcott – He’s been excellent! Good numbers (could have been better if he wasn’t frozen out for a while in the contract saga), he’s beat up on poor teams, but more importantly has been a big game player! He’s shown up admirably. He’s really developed a final ball. His all-round play does need a bit of improvement though.

    Whew* that was long..

    Bob, how’s that for context and qualification ? 🙂

  • bob

    A Stewart,
    I haven’t fully read and digested your analysis, yet; but started with your conclusions first, which, in Giroud’s case, reflect my views. I appreciate this effort and its detail and will chime in later with more. As an analysis, you offer the clinicality and quality that we can all benefit from wherever our thinking takes us as we digest it. Cheers 🙂

  • bob

    With due respect, we’re on a very different timeline for winning the league (or a 1-2 finish). I think given AW’s age, and AFC’s apparent 70m to spend, and the aging of some of our best players, that this is the right time to strike like we mean it: yes, for top honorse, and purchasing the quality poacher-clinician should be our top (not sole) priority right now, in this very window. Sorry you may not feel this way now, but I don’t feel that doing this affordable deed will in any way jeopardize the longer-range process that you value. I think this is a ripe opportunity that we should seize and not wilt at the prospect. We are a threat and should act like it. The petroboyz cannot own and purchase everything.

  • A. Stewart

    @ Mick: RE

    As you well know strikers in particular quite often take a while to get used to the demands of the premiership and their goal return thus shows an improvement in their second season,”

    Yet as pointed out Michu, Benteke, Le Fondre and Lambert all in this their first PL season also, scored more than Giroud..with less quality service around them too. The season before Holt with 12 and Cisse with 13 (from 14 appearances) also scored more in their first seasons that Giroud has managed to do. Jelavic hit 9 from 13 his first season, Aguero 23 his first season, Torres hit 24 his first league season (while never previously managing higher than 19 league goals), Chicarito was another striker in recent years that hit the ground running in his first season. Odemwingie hit 15 his first season etc. There’s actually quite a bit of strikers/forwards of varying quality, reputation, price tags, origins etc. who have hit the ground running in their first season and/or have statistically done better (including efficiency) than what Giroud has done in his. Heck even Chamakh hit the ground running immediately scoring goals, winning penalties, linking up play in the opening spell of his first season until he lost his place to a returning RvP.

    And to be honest the meme of players in general (not just strikers) needing time to adjust to the prem has become increasingly less absolute, and in recent years more and more players of many positions and varying reputations and quality levels come in and hit the ground running.

    Lastly, there’s just as much precedent with other players to suggest that Giroud will regress in his second season as there is to suggest he will do better when he adjusts. Just having another season is no more a guarantee that he will suddenly become more efficient or prolific, especially as there is little/nothing in his career record previously to suggest that he will, and given he will be 27 pretty much at the start of the season, improvement is definitely possible but the ceiling imo looks limited.

    Lastly two things that also work against him is that he’s painfully slow, and he’s not going to suddenly get faster, something which would be very useful in the PL. And also our style of play doesn’t really suit his strengths (like heading), we don’t cross a lot and/or cross well.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Wenger get us a big man or get out. He only plays dwarfs up front.

    Okay I give you Giroud.
    What? Such a lump. You could have given us …er… Carroll… or…er Crouch. All well goal proven strikers from the PL.
    Carroll highest goal scoring season was 17, he wants 100.000 a week and cost 35M
    Crouch scored 12 goals in his top season.

    Giroud usually scores 15 goals in his first season at a new club. The next he will score at least 25 goals. You can remind me of this at the end of next season. 😉

  • A. Stewart

    @ Bob, re: “…but I don’t feel that doing this affordable deed will in any way jeopardize the longer-range process that you value. I think this is a ripe opportunity that we should seize and not wilt at the prospect. We are a threat and should act like it. The petroboyz cannot own and purchase everything.”

    I couldn’t agree more, I don’t think getting a clinical striker has to be at the betrayal of some values-drive long range plan. As you said the opportunity is ripe and there are players out there.

    Once such example of an actually available striker out there is Gonzalo Higuain (who has allegedly batted an eyelash in our direction in recent days).

    He’s one of the most prolific and most efficient strikers in Europe over the least 5 years, and it’s even more astonishing given the stop start nature of how he is played, and the campaign waged against him by Perez etc. He’s also a extremely good striker on the international level, including scoring hattricks in world cups.

    He can score any which way, and scores amazing goals regularly, and thus is the rare combination of a good goal scorer (always consistent season after season) and scorer of good goals. And is not slow as some seem to think (look how many times he outraces defenders)..:

    He outscored Ronaldo is Ronaldo’s first season at Madrid, and susbsequently of course had to be marginalized to first, make play center around Ronaldo first, and the second as Perez insisted his personal signing Benzema (who has never come close to matching anything Higuain produces) be played more.

    Contrary to the belief of some he has had his big game performance (including scoring againsts Baca and others to win cups), scoring in final league matches to win Madrid the league, scoring the in CL, and as mentioned scoring in the WC (the only player to hit a hat trick in the last edition)

    He has a better strike rate than Falcao, Cavani, Lewandowski over that period and is close to the former two in total goals in far far less time on the pitch and in far less starts. His record of assists over the last 5 seasons dwarf anything Falcao and Cavani have produced.

    And he’s available for reportedly less than 20 M, and with all that experience is only 25 (barring one freak back fracture injury, is not injury prone), is very technical in his play, likes to play the ball on the ground, can combine well. What’s not to like?

    He’s even born in France and speaks it fluently and thus can fit in the locker room both with the French and increasing Spanish contingents, especially as he seems a humble guy who has never gotten in trouble and doesn’t seek a lot of attention.

    Now why shouldn’t we go for someone like him? United, City, Barcelona, Munich, Dortmund, Milan, PSG don’t need him.. Chelsea could use him but that’s now unlikely with Mourinho. The only other big club that really could need him is Juventus, and Spurs if one considers them a big club.

    WE shouldn’t go for this rare opportunity to get a need, a clinical striker that has performed conistently like no other on all stages, that fits our play at the right age and that is affordable at a time when we are told by the club we have money, in order to protect some long-range values driven developmental wishes? I.e. it’s better we take our chances with an injury prone 20 year old from league 2 in Sanogo?

  • Domhuail

    Well that was a nice love in between Bob and A.Stewart, with some interesting stats to back up their mutual admiration society:)……. but the real issue is whether the chemistry that allowed us to do so well in the run-in, will continue to trace its magic next season. Therefore,imho;

    1)Trying to predict how a striker (or any player) will do in the coming season is a bit of a red herring,
    2)Wenger obviously wants to maintain the core of this very successful run-in formation while adding a few new faces, and specifically a new striker from what we are seeing,
    3)A leopard rarely changes its spots and Wenger won’t change his so imho we can expect relatively affordable and unknown additions to AFC over the summer,
    4)Will Walcott continue to improve? Will Cazorla start right up from where he left off? Will Arteta and Ramsey continue their particularly effective partnership? Will Vermaelen return to form? Will Kos and Per continue their scintillating partnership? Will the Szcesny start tomature and perform up to his full potential? Will the OX really start to show his skill and strength next season?

    We can go on forever BUT the real question is how this witch’s brew of player chemistry, team self-confidence and winning mentality we saw at the end be preserved and what effect will it have on any transfers and promotions into the first team for the 2013-14 season. That is why, for a first season, Cazorla,Monreal,Podolski and Giroud did quite well and, as teammates, contributed significantly to Arsenal’s excellent run-in. Sure their goals were often against so-called ¨weaker¨teams but in seasons past AFC have often lost points to these teams (as we did this season)so any victories are improvements.

  • A. Stewart

    Walter I’m assuming that was directed at me, if not I humbly apologize..

    …..”Wenger get us a big man or get out. He only plays dwarfs up front.”
    Not sure who said such absolute nonsense haven’t seen it reflected anywhere in the comments. And actually Wenger doesn’t only play dwarfs up front. Henry, Kanu, Bergkamp, Anelka were anything but.

    …..”Okay I give you Giroud. What? Such a lump.”

    Hey your analysis on Giroud was limited largely to how much goals he scored, and some of your feelings/hunches about his general play, it really lacked depth and context, I think I tried to provide that. Not saying he is a lump, but he’s not the unqualified success that you seem desperate to portray based on his 17 total goals when you predicted 15 or whatever, and I provided lots of in depth reasoning and even comparisons to lesser heralded players who have done better in this also their first season.

    …”You could have given us …er… Carroll… or…er Crouch. All well goal proven strikers from the PL.
    Carroll highest goal scoring season was 17, he wants 100.000 a week and cost 35M
    Crouch scored 12 goals in his top season.”

    Really not sure what the point of that was to be honest..who is asking for crouch, and who really thinks Carroll was worth 35M? Even the average Liverpool fan thought it was nonsense at the time.

    …”Giroud usually scores 15 goals in his first season at a new club. The next he will score at least 25 goals. You can remind me of this at the end of next season.”

    From soccernet:
    06/07 Grenoble (Ligue 2)- 0 goals
    08/09 Tours (Ligue 2)- 13 goals
    09/10 Tours (Ligue 2)- 23 goals
    10/11 Montpellier (Ligue 1) – 12 goals from 38 appearances
    11/12 Montpellier (Ligue 1) – 24 goals from 41 appearances

    Really not sure where you got your stats from but ok.

    I’ll be happy to remind you next season that you were right if Giroud’s scores 25+. Not expecting it (based on analyis and not a hunch)is different from hoping it doesn’t happen in order to be proved right on an internet blog, for if Giroud scores 25 or more, it can only be a good thing for AFC.

  • A. Stewart

    @ Domhuail..ignoring the first paragraph of silliness 🙂

    1)Trying to predict how a striker (or any player) will do in the coming season is a bit of a red herring…

    You may want to tell that to Walter too. Anyway, trying to predict anything be it sport or otherwise is a bit of a red herring, however, it makes for good discussion (which this forum of communication is for) and at least forming an opinion based on a comprehensive analysis of available facts/stats may result in more reasonable judgments over hunches and wishes.

    2)Wenger obviously wants to maintain the core of this very successful run-in formation while adding a few new faces, and specifically a new striker from what we are seeing,

    Unfortunately a season is not a segment of a season, in our past 8 trophyless years, we’ve had successful starts and late season collapses and poor starts and successful closes to the season. Regardless of which way it goes to compete in multiple competitions which a club of our status and wealth arguably should be aiming to do we need more quality. In the last 2 seasons our “successful” run-ins have occurred when we were out of all comps and only had the 4th place trophy left to play for.

    Yes I hope he adds specifically a new striker, and hope it isn’t just Sanogo.

    Regarding Chemistry? Well the chemsitry of this run-in occured only after we were out of everything else,and the chemistry of this team and prevous editions has gotten us CL qualification and nothing else. Perhaps we need more quality in addition to chemistry to bridge the gap? And Wenger is paid big bucks to manage a team, which includes managing personality and balancing personalities with play. He can do it.

    3)A leopard rarely changes its spots and Wenger won’t change his so imho we can expect relatively affordable and unknown additions to AFC over the summer,

    I completely agree, though I hope I’m wrong (and he goes for the no-brainer situation of Higuain for example), but sadly I think Wenger may have in his mind already “addressed” the striking issue with Sanogo, and may further do so with some relatively unknown kid over the summer.

    4)Will Walcott continue to improve? Will Cazorla start right up from where he left off? Will Arteta and Ramsey continue their particularly effective partnership? Will Vermaelen return to form? Will Kos and Per continue their scintillating partnership? Will the Szcesny start tomature and perform up to his full potential? Will the OX really start to show his skill and strength next season?

    No-one can tell the future. So who knows really.

    5)We can go on forever BUT the real question is how this witch’s brew of player chemistry, team self-confidence and winning mentality we saw at the end be preserved and what effect will it have on any transfers and promotions into the first team for the 2013-14 season.

    I don’t think that is the real question at all, chemistry is surely important and part of success, but, more quality is an equally if not more important measure for achieving success if one defines it as winning and really competing on multiple fronts as opposed to looking at just a “successful” segment of a season which again, we’ve had before be it at the beginning or end of many of the past several trophyless seasons.

  • Pat

    Good article, Walter. I agree. All three have done well, much better than might have been expected for three players new to the English Premier League.

  • Adam

    bob, did you mean this?

    History mate! I’m more of a “London pride” pint man anyway, but do love a Czech Budvar, Still amazes me that people think Budweiser is originally American.

    Walter, I think the likes of Walcott can still learn from Cazorla and his work rate. We are getting better a pressing, but the Cazorla’s of this world make it look easy, positional intelligence he has in abundance, that’s why the Shawcross’s of our league are ineffective against him.

    Collective pressing is still something we need to work on, some players still don’t know when to press and when its time for a breather. But we are improving, its how I like to see a team play without the ball, press and steal.

  • A. Stewart

    I gotta run, great discussion today guys.

    Domhuail I find your thoughts on the chemsitry issue with regards specifically to the run-in and how that will/should specifically influence summer activity, pretty interesting.

    Howeover, in addition to me belieiving you shouldn’t read too much into the “chemsitry” of that run in by extrapolating it to a bigger context based on it only occurring (again) after we were out of eveything else, with nothing left to do but consolidate for 4th…I further think you shouldn’t make too much of that chemsitry and thereby possibly justifying reduced summer activity beccause let’s be real here, the vast majority of the 10-game unbeaten run-in was against poor teams.. including the 3 relegated sides, a just-safe Newcastle with their manager openly saying he didn’t care what happened in our game, some mid-table fodder and an already crowned Champion in United, with many uninspiring/lucky performances along the way during that spell.

    Yes, it’s admirable because we were pragmatic, defensively sound and did what we needed to do to secure 4th, and admirable in context to our rough start to the season..

    …but I’m not sure I would be ready to draw too many conclusions about chemistry/performance etc. specifically from that run-in, in the sense of extrapolating and applying it to a broader context on how we can compete (on multiple fronts) next season, and/or what our summer activity should or shouldn’t be as a direct result of that ten game stretch which comprises just part of a 38 game league season and 50+ game total season, of which the exit from several of the competitions comprising the 50+ having a direct positive effect on the particular 10-game stretch.

  • bjtgooner


    I basically agree with you about team chemistry, it’s not something which should be underestimated. But, just to be sure we are on the same page can you outline all the aspects of play which you feel team chemistry impinges upon. Thanks.

  • Arun

    @ A. Stewart
    Some brilliant work there. I agree with you on Giroud that his performances against the top teams have been poor and except against 10 man tottenham, he failed to score against any of the top 6 teams in the league.
    His conversion rate of 10.3% is below the average conversion rate of a premier league striker which is about 16%(acc. to @orbinho). His ability to convert chances at crucial times have hurt us and I will list a few from my memories here.
    1. Against Sunderland in the last stages of the match after a glorious through ball by Cazorla
    2. Against Stoke when he refused to pass the ball to Ramsey and shot himself which went off target.
    3. Agaisnt Man C home when he missed target with a header, at about 75 minutes.
    4. Against Chelsea away, right before they scored the first goal.
    5. Against Everton home, he missed at least 2 clear cut chances.

  • Arun

    All three have done well, much better than might have been expected for three players new to the English Premier League
    I will focus only on Giroud and Podolski.
    Wenger said this after the departure of RVP: “Giroud and Podolski were originally intended to offset the departure of Van Persie. It’s never great to lose players of that quality but he only had a year contract so we do not have a choice.”
    Ignoring their impact in the big matches, they still lose to him in statistics. They both scored 22 goals in the league combined, RVP had 30. They had 13 assists in the league whereas RVP had 9. So, in total RVP contributed to 39 league goals in 2011-12 campaign whereas Giroud and Podolski contributed to 35 in 2012-13.
    So, I disagree that Giroud and Podolski have done well this season.

  • bob

    Well said, Arun.
    Having said that, I suspect Domhuail will add you to the “love fest” that he can’t bear in the list that starts with A Stewart and myself. That’s what happens when actual analysis comes into play, as opposed to the entrenched faith in the old bromides. Can we do better than Giroud? Imo, yes. Can insisting on Giroud’s development obstruct our getting better? Imo, yes. Blind faith does no one any good. But it is the hardest kind of faith to dislodge. COYG, the only article of faith that matters.

  • bob

    “than might have been expected for three players new to the English Premier League.”
    Have you read/digested a word of A Stewart’s critique? Or do you just agree with Walter (who I love and esteem for his courage and acumen in calling out the refshite as well as his taste in beers) because he’s worth agreeing with?

  • bob

    I appreciate your asking for more clarification on the elusive but real notion of chemistry. The more detail, the better for wrapping our heads around the issues that matter to fans. These issues do, so I join you in waiting for Domhuail’s reply. I’ll have learned a good deal and do want that. Our egos are all in the way of better understandings, to say the obvious. Cheers 🙂

  • Stuart

    I admire that you have provided a very thorough and factual analysis of where Giroux goals have come from but you don’t provide the same detail for RVPs goals whom you are claiming to be far superior. Perhaps you could provide the same detail on RVPs last season to prove if he did or did not make or break games for us.

  • Stuart

    Has anyone else noticed that autocorrect changes RVP to EGO?

  • bob

    My London mates have in fact introduced me to the real Bud! Danke! I vud unlee vish dat dat vas de Bud dat Das Ligue ist climt een two bed vit. Acccch! Bottoms up, mate! (Sorry, Dom, another love fest!)

  • bob

    the vast majority of the 10-game unbeaten run-in was against poor teams.. including the 3 relegated sides
    A Stewart, Dom,
    And that run was being played within the Premiereship only, without the depletions and distractions of other competitions any more. So a massive extrapolation to justify an unambitious program of almost standing pat is both habitual and, in competitive terms, quite reckless in my opinion.

  • bob

    I tried autocorrect with Giroud, and mine came up with “keep, but upgrade.” Funny how these computers read our wishes.

  • Stuart

    A.Stewart re:
    “Michu, Benteke, Le Fondre and Lambert all in this their first PL season also, scored more than Giroud..with less quality service around them too.”

    This could really be a more balanced comment and take into account the fact that Giroud is in a team with several high scorers and whether or not that is the case with the players you mentioned and their respective teams.

  • Asif

    @Mandy – thanks!

  • Arun

    you don’t provide the same detail for RVPs goals whom you are claiming to be far superior. Perhaps you could provide the same detail on RVPs last season to prove if he did or did not make or break games for us

    Well, only from the memories, he scored a hat-trick at Chelsea. Scored against manu both away and home, was denied a goal against manc away due to a poor offside decision, scored against the totts at home, scored a stoppage time volley against Liverpool, a magnificent volley against Everton at home.
    My honest question to you is do you really not remember all these goals or do you really not want to remember all these goals???

  • Arun

    Continuing my post at 6:27
    6. Missed a glorious chance to equalize against Bayern in the home leg before they scored the third goal. It was a cross from the right side by Walcott which was created by a brilliant pass by Rosicky who had just come on.

  • bjtgooner

    Guys – I am always concerned when one of our players comes under sustained criticism, so lets cut the Giroud some slack.

    It is all to easy to sit at home (or at work in some cases) analyzing statistics or playing football manager and a hell of a lot harder to perform out in the middle.

    I expect Giroud to score a lot more next season, lets hope I am right.

  • bob

    Surely you’re being very naughty! You will soon have advanced an analysis that is both quantitative and qualitative:
    not only is there a goals:shots conversion rate; but also a qualitative analysis of missed game changing opportunities.
    At least for me, these are not grounds to get rid of Giroud; but rather to stop the hints and allegations and dismissals and obstructions to expressions that in order to compete at the very top, we need and should spend on a top quality striker. That Giroud might be a necessary ingredient; but not sufficient to meet the need. The RVP factor is now a red herring. The fact is we need this ingredient (among a few others) to ring the bell. I’d like to hear anyone’s (particularly Tony and/or Walter’s specific) replies to what A. Stewart and you have compiled here, which I’m fully on side with. Let’s leave the egos out, folks; and see if we can look to the facts of the matter and move toward actual advocacy?

  • bob

    It’s Walter and Tony who have continually set the quantitative / statistical standard as what matters; and who have directly or indirectly used it for some form of basically stand pat and let’s see and let’s not get out ahead of the club. This isn’t Giroud bashing; it’s saying we need more, and shouldn’t use Giroud’s potential development as a/the reason not to go for high to top value in the striker department of this window. Anyone, this is to you with respect. We can sift through facts, methinks, or be cows and coach potatoes only, and call it loyalty.

  • bob

    p.s. meant to write Anyway, (not Anyone)

  • Arun

    I remember that you asked me about a comparison b/w Villa and HIguain on another article which I wasn’t able to reply, so I am doing it here.
    I think that Villa is past his prime. His finishing is still great but lacks the pace of old. He is already 31 and returned from a big injury layoff only at the start of the season. His whoscored rating is also not good, only 6.31 in the Champions league and an improved 6.76 in the league. Comapring to Higuain who has the ratings as 6.59 and 7.23 in the CL and the league respectively.
    So, I will prefer Higuain over Villa because of his age. Also, his goals/shot ratio is very good. Comparing the different strikers, we have:
    Player Goals/Shots(Only league goals) Shots per goal
    Higuain 16/56 3.50
    Villa 10/45 4.50
    Giroud 11/107 9.72
    Suarez 23/187 8.13
    RVP 26/141 5.42
    Ba 13/89(Newcastle) & 2/46(Chelsea) 6.84 & 23
    Messi 46/163 3.54
    Benzema 11/64 5.82
    Michu 18/110 6.1
    Benteke 19/104 5.47
    Lambert 15/94 6.27
    Le Fondre 12/55 4.58
    Walcott 14/87 6.17
    Podolski 11/54 4.91
    Jovetic 13/113 8.69
    Cavani 29/156 5.37
    Ronaldo 34/235 6.91
    So, the worst performers when it comes to converting chances are Giroud, Suarez and Jovetic. Suarez does a lot more than scoring goals, so he can be forgiven. I have never seen Jovetic play but his stats don’t impress me. The other one is our main striker.

  • Arun

    I don’t know how the formatting was messed up during the publishing. But hopefully the data can be still easily understood.

  • Domhuail

    Arun I have officially added you to the love-in, which now become a love orgy once there are more than 2 participating!:))
    Team chemistry, imho, for those who are asking for my understanding and more detailed aspects of its essence, are:

    1)The personal and professional relationship between all players who are starting the game. It includes but is not limited to personal likes/dislikes, emotional maturity and stability between teammates, and inherent feelings of jealousy, pride, tolerance, support and caring for ones’ teammates.
    2)It is the sharing of mutual Football goals, regardless of which role a teammate assumes. It also includes a shared sense of pride and sense of history surrounding the club…some Clubs have this more than others.
    3)It extends into civilian life and impacts the team when players participate in charity,social and publicity activities together, or fail to do so or with little commitment and enthusiasm.
    4)It includes individual players’ relationships with the manager, coaching staff and administrators. A simple mercenary arrangement, where the player sees his stay at the Club as a sinecure or a self-promotional event, soon to be ended, once he is charmed away to a ¨better¨ Club, is the antithesis of team chemistry.
    5) Trust, belief and faith in the leadership on and off the field of the senior,experienced and appointed captain/vice-captain(s) and unheralded leaders contribute significantly to a positive team chemistry.
    6)It includes a sense of personal and team responsibility when things go well or don’t. This leads to either a ¨no surrender¨ attitude that quickly energizes the team or if absent, an abject submission and acceptance of defeat.
    7) Finally,a shared connectivity and linking up between otherwise disparate players, many of whom don’t speak a common tongue well, but who are still able to communicate effectively at a more subtle level on the field, thanks to this chemistry and understanding.

    I don’t want to overdo this analysis,but the above points only touch the surface of an enormously mystical and ill-understood psychological and spiritual bonding that occurs when team chemistry is present or in its absence, a dysfunctional and excessively mechanical going-through-the -motions experience.
    My belief is that, like a jigsaw, it takes a while to ¨solve¨ the puzzle and many pieces are required before it all fits together….this is definitely Arsenal’s case. The difference is that a team is a dynamic puzzle that keeps shifting as the circumstances change.
    A.Stewart and Bob…..I sincerely hope that we bring in a few top,top quality and expensive players who are leaders and winners but one has to be realistic….if it doesn’t fit into Wenger’s philosophy and system, he won’t do it so I’m more pragmatic….but we will see!

  • bjtgooner


    Appreciate your comments – sifting through the facts is fine, we all do that, but we don’t want to take it to a level where a player feels he does not have our confidence – there are too many sites already looking for any excuse to undermine the team.

    When sifting and then going public with that sift it is important to find the right place to draw the line.

  • Arun

    I think that all this analysis is to be taken in a positive sense. We are not trying to single out a particular player as a reason of our failure but are analyzing where we can improve next season. I’m pretty sure Giroud, being a professional footballer, is aware of this weakness of his game and he will be working on it. Whether his work will produce results is a completely different question and open to debate.

  • A. Stewart

    What a brilliant discussion today, I am pleasantly surprised by the lack of vitriol in responses (particularly from bjtgooner 🙂 just kidding friend)..

    @ Stuart, I’ll get back to you on your requests..
    And yes you can look at Giroud’s case that way i.e. surrounded with more high scorers and arguably team less singularly focused on him than bigger fish in smaller ponds. However, I think the poor conversion rate, and poor record (quantitatively and qualitatively) of clear chances missed against the very same league opposition as Benteke, Michu, Lambert, LeFondre etc. doesn’t put him in a better light…

    It’s not like he’s been starved of chances, he’s had plenty, and probably from players who can give him better service, I’ll look it up (if I do and I’m wrong I’ll say so), but I’m sure he hasn’t suffered for total number of shots / shots on goal in comparison to those others.

    I really get what you are saying, and that way of looking at the Giroud case, but I don’t think it really applies to him in this instance, he’s just not been very good at converting the sheer large number of chances he gets, and the type of “easy” chances he’s gotten, and has not shown up in big games, close games nor have his stats been very decisive.

  • A. Stewart


    I second your message to bjtgooner..

    No-one is picking on Giroud, this post was intended to specifically review his (and others’) season performance, and was done so largely from a statistical (incomplete imo) angle initially from Walter.

    Therefore, obviously people are going to use this thread for what it was specifically intended for, i.e. discuss and analyze Giroud’s (and the others’) performance, and discussing may yield varying conclusions and different ways of analyzing the situation, as it has.

    And as Arun said he’s a professional and must be aware of where he has to improve, and if a player is so mentally weak that he is confidently affected by such non-vitriolic but rather pragmatic discussion amongst some blogs in his fan base, then he isn’t mentally tough enough to play at a big club…(and I doubt Giroud is that mentally weak that he would feel hurt by such a discussion, at least I give him more credit that that.)

  • bjtgooner


    Thank you for outlining your take on team chemistry. I fully agree with this eloquent explanation – in more general terms it will impact positively on team spirit and the desire for players to work for each other and to help and support each other.

    I am surprised that some people do not seem to fully understand the importance of such chemistry – something which any sensible manager (not just in sport) tries to achieve.

  • Persian gunner

    Fantastic read guys!
    Thank you all!

    And dear Stewart
    I beilve Mr Wenger is going to bring that clinical striker, and Songo is not the only one
    Because we can see a lot of players are now getting released ( both aged players and young talented ones ) so there would be room and money saved for new purchase

  • Great article Walter. I am currently in Barcelona trying to sort out one or two issues, and it was really good finally to relax in the evening and see Untold not only still going, but doing such an interesting review.


  • Pat

    Usually, Bob, I don’t read A. Stewart’s contributions – as is my right, by the way. They are too long and too negative.

    But to try to be fair, I read the one at 9.11.

    In my opinion, it unfairly nit picks on Giroud’s performance.

    I repeat, for a first season in the English Premier League, I think Giroud’s (and Podolski’s) records of goals and assists are commendable.

    To compare two players new to the premier league with RVP’s BEST season for us – after several years – is neither fair nor objective.

    Anyway, I don’t feel like criticizing our players. I prefer to support them, and let the coaching staff, the players themselves and the growing dynamic of the team achieve further improvements.

  • Mark

    I agree Giroud had a good first season. I thing if he can be a bit more clinical in his finishing he could be scoring 20 or more goals because he as the service and he is in the right positions. But that he misses often is a concern.

    With the three confirmed to be leaving I think we can expect to see three come in: an attacker, mid-fielder and defender. But these new ones might come from within too!

  • bob

    Cheers, Dom. Great and eloquent stuff. Fingers and toes being crossed for the best quality blend.

    I’m so happy to be part of such a smart and well-intentioned group effort, so applaud our chemistry in the depth and quality and mutual space of our exploration. Really exciting.

  • americangooner

    A.stewart has provided a thorough anlaysis of giroud’s “stats”. It does not however make him a not so good striker. Although he plays the CF, it seems that walcott prevails over him on important matches. This is down, i think, because giroud does not play the high line, which was intructed to him by AW. He is not the guy who is being marked by the opposition last defence.
    someone, on a blog, pointed out that walcott plays a high line more than any other player, followed by cazorla.One reason could be that giroud gets back to defending set pieces being a taller guy, whereas walcott rarely tracks back. walcott also abandons the Right back, which led, to two badly missed passes by sagna(manu home) & jenkinson(swansea home). Whenever arsenal tries to make a counter attack walcott is involved most often, while giroud needs to run all the way from our end to opposition end to help in the attack. This could be the reason that giroud does not score in matches involving the top 6 teams cause he has to help in defending.
    Another reason could be the lack of a mid-field player who can set a faster tempo. when no one steps forward to take charge in midfield, giroud moves closer to our half in order to fetch the ball, since no one is driving forward and no one is providing him the ball. this is none so evident in norwich and manu matches. from the right hand sagna has been poor on providing a good enough crosses. although walcott’s assist to giroud is higher than to others, walcott tends to morph into the central position forcing either podolski, who is more of a FW(L) than a Winger, or giroud to move wider.
    Amazingly in all the matches walcott has scored we have only lost once, against chelsea.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Talking of beers ,any truth to this one ?

    The European Union (EU) has granted a permit to an Austrian brewery to use officially the controversial name of their beer:

    Fucking Hell.

    It is a fully legitimate permit.

    “Hell” in German means “Light”

    and the beer is produced in the Austrian town of Fucking.


  • Va Cong

    @arun, A. Stewart,
    It’s funny how you compare giroud to rvp, rvp 8 years while first season at arsenal . The difference also is play was centered around rvp when he scored so much. This season giroud will score more as there will be more preparation and he will be up to speed just like kolscieny to the PL. And then the immense pressure of scoring the same as man persie on his first season will be lessened to an extent so once relaxed giroud will score more!

  • Va Cong

    Also Walcott has been more selfish on the right

  • Va Cong

    Pint of fucking hell…

  • Stuart

    Not really, I’m just asking for a data driven analysis rather than assumption based on memories of the good points.

  • Stuart

    Sorry, pressed enter a bit early then.

    …assumption based on memories of the good points of the players people like and the bad points of players people don’t like

  • Arun

    @Va Cong
    It’s funny how you compare giroud to rvp, rvp 8 years while first season at arsenal.
    It seems like that you didn’t read the Wenger quote regarding replacing RVP with Poldi & Giroud. Anyway, I see it as a comparison of our attacking options for the last two seasons.

  • Arun

    There will still be ambiguities regarding what a key chance is and what is not. It will vary from person to person.