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June 2021

What would Arsenal be like now if the club had dumped Wenger and brought in Pep Guardiola

by Tony Attwood

Last season Paul Merson wrote an article for the Daily Express in which he said that Arsene Wenger must be sacked if the Tiny Totts or Leicester win the Premier League.

It was a most curious piece in that it seemed to imply that all the clubs near the top of the table should have their managers removed – and indeed several did.  In the end all three clubs that won things removed their manager.

Throughout much of that season the media also ran articles on who the next Arsenal manager should be – the one on 15 October 2015 in the Mirror was typical – for at the top of their list was Pep Guardiola.  As we know he went to Manchester City – a club that has just been donated the best youth facilities in the world by its grateful owner, and has the resources of much of the world’s gas supply behind it.

The review of Guardiola suggested that him being at Arsenal (which they said was possible) “certainly seems a good fit on paper.  Guardiola’s love for total football is shared by the Gunners faithful, and his penchant for winning trophies also wouldn’t go a miss.”

Others on the list were Ronald Koeman, Roberto Martinez, Remi Garde and Patrick Vieira.

Of course we don’t know where we would have been with any of those guys running the show, but it is interesting to think about how we would have been doing under Guardiola.

But it seems Man City are currently heading for a top four finish, which has been so loudly decried by those who want Mr Wenger out – the demand being for winning the league or challenging to do so until the last few weeks.  City are not doing that.

Or (for Arsenal) doing well in the Champions League, and City are not doing that either, as they have gone out to Monaco, just as we did a while back.

Interesting Mr G has not accepted his own shortcomings as a reason for the failure of City as the headline “Pep Guardiola refuses to blame tactics for Man City defeat against Monaco as he pins fault on forwards” in the Telegraph reveals.

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Some papers are more cutting however, with the Mail saying “Spineless City throw it away: Monaco take advantage of first-half no-show and late lapse to dump Pep out of Champions League”   Actually they are particularly harsh saying elsewhere ‘Manchester City have no commander on the pitch… their defending was pathetic!’

That was exactly the criticism that has been  thrown at Arsenal for many of the recent seasons.

The Guardian is more measured saying that City “merited their mauling,” and they speak of “City’s toothless strike force”.

In fact it is worth contemplating a bit more of the Guardian’s piece…

It was (they say) “a display utterly lacking in snap and bite, cohesion and even conviction. Elimination on away goals gives the impression this tie was tight, and there was anxiety for the home side to endure in the last quarter for all that City effectively held the ascendancy for only six minutes. But the memory that will linger of these two matches will not be that rat-a-tat of goals in the last 20 minutes at the Etihad but the manner in which the visitors were overwhelmed in the opening period of the return.”

So if Arsenal had swapped Mr Wenger for Mr Guardiola maybe the result might not have been much different.  Yes they are heading for a top four finish, but I am told that is not a trophy.

Now when your family (not your country, your family) owns 10% of the world’s gas supply you tend to develop an attitude that says, “I want everything and I want it now”.  You tend to by-pass such minor details as democracy, freedom of speech, a free media, political parties,  the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the Convention against Torture, and go in more for forced disappearances, abductions, illegal detention, flogging, stoning, and that sort of thing.  That’s just how it goes in Abu Dhabi.

Last season the representative of the owner said, “I think all of us came with high expectations for this season,   I think, at the end of the day, I cannot hide the disappointment of myself, obviously Sheikh Mansour, I know the fans of the club and I’m sure the entire team.

“I’m absolutely excited about Pep joining our team.  I consider Pep to be one of the best, if not the best, manager today in football. We are getting a manager who epitomises passion and commitment. He’s a proven winner … a passionate man, someone who I think will be an incredible asset to Manchester City.

“I have no doubt he will transform our team to a new level.”

Oh dear.

Forced disappearances, abductions, illegal detention, flogging, stoning…

By the standards used to measure past failings, Guardiola has failed.    Mr Wenger is often told he has got his team selection wrong, but Guardiola is much the same.  He dropped Sergio Aguero against Barcelona in October and lost 4-0 (a result written out of history by many journalists now that they have Arsenal to bash).  He changed Joe Hart for Claudio Bravo, (apparently known in the north as “The Hologram.”)

Some talk of Arsenal’s “defensive shortcomings” but that is nothing compared to some displays by “City”.  And much can be put down to getting tactics wrong.   The Guardian was particularly scathing about his selecting Fernandinho as his only defensive midfielder, resulting in them being “far too open”.

So how could this most famous and successful of managers who has managed  Barcelona and Bayern, and won so much failed to deliver for Man City?

It would be interesting to know if the aaa answer by saying “it takes time” – because if they do that should be remembered if the next Arsenal manager does not deliver straight off.   But maybe there is something else that can explain Leicester’s failure in the league but success in Europe.  Guardiola’s failure at Man City with all that money and disregard for rights that the owners have, after such success in Germany and Spain.  Could it be the two club league in Spain and the one club league in Germany?

And maybe that all says something for the choice of Arsenal’s next manager and the expectations the aaa and their arrogant amnesiac friends in some parts of the media.   And if we had brought in Guardiola now how would things be?  Still in the Champs League?  Going for the old top four finish?


This season the refereeing of 160 PL games was analysed in detail with video evidence. This is what we found.

45 comments to What would Arsenal be like now if the club had dumped Wenger and brought in Pep Guardiola

  • Here’s an interesting take on exactly what Arsenal need to do to win the league. Honestly it’s like I’m reading a write up from last year.

  • A

    Paul merson makes a mockery of being a pundit. Too be honest most of them do . They all seem to criticize Wenger easily but they seem to forget that it’s the board who are responsible also. Yes arsene does have too much faith for some players who don’t deserve it. But each year the board comes out with the same statement – yes we are financially stable we have money in the bank but that money is not for transfers alone. Players contracts is one of the major expenditures. But yet Wenger takes all the flack. He does seriously need to address the need for 7 of his playing staff . But any manager coming into arsenal is not going to get anymore funds than Wenger has. The club for the 12 years has relied on Wenger to get them into the top 4. With out that – we wouldn’t have the lucrative sponsorship deals and ozil and Sanchez. It’s that black and white . The players and they know who they are should come out and apologise for there performances. It’s hard to believe that apart from Chamberlain the rest of midfield has offered a solution to Cazorla. Yes Cazorla is very unique but if they play to a system and discipline they can still be effective .

  • DataVizuals

    It’s been reported recently that Arsenal are looking for a Sporting director and I think in lieu of an immediate manager change to achieve success, this is a great move.

    Wenger’s football is not the problem. We all know how thrilling and dominant Wengerball in full swing can be, but an issue that has certainly been present in recent seasons has been sub-optimal squad management (at other clubs the job of the director).

    Examples of said issues are the failure to move on and replace Arteta and Flamini sooner (I’m not including Rosicky here because I doubt many gunners minded having him around anyway).

    And currently, the same thing appears to be happening with our forwards: Only two of our forwards good enough to start aren’t at the age when output starts to drop, Danny Welbeck, 26, and The Ox, 23 and while the former might be in the prime age range for a forward currently, there’s no telling what impact his two serious injuries in the past 2 years will have. Theo, Alexis, Lucas are all 28 and Giroud is 30. Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom are not good enough and Asano is a Wenger gamble that we aren’t sure yet will pay out. But when asked by the media in January if Arsenal will be looking for a forward in the transfer window, Wenger listed the aforementioned options and said we’re stocked. Therein lies the problem.

    As the manager, Wenger is the face of the club so he speaks to the media, but at Arsenal he also functions as director and directors don’t usually have weekly press conferences where they discuss squad issues. Wenger can’t truthfully analyse his squad for the media then face players he may have drained the confidence of in training. Mourinho does that and it evidently gets old quickly. Wenger protects his players, but then he can’t say one thing to the press and the players as manager and do another as director.

    Wenger being both manager and Sporting Director at Arsenal has been problematic. It’s a conflict of interest for him and it affects his decision making, and secondly it distracts from his main task which is getting the best players to play their best football on field.

    When Arsenal moved stadiums and Dein left and so the club didn’t have a director. Wenger had also tied his future to the club’s to help Arsenal secure the loan for the stadium. He decided then to absorb the duties of director because if he was going to be saddled with someone’s recruitment mistakes he would rather they be his own.

    But after the acquisition of StatsDNA it’s highly unlikely that Arsenal will make mistakes in the transfer market in future. So it’s the right time for the club to get a director again to ensure the squad remains optimal and let the manager just focus on football.

  • Polo

    I only have praise for Pep because like AW he stick to his philosophy of attacking football. Managers like AW,Pep, Klopp, Tuchel and so forth should be highly praise and supported as they’re all attacking football minded. I hope that these type of managers succeed because it would be awful to see park the bus type football taking hold of the game more.

    On AW, the more I hear his reply to the media about his future at Arsenal, the more confident I am that he will sign a new contract extension. I understand that if the media keep talking about Arsenal it is good for publicity and sponsorship but come on AW stop this publicity stunt and sign the contract.

  • Norman14

    I actually don’t think the squad is too far off, provided we keep Ozil and Sanchez. The best way to keep them, is to get two or three top quality players – such as Griezman and Mbappa. Also, stop this ridiculous policy of not buying players becaus ethey are over 30. For example, Chelsea are looking at Sergio Ramos as a replacement for John Terry. That means either one of Cahill/Luiz/Zouma are going to miss out or Ramos isn’t guaranteed a start. Then there’s Ake who has covered quite well.

    So why can’t we look at a shorter term solution at the back, whilst we get Chambers and Holding up to speed? Also, we have 5 keepers – the worst of whom, in my opinion, is the number one. Sort that out. Unlike many, I don’t think Monreal is a problem.

    So, next season we could line up something like:

    Bellerin Ramos Koz Monreal
    Ozil Xhaka Ox
    Griezman Alexis Mbabba/Welbeck

  • Jimbo

    It was great to see Wenger calling the WOBs foolish halfwits who change their opinions daily in his pre match press conference,sadly deleted for the official release.

  • Menace

    Norman14 – I like the philosophy but I would move our youngsters to the team rather than buy additional players. It is amazing how soon players adapt & gel in a team. Both Holding & Chambers are quality players & need some team time to develop understanding. The front line play a slow passing attack but I rather enjoyed the Monaco pace & with hit & hope comes luck. It is a good alternative when the opportunity exists.

    Wengers players are always of high calibre & need team time to shine. I am sure with the right initiatives most of our younger players will shine. Players that we see in other teams look good but may not suit the current Arsenal style.

  • Nitram


    I think it’s a bit harsh to say buying players over 30 is a “stupid policy”.

    The fact is, it has been a necessary part of Wengers/Arsenals requirement to balance the books. We still have to budget, just to a lesser degree.

    Whenever Wenger bought a player he always had to consider his ‘sell on’ value. Buying an expensive player at the end of his career was never going to happen whilst he needed to do that.

    It was for that same reason that Wenger was reluctant to give contracts of any length to incumbent players of that type of age.

    As painful as it was to sell many of our players whilst still performing well, Wenger needed to get a return on his assets. The art was letting them go when there value was still high but there wasn’t too many seasons left at the top.

    Sometimes he got it right. Sometimes wrong, often on those occasions the player himself took it out of his hands.

    Okay, we are not so hamstrung now, so we may well see the arrival of some older players that are still performing well, but it’s still a risk, because we still have to work to a budget.

    That will apply to keeping players for longer, and therefore severely diminishing there return. Yes I think we will see that a bit more, but it’s still something we have to think about.

    We have a budget, and that is where I think some people, I’m not saying you Norman, but some people, fail to acknowledge how different that makes it for us in the transfer market compared to those who can buy who they want, when they want, at any age, as well as hanging on top layers into there dotage, because they can just keep printing money whenever they need to.

    What you have to remember is that for years, to do that, Clubs like Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea (though admittedly not quite so much the last 4 or 5 years) Madrid, Barcelona etc. have been posting loses in the transfer market of around £50 Million per season. That is an enormous amount of money.

    What’s more it’s done without risk.

    We couldn’t, and still cannot do anything like that.

    Yes, we have more money and could, I repeat could, consider bringing in, or keeping on to older players, but it still has to be well thought out, and for us it IS a risk.

    So as I say, a bit harsh.


    I must say I like the look of your team. Whether it will happen or not is another matter.

  • Josif


    About the two-club league part… Can you please find:

    1) league table of La Liga in 2007-08, a season before Pep took over at Barcelona,

    2) list of transfers made between two seasons,

    3) league table of La Liga in 2008-09?

    Thank you.

    Manchester City ended up fourth last season and edged out Manchester United for Champions League football on a goal-difference. If English football had been giving advantage to a head-to-head record, United would have ended fourth. Now, City are just behind Spuds on a goal-difference and that’s mostly because the referees don’t like “Wenger light” a lot more than they like “Wenger original” (they do prefer him over Arsene though as they have shown us in our game vs City).

    Guardiola is similar to Arsene in many ways. He sticks to his idealistic approach and doesn’t make rotten compromises. He is a pupil of Johann Cruyff’s school of football and as a player, Pep was a bit of Cruyff’s protege. I think Jambug once pointed out it’s a shame Guardiola didn’t wait for Arsene’s retirement to take over at Arsenal but took the easier way (= billions in City). Two of his big purchases at City (Stones, Sane) suggest he believes in young talents and is ready to develop them. Hell, even playing Kolarov in the middle of the defence reminds a lot of Arsene’s idea of playing Nacho there in the absence of our central defenders.

  • Nitram

    Sorry, that first line should read:….NOT buying players over 30 is a “stupid policy”.

  • Norman14


    I agree up to a point. However, I’d say there are exceptions (like United/Ibra).

    I don’t think we should be ignoring players just because they are over 30 – and they can encourage/assist the younger ones to improve.

    I mean, would you turn down CR7 just because he’s over 30?

    BTW, how much would we SAVE by keeping both Ozil and Sanchez, by bringing in a couple more stars?

  • Nitram


    I cant give you individual transfers but I looked at there overall spending recently and this is what I found.

    The season before Pep arrived, 2007/08 Barcelona spent £45 Million (Net) in the transfer market and finished 3rd.

    Peps record:

    08/09 Spent £75 Million Net and won La Liga.

    09/10 Spent £75 Million Net and won La Liga.

    10/11 Spent £16 Million Net and won La Liga.

    11/12 Spent £11 Million Net and won La Liga.

    Average spend of £45 Million per season.

    So quite some spending, but it does have to be measured against Real Madrid’s spending at that time which was I believe around double that.

  • Nitram


    I agree it could now happen, but it’s still a tricky balance.

    I just thought calling it a ‘stupid policy’ was a bit harsh, given our circumstances.

  • Leon

    It’s hardly likely that Arsenal would have “dumped” Wenger, and I don’t know where that came from, but waiting for him to call it a day himself has been a bit of a drawn out process, so the most successful manager/coach in the modern game has made his own choices. He’s taken over already achieving teams with each job (Barca, BM, City) and a move to Arsenal would have been more challenging than any of the previous three.
    I’d liked to have seen it happen as I don’t think Wenger now has anything to offer other than the occasional domestic cup win.
    Looks as though he’ll be signing on for another couple of years at least, so let’s make the best of it.

  • Nitram

    Real Madrids Net spend over the 4 years of Peps stint at Barcelona was £260 Million compared to his £177 Million.

    So quite a difference.

    Plus they also had a Net spend of £70 Million the season before.

    Barcelona 5 year Net spend: £220 Million.

    Real Madrid 5 Year Net Spend: £330 Million.

    These figures are mind boggling and people think we should of been beating these teams.

  • Leon

    There’s rumour of Pep getting £150 million to rebuild the team next season.
    Depends how much he can recover in out going fees, but however you look at it that’s some transfer budget.

  • Leon

    ….and Ox-Chamberlain is the only Arsenal player to make the England squad for the friendly against Germany. They must be saving Theo for a more difficult match.

  • porter

    but waiting for him to call it a day himself has been a bit of a drawn out process,

    Leon it smacks of the tail wagging the dog.

  • Will our next manager win the league in his first 13 years, that long since we won it, will the next manager win the Champions League….how long since we won it…..Arsene was a hard act to follow maybe 10 years ago, every year that goes by dilutes the previous triumphs when judged under arsens’s watch….getting on a par with Terry Neil on the last decade…

  • In answer to where would we be with Pep. A lot better than we are at the moment…a hell of a lot.

  • Norman14

    Viera for DoF anyone?

  • Leon

    Norman 14
    Would he be any good at it?

  • Leon

    Tim Stillman is comparing the clubs current situation to upgrading to the next iOS on your iPhone.
    As if it were that easy.

  • Knobby

    Man U drop the first choice keeper, not a spec of criticism shock!
    BT sports experts tonight Owen Hargreaves (ex man u) Little Michael Owen (ex man u), Robbie Salvage (ex man u).
    Just to assist in the constant brainwashing.

  • Knobby

    HT the great Man U 0…. Some team from Russia that cannot afford grass seed 0..

  • Nitram


    Pep is managing a team that’s had £230 Million (Net) spent on it over the last 2 years, £165 Million (Net) of that, last Summer alone, by Pep himself.

    By the way, that £165 is exactly £165 Million more than the ZERO Net spend of Wenger between our 04/05 and 13/14 FA Cups.

    I mean, if you think about that, I mean really think about that, and still come to the conclusion Wenger was failing during that period then you really are, well, sad.

    Anyway, back to my point.

    We currently lie 6 points behind Man City with a game in hand.

    We have exactly the same Goal difference.

    We have scored 2 goals more than they have.

    We are both out of Europe.

    Neither of us won the League cup.

    We play each other in the semi final of the FA Cup.

    I fail to see how that equates to:

    “In answer to where would we be with Pep. A lot better than we are at the moment…a hell of a lot.”

    But maybe that’s just me.

  • Jimbo

    Wengers still streets ahead of any other managers though sadly he and Arsenal will never get the true credit deserved.It must quite depress him when he sees his England players so overlooked for the national team,because they are apparently out of form yet players from tin pot teams like Southampton,Burnley,West Brom,Tottenham and Everton are picked.The International side in this country have always been a pile of shite with their tedious closing down hoof ball game no wonder spud, victim fc and manure players are so popular,I hope Germany tear sad Engerland a new un next week..

  • Menace

    Leon – like Wenger, you don’t have to make the best of it. You can change clubs whenever you want.
    However, like Wenger I love Arsenal & would stay with the club no matter what.

  • Menace

    OT – just read that Nasri called Vardy a cheat (BBC sport). So much for the credit Leicester for ‘winning’. I have no issues with a team that wins with quality football but I dislike cheats.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    From my very immense knowledge and ultra smartassness , I can unequivocally and unbashedly say without a shadow of a doubt that Pep would have done much worse . Maybe even flirting with relegation !

    No need for me to furnish any facts , figures , references or to provide any form of supporting arguments .

    Just like ‘them’ types are always wont to do .

  • Leon

    Supporters don’t change clubs.
    Managers come & go. They’re paid to do a job, and a job is all it is for Wenger. I’ve said before (and very recently) that I’m Ok with the occasional FA cup, but seeing as the question was asked (top of the page) I’m giving my opinion (for what it’s worth).

  • Brickfields Gunners

    It’s 1942 and the train is quite crowded, a U.S. Marine walks the entire length looking for a seat, but the only one left was taken by a well-dressed, middle-aged, French woman’s poodle.

    The war-weary Marine asked, ‘Ma’am, may I have that seat?’

    The French woman just sniffed and said to no one in particular, ‘Americans are so rude. My little Fifi is using that seat!’

    The Marine walked the entire train again, but the only seat left was under that dog.

    ‘Please, ma’am. May I sit down? I’m very tired.’

    She snorted, ‘Not only are you Americans rude, you are also arrogant!’

    This time the Marine didn’t say a word; he just picked up the little dog, tossed it out of the train window and sat down.

    The woman shrieked, ‘Someone must defend my honour! This American should be put in his place!’

    An English gentleman sitting nearby spoke up, ” Sir, you Americans seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You hold the fork in the wrong hand. You drive your cars on the wrong side of the road.
    And now, sir, you seem to have thrown the wrong bitch out of the window!!”

  • Nitram

    Brickfields Gunners

    “No need for me to furnish any facts, figures, references or to provide any form of supporting arguments.”


    Neither my view, or your view, that Pep would possibly not do better than Wenger is only a opinion.

    But an opinion is just that, an opinion. Nobodies is any more valid than anybody else’s.

    What gives an opinion validity is supporting evidence or data.

    I supplied that.

    If Klis has evidence to support that he would be doing “….a hell of a lot better than Wenger” then he should produce it.

    I’m still waiting for tom to produce evidence in support of his claim that Ebuoe and Pires “regularly dived to win penalties”, so I’m not holding my breath that Klis will either.

    We’ll see I suppose.

  • Leon

    I’m not supporting Klis, but I’d say that Pep’s recent history of massive successes with BM and before that Barca is evidence enough without resorting to stats which can be manipulated to support ones opinion (not that I’m suggesting that you’d ever do such a thing).
    Sometimes just knowing how good through actually watching football matches a manager/coach is should be evidence enough.
    Ok, so he’s not set the PL on fire so far, but I think given support form his Sheik etc (ahem) he’ll get there.

  • Knobby

    Pep has done well in one or two team leagues, he should be successful at Celtic.

  • Nitram


    So I’ve ‘resorting’ to facts have I? ‘Resorted’? Are you serious??

    You try winning a legal battle without ‘resorting’ to facts, and just relying on your ‘opinion’. You’d be laughed out of court.

    So I’ve ‘manipulated’ those stats have I? And how have I done that exactly?

    “Sometimes just knowing how good through actually watching football matches a manager/coach is should be evidence enough.”

    I’ve watched exactly what you have and think the opposite. Big deal, what does that prove? The difference is I have evidence supporting my conclusion and neither Klis nor you has.

    -Resorted to facts

    -Manipulated statistics

    -I know what I see with my own eyes

    The 3 classic responses you get from people when they have absolutely no evidence or statistics to support there point of view.

    You’re so cliché Leon it’s actually quite funny.

    And of course You’re supporting Klis.

    The only problem is that you are supporting him with your own opinion and nothing else.

  • Tommo

    Leon. I think you’ve mistaken this for a football site. You’re actually in courtroom number 3 at the Old Bailey.

    I’ll be a witness for what you have to say. Makes sense to me.

  • Nitram

    Tommo and Chris

    So now you resort to sarcasm and insults.


  • Leon

    The only opinion that matters on this blog is Nitram’s (AKA Jambug).
    Doesn’t matter how polite you are to him he’ll insult you, unless you agree with his often twisted logic.
    It’s just the way that he is.
    Not that in the greater scheme of things it’s that important really is it?

  • Nitram


    How have I insulted anyone?

    Could you point that insult out for me.

  • Nitram


    “The only opinion that matters on this blog is Nitram’s”

    You really could not be further from the truth.

    My opinion is irrelevant, which is why I take the time and effort to research statistics.

    How can you ever prove a point, or win a debate, if all it ever comes down to is opinion, or the notion that “I know what I see with my own eyes” ?

    We all have our own opinions, and see things in our own unique way, and quite understandably we all think that our opinion, or the way we see things is correct. I think my opinion is right, you think yours is. How are we any different?

    I understand that. None of us are right. None of us are wrong.

    But clearly that cannot be the case because we cannot all be correct.

    So to prove a point, or at least to increase it’s credibility, we must go beyond opinion, or the simple notion that “I know what I see”.

    And how do you do that? You do, or attempt to do that with:




    So to say the only ‘opinion’ that matters is mine could not be further from the truth, and I thought that was clear.

    All I do is post lots of the above in an attempt to support my opinion and you get upset with me. I find it very strange.

  • Hi there Nitram, you seem a bit of a nit wit, are you Menance in disguise…question for you

    Do you love Arsenal or Arsenal more…..

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Rules to live by on here –

    “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” ― Mark Twain

    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― George Carlin

    Never ever engage ‘them’ . They know nuts , but they know not this .
    -Brickfields Gunners .

  • Leon

    ‘Never ever engage ‘them’ . They know nuts , but they know not this .
    -Brickfields Gunners .’

    Absolute proof (as if any were needed ) this this blog will never produce a Mark Twain

  • Nitram

    Brickfields Gunners

    You are of course correct.


    ‘nit wit’

    I see what you’ve done there. Hilarious.