Poor show from Arsenal; but still we have the grand Alexis plan – and it could work rather well.

By Tony Attwood

I must say I think Arsenal.com and via them the club as a whole did us all rather poorly over the match against Bayern.  Licensed to an obscure channel through which one had to pay for a month’s football to watch one’s match, and know that they will put the credit card on a recurring payment… this is not how it should be for a pre-season game.

Arsenal get – and indeed have already got – my season ticket money, and I expect something better than… “you can watch it 24 hours later” for a pre-season friendly.  Coverage on Arsenal Player live and free for all red, silver and gold members should be the norm.

Yes Arsenal got exposure in China, just as it did in Australia.  For everyone else this should be an opportunity for fans to see the club’s youngsters and new players.  Selling the rights to some TV firm whose channel we’ll never look at again… no that is not good PR.

And maybe it was just me that missed the fact that in the event of a draw there would be penalties.  After all for much of the time I was following the game with a Spanish commentary so I wouldn’t have known if they were saying there would now be penalties.  But was there a notice on Arsenal.com of penalties if it is a draw?  Maybe it was and I missed it.  But if it was, perhaps they could write it BIGGER for us old timers.

Somehow, sometimes, the club doesn’t seem to get the fact that more and better communication with us mere mortals who give them money wouldn’t go amiss.  Anyway, in case you missed it – Iwobi equalised in the dying seconds, and we won on penalties.  Cech was the hero of the game.

But now… Alexis.   All the evidence points to the fact that Arsenal are not going to sell him, and if he won’t sign a new contract Arsenal are going to keep him for another year.   Which means that as things stand we are going to have all of last season’s regular forward line plus Lacazette.

That implies either Alexis on one wing Lacazette on the other and Giroud in the centre, or Lacazette in the centre and one of our range of options on the other.  Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Iwobi, Welbeck, Theo…

And that raises the question of why – why throw away an offer of £40m or whatever it is and let the player run down his contract?

First, because compared with the wage settlements that we are now seeing for Premier League players, we are getting Alexis for a year on the cheap.   If we gave him a new deal, or brought in another player of his quality, the salary would probably be his current rate of pay plus another £10m or more extra in salary per year.  A four year contract will take him to the age of 32, when most forwards are slowing down.  His value by the third year of his contract will be far, far less than now – so he would be worth a lot less but being paid a huge amount more.

But more than that – if we have Alexis for another season, he will give his all.  He does that anyway but he’ll do it doubleplus because he wants to impress one of the big clubs that he so wants to move to, to get the extra salary.   Which means he will do everything possible to get us into the Champions League again.  Which is where the money is, which then helps recoup the money we would have got from selling him.

And there is the certainty.  If we keep him for one more year we know he is then going to go elsewhere.  So we know we need a replacement next summer and we can start working on it now.  And in offering that replacement we will have a team that is back in the Champions League, irrespective of what the side does this coming season.

Plus there is a fair chance that by next summer we will know a little more about what sort of arrangements there are going to be in the new “keep the immigrants out” United Kingdom, and what those new arrangements mean for the pound.  We’ll know if things are working out really well with a strong and stable set of arrangements, or whether it is all going down the drain.

All in all, making Alexis see his contract through could pay for itself as long as we get back into the Champions League, and quite possibly do rather well in the Premier League – and maybe the Champions League too.

Which raises that last question: what is there to suggest we would do “rather well” in the Premier League?   I think there are two things.

First, adding Lacazette to the forward line while keeping Ozil, Alexis and Giroud is no bad thing, remembering (in the coinage so famously created and abused last summer by the Guardian) we already had three players who scored in double figures this past season in the League.  And to be clear Arsenal were one of only two teams that did that.

Second, in the past two seasons the club that won the League had nothing to do with Europe.  Now of course Arsenal does have something to do with Europe, because we are playing the Europa, but Mr Wenger has suggested that we will put together a full squad of 25 players, and have a bundle of youngsters who can join in.   Players in the 25 not getting time in the first team in the league games will play in the FA Cup and the Europa, topped up by the likes of Reiss Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Bielik (who I thought looked very sound today), Iwobi, Martinez, Malen, Nketiah, and Bramall.

And those who don’t get enough games that way can always look to doing rather better in the League Cup than we have done of late.

Of course I am putting 2 and 2 together and probably making 22, but it is a possible approach.

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20 Replies to “Poor show from Arsenal; but still we have the grand Alexis plan – and it could work rather well.”

  1. I actually think this post should have been delayed till when Sanchez actually comes out to say he’s staying.
    This is like counting your chickens before they hatch.
    We all know we’ve had Wenger come out to say certain players won’t be sold and by the end of the window things changed.
    Let’s deal with the squad who are settled in with Sanchez as a joker
    If he stays fine if not we should have a plan
    My honest opinion

  2. Seriously there was a twat commentating on Premier sports trying to lecture Arsene about giving young players a chance. No context. Utter twat. Worst biased commentary I’ve heard in years

  3. I have to agree with the poor show sentiment. Pre-season has meant a lot to me over the years. I have not always been in the UK and I am not blessed with unlimited wealth. At times getting to a couple of pre-season matches was the entire holiday for the year. The feeling amongst the many, many Arsenal fans was always of genuine interest and of joy to watch the team. There may be more fortunate fans who have much more frequent contact to the club but surely every Arsenal fan is important, okay there is one celebrity fan that I would think less important, every fan should find the club able to give information and realistic viewing platforms for the games

  4. Making Alexis see out his contract makes economic sense. In this hyper-inflationary football environment he is worthy more than 100 million pounds. Acceding to his wage demands is also not a bad idea. He is still one of the top 5 strikers in the world. I know the Lacazatte has brought a lot of optimism, but he might need time to get used to the premier league. Giroud was top scorer in France, but struggled in his first year. Podolski was a proven goal scorer but struggled in the premier league. So having Sanchez will take some pressure off the new signings. It also sends the right message. We failed to qualify to the Champions League as a team, so why should others bail out now. However, the team still needs strengthening.

  5. So sad that Wojciech Szczesny is no longer an Arsenal player.

    His ability, his enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment of playing are greatly missed on the pitch.

  6. I hope we do keep Alexis but if he is sold to City, let’s trade him with Aguero and a healthy £30m. Refusing to let Alexis leave is a significant change in Arsenal’s modus operandi; no longer do we sell to make money but understand that the results on the field outweighs short term financial gain.

    If he stays, we’ll have him, Özil and Lacazette working together with Welbeck, Giroud and Walcott to complete our attacking options.

  7. With marquee striker signings in the transfer market this summer looking to have been exhausted when Lukaku went to Man Utd and with Morata, if at all is a marquee striker looking to be on his way to Chelsea if the media report of this news is to be relied on. And with the rest of the marquee strikers who are at the other various clubs looking obviously not for sales this summer. Arsenal could end up being the only club in the Premier League who will have two marquee strikers of, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette to open their Premier League account with the two duo strikers as against their five Premier League title rival clubs who will open their own account with only one marquee striker each leading the line for them.

    If the signing of Lemar pass through as planned, and with the two marquee strikers of Sanchez and Lacazette and also with the goals scorers of Giroud and Walcott available in the Gunners first team squad, and also with Ozil available in the team to mostly provide and also score sometimes, and with other goals coming in their numbers for Arsenal through the rest of the Gunners in the team, Arsenal should be in pole position to score 100 Premier League goals next season and win the PL title.

  8. Let I forget, after Le Prof would have completed the signing of Lemar, what will remain for him to accomplish next in his signings for Arsenal during this summer window, will be for him to find a true and thorough accomplished midfield enforcer and signs him. So that with Coquelin, he’ll always have two midfield enforcers available for option and cover. To have Coquelin as the only enforcer will not adequate for Arsenal next season in my view.

  9. Less I forger, after Le Prof might have completed the signing of Lemar, what will remain for him to accomplish next in his signings for Arsenal during this summer window will be for him to look for a true and thorough accomplished midfield enforcer and sings him for Arsenal. So that he’ll always have two enforcers available for option and cover. To be having Coquelin as the only enforcer at Arsenal is not adequate in my view.

    For instance, whenever Coquine became sidelined last season. There is no any true enforcer left in the team to shield the back four now the back three. For, Xhaka, Ramsey and Elneny are not true enforcers but box to box mid fielders. And even Elneny is now looking to be converted to a back three centreback.
    I think for a very long spell of time, Chelsea have used the midfield enforcers pair of Obi Michael and Nemanja Matic collectively or individually successful for long.

    Sorry for my reposting almost the same comment of mine.

  10. I actually think our team( many many youth) did quite well against Bayern. They showed no fear and stopped Bayern from being that overwhelming battering ram they usually are.

    This is not to say that our team had it easy, but they fought, defended well and had a few chances too.

    So hats off to the youth and to the regulars.

    Another trophy, what ever it was or is called. 🙂

  11. Tony,

    who says he would go elsewhere if we make it into CL next season and have a good season ?
    If this team that AW has painstakingly built up over the past years turns out to be as good as (I believe) it ought to be, then maybe resigning him is going to be possible.
    And who knows how the market will look with the brexit clock ticking down, and other events unfolding.
    After all, given CL and ambition, the only other parameter is going to be money. And Arsenal do have that.

    So I believe that keeping him is the best strategy and I’d not discount our chances of him renewing.

  12. You did not mention Willock in your list. I think he has a chance to feature too and at 17 has the potential to develop physically to be a very good player

  13. Tony
    Very nice thought provoking Article.
    Very fair view of Alexis situation and a very bright prospect for Arsenal in this regard.

  14. Not quite sure you really believe what you write about the economics surrounding Sanchez. If he fails to sign another contract in just 23 weeks time he will be able to sign a pre contract with certain clubs.

    Most clubs will not keep a player who wants to leave those that have tend only to work out well if the manager leaves and for those that keep a player and the manager more often than not see a dip in form and often the player causes problems behind the scenes. Before anyone says Sanchez isn’t that type of player they may be right but just as likely is that he will be one really upset individual.

    In the current market, even with one year left Sanchez has value closer to £50 million than £40 million and that value would be far greater if he had a longer contract buying clubs rarely pay top dollar for a player in the last year of a contract. In 12 months without a new deal he will be worth zero.

    To find a replacement of equal will cost circa £60million.Keeping Sanchez on lower wages for another season may well indeed save £10 million but the cost in 12 months time will make that sum look small.

    Irrespective the gamble of keeping him will only come off of Arsenal qualify for the CL but with only 4 places up for grabs and with 6 possibly 7 clubs in with a realistic chance of a top 4 finish I see nothing to make Arsenal a stronger candidate than any of the others in contention . I don’t know if Arsenal are gambling on getting into season 2018/19 CL but it’s one hella va gamble if they have.

    Alongside Sanchez you have the Ozil and a reported half a dozen other players who will be looking for new contracts. It’s highly likely that the PL short term cost controls could well be an issue at Arsenal unless player sales are significantly higher than the last three or four years . Scchezney being sold will help matters but Kolasnic being a free transfer will have been given a hefty signing on fee and a quite decent weekly pay packet indeed he and Lacazetes wages will almost certainly be higher than the two senior players released.

    Put quite simply any sums over the £7 million uplift in salaries can only be financed from increased income from non PL tv revenue streams and with Ozil reported to being offered around £5-6 million more , no significant commercial income uplift to mitigate the reduction in both CL income and indeed lower gate recepits then it’s easy to see the dilema faced .

    In truth this is where FFP is yet again proven to be a nonesense for despite Arsenal having significant reserves those sums can not be used to finance additional wage growth

  15. The decision to keep Alexis to his contract can only be based on whatever bid(s) are on the table at the time. If that is £50m then so be it but if someone comes along with say £80m or more then the Club could well reconsider. In fact,just maybe, we are still in negotiation mode and, of course, will be until August 31st.
    Bids could go up; Sanchez could decide that a bird in the hand in worth two in the bush and sign a new contract with Arsenal in order to secure his position for the next four years. Leaving that until next summer could find him with fewer places to go and maybe no one willing to meet his wage demands even without a transfer fee to pay.
    Certainly re-qualifying for the Champions League will be, at least in theory, easier with him than without him.
    I certainly agree that how much resource a club has to put behind Europe counts for a lot in the EPL. Two clubs which finished above us last season had no European commitments and another will be playing at a different ground which has not been entirely successful for them.
    Knowing that and using careful squad rotation (especially in Europe) could put us in a stronger position next season than we were in last.

  16. @MikeT

    I think you are failing to notice a key thing about importance to keep Alexis.

    Losing a world-class player means he has to be replaced with a player of a similar quality. In a few occasions, clubs have tried to replace world-class players with a whole bunch of players (replace Elvis with The Beatles, as one funny Spud said after they had tried to replace Bale with million players) but it rarely works and even if it works, it doesn’t work immediately. Three good examples are Luis Suarez (Liverpool-Barcelona), Luis Figo (Barcelona-Real Madrid) and Gareth Bale (Tottenham-Real Madrid).

    At this moment, Arsenal have one chance to persuade Alexis to stay – it’s by making the squad strong enough to challenge for the title. Keeping Alexis even if that means Arsenal risk losing him for free next summer is a hell of a statement. That approach will attract other players of Alexis’ quality to join Arsenal.

    Losing Alexis would mean our chance to return to Top 4 are slimmer. Losing out on Champions League means losing out on the Champions League money (and the new rules about qualifying for Champions League probably mean there will be more money for big & rich clubs from Top 5 European leagues), on the merit money (each place in the league is worth around 1.2 million pounds) and, indirectly, on the sponsorship money (don’t qualify for CL for two seasons in a row and sponsors won’t throw too much money at you). For the self-sustainable club such as Arsenal, investing in those who earn money on the pitch is essential.

    Also, I don’t know why you write off our chances for finishing Top 4 next season. Liverpool and Chelsea are on the hot streak of 1 (one) Top 4 finish in a row, Tottenham are much better with two, Manchester United have finished in Top 4 just once since Ferguson retired which leaves Manchester City, as the most consistent Top 4 finishers with 7 in a row. Arsenal had had 20 in a row before the last season’s slump all the way to…fifth place.

    Also, Arsenal are the FA Cup winners and we have beaten the reigning champions in two out of three meetings last season (with Alexis scoring the opener in both games). Unlike other title contenders, we have both our team and squad pretty much sorted for the next season with a note that we could do with a central midfielder and, if the rumours of Chambers’ departure are true, a central defender. Comparing to Chelsea and Liverpool, we know what is it to play both Europe and the league. Comparing to Tottenham, we know how to win at Wembley. Comparing to City and Everton, we don’t have to wait for half of the team to gel in. Comparing to Manchester United, we don’t have a cnut for a manager.

  17. @Josif 20/07/2017 at 3:23 pm

    “Comparing to Manchester United, we don’t have a cnut for a manager”….priceless!

  18. Josif

    I don’t discuss the likelihood of Arsenal qualifying for 2018/19 CL what I said was trying to say was that there are 6 or 7 that will probably be vying for 4 places and Arsenal are in the pack but no more than that.

    Denying any player who wants out Ito many is a show of strength most clubs isolate players who state they want a transfer rarely does it end well in that there normally follows a dip on form or the player is an unnecessary distraction.

    I don’t dismisss the importance of Sanchez to Arsenal nor do I underestimate how much it would cost to replace him but the fact remains that in a matter of weeks, unless he signs a new contract, he will be able to sign a pre contract with a significant number of Europes top clubs.

    As for AW having little work to do on both the squad and indeed the team I suspect that like most clubs a lot of work and indeed transfers will still happen .

    Looking back to last season yes Arsenal beat Chelsea on two occasions but Chelsea beat Man City, Man Utd, Spurs & Everton twice but going forward that is of little consequence.

    The point I was trying to make is that Arsenal for all their financial prudence have little wriggle room despite them having significant cash reserves for their most recent business plan doesn’t rely on player trading but relied heavily on CL monies without that income from one season will of course hurt and add challenges in terms of wage growth that even as an non Arsenal supporter seem harsh but the irony is that Arsenal were one of the main players in this element of the PL version of FFP

    Not having Eureopean football is without doubt a factor but Arsenal are as we know in The EL . The EL playing challenges will of course enable AW to rotate his squad but the insolvent in these games is clubs wide the whole of the backroom staff such as fitness and performance coaches, the manager kit man etc etc will have to be involved in those EL games and for some reason the Thursday then Sunday routine provides clubs with a different challenge .

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