By Chayasai .
Mesut Ozil , Lacazette , Aubemeyang and Mkhitaryan . Without these four world class players , Arsenal would have been competing with West Brom as to which one of them, in the 2017-18 EPL, would be the first to fall into the Championship.
This was the first thought that came to my mind after witnessing almost 70 minutes of the Arsenal – Stoke City match on Sunday, 1st April 2018.
And then the subs came on: everything changed. The quality that the subs brought to the play told us in very clear terms that there is no substitute for Class. You can have a dip in form for various reasons, but class is permanent. It will always be around.
Clubs must concentrate and focus very much only on Class and Quality of its squad. That is the difference as to where the clubs finish at the end of the season. Teams that do not want to spend on quality end up with a bloated squad of mediocrity
The team needs class players .Not plenty of journeymen footballers. These can only bloat the wage bills, drive the fans away from the ground in large numbers and bring negativity in plenty into the squad, the players, management, fans . And it can only have a very serious and deleterious effect on the dynamics and economics of the Club. O course, it will keep large advertisers and the consequent revenues away from and beyond the reach of the Club. Generally, the clubs are averse to this kind of hiatus.
(Here I will take the liberty of digressing a bit and introducing a very telling homily with its source mentioned :
“It astounds me that businesses can continue to pay their best and most hardworking employees little to nothing and still expect genius-scale work from them day-after-day. Hiring a large quantity of cheap labor is far less effective than properly hiring and paying for the best. 1,000 monkeys get far less done than three people. And if you barely pay people and they leave, just to find someone else who’s willing to work for such a cheap cost, realize you’re not getting the better deal. What you just did is replace a hardworking person with a monkey – you expecting them to think on the same intellectual capacity is absurd.
Pay people right.
If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
It is a given that it takes considerable planning and years of consistent and systematic, sustained hard work and determination, to build a squad of at least 25 players, capable of challenging other teams for top prizes and honours; and the consequent financial and economic rewards. Which in turn spurs more ambitious targets for more and far more higher rewards which will proportionately accrue to the owners / investors. This is how success feeds on success for more success and consequent greatness.
Up until recently, in EPL at any rate, you could cite the names of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal. And when greatness becomes part of the story of the Club, it leads to massive economic gains.That greatness, in turn, leads to more investments in quality and the legacy continues.
In very recent times Arsenal have felt the heat of this greatness stripped from them and exposed them for their poor planning and muddled thinking.
For over two decades they were a great team, even at times, labelled as “invincibles ”. When there were minor hints of their slipping from grace, their Manager/Coach Arsene Wenger [perhaps the single most influential professional , arguably in the history of EPL changed the very concept of the way Football was to be played with special focus on fitness, dietary habits , customised fitness schedules etc for individual players, discipline, hard work etc] had said, after fans booed his side for 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough : “If you eat caviar every day it’s difficult to return to sausages “ That was what winning was all about and what the fans of great teams expected from their side.
Arsenal were aware of the gigantic task they faced at the end of the season 2016-17 . They knew that they faced the prospect of key players leaving the club by running down their contract. They let matters go from bad to worse: so much so that they had the dressing room torn apart and players left to sort out matters for themselves.The results were negative and the team sank further into abyss.
What doesn’t escape one’s notice is the fact that while there was dire necessity to invest in quality players and start the process of building a squad with meticulous care, Arsenal’s owners were more than complicit in doing just the opposite. They sold 22 players – 7 went on free transfer.They spent on purchase of three players, one was a swap transfer and another on Free transfer: incoming were all of 5 players [from stats available in Wikipedia and interpreted by the author for the purpose of this article]
It has been alleged that the owners made a profit in the 2017-18 transfer market .
Duncan Wright [The Sun , online edition 1st Feb 2018, 1.59 p.m.] has stated “They are one of only five clubs who spent less on signings than they made in sales over the course of the 2017-18 season.West Ham, Burnley, Swansea and Southampton are the others – giving a clear indication why the club continues to fall behind their rivals at the top end of the division.”
No plan exists : let alone a Plan A or Plan B on how quickly Arsenal can arrest this downward spiral.
There is no sense of finality in anything. Or a sense of urgency in arresting the slide. The team lurches from one match to another .
The first and foremost thing is to ensure that the most valuable asset Arsenal has is not lost : Arsene Wenger must stay till the end of the 2019-20 season.This means an extension of one year more on his contract.
The next point would be to spend big in 2018-19 summer transfer market.
Follow this up with signing the players whose contracts are nearing the end of their tenure. e.g It is said that it is a matter of £30-35, 000 [per week] in Wilshere’s wages that stand between Arsenal retaining him and losing him for free. Even if the difference is more, prudence dictates that sign him up and tie him down to a contract. If, as is widely reported, he can get an offer in the region of £50+Millions and the club feels that it is better to sell, then they are in the game. If the contract is not signed, he goes free, the Club has lost both the player and the investments made in him. It is perhaps wise to sign him up as well as Ramsey. And anybody else who can help Arsenal raise funds [and reduce the wage bills , especially] so that these additional funds will help in buying quality players.
We have to spend big this summer market and in such a manner that there will be little or no need to spend in the 2019 January window nor the 2019-20 summer window. Perhaps just marginally or for correctional or emergency purposes.
In a nutshell, spending big this summer, 2018 post-May, must include the sales amount also. The kitty must be large enough to obviate any need to spend further till 2020 January except for exceptional circumstances.
The target for the 2018-19 season must be EPL, Euro Tourney and the FA Cup. You must have a team strong enough to achieve those targets.There must be depth in quality also.
Arsenal’s main strength has always been its attack: Arsenal is at its deadliest when they are in full flow up-front. They have been very hugely blessed with great and creative mid-fielders. This adds to the quality of their deadly strikers and forwards.If these two lines are populated with quality and class players, it automatically puts immense pressure on the opposition and at the same time eases pressure on their own backline ; which area is in fact their weakest link in their chain. It has been variously said that the “ …Chain is no stronger than its weakest link “.[https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/ ] Given this truism, it is necessary to ensure that the backline needs instant infusion of experienced and quality players. The need for a Classy Goalkeeper is a given.
Bluntly put, all the large investments made in quality players to make the midfield and the forward line very strong will go up in smoke because the chain’s weakest link, the backline and the Goalkeeper were not classy enough. It will do well to keep in mind that the “Chain is no stronger than its weakest link”!
Keep in mind that there will be no major signings till 2020 January window. So , it is extremely important and vital, to be very selective in the investment in players.
We have selected the targets we want to achieve this coming season 2018-19.
To achieve those targets we need two additional very good strikers to start with: the current flavour is Ousmane Dembele who it is said will mesh very well with Aubemeyang. The second name that comes to the fore is Martial who it is claimed will in all likelihood move out of Manchester United.With Lacazette looking good , it makes for quite a formidable force upfront.
Now we come to the midfield which will be the supply line with passes and assists for those forwards in the front to strike. At this point we must assume that Mesut Ozil and Mkhitaryan are the only truly world class midfielders we have. And both are in their late twenties: the age when they are about to hit their peak. What this does is: it tells us that we must look seriously at young players in their late teens or early twenties who are hugely talented and fit the Arsenal Image of players to have. Lemar almost made it in Summer window of EPL 2017-18. He must be a cinch to slot in to the left of Mkhitaryan. Max Mayer is another who can be wide on the right of Ozil. Timo Werner will add immense strength to the midfield.
We now look at the weakest link : the Stopper. The best choice would be Oblak. With Macey impressing in the limited chances he has had and Cech not doing anything drastically wrong, Oblak can be the first choice stopper..
What choices are available to us to help Oblak keep clean sheets in the defence line? The easiest choice is to go for Luke Shaw who is not expected to sign his contract this year. Also, it is rumoured that he is not favoured by the United manager. He is young and highly talented. Then there is the possibility of Johnny Evans at West Brom [who are expected to drop down to the Championship] whose price might be just very attractive. Smalling is another who fits the bill. Kalidou Koulybaly from Napoli must be amongst first choices here.
Apart from the above , mention must be made of Richarlison and Docoure ; they will not cost very much but will add considerable value though they may not start every time.
If funds are needed to augment the kitty by selling players, we must seriously consider the possibility of selling Wellbeck, Iwobi, Wilshere, Ospina, Carl Jenkinson and Holding. With Mertesacker retiring at the end of the season and Koscielny increasingly under medical care, it seems that that the time has come for Arsenal to rule from the head rather than from the heart.
This building of a team is just the start; we will see the results in early January 2019.Once the team settles down , then one can be certain that with Wenger at the helm of this youthful team, the targets will be achieved in the first year itself.
Assuming a 3-4-3 formation ; a team that looks like :
Martial – Aubemeyang – Dembele .
Lemar – Mkhitaryan – Ozil – Mayer,
Shaw – Koulibaly – Smalling
Bench : Werner , Lacazette, Ramsey , Xhaka ,Cech ,Monreal Kolasinac.
This is the best possible team, as of date, we can have, given the constraints of funds. And the targets are very conservative and realistic.
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