Does Lichtsteiner’s arrival mean Bellerin is leaving – or is there a deeper more cunning plan?

By Tony Attwood

Yesterday afternoon Blacksheep and spent a while in the British Library, during which we discussed (not for the first time) the fact that the British media, when contemplating football, is generally desperate to avoid any questions starting with the word “Why?”

Yet it often seems to me the most interesting question in football, and was the one that immediately came to mind when I got home and found that Arsenal had, as widely predicted, signed Lichtsteiner.  A quick flip through the online articles covering the event revealed little that answered the question of why Arsenal had signed him.

A few options however did spring to mind…

1: Bellerin is leaving and so a new full back is needed urgently.   So far this transfer window we have not had that story which has been a staple part of the last few windows: Bellerin is going to Barcelona, or indeed has already gone to Barcelona.  If that were true, we’d have our answer in one: Lichtsteiner will play for us for a year while we find a new full back.

2: Bellerin suffered a dip in form last season, but the manager, on looking at the squad, doesn’t think we have anyone good enough to take over from Bellerin if that happens again or if Bellerin is injured.

3: The new manager has a formation in mind that could accommodate both players.

4: Lichsteiner brings an additional role of motivator and driver of the team from within the dressing room which is felt to be missing at the moment, especially with Koscielny being absent at least until the new year and with Mertesacker now focused on the youth players.

5: There is the thought in the club that the difference in home/away form is a key issue to be addressed, and Lichsteiner could be part of the defence in certain key away games where snatching a 1-0 win is going to be the central policy.

There were snippets of several of these thoughts in Emery’s statement issued by the club after the signing, in which he said, “Stephan brings huge experience and leadership to our squad. He’s a player with great quality with a very positive and determined attitude. Stephan will improve us on and off the pitch.”

There were however different issues highlighted by newspapers and other websites yesterday evening.   Arsenal Analysis led with “Stephan in Hector out?” for example, while the Daily Mirror piled in with, “Juventus ‘confident’ of signing Hector Bellerin”

The theme that Bellerin might well be on his way out with Lichtsteiner having Ainsley Maitland-Niles as an understudy was also expressed, alongside the notion that selling Bellerin could bring in £50m which would be used to “strengthen the squad in the problem areas that Wenger refused to tackle.”   Yes, always good to put the boot into Wenger at these moments – just to remind us of the raison d’être of the bloggettas.

Countering this, had the view that it is ‘Difficult to see Hector Bellerin leaving,’ (according to is agent apparently).  Sky Sports concurred, as did other reports – although none managed to mention that they had spent all last summer, and the summer before, telling us that he had been spotted at the airport if he wasn’t already long since gone.  Remember the house he bought for his family in Barcelona; whatever happened to that?

But things are never that simple.  One report has the agent saying, “If Italian clubs were interested in some of my clients I would listen…”

It is all so different from just three months ago when the Metro told us (2 March) that Bellerin was “determined to leave Arsenal this summer with Juventus confident they can win the race to sign him, according to reports.”  That race seems to have lost its runners somehow.  Or maybe it never existed.

Indeed it was just a year ago that the tide turned with one of the first reports (8 June 2017 in the Independent) ran the headline “Hector Bellerin hints that he is not set to leave Arsenal this summer.”  So maybe the story is “If it is the summer we need a Bellerin headline.”   Indeed I begin to wonder if next year the Times will replace its traditional “I’ve just heard the first cuckoo of spring” headline with news of the first “Bellerin leaving story” of the year been sighted.

In fact it was the Independent that came in with the first serious comment about what was behind the Lichtsteiner transfer in writing, “The 34-year-old is set to join on a one-year contract and will keep Hector Bellerin on his toes.”  That could well be the best summary.

The Express however saw a different complication in that somehow the arrival of the new man will mean that “Jack Wilshere’s playing time could be limited even further.”  The Standard however thought that Lichtsteiner will bring a “winning mentality” to the club – given that he has just won the Italian league seven times in a row.  Does that mean that the PL is now copying the Italian League?  Certainly seems likely.

Anyway we now know exactly who is going to the world cup (Mesut Ozil, David Ospina, Alex Iwobi, Nacho Monreal, Mohamed Elneny, Danny Welbeck and Granit Xhaka) and the Arsenal warm up games they will miss…

  • Jul 26 – Arsenal v Atletico Madrid, 12:30pm, Singapore.
  • Jul 28 – Arsenal v PSG, 12:30pm, Singapore
  • Aug 1 – Arsenal v Man City.  Dublin.
  • Aug 2-4 – Arsenal v Chelsea, 7pm.

Times are BST.  Not too sure of the kick off time in Dublin nor the location or date of the final game.  Maybe that depends on where the owner of Chelsea is.  Or even who he/she is.

But before then, the word is that Arsenal will sign more players.  In fact that second player could be signed today. And that player is Sokratis Papastathopoulos.  At least that is what the blogs say.



8 Replies to “Does Lichtsteiner’s arrival mean Bellerin is leaving – or is there a deeper more cunning plan?”

  1. The Swiss is experienced and quality cover/competition for our young right back.

    Why even ask? 🙂

  2. I don’t think the arrival of the experienced right back Litctsteiner to Arsenal this summer means trouble for Bellerin. If at all it ment something, his arrival should enhance Bellerin’s performance for Arsenal next season by way of making him play less games for Arsenal. Maybe once a week as against playing 3 times in a week that he did last season which saw the young right back playing form got depleted as a result of his being over played and got too fatigued to the extend of picking up niggling injuries which had him sidelined for some short spells.

    Besides, Bellerin himself doesn’t look to want to leave Arsenal, at.least not this summer window. If at all he has any plan to leave the club at some stage, it will have to be in the future. He has reiterated his none leaving Arsenal stance many times. And I believe the media must have heard him saying so.

    Another Arsenal back-line playing formation style beside the usual back four defense-line that we saw Monsieur Wenger, the former Gunners boss mostly employed where Bellerin fit in but also can fit in if Emery decides to employ it is the back three back-line playing formation style in which Bellerin will play in advance position as a right wingback ahead of the right back and also cover for him when the right back breaks forward to attack. But at his advancing age, can Lichtsteiner breaks forward sometimes as wingback to attack efficiently? Sure, he could come forward for headings in corner kicks situation. Well, we’ll see.

  3. I would assume that it’s cover for Bellerin and # 2,4 & 5 from your list.

  4. I don’t who writes for the Express but the idea of a right back coming in to limit Jack’s playing time is just brilliant!

  5. The CBC was airing a repeat of a program originally aired on June 7, 2017 (1 year ago) on baseball.

    The program starts with the idea that baseball is a sport, which I disagree with. I do think describing baseball as a pastime is an apt description, and it certainly is an activity with a lot of statistical meaning. It helps a great deal to be athletic to play baseball, but I do not think you will ever become athletic if baseball is what you do the most. Which is why I do not think it is a sport.

    But the article (almost) starts with the observation, that is a batter were to fail only 70% of the time at bat, he/she would likely become a Hall of Fame batter.

    The interview is with the author of a book, who teaches Philosophy and who also played baseball (in his own words, badly). So, if the interview catches your fancy, you might look into the book.

    The author points out that baseball is (almost) unique in that the defence controls the ball for most of the game. Hence all of the scoring can be attributed to mistakes in defence. Certainly amongst Arsenal “supporters” (even Untold contributors) there were people who continually beat on the drum about defensive errors.

    Football is a game of scant numbers. A 38 game season, with on the order of 2 goals per game. Baseball is a game with a 162 game season, with probably on the order of 10 runs per game. There is much more meat there to do statistics on.

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