Buying more players is exactly the opposite of what Arsenal need now

By Tony Attwood

It has been a very, very long time coming, but suddenly, after the wins against Liverpool and Manchester Money the talk has all been about Arsenal’s brilliant players.  Rather than a tedious array of 120 players Arsenal are supposedly trying to sign (and here’s a question – how many staff on transfer and contract duty would Arsenal actually need, in order to be chasing all those players?) the story is how the club is managing the players we have got.

Of course one allegedly poor display in the remaining three games would turn all that upside down again, because the media is only interested in negativity and disaster, but for the moment, the media has laid off, and at least today we are not being told how dire Arsenal is, and hopeless the tactics are.

Even AFTV and the Daily Mail have both done 540 degree turns (that’s one and a half circles for readers who are geometrically challenged) with the Mail running headlines like “How Mikel Arteta built a red and white WALL: Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph over holders Manchester City was a pivotal evening for flowering coach, whose tactics floored Pep Guardiola and his star-studded side”.  (I’m not sure why “WALL” is in capitals, but it’s what the Mail does).

So gone are the tales of luck when we win and collapse when we get a 1-0 defeat.  OK they are still talking about a “horrible season at the Emirates” but against that the Mail says, “Players seem to be getting behind the coach and early signs are promising.”

And I know “Seem to be” is a bit hesitant and “early signs” is pretty meaningless in the context of the last few games of the season, but this is the Mail, so we have to make allowances.

As an acknowledgement of what has happened recently it is grudging as you would expect, but it is still there as with this little driblet…

“During commentary on Saturday, BT’s Ian Darke made a shrewd observation about the body language of Arsenal’s players.   ‘They look like they are celebrating a party every time they stop a City attack,’ said Darke.   The cruel among us could suggest it was because it was so unusual. Prior to this brilliant performance, Arsenal had lost seven times on the spin to Pep Guardiola’s team.”

Of course it is not all wonderful – there is the talk of Arsenal’s luck and the warning that this can’t continue, with “Arteta will know that his team cannot play like this every week and get away with it.”

But the conclusion is that these two victories now give Arteta “leverage with his board,” in order to go and buy more and more players.”

The problem with this is that buying more and more players is a risky business.   For example, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Pepe are Arsenal’s three most expensive players – all more expensive than Ozil in fact.  But they don’t play together.  Let’s have a look at that list of most the most expensive Arsenal men of all time…  (and it really is of all time).

1. Nicolas Pepe – £72m: still not a regular in the team.

2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – £56m: clearly a great buy but no guarantee he’ll sign a new contract.

3. Alexandre Lacazette – £47m: a long spell of not scoring, 10 PL goals this season in 28.

4. Mesut Ozil – £43m: simply not playing.

5. Shkodran Mustafi – £35m: hated by “fans” ridiculed by the media and bloggers, yet widely recognised in Europe as an excellent centre back – hence the cost.

6. Granit Xhaka – £34m: again ridiculed, but again considered in the rest of Europe as an excellent player.

7. Alexis Sanchez – £32m: he was great for a while but faded.  After a brilliant 30 goals in 51 matches in 2016/17, he got 8 in 22 in the next season.  But that was just the start.  Man U bought him and he got five goals in 45 games and since then three in 24 for Inter.  Total eight goals in 69!

8. William Saliba – £27m: we don’t know yet.

9. Lucas Torreira – £26m: seemed superb but then the media and some fans started to question him, with bloggers demanding he be sold because he doesn’t fit Arteta’s style.

10. Bernd Leno – £22m:  He was heavily criticised at first, but he’s one of the few players most “fans” and idiot pundits now don’t criticise.

That list reveals what happens.  Arsenal buy players and then the bloggers and journalists attack saying we’ve got the wrong man.   Which is what will happen again if we splash out a load more this summer.   It’s a bit like a man who has had six wives and six expensive divorces saying “yes I know they have all been disasters, but I am sure this new wife will be wonderful”.   It simply doesn’t work.

Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t buy any players, but at this time when we have a fair number of talented youngsters coming into the team, what we need more than new players is stability in the squad and far less criticism.

In reality what bloggers and the media generally demand and celebrate is exactly the opposite (or OPPOSITE as the Mail would put it) of what Arsenal need.

6 Replies to “Buying more players is exactly the opposite of what Arsenal need now”

  1. A possible dilemma for Arteta is he doesn’t know his best team, because of no pre-season and injuries. So lots of combinations have never been tested. Centre back is the obvious case. Pundits like Rio F say buying a centre back is a must , but who is to say Chambers plus Mari won’t be the real deal?

    Who is a nailed on starter for a crunch game, when everyone is fit? Again hard to say. Tierney and Auba probably, and Xhaka the way he’s playing now, but beyond that?

    And as there seems to be significant room for pruning the squad, is there really a compelling case for buying anyone (at least that the Club could afford)?

  2. In your list of big buys probably Mikhatarian, or however you spell it, should be included. Wasn’t he a straight swap for Sanchez?

  3. To answer my own question, if Ceballos goes,(as Ozil surely will) there”s probably a compelling case for a playmaker

  4. I agree that less criticism is good. Let the new coach and players get on with it. My life is full of friends and relatives who are imperfect but who have good character. Arsenal FC is the same. I actually like Mustafi, for example. Of course, when he has a brain freeze, I am unhappy but he has worked hard, loyally for our club and never embarrassed us with poor conduct. He has limitations but he has a role in our club. If we can replace him with a better player, so be it, but booing him is not going to improve his play and it doesn’t recognize all his good qualities.

    Arsene Wenger, if I am not mistaken, drew the line at three transfers a year to preserve stability in the squad and that seems to be about right. Regardless of our overall position in the table, the players knew what their role was on the team; we had a clear vision on how to play together.

    As for the transfers themselves, given our state financially relative to our competitors, we can only afford one top player every year or so. It would make sense to focus on purchasing a proven player, who will be expensive, and then turn the rest of our attention to developing a system and using our club youngsters around the $$ players. I don’t know how Nicholas Pepe will turn out but his purchase (and ManU with Martial) seem… luxurious/risky. I don’t think we can afford many luxuries unless we grow them ourselves.

    Our goal would be more to become an Atletico Madrid/BVB Dortmund rather than becoming a Real Madrid.

  5. No one outside the management of the club knows how much money will be available or which players they are looking at. Mikel Arteta has said they need “more quality”. That’s neither profound nor a hint at the strategy. While I would like the Club to say ‘we’re going to buy the best available centre half we can afford’, that might not be the plan of the manager or owners. Improving the entire squad should be the goal and that’s a complicated bit of business. Does Auba stay? Ceballos? Do they eat a ton of cash and ship out Ozil? Arteta, to me, is a bit opaque regarding his wants and even who he rates. Players come in and out of the cold regularly. Good to see. The results on the pitch indicate a strategy and give me confidence he has a real plan going forward. He adapts his squad and tactics to the opponent at hand.
    For me, the best thing he has done since taking over is bring real accountability into the squad. We haven’t seen that in years. You don’t show him what he wants in practice or matches, go sit down. In the stands. Because you won’t be named a sub. I love it. This has led to a more cohesive side on the pitch and better results, as we have seen. When all 10 outfield players take their defensive responsibilities seriously the pressure on the back 3 or 4 lessens.
    I have no idea where AFC will go in the market but I wholeheartedly support Mikel Arteta’s project

  6. Hmmm. As for me, Arsenal shouldn’t seriously thinking of splashing the cash too much on new players recruitment this summer window to bolster their current strong on the ground first team squad. But the club could just do a little splashing of the cash at the transfer market this summer on new recruitments which should be okay and fine. This is because their current first team squad players that they could want to bolster them with new signings for revamping by doing some maque player signings this summer are not only good but are strong enough to compete for the Premier League title win next season. Moreover, these first team squad Gunners have recently now been revitalized as they’ve been made to recover from the slum in game playing form that they suffered to now start play high standard performance level football game playing for Arsenal by Mikel Arteta’s top team coaching skill know how. Which has culminated in us now seeing Arsenal for the first time beat a Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team in the Premier League match which hithato was a near impossible mission for Arsenal to accomplish before last Wednesday night match at the Ems which Arsenal won 2-1 but was once dreaded Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to play against them in a big game match encounter at home and away. Additionally, us Gooners have also seen the Gunners subdued Pep Guardiola’s managed Man City team to condemned them to a 2-0 humiliation defeat at Wembley last Saturday’s night in the FA Cup semi final big game match. This victory for Arsenal came after the Gunners had 7 matches lost consecutively to Pep Guardiola’s Man City team in all competitions.

    Therefore, if these recent first ever PL match victory by Arsenal over a Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool PL full team at the Ems in a PL big game and the last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Man City by the Gunners in the FA Cup semi final match at Wembley that was a first defeat to Pep Guardiola’s managed Man City team coming after Arsenal losing 7 times consecutively to his Man City team have not convinced the Arsenal doubters. But if it is any thing worthy to rely upon as a pointer that indicates that Arsenal have recovered from the long spell in slum of form that bedeviled the first team squad before the Covid 19 lockdown, then what is it that it should be called that Arsenal are currently having? I beg for the other answer. And if I may say that if the Gunners happen to lift the FA Cup at Wembley on 1st August by beating Chelsea in the final match in another big game test for Arteta’s coached Arsenal team, their 3rd consecutive big game test. Then, what will be the pressing necessity for the Arsenal board hierarchy that will make them to splash the cash heavily again in the transfer market recruit new players this summer after they had splashed a reported £100m on incoming players transfer last season? But I wouldn’t know. For, no any positive effect of this their splashing of £100m cash in the last 2 windows on new players recruitment has positively been felt to produce the desired result for the club so far this season in all competitions. So therefore, not until the Gunners have won the FA Cup this season to qualify for the Europa League next season could it be said that the positive effect of splashing £100m on incoming players transfer in the last 2 transfer windows has positively been felt.

    Nevertheless, I think it will be better if Mikel Arteta and the board hold on entirely to all their current first team squad players. But they could probably offload a troublesome midfielder at the club this summer for his reported insubordination behaviour threat to his head coach. And replace him with a new highly talented discipline midfielder signing this summer. And also do another top rated striker’s signing this summer too to fill the void in the squad that the expectedv ling layoff absent in action for Arsenal of Martinelli due to the injury he sustained could impose the signing of a good replacement for him to start playing for Arsenal when the new season begun.

    I have almost forgotten of Mkhiteryang. Whereas, he’s still an Arsenal player who is loaned out by the club but who should report back to Arsenal after the summer break is over. I think if he had remained at the club up to when Arteta took over but hadn’t gone out on loan, perhaps, Mikel Arteta could have revived his then somewhat out of sort playing form for Arsenal back to the required standard playing level form as he is seen to have recently done when he revived some Gunners downturn game playing form back to the required high level standard playing form after their playing form had looked to be getting close to being collapsed as us Gooners have seen their downturns in form and now are witnessing their upturn in form. It’s Kudos to Arteta then.

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