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.”
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.
- The Arsenal youngsters on the up and why the speculation is wrong
- Arsenal have the youngest squad. Does that help our prospects?
- Why not qualifying for Europe would be a great blessing
- Arsenal are just five goals from being top four.
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP