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Spending money (part 2): Arsenal’s biggest problem and how to solve it

This is part two of  the article Will spending money work for Arsenal this summer? And if not, then what? which appeared earlier today.

For Arsenal the most obvious thing to do, in order to progress up the league next season, is to look at the number of draws this season and turn just a few of those into wins in 2020/1

Here is the league table based on draws.  Dr pos = league position based on fewest draws.

Dr pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 1 Liverpool 38 32 3 3 85 33 52 99
2 2 Manchester City 38 26 3 9 102 35 67 81
4 3 Chelsea 38 20 6 12 69 54 15 66
20 4 Norwich City 38 5 6 27 26 75 -49 21
11 5 Southampton 38 15 7 16 51 60 -9 52
18 6 AFC Bournemouth 38 9 7 22 40 65 -25 34
5 7 Leicester City 38 18 8 12 67 41 26 62
17 8 Aston Villa 38 9 8 21 41 67 -26 35
10 9 Burnley 38 15 9 14 43 50 -7 54
16 10 West Ham United 38 10 9 19 49 62 -13 39
12 11 Everton 38 13 10 15 44 56 -12 49
14 12 Crystal Palace 38 11 10 17 31 50 -19 43
19 13 Watford 38 8 10 20 36 64 -28 34
6 14 Tottenham Hotspur 38 16 11 11 61 47 14 59
13 15 Newcastle United 38 11 11 16 38 58 -20 44
3 16 Manchester United 38 18 12 8 66 36 30 66
9 17 Sheffield United 38 14 12 12 39 39 0 54
7 18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 15 14 9 51 40 11 59
8 19 Arsenal 38 14 14 10 56 48 8 56
15 20 Brighton and Hove Albion 38 9 14 15 39 54 -15 41

A small number of draws can mean either the club is doing well (potential draws being transformed into a win – ie gaining two extra points with just one goal) or a club doing poorly (potential wins slipping into draws, losing two points by conceding one goal).

To have come fourth in the league, Arsenal needed 10 more points and eight more goals.   The simplest way to have got those would have been to have taken five of those 14 draws and turn them into victories, in the process grabbing or not conceding eight goals: three games with two additional goals in our favour, two with just one.

That is it, that is all that we needed: five of the 14 draws turned into victories.  Draws from any five of these seven games turned into victories

Date Match Result Score Competition
15 Sep 2019 Watford v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
27 Oct 2019 Arsenal v Crystal Palace D 2-2 Premier League
23 Nov 2019 Arsenal v Southampton D 2-2 Premier League
01 Dec 2019 Norwich City v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
21 Dec 2019 Everton v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
26 Dec 2019 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
11 Jan 2020 Crystal Palace v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League

These were all games that looked winnable, and we just needed five out of seven of these to be victories to get that Champions League spot.

Now that to me does not look like a requirement that needs a wholesale overthrow of the existing team and the introduction of millions of pounds worth of new players.   And the point here is that those people who do ceaselessly advocate more and more transfers forget the negatives of this approach (what we might call, after this current season, the “Aston Villa Approach”).  Multiple transfers can lead to a lower position in the league (as happened to Arsenal this season) as much as a rise up the table.

It is clear that when purchases are made in bulk, most of them tend not to work.   But not only do they not work on the pitch, they also have a negative effect on the rest of the team, unsettling the system, causing resentment and an unsettled feeling among other players (especially young players), raising expectation among naive fans who anticipate instant success, and then causing negative comments from fans and journalists, because the player has not delivered – which also unsettles the team.

Second, Arsenal do have a remarkable array of young talent emerging.  Not only can some of these players come through and make a difference for Arsenal, when that happens it encourages other youngsters to come to the club, for Arsenal gets known as a club that will bring talented youngsters through.

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This season we have seen eight players come through (it would be nine of Guendouzi could still be included, but I fear not).   I’ve included Rob Holding because although he was a transfer in, it was a £2m deal from Bolton which resulted in a fair amount of negative criticism.  And Smith Rowe who has been on loan all season, but immediately been given a full 97 minutes in the last league game.  Substitute appearances are in brackets.

Player Age Games Mins Goals Assists
Bukayo Saka 18 19 (7) 1755 1 5
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 22 15 (5) 1383 2
Rob Holding 24 6 (2) 581
Gabriel Martinelli 19 6 (8) 657 3
Eddie Nketiah 21 7 (6) 633 2
Reiss Nelson 20 7 (10) 628 1
Joseph Willock 20 8 (21) 849 1 1
Emile Smith Rowe 20 1 (1) 97

My point is that nothing attracts young players to a club like the reputation of giving them a chance, and that list certainly is a perfect example of this.  If most of those players are now set aside because another £100m is spent on transfers, then so much the worse for Arsenal.

There is also the point that in terms of squad arrangements next season (and possibly 2021/2) look like being chaotic with no one knowing at this stage what the new player limitation rules will be.  The FA are looking to decrease greatly the maximum number of players who are not eligible for England in each squad of 25.  They are also obviously abandoning any reference to the EU.  But we still don’t know the details of how many non-English players each PL can have from next season on.

This in turn means that all sorts of restrictions could be brought in by the FA and backed by the highly nationalist Brexit approving government.   Thus we can’t take it for granted that the flow of youngsters into the team will be maintained – so showing our youngsters getting a chance will resonate throughout the youth game and attract more top talent to Arsenal.

Of course I don’t have any influence over Arsenal; I can only hope that the club looks at the money it spent last summer and the lack of harmony that some of those transfers has brought, plus the way that the media has been telling us that much of the money was wasted, and then think…

What we need is stability.

7 comments to Spending money (part 2): Arsenal’s biggest problem and how to solve it

  • Nitram

    “Draws from any five of these seven games turned into victories”

    The only problem with that is we were closer to dropping more points than we were to winning more points from those 7 games.

    I think you’ll agree they are not the best teams in the PL yet over those 7 games we conceded 104 shots on goal of which 35 were on target. That’s 5 shots on target per game.

    On the other hand we only had 80 shots with 30 on target.

    If it wasn’t for our keepers at times we could of been worse. yes we have promise but the fact is we are a long way from top 4. Can Arteta turn what we have in to top 4 ? Maybe, but from the rumblings I hear from him I don’t think even he thinks he can.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    With the Covid 19 situation still not settled , and chances are that fans will not be able to attend matches , money is going to be very tight. While our aim is to improve our league position , to at the very least , a top 4 finish , we still have to be prudent.

    I’d like to think that our present squad is capable of getting into the top 4 , with a mixture of youth , experience, the addition of Saliba and the returning injured . Maybe with the departure of a few , some cash can be generated for urgent buys.

    As some clubs suffer with the finincial impact of the pandamic , some bargains may be had too. But prudence to ride this out will be paramount . Hope we get the right balance .

    Up the Gunners !

  • Nitram

    Brickfields

    I agree 100%

    Despite everything I say regarding how crucial I believe consistent high spending is if you want to win the PL that doesn’t mean I’m advocating that we spend what we haven’t got.

    And I think if we’re honest we didn’t deserve a top 4 finish this season, or even top 6. We finished where we deserved to finish.

    But as you say with the arrival of Saliba, maybe a couple out a couple in, returning injuries and another year under the belts of our youngsters Arteta could well get us a top 4 finish but it won’t be easy.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I would love to see our fans getting behind the team and truly supporting the boys. No matter how poor we are playing , or how badly the PIGMOB are treating us . Not to mention the other teams are kicking and fouling us , to show their cojones !

    I agree that this season we are where we were meant to be ; but with a bit of luck , we still could have had St.Totteringham’s Day ! This has been for various reasons a season of transition . I have no complaints . A FA Cup win would of course make me happy , in a not so memorable season.

  • JW

    I find the above article Analysis shows only one side of Arsenal’s problem.

    Take a look at how many games we won thru goals from AUBA. If he leaves this year, everything you have written is, in my view, worthless. How are you going to replace him without a significant outlay.

    Incidentally, the current transfer noise suggests that Arsenal are looking to sell AMN and Rob Holding to raise money. (Probably because these are the only two players other teams night actually be interested in).

    So what message does that send to the rest of the youngsters you mention above!

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