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.
|16||10||West Ham United||38||10||9||19||49||62||-13||39|
|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
|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.
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.
|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.
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