Arsenal in mega crisis

By Sir Hardly Anyone

It might be a good idea to avoid reading the blogs and online newspapers this morning if you haven’t already started, as there isn’t too much good stuff around, as far as Arsenal is concerned.

The Evening Standard captures the mood of the day by telling us that “Injuries to both Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe appear to be a nightmare for Arsenal before their match against Liverpool.

“Saka has remained at Arsenal over the international break as he looks to recover from a problem, while Smith Rowe was ruled out of England under-21’s last match at the European Champions by Aidy Bothroyd yesterday”

They do actually have the grace to admit that “it still hasn’t been confirmed that the Arsenal pair won’t play at the weekend,” but then tells us that despite the lack of all evidence “there are doubts over their availability now.”

There was also talk that Kieran Tierney is injured but even the negativists are having to admit there is nothing to the story with HITC saying “he’s ok” and saying he was just tired.  But it is interesting to see the origins of this one.  Apparently he was a bit slow leaving the pitch.

Still they can’t leave a piece of untruth alone, as Just Arsenal News jump in with the report that “Former Rangers star, Barry Ferguson, says Arsenal needs to hand a new long-term deal to Kieran Tierney, otherwise they could lose him to the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United.”

And why would Arsenal screw this up and let him slip away?  Because that is what Arsenal do.  And how do we know that?  Well the media tell us, forgetting that most of the time it is the media who tell us to get rid of our most accomplished player, as with Granit Xhaka.

Thus we have such rampant negativists like Guiseppe Labellarte in TBR really gets the knife out with “‘Please be true’: Some Arsenal fans react after hearing who’s reportedly looking to leave”.

What excites him is that the Arsenal player with by far the best statistics of any Arsenal player this season, according to the highly rated Football Observatory, is “looking to return to the Bundesliga.”  They claim this one comes from Sky Germany.

What they don’t consider, as indeed do most people who knock Xhaka, is why he has played 211 games for Arsenal and cost £35m, and is rated so highly in his stats.   I suppose it is because they know best and the managers and professionals in the game know nothing at all.  Funny that in which case, they are not managers.  Or even hangers on.

But of course once we let Xhaka go the story can be rerun in reverse.  Wojciech Szczesny was certainly not the most popular player at Arsenal before he was sold to Juventus after 132 games for Arsenal, and  a long loan spell with Roma.  But the fact that he gets rave reviews is now put down to the notion that Mr Wenger didn’t know what he was doing.   

It was of course a disciplinary issue that caused the bust up which is why Untold is always nervous about disciplinary issues becoming a reason for losing a player.  It is simply a fact that some big players have disciplinary issues.  Get rid of all the players with disciplinary issues and we don’t have a team.

One headline however that did amuse us was “Arsenal eyeing 17-year-old centre-back dubbed ‘the next Dayot Upamecano.'” 

This turns up in the Daily Star and caused a laugh since the Star among others spent two years telling us that Arsenal were in the process of buying Upamencano and he was certain to be playing for us next season (ie 2019).  

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One Reply to “Arsenal in mega crisis”

  1. What Arsenal need is stability and judicious spending; not a complete overhaul or a massive infusion of cash or players.

    They also need to keep from doing something incredibly stupid, like letting their best players leave for reasons that make no sense.

    While I agree that people who get paid to manage professional teams certainly know more about the game and how to manage their teams than bar-stool ‘experts’ and TV pundits, there are some situations that defy logic.

    The Aaron Ramsey situation was one. Ramsey was offered a deal, was set to sign it, then the deal was withdrawn and he left for nothing. Regardless of why, Arsenal have not had a goal-scoring central midfielder in the side since. Odegaard might do the job, but Ceballos, Xhaka, Geundouzi, Willock, and any of the other pretenders have failed utterly. They just do not score.

    The Ozil situation was another. Where the truth lies in Ozil’s case is impossible to know, but benching Ozil in favor of Mateo Guendouzi, Joe Willock, Lucas Torreira, among others made zero sense. There is a reason why Arsenal treated Ozil as they did. I don’t know it, I doubt anyone outside the club and Ozil knows it, but whatever it was, it was not for football reasons, no matter who says otherwise; and it certainly hurt the club more than Ozil, who got paid 15 million to train.

    Which is why, at this juncture, there are issues to deal with that make me nervous. Like;

    Sead Kolasniac plays left back. Arsenal need a left back to spell Tierney and serve as injury cover; but Kolasinac left on loan and it seems likely that he will not return. Plenty of people will say Kolasinac is not good enough, but not ever player in a team can be a star; if they were, they would not be content to play in a reserve role. Saka is too valuable in attack to waste in the fullback role, and Ainsley Maitland Niles, while serviceable, gets exposed when he plays the position a lot.

    Rumors of Bellerin and Xhaka leaving.

    Bellerin is rumored to leave for PSG or Barcelona. So. Arsenal pundits believe that a player sought after by two of the biggest and most successful teams in world football is not good enough to play at Arsenal? Bellerin has been Arsenal’s first-choice right back since he was 18. He suddenly wants to leave? Really? Losing Bellerin would be a major blow. Cedric Soares could not break into the team at Southampton and pundits think Arsenal should trust him with the job after a handful of decent performances? Insane.

    Xhaka has been a stalwart in the team through three managers; Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery, and now Mikel Arteta. He plays with passion, grit, doesn’t back down, and he is, statistically, one of Arsenal’s best players, year in and year out. Supposed experts think where he really fits in best is a mid-table Bundesliga team. WTF? is about the only possible response. Xhaka admits he considered leaving when Emery stripped him of the captain’s armband and benched him for his ill-advised outburst aimed at fans, but that showed more about Emery than Xhaka. Wenger would have dealt with it, downplaying the significance, taking on the blame himself,suggesting that xhaka’s passion was an asset, not a liability, and talking and talking and talking until people got sick of listening to him. At which time Xhaka would have still been captain. Arteta came in, restored Xhaka to the side and he has been a mainstay since, and not ever making any kind of public statement; either directly or through his agent, that he wanted to leave. Which means thee rumors are made up out of the desires of an ill-informed minority of bar-stool managers who think that getting rid of one of the team’s best players is a good way to improve the side.

    Bukayo Saka has been one of Arsenal’s top players if you listen to the media, with five goals and three assists in the league. Pepe also has five goals and one assist in half as many minutes as Saka has played, and he’s been underwhelming. WTF? People love the shiny new toy, but this kind of stupidity is just mind boggling. Either both players have grossly under performed or both players have had good-not great, years. Personally, I would vote for the latter, but hey, what do I know?

    Next, Arsenal are supposedly eager to off-load Alex Lacazette. Why? Goals are the most expensive thing in football; and Arsenal supporters supposedly want to sell Lacazette to afford either Martin Odegaard or Marcel Sabitzer. Certianly either would cost as much as Arsenal would get in return for Lacazette. In fifteen games in La Liga and the Premier League Odegaard has one goal. Marcel Sabitzer has six goals and three assists in the Bundesliga. Lacazette has 11 league goals and two assists. Why in the name of all that it sane and good, would anyone be stupid enough to sell 11 goals and two assists to buy 1 goal and no assists or six goals and 3 assists?

    Personally, I was sorry to see Szczeny go. He played well for Roma and has done well at Juventus; both teams have outperformed Arsenal of late. Leno has been good, but Arsenal cannot win a title with him; his lack of calm and lack of leadership; demonstrated when he caused two goals blamed on Ceballos and Xhaka; make him ill-suited to be a title-winning keeper. A real leader would have owned his mistakes. Xhaka stepped up and apologized for his role, even though Leno gave him the ball facing his own goal when he was already clsoed down. Xhaka made no excuses. If Leno were a leader he would have spoken up and taken responsibility; he didn’t.

    So, while I freely admit Mikel Arteta knows more about football and managing Arsenal than I ever will; there is room for concern because for whatever reasons, the Ramsey, Ozil, and Xhaka situations did occur and they did hurt the team.

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