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June 2021
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Were Villa really bright and Arsenal really stupid about signing Buendia?

By Sir Hardly Anyone

Norwich 2 Chelsea 3 - Emi Buendía.jpgThe journalistic and blogging world has been praising Aston Villa for getting Buendia as being exactly the man they wanted.  At the same time Arsenal are being criticised for not trying hard enough.

Buendia is a winger who scored 15 goals last season for Norwich in the championship.  Now Norwich are moving up, they are selling him.  And yet the implication is Arsenal should have him presumably because our forward line that can include Pepe and Saka is not good enough.  On the face it seems weird.   Especially with Pepe ending the season as a top rated player by Football Observatory with 97.3.  

But let’s compare Arsenal and Villa and see who needs him most.   Here are last seasons end-figures.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
8 Arsenal 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61
11 Aston Villa 38 16 7 15 55 46 9 55

Now we can see from this that both clubs scored the same number of goals (55) and so quite clearly if they are going to rise up the league each need to score more.  And we can see that the top four goalscorers in each club were about equally significant, scoring 38 between them in the case of Arsenal and 37 in the case of Villa.

But there is a major problem.  Although I know there are a few people around who say that the only thing that matters is the table at the end of the season, managers do not see things in such a monocular way.  They want to know how matters developed across time.   Did the team build over the season, or did it fizzle out?  If the former there is every hope that next season they will grow further.  But if they started ok and faded, urgent remedial work is needed.

Now we can see from the table above that Arsenal and Villa were pretty similar by the end so you might argue that both teams need significant repair work.

Except we know Arsenal had a terrible start but then got their new tactics right. In fact they were implementing the radical new plan from the start of the season but the players were finding it difficult to adopt.  Yes, we are back to the constant theme of these end-of-season reviews – Arsenal changed tactics to reduce their ludicrous yellow card count, and it worked.  

As table shows, recording the last 24 games of each club at the end of the season.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
Arsenal 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47
Aston Villa 24 8 5 11 27 32 -5 29

Now of course this table will never appear in the official lists – but for a manger it tells us everything – it tells us that Villa were continuing along their generally unimpressive form to the end.  Arsenal however  turned their world around – and they did it with the current squad they had.  Arsenal gained 18 more points than Villa in these games.

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What this says is that Arsenal’s tactical change worked – not least because if we compared that with other clubs over the last 24 games we find Arsenal were the second best team in the league.  Tinkering with the team now by bringing in a load of new players could undo all the great work already done.  These new players would have to be taught to avoid tackling, and have to be trained in the art of the  perfect interception – all things that the existing squad have had a year’s training in.

This doesn’t mean we can’t bring in any new players, but it does mean they have to be the right sort of player.

In short Villa and Arsenal need very different players at this moment, and I am sure the writers of Football Transfer Tavern know all this perfectly well.  But they have chosen deliberately to ignore it, which is rather interesting.   Why did Norwich sell, and why did Villa buy?   

I don’t know of course, but I am sure Arsenal knew perfectly well that their tactical change had worked better than any tactical change since the Leicester tackling scandal (which eventually the refs caught up with of course).  And the different was Leicester’s approach required the referees to ignore multiple tackling fouls because there were just so many of them.  But having been caught out PGMO won’t let that one slip by again.   (All the figures are in “How Arsenal beat Leicester: tackles, fouls, yellow and the referee” )

But whatever Football Transfer Tavern thought (and I am certain they are aware of all these facts), Arsenal need to protect the phenomenal changes they made last season, and do everything they can to keep the same key players and build on the process. 

Changing the squad now (especially buying a championship player) is not going to be good, unless they can be sure that the incoming players are better than what we have got, and can quickly be trained into the unique style and approach Arsenal have adopted.

The enemies of Arsenal and how they are trying to destroy our club

15 comments to Were Villa really bright and Arsenal really stupid about signing Buendia?

  • Ryan

    So you said why Arsenal dropped but not why Villa dropped ?

    Aston Villa did not “continue with their unimpressive form” at the New Year Villa were firmly in the top 4-6 What happened to Villa is that they lost Grealish for the 1/3 of the season, as soon as he came back we beat Spurs and Chelsea.

    Perhaps a little tinkering needs doing with your article because that was the big difference between both sides Grealish, If he stays fit the whole season Villa probably would of finished in the top 6.

    With Grealish Villa won over 50% of their games, without Grealish it dropped below 21%.

  • Callum gaskell

    What a load of rubbish you forgot to mention the fact that our season showed vast improvement from the season before and also the fact that our generally unimpressive form as you say was due to the fact our captain and most creative player by a wide margin was injured for 14 games through the patch you are referring too which when he came back saw us finish with two wins against spurs and Chelsea. You are still sour over the Martinez deal and the fact we beat you home and away last season. How you can say just a championship player is beyond me when you look at the impact ezri konsa also Ollie Watkins (England international) and Matty cash all signed from the championship and are well established improving premier League players let’s not forget jack freakish and John mcginn were championship players also. You talk utter nonsense arsenal have been beaten to the signing of buendia because he agreed personal terms with a more ambirious improving club arsenal offered him the same terms and he chose Aston villa. I totally disagree with all of the rubbish you wrote in that statement you wrote and wish you luck with the season ahead you will definitely need it

  • NB

    Buendia is at-best 3rd on the list. (Odegaard 1st, maybe Neves 2nd)

    Why go all out to get your third choice when you are still working on those higher up the list?

  • It’s a fair point Ryan, but I think generally the top six clubs take the view that they have cover in all positions, so one player going down with an injury or illness does not totally through the club off the rails. Certainly with the extra games that top six brings in terms of Europe, that becomes a priority.
    But it is tough bringing in a player and then hoping he will perform well all through his first season without injury. That’s quite a gamble. Can pay off, but not always.
    But concerning ” at the New Year Villa were firmly in the top 4-6 ” We must be looking at different stats because as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020%E2%80%9321_Aston_Villa_F.C._season shows from match day 15 (covering the period you cite) Villa were always between 8th and 11th

  • But Calum I would make the point again – if as a team you are utterly dependent on one player, that is a great danger for a Premier League club. I am making a contrast between Arsenal’s season in which a tactical change worked amazingly well after the first third of the season and the Villa season, which the club sank to mid table, after, as you rightly say, the injury to just one player.

  • Callum gaskell

    If that was the case NB why would you try to pay £33million plus’s add-ons then offer him the same contract terms as villa for reported 80.000 a week no club would offer that for a player 3rd on there list. He was offered the same contract from 2 clubs and chose the more ambitious club. Now if he would have chosen arsenal you would be raving about it the fact is he was obviously a priority of yours and villa we both had bids accepted arsenal offered the same contract as villa and he chose villa it’s a huge statement from villa and him and Jack together will be unreal it’s a really smart signing with what happened to jack’ with the injury this guy will be there creating chances if the same was to happen. In his debut season for Norwich in the prem he created the 3rd most chances in the league this was a player in his first season in English football in a team that was relegated to the championship. You’ve missed out on one of your top targets.

  • Calum, there is a problem, because you are taking things said in the media as evidence. I am not sure that is valid.
    Of course none of us really know what is going on, but the fact is that each year this website keeps a list of all the players tipped by the media as coming to Arsenal. The top rate of success they have ever had is 3%. And we’ve been doing this for 6 years.
    Which suggests that media reports on who is trying to buy whom are not very reliable.

  • John L

    Tony is quite correct that much, if not all, media comment about transfers is pure fiction. Also, I take no notice of how the media attaches the term “ambitious” to a Club according to how much money it chooses to spend on transfers.

    I am happy about Arsenal not signing the player from Norwich. Good luck to him at Villa. (Also, whilst I rate Martinez highly and would have preferred him to have stayed at Arsenal, I am not “sour” about him being able to continue his career at Villa.)

  • Nitram

    Callum gaskell

    “He was offered the same contract from 2 clubs and chose the more ambitious club.”

    And what do you base that on? One seasons enormous spend that got you what?

    From 17th to 11th ?

    Big deal. West Ham spent £45 Million and went from 16th to 6th. It happens.

    Okay, if you continue with annual net spends in the £50 Million plus area for the next few years then I’ll concede you’re ‘ambitious’ and you may indeed break into the top 4, but one season, with an 11th place finish and no trophies yet again for the 25th year !! Come on.

    Anyway, if we are equating Nett spend to ambition then over the last 5 years Villas Nett spend is circa £190 Million Nett. Arsenals is circa £250 Million Nett. So does that mean we are more ambitious?

    If we are basing it on trophies then over the last 5 years Arsenal have won 2 FA Cups and Villa, as I say, nothing as usual. Does THAT mean we are more ambitious ?

    If we are basing it on average league finishes ours is 5th 6th 5th 8th 8th.

    Villas is Championship Championship Championship 17th 11th.

    All that money at you haven’t even got back to where you were in late 90’s, early noughties.

    The truth is since we lost our iconic manager of 20 years we have been struggling to steady the ship, of that there is no doubt, but that is no different to what happened to Manchester United. It is no surprise, and is certainly not indicative of a lack of ambition.

    Given all that, to suggest a player has looked at Aston Villa and thought yep, they’re the better prospect for me than Arsenal as far as meddles and Champions League football are concerned is fooling yourself.

    Villa have won nothing for 25 years. Have got nowhere near the top 4 for 12 years.

    I know you’ll be happy getting a new player, of course you are. I wish you and he all the best, but picking Villa over Arsenal ? That’s almost as ridiculous as saying a player would pick Spurs over Arsenal. I mean really ?

  • Menace

    @Nitram – your comment has a lot of grace and reality.

    However, there are several reasons that impact choice. One to be considered is playing time. It is probably more likely to have game time at Villa than it is at Arsenal because the quality at Arsenal is that much more competetive. Some players just want game time and do not see the club success as being critical.

  • Nitram

    Menace

    Thank you my friend.

    I agree, it could be playing time. I actually think, as you seem to, that that is the most likely reason, but it could also be we wasn’t actually that interested ? It could be his girlfriend lives in Birmingham ? Who knows.

    One thing I am certain of it wasn’t because he see’s Aston Villa as a more ambitious, and therefore more likely team to give him Champions League football or Meddles.

  • Nitram

    Sorry: Medals

  • Michael Lu

    Untold Arsenal – Thank you for taking the time to do these types of analysis!!

    It helps us fans be more balanced in our views toward our club instead of being bombarded with negative comments from the media .

    Keep it up!!

  • Did Arsenal actually make Norwich an offer for Buendia? I haven’t seen any evidence that they did.

  • Mikey

    @ Callum

    Saying he chose the “most ambitious club” is what you might like to think was the case. The fact is that he may just as easily chosen Villa as he was far more likely to get a game for you as he would be one of the better players in your squad as opposed to ours.

    As for, the idea that Arsenal offered him an identical contract, could you provide a link to definitive evidence of this rather than just the ramblings of a website which has as much idea of what contracts were offered and by whom as the US public have about Trump’s tax returns.

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