By Sir Hardly Anyone
By and large the journalists agree, Arsenal need five or six new players this summer.
As for example with Football.London saying, “Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is understood to want to strengthen his squad with five new signings this summer.” And what they don’t want you to ask is “in what way understood?”
There are two problems. One is the technical difficulty I’ve mentioned before which is the home grown rule: the club can only have 17 foreign grown players in its team. But virtually every single one of the players being named as a transfer target is foreign. But as the Mirror is saying “as many as ten senior players expected to leave as a part of the club’s summer rebuild.”
OK, let’s compare this with last year when we brought in Partey, Gabriel, Pablo Mari, Odegaard, Runarsson, Cedric Soares and Willian. That was seven players all non-home grown.
And what happened?
Well, if you are a negativist we sank to eighth and it was a disaster caused by buying seven players who couldn’t all be integrated at once. So why do it again?
If you are a positivist, it took a third of the season to bed those players in and get the new system of playing right, in order to avoid knocking up so many yellow cards, and then we were flying, being the second best team in the last two-thirds of the season.
So now it is working, why rip it all up and do it again?
So, let’s take those two in turn.
If last season’s buys were such a disaster. what possible evidence is there that after such an almighty mess last season with seven players coming in, we are going to get it right this time?
To repeat the phrase that was endlessly thrown at Untold about Mr Wenger, “doing something and seeing it fail, and then doing it over over again is a sign of madness.”
The answer from the journalists, if they ever emerge from their favourite watering hole (The Toppled Bollard, in London’s Docklands) is that Arsenal bought the wrong players last summer. OK, if so what evidence is there that we will get it right this time, if that is the case? It will be the same team planning who we need, and buying them.
Telling us that last season’s buys were a failure, and demanding the same people now buy another load of players is madness – but not the madness of people at Arsenal. It is the madness of journalism.
So let us consider one transfer that has been completed of a player supposedly coming to Arsenal: Emiliano Buendia.
Daily Mail, Metro, FL, Boot Room, Sportslens, HITC, TBR, Teamtalk, Telegraph, F365, FoLo, HITC were among the many, many sites that told us that he was coming to Arsenal, as the start of the total rebuild of the squad. Only one source that I saw (although of course there could have been many more) said anything about him not coming (at least until the last week before the transfer), and that was… Birmingham Live.
And when that happened none of the outlets I saw admitted they had got it totally and utterly wrong. Those that mentioned the fiasco blamed Arsenal.
Imagine you went to your doctor with a medical complaint and he told you to do some exercises and you do that only to find that they make you worse. You might go back to the GP and tell her or him, but then if the medic just shrugs and says “oh well just do the same again,” would you do that? Especially if there is no explanation.
And do remember that these journalists with their credibility shot to pieces are still publishing rumours every hour.
The reality is, having bought all those players last season, it would be crazy to buy the same number again, because success comes from having a settled side. And besides there is still the “home grown rule” and virtually every player the blogs and journos suggest we should get, is foreign grown.
And one other little detail….
Last season we had the third best defence in the league when measured across the entire season. That’s not perfect, but is enough to be going on with while we a) ensure that the tactical system introduced last season continues to work and b) that we can score just one extra goal every three games.
Oh but hang on… in the last two thirds of last season, Arsenal were also the third highest scoring team in the Premier League, just two goals behind Manchester United. And we played 24 games to Man U’s 25, so game for game we were there.
Third best defence in the league across the whole season, third best attack in the league across the last two thirds of the season.
Just look one more time at the league table for the last two thirds of the season. Is that improvement really to be thrown away by changing half the team?
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Figures from Football Observatory at the end of the season showing Arsenal players dominating the statistics.
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