On Lurex Spangles, Kolasinac & Whether Arsenal Should Go For Van Dijk

The new season is beginning to take on a spaghetti western theme. It was good to get a an eminently winnable home match. It went bad when Sky moved it to Friday night and now it’s turned ugly with the PGMO appointing Mike Dean, presumably because he likes to get dressed up on a Friday night. Usually it’s in his hot pants as he ventures to the local Lurex Spangles nightclub but a night out in London was just too hard to resist.

Which side Arsène fields is the question. With Per Mertesacker doubtful following his head injury at Wembley, the likelihood is that Shkodran Mustafi will make a hasty return, flanked by Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal. While the Ox did nothing wrong against Chelsea, does the Kolasinac’s goal make him more of a threat in an attacking sense?

Both players are capable of marauding runs down the left but Kolasinac is by far the more threatening aerial presence. And with Riyad Mahrez still unable to force a move away from Leicester, is the Bosnian more likely to dominate the Algerian to neutralise him?

Theo Walcott did a good PR job for the newcomer,

“Sead looks an absolute tank. He’s one tough unit to get past and I’m sure his physical attributes are going to be key to us this season.

“Honestly, he is an absolute animal. He’s incredible. I see him in the gym every day; you can just tell he looks after himself well, he eats the right food and he’s professional. You can see the power he’s got when he’s got the ball, his pace and everything. It’s beautiful to watch and he’s a great addition to the squad.”

Theo will get plenty of time to watch him from his seat on the bench.

Van Dijk Parks His Transfer Request

The defence is the centre of attention at the moment. Or the centre of defence begs the question, “To invest or not to invest?”

Personally, I think the centre of midfield is more of an issue with Granit Xhaka most likely to benefit from a solid defensive partner. Jean Michael Seri is the name on everyone’s lips, mainly because he fits the bill. However, when an opportunity presents itself, the club should be looking to strengthen. Talk this summer has seen Calum Chambers linked with a move away to Crystal Palace and the emergence of Rob Holding looks to have cut off the former Southampton man’s route to the first team.

Even without that, reports of Virgil Van Dijk handing in a transfer request should be investigated to say the least. The basic question is whether he is better than in the current XI at present. Yes, is the answer. He is better than Rob Holding and in my view, Laurent Koscielny. The former he has experience over and mindful not to “kill” his career, I would use Holding in all cup competitions this season. We do it for goalkeepers, why not centre backs? And our injury record suggests he’ll feature in the Premier League frequently.

Let’s not forget, Koscielny is 32 this summer and even with the best will in the world, has maybe two more seasons left in the top flight of English football. While his experience is invaluable for the likes of Holding, I think Van Dijk has the edge over him in his all-round game.

Acquiring the Dutchman won’t be cheap but gives a more solid back three in my view. He ticks the boxes with experience of Europe and English football as well. Can Arsène afford not to look at the situation?

Y Viva España

The situation is helped by Valencia’s admission that they want Gabriel. We know he won’t be anything more than a squad player at Arsenal so the question of releasing him is valid. Certainly, if a sensible offer is received, I’d accept; the same goes for Calum Chambers, who has been linked with a move to Crystal Palace. As good as Chambers was for England in the summer and Middlesbrough last season, I’m not convinced he will nail down a place in the starting XI.

Football is a squad game but if the opportunity presents itself in this manner, it is worth pursuing. Reportedly, we were interested when he left Celtic; were that the case, we surely are now with an improved player?

Not that I expect it to happen. His arrival would mean shifting players on and that is something we are struggling to do at present.

Finally, there’s a new record of the week on Dad’s Jukebox. Click here to listen.

’til Tomorrow.

96 thoughts on “On Lurex Spangles, Kolasinac & Whether Arsenal Should Go For Van Dijk

  1. I’ve came across some concerns about his fitness and also some fans getting suspicious about why Southampton are keen on moving him out. But basically I would agree with you on him being an upgrade on both Holding and Kos.

  2. He also claimed they published lies about him but they may have been his excuse for handing in his transfer request.
    Competition for him will be high but if we were ‘a club of real concern’ we would be in there vying hard for his signature – he looks a proper leader and competitor and would undoubtedly significantly improve us.
    I think a DM is more important, as priorities go, but I did like the look of Elneny in the CS – he looked more physical and robust than on numerous occasions past. Maybe this is a sign of things to come.

  3. I’d sell Gabriel and keep Chambers given that Kos has dodgy hammys and Nacho could needed at LB and is no spring chicken either. Agree that midfield is more of a priority so VvD wouldn’t be on my radar. Elneny has looked okay but I’m wary that he could be this season’s LeCoq and we need better long term.

    What we get is probably what we have and we’ll continue to struggle to offload players who are on silly wages. In summary it’s a familiar tale of a couple of good signings but not world beaters and as usual we have done too little to be challengers. At least we signed players earlier this time though so for that at least I’m glad.

    Could this team win the title? It’s possible but not under this manager I’m afraid.

  4. VVD is the type of calibre centre back we need to be attracting , particularly as he is left sided.

    So, I agree with YW – use the funds from the sales of Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs etc & get in there & sort a deal out pronto.

    The sooner we sort the squad balance out the better & any new arrivals need to be able to work on our shape , teamwork & goal celebrations asap.

  5. Paulie Walnuts,

    I agree Paulie, but the problem here is that we haven’t sold Gabriel, Chambers or Gibbs. Unless we throw a pile of money at them or the purchasing club (to deal with the reduction in salaries), I cannot see how any deal can be achieved that suits the purchasing club, Arsenal and the player/his agent.

  6. Jonny,

    I finally watched the whole match and agree that Elneny had a good game and showed some qualities in areas of weakness: I saw a couple of good dribbles to go with his tidy short passing and a bit more physicality. He even took a couple of shots, one of which provoked a good save. I hope we see more of that in games that matter but it was encouraging. But I still think we are very MUCH in need of a top quality CM.

  7. Limestonegunner,

    Oh, without doubt.

    Unless Elneny makes the kind of stratospheric step up that – though not unheard of – very rarely happens in football then there is no doubt Elneny is a useful squad player (ahead of Ramsey for my money) but would not be starter at any other so called big club in Europe.

    But then, this description could apply to more than one of our ‘most likely’ starting 11.

  8. One of Van Djik’s reasons for leaving Southampton is to play in European football. He had brief experiences of it with Celtic, but would the Europa League satisfy him.

    I do think there is a future for Chambers at Arsenal although perhaps not this season, Merts is off next May and Koscielny can’t last much longer. If he’s patient and continues to improve I can see him as a future member of a back three or four.

  9. Indeed – given that Gabriel has never kicked on I would be happier to lose him rather than Chambers, if I’m honest.

  10. The Foxes moved for the Egypt midfielder, 25, last month and had a £10million bid accepted. Only for Elneny to decide against the switch.

    “I am staying at Arsenal this season,” he said after playing the whole 90 minutes of the Gunners’ Community Shield win.

    “I am 100 per cent focused and will give my best to the club day after day.”

    He added: “There has been a lot of criticism recently and I wanted to prove that I deserve to play for a big team like Arsenal. That was my best game for Arsenal.

    “Winning the Community Shield gives us momentum ahead of the new season.”

  11. Great post Yogi.

    I would love to see us get Van Djik. CB is not really a position of need nor the highest priority for us but anytime you can add a very good player and upgrade the overall quality of the squad I am all for it. If Alexis leaves and with Ozil fading we are short of impact players upfront. I think Lacazette will be a good addition but I am not confident he is going to be in the discussion for the golden boot. We are not going to be a prolific scoring team and we are going to have to keep a whole lot of clean sheets and be a much more consistent defensive team then we have in the past if we really want to do more then challenge for 4th place. Van Dijk would probably help us in that regard so he would be a welcome addition

  12. I know that many of you believe that Elneny is a better option then Ramsey and I understand that arguement. I guess it depends on what you like. Elneny is a nice player and seems to be steady but Ramsey has more upside. If we had a few more impact players at other positions then using someone steady would be a good idea. I still think Ramsey will be the starter. However, given Ramsey’s injury history Elneny is in a position where he will probably get a lot minutes this season. I agree with Limestone and if we really want to be more then a team that is capable of challenging for 4th place we really need is someone who is better then either Ramsey or Elneny

  13. Morning all,

    The priority has to be CM. Elneny had a great game but we need an enforcer to protect the back 3/4 and let Xhaka play further forward.

    VVD definitely an upgrade on Kos but wouldn’t be so quick to sacrifice Holding to cup competitions to make room for him. Holding seems well up for it and age is just a number. Pure gold was seeing him win that header in Chelsea’s box while Luiz and some other Chelsea clown headbutted each other.

    I’d keep Gabriel and sell Chambers. I’ve said here in the past that Gabriel was not Arsenal standard but watching his controlled aggression and timing in games prior to picking up the injury changed my mind. I’m not anti Chambers but think Gab brings more to the table. And yes Yogi, Theo will have a great seat in which to look on.

  14. VVD from the saints at £60m, are you kidding?

    After getting one half of his future back four for about £2m ( Holding and Kolasinac), you expect Wenger to break world record fee for a defender?

    I’ll have some of what you’re smoking. No offense:)

  15. I realise that as long as Wenger plays Ramsey in a central midfield role that comparisons will be make with him and the likes of Santi, Elneny, Lecoq etc but I think Ramsey’s best position is 10. I’d like to see Wemger play him there and let him and Ozil thrash it out. Is Ramsey better than Ozil at 10? Probably not but when Ozil’s not having any impact on the game Ramsey’s not a bad replacement for 25mins.

  16. Don’t actually expect anything but it speaks volumes that you think it is so outrageous that we should think like one of the big clubs with whom we are notionally competing and actually strengthen the team.

    I mean what madness. Whatever next?

    VVD from the saints at £60m, are you kidding?

    After getting one half of his future back four for about £2m ( Holding and Kolasinac), you expect Wenger to break world record fee for a defender?

    I’ll have some of what you’re smoking. No offense:)

  17. Wailesy,

    I appreciated what Gabriel did late last season too. But I think Chambers is young and has real potential. I’m not sure he has had a chance at Arsenal, so I would be reluctant to sell him when he could be a very fine backup CB. I also think Holding will show his inexperience and inconsistency over the whole season and will need some time to sit when he is out of form. I wouldn’t count on him being constant starter–that is a bit too much pressure to heap on him as an expectation. If he fulfills it, wonderful. If he has the usual ups and downs of a young player, we have to be prepared for that. One of Gabriel and Chambers should be sold, but I think it is a coin toss which. For me it depends on the deals/offers we get for either.

  18. Jonny,

    This will be a problem if Elneny staying prevents us from signing a top level CM. I admire his desire to compete (and possibly keep his higher Arsenal wages?) Perhaps we’ll have to sell Jack to clear space.

  19. Wailsey

    In actual fact age is just a number however the implication of that statement which is that is does matter how old a player is as long as he is talented clearly goes against the last 13 years of evidence. We have had plenty of very talented U21 players at Arsenal and dozens who have looked good for part of a season, but other then Fabregas I can’t think of one U21 player who has been able to avoid the long spells of inconsistency and have gone on to live up to their potential. That does not mean Holding is going to flame out like most players we have been excited about, however, I would wait before we anoint him as the next great thing. If history is any guided then he is likely to go thru some long spells of struggles and inconsistency and counting on him as a regular starter this season is a risk.

  20. Limestonegunner,


    This is exactly the point. We’re talking about selling one of 2 CB’s when I’d be happy to keep both. If we can’t move out all of Jack, Gibb’s, Debuchy, jenks at the very least Wenger’s not earning his money. I’d be happy to sell, for example Ramsey to bring in Lemur or sacrifice Walcott or Welbeck but…….

  21. Johny
    I don’t think it’s outrageous Arsenal should behave like a big club, except the last ten years or so have shown us that they don’t.

    Wenger spends the minimum amount required to stay competitive, or at least what he believes competitive means any given season, but to expect him( which you don’t) ,or at least to have a conversation about a£60m defender coming to Arsenal requires a suspension of disbelief.

    What’s next, Wenger activating Neymar’s new release clause of £400 gazillions by £1?

  22. Bill
    “I know that many of you believe that Elneny is a better option then Ramsey and I understand that arguement. I guess it depends on what you like. Elneny is a nice player and seems to be steady but Ramsey has more upside”
    I have not had much interest in the whole Elneny vs Ramsey debate. Mainly because I know Ramsey when fit is Wengers first choice. No matter how well Elneny plays he’s not good going to get a fair chance.
    But, on Sunday I spent the whole game following his movement. A few things I noticed.
    He’s a better passer than Ramsey.
    He’s a better tackler than Ramsey.
    He doesn’t loose the ball as often as Ramsey.
    He’s work rate off the ball is better than Ramsey.
    He is constantly looking to move the ball forward and doesn’t dwell on the ball or take 2 to 3 unnecessary touches like Ramsey.
    He is constantly harassing the opposition when they have the ball.
    His understanding of where his team mates are is better than Ramsey’s.
    The only thing I can think of where Ramsey is better is making runs into the box. But he’s so inconsistent at finishing those off that I can’t see it as being worthy of displacing Elneny on those grounds alone.
    I see a better all round footballer to be honest, and a true team player.
    So this upside that Ramsey has is lost on me I’m afraid.
    I’m probably more neutral than most with regards to this, Ramsey used to be one of my favorite players and I’d love him to come good. But If I’m being honest he’s regressed terribly and I have zero faith in Wenger turning that around.
    I’d sell Ramsey keep Elneny and buy a world class CM.

  23. Jonny
    Ok, that was obviously tongue in cheek but if you want logic, here’s some.

    Forget the £60m price tag( allegedly), but Arsenal and Wenger are never interested in a bidding war and there are other clubs that might be involved, mainly Liverpool.

    The Player has stated he wants European football- presumably Cl, that makes us unattractive as his destination.

    And lastly, Arsenal have raided Southampton fc more than any other club in the PL and none of the players we got from them are tearing up trees, especially Chambers.
    It’s one thing to take a gamble on a prospect like Walcott, Ox or Chambers for £15m, it’s quite another to spend four times that, even if VVD is a quality player.

    And finally bringing in an established PL defender would surely “kill” one of our own internal solutions, and that’s a big no-no in Wenger’s book.

  24. I think we all recognise the constraints of reality under Kroenke and AW, but we won’t be limited in our complaining on here with regards wishing that we had a manager and owner who accepts the going market rates and seeks to improve the team come what may.
    None of us think VVD is realistic and we all accept he would not be a priority anyway.
    But jeez, we’re allowed to have a moan and dream of a better run club then what’s the point?
    It’s not as though we don’t have the money to compete for such players occasionally – not really.
    Just another summer where we have strengthened a little but not done enough and entered the season short of what was needed.
    Same as every summer for a decade.
    Groundhogs everywhere.

  25. Pistol Fish

    Elneny is a good player to have on our squad, However, that was one game and Elneny has always looked very competent and hard working and anyone can look really good when they play a game here or there. However, if Elneny becomes the regular starter the adrenaline surge wears off and I suspect the propensity for short passing and ball possession will emerge as the dominant factor. IMO.

    I think Elneny is a nice player but not someone who I would like to see start 30 league games in a season. I think we need more impact players in the attacking 1/3 of the pitch and while he can look great in a game like the community shield, I don’t see Elneny as someone who will make an impact as a regular starter and I think if Ramsey could somehow stay healthy for 32 games he has a lot more upside and at least has the potential to provide more impact.

    Bottom line is other then C who develops strong emotional attachments to certain players, I suspect most of the Elneny love is more about Ramsey hate. The way the squad is constructed right now, I think Ramsey will be the first choice but Aaron is a muscle pull waiting to happen and I suspect if Elneny is his back up he will get a lot of high leverage minutes this season.

    I hope that makes sense.

    I hope that makes sense.

  26. Holding has looked great in limited minutes and I have high hopes for him in long term sense. However, over the years dozens and dozens and dozens of players have looked great in short snippets of playing time and when they become regular starters something changes over time. I think if we pencil in Holding for heavy minutes we risk getting into trouble as the inconsistency tends to emerge. The money is crazy but a player like Van Dijk would be a huge addition to the squad as a starter and give us a much better chance to have a full year of consistent solid defense.

  27. Bill

    “I think Elneny is a nice player but not someone who I would like to see start 30 league games in a season”
    Pretty much sums up how I feel about our entire list of Midfielders, apart from Santi who doesn’t play anyway.
    Our midfield is very underwhelming.

  28. Bill,

    I’m a fan but really endorse the caution on expecting Holding to play 35 league matches. But at least we have some competent and experienced backups for the 3CB formation. What we really need to do is make sure we have a CM who can affect games by offering some of the qualities we’ve been lacking recently and that Ramsey doesn’t provide from the injury room.

  29. Pistol Fish,

    Agree, which is why I am not interested in the Rambo v Elneny discussion while there is the possibility, vain though it may be, in the window to get a top CM who would potentially start m–a first 11 quality player for a challenging team.

  30. Jonny,

    what is this a forum for if not opinions on players and what we’d like for Arsenal? It is fair to distinguish between what we think possible under the current regime or what we think/predict AW and the club will do from what we would like to see and think we could manage given our resources. Generally, I’m less interested in the former. After all we’ll find out soon enough what actually happens and what they actually do. Imagining the possible, dreaming… at least while the window is still open seems more fun.

  31. I haven’t had any interest in it either as they both below standard in my opinion.
    But on Sunday I figured I’d form my own opinion. I know it’s only one game, but if Elneny can play like that week in week out he’s far more valuable than Ramsey and I’d rather he started the bulk of the matches.

  32. Pistol Fish,

    Fair enough. The other day, C and HenryB wanted to debate that issue, but I don’t see that as the real question right now. When the window closes and we haven’t bought anyone, we’ll have the whole Fall to argue our favored substandard pairing!

  33. Glad to see others felt the same about that performance – not that I was blown away or anything – I just thought he looked a slightly different animal to the one I was familiar with.
    As you rightly point out from here it’s about doing it week in week out and providing the right kind of foil for Xhaka.

  34. Pistol fish @ 5:15

    I agree.

    Fair or not I like guys I think have upside in the attacking positions as long as I believe that using the upside guy is not really going to hurt our defense. For example I like Ox over Bellerin at RWB. I feel the exact opposite about players who are supposed to be our defensive players. Cech’s steadiness over Wojo’s upside with risk. Xhaka has attacking upside because of his left foot but I would much rather have a boring player who is a good defensive player at that position. We argued endlessly about Arteta a few years ago. I thought Arteta was a better then most gave him credit for, but the consensus opinion on blog thought he was a major defensive liability. Now we have Xhaka who like Arteta is a good passer but also does not move very well and does not cover the field side to side and we end up having to compensate for his defensive limitations because the only place we can use him is deepest midfielder. We are willing to compensate for his defense in order to get his left leg on the pitch. I am not campaigning for Le Coq because I think he was heavily over rated based on a short run of good form in 2015. However, when it comes to our deepest midfielder I think the steady boring defensive specialist that Le Coq gave us in 2015 is a much better option then someone who is not a great defender but has some attacking upside.

  35. Giroud is the perfect example of someone who can look good when he plays intermittently but you don’t really want him as a regular starter. His minutes were way down last season compared to previous season. If you chose to ignore the previous 4 years and you watched the minutes Giroud did play last season and especially if you looked at the stats would think Arsene was crazy for not making him the regular starter.

    A lot of people got really excited about Joel Campbell when he played a couple of times 2 years ago and looked pretty good. However, when he moved to a different team with a different manager he could not even get regular minutes in Portugal. Clearly he was not the sort of player who should be playing a lot of minutes for Arsenal and we over rated him based on what we saw during his limited minutes. An example of our heart over ruling our head.

  36. The unfortunate (in a sense) aspect of such speculations is there will never be clarification or concensus.

    C and I have believed in Elneny from debut – a year and a half ago- yet he has not been as embraced and encouraged as he should have been. He’s been swimming upstream from day one whereas Ramsey has enjoyed favored son status for years. He therefore deserves credit for even being in the conversation. Not only do I think him way more competent than some realize, I also believe he can expand his game.

    As Pistol Fish said, I was once a fan of Ramsey (weren’t we all?) but see regression rather than progression.

    I often wish we could conduct ‘the grand experiment’ and write off a season by placing a player(s) in position with the responsibilities that some think they merit. Ramsey would be one – play him at number ten a whole season and see where we end up – eject/sell Ozil and give the creative playmaker role to Ramsey.

    I know how I feel about that prospect but I’ll bet even his most ardent backers are given pause for thought.

    We had a version of this during the past season. Wilshere at Bournemouth with all the freedom and backing Eddie Howe could give him and it wasn’t impressive. Then it all gets qualified. Well, a question of getting back to match fitness…staying fit…staying injury free- akin to all things Ramsey.

    It’s interesting to supplement personal opinions with facts/stats.

    In relation to midfielders I was casually wandering through stats related to various players and it was illuminating how some matched up in terms of going forward and creating/crossing (defensive stats seemed fairly similar).

    In terms of accurate crosses (yes, just one metric) a couple of things stood out.

    Ramsey, Bellerin and Monreal had a similar number of crosses (240 to 260) and accuracy rate 15% or 16%. Gibbs (yes Gibbs) then bettered them by 100 more crosses (354) and a crossing accuracy of 18%.

    Oxlade Chamberlain had more crosses (289) than the first three and an increased accuracy rate of 20%.

    Leaving all in his wake was Ozil who had 622 crosses with an accuracy rate of 36%.

    Naturally, they all have diverse roles but it underlines personal bias comes into play more often than people admit. Gibbs is constantly dismissed but in this area outshines players who are lauded (Bellerin) for their ‘solid’ game.

    Finally, I repeatedly cite Ozil as a favorite player of mine but question his continued role at AFC (I want to see him at his creative and productive best). But the idea he could fill Ozil’s shoes is a stretch to far for me.

  37. If the rumors are true it looks like Barca has settled on Coutinho to replace Neymar. Losing Coutinho certainly makes Liverpool a less formidable rival for 4th place.

  38. Top stuff Yogi.

    If Sead is fit, he starts as LWB and that should be the end of the discussion to be honest UNLESS we have all our CB’s back then he and Nacho will have to fight it out but unlike the Nacho Gibbs debate, there isn’t a drop off defensively and both are more composed in the attacking and are capable of not just whipping in crosses but also making the right decision on when to attack and when to stay back and defend.

    Van Dijk, well he would be an upgrade over all of our CB’s bar none. The problem is, that money should be used on a CM even though I do think that Elneny given more match time can continue to come good. I would also have no problem with Van Dijk coming especially when it looks like Chambers is on his way out and Holding, while talented and impresses everytime he is on the pitch, I think getting Van Dijk would provide us more stability.

  39. DFS

    Interesting comment. I agree with most of it. I think we over rate the importance of having a creative playermaker such as Ozil whose job it is to run the show. We have had 2 of worlds best creative midfielders for most of the last 4 season in Cazorla and Ozil. The importance of creativity is getting the ball into dangerous situations and that can come from anywhere on the pitch. Ramsey certainly does not fit the mold of the creative playmaker that we have been conditioned to believe is needed during the Fabregas and Ozil era’s.

  40. On the Elneny thing, I think the thing that people forget is just how good he was when he arrived and was given that extended match time, he was really good even in big matches against Barca (scored a goal but was also really solid) and Spuds.

    The thing for me is that yes the window is open and I like others would gladly welcome a new CM, but with our current crop of CM’s to pair with Xhaka I think Elneny is the best fit. A team isn’t always about putting out the best XI but some of those pieces need to just be solid and consistent match in and match out. Take a look at some of the best clubs in the world and they all have them: Madrid has Casermo (though Zidane seems to have given him more freedom thus far in pre-season), Barca have Raktik and Sergi Roberto who played RB last season but is a brilliant young CM who we should chase, Bayern have Kimmich who yes is versatile but is a player that is consistent in what he provides and brings to the XI, Juve have a pleathora of them, Citeh have Fernandiho, Chelsea last season had Alonso, Moses and Matic, Manure have players like Valencia, Matic and Herrera.

    I think with the addition of Lacazette and with Sanchez looking more and more likely to stay (PSG have decided he isn’t worth it so that’s another one) we have plenty of players that will be dynamic and impactful when you think of Xhaka’s range of passing, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette plus our wingbacks with Bellerin, Sead, Nacho and Ox but with those wingbacks and that front 3, you need a player in midfield who brings not only that calm but brings that stability, positioning, calm, availability, defensive work and simply knowing and doing his job week in and week out and that is what you get with Elneny. Sure he can push forward as we saw in the Emirates Cup when he ran the 2nd half of the first match constantly pushing forward and creating with his quick thinking and quick passing but he is also that player that simply can do his job and sit and cover for players with an enormous and long lasting engine while also being really good defensively and will simply do his job.

    Sure we all want a new CM but part of me thinks that Arsene is looking at the midfield and unless he sells one of Jack, Ox, Ramsey or Le Coq; we won’t be seeing a new CM but instead carry on with what we have though I think we all want a new CM.

  41. DFS @ 10:53

    “Naturally, they all have diverse roles but it underlines personal bias comes into play more often than people admit. Gibbs is constantly dismissed but in this area outshines players who are lauded (Bellerin) for their ‘solid’ game.”

    Absolutely no doubt that personal bias greatly alters our perception of how well a player is performing and the effectiveness of what he does. We have talked about this a lot but we tend to see what we hope to see. Joel Campbell is a perfect example of someone we over rated.

  42. For me the thing with Ramsey is that he isn’t a bad player BUT so much of what he does is based on him making those late runs into the box and finishing and his lack of finishing is what really hurts him along with the other stuff that people regularly talk about (too many touches when its not needed, not that good of a passer in midfield, loses the ball quite a bit in bad spots). When Ramsey was at his best he was finishing but when you look at the fact that last season he didn’t score a goal until late in the 2nd half of the season doesn’t bode well.

    I think the other thing is that unlike during the Giroud era as our starting CF, he was needed as Theo struggled with injuries and confidence and the goal scoring was really left to Ramsey, Giroud, Ozil and then Sanchez once he arrived but now with the addition of Lacazette and Ozil looking to score more means we need somebody in midfield that is just as solid defensively as they are in helping the quick transitions and joining in the attack.

  43. I know its just a rumor, but would anybody sell Ox to Chelsea for 25m? Given that he is in the last year of his contract and has made NO indication that he wants to stay while most of the talk has been centered around him wanting assured match time.

  44. Thierry has spoke AGAIN about Lacazette, he really does seem to rate him quite highly and I have to agree with him especially about the fact that he will be playing with better players not to mention all of the goal scoring won’t be on his shoulder:

    “He did it in the French league and people might say it’s a different league but, with due respect to Lyon, he’ll also be with better players. I’m backing him to have a good season I’m a big fan of him. I saw him playing for a long time in the French league and in the youth team. He was always a talent that everyone was waiting for him to grow into, and to be fair he did, he’s been scoring goals every season.”

  45. DFS-,


    Agree with both.

    Interesting stats there DFS. I think most here recognise Gibbs has strengths in some areas and weaknesses in other areas like most players. For example Bellerin’s inability to hit the target when on goal drives me half mad. Wenger completes my lunacy by playing Ramsey in midfield.

    I still have hope that Wenger will move for a DCM this window but as Jonny said it wouldn’t surprise me if he puts the wallet away and we have yet another half arsed transfer window. If Sanchez, Ozil and Ox walk next summer its another 2/3 yrs of squad building. I don’t think I could take that!

  46. Bill,

    Eactly what I have been thinking – for all the rumours (Di Maria, Ozil) I have been hoping that it is Coutinho to Barca. It would be a great move for him but would weaken Liverpool as a top four contender….which is all good.

    Regarding stats – like anyone else, stats do not tell a full story but I do like trawling through them, taking a deeper dive once in a while, because it does re-shape my perspective from time to time.

  47. Limestonegunner,

    Yea that is what I was thinking or if Barca are really after Lemar than there are a couple other especially Goretzka or Aiser that we could get in midfield and say Dembele of Celtic in attack.

    We need to sell one of them for sure and if we don’t I don’t see Arsene going after a CM.

  48. Wailesy,

    Yup. I feel Bellerin needs to up his own ante.

    There is an argument last season (performance wise) was hobbled by injury. Fair enough, but I also believe his head was not quite in the right place – i.e. he morphed into having ‘made it’ reached the big time.

    His stats are not outstanding and his final product needs work (it frustrates me as well) so I think this is going to be an interesting season to see whether play matches promise. I think Bill has a point regarding The Ox in the role, if (note if) The Ox could up his defensive game.

    Here’s another surprise regarding defensive stats.

    In terms of tackles per game – Bellerin 1.35, Monreal 2.09 then Gibbs (again) 2.12.

    Not the whole story but as I just noted to Bill, pause for thought.

  49. C,

    Of course, agree with your Elneny post.

    I honestly do not know where I stand on Oxlade Chamberlain. He definitely matured last year and showed determination to make things happen. Yet Wenger absolutely did him no favors on Sunday at the Charity Shield – he looked poor and out of place.

    I would say sell, but then we have an issue at RWB – what if Bellerin is injured and we have released Debuchy, Jenkinson and even Gabriel (who might coverRB)?

    I think it would be an easier decision if the player in question was Walcott.

    It’s the legacy of a faltering window and focus on one issue, Lacazette. If we had have shifted 6 peripheral players early days, recouped a nominal amount, we could have focused on further strengthening (Lemar or whomever) and even taken measured look at a couple of senior squad players (Oxlade Chamberlain, Giroud, Walcott etc).

    We are now stuck between a rock and a hard place because we did not conduct the clear out with the determination we should have.

  50. This is a solid piece of analysis unlike many other pieces of so-called “analysis” on other sites throughout the blogosphere. Thank you for your well thought out opinion. As for the substance of said analysis opinion, I agree that we ought to seek Paulista if we get an offer. I also agree that if VVD is going to be sold, Arsenal should explore signing him. However, there is one point on which I disagree with you. Thst is, Calum Chambers. While it is true that he did play well for Mborough and Thr English National team, we ought not sell him to anyone. I believe that Arsenal would be better served if we can have youth and talent on defense. Perhaps keeping Chambers and Holding on the team we might one day see them playing together and forming the backbone of a solid and young back line. After all, I am of the opinion that one of the most important aspects of having a good defensive back is communication and knowing what your partner in the back will do and is doing. If Holding and Chambers can grow and play together over the years they could form an understanding and intuition on each other’s play that would make the back line work efficiently and effectively. But, it’s always a gamble with young up-and-coming players and prospects. But this just might be a gamble worth taking.

  51. DFS-,

    The thing with Ox that probably bothers me the most is the lack of end product. Yes he is explosive but his lack of end product is why he doesn’t just ‘slot’ in for me, well that and a lack of defense.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do think that he has a place in the squad and as backup to Bellerin he is ideal especially late in matches either playing on the counter or when we are chasing the game. The thing is though, 25m for Ox at this stage with him not showing he wants to stay nor improving his end product isn’t bad business.

    I do think the inability to shift out players this summer or trying to shift out the wrongs ones (see elneny and Chambers) has put us in a bad spot. The next couple of weeks will be interesting and it will be really interesting to see the match day squad vs Leicester.

  52. Another good stats analysis on 7AM.

    So, giving stats context as Dr. Duh said so well- it is not so simple.
    Maybe having a team that plays to one side might possibly skew the data. For example, if one has Hazard running at you all night on the right, and Costa never drifts out left, along with the mid or defender on that side, Gibbs might look world class, but we all know that is not the truth.
    The stats predicted that Arsenal should have won the league over Leicester, but we all know that is not how it played out.
    The stats say that the Arsenal should not play with 3 at the back, but 2 trophies later, and 10 out of 11 wins, we know that the only binary number that counts is winning.
    The quants would have many believe that they can quantify everything, from earthquakes to human behavior, but that has not played out that way yet, if it were true I would be retired already from predicting the many different markets daily!

  53. Where did the idea that Seri is the solid defensive player to partner Xhaka come from? I realize he is built a lot like Santi, but his numbers are those of a #10, 7 goals, 9 assists, and 2.2 key passes per game, while averaging just 1.1 tackles and 1 interception per game.

  54. Where did the idea that Seri is the solid defensive player to partner Xhaka come from? I realize he is built a lot like Santi, but his numbers are those of a #10, 7 goals, 9 assists, and 2.2 key passes per game, while averaging just 1.1 tackles and 1 interception per game.

  55. C,

    I’m also wondering how Ox is feeling about being moved around the pitch. He hasn’t got much of a left peg, so he can’t be happy with being played out of position like that wish must give him further pause as to whether he is going to be anything other than a square peg at Arsenal. It puts Wenger’s coaching abilities under the spotlight if Ox were to go to Chelsea and develop into a much better player.

    His ability to spot talent will also be tested this season as he apparently rejected Lemina when others in the club were in favour of signing him. I actually agree that buying a player who only played 8 league game last season is a risk, but the smart guys at Southampton have gambled on him so it will be interesting to see who is right. Will Wenger be happy to confess that yet another one slipped through his fingers? It really raises a lot of questions about his ability to spot talent.

  56. With all due respect to those quoting them I do find the modern fascination with endless stats a problem. Anyone with a pair of eyes can see that Gibbs is not a good defender. Take as an example one of our defensive greats, Kenny Sansom. He would have ‘terrible’ stats for tackling. His game was based on superb positioning and managing his opponent, the complete opposite of Gibbs who is always out of position and has to make rash challenges (hence his high tackling rate). Lies, damn lies and statistics as they say.

    As for Ramsey I’m probably one of the rare ones who still thinks that he could be a real asset but in the right formation. He isn’t like Ozil, he’s not there to be a creative outlet. I wouldn’t play with a pure #10 (a modern phenomenon in the English game) I would have a more creative player in a deeper role and let Ramsey play box to box like Lampard and Gerrard did. I’d also have two strikers (three at the back, two wing backs, a DM, creative MF and a B2B in the middle, and two strikers).

    Bottom line is that even without any gaps in our first XI we would struggle to win the title playing this formation.

  57. Pretty much agree with all that, Andy. 🙂

    Statistics are fine and very valuable when interpreted carefully, but in general use they are put forward by some as reinforcing their own opinions, and anyone else interpreting the same stats differently are supposedly wrong.
    [Interestingly you used stats to confirm your view of Gibbs. Not that you were rude about it!] 😀

    Your view on Ramsey is pretty much my own, and the last sentence regarding the difficulty in winning the title is spot on — there are some big spending beasts out there.

    And good morning to you.

  58. HenryB,

    Morning Henry. The only stats that really matter are those in the goals for/against and points columns 😜 There has been the suggestion that we’ve bought players previously based on statDNA data and the results haven’t been that impressive so hopefully we’re now going back to the good old method of employing decent scouts who have an eye for a top player that would fit in our set up. The majority of our best players haven’t been superstars when we bought them, but they were the right players and the team always used to be stronger than the sum of the parts.

  59. Again, I agree with your view there, Andy.

    Fat Sam became ‘famous’ for his use of stats to recruit players – and I’m not sure that worked for him. 🙂

    Watching a player and seeing how he played soon gives a good or a bad ‘feeling’ and that is why experienced scouts are probably the best bet, and why Arsenal seem to be going back to that system. [Worked for Leics].

  60. Is it true that Alexis has an abdominal strain picked up in training and is out for the season opener? Anybody else starting to wonder if this is playing out nicely in terms of the transfer window? If Wenger were to stick to his guns I think Alexis would knuckle down for the season, but this seems like one more attempt at forcing the matter and trying to make a move happen by hinting that there could be more of these little strains.

  61. According to Wenger, he was injured before the Community Shield game, Wenger doesn’t know if it will be one or two weeks but he is definitely out of the season opener and maybe the Stoke game too.

  62. Crumbs – some busy and good discussion this morning/late last night.
    I agree with those suggesting for Ramsey to flourish he really needs to play in place of the 10 role as a box-to-box. AW shoehorns him into other positions because ‘Ozil’ – I have been saying for years, I don’t think you ideally want to play the two together and that Ramsey would do better to go to another club.
    With regards Ox – I too am torn. We saw glimpses last season of a player that really could, finally, be about to flourish (yes, I know, I know). It would be a tragic feeling were he to leave after all that investment and do it for someone else – let alone a big London rival.
    Moreover, Wenger has rather successfully turned him into a utility player who can do a job on either wing, as both a back AND as a forward. That is pretty damn valuable to have in the squad but, in fact, I think his best position last season showed to be in the middle. How many other players do we have who can cover 5 positions and have so much yet unseen potential?
    Personally, I’d like to keep him but the elephant in the room is, of course, his contract.
    £25M seems pathetic in the current climate but then this is just another effect of AW’s chronic contract mismanagement fiasco.

  63. Wavey,

    Yes, it’s all a bit convenient isn’t it. Didn’t Cesc have some small ‘niggles’ just before he left for Barca ?

    Having seen Arsene’s interview earlier , I’m more convinced than ever that Alexis is on his way.I don’t think Arsene could lie straight in bed.

  64. Paulie Walnuts,

    If I was angling for a move I think I would be keen to avoid picking up an injury playing for the club I no longer wanted to be at.

    I prefer the Rowan Atkinson quote, “I wouldn’t trust him to sit the right way on a toilet seat”.

  65. Jonny,

    I don’t think his best performances were in central midfield–he’s inconsistent there. He has much needed ball carrying and dribbling skills and can make long passes but is not so reliable with the ball possession short passing exchanges, decision-making and defensive/positional discipline aspects of the role. So it is risky playing him there. Perhaps he could gain experience playing there in Europa league matches to develop in the position but I wouldn’t drop him into PL matches, right now he is best on the right in a formation the team has moved away from but is a decent RWB. In some cases he might prove better as an attacking force over Bellerin but it isn’t the position he wants to play. If he won’t sign without guarantees of playing where he feels his present and future should be, I think we have to cash in.

  66. Jonny,

    Personally I think we have far to many utility players and far too few specialists, and it’s a habit that we’ve had for some time. NB52 on the wing anyone? I prefer to have players who know exactly what they role is and who play it. If we have injuries put the back up in, even if it’s a younger player, not shuffle players around.

  67. andy1886,

    I completely agree…I think our problem is we’ve got players who are efficient, but when it comes to someone needing to make a difference, we relied on a few who are having a good season, as an example, last season was relied on the brilliance of Sanchez getting us through tough games, as we did with Ramsey a few seasons ago and RVP before that….

    In relation to Van Dijk, i’d take him in a heartbeat. When he played for Celtic i watched him a lot and he was just too far above everyone in the league, moved to Southampton i though, he’ll be average as playing in scottish league isn’t a good indicator, but he never looks out of depth, he’s strong, composed and a good distributor. Our CB’s are average height at best, minus per who despite the height lacks athleticism, he’s be a fantastic addition and means we can stop relying on an aging Kos.

    Ox, to me, has to prove this season he’s got what it takes, he’s been here 7 years…..7!! And he’s yet to make a mark on the team. Same as Jack and Ramsey, part of that Wenger youth era were we had young players with huge potential but got bullied as they were too young and they haven’t really florished. I’d be ruthless, sell Ox and Theo, Buying Lemar and have Iwobi as a back up and i’d invest in Van Dijk and a player in the mould of a Pjanic, a playmaker someone who dictates play for us

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