STONE COLD FRIDAY: It’s Open Season On Arsenal Wantaways

You can’t keep up. When you go to bed, the press claims Alexis Sanchez’s personal terms of £250,000 a week are agreed with Manchester City. When you wake up, Mourinho is convinced he can sign the Chilean and offer a better salary. The open season on Arsenal players would be farcical if Arsenal’s own board hadn’t redefined farce when it comes to transfer policy. Who gives a damn about Arsenal’s needs, eh? Even Man City players are throwing their two cents in, Kevin De Bruyne making sure we know Alexis is his preferred choice with Jesus – not that other one – unavailable for a few months.

What’s to stop Liverpool from taking pot shots at Arsenal? They have £145 million to burn and a Philippe Coutinho sized hole to fill. Yw – don’t be surprised if ACLF is quoted as the source that linked Alexis to a sensational Liverpool bid. Isn’t this how it starts? A writer sitting in a pub on Fleet Street racking his brain about how to fill the column inches and BOOM! – “I Know…Liverpool still has that Coutinho money they haven’t spent. They to must want someone like Sanchez”. The only thing we can be sure of is that Le Coq is a Valencia player. The rest is pretty much a circus.

Starve The Man And Flush Him Out They Say

What caught my attention this week is the cry in some corners of the internet Gooniverse. A hope for some that Arséne Wenger should be starved of January transfer funds and kicked out in the summer. The Daily Heil – yes, their guy in the pub – already linked Carlo Ancelotti as the right man to replace Wenger. Who Knows? Maybe they really get to talk to the managers who leak their plans. Ivanka Trump has more chance of becoming first woman President than newspapers knowing who the next Arsenal Manager is. As if Wenger will be kicked out.

What isn’t in question is the intensity that Arséne still has. Chelsea fans and the press corps saw him up close and personal on Wednesday night as he sat around them flanked by Jens Lehman and a few henchmen. Wenger kicked every ball of the game, slamming his fist on the table or guardrail in frustration when his players made a mistake or took the wrong decision. He didn’t show any signs of a man who might be receiving a P45 from Ivan any time soon. He totally blanked out the taunts from the Chelsea fans and gave the game an absolute laser focus; Lehman frequently attentive to his earpiece, acted as a conduit to the Arsenal bench.

Of Passing Clouds And Rising Stars

I hope Le Coq gets to progress his career in La Liga. He took his chance at Arsenal when we were down and out in midfield, his best performance marking him out as the spoiler we needed. With his departure comes the chance for rising stars like Ainsley Maitland-Niles. It’ll be good to finally see the young man take up a role in the centre of the park. Many Arsenal insiders aver that this is Maitland-Niles best position, his defensive input now more assured with his performances at left back. Can he be the defensive midfielder we’ve wanted for a long time?

Some would argue that we actually don’t play with a defensive midfielder; Xhaka, Li’l Jack, Elneny and Ramsey are ball players frequently engaged in attacking sorties. With Kolasinac and Monreal covering the left side of our defence, it makes sense to give Maitland-Niles his defensive midfielder role. The young man certainly has the confidence of the manager, Wenger personally telling him that he most admires his 1-2-1 defensive quality, footballing intelligence, speed and recovery ability.

It Ain’t Over, The Fat Lady Is Still In The Bath

Sunday’s defeat to Nottingham Forrest in the FA Cup left a very bitter taste in the mouth. I suppose going for three cups was a tall order. The FA Cup the most challenging with its full complement of big clubs. After Wednesday’s professional job at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, another high-intensity match against Chelsea and probably Man City if we get to Wembley, make the League Cup seem very attainable. There’s no excuse not to field a full-strength team for the return leg of the semi-final. At this stage, we have nothing to lose and no players to be patient with.

In the Europa League, seven games remain if we progress all the way, warrants a full-strength squad. Even if we aim to tie up Europa ties in the first leg and then ease off, options are there. It’s one thing to thumb your nose at the lesser cup, but at this stage doing so is cutting our nose to spite our face. We need the trophy, and we certainly need the option of winning the Europa league as a route back into the Champions League.

You do wonder though, even if we make it back to the Champions League, are we still avoiding the inevitable? I can’t tell you how tedious it was in that Bayern-Barcelona second round cycle. It didn’t matter whether we won our group, it was written that we would meet Bayern or Barcelona. If there’s one thing I’ll enjoy this season, it’s seeing Barcelona bitch-slap Chelsea for a change.

Have a great weekend good people.

63 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: It’s Open Season On Arsenal Wantaways

  1. There was a time when players never left AFC to go onto better things…now its a wise career move to leave us.

  2. Morning,

    Alexis had a proper sulk on at the start of the season when his move was pulled at the last minute, so imagine what he will be like if we pull the same stroke in the January window. If he downs tools for a couple of months we could be out of the running in everything before he decides to start playing again.

  3. Allardyce has said they are negotiating with Arsenal for Walcott and is excited about his pace, experience and crossing ability. 😂😂

  4. Good stuff Darius.

    I don’t understand why Arsrne thought that having your best players run down their contract was the right thing to do nor why he thought not building a complete squad was the right thing to do.

    Welp I have no idea the transfer plans Arsene is going with in his last window in charge(remember our Barca shadow man takes over Feb 1) but it seems its sell your squad and its depth. Theo looks all set to leave for Everton, Le Coq has already left, Sanchez looks likely to leave, Ozil and Jack don’t have contracts and not sure whats going to happen with either. The one defender we did bring in wasn’t anybody Arsene knew about and Arsene is already taking shots at our new transfer team.

    Anyways, winning the Carabou Cup and the Europa League are priority, no more B teams, sprinkle them in but not full rotation.

  5. Arsene and his supporters can argue all they like about his ‘passion’ (a word derided when used in conjunction with the English of course) and dedication (even if he does work 24hrs a day – apart from his BeIN commitments😉) but as in any other job it’s the results and only the results that matter. You can be as passionate and hard working as you like but do a bad job you should and probably will be replaced with someone who may not share those values but gets results.

    And this is the thing, these are words used to excuse inaction, as a smokescreen to try and hide the fact that although Arsene isn’t performing in a sporting sense he’s doing a fine job of managing Stan’s financial investment. So let’s stop bullshitting the punters and at least try to treat them like intelligent individuals (or consumers if you prefer). Keeping Alexis makes no sense as Wavey mentioned, just sell and be done with it. Same with Walcott. And don’t tease us with potential signings (we may not do that directly but the club loves a well placed leak to Cross or Ornstein).

    I’m one of those that can’t see the point of AW buying players this month. All the evidence suggests that he’ll ruin them, or his replacement will have a different idea about who he wants and how we’ll play. Look at Lacazette – how did that go? There is still time but he’s in danger of going the same way as some of our other recent big signings (Xhaka, Mustafi). A season finishing mid table isn’t going to kill us long term but another four or five years of Wenger just might.

  6. I love Arsenal but when you see arguably Chelsea’s two best and most important players in Hazard and Courtious set to sign new deals and then you look at Arsenal and we could potentially lose 3 of our most talented(2 of our best and if Jack was able to stay fit he would be in that arguement), its quite frustrating!

  7. On Maitland-Niles, I think it will be interesting to see what happens once Sead is back fit with Le Coq now out. I actually doubt that Maitland-NIles will get a chance other than in the Europa League centrally and that’s if we crush the first leg and look clean through.

    Centrally we all know that we don’t play with a DM but it will be even more interesting to see what Arsene does when Jack, Xhaka and Ramsey are all fit because he is going to have to drop one of the two UNLESS he does something crazy like drop Ozil or something in-order to accommodate the three of them. Funny thing is, I can actually see Arsene go:


    and if that is the case, it would literally be a suicidal midfield 3 of Xhaka/Jack/Ramsey

  8. Ivanka Trump for President ?
    Now there’s a thought.
    Remember the saying ” talent skips a generation”?
    In Trump family’s case it seems to have skipped two.
    A dipshit fruit doesn’t fall far from the dipshit tree in Ivanka’s case.

  9. Thanks for the post Darius.

    Our entire squad building has been disjointed during most of this decade but especially in the last few years. It felt like we recovered from the late window trolley dash in the summer of 2011 and we started heading in the right direction in 2012. We sold RVP but we had a plan when we replaced him with Podolski Giroud and we added Cazorla. Then came the mess that was 2013 with the failed bids for Higuain and Suarez. In 2014 we added Sanchez which has been our best acquisition of the decade. However there has not been a coherent strategy. Arsene has always been poor at managing the wage budget but it has gotten so bad that he has needed to sell players just to dump wages and to decrease the numbers. Other teams like Chelsea have been able to sell players for big money and use the funds to finance their purchases. The shambolic mess that we see th the contract situations with Sanchez Ozil and Wilshere is symptomatic of our lack of planning and poor decision making. I know a lot of people love lil-jack but we should have sold him 3-4 years ago when he was still worth $50M and used that money to buy a replacement who was not injury prone. Instead we kept him around and we have gotten very few useful minutes during those 4 years and now we might lose him for nothing. The current situation is a lose/lose. We can’t build a squad that is reliant on jack staying healthy and it would be crazy to spent big wages on a player who most likely will spend a majority of his time in the treatment room. We have seen how well that works over the years. However if we lose jack for free then we will be accused of lacking ambition. We are also in the lose/lose situation with Ozil for a different reason. If you look at his stats it’s very clear that he is not the same player he once was. It would be foolish and to give him a new long term high dollar contract in his age 30 season. The overwhelming likelyhood is he will continue to fade as he heads into his 30’s and then we have a huge money underperforming contract on our hands that further limits our flexibility and our ability to rebuild the squad. Its all become a gigantic mess that needs to be sorted out and it will probably handcuff Mislintat/Ivan/Sanllehi and whomever is the next managers attempts to right the ship for at least a couple years

  10. Afternoon all – the latest from the rumour mill with Mr Ornstein doing his best to ratify things:
    “Alexis Sanchez will leave Arsenal this month if suitable offer made + replacement secured. Hierarchy accept/expect it, conversations continue with Man City. #AFC wanted £35m, #MCFC £20m, possible compromise £25-30m. 1st choice replacement Bordeaux’s Malcom”
    Good but pretty damn young (20) player Malcolm – I guess he would be at least £50M.
    Not really a signing for the right now, is it?

  11. I am usually skeptical about our U21 players chances of becoming regular first team players but I am more hopeful for Maitland-Niles. He has started out quite well and he will almost certainly go thru some growing pains and inconsistent spells and his ultimate plateau will not be as high as we hope. However, he profiles as a defensive player which means he does not need to provide end product in order to useful which makes the transition to the top level a lot easier and more likely to be successful.

  12. Even Conte has chimed in, when asked about Citeh signing Sanchez he made the following two quotes:

    “If Man City wants Sanchez, they buy Sanchez. They don’t have a problem with money and this investment and I think it is a good investment. We are talking about a top player who you can buy with a price not so high.”

    “I hear that his price is around £20m but normally you are talking around £90m.”

  13. Jonny,

    It’s always Jam Tomorrow with Arsenal and Arsene. Makes it more difficult to be held accountable for the here and now.

    Malcom? Because he’s young and not the finished article he would still need some decent coaching which we might struggle to provide. Wouldn’t it be ironic if we sold Theo and then brought in the new Brazilian Theo?

    BTW he doesn’t seem to be a prolific scorer but at 1.7m tall is just the sort of nippy midget that AW loves.

  14. Jonny

    Malcom has a grand total of 15 league goals in about 52 league games so clearly he is not someone who is ready to be a Sanchez replacement yet. Whether he will grow into an impact player and become a legitimate PL goal scorer over the next 3-4 years is anyone’s guess. There is certainly a significant possibility he could be the next Ox or Welbeck instead of the next Neymar. It would great to take a punt on someone like Malcom if we already had a full compliment of goal scoring forwards and we could work him into the squad over time. Spending $50M on someone who is a big risk and expecting him to immediately be the Sanchez replacement might handicap our squad rebuilding efforts for a coupe years if it does not work out.

  15. What a roight royal mess we are in…

    Malcom… OMG!!!???

    Wake me up when we move in with Kingstonian at Kingsmeadow.

  16. Jonny,

    Probably the most interesting thing about all of this is that, if reports are true and Manure are offering Mhkitaryan + 20m, that’s the best deal on the table yet I wonder if Gooners would be more pissed off and how much backlash would take place selling to not just United, but Mourinho’s United.

    Malcom has the making’s of a goal scoring winger getting 12-15 goals minimum in a league season, the problem is he is young and while I would gladly take him, I think most wouldn’t given his tag, his age (if your good enough your old enough IMHO) and the fact that he would be brought in under the category of ‘replacement for Sanchez’. I am still very much interested in Lucas Vasquez at Madrid who has not only been excellent when called upon in recent years but at the age of 26 is just now entering his prime and the pressure of Arsenal and what is going on wouldn’t be ANYTHING compared to being at Madrid and not only coming through the ranks but being one of the most highly rated (along with Asensio) of the last decade.

  17. The jury is still out on Lacazette but in this decade we have not had much success with buying attacking players from France. None of them has come very close to replicating the production they before they came to Arsenal. Chamakh, Gervinho and Sanogo come to mind. Giroud has been OK but I would not call that a big success

  18. Hahaha, the comments above are exactly why Malcom wouldn’t go over. I know my friend Bill will look at his goals but your judging a kid who is about to turn 21 on his first 2 seasons at in terms of goals. I mean people tend to forget that Sanchez was wanted and desired by Barca and he had ONLY scored 20 goals in 95 matches for Udinese prior to his €26m + €11m in certain bonuses move to Barca.

  19. The other thing is midfield, I know Jack says he wants to stay but what if Arsenal offer him a pay cut does he stay then? Ramsey is back fit so the big question is what will Arsene do, will he start Jack or Ramsey next to Xhaka or does he start all 3 and then what happens? The other thing is Ramsey’s contract is up next summer so then the question becomes do we offer Ramsey a new deal?

    Personally, and I might be alone in my thinking but I would keep try to keep Jack at his current rate and then put in incentives and bonuses, sign Ozil and bet on Ramsey because worst case scenario with Ramsey is that he continues with his injury problem and Maitland-Niles gets more match time and fourishes

  20. It sounds crazy to say the Man city needs more firepower but with the Liverpool game this weekend I am sure they would have preferred to not be forced to use Aguero to win the first round of their league cup semifinal. The team that could really use Sanchez is Chelsea. Their goal scorers have been misfiring and Morata is looking less and less like the top CF they hoped he would be.

  21. When you look at the PL goal scoring table, it really is quite funny to think that people are killing Morata but Lukaku has been equally as unimpressive given their price tag yet both sit on 10 goals.

  22. Actually having a look at the goal scoring table, there are some very interesting things, people praise Coutinho for his massive influence but Mahrez was equally as effective with 7 goals and 7 assists. Lacazette and Jesus sit together with 8 goals.

  23. In all honesty Sanchez will make no difference next season, whatever club he chooses to play for. If he couldn’t pull Chile into the world cup with his patriotism, I don’t think he can carry any other team to glory or else he would have been a Ballon d’Or contestant while at Arsenal. He left Barcelona, they moved on; He’s leaving Arsenal, we will get better.

  24. C,

    If there was a genuine offer of Mhkitaryan + 20m and we turned it down because of whatever dislike we have for United / Wenger for Mourinho then I would be close of giving up on Arsenal as we know it.

    At this stage of proceedings, as it also should have been last summer, the only deals we should be looking at are the best deals for Arsenal Football Club and a bid matching that of City plus a top class replacement player would be too good to turn away.

    Sorry thing at this stage is that we can force Sanchez to do nothing, he can turn down any bid we accept and just style it out for 3 months.

  25. Fuck Utd. We have already provided them with one quality striker I don’t think we should be doing it again. City are out of reach so better to sell our best player to them rather than Utd who are maybe a realistic atm target to catch(if our manager and players can pull their socks up).

  26. It’s unfair to say that Arsène has not made any smart sales in this decade. We took advantage of Barcelona when we sold them song and vermaelen

  27. Dukey,

    Or put another way how low can we get the wage bill (manager excluded of course) and still finish in the European (extra income) places?

  28. Steve,

    Yup agree with that. I think keeping Sanchez at this point would be a toss up because he will either say ‘fuck it’ and play knowing that he is free at the end of he season or he will not and if that is the case then it would be interesting to see the reaction of really, the futboling world.

    If that is a genuine offer than I would take it, with the understanding there will be backlash but, as you say its a good deal for The Arsenal, problem is I think its in the minority.

    The shittest part about all of this is that everybody knows (or seems to know) that he wants to leave yet there is still futbol to be played.

  29. Andy,

    yes indeed. is it cynical to think whether Sir Chips Or Ivan or friar tuck or whoever and Wenger have had this conversation? You can just imagine it, them asking Wenger how low can we go…

  30. Crazy as this might sound we did the right thing regarding the way we tried to develop Theo. We brought him into a side that had recognized strikers such as Van Persie Adebyor and Eduardo. Theo was most a squad player and cup team player and allowed to develop at his own pace. He was not ever thrown into a high leverage squad spot and if he failed we had other better options. There was never any pressure for Theo to be something he was not capable of. It took about 6-7 years but he actually developed into a very effective player by 2011-13. It all went wrong after that but it was a better model for integrating players like him into a squad.

  31. Dukey,

    How about eighteen senior professionals plus the kids (inc AMN):

    Bellerin (Youngish)
    Kos (not for much longer though)
    Holding (still young)
    Chambers (ditto)
    Ozil (for now)
    Giroud (could still go)

    Of course Iwobi could still be counted as a youngster at 21.

    Going or nearly gone for one reason or another we have:

    Santi (sadly an further contribution would be an unexpected bonus)

    Of the eighteen Ozil is likely to leave in the summer, Giroud and Jack could go too, and Kos is on borrowed time with his achillies. Then there are more contracts to sort out for those who’s are up in 2019.

    On the up side a core squad of 14/15 players makes team selection nice and easy.

  32. Its obviously best if you can be patient with players like Theo. However, your results will suffer and you can’t afford to be patient if that player is struggling and not productive in a high leverage squad position and he is playing a lot of high leverage minutes.

  33. Dukey,

    Yeah, I’d be confident that they think we can really trim the squad fairly significantly and still make top six – we should still have enough to hold off Burnley. They know damn well that even if they gave AW £100m+ to spend on top of any sales our chances of making the top four would still be less than 50/50. Why gamble?

  34. Ornstein @ BBC is now reporting that City will not match any increased offers from United and are willing to risk sitting it out until the summer.

    So allegedly we have two offers, one slightly higher than the other, and with the player reportedly favouring the club with the lower offer, but more money on offer from the club with the higher offer.

    Or we have nothing in 3 weeks.

    A large bucket of popcorn perhaps as this could yet be a very interesting January window.

    Or in other words we really made a monumental balls up last summer with the whole Sanchez/Lemar farce.

  35. The point of all of this stuff about Theo is to make the analogy with buying someone like Malcom. If we spend $50M and bring him into the squad as the “Sanchez replacement” then we need him to be productive almost from day 1 and we can not afford to be patient with him.

  36. Steve,

    Yup, although I’m not convinced that spending the £90m on Lemar would have been a a great idea either.

    Our new backroom boys must be wondering what they’ve let themselves in for.

  37. andy1886,


    Yes, in hindsight perhaps not though he is a class act as a footballer.

    Thing is we waited until Aug 31 or whatever so we were always going to be over a barrel. You see how City acted early in the window and got Bernardo Silva for €45m or whatever, once Neymar went the entire world of top level transfers just lost the plot.

    €100m+ for Dembele, a player who about 12 months earlier was €15m I think.

  38. Last summer there was talk of spending $90M on Thomas Lemar as the Sanchez replacement but realistically it is extremely unlikely that Lemar will ever score enough to be a legitimate Sanchez replacement no matter how patient would have been with him

  39. Steve,

    We do seem to be unable to complete significant transfers until the very last minute. The idea that we get a better deal that way is ludicrous, but we’ve been working that way for years now. Lemar was talked about for around £40-£60m during the first few weeks of the summer, then we get desperate (and Monaco make lots of sales and don’t need the money) and the price is £90m. Just amateurish. Not much sign of things changing this time around either.

  40. lost the plot – have we got any choice in where we sell – ie if we like the manure offer can we say you are going to old toilet & what if he says no ?

    also talk sport all debating the value of Theo – haven’t they watched him over the lat many years ?

  41. C:
    When you look at the PL goal scoring table, it really is quite funny to think that people are killing Morata but Lukaku has been equally as unimpressive given their price tag yet both sit on 10 goals.

    Jury is still out on all 3 but None of Morata or Lukaku or Lacazette have been great success stories so far

  42. I for one will be quite dissapointed if feo goes.

    Ok… he hasn’t been great for a few years now but you can’t question his loyalty.

    I just wished he had more game time to prove that he did have a footballing brain. I actually rate him and believe he still has more to offer.

    Will never forget the 2 finger salute to the Spuds whilst being carried off on a stretcher.✌👌

    So it looks like a future of iwobi then…ffs😠

  43. Bill,

    I know but the thing is, when you look at the money spent on each; its quite interesting to think that Lacazette only has 2 less goals and he is the only one of the bunch that routinely gets subbed off at 70 mins (yup makes no fucking sense). It

  44. C,

    Do you reckon maybe lacazette is getting hooked every game as his fitness is not quite up to prem conditions?? I’m trying to figure out why he keeps going off and it has to be the difference between the ligue 1 and the prem.

  45. Hola amigos from warm and sunny Tenerife. Pleasant Friday walk around Puerto De La Cruz. Afternoon spent by, and in, the pool.

    Very slow hotel wi fi so I’m not taking much notice of anything football related.

    I see Donald J Trump has got his foot in his mouth again. Plus ca change and all that.

  46. Dukey,

    Honestly mate, I’m not sure why. Maybe its the physicality maybe not but the one thing that is clear is that Lacazette absolutely hates it and when you watch him it he doesn’t, even at 70′ look as though he is running on fumes. One of the things that was a strength of his was his fitness so maybe its just Arsene.

  47. andy1886,
    That argument used to apply when talking about going for the title and the CL. Amazing how they have managed to lower the expectations of fans.

  48. Lukaku has about 1815 league minutes. Lacazette about 1550 and Morata about 1450 minutes. In terms of goals scoring efficiency Morata is the best of the 3 while Lacazaette and Lukaku are about equal with each scoring a goal roughly every 181 minutes. Both Lukaku and Morata play in the CL which should benefit Lacazette and in theory he should be significantly less tired then the other 2. However, I have never believed in the overuse theory the way a lot of people do

  49. Wavey,

    Exactly – same old routine, different level of ambition. Now it’s just qualify for the Europa League with the minimum investment. It worked with the old top four trophy, they probably think that it’ll work this time too. And there are still plenty out there just waiting to make their excuses for them. Stockholm Syndrome.

  50. Orson Kaert,

    Just say ‘hello’ to us Orse… need to add the sunny Tenerife bollocks you tosspot.
    Here in West Norfolk it’s cold and damp….wish I was somewhere warm….

  51. Good news. Wenger has calmed everyone down and quashed the conte/ ancelotti/ McLaren/ Bob hope rumours by saying he will still be our manager next season..

  52. C,

    You are right, every time lacazette gets taken off its like another little bit of his morale gets stripped from him. Now he is in poor form, very astute management I must say from Wenger..

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