On Alexis Bingo, Aubameyang and False Dawns

It’s the ‘FA Cup 4th Round and we’re not in it’ post.  That’s not something I’ve written for a while, a number of years if you think about it and I’m not sure how I feel writing that either. It’s like lending someone an LP. You know you’re worrying over nothing but you won’t rest easy until it’s returned in good condition.

On the subject of music, the next in the Jukebox Classics series featuring The Fall will be up later today on Dad’s Jukebox; the retrospective can be found here.

With no football to speak of, there’s only one game in town: slag off the former player. It dawned on me as the Twitter messages flicked up that ‘so-and-so and oojamaflip are talking about #YEOMANU’ that many were playing ‘Alexis Bingo’. It’s a simple game: just tick off one of the sixteen squares which all say “Gave the ball away” or some variant of “Lost Possession” to win.

The vitriol behind the 140/280 character posts gave an insight into how people felt about the Chilean’s departure. A world of blase posts claims “I don’t care, he always gave the ball away” or “At least we’ve got a team now rather than 10 men and a rampant egotist” is gone; the charade revealed. You’re hurt; a good player left and we all suspect the 2 – 1 win over Chelsea was a false dawn. We got away with it if you watch the first half but we’re going to Wembley so we don’t care.

Alexis might still get there in our cup. Perhaps that’s part of the deal but the feigned ambivalence toward him was undermined by the bitterness of the social media posts. You’re hurting. It’s alright, it’s part of the grieving process at the loss.

‘SLAVE’

How quickly that will change when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrives. There are claims of racial harassment in the German media – strenuously denied – which will force him out of Dortmund even though the deal was collapsing around our ears last night with his inclusion in their squad to face Freiburg.

It seems it’s only Arsenal who leave big-game players out the starting line-up when they are on the verge of moving to a new club. That fed the narrative which is emerging over who is responsible for the deal. Is it an Ivan move or is Sven pulling the strings in the background? A Svengali, if you like.

The reality is that like any deal, you break the back of it in before the paperwork and structure is resolved. No transfer happens in a day which is something that this instant world can’t handle. With more claims and counter-claims to tell us what is going on, we feel informed even if the stories are completely made up.

And they are, let’s not kid ourselves about this, they are all made up. No journalist, not even the Former Oracle Known As Ornstein, participated in negotiations nor briefed by anyone who was. It’s guesswork, sensationalised to get clicks or sell newspapers. Yet we fall for it – that’s a royal ‘we’ by the way.

Ivan’s reputation is taking a battering, barks Mr Hack. I didn’t think it could take much more; royally slagged off at every turn, cast as much a part of the club’s problems as Kroenke or Wenger. But no, the news sleuths decide that if it fails, it’s all on Ivan. All the while, Arsène is sitting there, stroking his cat murmuring, “No, Mr Gazidis, I want you to die!”

Legends Head for the Fall

And we haven’t even got to the personal terms negotiations yet…Still, we don’t need to with Karim Benzema supposedly promising that he’ll join Arsenal if we agree on a fee with Real Madrid. Like Wenger, he’s trading on past reputation, treading water in the struggling Madrid side which is almost as far behind the leaders as we are.

Zidane’s time is up so maybe Arsène will get that stint in the Spanish capital that he turned down all those years ago because he always honours his contract.

Anyway, Real want €60m, we’ve only got €40m to spend on him; negotiations, it seems, are already underway. Or at least that’s what the uninformed journalist wants you to believe.

It’s like being in summer. Aside from the miserable rain and cold weather…

’til Tomorrow.

89 thoughts on “On Alexis Bingo, Aubameyang and False Dawns

  1. Benzema? No thanks, certainly not for £60m, or even half of that.

    Sadly for all the accountants we aren’t even the ‘Bank Balance Champions’ any more, United have moved ahead of us.

    With Ozil to convince, and Ramsey too if we’re honest, another poor transfer window isn’t an option. Although you could make the argument that maybe they don’t want to play under Wenger either?

  2. Benzema at €60m with us bidding €40m. Miles apart any way, but why would we consider paying close to Madrid’s fee for Benzema when we seemingly won’t pay close to Dortmund’s fee for Aubameyang who is currently a more prolific striker?
    If Arsenal think that spreading rumours of other players is going to force Dortmund’s hand, I think they are in for a shock. The only reason they have to sell Aubameyang is due to the potential disruptive effect on the team. That was touted as the reason we rushed to get Sanchez out the door, but the real issue was losing him for nothing in the summer. Dortmund can wait until the summer if they come to an agreement with Aubameyang to let him go then. Arsenal need the player, but Dortmund don’t have to sell now. I think I know who has the winning hand here and it’s impossible to bluff when your opponent knows you only have a 2 of clubs and a 7 of hearts.

  3. Pardew on Evans:

    He said: “I don’t think, in my experience, the top clubs are looking to help anyone else, they’re looking to help themselves.

    “If they ring up late Tuesday they’re probably not going to get the response they want, if they ring today, tomorrow, Sunday, they’ll get a nicer response.

    “The deadline is always the same, can you do business, have you got time to do business the other day?

    Fair enough, the money would be no good to them if they can’t reinvest it this window and end up getting relegated.

  4. andy1886,

    If I were Ozil, only a signing like Aubameyang would convince me it would be worth signing a new deal. Wenger is dreaming if he thinks Ozil will sign otherwise. We’ve already proved with Sanchez that there is always someone out there with deeper pockets and the potential to actually win things than us. Big wages on their own do not keep the best players happy. Only the mid-talent players are happy to have their wages hiked because they know the big boys aren’t shopping for them. Ozil will be sitting down with his agent after this window and demanding he gets him the f*ck out of Dodge. So he is off on a free in the summer for the sake of around €10m. Doesn’t sound very clever book balancing to me.

  5. Wavey,

    You’re probably right but then you don’t live in ‘Wenger Land’ where you’re always convinced that players will sign, where it’s actually a good thing that they are in the final year of their contracts, where they will still give 100% and where you believe that this squad is good enough to challenge for the title. He must be the only one who is repeatedly surprised when our best players walk because everyone else knows that it’s all bullshit.

    As for book balancing the financial calculation might look something like this:

    Buy PEA for £55m, wages of £10m/yr, total outlay £65m this season. Maybe scrape into the CL places.

    Don’t make any more signings, save £65m, Ozil leaves in the summer Mhki is the new Ozil and we save Ozil’s wage, say £8m/yr. Almost certainly we end up playing the the EL again next season.

    Option 2 saves up in excess of £70m. Income from CL option 1) is an extra £35-£40m. Conclusion: It’s financially prudent to bump along in the top six and hope we get lucky occasionally.

  6. In all the years he has been a professional player, has there been a window in which we haven’t been linked to Benzema? That rumour is definitely one for the greatest hits package.

  7. One other concern with the whole PEA thing is what if another big club come in at the last minute? Actually you would think that Chelsea would be a good fit. Then yet again we’d lose out by dithering over pennies.

  8. YW is, of course, right. We have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes and the papers string us along for their own ends. I’m finding they have more sway over me this window because it will be such a strong indicator of the club’s ambition (or lack thereof).
    Of course, what our few successes this season have proven is that personnel, whilst important, are going to make less difference than how they are organized and play together.
    Perhaps my concern with transfers stems from the knowledge they are a potential source of change. Whereas the other thing…that would require the Manager and players to learn something.

  9. andy1886,

    It’s always a possibility and I think if Dortmund delay selling till the Summer we will definitely find ourselves up against someone we can’t/won’t compete with.

  10. Andy
    Knowing your place in the footballing food chain might be a great place to start. But when Wenger says something like he can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to stay at Arsenal , that sort of explains his approach to handling Sanchez and Ozil contracts.

    La La land sequel , if eever made, should be about Wenger’s transfer policy and wage allocation in trying to keep big players happy and still playing for the club.

    With wages for top players well north of £200k per week and Wenger insisting on being the top earner at the club , what was he strategy for keeping Sanchez and is for keeping Ozil, I wonder.

  11. YW,

    Yeah, around 55 million might be towards the high end of what I see Arsenal paying but it’s a little short of what they might hope to get for a big league top scorer in the current market. If it can be done for that, we should do it because we won’t get better for the money.

  12. andy1886,

    Chelsea don’t want to pay up for another big money striker in this window, which is why all these loan deals are being thrown around. Even if they make the double signing that is being rumoured, the Dzeko part of it is only around £10m.

  13. Wavey,

    Funnily enough Chelsea are about the only big club who seem to be making poorer decisions in the market than we are. Bakayoko, Drinkwater? Poor for me, don’t sign one of those and they’d have the funds to bid for PEA. Morata could still go either way, probably in the same category as Lacazette.

    I’d guess that PEA’s only real option is a PL club right now, none of the traditional big clubs elsewhere really need him and only the PL clubs can pay him £200k/wk plus. Unless RM sell us Benzema and buy PEA, which IMO would be another terrible deal for us.

  14. Orson Kaert,

    That’s the Wenger approach. Let’s not focus on the past, only the future.

    In the summer it will be Ozil who and Jack who? Maybe we can do a deal with Chelsea for Drinkwater after Conte goes. More the kind of player Wenger would buy if he is cheap. Doesn’t matter that he is crap, look how cheap he was. Sanogo could have been the new Henry, apparently.

  15. Unless the representatives of the Board and Owners are prepared to gamble on the 4th place trophy and a place in the CL, the investment of Aubameyang doesn’t make economic sense. It probably doesn’t even then.
    He is ineligible for the EL anyway so I suspect that the deal will not happen unless some financial sleight of hand occurs.
    We all want Aubameyang coz he will give the club much needed respect and we’ll all feel happier with a star like that at the club, but SKE’s financial model probably doesn’t fit the sale requirements of Dortmund, which is why the deal isn’t over the line.
    Maybe it will happen on the last day when someone blinks but failure will leave the negotiating team looking very embarrassed and Wenger saying to them ‘so you thought it was always me that caused deals to crash? It’s not that easy…’
    Basically, the next 100 hours or so will tell us all we need to know about Arsenal’s ambition.

  16. James,

    We have had a hit and miss season so far with the goals provided by a disinterested Sanchez having helped out so far, do we cling on to 6th with no replacement for those goals? Maybe the eight point gap to Leicester and Burnley is enough, but we have lost 6 and drawn 6 this season already. That’s 6 points from 12 games. With 14 games left to go and less firepower in the team I wouldn’t say we should think 6th place is that comfortable.

  17. I don’t know if the recent pick up in Ozil’s form is down to his willingness to sign a new deal because he is expecting the club to replace the quality lost with Sanchez going. I do wonder what he will think if we don’t sign more firepower though. If we don’t sign another attacking player in this window I am assuming that Ozil is gone in the summer and that he won’t bother in the remainder of the season. Why should he? If the management at the club isn’t showing any ambition, why should he care? So how is the rest of the season looking with Sanchez gone and a disinterested Ozil? We might well see as soon as Tuesday night if the Aubameyang deal has fallen apart and we look nowhere near signing anyone else. And its not going to be about bringing in another nobody to make up the numbers. Swansea will have their tails up as they have just beaten Liverpool.

  18. Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc told Sky Germany:

    “We are prepared to implement a transfer under certain parameters, and only if these parameters are fully met.
    “Arsenal have made several attempts so far [to sign Aubameyang] and they have all been rejected.
    “Either our demands are fulfilled, then there can be another transfer, or they will not be fulfilled and Aubameyang will play in Dortmund until the summer.
    “By the way, this has also been discussed with and accepted by the Aubameyang family.”

  19. andy1886,

    Sounds like Aubameyang is prepared to see what is out there in the summer if Arsenal don’t stump up the money now. It doesn’t appear that there is another club even close at the moment. Aubameyang will be 29 in the summer, so maybe a lucrative deal in China would be appealing then. He may be around for the next World Cup if Gabon even get there, but I’m sure he’d get picked for the national team no matter where he’s playing as long as he is still banging in the goals.

  20. Great post Yogi

    We will miss Sanchez. There is no one else in our squad who can make something happen when we let the opposition organize and our passing game grinds to a halt. I am letting my pro-Sanchez bias influence my thoughts but to me the reason he lost the ball is he knew that if he did not do something we would fall back into our tippy tappy mode. I also think he was frustrated with the lack of energy to press and win the ball back quickly from the rest of his team mates. People focus on all of the creative talent and firepower and ball possession that characterizes Pep-ball but the high energy pressing style and the determination to attack at pace is critical to the success of what Pep does. On paper, with Mkitaryan, Ozil, Wilshere, Elneny, Xhaka we can certainly compete with Man City from a technical creative talent standpoint but we will never make that sort of system work without the firepower and the energy. We can potentially buy firepower if we get PEA but you can’t buy energy and commitment and the Wengerball team we are trying to rebuild won’t work without that commitment. Sanchez played with Pep and he knows that as well as anyone.

  21. Wavey

    Ozil hits 30 at the start of his next contract and his time frame as a potential impact player is relatively short. If his objective is to finish out his career on a team with a chance to win big trophies then we have no chance to keep him because even with PEA there are probably 12-15 big teams in the world who will be in a better position then Arsenal in the immediate future. Our best chance is to hope Mesut’s real objective is to get the biggest possible wage package and we need to cross fingers that no other big teams are willing to match our final offer

  22. Wavey:
    James,

    We have had a hit and miss season so far with the goals provided by a disinterested Sanchez having helped out so far, do we cling on to 6th with no replacement for those goals? Maybe the eight point gap to Leicester and Burnley is enough, but we have lost 6 and drawn 6 this season already. That’s 6 points from 12 games. With 14 games left to go and less firepower in the team I wouldn’t say we should think 6th place is that comfortable.

    Yeah I agree that 6th place is still not a nailed-on cert. If we fail to get the PEA deal over the line and then slip up at Swansea on Tuesday, who knows. The next week will be critical to the season. And Wenger’s future. Even if it all goes to plan, the future should be Wenger-less.

  23. Oh well, I went to the ticket site for the Super Bowl next Sunday. Fortunately, I can purchase two tickets on the 50 yard line for just $40,000.

  24. “It’s like being in summer. Aside from the miserable rain and cold weather…”

    Really? Have you finally packed up and moved to Spain, YW?

    Our last few summers here have been bloody miserable, wet and cold.

  25. Bill, it seems to me that you have fallen hook, line and sinker for Wenger’s “thirty is too old” line. Look around the leagues and see how many creative players go on beyond Wenger’s age limit.

    Ozil is the kind of skilled playmaker who can easily carry on at a high standard for two or three more seasons yet.

    One only has to look at the number of thirty year olds discarded by our revered leader to see how well many of them have done. Sagna, Toure, Clichy et al.

  26. A chance for all gooners to see our reportedly new central defender Jonny Evans , Liverpol v West Bromwich in the cup.

    Kick off any minute now.

  27. Orson

    I have not fallen for the age 30 is to old stuff. What I have seen is a dramatic decrease in Ozils effectiveness over the last 2 years. Best single piece of corroborative evidence is the rather dramatic decrease in the number of assists. If this is what happened between 28-30 then it seems logical to suspect that he is not likely to get better or come close to regaining his best as he goes from age 30 to 32/33. History suggests a much higher likelihood of things going the other way. If you are going to make a guess what might happen then you have to go with the odds.

  28. Bill, assists only become assists when they assist the scoring of a goal. No count is kept of passes that could have been an assist if only the recipient had put the ball in the net.

    Another example of statistics not telling the whole truth.

  29. I would have been happy to see Sanchez stay despite being close to age 30. Last season was arguably the best of career and the evidence from the last couple of season suggests he still has more then enough petrol in the tank to be very influential for a few more years. That said I choose to write off his poor form this season based on him wanting out rather then the start of the downward part of his career arc.

  30. With repeated slow motion replays and two officials involved, you could probably spot some infringement in, say, 60% of goals.

    It just doesn’t work.

  31. I am more content with refs being crap in real time than being obsessively nit picking in their on time. They will become over cautious. The result will be fewer goals and less excitement.

  32. I don’t think that they were correct in the spirit of what I understand football to be. If I want an exercise in digital technology then I will play computer games.

  33. Pawson chucked every decision that he could upstairs. He is the focus here. Never mind the football, here is the bollocks.

  34. What I don’t like is that the VAR referee seems to be the one drawing the on-field officials attention to possible infringements. As I understood it the protocols said that VAR would only be used at the request of the referee on the pitch.

  35. The one thing that is obvious from tonight’s VAR performance is that it is not at this time fit for purpose. Yes the eventual decisions are correct, but the application is too long winded and totally disordered and that’s from a tv viewers aspect. For the paying fans in the stadium it must be entirely frustrating as they do not have a clue about what is actually happening.

  36. Where is the clear and obvious error anywhere tonight? Just a grandstanding referee abrogating his responsibility.

  37. Orson Kaert,

    Someone made good point on Arsecast

    If we sell Giroud we only have Danny boy and Lac as striker options in Europa

    That is our best route to CL and a successful season in fans eyes

    So I think Giroud is off the negotiating table as Aubameyang cup tied

    Just pay the £55-60

    As Bill will surely be thinking
    We need guaranteed firepower after losing Alexis goals (and Theo!)

  38. The Dortmund statement regarding Aubameyang seems to make it clear that they aren’t willing to move significantly from their valuation. It would a fairly public climb down if they accepted anything significantly lower than their valuation. It seems to be put up, or shut up. Arsenal are being forced to show if they are serious. Dortmund are saying that they will let him go for the right price and the player wants to leave. Arsenal are the only factor in stopping the deal going ahead.

  39. Wavey,

    There hasn’t been a hint of any other club sniffing around, so either the deal is so close to being done that others know they would be wasting their time, or perhaps the feeling is the player is over-priced.

    I guess it’s £60 million or no deal!

  40. Orson Kaert,

    I’m not sure there are many other clubs looking to spend that kind of money on a striker in the January window. I can’t see how a player who has regularly been the top goal scorer in the Bundesliga and is leading the way again this season can be overpriced at £60m.
    Chelsea don’t appear interested in splashing the cash in this window on a striker, they seem more interested in bringing in a stop gap player. I’m not sure if that’s because Conte is off in the summer and they don’t want to spend force two new strikers on a new manager, or that they don’t want to undermine Morata by bringing in another big name striker now. Real Madrid seem to be sitting on the sidelines at the moment, with their only interest appearing to be a future deal for Neymar. Again, maybe they don’t want to spend the cash on a big signing now when they have a bigger name they are after in the summer.

  41. Wavey,

    That all makes sense, we’ll probably have to wait until Wednesday to find out some version of the truth…..or a load of old pony from Wenger.

  42. Orson Kaert,

    Conte isn’t keen on Michi. Would it be worth swapping him for Giroud on a loan deal for the rest of the season? It’s only a thought if the Aubameyang deal is dead, as I think we need to boost the potential firepower somehow. Giroud has only appeared in 15 league games and most of them as a substitute. His rep as an impact sub has taken a big knock this season, as he only scored 4 goals in the league. Michi hasn’t done that much either, but it appears that Giroud is putting in less effort when he comes on, whereas Michi might have something to prove. Perhaps a bit like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, but we have to do something in this window because the current squad hasn’t got enough players who are doing anything other than going through the motions. The only games we’ve really been up for are those against Chelsea, where we have a bit of a hoodoo over Conte.

  43. Wavey,

    As best I understand it – Chelsea simply cannot afford to bring in a player, of that cost, this window without breaching the rules.

    Conte was recently bemoaning his lot over not having enough to play with in order to compete for Alexis.

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