Francis Not Coqy About His Place In Arsenal XI


Granit Xhaka’s arrival at Arsenal has been welcomed by other squad members with Per Mertesacker and Francis Coquelin both positive about the contribution the Swiss midfielder can make this coming season.

Mertesacker told the official website:

“He’s a leader and that is really important, especially in midfield. He has got a very good attitude, is very composed on the ball and contributes a lot.

“He is a good passer as well, so he will set the tempo. I am looking forward to how he does it, how composed he will be in training and in the games. He will be the perfect signing for us.”

It’s been no secret that many of us have been frustrated in the past with the absence of this type of player. We have lacked individuals who are able to take a game by the scruff of the neck in a physical manner. Xhaka is no stranger to the disciplinary issues which come with that attitude toward the game and made it clear when he joined that he wanted to come to England because the football suited him.

Who will accompany him in the centre isn’t, I think, certain. At £35m, he hasn’t come to sit on the bench and nor will Arsène put him there; a manager obsessed by value for money hasn’t spent that much on a squad player.

To begin with, I don’t think Wenger is going to change the formation. Despite Olivier Giroud’s performances improving as part of a partnership for France, I think Wenger will stick with his notional 4-3-3. He could go to a more orthodox 4-4-2 with Alexis up front and Özil shifted to the left. With more Premier League clubs pitching the centre of their midfield with ‘enforcers’, the flank gives the German an elusivity he may not otherwise find so often.

The freedom of the role, drifting inside and wider may make his creativity more telling, although a consistent scorer would undoubtedly have a similar effect. Orthodoxy of thought means we all too often cast the wider players in the role of wingers. That’s not necessarily true of Arsenal. Wenger has preferred in the past to have a winger in the side, countered by a box-to-box midfielder on the other flank.

With Hector Bellerin willing to scamper forward,  that may work on the right but reduces the effectiveness of Aaron Ramsey. However, the question of importance to the side has to be balanced by the individual, subsuming their personal desires into the team ethic.

One player eyeing the situation nervously must be Francis Coquelin. He isn’t complacent about Xhaka’s arrival:

“We’re playing for Arsenal Football Club. There’s always going to be great players around the club.

“It’s a positive fight for everybody one. It’s going to take the best out of every one of us.

“We know we are going to sign quality players and I think he is one. He’s going to add quality to the team and that’s a good thing.”

Coquelin’s contributions shouldn’t be undervalued but with Xhaka arriving, the prospect of the Frenchman becoming more conversant with life on the bench is very real. With Mohammed Elneny also competing, there are four spots and half-a-dozen players eyeing them up.

I suspect that one or two will fall by the wayside along the way. Santi Cazorla, 32 in December, is most likely to leave next summer; he’s still got much to offer the team but reduced playing time probably isn’t featuring highly in his plans.

Coquelin and Elneny are the interesting players in this sense. Even with our appalling injury record, there is a wealth of midfield talent in the squad. With Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott rivalling Alexis and Aaron Ramsey for the wider roles, we are quite unbalanced in the sense of numbers across the middle of the pitch. Versatility covers several of the positions off and I think we could see some ‘names’ shorn from the squad over the next 12 months.

Talking of which, Bolton’s Rob Holding is set to join for a fee believed to be in the region of £2m. We’re negotiating it apparently; yes, I raised my eyebrow as well in a startling good Roger Moore impersonation.

And we’re also in for Matthias Ginter or Jason Denayer (Manchester City, if don’t know) as long-term replacements for Per Mertesacker.

’til Tomorrow.

142 thoughts on “Francis Not Coqy About His Place In Arsenal XI

  1. DeiseGooner says:

    Mornin’ YW. I happen to think with the formation of a starting 4-2-3-1 but with a more disciplined midfield with Xhaka in there with Coq or Elneny – we will surely see far more freedom (its not all that rigid anyways) for the ‘front 4’

  2. Gerry says:

    What happened to Wilshere in your analysis?

  3. Birdkamp says:

    Le Samourai – Alain Delon was one good-looking man.

    Denayer’s decent btw. Could be a v. useful squad player at full-back and CB, though I’d be surprised if Guardiola didn’t try to work with him. Strikes me as the kind of player he’d like.

  4. C says:

    Good stuff Yogi!

    Xhaka is the type of DM we haven’t had since the days of Gilberto and Petit; tough, smart tackler who is disciplined and dedicated to his job but also a player capablr of dictating from deep. Once we lost Santi last year it all went to pot because we had no link or tempo setter from deep. Of our current crop only really Santi, potentially Jack and potentially Elneny fit the bill if its not Xhaka. The interesting thing is who will partner Xhaka, I could see this as a rotating position.

  5. C says:

    Ginter and Holding are repeative especily since we still have Chambers.

  6. C says:

    If Ramsey was able to regain his box-to-box form, I wonder if our midfield could operate like the German midfield of Kroos/Khederia /Ozil. Xhaka that deeplying playmaking tackling machine, Ramsey playing the role of Khederia, the ‘runner’ of the 3 and Ozil well playing the role of Ozil.

    If thats the case than we need Giroud or whoever plays CF to be less of a node and more mobile and on the move while being less involved in the build up and more a finisher.

  7. YW says:


    Staying fit is his first objective. When that happens, he can start thinking about a place in the XI

  8. Akshay says:

    The Ginter and Denayer rumours are bullshit. Firstly it’s the Sun. They might have heard we are in for a defender, so they put two young talented names up in their news, only that few hours later we realised that the young talented defender was Holding.

    Personally I am happy with a future CB pairing of Chambers and Holding. I would not send either of them out on loan considering both Per and Laurent are out of contract next summer and they should stay here and learn from the pair. Sure I’d love a strong experienced CB but first we should get that goal scoring forward and maybe even a Mahrez to add goals to the team. With Xhaka, Coquelin and Elneny in front of the defence, we should be fine defensively.

  9. C says:

    Also, Ginter won’t be coming especially when you consider that Dortmund just sold Hummels and Subotic is off.

  10. Birdkamp says:

    Yes, there’s a strong chance that it’s all nonsense. I mean, Ginter for starters makes no sense at all. The Sun went through a brief phase of being reliable for rumours, but we’re out the other side now clearly.

    Guess a young defender means a vote of confidence for Gabriel as a starter now. Assuming that AW’s putting his troubles down to adaptation and language barrier etc. The really bad moment was the Ighalo goal in the cup, but generally he’s been OK if you believe there’s more to come.

  11. Wavey says:

    The Sum rumours are fairly easy to understand, we’re meant to be in for a young CB and Wenger has looked at Ginter in the past and the City lad is a loan candidate at best for Pep at the moment.

    So all the work in bringing in a player like Xhaka will be completely undone if we don’t bring in a quality striker. Strange there is absolutely no noise on that front at all then. Surely you’d be busting a gut to get someone in for some of the friendlies? I’d rather hear clubs saying they had an approach, but it’s too low rather than there being no approach at all. At least we are putting a base for discussion in place.

  12. Michael says:

    We have to buy a mobile striker or we will be cribbing about another missed opportunity at the end of the season . Arsene has his task cut out , there are no shortcuts here so I hope he addresses the issue.

  13. C says:

    Spuds signing Georges-Kevin N’Koudou is a potentially really good signing for them. He was brilliant for Marseille last season and is on the 30 man list for UEFA’s Best Player in Europe award.

    If these rumors of Pogba to Manure have any truth to them; it is just Mourinho doing what Mourinho always does which is immediately rebuild the spine of his team, (think Zouma, Cesc, Matic, Costa at Chelsea) and not at Manure with Bailey, Pogba, Mhikitaryn, and Ibra.

  14. Orson Kaert says:

    Rumours abound today about Arsenal signing the Bolton young defender for £2million.

    Back in early May, Everton had a £10 million offer turned down for the player by his club.

    Later in May, Arsenal had a £750 thousand bid refused, for the same player, and told they would have to come up with £7 million if they wanted him.

    Yet today his price is only £2 million.

    Very strange.

  15. Orson Kaert says:

    Sorry, that is twenty year old, England U 21 central defender Rob Holding.

  16. C says:


    I thought it was strange too but then again I could see the move happening now in the summer.

  17. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi

    Arsene has been tinkering and tweaking his midfield for 12 years trying to find the perfect combination. In the end it comes down to spending the most money. It’s no exaggeration to say that we have one of the most expensive starting central midfield trio’s in the history of world football.

    Xhaka will fit in perfectly with out team. He played against the best ball possession players in the world at Euro2016 and he completely destroyed them for the title of most passes completed during the group stage. He out passed his closest pursuer by about 35%. If he can play 35 league games he has a chance to be the first human in history to complete more then 5000 passes in a top flight league season. Our ball possession totals will probably be the highest in club history. Time will tell if all of that helps us win more games but the battle between Xhaka and Cazorla for most passes completed in each game will be epic.

  18. Pistol Fish says:

    Jesus Bill!
    For an American you do sarcasm well. Unless your being serious.
    But I hear you, more passes does not equate to more goals. Good goal scored equal more goals. That’s where we should be spending our money.

  19. Bill says:

    Our midfield will consist of a deep playmaker, a mid level playmaker and a forward playmaker and we will probably use another playmaking central midfielder on one wing and our CF functions as a playmaking node (whatever that is). One thing we can rest easy about is we are well stocked with playmaking.

  20. YW says:


    Apparently Holding told them he wants to leave which makes a big change to the dynamic.

  21. Akshay says:

    With due respect to the new spurs signing, even they signed a winger from Lyon last season with such high recommendations.

    What happened to that guy? Or the Korean winger from Germany??

  22. Birdkamp says:

    Bill, forget the word “playmaker” and replace it with “player with good fundamental skills” and you’ll be on the right page. Given the style of football we set out to play, who could possibly argue against having several players that can control the ball and make good decisions?

    Bearing in mind there isn’t a person on this site that doesn’t want a striker this summer.

  23. C says:

    I actually think that in the bigger matches we will see a double defensive pivot of either Xhaka/Le Coq or Xhaka/Elneny. At present, I think the first choice XI when all are fit is:


    Against the teams when we want to be a bit more defensive:

    ——–Xhaka—–Le Coq/Elneny–

  24. C says:

    On Xhaka at the Euro’s….

    Yes he completed the most passes, but lets be honest, who else in their midfield is an accomplished passer….I’ll wait. Bahrami is basically Flamini during his first stint at Arsenal, Shaqiri struggled for the most part and the rest weren’t good enough.

  25. Birdkamp says:

    Akshay, Son-Heung-Min wasn’t a glowing success, but the guy does a lot of hard running, which works well for Spurs’ style. N’jie had only been a squad player at Lyon, which made the deal sort of surprising. Nkoudou’s a bit scarier, but still nothing to lose sleep over.

    And further to the whole playmaker discussion, Ozil doesn’t really fit the profile of any playmaker I know. He doesn’t look comfortable coming back to collect the ball: His game is about finding pockets of space behind or in front of the defence and adding a killer touch with as little fuss as possible. He doesn’t dribble much and he’s happier letting the play flow around him than trying to grab a match by the scruff of the neck. I know that people will call him a playmaker because he makes assists, but he’ll be much happier now we have a metronomic passer in deep midfield to spot his movement.

  26. Orson Kaert says:

    Yogi, I can see the logic that if a player wants to leave it might alter his price a bit, but from £10 million down to £2 million?

    This for a young, English, central defender with U21 international experience. Extraordinary.

  27. C says:


    Son Heung-min did pretty well for his first season in the PL to be honest though he was also injured for part of it. N’jie (the lad from Lyon) was lost for basically the 2nd half of the season after doing his MCL.

  28. Bill says:


    This will probably be one of the best midfield in the club’s history. DB10 was fading by 03 so even the invincibles don’t compare to this group for technical and passing skill. Players who are good at completing passes and maintaining ball possession certainly have thrived during the Emirates Era.

    We had Arteta before he started getting hurt regularly and Cazorla for 3 years so I thought we already had the metronomic passing from deeper midfield pretty well covered Ozil’s time with the club.

    We all want an upgrade at striker but they are generally very expensive and based on past history and what we have seen so far in this window what do you think is the realistic chance of that happening when we have already spent $40M in 2016?

  29. C says:

    @Big Al

    I made mention of it during the Euro’s; but I think if people want to know how the Xhaka/Ozil relationship work, they need to watch the relationship between Kroos and Ozil for Germany when Khederia is playing. Kroos will essentially set the tempo and Ozil will do the rest in the final third. I think (and we will probably be in agreement) the key for Ozil is that he looks and plays the most efficient way. He doesn’t always dribble but we have seen him take and beat players 1-on-1 when needed, he doesn’t always come back to get the ball from deep but we have seen him do it and then hit a 60 yard inch perfect pass. I think its also why he works best (as well as Sanchez) with a mobile striker (I do think Giroud has the movement in his locker and needs to do it more often) because he is constantly popping, picking and prodding for pockets as opposed to just standing still similar to the way many in Europe view the #10 role.

  30. C says:


    I think he will go at such a low price because the fact he is still a relative unknown. For instance, Chambers went for a high price because he was known but Holding is a relative unknown in a time when for the most part the media will drive up talented English players (of all ages) prices.

  31. Bill says:


    The fact that Xhaka did not have a great midfield to work with during Euro2016 and he still out passed everyone else in the tournament by a wide margin in amazing. If he would have had some better partners he might have doubled his closest competitor. Think what he will be able to do with our team that has more technical skill then any team in the world and really focuses on ball possession. He might break the 200 pass/game barrier.

  32. HenryB says:


    It’s too hot to be getting fussed about anything, really, but you have an impressive knack for finding something to curdle your whey. 🙂

    What does it matter what the alleged final cost for Holding will be? I could not give a rat’s ass myself what he costs — it’s not my money – and the way some bloggers can easily demand the club spend £100m of its money on transfers – they seem to agree with me – it’s not their money. 😀

    After a bit of head scratching – well a nano-second probably, I thought of two ways to describe how all of us feel about our relation to Arsenal – [there are probably more, so suggestions are welcome! 😉 ] as a consequence of being asked whether I was a Wenger man (I’m not) or an Arsenal man (I am).

    Maybe many of us, especially at this lazy, hot, time of year, when our craving for good players to join the club to keep pace with the thieving magpie managers of other clubs who keep buying quality players hither and thither, while our lust remains unrequited.

    So, maybe, our feeing of love for Arsenal is akin to the sun — golden, warm and brilliant — but capable of burning us if we are not careful — and perhaps that would reflect the way some feel when transfers and trophies do not materialize.

    Alternatively, perhaps our love of Arsenal is a bit like grotty food — essential to sustain us, but capable of giving us constipation and wind, making us feel bad when the monetary pipeline is blocked.

    Choices, choices! 😀

  33. Birdkamp says:

    C, I think it will look something like that.

    Bill, I know you’re being sarcastic, but even though it’s a good aspiration, we’re some way off being the most technical team in the world. Bayern and the big boys in Spain (including Atletico Madrid) have that well covered.

  34. HenryB says:

    C, @ 2:45

    Your point about the media driving up the prices of talented young England players has merit, but I think the real driving force for that is the Home Grown Rule. Such costs do not form part of the equation when calculating the FFP rules – whereas foreign (non-English) players costs do.

    Anyway, are you suggesting that Holding costs so little because he is Home Grown but crap? 😀

    It is probably more a combination of Bolton, who are in dire financial straits, desperately needing the money, and perhaps Holdings wanting to leave and his contract is a bit shaky – maybe?

  35. C says:

    For those that wonder what or who Holding is, I have seen him a couple times while watching Wellington Silva and this is what I can gather he is a more polished version of Chambers from a CB defensive standpoint.

  36. HenryB says:

    Was Bill being sarcastic at 2:45?

    I am not so sure — I think he has made a fair point and probably all that was missing from his comment was the addition of two little words:
    — “our team has more technical skill then almost any other team in the world, and really focuses on ball possession.”

    I agree, Bill. 😀

  37. C says:


    Actually Kroos if I’m not mistaken out passed him both in the group stages and the overall tournament. The point I was making is that unlike other countries Switzerland really didn’t have many other players that have enough quality to change the match so it was either he or Shaqiri for the most part. Xhaka will fit in but I think your overreation to his passing is a bit of a stretch. Our most successful teams under Arsene were build with Silva and Petit who were BOTH accomplished passers and BRILLIANT DM’s as well. Yea Viera gets all the praise but part of what allowed him the freedom to boss the midfield the way he did was the fact that he played next to (at different times) two DM’s who were brilliant defensively as well as accomplished passers and that is certainly not taking anything away from the brilliance and true class that Viera was. Xhaka fits that mold, now will he reach their heights of quality, time will tell but to simply say he will fit with his passing and technical ability, well that’s a stretch.

    Just for kicks and giggles, here as several midfields that are more technically gifted or as technically gifted as ours:

    Barca: Busquets, Raktik, Inesta, Samper, Denis Suarez
    Madrid: Casermo, Kroos, Modric, James, Isco
    Bayern: Alonso, Thiago, Sanches, Vidal, Alaba (depending on how he is used this season), Kimmech (depending on how he is used as well)
    PSG: Verratti, Matuidi, Motta, Ben Arfa, Rabiot
    Athletico: Koke, Gabi, Saul

  38. Birdkamp says:

    Henry, do you read Bill’s posts? The crux of his argument is, to paraphrase as accurately as I can, “how could a team with the greatest ensemble of technical and creative players ever (straw man because we’re nowhere near) still fall short every year? The answer must be that technique isn’t necessary.”

    Tons of problems with that premise, argument and conclusion, but it gets made every single day.

    I must look really po-faced, and this will make me sound like a dick, but more than anything I’m frustrated that I can’t convince him that football doesn’t work like that at all.

  39. C says:


    No doubt the Home Grown Rule plays apart in it, but compared to other countries in a general sense, I see much more of the talented young English players going for crazy prices compared to others.

    I’m not saying he is crap more that he plays for Bolton and he doesn’t want to stay so they take what he they can get. Also, as you say his contract is shaky and Bolton need the money.

    He looks a good prospect and most importantly can and likes to defend so that is promising but we shall see what happens next.

  40. Bill says:


    I was being somewhat toungue in cheek to make a point. In truth I doubt anyone will make 200 passes in a single game. 5000 passes in a league season is not completely out of the question if someone can play 38 games, but it’s unlikely.

    However I was not intentionally facetious about our team technical skill. There is no doubt the technical skill and passing ability of our midfield and our back 4 would stand up to any team in the world. However, I think you are correct because if you look at the whole starting 11 then Barca’s forwards clearly tip the balance in their favor.

  41. Birdkamp says:

    In terms of fundamental skills, all of the mfs C listed would put Coquelin, Ramsey and Flamini to shame. Which isn’t for one second to say that all are better players than Ramsey or even Coquelin. But the initial point is that if your game is founded on pass and move then FFS, you better have a decent technician to start the attacks in the first place.

  42. Wavey says:

    I don’t really care how many passes we complete next season, as long as it converts into more goals. Ozil destroyed Lampard’s record of creating goal scoring opportunities in a Premier a League season, but we were still down on the number of goals scored the previous season. It will make absolutely no sense to add yet another player who can add to the supply line without an upgrade in the options to convert the chances.

  43. Birdkamp says:

    Bill, I don’t think the number of passes or pass accuracy are stats worth celebrating. Possession stats aren’t all that useful either, especially as in the last couple of years we’ve let the other team have the ball after we’ve taken a lead.

  44. Birdkamp says:

    I’m going to skulk away now. My work is really suffering today!

  45. C says:

    I don’t know how I missed NIco Gaitan headed to Atheltico! FFS if that is one of those things where you say, “Ahtletico are trying to take that next step!” When Simeone plays either his 442 or 433 Gaitian will set up on the left or the right opposite Griezmann on the flanks in the 433 or opposite Carrasco in the 442 on the opposite flanks.

  46. philmar says:

    “What happened to Wilshere in your analysis?”
    I just assumed he’ll fill the Number 12 spot in sick bay once occupied last year by Rosicky, It was previously the Diaby and Van Persie role.

  47. HenryB says:

    BK the skulker, and Bill, 😀

    BK, I was quite specific about the point Bill was making – i.e ‘team technical skills etc’ and to answer your question as to whether, or not, I read Bill’s comments — well, Bill will understand this to be true: I like Bill, I like his enthusiasm, and he does make some good observations – but I sometimes, in the past, questioned where he was going with a point that appeared to be changing or seemed a little confused to this logical reader. 🙂

    I promised Bill then that I would keep clear of responding as we sometimes/always? 🙂 got at cross purposes, and that was not in anyone’s best interests. So, no, I do not often read Bill’s stuff, as I do not want to be drawn in — but his short 2:45 caught the eye – and perhaps out of context – I saw what he said as valid, and said so.

    As a corollary, when you respond to Bill, as you like to do, I do not usually read your comments back to him either, as that would be like listening to one end of a ‘phone conversation. 🙂

    You guys go at it whenever you like – and I will continue not to interfere. 😀

  48. Bill says:


    If everything else is equal, I would certainly rather have a player who is a better passer with more technical skill. Xhaka is going to thrive in our system and he certainly improves the overall quality of our squad. However, the way you get better as a team is to fix the things that are broken. So far we have added another player who is really good at passing and ball possession but that was already our greatest strength. If we are going to spend big money, the incremental improvement in our ability to get results would have been much more positively affected if we had strengthened the weaker parts of our squad. IMO. That seems rather straightforward to me.

    Ozil, Cazorla Xhaka cost as much or more then any starting midfield trio in the world and while it’s impossible to quantify technical skill they are as good or better then any midfield in the world. IMO. Out spending the rest of the world for our midfield and having the best technical skill are both good things. It’s only a concern if you focus so much of your financial and tactical ethos on that one facet of the game and the other facets get left way behind.

  49. C says:


    Xhaka is much much much more than just a passer. People (including yourself) have been calling out for a natural leader of men and a DM with more physicality and power ala Viera, Petit and Silva; yet that we finally get it its an issue. Sure he will not actually score the goals (though he will add goals) he brings what we have been missing in midfield especially when you consider that Le Coq had an up and down last season, Santi is getting up in age, Ramsey was inconsistent and Jack was missing. Strengthening your team isn’t just about fixing what was the problem but also addressing areas that are troubled and inconsistent, doesn’t Xhaka do that?

    I get it and NOBODY is disagreeing with you that we need a striker but that can’t be the sole focus of the summer, can it? I mean we need a CB presumably with Mert still capable but getting up in age, Gabriel still needing to find consistency, and Kos needing not just a holiday but to get fit based on him limping through the Euro Finals with that wrap/brace on his knee. Yes we need a striker and its appears that teh Vardy deal was plan A but not sure what to make of plan B, so we have to wait and see what happens.

  50. philmar says:

    So i guess we go the whole year worrying what happens if Giroud goes down injured for a couple of months.
    If he doesn’t get injured, the lack of cover means he’ll be overplayed once again and the resultant fatigue will lead to his large barren spells.
    At the EUROs he was subbed every game by Deschamps. He was fresher than he is when playing for AFC.
    Cripes, even a mule like Kevin Mirallas could provide a key role on AFC as he would offer Olivier a rest whenever we were protecting a lead.

  51. santori says:

    We are going to need BOTH Granit and Le Coq to be at their best for the campaign.

    There are several ways we can construct a solid base in midfield :

    Santi-Coquelin partnership is established and works. The technical ability and passing range of Santi paired with the steel of Le Coq makes for effective partnership and balance. Where Coquelin struggled with Ramsey, he should have better balance with the maturity of Santi. IMO Ramsey is better served at the apex of the midfield triangle as Ozil’s alternate as he has a natural understanding of playing in and around the box.

    Sans Santi last season, we really struggled particularly with quick release from deep for the counter. With Granit, we have added insurance with another player who can provide long accurtae balls to release the wingers or Giroud quicker.

    The other option of course with the positionally disciplined Granit is to have him paired with Jack who provides some of the same dynamics as Santi but may not necessarily have as much matiurity. This shortfall is where Granit can come in.

    There is of course also the option of a solid wall with Granit-Coquelin played to close out matches, something we struggled tih last season. We need to hold the ball better to see out tight edgy encounters

    Elneny for me is a utility player who can either provide cover or extra energy should one fo the tohers not perform up to the level they can or if injured. OR if we need someone to take shots from further of and in this repsect, Elneny can develop this into his strong suit.

    Also we may see one of Zelalem or Jeff get a fleeting chance in the lesser competition.

    Its a well balanced midfield and not too deep as some may suggest in media considering we always have injury issues (with Ramsey and Jack plus Santi is over 30)

  52. santori says:

    As mentioned, we sorted out the DM position quickly this window. Wenger is due some accolade for that because any of 7-8 teams who can pay more than us would have/could have been in market for such an asset as Granit.

    The striker position is tricky as I have been mentioning because of the current market and price. We need to be able to also bring in a Cback if possible. If one of Per or Koscielny go injured, there will be serious question marks over the other’s ability to pair of with the ‘pacy’ but as yet unconvincing Gabriel. He may suddenly kick into gear this season but it is too much risk. Holding who is probably coming into youth ranks to develop near term should not be relied on to step up either. This is an experience player’s game.

    As for striker, how much we bring him in for will dictate what we can get in terms of a Cback too.

    80m for Higuain is way too much for us. HIs price may of course come down should he be left on the shelf but likely it will still hover around 60m

    Morata is also priced to recoup what RM paid in buy back fee. This is a high premium and also dependent on whether RM should feel (IF Cronaldo is unfit) that they need to retain Morata with Benzema (Jessse seems surplus to use)

    Draxler is also rumoured to cost 55m which is very high and a risk for us considering we will need time to convert him to a central role.

    Icardi is a possibility if he comes in around 22-28m. He holds the ball well and distributes it plus at23yrs has plenty of upside.

    Should one of the top assets get moved, we do not know who else may be moveable late on (Say a Cavanni)

    Bringing in just any striker is not a good idea. There is opportunity cost (should a better asset come available we are already committed…remember how long it took to get Chamakh and Bendtner off the books))to that and it does not afford us any upgrade in terms of capability.

    A bit of patience is necessary. The market isn’t fixed price and not for the faint of heart.;)

  53. santori says:

    About the only player you could get in midfield for the position who maybe better than Granit at the moment is Pogba but just look at the price!

    Next to that, managing to sneak Granit in early at 30m is a steal!

    Any of United, City, Chelsea (let alone some of the continental powers) have the money to pay for Granit and the requirement for that sort of midfield asset.

    We are lucky Granit probably is attracted to the development aspect of Wenger’s management which speaks volumes of the player and how he sees himself. Quite obviously he is coming in to improve further.

    He is still young and can develop further.

  54. Bill says:


    We have been focusing on our midfield ball possession for this entire Emirates Era and last season we were already the best in our league by quite a margin. Just yesterday we agreed that our attack had lost its dynamic character and for lack of a better term we have gone stale. Instead of trying to do something a bit different to freshen things up we spend our wad to add an incremental improvement in the facets of the game that we are already leading the league in. That does not make much sense to me.


    I don’t have the numbers but I am confident that Giroud player fewer minutes then minutes that Harry Kane and Vardy but they did not get tired and lose form. Giroud sits out almost all of the cup games. Historically big teams do not rotate their CF on a regular basis and suggesting that fatigue and overplaying are the cause of his dry spells does not hold up.

  55. C says:


    It wasn’t about Xhaka just helping the passing, it was the fact that he is the closest thing to Silva and Petit that we have had since those two left. He isn’t like the rest of our players that we currently have in midfield, he is a DM that has the other abilities and not the other way around. I would also say that during the Emirates Era we have had RvP, Adebayor, Eduardo and now Giroud so it hasn’t been about just the midfield but I think that the need for a striker now is more of a need then ever.

    Again, I get what you are saying but for as long as we have been chatting on ACLF, you have talked about the need to solidify our defense and add more power to our midfield and yet now that we are doing it its a problem. O well, the fact that we need a striker isn’t lost on anybody but Xhaka was also something that was needed in midfield.

  56. Bill says:

    I suspect many were like me and thought the best teams at Euro2016 were the France and Italy but neither was in the top 5 in ball possession or pass accuracy. It’s a small sample but Germany and Spain and the Swiss were the 3 leading teams in both ball possession and passing accuracy. The Swiss scored 3 goals in 4 games, Spanish scored 5 goals in 4 games and the Germans scored 7 goals in 6 games. Take away the beat down of Slovakia and the Germans were shut out twice and scored 4 goals in the remaining 5 games.

    If any of us was asked how to help any of those 3 teams score more goals there is probably not even a single person who would have suggested a technical upgrade in the midfield was the best answer.

  57. gunnerlife says:

    Wenger, Adebayor is free get him back.

  58. C says:


    France wasn’t the best teams at Euro2016, but France were in the top 5 for both pass accuracy. I mean FFS, England (surprise I know) were top 5 in both pass completion and possession and Ukraine were top 5 in possession. Take away France’s slaughter of Iceland and they were shut out twice and they scored 8 goals in 6 matches. Want to take it even further, take away the penalty that was questionable against Germany and France scored 7 goals in 6 matches despite having the most total attempts on goal (42 off target, 43 on target and 36 blocked).

  59. andy1886 says:

    Just a thought, but isn’t it a touch early to be hyping Xhaka up already? Chances are he’ll be a good signing but let’s see him play a bit and then we will see how he fits in. Also worth noting that Arsene doesn’t always put his new signings however costly straight into the team, so we may see a more careful introduction come the new season.

    Alexis and Ozil’s contract negotiations are a worry although I wouldn’t be surprised to see AW toss them both a huge contract and claim it was better to spend the money on that than on a new striker.

  60. C says:


    No doubt we should wait, I’m just basing it off what I have seen for both club and country. I actually thinj he will go straight into the team upon his return. Or brought on as a sub in one match then start the next. Didn’t Sanchez go straight into the team after being used as a sub during thr preseason? Didn’t Ozil go straight into the team as well?

  61. dukey says:


    Patience was last year. it ran out. it never worked, he needs to act. Xhaka? bollocks to him, i couldn’t give a shit, just another passing nerd who couldn’t score in a brothel. we have about 60 of em.

    we need goal scores… Wenger time to act or we’re all going on strike.

  62. dukey says:

    Its like Wenger has a shoe fetish and he has just bought another pair of jimmy choos. who gives a shit.

  63. C says:


    Can I get my positive duke back?

  64. dukey says:

    C, they all done the dirty on me. I’m still bitter!

  65. C says:


    Damn them all, stay strong. Be positive just with a negative view on a couple things! 😉

  66. philmar says:

    I don’t have the numbers but I am confident that Giroud player fewer minutes then minutes that Harry Kane and Vardy but they did not get tired and lose form. Giroud sits out almost all of the cup games
    I don’t know how many cup games Giroud sat out…not too many…and who replaced him? Sanogo?

    Vardy played few FA Cup games as they went out early and didn’t have Champion’s League and did not have the same # of international matches as Giroud So I bet Giroud played more minutes than him in all competition.

    The issue is moot anyway. Giroud came back from the last World Cup out of shape – maybe his conditioning isn’t as good as the much younger Kane or Vardy who doesn’t play CL or much for his country. If Giroud would benefit from less play then I don’t care what Kane or Vardy’s situation is.
    Some players thrive when given a ton of playing time – Giroud IMO doesn’t seem to be one.

  67. dukey says:


    seriously , just sign a striker thats all.

  68. C says:


    Agree! Plenty of time left…..I think

  69. nicky says:

    I’m sure you were joking in suggesting Arsene should re-sign Adebayor. But if not, don’t you recall his appalling last season at Arsenal? Laziness at its worst.

  70. gunnerlife says:

    Wenger signing another striker this summer is below 30% for me. I do not trust Arsene. He could be done with Asano.

  71. Bill says:


    Giroud goes into his slumps for no good reason. He could not have been tired when he suddenly stopped scoring in the 14/15 season in game 31

  72. Wavey says:

    Apparently Lazio sold just 11 season tickets on the first day they went on sale. Now that’s fan power.

  73. MikeSA says:

    @King2 – (only saw your snide little pukefest from yesterday on an old open browser window this morning)

    Unlike you, I’m not unsure. I know you’re both of those.

    Before you continue accusing me of inventing stuff or not knowing what I’m talking about, do some research, I think you’ll find you know very little. Fuck all in fact.

    1. The egalitarian wage structure was commented on by Gazidis and has been discussed in depth.

    The interesting point about it was that Gazidis stated it had to go, and Wenger responded fairly soon afterwards in a manner suggesting he was not going to change it.

    Google it if you are really that uninformed.

    That said, there are signs it has or is being phased out in a few cases. However, there is an argument to be made that there are several remants and that it still has an effect on the mentality of the club.

    It never applied in Wenger’s own wage negotiations though – funny that.

    There is more than just a little literature out there on the effects of remuneration methodologies and their consequences, including how such an approach can affect motivation (some more education for you – are you capable of comprehension and do you have access to peer-reviewed works?).

    2. On the coaching at the club, another google exercise for you – go and read Squillaci’s interview on the state and quality of coaching at Arsenal.

    You can follow that up with a bit of research on Cesc’s comments when he went to Barca, Vieira, and several other players who went elsewhere, including some of the bunch who went to Citeh.

    So, whilst you might bristle and have a little hissy fit because I dared to insult your boyfriend, perhaps you should actually have a vague inkling of what you’re talking about before you open your gob and reveal your complete lack of knowledge and manifest doosheid (a little gift from one of the 11 official languages in my country).

    It’s a pity we have morons who think Wenger and the club have the same goals and ambitions for the club as the fans do. It’s got a lot to do with why the fraud gets away with the lies and incompetence year after year.

    p.s. I’ve been an Arsenal fan since 1970, way before Wenger had anything to do with Arsenal.

  74. Damon says:

    I think if Holding comes in, that’s it for CB. It’ll just leave the CF slot to fill

    I am increasingly concerned that he’s going to leave it to deadline day. He has form for it and seems to like it. I can see that it potentially could stop a deal being hawked around to all and sundry and give us a clear run at it. But other than that, I don’t see much else going for it as a tactic.

    On the downside, it leaves us short oldie a few games at the start of the season and doesn’t give the new man a pre season with us (an aside, I think the window should shut at the end of July). With little time left, the selling club can be left with a pile of cash and a big hole in the squad. Not ideal. If the selling club decide to stick two fingers up, there’s no time to go to plan B. And then we end up with nothing

  75. andy1886 says:

    A nice summation of what will probably happen Damon, and I agree that the window should close before the season starts, and ideally with enough time for signings to have some sort of pre-season with their new team mates. But of course all that pales into insignificance when the chance to save a few quid is on the table, at least in the eyes of some.

    For what it’s worth I think he’ll rush one of either Giroud or Alexis back for the early games and that we will pay for it with injuries or loss of form later in the season.

  76. Damon says:


    If one were to be extremely critical, it could be suggested that he’s afraid to play hard ball with the big boys?

    He doesn’t back himself to go up against the best and win?

    Not a great vibe to be coming from the top of a sporting institution.

    And before anyone starts piling up about other clubs with more financial muscle than us, leave it. We can compete with all of them for just about anyone, should the desire be there. I’ve also long been an advocate of selling the “package” to potential signings. The city, the club, the lifestyle etc. It’s not only about the money

  77. andy1886 says:

    Damon, for sure playing the plucky little underdog suits him however inaccurate it is. You can put alongside that the way he likes to portray himself as the guardian of the beautiful game holding out against those that are prepared to do anything to win rather than “play the right way”. All this “Arsenal Way” stuff is nonsense, a figment of the imagination and a justification for failure.

    Nice piece on Tony Adams from F365:

  78. Buffalo says:

    Well he couldnt even manage to.convinve vardy to join from leicester….never mind the big boys…seen nothing to suggest he tried especially hard or sold him a convincing project. Find it hard to believe vardy would have rejected city united or chelsea. Now when best to announce arsenes new bumper super contract ?

  79. Damon says:


    I actually don’t think he did too much wrong with the Vardy deal. Nice and early bid, triggered a clause and got to talk to the guy. The package they offered was a good one – competitive without upsetting the current structure.within the club already.

    Leicester offered a longer deal at similar money and he decided to stay at the Premier League Champions (who’d thunk it eh, players want to play for winning teams!) for a number of reasons. Probably including family security and remaining settled, being the big fish in the little pond, taking a longer and more sensible (considering his age) deal with a view to the future, staying at a winning team that will be in Pot 1 of UCL groups.

    It actually kind of proves my point, that there are ways to appeal to players that go beyond the weekly pay figure. Okay, that might mean offering them a bit longer than you want to at the tail end of their career, which is kind of throwing money at it. But it’s about identifying other things that the man wants beyond the £100k a week salary and giving it to him. Find the angle!

  80. CorpFinG says:


    That whole Vardy bid was indicative of the many issues. It was an acknowledgment of the manager knowing about the striker issue at the club, and still:

    (a) not going the full mile and doing what’s necessary to bring the guy here (were not ruthless enough)
    (b) still going with the cheap options. The only reason Arsene went in for Vardy was because he was very cheap for a striker (20m for one of the top scorers is nothing).
    (c) not having any alternatives lined up (still). If the manager was serious enough about signing a striker we would have simultaneously negotiated with someone else or went in after other strikers right after the talks with Vardy crumbled.

    Its been well over a month since that bid and there is still zero activity. Contrast that to Chelsea, City and Utd who have all acted decisively and bought quality strikers already.
    One gets a clear idea about where we’ll stand with the strikers come September.

    Not really expecting us to sign any quality striker (Higuain, Lacazette, etc). At the most, the club will for another Demba Ba like bid of 2013. But that won’t be much of an improvement to the forward line, would it?

  81. YW says:

    Right, I’m caught up in this sodding BT problem so today’s post will be along as soon as they get their lazy arses in gear and solve it.

  82. jonnygunner says:

    Dammit YW….I was about to award you a second ‘tosser’ award……and you come up with a totally legit reason for not posting ?

  83. C says:


    I actually agree with you about once we sign Holding that our CB business is done. I would be interested to see which of Chambers or Holding will potentially go out on loan. One of them look likely to stay and one of them will leave.

  84. silvergunner says:

    Just can’t get over transfer value of some of the players these days I mean inter wanting £35m for Icardi?! Then theres the ludicrous amount Napoli want for Higuan. In the case of Icardi it might be that he is all that’s left on the shop shelf because I can’t see AW spending those kind of readies on Higuan.

  85. C says:

    Must admit, if there are ANY truths to this Bellerin stuff, it would be worrying. But I fully believe that there is nothing to them other than potentially getting him a new deal but then again, Pep does love to bring back former players and he most certainly could use a RB.

  86. C says:

    Seems there is a rule change, how it will be enforced will be interesting to watch. So the rule change states:

    Starting this season, red cards will be issued to players who confront match officials and use offensive language or make gestures towards them.

  87. andy1886 says:

    @C – This was always the case at the lower levels, as an ex-ref the instruction was reinforced on a weekly basis, any foul and/or abusive language or gestures and it’s an automatic red card. The only people who didn’t follow that instruction where funnily enough the people who were supposed to be at the top of the profession.

    In the unlikely event that I had ever refereed a United game in the late nineties/early noughties there wouldn’t be a hope in hell of Roy Keane finishing the game.

  88. Wavey says:

    Many other rules I would focus on before that. Shirt pulling is one of them. Yellow card outside and red inside the box, simple as. And refs to properly enforce as I’ve had enough of players like Skrtel who constantly drag forwards atoning the box.
    I absolutely hate watching players shepherd the ball out for a goal kick as well. If you aren’t intending to touch the ball and you are stopping another player from getting to it that’s obstruction and an in-direct free kick. Would certainly make defenders have to work harder.

  89. C says:


    That’s interesting, I didn’t know that but it surely makes sense especially since I have seen it less in matches involving our youth on loan. Well we all know that the PL is all about making money and because of that they dare not send off one of their stars.

    You talk about Keane, how about just in the 2000’s with Terry, Lampard and Rooney essentially telling every ref in the PL over the past decade to fuck off.

  90. C says:


    I generally don’t but I see nothing wrong with players shepherding the ball out for a goal kick. Its essentially shielding the ball same as forwards do when protecting a lead and taking the ball to the corner. They are essentially the same things just at different ends of the pitch.

  91. C says:

    This is the new card rules:

    Offences which could earn players a yellow card:

    1. Visibly disrespectful behaviour to any match official;
    2.An aggressive response to decisions;
    3. Confronting an official face to face;
    4. Running towards an official to contest a decision;
    5. Offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards match officials;
    6. Physical contact with any match official in a non-aggressive manner;
    7. A yellow card for at least one player when two or more from a team surround a match official.

    New red card offences

    1. If a player confronts match officials and uses offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards them;
    2. Physical contact with match officials in an aggressive or confrontational manner.

  92. Buffalo says:

    But Damon that’s sort of what i’m saying, doesn’t seem he found the angle or the persuasive powers to talk Vardy into a move……the fact is because of the low release clause Leicester could afford to offer him a big increase and massive re-sign/loyalty as it was effectively money saved on having to replace him. We must of realised this but clearly failed to make a compelling offer, on all fronts. I think Arsene was rather ambivalent about the whole deal, just a hunch.
    Could not agree more Corpfing – imagine a headhunter looking for a new ceo, being turned down by the first one, then doing absolutely nothing else for months – just poor management, again. I dont buy this wait until the end of the market for value = picking the crumbs from the master’s table.

  93. Buffalo says:

    I like the new rules and i really hope they are enforced rigorously……the difference between watching the respect rugby players give the referee and then football is shocking – it brings down the game, sets a terrible example and feeds the entitlement of these players…..looking forward to rooney being sent off within the first three games and moaninho blowing an artery…..(on that subject i think he’s going to implode again)

  94. andy1886 says:

    Thing is Wavey you probably remember the images of Rooney and his chums snarling in the face of and jostling referees, same thing with the likes of Keane and Ince before that, and I don’t think that there is any doubt that it trickles down to Sunday morning football and the more ignorant element who play the game there. There is no excuse for it and it’s about time top flight refs simply enforced the laws that have already been in place for decades.

    I agree on the others too. Shirt pulling is a tricky one because it’s difficult to spot and the most obvious culprits have it down to a fine art in terms of shielding what they are doing from the officials. I never did get the shielding the ball out for a goal kick thinking though. It’s pretty obvious that the player has no intention to play the ball, but was told that if it’s within playing distance (i.e. they could reach and play the ball) then the player is entitled to shield it from the opposing player, he has possession and doesn’t actually have to touch it himself or allow the other player to take it away from him. But yup, I’m not convinced that it’s the right interpretation.

  95. andy1886 says:

    @C – my experience of meetings of local referee associations was that about 50% of the time was spent moaning about how the primadonnas that officiated in the top divisions didn’t even have the balls to enforce the laws of the game and how that caused everyone else problems (abuse, assaults petulance etc.) lower down the pyramid.

    Let’s hope the officials grow a pair and that this isn’t another 5-minute wonder from the FA.

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