Arsenal: Really a Big Club or Just Playing at It?

Money is a theme to which we will return this week, but it reared its’ head this morning in salaries. I’m not going all economic on you; we’ve got an army of accountants in the fanbase while others prefer to rely on the faded Universite de Strasbourg certificate hanging wonkily on the wall behind the manager’s desk.

The reality is Arsenal entered a new realm when Mesut Ozil signed a new deal. It outstrips the manager’s current contract by £3½m per annum on the lowest quoted figures I’ve seen.

Whether anyone’s salary is value for money is a matter of opinion. At Arsenal, the board freely admit they don’t set the manager targets, so assessments are subjective all the way down the line.

But this is where we must decide whether we’re a big club or just playing at being one. It’s a moment where we must put our money where our mouth is.

Quite a few contracts expiring in the next eighteen months. Only one – Santi Cazorla – is down to ethics. Injuries ravaged his career recently and as they have done in the past, the club extended his deal so that the player received medical treatment, etc.

There was a hint of selfishness too. Arsenal knew Cazorla was an integral part of the starting line-up and hoped he would be again. At the very least, a strong member of the squad. Including him in the Europa League for the knockout stage is a positive sign but such are the disappointments previously suffered, I’ll believe Santi is back when he’s on the pitch.

When he comes back, there’s another renewal to deal with and like Jack Wilshere, there’s a suggestion of a ruthlessness about the club’s approach to talks. Injuries become a negotiating tool to peg back wage expectation.

It’s a Rich Man’s World

Aaron Ramsey with the match ball from Saturday’s drubbing tucked safely in the ‘man cave’ is the name in the frame. New terms were offered to the Welshman and rejected at the height of the Sanchez and Ozil fiascos.

A marmite player, Ramsey is sure to hold out for more money than was initially offered, in light of the 215% pay rise secured by Ozil. The Welsh international is an interesting case; he remembers the failed socialist wage structure which left Arsene as the highest-paid by some distance. Pointedly, he will remember the gap between the top and bottom earners in the squad wasn’t that great.

It still wasn’t particularly big until Ozil put pen to paper; now it’s huge. I’m not before you say otherwise, suggesting Ramsey wants parity nor that he thinks he deserves it.

What he will believe is that he is worth not far short of Ozil’s wage. That’s a subjective value, in cash and percentage terms. However, it’s clear Arsenal won’t get his signature from much less than doubling his reported current £110k per week.

It’s worth remembering that footballers’ wages are divisive. Typically, the sums reported are maximum contract values, inclusive of bonuses; it’s why the word ‘worth’ frequently precedes wages quoted.

However, we want them to earn their ‘worth’ since it means Arsenal are successful, but that’s the only time you feel you’re getting your money’s worth.

PEA is reportedly on £180k per week but if the club offers similar to Ramsey, where does Jack Wilshere fit into all this? Would he accept the strictures of a ‘pay as you play’ deal in this new economic world? Much less one on a reduced salary?

Arsenal is a club which must grow up; fast.

Back to Life, Back to Reality

The new world extends beyond the spreadsheets of payroll and contracts. Huss Fahmy joined and was so far on the back foot that he was horizontal. Now, with the ‘big two’ resolved one way or the other, there’s a sense that Arsenal can make up for lost time.

Wilshere is the more immediate issue. Jack walks this summer and as much as losing a £30m player for nothing would hurt, losing a homegrown player is a bigger issue.

It’s why I won’t be surprised if at least two of the summer’s signings fit that bracket – Butland to replace Ospina? – and partly explains the club’s pursuit of Jonny Evans, albeit driven by a knockdown price.

Several others, such as Welbz, will find the new economics harsh. If Jack is on a ‘pay as you play’, Welbeck is another who requires the same strictures without necessarily much financial benefit. I can see his Arsenal career quickly heading in the same direction as Theo’s.

Contract talk feeds a growing sense of momentum in terms of rebuilding. Cech, Koscielny and Monreal are at the point where diminishing returns are felt with the goalkeeper at the lowest ebb and Nacho the peak. But that downward slide is going to happen to all over the next few seasons.

There are three over-30s to replace while there’s natural wastage in the squad – Welbeck, Elneny – as well as upgrades – Mustafi, Ospina, Xhaka. Will we address these in one summer? I somehow doubt it.

It’s a brave new world, we’ll start all over again, as the soldier in the War of the Worlds musical put it. We have a lot in common with that character; he was a dreamer with an unrealistic target as well. The question is who suffers the near-fatal dose of cynicism first.

‘til Tomorrow.

79 thoughts on “Arsenal: Really a Big Club or Just Playing at It?

  1. It will certainly take a shift in attitude for arsenal to compete with the new ‘moneyed’ premier clubs. We may well only see this change when Arsene goes and Stan Kroenke with him. They have made a start wresting control of the club away from Arsene, but until he goes then nothing radical will happen.

  2. A fine post Yogi thank you.

    Arsenal are a big club! We have a modern 60,000 capacity stadium in one of the greatest capital cities in the World, a more or less guaranteed sell out for every home game. A multi-billionaire owner and enough international players to field to full teams. Enormous tv, sponsorship income and match day revenue to fund a very high wage bill. We also have along and glorious history. All the hallmarks of Big Club Status.

    Where the whole edifice starts to crumble is in the lack of major trophies. European Champions, never, Premiership not since 2003/4. Fear factor zero, just ask Swansea, Crystal Palace et al.

    Big club? No, not really!

  3. A rising tide raises all boats. The Ozil deal will create expectations.

    Jack deserves a new deal based on his performances this season. He has defied expectations. I get the feeling Wenger doesn’t want him though. I know this lad is a big Arsenal fan, which is very unusual in these times of football mercenaries.

    Sign Ramsey too. I rate him as a goal threat. He will have periods injured, but he has a knack for getting goals in big games. Another rare quality. PEA’s pace will give him more space to play in.

    Xhaka looks out of his depth, the back 4 needs work, and a new keeper is required. This is going to be an expensive few years and Wenger needs to be kept away from the transfer process as much as possible.

  4. Morning,

    I don’t even want to think about paying Ramsey those kind of wages. If that’s what he is looking for we have to look to cash in.
    Perez is only out on loan, so I’d be tempted to integrate him into the squad properly in the summer. He can provide cover out wide and I thought that he worked just as hard as Welbz in the limited number of games he played.
    The home grown quota is the only issue for the squad, but I don’t see why it means we have to pay ridiculous wages to players who aren’t really doing it on a regular basis.

  5. I would rather we improved Jack’s package than increase Ramsey’s wages. Ramsey needs to show that he is worth a higher wage packet. Performance related clauses need to be emphasized.

  6. As far as I concerned Ramsey is most definitely not a Marmite player. I love the stuff but Ramsey? No thanks!

  7. Quality post Yogi and with Ozil’s new deal, the quality of the squad and ambition should match that.

    Aubameyang, Mhkitaryan, Lacazette….the start, we need to continue. We are a big club but we had a 10 year period were we acted like a midtable club. We relied on one or two brilliant players to keep in the CL and when the rest of the PL big boys caught up, we were exposed mentality wise and now Ivan has started to try and shift the winds in our direction by hiring people who have been successful at big clubs.

  8. C,

    I expect Cech needs a rest, after all he’s played in all twenty-six Premiership games this season, that’s an awful of standing around waiting for something to happen.

  9. C,

    Orson Kaert:

    I expect Cech needs a rest, after all he’s played in all twenty-six Premiership games this season, that’s an awful of standing around waiting for something to happen.

    i agree with you to a certain extent C…wouldnt you agree though that mentality has to be coached out of players as oppose to bumping up their contract…even quality players like our frontline needs to feed off the winning mentality of players lower in quality…we will never have a squad of galacticos so we have to make it up in work ethic and mentality.

  10. As far as Ramsey goes, I understand both sides of the argument and also get that people say he is a genuine goal threat and has scored a goal in the FA Final, etc etc but if people are going to make the argument against Welbeck getting a new deal because of injuries and inconsistencies then they have to realize that the EXACT same argument has to be made for Ramsey. The other thing is that I never truly understood the whole ‘he is a genuine midfield goal threat’ thing just like I didn’t understand Giroud as some Ole Gunnar Solskjær type super-sub. So I decided to do a little research and here is what I found for Ramsey:

    11/12: 44 appearances, 3 goals
    12/13: 47 appearances, 2 goals
    13/14: 34 appearances, 16 goals
    14/15: 41 appearances, 10 goals
    15/16: 40 appearances, 6 goals
    16/17: 32 appearances, 4 goals

    So this massive goal threat that we pose from midfield has actually given us 1 really good season and a couple goals scattered across all competitions for the rest. The other thing is, when did we start banging on about our midfielders needing to be genuine goal threats, I thought we wanted them to do everything else a midfielder does and then if they chip in goals thats just an added bonus. I think in another team Ramsey could work, its why he worked so well with Giroud but in this team, it doesn’t work because he takes too many touches on the ball, is labored in possession and his passing isn’t consistent enough. I know most might disagree but I think for Arsenal, if we truly want to challenge for the title then players like Ramsey and Welbeck should be squad players not first choice.

  11. George,

    I agree that mentality and having a winning mentality is needed and big you pay your best players the big contracts. I think the other problem is that players shouldn’t just be guaranteed a place and should have to fight for it. For instance, Xhaka and Ramsey have wildly inconsistent and the difference is spectacular but yet when they are fit they get picked; but then a player like Elneny who provides that defensive balance in midfield continually gets dropped even after its clear he brings a balance. So yes, getting a winning mentality is important but I also think having an atmosphere of competition will help to breed that winning mentality.

  12. C,

    Over the years too many of our players have had a “winning mentality” or at least the mentality that “we are three up and have this game won”, only to take the foot off the gas and start thinking about a hot shower and another bonus payment.

    Saturday was a typical case in point. From Cech playing on with an injury, Kolasinac expecting Cech to come for the ball only for neither of them to make a determined effort, thus leaving the Everton player free to score.

    The Everton defence didn’t suddenly become super effective after half time, just that Arsenal believed that it was all too easy and wasted the opportunity to make a big improvement in our goal difference.

  13. Orson Kaert,

    In Cech’s defence Orse…..its fucking tiring picking out the ball from the back of your own net on a regular basis.
    He’s probably got repetetive strain injury….

  14. C,

    i really like Mo…i really do…he works his socks off(doesn’t always read the game well as we still concede with him in the team)…he would be really good if we had a cannavaro and bonucci behind him…but we dont.Not that Xhaka or ramsey fills me with confidence…really like AMN to get the NLD…doesnt read the game well either but has the pace to recover

  15. Good day,

    I think we have to upgrade our midfield to see the best of Ramsey. Now, that may be circular logic (or something thereabouts 🙂 but a midfield paring of Xhaka and Ramsey just don´t do it. We´re so open in the centre of the park that our opponents just can waltz through. We might as well hang up a sign saying “Welcome, come this way”.

    If we line up 4-3-3 and with Elneney or AMN at the base it is somewhat better as it frees Ramsey up to do his runs in the box where he is at his best.

    To my little mind, and it is obviously quite small, the remedy/quick fix going forward is to remove Xhaka (just pack him up and send away, preferably as far away as possible).

    If we do play 3-4-3 at the NLD then lets try something else than Xhaka and Ramsey (I think he´s gonna change formation from the Everton game).

  16. Orson Kaert,

    Personally I think the biggest difference between what your talking about is a lack of concentration especially from the more senior players. For instance, the situation you talk about, an experienced CL winning GK should come out and grab that to help his defense out and if he is injured then he comes off but instead Everton score.

    The ability to see out a game is just as important as anything when it comes to a winner’s mentality, for instance, since Ramsey is the topic of the day; I have seen far too many times he’s trying to get into the box when we are leading leaving our midfield exposed to the counter nad what generally happens……..he doesn’t get back, our midfield is short and they counter and score. Now its not just him because we have seen it before but that ability is part of it too

  17. George,

    Xhaka and Ramsey rarely fill me with confidence either especially since both could give a rats ass about defending. Personally like Elneny next to Jack for the NLD as both not only prefer to sit in midfield but both are good on the ball and can deal with the pressing of Spuds. Maitland-Niles wouldn’t be a bad option for his pace in recovery and calm on the ball. Its going to be crucial that we win the midfield and with Xhaka and Ramsey slow on the ball, I would prefer we go with Elneny and Jack or if Jack isn’t fit than Elneny and possibly Iwobi who seems to cock it up in the final third but will work his socks off defensively and provide that drive and athleticism in midfield

  18. Great post yogi.

    We have to act like a big team but we still have to make good decisions. The wage dump of last summer and flirting with running afoul of PL wage restrictions show what happens when you don’t make rational decisions. I understand that losing Sanchez hurt our reputation and we needed something to salvage our pride but giving Ozil the sort of pay raise was not a good decision on any level. If you look at his total production over the last 2 seasons then each goal and assist will cost the club about $1,000,000 and that’s assuming that his production does not slip any further as he enters his 30’s. Mesut is still a talented player but its indisputable that his productivity has slowed and even his biggest supporters would have to accept that his days as the worlds best #10 are clearly in the past. I suspect the reason not even the other supposedly mega wealthy teams around Europe showed much interest is they can find players who can give them just as much for a lot less money. De Bruyne who has clearly passed Ozil and is 4 years younger recently signed a new contract with money bags Man City which reports indicate is about $5M/year less then the one Mesut just signed. That is just poor decision making on our part even before you consider how this new contract might affect the rest of the wage scale.

  19. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    Personally, if we went with a 433 against Spuds then I think we should go:

    Bellerin—Mustafi—Kos—–Nacho or Sead

    If Jack isn’t fit then Maitland-Niles or possibly Iwobi. The other thing is that Mhkitaryan, Lacazette and Aubameyang are willing to work and do the defensive work on the flanks when necessary but are also very eager to press high up the pitch with Ozil.

  20. C

    Your comment at 1:30 regarding Ramsey is spot on. The data clearly shows that he has not been as much of a goal threat as we hoped or expected. It makes sense to judge all of the players in the same realistic sort of way. For example, see my comment at 2:47. Another example is our expectations of Lacazette have to be significantly influenced by what we have seen so far this season? Building our squad based on of what we hope will happen rather then what what actually has happened has not really worked very well over the course of the Emirates era and we should make more decisions based on the logical sort of analysis you used for Ramsey in that comment.

  21. Bill,

    Couple things just to help you out my friend.

    De Bruyne has 6 goals 10 assists in 24 PL matches and Ozil has 4 goals and 7 assists playing for a side before Aubameyang and Mhkitaryan arrived didn’t play with nearly the fluidity nor the quality of players that Citeh play with.

    De Bruyne turns 27 this year and Ozil turns 30 at the end of this year so its only 3 years.

    De Bruyne signed a 5 year deal worth £260k/wk (about £67.6m over the life of the contract)
    which would take him to 32 and Ozil signed a 3 year deal worth £350k/wk (£54.6m over the life of the contract) which takes him to 32.

    I think you see what you want to see and its kind of funny that you bang on about Ozil not being nearly as productive yet nobody has more assists than him in the PL even with him playing with average strikers since his arrival, he is only behind De Bruyne and Suarez in teh top 5 in assists and if he was in such decline then why was he being chased by Juve and Barca (both legitimate reports).

  22. Bill,

    The funny thing is, people will say that I don’t rate Ramsey, I actually do but not for this team with the quality that we have in attack when we need our midfielders to focus on being a solid base. The other thing with the goal threat is that people want to remember his superb year and sure injuries have played a part but even with that his goal threat doesn’t out-weigh the other things a box-to-box player is supposed to do.

    Lacazette, I still think he has goals in him and will score plenty for us. Time will tell but my money is on his finding goals especially if Arsene does the smart thing and plays him with Mhkitaryan, Ozil and Aubameyang.

  23. Arsene has been making bad decisions which seem to be based on hope for most of the Emirates era. He over rates his ability to judge talent and potential and he over rates his ability to develop players like Ox or Sanogo etc etc etc. If you look at what has actually happened in the past 13 years it has to be clear that you can’t throw an U21 player like Iwobe or Ox into high leverage squad positions and expect success.

  24. i agree with the 4-3-3 C…i fear for lacazette though…not due the attacking quality…but did united not try a similar thing and we saw what trippier did to sanchez…he had so much space i’m surprise he didn’t try the Ozil-no-look-pass the during the game.

  25. George,

    Trippier did have acres of space but I also think part of that was due to Spuds being on the front foot and pushing United back and Sanchez leaving his duties to go and try and do what Sanchez does. I think the thing with Lacazette on the flank is that he will offer a real genuine threat and if we can get the midfield right, I think we can carve them up same as early in the season when Ozil did it.

  26. Offering Jack a big contract based on his emotional appeal would be a mistake given his history. We just brought in Mkhitaryan who is reportedly our second highest paid player. We already have our 2 highest wage players who are #10’s in the starting line up. We have plenty of other holes in the squad where we could use the money to greater advantage to buy impact players who could give up a more balanced squad. Logic would suggest that even if we ignore the injury risk we don’t need to duplicate what we already have by adding another high wage #10

  27. Bill,

    So basically what you’re saying is that the academy is a total waste of money.

    We can’t put Academy players into important first team games. All Premiership games are important. The FA Cup win got us into the Europe League, those cup games were important. The Europa League is our only chance of Champions League qualification, so those games are important. The Carabao Cup is a chance of a trophy, so those games are important.

    Doesn’t leave much room for Academy players does it?

  28. C,

    Yepp, think we’d be a lot stronger in midfield with that set up. Sort of prefer the 4-3-3 as I believe we’re a little bit more sound defensively.

  29. George,

    Well, yes, I’ve been here and there these last 15 years. But mostly in Sweden. I do however follow the Arse and have been for quite some time.

    This season there are some winds of change blowing and maybe, just maybe, these are forcing the managers hand. Hence, we have seen changes of formation quite regularly. But then again, what do I know🙂.

  30. I would have to agree with Bill’s argument regarding inexperience in high leverage positions…don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing more exciting than seeing an academy player breakthrough and there’s nothing wrong with playing them in high leverage positions but just not in this team. if you playing them in high leverage positions…you have to either have leaders next to em or micro-manager on the pitchside(we have neither)

  31. The way Wenger is setting the team up I can’t see him playing Lacazette and PEA together. It looks like one or the other.

    He could become the Wiltord of Wenger 3.0. A centre forward pushed to the wing or back into midfield to accommodate him. Or just left on the bench.

  32. C,

    I find it difficult to compare the two as they are such different players. Wilshere will fight for the ball, will tackle players and dribble the ball into contact with the opposition. Ramsey is careless about defending, is ever anxious to dump the ball off to avoid being tackled but makes runs into the box and so gets scoring chances.

    If we are to accept that our new signings will produce more goals, then we have less need of Ramsey. The greater tenacity in possession of Wilshere draws opponents out of position and creates space for our front runners.

    On balance I’d prefer Wilshere.

  33. Welsh corgi cardigan,

    True my good sir… However I believe the recent changes this season were due to a lack of personnel rather than arsene pulling an ace out of the pack…this is arsene after all and he if sniffs winds of change approaching his ship he would probably drop the sails so we don’t catch it

  34. The fact that we are well stocked with #10’s is another reason that breaking the bank for the ozil contract was not a logical decision. There are plenty of other places in the squad where that sort of money could have been useful.

  35. C,

    A hatrick-less wilshere on any day…as even on a bad day the lad plays for the badge and it is the NLD and we all have watched them both and we know jack gives us that tad bit more in midfield …but Ramsey ofcourse is still going to start even if jack scored a hatrick…arsene still chooses the young welshman…. Would love a stat to confirm if we concede more with Jack or rambo… Might provide insight who’s the greater liability

  36. I doubt that there has ever been a team that would start 3 #10’s in there regular lineup. Even Barca had xavi and iniesta and used their front line for goal scorers who could turn the passes into goals scored. Man city does the same thing. 2 creative players in the mid field and 3 scorers upfront. We start 3 Uber creative players with 1 or at the most 2 scorers. That ratio is wrong

  37. “So basically what you’re saying is that the academy is a total waste of money.”


    It’s not a waste of money because we have gotten some squad players and Wilshere and Bellerin over the last 10 years. However it’s clear we will struggle to compete for big trophies if we throw a player like iwobe into high leverage squad positions. No?

  38. I am all for breaking the bank for the right players. Getting Suarez a few years ago would have been worth it. IMO. He is capable of being a complete difference maker.

  39. Orson Kaert,

    I tend to agree with you, I would prefer that our DM and CM stay and sit and allow our front 4 to operate and attack with freedom. I think with Mhkitaryan and Ozil coupled with Lacazette and Aubameyang, we have genuine creators and goal scorers unlike we have had since RvP left (Theo could score goals but has been dropped time and time again even when scoring) so the need for Ramsey’s goals isn’t necessary as it was when he had his best season playing off of Giroud and Ozil.

    For me the biggest thing is that Jack allows, alongside a DM or Elneny, the ability to play quickly but also will sit. Now does Jack need to concentrate more, absolutely, but I do think that he is a more natural replacement for Santi or a player like that that we need. Sure, on his day Ramsey will be a threat but the question then becomes with Ramsey making those runs into the areas where our strikers/attackers normally make them, who would you rather be on the end of things.

    For me, Jack gets the nod AS LONG as he can stay fit.

  40. George,

    Tend to agree with all of that. I don’t want to diminish Ramsey’s work rate because he will run and run but this Arsenal side with better quality players doesn’t need him to run, they need that midfield balance and sure we can get away with Ramsey against a poor Everton side but against a side that will require him to actually do the box-to-box stuff, well its inconsistent and when that happens he does more attacking then defending. So Jack for me too.

  41. Bill,

    We aren’t stocked with #10’s. Iwobi ISN’T a #10, Jack can be but his best position IMHO is as the box-to-box/CM dictating the tempo in the center of the park and working with a #10, Ramsey ISN’T a #10. Honestly, the only #10’s that we have are Ozil and Mhkitaryan and Mhkitaryan’s best position is more as an attacker / winger.

  42. Bill,

    That great barca side did play with three #10’s…ofcourse the difference one was the best goalscoring #10 the world has ever seen….

    Just teasing….

    I also see your point of having spent the money on other holes we have to fill but you have to understand that ozils football iq is unmatched in our squad…yes we have spent more than warranted but that’s down to the clubs poor mismanagement

  43. And yes I also understand your view that he is a defensive liability and yes he is a tad bit lazy… But his the exact same player that Germany gets… Louw actually knows it which is why he always plays 3 mobile forwards with him and a mobile cm to ensure that defensive liability is balanced but try telling that to the French prof

  44. Damon @ 5:31

    My comment was poorly worded. I did not mean to suggest that Jack is a squad player. Bellerin divides opinions and I rate him lower then some of us but at least he starts regularly. After that the best we have done from the academy in the last 13 years are players like Le Coq and Gibbs who are clearly squad players.

    Orson @ 3:27

    It think we use our academy players more then any other big team and its not really helped us or them. We can still use them in the league cup games or early round FA cup games but we have to compete with other big teams who use their academy players less then we do and that policy not worked well for us or the academy players. There is no rule that we have to use the academy players as much as we do. Why not let them learn while on loan and then we can be a lot more selective on which ones we do use in higher leverage situations after we see how they adapt while on loan. Its not fool proof but its better for both the players and the team then what we have been doing for the last 13 years. IMO.

  45. I think Suarez had about 45 combined goals and assists in his last season for Liverpool. That is the type of player you break the bank on.

    I think the Ozil contract again demonstrates that Stan is willing to spend if that is what Arsene wants to do. You don’t approve a contract that completely breaks your clubs wage structure if you are unwilling to spend. Mk and Ozil are both Wenger type players and getting MK and giving Özil a huge contract both look like Arsene is gearing up for another 3 years of Wengerball.

  46. And on a cheery note, Anthony Taylor will be looking to be the most important person at Wembley this weekend.

  47. De Bruyne has 11 assists and 7 goals. The point is that he is a better player now who clearly has a lot more upside based on age yet Man City who has a lot more money got him for about $5M per year less then we paid for Ozils contract

  48. Bill,

    In 7 more starts in the PL. They also gave him 2 more years which would put the end of his contract at 32 just like Ozil’s.

  49. Arsenal a big club? Yes it is, but unfortunately not on the football pitch. I have been fortunate enough to meet a senior official of Lazio football club, and when discussing football related matters, Arsenal are respected by the world of football.
    Best describing Arsenal? A Farrari towing a caravan.

  50. Timothy Luck,

    Thanks for your instruction, after more than forty years of supporting the club I really needed reminding of how to be a true fan. Always behind the team but I’ll leave you to to back up Wenger. Don’t let the door hit you on the arse when you follow him out of it.

  51. George,

    You were a tad harsh on Welsh Corgi boy there……but I admired his humility.
    Something most humans lack.
    You came around though,and were more user friendly afterwards.

  52. C

    When I use the term #10 for this discussion I am not describing which position he plays in our formation but I am describing a player who is in the team to provide technical skill, creativity and passing but does score goals and is not an asset on the defensive end of the pitch. We have Jack, Mkhitaryan and Ozil who clearly fit that definition and no other team in Europe that I can think of would regularly start 3 players like that in their lineup. Iwobe does not play in the #10 position but his job is also to provide whatever creativity and technical that he can because he certainly does not score or defend very well and he would be a 4th player who fits that’s general mold.

    Arsene seemed to devolop an obsession with creativity and passing at the start of the Emirates era but he goes overboard and team balance suffers. IMO. There is definitely not another big team in Europe who would regularly use creative players who don’t score very often in 2 out of the 3 forward positions. The result of Wengerball has been 13 years of poor defending and despite Arsene’s love of attacking football we have never been a high scoring team.

  53. I would add Xhaka as another player in our line up who is not a true #10 but the only the reason he is in the squad is a technical skill and deep lying playmaking and the occasion nice pass. He certainly does not score and he is definitely a defensive liability.

  54. Morning

    Yesterday’s photo:

    From the film Stromboli, a tale of a Lithuanian refugee who marries an Italian after being seduced by the dreams of living in a land of riches. Reality is harsher with locals less friendly and harder to know.

    Arsenal, now acting like a big club, will find their reception more hostile and less forgiving after spending big and failing. Not just from fans but a wider public perception. Which ties in neatly with the theme of yesterday’s post.

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