On Transfer Rumours and Captain’s Armbands

With a new boss on board, the transfer rumours are going into overdrive. So far, we’re talking to Dortmund about Sokratis, Sampdoria about Praet, Sevilla about Rico, and Freiburg about Soyuncu. And that’s just this morning.

We’re doing a lot of talking about talking about. Too much talk and not enough action? Or simply a load of old…

The new coaching and recruitment set-up lends itself to this chatter. Someone can talk out of school and it’s hard to know who. There’s a distinct advantage in leaks from within the club; it makes us look dynamic as if everything is being done to give Unai Emery the best chance of success.

I’m not suggesting that we’ve worked against the previous manager. I think he was more than capable of shooting himself in the foot with an over-developed sense of loyalty to his players and a belief they would get it right. Eventually.

While it’s good to talk, actions speak louder than words. And a lot of words have been spoken about Jack Wilshere’s situation. An improved offer put forward by the club hasn’t been rejected formally, but neither has it been signed. The enthusiasm of both sides to brief the press has waned. Is there nothing more to be said or nothing happening? Or something happening which necessitates a period of calm reflection?

Talks are the order of the summer with a number of players and the club could do worse than announcing a new signing or a new deal in the next week or so. It keeps momentum building and the essence of a ‘feelgood factor’ around the place. The World Cup is upon us in a fortnight or so, to take the headlines. That’s the time to slip ‘bad’ news out. The good news comes now and on rest days.

All Four-One and One Four-All

Certainly, some of the talk around midfielders ties in with the uncertainty over Wilshere and Ramsey. Substance comes later, so, for now, it’s speculation.

There’s a groundswell of opinion that Ramsey should be captain which smacks of the same kind of sop when Cesc and Van Persie received the armband; anything to keep a star player happy. That didn’t end well before, did it?

If he is captain, he might prove me wrong but appears to be a case of the ‘best of a bad lot’. We don’t have a ‘natural’ leader or if we do, they’ve kept that quality well-hidden.

The Wenger years diminished the captain’s role. He made no secret of not valuing the armband in the leadership sense, which is peculiar since Adams and Vieira were such strong characters. It went to pot with Henry, to be honest. He cast a long shadow over some players, Reyes in particular, who felt overawed and intimidated by his presence.

If you look at the successful sides in Europe, their captains are the ‘old style’. Lieutenants on the pitch, they galvanise, cajole and organise; the qualities we cried out for but lacked away from home last season. It doesn’t guarantee success but a phrase which comes up more frequently nowadays is that footballers like to be ‘organised’.

They want to be coached – some need it – and they want a clear plan. Some need a rigid plan, to know where to be in defensive situations. That is a contrast emerging between Emery and Wenger; the latter’s laissez-faire attitude is being replaced by a more structured approach. The pressing game requires that. How will the players react to the new regime? We’ll find out pretty quickly as most of them are missing the World Cup.

’til Tomorrow.

53 thoughts on “On Transfer Rumours and Captain’s Armbands

  1. This was Wenger’s downfall. His refusal to change philosophy. He thinks he can have a team that passes in those little dairy Lee triangles and try to get a 70% possession stat and pass and bore the opposition to death. But in today’s game its about pressing, high energy quick movement. Emery is going to implement this, anyone who doesn’t pull their weight will be shipped off..

    Thank the lord. Hardly anyone (except the divas)could stand another indolent slothful season.

  2. Afternoon all,thankyou for your write up once more YW…….you deserve to be the captain 😎

  3. If he can be coached to be more disciplined positionally and personally what about Xhaka for captain? Always seems fired up and for the cause in recent months

  4. Great post yogi.

    I think a team need a few players who are leaders in the dressing room but I have always believed that the importance of the captains armband and who gets it is over rated. If you ask me I think Nacho is the best candidate. He has been our most consistent and arguably our best player and most level head over the last 5 years. It feels like he has always worked reasonably hard and leads by example more consistently then anyone else on the squad. Hopefully the new managers influence will encourage Nacho and may be a couple other players to take a more active vocal leadership role and call out players who need some encouragement or let it be known that taking 3 weeks of sick leave when we are in the midst of a fight for 4th place is no longer acceptable.

  5. The armband, I think that like big voices are things that are claimed to want but obviously didn’t. Mert I think would have been perfect had he not constantly been shot down (though he continued to speak up) but not featuring also played a role. I think Xhaka has the qualities but needs to have them refined.

    Its obvious that the players we are linked to whether its Seri or Praet are pivots which come directly to Jack and Ramsey. Anybody imagine that if we sign one of them then both Jack and Ramsey will leave because thats the feeling I get.

  6. C

    I don’t think you should dismiss the possibility that Ramsey might be one of the attacking 4 rather then one of the defensive minded pivots.

  7. If we are really going to play high energy high pressure the forward players will need to be involved and Ramsey’s energy and the engine would seem to be a perfect fit and potentially a much better option some of our other incumbent attacking players.

  8. Ramsey has creativity and attacking skill and somewhat of an eye for goal but he also has energy and a strong engine. We will need both from our attacking players to optimize the system and Its seems like Ramsey might be the perfect fit to be the focal point of our pressing efforts high up the pitch.

  9. Bill,

    One of the things about high pressing isn’t just about loads of energy, its about positioning and angles and cutting off passing lanes. De Bruyne and Silva for instance aren’t players that somebody would say have loads of energy but they have high futbolomg IQ’s and understand how to cut dowm angles, great anticipation and positioning.

    The other part to high pressing and playing at pace is seeing things before they happen akd not dwelling on the ball and that is where I don’t fancy Ramsey at all.

  10. Bill,

    Question for you, if Ramsey was so important and so key then surely contract negotiations would have started, which by all accounts they haven’t but also I wonder how much both Ramsey and Welbeck regret turning down contracts earlier in the season.

    Having a big engine is only a part of pressing and playing at pace and its a shame that people think its the key piece. When your playing the style that Emery plays, your not trying to win the ball back 1v1 but insteaf you hunt in packs.

  11. Word from the Oracle that is Ornstein:

    “Arsenal are close to signing centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund for a reported £16m.”

  12. Bill,

    I go along with all of this. Need more leadership and character in the team but the armband itself seems less crucial. But Nacho is a good choice and he might be compelled by the armband to be more vocal.

  13. C,

    Definitely interesting that we are linked with these sorts of midfielder which raises just those questions about this two members of the fabled British core. So I am all in favor of trying to upgrade our skill, technique and types of players in midfield to allow the best partnerships tactically. But I do want a proper defensive player who can win the ball really aggressively. Haven’t heard too many links to these kinds of midfielders yet.

  14. Limestonegunner,

    I want a DM as well but it feels like Mislintat and Emery are going the more Sevilla route with players like Nzonzi who sit and do all their business but are also good defensively and instead of having 1 player focused on the job, he has 2 players which based on the linked players, makes sense. I think its why we are linked with the players we are and Ramsey and Jack almost look like ‘last resort’..maybr Mislintat and Emery view Xhaka as the player that sits and reads the game while pairing him with a Seri, Praet or Pellegrini who also do the defensive work, but provides more of the leg work.

  15. Each day one Arsenal legend talks to the press and says what the Board and Coach have to do in terms of buying players. If these legends have the club progress at heart, we do not doubt it, why can’t they contact the owner, and Gazidis, if necessarily meet the latter and say to him what they think in terms of buying players . Otherwise, their messages will not have any effect and construed rightly or wrongly as attention seeking words.

  16. C

    I agree that pressing is not only about energy but having energy and a good engine certainly is a good thing and can make a press even more effective. If given the choice there is no doubt I would rather have a player with that energy then without and there is no reason to think that Ramsey won’t be good at read angles and do all of the other things you talked about.

  17. If Emery thinks Xhaka is a good reader of the game and a solid defensive player then he has not watched enough film yet and he is going to be disappointed when he does.


    Your point about Ramsey and the contract is a good one. Ramsey has the best combination of technical skill, energy and some goal threat of any of our 4 high profile #10’s and if put into the right position he could defenitely be the most effective player of the 4. I would hate to see him go. However, he is going to want a big pay raise and we have already gone crazy with gigantic contracts for Ozil and Mkhitaryan making them both unsellable so we are stuck for the duration. Giving Ozil $350K/week was a poorly thought out move and that contract is going to be like an anchor and inhibit our flexibility for 3 more years.

  18. I am excited about the possibilities of PEA and Lacazette. PEA was excellent and Lacazette looked a lot better after he came back from injury. However, neither player is a slam dunk sure thing next season and they are the only players who offer any legitimate goal threat. Ramsey is probably the next best goal threat we have on the entire squad. If Lacazette goes missing again for 3 months or either he or PEA struggle for any reason or if either get injured for any length of time we are in trouble. I know its not our highest priority but I would love to see us add a wide forward who can create but also score such as Sadio Mane or Leroy Sane to play upfront with PEA and Lacazette. There is a real opportunity cost from playing a forward who does not score very much. Pair 3 good attacking forwards with Ramsey as the 4th attacking player and then we would have more firepower and more tactical flexibility and diversity of our scoring options.

  19. I think the life and times of Roberto Soldado should be mentioned to skeptics, to make them understand the efficacy of Unai Emery’s coaching methods . Remember Soldado, the Tottenham striker who could not score regularly after he was purchased from Valencia.

  20. Bill,

    Personally i would rather have high futboling IQ than bags of energy, work smarter and efficiently as opposed to harder. Sorry mate, Ramsey can’t match Mhkitaryan and Ozil technically or with speed of thought. Sure he has loads of energy but watch all the best sides that press high and play fast, they all have players who think quickly too because the passages of play and passing windows are much smaller and go much quicker. Ramsey’s contract situation doesn’t help and to ve honest I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave this summer and another midfielder who sits more but presses equally comes in and while they might not offer a goal threat they will help us boss the midfield and be better defensively thus freeing up our attacking 4 to focus more on scoring and less on always needing to track back.

  21. Bill,

    We have that wide forward especially if we play with pace and press, Mkhitaryan has shown not only fight but the ability to create and I feel he can get 10 goals.

  22. C:

    We have that wide forward especially if we play with pace and press, Mkhitaryan has shown not only fight but the ability to create and I feel he can get 10 goals.

    I hope you are right but the tendency of most fans is to over extimate the production and effectiveness of players they like and unfortunately Arsene was also prone to building his strategy and his squad based on overly optimistic expectations and that has consistently hurt us during the Emirates era.

  23. word on the street is jack and rambo are set to sign new deals with the club
    even the bookies have jack odds on to stay.

    thats my tuppence worth on this summer.


  24. Bill,

    I think PEA is as close to a sure thing as you can get—he scored big in France, huge in Germany and started hot here. If it doesn’t work out for him to get at least 20 league goals next season, it would be a surprise to everyone.

  25. C,

    But he assisted nearly as many as Ozil and scored more than twice as much in fewer games, didn’t he? I agree that he dwells on the ball and his runs forward aren’t always helpful for our defensive balance. However, he is also one of the only players we can sell profitably to meet our needs this summer. I’m fine with selling or keeping.

  26. Limestone

    I am confident PEA is going to score. Any player is for sale if the price is right but I think PEA and Lacazette are the only 2 relatively untouchable players on the squad

  27. Limestone

    If everything goes well and both PEA and Lacazette have great seasons and avoid injuries and long dry spells we should score a reasonable number of goals. However, how often do we go thru a season where everything goes exactly in our favor? We have no fluff in the system and no realistic back up 3rd option as a scorer if either of the first 2 struggle for any reason. Another forward is not a high priority for this season but if we want to move up the ladder in world football I think we have a much better chance to be more consistent if we add another wide forward who is good with the ball at his his feet and is a threat to score.

  28. Limestone

    In the last 10 years it feels like we most often over rate the production we expect from some of our players and we have built our squads based on the best case scenarios coming true.

  29. The way our squad is constructed right now we will probably need 45 league goals from PEA and Lacazette. That is possible but there are a lot of things that could prevent that from happening.

  30. Liverpool have already signed Kieta and Fabinho. City ManU and Chelsea will probably be active and strengthen their squads. Who knows what Spurs will do.

  31. Playing with the same teammates and the same system and same manager Ramsey had 8 assists and 7 goals in 1848 league minutes while ozil had 8 assists and 4 goals in 2164 league minutes.

    Stats can sometimes be misleading but the critical numbers certainly do not suggest that ozil is more effective then Ramsey in terms of creating for his teammates and ozil is definitely not as much of a goal threat

  32. Fabinho going to Liverpool….fuck that is MASSIVE, he along with Keita already make them 10x better than they were this season in midfield.

  33. Don’t just look at the numbers especially when you consider Ozil was the one more often than not playing that pass to Ramsey prior to him getting the assist. If we are talking about key stats for ACM then we should also be looking at chances created and only De Bruyne, Sane and I think Sane had more than Ozil in the PL.

  34. I take that back, ONLY De Bruyne had more chances creates than Ozil and you can’t even say it was because of corners because Xhaka too most of the corners this season.

  35. Mkhitaryan scored 2 goals in almost 800 league minutes for Arsenal and 1 league goal in over 900 minutes for ManU this season. The idea that he is a viable option for our 3rd scorer is overly optimistic at best.

  36. Bill,

    I definitely think a wide forward should be a priority. The problem is that we also have to deal with midfield, central defense and a keeper too. We are so far from challenging for the title but at least getting back to the top 4 would give us momentum for a future title challenge.

  37. Ramsey must be creating better high percentage chances then ozil since he is passing to the same team mates and getting just as many assists.

    Ozil does not take all of the corners but he takes the vast majority of free kicks and a lot of corners and Ramsey does not get to pad his chance created stats with any free kicks.

  38. I would have sold Xhaka, Ramsey, Welbeck and Iwobi to sign Fabinho. That lad is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT, watching him is like watching Gilberto Silva except taller and more athletic but with the same calm, defensively solid, high futboling IQ.

    People talk about Vieira all the time being a brilliant DM ans midfield boss but for me, Silva was clearly the DM and while there is absolutely no doubt Vieir was a brilliant player, Silva being there allowed Vieira to do what he did because he sat and did the business.

  39. Very bad news that Liverpool are getting Fabinho on top of Keita. That will be perhaps the best midfield pivot pairing. Those are the two midfielders I most wanted for Arsenal last season and last summer. Add the best available commanding CB in Virgil van Dijk and the wide forward steal of the decade in Salah and basically Liverpool has done all the business we needed to do. if they get Alisson or another top keeper, it will be nuts.

  40. Bill,

    Your wrong mate, Xhaka took the vast majority of our corners last season. The other thing is, watch, Ozil would drop deep because Ramsey would go bombing forward. I mean Dixon banged on about it literally the whole season how Ramsey would go bombing forward and Ozil would drop deep.

    Fucking pointless having this discussion with you, you focus so much on the stats. Lets be honest here, if Ramsey was so brilliant at being a box to box player than why are we being linked to all these midfield pivots and why fo people ignore fact that part of being a box to box player is doing the defensive work.

    I would easily sell Ramsey if it meant bringing in Fabinho or Seri to help shore up our midfield. I think people focus too much on just parts of the season and fail to remember other parts.

  41. I can see during the period of my absence from the blog that things have really heated up between you two, C and Bill. Different perspectives don’t need to cause any rancor!

  42. Bill,

    I’m not saying Ramsey is really bad but you can’t say Ozil is waning and then say Ramsey is on the up when he forgets to do the defensive part which is half of his job and only De Bruyne has created more chances than Ozil.

  43. Limestonegunner,

    No it boils down more to Bill’s dislike of Ozil and saying he doesn’t create or do the defensive side but then praise Ramsey despite the fact that literally half of being a box to box is doing the defensive side and Ozil again creating chances a plenty including providing quite a few hockey assist that ultimately les to Ramseys final ball.

  44. Limestonegunner,

    Also you hear managers and you clearly see their tactics to try ans take Ozil out of matches but rarely do you see the same of Ramsey which again points to Ozil creating time ans space for others with his mere presence.

  45. C

    The reality is for better or worse we are stuck with ozil and his monster wage for the next 3 years. I suspect his ability to influence the games is going to continue to fade. If Ramsey does not sign a contract we need to sell him this summer to raise cash. I think that series of events indicates bad planning but it is what it is.

  46. Bill,

    Lets not act as though Ramsey wasn’t offered a contract even before Ozil’s because he was and liKe Welbeck, he declined it. By doing that and with Arsenal linkes with all these midfielders and reports Arsenal tries to sign Fabinho coupled with just last week Ramsey and his agent hintes that contract talks haven’t began spells to me like if we bring somebody in then Ramsey will be sold.

  47. @Friends above who like us express their disappointment in missing out this Monaco midfielder.
    Why would that midfielder would come to a club which is 6th and does not offer him the CL playing opportunity? Players who are young want to play in the CL to improve their CV. The alternative was to have offered this midfielder ridiculous money to come, which our American owner would not countenance. Strange that while our American owner is so tight-fisted, the Liverpool counterpart is happy to fund transfers. That shows our depth of decline. For this reason alone, Wenger Out brigade were right. Wenger , through sheer selfishness, stayed too long. He often repeated that he only knew the life at Arsenal-arriving to London Colney from his Totteridge home,and leaving to home in the evening every day. That was his problem as he had no one to go home to-often seen by us in Totteridge restaurants sitting alone.
    Emery is a breath of fresh air, and this is an opportunity for the owners to support him with funds.and not merely considering this club as an asset in their property portfolio.

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