2018: What A Pain In The Arsenal

Whichever way you cut it, 2018 was a tumultuous year for Arsenal Football Club. January gave us a heavy hint of what was to come; Nottingham Forest dumped us out of the FA Cup while Manchester City gave us a footballing lesson in the League Cup final. Alexis swapped parking spaces with Henrikh Mkhitaryan with neither ourselves or United supporters quite sure who got the best of that deal. If anyone did.

Mesut Özil seemingly heading toward the exit, backed off and signed a new £350k per week contract. The Mad March Hares made an early appearance in the Arsenal boardroom. Had we known then what we know now, would the club have been so generous?

It ended with the club in fifth place, five points off fourth and licking our wounds following a humiliating 5 – 1 defeat at Anfield. The nadir of our season or is that yet to come?

In between, there’s just the small matter of the end of Arsène Wenger’s two decades in charge. The footballing romantic in most people wanted him to bow out with the Europa League, to ride into the sunset with the gaping hole in his CV filled. That opportunity presented itself twice before; twice he swatted it aside on a tide of euphoria. There wasn’t to be a third time.

As it was, the decline which saw us drop out of the Champions League places in 2016-17 became terminal for Wenger’s reign when we finished sixth, our lowest placing since the mid-90s.

While Manchester United crumbled into mediocrity upon Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, we were already there. The myth Arsène would leave us with a stronger squad, in better shape for the future is being sorely tested.

Sharp Dressed Pain

It’s a squad which would barely be missed if it were sold, save for Torreira, Aubameyang and Lacazette. Hector Bellerin is freed of slough in which he found himself mired but few others are indispensable; only the youngsters escape the cull.

The summer, underwhelming for the most part, delivered the tremendous Lucas Torreira to our doorstep and we shall enjoy him while we can. A player of that ability won’t remain at our beck and call for the remainder of his career. One of Europe’s elite will come calling for him.

We were supposed to be competing with them. That’s the lie Ivan Gazidis sold us. Short-term pain for long-term gain and we’ll take Bayern Munich’s place at the top table. Three 5 – 1 defeats later, we received the proof we never wanted that the gap was now a gulf. Far from closing, it widened. Even Ostersunds came to the Emirates without fear and won.

Yet the club is more alive now with Wenger and Gazidis gone; Unai Emery’s active management is such a contrast to what we became accustomed to, that it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s far from perfect but a promising six months which underline potential is there. If only we had the money to invest in the squad.

Gazidis is in Milan and there are fewer pronouncements from his successors. Maybe that will be different next month but the message won’t change: self-sufficient, Enos won’t invest while not making the Champions League provides a financial pain which is sharper and longer than a swift kick in the gooleys.

How Do You Like Your Novichok, Sir?

It’s a valley of pain into which we’ve been pulled and from where there is little light on the horizon. That’s because we’re locked in a box, somewhere in Delaware and away from prying eyes.

Plurality of ownership is dead; Enos took the lot, lock, stock and two smoking barrels. Usmanov got fed up with waiting for a seat on the board and sold out. Just in time as the British government decided that Russian oligarchs had to ‘fess up to the source of their wealth. Tell us or you won’t come into the country, as Roman Abramovich found. Putin had a more effective message: tell them and you’ll get a poison pen letter. Or was it just a poison pen? I forget.

Which brings us to 2019, it’s hopes and aspirations. The Champions League is, I think, a step too far. Qualification requires us to invest heavily in January with money we don’t have. The late Peter Hill-Wood never borrowed to fund purchases, continuing the philosophy of his father as chairman.

If we’re to achieve anything this season, that philosophy will need to be ditched. With the midfield we have the basis of a strong side. It will be without Aaron Ramsey. I was going to tag him ‘heartbreaker’ but heartbroken seemed equally appropriate. Arsenal tore up the offer of a lifetime and forgot to tell him why even though we knew it was all because Mesut Özil took £350k. No wonder he gets back spasms; his wallet must weigh a ton.

Long and Winding Road

2019 is a year, for the first time in a footballing sense, which I’m approaching with a renewed enthusiasm. While we might not achieve all that we can, we’re at least making every effort to do so. That’s not to say we didn’t before, just that this time there is an urgency to the efforts. No longer is it good enough to try and win beautifully, we dropped the last word out of that phrase.

It’s the start of a long journey and who knows how long Unai Emery will steer the ship. Not 20+ years, that’s for certain but not the six months which the no-marks claim is long enough.

’til Tomorrow.

18 thoughts on “2018: What A Pain In The Arsenal

  1. Michael says:

    Thank you Yogi, for another year of great writing..A happy, prosperous and healthy new year to you and yours.

  2. Bill says:

    Great review of the year yogi. Thanks for another awesome year of posts. You da man!!

    Happy and blessed New Years to everyone

  3. consolsbob says:

    Indeed, YW, indeed.

    Happy New Year.

  4. Paulie Walnuts says:

    The usual quality delivery , YW.

    If only you could take our set plays.

    Thanks for another year of brilliant posts & Happy New Year to all Cultured Left Footers

  5. andy1886 says:

    Ornstein: Aaron Ramsey: Arsenal midfielder in talks with Bayern, Inter, Juventus, PSG & Real Madrid

    Not bad for a ‘rubbish’ player who we’re better off without is it? If only they had been interested in Ozil last year…

    Happy New Year everyone, and thanks YW for all your sterling efforts (I like to think that your penmanship contributed just a little to bringing about the change that most of us desperately wanted).

  6. Ras says:

    ‘Tis the season to be jolly. Wishing yourself and Family a prosperous and tranquille start to the Year.

    You never surprise me YW with your eloquent prose. J t félicité.

    The back spasms allusion re Ozil is out of this world. Genius.

    Investment is what it is going to take as well as looking at players in the PL.

    A quick glance at Liverpool and we see that currently Sane and Virgil v Dyke were bought from the PL.

    City bought Mahrez. Man U Shaw.

    How it’s done is another matter but there’s no hiding in that Ozil is surplus to requirements. His salary alone could pay 3 players wages a week easily.

    For what we are paying him Mhiyki has not provided value for worth so far.

    I personally don’t think that Emery is good enough to win us the PL.
    I still am un clear about his actual playing style . It changes so much. Yes these are Wenger s players except for Torreira and Guendozi.

    Yes the Players run more and are fitter but I don’t see a definitive recognisable style of play on a weekly basis.

    Of course Emery has to be given time to bring in his players. In due time I think he can get us closer to the top 4 but for now we are a work in progress.

  7. andy1886 says:

    Ornstein again on the January window:

    With no major departures expected in January and heavy investment in new signings and contracts over the past year, Arsenal do not have significant funds to spend in the upcoming transfer window.

    Any permanent acquisitions, loan fees and salaries will be drawn from a modest budget and therefore loan deals are more probable, with out-of-favour Barcelona midfielder Denis Suarez, 24, among those under consideration. That budget is likely to increase substantially in the summer.

    There have been conversations about recalling defender Calum Chambers and winger Reiss Nelson from loan spells at Fulham and Hoffenheim respectively, but with Chambers the chances are remote because breaking his season-long deal would incur a fee, while there is reluctance to disrupt Nelson’s progress in Germany.

    There is no indication Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke will inject any of his personal wealth, which tallies with the club’s managing director Vinai Venkatesham reaffirming their commitment to a “self-sustaining business model” during an interview with the BBC in October.

  8. OGSforArsenal says:

    The biggest elephant in the Arsenal which no fawning bloggers wanting to kiss Josh Kroenke’s ass in case he might give them a job in future is simple: ‘has ESK shafted his £550m Deutsche Bank loan onto the club books to make the fans pay to purchase the club for him? And what about the loaned money he used to buy his original shares?’

    This is quite simply the biggest issue facing the football operations of Arsenal football club. £260m 2006 debt became £20m a year mortgage which paid for itself through increased matchday revenues. £550m new debt is £40-50m a year for twenty years which will not be spent on wages and transfer fees and has no matching revenues to cover it. If he is shafting another £350m or whatever from the original purchase, that goes up to £70-80m a year.

    20 years of that sort of bleeding has the following effects:
    1) A manager has to perform brilliantly to just stand still, unless the commercial operation starts shooting the lights out.
    2) Fans have to pay Rolls Royce prices to watch U23s.

    All blogs should be in no doubt that Kroenke is not investing in Arsenal, rather Arsenal is investing in Kroenke. Investing on debenture terms like redemption not at par but with a gigantic haircut at some suitably far distant point in the future.

    Arsenal FC is now legalised robbery by KSE.

    Blaming Unai Emery for that is typical fly-by-night bloggery.

    A few lessons for dimwits: you buy in markets in 2018/19 to build to 4th/ Europa League victory. Only when UCL qualification is achieved can you get bigger purchases in.

    Pocchetino bought Dier from Sporting, Dele from MK Dons at the start. If you look at his first purchases, some of them flopped. Anyone heard of Fazio? The Asian striker Ji who barely played? He had a few cock ups but succeeded too. Emery has a few cock ups currently but Torreira and Guendozi are not cock ups. Smith-Rowe is worth persisting with, Holding was doing well before his injury.

    Armchair fans who cannot run a Vc fund should go take some meds: VC funds invest in some duds but the success stories make enough money to bring prosperity.

    Do not expect Peter Wood to discuss Kroenke, he is putty in Kroenke’s hands. He cannot cope with Emery having being appointed and will do anything to get rid of him. He was absolutely gutted with 22 games unbeaten and now forgets that run when a three game blip occurs. I said at seasons start that 75-80pts was an excellent first season for Emery. He had 38pts at half way: bang on target.

    Klopp achieved precisely nothing in his first six months, merely biding his time, seeing what he had available. Wood would have called for Klopp’s dismissal as worse than Rodgers in May 2015….8th in EPL a collapse after narrowly missing out in 2014. Pocchetino’s first full season was Europa League 5th, not UCL: 21 months to get to UCL qualification. Typical Spursy manager eh? Even the great Messiah Guardiola screwed it all up despite a three year preparation for his arrival. Fire the useless incompetent cretin in 2017, says Wood!

    Wood was up for Hasenhuettl. Wonder what he thinks now after losing to the Ironmen and City? Better than Emery?? Or another ‘any manager who has a blip is useless’ claptrap and bullshit? Who knows…but he would be available summer 2020.

    He trashed Wenger for blowing leads, but when his darling Thomas Tuechel did exactly the same with Dortmund at Anfield? Not a sniff until I called him out on it. Must not have favourites, that is what Wenger did…..at least Tuechel brown noses Neymar every day….just like the Mail now has a glory hole for Paul Pogba worship…..he invented conception four months ago, you know. Paul Scholes never did that….

    So how about Arteta and Henry, his two great genii as yet untested? Well Henry is struggling with a struggling squad at Monaco but I have said he needs time. His first window he apparently fancies Dembele and Smith-Rowe: the old and the new. Arteta would be marrying a Virgin: could be for life, could have the groom hiring hookers within months. No evidence of matchday leadership. Good thing Arsenal is now private: could never get that past LSE corporate governance mandarins….the same can be said of Tuechel’s genius sidekick.

    He was up for Graham Potter, who had built Ostersunds into a good League One budget side. Potter is now midtable with Swansea but Chris Wilder is an unmentionable thug whose British squad is currently in play-off pushing automatic promotion place. And as for that twit Garry Monk who has licked that bunch of midlands riffraff into a unit shitting currently on the Villa (for those who did not go to college with gobby Brummies, the relevant song is: ‘Shit on the Villa! Shit on the Villa tonight OOH, AAH, AAH!!’ which rang out into the Cambridge night as SSCFC players emerged after a drunken annual dinner), what kind of moron would consider him?

    So we have Lucien Favre at Dortmund who is building on ten years of Kloppery and a Bayern squad receiving Zimmer frames next summer. He did not inherit a squad finishing sixth in Bundesliga on huge wages. He had £100m of Dembele money to spend, he had Marco Reuss as a seasoned Champions League warrior. He knows German football where you pay 200 Euros a season to watch U23s in the Champions League. Could he thrill punters paying 5-10 times as much or will they say ‘cut ticket prices or forget it!’?

    And of course, there is Jardim who could develop young french talent in the uncompetitive wasteland of French football. Clearly did a brilliant job but will EPL mandarins let him have five english teenagers in his starting XI? Terrible for TV contract values….but why would unknown French players sell TV rights outside France? Another elephant in the room about French mafias….

    I realise that Wood is a bullshitting ex-alcoholic with no experience working in a VC fund, but he is a useful unprincipled criminal shyster for the Kroenkes and he triggers a sizable community of frothing haters every day. Advertising is all about triggering impulse buying. That is Wood’s expertise: triggering wildly differing emotions on a daily basis. He should sell tickets for Arsenal, not set strategy….

    See where Emery is on May 15th. 75pts plus and he has done his job well. Europa League winner and you back him in the summer. If five get shifted in January and five in the summer, the squad is evolving……

  9. buckagh says:

    Happy New year to all, and thanks YW for another year of quality blogging,

  10. Blue Yonder says:

    A happy New Year to all. I only discovered ACLF this year and enjoy the high quality of the writing. The information, knowledge and humour has quickly made it an eagerly-awaited daily read. The same applies to the comments and commenters and I look forward to more of the same in 2019.
    If only the on-field product could show some consistency…

  11. Colts says:

    Happy New Year Yogi and all. Thank you for your efforts. No matter how this season finishes, for me change was the most important thing.

  12. consolsbob says:

    Who the fuck is OGS and wtf is he on?

  13. C says:

    Happy New Year!!!! Just want to thank Yogi and all you lot for providing a place where we can chat about The Arsenal but a worldwide community where it feels like we are all mates….well except Bob calling Henry a trol 😂

  14. LSG says:

    Thanks Yogi and Happy New Year to one and all!

    In London for a couple of days and going to Fulham home today with Limestonegunnerinho—hopefully better than that awful League Cup NLD earlier this month. Let’s start the New Year better than we ended the last—come on you gunners!

  15. MikeSA says:

    Who the fuck is OGS and wtf is he on?

    I think it’s called a “rant”?

    Quite what induced it though is anyone’s guess………


    I tried hard to read through it thinking there might be some insight in there somewhere but I only got about halfway through it before I gave up.

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