Arsenal 1-3 Bayern: Gunners come up about £100m short

Arsenal lost 3-1 at the Emirates to a Bayern Munich team that is flat out better than Arsenal. They were better than Arsenal in most positions on the pitch, deeper than Arsenal on the bench, and arguably better than Arsenal tactically on the day.

Bayern have better players partially because they are a richer team than Arsenal, with revenues of €368.4m compared to Arsenal’s €290.3m annual haul. But Bayern don’t earn that money because some rich guy is artificially pumping money into the team, they earn that money because hard work building the Bayern brand has paid off hugely in the commercial market: if Arsenal made the same amount of money as Bayern does in commercial revenue they would leapfrog Manchester United in Deloitte’s football money list and be the third highest revenue earning team in the world at over €400m a season.

The money Bayern earns they use to spend lavishly on transfers, shelling out over £95m in new players in the last two years. In that same period that Bayern bought lavishly, Arsenal sold lavishly and spent thriftily with a net transfer outlay of £-5m. At the end of yesterday’s game it wasn’t Pounds and Euros running around on the pitch making tackles and scoring goals but there was clearly about a £100m gulf in class between the two teams.

That £100m is just about the figure I predicted back in July that Arsenal need to spend to build this team into a title contender. Some people laughed, they said “spending doesn’t guarantee anything”, they pointed out Andy Carroll, and more than a few people spent the better part of six months trying to disprove the idea that Arsenal needed to strengthen this squad here in the comments section of nearly every article.

Ironically, Arsenal did spend money in January in order to address a weakness in the team’s defense at left back. Nacho Monreal was brought into the club because both Kieran Gibbs went down with an injury and his backup had fallen out of favor due to a string of bad decisions on and off the pitch. But it was a case of too little-too late because Nacho was ineligible to play last night and instead, Arsenal were forced to pick a center back (Thomas Vermaelen) to play wingback. And by most accounts, Vermaelen had another in a long line of weak performances.

Those who believe that spending doesn’t guarantee anything will often point to the “fight in the dog” theory that spunky little underdogs can overcome the odds and beat the big boys if they just try hard enough. Sure, on “any given night” any team can beat any other team and you can even get the fairy tale season or two such as Montpellier in Ligue Un last season. That’s the stuff that keeps the average fan interested in the game at all. If it weren’t for those fairy tale nights and the once in a lifetime season of Montpellier (they are 8th this year) we’d all just support the big teams.

But by my reckoning, this Arsenal team went out there against Bayern and gave everything on the pitch and still lost 3-1. Arsenal were aggressive in the tackles, rightly earning several yellow cards. Arsenal out-passed Bayern and dominated the possession stats. In nearly every category, Arsenal worked so very hard but then, so too did Bayern. In the end, Bayern beat Arsenal in tackles, interceptions, and all the defensive dirty work that they needed to do to finish this game off.

What happens when two teams play their hearts out but one team is just the better team? The better team almost always wins. That’s what money gets you, the better team.

And for the last two years Bayern have made a concerted effort to cull the dead weight from their squad, bring in the best players for positions they need, build the team into one of the best teams in Europe, and get the very best manager to guide that team to five years of dominance. Bayern needed a defensive midfielder, they spent £35m to bring in Javi Martinez. Bayern needed a keeper, they spent £19m on Neuer. Bayern needed a coach, they spared no expense and went out and got former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.

What we saw in Arsenal’s loss to Bayern Munich was the culmination of two years hard work by Bayern to build up their squad into a team that will present a legitimate challenge for the Champions League title. On the other end of the pitch we saw an Arsenal team which has been stripped bare of her best assets over the last two years as Arsenal have sold Robin van Persie, Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, and Samir Nasri.

That last sentence will spark a debate of a million angry words about how it’s not Arsenal’s fault that van Persie was a traitor or that Fabregas sold us out. It already has, I’ve seen it here, I’ve argued some of it myself. But that’s not the point. The point is that Arsenal have the £100m that Bayern spent improving their team sitting in our armory. It’s our now infamous “dry powder” that Arsenal have been saying that we have stored up and which I said would be the powder keg that we all explode over if Arsenal don’t perform well this season.

Arsenal don’t need a cash injection from Usmanov. Arsenal don’t need to “pull a Rangers” and go bankrupt. Bayern should be our beacon which cuts through the fog that has settled in North London. Knocked out of the League cup by Bradford, the FA Cup by Blackburn, and now (all but) the Champions League by Bayern. Arsenal have been found wanting now in nearly every competition and are hanging their hopes on getting a 4th place finish in the League.

Using Bayern as the example, Arsenal’s way forward is to spend the next two years building this team into a squad that is one of the best in Europe. Just like Bayern, that includes an assessment of both the players and the coaching staff. Either that or we can keep trying to be the spunky little underdogs that try really hard. Personally I’ve never been a fan of spunk.


51 thoughts on “Arsenal 1-3 Bayern: Gunners come up about £100m short

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Hunter

    I don’t think anyone would say Arsenal shouldn’t try to spend the money they have to get better, but the Bayern players I really covet (Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Mueller, and Kroos) are all from their youth setup. They have a very enviable organization.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      I’m confused about Kroos being mentioned as a Bayern youth product. Maybe I don’t remember this correctly, but wasn’t Kroos playing for Bayer Leverkusen? Or was he just there on loan or something?

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Breezy

        Yep he was there on loan, but his situation was similar to that of Cesc’s in that Bayern picked up when he was 15/16 from Hansa Rostock and brought him into their youth system.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1jack

    I agree with the major point, however Bayern built over the last 2 years after reaching the CL final. We are nowhere near that, and thus don’t have access to the same caliber of player, even if we are willing to spend the money. That’s the Arsenal catch-22, we need success before we can build wisely, otherwise our money will be spent on players like carroll and downing.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      But didn’t Bayern start building before that? I don’t remember them being a force in Europe 5 or 6 years ago, and their domestic form has been up and down in the last decade, with teams like Wolfsburg, Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, and Borussia Dortmund all rotating at the top.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    I think that process has already started. I know it’s considered naive to think that Arsenal will actually spend money, but I think we’re already in the midst of building a new team. We’ve sold lavishly, but still have ‘only’ a surplus of 5m in transfer fees. Wages have gone up because we’ve bought more players. What has been lost apart from quality players is squad stability. A team playing together for longer will get better. (We improved in 2007-08, 2009-10, and 2010-11 when there were fewer disruptions to our squad)

    Next year, some contracts are running out, hopefully some other fringe players will be sold, already freeing up resources to reinvest and restructure the team. We’ll also be getting some money from the Emirates deal (not sure how much) The age and profile of the players we’ve bought over the last 2 years also suggest that we’re comfortable with not making any money from their sales. 10m for Arteta + wages are hardly going to be recovered. Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud, Monreal. Our latest signings represent a change in the type of players we’re looking to buy.

    Maybe it’ll take 100m, maybe not. Quality of a player isn’t always tied just to his price tag, since that is determined by his contract status, his personal desires etc. But yes, it’ll still take some serious money to get us back to the level that we’d like. We’re entering a period where even the clubs PR dept can’t say we don’t have the money, because they proclaimed the Emirates deal as a game changer. There is an outside chance that it might take till 2014, but I think that’s what the cash reserves have been for.

    I believe we will spend, and if we don’t, I think next season will be Wenger’s last season. If we do look to buy the players that Wenger really wants, and get them, I think Wenger might sign a 2 or 3 year extension. I don’t think this is the way Wenger would like to go out. So I’m inclined to think we’ll spend next year, and hopeful that it’ll lead to success and a continued place at the helm for the manager.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Limestonegunner

      Shard, we needed to start making some astute purchases earlier–3 or 4 years ago. If we had, we might have won a cup, gone deeper in the CL than until we met the first major side in the knockout round since 2008, challenged or even won the league, and thus had a better chance to hang onto our best players. Now we have to dig ourselves out of a malaise since we lost the CC final in 2011.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Limestonegunner

        And, I should note, that it is going to cost us a lot more money now to raise our level than it would have been if we had spent 2-3 million on a veteran GK to replace Lehmann (Friedel for example went to Villa for that in 2009 or Van der Saar when he was at Fulham), 15 million to replace Silva with Xavi Alonso or someone comparable in 2008, and a top class striker when we sold Adebayor rather than waiting a season to pick up Chamakh on a free. No guarantees, but I think the team would have recovered better from the 2008 collapse upon Eduardo’s injury in 2008-9 and 2009-10.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        Agreed. It is going to cost us more now. The key is that at this point we not only have the money, but we know that there is definitely some money on the way. We didn’t at that point. We could have spent some money, but we’d be left with little to no reserves, the players could still get injured, or look to leave (including threatening the use of the Webster clause as Hleb did then), players could still demand huge salaries to extend contracts (a la Flamini) It would have been a gamble, with probably the odds of success not that great. Even if we’d won a trophy or two along the way, I’m not sure a risk like that would be justified. That, in some ways, would be the approach that Liverpool took.

      3. Vote -1 Vote +1Phil

        I agree. Obviously, the club has the money, but hasn’t spent it. I would say that the most logical explanation for that is that until the club was capable of sustaining itself without player sales, then it made little sense(to the board) to spend down the reserves, not when the new deals were to come and perhaps FFP would level the field a little. Not everybody will agree with that, but it is a strategy, like it or not.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    I thought it was cool to support Arsenal when we were the cheap team making it happen against the big boys. We were clearly accomplishing something significant with the Emirates and we kept the level of competition up. How many of us don’t still look back to 07/08 and sigh longingly?

    But you know what? This ish for the birds. I want some flipping trophies. I want to stop doing it the harder way and start splashing cash and being a team that people say, “Oh Arsenal are in for X player. That’s that, then” instead of “Oh Arsenal are in for them? hahahahahaha.” I don’t want a Usmanov or some other cash whore to do it artificially. The club has put in the hard work for a decade to not need that. And we don’t. We may not be able to spend as much as City in one window, but we can certainly outspend 98% of clubs in world football.

    SO DO IT. Spend the money. Make the red and white a squad of real quality and let’s have some ever loving parades in the red side of North London.

    Please and thank you.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1blazo

    Jack they only reached the champs league last year so by the time that final turned up a lot of the rebuilding had indeed been done no? Have to respectfully disagree with the “we need to win something BEFORE we can attract quality players” argument. When CITY OIL turned up everyone knew they had won nothing to that point and the only thing on offer was money so the risk was looking like a mercenary and so good players joined a club with no history of winning.

    The positives I think are that some players will be out of contract so the argument about we can only bring in players if some leave will not stand. Off the top of my head ARSHARVIN, SQUILLACI, ROSICKY terms are coming to an end (correct me on the last one), so there is clearly a chance to bring in really good quality. I think even without the EMIRATES and ADIDAS money we can point and shoot £50 notes and lad some really good targets out there and the focus has to be on getting the player and not saving a couple here and there. I don’t think Wenger will leave this year either and I (personally) would not want him to go out like that.

    On another note reading from a lot of forums etc…I am quietly pleased with ARSENAL fans a lot of arguments have some reason even though people are hurt but a really good (unarticulated) realisation is that the media machine that we make money from (as a club – and yes skysports, thesun and the mirror and daily heil) thrive on our tragi-comic capitulations so we know a lot of what is written is clearly rubbish of the lowest putrid order and treated as such. Can anyone tell me is Stuart Robson actually bankrolled by USMANOV and ABRAMOVICH to bring negativity in all his interviews? Any ideas on if\when he will get the sack? And John cross suck a big d***k!

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Lachlan

      Rosicky has another year left. His deal was due to end at the close of last season, but he signed a two year extension. I thought it was an odd decision given the fact that Wenger never gives more than a year to players over 30, and how he has been injury prone in the past. But as many people amongst us fans like to say “Wenger knows”

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    Just this morning I was talking to a colleague (Barca supporter) about the TTV Model, and how the gap between both teams yesterday was so obvious. The model explains a lot of things, good to have in hand when arguing with supporters of other teams, who strangely seem very interested in Arsenal’s finances and funds available. He was really puzzled as to how if we supposedly have the dry powder, we don’t use it to strenghten the team. (Aren’t we all?).

    Now regarding the famous line “We have to be in the CL to atract the good players”, I think that’s BS. Players will go where they will be paid what they want. What I fear now is worse: Arsenal being perceived as a club where players will refuse to go because of being perceived as a bottler, weak minded team that always got the refs calls against. I know I wouldn’t join a band with average musicians and no contacts whatsoever in the industry.

    So what now? Is Deadwood City ready for selling?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerDave

      It may be a cliche about attracting players with CL football, but its an accurate one. Top players want to compete at the highest level.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        I think it’s more that the problem has been overstated and with hyperbole (“we’ll never be able to buy good players because nobody will come to us without CL football”). It’s not always true. You have excellent players who have joined Tottenham without CL football, and who are now good enough to–in all likelihood–put the team in a CL spot at our expense. Liverpool are another great example of a side able to attract big names over the years despite no CL football (though importantly, I’m not saying that all of these big names have been a success at the club, only that they’ve been able to attract talent whom you’d expect to play for a top team).

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1Dino

    Been a fan for over 40 years, grew up loving players like Willie Young as rubbish as he was he played with heart and soul and he became a cult hero especially after the famous cup final tackle in 1980(still makes me smile when i think of it)There isn’t anybody in our current squad(J.W aside) that deserves that status even though most are infinately better.Last nights game for me was a defining moment,a realisation that our club has fallen so far behind that only a total revolt will change anything.Its depressing because it wont happen and we will probably stuff the Villa 5-0 on Saturday and all will be forgotten for a while as the players talk of unity and mental strength.I’m still angry but mostly sad because i lost my faith last night in Arsene and our whole set up.Since the 70′s we have never consolidated our success like Liverpool and manu,you can say that liverpool have not won the league for more than 20yrs,but they have won enough trophies to sustain the fans.thats all we want.I now feel like Eric Cartmen waiting for the new nintendo,cant wait for next season wish i could cheat time and space but i’m just a cook.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerDave

    Arsenal need 4 players to compete at the very top.
    We are a goalkeeper, right back, centre back, box to box midfielder and a striker short. These would all have to be top quality – i.e. Jovetic, Begovic, Chiellini, Capoue etc. No way in hell we would sign those players, so I fear more epic disappointment awaits.
    And Im sad that our great manager, the man who had the ambition and vision to get us where we are today, is being treated so poorly by the media he always respected, and by the fans he has shown unwavering loyalty to.
    If stories are to be believed and there is actually proper money available now, then we owe Arsene the chance to build once more, and this time not out of the bargain basement.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

      You listed five players. :)

      But, to be fair, I think we need four real top quality players and then a couple more quality SQUAD players that are better than our current squad players. I think we need more at the highest end of the scale, but also the “pretty good” end of things. I have no other way to verbalize this opinion. I just think our squad in general needs additions and upgrading.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Arsenal Letters

    Arsenal have no plan on or off the pitch.

    1) Was selling Song and not replacing his muscular presence part of a plan?

    2) Was buying only Giroud as the only proper CF to replace RvP but not starting him against BM part of a plan?

    3) Was putting all the midfield burden on Wilshere (just like when Fabregas was asked to carry the team) part of the plan?

    4) Was not buying an experienced goalie since Lehmann left and Almunia flapped part of a plan?

    5) Was making the most positionally indisciplined CB in the PL captain part of a plan?

    6) Was buying a not so cheap LB from the extremely low tempo/little physicalityTurkish league who would clearly struggle to adapt to the physical high tempo nature of the PL part of the plan?

    7) Was being taken hostage to Walcott and his demands to play CF part of the plan?

    8) Was creating a team which is too lazy and arrogant to finish off lowly opposition, but too flat and predictable to beat quality opposition part of the plan?

    Just like the team starts reacting after going down 2-0, the club’s management is extremely reactive as opposed to pro-active. We let something happen and then try to fix it, but more than often it is too little too late.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    But how many millions will the Club have to spend in order to be able to compete with Bradford and Blackburn?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      More than minus £5m, that’s for sure.

      But I take your point. There are times in any given season when a plucky underdog upsets the odds, and it’s happened to us twice. I believe you’re comment is another of stating: You can’t buy passion, and that’s the real problem with this Arsenal team.

      Yes, there is something missing mentally in the team, I think, but then again, you could argue that a squad made up of an extra £100m worth of players (in terms of quality, not necessarily quantity) wouldn’t fall to a team as shit as Blackburn, regardless of whatever intangible graft was on hand. I can’t imagine City, United, or Chelsea, for instance, fucking up against Bradford or Blackburn, because they have impressive squads. We don’t. And those impressive squads were built with cold hard cash.

      Ours is built on net expenditure profit.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

        Yes, that was what I was trying to say.
        Because lately I have this feeling that another manager would do better with the players that are available. Player by player, we are far from bad.
        And unfortunately I think that this has happened a lot more than twice. Bradford and Blackburn are the obvious examples, but I would add all the Norwiches and Southamptons to the mix as well.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1Limestonegunner

    Excellent post, Tim. We all talk about City and Chelsea but we’ve been outclassed by Bayern who had less money than us in 2006. True they built a stadium with more help from the municipality which made their loan less but they are still paying it off. There are bigger corporations it seems willing to sponsor Bayern than in England, but still there is no way there should be such a gulf in quality. I think one big difference is the involvement of great footballing men like Rumenigge, Hoeness and Beckenbauer keeping a club culture of ambition and high standards. Next year with the new TV deal, the 80 million gap in revenues should be down 30 million and the following year another 30 with the Emirates deal. If we don’t use our funds to recruit players worthy of joining Jack Wilshere on the pitch, Barca will come in for him in a couple of years. Dani Alves is already starting the tapping up campaign. All the new revenue may end up just going to replace the loss of CL money because turned a transfer profit selling RvP and Song without adequate replacement and didn’t use January to strengthen, just cover for an injury.

    The slow decline, which was cushioned by hope for improvement in talented young players with an entertaining attacking brand of Wengerball in a new stadium, has really accelerated under the Kroenke era. More direction and determination at the top is needed, I think. I was always dead set against the Kroenke (or Usmanov) takeover and feel the board pursued a policy of share price increase to the detriment of our on pitch performance with the quick dismantling of the Invincibles before the youth players were ready to compete fully. That share price strategy was moderated only by refusing at the end to sponsor a bidding war between the two billionaires and the choosing of Kroenke over Usmanov. Now we are adrift and a genuine rebuild will be harder and more expensive.

    Frankly, patience has really worn out. We don’t have the project youth/Wengerball strategy and have watched our best players sold/poached/desert. The spark that might light that powder keg of cash was selling Song and RvP without comparable players replacing and adding to our squad’s quality after a very difficult transitional season that came down to the last match to preserve CL football. That was the summer where a big statement was needed to reinforce the squad. We bought good players but it wasn’t enough and we turned a profit yet again.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      One aspect of the shareholders selling. Perhaps you are right that they purposely followed some policies so as to attract buyers. Although I’m not sure that is necessarily true. But even if it is, the multiple shareholder model that Arsenal had all these years, could not have continued for long. I wish it could. I wish we could go back there. But with their children not seeing Arsenal as their legacy, the oldies in charge would, at some point, have had to make a call on Arsenal’s future. The fact that they did not enter into negotiations with Usmanov suggests they believe they had found the right man in Kroenke to carry the club forward, rather than that they were looking to turn a buck (no one minds that, just saying it wasn’t necessarily their prime motivation)

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1dy

    going back to that year, that team playing against Barca at home first leg of the CL, we won because of we fought hard as a team (unit). Pressure was on us no doubt. But at the end we had all the players together making one sublime effort and got the goal to win that game. We couldn’t repeat the same ever since. The major components of that effort were all gone, Fab Nasri and Andri (I consider him out of the door already now.) who combined to demonstrate the pure class and quality of vision, well time run, composure and skill all in unison.
    What I’m trying to say is that we can’t blind ourselves to believe the present team is any near to the quality thats required to sustain a positive result game in and game out.

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1aknahas

    As a DFB fan, I’ve always wanted Scheini at Arsenal. I’ve seen that picture of Schweini in an AFC kit around, is that picture real?

  14. Vote -1 Vote +1Uncle Mike

    Spending big isn’t the issue. Spending wisely is. After all, look at those “star players” we sold. van Persie won ONE FA Cup for us, and that was when we still had Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp, Pires, Ljungberg. Fabregas was a rookie at the time, so essentially, he won nothing for us. (A Champions League Final means little if you don’t win it.) Nasri? Song? Gallas? Hleb? Flamini? Eduardo? Djourou? Bendtner? Adebayor? They won NOTHING for us. Diaby? Sagna? Arshavin? Chamakh? Especially the last two, they were, by Wenger’s standards, expensive. I’m now prepared to add Vermaelen to that list, and, caps for Germany be damned, Mertesacker’s not far behind: They have won NOTHING for us.

    So imagine we had, instead, bought Balotelli. Or Samba. Or, dare I say it, Torres or Carroll. How do we know we wouldn’t be in the exact same boat?

    And, considering what we’re up against, that boat is not the Titanic. It’s the Lusitania.

    We need players with fight in them. Who will not accept defeat. Who will not accept being pushed around. I’m not asking for 5 more players with Wilshere’s talent, but I am demanding more players with his effort. And with his killer instinct. Walcott seems to be coming around to that. Ramsey is trying. I have little doubt that Koscielny and Szczesny think that way. Jenkinson will get there. Gibbs almost is.

    Better to spend 5 million each on 4 bastards (2 in defense, 2 in midfield) than 20 million on one superstar.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerAU

      stoke/15 other bpl teams have 11 bastards and have won fuck all… you have the right idea (spend wisely) but a terrible execution (buy people who kick).

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1Ickenham Gooner

    Whilst I agree that we need to strengthen the starting first team and wider squad, I think this does need to be done in a project fashion, as I think Tim alludes to.

    By project, I mean thinking about all the necessary components, which, first of all, should be what formation/system we wish to play. Then we think about the type of players we need in each position for that system. We then compare that to the current squad and see what gaps we have. Then have a proper plan for remediating any gaps over the next 2/3 years.

    Personally, I think that the Barca tippy-tappy play just does not work in the premiership (unless you have the very best players to make it work) and that the park the bus teams can beat it often enough to make it ineffective across a whole season.

    I would prefer to see us revert back to the power/pace of 10/15 years ago but that would require a fundamental change of much of the personnel which have been acquired to suit a possession game.

    There are several “football” related things that I think such a project should cover as a priority this summer, not all of which will cost tonnes of money:

    1. improve the outfield spine of the team with real quality – and that is not cheap. Defence, Midfield, Striker
    2. buy a decent keeper to challenge Chesney, or replace – within a constrained budget would accept an older decent veteran.
    3. probable right back – expect a similar outlay to Nachos.
    4. make some decisions on problem players – Diaby probably no 1.
    5. coaching staff. we need to review our current staff/approach to see if they have the right skills to train formation, positional structure during matches, tactical variety
    6. scouting. we seem to be picking up some real dross (not top top talent anyway) despite the fact we supposedly scout players for a couple of years. I’m thinking Chamakh, Gervinho. We need to review why we are making these mistakes and change people if it is necessary
    7. consider who should be our captain. The player we choose should be an automatic first teamer (not just undroppable because he’s captain). Maybe Jack, but maybe it would be better to let him just be a footballer for a few years.
    8. (finally) we need to look at why we so mentally weak, and why our team does not seem to want to fight for every ball in every match. One thing that impressed me so much was Bayern’s desire to hunt for the ball and work for each other. Unless the mental side is repaired then all the above is worthless.

    Apologies for the long post.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      Great points all. Regarding number 8, I think it’s pretty clear that Wenger is too soft with the players. He tries to nurture them and has faith in them even when no one else does.
      At Man U, the players know that they can’t afford to put in less than maximum effort every game or they will be dropped by a manager who is very nasty when he is angry. Fergie instils hunger and desire in his players. He’s had a lot of average players in his squad in recent years, the sort that we would probably not consider good enough for Arsenal – O’Shae, Fletcher, Evans – yet those same guys can still do a job on us each time we play them. By contrast, we take good players and instil them with mental fragility.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1craig

      I like this reply because of it’s emphasis on the mental side… this team just doesn’t look like an Arsenal team, and it’s not all a problem of quality. There seems to be an issue with the team working together in the way we’re used to seeing, and watching Bayern was a great reminder of the power that comes from teamwork. Maybe it’s the fact that so many of the best players are new to Arsenal… which goes back to Arsene’s constant refrain of maintaining a core of players. Maybe it is a problem of coaching. But watching these players when they are on is as good as watching the 07/08 squad going, or really anything Fab and RVP produced. But there are 3 real problems that keep coming back.
      1) The midfield doesn’t defend effectively in our 3rd- they often don’t track back, and when they do they often don’t pick up opposition players effectively. The result is easy chance creation from perfect, unpressured passes, and easy long shots being launched at SZCZ.

      2) The striker position isn’t good enough. Theo, Giroud, and even Gervinho have all had good games at CF, but haven’t shown themselves to be capable of the all-around play necessary to succeed against every type of opposition. Each can thrive when up against the system they’re good against, but none have been able to find ways to be effective against every system. This is huge, because as RVP showed so powerfully last season, goals change games.

      3) The final ball is lacking. Almost every Arsenal player struggles to pick out the last pass, the Fabregas pass, the Song chip…. they can pass accurately and quickly in midfield, but that last pass is so often rushed or choked. I think it is lack of confidence, and it is why Arsenal can play so prettily in mid-field then shank the ball straight to a defender in the box.

      That’s what I see as our big problems… and while I think an upgrade at CF and a real DM would help 1 and 2, I think improved mentality and teamwork will do more to address the totality of it. Watching Cazorla, Wilshere, Podolski, Arteta, and Walcott when they are really on, it’s clear the talent is there to create chances in a way it hasn’t been for years. The midfield defending effectively should be a question of application, it’s not rocket science… however at this point having one player who specializes in that area of the game may be necessary. Only the lack of an RVP or Henry type talent up front is something that has to be addressed by purchasing. I like Giroud and Walcott, I truly do and hope they make the leap… but they haven’t yet.

      As for a GK… well, it’s too hard for me to sort how good SZCZ is versus how many goals are given away from lack of team defending. But it does seem an upgrade wouldn’t be too hard to find.

  16. Vote -1 Vote +1Davsta

    Bayern haven’t had it all their own way in the league over the most recent seasons, but as my German pal pointed out to me some time ago there’s the Bavarian mafia (Beckenbauer etc) running the club and they have no little influence over the league and media in Germany. They are the Manure of Germany, as Juve had, as Madrid had exclusively a few years ago.
    Arsenal have quite the opposite scenario to cope with, and whilst I don’t believe last night’s result was completely effected by the ref, I do concur with Arseblog that the ref was out of his depth. I’ll admit that It has happened in champ league games that the ref has made a game easy for us against lesser teams, once or twice in all those years.
    We have had a shitty run of reffing against all the big euro teams, there’s nothing that can be done about that is there. If RVP had been playing for us last night with all of his quality and form (ouch), I’m sure he’d have been the victim of frustration and injustice as we’ve seen in the past, second yellow against Barca for playing the ball 0•5 sec after the whistle blew.
    Spending won’t change that, bribing maybe.

  17. Vote -1 Vote +1sim

    I think Arsenal are too slow. This is why they have trouble breaking down defences. As good as Wilshere and Arteta are, they spend far too much time on the turn or controlling it before releasing, by which time, players have gotten back into their positions and runs are being tracked. The old Arsenal played one touch stuff and broke quickly, thus players couldn’t get back in time and the likes of Pires and Henry ran riot.

    * The problem of the goalkeeper is what has hindered Arsenal over the last seven seasons. Almunia was not the best, whilst Fabianski, Mannone and Scziezncy are not yet of required physique or mentality to keep goal for a club challenging for serious honours. In other areas of the pitch, they are not too bad, but Wenger should have spent c.£20M on a quality left winger aged around 28 or so to deliver consistently whilst the likes of Walcott and the Ox are/were learning their trade. Before you say ‘Arshavin’ and ‘Reyes’ – both were never genuine wingers, but maybe Wenger should have persisted. Take Bayern last night as a good example. Lahm, Kroos and Muller – all youth products at one stage – are balanced out with high-peak performers such as Robben, Ribery and Gomez. Why was this approach not taken at Arsenal? Great youth prospects but not matched by peak career professionals at the high end of the quality scale. They should have the cash from Champions League participation, league revenue, TV rights and matchday income to offset this despite the cost of a colossally brilliant stadium.

    * Faith in below-par players, probably as a result of their salaries, has stagnated the playing squad. Wenger’s faith has been one of his best qualities, but Ferguson also possesses this trait. The key difference is that if Fergie deems you not good enough, or not putting in the required effort or performance level, you are quickly shown the door. This ensures a high level of commitment from United players which manifests itself in better sequences of results. This does not seem to be the case at Arsenal whereby players either leave due to the perceived notion of not winning anything, or they quietly have a few seasons of loan moves as they unwilling to part from lucrative contracts so easily.

    * Not offering Ashley Cole an extra £5K per week could have been the biggest mistake in Wenger’s career. As much as I hate the idea, and how morally repugnant it was at the time, he should have kept him. That way, Arsenal would have retained the services of the best left-back in world football over the past decade, would have had a long-standing club captain, and most importantly, would have signalled their intent to keep their best players on their terms. Vieira, Pires and Henry were allowed to leave for high transfer fees in the wane of their careers to other leagues. Cole’s case was different as he was only around 24 (I think) at the time and was sold to a divisional rival. As much as I agree with Wenger about the unsustainability of the likes of City and Chelsea whose entire squads are full of players earning c.£100K plus per week, realistically, Arsenal may only need to attract around four of these players, which should be achievable if you cut the dead wood from the squad and therefore the weekly wage bill. The status of this club both on and off the pitch should guarantee to attract the top talent, so why has this not been implemented?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      WIth most things, the issue is money. Ferguson shows players the door because his club’s finances allow him to bench a player and buy a replacement if required. It also allows him to bribe his players into staying instead of going off to play for divisional rivals (Rooney)

      Bayern bought those players because they could afford them, while we couldn’t. But we are starting to supplement the squad with more experienced pros, and increasingly of better quality. Still a work in progress though.

      I’m not sure I believe the 5k story about Ashley Cole. As far as I know, the only source of information as regards that comes from Cole’s ghost written autobiography. We know Chelsea tapped him up. That 5k is just an excuse he made up for choosing the significantly higher wage at Chelsea.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1craig

      Yeah, agree with Shard on this one. Money. We went for Gomez and Ribery from what I remember, but both went to Bayern for far more than we could have paid! Plus what Shard said about buying replacements.

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    60% possession and Barcelona still get beaten like a rented mule. AC Milan played text book defense with Boateng and El-Shawrarry showing that offensive minded players can and need to defend for the team to succeed. Retread (Muntari), cast off (Montolivo) and senior citizen (Ambrosini) absolutely stonewalled the vaunted Barcelona midfield attack. Messi and Fabregas were made MIA.

    We use to say that teams like Sp**s picked off players we were scouting without having to use their own scouting network. I believe that can now be consign to urban legend status. Other than Bale, there is no one on Sp**rs worthy of playing for Arsenal. Which brings me to the curious case of Niang the French CF who had a trial with us and then winds up at AC Milan where he comes on as a sub and contributes excellent hold up play to lead to the 2nd goal for AC Milan. Technically, Niang was superb but more than that, this 19yo looked the part of a mature and confident CF in his first CL appearance and going up against the mighty Barcelona. WTF didn’t we sign this kid because in 15-20min, he showed he is light years ahead of Gervinho. Niang was a gift horse and we incredibly spurned him and he turn out to be the next Ballottelli sans problems.

  19. Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

    I hate Man Utd. I hate them, hate them, hate them. And I often laugh and ridicule much of what comes out of Fergie’s mouth, But while hatred and ridicule can often be confused with disrespect, this is not the case.

    I give utmost props for the achievements of both club and manager at the red half of Manchester. The gaffer is not as erudite or educated or nearly as sophisticated a character as our Le Professeur, but I do sometimes wonder what Sir Alex Ferguson would have done with this team and our situation.

    Would he have been able to create a winning side? Would he have been able to instill a “winning mentality” (whatever that is). He certainly would have been much harsher on players than Wenger has been. It’s a twisted picture even for me as I say it, to imagine Ferguson in North London, but when he continues to win and win and win and we continue to be champions of the Champion’s League Place Trophy strange thoughts do happen.

  20. Vote -1 Vote +1Big Al

    Spot on Tim. Hit the nail on the head. I 100% agree with your outlook on things. As a season ticket holder I will renew and hope this will happen.
    What on earth is going on here..replace Wenger with David Moyes? WTF?! Let’s stick with Wenger and change the wage keep our best players and not let them leave for offers of better money elsewhere. That alone will undermine any manager / club. We should have the capacity to offer 2 players 200k a week like other top clubs otherwise we will never succeed and we will always be vulnerable.

  21. Vote -1 Vote +1shotta

    Some good points but it is interesting how a single fact which confirms a bias is made into an absolute.
    Example: Bayern buying players is built into a mountain of importance that by the end of this this thread it completely dwarfs the vital role of their academy and home-grown players.
    Or: Selling players is bad hence Alex Song who cannot even make the Barca bench is a major mistake by the club.

    Bayern has taken some major risks but they never had to pay for a stadium. Fortunately, or not, hindsight is always 20:20.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Limestonegunner

      They did have to pay for a new stadium, just not as much as we did. Still much we could learn from them, Shotta.

  22. Vote -1 Vote +1jop

    I’m not sure I can stomach watching the rest of this season. Failure to beat both Everton and Spurs will effectively mean the end of our season by March 9th.

    What a low point that would be.

  23. Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Meanwhile….. There is one more champions league match on 13th March…
    I think I will walk through that day…not thinking about any money that can bring happiness..

  24. Vote -1 Vote +1Wang

    Amen, Tim. I’ve been with you on this since you had the foresight to lay out a cogent argument back at the beginning of the season. The question remains do the board understand, & do they have a plan? That and there were some tactical mistakes on Tuesday.

    I disagree with those that say the board doesn’t have a plan, although others are right to say we could probably use an upgrade in the boardroom as well as on the pitch. I think the plan/gamble has been to wait for FFP which coincided nicely with the stadium debt reaching serviceable levels. There will be no excuse after this summer, and if the status quo remains, a boycott or other fan action may be needed to properly motivate Stan. Assuming, the board recognizes what Tim has been on about, then they still need to make tactical changes in the transfer arena as well. No more haggling for pennies or £500k as with Schwartzer – they need to identify targets and pull the trigger, because £2m saved on a transfer is still less than £20-40m lost on CL football. That said, I think the player market is moving in our favor as evidenced by the relative restraint of City last summer who appear to be concerned with FFP to Manicini’s lament. And of course the wage structure needs to be reformed to reward 1st teamers and equally importantly, incentivize competition for spots. Make the first team, play well, and get paid more – this can be done while still encouraging team unity, despite our current philosophy.

    As for on the pitch tactics, our pressing game needs to be re-worked or better drilled into the players. Bayern put on a clinic in this regard, closing down not only the player with the ball, but also his passing outlets and/or the lanes. Arsenal, instead pressed only the player with the ball, and sat off the outlets, pressing them only when the ball arrived. We looked to be chasing the play rather than anticipating. Bayern deserve credit for demonstrating the anticipation, teamwork, and workrate that we should aspire to. We were better in the second half, and have shown we can press properly before, but there has been a distinct inconsistency on our part.

    I also think the selection of Ramsey for Giroud was a two-fold mistake. First, I think Aaron is still a squad player, though he has greatly improved in the deeper role. He deserves credit for his 6 interceptions on the night and better pass distribution overall, but is still not the finished product on the defensive side of the ball. Lee Dixon correctly pointed out his poor positioning on the first goal, even if it was by a narrow margin – but this wasn’t the game to try a player who is still developing in such a key area of the pitch. Secondly, the Ramsey selection forces Jack higher up the pitch, where he’s less effective and was isolated. His gift is taking on players individually and he does this best when running at them from the space of the deeper midfield. Particularly against a team that is aggressively pressing, when he can beat a man, he is free into space which opens up for him or a teammate if someone else is forced to close him down.

    I’m not putting this on Ramsey, who was pretty good, but on Arsene for the tactics. There were plenty of players who seemed isolated or worse lazy/having an off night, like Santi, Poldi, Szcz, and TV5. Sagna had another good game, but was isolated on the flank in attack, possibly related to Jack and Santi in unfamiliar roles. If we don’t capitulate in the return leg, I’d like to see our default squad take the field.

  25. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    I just read a post on Angry of Islington, detailing what FFP means over the next few years for some of the English clubs. The AST’s Simon Hill seems to think that it’s going to be a case of ‘more jam tomorrow’ for Arsenal again.

    One point I had forgotten is that if the new domestic FFP rules come into effect, Arsenal can only use 4 million of the new tv money towards increasing their wage bill. Which means, we’ll need to free up a lot of space in our wages. Let’s say we’re looking at 4 quality players. 2 @100k, 1@80k, 2@60k = 400k = 20.8m pa

    How much can we reasonably offload first? Fabianski, Mannone, Arshavin, Squillachi, maybe Bendtener and Park too. Santos?

    Although, shouldn’t we be able to use the front loaded component of the Emirates deal towards wages? Plus, since we will be able to spend the tv money on transfers (we will right?) couldn’t we just pay an upfront signing on fee so as to keep the wage component low? (Is this allowed? If so, the domestic FFP makes no sense-as Tim already concluded)

  26. Vote -1 Vote +1Wang

    I don’t think the EPL FFP rules really affect us. The UCL rules are far more stringent and it is those that we must operate within. The salary cap is a bit confusing – yes, we have £120 in wages but the cap of £52m increasing £4m each year only applies to money from TV revenue. You can spend more if you’re making it elsewhere, though how they will allocate which revenue is applied to which expenditure is unclear. The rules really affect team lower down the table like QPR and West Ham that are spending beyond their means, and possibly Chelsea & City, though again, UCL is the defining rule set.

    If you look at the Mail’s article on EPL FFP, they even print a letter on our letterhead (with a few other clubs signing) that say the proposed EPL rules don’t go far enough. So again, they shouldn’t be a serious constraint for Arsenal, provided we’re in the CL.

  27. Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    What do you actually tell these players???

    Samir Nasri – All the money in the world can’t get you the Ballon’dor
    Alex Song – That they wont actually sing a song for you?
    Bendtner – You are the greatest striker that never played?
    Adebayor – That at supposedly the peak of his career he is playing for spurs?
    Arshavin – They no more ask him questions?

    Signings with intent…managed to get their best…nurtured in their youth…

    Add to that the like of Reyes, Cesc, Flamini, Hleb…who chose to become part of a big circus..

    What Arsene and the club has given to them, they haven’t returned half as much..

    Some belief and conviction has to come from the players as well…

    All the above, bar Bendtner and Song…have won a trophy to their name..
    May be Bendtner and Song will get medals if their teams win the league…

    But you are sure that Arsenal would have been much more stronger and challenging for trophies if these fuckers had stayed put and had some belief in the Manager…

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