Category Archives: Transfers

The journey to 100 goals begins with a single kick.

Wenger’s top transfers and other 1000 stuff!

First, check out the behind the numbers on Arsenal.com: the most comprehensive list of Arsene Wenger stats. Learn it, live it, love it. For example, did you know… “Now into his 18th term in charge, Arsène Wenger is currently presiding over the best season in the Club’s history in terms of win percentage.” This is the bible of Wenger stats.

Second, I wrote a piece for Arseblog about Wenger’s 1000 matches. As Le Prof himself pointed out in a press conference the other day, Arsene’s tenure at Arsenal can be split into two distinct periods: one which he had much more financial freedom and one which he was both restrained by the project to build the Grove and was competing against teams who combined to spend £1.5bn in the transfer market.

Third, Arsenal are also launching a Wenger 1000 app which will be full of videos, quotes, and stats. A veritable cornucopia of Arsene history. Look for that soon.

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And now, on to the story…

Arsene Wenger’s Top Transfers

Mesut Özil – £44m

The most expensive transfer in Arsenal history. Like Dennis Bergkamp, always plays two steps ahead of everyone else on the pitch. Has 6 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for Arsenal already this, his first, season and he’s done that without having a real goal scoring threat in front of him (Walcott will return one day!). Has suffered heavy criticism in the press, on Twitter, and in the Blogosphere but people are always going to criticize because as Wenger points out “We live a society where everybody knows everything and it looks like it is a shame to say I don’t know.” 

Thierry Henry – £14m

Only the greatest striker to play for Arsenal in the modern era. His signing in 1999 changed Arsenal forever. Converted from a left winger to a goal hungry center forward Henry would go on to score 229 goals for Arsenal and lead the Gunners to two League titles (should have been three in a row) and three FA Cups. Was the crucial component to Arsenal’s incredible unbeaten season. Once scored 24 goals and had 23 assists in a single season. Once upon a time there was a streetcar named desire, it changed its name to Thierry Henry. Oh, and was sold to Barcelona for a profit. Dig that!

Patrick Vieira – £4.7m

Before Wenger took over at Arsenal he told David Dein to go get him Patrick Vieira. Arsenal sold an ageing, alcoholic center mid in Paul Merson to Middlesbrough (£5m) for more than it cost to get Patrick Vieira and the rest is history. A fiery center mid who willed Arsenal to win. Won Arsenal their last trophy under Wenger with the final kick of the penalty shootout in the 2005 FA Cup final. Sold to Juventus for £17m… again, winning Arsenal trophies and selling him on for a profit.

Nicolas Anelka – £0.7m

Horrible person, itinerant football wanderer, but he was also the player that built the Nicolas Anelka Memorial Training Ground at London Colney. Came to Arsenal at the same time as Vieira, had two decent seasons and was sold to Real Madrid for £31m. The profit from that sale built Arsenal’s state of the art training facility at London Colney.

Mark Overmars - £6.6m

Bought the speedy winger for £6.6m, played him 140 times and he scored 41 goals for Arsenal. Sold him to Barcelona for £35m,  he had an injury hit 4 seasons there and played in 137 games scoring 19 goals.

C’esc la Vie – £2.5m

Arsene bought Cesc Fabregas at age 16 from Barcelona’s youth team and quickly built a team around him. Incredible vision to pick out an incisive pass to a teammate, strong willed, loves to wear puffy jackets much to the chagrin of Phil Brown. After the breakup of the Invincibles, Cesc Fabregas was Arsenal’s only legitimate superstar. Wenger tried to build a team around Fabregas but constant injuries to Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor leaving Arsenal for an absurd pay packet meant Arsenal never really challenged for the title under Cesc’s reign. Left for his boyhood club for £30m, probably half of what he was worth.

Cazorla – £16.7m 

The third most expensive transfer in Arsenal’s history. The first sign that Arsene was looking to rebuild after the Cesc Brigade broke up was Wenger’s attempt to sign Cazorla in 2011. Malaga beat Arsene to the signature paying €21m for the midfield maestro but Wenger got his man the very next summer when Malaga went broke. Player of the year his first season with the Gunners now comfortable as backup to Özil and as a partner on the left. Loves a shot from outside!

The Wenger Way

These signings, and subsequent sales, of Overmars, Anelka, and Petit signaled a change in the way that English teams looked at continental players. No longer seen as lightweights who couldn’t handle the rigors of English football, these players were seen as huge value for their ability, especially when compared to similar players in England. Wenger was once criticized for his policy of buying European players but almost all of the folks who once criticized now do exactly as he has done. In, many ways Wenger kicked off a transfer revolution in England. Following his example, English teams now scour Europe looking for value and title challengers like Chelsea and Manchester City routinely field a starting XI with few or no English players.

Brit core – £27.5m

Wenger, ever the iconoclast, is actually reversing track in the transfer market. All of the purchases above were for foreign players but lately Arsene has pursued a distinctly British buying pattern, bringing in Theo Walcott (£9m), Aaron Ramsey (£5.5m), Carl Jenkinson (£1m), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£12m), Kieran Gibbs (£0m – promoted from youth) and Jack Wilshere (£0m – promoted from youth). And they are all coming good!

Despite the almost constant criticism, Walcott has finally started to blossom into a real threat up front and last season had 21 goals and 14 assists for Arsenal in all competitions. Sadly, this season was cut short by a horrible knee injury.

Aaron Ramsey was another Wenger purchase who was oft criticized but this season has transformed into a goal-scoring threat and Arsenal’s leading tackler. Much like Patrick Vieira, he’s also Arsenal’s most tireless worker on the pitch and will be manning the engine room at Arsenal for years to come.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (the Ox) is easily the most technically gifted player of the bunch. Combines superb touch and blazing speed but is still raw in other areas of his game. Could score tomorrow against Chelsea!

Gibbs is Arsenal’s first choice left back, Jenkinson is Arsenal’s backup right back, and Jack Wilshere is Arsenal’s starting center mid. Jack has had a bit of a injury hit season this year but the raw talent is there and if he works hard, he will easily turn out as good if not better than Aaron Ramsey.

Those are my picks for Wenger’s best transfer deals. What are yours?

Qq

"I support myself" Walt Whitman

Liverpool admits that Suarez had a release clause and Arsenal activated it

There has been further light shed on the the Arsenal summer transfer saga with Luis Suarez as Liverpool’s owner John Henry has admitted that the striker had a £40m release clause, that Arsenal triggered the clause, and that Liverpool refused to sell, putting the ball in Suarez’ court to demand a trade or for Arsenal to open litigation.

Henry, speaking to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, admitted “He (Suarez) had a buyout clause of £40m. Arsenal, one of our prime rivals, offered £40m plus £1. What we’ve found… is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually, in world football. Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position that we’re just not selling.”

Henry went on to explain that if contracts like Torres’ don’t matter and the player can demand a trade at any time, thus voiding the agreement between player and club, why should clubs honor the buyout clauses in player’s contracts?

Release clauses in and of themselves don’t mean that the player has to join the club triggering the clause. As Arsenal fans are left wondering what happened this summer and in January, this is a timely reminder that players have to want to join the club as much as the clubs have to agree to a fee. Perhaps Arsenal could have bid £80m and perhaps Liverpool would have accepted that amount, but even then Suarez could refuse, especially if Arsenal wasn’t really the team he wanted to play for.

Suarez had been complaining about the British press and his treatment in England all season. Saying he wanted a move to a different country. He is still refusing to admit that he racially abused Patrice Evra and still blaming others for his bad behavior. Though that all seems to be forgiven now that he’s breaking his career records for goals scored and within a shout to win Liverpool their first League title since 1990.

And after the bid was revealed and the Liverpool hierarchy openly mocked Arsenal. Suarez gave an interview to the press over his situation. Suarez’ anodyne interview this summer, in which he never mentioned Arsenal, certainly hurt the Gunners’ case. Suarez promised to press the issue with the Premier League saying “I have the club’s word and we have the written contract and we are happy to take this to the Premier League for them to decide the case but I do not want it to come to that,” but he never did.

Suarez could have easily made his position with Liverpool untenable and forced a trade to Arsenal but many suspected that the Uruguayan had ulterior motives. It could just be coincidence, but it seems unlikely, that Suarez’ release clause came to light when Arsenal were negotiating with Real Madrid for Gonzalo Higuain. Many suspect Suarez’ true target was a transfer to Madrid and that he would have done nearly anything to get that deal done.

Arsenal’s hierarchy took a lot of heat from supporters this summer over the deal with many people wondering exactly what happened and why the club couldn’t get Higuain or Suarez in. I was vocally against the Suarez deal not because of his ability to create and take chances but rather because I felt he wasn’t a good fit for Arsenal both footballistically and as a human being. Given the new revelations about Liverpool refusing to honor the contract and Suarez’ summer interview, it looks as if Arsenal had trusted those two parties to be honorable and neither were.

It seems Arsenal’s only mistake this summer was to cast £40,000,001 pearls before swine.

Qq

draxler-biter

Does the Drake Equation explain why Arsene didn’t buy a striker?

I was listening to This American Life last night as I fell asleep and at one point they mentioned that a group of scientists did a Drake Equation in order to explain why they were single. For those of you who haven’t watched any TV, alien contact movies, or read a book in the last 20 years the Drake Equation is something Dr. Frank Drake dreamt up in order to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations that Humans could expect to encounter in the universe.

The Drake equation is:

N=R_{{\ast }}\cdot f_{p}\cdot n_{e}\cdot f_{{\ell }}\cdot f_{i}\cdot f_{c}\cdot L
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio-communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);

and

R* = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space[8]

Now, with that equation there are obviously a ton of things we could argue over and produce a huge range of results. And sure enough, plenty of bright people have argued over such things and produced a huge range of results.

But what if we use the Drake Equation method and deal with something a little more concrete like, say, my love life?

Population 200,000
Women (50%) 100,000
My age (28%) 28,000
Single (45%) 12,600
Above avg. int. (40%) 5,040
Above avg. looks (30%) 1,512
Likes me (10%) 151
I like them (5%) 8

The top 4 numbers I took from census data and rounded. There are actually 51% women in my city and there are a few more than 200,000 total people and so on with age range and single status. After that, you’ll also notice that I wasn’t even very picky. I didn’t put that they have to like (English) football or that they have to like Arsenal. That would quickly get that number down to nil.

I know I will get stick about the “above average” stuff and, uhh, I’m actually being generous with those numbers — which brings me neatly to the last two numbers. I think those are about right for my level of pomposity and jackassishness, don’t you?

So there you have it. 8 in 200,000. 0.00004. 40 in a million. Maybe I should be more affable? You, know, get that number up to a whopping 100 in a million.

Now what about strikers? Why didn’t Arsene Wenger buy a striker?

What is our total population of strikers?
How many are top quality?
How many are eligible for work permits in the UK?
How many are healthy?
How many want to move in January of a World Cup year?
How many want to join Arsenal?
How many can Arsenal afford?

Let’s say that there are 10 possible leagues to buy players from: Premier League, Bundesliga, Eredivisie, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue Un, Liga Sagres, Russia, Turkey, and the English Championship. And let’s say that each team has three strikers. That’s a population of 582 strikers Arsenal could possibly buy. Looking at the Drake equation above you should already see that this isn’t going to bode well.

Of those 582 strikers, let’s say Arsenal could afford 90%: 524
Of those 524, let’s say 75% are eligible for work permits: 393
Of those 393, let’s say 90% would pass a fitness test: 354
Of those 354, let’s say 5% are top quality: 18
Of those 18, let’s say 15% would want to join Arsenal*: 3
Of those 3, let’s say 5% would be willing to move clubs in January of a World Cup year: <1

And that, right there, is why Arsenal didn’t buy a striker. Or at least that’s my take on it.

So, can we please, seriously, just stop saying “Arsenal wasted a chance to win the League by not buying anyone”? Because that is such a throw away line that pretends the waters were teeming with top quality strikers and Arsene simply didn’t float a lure.

Qq

*Over other suitors like Chelsea/Man City/PSG, etc who, if this fictitious player existed, would have bid for because they all need strikers.