Category Archives: Transfers

Image from Arsenal.com used for editorial purposes only

Dear Arsene: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Look at what you have unleashed, Arsene: in buying Mesut Özil last summer on deadline day you have given all of us hope that you’ll have another “surprise” waiting for us; by spending more money than we took in for the first time in a decade you have broken the dam of excuses that people used to justify our austerity; and by buying ready made superstars in Özil and Sanchez you have put paid to the notion that Arsenal are a club that “doesn’t buy superstars, we make them.” You have done all that, given us so much of what we begged you to give, and now we want more.

I’m not teaching you anything about British football culture when I say that the “buy buy buy” mentality comes from this patriarchal notion of the landed gentry generously pumping money into the working man’s game. You know that what many fans want is an obscene relationship with a sugar daddy. They want a rich man to come in and sweep them off their feet, to lavish gifts of million-dollar players, to build them new stadiums and playgrounds, and to keep ticket prices artificially low. They want an indecent proposal because you and I both know that wealthy men want something in exchange, you even once said about Monaco “people who are well-off are demanding!”

For decades you have steadfastly refused to play that game. You used mind and not hind to tease us. Selling Anelka and Overmars over the odds and then using the money to rebuild the team in the image of Henry and Pires — selling two good players for more than they were worth and then buying two legendary players for far less than what they were worth. This was the Wenger way.

And that worked back then. But the League changed and so did you. You changed to meet the new challenge half way. I know you’re still in love with the old philosophy and I know your dream is to win the League with a team of Wilsheres plus maybe a few solid buys thrown in – after all Wilshere would make a terrible keeper.

But those days are gone or at least on life support. Even the most steadfast English football fans, the ones who yearn for the days when you could stand at a football ground and sip bovril whilst watching local boys play their hearts out for the shirt — players who would ride the train home with you and have a few pints at the local, even those people have been caught up in the blood lust for expensively priced players shipped in from far off lands. You heard them chant in the stands “spend some mucking funny!” And while I know you don’t subscribe to Twitter or Facebook, you have to be well aware that the pressure from fans to sign marquee names and even really any name, is massive these days.

It was antithetical to your whole philosophy, or at least it seemed antithetical, but you went ahead and spent money last year and I wonder if Cesc and Robin leaving Arsenal the way that they both did was the reason you changed. They were the core of your dream team: two young men raised up through the Arsenal system and perfectly suited to play together in the same team. That’s why Moyes was so single-minded about getting Cesc at Man U. Moyes hasn’t had an original idea in his entire career, most managers haven’t, they just copy you or try to buy your work. That’s why so many of your former players are playing for other Premier League teams now: Adebayor, Sagna, Clichy, Nasri, Cesc, van Persie. They couldn’t make those players but they could come in with bags of money and with offers that the players and you couldn’t refuse.

But Arsene, you changed and you changed us. Özil was a thunderbolt. Spending £40m on one player, when you hadn’t spent a ruddy cent on a player in 10 years broken open the dam. We all knew you had the money, for years we’ve known you had the money, but you were able to keep us guessing. Was it the board who didn’t want to spend? Was it you? Did Arsenal not really have the money? And like little investigative journalists us bloggers and other fans tried to uncover “what was really happening” at Arsenal.

Now all that’s gone. The transfer austerity crowd is down to just a handful of people. If you had bought an Alexis Sanchez type player in 2007-2008 we would have been over the moon — a striker who can play three positions in the Arsenal attack and backup our main striker at the time, Robin van Persie? That would have been met with huge satisfaction. But now, you buy Sanchez, for £30m+, and he’s still the same guy who can do all those things that we all want and yet, we Arsenal fans, we want more. We want another striker and Sanogo, no matter how much you and I see his potential, must be sacrificed to the loan gods. Get us someone, anyone, someone better than Sanogo, is the rallying cry.

It’s hard to argue against the logic because the times have changed and even you have changed. As English football has exploded on to the global market and money has flooded into the coffers of every team, the competition for names is so far beyond what any of us envisioned it would be when we started on the stadium project 10 years ago. Last season the Premier League spent £600m on transfers, this season it’s already topped £800m.

We live in a world where Everton football club, the club which most closely aligned with your previous philosophy of austerity, has spent a record amount of money buying Romelu Lukaku and are paying a huge salary to Samuel Eto’o. We live in a world where even you have spent £100m over the last two seasons. You’ve joined them. You helped break the dam with your own hands.

You’ve changed our expectations and now it’s not enough. We want more. If you buy us another striker and a defensive midfielder and a center back we will want even more. In January someone will be injured and we will demand you buy a cover for him. It’s never going to end and now you’re a part it. So get out there and sign us a Bony, a Welbeck, an unknown brilliant center half content to be backup, and while you’re at it, bang a gong for Gonalons, and sound the trumpets for Carvahlo. 

By spending so much on Chambers, Sanchez, Özil, and Debuchy, you’ve already joined them, Arsene. Your hands were there tearing down the facade of the Premier League. Now finish the job.

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What we have here is a fine example of Ivory Coast center forward, and he ain't too damn "Bony"

Giroud (unconfirmed) ankle break: which forwards could Arsenal buy to replace him?

Benteke

Pros: Christian Benteke took the footballing world by storm two years ago when he scored several goals for Aston Villa. How many goals? 19! He followed that season up with a lacklustre 10 goals haul. But if you’ve ever watched Benteke play you know that scoring goals isn’t really what he does best: it’s winning headers.

Won 229/403 aerial duels last season, 8.8 per game. Attempted 15.5 aerial duels per game, that’s like an aerial duel every 5 minutes. Slightly better at winning aerials than Giroud (56% v. 52%). Imagine a battering ram, on a pogo stick, that’s Christian Benteke.

Cons: People say he can dribble but in two years at Aston Villa he has only completed 40 total dribbles. Giroud has 36, so that makes Benteke four times more dribbly! Another con is that he’s injured. He may be back next month.

Bony

Pros: I have a soft spot for Bony. Wait. No. I have a hard… ummm… I like Bo.. Bony is good. Bony also wins headers even if he is only 5’3″ — he’s like the Spud Webb of winning headers. Remember Spud Webb? Spud Webb can still dunk at age 47. I can barely dunk a donut.

Bony wins a lower percentage of aerial duels than Benteke (42%) but scored the same number of headed goals, 5, last season. He’s also a better dribbler than Benteke, completing 24 in his first season at Swansea.

Has a £20m release clause. Which makes buying him a snap.

Has to play in the ACN and the qualifiers, which means that he will be out for most of January. Why is this a pro? Because that’s when Giroud will come back.

Also, his manager calls him a hard worker: “We saw a very good Wilfried last season but with the work ethic he has and what we’re trying to do I think he can be even better this year. If he listens to what we’re telling him – and he does, because he’s a great guy and a great person to work with – you’ll see a better Bony.”

Cons: turns the ball over a lot, not great at picking out teammates with his passes. Actually, a lot like Giroud.

Kiessling

Pros: Scored 7 headed goals. But apart from his aerial ability, whenever I’ve seen him play, I’ve actually been impressed with his touch. He has good touch for a big man. Which is exactly what I say any time I see Andy Carroll play.

Speaking of Andy Carroll, I have this weird way of remembering names where I make their name into a spoonerism. So Gary Cahill is Cary Gahill, Andy Carroll is Candy Arroll, Jack Wilshere is Wack Jilshere. The problem is that this only works for English guys. Try it with Stefan Kiessling… see?

What else is good about him? Let’s see… won 12 aerial duels in his first game this season, had 5 dribbles, committed 7 fouls… and he has done this kind of thing for years at Bayer Leverkusen.

Cons: Can someone explain to me why this guy, who has averaged 19 goals a season for the four yeas he was healthy at Bayer, who wins a ton of headers, who can dribble, who can pass, who creates for teammates… can someone tell me why he’s not been picked up by a club like Liverpool? Or anyone? There must be something wrong with him. I’ve heard its his attitude but that always ticks people off when I say it. Was left out of the German World Cup winning team.

Another con is that he’s as tall as Peter Crouch but has never shown any ability to do the robot.

Falcao

Pros: he was good at scoring goals two years ago. Had the number one hit in 1985 with Rock me Amadeus.

Cons: Literally not good at anything except scoring goals. I suppose that’s not a bad thing to be good at if you’re a striker. But if you’re looking for a player who can hold the ball up and bring teammates into the game, who can take on an opponent, and who can pass, Falcao is not that guy.

Monaco are flogging him harder than Dominic Loricatus after a long day’s penance and yet I’ve heard that taking him on loan would cost Arsenal £20m. That’s What Bony would cost. No way Arsene does this deal.

Destro

Pros: Weapons master, procurement specialist, tis a laird of the Scottish highlands, rubs elbows with sheikhs and oligarchs, silver head reflects light into the eyes of opponents. Probably incredibly good at winning headers but I have never seen him play football.

Cons: Not sure Cobra will let him go for cheap. Has a taste for the finer things. Tends to run away when the fight gets tough. Totally in love with the Baroness.

There is no way that Arsenal are signing the guy from Roma so I’m assuming we are going after Destro from G.I. Joe.

Sanogo

Pros: like a new signing! Free! Runs around a lot. Good at being annoying to the opposition. Already plays for Arsenal. Did I mention that he’s free? Huge upside.

Cons: hasn’t scored a goal for Arsenal, because the quad trick he scored in the Emirates Cup doesn’t count.

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Thomas Vermaelen flying chickens in the barnyard

Vermaelen gone, Khedira gone, and German players late

Arsene Wenger gave an amazingly open press conference yesterday and among other things basically announced Thomas Vermaelen’s departure, killed off speculation that Arsenal are after Sami Khedira, and given us plenty to worry about in terms of squad depth by announcing that Özil and Mertesacker won’t be ready for the start of the season.

Wenger ended speculation about Vermaelen’s Arsenal future by simply announcing that we will know something very soon. There have been multiple bids from multiple parties and I think it is safe to say that Arsenal have accepted at least one bid. That means we now enter the sensitive part of the negotiations where Vermaelen makes his choice and we either accept that choice or try to get more money from the bidders. It is abundantly clear that one of those choices is Manchester United.

Have you ever stepped on a Lego? I mean, 5 O’clock in the morning, hungover, it’s pitch black in the house, and you need a glass of water, so you don’t put your house shoes on, get up and blindly step on a Lego? If you have then you know it’s a mixture of searing pain, surprise, and then furious anger at the person who left the Lego out. That would be what I would feel like if we sold Thomas Vermaelen to Man U.

Look, Man U are title rivals. Wenger even said so himself when he claimed that 6-7 teams could be in the title hunt. And not only are they title rivals but I expect them to be one of the favorites. They were not “the worst Man U side in memory” last season. That was essentially the same team that won them the title the year before. The reason they fell so far down the table is that they were “the most poorly managed Man U side in memory” and there is a huge difference between being a bad team and having a bad manager.

They look very strong this year under van Gaal. And, most importantly, I think he has Rooney and van Persie on his side, two players who I suspect undermined Moyes’ leadership. And while we like to crack jokes about their squad having Tom Cleverly, not so cleverly I might add, Manchester United have a talented team full of players we would take at Arsenal in a heartbeat. Oh, plus, they will get the “Liverpool Bonus” meaning that they don’t have any European football next season and as a result of the extra rest will be fresher down the stretch. Selling Vermaelen to that team, especially after selling them van Persie, would be strengthening a title rival while simultaneously weakening us in a vital area.

So, back to the Lego analogy: van Persie was the first Lego, selling Vermaelen to this Man U team would be like stepping on a Lego and while you’re hopping around cursing your child for leaving that Lego on the floor, you step on another Lego with the other foot. And can you imagine twitter after a million Arsenal fans just stepped on Legos?

Thankfully, it looks like Arsenal have agreed to terms with Barcelona instead of Man U. Even better it sounds like we were demanding a player in return from United, which they didn’t want to do, and it’s refreshing to see us drive a hard bargain with them.

No matter who Arsenal sell Vermaelen to, we have to buy. There are currently 7 first team defenders listed on the main site and at the minimum, for 4 positions, you would want 8. With Calum Chambers able to play multiple spots I can see an argument for 7 players, but when we sell Vermaelen we will be down to 6. Wenger is on it, I think. I don’t have any specific information in that regard, I just think his previous comments about late August transfers is making me think he was waiting for Thomas to decide before making his own decision on bringing someone else in.

One player we know for a fact Arsenal are not bringing in is Sami Khedira. Finally, I get to say this… THANK THE GODS. He was not in any way the type of player we needed at Arsenal. And while I recognize that he is “whirled class” (I even wrote about it) and I also recognize that bringing in whirled class players makes the team stronger, for the absurd price Real Madrid were asking (£20m for an ageing player in the last year of his contract who is returning from knee surgery) plus the ridiculous wage demands (£170k a week) it seemed to me like there were better options available to fit the needs at Arsenal. Morgan Schneiderlin, for example. For the £55m we would have paid for Khedira over his contract (do the maths) I’m certain we could have prised Schneiderlin from the grip of Southampton. Or if not him, then Vidal. Or Pogba. Or pretty much any younger, fitter, international midfielder.

Oh and Wenger’s quote on Khedira was funny:

I do not know who put him on the market. Is it his agent? Is it the press? Is it somebody else? But we were never close to signing him because Jack Wilshere has come back fit and in midfield, attacking midfield and box-to-box midfield, we have quite a few.

So, there you have it: Khedira is not a DM and Wenger has ruled out all midfielders, except defensive midfielders.

Wenger also mentioned Calum Chambers again and once again said that he sees Chambers long term as a defensive midfielder. In the short term, however, he will play center back. That’s because Arsene has ruled out Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil for the start of the season. Wenger gave a reason which was basically, if you play them now you risk losing them in October, which has all the “gotcha” bloggers out there banging on about how other German players are already playing for Bayern Munich. And while that may be true, there is something else Wenger said which I thought telling.

Wenger in this press conference was weirdly specific about dates of players returning. In the past, he would say “three to four weeks” and that proclamation would turn into 4-6 weeks and so on. But he is now saying things like “August 11th” and he also mentioned that players all have “an individual program that they follow.” That last bit? About “individual programs”? That’s why some German players are back and others are still on break. Not sure if you know this but the Bundesliga… plays fewer games than the Premier League! 4 fewer. And they get a winter break. And it’s a less physically demanding league with people NOT running around trying to break legs.

All of this has the new fitness coach’s fingerprints all over it and I have to say that it is refreshing to see Wenger more certain about players and their recovery schedules. Fingers crossed that continues throughout the season as players pick up knocks and niggles.

That’s it for today. Don’t forget that we are accepting submissions for our new feature “Match Photo of the Month”. To enter all you need to do is take pictures of your matchday experience and send them to matchdayphotoofthemonth@gmail.com. Photographer Jonathan Blaustein will pick the best and write up a piece on them. It’s a great way for Gooners from all over to share their match day experiences.

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