This year’s survey results are in and there are a number of surprises. There is a lot to get to so I’ll save you my normally prosaic style and just jump right in.
On the question of how much money Arsenal have to spend, how much you wish them to spend, and how much you think they will spend, I changed the question to get a little more detail. Still the results are sort of the same as last year:
Most fans feel that Arsenal have around £50m available to spend, that Arsenal should spend that money, but that Arsenal will be conservative and spend less than we want. 75% of you think Arsenal will spend less than £50m — this is unchanged from last year. The one thing that shifted significantly this year over last is the “how much should Arsenal spend” question. Last year, 67% of fans surveyed wanted Arsenal to spend between £50-100m on players and the number of fans who wanted Arsenal to spend less than £50m was under 15%. This year that number has doubled to 30%.
The major shift in thinking among fans surveyed is in the number of players Arsenal need to buy in order to compete for the League title. Last season, 71% responded that Arsenal needed to buy 4 or more players with 26% of them saying five or more. This season, just 6% of respondents wanted 4 or more players and zero people said 5 or more.
But just like last season, the majority of the folks who responded to this survey want Arsenal to buy 3 players but think Arsenal will buy just 2!
For those of you interested in reality versus the Arsenal fan mentality, Arsenal actually spent over £75m (net — and yes, I’m including the Carlos Vela money and the Gabriel transfer) in transfers last season and bought 5 players who featured prominently for the club. Only 23 people (of 740 respondents) thought Arsenal would buy 5 or more players last summer and only 19% correctly guessed that Arsenal would spend over £50m.
When asked about “big name” players, last season’s respondents were overwhelmingly cynical that Arsenal would even buy one: 73% last year said that Arsenal wouldn’t buy even one. This year, after consecutive transfer seasons with Arsenal buying Ozil and Sanchez, 63% feel that Arsenal will buy one!
I had a sense that Arsenal fans believed Arsenal would buy a star player this year and so I asked which position would that person play. Interestingly, most Arsenal fans want another striker.
But note that Defensive Midfield and Keeper aren’t chump change in there. I intentionally limited you to just one choice and nearly 30% of you thought that Arsenal need a star defensive midfielder more than any other position.
This matches with some of the other results. For example, 92% think Coquelin is good enough to start for Arsenal and yet 64% of respondents think that Arsenal need to carry a second specialist defensive midfielder. I suspect that I worded this question wrong. What I wanted to know is whether fans wanted a second Coquelin: someone who is an athletic destroyer but who has limited offensive abilities.
Some of you are going to get into a huff about me saying that Coquelin has limited offensive abilities but there can’t be much argument. I like Coquelin, I love players who give their all for my club. I also love players who play defense first and I appreciate that Coquelin has a keen defensive mind. But it’s hardly a controversial statement to say that Coquelin has some learning to do. And I specifically think his learning curve has to do with dealing with on-ball pressure — because for as many times as I’ve caught glimpses of him doing something good with the ball going forward, I’ve seen just as many glimpses of him crumbling when he has the ball and is put under pressure.
This line of reasoning led me to ask the existential question: is Coquelin good enough to start for Bayern Munich.
92% feel he’s good enough to start for us but just 39% think he’s good enough to start for Bayern Munich. This tells me that the majority of respondents get it that Coquelin and the Arsenal still have some work to do to catch up with the top teams in the Champions League. That doesn’t mean Coquelin will never be good enough, just that he isn’t good enough right now.
When asked to name the player most Arsenal fans want Arsenal to buy to fill the defensive midfield role, the vast majority picked Schneiderlin.
When I asked if Arsenal needed another box-to-box type midfielder the majority (57%) said nope. But if Arsenal did get one, fans mostly want Vidal. Or Pogba. Or Schneiderlin. Again with the Schneiderlin!
Next I switched tack away from the middle of the park and toward both ends. First, I asked about keeper.
Last summer I asked fans if Szczesny was good enough to be Arsenal’s #1 and 97% of you said “yes”. The total number of people who said no, out of 748 respondents, was just 23.
This summer I asked fans the same question and a bare majority of you said yes. And that was after a near perfect FA Cup final performance.
I feel bad for poor, little, Ospina. Only 30% of respondents felt Ospina good enough to be Arsenal’s #1 next season. This despite the fact that Ospina’s stats are far superior to Szczesny and the fact that he didn’t really do much wrong. In fact, Ospina was pretty good.
Szczesny faced 30 big chances this season and saved just 8, 9 were off target, and 13 scored. Ospina faced just 14 big chances but he saved 7, just 2 were off target, and 5 scored. In terms of big chances saved, and let’s not forget that big chances were over half of the goals Arsenal allowed this season, Ospina came up… erm… big. Szczesny saved just 38% of the big chances on target, Ospina saved 58%.
I will admit that the drop in the number of big chances faced was probably down to Coquelin. But even the most die-hard Coquelin/Szczesny fan has to admit that Ospina saved more big chances.
That’s not to say that I think Arsenal don’t need a ‘keeper this summer. I do. I think that is Arsenal’s most pressing need.
When asked which keeper that they wanted, most fans responded “Cech” or a spelling variant of Cech.
Lloris and Leno were also popular choices.
As for forwards, most of the folks surveyed seemed happy with the variety of forwards that Arsenal have on the books but still feel that Arsenal are short a striker.
Interestingly, I’m in the minority on both questions. How? I think Arsenal have too many right-footed forwards so I don’t think we have enough variety but I disagree with Henry and the majority of the participants and think that Arsenal’s forwards are good enough to win the League. Arsenal were missing Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud, Welbeck, and Walcott for much of the season. If Arsenal can increase the games started by Walcott and Welbeck from their paltry 21 (combined) to somewhere closer to 40, I suspect we have an additional 20 goals in this Arsenal side. And for those of you who want a wide player to dribble into the heart of those packed in defenses, Ox is your man.
If Arsenal get anyone in the forward department, I’d like to see a left-footed player who can take on defenders and cause havoc among the back lines with dribble penetration in the box.
Most of the participants disagree and 75% want a striker. That number could be inflated slightly by the wording of the question. I put examples of players in the various positions but I didn’t use the best examples in each. So, for left wing, I used Podolski when I really should have used Hazard. If you’re asked “which position do you think Arsenal most need up front, an Henry or a Podolski?” It’s pretty easy to pick Henry.
But when asked to name the player they most want, they ended up mostly picking a center forward type: survey respondents were pretty evenly split between Lacazette, Jackson Martinez, Benzema, and Reus.
Sterling was pretty far down the list, below even Higuain which is in my mind a non-transfer. No way Higuain gets passed over by Arsenal only to come back to Arsenal after failing at Napoli. Right?Interestingly, most of the players fans wanted last year (Remy, Draxler, Götze) have dropped off the radar list and it looks like fans want someone like Welbeck or Walcott (they would probably argue Benzema, Martinez, and Lacazette are better) rather than a Reus.
78% of the respondents don’t think Arsenal need any more defenders, though if Arsenal do get one, they want another center back (82%).
Which player do most people think will have a breakout season next year? A few jokers wrote Diaby and I thank them for the laugh. Almost as funny as the folks who put Ozil. Yeah, Ozil will finally announce himself on the world stage, two years after winning the World Cup and back-to-back FA Cup trophies.
But the real winner is Gnabry.
I left some results off because this article is already too long. If you’re interested in looking at all of the results and playing with the graphics I published the full analytics on Google.
As for the survey itself, I think it shows Arsenal fans know that the club will spend some money but still worry that Arsenal might come up one short. It also shows that the fans have a lot of faith in Coquelin and simultaneously have been convinced that he needs competition. The barest majority of fans still have faith in former Arsenal #1 Wojciech Szczesny but that faith didn’t shift to Ospina despite a string of decent performances. And given all the deficiencies that they see in the squad, the main player most fans want to see Arsenal buy this summer would be Jackson Martinez, after that Morgan Schneiderlin, and then Petr Cech.
The biggest surprise for me is that fans feel like Gnabry will have a breakout season next year. If so, that would be a real feel-good story.