Xhaka at Colney? On a plane? Hanging with Rowley? | Morata for £54m!

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SO SO SO SO… what do we have tomorrow? What did I miss? What would you LIKE to read?

Ok, so hot af rumours are that the striker we’re chasing down this summer is none other than Alvaro Morata. He’s the player we were interested in a couple of seasons ago, but he ended up going to Juventus and getting them to a Champions League final. He’s a very good player, but this season, he hardly torn up the trees in Italy… and it’s mooted that he may well be off in a £50m deal… to us.


Midfield overhaul that relegates the British core to the sidelines?

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My how the week has passed in the most fastest of manners.

Hung out with my old man in America yesterday. He treated me up by taking me golf on Bethpage Black, the hardest course you could imagine for someone a year out the game. What made it worse was being paired with two scratch golfers. Hitting their stupid balls in the air every time, making pars and birdies all over the place. Dick heads.

ANYWAY, what’s moved in the world of Arsenal?

Wenger first up:


Ozil angling for major club attention | What does a football director bring?

by & filed under News Review.

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Wenger dropped conversation around Olivier Giroud being our first team striker next season. In the interview, he states that he’ll be the first team striker next summer, but he has strong and weak moments… I guess, like not scoring in 20 odd games.

For me, Wenger should be looking at Olivier, realise he’s now 29 years old and he should be ruthless. Is he good enough to lead our line? No. What would happen to our title challenge if a new striker was injured for 9 months? It’d falter. Wenger should be shipping him on. He’s not getting any younger, he’s unlikely to find world class form and he’s a big reason we’re not top of the league.

Our manager isn’t ruthless enough for that sort of carry on. One more season… seems to be the mantra. He should be taking a machete to that squad this summer. He doesn’t need to spend hundreds of millions to replace our failing players. He needs to look at what the forward line lacked and replace it. Is there much point in us having a lumbering striker who lacks mobility and finishing grace? I’m not so sure. Maybe we find a younger version. Someone who has power, height and potential and we sign someone who is established. But point is, if you can’t score 30 goals with Mesut in the side, there’s no point you being at Arsenal.

Arsenal lagging on the Xhaka signing. Everyone knows he’s coming, but we’re still messing around announcing it. We really do know how to spoil the party. At least there’s one name down. I’d love to know where the others are coming from?

A few asked why I’m so insistent on Santi being replaced. For me, he’s struggled with fatigue quite a bit over the last few seasons, he’s just had a major injury and he’s super integral to our team. He doesn’t need to be moved on, but surely we need to be thinking about having someone in the side who can at least replicate his importance… or grow into it. For me, our title died with his injury… it was apparent at the start of last summer we had no one who could do what he could do. So we really need to find a replacement this summer.

The Mesut Ozil panto continues to roll on…

“I still have two years contract with Arsenal, as you know, and we will be in talks with the club and we’ll see what happens in the future”

“But as I said, now I’m concentrating on Euro 2016 in France, which is very important for me and my team after the last World Cup. Then later on, I will see what I do with Arsenal.”

Seems like he and Sanchez are both either angling for mega money, or they’re desperately trying to get away from a club they know won’t compete under Arsene Wenger. When you’re super rich, cash isn’t an issue in your life, winning things is.

Playing in a super basic setup, with a lot of drossy players can’t be that exciting even if you have a huge pay cheque dropping every couple of weeks. It’d be a big blow to Wenger to lose those two players. Sanchez is electric and a crowd pleaser, Ozil is a pass master, he keeps the football hipsters involved. I wouldn’t really be that upset if they moved on… providing we brought in outstanding replacements.

Sanchez has many flaws in his game we know Wenger can’t rectify… because Pep couldn’t. Ozil tails off horrendously for at least half a season every season. He wasn’t interested during the back end of the year. Praise him all you want for his sublime passing… he didn’t do a good job in the last half of the year. He didn’t really add goals to his game. He didn’t lead.

Who is out there that could replace him? Not many. But look, if players want out, send them packing. Just make sure we’re not left with our pants down like we so often have been in the past.

Finally, a fascinating article from Sid Lowe on Monchi of Sevilla. He’s their sporting director. He turned the club into a profit making force that wins trophies, some of the stellar lines…

“No one takes a ‘what great economic results’ banner to the stadium,”

Love that. I’m sure I’ve seen that banner at Arsenal, along with ‘Substandard camembert will not be tolerated.’

He also gets into his approach to scouting players.

“Sixteen people cover a series of leagues. For the first five months we watch a lot of football but with no particular aim: we’re just accumulating data. Every month we produce an ideal XI for each league. Then in December we start watching players who appeared regularly in different contexts – home, away, international – to build the broadest possible profile.”

You wonder how the Arsenal approach works? Is it weak scouting, or is it weak activation on the reccomendations from Wenger? I think maybe a mix of both. I know that Steve Rowley isn’t exactly the man he used to be. Man of yesteryear, not exactly a data beast like so many of the younger ones are who are coming through. Perhaps he should have been moved on a few years ago.

This bit about negotiations is also interesting.

“The guy selling a Seat Leon will claim it’s a better model,” Monchi says. “Kanouté wasn’t the first option; we were going after Fred, the Brazilian. We wanted [Kevin-Prince] Boateng before Keita. And if a player says: ‘Chelsea want me,’ I say: ‘What are you talking to me for, then?’ But if Swansea or Spurs want you, let’s talk. I sell the city, the club: a serious club that pays as promised, which sounds trivial but isn’t.”

Love the bit about Spurs. Also love the idea of having back-ups. We don’t land Suarez, we have no one. We don’t land Benzema, we go with no one. So many times over the years we’ve gone for the eggs in one basket approach. Which shows you there’s something fundamentally corrupt in our approach. We never have a plan b, and look, there can’t be such thing as no plan b in a world jam packed with footballers.

This isn’t the approach of some tin pot club either, it’s the approach of a club that’s winning European competitions. We have more resource than them, better facilities in a more widely adored City. We should be finding these sort of options on a more regular basis.

You also wonder how good his relations are in the game. Is being more of a football man a benefit because you get access to better players? It’ll be very interesting to see whether Arsenal load up with a football director figure when Wenger leaves, because it makes total sense to me. A manager cannot be good at everything and the power of opinion resting in one persons hands isn’t a smart way to grow a successful business. You need to have a multitude of expertise and opinions weighing in because football is about specialists nowadays… not personalities.

Anyway, good times. Have a great day!