Benzema not with Real team? Injury? Or something suspicious?

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Courtesy of @the_cros

Courtesy of @the_cros


Dear blog, sh*t is getting real. The new football season is pant wettingly close and I am excited!

So we can talk about a number of things today.


Karim Benzema is NOT at the Munich Cup with the rest of the Real team. From what I understand, this was quite last minute. Feels pretty unlikely he’s injured. Even if he was injured, the Munich Cup is about PR for the club. He’d have has to have done something pretty damn serious not to be there for press. Madrid are built on commercials, you have to have your superstars present at all times.

Ok, ok, so Ronaldo isn’t there either. Don’t spoil the dream. We only have 3 more weeks of this before the realities of a summer where we only purchased a keeper bite in.

As I said yesterday, I find it ‘Arsene Improbable’ that we’d shell out £45m for a guy who is 28 in December. Factor in how long it took Ozil to settle. Well, you could be looking at him being 29 before we get the best of him. Marco Reus feels more feasible. He’s just turned 26, he’s playing for a non-CL club and he probably has a buyout clause.


Also, interesting the debates some of the Arsene apostles get themselves into online. I’m sure we went from ‘you don’t need money to compete at the top’ to ‘money is what has changed our fortunes’.

I mean, there’s an interesting blend of the two. At the core of it, better players is always a good thing. In 1998, better players was important, but we not only had better players, we had fitter players. We’d destroy 75% of the league because Wenger was trail blazing in the area of ‘stop players drinking before games’.

But putting the last 10 years worth of failure down to purely money completely ignores some of the brilliant, or near brilliant teams we’ve had. Wenger over performed in pulling those names together, but for me, under performed in bringing them to the levels they could have been at.

… and look, our players can’t have been that bad, Barcelona and Man City shopped us regularly. I also find it a but revisionist when people say, ‘oh, remember when our strikers were Chamakh and Bendtner’… err, no actually. Those two were never our prime strikers. Things were never that bad.

Back to it. That 2008 side was one of the most balanced Arsenal sides we’ve seen over the last 10 years. If they were managed by a better fitness coach and we had a plan B, we’d have stormed that league. We also didn’t bite in the transfer market in January when it was apparent we needed a defender and a DM and there was cash in the bank.

I think the 2011 team was also in the mix. Another January where we failed to bolster with cash in the bank, but more clear failures with fitness management and tactical ineptness. Was that the year we didn’t bite on Cahill?

See, money is important and I know the story is we had none, but it’s disingenuous to say there was no cash. We didn’t generate cash without selling players, sure, I get that. Our trouble was we didn’t reinvest the cash. The record profits, record wage bills and cash flow accumulation over the years indicates that we clearly have had funds to spend, they just weren’t spent. Mostly because the manager had been reluctant. Because look, that cash pile still hasn’t been spent, so has Ivan has said on numerous.

I mean, we not only had some average players, we paid them a kings ransom! Are you telling me we couldn’t find a better keeper than Almunia? Were there no better £11m players than Gervinho? Did it really take 5 years to realise that tall centre backs help from set pieces? Did the manager really blame hair pills for our injury pile up?

All in the past now…

I mean, thinking back, I’m pretty sure Wenger got around his requirement to invest by upweighting average players contracts. One of my arguments was always around the distribution of wages. If you don’t generate cash and your wage bill is £150m (a drossy squad as well), then perhaps you should spend less on wages and free up some cash for transfers.

The resurgence we’ve had in 2015 is about better scouting. We’re bringing in better players. But overall, we’re not deviating that far from our usual strategy. Major difference is that we can afford a Sanchez and an Ozil, instead of growing them. Wenger has got his game back. Players like Monreal, Cazorla, Bellerin, Cech, Gabriel and Coquelin weren’t mega buys. They were smart buys or beautiful accidents.

The team didn’t beat Chelsea at the weekend because our players were suddenly better than theirs. That came through in the post match press conference. Mourinho isn’t bitching because he fears the players. He’s bitching because he’ll know that 2015 has been successful for Arsenal because we’re more organised. He didn’t expect us to play pragmatically. Now, he’ll be fearing us. Because he’ll know that if Wenger keeps the players fit this season and continues to focus on the little details, we’ll win the league. He knows if we land a striker of Benzema’s quality, we’ll be challenging for the Champions League.

… and this is the thing. Being better organised doesn’t cost the much. Making Steve Bould accountable for the defence didn’t require an outlay of anything other than time. Bringing in Shad Forsythe to sort out the injury mess that was so, so apparent in our failings didn’t cost a lot. It just required a big decision. To move the old over and push on with the new was an emotional decision, because rationally there was no question this needed to happen. Taking data more seriously didn’t cost anything because the tools have been sitting at the club for six odd years. It just required the balls to activate them and for the manager to admit that the game was passing him by.

So when you hear Wenger praising backroom staff, that’s a major coup for the club. That’s a manager who is evolving and enjoying it. Watching Wenger ignore Mourinho. That’s fighting talk.

Football is about money to a certain extent. But money is also an excuse not to innovate. We can’t compete with Real or City for cash. We can compete with them for hunger. We can outthink them, because money doesn’t buy brains, it doesn’t by passion and it 100% does not buy innovation. We have a fairly fresh backroom team, a settled team that is pretty well balanced and familiar and we have a reinvigorated manager.

All of the above is why I’m so excited about this season.

A few people have said this blog become irrelevant if we do well. If that happens, and we start winning major trophies, I could not be happier!

Right, tomorrow, we start to preview the season. Alex is going to meet Thierry later, so he’ll have some words!

469 Responses to “Benzema not with Real team? Injury? Or something suspicious?”

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  1. mysticleaves

    peanuts, SRG

    actually you can win community shield without winning either the Pl or fa cup.

    in the case that arsenals wins the league and defeats stoke in the fa.cup final, we and stoke will still play for the CS

  2. daz

    “Forget Benzema. Wenger will never get another hero material within the Arsenal team”

    Peanuts, Sanchez not good enough to be your hero baby?

  3. Sukky

    I don’t think we will sign benzema and to be honest I won’t be excited if we do (though he’s better than what we have) because I think we can get lewandoswki at the same price and he’s younger and better. Rues is a very good player but I don’t know why people here think he will solve our CF problem, he’s a talented wide player but a limited CF.

  4. gambon

    Of course we arent signing Benzema, Madrid arent interested in selling, and I dont see us paying anyone £200k pw.

    Even if he was to leave I dont think you would see him at Arsenal.

  5. Sukky

    A poster once said here that we’ve never bully a club to sell player they don’t wanna sell, he said we buy players who are willing to leave and club willing to sell. I think he’s right. Offer 65 million for lewandoswki and you will seen bayern considering it, you can’t say he doesn’t worth that considering Benteke for 30 million and Liverpool boy for 49 Million.

  6. mysticleaves

    more in the fact that Benzema performances ain’t worth 200k to be honest. better than what we have but overrated as a striker.

    haven’t really set the la liga alight. and I know cr7 is there but still…

    would prefer Reus over Benzema for us this summer.

  7. mysticleaves

    susky, Bayern can’t really worry about any bid or club if they don’t want to sell the player. they are that big.

    remember the summer of 2008 or 2009 when Ribery was hell bent on leaving for Real Madrid and they flatly refused to even entertain the notion.

    I think that’s the case with lewy now. Pep would leave there before lewy does, imo anyway…

  8. mysticleaves

    ” Why will you prefer reus, he’s not a striker ”

    we have only 2 wingers, Sanchez and Ox. plus another winger that will be played mostly as a striker. we definitely need another winger more than we do a striker.

  9. Sukky

    Anyone remember Joel Campbell? Where is he? I still prefer that guy to Walcott and Welbeck up front. All what he did in world cup can’t be fluke. Wenger won’t give him more time. I hope he reach the greatest height wherever he find himself in the future. Great prospect ruined by wrong management.

  10. gambon

    Benzema is absolutely top class, no doubt at all.

    His all round game is incredible.

    He definitely needs to be more greedy, but that team is set up for Ronaldos benefit.

    If Benzema had as many shots as Harry Kane last season he wouldve scored 24 league goals, as many shots as Charlie Austin he wouldve scored 28 league goals, if he had as many as Aguero he wouldve scored 32 league goals.

    The trick is to get him shooting more.

    Hes a top all round player as well.

    Benzema has all of Girouds strengths, but a much much better first touch, much quicker, and a better footballer.

    Like I say, I think there about a 5% chance Madrid let him go at all, and a 1% chance we sign him, but he would massively improve us.

  11. gambon

    “All what he did in world cup can’t be fluke”

    All what he did?

    Didnt he score 1 goal?

    Hes nowhere near Arsenal level.

  12. gambon

    “we have only 2 wingers, Sanchez and Ox. plus another winger that will be played mostly as a striker. we definitely need another winger more than we do a striker.”

    We have 4 wide players


    We wont get another unless one leaves.

    Make no mistake, Welbeck wont get much time in the CF role until he learns to take chances. Wenger bought him as a CF but pretty quickly changed his mind because he’s an appalling finisher.

  13. mysticleaves

    said well Gambon. cant argue with those. I guess it’s a matter of opinions.

    Joel Campbell had a decent first game where he scored one goal. after that, did fuck all. not Arsenal level.

    signing reus will give us a better shot at the title. persisting with Gnarbry, well he still won’t play more than 12 games this season. so?

  14. mysticleaves


    the last thing welbeck will do is stick around and be used as a winger in Arsenal. he’s a shut winger anyway…just offers energy and tracking back. no end product or dribbles or buzz.

    point is, if he won’t be used as a cf, I think he will be sold and he would wanna leave. which is ok by me btw