Xhaka the pre-assist master, but can we afford to carry him?

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Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

Well, nothing has me off to a flyer in the morning quite like a riveting read on the pros and cons of Xhaka courtesy of the folk over at Sky Sports. This article gets to the core of why he’s a marmite player, but in an interesting way that uses numbers with right level of context.

The long and short is this… he’s one of the most effective players in the league moving the ball into the final 3rd, but he’s also statistically one of the slowest players in the team.

One of the biggest criticisms levelled against him is that he lacks speed and mobility, and it is backed up by the numbers. According to Arsenal’s Premier League tracking data this season, he has averaged fewer high-intensity sprints per 90 minutes (4.4) than any other outfield player.

It is not an indictment of his work-rate – Xhaka actually ranks highly for distance covered – rather an indication that he struggles to reach the 25.2km/h threshold for what is now defined as a sprint. Xhaka has stamina but he is not naturally fast. By way of comparison, the tigerish Torreira has averaged 7.1 sprints per 90 minutes in his fleeting appearances so far.

It’s interesting that he’s being compared to Torreira, who hasn’t played a full 90minutes for Arsenal as of yet. For me, the lack of mobility in a central position is an absolutely huge problem in the Premier League. It was a problem when he was playing under Wenger and we went from a Champions League team to a Europa one. It will be a problem under Emery, because he’s a manager that insists on high intensity. Not just that, it’s a problem for a league that prides itself on power and pace. You can get under the skin of Xhaka and he can be bullied.

The attacking numbers are obviously promising, he’s in esteemed company for sequences that lead to a shot, and he’s smashing the competition for the amount of balls into the final third… but this kind of reminds me a little bit of the Ozil challenge. Football is not like NFL. It’s difficult to survive this league being a specialist if there are gross weaknesses elsewhere in your game. If all you can offer up is passes into the final third, you are a weakness that will need someone else to pick up the pieces. When you have a squad as imbalances as ours, that starts to become a problem.

We need someone to do the defensive duties of Mesut, who won’t track

We need someone to pick up the legs of Xhaka who can be overrun

We need someone who can hold up the ball to play next to Auba

We need someone with pace to sit next to Laca

The list goes on. Arsenal can’t afford to be a team that needs players doing other things for players who are grossly under-equipped to do the basics. So that means the manager has to start making sacrifices.

For me, with a defence like ours, solidity in the midfield is an absolute must. Guendouzi and LT would make for a very interesting pairing, and if it isn’t those two, then I’d have Aaron Ramsey playing next to Torriera. The Welshman has a good range of passing, and he also boasts the ability to break the lines with quick bursts of pace. That’s another thing you have to remember, just because Xhaka can play long range balls into space, doesn’t mean it’s the most effective way for Arsenal to attack.

This specialism that Xhaka possesses has taken us from 4th to 6th and 5th. On the face of it, having the best pre-assist king in the league doesn’t seem to be doing us many favours.

You could counter that and say that’s someone else’s fault, but the people doing that have been telling us that Ozil is the most deadly creator that ever lived. Then you could blame our attackers, but we have Auba and Lacazette who are two of the most deadly finishers in Europe.

It could also be argued that if one player is doing such an incredible number on stats, it’s because too much of the play is being threaded through them, which yet again shows an imbalance of the squad. When you have so much of the play rolling through one name, it makes you very easy to plan against. Just take out Xhaka, and you stem the flow of play into the final third. Again, not a great look.

It’s also interesting that this statistic of playing the most balls into the final third has dropped out of nowhere and we’re all assuming it’s the thing, some saying it’s so important it’s fine if it costs you goals. There are plenty of types of centre midfielders you can have who can do an effective job. Look at Keita at Liverpool, power, speed, tackling, passing, shooting, he’s Roy of the Rovers. Look at Santi before Xhaka, short passes galore and a connective tissue type role, he made the pitch smaller and could cover ground despite his small frame. Look at Paul Pogba and what he tries to do for United. All of those names are more well rounded than Xhaka who has one string to his bow and that’s pre-assisting, which is helpful, but I find it perplexing anyone can look at that one skill and say it’s strong enough not to worry about pace, tackling and all-round mobility.

Anyway, you see what I mean. We need to start making sacrifices, and in my view, it should be making sacrifices so we can be more solid through the middle. Build from the back, then work out how to be more efficient moving forward.

Let me know what YOU think in the comments.

406 Responses to “Xhaka the pre-assist master, but can we afford to carry him?”

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  1. Goobergooner

    Victorious

    “The irony of it all is that themuch maligned AKB started on this very path,’shut up and get behind the manager’.never criticise decisions even when they’re blindingly wrong and you wonder why we’re been subjected to waves of mockery by rivals.
    I forsee another cult personality taking form in the fanbase”.

    Come on mate. 10 plus years of decline and not one word against Wenger from a certain few. Now after only 4 games Emery is not even given a chance.

    It’s not the same thing at all. Most people would be happy to actually give the manager the good part of his contract to see what he can do, unless somewhere in there he goes off the rails.
    The difference between everyone else and the akbs is that we aren’t scared to take a gamble on a fresh start, and just have some hope again, and we also know when it is time to call it quits. We aren’t using sentiment to cloud our judgment on a managerwho to some has become bigger than the club. It’s honestly a joke.

    Emery is making some mistakes, yes.
    But at least we know they are working hard on the training ground towards a common goal. Which most people know is going to take time.
    I’d prefer him to make these mistakes early and build on them. So I’ll give him time to iron them out.
    Emery will give his team a few games to see how it can come together with a bit more game time, but he will have to change the team at some stage, I know he will come to a preferred system and formation sooner rather than later. And I am sure he does have the balls to do what is needed. Just how and when he sees best.

    I am still excited to see how this season plays out. I don’t get how people say there isn’t excitement with Emery.

  2. gonsterous

    I concur on the fact that giving players the long term deals would give us the upper hand in negotiations.

    As stated no new manager goes to a club and just starts benching their most expensive players. Also emery has to shape up the defence in such a way that we don’t start playing boring football, because people would claim he is losing the identity of the club. He has to play the long game. I think we will make top 4 cause we are training and preparing every week for the opposition to come.
    one of the reasons Moyes failed at utd was because he wanted to take it one opponent at a time. When the mindset of the team who had just won the PL was to focus on themselves and not the opposition. If he had eased them into his new system things would have been easier for him.
    Us on the other hand, the players themselves know that focusing on themselves has led to chaos and coming in 6th last season. So there is a mind set to be willing to adapt to new systems, but they have to be eased into it or else every one will start revolting and want the managers head. (player power, cannot be underestimated and one of the reasons arsene lost his job )

    So the arsenal job is a tricky one. Emery has to let the players play till the fans and the players (ozil, xhaka, cech) know that when they are replaced they had a fair shout at proving themselves.

  3. gonsterous

    on the other hand, if Wenger was more ruthless with his players, he would have gotten away with it. But instead he over payed them and blamed everyone else (including the fans ) for the mess instead of himself or the players.

  4. Emiratesstroller

    Emery will certainly not have three years to put house in order as some suggest here.

    Yes Arsenal’s Board may be more patient than most, but if Arsenal do not get back into top four by the end of next season I will be very surprised if he lasts.

    Sofar there has been nothing to get excited about in the way that Arsenal have
    played in the first 4 games. We are still shipping 8 goals and losing games to
    the top teams. Our defence and goalkeeper are as brittle as ever and the full
    backs show very little evidence of defensive competence.

    The biggest concern is that we continue to play a goalkeeper who has declined
    visibly in last two years. The question we need to ask is why we spent £20 million on a new goalkeeper if he is not rated by the manager?

    Another issue is how we function in midfield. If you play both Ozil and Ramsey
    in the same team and I do believe that is feasible then we need to play the other two midfielders in a more disciplined defensive role.

    Personally I have no expectation for this season, but if Emery is to survive then
    he must at least show some progress in his tactics and the balance of team.

    That will only come if we stop shipping silly goals particularly against weak teams like West Ham and Cardiff. These are games that Arsenal should be winning comfortably with their eyes closed.

  5. Pierre

    Goobergoner
    “Come on mate. 10 plus years of decline and not one word against Wenger from a certain few. Now after only 4 games Emery is not even given a chance”

    You’re in a dream world if you actually believe that statement.

    Fans like victorious and myself had no problem criticising the previous manager as long as it was warranted and we did frequently.

    What we took exception to was some fans refusing to celebrate Arsenal winning their many trophies and wanting the team to lose matches….

    Read emiratesstroller ‘s comment today and it’snot a million miles from what I have been saying …..and let’s be honest , every Arsenal fan must be shaking their heads at what they are seeing on the pitch…..

  6. gonsterous

    I don’t understand, cech has pulled off some very good saves from the city game to the cardiff game. If the defence wasn’t playing the high line, we would concede less, because our CBs aren’t the fastest. Against the lower teams a high press works but against stronger opposition, we need to contain and then counter attack because we have experienced defenders who know how to defend but can’t play catch up to pacy wingers. But I don’t understand why sven and co haven’t informed emery what the PL demands ? You can’t have two slow defenders with full backs bombarding forward with a high line. that’s just suicidal and asking a lot from the keeper.
    But it’s been 4 games, Leno and co will have enough time to play and show what they can do. And I’m praying they prove they are a lot better than the current lot.
    I’ve seen many players in school, who are very good and and commanding while training but do not perform when the pressure is on during games. (I’m not comparing school children to professionals but we used to play against the local clubs in the local league, so I know what it feels like to have to defend for 90mins and you have run out of air/running on empty)

  7. Pierre

    Gonsterous

    So who are you criticising, sven and co for not telling Emery what tactics to use of the manager for setting the team up wrong.

    The sooner we get lichsteiner,torriera and Lacazette into the starting line up the better and probably Leno also although I reserve judgement on him until I see him play

    Cech has made some decent saves but he concedes too many goals from outside of the box for my liking and I think we need a keeper show is brave and commands the area due to our lack of defensive height.

  8. HighburyLegend

    “cech has pulled off some very good saves from the city game to the cardiff game”

    Yes but he is far too irregular.

  9. Emiratesstroller

    Jim Furnell also used to make spectacular saves, but he was a shit goalkeeper.

    Cech may make the occasional good save, but he is now “unreliable”. His performance level has declined visibly in last 2 years.

    You can attribute at least 4 goals conceded sofar this season to his mistakes and/or shots which a top goalkeeper would have saved.

  10. Dissenter

    Pierre
    “Fans like victorious and myself had no problem criticising the previous manager as long as it was warranted and we did frequently”

    Liar!!!
    You took every criticism of Wenger as a personal affront. What you used to do was criticize Kroenke for Wenger’s mistakes. What you see to do was to take every Wenger criticism as anti-Arsenal. Now you’re trying to rewrite history.
    Quoting Quintilian, “a liar should have a good memory” because you seem to have developed selective amnesia of all the Wenger water you used to carry here.

  11. Emiratesstroller

    A world class goalkeeper might make ten outstanding saves in a season, which
    an ordinary goalkeeper would concede.

    A poor goalkeeper and one who makes regularly mistakes will cost you games and ultimately his performance impacts on the defence. That was blindingly obvious last season where we managed only one victory against Huddersfield in
    EPL after Christmas.

  12. Dissenter

    Emirates
    You may not realize it but Kroenke’s Arsenal are not.well run club and aren’t that big a draw for elite coaches.
    The Emery-level manager is as good as we are going to ever get.
    We aren’t even a big spending club and can’t even summon enough energy to handle this Gazidis nonsense on our own terms. There’s no managerial decisiveness in the club. Kroenke is too passive in his leadership.
    All that talk about Emery being sacked by the end of next season if he doesn’t get back into the CL is just grandiose thinking, that’s just you projecting yourself.
    It’s not like Kronke is going to get mad and open the wallet, is it?

  13. gonsterous

    Pierre

    yes I’m blaming sven and co along with emery and bould. They seem to have fked up the defensive signings. We need people to communicate with each other and tell one another what they may be doing wrong. Now I don’t mean have a go at each other. But having a meeting during the transfer window for possible targets and how they fit into arsenal would be top of my list. Maybe have a meeting every couple weeks to see the progress being made. This isn’t like when wenger was here and any thing he said was the final word. We need to be flexible and work as a team on and off the pitch to succeed..

  14. Emiratesstroller

    Dissenter

    I do not agree with your assessment.

    Arsenal are more than capable of recruiting a top manager and coaching staff.
    After all Wenger was for many years the best paid manager in business.

    If you can afford to pay Ozil £350K pw you can certainly afford to bring in the
    best management.

    Club Managers are rather like School Headmasters and Captains of Industry.
    You recruit such people and they generate pulling power.

    Three years ago no half decent player in his right mind would have opted for
    Liverpool or Spurs in preference to Arsenal. Sanchez joined Arsenal in preference to Liverpool.

    As I suggested Emery will have a couple of years to prove himself, but I doubt
    that Arsenal will repeat mistakes made with Wenger.

  15. Michael24

    Pierre

    As you well know, “criticising the manager” and wanting him gone from the club, are two completely different arguments.

    You may have criticised but you also accepted the status quo, whereas fans like myself saw the bigger picture and the consequences of Wenger’s ways.

    Towards the end of his tenureship many of us were so desperate to see him leave that, yes, regrettably, losing was the only option.

    As has been proved, we were right.

  16. Pierre

    Dissenter
    I’m sure pedro will put you right on my criticism of the previous manager..

    Do you not think that my comments on the previous manager continual use of Ramsey in a 2 man midfield is not a criticism of him.

    Do you not think my comments on wenger persevering with giroud for so long is not a criticism of him.

    Do you not think my desperation to have guardiola as our manager for the last 3/4years is not a criticism of wenger’s style of management.

    I could go on and on and I am only criticising Emery because he is doing exactly the same as wenger ,which in itself is a criticism of wenger ,in that he allows the full backs to bomb forward with no cover ,he allows the midfield to play without discipline,he allows Ramsey to play as a striker when he should be helping out the team defensively….

  17. Pierre

    Michael
    “As you well know, “criticising the manager” and wanting him gone from the club, are two completely different arguments.”

    As you well know,I felt the time was right for wenger to leave but ,as you well know, I would never want the club to lose a football match for whatever reason ,and I would always celebrate winning trophies and the same applies to this manager.

    I haven’t written Emery off ,he just needs to address the basics …discipline in midfield and defence…..

    Playing lichsteiner and Torriera,who are both fit, would be a start.

  18. Leftsidesanch

    “”Fans like victorious and myself had no problem criticising the previous manager as long as it was warranted and we did frequently.”

    Your such a liar you shameless cretin.

  19. Pierre

    Gonsterous
    you say they have fcked up the defensive signings but I’m not so sure ….

    Lichsteiner and Torriera are both quality defensively and are ready to start

  20. gonsterous

    What’s the consensus if we lose to Newcastle?

    boy guns, you sure look like a person waiting for arsenal to lose just so you can pull the “I told you so” and feel proud. Are you even an arsenal fan ?

  21. gonsterous

    Lichsteiner and Torriera are both quality defensively and are ready to start

    one is a 35 year old who won’t play 3 games a week. The other is new to the team but Is the type of signing I can get excited and get behind. Buying the greek was supposed to make us more defensively stable, didn’t happen. then we send holding /chambers on loan (I forget which one ). So we don’t really have much cover for the CB spot. So in a way, we kind of fked up.

  22. Pierre

    Michael
    “Towards the end of his tenureship many of us were so desperate to see him leave that, yes, regrettably, losing was the only option.As has been proved, we were right.”

    And we now have a new manager who has the same football philosophy as wenger.

  23. gonsterous

    guns

    If we lose, it’s back to the drawing board and wanting to see some ruthless changes. We are not going to go the season unbeaten But we won’t and shouldn’t be losing to Newcastle. especially if our expectations are top 4 this season.

  24. Pierre

    Gonsterous
    Why does lichsteiner have to play 3 games a week ….league games are once a week, he can do that with his eyes closed .

  25. gonsterous

    Pierre

    And we now have a new manager who has the same football philosophy as wenger.

    Wenger philosophy on football wasn’t what was wrong at arsenal. He’s execution of said philosophy was what was wrong.
    But in a way you could say the philosophy of wenger and pep is the same too. Does that mean pep will fail ?

  26. Emiratesstroller

    Dissenter

    I can assure you that if the Arsenal Management job had been available 4-5
    years ago all the top managers in World Football would have applied for it
    including Guardiola, Klopp and even Mourinho.

    Why wouldn’t they when they saw Wenger having a sinecure of 20 years and one of the best incomes in business. Also Wenger had total control at club including recruitment.

    What has changed is that Arsenal have at long last modernised their infrastructure, but the facts are that the club is profitable, has a sizeable chunk of money sitting in the bank and now has managed to upgrade its sponsorship packages if Adidas deal is confirmed.

    Moreover you have an owner who does not interfere in day to day running of the club.

  27. Michael24

    Pierre

    Your definition of “the time was right” was about 8-10 years behind mine.

    PS: No one has the same “football philosophy as Wenger”.

    No one.

  28. gonsterous

    Pierre

    Gonsterous
    Why does lichsteiner have to play 3 games a week

    I assumed you wanted to get rid of bellerin indefinitely. Or are you okay with him playing the europa league and cup games ?

  29. Emiratesstroller

    Not all Managers join Football Clubs, because of the transfer budget on offer.

    That was certainly not the case in past with Guardiola. The transfer budget at
    Bayern Munich was quite small when he joined them.

    Klopp’s transfer budget when he joined Liverpool was dependent on sales.

    Pochettino has stayed at Spurs this season despite having no budget at all.

  30. Emiratesstroller

    Interestingly Bayern Munich have yet to spend £40 million on a single player in
    transfer market. This season they have only paid £9 million on transfers.

    Yet I am pretty sure that there will be a long queue of candidates lining up for the job in Munich.

  31. Dissenter

    Emirates
    1. Everyone knows Poch is just bidding his time nuntil he leaves Spuds.
    2, Bayern Munich doesn’t have to spend his to win the Bundesliga…and they rarely do. They have an institutional advantage in Germany and always manage to get the first pick of the best German players on free transfers or rock bottom prices transfers.

    Arsenal under Kroenke will never be a top management job because we just won’t do wat is required. We spent 70 million last summer, the same sum Liverpool spent on a goal keeper. Think about that for a second.
    We may be able to draw a tier B manager who needs a club to rebound from a recent job that sullied their record. That’s as far as it gets.

    There’s no way a well run or properly managed club that would have let the Gazidis situation drag on for so long. Even Daniel Levi would have been more decisive, didn’t he fire Harry Redknapp for less? The board and Kroenke could very well let Emery stay because they are so used to mediocrity.; that’s the point I’m making.

    Top managers secure rock solid spending assurances and commitments before they sign in. Managers like Emery who need another job to repair their repitation wint make those demands.

    You need to get used to the new reality.

  32. tee

    bayern has the pulling power to attract any player (they dont have to spend big) whereas clubs without such power retort to spending huge to stay abreast.

    I think it’s myopic to compare bayern/juventus with an English team considering the epl is more competitive than bundesliga or Seria.

    bayern or juventus’ chance of wining the is almost equal to 1 and this has been their strongest weapon to poach talents from other teams in their league.

  33. Pierre

    Michael
    Will be playing later ,lovely golfing weather..

    When I say the same philosophy I mean no emphasis on the defensive side of things.

    Emery came in with the idea of the high press and playing out from the back but I can’t see him continuing down that road as he doesn’t have the players for it .

    But then he shou!d have known that .

  34. gonsterous

    bayern : 99% chance league winners
    PSG : 99% chance league winners
    Juventus : 96% chance league winners
    Celtics: 95% chance League winners
    City: 35% chance League winners
    liverpool 35% chance League winners
    utd : 20% chance League winners
    10% rest of the PL league clubs.

    says it all really, why the PL spend the most money.

  35. Emiratesstroller

    I don’t think that Pep Guardiola went to Bayern Munich to finish top of Bundesliga. He went there to win Champions League.

    Bayern may be able to nick players on bosmans or low transfer fees from other German Clubs, but not if they are buying on the global market.

    Despite what Dissenter seems to believe Arsenal are more than able to recruit
    a world class manager.

    The impediment if any would be that Arsenal would chose to recruit a certain
    type of manager so someone like Mourinho who is controversial as we are now seeing at Man Utd is unlikely to be recruited.

  36. Emiratesstroller

    The major problem in EPL is not recruitment of management, but what clubs
    are spending in transfer market on fairly average players.

    Yesterday a report was published suggesting that Chelsea had grossly overpaid for their new goalkeeper. He was worth £40 million less than they paid.

    That applies to many of the players acquired by most of the English Clubs including historically Arsenal.

    Arsenal prefer not to sell their players to other EPL clubs and then discover most of the clubs on continent are offering only loans or modest transfer fees.
    This is partly due to wages and running down of contracts, but also because
    most of our players are average and no better than what is recruited on continent for a fraction of cost.

  37. Dissenter

    Emirates
    You used Wenge as an example but you seemed to forget that he wasn’t a world class manager when we picked him up from Nagoya Grumpus.

    Which world class manager will commit to a project with a lop-sided squad and a transfer budget of 70 million when the supposed rivals are spending just as much on a song,e defender or goal keeper?

    The Emery class manager, a step down from “world class” is as good as we will be getting henceforth. Why is that so hard for you to accept?

  38. Dissenter

    For a club that’s been touting “self-sufficiency”, Arsenal aren’t well run at all.
    If you’re going to operate on that model then you have to extract the most out of every buck.
    You don’t give 350k weekly to exotic players when you’re in the Europa league.
    You don’t pay players worth peanuts in the market excessive wages.
    You don’t let your best assets run down their contracts.
    You dont leave a burning frying pan on the stove to see if it self-extinguishes, which is what this Gazidis stalemate is about.
    An owner who’s on the ground would have sacked him by now.

  39. gonsterous

    But on a serious note, if you take into account the past couple of years and see the teams winning the league, the percentage would come up to that. would be pointless to try to get the win percentage from 10 years ago cause that doesn’t really effect what happens today.

  40. HighburyLegend

    “You don’t give 350k weekly to exotic players when you’re in the Europa league.”

    Ozil ain’t worth 350k weekly, Europa League or not.
    And if he see that you called him an “exotic” player, he will probably sue you lol

  41. Emiratesstroller

    Dissenter

    Your argument is based on Arsenal’s recruitment policy and not whether world class managers would like to come to Arsenal.

    I am willing to bet that most would come to Arsenal if the job was offered to them.

    Arsenal’s recruitment of players is quite a different proposition, because I
    suspect that the club’s recruitment policies were down to poor decision making and most likely an unwillingness to pay mega fees to dodgy agents.

    We could have acquired a host of top class players like Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo and most recently Mbappe, but for a variety of reasons Wenger fucked up.

    Most of these players wanted to come to us at some point in their careers.

    As far as I am aware no-one else whether Kroenke, Board or CEO made the
    decision not to buy these players.

  42. Pierre

    I can see smith-rowe being drafted into the team in the next few months..

    And dissenter,I remember you being very condescending to me(nothing new there)for suggesting in pre season that guendouzi or smith -rowe could be part of the first team this season.

    I will go as far to say that by the start of next season they could be permanent fixtures in midfield alongside torriera.

    Ramsey (as I said all along)will not sign a new contract…the only reason he is still here is to secure a big pay day in january…. Ten years we have had of ramsey..Ten bloody years (you get less for manslaughter)…is it a coincidence that our midfield has regressed to such a.poor level since he has been at the club .

  43. Michael24

    Pierre

    You’re probably on the 4th or 5th by now, working out the yardage/ wind conditions and angles to the pin. Don’t forget the grip!

    Your analytical golfing mind seems to get the better of you when it comes to your Footballing observations.

    Everything or nearly everything you post, is based on a rather narrow minded perception of things. A bit like that fairway on the 14th!

    If you can’t see certain differences already, then you must be blind. Maybe it’s that sun on your backswing. Oh yeh, that’s impossible, because it would mean you’d be taking your eye off the ball.

    Cech is being asked to change, along with the defensive unit as a whole. Yes, we are still frail and probably will be for several weeks to come, but at least some of us can see change.

    So the next time you go and spend 4 hours of your time plodding around the golf course, bear in mind the TIME factor. Don’t rush things, look at things in detail. Of course, silly me, you have to do that anyway. Then, think of Emery.

    Now do you get it?

    How many times did you see Wenger try and change things during his tenureship?

    Exactly!!!

  44. Marc

    Dissenter

    Will you please give the “no money” bollocks a rest. Over the last 5 years we’ve had the 3rd highest net spend. The only reason Liverpool spent big in the summer was because they sold Courtinho for over £140 million in Jan.

    We may not have spent the money very well but we’ve been spending.

  45. Emiratesstroller

    Pierre

    I was told already last season by a sports journalist who follows Arsenal almost
    exclusively that Smith-Rowe was the outstanding prospect in the youth programme and well ahead of the likes of Nkietah,Nelson and Willock even though younger than them.

    He rated him the best talent since Fabregas. The good news is that the club has got him to sign a long term contract.

    My personal view is that he will be added to the first team squad very soon albeit he will not need to be a registered player for several years.

    Despite what is frequently written Arsenal does have some skilful midfield players on the books, but the major problem in that department is the lack
    of balance.

    Messrs Ozil and Mkhitaryan are technically very gifted midfield players, but
    they are not workhorses. If you play either of them them then you need others in midfield to do donkey work.

    I know that you don’t like Ramsey, but in a diamond formation he can be a
    central midfielder operating as a box to box player and we know he is the
    most likely player in that department to score double digit goals.

    What Arsenal needs to resolve is the defensive side of midfield. That is what
    I had hoped would be improved following recruitment of Torreira. So far
    Emery has used him sparingly.

    Last season Arsenal’s weakness in midfield was that there was no positional
    sense with every player allowed to do his own thing including not only Ramsey, but also Xhaka and Elneny as well. Far too often they were off station and
    left the defence exposed.

    That needs to change. If you sort that out and the other defensive matters then
    the dynamic of our offensive play also changes. Playing Ozil, Ramsey alongside Aubameyang and Lacazette turns us into a potent force.

  46. Pierre

    Michael
    “Do you play golf on your own or against an opponent?”

    Part of me thinks you are taking the piss as you don’t think I have any friends but I will answer it as a genuine question..

    Always against an opponent though sometimes I practise alone.. , the good thing about golf is you can play against young and old and the handicap evens it out.
    I play mainly with people in their 20’s though I often join different older groups .

    Love golf …great for the social and competitive side of your nature.

    My.handicap is 8 atm and I am still trying to knock a couple off it whilst I am still fit and healthy.

  47. raptora

    LoL at the Ramsitis that Pierre has. He’s turning into Bob MK II but instead of Jacky boy he is obsessed about Aaron.

    “I would settle.for 3 fa cups in the next 4 years atm …..”
    Who was largely responsible for this extraordinary achievement? Yes, the same Ramsey you keep talking about being a failure and the problem at Arsenal.

    “is it a coincidence that our midfield has regressed to such a.poor level since he has been at the club”
    Every single year (8 in a row) our team has finished in top 4 of the EPL excluding the last 2 years. It was until a certain player joined us and became a permanent pick in our midfield 2 years ago that we dropped in to a Europa League club? Yes, the same guy who you don’t mention.

    But nooo. It’s Ramsey’s fault.

    Can’t wait for guys like Pierre to fuck off of our club’s fanbase. Like I read earlier, wait till some dumbo owner gives Wenger a job and just fuck off to support your master. You have no job at an Arsenal blog. You’ve shown, in a day to day basis year after year, that you don’t support our club. You support the zipper fighter. So stop filling the blog with your troll and anti Arsenal bullshit. Can’t believe that he has the face to stay in here after he was proven wrong time and time again and about stuff regarding the future of the Arsenal.

    A lot of AKBs have turned the page, have actually seen the light and have now a good, sensible contribution to the everyday topics, which is how it should be. Muppets like Pierre and Victorious give a bad name to the rest.

  48. China

    Ramsey isn’t uniquely responsible for our entire midfield getting worse and worse however annoying he may be

    Why don’t we consider why said player was bought and consistently played for said decade? Or the other dross we also have played alongside him

    No let’s not go there. Ramsey bought himself, picked himself and made the whole midfield unit regress by himself… but god knows emery is a fool for not immediately making our shite midfield of 10 years good again already, right?

    Good one

  49. raptora

    Wenger’s last 8 EPL away games – 1 win, 7 defeats. 3 points out of possible 21.

    Emery’s only 2 EPL away games – 1 win, 1 loss. 3 points out of possible 6.

    But apparently he’s absolutely shocking and has got a long list of problems that he hasn’t resolved. Wenger though was absolutely perfect.

  50. Michael24

    Pierre

    I don’t always take the piss.

    My previous post about “taking your eye off the ball” merely emphasized a perception I have of you from afar.

    8 is good by the way.

    Good luck in trying to “knock it down a couple”.

  51. Pierre

    Stroller
    Agree with your comment except I would choose Mhkitaryan over Ramsey ….more intelligent and more tactically aware and more of team player and did I forget to say …………more disciplined.

  52. Leedsgunner

    Our U21s played well, showed character and came out winners last night. Excellent displays by Emile Smith Rowe as well as W.illock and Nketiah — let’s talk about them and who should play in the league cup game against Brentford.

    Would be a change… don’t know about anyone else but the Premiership can’t return fast enough!

  53. Pierre

    Raptora
    Calm down ,calm down

    All I said(I think) is a.coincidence that our midfield has regressed since Ramsey has been at the club ..

    .now you are telling me.how.wonderful the club is because we have won many trophies which I have been saying for years that 3 .fa cups in 4 years is a great achievement….

  54. Dissenter

    Marc
    “DissenterWill you please give the “no money” bollocks a rest. Over the last 5 years we’ve had the 3rd highest net spend. The only reason Liverpool spent big in the summer was because they sold Courtinho for over £140 million in Jan.We may not have spent the money very well but we’ve been spending.”

    There’s no disputing the transfer fees that our “rivals” are dropping every transfer window, is there?
    Liverpool spent big because the sold XYZ…and so what. Selling players is part of how a good football club runs and is part of the revenue stream. It’s not their fault that we decided to let out best players leave for free or have a gun to our heads.
    We have spent money, unwisely you say- that I agree with
    However out relative spending, compared to the teams we are supposed to compete against is insufficient [with the exception of Spuds].
    Had we be more frugal with wages or managing our player contracts then the disparity wouldn’t be as big as it is. We are slowly falling behind.

  55. Dissenter

    Michael24
    “What a surprise, Nike’s shares have rocketed. Duh!!”

    Shows you who has the majority. The same thing happened to amazon.com. It got pounded by the orange man because the owner owns the Washington Post and is now the second company that has exceeded 1 trillion in value.
    The Trumpards don’t typically buy $100 Nikes. They buy AR-15s and dirt bikes.

  56. raptora

    Wenger turned our team in to one that heavily relies on it’s home form. Aka an average team. He’s won 14 out of 19 home games in 2016/17 and 15 out of 19 home games in 2017/18. If you could replicate similar kind of form away from home, you’d be right there fighting for the title. Unfortunately our away form under Wenger has been abysmal at best. 9 wins in 2016/17 to the shocking 4 wins with 11 losses and 16 points out of possible 57 in 2017/18. Even the 4 wins only 1 of them was by more than a goal.

    As much as our team is shit now in result of the decade of slow but sure freefall, we should surely win much more than 4 away games this season. Emery just has to make sure he gets a similar amount of home wins to guarantee us making some progress this year.

    Now the whole process behind adding winner’s mentality to a team that has forgotten what it is to fight for the title, is the big challenge and also doing the right things on and off the field.

    For me Emery was sent in the deep see by his employers with not enough material to achieve what has been asked from him. But he can try and be in contention until winter where he will hopefully strengthen in at least one department.

    Long way to go though but from what the players have been saying I’m left with the notion that he is trusted by his players that he can take them to the next level. That’s half the job done. Now to the other half.

  57. Michael24

    Well done to the Nike family(all $35billion of it) for showing solidarity in respect to the Colin Kaepernick Nike ad.

    Ok, now I’m being sarcastic.

  58. Pierre

    All a bit of fun Michael

    Good to see the fans behind the manager though I am baffled by some of his selections but I suppose it’s never boring supporting the arsenal …..can see another high scoring game this weekend if Newcastle decide to come out to play …I hope they do .

  59. Pierre

    Raptora
    “Long way to go though but from what the players have been saying I’m left with the notion that he is trusted by his players that he can take them to the next level. That’s half the job done. Now to the other half.”

    they are hardly gonna say he’s s shit are they.

  60. Michael24

    Dissenter

    Yep, you’re right there.

    The day they came up with the idea for the ad in their brainstorming session at Nike HQ, must have been a wonderful,self gratifying, occasion.

    Serena Williams actually thought it was a wonderful gesture on the part of her beloved Nike family.

    Lol!

  61. Dissenter

    Marc
    care to educate me about gross and net spend?
    That’s not what we are talking about.
    The aggregate of a club’s spending is the product on the field. They have better players currently because they have been better managed, period.
    Liverpool have been better run than us for a while even though they haven’t won the league in a half lifetime. They have better scouting, wage policies and decisive management. They even generate more money that Arsenal despite the stadium disparity and ticker price differential. How many times have they bought players in the cheap to sell for maximum profit and how many times has Arsenal done that recently.

    I’m not arguing with you about net spend, that’s an overly rehashed burnt toast.
    What was stopping us from selling off Ramsey and Welbeck to use to proceeds to buy a 50 million winger or a very good central defender?
    We chose to dilly dally and drift without any substantive agenda. Now those players will leave for free and you will still be justifying our decline with relative “net-spend”.

  62. Dissenter

    Michael24
    I actually feel for Serena
    She behaved very badly and took the spotlight from an exceptional 20 year old lady. . We should have been talking about the Japanese -Haitian’s unique story. Shame on Serena for that.
    However Serene has been an exception champion. She is like the old dog that has had her day and just needs to retire before it’s too late.

  63. Leedsgunner

    “Wenger turned our team in to one that heavily relies on it’s home form. Aka an average team. He’s won 14 out of 19 home games in 2016/17 and 15 out of 19 home games in 2017/18. If you could replicate similar kind of form away from home, you’d be right there fighting for the title. ”

    Consistency was a problem under the Wenger years. Whereas we have had good home form for the past couple of the most recent seasons, before that our home form was awful and our away form was good.

    When Wenger was questioned about it, he had the audacity to say, basically, it wasn’t his fault, and the home fans were to blame for creating a bad atmosphere.

    Remember that?

    We need to build the fear factor again when teams face us. No one fears us anymore.

  64. Micheal

    “We need to build the fear factor again when teams face us. No one fears us anymore.”

    The only people who fear Arsenal these days are Arsenal supporters themselves.

  65. Emiratesstroller

    Pierre

    Sorry but I would not select Mkhitaryan as option for Ramsey. Mkhitaryan is an option for Ozil, although I prefer personally the latter.

    Ramsey’s strengths are that he is a high energy box to box player who can also
    score goals. His weakness is positional sense when Arsenal needs to defend
    against contra attack.

    That is why the club needs two midfielders who are more defensive orientated and have better recovery capabilities.

    Torreira may lack size and physicality, but he has excellent anticipation, mobility and is not frightened to tackle big players as he demonstrated against Ronaldo when Uruguay played Portugal in World Cup.

    We have yet to see whether Xhaka or Guendouzi is a better option for the second defensive midfield place in starting lineup to play alongside Torreira.

  66. Joe

    “Wenger turned our team in to one that heavily relies on it’s home form. Aka an average team. He’s won 14 out of 19 home games in 2016/17 and 15 out of 19 home games in 2017/18. If you could replicate similar kind of form away from home, you’d be right there fighting for

    Any team of Arsenal’s caliber or ever lower should be winning most of their home games. It’s a given to have an impeccable home record for a team in the top 10.

  67. Stefano14

    Raptora

    ‘Can’t wait for guys like Pierre to fuck off of our club’s fanbase.’

    This is a guy that’s earned his stripes over the years watching and supporting the club long before we were a popular fad to jump on for foreign fans like yourself.

    Not all foreign fans are like this, they can at least respect what’s been there years before they even knew what The Arsenal was.

  68. HighburyLegend

    “I have a very good relationship with Mesut and professionally I push him for improvements.”

    lol God help us… and God help Emery for improving Ozil, he’s gonna need it.

  69. Michael24

    Dissenter

    Sorry, but I don’t feel sorry for Serena.

    Imo, she should call it a day. This “me against the world” act is wearing thin.

    Fighting for women’s rights and all that bumph has just gone too far.

    She took center stage the other night and ruined an exceptional evening for a wonderfully talented 20 year old.

    Irrespective of all her achievements, she has gone down in my estimations.

    Shame on her.

  70. Michael24

    HighburyLegend

    Like Emery is going to come out with –

    “Well, to be honest, Mesut is a lazy son of a bitch and needs a fudging kick up the backside. If this doesn’t work, I’ll have to bin him”

    Now wouldn’t that be great?

  71. Pierre

    Raptora

    ‘Can’t wait for guys like Pierre to fuck off of our club’s fanbase.’I

    Why don’t you have a read through my comments today and you will see that apart from a couple of throwaway lines about Ramsey then there is nothing for you to spit your dummy out ….