6 players return to the fold

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Leeeet’s start with a bang.

SIX Arsenal players are back in the mixer for Arsenal.

  • Koscielny
  • Mustafi
  • Bellerin
  • Mavropanos
  • Monreal
  • Ozil

That is great news. I mean, you kind of have to discount Ozil, he’ll be back on the medical table at the next rumour of being dropped, but the others will all help us.

I’m intrigued to see what the plan is with Mavrapanos. I remember when he was signed above Wenger’s head, there was a lot of concern the manager wouldn’t like him… then the story was that he was very impressed and he started giving him games. He looks a good player. He’s absolutely huge, he’s pretty quick from what I remember he knows how to play the ball from out from the back.

Is the future him and Holding? We’ll find out.

Matt and I speak at length on the podcast about the reality of Arsenal and how we tackle the rest of the season.

The true reality of Arsenal is we’ve emptied out the piggy bank by making incredibly short-sighted decisions over the past 5 years, which were further compounded last year when we decided our strategy was a short term BURST for the Champions League spots. We didn’t sell Ramsey in the summer, we tied Ozil down to the most outrageous contract of all time, we gave Mikhi £170k a week despite him playing like a Championship player for years, and we amped up everyone’s deals.

The reality is that now we have the highest wage bill in the Europa League by quite some margin. That’s not sustainable by any stretch. It’s so unsustainable, we had to pull the Aaron Ramsey deal and let him go for nothing.

To make things worse, it’s clear we’re very unlikely to make a go for the top 4 this season. So that gives us one route out of this mess. We have to greatly reduce the wage bill. To put things into perspective, our wage bill is 260m euros, the next richest Europa League side is Milan on 163m euros! Now, we don’t have to drop that low, but it gives you a little perspective as to why we’re strapped.

As Matt said, we’ve experimented with what a ‘no wage cap’ looks like, and it’s a bit shit (because it’s been poorly executed).

So that opens up a scenario for the rest of the season. Do you gun for the top 4 positions and chop in players that don’t have a future with us in the hope something miraculous happens (CFC looking decidedly toothless of late). Or do you write the season off and see what the kids can do?

Maybe it’s a blend of both. But simply put, our strategy moving forward has to look smarter than the half-baked thing we have going on now of buying in some young talent and peppering it with ok experienced players.

I also think it’s that time of the year when we call for real solutions for the defence.

Yep, I’m gonna say it… GET STEVE BOULD ON THE JOB!

He knows how to organise a defence. He’ll literally tie them together with electrical cable, everytime Mustafi dives into a challenge that might not even exist, BOOM. They all suffer. We do that in advertising when we’re practicing a pitch.

‘Thanks for reaching out’ ZAP

‘Ummmm’ ZAP

‘Holistic’ ZAP

You gotta learn ’em good people.

Harry Kane took an embarrassing tumble to win a penalty and take Spurs within spitting distance of their first trophy since time began (if you were born March 2008). I’d love to see them lose again.

PETA France has bantered Franck Ribery by sending him a basket of vegan snacks coated in gold after he dropped a £1000 on a salt bae steak. Good work. I think the player was also fined heftily after he went nuts on people criticizing his choice on the menu. Bellerin is a vegan… you know who isn’t? The bellends that protested outside Greggs because they lauched a vegan sausage roll. Imagine being the kind of person that’ll march for something like that.

Finally, before we go. Myles Palmer, I thought we were buddies? The fireside chats at AGMs? The casual exchange of e-mails about the Gooners?

IT WAS ALL A LIE. How could you give a regular column to a resident crazy over here that sends me actual hatemail? This is the biggest betrayal since Wenger told us he had a surprise signing we’d like in 2008.

I would love to share some of the contents of the e-mails I have, but I’m not that mean. But damn, does this guy cover some topics. Rape, Zimbabwe genocide, hatred for millennials… quite the roster of topics let me tell you.

Anyway, the whole thing has cut deep Myles, you were my blog hero. Tears all over the keyboard.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE, listen to the latest podcast from me and Matt (EKB).


328 Responses to “6 players return to the fold”

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  1. Bamford10


    Carrasco might be a smart signing, but I read that his fee and wages would both likely be prohibitively high.

  2. Redtruth

    for Arsenal – looking back 20 years on Bruce Rioch:

    Jon Spurling

    17 June 2015

    Twenty years ago, Bruce Rioch was unveiled as Arsenal’s new boss having guided Bolton to successive promotions. His one-year tenure is hardly remembered fondly, punctuated by bust-ups with senior pros including Ian Wright, and a frosty relationship with vice chairman David Dein. Thus, the former Bolton manager has been virtually airbrushed from Gunners history.

    Rioch was dismissed as a dour “interregnum” boss who simply kept the seat warm for Arsene Wenger, but here are five reasons why Arsenal fans and Wenger should be grateful to the straight-laced Scot…

    1) He bedded in Dennis Bergkamp.

    Bergkamp freely admitted that his confidence had taken a hefty knock during his troubled two-year stay in Italy, and although glimpses of skill were evident in his early Arsenal matches, it wasn’t until game six that he scored his first Gunners goals against Southampton.

    Bruce nursed, cajoled, and eased me into what was a different style of football

    – Dennis Bergkamp
    Although Rioch later insisted that “Dennis would have found his feet eventually whoever the manager was,” Bergkamp remains eternally grateful to the man who “nursed, cajoled, and eased me into what was a different style of football, and made my family feel so welcome in England. He talked me through the different approach needed to be successful in England.”

    “Cheers for giving me something to be remembered by Den…”
    The combined £12 million that Arsenal shelled out on Bergkamp and David Platt represented proof that the club were finally ready to loosen the purse strings and throw off the defensive, blue collar approach which had blighted the latter years of George Graham’s regime.

    Bergkamp acted as a magnet for other foreign signings over the next few years, including Patrick Vieira and fellow Dutchman Marc Overmars. When Wenger arrived in September 1996, two months after Rioch’s departure, Arsenal were ready to go truly multicultural and Bergkamp, who’d put his Italian nightmare behind him with Rioch’s help, was the first piece of the jigsaw.

    2) He introduced more of a passing style

    The Scot was very clear from the outset about what he wanted at Highbury. “I wanted to leave the era of the long ball behind us, and begin to get the defence to pass balls through the midfield, rather than simply launching the ball forward,” he reflected.

    Rioch began to experiment, playing centre-back Martin Keown in midfield for several games

    The Gunners were certainly easier on the eye during the 95/96 campaign, if prone to stuttering on their travels in crunch games. Rioch had to settle for a largely functional midfield, however, with the likes of John Jensen, David Hillier and Steve Morrow all still present and correct. He planned to add “a more creative presence to the centre of the pitch,” although he wasn’t at the club long enough to make good on this.

    Keown honed his ballwork in Rioch’s midfield
    However, Rioch began to experiment, playing centre-back Martin Keown in midfield for several games. He insisted: “Martin may not agree at the moment, but in the long-term it will make him a more effective defender.” It was a point with which Keown concurred, explaining how “Rioch helped improve my distribution of the ball no end.” Paul Merson was less effective in this area, although his insistence on balls to feet was a precursor of what was to come. It was Wenger’s predecessor who first introduced a change in playing style to the club, and by and large the players were receptive to the change… with one exception.

    3) He addressed the Ian Wright problem

    When Rioch arrived at Highbury, the single-minded Arsenal goal-machine was already 32. Gunners skipper Tony Adams later admitted that he “wondered if we’d ever win the title with Ian in the team”. Rioch was insistent that Arsenal “need to find a way of scoring goals from all across the team, and not be on one man”.

    Rioch labelled Wright a ‘Charlie Big Potatoes’ and Wright handed in a transfer request after a verbal spat with his manager

    Wright and Rioch had a tempestuous relationship. Rioch labelled Wright a “Charlie Big Potatoes” and Wright handed in a transfer request after a verbal spat with his manager following an FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United. Wright was used to feeding on scraps and long balls from the defence, but with the development of the passing game, he began to feel starved of service. Wright made his feelings about Rioch known to vice chairman Dein, and the writing was on the wall for the Arsenal manager.

    The Wright situation was wrong for Bruce
    It’s true that Rioch was often supremely unsubtle with Wright (the striker allegedly nicknamed his manager “Dagenham” because he believed him to be only a couple of stops short from Barking), and Wright did plunder goals aplenty for another couple of seasons, but Rioch realised the truth: for a club to win the league, goals needed to be more liberally spread. Two years later, Wenger’s Arsenal lifted the top-flight trophy, and following injury, Wright didn’t figure in the title run-in – his place had been taken by Nicolas Anelka. Rioch’s hunch about Wright was correct, but his heavy-handed approach backfired on him.

    4) He began fumigation process after Graham era

    “I feel like (renowned agony aunt) Marje Proops sometimes, having to deal with you lot,” barked an exasperated Rioch at the team during a particularly trying week. There were tantrums, personal crises, and fitness concerns over top stars. Rioch took a hard line with some of Arsenal’s misfiring and stroppy players, and coaxed others into restoring their reputation.

    I feel like Marje Proops sometimes, having to deal with you lot

    – Bruce Rioch
    Unashamedly puritanical in many respects, he suggested: “Young footballers should be married, and looking after themselves in the evenings to ensure they’re fit and healthy.” He realised that if Arsenal were to be successful, the drinking culture at the club had to stop. Rioch despaired of the overweight and temperamental John Hartson, omitting him from the team because he remained unconvinced about his match fitness.

    Adams “wasn’t there” for Rioch, says the man himself

    Wenger would concur with this view. He also got to work on the fitful Ray Parlour, urging him to bring a more consistent and mature approach to his play and his lifestyle. Rioch went out of his way to man-manage Merson, who was still in the process of heavy therapy following his confession the year before that he was an alcoholic. Merson remains eternally grateful for Rioch “spending so much time with me when he had a difficult enough job to do already”. Perhaps history would have turned out differently for Rioch had skipper Adams not experienced his own personal demons, having suffered an alcoholic meltdown following Euro 96. “I wasn’t there for Bruce in the dressing room,” he admitted. But Rioch was there for some of Arsenal’s misfiring stars, who flourished under Wenger.

    5) He gave full-backs licence to roam

    In the final year of Graham’s tenure, both Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn expected to be sold. They looked jaded and crotchety. But the truth was that they were just tired of the defensive straightjacket within which they were expected to operate. By autumn 1995, however, the pair could be seen bombing up and down the wings like they were 21 years old again. Following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Manchester United in November 1995 (Dixon and Winterburn excelled), Alex Ferguson asked whether the pair “had 10 shredded wheats for breakfast this morning”. They regained their old tenacity too: witness Dixon’s fractious encounters with Newcastle’s David Ginola that season at Highbury. It was Wenger who added years to the full-backs’ careers by revolutionising their diets and exercise routines, but Rioch planted the seed that just because were in your 30s it didn’t mean your days of pelting up and down the wings were over.

  3. Joe

    With the talent and funds at our disposal, just imagine how many more league trophies we would have won the last 15 years with someone else as manager.

  4. Carts

    Good luck to Ramsey and his future endeavours.

    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t over watching Ramsey blow hot & cold for us.

    I’m even more surprised that we didn’t push for a sale this month. The case could’ve went towards financing a like-for-like repkacemt or towards the summer kitty.

    We have an extensive list of players that require selling (and leaving on a free)


    We must be ruthless and ambitious

  5. Bamford10


    “You been getting striker tips from Banford?”

    I have always loved Benzema — though he has never been clinical enough — and I regard London’s comment about him to be complete nonsense. Supremely gifted and talented player.

    Silly comment from you.

  6. Charlie George

    I would like to congratulate on red truths contribution with regards to Bruce Rioch( i agree with it mostly,too)
    A Herculean effort of patience and arsenal passion
    U may , not agree with me
    Or vice versa
    But the best contribution on here- for a while.

  7. Dissenter

    This is when the Ramsey situation may go south
    He’s been exemplarily professional so far but can he afford to top into 50-50 tackles when he”s destined for a big pay day in the summer?
    If he gets injured now then he’s royally f*cked because the Juve deal is contingent on passing a medical.

  8. gonsterous


    Richarlison £40m

    this is a joke right ? you know just because it says market value, doesn’t mean, you can pay the market value. I think hazard if sold is a 100m player. You think spurs will part with son for 22 ?
    Jesus. the things you want to believe cause it suits your narrative.

  9. mysticleaves

    “Ramsey will be at Cardiff or same level club in 2 years time

    I don’t think so. Khedira and Can and Matuidi are still there. None left after 2years. Ramsey at present jumps in front of all these players and might just be a starter for juve. He could well be a success story for juve.

    but this is not me regretting his sale or departure. in the summer I argued we needed a clean break from Wilshire and Ramsey. To forge a different part because ultimately those players never achieved anything massive with us (Ramsey gave us 2 fa cups though).
    Good luck Aaron

  10. mysticleaves

    Carts, no way should Iwobi be sold. He’s an excellent squad players, home grown and actually contributing in games. You won’t get another similar player better than him

  11. Bamford10

    My bad: I just read that Ramsey’s £140k / week is net (after tax); Gab Marcotti says it’s roughly £280k / week gross.

    So you’re right, Dissenter: big pay day. Still think he’ll play hard for us. But maybe not.

  12. Goobergooner

    Oh how are injury pile up has been resolved!

    Still things I can’t get…

    Our defence is a huge problem, then the midfield and wing positions. The defence hasn’t been sorted properly in near on a decade. Maybe even longer and going back to GG.

    The one thing that pisses me off is everyone complaining how our defence is still shit, and Emery is shit for not sorting it, when both he and Gazidis both stated that they are looking to play an attacking style of football to keep up with fans expectations and the club values which Wenger brought in.

    I fully expect our attacking game to improve, I can guarantee it when we get in a winger or 2 who can actually dribble and put the opposition on the back foot.

    I also fully expect a backroom team of people who aren’t Wenger to see how shit our defense is and at least try to rectify it properly.

    This for me has nothing to do with Stan coming in and spending his cash. You just have to look at Dortmund and athletico Madrid to see that it can be done self sustainably.

    We would be 100% better off if Wenger and Gazidis didn’t fuck the Sanchez and Ozil deals up so horribly. Everyone and their dog can see that. Getting mhki on a huge wage instead of 60m is still the most shocking decision I’ve seen in sport.

    Seriously though, we are doing better than last season. We are one position ahead of where we were.
    No one can deny that.

  13. Goobergooner

    Also I’d like to apologise for my responses being a couple of days late recently. Been busy and haven’t properly caught up with the comments section and while reading through my thoughts come out haha.

  14. China1

    I don’t know if Ramsey had any say in the juve deal, but IF he did, he’s a greedy shit for waiting until the summer to join. If that’s out of his hands then fair enough

    He’s no longer a first choice player for us and isn’t a young kid with time on his hands. Juve will win at least the league and could get one or two cups, the CL can never be ruled out.

    What is left for him at arsenal until the summer except a higher salary next season as he’d go on a free?

    If that was me and if I had any say in it, I’d be desperately pushing to get the move in January so that I could move on with my career and win some trophies

    Like I said, maybe this is out of his control, but if it’s his choice to delay til the summer for a slightly bigger salary I think it says a lot about his mentality

  15. China1

    Who here would turn down a nailed on scudetto (keep in mind Ramsey has never won a league title) and a good run at the CL in exchange for an extra 50k a week on top of his already substantial wages?

    Someone who cares more about money than trophies…

  16. mysticleaves

    On Yannick Carrasco, I am not sure that he’s the best we can do. I am not also sure that we are even moving for him but I would advise to hold on till the summer. A lot of wingers will be available this summer that will be probably better than him. I don’t really seem convinced by him if he’s going to be our one winger acquisition. except we are planning to buy another one in the summer.

    On the plus side he’s versatile. Can play striker, second striker and primarily as a winger. He has age on his side but I don’t know that he’s the best quality that we can get if he wait til summer

  17. Dark Hei


    I don’t think we even have cash for Yannick Carrasco.

    The info is simply pumped out by agents.

    The Denis Suarez loan deal sounds more plausible.

  18. Terraloon

    Not quite sure why Ramey is getting pelters for all he has done is sort his future employer out and get what’s best financially for him. Surely that’s no different than just about everybody posting on here would do.
    Ramsey had a contract, the same as any player and due to a variety of reasons that contract wasn’t renewed. What is he expected now to do. Should he retire or maybe take up orders?
    Sky are reporting that Ramsey is due to have a medical in Italy on Sunday if that’s correct and it is successful then he will for all intents and purposes be working out his notice between now and May. No different save the length of notice to any other employee.
    As you can guess I don’t blame Ramsey in the slightest as for the suggestion he should bite the bullet and leave now I think they are a tad confused or more likely naive for when they move jobs would they forgo any owed wages ? I doubt it.
    Moving on to the lists of players some suggest should be moved on and yes I suspect based on performances or indeed current contract position it’s hard to disagree but for me save the oblitory odd couple of players coming in or going out I really don’t expect much to happen .
    We may get a better indication of things whe the accounts eventually get published but I for one think it’s going to be a very bumpy road ahead