Lots of positives as Arsenal progress to a Rennes showdown

by & filed under News Review.

courtesy @allthatchas

Sorry for the late post, I had a client dinner last night then spent the night listening to a girlfriend coughing on the hour, every hour, for the whole night. In sickness and in health has its limits… she may have thought being sent home at 335am was harsh, but the reality is, I need to write for my internet friends and that’s what’s important.

The good news is I get to write about a positive result.

Was it a ‘performance’? Not really. But it was certainly a drastic improvement on last week’s abysmal first leg.

The manager made a wise decision allowing his players to jet off to wherever the fuck they wanted to over the weekend. The mental and physical recharge paid dividends. The players turned up. The intensity was where it should have been from the off. The team pressed, hustled and harried BATE from the off. The early goal came from Auba cutting the ball into the box, forcing an own goal.

The second two goals came from set pieces, the first from a powerful header from Mustafi, the second landed from Sokratis who played a second-half cameo and bullied his way to the third goal.

My main gripe is the same as always, we’re extremely dull moving the ball forward, we’re all about the cutbacks into the box, and we’re not particularly good at it. The movement in the box is poor, the crossing is drab and it just feels like we’re seeking to perfect a very boring approach to football. There’s not a lot of combination play, we’re averse to playing through the middle and we’re quite one-dimensional.

However, the run out was easy, there were lots of positives.

Matteo G was excellent again. He keeps the midfield ticking, always looking to make positive moves, driving the team on and operating as a sort of metronome for out player.

Mesut Ozil dropped an Ozil-ish performance. He had the most touches in the attacking third, he created a chance, and he looked mostly interested. Say what you want about him, but we are a more dangerous unit with him in the side. His movement, deft touches and the fear he sparks all helped us look a little more fluid in attack.

Will he make the starting 11 at the weekend? Who knows. But Southampton feels like a good rehabilitation game. They likely won’t cause as many issues at The Emirates, but they will be organised at the back. That said, it might be a game for Ramsey because of his energy. Either way, it’s clear that we’re a more interesting side when one of those two start. Iwobes had this to say on the subject.

“We know what Mesut is like because we see him in training every day. He’s world class. We scored three goals as a result of him playing. I know if I make a run he has the vision to find me. Hopefully, he can keep on playing.”

Say what you will about the Nigerian, this sort of comment is exactly how players think. They don’t care about salary, they don’t care about body language, they care about going to war with the best soldiers on the frontline. Maybe a war analogy isn’t helpful, but he’s certainly the type of in-game secret weapon that can make things happen. We know what Ozil can be, it’s down to the manager to make it work… even if it means swallowing a bit of pride.

Also, if the alternative is ‘put it all through Kola’, the battle equivalent of a bow and arrow versus an ICBM, then I’ll take Mesut or Ramsey and worry about upgrading in the close season. I guess maybe that’s half of the problem, if there’s a one-dimensional system of chance creation, it greatly reduces the impact you can have with a player who is there to offer up unpredictability with his movement and vision.

Additional pieces of positive news: We kept a clean sheet. Unreal scenes.

Sokratis is back in the mixer, so hopefully we won’t have to rely on Mustafi too often (though I fear he’s preferred to Kos).

We drew Rennes in the next round. No joke people, I’ve followed them fairly extensively this season. They’re a really fun side, they are bold moving forward, they boast a lot of powerful fast players who can cause problems and they have Hatem Ben Arfa, a talent who can do some serious damage when he’s focused. The counter-attacking French team will come with a plan and they’ll want to show off Ligue 1 as a real player. Ultimately, we’ll have too much quality for them, but at least it’ll be a fun game and we’ll get to see Sarr in the flesh.

Finally, pass the fucking sick bucket on the Alex Hleb love-in. A great player, helped us get to the Champions League final, but he ditched us at the first chance and took his services to Barca. I’m not bothered about it, but I think Arsenal fans are getting a bit embarrassing when we’re slobbering over a player who binned us off in his prime.

Right, that’s me done. See you in the comments. x

199 Responses to “Lots of positives as Arsenal progress to a Rennes showdown”

Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Marko

    Valentin is I imagine around 21 and has been living on cloud cuckoo land since he was referenced in a Pedro post. For some reason credence was given to his ridiculous OPINIONS. And this is where we’re at he’s going mental now on a daily basis

  2. Valentin

    @Marko,

    Nelson was supposed to stay, but refused after seeing the impact on his best friend Jandon Sancho career. His loan was clearly not planned.

    Both loan ESR and Nkethia were done at the last minute. Nkethia was nearly on the plane, when he was recalled because Arsenal suddenly wanted to keep him as backup.

    All of that betray an absence of long term strategic planning. Both loans should have been in place before the end of the transfer window.

    Maybe it is something that is new to the management team. At least it is new to Per the academy manager.

  3. Marko

    Nelson was supposed to stay, but refused after seeing the impact on his best friend Jandon Sancho career. His loan was clearly not planned.

    He was? And refused did he? Amazing bit of info I’m sure you’ve got something to back it up with? Otherwise it’s just more bullshit that you’re spewing. You’re basically given credit to Reiss Nelson for the Hoffenheim loan move and not the club. The club loaned him to a good club on the back of signing a new contract that is clearly a plan.

    All of that betray an absence of long term strategic planning. Both loans should have been in place before the end of the transfer window.

    Right (deep breath) Emile Smith Rowe couldn’t have been loaned earlier because he was infact injured. Nketiah’s loan move was pulled because we tried to get in two players in the January window but could only get in one. And that’s it. Does that help you understand it a bit more. Strategic planning is keeping a player incase of injuries not loaning out one of only three strikers at the club. You’re genuinely all over the place

  4. Marko

    seeing the impact on his best friend Jandon Sancho career.

    That’s only happened really this season. Is Reiss clairvoyant now

  5. Valentin

    @Marko,

    At the beginning of the season, Reiss contract had only 12 months left. He had refused to sign a new contract for months unless he had guarantee on his playing time.
    Despite impressing during pre-season, Emery could not and did not want to give playing time guarantee, the impasse was resolved by agreeing to send him on a one year long loan to gain experience under the condition he signed a new long term contract.

    There was numerous articles on that subject when the loan was announced.

  6. Valentin

    Strategic planning is not just keeping a player in case somebody is injured. It is also make sure that he is ready to play if needed.

    It is like team who never rotates have an injury and surprised that the replacement player is not in tune with the rest of the team.
    Rotation is done not only to preserve some players, but also to involve the replacements so they are ready when needed.

    It has been demonstrated that teams that rely on a small core of players are a lot more susceptible to disruption.

  7. Valentin

    ESR was not injured after the beginning of the German transfer window. So he could have gone before his injury if the loan had been setup beforehand. Planning instead of executing at the last moment.

    Cancelling Nkethia loan because we could not get another loan is the textbook definition of tactical re-arranging things, not strategic planning. Reacting to external events instead of driving the situation. If the strategic planning is to improve Nkethia, then his development path should have been mapped. Good strategic planning means that both manager and players have objectives with clear metrics: game time, level, … and a path to achieve them. Here we have an unfortunate situation in which Nkethia could well end up not playing a single minute of first team football until the end of the season.

  8. Valentin

    ESR was not injured after the beginning of the German transfer window. So he could have gone before getting injured if the loan had been setup beforehand. Planning instead of executing at the last moment.

    Cancelling Nkethia loan because we could not get another loan is the textbook definition of tactical re-arranging things, not strategic planning. Reacting to external events instead of driving the situation. If the strategic planning is to improve Nkethia, then his development path should have been mapped. Good strategic planning means that both manager and players have objectives with clear metrics: game time, level, … and a path to achieve them. Here we have an unfortunate situation in which Nkethia could well end up not playing a single minute of first team football until the end of the season.

  9. Marko

    ESR was not injured after the beginning of the German transfer window. So he could have gone before his injury if the loan had been setup beforehand. Planning instead of executing at the last moment.

    What are you actually shiteing about now. Both transfer windows opened the same and he got injured in December. Has he even returned from injury yet. You’re trying so hard to come across as uninformed

    Cancelling Nkethia loan because we could not get another loan is the textbook definition of tactical re-arranging things, not strategic planning.

    You’re arguing with yourself at this point

  10. Marko

    Benny he’s highly rated and if we didn’t get him there was a chance that United or possibly Chelsea would have. Raul will have Ivan’s job he’ll have Raul’s old job and I assume they’ll internally appoint the head scout role. Assuming that they’re all on the same page and allow Monchi to do his job it could work out very well for us

  11. Valentin

    ESR picked up a groin injury mid December but that lasted only two weeks. He was due back for Christmas.
    I thought that the injury that kept him from playing was a second injury that he picked up at the beginning of January during training after he had recovered.

    Obviously I may be mistaken on that one.

  12. Dissenter

    Pedro will be very disappointed
    So will Charlie George and Valentin
    If Monchi comes to Arsenal head of Chelsea and United then it will be because of Emery.
    Emery is already attracting world class talent to Arsenal.

    I’ll eat my humble pie if he comes to Arsenal.

  13. bennydevito

    Marko,

    Classic! 🤣

    China,

    Lol! 😂

    I can already predict the state of the comments on the next post talking about the potential Monchi appointment. He hasn’t actually accepted it yet, nothing concrete.

  14. bennydevito

    China,

    I used to work in a proper spit and sawdust right wing pub in Southmead and all the old timers drank John Smith’s! 🤣

  15. qna

    So interesting news coming from Marca regarding Monchi. Did shit just get real? 🙂 Not sure, I never feel like Marca has any good mail when it comes to Arsenal, but maybe they are well linked in with a Spaniard in Italy.

    So he joins Roma around 2 years ago. In 2017/18 he signs Ceniz Under and Pellegrini, who have both done well. He signed Kluivert this year who hasn’t really kicked on yet, but its early. But spent a fair bit of money on him. None of the other players he signed have kicked on, but its only been 7 months. Pretty much what he did was sign end of life players Pastore and Nzonzi for big money.

    I’m not sure that his stint at Roma can be considered much of a success. I’ve got to say, I am not filled with joy at the prospect of Monchi. Does not look like we are going the Red Bull path of Pedro’s earlier post.

    I really feel like we are going down the wrong path. If Monchi is a mistake, then Raul is also a mistake and we are in a world of trouble.

  16. Freddie Ljungberg

    qna

    Depends on his orders from the club right?
    Roma is a CL club, doubt they can afford to only sign young promising players and keep their place, sometimes you need experience. I don’t really watch much Serie A so I’m not familiar with their squad, so can’t comment further on it.

    It was the same with us last summer, we signed Sokratis because we had 3 young CBs, (Holding, Mavro, Chambers) and 2 experienced ones that can’t be trusted for different reasons ( Kos because he’s too old and injury prone, Mustafi because he’s shite). We signed Leno because he was the best we could afford presumably (would have liked us to take a punt on Lafont though) and the Torreira and Guen in the young and upside category.

    This summer with the composition of our squad and the positions that needs upgrading we need to go for young players across the board. It all depends on your needs.

    Monchi is one of the best in the business and Pedro has talked him up many times, now just because he’s got an anti Emery agenda he’s suddenly finding flaws everywhere and it’s a power grab from Emery if Monchi gets hired. Not buying it.

  17. Leedsgunner

    If it’s true that Monchi is coming to Arsenal, this is good news. Why?

    What the Monchi appointment gives us, in one sense, is accountability. As qna has rightly said it sets the tone and direction for the club and places the entire club in Raul’s shadow.

    I’m not a hypocrite, I advocated for Monchi from the off, and I’m glad he’s coming. He has a great track record with Emery and this was when he was operating against Sanhelli whilst he was at Barcelona. It will be utterly fascinating what he’ll be able to do with Raul at Arsenal. It COULD be dynamite in that it could propel us to the next level OR it could blow up in our faces; only time will tell. The key will be if all three men will put their ego away and work for the best of the team.

    Raul is very much taking on the mantle that David Dein did when Arsene was manager. Remember when all Wenger did was coach and handle the players and left the player acquisition to Dein after giving him his targets? He did his best work then.

    By all reports apparently Monchi had a similar relationship dynamic with Emery whilst at Sevilla… and I hope a similar respect and understanding will be present between Raul and Monchi.

    Bringing that young winger Under, for a good price would be a great start and a fantastic statement of intent.

  18. qna

    Freddie: Depends on his orders from the club right?
    Roma is a CL club, doubt they can afford to only sign young promising players and keep their place, sometimes you need experience. I don’t really watch much Serie A so I’m not familiar with their squad, so can’t comment further on it.

    That is my worry. We would be even more likely than Roma to demand/require experience. The last thing we need is a guy who is going to go out and buy players like Nzonzi (30) and Pastore (29), both of whom were expensive.

    In my opinion, we need to look at City and Liverpool (at the moment) and ask how do we build a squad of players to compete. Just assume transfermarkt to be accurate for a second (which its not, its highly speculative). They value the current Liverpool squad at €926m. Not surprising considering they spent €350m in the last two season in player additions. City has a value of €1b.

    Arsenal’s squad value will be around €575m after writing off Ramsey and Welbeck. It also assumes that Mesut still has a value of €35m, which is doubtful. I dont want to get in an argument about the merits of whether a squad’s value gives any indication of its ability to compete for trophies.

    So just consider that as a target for Raul/Monchi to achieve. If they can achieve parity in terms of squad value with the best teams in the league, then that is about all they can possibly do to help this club. I am not even saying they should be expected to achieve it, but that just being the goal.

    So how do we go from 575m to 900m? It’s almost impossible to do that by buying players that are 28/29/30. It simply has to rely on buying players in that 17-23 year age range that Pedro was talking about and then see those players values increase.

    I think this club needs to look long term. If they waste money on any players at all like Nzonzi or Pastore, its an opportunity cost of taking that same money and turning that into a player of even higher value than we paid for. That player can become part of a much stronger team than we have now, or we can sell that player to reinvest in the cycle. At some point, if we do it well, we will have increased the value of our assets so that we don’t have to do that anymore. We can start buying 28/29 year olds again.

  19. Freddie Ljungberg

    qna

    I agree, as I said we need to but young players across the board this summer. We have also been linked with some really promising prospects like Konate, Kamara, Havertz, Rabiot (fired his mom as an agent finally), Grimaldo, Dominik, Troussard, Lozano, Under, Sarr etc all in the 18-23 bracket. We have enough experienced players in the squad already.

    The older players like Banega and Nzzonzi are most likely lazy journalism but that’s the only ones that gets talked about here by the usual suspects.

  20. qna

    Freddie. Yeah, the names we get linked with always excite me. But then we sign an Elneny 🙂 I hope you’re right. I’m just pointing out that the great Monchi doesn’t seem to have many superstars that he has pulled from nowhere in recent years. Monchi was tearing it up at his role when Wenger was tearing it up as a manager 🙂

    Interesting news on Rabiot. I feel we will lose out. Didnt he have some issues with Emery. I thought they didn’t get along for a time.

    I really want Pepe. Hopefully, he can be a present with the Europa league winnings 🙂

    Milinkovic Savic is out of favour at Lazio. Still only 23. Maybe an opportunity to get him at a reasonable price. I haven’t seen Lazio at all, so not really sure if he is a good player that is having a poor season or an mediocre player that had a good season.

    I like Houssem Aouar, but with Toreirra we cant afford another short CM I dont feel.

    If Jan-Fiete Arp turns out to be any good, this will be the chance to sign him. I like the look of the kid. Good power off a short backlift. My favourite kind of striker.

    With Monchi, the Cengiz Under rumours would go into overdrive. I have to say that I am not convinced about this kid. Not at the price being put on his head.

  21. Freddie Ljungberg

    We don’t have the great ditherer in charge of transfers anymore so that is much less likely now.

    Much prefer Lozano to Under, not convinced by him either at that price.

    Feel we have 0 chance at Aouar with Barca and City in the mix. Fekir is still my dream signing and he wants to play with Lacazette again, if he doesn’t sign a new deal he will have 1 year left in the summer, I hope we go for it.

    The Rabiot – Emery fallout is a myth perpetuated here, all I can find is Rabiot saying positive things about Emery and Emery saying he sees him more as a defensive minded CM than further up the field and Rabiot thinks he should be more advanced.
    We need CL if we’re going to have a chance and he can sign a pre contract now so not much of a chance no.

    Think we lost our chance at Pepe already, too many in for him now and the price is going to be too high I’m afraid, would have been perfect otherwise.

  22. qna

    Freddie. I can handle missing out on those names. But I want us to have a strategy in place to find the next versions of those super talented players. Before clubs like Barca come in for them.

    Rabiot would be the one for me. He is free. If he does have a good relationship with Emery then we shouldn’t write ourselves off. I think we need to spend some good money on a LW and a RW. We need to have a 4-3-3 formation in our locker. I’d sell Auba or Laca to make that happen too. But if we do that then we need to have the quality.

    Problem with Fekir is he seems to be a number 10. Definately cant sign him while we have Mkhi and Ozil still on the books taking up 550k/wk.

  23. Freddie Ljungberg

    Getting Rabiot on a free (maybe 15m signing on fee) and selling Xhaka and Elneny for 35-40m would be fantastic business and allows us to strengthen another position as well.

    Fekir is just as good as a wide forward and has played that position many times for Lyon. Would take him over any of the linked players in that role bar maybe Pepe.

    We still need to get rid of Ozil and Mikhi though if we want to be competing as early as next season.

  24. Graham62

    Has anyone considered the possibility that after March 29th, we will no longer be able to purchase players from around Europe and vice versa?

    Now wouldn’t that be hilarious?

  25. Valentin

    @Graham,

    Good point.
    With a No deal Brexit, After 29 March, all European transfer will then fall in the same regulations than currently rest of the world. That would mean that all transfer costing above 10 millions are waved in but lower will require approval. That could negatively impact our ability to buy hidden gem.
    For example Guendouzi cost only 7 millions. Under that system, somebody at the Home Office may have decided that he was not good enough and that we should give a chance to a British player.

  26. Graham62

    The nice thing about Le-grove is that there are so many diverse subjects discussed, even non-Football related.

    However, I do find the “who are we/who are we not going to buy discussions somewhat tedious.

    All to his own I suppose.

  27. Valentin

    @Freddie,

    Fekir is likely to go for at least 70 millions. We would have to get rid of Xhaka, Elneny and Mhikitarian. Not necessarily a bad move, but he is not coming cheap.

    Also I am not sure that Fekir would like to switch back to being a provider for Lacazette when he is now firmly established as. Striker for Lyon and France.

  28. Graham62

    Valentin

    Yeh, I know. Just imagine a few years from now an Arsenal team with a defence of Smith/ Jones/ Andrews and Baxter.

    Now that’s worth thinking about.

  29. Freddie Ljungberg

    Valentin

    He was going for 53m last summer with 2 years left of his contract what makes you think he would cost even more with only 1 year left?

    He said in an interview recently that Lacazette is the one player he most wants to play with again in the future.

    Also as a wide forward he can do both the providing and score plenty of goals himself.

    I’m not saying it’s likely but we should be in there

  30. qna

    Freddie. Why did Fekir fail his medical at Liverpool? I would prefer we went for a younger wide attacker/striker without that ACL history.

    We have 550k/wk tied up in two No 10s and 400k/wk tied up in two strikers that aren’t suited to playing wide. I’d rather we aggressively targeted young up and coming players. That 950k/wk could pay the wages of 10 extremely good young talents. I know that most people wont like that idea. It puts us away from top 4 trophies. But I think that is the way we should go. I know that costs a lot of money and as Valentin points out that probably isn’t even possible now post Brexit. But some attempt at that is what I hope we go for. Which is why I dont really like the idea of Fekir anymore, although I am sure I would get excited if we did land him.

  31. Valentin

    It is funny how Rabiot’s change of agent has been spin by the different papers.
    For some he had a fight with his mom and sacked her.
    For others as Barcelona is now refusing to negotiate with her, she in association with her son made the decision to hire a more professional agent.
    At least everybody agrees that she is a nightmare to negotiate with.

    I like Rabiot he has quality, but to be frank I am not sure that he has the personality to be part of a team. With the complete absence of leadership in the current Arsenal team, I am not sure that introducing such an ego will not result in a complete implosion of the team.

  32. Freddie Ljungberg

    qna

    I don’t even know if he failed the medical or if there was another issue, it has never been completely confirmed right?
    Either way he’s had no problems since.

    I want young players too but we need to sprinkle it with stardust to avoid falling down the table and repeating project youth. If we go only long term and forget about the near term it will hurt us, we’re not a small team and after the last decade we’ve had we can’t afford to build slowly from the ground up and disregard the money and prestige the CL brings.

  33. Valentin

    @Freddie,

    Why would I think that he will for more? because of the transfer inflation and the Lyon’s president. Aulas is a tough negotiator.
    Our chance could be that we may be the only European party to be interested at a price of 50 millions. Liverpool issue with his knees will still be there. ManCity have not made any noise that they are interested. ManUtd will try to offload Alexis and Lukaku before they buy a replacement. Chelsea may bite but with Higuain they may not need to. He won’t go to Spurs to play second fiddle to Kane.
    Barcelona would be a great fit for him as replacement for Suarez. However they don’t look keen on him. Real Madrid will go after a marquee signing and he does not fit the profile.

    He for sure would be a massive upgrade on Mhikitarian.

  34. Freddie Ljungberg

    Sure, Aulas is a nutter, but he agreed on a price of 53m last summer, since then he has tried to sign Fekir up on a new contract but has failed so far, they can’t take the hit of letting him run down his contract so if he doesn’t sign a new one before summer they will have to sell, and for nowhere near 70m. Reckon 40-45m will be enough.

    Now if he signs the new contract on the table we’re screwed, no way we can afford him then.

  35. Chris

    Graham

    I’m with you. Transfer talk is often boring to me, it’s like listing all the famous women you’d like to sleep with. The other thing is the football manger style lists saying what we could get for each player. Pointless.

    Did I read the other day you live in Shoreham? I am in Ferring, lovely sunny day today!