The Deadwood Redemption

by & filed under News Review.

Source: Big Dave on text

I’ve been in America too long, it’s true. I love nothing more than a rags to riches story. Or, more in the American tradition, I damn well love a riches to riches story. It was Robert Downey Jnr and Bieber a few years ago, now, the Netflix doco I need in my life is Mustafi: Falsch Verstanden, what a hero. He’s playing so well, I think I want him to stay.

Have I gone mad? Maybe, but performances don’t lie, and if he keeps this up, why wouldn’t you hang onto him, then give him a £350k p/w 3 year deal?

I’ve written for years that it’s been tough to judge the true quality of some of the players that have passed through the club. Arsene Wenger’s coaching skills dipped badly after 2010, but his eye for fantastic young players did not. Some flourished, others never hit the heights. You wonder what a smarter approach could have done with some of that raw material. One thing I’m sure of, our biggest sale would have been higher than £40m. Serge Gnabry, Chezzer, Nasri, Malen, and Yaya Sanogo… all deserved better.

Anyway, my rambling point is that after Wenger, we upgraded the thinking to a piece of soggy single-ply cardboard. Literally no one improved. Under the second average coach, as fans, instead of saying, ‘shit, these players have had a bad run of coaches how can we judge?’, we fucking massacred the lot of them. Do I feel bad about that? Absolutely not. We are the rabble, that’s what we do.

How times have changed, we’re now seeing what a great coach can do for confidence, team camaraderie, and performances. David Luiz and Mesut Ozil are back to playing like senior players that have won things. Granit Xhaka, a player I could not stand, looks really good wherever he’s played in the new setup. He seems fairly happy as well. He had this to say to The Standard. 

“Of course, I don’t lie. There was a moment [when I thought I wouldn’t play for Arsenal again], because it was not easy for me and my family. I hope people understand this,”

“But I think I showed my character. I am not a guy who runs away. I always say to the club: ‘When I [am] here, I am ready to give everything.’

‘It was like this always. I train very hard and that things turned around is the key. This [has given me] the most happiness.”

We do forget that these players are human, then we remember, so we dehumanise them because they are more wealthy than we will ever be… also, players forget that they are icons. His behaviour against Palace was terrible, his performances were really poor, it was a match made in mid-table hell. But hey, let’s moved onto something more productive, like ways the clubs could fix the issues. This from Xhaka.

“I think this is the biggest difference [between] Germany and England, because [here] we don’t have the [close] connection with the fans. In Germany, for example, you have open training sessions, the fans come and [talk to you], ask you why.

“Here, everything is closed. So, for me, it would be good this time to explain to the people what is not going good or bad. But it doesn’t matter now. Now we have to enjoy, that’s the most ­important.”

Imagine popping down to London Colney to ask Xhaka what the fuck he was thinking leaving the front post unmarked. Not sure how it would go down, but I’m willing to give it a go.

Regardless of who makes it or not, the truth is this: Arteta is making the deadwood better. If they maintain the form and some stay, great news. If we pump their value and land bigger fees this summer, absolutely incredible. One narrative we can’t let take grip is the ridiculous notion that Arteta might find himself hoodwinked by cunning squad members who are hiding their bad performances with… errr… good performances (yes, this is a real concern). This new stick to beat the regime with is about as insightful as the idea that Arteta was soft because he played under Wenger or that he’d implement boring football because he was a boring player.

Arteta was most impactful coach at the most technical footballing outfit the Premier League has ever seen. City won the league back to back with record points, their football was disgustingly good, their consistency was machine-like. You don’t make it at that level if you can’t assess talent. If he keeps players, it’s because they are good enough.

It’s going to be a big summer regardless. I think we’ll see at least 6 players leave. There will be an influx of talent in a lower age profile, and certainly, with a different athletic make-up. How big we go is very much dependent on the Champions League, which feels like a longshot right now. I also think qualification for the big trophy will determine who stays. Auba might get his £300k a week if we’re playing Barca in the group stages next year. We might hold onto Ozil if we’re with the elite. If we’re not, then the club has to work out where the priorities lie, adding, or keeping… one thing is for sure, we can’t maintain a £200m wage bill if we’re out of the big one another year.

One player that really would thrill me is the excellent Thomas Partey, he has a £43m release clause, but he’s in talks with Atleti to sign a new deal. I love the idea of this signing, he’s the perfect profile for our midfield, but I can’t help but think Arsenal are a great club to be linked to if you’re looking to edge up your offer. If you’re trying to make your girlfriend jealous, you don’t tell her Kerri Russel (Barca) was breaching your personal space at Blue Bottle Coffee, you tell her Loose Sandra (Arsenal) in accounts keeps liking your posts on Instagram… you gotta keep things realistic.

I also think there might be a big super-agent signing in the offing. I mean, there should be. The agent fees we racked up in January must surely be worth something. We’ll see though.

Right, that’s about all I have time for today, please jump into the podcast I recorded with Alex, it’s a great listen, I think it might be the best podcast in the world right now? Or not. You decide by listening right now.

Spotify | iTunes | Stitcher

346 Responses to “The Deadwood Redemption”

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  1. Emiratesstroller

    I want to discuss the current situation of our Centre Backs, which has been frankly a long term problem at the club. We have on our books at the moment
    EIGHT players in the squad namely:
    MARI [on loan with option to buy]
    SALIBA [out on loan]
    MAVROPANOS [out on loan]

    None of these players are in my view top quality and the rumour is that we are
    still in the market for at least one new CB.

    The first question to be asked is how many CBs do we actually need on our
    books? Looking at successful teams they have on average no more than 5
    players to cover the positions allowing for perhaps two injuries.

    Personally I would be surprised if Mustafi remains at the club next season.
    He may be playing well at the moment, but his track record has not been great
    and I think that the time has come to cash in and find a more reliable player.

    I think also that the two Greek CBs don’t have a future at the club. Sokratis
    is clearly past his best and Mavropanos has failed to make the grade at the
    club. So they need to be shifted out in summer.

    This would leave 5 CBs on the books plus an additional potential acquisition.
    Assuming that Mari is retained and we exercise option I think that the club
    could loan out one additional player either Holding or Chambers assuming
    that the latter is match fit by start of next season.

    Selling three Centre Backs should generate perhaps £25 million to our transfer budget.

  2. Guns of SF

    Mari needs game time to see if we buy or not, I want to see him against prem opponents to really gauge him

    What about kola? Free money there

    Soaress also another who needs to prove fitness as well or sell….

    I’m also about selling bell if he cannot make the grade. He has sell on value still

    I think the club will want to get a cb and fb. Move Saka back to winger

  3. Emiratesstroller

    When you look at most other major clubs they have on their books four or at
    most five CBs. We have accumulated so much dross that our situation has become ridiculous and overloaded with players in that position costing us a
    lot of money in wages.

    Ideally Arsenal need two players covering each position on the pitch plus
    an additional goalkeeper and maybe a couple of utility players.

  4. Guns of SF

    I don’t really see chambers or holding at the club long term

    Both have major knee injuries to recover from as well

    Upemecano saliba mari luiz and another possibly to hold down cb

  5. reality check

    Funny pedro wasn’t deleting comments when fans wanted to move on with emery and forget about wenger. Yet he allowed the “akbs” to continually rehash old wenger defences to bash emery with. All this BEFORE emery began to fail. Embarrassing.

  6. Zacharse


    Sounds like he learned his lesson, also, there was at least an argument there. There is absolutely nothing to defend about emery. Easy to see in retrospect why his first season went as well as it did. The squad had a new manager for the first time in 20 years and was free of a senile legend. Then look whatbhappened when things got tough. not rocket surgery

  7. Zacharse

    Emirates /Sf

    I dont know the payroll situation. But im gonna assume luiz is on the most of all the cb’s in the squad. He should be kept for another 2-3. He’s learning from arteta, he’s a big presence. You need that thats a positive dude. Sok is probably next. He should go. He wont be difficult to sell. Mustafi i could see staying another season. Also I could see him wanting to get the fuck out of london if a champions league team goes in for him. Im not sold arteta would sell him no matter what. Saliba, chambers will both stay. Chambers is a solid utility guy should he recover and not become another classic arsenal casualty. Holding i dont know. Arteta will be a better judge than me. I think mav is a solid prospect. He’ll gonon loan hopefully. Mari we have to wait and see.
    So thats luiz, mustafi, saliba as shoe ins mari, holding, chambers… those are the three to watch. Mustafi if he goes will gonfor solid dough imo

  8. Zacharse

    I think it was more than losing the players. You dont lose the players when youre getting good results. i remember more than a few VERY unconvincing wins. You gotta assume thebplayers werent feeling too different about it. Then look what happened when the luck went

  9. Guns of SF

    Emery had no offensive plans. Too pragmatic too confusing in the end and these losses only exacerbated his paranoia and neurotic. Coaching

    Put in his lack of connection with the players and fans too

    He became the mean dumb coach and players began to feel it…. he could not lift them when the luck ran out as you say

    Arteta connects much better with the fans and players emery alienated

  10. Zacharse

    It sure looks like arteta is the real deal. Exactly the kind of guy to carry om from wenger. Where are man u with their rebuilding?

  11. Redtruth

    “Ideally Arsenal need two players covering each position on the pitch plus
    an additional goalkeeper and maybe a couple of utility players.”

    How many years have you been talking the same rubbish…
    What was the point of sscking the manager when in your eyes the whole team needs overhauling…

  12. Receding Hairline

    Midwest its your comprehension that has issues not me. There is no bitter defense of Emery. Pedro went overboard in his criticism, it was a personal vendetta. He rewrote history just to make a point.

    I personally cannot stand a man trying to do an honest job insulted and his achievements belittled, I don’t condone it in real life and will continue to not do so. That some of you fail to see that is up to you. I am not here to make friends or form a clique.

    We are seeing the exact same things we saw early Emery, an unbeaten run, certain players looking like they have turned a corner, we are losing the xG battle now in games but winning the games, all this was flagged up as reasons for concern very early last season now they are swept under the carpet.

    Someone even suggested players might not sign for Chelsea because lampard has shown his limitations and we are a better alternative, it’s a shocking lack of self awareness, we have the rookiest manager in Europe, no one knows yet what his real strengths are of his limitations, it’s a wait and see scenario before we can truly say what path we are on, too bad this is being ignored and all we have here now are certain posters waiting to jump all over the slightest of criticisms.

  13. Emiratesstroller


    You are a village idiot.

    Part of your problem is that you do not actually read what people post.

    First of all I made it crystal clear in Emery’s first season at the club that whilst
    I had serious reservations about his management he should be given time to
    prove himself. However, it became abundantly clear this season that the club
    was on downward spiral under his management and many of the players lacked confidence under him.

    Second I have made the case that Arsenal should not recruit this summer more than two or three new players. However, our defence does need overhaul, although Rome is not built in one summer.

  14. Emiratesstroller

    When I discussed earlier the Centre Back situation at club I included in the equation two Centre Backs who are currently out on loan.

    With both Smith-Rowe and Saliba expected to return this summer there is only a need to recruit more than three new players if the club is forced to sell one or more of our players such as Aubameyang who has sofar declined to sign a new contract.

    For the record I am not advocating any material change in our forward options.

  15. Receding Hairline

    Emirates this whole no more than two to three players thing is a Wenger thing some of you continue to recite as gospel.

    Conte brought in a trailer load of players at Inter and they aren’t looking bad are they

    The coach should make changes to his squad as he seems fit and the market dictates, if we get good offers for five to six players in the squad which will help us upgrade then so be it. I say upgrade as I don’t see the point of bringing in players like Cedric. Don’t wanna talk about Mari yet, all those stories of him being a surprisingly likeable fellow and ready to mingle is all good, what should concern us is does he take us up a level on the pitch,we don’t know yet, I know Cedric doesn’t

  16. Habesha Gooner

    For the record Even if we have players in numbers we should upgrade in quality. Because it has been proven over three years some of these players aren’t adequate.
    If it were me I would sign A CB ( depends on Mari) , A decent LB, A DM to compete with torriera, A starting CM, A starting CAM and a LW to compete with Saka if auba leaves. sell Mustafi, Xhaka, Ozil, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Miki, Elneny. We definitely need upgrades in those positions.

  17. Zacharse


    we’re not seeing the same thing we saw w emery. reason being, emery had a full preseason and got to use all the bounce that came from arsenal finally getting a new manager after the toxic last wenger years. pretty straightforward

  18. Emiratesstroller


    I would remind you that we made wholesale changes to our squad in last two
    transfer windows.

    The club has for example 5 new forwards this season in Pepe, Martinelli, Saka,
    Nelson and Nketiah. So I see absolutely no case for replacements there unless
    Aubameyang or Lacazette leave.

    Second whilst I am not convinced about the quality of our midfield or its productivity I have not advocated this season more than one change in that
    department. We need a player who is not only creative but productive as well
    with assists and goals.

  19. Receding Hairline

    Zacharsse new manager bounce you say? Well newsflash we have a new manager now. Don’t try to sound clever and then say something like that. We finished two points off third and got to a cup final off a new manager bounce you say but its different now because? Again we have a new manager

  20. Receding Hairline

    Emirates where I differ from you is that I don’t believe Nelson and Nketiah have done enough to play for Arsenal. Even Martinelli is now showing what you get from youth, inconsistency.

    Some of you really have to decide what you want from AFC…true competitiveness or just the pretense of it

  21. Zacharse


    you don’t think there’s a difference when a manager who’s been at a club for 20 years, and the last few of those years divided the fanbase, cleared the stadium made evertything toxic etc. finally leaves and one who couldn’t hold on for two full seasons leaves? shit man, new manager bounce is an intangible, it isn’t evenly applied for everyone, and no MA did not get a new manager bounce if you’re memory can go back that far…

  22. Valentin

    I would rather have a slow steady gradual improvement in performances and results than a dead cat manager bounce reverting later on to mediocrity.
    As some of us predicted, we had the second with Emery. The problem is that many confused the bounce which was the outlier with the general trend.

  23. Emiratesstroller


    This would be my squad for next season

    GK Leno Martinez [Macey to be replaced by Academy GK ]
    CB Luiz Saliba + 2 others [+ 1 New CB]
    RB Bellerin Soares
    LB Tierney Saka [ 1 new LB if Saka plays on LW]
    DMF Torreira Xhaka
    CMF Guendouzi Willock [1 new CMF]
    AMF Ozil Smith-Rowe
    RW Pepe Nelson
    LW Martinelli Saka
    CF Aubameyang Lacazette Nketiah
    Total 25 + 1 Academy GK

    CB Mustafi, Sokratis,Mavropanos + 1 other
    LB Kolasinac
    DMF Elneny
    CMF Ceballos [end of loan], Maitland-Niles
    AMF Mkhitaryan

    I don’t expect Xhaka or Ozil to leave even if they are on Le Grove Posters wish

  24. Un na naai


    Is it not abundantly clear that we do not need a new centre half this summer?
    If Arteta can get Mustafi playing like he has been and our defence this tight with him at the heart of it then he can do wonders with the players not yet fully fit or available.

    We really need to spend as much of the money we can get on cmf and amf to be a force next season
    Arteta has proved he can shut teams out but we need more quality in right games to pick out our forward
    I also expect him to do some serious work with nelson Saka and Pepe over the coming months to replicate what he did with sterling and Sane. Maybe even going with a false 9 set up and shipping out Lacazette and or Aubameyang depending on wether or not they can be convinced.
    I’d have been happy to sell both a few weeks ago but I’ve been massively impressed with what Arteta has done with Aubameyang since his arrival
    Not only is he still scoring goals but his work rate and movement and attitude has been a total 180. He’s now exactly what I’d want him to be. You can’t really ask more from Aubameyang now. He’s never going to be Henry on the ball but off it he needed to be much better and now he is.

    No complaints regarding him any more as he’s giving 110%.

  25. Bob N16

    ES, interesting reading but I’m left confused by your midfield for next season. You have written on many occasions that it was ‘ not fit for purpose’, yet you suggest only one addition.

    I hope you’re wrong and we see a couple of more dynamic additions. Arteta has found a way of using Xhaka that doesn’t expose his lack of speed but I’d much rather have a player who can impose his physicality on the opposition and has recovery speed.

  26. CazOnARola

    What you posted is likely to happen.
    Aubameyang will leave though, so I’m not sure if the idea is to replace him with a new young striker or just rely on Martinelli ‘s versatility.

    Ozil might leave as he was close to joining Qatar and he is in the final year of his contract. So we may sign an AMF.

  27. Un na naai


    With you on that. Midfield is exactly where we need to be going in the summer
    As much as I think we have some very good options they are all limited going forward and in the power department. This needs to change this summer.

    Partey and Maddison/Grealish would be exceptional for me

  28. Emiratesstroller

    Bob N16

    As I posted earlier Rome is not built in a day. Arsenal are going to spend a
    realistic amount of money in transfer window.

    Ceballos is likely to leave and will be replaced, but otherwise I think our midfield will not change dramatically.

    Earlier in season I would have expected Xhaka to leave following issue against
    CP, but clearly he has been reinstated under Arteta. I am not a fan of Guendouzi, but I don’t think he will leave and somehow I think Ozil will see
    out his finally year of contract.

  29. James wood

    Arsenal to set up a testimonial for former
    manager Arsene Wenger and Santi Carzola
    against Villarreal.

    Very convenient for Arsene as I’m sure without
    Santi’s involvement the turn out might be a bit

  30. Graham62

    “New manager bounce”.


    My opinion.

    No comparison.

    Arteta took over a dysfunctional and demotivated set of players who couldn’t take it anymore.

    First it was Wengerland and then Emeryville.

    What Arteta has achieved to date is beyond my expectations, based on the double shitfest he inherited.

  31. Pierre

    Arteta is true to his word.

    He said he needed to address our home form and that is exactly what he has done.

    After a run of 7 games at home in which we
    Lost 4
    Drawn 3
    Won 0

    In our last 5 home games
    Won 4
    Drawn 1
    Lost 0

    Taking into account that we are unbeaten away since November (too many draws) it becomes clear that we are becoming a very difficult side to beat.

    It is not perfect by any means and I believe he is still searching for the right balance in the team.

    We are now scoring goals but have started to look vulnerable at the back.
    We dont want to regress back to the Emery way of playing so I’m sure Arteta will realise the importance of keeping it tight at the back.

    I expect a strong side put out tonight, Lacazette may start but will Arteta surprise us by keeping the same front 3 of Pepe, Nketiah and Aubameyang with Ozil behind .