SORRY FOR NOT BEING THERE FOR YOU EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY. Sheesh, you lot are so needy when the transfer window is open. I was gone, like, 2 days.
Anyway, I’ve been well and truly talked off the ledge about the Edu moves and I’m now VERY excited about what the summer can bring.
Firstly, I was told that the idea of having scouts in 50 countries is a shitty old school idea that offers very little value to the club. The thinking is that Edu has a few centralised scouts that he trusts in London, the analysts lean on elite technology to pick out players, if the brain trust likes the players, then the club invests in watching them in the flesh.
That’s the loose process. The watch out on this is Arsenal has always been a tech-forward club, they just haven’t used it properly. Jason Rosenfeld of StatDNA recently quit to go to FIFA, he’s a world-class data nerd, if he thought he was getting job satisfaction at Arsenal, he’d still be here. The idea that Edu has had some sort of visionary eureka moment that the future of football is ACTUALLY about data is off the mark, we had that ability in 2013, the question is… can Edu unlock the power of metadata with the people he has left at the club? Or is it just a nice media soundbite?
All indicators suggest no at the moment, but if we’re cool with pretending Kia and the super-agents were just a phase while he focused on a youth system for a year, then I’m game to SHUT UP AND BACK EDU. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled a nobody blogger is giving him permission to do his job.
I’m also slapping myself into getting excited about Willian. Like, what’s the point in not enjoying a new signing? I quite like all the data stories that are doing the rounds in the papers. Yes, yes, I remember when everyone thought Emery was a genius last season for signing Luiz because he played penetrating balls from deep, but this signing is different because there’s no baggage, bar the agent.
The wages seem to land on the lower end of the scale at £100k a week, though The Mirror had £150k a week. I can live with £100k, that’s good value. A lot of the papers seem to indicate that the expectation is Willian will be moved to the middle as an attacking #8, or a more modern #10. Willian played there when he was at Shakhtar, Arteta is hoping to reacquaint him with his 2012 game. A #10 position might give him a little more longevity as well because the role isn’t quite as dependent on pace.
Also, if we’re playing Saka at #10 in training, maybe the succession plan post-Willian is to have the left-back pick up that role. I could live with that. We’re also keeping ESR at the club next season, he can play in those pockets as well, so the future is youth however we cut it.
It was interesting to read Julian Nagelsmann talk about blending youth and experience in his interview with Rapha Honigstein.
“There are players who make teams better actively, through their performances, and those who do that but also improve the team passively, if you will, through the force of their personality and their character. Buying such a player wouldn’t fit into the RB concept 110 per cent but he could improve us as a group, with all these young guns. He wouldn’t be an investment in the classic sense, but would offset that with the positive effects he would have on the development of others.”
Willian is certainly a top professional with a winning attitude. Probably a good foil for the kids who will be looking to takeover.
The transfer stories haven’t really progressed. I’m hoping that our #1 target is keeping quiet because he’s still in the Champions League playing for Atleti whilst doing TikTok dances.
There’s an Instagram Story doing the rounds that shows Willy Auba and his family having an Arsenal party, one would hope in the name of the new mega-deal their main breadwinner has just signed. That really would cap a good end to the season.
… and that’s why I’m excited. Frank Lampard finished in the Champions League, but the loss in the FA Cup Final to a better young coach and the subsequent spanking from Bayern has him getting the same treatment as Unai Emery. No coach has conceded more goals than him under Roman Abramovich. He’s being called tactically naive. There are doubts creeping in. Super unfair when you consider he made 4th after losing Hazard, but that is the nature of this beastly game.
Mikel Arteta is in a different boat. His xG was suspect, no doubt, but he did a few things that gave him credit with the fans. He made us a strong team unit. He did that with players that make errors, but overall, the impact was very positive. Fans could see the shape. He gave weak characters a mental toughness nearly all of us doubted could happen. He delivered wins against Liverpool, City, United, Wolves (a), and Chelsea. Those are progress wins. Then, of course, he won an FA Cup final.
The momentum is with him. The owners, the fans, the players all believe in the journey he’s taking them on. He now has more say over players, he has more confidence to implement his ideas, and he knows he’s on the right path.
There’s still a lot of work to do with the squad this summer, but I think the hope is that if the club can raise £100m in transfer revenue, they’ll invest it right back in. It’s great that PSG are sniffing around a £40m Matteo G, I’m sure someone will offer for LT, Holding is young and appealing, AMN is a £30m player now… most of our players improved since December, so we might find the transfer wheel is a little more greased this summer.
If Edu and Raul can make some deals that shift the profile of the squad, we’ll start the season in much better shape.
I think the Community Shield is going to be followed by an international break, then it’s straight into the league where it’ll be catch up mode with 3 games a week again. If we get off to a good start and keep the momentum of the FA Cup game going, we could be top 4 contenders next season. A lot still needs to go right, but hey, we can dream again.
The key is always a good start with these players. As we saw before the FA Cup, if there’s nothing to play for, it’s hard to get a game out of them. However, when there’s a reason to focus, it’s pretty clear that we have the ability to give anyone in the league a game on our day. We’ve not been in a position to say things like that in a very long time. We have a genuinely top coach running things now and that makes things very different for us.
I’m excited… let’s see where the business goes this summer!