Feels like we’re a little bit in stasis on the Gabriel signing, but some of the big transfer hitters have come out and stated that yes, he is our man, and he’ll be joining the Edu and Arteta project for FIVE years. Love it.
This really is a statement signing. The player has all the attributes we’re looking for in a defender. According to FreshArsenal, Gabriel isn’t really a ball-playing defender like you’d expect from a Brazilian, but he is an absolute machine when it comes to aerial duels. In France this season, he’s averaged a whopping 5.1 a game, which compares nicely to VVD on 4.9. I also didn’t realise he’s 6ft3. Next to Saliba at 6ft4, that’s quite an intimidating pairing.
What I love about this player is he speaks to a problem. I think 46% of our goals were conceded from setpieces, freekicks or penalties last season. We conceded 15 goals from setpieces alone. We’re trying to plug that with someone that has made his name dominating the box. That’s a smart move.
It’s also smart that we’re looking to hire Andreas Georgeson as a setpiece coach from Brentford. I’ve pondered the theory that the Premier League is becoming more like American sport. We’ve seen the rapid shift from KING managers who dominate every department and decision (Wenger)… to a more corporatised structure where you have specialist departments that are built out by Technical Directors. The thinking is that you put more specialism and accountability into these departments, and you don’t have situations where top managers leave and take 50 people out the door with them. Shad Forsythe doesn’t leave with Wenger. Gary O’D doesn’t leave with Emery. They report in to the Technical Director, or Head of Football, which gives them freedom to do what’s best for the club.
We’re now moving even harder into specialisms. Liverpool has a throw-in specialist. I’m pretty sure Jose Mourinho has a Head of Shithousery. That’s very much how American sport works. Defensive and offensive coaching has been a thing in NFL for a long time, but it goes deeper, you have kicking specialists, long snapper specialists. Anything that can give you an edge where others aren’t looking is worth finding a specialist.
It’s quite incredible because unrefined football fans like you and I have been saying for YEARS that ‘Arsenal should get Keown back in the mixer teaching the kids George Graham defending’, and now, Brentford are doing exactly that with a fancy exMalmo coach and it’s hip and acceptable. I am overjoyed that we’re tackling the big issues head-on with actual action.
Additionally, what I love about having a coach like Arteta is he doesn’t know everything. His greenness to the game is to the benefit of the club. He doesn’t have set ways of doing things. I think that makes you far more open to new ideas and experimentation, which is exactly what we need at Arsenal. Bring elite thinkers through the ranks and into the club, empower them to innovate and push boundaries, hopefully, reap the rewards on the pitch. A winning culture isn’t just about the players, it’s about every single person at the club having the same desire to win at whatever their job is. Hopefully, that’s the sort of energy that’s building out at Colney.
It’s also worth mentioning that Arsenal just signed Salah… not that one you fool, the Dutch kid who just left Feyenoord. It looks like Per Mertesacker has been working closely with people behind the scenes to set an agenda for how he wants to operate. These free transfers could be sniffed at as rejects, or we could be more positive and ponder whether there’s a… data story brewing that attracted Arsenal?
The Champions League tonight tells you how silly it is to write off any kid these days. I watched Serge G come on against Schalke and lose the ball, costing us a goal nearly immediately in the Champions League. I thought he looked more interesting than Theo did at the same age, but he went on to flunk at WBA and Wenger didn’t fancy him (which is telling, because Wenger loved to blood a kid). The story I was told by someone that knows him was Arsenal didn’t offer him a deal until AFTER he smashed it at the Olympics. Also, the player was horrified at how flummoxed the coaches were when a small French team shifted tactics and we had no answer (preseason). He moved, now he’s a star, lesson learned. Talent sometimes needs a different coach or a more compelling environment to be unleashed. Fingers crossed Arsenal can be that environment moving forward.
Before we go, I just want to say that all that shit I’ve been saying about 29-year-olds doesn’t count if we sign Thiago from Bayern. That’d be some statement. He’s a sublime midfielder. What an elevation that would be.
The Champions League will be fun this evening. I have to support Bayern here, I love the German side and what their game stands for. However, I spent a lot of time arguing with people on this blog about the sauce of Thomas Tuchel, particularly those who thought Emery was a better coach. Here we are chaps, sauce wins out again, the Emeryista on the worst losing streak of the year. Hopefully, it’s a fun game regardless, Hansi Flick is coach of the people, I’d love to see him lift the trophy. Let’s hope all the big players show up and it’s a final for the ages!
Right, see you in the comments. x