DOUBLE CUP FINAL WEEK

by .

So here we are, another Monday, another big week of games.

This Thursday, we avenge our Europa League exit and the covid infection that shutdown the Premier League.

At the weekend, we welcome a North London Derby game against a Spurs team that has Bale and Kane in BIG form.

This is what it’s all about.

Quite incredible some of the carry-on from some of the fanbase after the result this weekend. Results haven’t been good enough, you can say that for most of the league this season, but performances are ticking up.

I don’t think it’s ever been so clear what we need to do to fix Arsenal moving forward.

Cut out the errors in both boxes.

We have underperforming forwards that have very high levels to their game. We had elite finishing at the start of Emery’s run that disguised bad underlying performances. We had elite finishing at the start of Arteta’s rein that disguised a lack of creative production.

Fixing our forwards feels like the easier of the two challenges. If you create good chances, you’ll eventually start taking them when you have good finishers.

Conceding from errors is painful. We’ve dropped 8 points from our last 4 away games with the dumbest mistakes. In this league, with everyone as shite as they are, that’s the difference between ‘THE TABLE IS ALL THAT MATTERS’ and sitting in 5th place.

Xhaka made a horrible error, but he hasn’t been horrible all season. He’s also our second-best midfielder in that position, so you can’t drop him. He’s important to our game. People banging the table calling him utterly shite all day yesterday aren’t paying attention. He’s actually been really good defensively and going forward since Christmas. There isn’t a better option for us.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be in the summer. Xhaka has no competition, but there is absolutely no doubt there will be some come the start of next season. I suspect we’ll be trying to find a young centre midfielder that can phase him out over the year.

As for the other errors. Part of it can be addressed with coaching, part of it will hopefully naturally come, the other part will obviously be finding better players that don’t make horrendous errors on the regular.

We are already better than the peak-Emery Arsenal. We are better on and off the ball. We’re more resilient. Everyone knows what they are doing. The bit in the middle between the two boxes dominates and controls games. Now the club has to work on the errors in both boxes.

One concern a friend had earlier is that Arteta is building a City-lite with fuck all funds. Can we afford someone that’s not going to lose the ball 6 yards out like that? Well, from a title-winning perspective, we’ll never compete with City without the money. But from a top 4 perspective? This sort of style is absolutely the move going forward. There’s very little difference between us and our rivals now… in our worst ever season. Make 3-4 good signings in the summer and we’re in the mixer next season.

People calling me out as a spin merchant said the same through the Wenger period. They said it when I called Emery early. They said it when I called out Raul. You can be pissed that this site doesn’t echo your entrenched views on Arteta, but I can assure you, it’ll get harder and harder to roll with that. We’re not simply having an underlying metrics conversation now, the improvements aren’t marginal, they’re big… and most importantly, it all passes the eye test. The only spinning going on is the wheels of people that deeply hoped this would fail.

I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s happening, and next season, I think people will see that.

Right, short post today, please tune into a podcast where I debate progress with Matt and Johnny. Two people that show how you debate things you don’t like in a way that reflects debates in a bar or pub. You don’t have to be an arse because you don’t like someone’s opinion.

See you in the comments. x

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192 Responses to “DOUBLE CUP FINAL WEEK”

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  1. Leedsgunner

    “I’d be tempted to do the same with Willock + Nelson, give them extensions, then send them out to play regular footballRather than selling them at the bottom of the market, providing they stay fit, they’ll be more valuable in 12 months time.”

    100% agree with this. Protect their market value and give them experience. If they do really well, reintegrate them into the first team. If they are moderately successful sell them on for a good sum and reinvest the funds into obtaining one world class player in a key position.

    To be fair to the loans team they have been very active in getting our youth players out and about… a world of difference from how Wenger used to use loan deals to forget players he couldn’t sell.

  2. raptora

    Rich: “We should stick Martinelli on a new 5 year deal, then send him out to the Championship to pick up 40+ games”

    You decided that Martinelli is not ready on what evidence exactly? Arteta not playing him?

    Kid scored 10 goals and landed 4 assists for us in 1460 minutes (16 full games) in 19/20, was our best performer and our beacon of hope cause he added not the tap in but fantastic performances in addition to goals and assists.

    Now Arteta decides he’ll never play him, and fans decide he is not ready.

    Was Eddie good enough to play so many games under Arteta? No. But AKBs were badmouthing Lacazette and how Eddie was performing better than him.

    Were Mustafi and Kolasinac careers reborn after Arteta supposedly made them better?

    What did we accomplish by keeping Saliba here if he wasn’t ever going to play?
    Or Nelson? Or Willock?

    How did declining a 15m offer then stopping negotiations to what would have been a 20m deal for AMN to Wolves work out for us? So Arteta never plays the guy? What the actual fuck?

    Seriously, Arteta is one confused newbie in a job way above him. He’s made conflicting decisions all along. And what is spectacular about it, is that blind fans have been finding common sense in every decision of his, when there hasn’t been any. Sheep mentality at it’s best.

  3. raptora

    Rich,

    You want us to send average young players to the Championship to get better, make a name for themselves and then either be ready to step up for us or get sold at a high fee.

    That makes sense.

    And if all of that happens, then what. We get 20m offer like we were going to get for AMN just so Arteta declines it and puts the player in the garbage bin to never play him again?

    That makes no sense.

  4. Spudnik

    A huge week for Arteta. The Spurs game has come at precisely the right time to upset the Arsenal apple cart from a Mourinho point of view. It’s such a massive psychological and emotional game for the club and fans that anything less than going all out in the NLD would be viewed as sedition.
    But Arsenal’s best chance of European football next season looks like Europa. With 11 games left Arsenal will have to get 20-22 points for 5th and 6th. For West Ham that’s 12-14, Everton 14-16 and Spurs 15-17. Those points averages are aimed 62 and 59 points for 5th and 6th from last season. It could be more, but it shows how much the other sides have to fall back for Arsenal to catch up.
    My view is that the EL leads to success and that should be the priority. But I’d worry about the psychological fallout from a Spurs defeat.

  5. Tom

    “If we don’t win the league in four years then I will have failed” said Klopp when asked what his objectives were shortly after taking the Liverpool job.
    He gave no qualifiers, ifs or buts.

    The closest— Arteta is on the same trajectory as Klopp was —crowd can come to setting hard targets for him is we should “compete” for top four next season, but more likely by 2023 after replacing 75% of the squad……..and the list of excuses already built in is longer than the Nile river.

    Which is quite appropriate considering the saying “denial isn’t just a river in Africa”

  6. Rich

    Raptora

    I agree, signing Soares, then turning down offers for Bellerin + Niles, was nuts

    Signing Mari, when we had other 8 senior centre half’s, then not registering Sokratis, was bonkers

    Not loaning out Saliba, was negligent

    I like Martinelli, and signing Willian when we had 7 other players in that position was nuts, as was a 3yr deal for a 32yr old

    The issue is, we might have no European football next season, so we’ll need a smaller squad, as they’ll be less games

    I don’t see huge sums being thrown around, I think it’ll be mainly loans, and we’ll see huge deflation in transfer fees and wages over the next few season

    So not only will it be difficult to get a fee for Lacazette, it’ll be even harder convincing him to take a big pay-cut, or another club to commit to the wages he’d demand, particularly when he can get a Bosman post pandemic world

    So instead of having Martinelli sit on the bench for a season, tie him down, and send him out to play every week

    Very few teenagers are performing consistently in the PL, Saka has 5 goals, which is as many as all the other teenagers in the league combined

    This isn’t a dig at anyone, it’s simple pragmatism, and medium term squad planning

    Then when Laca leaves on a free in 15 months, we have an internal replacement, with a season of football behind him, who can then begin the transition to take over from Auba in the preceding 12 months

    If we can sell Laca this summer, then great…

    I just don’t buy the narrative that clubs outside of Bayern Munich and clubs with incredibly wealthy backers, are going to be throwing around tens of millions, and contracts of hundreds of thousands a week

    It’s fairyland stuff when you actually look at the state of football finances, are banks really going to allow clubs to take on further debt, rather than demand that costs are cut?

  7. Valentin

    Terraloon,

    I think that you misinterpreted when I say it would be EASIER this summer.

    The Webster clause can only be invoked during a smaller window, a few days after the end of the league season but a few weeks before the new season. The players is supposed to give enough time for his team to be able to find an equivalent replacement. Because of Euro, there will be a larger gap in time between the end of the season and the beginning of the next, so more time to invoke.

    The other point you missed is that bar the obvious conflict a player will only invoke the Webster clause if it is financial advantageous for him to do so. So the signing on fee, the salary and the length of contract have to be worth more than the remainder of his current contract. A player like Lacazette is not going to have to repay one year of £180kpw to Arsenal without pocketing a hefty signing-on fee or higher salary. Next year on a Bosman, he would be entitled to a high signing-on fee and salary without incurring the Arsenal repayment.

    That means that the player already has some kind of verbal agreement with another club. I am not convinced that there is plethora of clubs with a clear pictures of their squad departure and incoming before the end of the season. So on top of the possibility of being blacklisted, that’s why there has been so few players who have invoked it.

    I believe that most clubs will favour loans this summer. Webster and Bosman players tend to generate higher salary just to compensate for the absence of fee, but a lot of clubs will try to get rid of high earners. So the dates may make it easier to invoke the Webster clause, but the financial situations of clubs may make it less likely.

  8. Dissenter

    We let some serviceable defenders walk out the door when we could have made a decision on them early Nd sold them off for chump change.

    Arteta is, and will always be a ditherer.
    Had Edu not step in decisively, Partey would never have happened.

    Who decided to hire a newbie DoF and rookie manager within the same year?

  9. Tom

    Spudnik
    Bad timing for the NLD with the spuds flying high at the moment an scoring some sick goals.
    Bale starting next to Son and Kane might give Tierney at left back a major headache.
    Unless Jose reverts to type and concedes possession opting for a defensive minded set up.

  10. raptora

    Rich,

    Now that you said it. Arteta made our club make that scandalous Willian deal and the whole deal strikes me as short term planning.

    Thing is, this season is all but over and Willian deal hasn’t helped shit, probably just the opposite.
    Twisting the club’s arm to get a huge transfer as the one for Partey also means that he wanted stuff done right fkin now. The fker also pushed for another mega transfer in Aouar. We bought Gabriel and Mari with how many other CBs?

    Then there’s the absolute joke of a decision to decline the offer for AMN but not play him at all.

    All of it reeks of wanting results here and now.

    Where are the results? 10th place? Out of FAC and Carabao? Almost lost Europa in 1/16 final AGAIN in embarrassing fashion.

    Shouldn’t there be repercussions for a badly done job?

    I swear he was aiming at top 4 but thought top 6 will be fine. (same as me and most fans)

    We’ve been closer to get relegated than top 4 since the season started. It’s a massive failure when the club has given him everything. Even promoted the fker to have a say in transfers and everything football related.

    What does he achieve? 4/5 of the season in we are 10th. Pedro is celebrating progress?!?!?!?! And we are already thinking for next season. Why? Cause he royally fucked this season over. That’s why. And we have to be happy about it. Dafug?!

  11. Valentin

    Dissenter,

    Piers Morgan has been rumbled by somebody who knows him. He just exposed the real reason for Poers’s Morgan hate for Meghan Markle is simply because she dismissed his attempt to worm his way into her inner circle.
    Hell hath no fury as a scorned lover.

    The guy has some blinding sense of entitlement and love to be part of the in crowd that vears toward the pathological.

  12. Biggles

    Lacazette’s book value will be somewhere in the region of £9.5m at the end of the season, based on him being amortized over 5 years. He’s thought to be on around £180k a week. Also, whilst we paid €53m for him, there was another €7m in add-ons due. I did try scouring the internet to see what some of the add-ons were, but couldn’t find anything, so I have no idea what the details were and whether we had to pay any of them. Bottom line is, if we can get £15m for Laca in the summer – by which point he is 30 – it’s well worth it.

    Due to age and salary, we’re probably never going to sell Auba so we have to plan on him being around and how to get the best from him.

  13. Rich

    Piers Morgan doesn’t really have opinions, his job is to be a giant drama Queen, then draw strong opinions from opposing sides of every debate

    He’s basically an overpaid sh*t stirrer, who whips everyone up into a frenzy for a living

    24/7 news isn’t about reporting facts, and then allowing people to draw their own conclusions

    Letting slow news days, to become just slow news days, if there’s no big stories, they’ll just create a story…

    It’s about ratings, sensationalism, drama, and political activists masquerading as journalists and “Experts”

    They’ve fused together news and reality TV, and now people are addicted to the drama of it all

    Our democracy has been turned into a soap opera, and our population care more about what people say, rather than watching what they do, and looking into the effectiveness of individual policies

    Piers Morgan didn’t walk off for any other reason than he knew it would get everyone talking, get him trending on Twitter, and draw attention to GMB, which he hopes will increase their ratings

    He’s playing you all like a fiddle

  14. Sid

    ‘Our democracy has been turned into a soap opera, and our population care more about what people say, rather than watching what they do, and looking into the effectiveness of individual policies’

    Welcome to Neoliberalism(“free market”)

  15. Dissenter

    Why is Prince Charles suddenly visiting majority black churches?

    Why even bother when people on both sides are just going to believe what they’ve always believed in.

  16. Doublethink

    Yeah because making a judgement on a 22 year old footballer who has played over 100 games is the exact same thing as picking 6 random numbers, excellent point Rich.

  17. Thorough

    Doublethink.
    Odegaard won’t make it in the premier league as a number 10.

    I wanted Odegard. Or put in another way, I wanted a playmaker better than ESR. From what I’ve seen so far Odegard isn’t that player.

  18. Leedsgunner

    If we wanted to sell Nketiah and or Lacazette we really should have done so in the January transfer window. Teams looking for more goals and firepower would have been queing up… hopefully starting an auction for their services.

    Oh well another opportunity lost.

    If we don’t find a buyer this summer, Lacazette and Nketiah might as be added to two more players we will have to let go on a free.

  19. Le Professor

    Good post.

    Totally agree we’re moving in right direction. The team is playing like a team who know each other and it’s good to see. We could get top 4 next season IF we have the funds for the following:
    * RB on par with Tierney
    * Upgrade on Xhaka who’s more mobile
    * Odegaard (who’s coachable to spend less tie on the ball) or an equivalent

    The above would the minimum

  20. Rich

    Odegaard has started 5 games……

    He’s hardly played all season before that

    You very rarely buy the finished article from Real Madrid

    Anyone else remember Henry, Pires or Bergkamp taking time to settle?

    He’s a very talented player, he’s 22, has a reasonable amount of experience

    22yr olds aren’t meant to be the finished article, Chelsea sacked off De Bruyne at 22 to Wolfsburg, Gnabry had to go to WBA, then a couple of moves in the Bundesliga, before breaking through at Bayern

    The question should be, do we gamble on Odegaard reaching his potential over the next 18 months, and turning a £30-£40 million player, into an £80mill+ player?

    We can’t always buy at the top of the market, and when we do, the only place valuations tend to go is downwards

    We need to start buying at the bottom and middle of the market, and increasing the valuations of our players

    Leicester and Dortmund do this brilliantly

    Odegaard is a brilliant young player, if he was already the finished article, he’d be playing for Real Madrid already

    Not on loan at Arsenal, and we’d have zero change of signing him

    Buying young players with high potential, is a more sustainable business model

    I have no idea if Odegaard will reach his potential, but for £30-£40 mill, I’d be inclined to take a punt

  21. Valentin

    If Ödegaard is worth £30~£40 millions, then how much is ESR worth?
    Ödegaard is worth no more than £25 millions.
    I also doubt that long term he would work as a No10 in the EPL for us. He seems to lack that injection of pace and instinctive combination that is required to open low bloc. Everything seems to be more measured and better suited to La Liga style of play. In a slower, more tactical setup he would thrive, but in the EPL he will not be given the time and space that he needs.
    He may adapt, but he may not. Right now he is just potential. in this time of post COVID financial for £30~£40 millions clubs should expect ready made experienced players not potential.

  22. Thorough

    ESR was called upon and started delivering from the get go. And we all still agreed he isn’t matured enough to carry the creative challenge of this team. So, if Odegard isn’t good enough for the here and now, we might as well just let him go. There are playmaker that’ll come in and can do something straight away, that’s what we need. Our own Fernandes or Cazorla. Someone that’s good enough and matured enough to not only ease the creative burden from ESR but good enough to serve as a mentor of sort.

  23. Dissenter

    Valentin
    “If Ödegaard is worth £30~£40 millions, then how much is ESR worth?
    Ödegaard is worth no more than £25 millions.”

    Excellent point
    Odegaard is just another highly rated starlet from Madrid. He is far from being considered an established star. He is yet to show me that he’s any better that ESR.

  24. Doublethink

    I never said I don’t think he’s a good player just that I don’t think he’s gonna make it as a number 10 in the premier league. I don’t think his attributes translate well into a modern number 10 especially in this league. No pace, no power, doesn’t seem to be a goal threat, isn’t direct enough and while he as good feet doesn’t seem to beat players of the dribble, he’s not comfortable taking the ball under pressure or on the half turn. I could maybe see him as a deep lying midfielder but whether he could handle that physically is another question.

  25. Rich

    We apparently turned down a €30 million offer from RB Leipzig for Smith-Rowe in 2019

    Havertz cost £72mill, Chelsea didn’t sign a £72million player, they signed a £72million talent

    They gambled that they could develop that talent, renew his contract in 2-3 years, and then have an elite attacking midfielder on their books for the next 5 years, then either renew again, or sell at the very top of the market

    We spend €50 million on Partey at 27, because we wanted the finished article, we also knew his valuation would only spiral downwards, particularly with the crazy wages we offered him, so the value we placed on Partey was always expected to be returned on the pitch

    Hopefully Arteta and the bureaucrats at Arsenal are astute enough to recognise Odegaard’s potential, and they don’t overpay

    £30-£40 million is a snip, if we can either develop him into an elite attacking midfielder, then either keep him, and extract that value on the pitch

    Or sell him in the transfer market for £80-£100 million in 3 years time

    You don’t always get an instant return on investment, sometime you need to wait for the investment to mature

    Buying elite 21-23yr olds at the bottom or middle of the market, and then developing them, is smart business

    Grealish + Maddison would cost at least twice the price, and twice the wages

    It’s the same with Sancho + Neto

    One would cost £50 million and £100k a week

    The other would cost £100 million and £300k a week

    Selling a player earning £100k a week, is a lot easier than selling one earning £300k

    Because you’re selling into a much bigger and more competitive market

    Adding value to a £50million player, is a lot easier than adding value to one which cost £100million

    We need to learn to add value, not subtract it

    The price you can receive for a player isn’t just linked to the value of the player, it’s linked to the size of the contract

    And once you set a precedent of paying talented 21yr old £300k p/w, that then becomes the going rate, which is completely unsustainable

    We need to box much smarter

  26. Dissenter

    Rich
    It’s unlikely that Real will sell Odegaard to anyone without lots of clauses attached to the transfer.
    When they sold Morata to Juventus, they had a clause that allowed them to end the Juventus deal at anytime provided they paid Juventus 45 million euros.
    ..and that’s exactly what they did after one season, Chelsea came calling so they activate that clause and sold him.

  27. Zacharse

    Pete
    You are not a spin merchant. Arteta will eventually get the job done of restoring our football to something worth watching. He can’t be blamed for everuthing, thats just not how it works.
    The lede made me laugh out loud though.
    The sours game to me is a 50-50, hopefully the good 50 shows up

  28. Nelson

    Ødegaard is still new to the team and to the EPL. He hasn’t had much chemistry with his teammates yet. I would reserve my judgement on him until the end of his loan deal.

  29. Rich

    Dissenter

    Real Madrid are skint, and so are the vast majority of clubs

    There’s an undersupply of disposable cash

    That means clubs with disposable cash are the ones who’ll set the terms

    You should be fearful when people are being greedy, and greedy when people are being fearful

    How’s the time to capitalise on other clubs financial struggles

  30. The Bard

    There are some interesting posts about Odegaard. He looks to have bags of talent but does he have the desire and physicality to play in the prem ? He is only 22 and with good coaching he might be a punt but am sure RM aren’t going to let him go cheaply.

  31. Pierre

    When a new player arrives , there is normally a moment in a game in which that player will do something to convince you that he has what it takes to succeed .

    As yet , I haven’t seen that from Odegaard playing for Arsenal..
    He’s been neat and tidy, works hard , positionally good and an intelligent footballer ….but I’m waiting for that Bergkamp moment v Southampton, that Henry moment v Watford, that Anelka moment v united , that Ozil moment in his first game v sunderland when he exquisitely controls a ball coming over his head and effortlessly slides Giroud in..

    Still time i suppose .

  32. Nelson

    Pierre

    Of course no one expects Ødegaard will be as good as Bergkamp. Arsenal can’t afford to sign player of that level. The one who is more comparable is Jack Grealish. I would like to sign him though.