GETTING BACK TO THE TOP: THE REWARDS OF LONG TERM THINKING (LONG READ)

by .

There has been a lot of talk about strategy and where we’re going as a club. Some can’t see it, other don’t want to, but the wheels of progress turn regardless of the noise.

Some fans struggled with the proposed strategy because it knocked their preconceived notions of what you need to do in 2022 to get back to the top in the Premier League.

There were hard pills to swallow:

  • Our squad wasn’t fit for purpose utilizing any style of football. It was old, messily assembled, it had no creative players, and the culture was rotten.
  • Arsenal were no longer a big hitters when it came to finances. Any rebuild was going to be slow and painful by the standards of most.
  • The Premier League was now the most competitive league on the planet. There are 7 teams with the finances to compete for Champions League. The two top teams weren’t just wealthy, they were extremely strategic and longterm in their thinking. Every team was now rich, there were no givens, bar beating Norwich.

The only way Arsenal could get back to the top was to be honest about the above and concoct a strategy that played to our strengths as a football club.

Those strengths were:

  • Our academy, which produces top-tier talent. When you are building, there are bad days, but fans are more forgiving of local boys, so leaning into a point of pride was a key element
  • Our coach, who is one of the best developmental coaches in Europe (though inexperienced)
  • Our club, which has elite training facilities, unrivaled fans, a massive stadium, in the city of London, and good budgets outside of the nation-state clubs. These ingredients make us perfect for players on the rise because we are an appealing place to ply your trade.

The mission is to get Arsenal competing for the league in 2 years time and to make the Champions League and be competitive.

The strategy:

  • Grow talent out of our academy
  • Sign highly technical players 21-24, with 2 seasons worth of experience, with BIG character
  • Put them with a coach on the rise

Season one was about getting the culture right and bedding our players into a highly technical system. We delivered 69 points, enough for 3rd the two prior seasons. We made it back to Europe. That was a successful season based on the objectives at the start.

This upcoming season, it’s about adding quality to the squad, and making it into the top 4.

Our transfer moves this summer are being built off this brief from Arteta:

“We want to move to a 4-3-3 but for that, you need a lot of specificity in every position but now in five or six positions, we don’t have it.”

This is basically the list of incomings we have this summer

  • Lisandro (24)
  • Tielemans (25)
  • Vieira (22)
  • Jesus (25)
  • Turner (28)
  • Saliba (21)

Say it quietly, but this squad would basically be good enough for Champions League football right now.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the above list alone is probably the best window we’d have had in 20 years. It looks very complete, it nails the fan brief at the start of the summer… but is it complete? Maybe not. The Athletic truly believes there’s a chance we could still try for Raphina this summer. I know the Mikel Arteta will be banging the drum harder than anyone to get all the bits we need, so it wouldn’t shock me.

The ‘Tielemans interest has cooled’ will likely be a negotiation tactic, we saw it with Ramsdale last summer. The player wants Arsenal, the club wants the player, and Leicester management is probably still high off last summer’s LEICESTER ARE BETTER RUN THAN ARSENAL’ chatter propagated by Arsenal fans and want to make the move difficult. The reality is they cannot afford to let him leave for nothing. I think he’ll end the summer in an Arsenal shirt. Honestly, what a top, top signing that would be.

There will obviously be some transfer movement out the door but I don’t have the same faith some do in the money we’ll receive. Hector Bellerin is being chased by a club that think they can get him on a free, there is no way we should be exiting him for nothing, I don’t care how many trees he planted. Bernd Leno is a £20m keeper and we need to be compensated as such. I wouldn’t want to exit Ainsley, but he’s a Premier League player and we need to be doing better than £5m. There’s also a chance Granit could be on the move, though I think it’d be remiss to ship out someone of his experience after another really good season. No one is talking about Bob ‘lush hair’ Holding, but it’s hard to see where he’s getting minutes next season as it stands.

Most of the focus will be on the money we’re spending. Arteta will be running around with his proposals and spreadsheets. He probably knows as well as anyone – timing is absolutely everything. You want a raise, time it right, don’t ask after a shocking 3rd quarter. You want a yes on a new project, catch your boss early on a Friday when he’s dreaming of lunchtime beers and golf. If you want £50m for a player you didn’t have budgeted, maybe ask when his hockey team is about to play in the Stanley Cup Final. If KSE is a sports organization that is showing signs of extreme competitiveness at the highest level, there is no doubt that the more his other teams win, the more likely it is that Arsenal will win. WINNING IS ADDICTIVE. I don’t know how much of this shift in mindset is down to Josh, but bar their soccer, esports (they sunk £20m into Overwatch and no one watches it), and lacrosse team… all their major clubs are doing the business.

Now think back to the summer when people were spitting feathers about Arsenal not signing a substandard striker. Does anyone have regrets about not punting £75m on Isak to show ambition? Any Weughorst fans still in the building? Did this very website not say that the best thing to do would be to wait until the summer and spend the finite resources wisely? This summer is the reason why. If that list is pulled off, it’s better than anything that could have been done in January for a far more favorable price. Let’s also be real, I love Vlahovic, but he was going for £65m, if we get Jesus for £40m, it’s probably more of a NOW signing, with a higher chance of working out.

Ok, ok, I’m trying to weasel my way out of Tall Boy Summer Propaganda there, so you can shout me down on that… but, once again, we are seeing how different the world looks through a long-term lens. That £25m saving can go towards a Lisandro vs another Nuno-Tavares-like gamble. We will be better long-term because we waited. Remember, we have finite resources and a strategy that is honest about who we are. We cannot spend big money on average players, we are not that club, we have paid a heavy price for attempting that methodology. That is why we resisted in January.

Fans will give patience if there is a reward at the end of the wait. Arsenal didn’t reward in the past, but if this is what a dry January delivers, then maybe we should Trust the Process a little more often.

The job this summer was also to find 10 more points next season.

There were three ways to do that:

1. Add cover to the fullback positions

David Ornstein dropped exciting news about Lisandro, the Ajax defender we’re chasing down for £25m this summer.

The Saliba Ultras, bored, with nothing to shriek about are trying to make this transfer about their movement and how it’s the end of William, but this is more about Tierney. The player has been earmarked since last season as a left back and the club see him as big competition for KT this season. There’s a difference in style, KT is all about power, pace, and the legendary overlap. Lisandro is more viewed as a player you start the build-up from. He’s more comfortable on the ball and a bit more like a Cancelo, if that feels too ambitious, then let’s just say he’s a defender that can do what Granit can do when we put him at left-back but with all the pacey bits as well.

If we make this move happen, there is going to be a war on the left next season, and I’d be fully expecting the player to show us something new in this Arsenal system we haven’t seen before.

  • Saliba and Ben White are interchangeable at right back.
  • Ainsley could come back into the mixer at right-back cover.

2. Add cover in midfield for Thomas Partey

Youri Tielemans coming into our midfield gives us so much flexibility. The Belgian can play deep as a defensive midfielder, he can go box to box, he can even move into a more advanced position. Long and short: He is top, top quality.

3. Add decisiveness in the final 3rd

Fabio Vieira is being billed as one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe for final ball delivery. He was one of the most productive players in Europe last season despite having the lowest minutes of the big names.

I followed up with Jon and asked if he was overperforming xA. He is, but apparently, there is more than enough underlying data to suggest he is top, top class.

We’re most likely going to add Gabriel Jesus as our main striker next season. Is he short? Yes. Is he Premier-League-winning material that we don’t have? Yes. However you cut, even through the worst-case scenario grinder, he is going to be worth 18 goals and 7 assists next season. The thing I’m looking forward to with Jesus is we’re taking him from a bit-part player to superstar status. We’re making him the big dawg. That is a hell of a way to motivate a player if they are the sort of person that needs that sort of adulation.

Then add the incredible news that Eddie Nketiah has just signed a new 5 year deal and he’s taking the #14 shirt.

There’s no other way of cutting it, this move is fucking excellent news. If Arteta didn’t believe he could do a good job with Thierry Henry’s famous shirt, he wouldn’t have offered it to him. The number is symbolic to everyone, it’ll be a huge motivation for Eddie, and I think he’ll show us all he can deliver the goods needed.

We’re operating in a market right now where Richarlison, a player that has moped all season in an Everton side far better than its league position would suggest, is potentially going for £55m. A known disruptive quantity, going for mega-money, after a shocking season.

Eddie Kreuger (showing up in defenders’ nightmares) is a better player for starters and he totally fits our system. Just remember, he was our best striker last summer in preseason then Arteta buried him in the reserves. He didn’t let him back in when Auba was stinking out the place, he didn’t let him back in when Lacazette was dead on his feet not scoring, it was only the good luck of a COVID infection (ESR got his chance after the same thing) that Arteta came to his senses. Eddie could have moped like Richarlison, he could have mailed it in and waited for summer riches, but he didn’t… he did the job, scored some goals, showed Arteta what a fool he’d been… so yeah, he deserves this deal.

Just a reminder of how Eddie stacks up against the 4 top European leagues as a striker for the folk saying he lacks the qualities for the league:

Just a reminder of what his profile maps to in terms of rival talent.

To replace Eddie we would be taking a massive risk on a £35m striker if we were lucky. This is a huge deal for Arsenal and again, another reminder to the best kids in Europe, if you are good enough, you will play for The Arsenal.

The bonus part of the summer brief hasn’t been really talked about, but Matt Turner is going to be very interesting, he’s arriving from New England Revolution, the USMNT fans love him and say he’s their best keeper, and most MLS fans say he’s one of the best players in the league.

The player had this to say:

“The project they have going on there, [I want to be] an important part of the locker room, adding some experience – not a ton of Premier League experience – but national team experience, league experience and playing games in pressured environments. I’ll be an older head in the locker room, being 28.”

On his supposed weak passing:

“Definitely, the DNA of this team is possession-based and I believe that’s what they will expect from me when I get on the pitch.

“It’s the area of my game that some call a weakness but one where I’ve improved over the past few months. I’m connecting a few more passes, reading the game better and understanding the way I can hurt teams a lot better.

“We don’t play that [passing] style in New England but when I go with the national team, we do. When I have extended periods with the national team, I read the game better and make more passes.

We have no idea how good he is with the ball at his feet in the same way so many Arsenal fans called Ramsdale a hoof-merchant after Chris Wilder left Sheffield United. The most important thing here is we need a player that can push Aaron who has had a shaky 2022. One week he’s keeping a clean sheet against Italy, the next he’s conceding a bunch to Hungary. The focus of competition at Arsenal might help, especially if Arteta shows early on that he is prepared to drop Aaron if his form dips.

So, in conclusion… is there a single Arsenal fan out there that doesn’t understand what the strategy is going into this season?

I don’t think so.

If you can’t see it now, you are just not meant to understand things at a higher level, or you are trying to be an edgelord on Youtube to appease your teenage fans.

If you can see it, you’ll agree, that this is the best way for Arsenal to get to the top, because it’s sustainable, it’s exciting, and you can imagine where these players will be in two years time.

Say this quietly because I don’t want pelters, but I’d rather be bedding in these players in a Europa League environment, than a Champions League one. We’ll get practice against weaker teams, the young kids will get more minutes, and the first 3 months of the season won’t be played with young players wrestling with the physical and mental aspects of fatigue.

What I love the most about the way Arsenal are operating is they are opening the window on the fans that want to behave in a toxic way. Good news is oxygen for the fans that support the club the right way and it makes everything better. If you aren’t onboard with where we’re going, you do have to ask, what is the fu*cking point?

This is going to be a good season if all these deals can land, we can all feel it, right?

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347 Responses to “GETTING BACK TO THE TOP: THE REWARDS OF LONG TERM THINKING (LONG READ)”

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  1. Howard

    Tom
    Having a goal is one thing and being able to effect same is another. The fact that you dream of challenging doesn’t mean you’ll challenge.

    Nobody gave Leicester any chance to win the title but they did in recent times

  2. The Bard

    Batistuta I agree with your post about long term strategies. I dont disagree with the premise that Pedro flogs but the reality is most managers are a few games from the sack. If we start badly and get mauled a few times Arteta is toast. Despite all the huff we have signed one 22 years old. I dont see that signing as a game changer.

  3. Batistuta

    Bard

    I hope our next signings are a bit more experienced, mentioned in the other postwr can’t have the whole youngest squad chatter as any kind of excuse next season. Have to balance it up properly.

    Long term strategy is good in general for the club but this season has to be majorly about the results an more importantly getting back into the champions league, anything asides that should see the end of the current manager and his team, they’ve had enough time

  4. Ishola70

    The only managers safe from the sack are those that have won big previously and shown a level of consistency with it. Guardiola and Klopp.

    Arteta is not safe from the sack despite what seems to be a protective blanket wrapped around him by some long term strategy or not.

    He may be a manager though that shows just enough consistency to see him safe without ever really hitting the heights.

    All depends on the real ambition of Kroenke and how satisfied the fanbase are with what entails.

  5. Habesha Gooner

    I don’t have time for people who say Odegaard hasn’t got ability to play a through ball or a killer pass. That is just a shit take.
    What he can be criticized for is consistency not ability. Any way we need to move on from the Odegaard topic. It has been discussed to death. Pierre needs his daily Ozil love in so he brings it up every time.

    I think we are going for more experienced players this summer. Tielemans, Jesus and Raphinha all are 25. Lisandro Martinez is 24. And Viera is the exception at 22 years old. Add these players and we will have plenty of experience and ability. We won’t have to run down our young players.

    Bati
    Pedro might argue with Arteta going if he finishes like a glorious failure like this season.

    But most of us are done. We need Arteta to show he can deliver. 4th or he goes for me. There will be no excuses this coming season. The has had his time. And his fair share of investment if this summer is going to go like the rumors are suggesting.

  6. Ishola70

    And as others have noted these goals and aims for the club have been shifting quite a lot since Arteta arrived.

    It’s to sedate the fanbase in the name of Arteta.

    Let’s see if the man is worth this undying support in the coming seasons.

  7. Ishola70

    I wouldn’t even term season just gone “a glorious failure”

    But finishing close to top four again next season and Arteta will stay in the job no question.

    He has plenty of scope and falling net has Arteta at Arsenal.

  8. Zacharse

    Habesha GoonerJune 19, 2022 15:34:11
    I don’t have time for people who say Odegaard hasn’t got ability to play a through ball or a killer pass. That is just a shit take.

    looks like you’re going to have to leave LG then hahah

  9. Zacharse

    PierreJune 18, 2022 22:54:21
    Zacharse
    “BUT pete, don’t start using the fucking colorado avalanche to make a point on here EVER”What’s a colorado avalanche ?….sounds like an ice cream dessert..

    They are an NHL: team owned by KSE who look likely to win the Stanley Cup…for the first time since ’67

  10. Jonko

    Cucurella to City would basically make the EPL Citys little bitch for the next 3 to 4 years…they would have just about the perfect starting 11 and great depth on bench too…you can right now write their name on the UCL trophy too

  11. Ishola70

    Are we two years away from challenging Man City for the EPL title? No.

    It’s a pipe dream.

    But here it is stated as one of the aims of the club.

    Let’s be realistic and hope to see better all round football played by Arsenal under Arteta from what we have seen so far which results in top four finishes and being seen as much more competitive by others.

    Unrealistic aims although sounding big and worthy in the end don’t really help.

    Let’s see some better football being played under Arteta. That’s the first step.

  12. Zacharse

    wow some special comments over the last few days. 😂
    something tells me the vibe here has less to do w Arsenal and more to do w people wanting to bring down mr pedro. IS IT THE HAIRCUTS???
    the one guy who’ll only be happy if gab jesus isn’t given a squad number!?😂
    my personal fav are the types who ‘understand guardiola’ and can definitively say his motivations on gab jesus, as though that’s easier to comprehend than a very good player entering his prime wants to be top dawg at his club…

  13. Zacharse

    ish – if we’re trying to upend city that would certainly be unrealistic considering the financial package they just gave to haaland.
    my understanding is we want to be a CL team. and we were 2 points from that happening notwithstanding playing a little more than half the season w 3-4 starters out.
    that is a solid step forward, don’t be ridiculous

  14. Ishola70

    Zacharse

    “that is a solid step forward, don’t be ridiculous”

    And we all know one step forward could easily be followed by a step back again the following season.

    The truth is we are on a precipice. We haven’t got a firm footing on the green side at all really. We can only hope we have. Hope.

  15. Zacharse

    on that i agree, but that’s all ownership.

    i would even go a step further and say this season starts w a worse vibe than last because of the gut punch the youngsters just took missing out on CL. there is going to be a residual effect of that that i am very worried about.
    we bring in a CM in jan and that doesn’t happen to the same degree.
    Here’s hoping i am incorrect

  16. Siddeeq

    Cucurella to city, while we hope Tear knee is healed by Jesus.
    Ptah the owner of the blog spreading the gospel. When my cock crows he will deny the chosen one 3 times.

    Hallelujah!

  17. Habesha Gooner

    Zacharse
    😂😂😂 may be. But I haven’t seen fans anywhere who try to find stats to justify their shit take on players that finished as the 2nd best player of their own club. It is even more annoying when that player is clearly playing well for the majority of the games and he has been poor for a few. This is football. You won’t ever be at your best every game. But that can be improved with time. Any way that is enough said about Odegaard.

  18. Habesha Gooner

    Ish
    No, I don’t think so. The Kroenkes might have the power to make Arteta continue but fan sentiment matters. Even the staunchest Arteta supporters agree he needs to deliver top 4 this coming season. Except for pedro may be. And if fans turn on him in the ground then he will go.

  19. Ishola70

    Habesha

    “Even the staunchest Arteta supporters agree he needs to deliver top 4 this coming season. Except for pedro may be. And if fans turn on him in the ground then he will go.”

    I still think it will be the manner in which he doesn’t get top four again if that is the case in seeing him out or not.

    And missig out by neglible points again will see him continue along with a big Europa League run and that’s with not even being one of the teams that play a more attractive style of football in the league.

    Fanbase are fickle we all know that. What they demand one day is forgotten soon enough.

    Events dear boy. Events.

  20. Dissenter

    TR7
    “ This is a bogus argument which is made far too frequently and repeatedly. Great players raise the level of those playing with them rather than it being the other way round. Santi Cazorla made Coquelin look much better than he was.”
    👏👏👏👏👏👏

    Take a bow
    The better players make players around them better
    It didn’t matter who you paired with David Silva or Santi, they left their gold dust everywhere

  21. RP7

    “We are never catching city or pool until Pep and Klopp leave they are on a different level.”

    Pep yes, but Klopp will always have an occasional bad season. 20/21 they got 69 points. Okay, that was a really unlucky season for them, but I can easily see them having a season of 75 points in the next 3 years. His last season at Dortmund was a catastrophe. The gegenpressing is too exhausting for consistency every single year unlike Pep’s system (plus almost unlimited funds).

  22. China1

    ‘you can right now write their name on the UCL trophy too’

    That’s not how it works. They are one of several teams with a shout at the CL and the odds are that despite being arguably the favourite, they will probably not win the CL.

  23. IQ

    Odegaard suffers from having to play too deep. Playing him next to Partey / Xhaka will do him no favours. As mentioned before it’s what destroyed Ozil and Aubamenyang’s game.
    He needs to play closer to the strikers so he can play those cute passes between the lines and or attempt to score himself. The problem is that when he does play further up, our pedestrian centre mids are unable to get the ball to him. Instead the centre backs end up hoofing the ball to Saka or Martinelli.
    A lot of our issues will be fixed when/if we get competent midfielders who can stay fit.

  24. Chris

    Sterling to Chelsea strongly rumoured. He is in the final year of his deal like Jesus. Would be interesting to see what price would be agreed for Sterling if he moves.

    City look like they are hitting refresh on their squad a little.

    Liverpool have signed the young lad Ramsey from Aberdeen, another rampaging right back it seems.

    Let’s hope to see some more signings on the .com this week.

  25. Chris

    “That’s not how it works. They are one of several teams with a shout at the CL and the odds are that despite being arguably the favourite, they will probably not win the CL.”

    I think Haaland is the game changer for them this time around though. Very likely they win it in the next few years at least once I think.

  26. Jonko

    Most unpopular opinion/prediction of all – This will be Klopps last season at Pool. They are going to crash hard this season. Those 15 minutes of madness at the Etihad and losing the CL in way they lost it after all that hype are the kind of things that can permanently scar motivation and knock the stuffing out for many a year. In addition to that, their way of playing is just not sustainable.

  27. MidwestGun

    They are an NHL: team owned by KSE who look likely to win the Stanley Cup…for the first time since ’67
    ____
    Say what? they won they Stanley Cup in 2001, and 96. Not a big hockey fan and I knew that.. They werent even a fracnchise in 67.

  28. Un

    Jonko
    They’ve brought in Darwin Nunez, Jota and Diaz
    Their midfield is still champions final capable
    It’s still title capable
    And their goalkeeper is still the best in the world, as are their fullbacks (in that bracket) and likely their main centre who is still only 30 years old.

    They’ve got some extremely talented young midfielders coming through and still have Keita
    If Liverpool are going to crash it certainly won’t be next season

  29. MidwestGun

    Good post Peds… I dont agree with everything.. but I do with the gist of it.. Arsenal have to find a way to compete using their strengths and not strictly on money… the rest of it what I don’t agree with is basically arguing semantics on whether it’s hyperbole or not and too many people get cuaght up in that.. And I’m not gonna be one of them.

    I hope the transfer window plays out .. as you have layed out.

  30. WengerEagle

    Pool will still be up there but I do agree that they face a potentially near impossible task of having to replace both Mane and Salah this time next year.

    Nunez has a lot of potential but he is still fairly raw and not the finished product. He won’t come in and seamlessly pick up where Mane left off who was in his prime and was a perfect fit into that Liverpool XI.

    Looks as if Salah will walk for nothing next summer too and good luck replacing him.

  31. Dissenter

    The Kroenke’s sports franchises never won championships

    ….until now, no now they can’t stop winning.
    Hopefully their winning formula runs off on Arsenal.

  32. Jonko

    Nunez is poor..the new Andy Carrol…Klopps basically got him for their crossing game..one trick pony at its finest..not anywhere close to Mane..Mane was always Pools kost dangerous player along with TAA

  33. WengerEagle

    Anyone catch those leaked videos of the new Manure CEO having a pint with those knuckledraggers in the pub?

    Pretty hilarious. Openly shit on the £1 Billion + they’ve pissed up the wall and told the supporters there is an endless well of money, LOL.

    Glazers will love that I am sure.

  34. Dissenter

    Klopp had to break up their attack. That’s what proper managers do, every once in a while.

    SAF knew when to move the best players on, didn’t stop him continuing winning runs.

  35. Alexanderhenry

    I’m really not as au fait as some of you are on individual players, but I’m getting good vibes off arsenal’s rebuild at the moment.

    I get the sense Chelsea may hit the doldrums post Abramovic. Man u is a corporate and footballing train crash and Liverpool may have peaked.

    Sticking my neck out but a bet on top 4 for arsenal looks quite strong.