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Let’s talk about left-backs today because we’re at the phase of the transfer window when Arsenal fans start to get flustered about fees and who we’re buying.

David Ornstein said Arsenal is going to the mat with Manchester United over the signing of Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez. The fee is around £40m, the player likes both clubs, and the decision is up in the air. I think most of us reckon he’s going to take the United move, but who knows, he might fancy a more adventurous/pivotal/trendy position in the Arteta system as a left-back that builds play.

The fee is big. Arteta loves defenders that have specialist moves. Lisandro is one of them.

‘BUT HE’S NOT A PRIORITY’ is something I keep reading.

Firstly, as humans, we derive much pleasure from the idea that things happen in order. It’s easier on our primitive brains to imagine the thing we see as most important is the thing that is addressed first. We like dinner served in order, no ice cream as a starter, sustenance before a sugar coma. The milk goes into the cup after the hot water has been served when making a tea unless you are a psycho. No one puts a shirt on before their socks. Simple things.

I guess from an evolutionary perspective, when we were hanging out in caves, prioritizing things like food and fresh water over a new cave couch were probably beneficial to our survival. We might not worry about catching food now, and plenty of folk will buy a new DFS couch over more important things, but our desire for order is still the same: but now, we layer that quirk over football transfers.

This is wrong.

The order of transfers doesn’t matter. Arsenal will be working on lots of deals, with lots of clubs, all at the same time. If you worked in order, you would miss out on players, and it would be incredibly inefficient. Teams of people work on these things. Teams are collections of people built to withstand the burden of multiple tasks. A left-back moving up the queue doesn’t mean we’re ignoring other positions.

There are people that don’t think we need a left-back at that price, again, I would disagree. Kieran Tierney is a monster player, we love him, his attitude, his character, and his Tesco bag for holding training gear.

… but, we need to think in a more ruthless manner because we have struggled at left-back over the last 3 seasons.

Firstly, the numbers. The last 4 seasons (one from Celtic) have not been good for Kieran Tierney in the league. He has only played 48.5% of the league minutes available. His best haul was his second season at Arsenal where he clocked 2300 minutes. Joao Cancelo clocked 3200 EPL minutes last season in the league, 4200 overall. Trent managed 2800 last season, 4200 overall. KTs best minutes total over the last 4 seasons has been 2900 in 20/21.

What makes his injury issues even more problematic is that in 2 of his 3 seasons, there has been more than one breakdown a season. Take last season, he missed the first batch of games, which went to Nuno Tavares. Came back for a chunk, imposed himself on the style again, made himself important, then we lost him on international duty. Why is this important? Because our back-up players haven’t been ready to go because they’re either not at the level (Kola) or too young (Nuno). When KT breaks, so does the team, has tended to be the pattern.

If you want to be like the best two teams in the league, you have to find full-back solutions that can hit 3800+ minutes. Trent 4200, Robertson 4000, Cancelo 4600, even Kyle Walker at 32 is delivering 2700 minutes. 4 seasons’ worth of data would suggest it’s going to be unlikely that Kieran will be that player.

Arsenal has a history of not making moves when it’s clear there are weaknesses in players. I remember Arsenal waiting year after year for Abou Diaby to recover so he could replace Patrick Vieira. It never happened. We suffered for it.

The need is clear, you have to have a left-back at Arsenal that can manage more than 48% of the Premier League minutes. Would Arsenal have found an extra 3 points if we’d had Kieran T available for those 51.5% of the minutes? Absolutely.

… but, key with this window is that we are making the mini-crisis work for us. The question going around at Arsenal will surely be: ‘Do we need to find a like-for-like backup, or could we do something more innovative?’

Arsenal is doing the latter. Don’t listen to those that think a setpiece obsessive manager is signing a 5ft9 centre-back, no, Martinez is a left-back option for Arsenal. What is the motive? We’re a little one-dimensional with Kieran Tierney at left-back. We have a power move where we catch him on the overlap and the delivery isn’t always to level we need. Lisandro Martinez is a full-back more in the shape of Joao Cancelo. He’s a build-up player. Signing him will mean Xhaka doesn’t need to drop into a deeper position to build the play. It means we have a player that can invert, join the midfield, and contribute to our attacking play. It means we have someone that can find long accurate balls to release our pacy frontline. He’s also a monster in the air, which adds an additional shield of cover if the opposition counter with hoofs over the top. If your fullback can step into midfield, you can blitz with your forwards.

Now, is this move a guaranteed win? Absolutely not. There’s a huge difference between the Premier League and the Dutch one. There are a lot of examples of players that looked the real deal, only for them to land in our league, and totally tank. Just look at Donny, he looked like Ramsey on steroids, but he’s been dreadful. It ain’t the system, it’s the reality that it’s hard to adapt here.

The price is high because there aren’t many defenders that can do what Martinez does. If Arsenal are moving for him, with the money they have at the ready, it’s because he’s been heavily scouted and analyzed and the club think he’s a gem. There are too many people that spill their views into the ether when they don’t watch anything bar youtube clips. Unless you have an Ajax avatar in your bio, or you’ve been talking about Dutch football consistently, I can’t listen to your views on the player.

Let’s see where the deal goes, if we don’t get him, there will be other targets, and if one of them looks like Zinchenko, I’m not going to be sad, because we know he can do it in the Premier League.

Right, that’s all I have, I’ll see you in the comments.

Later on today, we’ll be rolling with a Sunday Post-Season special with a special guest appearance from Sophie over at the excellent Highbury Squad Youtube Channel. Subscribe to the channel below, click the little bell, and tune in, it’ll be a cracker!

  • CALI: 1PM


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  1. Positive pete

    With Tom on that one “ if up against Manure,we’d better be prepared to meet the selling clubs valuation” .Spot on.aid add the caveat that if the valuation isn’t “ crazy” then why not.Forces the selling clubs hand & Manures.

  2. Rich


    Contracts work both ways, why should he agree to a huge pay-cut?

    He’s contracted at Barca until 2026, they offered him that contract in a freewill exchange, they have to honour it, in the same way he’d have to honour it, if he wanted out, and they didn’t want to sell.

    He’s one of my favourite non Arsenal players, he’s a real joy to watch, unfortunately his wages wouldn’t be realistic for us

    We could likely afford them, but it would ruin our wage structure, Saka+ Odegaard would rightly demand parity, as would Martinelli + Smith Rowe in 12-24 months time if they continue to develop.

    Really hope United don’t get him, one of the best midfielders on the planet.

    I suppose Barca could freeze him out, but they’d be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

  3. Mysticleaves

    I know that Savic is crazy good at times in the serie A. But I would still much rather Tielemans. He’s premier League ready and honestly, from what I have seen from SMS, no much difference. They are as good as each other

  4. HerbsArmy


    Interesting that you make reference to the time period between 1954-1988 – (just another of those ‘lost years’ episodes the club have inflicted on themselves time after time), but what is equally important is the club Arsenal were between 1929-1939, and the one that emerged after the war, that extends your historical reference.
    The version of Arsenal from 1946 is what we have today.
    After the war, it’s like our dominance of the previous decade was a distant memory, and the drivers and innovators of that unparalleled success were nowhere to be seen, for Arsenal, ambition was replaced by self preservation, the idea that its more essential to maintain their place in the top division than risk all by trying to actually win it.
    United had made their game-changing significant move in 1948, by appointing Matt Busby, and all the outpouring of a nations sympathy that came with the Munich air crash of 1958. Arsenal had allowed themselves to drift into an afterthought by now and refused to make any effort to compete.
    Having watched a genial Scotsman transform United, Liverpool made their own game-changing move and brought Bill Shankly from Huddersfield, (where of course Arsenal took Chapman from).
    Arsenal didn’t respond to either of these moves and were left miles behind, as we see today from the trophy count.
    A club’s fans can only ever be as ambitious as their owners allow them to be, and when you look at what United and Liverpool have achieved since WWII, it’s very easy to see how the Arsenal hierarchy have constantly sold the club and its fans extremely short of what should be acceptable.
    Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and……Billy Wright!

  5. Ishola70

    Still not convinced with Partey “sitting”

    I think he needs a more solid all round midfielder alongside him if Odegaard is also in the equation.

    Tielemans for Odegaard wouldn’t bother me too much.

  6. Mr Serge

    JonnygunnerJuly 4, 2022 09:23:58
    Mr SergeJuly 4, 2022 09:14:58
    Mr SergeJuly 3, 2022 23:23:33
    Jesus to be announced tomorrowAs I said yesterday Rich how come you never predicted this ? 😜Maybe because he’s got a life mate….

    Not sure how I offended you but it’s a running joke on here regarding Rich ,but you seem to always comment t negatively towards my posts move on and don’t comment on what I say anymore you waster

  7. allezkev

    Hi Herb, nice comments as usual and yes both Man Utd and Liverpool have shown great ambition since 1946, they’ve both been relegated in that time as well.

    For me the biggest difference between the three biggest English clubs is their respective records in Europe and that not easy to explain is it?
    I mean under early Wenger we had amazing teams with historically great players but did bugger all in european competition…