ACCEPTING SLOW PLAYER INTEGRATIONS

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Let’s be honest here, that was quite the weekend, right?

Liverpool played Chelsea in a leggy League Cup semi-final that went into extra time. Chelsea were really bad, their monstrously expensive squad couldn’t take down a Liverpool side that were cooked by 60 even when they brought on 3 teenagers.

I’m finding the post-win narrative a little nauseating regarding the age of the squad. The average age of the Liverpool squad was higher than our starting 11 on Saturday. Virgil Van Dijk is the best centre-back in the world, and he was the only player to have the ball in the net all game. Chelsea’s team might be expensive, but it’s also young. But… really, really bad.

This tweet kind of captured it for me.

I had to go into therapy when we missed out on Mudryk. I thought he was incredible. I was told by a scout that one of the German clubs that is known for picking up the best young talent in the world knew about his crazy profile but he was too rich for them. He set the world of scouting on fire. Every club wanted a piece of the action and we were eventually bullied and gazumped by Chelsea for him.

Now look at him. He’s just a speed merchant who wouldn’t look out of place at Brentford. A club that tried for him but said he wasn’t worth more than £25m.

Arsenal moved on Trossard and Jorginho, the rest is history.

That does shift me onto all the signings we’ve made since January 2023. There is this view that players need to come into the club and hit the ground running inside 10 games or their name comes under scrutiny.

That’s not how it works at the highest level in the best teams – unless there’s some absolute freak of a player you’re bringing in – like Haaland or Kylian.

Kai Havertz, David Raya, Jorginho, Trossard, and Kiwior have all taken time to settle in. Mikel Arteta is an extremely demanding manager. His tactical expectations of players are really high, he trains the team at high intensity at outrageous speed, and he pushes players really, really hard. It takes between 6 months and a year for players to understand the system, gain the trust of the manager, and piece it together on the pitch.

Declan Rice feels like an exception because he’s offered so much from day one, but I’m not sure anyone could deny that his game has kicked up a level, particularly in that more advanced left 8 role. Who had him down as a setpiece specialist? Or a player that could be involved in so many goal actions?

Kiwior was almost immediately written off despite everyone know he was purchased a year earlier so we wouldn’t have to get hit with the Lisandro Martinez premium fee if we let him develop for another year. What have you got now? A defender who is locking up fullbacks and contributing with goals in big games. He looks like a very, very good player.

Jorginho was purchased as a plan b so we’d have coverage for Thomas Partey – he did a decent job in season one, but just look at what he’s offering a year in. He leads, mentors, and dictates midfield in the biggest games. MoTM against Liverpool twice IMO, and he dropped another worldie against Bruno yesterday. Does Partey get in ahead of him? Don’t think so.

‘Man can’t run’

‘He’s dusted’

‘Chelsea reject’

Read the comments on this post from the ‘you don’t know ball’ crowd. Now I’m watching Chelsea YouTubers lose their minds because they miss his leadership.

Arsenal are at the very highest levels in world football in 2024. We are a younger version of Manchester City. A club where slow integrations are an accepted part of the club process. Jack Grealish, slow start. Rodri, really slow start. Nathan Ake, slow start as well. City are forcing slow starts on £70m players, what makes you think we’re going to avoid that at the lower end of the market or with young players from clubs like Spezia? You didn’t even know Spezia was a club!

This is why it’s so hard for young players to break into the first team. You have to be more than good. You have to be the very best kid in your age class and everything has to roll for you. Just look at the level of Hale-End kids that’ll likely go in the summer. Eddie, ESR, and Reiss Nelson. Look at the players on loan who probably won’t get a chance. Patino, Sambi, Nuno Tavares and free-scoring Mika Biereth.

These are all good problems to have. It means we’re at a level so high, improving us has to be a combo of elite scouting AND good coaching. But it does mean we have to have patience with the recruitment process. David Raya was never going to click after 5 games, but he certainly did after that Dubai mid-season trip.

We should take a moment to consider how extraordinary the players have been this season. Arsenal SHOULD be struggling. We have a young group of players who have mostly never had to play 3 games a week at the Champions League level. 10 of our 11 players who started against Porto had never been to the knockouts of the CL. A title charge was not expected. This season was supposed to be harder. But Arteta and the players have been outrageously good. If you think this is normal, can I point you in the direction of Newcastle, a team people were all worried about as dark horses at the start of the season, absolutely in the midtable mud because they haven’t been able to handle the rigours of two major competitions this season.

Remember when I wrote that missing out on Champions League to Spurs probably wasn’t a bad thing because we weren’t ready? That’s what I meant. Spurs aren’t in the Champions League because they weren’t ready, and it’s very unlikely Newcastle will make it back in this season.

Arsenal now has 9 days off. I suspect the manager will give the players some time off to get some energy in the legs and free the mind from the stressors of the season. Then he’ll have a chunk of the time on the training ground to pump his players with new ideas for the next run of games that lead to that FC Porto game we simply have to win.

The goal of the club is to have everyone fit by the end of March – which is after the international break. We have City, Luton, and Brighton within the space of a week. That is make or break for the season. We could conceivably have every player ready for then. Thomas Partey will be in the mixer for Sheffield United. I expect we’ll have our fullbacks in contention before the Porto game, and then we’re heading into the international break, where it’s possible the club will throw some practice games for the enigma that is Jurrien Timber.

Imagine that – instead of our squad collapsing in March like it did last time, it could actually be ready for a power run at the league!

Plenty of bad could happen between now and then – but at some point, we’re going to have a bit of luck on the injury front and I’m hoping that’s this season!

Right, get your teeth into the latest Arsenal Opinion Podcast. If you want the On The Whistle from the weekend, that’s staying behind Patreon.

Get the Monday debrief in ur ears. x

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Rich

ES

Agreed.. Jorginho’s experience on and off the pitch is vital, he’s a natural leader, and apparently an excellent professional.

I’m surprised we haven’t triggered his extension yet… Seems like the biggest no-brainer to me.

Emiratesstroller

Rich Arsenal are in good shape at the moment and there is no concern that we have not triggered yet his contract extension. The club will I am sure trigger it when it needs to be done. Arsenal like most other major EPL Clubs will offer only one year contract extensions when a player reaches his 30th birthday and his contract has expired. On a separate issue Ferdinand seems to enjoy being a wind up merchant.First he suggests that Saka is not world class but Foden is and now he suggests that Arteta would leave Arsenal if Man Utd come… Read more »

Rich

Pierre

Interesting take from Goldbridge on what attacking midfielders are being instructed to do..

If Goldbridge’s theory is right.. Maybe take the Ødegaard poster down off the dartboard, and replace it with an Arteta one..

https://x.com/markgoldbridge/status/1762436660942303411?s=20

Positive Pete

Ferdinand ex Man U stand up comedy routine coming to a media outlet near you.😂F*** ng hilarious.Nearly spat my corn flakes out.Must be a mass break out of ‘ Delusion’ at old Toilet.Getting ad funny as ETH.
Its clearly killing these ex Man U pundits seeing Arsenal doing well.Hes making this shit up.Embarrassing.

allezkev

That Pete is classic tabloid television, he knows exactly what he’s doing, provoking a response, he doesn’t even believe it himself it’s just a wind-up.

Siddeeq

No extension for Jorginho please and if he wants to coach Chelsea are in need of his “excellent professional”

Per and Santi are brilliant Arsenal brains.

Bob N16

Sid, with Elneny and Partey leaving there is an extremely good argument for taking up the optional year for Jorginho and even adding another year option.

I’m a big fan of BFG but he’s got a worthwhile job at the moment and who knows where Santi is right now but it’s not at Arsenal!

Positive Pete

sid the Greek.Georgy stays.For at least another season.Insanity to let him leave at this stage.

jwl

Orbinho –

– In 2024 Arsenal have a maximum 18 points. Liverpool have 18 out of 21 only losing to Arsenal. Man City have earned 19 out a possible 21. Very little margin for error on the run in.

– This is only the second season in Premier League history where three teams have had 58 or more points after 26 matches.

The first was 2018-19 where Man City finished with 98 points, Liverpool 97 and Spurs finished 4th with 71 after taking just 11 points from their final 12 games.

jwl

Also from Orbinho, I am not particularly keen on us achieving a record number of points for second place finish this year, that would be tough to take.
——————-

– Arsenal hold the Premier League record number of points for a team finishing 5th. (75)

Arsenal hold the Premier League record number of points for a team finishing 4th. (79)

Arsenal hold the Premier League record number of points for a team finishing 3rd. (83)

Positive Pete

j w L : 😧.Lets hope that statistic only goes in threes.Thats it dusted & done.And this time we smash it!

TheLegendaryDB10

Thanks for pointing to that “hilarious” interview of Rio. Read it through, and it literally sounds like a desperate Manure fan looking for a quick fix and turnaround with Arteta as the solution. Arteta is 100% not going anywhere, but let’s entertain this joke for 1 second as a sincere wish. Arteta spent 4 years getting us to where we are now with clearing out unwanted / unsuitable players and building a team with specific profiles in each area of the team. Manure are never going to let Arteta spend as much as time as he did with us to… Read more »

Kpankulu

The LegendaryDB10:

Can’t agree with you more.

Manchester United FC and Rio Ferdinand are like Harry and Meghan Dumbarton: Lazy yahoos who want fame and results without hard work and laying proper foundations.

Poster child: Antony.

Pierre

Rich
“If Goldbridge’s theory is right.. Maybe take the Ødegaard poster down off the dartboard, and replace it with an Arteta one..”

I doubt that Arteta instructed Odegaard to waste such a golden opportunity as this.

Screenshot_20240226-124953_Chrome
Kpankulu

Oh, Canadian Gooner, chill out! Can’t speak for my counterparts, but personally I believe that Thomas Partey has been a good servant to the club, when he is not occupying his increasingly permanent residence in the Jack Wilshere suite of the Abou Diaby Ward of the Sobha London Colney Clinic. If he was fit on a given day, he would play ahead of Jorginho in most games [NOT ALL games, mind]. The problem is – he’s not consistently fit. Even when he is almost ready to rejoin the team, something causes a relapse [see Tierney, Kieran]. It’s like Waiting for… Read more »

Redblooded

I would love to see emile start for the Porto game, his movements and passing would help undo that Porto defence imho

rollen

Spuds and both red and blue Manures still to play away. Will be interesting for sure.

Siddeeq

Last season they said its insanity to let Yakubu go

This season its Jorginho

They havent learnt when to hold and when to fold.

Im telling you for free!

Marko

Someone got a decent write up on the recent financials for arsenal? On the surface one might get worried it’s the second year in a row with a loss but I assume that it’s not taking into account this season being in the champions league and what not. Plus you gotta figure that this coming summer the club will finally look at selling the likes of Partey, ESR, Nketiah and a few others.

Marko

As for Jorginho… he’s been doing great lately very good at progressive passes but whether or not it’s worth keeping on for next season I dunno. He’s getting on a bit and we might need to do some trimming on wages and/or sales to players if we want to make some purchases this summer. I’m good either way but he might have to agree to lower wages if he stays

TallestTiz

Wage bill still reasonable

Top job

IMG_20240227_173612
Rich

Sid Last season I pretty much stood alone in saying we should let Partey go… Hopefully we cut ties this summer, then enter the market to replace him, he’s far too unreliable. Jorginho as a 3rd choice experienced head to back up Rice and a new midfield signing, allowing us to shuffle the pack in different ways is ideal. How good do you expect our 3rd choice No6 to actually be?.. Ideally we’d only need him for 1,000 – 1,400 minutes, and to provide some experience in the squad. That’s the ideal role for a 32-33yr old.. We don’t need… Read more »

Bob N16

Sid ‘Last season they said its insanity to let Yakubu go. They havent learnt when to hold and when to fold.’

Who are ‘they’? Not sure ‘they’ have fuck all to do with who Arsenal buys and sells.

Marko – I’d assume in the next few days The Athletic or whoever will come out with an article explaining the financial situation. The vibe doesn’t feel like it’s a major issue!

Marko

That wage bill doesn’t take into account the wages of Rice and Havertz which are pretty huge. I think we’re still good financially but quite clearly if we still want to spend on the squad we’ll still have to make some sales finally.

Marko

Assuming some of the sales we could/should see this summer:
Partey on 200,000
ESR on 40,000
Elneny on 55,000
Cedric on 75,000
Nelson on 100,000
Nketiah on 100,000
Ramsdale on 120,000
And possibly Jorginho’s 110,000

That’s roughly about 30+ million a year off the wage bill and not counting what happens to the loan players like Tierney and Lakonga. Of course that gets cut into by potential new deals for Tomi, White and others but point is that we should be okay with spending money this summer.

Last edited 1 month ago by Marko
Marko

Plus I think if all else fails and we needed to comply with whatever we could think about selling Jesus. Probably interest in him and he’s on nearly 300,000 a week. Wouldn’t be considered unsellable like some of the others for me at least

Marko

Total revenue £466.7m⬆️25%
🏟️Matchday £102.6m⬆️29%
📺Broadcasting £191.2m⬆️31%
💼Commercial £169.3m⬆️19%
⚽️Pre-tax loss £52.1m⬆️15%
⚽️Wages £234.8m⬆️11%
⚽️Profit on player sales £10.7m⬇️51.8%
🏢Group’s property development business £2.1m⬇️25%
🪙Cash at bank & in hand £42.8m⬆️43%
⚽️Amortisation and impairment of player registrations £139.1m ⬆️11%

Nigel Tufnel

All those sets of numbers put together still do not give an accurate picture of our financial situation. Only the club and the league have all the info. Stop worrying about it so much, and hope that the club has a handle on things. I don’t think there are stupid people in charge.

By the way, some of you are the same geniuses who were wishing for us to spend 80 mil on Toney last month. A player who undoubtedly would have made us worse than we are now, rather than better.

Northbanker

I would keep Jorginho via the option to extend
It will give time for MLS to enter the fray the following year

Northbanker

Then if we sign Zubimendi as Rich constantly plugs then we will see if he has a higher ceiling than MLS

Rich

Northbanker

It’s not about who has the higher ceiling, it’s about who’ll give us the best chance of competing in 4 competitions next season.

One is 17 yr old first year scholar, who’s never played a single minute as a professional.

The other is a 25yr old Spanish International, with some 14,000 minutes as a professional.

Northbanker

Rich – hence my point on Jorginho. In case you
Have misunderstood, I’m not saying we shouldn’t sign Zubi and will be very happy if we do. My point is at some point (but not next season) MLS will be a serious rival for a 6 or 8 role and could prove to be one of the very best

For same reason I hope we buy Hato.

But ultimate priority is a top CF above Zubi and anyone else. Beyond that it depends what funds we have and that depend on who we sell and how much

Tom

” Last season I pretty much stood alone in saying we should let Partey go… Hopefully we cut ties this summer, then enter the market to replace him, he’s far too unreliable.’

Yes Rich, you might’ve mentioned it two or three hundred times already, a piece of amazing foresight on your part, no doubt.
But I believe I’ve already apologized profusely for ignoring your sage advice and making Arteta ignore all those 100m Partey transfer offers.

Hopefully Partey can still give as some useful minutes this season, preferably at the RB position of course.

Rich

Northbanker Surely the most likely player to next get a chance is Patino, providing we can convince him to ink a new deal. If Smith Rowe leaves, as I think he should providing someone will take him on a permanent deal… Then we can develop Patino, and take an internal replacement. I wasn’t convinced we “needed” a centre forward in Dec/Jan, and I’m not overly convinced we’re desperate now. I suspect Eddie will leave in the summer though.. I flat don’t think we’ll sign Toney. I’d be surprised if we made a big striker signing, I wouldn’t be surprised if… Read more »

James wood

Difficult RICH to teach someone to be a goal scorer.

James wood

It’s a natural thing that’s why Eddie will never be that striker.?

Marko

I think striker wise in the summer we can probably not do any better than Sesko for me. Huge potential and already a more than capable striker right now. Very much someone who can adapt quite quickly to the way we play