Arsenal’s new assist king makes case for new contract

During the Bournemouth v Liverpool game, a statistic flashed across the screen. It was the “deadliest duo” one that Sky Sports invented. They try and show which two players have been involved in the most goals with each other (ie assist and goal scorer).

Arsenal’s deadliest duo was Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

I was not surprised by the presence of Aubameyang, who has been on fire this season. It was Aaron Ramsey that surprised me.

Ramsey has hardly played in the Premier League this season. His start against Manchester United was his first in the Premier League since September. He ha started just 7 of 16 games – playing just 656 minutes in total.

Compare this to (the currently “injured”) Mesut Ozil.

The German has started 10 games, and played 825 minutes in the Premier League. It is clear who Unai Emery thinks is his first choice number 10.

It was announced recently that Arsenal would not be renewing Ramsey’s contract. Fans were split on the decision but the majority agreed that is made sense. The feeling was that Ramsey did not fit into Unai Emery’s system. That Ozil, the assist king, was more suitable. I agreed with that.

But often your eyes and mind deceive you, and when you look at the statistics, they tell a different story.

With 6 assists this season, it is Ramsey who is the clubs top creator in the Premier League – not Ozil. In fact, when you compare Ramsey to Ozil in assists, passes completed and chances created, it is the Welshman who comes out on top overall.

Is the real truth that Ramsey actually fits into Emery’s system better than Mesut Ozil? And that he has over taken the German as Arsenal’s main creative force?

Taking into account that Ramsey also has a higher work rate, is better at pressing, and is a bigger goal threat than Mesut Ozil, it is quite easy to make a case that it should be Rambo staying at Arsenal, not Ozil.

Would I be too upset if Arsenal cashed in on Ozil in January (rumours of Inter Milan offering £25million to arsenal) and gave Ramsey a new contract? No.

Would I be upset if Arsenal kept them both? No.

Ramsey is making a case not only to get a new contract at Arsenal, but to be first choice number 10.

It certainly raises the valid point that Arsenal need to revisit Ramsey’s contract…

Keenos

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Should Arsenal sign “indisciplined” £122,000,000 star?

Ousmane Dembélé is a talented kid. That is not up for debate. But he is a troubled star who reminds me of a young Mario Balotelli.

Genuinely two-footed, quick, skilful, strong and technically solid, the Frenchman should be the next global star in football, following Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

It is his natural attributes that saw Barcelona pay Borussia Dortmund €105 million plus a reported €40 million add-ons for the then 20-year-old after just a single season with the German club. He was supposed to be a short term replacement of Neymar, a long term replacement for Messi.

Dembele had gone on strike at Dortmund in an attempt to force the deal through, with team-mate Roman Weidenfeller saying the Frenchman did not even bother to collect his boots. There were warning signs.

In fact, his issues were prior to his days at Dortmund when he refused to sign a professional contract with boyhood club Rennes.

Despite getting his desired move, things have not really gone to plan for Dembele in Spain, with injuries and apparent attitude problems hampering his progress, regardless of a recent upturn.

Dembele is reported to have turned up late for training more than once – including turning up 2 hours late earlier this week.

Last month he was left out of the side for their Champions League clash against Inter Milan after skipping a team meeting.

A few weeks ago the 21-year-old was left out of the squad completely for a game against Real Betis after failing to show up to training.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has recently commented about Dembele having ongoing “indiscipline”.

Urbano Ortega, who was key in bringing the player to Barcelona, blamed his “entourage” in a recent interview – which brings back memories of another talented and temperamental young Frenchman. Nicolas Anelka.

“We already knew about how he was and about his entourage. In fact he had already had problems at Rennes, where he didn’t want to sign the professional contract at first. We had good information about him at the technical level and some facts about his indiscipline due to his youth and because of the people that surround him, which do not help him at times,” recalled Ortega in an interview with Catalan radio programme, Esports Cope.

The hope with him is that he is young and naive, and if he grows up he will be a world superstar. But the same was thought about Anelka and Balotelli. Neither had the career they should have done.

In 2017 Barcelona took the risk and went big on him. If he is available in the summer, should Arsenal repeat that risk?

Despite his problems at Barcelona, he will still cost a huge amount. We are talking about £70-80million. This is a huge outlay considering his issues.

You also have the impact he could have on squad moral.

Arsenal currently have a fabulous team spirit, but one bad apple can soon change that. With the side have so many talented young players – Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Emile Smith Rowe and the returning Reiss Nelson – would it be sensible to add a problematic player with attitude problems to that group?

Arsenal do have some senior French-born players. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have taken Guendouzi under their wing. The hope would be that they could be a positive influence. That if he befriends these players, they could clip his wings a little, and maybe move him away from the troublesome entourage that Ortega speaks about.

But the risks are huge.

Like with Balotelli, the clubs willing to take a risk reduces every time a player moves but his behaviour remains unchanged.

Liverpool ended up releasing Balotelli after 2 seasons. He had played 16 league games; scoring just 1 goal. They wrote off £16million and a huge chunk in wages.

Dembele is currently reportedly on £200,000 a week at Barcelona.

Would Arsenal really want to invest a huge transfer (£70million) and tie up a further £52million (£200,000 a week on a 5 year deal) in Dembele? It would be a huge £122,000,000 risk

At those wages, Arsenal would struggle to recoup too much of the transfer fee if he does not settle, if he continues with the same behavioural issues as he has shown in Spain and Germany.

Looking forward 2 years, if he is still a problem child, who would pay Arsenal big money to take him on? The fear is Arsenal end up with a bad apple on huge wages that we are unable to sell.

If he does grow up, we would have a world class player on our hands. But Dembele is 22 at the end of this season. He has to grow up sooner rather than later.

Signing Dembele would be a huge financial risk for Arsenal. I am not sure if we should take it (but would be excited if we did).

Keenos

How will Unai Emery solve Arsenal defensive puzzle?

Unai Emery is facing a defensive puzzle.

With Rob Holding out for the season, yellow cards to both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi against Huddersfield means both are suspended for the game at Southampton on Sunday.

Not only does this give the Spaniard a headache for the Premier League match, but also disrupts his planning for the visit of Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday.

Thursday’s game would have been used to give Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal a run out. Get 90 minutes of senior football under their belts after long lay offs.

Koscielny would have most certainly started at centre back, with Monreal at left back. The problem now for Arsenal is that with Sokratis and Mustafi now out, the pair are now likely to be our central defensive partnership against Southampton.

So what does this mean for Thursday?

Does Emery continue with the rehabilitation of Monreal and Koscielny by giving them 90 minutes against Qarabagm hope they both get through and hope recover quickly enough for Southampton at Sunday lunch time?

Or does he play Sokratis and Mustafi (injury permitting) against Qarabag, keeping Koscielny and Monreal out of danger for Sunday.

The fear will be against Qarabag, the one of either Koscielny or Monreal picks up a little niggle ruling them out of Sunday. This is highly likely. Small injuries often occur after a long lay off. And even if they do both get through unscathed, are either yet fully fit enough to play 90 minutes twice in less than 3 days?

Arsenal were already without first choice U23 pairing Daniel Ballard and Julio Pleguezuelo, as well as Kostadinos Mavropanos. This would mean that if either Koscielny or Monreal were to not fit for Sunday, either 18-year-old Zech Medly would start, or Arsenal would have to move either Stephan Lichtsteiner or Granit Xhaka into the back four.

Logic dictates that you do not involved Koscielny or Monreal against Qarabag. It would also make sense to not play Sokratis if Mustafi’s hamstring injury is to rule him out of further games.

So Medley and Big Carl Jenkinson it is then/

Keenos