Match Report: Wolves 3 – 1 Arsenal

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3) 3 Arsenal (0) 1
Premier League
Molineux Stadium, Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton WV1 4QR
Wednesday, 24th April 2019. Kick-off time: 7.45pm

(4-2-3-1) Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Özil, Iwobi; Lacazette
Substitutes: Čech, Elneny, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Kolašinac, Nketiah, Willock.
Scorers: Sokratis
Yellow Card: Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Attendance: 31,436

And so it was said a little while ago that Arsenal had the easier run-in to the end of the season and that a top four position was bolted on, no problem. Really? Tonight here at Molineux Stadium, they looked anything but a top four Premiership team. In the first half, we were overrun consistently and constantly by a very compact, yet confident Wolverhampton Wanderers side, who to be fair, never looked as if they were troubled by Arsenal at all.
Premiership football has suddenly become a game of statistics, which in the wake of tonight’s match suddenly means nothing at all; especially when you consider that Arsenal had 70 per cent possession; even more damning when you see that out of eleven shots on the Wolves goal, only one was on target, and that was the solitary headed goal which was scored by Sokratis from a Granit Xhaka corner just ten minutes from time which cosmetically made the result better than the appalling performance that it truly was.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND – APRIL 24: Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal look dejected during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal FC at Molineux on April 24, 2019 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The Arsenal defence was in total disarray almost right from the start; Wolves were unrelenting in their attack, ruthless in delivery. Nacho Monreal brought down Jonny Castro Otto 25 yards out from goal. Ruben Neves sensed an opportunity, took a chance, struck the ball perfectly and we were one-down. Sadly, from this moment until the end of the first half we looked rather like a punch-drunk fighter that had done far too many rounds. The home side were so dominant, that it almost seemed as if they had an extra man or two on the pitch; nine minutes later Matt Doherty scored with a looping header over Bernd Leno’s head and by now things were looking dreadful for us. By half time Diogo Jota had put the home side three up with no reply from us; the worst crime was that we didn’t even look like replying either.

The second half saw us start as the first half finished, and despite replacing Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lucas Torreira with Sead Kolašinac and Mattéo Guendouzi on the hour we struggled badly. To be fair, going into the second half three goals down was always going to be a huge mountain to climb for any club, but by the time Mr. Emery replaced Alex Iwobi with Eddie Nketiah with twenty minutes left on the clock, it looked exactly what it was, a last-ditch attempt to breathe some life into a lacklustre team performance. Incredibly, Alexandre Lacazette nearly scored, and would have done but for an excellent Ryan Bennett block just a minute or two before our solitary goal, scored (and taken well too, it has to be said) by Sokratis. Our players looked mightily relieved when Stuart Attwell blew the final whistle, but all in all it was a poor performance which could easily have major ramifications when the final league positions are determined in a few weeks’ time.

Another poor away performance in the Premiership by us again, and again the frail and brittle defence, like in the Crystal Palace match last Sunday were exposed and punished heavily by the opposition. Many supporters blamed Shkrodan Mustafi for the defeat in the last match, but tonight he wasn’t playing, and we still managed to lose, and this time put in an even worse performance than then. Where was Mesut Özil tonight? Or Alex Iwobi? Or Lucas Torreira? We simply cannot carry on like this, and in this manner too. It’s becoming obvious that the Europa League is our only chance of glory now, and surely Mr. Emery has to throw everything he can at this match on Thursday now, otherwise the disappointment around the club will be almost toxic. Leicester City at the King Power Stadium lie in wait on Sunday morning for us; these players must get it together now and realise that surely nothing less than a victory will suffice. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.


Arsenal’s £40million lie

We start this morning with some tripe from John Cross in the Daily Mirror.

“Arsenal transfer budget revealed” is the headline.

What this means is that the Mirror are missing their monthly advertising revenue target and have asked John to make up a story that will get the hits. These days newspapers rely on website hits rather than copies sold for their profit.

So John has written a lovely piece which says that Arsenal have “around £40million to spend this summer”.

John knows full well that this is not how transfers work, how budgets work.

As we explained last summer, it is not Football Manger where a manager gets given £40million to spend on players.

The actual amount available to spend on new players is the difference between costs and revenue. With that difference being how much you can increase costs by. These costs are not only the amortised transfer fee, but also wages, agent fees, bonuses, etc.

Using John Cross’s logic that we have “around £40million to spend this summer” could mean that we buy 20 players on a free transfer and still have ““around £40million to spend this summer”. It simply does not take into account the wages associated with bringing these players in.

The actual figure that Arsenal have to spend is more complicated than a newspaper headline. It is up to the accountants to work out what we can spend based on their predicted revenue and costs of the club.

Next season we have £40million in additional sponsorship revenue to hit the books. This would allow us to buy (in simple terms) two £40million players on 5 year contracts paying £200,000 a week.

We then have expiring contracts.

Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck are all set to leave the club following the expiration of their contracts. Between them they earn ~£435,000. That is £22.5million in costs saved.

So we have additional revenue of £40million and cost savings of £22.5million. Straight off the bat that would indicate that we have around £60million to spend over the next 12 months. But as previously explained, this is not £60million available for transfer fees, but £60million a year that can be spent on amortised transfer fees, wages, agent’s fees, etc.

This summer we need a central defender, left back, central midfielder / 2nd choice right back (purchase one and Ainsley Maitland-Niles covers the other spot), winger and a reserve goal keeper. That is 5 signings.

With the funds we currently have available, we can recruit the majority of what we require without having to sell.

The way I see things, we get the reserve goal keeper, left back and central midfielder using the funds free’d up by those players leaving for nothing.

£22.5million a year was a huge amount to be spending on 5 squad players. It could easily be spent better on 3 players.

None of those leaving need to be replaced with a first choice player (bar perhaps Monreal) so you would expect the squad keeper, left back and central midfielder to be costing no more than £90,000 a week each. That comes to £270k, or £14million between them.

That would leave us with £8.5million to spend on transfer fees. That is not £8.5million to be spent this summer but £8.5million to be spent in each year of their contract. If we give all 3 players a 5-year deal, that will give us £42.5million to spend on 3 players. Pretty much £15million each.

Can we find a back up goal keeper, squad left back and squad central midfielder (or right back) for £15million on £90k a week? I am sure we can.

That then leaves a winger and central defender, who will be marquee big signings.

We still have the additional £40million in sponsorship available that would allow us to sign the aforementioned two £40million players on £200,000 a week.

We can then raise further short term funds by cashing in on the likes of David Ospina, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Mohamed Elneny.

Between them they earn £200,000 a week. That would free up further mid-term funds for increased wages over time and a bit more on the amortised transfer fees.

We would raise around £40million by selling all four. As the incoming transfer fee would be short term revenue – it will not be a yearly income – you would pretty much set it against a new signings.

So this would leave Arsenal being able to perhaps sign a £60million central defender and a £40million winger. On top of this we have the £40million worth of other players coming in.

That would see out total summer transfer spending be close to £140million – which if every player was on a 5-year deal would see amortised transfer costs increase by £28million.

As for the extra Champions League money, I would imagine this would replenish our emergency fund pot.

These days you can not guarantee Champions League football every year, so it would be dangerous to budget transfers over a 5-year period based on having Champions League football.

You are better off leaving Champions League football money unspent, building up, to cover the costs when you do not have Champions League football.

So circling back, the £40million quoted by John Cross is rubbish. Someone made up for hits.

He really is becoming a gutter journalist.



Top 4 back in Arsenal’s hands despite Crystal Palace defeat

What a strange weekend of football?

I have written before about how 75 points was what was needed to finish top 4. A few replied saying that would not be enough, and it would require closer to 80 points. My methodology for 75 was based on Arsenal, Chelsea & Manchester United having dropped plenty of points this season and still having some tough games to go.

A few games, the maths was simple. Arsenal had to win there two remaining home games and get 6 points from 15 on the road.

The run started off with a 1-0 defeat to Everton. Not a surprise to lose. We then picked up 3 of the 6 away points against a 10-man Watford in a lacklustre display. And then we come to thisTop 4 back in Arsenal’s hands despite Crystal Palace defeat weekend.

The defeat against Crystal Palace was tough to take. It was our home form that had kept us in the race for a top 4 finish, so to lose so limply was frustrating. After the game a mate said “you get one of those a season” and he was right.

Almost every season, teams lose a home game against someone they should have beaten.

Manchester City also lost at home to Crystal Palace. Chelsea lost at home to Leicester. Tottenham to Wolves. Only Liverpool have dominated at home against the lower teams this season. That knowledge did not soften the blow of the defeat, however.

With Manchester United losing to Everton, victory over Crystal Palace would have seen Arsenal move to 3rd place, and top 4 well and truly in sight. The defeat meant that for the first time in a while, we were relying on others to drop points.

And then we have last night. Chelsea at home to Burnley. No one would have been expecting them to drop points, but they did.

Usually at this time of the year, those mid-table teams have turned off. Heads on the beach. It is perhaps testament to their professionalism that Palace, Burnley or Everton did not turn off and all got well deserved points.

The draw for Chelsea swung the pendulum back into Arsenal’s favour in what will probably be the defining 7 days of Premier League football.

To start with, I think we can all write off finishing 3rd following the defeat to Crystal Palace. Spurs surely have it wrapped up with the ease of their run in.

So that leaves Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United chasing top 4.

In the next 7 days Arsenal have 2 tricky away games to Wolves and Leicester. Neither will be easy. You can picture a scenario where Arsenal come away with zero points.

Manchester United also face 2 tricky games at home – versus Manchester City and Chelsea. The Man U v Chelsea game is the West London sides only fixture in the next 7 days.

Arsenal could well find themselves 4th; 5 points clear of Chelsea in 5th by this time next week. They could also just as easily find themselves 4 points behind.

As for Manchester United, they currently sit 3 points off the pace of 4th. You have to feel that they need Arsenal to lose both games, and beat Chelsea, to stand a chance of finishing top 4. By the time the weekend is out, they could find themselves 8 points off top 4.

It is tight in that race for the top 4, and any dropped points in the next 7 days will be crucial.