Lucas Perez & Shkodran Mustafi – Panic Buys or Brilliant Purchases?

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Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi. Had I said them two names to you about 6 months ago, 70% of you would have said who and the other 30% would have pretended to know who they are whilst frantically searching out their Wikipedia pages.

But here we are, in August, and both are set to become Arsenal players. And we still do not know anything about either.

Mustafi came into most people conscious when he scored against Ukraine at Euro 2016.

He then failed to start another game as everyone quickly put him in their Fantasy Football team and just as quickly took him out.

As for Lucas Perez (is it Lucas or Perez?), anyone that says they have seen him play is most likely a liar. No one had heard of him 48 hours ago. The only thing we really know about him is the Squawka statistics doing the round comparing him favourably to Antoine Griezmann.

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Two signings, one from nowhere, has led to accusations of Arsene Wenger Panic Buying.

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I do find it interesting that the main paper and journalist running with this line is John Cross and The Mirror. How John Cross’s view on Arsene Wenger has done a 180 since his book came out is incredible.

5 years of his head being up Wenger’s arse whilst writing the book. As soon as he no longer needs Wenger, he starts slating the man just for hits on his articles and a regular slot on TalkSport. But I digress.

Were Perez and Mustafi panic buys? To understand whether they were, you have to understand how clubs come up with their transfer targets.

For those that have not read the brilliant book Nowhere Men by Michael Calvin, teams tend to follow the following process when identifying and securing a transfer.

First is establishing what type of player they need. If they play like Arsenal and are looking for full backs, they need to bring in an attacking full back who is good at getting forward, has plenty of stamina and pace. It is then up to the scouts to go out and find these players.

There is no point scouting a defensive, slow, full back if that is not the type of player you need. The scouts go out with the player description and attempt to discover that player.

For example, with Granit Xhaka, Arsenal clearly targeted defensive midfielders who had a good pass completion ratio. This is also why we signed Mohamad Elneny. We did not need a N’Golo Kante or Victor Wanyama, players who run around a bit but are poor footballers, as that is not how we play.

The players singled out by the scouts then become a list which usually go’s on a white board in a secret room. I will let the book take over.

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So the likes of Lucas Perez would have appeared on the list. Probably not at the top. The top would have been, say, Antoine Griezmann, Julian Draxler, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and so on. As targets no longer became targets, either by joining other clubs, showing no interest, or being more expensive in fee or salary than we were willing to pay, they get rubbed off. And you move down that list until you get to a player that you reach a deal with.

In this case, that player was Lucas Perez.

Now there were reports that we rejected a chance to sign him a month ago. And again 2 weeks ago. This was not because we did not want him. But because at the time we were chasing other targets. He might have been 8th or 9th on the list, and when offered him, we were still pursuing number 3. The list is fast moving and it evolves.

There are normally numerous lists, with different players in different positions. Up to 9 or 10 players for each, maybe even more. And this is why we get linked to so many players. If they are on the list, we are scouting them regularly. Watching them week in week out. By the time you add the youth players with potential, the list of players Arsenal are watching at any one time can easily reach over 100.

This does not mean we are going to sign 100 players, it just means we are watching them. So when the lazy journalists link us to a player, there is actually some truth in it. We are probably watching him. But what the press do not know that player sits on the list. How seriously we are watching him. All they really know is we are potentially interested.

So Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi would have been on a white board in a locked from in London Colney which is only accessible by Arsene Wenger and his inner circle.

The players would have been scouted thoroughly and ordered by who is the priority. And over the summer that list would have worked through until we reach the point we did last night with two deals being doing for Perez and Mustafi.

My betting is that Mustafi was high up on a list. But we never really planned to sign a centre back this summer. And that we only started going for him once Gabriel became injured.

Perez would have been on a list, mid to low down on that list, with other targets above him. Likely added by the scout we poached from Leicester. Interesting that the 2 sides that were interested, Arsenal and Everton, have both poached Leicester back room staff. Those targets have not been secured, which is why he will find himself wearing The Arsenal Number 9 shirt next this season.

Now whether you think we worked quickly through the list, or have signed the right players, or have over spent or under spent, that is a different debate for a different blog.

Neither Perez or Mustafi were panic buys. Adding that sort of title to an article is merely to grab hits.

We might not have heard of either of them 6 months ago, but the Arsenal scouting and coaching staff would have. And we should welcome them to The Arsenal. Back them. If they give 100%, lets give them 100% back.

It might be too little to late. But we were not in a state of panic.

Keenos

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Lucas Perez, Aaron Ramsey, Chris Coleman & Watford Away

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Lucas Perez

So we all know how it works by now:

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So a player gets his move away from the club, or his new contract, and Arsenal simply get used, abused and spat out. At no point were Arsenal actually interested, but the furore caused leads fans to get excited, than disappointed, then attack the club.

I doubt if Arsenal are interested in Lucas Perez (and fully expect this article to be RT’d thousands of times when we do sign him). We have been linked to so many players this summer.  Moist is either press speculation, or, like with Riyad Mahrez, an agent using the Arsenal name to gain publicity to get a better deal.

Let’s stop believing everything we read.

Aaron Ramsey

Arsene Wenger was right when, after Liverpool, he said he just can not win (0 wins from 2 games shows that).

He did not player Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil or Olivier Giroud, and was bashed left, right and centre over it. But had they played, and got injured, everyone would have moaned that they were rushed back, not given the correct time off.

Fast forward 10 days, and Aaron Ramsey is out injured for a month after playing in the opening game of the season against Liverpool.

Chris Coleman has gone on to say: “I think we all expected him to [miss the start of the season].

“So I don’t know what happened between then and when he ended up on the pitch.

“Obviously only Arsenal can answer that. I think, to a man, it was a bit of a surprise he started.”

And there we have the catch 22 Arsene Wenger was talking about. He plays a player, that player gets injured, people moan that he should not have played him. He does not play a player, giving him a bit more rest, people then moan he should have played him.

Due to suspension, Aaron Ramsey’s last game for Wales was 1st July. A week before Laurent Koscileny and Olivier Giroud. In fact, the Frenchmen played 3 more games after Aaron Ramsey’s last game.

Koscielny returned to the Arsenal starting 11 for Leicester. A week after the first game. So Coleman’s talk about Ramsey being treated differently is completely rubbish.

I also laugh at Chris Coleman’s dig at Arsene Wenger “A lot has been said about their injury list, they’re doing the same things now as they’ve always done – they’re not going to change now.”

So he is moaning that we treated Ramsey different to Koscielny, than saying we are doing the same as we have always done? How can both of these be correct?

Chris Coleman is an average manager who got lucky by coming into a Wales team with someone like Gareth Bale in it.

Coleman managed 117 games for Coventry, he had a win percentage of 29.1%. I think he has been listening to former Dutch physio and career critique Raymond “unemployed” Verheijen too much.

Watford Away

So we have a distraction of the transfer window coming up in the shape of Watford away. At least those of us who go have something else to think about / look forward too. A decent trip that is local but still feels like an away game.

At times like this I feel sorry for those who live their footballing lives from behind a keyboard, or on a smart phone. It must be hard sitting their day in day out, not having a game to look forward to, not having the release of 90 minutes.

Enjoy your bitching and moaning online before, during and after the game. I will be in the pub, in the ground, then in the pub again, enjoying the company of my pals.

Up the Arsenal.

Keenos

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Joel Campbell OUT: Was he ever given his chance?

132So it seems Joel Campbell is off to Sporting Lisbon (I am writing this pre-Leicester see by the time it is published on Monday he might have already gone, or the deal might have fallen through. I am bored, at home, waiting to leave to go watch The Arsenal away).

Was Joel Campbell ever given his chance at Arsenal? Or is it simply a case that he was not good enough?

Personally, I think he was never good enough. He scored a cracking goal for Olympiakos against United, and had a decent WC (so did Bryan Ruiz) and suddenly he was the next coming.

For me he was the poster boy of the anti-Wenger’s.

A pawn used in the massive online chess game where people align themselves with an agenda and create a narrative to suit that agenda.

For people who see no good at Arsenal. Who are negative about everything, Joel Campbell was a player who was good enough for Arsenal. He should start every game. He was a superstar in the making. And it is Arsene Wenger’s fault he has not played enough. Arsene Wenger’s fault he has not developed.

Arsene choosing not to play him gave fans a reason to bash Wenger, to hold up a player being unfairly treated, when the reality was he wasn’t good enough.

The main point came at Stoke away a few years back. Someone shouted out “get out whilst you can Joel”. And this launched Campbell as the icon of the anti-Wenger movement (even though that sounds cringey).

I was at Stoke that day, on the platform, waiting to go home from an awful away day where they did not serve beer at half time. It was a torrid performance, and Arsenal players and management got a torrent of abuse as they got onto their privately booked 10 carriage train back to London.

Everyone got abuse, except for Joel Campbell. “Get out whilst you can Joel”.

It kind of shows how fickle fans are. Had he played a lot of football before that game for Arsenal, been given his chance, and in the type of performances he has done in an Arsenal shirt (mainly average ones), those singing his praises would have done a 180.

Those that criticise Wenger for not giving him the chance would have then complained that he was once again playing a cheap foreign import who is clearly not good enough. the narrative would have changed to suit the agenda.

Yes, Joel Campbell worked hard at times. Again, this was put up as a reason why he was a class player. He was praised mainly because he was not Theo Walcott. Walcott often seen as the poster boy of the recent Wenger era. 10 years of disappointment.

Joel Campbell was put on a pedestal for the two reasons:

  1. Wenger did not rate him
  2. He was not Theo Walcott

The reality is he was simply not good enough.

Now 24, Joel Campbell had 4 distinctly average loan spells away from the club. Since returning to Arsenal, he has scored 4 goals in 40 games. Last season, Theo Walcott nabbed himself 9 in 42.

So here we have a dreadful player (Walcott) out performing Joel Campbell. Yet people think Joel Campbell is better?

Then go down the pecking the order. Joal Campbell is older than both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Serge Gnabry. Both are vastly more talented.

The Ox has not really progressed over recent years due to injury / poor decision making, but I think only an idiot would deny that he is better than Joel Campbell.

Serge Gnabry has had an unlucky 2 years. A poor injury and a poor loan spell at WBA where Tony Pullis just did not want to play him (look at Pullis’ treatment of Berahino and Kenwyne Jones, he does not like flair players).

But Gnabry is still just 21. 3 years younger than Joel Campbell. The performances Gnabry put in in an Arsenal shirt in 2013/14 as an 18 year old were better than anything Joel Campbell has done. He is showing at the Olympics his ability. If it was a choice between the two, Gnabry or Campbell, there is one who I would want to see get game time, Serge Gnabry.

Finally we come to Alex Iwobi.

Just 20, he is 4 years younger than Joel Campbell, and keeping him out the team. He is better than the Costa Rican.

I think if we go back to around 1998 we will discover 2 players who had a similar level of talent and output as Joel Campbell.

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All played at Arsenal at a similar age, played in similar positions, had a similar style of play, and had an almost identical output. Christopher Wreh, out of interest, was last seen playing for Bishop’s Stortford in 2004. Just 4 years after leaving The Arsenal.

The fact is, Joel Campbell was not given his chance because he was not good enough.

Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott & Danny Welbeck were/are better options on the wings when it comes to senior players. Ox, Gnabry & Iwobi are better younger players.

I said after the World Cup when rumours of a £20m bid from AC Milan were floating around, we should have taken the money and ran.

So what are your thoughts? Was Joel Campbell not given his chance? Or was he not good enough?

Keenos

PS: & Theo was shit

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