Unai Emery is a good manager who has had success everywhere he has been.
Mikel Arteta is a highly rated young coach, who has drawn praise from Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino.
Both men are good at their job. But they are being let down by the players around them.
The same issues we had in Arsene Wenger’s last season were present through-out Emery’s tenure and have not disappeared under Arteta.
The FA Cup win, and victories over Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea last year papered over some cracks. Defeats to Brighton and Aston Villa as the football returned from lockdown showed the Jekyll and Hyde team that we are.
Arsenal’s biggest problem is that the core group of players that have been with the club for the last 3 and a bit seasons are simply not good enough, and firstly Emery and then Arteta are paying the price.
We have amassed a squad of players that is lacking in quality, lacking in consistency and lacking in the right attitude.
And the issue is that due to the money that they are on and the length of contracts handed out, both Emery and Arteta, alongside Raul Sanllehi and Edu, have struggled to move them on.
That means neither Emery or Arteta have been able to build the squad they want. They have had to utilise the legacy players mainly bought in during Arsene Wenger’s later years, who have proved for some time that they are not god enough.
Now this is not a blog blaming Wenger for everything that has gone wrong.
He sanctioned the signing of some of those players, contracts were agreed by Ivan Gazidis, recruitment by Sven Mislintat. And Emery, Arteta, Sanllehi and Edu have not had perfect records of bringing players in.
But we have a good dozen or so players that need to be shipped out, and most of them pre-date Wenger leaving.
Take Mesut Ozil and Sokratis.
The pair are not even registered to play in either the Premier League or Europa League but will earn £23million between them this season.
We demand more of Stan Kroenke, but why would he invest when he sees £23million going out the door on players that do not play?
Then we have the likes of Granit Xhaka, Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi for starters
Xhaka and Mustafi are in their 5th and Kolasinac his 4th. Have any of them every done it on a consistent enough basis to justify still being here? No.
They earn a combined £15million.
Is anyone keeping a running total? If not we are up to £38million a year. And we are not done yet.
Calum Chambers joined the club in 2014. This is his 7th season at Arsenal. He has been shopped out on loan to Fulham and Middlesbrough. Relegated at both.
Whilst Rob Holding is now in his 5th season at the club.
I like the pair. They seem to be normal lads. But are they ever going to be good enough for The Arsenal? At 25-years-old, we need to stop talking about what they might become and focus on what they are. Two lower-mid table Premier League central defenders. You’d maybe keep one of them around as a squad player, but certainly do not need both.
Both earn in the region of £40,000. Another £2million.
All these players mentioned so far bar Xhaka is fringe player. A squad player. And the two unregistered players. They earn in the region of £40million a year between them. Nd none of them are good enough.
Over 5 years that is £200million.
And then we come on to the likes of David Luiz and Willian. Two newer signings.
The Brazilian pair earn £15million year.
They were short term options signed out of desperation. Both should be surplus to requirements at the end of this year. But we will probably end up stuck with Willian.
And then we have “senior pros” Hector Bellerin and Alexandre Lacazette.
I love Bellerin. He is a fantastic person and personality, and gets grief from some fans just because he is a little different. But as a player he is no better now then he was in 2016 as a 21 year old.
Lacazette has yet to do anything that has justified his £45million transfer fee and huge wages. He is the 5th highest earning player at the club but would not get into most peoples starting XI.
Bellerin and Luiz also earn £15million a year.
So we have Ozil and Sokratis. Xhaka, Mustafi, and Kolasinac. Chambers or Holding. Willian and Luiz. Bellerin and Lacazette.
That is 10 players who are not really up for it. Who have proved over up to 8 years that they are not the quality to take us forward. And they earn between them around £70million a year. That is one third of our wage bill on 10 players who are not good enough.
Over 5 years, those 10 players will cost Arsenal £350million.
Imagine the improvements on the squad Arsenal could make with a further £350m to be spent on transfer fees and 5 year contracts.
So if we got the 10 players clearly not good enough off our wage bill, that give allow us to finance 5 new signings. Players that improve the top end of the squad. Players like Thomas Partey and Gabriel Magalhães. Sign the likes of Max Aarons, Houssem Aouar, Dominik Szoboszlai.
“But we are losing 10 and only signing 5” you cry.
Yes, but lets remember 2 of those 10 are unregistered, and we currently have a 31-man squad.
Losing 10, signing 5 would see us with a 26-man squad, that would contain more quality than quality, looking something like this:
You can then fill in the gaps with the players you would want, but what it highlights is that due to having 10 players who are not really good enough, Arteta (and before him Emery) is being denied 5 players they do want. 5 players that would all probably start in the XI. 50% of the outfield players.
Until we ship out those players who have let us down time and again, we will not move forward as a club regardless of who the manager is.
The good news if that the contracts of Ozil, Mustafi, Sokratis and Luiz are expiring at the end of this season, so 4 of the 10 will naturally leave.
The club should be able to find buyers for Lacazette, Bellerin, Xhaka, Kolasinac & Chambers/Holding, even if we only accept a minimal transfer fee for them. That would leave just Willian.
Once these players are shipped out, even if it is just 7 of the 10, Edu and Arteta will then have the funds to rebuild the squad. Stronger, leaner, hungrier, better.