October and top of the league. It feels good. Although I don’t expect us to stay there as we haven’t really played a top team yet.
We might be above Man City right now but I think even the most optimistic of fan would still expect them to win the league.
They don’t even look like they are out of second gear yet and are brushing opponents aside with ease.
The WhatasApp chatter over night was “what do we need to do to beat them to the title?”
My answer was simple – increase our wage bill by 50%.
Long time followers of the blog will know that I am a big believer of that, on average, the more you spend on wages the higher you finish up the table.
Manchester City reportedly spend around £355m a year on wages. We spend “just” £244m
If you go through Manchester City’s starting XI, almost every player is “a level above” Arsenal’s:
- Ederson > Ramsdale
- Walker > Tomiyasu
- Dias > Saliba
- Laporte > Gabriel
- Cancelo > KT
- Partey = Rodri
- Gundogan > Xhaka
- KdB > Odergaard
- Saka = Silva
- Foden > Martinelli
- Haaland > Jesus
And this is replicated in the key replacements:
- Ortega = Turner
- Stones > White
- Ake > Holding
- Phillips > Elneny
- Grealish > ESR
- Mahrez > Vieira
- Alvarez = Nketiah
Now this blog isn’t a debate of who is better individually, but who is better as a whole. And no one can deny that Manchester City have a better starting XI and better squad then us.
To compete with them we need to improve our starting XI. And with that comes spending more wages.
Now improving the XI is not just about signing better players, but developing our players to be better.
Take William Saliba.
He could us quickly becoming one of the best central defenders in the league. He would not be out of place in Manchester City’s XI. He is reportedly on just £40k a week.
Compare that to John Stones (£250k) and Ruben Dias (£180k).
If we want to keep Saliba, eventually we will need to pay him those sort of wages.
Bukayo Saka is another example.
He is already one of Arsenal’s highest earners on £120k a week – Jack Grealish earns £300k and Bernardo Silva earns £150k.
Whilst I think Saka will sign a new deal, we will not keep him more than a couple of years longer if we do not pay him what he would command at Manchester City.
We also need to improve the XI by continuing to sign better players.
Martin Odergaard is brilliant, but is not Kevin de Bruyne. Gabriel Jesus is no Erling Haaland, Gabriel no Amyeric Laporte and Granit Xhaka that level below Ilkau Gundagon.
I am not saying they are bad players. They are just not as good as their City counterparts. And it is why City spend 50% more on wages than us.
And then this is represented through the “2nd XI” as well.
Stones, Nathan Ake, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez are all better than Ben White, Rob Holding, Mo Elneny, Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira.
Now shit your eyes and imagine for a bit.
Imagine we bought a central defender better than Gabriel, and then White and Gabriel were our 2nd choice CB pairing. You’d argue they are on par to Stones and Ake.
Or imagine we went out and signed Rafael Leao – in turn relegating Martinelli to the bench. Martinelli v Grealish. That’s par.
Or we went and found a better attacking midfielder than Martin Odergaard. Someone who is as good as de Bruyne (easier said then done). We’d then be talking about Odergaard v Mahrez.
Now this isn’t to say Arsenal are a bad team. We are not.
This is all about how we compete longer term with Manchester City – and the only way we do that is by improving the players in the 1st XI, which in turn improves the squad. But that costs money.
On 2019 (pre-Covid) we generated around £340m. We made a £32.2m loss. So it is clear that if we want to match Manchester City’s wage bill (£355m) we need to begin increasing revenues.
A return to Champions League football and the new Adidas deal will be small steps towards that. But we have a long way to go.
We might compete with City this year. We might be “best of the rest”. But to be long term competitors, we need to be increase that wage bill.
Have a good Wednesday.