Author Archives: keenosafc

Eddie Nketiah owed an apology

Is it time to put some respect on Eddie Nketiah’s name and apologise for the disprespect some fans have given him over the years?

In 2020, I wrote a blog about how time was running out for Eddie. That it was time for the torch to passed to Florian Balogun to replace him as the “young Arsenal striker” in the squad.

He was 21 years old and career had stagnated. At the time I said:

Nketiah is a goal poacher, but his problem is a modern striker needs to be able to do more – whether that be creating, holding the ball up or running the channels.

Balogun was younger and tearing up the youth leagues. The time felt right for him to step up and become Arsenal’s 3rd choice striker (at the time Arsenal have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette leading the line).

3 years on and he is now showing himself as being a very good 2nd choice striker.

When he came in for Lacazette in the back end of last season, I was impressed.

He had developed his hold up play. His work rate had improved and he was running those channels. Everything I had asked for in 2020. Nketiah was much improved.

That led him to get a new contract as Mikel Arteta made it clear – Eddie would be our 2nd choice striker.

Despite his form in the back end of last season (5 goals in the last 7 league games, some still moaned. The following is some of the comments I have colated from one individual that will remain nameless:

“He is stealing time from Balogun. Should never be in an Arsenal kit. He’s woeful.”

“Eddie being offered a new deal is ridiculous if true. Especially at £100k a week.”

“Nketiah isn’t a top 4 striker.”

“Nketiah isn’t a Premier League striker.”

“Get Dominic Calvert-Lewin”

“Nketiah isn’t a Premier League striker. If you honestly think he is then maybe football isn”t for you. He goes to Palace and won’t be their [first choice] striker or back up.”

“It’s not my monty so I’m not spending it. Nketiah is one of the worst strikers in the league and it’s telling that the likes of Palace are in for him. If you think he is good enough for Arsenal that’s fine. You’re allowed to be wrong some of the time.”

“Nketiah should never be starting games for Arsenal. Play Pepe through the middle. Anything is better than Nketiah.”

“He [Nketiah] is absolute shite. One of the worst players in recent years to pull on an Arsenal shirt.”

“If he [Nketiah] had not come through the academy, he would be getting dogs abuse like Xhaka did/does and the likes of Eboue did.”

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That is the goal return from Eddie Nketiah in his 12 Premier League starts since coming in for Lacazette at the back end of last season.

12 games
Scored in 6 of them
9 goals

Ok, so he might not be Erling Haaland. But who is?

Look at Chelsea’s struggles in recent years to sign a decent first choice striker. At Tottenham trying to recruit someone to cover Harry Kane. At Manchester United who have just loaned in a fella from Burnley.

A lot of the credit has to go to Eddie.

He could have remained “just a poacher” and signed for Palace. Lived the easy life off the back of just scoring goals.

But he wanted more.

Eddie got his head down and has improved every aspect of his game. And it is fabulous to see.

I recently wrote how Arteta now has a double striker dilema. That a decision needs to be made in the summer over Eddie and Balogun.

Balogun is doing bits in France. 10 goals in his 18 games for Rennes. But very few would argue that he should now come in for Eddie.

Whilst I do not feel the need to apologise for my Nketiah blogs – everything was correct at the time and he has improved those aspects of the game; many people will have to look into what they said in the past and apologise for it.

Gabriel Jesus will come back in for Eddie when he is fit. But we now know we have a solid 2nd choice striker.

Good job Eddie!

Keenos

Chelsea transfers, Boring Boring Newcastle and Wishing to be Everton

Chelsea Transfers

A lot has already been written about Chelsea’s transfer business over the last two windows.

I have never seen anything like it before.

The long term contracts are normal in baseball, a sport Todd Boehly has been involved nin for over a decade. He has basically taken the way things work in America and applied it to football.

If it works, it will change the way every football team operates. If it doesn’t, Chelsea are going to end up with a lot of underperforming players on long term contracts.

One aspect rarely mentioned is that during the takeover, the consortium Boehly is part of had to commit to investing £1.75 billion over 10 years into the club. It is this investment that is freeing up the cash to make these transfer, the fees then amortised over the length of the contracts for accounting purposes.

One risk Boehy is taking is over squad size.

As it stands, Chelsea have 37 “senior” players, including those out on loan. Arsenal have 30.

They also do not look like slowing down their spending and are being linked with Moisés Caicedo and Marcus Thuram, and with a deal for Christopher Nkunku agreed for the summer.

They are going to have to release sell or loan out a lot of players during the back-end of this window and throughout the next just to ensure they do not end up with double figures of unregistered players.

On paper, bringing their squad numbers down does not quite look as difficult as it seems.

Of the 39 players contracted to the club (included Nkunku):

2 have their loan deals expiring
4 have their contracts expiring
At least 8 look surplus to requirements

If they decided to not renew any of the deals expiring, and were able to shift the 8 players listed above, it would take their squad size down to 26.

With many of them not needed to be registered due to being U21, they would have squad space to make further additions.

But selling (or loaning) those players comes at a risk.

Any loan deals will see Chelsea still paying a huge chunk of the salaries. Clubs will know the players need to be dumped and will take advantage of that.

Likewise, the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are unlikely to be sold unless Chelsea are willing to take a huge loss on their transfers.

If they can not sell or loan enough players, they will end up looking at cashing in on Kai Havertz, Cristian Pulisic, Raheem Sterling and others. Players they do not really want rid of but would be fairly easy to move on.

If they can move on everyone they need to, it will see around 14 players depart, with 14 bought in over 3 windows. That is tough for any manager to integrate.

Chelsea’s transfer behaviour is due to how poorly they have been run over the last few years.

Too many ageing players whose contracts expired, and too many big money replacements have flopped. They have needed this huge investment to re-address their squad issues.

What they now need is all of their new signings to “bang”. Any of that doesn’t they will be stuck with for a long time…

Boring, Boring Newcastle

Newcastle have kept 7 clean sheets in the 8 games since the return of football. A fantastic achievement.

But they have only scored 1 goal in their last 4 Premier League games – an 84th minute winner against Fulham.

3rd in the league is sensational for a small club like them.

Even when you take into account the money spent – and it really has not been that much – what Eddie Howe has done is incredible.

But the way he has done it is not so impressive, and beginning to get exposed.

Howe sets his team up to stop opponents, to waste time, to spoil the game, and to win free kicks and set plays.

The fact 3 sides have been sanctioned by the FA when playing Newcastle shows just how much they are set up to frustrate and ruin the game.

And it is not just the XI on the field that get involved. Coaches and substitutes have been booked on numerous occasions for trying to slow down the game.

And this style of ply is slowly catching up with them as lesser sides begin to realise they are not a threat going forward.

It is all well and good coming away from the Emirates with a 0-0, but failing to beat or score against Crystal Palace or Leeds United just isn’t top 4 form.

Their time-wasting tactics will be to their own disadvantage as we get to the stage of the season where teams need to win, not draw, games.

Wishing to be Everton

“Be careful what you wish for”.

Some Arsenal fans cried like babies when Farhad Moshiri sold his minority share in Arsenal and bought Everton. It would be the end of us as a top club and turn Everton into title challengers.

With his departure, they also thought this would be the end of Alshir Usmanov’s links with Arsenal, and the Uzbecki would plow his billions into Liverpool’s second club.

Part of that proved right as 2 years later KSE bought our Usmanov’s shares to take 100% ownership of the club.

But Usmanov’s money did not appear in Everton, other than in a training sponsorship deal.

Despite the lack of obvious Usmanov funds, Everton would begin to spend big (note: prior to the take over they have never spent more than €50m):

2016/17: €86m

2017/18: €203.2m

2018/19: €99.8m

2019/20: €121m

Over €500m spent over 5 years.

On 21 December 2019, they appointed the great Carlow Ancelotti as manager. The day before we appointed Mikel Arteta into his first managerial role.

A serial winner versus a managerial virgin. Against the Arsenal-incels shed tears into their used Kleenex.

Why didn’t we appoint Ancelotti? With Moshri (and Usmanov’s) money and him in charge, they will be title challengers!

In 2020, they then recruited James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan. 3 players some Arsenal fans wanted us to sign. This will be the year they finish above us!

Everton finished 10th and Ancelotti quit to return to Real Madrid.

The next season, investment dropped to €58m. 70% less spent on players than the peak of 2017.

Last summer they spent €78.2m, but the names of Onana, McNeil, Maupay and Garner were not exactly Rodriguez…

And now they are 19th in the table, whilst Arsenal are top of the league.

Moshri and Ancelotti or Kroenke and Arteta. Be careful what you wish for.

Keenos

Is Bukayo Saka the best in the world right now?

A discussion in the pub over the New years period was about Bukayo Saka.

The question was asked: “Is Bukayo Saka the best right winger in the world right now?”

He is clearly the first choice for Arsenal and England. So immediately you can discount any English right winger. We then began to work through the rest of the Premier League.

Saka would walk into Manchester City’s team (Riyad Mahrez). He would also be first choice at Man U (Antony), Spurs (Kuluveski) and Chelsea (Zieych?).

Liverpool are the only English side where he would not be a guaranteed starter. However, if Salah left tomorrow, Saka would probably be their number one target to replace him.

Considering Salah looks to be on the decline, I would imagine Saka would be a more attractive proposition to most players if both were available to sign.

We then looked beyond the Premier League, starting with France.

The only relevant team in Ligue 1 is PSG.

Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are probably the best front 3 in the world. But none play wide right for club or contry.

PSG play a narrow front 2, with one in behind.

It is usually Mbappe and Neymar through the middle and Messi in the 10. Although Neymar does have a tendancy to drop deeper to make it 2 behind Mbappe.

For country, Messi plays behind Julian Alvarez, Neymar plays left wing for Brazil, as does Mbappe for France.

I would imagine if PSG signed Saka, they would go to:

Saka Messi Mbappe
Neymar

With Neymar and Mbappe interchanging their position.

Then our journey took us to Spain.

We excluded Vinicius Jr at Real Madrid. He plays left wing for club and country On their right is Rodrygo.

Rodrygo is a talented young player, and will certainly be fighting it out with Saka in the future to claim the best right winger in world football. But for now, Rodrygo is that level below.

After years of injuries, Ousmane Dembele is finally fulfilling his potential.

Now 25, he is first choice on the right wing for club and country. A fantastic two footed player who is certainly a contender with Saka.

Now there are 2 sides to the Dembele v Saka argument.

I think at their best, Dembele is the better player. He has that little bit more than Saka. But Saka is a more consistent player and Dembele has not started more than 20 league games since 2018/19.

If Dembele stays fit and continues his current form, then their will be very few that will argue against him being one of the best in the world. but likewise if Saka continues the form he is currently in, then anyone still doubting his talent will be silenced.

I would have Dembele and Saka a score draw.

As for Germany and Italy, we did not really bother going into them.

Saka would start for both of their international sides, as he would for Argentina, Holland, Portugal, Croatia and Morocco. He would also start for Brazil.

It is only France who he would not be guaranteed a starting place for.

So in summary, is Saka the best right winger in the world? Well I would still have Salah above him, but Saka is closing that gap every game.

The best 3 right wingers in the world:

Mo Salah
Bukayo Saka
Ousmane Dembele

Cheers.

Keenos