Arsenal in “par position”

Arsenal are exactly where they should be. 5th in the table.

Fifth for Arsenal is par. They are not over achieving, and not underachieving. Some fans might scoff at this comment, but that is the truth.

Why is 5th our par? Well because we currently have the 5th highest wage bill in the Premier League.

* 2016/17 are the most up to date accounts for all clubs. Arsenal’s wage bill would have risen since then, but so would every other side

Statics show that success and wage bill are directly linked in the Premier League. The more you spend on wages, the higher you finish in the league. The best predictor of success is the squad’s total wage bill

This was highlighted in the brilliant book “Soccernomics”, written by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski.

High wages attract good players. The higher the wage bill, the better the team typically performs. Averaged over 10 seasons, correlation between wage bill and final league position is about 90 per cent, said Stefan Szymanski, an economist at the University of Michigan.

The results of their 10 year study are clear and obvious.

Now you will always get abnormalities. Teams under performing or over performing.

For every Leicester (and once in a generation thing) who win the league, you have a QPR who got relegated with the 8th highest wage bill in the Premier League.

The majority of the time, the over and under performance against wage are not that extreme. Look at Leicester City now. They have the 7th highest wage bill in the league, and currently sit 8th.

At the top of the league we see a couple of examples of over and under performances.

Tottenham have the 6th highest wage bill, but are currently 3rd, Manchester United have the 2nd highest wage bill and sit 6th. The biggest over achievers in the league at the moment are Liverpool. Top with the 4th highest wage bill.

Arsenal’s period of success from 1998 – 2004 came when they have the second highest wage bill in the league. Manchester United had the highest, and won more league titles over the period. Finishing top for Arsenal during that time was not a huge over achievement. In fact, if Arsenal finished 3rd this season, it will be a bigger jump from wage predicted finish to actual finish than that was.

So we are predicted to finish 5th in the league, and we are 5th in the league. What can Arsenal do to improve this?

Spend more on wages

As Szymanski states: High wages attract good players.

The easiest and quickest way to move up the league table would be to sign better players, and those better players will command higher wages.

Manchester City and Manchester United both spend £65 million more on wages than Arsenal. That is £1.25 million a week. Or the equivalent of 6 players on £200,000 a week.

Imagine how much better Arsenal would be if they had an additional 6 players on £200,000 a week. That is an extra 6 World Class players to go alongside Lucas Torreira and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Often when you look at Manchester City’s bench, every player is earning over £100,000 a week. They are able to accommodate Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sane & Raheem Sterling because of what they pay them all.

According to reports, Arsenal have 8 players who earn above £100,000 a week. Manchester City have 13.

The problem Arsenal then face is as a self-sufficient club, we are pretty much at our breaking point when it comes to salary. With our current revenue, we do not have much space to increase our total wage.

Before we increase wages, spending more money on better players, we need to increase our revenue.

An increase in TV money will increase the clubs revenue. However it also increases the revenue of all clubs. So we would get an extra £20 million, but so would Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. The revenue we need to increase is our own commercial revenue.

It is through commercial revenue that Manchester United are able to sustain such a high wage bill whilst their owners do not put any money in (the Glazier’s actually take out over £18 million a year).

In the 107 accounts, Manchester United generated £276 million in commercial revenue. Arsenal just £91 million. For the club to close the gap in wages, they need to close the gap in commercial revenue.

Week has already been done on this. Visit Rwanda is a £10 million a year deal. The Adidas deal is worth £60 million a year (up £30 million from what we received from Puma). The Rwanda deal is a huge reason we could afford to pay Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil what they wanted.

If all of the Adidas deal is plunged into wages, we could sign 4 players on £150,000 a week – and that is without taking into account the wages saved on the players departing.

One limiting factor is no Champions League.

In 2017/18, Tottenham received £55 million for reaching the Champions League first knock out stage. Arsenal £30 million for reaching the Europa League semi-final. That is a difference of £25 million.

In total it cost Arsenal closer to £30 million not being in the Champions League, as match day revenue and gate receipts would have been higher as well.

The thing with Champions League football is no club can rely on it as an income. with 6 teams gunning for 4 positions, it is a toss up every year who qualifies.

In the last 5 years, every team in the “big 6” bar Manchester City have failed to qualify for the Champions League.

So ultimately, if Arsenal are to increase their wage bill, they need to increase their commercial revenue.

Over perform

Currently Liverpool are top of the league with the 4th highest wage bill. They are over performing. Tottenham in recent years have also over performed against their wage bill. Whilst Arsenal do need to spend more, they also need to spend better.

Manchester United are a very good example of a team who is spending poorly.

They have the 2nd highest wage bill, not much difference from Manchester City, but there is a huge gulf between squads. Manchester United have given big wages to the likes of Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia; whilst Paul Pogba is the highest paid player in both squads.

Arsenal could spend their £200 million better.

The big wages paid to Mesut Ozil, in hindsight, was a poor deal.

Petr Cech is on £100,000  a week.
Stephan Lichtsteiner is on £90,000 a week.
Danny Welbeck is on £70,000 a week.
Aaron Ramsey is on £110,000 a week.

That is just shy of £20 million in salary that is set to drop off the wage bill this summer. Arsenal need to spend this money smarter than we currently do.

Look at Laurent Koscielny and Calum Chambers. On a reported combined £125,000 a week. We could use that £125,000 and spend it on a single, top class central defender replacing the pair.

Carl Jenkinson and Krystian Bielek earn £50,000 a week. That is reportedly the same as what Lucas Torreira earns.

Torreira is a brilliant example of spending smart.

With intelligent recruitment, we can purchase better players than what we have,without seeing as spike in the wage bill. This would then lead us to outperforming the wage prediction matrix.

So ultimately, arsenal are where they should be taking into account the resource available. we are neither under performing or over performing.

For us to move forward, it comes down to the two usual factors:

  1. Increase commercial revenue; allowing us to spend more on wages
  2. Improve recruitment; ensuring we get more for our buck

The new regime have been operating for less than a year. Their first job has been to clear the decks. By this summer, we would have seen 40% of Arsene Wenger’s final squad leave the club since Sven Mislintat joined the club.

Once the decks are cleared, we can then recruit what we need to take us forward.



Match Report: West Ham United 1 – 0 Arsenal

West Ham United (0) 1 Arsenal (0) 0
Premier League
The London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 2ST
Saturday, 12th January 2019. Kick-off time: 12.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny, Maitland-Niles; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Kolašinac, Aubameyang, Iwobi, Lacazette,
Substitutes: Čech, Bellerín, Ramsey, Torreira, Lichtsteiner, Monreal, Nketiah.
Yellow Cards: Mustafi, Kolašinac
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Attendance: 59,946
Maybe it was the look of horror on Laurent Koscielny’s face when Declan Rice’s shot hit the back of the Arsenal net. Or maybe it was the shrug of Alexandre Lacazettte’s shoulders near the end of the match that told the story of this sorry tale of woe; but either way, and whatever it was, the parts were far worse than the sum of the whole today. We started the match brightly enough, with Alex Iwobi making penetrating runs down and across the channels, with Sead Kolašinac working well alongside him. In midfield, Mattéo Guendouzi started to move with confidence, and one of the brighter moments for us in the first half was his attempt on the West Ham goal from 25 yards. 
However, our second half reputation for stepping up to the plate and dominating matches appeared to leave us quickly today. Within five minutes of the restart, we were a goal down due to bad positioning and sloppy defending which has been our problem for most of this season. To be fair, Mr. Emery sensed the seriousness of the situation and brought on Lucas Torreira for Shkodran Mustafi and the departing Aaron Ramsey for Granit Xhaka; ten minutes later, Ainsley Maitland-Niles made way for Hector Bellerín. At this point, we then appeared to drop to a flat back four, but to be fair, by now all bets were off. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang only had one meaningful attempt on the home side’s goal, whilst in injury time, a header from Laurent Koscielny did find the back of the West Ham net, but his goal was ruled out for offside by Jonathan Moss, which not only disappointed our fans, but merely served to rub salt in an already painful wound.
Today was the day when we truly discovered that the story about the emperor’s new clothes was really written for Arsenal Football Club. Despite all the great football that was played a few months ago, despite the impressive victories and the jaw-dropping goals, this performance at The London Stadium today proved that all that went before didn’t matter and the real Arsenal is a flaccid, uninspired leaderless collection of footballers. 
What to do? Mr. Emery has already stated that Arsenal have no money available for permanent signings in the January transfer window, and that we are looking at loan deals to shore up an extremely porous defence. The owner of the club is conspicuous by his continued absence, and one is now starting to wonder if his modus operandi here in North London is merely one of investor and not benefactor, despite a net worth of US$8.5 billion and a reputation of not getting involved in any of his clubs’ day-to-day operations. Bearing this in mind, what we see is what we get and the players we have here is all that there is until the season ends and the summer transfer window opens. Even then, who can we attract to our club? Having been somewhere, it’s  going to be difficult to accept that we are still going nowhere. Our traditional rivals are continuing to improve, and we have just simply stagnated with our major role being a successful off-the-field financial showpiece for the owner’s ever-growing empire. There used to be a football club over there, you know?
Without new players of a certain level we will be heading for mid-table obscurity, and in the world we inhabit today, that will be sooner rather than later, I’m afraid. With our next matches being Chelsea and Manchester United, it’s now impossible to feel sanguine about the prospects of victory in either game, sadly. It’s not only now, with us drowning in the wake of this defeat that makes me concerned about the future; it’s the realisation that unless something drastic happens behind the scenes at The Emirates, this series of events will be replayed in front of us next season, and many seasons that follow. It’s going to be rough out there from now on. Nineteen days and counting until the end of the transfer window for loan deals. 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 most important game since their last most important game

Today’s game against West Ham is the most important game since the last most important game.

It has been a tough week for some Arsenal fans as the realisation has hit that the last men running the club – Ivan Gazidis & Arsene Wenger – left us in a poorer state then they first thought.

The poor commercial deals, poor sales and poor coaching will take 3 years to undo. We are just 6 months into the future.

So the game against West Ham is very important to keep fans onside.

There had been a wave of hope and optimism due to a 23-game unbeaten run. This was hit with poor results against Southampton, Brighton and Liverpool. Some fans began doubt Unai Emery et al quicker than what they should. Probably motivated by RT’s and followers.

But negativity can spread quickly. We lose tomorrow, the crowd will be baying for blood at the next home game – next weekend against Chelsea. You can already hear the cries of spend some f*****ing money as attention seeking drips get out their (recently ironed by their mum) banners out, protest and call for a boycott.

These fans are short termist.

It was always going to take 3 years to get us back up an running.

Look at Liverpool. This is Jurgen Klopp’s 4th year in charge. They finished 8th in his first year.

If you really thought that by Gazidis and Wenger going, that we were suddenly going to spend £200m and be top of the league, you were deluded. This isn’t the club lying to you, raising your expectations. This is you lying to yourself, raising your own expectations.

After Chelsea it is Manchester United in the cup, Cardiff at home, then Manchester City away.

It is a tough run of 5 games, with only the home game against Cardiff a coupon banker. And this is why the fans support is so important.

Emery before has spoken about the fans, players and club working as one. Supporting each other. Backing each other.

If you get out the banners, start the booing, after just a little bump in the road. After a couple of poor games and 2 weeks without signing someone, then you need to take a long hard look at yourself.

Victory against West Ham keeps us on the right foot. It would make it 3 wins on the spin as we go in to the Chelsea / Man U home double header.

By the time Chelsea is over, we could be in the top 4, or we could be 9 points behind.

We the fans have a huge part to play. Back the boys, back the team, back the new regime.