Tag Archives: Granit Xhaka

Arsenal’s shocking transfer dealings exposed

https://shewore.mysupadupa.com/Throughout all of the Wenger stuff, one thing has become increasingly clear. Our transfer dealings this season have been atrocious.

When the summer transfer window shut, I was fairly optimistic about our season ahead. And part of the reasoning behind this was due to our transfer dealings.

Arsenal had signed two excellent experienced players Granit Xhaka and Shkdoran Mustafi, a talented young centre back in Rob Holding, and a fairly unknown forward who had excellent statistics in Lucas Perez. But it all seems to have unravelled. £93million spent on some exciting talents.

Granit Xhaka

When we signed Granit Xhaka, I was excited. I had followed him since his Basel days and was excited that we had signed him.

He looked the complete midfielder. Defensive awareness mixed with a fantastic range of passing. He would add steal to our midfield, protection to our defence, but would also be the man to start our attacks. He was the leader in the middle of the park that we had missed for so long. It seemed he had no weaknesses.

But then it all began to fall apart. His ill discipline that had hampered his early career reared its head once more. Rash into a tackle, he was clumsy rather than ferocious. 2 red cards and 9 yellows this season. And it could have been more.

Yes, he was unlucky to see red against Swansea, but there have been other times when he has been lucky to stay on the pitch.

He has probably not been as bad as it seems, but his position is made to seem worse due to the fact we picked Xhaka over N’Golo Kante, who has taken another huge step forward at Chelsea and is now the best defensive midfielder in world football.

With Xhaka, we are peering over the fence at our numbers Chelsea, seeing what we could have had, and it feels we picked the wrong option.

Shkodran Mustafi

I questioned Shkodran Mustafi’s ability back in December. At the time he had no lost a single game at Arsenal which he had played in. I was mocked in the comments o nthe blog, on Twitter and Facebook. How could I be criticising a player who had yet to lose in an Arsenal shirt?

Well at the time I looked beyond the results of the team and was looking at the performances of the defence.

At the time, Arsenal had not kept a clean sheet for 10 games, with just 4 all season – 3 of which had Mustafi in defence, and the Mustafi / Koscielny partnership was conceding at a rate of a goal a game.

I ended the blog with;

Arsenal defensive frailties have become worse this season. Mustafi has solved one problem but created another.

4 months on and he was part of a centreback partnership against Crystal Palace that failed to make a single tackle. Two crude tackles in the 1st half meant he probably should have seen red. He was lucky to stay on the pitch.

Mustafi has played 17 games in 2017, Arsenal have conceded 31 goals. We have conceded more 3 or more goals on 7 occasions this calendar year. We have kept just 6 clean sheets. 3 of which have been in the FA Cup.

It is not just Mustafi’s fault. The entire defence from Bellerin across to Monreal has been shocking. But Mustafi has shown as huge technical issues which worry.

He tends to chase the ball. He is a poor judge of a high ball. His headers rarely reach a team mate. He dives in to tackles. He is beaten too easily.

I still think he will turn out to be a good player at Arsenal, but at £35,000,000 you would expect better performances than the Sunday League level ones he is putting in at the moment.

Lucas Perez

It is easy to forget the Lucas Perez is an Arsenal player. He ha splayed just 265 minutes in the Premier League this season.

Whether this is because he is a poor player, Wenger does not fancy him, Wenger is misusing him, or a mixture of everything, it will probably never be known.

It would not surprise me of Perez was shipped out this summer with Arsenal recouping what they spent on him.

A hat trick against Basel in the Champions League has been his career highlight thus far. His other goals coming against Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Sutton.

He was clearly a panic buy when it became obvious that Danny Welbeck was going to be out longer then expected. With just Olivier Giroud up top, we lacked a pacey option and Perez was bought in.

Perez has been hampered by the decision to play Alexis Sanchez through the middle. Whilst this did work out for the good, it has meant less game time for Perez. Walcott has had a very good season wide right (18 goals this season) but I perhaps would have liked to see Perez get a run out ahead of Alex Iwobi in a few games on the left hand side.

With Welbeck back fit, Perez is currently behind Welbeck, Giroud, Sanchez, Walcott & Oxlade-Chamberlain to get game time. You would struggle to make a justification for him to start ahead of any of those.

A very expensive panic buy. Not good enough to challenge for the 1st team when everyone is fit.

Rob Holding

It would be unfair on Rob Holding to label him a flop. He is just 21 and has shown good signs when called upon. At just £2million, he was clearly signed with the future in mind.

Unlike Calum Chambers, he does not have the hefty price tag over his head which will lead for calls for him to be ready for the first team.

He ha sonly played a handful of games this season, and could do with going on loan to a Premier League side next season to get some game time.

We could have a decent player on our hand, but he needs game time.

Takuma Asano

Does he even have a work permit yet? Throw him in the box with the likes of Joel Campbell, Wellington Silva, Samuel Galindo, Pedro Botelho & Carlos Vela. Players who we signed, spent years getting them valid work rights, and they ultimately turned out to be useless.

Kelechi Nwakali

Just a baby. We would moan if we signed him, and then moan if, after a trial, we turned him down and he became Yaya Toure.

£3,000,000 is a lot of money for a player who had only every played on sandy fields in Africa, but that is the cost of talented young players these days..

Cohen Bramall

Would be completely unfair to judge him as a flop. And I will not do so.

What he does highlight is just how poor our transfers have been this summer. He was the only signing in January, and he highlights just how little business we did in January. Just a young, non-league full back.

We have barely won a game in 2017. Not signing a single senior player in January is now looking like a ridiculous decision.

 

£93,000,000 spent. Money not well spent.

There is no point moving to the new stadium, having a big load of money to spend, if we are not going to spend it correctly. Just another reason why it is time for Wenger to go.

Keenos

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Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career over – who will replace him?

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The news was as expected. Santi Cazorla has been told to undergo surgery for Achilles tendon injury.

A quick Google of recovery times shows that after surgery, someone will be able to walk unaided after 6 – 12 weeks. But will not be able to return to full activity for 6 months. Taking into account we are a football club, not a normal person going physio once a week, you could probably guestimate that Cazorla will be out for 4-6 months. Pretty much ruling him out for the season.

It is then safe to assume that Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career is over.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla goes down injured against Norwich City.

He is 32 in a few weeks and with 1 year left on his contract, Arsenal were already debating as to whether to reward him with a new contract. There had been little talk of one being on the table. Cazorla had also spoken a few times about finishing his career in Spain.

With his age and his recent injury record (2 serious injuries in 12 months) it will be a very big risk for Arsenal to offer Cazorla anything more than a one year deal. Cazorla would be crazy to accept – knowing that a Spanish club would possibly offer him more.

So the love story of Arsenal and their cheeky chappy Spanish dwarf is over.

So where does this leave Arsenal’s midfield?

We only discussed a week ago about how much Arsenal were missing Santi Cazorla. With his career at the club now almost certainly over, it is time to look at the options.

Like for like replacement

Santi Cazorla is unique. His two footedness is only equalled by Ronnie O’Sullivan’s ambidextrous snooker playing.

He might be small, and not be physically capable for a heated midfield battle, but he always gave his all, and his control, dribbling and passing ability got him out of trouble when up against bigger men.

He was able to wriggle out of tight situations where he should really be getting overpowered with ease. A drop of the should, a quick pass off both feet. And it is the way he opened up both sides of the pitch that made him such a danger.

The fact is, there is no one in world football who is as gifted off both feet as Santi Cazorla. So a like for like replacement is unlikely.

You might see the likes of Isco get mentioned as a replacement, yet he is more lightweight and does not have Santi’s gifts.

Nice midfielder Vincent Koziello has had some comparisons to Cazorla. But this is more due to his size than his ability. Cazorla is far superior.

The only man who gets close to Cazorla’s attributes is Dimitri Payet. But he does not have the attitude of Cazorla. He would not be able to adapt to playing deeper.

So the realise is, a like for like replacement is an unrealistic demand.

Midfield Combinations

If we can not get in a like for like replacement, we will have to look at getting the midfield pairing right. The strength of two being great than one (and the power of three setting us free).

Discounting Cazorla, Arsenal currently have 5 central midfielder’s on their books to chose from going forward (including 1 on loan). How would they match up, and how could they partner with each other?

Francis Coquelin: The legs of the midfield. He covers the ground. Arsenal’s Kante. It is he who when partnered with Cazorla, allowed Santi to stroll through a lot of games. He was Cazorla’s legs. Getting round the park, winning the ball, and laying it off to the Spaniard. It is unlikely that we will get in a player as gifted on the ball as Santi, so Coquelin’s lack of ability on the ball could see him drop down the pecking order.

Granit Xhaka: Once he gets up to speed (I am still baffled as to why Xhaka is not yet playing regulary), Xhaka will be a terrific ball playing holding midfielder. Very much in the Xabi Alonso / Michael Carrick role, he has a terrific passing range, but also has very good defensive awareness and a bit in the tackle. He is a bit more defensive than Cazorla, not as good in tight situations, and it just one footed. But his passing ability will be essential when it comes to replacing Cazorla.

Mohamed Elneny: Kind of a mix of Coquelin and Xhaka. He doesn’t cover as much defensively as Coquelin, but can get round the park more than Xhaka. He is a better passer than the Frenchman, but no where near as good as Granit. He has been exposed in a couple of recent games for not giving the defence enough cover, and not quite having enough creativity. He has a place in the Arsenal squad, but as cover, rather than first choice.

Jack Wilshere: By now he should be Arsenal captain. Instead he is on loan at Bournemouth. Some think, like Cazorla, he will not be seen at Arsenal again. If fit and firing, he would offer very similar to what Cazorla did. The passing ability, being able to take the ball in tight situations and wriggle out of them, he should be exceptional. He just lacks Cazorla’s ambidextrous. And then we have his injuries. Last year we planned to build the midfield around him, and he got injured. Can you really pencil a player into the 1st team if he can not be relied upon? I am not sure. Also, if Granit xhaka is behind him, Mesut Ozil ahead, we have a midfield 3 of left footers. Not much balance.

Aaron Ramsey: And that leaves everyones favourite, Aaron Ramsey. Who had a shocker mid week. But his class is undeniable (even if some do try and deny it). For me, his best position is as the ‘waterboy’ of the team. Doing the hard work between someone more defensive and someone more attacking. If we are under the cosh, he has the defensive awareness to sit in alongside the defensive midfielder. If we are on top, he is free to get forward and support the front 4. He just needs to be played in his right position.

So an Aaron Ramsey / Granit Xhaka combination. And it is a combination that could work.

One left footed, the other right, gives us balance not seen since Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit. Xhaka has the defensive awareness and ability on the ball to sit in front of the back 4 and start the play, as Petit used too. Meanwhile Ramsey has the legs to get around the field, press a bit higher, a bit like Vieira did.

With Mesut Ozil ahead, it should give us plenty of creative fluidity, and plenty of defensive cover.

We would then have the options of Jack Wilshere, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin as cover depending on the opposition / injury situation.

 

Losing Cazorla will be tough. A popular player who offered so much on the pitch. But we now need to move on. Let’s get the Xhaka / Ramsey axis developed.

Who do you think should play central midfield (pick 2):

Keenos

Arsenal’s Spine of Leaders

A follow up on yesterdays blog about The Curse of The Arsenal Captain.

For the first time in a very long time, it feels we have a team of leaders. A team of captains. A team that can be relied upon to rise to the occasion.

Since the invincibles were demolished, we have always struggled from a leadership point of view. A team too young, a team too inexperienced, a ship without a captain. And we have suffered from it.

I am sure in 2007/08, we would have won the league had the leadership of the team been better. We were top of the league and flying when Eduardo had his leg broken against Birmingham. Our captain, William Gallas, sat on the floor and sulked. Arsenal won 1 of their next 7 games and finished 3rd.

In 2013/14, we were once again top in February. We had led since the 2nd game of the season. And we fell apart. Finished 4th in a one horse race for the title. A run of 2 wins in 9 games. Once again a lack of leadership on the field. A season saved by an FA Cup win. It should have been a league and cup double.

But looking at the time now, it looks different, it feels different. Arsenal have a spine of leaders.

Petr Cechuntitled

The goal keeper position at Arsenal had been a problemsince before Jens Lehmann left. Whilst Petr Cech has had a couple of off games, what is undeniable is the leadership and experience he has bought to the squad. Cech has played nearly 700 domestic games and capped for his country 124 times. Now retired, there was talk of him being next Arsenal captain in the summer. He captained the side against Liverpool, but ultimately the armband went full time to Per Mertesacker. He is a man who has won everything domestically and on a European stage.

Laurent Koscielny

For so long, Laurent Koscielny looked lost without a leader next to him. He would drift positionally and basically struggled. But something seems to happened over this summer. At the Euro’s for France he was the senior partner in all the centre back partnerships. He was the leader of the defence. On his return to Arsenal, due to Mertesacker’s injury, he found himself as the senior centre back, and how he has grown. At 31, he has now been at Arsenal for 6 seasons. A regular for club and country. It has got to the point where the timid Koscielny should now really be Arsenal captain.

Shkodran Mustafi

Whilst Shkodran Mustafi has not been around the club that long, his leadership was recently praised by Alan Smith; “Those at Arsenal confirm that he is no shrinking violet when it comes to speaking up in the dressing room. A new arrival, maybe, but the 24-year-old is not afraid to say his piece”. You see it on the pitch as well. The way he dealt with Diego Costa in the early exchanges against Chelsea set the tone for the rest of the side. Mustafi is a World Cup winner.

Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka: a born leader who will finally bring some grit to Arsenal. That is how The Guardian described Granit Xhaka upon his unveiling. Since then, Arsene Wenger has also commented on his leadership qualities. Last season he was made Borussia Mönchengladbach captain. As he grew as leader and talisman, the team grew around him. He is barely 24, but has already been capped 48 times by Switzerland. A future Arsenal captain? Many on this list could be.

Aaron Ramsey

It is over 3 years since I spoke about Aaron Ramsey being next Arsenal captain. Much has changed since then, and he has perhaps fallen down the pecking order a bit. But this is a man who was made the youngest ever Wales captain at the age of 20 years 90 days. He was the key man in Wales’ recent Euro’s run. He has already been at Arsenal 9 years and is 26 in December. He is one of the senior pros at the club. Someone others will look up to.

Mesut Ozil

Whilst Mesut Ozil has never really been a captain, his leadership comes across in his performances. A truly World Class talent, others look to him to perform. When he plays well, the team plays well. Everything go’s through him. German player of the year for 4 of the last 5 seasons , this is a man who is the best German player, in the best German team for 25 years.

Alexis Sanchez

When you see the man at the top of the pitch putting in a shift, closing players down, chasing every ball, it changes the mentality of the rest of the side. They all start doing it. For Chile, Sanchez is a God. He is the main man. And he revels in it. Leading the line, he is their superstar. Their game winner. Whilst Claudio Bravo might be captain, Alexis Sanchez is the leader. When he performs, Chile perform. What he brings to Arsenal is the cherry on the cake. The man at the top of the field, over the hill first, leading his troops. 100 caps for his country, he could become a legend for his club.

I will let Arsenal legend Alan Smith’s comments summarise the article;

“Of course, that is how it should be. Strong voices and views go hand in hand with successful teams. Yet Arsenal have not always been blessed with such forthright sorts, whether by coincidence or through a deliberate policy from Arsene Wenger.

“They say that has changed now, that some players speak up with a little more force.”

Keenos

Note: If your comment is “Cazorla over Ramsey” please understand that is not what we are discussing in this blog. Well done to you for fixating on one single point rather than celebrating finally having a squad of leaders.