Tag Archives: Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Arsenal’s New Signings: Hit, miss or Jury’s Out?

Sead Kolasinac

Named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season last season, the left back looked at bargain when he arrived on a free transfer, Kolasinac scored on his debut against Chelsea in the 2017 FA Community Shield. He made his Premier League debut on the opening day, providing an assist in a 4–3 win over Leicester City.

With Arsenal playing 3 at the back, he made the left wing back position his own, with Nacho Monreal flourishing on the left hand side of back 3. In the early months, he gave the team the aggression it had missed for some time, living up to his “tank” nickname.

He was named Arsenal Player of the Month in both August and October, with Nacho Monreal winning the prize in September.

Towards the end of 2017, both a formation change and injury saw him fall out of the side, firstly with Aisnley-Maitland Niles playing on the left, then Nacho Monreal returning to left back when we returned to a back 4.

Questions were raised over his defensive awareness as the reasoning behind him finding himself on the bench, but it was as much to do with Nacho Monreal’s great form – the 32 year old Spaniard showing that there is life in the old dog yet.

Kolasinac returned to the first team in the later part of the season, as Wenger begun to rest players in the league for the Europa League.

Going forward he has shown his class with 5 goals and 4 assists. To bring this into perspective, this is as many goals as Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has scored for Liverpool.

Just 24, he has shown enough this season to be Monreal’s long term replacement at left back. He is certainly not as bad defensively as some critics perhaps say.

Alexandre Lacazette

Scoring after 94 seconds on his debut against Leicester City, the Frenchman’s season certainly began with a bang. He went on to score in both Arsenal’s next two home games, becoming the first Arsenal player to score in his first three home league appearances for the club since Brian Marwood in September 1988.

By the time December hit, it was 8 goals from his first 16 games. A fabulous start. And then it went down hill.

1 goal in his next 13 games had fans starting to question the record signing. What followed was 8 weeks on the sidelines following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham.

He returned in April against Stoke City, scoring the third goal of the game following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s decision to allow his fellow striker to take a penalty.

With that his confidence returned and he scored 8 goals in 9 games.

The clubs top scorer this season, it does feel one of 3 thirds. Brilliant in the first 3rd. Poor in the second 3rd. Brilliant in the final third. But if 17 goals is considered a poor return in his first season, it only bodes well for the future.

Konstantinos Mavropanos

The 20 year old Greek defender was signed in January with a view to spend the second half of the season on loan in Germany. A decision to put him on the bench in the League Cup game against Chelsea meant this was not longer possible.

This left Mavropanos playing in the U23s for the majority of the season.

He made his Premier League debut in a 2–1 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Despite the defeat, his performance was praised by fans and pundits.

Mavropanos made his home debut in the club’s next home match – the 5-0 victory over Burnley.

His red card against Leicester City shows how quickly football can change.

It is important not to go OTT with Mavropanos; and we must remember that he has only played a handful of senior games in England, but physically, he looks brilliant.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Part of the deal that took Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, he made his first start for Arsenal in a 5–1 home win over Everton, claiming three assists. That match was probably the highlight of his Arsenal career thus far.

A knee injury in April caused him to miss almost the entire month. That break seemed to have broken his rhythm and affected him settling at the club, leaving him with just 7 Premier League starts.

3 goals and 5 assists in his first 14 games is a decent return, but Jose Mourinho’s question marks over his fragility hang over his head.

If he stays fit, he will be a good foil for Mesut Ozil.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Whilst Mkhitaryan was the man who replaced Sanchez on the pitch, Aubameyang has replaced the Chilean as the figure head of the team.

He has continued his performances that he put in for Borussia Dortmund, scoring on his debut against Everton.

Aubameyang’s appearances were restricted due to be cup tied in the Europa League. You do have to wonder if he was not cup tied – due to UEFA’s odd rules – we probably would have gone on to beat Atletico Madrid in the semi-final. Him and Lacazette would have been too much to handle for 10 man Madrid.

It is not just the 8 goals in 12 games that has been impressive, but the way he lifted the entire club.

Alexis Sanchez was moody and selfish. Aubameyang plays with a smile on his face, and reminds me of Thierry Henry in that he is as delighted to see a team mate score as scoring himself.

Giving the ball to Lacazette against Stoke City showed he was a team player. Understanding a fellow striker struggling, his act led to Lacazette re-finding his form. You can not imagine Sanchez doing similar.

With new World Cup Aubameyang (and Mkhitaryan) will get a proper rest and full pre-season. He could be devastating next year.

Keenos

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Alexis Sanchez GONE – Some thoughts

The Robert Pires quotes

Over the weekend, Arsenal legend Bobby Pires has come out with some interesting quotes about how happy Alexis Sanchez was in London and that he is leaving because Arsenal could not match his ambition.

“Alexis wanted to stay at Arsenal. I have not talked to him, but what I see, what I smell, is that he was very good in London, very good in Arsenal. What Alexis wanted was for Arsenal to spend money on other players.”

These quotes will, as usual, lead some to come out and abuse the Frenchman. Unacceptable.

However, these quotes from Pires do need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as the first thing Pires says is “I have not talked to him”.

Therefore, this is no more than Pires’ opinion on the matter, that he thinks (not that he knows) that Sanchez is leaving because Arsenal would not spend money on other players. That they could not match his ambition.

Alexis Sanchez’s ambition

Robert Pires is right in the fact that Arsenal failed to match Alexis Sanchez’s ambition, but not in the way he, or others, probably think.

The move has nothing to do with trophies, nothing to do with signing players, and everything to do with pound, shilling and pence.

Sanchez, like so many others before him, left for the money.

If he wanted success, he would have gone to Bayern Munich last summer, or Manchester City this window. But he picked Manchester United.

He went for £450k a week, £15m in his own pocket as a signing on fee, and an additional £12m for his agent. That is why he left.

“He has gone to Manchester United to win trophies. To play Champions League football” is the line being put out by many.

It is almost like people have forgotten that in the 3 years he was at Arsenal, Sanchez has won two FA Cups.

OK, it might not be the league title, but Manchester United have been no closer to winning the league than Arsenal in that time.

In fact, since Sir Alex Ferguson left, Manchester United have failed to finish above Arsenal.

They will, of course, finish above Arsenal this year but, 12 points behind Manchester City, they are not in the title race.

Had Sanchez joined Manchester United instead of Arsenal back in 2014, he would have a FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League medal in his locker.

It will be hilarious come the end of the season if Arsenal finish with a trophy (or two) and Manchester United, and Alexis Sanchez, finish potless.

Sanchez moving to win things? He is moving for the money.

Selling to a rival

After Robin van Persie we were told that we would “not sell to a rival again”.

Whilst it is frustrating that we are losing Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, to then label Arsene Wenger a “liar” is childish.

What would you prefer? Arsenal to not be swapping Sanchez for Mkhitaryan? To let his contract go to zero and then join Manchester United for nothing? So at least we can say that we “did not sell Sanchez to a rival”.

Arsenal are getting a good deal.

No one is bigger than The Arsenal

From Brady to Henry, top players have left Arsenal in the past. Alexis Sanchez is not the first to make the move from London to Manchester, and will not be the last.

He is not even the best player to have left Arsenal for Manchester United.

No player is bigger then the club. Last I looked, it was not Alexis FC, it was Arsenal FC. THE Arsenal Football Club.

Keenos

Mkhitaryan for Sanchez straight swap a “good deal”?

But we could have got £60million for him in the summer is a common complaint upon hearing that we are about to swap Alexis Sanchez for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with no cash exchanging hands.

A lot of people are looking at it as we are then getting no money for Sanchez, and therefore it is a bad deal as we could have got £60m in the summer.

Whilst they are not getting any money for Sanchez, what they are getting is a player that Manchester United were happy spending £37.8m on 18 months ago.

When you consider Alexis Sanchez is available on a free in just 5 months, the fact Arsenal are getting a £40m player in a straight swap is as good as Arsenal getting £40m for him.

But we could have got £60m for him in the summer, you still cry. And you are correct.

But had we sold Sanchez in the summer, we would have had to have bought a replacement. And every club in Europe would have known that:

  1. We had £60m to burn
  2. That we were desperate

All of that £60m, and maybe more, would have been invested in his replacement.

So in reality, Arsenal would not have been getting £60m for Sanchez, but swapping Sanchez for whoever his replacement is.

On deadline day, for example, Arsenal bid £90m for Thomas Lemar.

Would spending £30 and swapping Lemar for Sanchez be a good deal? No.

Another player is Julian Draxler. I imagine had we pushed for him, we would have been able to get him for similar to what we sold Sanchez for. So the £60m we got in for Sanchez would have been given straight to PSG for Draxler.

Julian Draxler is a very good player, but is he worth £60m? Would that price have been inflated due to the Sanchez cash? Possibly.

And then compare to the two players mentioned above to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Are they actually any better?

Mkhitaryan has had a tough 18 months in England, but he would not be the first free-spirited attacking talent to struggle under Jose Mourinho.

For me, he is on a similar level to Julian Draxler. Actually I would say he is better than Draxler as people still talk about the German as having potential, whilst Mkhitaryan is proven.

Then compare Mkhitaryan to Lemar.

One is a player who has had one good season, and struggled this, the other was quality in Germany over a number of years.

So Lemar would have cost us an additional £30m on top of what we got in for Sanchez, and he is not as good as the player we ended up getting.

Had we sold Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City for £40m and then bought Mkhitaryan from Manchester United for £40m, you would probably all be happy.

Now lets chuck Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into the mix- a deal for £53m is moving closer.

We could end up with a situation where we get both Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan in, with Sanchez leaving, and a net spend of just £53m.

Let’s go back to the alternative deal in the summer of Lemar in, Sanchez out, and a net spend of £30m.

So for an additional £23m on top of what we were willing to spend in the summer, we are getting a Sanchez replacement and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Is the deal a good deal for Arsenal? Yes.

Ps: in their last season together at Dormund, the pair scored62 goals between them.

Keenos