Tag Archives: Manchester United

4 points gained or 2 points lost?

With O2 being down, it will be a while until I can upload the match report from last night. In the mean time, here are some ramblings and thoughts.

Everyone felt a little deflated at the final whistle yesterday. A mixture of how far we have come under Unai Emery and how far Manchester United have dropped this season raised the bar of expectation.

We have not won at Old Trafford in the league since 2006; so those expecting us to run out easy winners were misguided. You will always take a draw in Manchester, but can not help feeling it was 2 points dropped rather than a point gained.

We had chances to win the game (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan) and both of their goals were due to defensive lapses.

It is hard to be too upset with the poor finishing, however, as we have certainly benefited in games this season with opponents being unable to hit a barn door with a banjo (Everton springs to mind).

Overall, 4 points from the double header of Tottenham and Manchester United is a decent return.

It perhaps shows the difference between ourselves and Manchester City. We are happy with 4 points from those 2 games, Manchester City would aim for 6. That’s what £2.7bn gets you.

4 points is what you would expect if you are challenging for top 4, and realistically that is what we are doing this season.

Prior to the start of the season, I expected Manchester City to run away it this season. Liverpool would finish second and it would be a 4 way battle between Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham for the last 2 Champions League places.

Liverpool have kept up with Manchester City more than I expected they would; and Manchester United have fallen away.

That leaves a 3 way battle for 3rd. 2 points between Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal. Chelsea’s defeat to Wolves yesterday shows why they are battling it out with Arsenal (who dropped points to Wovles at home) and Spurs (who lost to Watford) rather than with Liverpool for second.

Liverpool’s advantage over Chelsea and Arsenal at the moment is continuity. This is the 4th year of Jurgen Klopp (still yet to win a trophy). He has been able to build the team he wants, playing the style he wants. Arsenal and Chelsea, Emery and Maurizio Sarri, are both 6 months into their new future.

I really feel for Rob Holding.

Yesterday was his 9th Premier League start in a row, and he was making a case for being Arsenal’s premier defender. People were starting to talk about buying a partner for him next summer, not a replacement.

Emery has described it as a “big injury”. Caused by Manchester United turning into Stoke City, attempting to kick us off the park.

Holding was caught late by Marcus Rashford, and seemed to catch his studs in the turf and twist his knee. The Old Trafford pitch was atrocious.

It is not yet clear how long Holding will be out for.

Aaron Ramsey is a little harder to feel sorry for.

He has a history of picking up these sort of minor injuries a couple of times a season, that see him miss 3 or 4 games. It is one reason why the club should not have offered him a deal making him the second highest paid player.

He also seemed to get his studs caught in the stodgy Old Trafford pitch.

With Laurent Koscielny hobbling off against Portsmouth in the EFL Trophy earlier in the week and Kostadinos Mavropanos a long term absentee, it leaves Arsenal with just 2 fit centre backs.

Nacho Monreal is returning to fitness, but is doubtful for the visit of Huddersfield. Arsenal will probably return to a back 4 in that game. Once Monreal has returned it will give us the option of playing a back 4 (with a more solid left back) or moving Monreal to the left hand side of a back 3.

Ramsey is less of a concern. Arsenal have an array of attacking talent; with Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi available depending on whether we want to go one up top with 3 behind, or two up top with 1 behind.

The only problem is the bench.

With Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil out, we will be reliant on youngsters on the bench – Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah.

We have a nice run of fixtures coming up in the Premier League until the game against Liverpool on the 29th – by which time you would expect Ramsey, Ozil, Koscielny and  Monreal to be back.

After 0 points from the first 2 games, Arsenal are now on a 20 game unbeaten run, and just 2 points off 3rd place.

15 games in, hopefully the talk of Arsenal not playing anyone can stop. We have played everyone in the top 9, and have only not played Brighton (10th), Huddersfield (17th), Southampton (18th) and Burnley (19th). They are our next 4 games.

4 points from the last 2 games in hindsight is a good return. It will be an even better return if we can get 12 from 12 prior to travelling to Anfield.

Up The Arsenal

Keenos

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Tottenham, Manchester United and the FA Cup

I am still coming down from yesterday.

Having taken yesterday off work, I strolled in today do 100 questions from colleagues as to how was the game and Arsenal were brilliant.

This time of year the games come thick and fast, and this week we have a mid-week games. Tomorrow it is another huge test with Manchester United away.

Arsene Wenger’s demise was defined by a lack of victories on the road to top teams. Unai Emery has a good chance to chalk up his first 3 points against United.

Jose Mourinho’s team are in total disarray. They are in 7th place, 16 points off top – last season they finished 19 points off Manchester City.

Whilst I am confident about tomorrow, I am also aware that Manchester United – and Jose Mourinho – often raise their game against Arsenal.

Our player of the season this season has been Lucas Torreira. Mourinho will employ the very basic tactic of sticking Marouane Fellaini as a number 10 and hitting him with high balls. Torreira will have no chance and United will then battle for the knock downs.

It is a basic tactic, but one which could work. Especially as we are without Granit Xhaka who misses his first Premier League game since the 2016/17 season.

The big news yesterday was the draw for the Emirates FA Cup third round. Arsenal will travel to either Solihull Moors or Blackpool.

We will find out our opposition for the match on December 11, when Solihull travel to Bloomfield Road for a second-round replay, after the sides drew 0-0 at the weekend.

Solihull Moors, managed by former England goal keeper Tim Flowers, play at Damson Park on the outskirts of Birmingham. With a capacity of just over 3,000, it is likely the fixture will get moved. Gander Green Lane (the home of Sutton United) held over 5,000 when we played them a few years back.

If the fixture is not moved, Arsenal will receive about 450 tickets. It will mean a ballot of the away scheme.

We played Blackpool at home earlier this season when we beat them 2-1 in the Carabao Cup fourth round on Halloween.

An away trip to them would be a good old day, as long as it is not ruined by TV. The last train back to London is at 19:32 via Preston. Easily Makeable if we are Saturday 3pm. But if it is moved to the 17:30 kick off time, it will be impossible to make it home.

On the Sunday we have planned engineering works. That means bus replacement services and 5+ hour journey times.

Friday and Monday would be a day off work and not getting back until the next day.

A night out in Blackpool would not be too bad, if it was not just a couple of weeks after Christmas and New Year.

Hopefully the TV companies take into account the travelling fans. They often point out that the FA Cup is dying, but football without fans is nothing. The TV companies are part of the problem.

So it is a case of cracking through today at work, before settling in to enjoy the game against Manchester United tomorrow.

Keenos

Sven Mislintat promotion gives peak into Arsenal future

Last night it was announced that Arsenal had promoted Sven Mislintat from Head of Recruitment to Technical Director.

By promoting a scout whose vision of the game is about unearthing stars of the the future gives you a peak into Arsenal’s future.

The club will look to recruit young, exciting talent, and develop that talent into global superstars.

A return to Arsene Wenger’s early philosophy of making, not buying superstars

Earlier this week I had a little discussion with someone over the N’Golo Kante deal.

It was reported by Football Leaks that his agents had pocketed £10.6m from the deal, which would go some way to explaining why Arsenal did not follow up their interest.

Under Arsene Wenger, rightly or wrongly, we often pulled out of deals that saw a huge chunk of money going to agents.

Wenger was a ”purist” and detested agents taking money out of the game. He hated the likes of the Anelka’s who would unsettle their own client and move them from club to club, making millions of pounds in the process.

Sadly to compete for the best players, you have to be willing to deal with the likes of Jorge Mendes and Mino Raiola. Dealing with these individuals is a huge reason why Raul Sanllehi was bought in.

The conversation went beyond agents fees and also discussed that Arsenal are still a way behind the likes of Manchester United in terms of wages paid.

Recently it was revealed that Barcelona’s wage bill was approximately €487m, with Real Madrid paying out €395. In 3rd place was Manchester United at €337m. The traditional Big 3 of world football were joined by the Billionaire Boys Clubs of PSG (€272m), Manchester City (€296) and Chelsea(€256m). Juventus (€259m) and Bayern Munich (€265m) were also amongst the top 10.

Arsenal were 10th – paying out around €232m.

Whilst that is a huge amount, it is €100m less than United, whilst Barcelona pay out more than twice in wages than Arsenal.

Wages are often the key to success. The rule of thumb is the more you spend in wages, the more higher you finish up the table. This is obviously on average, so there will always be exceptions to the rule such as Leicester.

What is clear is that Arsenal are still not eating from the top table. We are still unable to pay the top wages to attract the best players. We are still a 2nd tier club behind the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United.

But we were told we moved from Highbury to enable us to compete.

And that was the plan.

The gate receipts from the emirates were meant to bring us back level with the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona – who at the time were doubling our gate receipt income.

Back in the early 00s, gate receipts were king. They were the main source of income.

But the game moved on. TV money and commercial deals are now more important than what comes through the gate.

Moving to the Emirates means that Arsenal have the 4th highest gate receipts in world football – behind the big 3 of Man U, Barcelona and Real Madrid. There is not that much in it. TV deals are also fairly neutral – although the figures above are prior to Arsenal failing to qualify for the Champions League.

What is clear is how far Arsenal fall behind when it comes to commercial revenue.

4th in gate receipts but just 10th in commercial revenue – and £162m less than Manchester United.

When we moved, we could not have predicted that the world would change to the extent it has, and that commercial profits would be king.

The thing with commercial income is it is slightly beyond our control. Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid are bigger brands than Arsenal, so will naturally command more from Nike, Adidas, Emirates, AON, etc, for deals.

We are over €100m behind Manchester United in salaries paid and €162m a year behind in commercial revenue. We are still at the 2nd tier. Not at the top table.

Well we should not have moved then you cry.

Incorrect.

Had we not moved our gate receipts would have dropped by £40m to £60m. Without the big commercial deals that Bayern Munich get, or having a super rich owner like Manchester City (Stan Kronenke is rich, but doesn’t have £2.7bn he can pump into us) less gate receipts would have left us even further behind.

We would have a similar total revenue as Liverpool – who have won just a single trophy in 10 years. We would be even more reliant on selling players to generate income (Liverpool have sold over £400m worth of players in 5 years, Arsenal just £200m).

The move to the Emirates was supposed to close the gap between Arsenal and those on the top table. The explosion of commercial deals (and Billionaire Boys Clubs) have meant that the move has basically allowed us to maintain our place as a second tier club in European club football.

Hopefully with the new Adidas deal, the Rwanada deal, and other new commercial deals, we will see that gap close up, allowing us to be more competitive.

By promoting Mislintat, Arsenal have shown great self awareness.

We do not have an owner who will pump in £2.7bn of his own, and neither should we expect him to do so.

In European football at the moment, it is only PSG and Man City who have owners bankrolling them. Roman has turned the tap off. Every other club is (attempting at least) to run a self sufficient model. You spend what you bring in.

With a great coach like Unai Emery, and the promotion of Mislintat, Arsenal will continue buying the next global superstars. Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi rather than N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba.

Some might see this as the wrong route. That we should be spending hundreds of millions a year on transfers, but this not realistic.

We as fans have to understand that as a club we can not afford to pay the wages of Man U, Barcelona or Real Madrid. Kante is about to sign a £290,000 deal. Alexis Sanchez close to £500,000.

Arsenal are not going to suddenly magic up another £100-150m a year to fund the big transfers.

As Dortmund, Monaco, Atlético Madrid, Liverpool & Napoli have shown, you can build a competitive team through sensible recruitment rather than big money signings.

It is about how you buy, not what you spend.

Good recruitment + good coaching = success.

And Mislintat is key to the future of the club.

Keenos