Tag Archives: Newcastle

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.



So Toon pegged us back. It’s no nail in the coffin.

In the aftermath of our admittedly disappointing draw to Newcastle, some have wondered whether our apparently fragile and temporary table position has started to slip. Having missed a chance at going ten points clear, we now sit just eight above City pending their match at Stamford Bridge after which our lead may have shrunk to as little as five. Clearly, we should consider looking to the heavens to see if the sky is falling or, alternately, if pigs are flying. 

It’s easier to suspect the former idiom after we’ve dropped points for the first time since 23 October and just third time all season. Is this then the first wobble that portends a deeper fall? From our point of view, it’s easy to let those old feelings of doubt creep in. After all, for as high as we’re flying, we’ve spent the last decade or dreading what felt like inevitable collapse, be it an unfortunate early goal conceded, a horror tackle, or an epic, disastrous defeat. We’d watch as players on the pitch let their shoulders slump and chins drop. We’ve only had a few precious months to exorcise years of existential dread; it’s normal to feel murmurs of that same dread.

How to dispel them? Let’s drag out that latter idiom. Ever since we rose to the top of the table, various pundits (especially of the Mancunian variety) have held that Arsenal will win the Prem when pigs fly. However, they’re trying to have their cake and eat it while talking out of two orifices at once. On one hand, they’re touting Newcastle as a serious contender for a top-three finish at a mininum. On the other, they’re crowing about how this draw strikes a fatal wound to our own campaign. It can’t really be both. Sharing a point with a top-three rival is…normal if not preferable. If it had been, say, relegation fodder like Everton that came in and snatched a draw, that would be a different story—but that’s such a laughably unimaginable scenario that one wonders why I’d even mention it. 

The reality then is that  this result does offer some legitimacy to Newcastle’s status  but does not much away from ours. Only one club have beaten Newcastle, and that was away to Liverpool. This draw marks the sixth straight clean sheet Newcastle have kept, and they barely did so on Tuesday. Had we been just a bit sharper, especially in those first 15 minutes, or if Madley had remembered that he liked punishing shirt tugs (which he booked Nketiah and Ødegaard for in the first half), we might have come away with a comfy win.

Newcastle played like they were Pulis-era Stoke with a bigger budget. Those are the kinds of tactics that used to intimidate and unsettle us. This squad, however, is made of sterner stuff, greater conviction, and deeper desire. For as young as they are, these players rise to challenges. Conceding a goal seems to anger them. I suspect that dropping points at home with inspire them that much more. It’s almost a pity that we have to wait almost ten days to properly show how we react to setback.


Jon Shay manages his own blog, Woolwich 1886, and you can find him on Twitter at @LeftLegOLiam

Keep calm and trust the process

The fact the third best team in the Premier Lesgue this season turned up to our gaff, put XI behind the ball, defended their 18 yard box and played for a draw shows how far we have come under Mikel Arteta

It was not too long ago that the likes of Wolves, Brighton and Swansea would turn up to Islington and think “we can get a win here”. Those days are over. And with that comes another problem.

“Low block” is one of them newish buzzwords in football to describe a team that sets up 451 and defends deep. The better you are, the less interested teams are in attacking you.

As the second half of the season roles on, less teams will become interested in attacking us, and more will defend deep. And it is up to Mikel Arteta and his players to work out how to unlock a stubborn lock.

The Newcastle result was by no means a disaster. Some (as they always do) have gone OTT with their negative analysis.

I have seen some pundits say “the top teams work out how to win these games”; insinuating that Arsenal are not a top team.

This season, Man City have drawn with Newcastle, Aston Villa and Everton, lost to Brentford.

Last season, City got 93 points, they drew 0-0 at home to Southampton. They also drew away to them. They lost 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace., and drew 0-0 at Selhurst Park. They also drew 2-2 away to West Ham. You can not expect a team to win every game.

Newcastle are the 3rd best team in the league this season. They are a strong, well built, highly organised outfit. They set up to firstly not lose games, and the try to take their chances to win. You can see why they have lost just once this season. And the drew against us was their 8th in 18 games this season.

They have taken points against Manchester City, Man U, Spurs and Chelsea. Liverpool are the only team to have taken 3 points against them – and they needed a 98th minute winner.

I saw them described as “Burnley Arabia” which made me chuckle. Maybe a little too much. They are better than that. But Howe certainly has them playing in an efficient manner, doing what they need to do to compete. Probably closer to Atletico Madrid than Burnley.

So 0-0 at home is not a disaster. But it also does not mean that we couldn’t (or can’t) improve.

The game highlighted our lack of attacking options.

With Gabriel Jesus and Emile Smith Rowe out injured, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka played the full 90.

In games like this, it is often a substitution that changes things. A pair of fresh, fast legs in the last 20 minutes that finds that gap. It is clear why we are chasing Mykhailo Mudryk.

You also have to ask whether Arteta could have been braver with his substitutions.

He made just one change – Ben White for Takehiro Tomiyasu. Fabio Vieira was an unused sub on the bench.

Could Arteta have thrown the Portuguese on for Granit Xhaka with 20 to go? See if he can create something?

I do think Arteta missed a trick. And he showed last season that he does not always trust those on the bench to come on and make a difference. I would say game changing subs when we need a goal is something he can improve on.

Of course, football is easy in hindsight and had we been given that penalty, or Eddie scored when one on one, we’d be celebrating a hard fought win – “the type of games champions win”.

It ended up 0-0. There will be some over analysis. But we are still top of the league. Won 14 out of 17. And that Newcastle game was the only one we didn’t score in.

Our 100% home record is now over, but we move on.

Oxford United in the FA Cup next (I expect a hugely changed team) before Spurs in a week.

Man City are still favourites and the result on Tuesday is just a little reminder of how tough this league is.

Keep calm. Trust the process.