Tag Archives: West Ham

Unai Emery to ring in the changes

Two games into the season, playing against 2018/19 champions Manchester City and away to Chelsea. Arsenal are on zero points. But there is no need to press a panic button

Arsenal have beaten Manchester City just once one 7 games – that FA Cup Semi-final, and not beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 2011 – when Robin van Persie scored a hat trick.

Last year we got 1 point from the two games in a torrid draw against Chelsea.

There are positives to be had. Whilst we did not get the result against Chelsea, it is the best I have seen us play at Stamford Bridge for 7 years.

Moving forward, things are hopefully about to get a lot easier for Arsenal.

We start today with a home game against West Ham, the start of a run of 8 games which you would be disappointed if Arsenal did not get at least 18 points out of. 5 wins and a draw.

West Ham will be the 2nd game of the season I have already missed.

The club messed up my away scheme which meant they did not buy a Chelsea ticket on my behalf, and I am with family over this Bank Holiday weekend so unable to go West Ham.

Luckily for me going down The Arsenal is not a job, but something I choose to do, so I do not need to rely on going to every game just to earn a modest income. I have the Monday – Friday grind for that.

That panic button is certainly not ready to be pressed, but it might be time for Emery to ring in a couple of changes.

The first is formation.

During the first half of pre-season, Emery seemed to favour 4312 with 2 up top.

With players returning from World Cup duty, and perhaps under pressure to try and put Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan into the same team, we started the season 4321, leaving Alexandre Lacazette on the bench.

It might be worthwhile for Emery to revisit the formation he favoured during pre-season.

Lacazette and Aubameyang. A dual threat.

Some will say that they can not play together, but both are smart players who enjoy each others company. Lacazette has a tendency to drift to the right during games, Aubameyang the left. So whilst the would both be down the middle, they would not be getting in eachothers way.

Thinking out loud, they could become the new Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.

The problem with playing the two upfront is then we sacrifice any sort of width we had from playing Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Alex Iwobi (or Aaron Ramsey). We would ultimately play one number 10. A shoot out between Mkhitaryan and Ozil.

This would mean that we are once more relying on our full backs to provide the width.

Nacho Monreal is the only option on the left, but it is perhaps time for Stephan Lichsteiner to come in at right back.

This is not a slight on Hector Bellerin. He has not been as poor as some are making out.

On another day against Chelsea, if the finishing was better, he would’ve come away from the game with a hat trick of assists. Instead he was horribly exposed towards the end, with Chelsea’s winner coming from his flank.

The problem is under Emery’s system he does not have the cover of a winger. He is expected to defend and attack, and it is draining.

Mauricio Pochettino up the road uses his full backs in a similar way, but he rotated them almost every game.

If Emery is to ask his full backs to bet up and down the wing every game, he is going to have to expect them to run out of gas.

In Lichsteiner Arsenal have an experienced, dependable right back who needs to be rotated in and out with Bellerin to ensure that both men do not tire too quickly.

It actually would have been a smart move to sub Bellerin off for Lichsteiner on 70 minutes against Chelsea, such was how tired he looked.

The same scenario is on the left. Once Sead Kolasinac is back I would expect him to share the duties at full back with Monreal.

That leaves the middle of the park.

By playing a central 3, it will give the defence a lot of cover, and also ensure we have men who can drop out wide when the full backs have bombed forward.

You see Manchester City do this a lot when Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy have bombed on; Fernadinho sits between the centre backs ensuring defensive stability.

Lucas Torreira needs to start alongside Matteo Guendouzi.

I think as the weeks role on, we will see Granit Xhaka come in for Guendouzi, but the moment the Frenchman certainly deserves his place in the team on merit. 

So do we got for Aaron Ramsey or Granit Xhaka?

My preference is the Welshman.

As we are at home, Ramsey is more attacking than his Swiss team mate. With a 3 man forward line rather than a 4 man, we need one of the midfield 3 to be able to break forward and support. Ramsey is the best player in the squad for that.


Lichsteiner Mustafi Sokratis Nacho

Ramsey Torreira Guendouzi


Lacazette Aubameyang

*since writing this blog Ozil has called in “sick”


Arsenal spend right rather than big

As the transfer window trundles to a close today prior to the Premier League opener tomorrow, I thought I would share some thoughts on the market, and how Arsenal have performed.

My thought can be summed up in the statement it is not what you spend, but who you buy.

Fans can often become obsessed with the value of the player, rather than the ability of the player. Thinking that the more expensive the player, the better he must be. But with brilliant recruitment you can sign top class players at the fraction of what other clubs are spending.

It is dangerous to look at what other clubs have spent over what they have actually signed.

This summer West Ham, Everton, Fulham and Leicester City have all outspent Arsenal (at the time of writing – Wednesday lunchtime), and some people might use that fact to attack the club. But look at what the actually signed.

Everton spent £42million on Richarlison from Watford. He hasn’t scored since November, and no assists since December.

West Ham also went big on an attacking Brazilian, spending £38million on Felipe Anderson. The former wonderkid has never really developed into a consistent performer and £38million is a lot of money for a man who was restricted to just 9 starts last season due to a serious knee injury.

Leicester City signed James Maddison for £25m, Ricardo Pereira (who?) for £23million and Liverpools 9th choice goal keeper Danny Ward for £12.5million. Over £60million spent on Championship players.

Also buying Championship players are Fulham who have spent £37million on Aleksandar Mitrovic and Alfie Mawson – two players who have previously been found wanting in the Premier League.

Now lets shut our eyes and imagine Arsenal bought the 7 players mentioned in this blog. Nearly £180million spent. Would you say it is good business? No. It would be big money wasted.

Arsenal spent just £67million on Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira & Mattéo Guendouzi.

What would be the better business? £67million on what Arsenal got, or the £180million on a bunch of tripe?

Perhaps what sums up what I am saying is 4 players signed by Arsenal and Chelsea. Two a piece.

Lucas Torreira + Bernd Leno =  £42million

Jorginho + Kepa Arrizabalaga = £130million

Now I am now saying Chelsea have made poor signings. Joringho is a very good central midfielder and Kepa a top young keeper. But are they much better than Torreira and Leno? Are they even actually any better?

Torreira and Jorginho both played in Italy last season, slightly different styles of play. They both bring a lot of ability to the middle of the park. For me, they are both equally as good as what they do. Torrieira defending, Jorginho keeping the ball moving.

As for the goal keepers, Arsenal are getting an experienced German keeper who is on the fringes of the national team, Chelsea a less experienced Spanish keeper who is on the fringes of the national team.

The uneducated amongst us will point to Chelsea and say “they have spent £130million, they have shown ambition” whilst criticising Arsenal for “going cheap”. But the reality is the quality of the players being bought in is not much different.

Arsenal have not gone cheap, they have bought the right players at a good price. Meanwhile Chelsea have probably over paid for what they have bought in.

I have always been a student of Soccernomics where you do not focus on what has been spent, but what has been bought in, and what Arsenal have bought in is plenty to be happy about.


The FA Cup & Aubameyang update

The FA Cup

For the first time in 22 years, since 1996, Arsenal are not in the 4th round of the FA Cup. And I am gutted.

I am sitting here at 10:12 writing this blog, really not sure what to do with myself? Do I go and fix the garden up after the rough winter we have had?Or maybe put on my wellies and go for a couple of hours stroll in Epping Forest up to the Owl on High Beach, a few pints then stroll back?

Maybe a trip to the garden centre and grab a couple more house plants? I am unsure, I feel lost. This must feel like what it is to be a Spurs fan, getting knocked out the cups early.

Oh well, at least I have a League Cup Final to look forward too, Pinnacle vip code 2018 states that we are not favourites with the bookmakers

Whilst writing this, David Moyes has popped up on Sky Sports News to discuss the upcoming Wigan v West Ham tie.

“They won the FA Cup and got relegated. I am sure if you asked Wigan fans, they would rather not win the FA Cup and still be in the Premier League”.

What a load of rubbish. It is up there with Spurs fans saying they do not want to win trophies, that playing in the Champions League is more important than winning a cup. It is like top 4 is a trophy. Or staying in the Premier League is a trophy.

It should not be surprising that David Moyes has this opinion, that cups mean nothing.

A manager for 20 years, his only trophy is the Football League second division, way back in 1999/2000.

He spent 11 years at Everton, and never won a trophy.

His target was clearly to finish in the top half of the table, rather than win a trophy.

I feel for West Ham fans that they have a manager who openly says he does not want to win things. How out of touch is he with the fans?

I am sure if you ask Wigan fans, the FA Cup win is the highlight of their lives. Same with Portsmouth fans. The cup means everything.

It is only those who have not won it for decades who devalue it.

I am gutted not being in it.

Aubameyang Update

The deal seems to be at a stalement.

The crack negotiating team have flown back to England as negotiations continue. I is dying a slow death.

If the deal does not go through, it perhaps highlights that the problems at the club are bigger than just Arsene Wenger.

Previously, whenever a transfer feel through, Wenger (rightly) got the blame. But this deal is showing that the club is rotten from the manager up.

How the deal has not been done yet is incredible.

Dortmund want to sell, Arsenal want to buy, Aubameyang wants to join. It should be an easy deal to get over the line.

Reports were that Dortmund want ~£55-£60m. That Arsenal wanted to initially pay £40m. This is the start of the negotiations.

Arsenal were apparently concerned with paying over the club-record £46.5m that they spent on Alexandre Lacazette in the summer. And this is where the frustration begins.

We are talking about Dortmund wanting about £10m more than this. Arsenal need to learn to ignore the milestones, stop being concerned about the criticism, and just get the deals done.

With the sales of Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott, and the money made in the summer, Arsenal have a net spend of nearly £45m.

Are we really trying to break even for the season? That is lubricious.

We moved to compete with the best, for the best. Now I am not saying we should be spending the £200m on players that Manchester City are – we can not afford that – but we should not be looking to break even every season, in terms of transfer spend.

We have the money to get Aubameyang in. Let’s get it over the line.