The Joy of Watching Willock, Nelson and Lacazette | Line-up v Bayern

I’m writing/typing these few words prior to the Chinese leg of our Far East and Australian tour, so I can still proclaim that it’s steady as she goes.

Mentioning Australia what a wonderful experience for all connected to club, how good was that reception from the good people of the antipodes, the enthusiasm for sport in that part of the world, surely has no equal.

Of course the openness, inclusiveness and thoroughness showed by the people at Arsenal made a lot of friends in Oz, nobody can smell out BS better than an Aussie, so those at the club responsible for the organisation of the tour so far should be applauded for a job well done.
The team and coaching staff all bought into the experience, taking time with the fans, coaching the kids and buying into the Aussie culture, it was a great adventure and left behind many fond memories. I’m sure that it won’t be too long before Arsenal return to the Lucky Country.

As for the two games, both played in a good spirit, it was of course about fitness, but it also afforded Arsene the opportunity to experiment both in positional terms and tactically, which might well be worth revisiting later on during the strength-sapping domestic season that’ll soon be upon us.
It was encouraging to see so many youngsters enjoying 1st team exposure, all of them had some good moments and all of them would have gained something in terms of their football education.
It’s comforting to know that we have so much talent and promise just bubbling along under the surface, out of the spotlight, it isn’t all about big headline grabbing transfers as Retsub will tell you. Our club has a proud tradition of developing talent from within and I get as much pleasure from watching a Joe Willock or Reiss Nelson as I do an Alex Lacazette.

With Arsene more or confirming what most of us thought re: UEFA Cup and a League Cup style squad, it’s going to be fascinating seeing how our youngsters develop this season. The jump from U23 to EPL is a chasm in these post-Football Combination times, so the UEFA Cup is a fantastic opportunity for our club to encourage the next generation.

By Allezkev

Predicted Line-Up v Die Lederhosen:

By TotalArsenal.

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Ramsey ‘the Injun’, Xhaka the Pivot, Elneny the Surprise CB: 8 Aussie Friendlies’ observations

Eight very early observations from two Ozzie friendlies.

  1. The team looks fresh and focussed. There is a good spine in the team and plenty of movement around it, both from the flanks and up-front. It was good to see Elneny playing in the central CB role yesterday. He look calm and in control with good physical presence too. Elneny/BFG/Koz are good options to have for the CCB position and playing Xhaka in the deeper DM role adds real strength to the bottom end of the spine.
  2. Ramsey ‘The Injun’ is looking bright already. We know him as a slow starter, and we really, really need a good full season from him this time round, and early signs are that he is  fit and ready to start the season strongly.
  3. The same goes for one of my favourite Gunners, Nacho Monreal. Boy he is looking sharp and he produced two assists yesterday. One for Giroud and one for Ramsey, and both very well timed and executed. I am loving the three at the back defence and Nacho is just awesome on the left.
  4. Lacazette is looking lively but, understandably, still finding his feet at Arsenal. Combining him with the totally reinvigorated Giroud may not be the best thing for the team, but, with Alexis unavailable as yet, it makes sense to play them together.
  5. Iwobi and the Ox are looking bright and lively and ready to step it up this season. Early days, but I thought they looked eager and focussed yesterday.
  6. It was also good to see some good and keen youngsters getting a chance. They all had good moments although nobody stood out throughout the game. The Europa league will be ideal for giving some of our most promising talents a chance to gain experience at a very high level. Cannot wait.
  7. Xhaka is our pivot in the team and his collaboration with Ramsey and Ozil – The ROX – is something to look forward to next season. I love his tidiness, special awareness, positioning, passing and ability to move the game forward instantly. He is also using his physicality better and better now.
  8. Kola – our new refreshment from Schalke 04, is looking very promising: powerful, hard working, good passer and keen to impress. I want to see more of him but first impression is…. very good.

By TotalArsenal

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Per Mertesacker is the Big Winner but Who is the Big Loser?

Not Tony Adams but the BFG will become Arsenal’s next Academy manager. Arsene was quoted on as follows: “Per is an exceptional character who is a great example for young players. He is a deep thinker about the game and committed to helping players fulfil their potential. He will be an inspirational figure for everyone connected with the academy.”


Anybody who has listened to Per’s post-game interviews knows that this is true. I like people who do not focus too much on their restrictions but prefer to develop their talents and push themselves as far as they can. Such a person is our BFG. Yes he is slow and turns like a tanker that’s just left Saudi-Arabia but he has height, intelligence, great positional awareness, excellent timing and passion for the game. He is also humble and loyal. Building on these qualities, he won much silverware, including the biggest trophy a football player will ever hold above his glowing head, when he won the world cup with die Mannschaft.

Tony Adams is a true Arsenal great. One of the most complete defenders I have ever seen and he was much better  than Per Mertesacker has ever been. The problem with Adams is that he is not a good judge of his post-on-the-pitch football days. As a manager he has clearly failed and as a pundit he has not impressed. Communication off the pitch is simply not a strength – a vital flaw for commentators, reviewers and people managers, me thinks.

He has not felt much love from Wenger since he put up his boots, it seems; and this culminated in a couple of bitter interviews during the latter stages of last season, when confidence in Wenger and the team was low and they formed easy targets. Any remaining panels in the bridge that once was so formidable where well and truly burned down by TA.


A true warrior on the pitch and natural communicator – not so much off the pitch though

He complained about Wenger not allowing him back at the club he loves and not explaining this to him. He wrote a book and then gave some interviews from which we could take that his pride was hurt and, like a dumped partner, he was more than willing to emphasise Wenger’s perceived weaknesses. Adams is clearly craving the now lost respect and affection of his former boss and mentor, and how he would want Wenger to say the above used quote for the man who led the defence so brilliantly and loyally during the first years of Wenger’s coaching career at the home of football.

But that ship has well and truly sailed and with appointing the BFG as the Academy Manager – and, of course, signing a new contract himself – Wenger has put Adams back in his place and, perhaps, dealt him a big blow back. He cannot say he did not ask for it!

By TotalArsenal

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Lacazette is a Gunner now Sanchez can do a Runner | Hello Mahrez

Arsenal have their main attacker and everybody can breath again. We needed extra fire power up front and with Lacazette Wenger has landed a fine attacking specimen. Not cheap but at 26 we can have 4-7 years of fire power from the prolific Frenchman. Of course the prospect of Alexis, Lacazette and Ozil up-front in our 3-4-3 line up is mouth wateringly good, but with Alexis apparently asking for silly money to force a departure, Wenger will now be a lot more relaxed in letting him go. On his terms, though!

Although Alexis scores a lot of goals, he was not in the PL top-five of scorers of most points-winning goals. And this my friends is actually the most important aspect to judge an attacker on: scoring the vital goals that get us wins or turn losses into draws. Costa – however despicable he is – was excellent at this last season, Alexis was not.

Wenger can now look for a replacement for Alexis and do two deals simultaneously: say goodbye to Alexis and bring in his replacement straight after that. Mahrez would be a really good replacement for Alexis and he can also double up for Ozil in the hole. Mahrez – Lacazette – Ozil up-front would be feast of football. Ramsey and Xhaka (Santi-Elneny) would love to feed these passing magicians. Welbeck, Iwobi, Giroud and Perez would be great back up for our attackers.

The early signing of Lacazette has put Wenger in a fabulous position to deal effectively with Alexis without losing too much sleep over it. He holds all the cards and Alexis can grow himself a new one. If he is committed to our fine club he will sign soon; if he is not, he will probably sit out his contract, or maybe he will be sold after all. Whatever happens we will be fine and can now look forward to start of the friendlies-season.

Great job, Arsene! 😉

By TotalArsenal

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To be or not to be? That is the question on everybody’s lips. Unfortunately, the more one listens to the Sanchez transfer stories the more lost one becomes. As they say, only time will tell–except we just can’t wait for slow time to come do all the telling! Which is exactly why we’ve decided to sniff around some more for the scent. Where is Alexis, really?

There are so many fables in the air. Every team wants Sanchez, including, of course, Arsenal. To retain Sanchez, who is said to be on a salary of £140,000 per week, Arsenal are reported to have offered him £280,000/wk, which he has reportedly rejected. This is fable number one. There are only five players in Europe earning up to or above that. Ronaldo, Messi, Bale, Pogba and Neymar. Two of them are from Real Madrid, two from Barcelona and one from Manchester United. These are the three richest football clubs in the world, splashing out on five world mega-stars, great players without doubt but also football personalities who on their own merit are able to bring great commercial rewards to their respective teams. At this moment, the stage is being set for the birth of another mega-star, Kylian Mbappe. Who can’t guess his destination.

The quite reliable Total-Sportek (my source for all wages quoted here) published earlier this year that Arsenal offered Ozil and Sanchez new wages of £180,000 and £165,000 per week respectively. Let’s assume that negotiations have pushed both up to £200,000/wk. How does this figure compare with top wages in Europe?

The highest paid player in Italy (according to the Total-Sportek figures) is Gonzalo Hugain of Juventus who earns €7.7M per annum (£130,000/wk). Clearly, Italian teams cannot meet the reported wage demands of Ozil or Sanchez.

In Germany, the mighty Bayern Munich have Lahm, Ribery, Robben and Lewandowski topping the wage chart. The four are all on a salary of €160,000/wk (£140,000/wk). Don’t expect them to go crashing their salary structure for anybody when they are already tops in–and on–the field.  All the noise about Sanchez to Bayern has been coming from his fellow Chilean Arturo Vidal. Incidentally, Sanchez on his current deal earns more than Vidal who is on €150,000/wk (£130,000).

In France, there is PSG, a club running on petro-dollars. They can shoot from the hip but their highest paid player, Thiago Silva on €200,000/wk (£185,000), earns less than the suspected demands of Ozil and Sanchez. Given their deep pockets, the rumour that they are interested in Sanchez should not be taken lightly. It is, however, good to keep it in mind that Angel de Maria is on £150,000/wk as their second highest paid player followed by Cavani and Verratti at £110,000/wk each–the same as Ramsey and Walcott. Remember, oil prices have taken a tumble and the Arab Spring has not fully blown over.

Spain. Real Madrid and Barcelona. Between the two there is nowhere on earth for any player to go–except maybe China. Luckily for us the rivalry between the two clubs is so intense–and so based on pride–that each dare not touch any ‘cast off’ of the other. If Barcelona recruits Ozil the club president would fall. Same with Sanchez to Real. It has nothing to do with how good or poor the players are, it’s just plain pride. So, it should be of little interest to us that, apart from the mega-stars mentioned above, they have Suarez on £240,000, Modric on £180,000, Iniesta on £165,000 and Ramos on £160,000 per week as their other top earners. Modric’s salary equals what Ozil has been offered earlier this year. All others (in both teams) earn below that figure (£180,000/wk) which Ozil has long since rejected. These others include such top players as Iniesta, Pique, Busquets, Ramos, Benzema, and Kroos. Suddenly, Arsenal is not doing too poorly with its scaling of salaries.

We end our journey at the English Premier League where there is the mighty Manchester United and the sugar daddy duo of Manchester City and Chelsea. There are 9 players here on £200,000/wk or above. Pogba on £290,000, Rooney £250,000, Toure £230,000, Aguero £230,000, Ibrahimovic £220,000, David Silva £210,000, De Gea £200,000, Schweinsteiger £200,000 and Hazard £200,000. (ManCity has since scaled down some of their top salaries, but included lucrative bonus clauses to help meet FFP rules.) Any of these three clubs can outbid Arsenal, salary wise.

So far, there are no rumours that Ozil is wanted by any of them, but it’s been hinted that the three are all angling for Sanchez. I have my doubts.

Mourinho wants his players to conform to his script. Sanchez on the other hand must express himself. There is no meeting ground for the two and Mourinho cannot need what he does not want. Manchester United for Sanchez is out. This, remember, is merely as I see it.

Pep Guardiola has one phobia in football: the opponent gaining possession of the ball. Sanchez’ high-risk, high-dividend style is so high in turnovers that, despite all the noise about City wanting him, I can’t see Guardiola going for it. Pep, who is similar to Mourinho in this aspect, prefers players who can fit or be molded into his very structured style. Even Fabregas failed to adapt in the Pep-esque Barcelona and was sold. I don’t expect City to go for Sanchez. To me, these stories are fables.

Chelsea can afford Sanchez even though their highest paid player is Hazard at £200,000/wk. Surprised? Roman Abramovich, we must remember, is not a bottomless pit. He is already owed more than £1 billion by Chelsea. So, it is not difficult to imagine that the account books have begun to interest him. Nonetheless, his club have a tactical reason to be interested in Sanchez. Conte is a coach who is able to adapt a team to suit a player’s profile. Watch out for Conte.

China. Sanchez can overtake Carlos Tevez as the world’s best paid footballer if he goes to China. But Sanchez is the ultimate showman. The spectators that are most dear to his heart are there in the seaside town of Tocopilla, Chile and he would vanish from their sight, lost in the great expanse of China, if he dares go there. Tocopilla have said no to China.

Finally, Arsenal. Wenger values when players have come to understand themselves. He wants to keep Sanchez, but at the same time he would not want to rip the salary structure to pieces. Arsenal’s Board of Directors are ever casting envious glances in the direction of Bayern and Wenger knows that. Obviously, Wenger would not want Sanchez to walk away in a year’s time on a free. He also knows that if Sanchez is held back from leaving (while believing better options exist for him) he will be a pain in the neck on and off the field in his final season. If this is the case, Wenger would be right to cash in and bring in a worthy replacement. Sanchez is a fabulous player but he is replaceable. Please check out the Russian prodigy Aleksandr Golovin.

So, where are we? I would say we’ve made a little progress. We can now see that there is a good chance that we are Alexis’ best option. And, aren’t we now a little bit less paranoid about losing him?

Meanwhile, we wait for old man time to do the final telling.

by Pony Eye

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Arsenal: To Keep Alexis, Ozil, Ox

And The Others (Gibbs, Wilshere and Szczesny) Who Only Have One Year Remaining on Their Contracts?

Should we or shouldn’t we? Hmmm…

I wrote a post about Alexis Sanchez and why I believe it is in the best interest of Arsenal to sell him this summer.  I have shelved it.

Until we do sell him–or, better phrased–until Alexis forces us to sell him, who am I to try and stop Gooners from believing we should pull out ALL the stops to try and keep him? The same could be said for other players who are down to just one season remaining on their current contracts: Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny.

The interesting thing, I think, is that many Arsenalistas–or at least the ones who’ve been around the block a time or two–seem just as concerned about keeping our current players as they do about bringing new ones in during this transfer window.  It speaks to the idea that, even with all the angst surrounding the manager AND the fact that we’re coming off our lowest finish in the league in 20+ years–and facing Europa instead of Champions League football–we’re not that far off.

That last bit, not being able to offer Champions League football, is, in my opinion at least, a problem.  Great players want several things.  Big contracts are important, of course, but being able to play at the highest level–and having a legitimate chance at winning in those competitions–means something too.  Being loved by the supporters, as much as we’d like to believe it’s important, probably ranks as a lower priority.  The next club will have supporters too, and hey, at Arsenal, Gooners may have already booed our guys a time or three.  God forbid if players google themselves after a disappointing result.

All things being equal (in terms of contracts on offer), playing CL football, I think we must admit, could tip the scales.  Alexis to Bayern Munich, Szczesny to Juventus or even Ox to Liverpool could have plenty of fire to match the smoke, I fear.

Of course, being under contract–even if it’s just for one last year–gives Arsenal the final say.  In my next post I’ll try and examine the Bosman rule and what that might mean to our club regarding these same players.  Be forewarned, it’s not a good thing.  One of the most successful Bosman transfers–and one that caused the supporters of a certain club a LOT of anguish–was that of Sol Campbell from Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal.  Being on the wrong end of a Bosman may not suit too many Gooners.

There’s a money element as well.  Good players demand big salaries and/or long contracts, which can take away from Arsenal’s cash reserves.  Incoming transfers, although they mean payments to other clubs, can represent a jump in level–and salary–for players coming our way and actually yield savings when amortized over the length of a contract (or if a player is re-sold).  In other words, we might have to put on our green eyeshades and do a little accounting.

But that can wait.  For the moment, I want to hear what folks think about trying to keep our players nearing the end of their contracts.

I have to admit, I’m (mostly) a sentimentalist when it comes to our current players.  I tend to look at them as human beings–with all their strengths and frailties–and emphasize the good over the bad.  Maybe I just fear change and tend to believe that things could get worse instead of better and that we ought to appreciate what we’ve got at our club.

That doesn’t sound like your average Gooner, of course, but we’re an optimistic bunch (generally) here at Bergkampesque–even if said optimism means an ever smaller circle of regular participants in the comments section.  If you clicked on the headline (and are still reading), please chime in.

And, if there’s ever a season meant for dreaming, it’s summer.  (Beyond hopes for building a winning squad at our club, I’m currently dreaming that I fit into my swim-shorts just a little bit better…)

So, let’s be having your dreams.   Who should we we be buying–always the topic that brings the most fun–in addition to the (only slightly…) more mundane questions about who should stay and who should go?  Sorry, no dreams about Wenger out.  Surely–barring vile chants being realized–he’ll be the one leading his squad onto the pitch, at least for the early games of the upcoming campaign.  Let’s talk about first 11s (and the deeper squad) and how far we might go next season.  Trophies?  Higher placings?  Top goal-scorers?  What else?

It ALL seems better than me trying to spin my (harsh) “realities” into positives. (Next time, perhaps…)

So, who are we keeping and why?  Who must go?

Who should we buy?  For whom would you break the bank?

First 11?  2nd 11 or other important squad players?

What do you see Arsenal able to accomplish in 2017-18?  How high can we finish in the Premier League?  Cups?  Can we defend the FA Cup or maybe use our youth & squad depth to go far in the League Cup and get through the group stages of the Europa League?  Can we win either of those?  Etc., etc., etc…

It’s time to share your hopes and predictions for the summer & the season to come.  In other words: Don’t Worry, Be Happy.


Go on then…

by 17 highburyterrace

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ALO ALO! Alexis, Lacazette, Ozil: A Title Winning Strike Force

Lyon have just signed Traore from Chelsea which must be a strong indication that they are about to sell Alexandre Lacazette. This does not mean he is coming our way, of course. Many teams will be looking to buy a top quality CF and AL is one of them; let there be no doubt about it.

He is the French League player of the season according to Whoscored and scored second most league goals – a goal per game almost. He played a quarter less minutes than the top scorer, Cavani, and, had he played the same number of minutes he would have finished not on 28 but on 35 league goals or there about, given his average minutes between goals. He plays for a proper French club as well: one where players are developed and no sugar daddy tries to buy titles for self gratification. He is the sort of character that fits our club perfectly.

Lacazette does not need many shots to score his goals; he is a lot more efficient than the French league top scorer for example. He is mobile, likes to dribble, a good passer of the ball and has a good shot from outside the box. He also likes to take penalties and his biggest strength is his finishing. A mobile attacker with a deadly finish and comfortable on the ball, hmmm, on whose wish list will he have been? Answers in German please.

The 3-4-3 formation is exciting. It has given us wings, winning nine out of ten league games, scoring goals for fun and conceding just half a goal per game. But we have all been able to see that we are too reliant on Alexis and Mesut to produce the goods up front. The likes of Welbz, Perez (who I love), Theo (who needs to leave) and Iwobi all offer something to the team but they are not there yet (and may never make the grade, unfortunately). And if Wenger really wants to win the league he cannot afford to hope for the best. Alexis, Lacazette and Ozil up-front, ALO ALO! That is sex on six legs my fine fellow BKers. Potentially a title winning trio, if you ask me.

Just imagine the constant movement and ability to pass and run the hardest defences into a lasagne. Imagine Xhaka, Rambo/Santi/Jack, serving these three birds of prey!! Picture for yourself the likes of Kola, Bellerin, Ox and Nacho serving these three monsters from the wings.

I hear you say that Wenger will have to sell either Ozil or Alexis, or both. Well I am going to tell you they will not be sold. We don’t need to and if the fans have established one thing with their protests in recent months, it is that Kroenke would not dare to cash in on either of them. Won’t happen.

Have I wetted your appetite? Good. Now let’s get Lacazette and tell Ozil and Alexis to sign a new contract or play their current ones out. We are the Arsenal and we mean business.

By TotalArsenal 

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