Gabriel Jesus out for a while: the internal options for replacement

Gabriel Jesus is out for a while, and the fact that the club has not given an indication of how long it is likely to take for him to return to the team does not bode well. With the January TW only a few weeks away, I can fully understand why the club have not made public how long it is going to take; it would undermine their negotiation position quite a bit. I always felt we would get an additional attacker in the coming TW anyway, but now there is even more need for it. We need more strength in depth and an experienced winger/CF is required imho.

But it all remains to be seen whether the excellent Edu and Arteta will be able to get what they want mid-term. So this post is about how the club can fill the huge gap GJ9 will leave behind during his absence (however long that will turn out to be).

Key is to find a replacement internally that will allow Arteta to keep playing the same sort of football and tactics. PB’s excellent previous post describes in detail what the man with the best-ever emoji-face has to offer. In my own words: Gabriel Jesus is a whirlwind of an attacker who creates chaos and restlessness in defences; he has that rare ability to dribble in very tight spaces and penetrate the box on a regular basis; he is very fit and mobile and just never stops; he sets the tempo in attack and is an example for the other attackers, and; he is a winner.

The real question is, do we have a player with the same qualities and characteristics?

Eddie: will do his best to fit the shoe but is a different type of CF with different qualities. I don’t think he will be the like for like replacement.

Balogun: I would leave him in beautiful Reims till the end of the season. I have not seen enough in action of him but I don’t think we should ask him to fill the speedy Brazilian’s shoes yet.

ESR: as a false-9 there is potential to do the job but the required dynamism and fitness would be a concern. A good dribbler and taker of chances he is for sure, but we are looking at another whirlwind of a CF and I don’t think that’s Emile’s strength.

Martinelli: well, I think GJ9 adopted younger brother could be the almost perfect match. He, just like Jesus, just never stops and is a total pain to any defence. He has that all important dribbling into the box ability and would relish to play more centrally. The gap he would leave behind on our attacking left could be filled by a fit ESR or Nelson, or even Vieira.

Saka: another strong option imo. Bukayo is ahead of Martinelli in his development and I think he could play the GJ9 role as well as anybody in the team. The problem is that Bukayo would leave an even bigger gap on our right than Martinelli would leave on our left in attack. Nelson or Marquinos are options, and so is the new Vieira, but they all would struggle to offer what Saka does on the right on a constant basis. Yet I believe that Saka would relish the opportunity and would be a fearsome CF in Arteta’s system.

All in all, I reckon we will buy a new attacker anyway to improve our strength in depth. But if Arsenal fail to do so – and there is absolutely no point in just buying somebody who Edu/Arteta are not totally sure about – Martinelli seems to me the best option all together, both for the CF position as well as the wider balance of the team.

By TotalArsenal.

Arteta Finally Has his Beast of an Attacker

Has there been a better striker signing than this summer’s Jesus?

When we have a drought on Arsenal stories (apart from the perpetual gossips on signing Mudryk, Tielemans and Danilo) let me use the opportunity to revisit some of the key summer signings. I would like to compare our choice with those players who were signed by other clubs for the same position, if they were rumored with Arsenal.

Let me start with the strikers. I aim to compare the performance of Gabriel Jesus with 12 of his peers: Richarlison, Vlahovic, Isak, Toney, Scamacca, Abraham, Osimhen, Jonathan David, Calvert-Lewin, Nunez, Gouiri and Lacazette. It might be a bit strange list as Haaland is not there – I left him out as he was never an alternative to Jesus, even if we could afford the money City got ahold of Haaland. Vlahovic is a story from January (but still was a viable alternative at that time), and Lacazette is a reverse transfer, nevertheless we had the option to offer him a new contract.

For the sake of comparison I had to use a few simplifying assumptions.

  • The basis are the last 4 months only, as I don’t care how good or bad they were playing the previous years.
  • The players’ performance is independent from their current club, meaning they could have delivered similar results with similar outputs if they were playing for Arsenal. The type of competition (league, Europe, domestic cup) is also irrelevant.
  • Their current market value is not the effect of their transfer money, but the other way around. Market values mostly reflect present and predicted future performance. (However, I’m not entirely sure about that.)
  • While WhoScored and TransferMarkt are reliable sources when it comes to minutes, appearances, shots, passes etc. they are also unbiased and dependable when estimating performance ratings and market values.

When comparing the strikers I had to come up with a mathematical-statistical model. I considered many factors, and eventually combined them together. Let me start with listing those aspects, and immediately list who were the best players in those individual regards:

  1. Goal contribution per game (a.k.a. average of goals and assists per 90 minutes played in all competitions and league only) – Osimhen (with 13 total and 12 in the league) and Nunez (11/7) are the leaders here. Toney (14/12), Jesus (12/10), David (12/12) and Lacazette (12/12) made similar outputs, but they used a lot more games and minutes, hence is their disadvantage. The worst players here are DCL (1/1), Scamacca (6/2) and Abraham (6/5).
  2. Relative market value increase (their current worth in percentage of their value before the transfer) – the best players here are Isak (167%) and Jesus (150%), but I’m sure that the main reason behind Alexander’s jump from 30M to 50M is the 70M Newcastle has spent on him. The list concludes with Lacazette (80%) who is on the decline because of his age, and DCL who was probably simply overrated when was rumored to Arsenal in the first place.
  3. Revised player rating (league ratings corrected with MotM awards) – lead by David (who had the most league MotM awards with 3), followed by Jesus and Lacazette. The players trailing the most are Abraham, Scamacca and DCL, but in their defense, I have to say they often played only fractions of games, which has a detrimental effect on the ratings and thus the – lack of – MotM awards.
  4. Conversion rate (calculated by the shots per game stat, league minutes and goals scored) – the 2 top players are Gouiri (28%) and Isak (27%) here, but the latter suffered a long-term injury, so his record is based on a small sample. The worst striker is Richarlison in that regard, as he didn’t score a single league goal.
  5. Key passes and tackles (per 90 minutes; as pressing and chance creation should be within the strikers’ focus nowadays) – lead by Lacazette (1,7+1,5) and Jesus (1,6+1,4), while Nunez (0,7+0,3) and DCL (0,2+0,2) are trailing at the other end of the list.
  6. Age modifier (+2 if U21, +1 if 21-23, 0 when 24-26, -1 if 27-29, and -2 if 30+) – many of the players here received 1 extra point (Vlahovic, Isak, Scamacca, Osimhen, David, Nunez, Gouiri), and only Lacazette got -2.
  7. Quality of chance utilization (xG-goals + xA-assists; indicating the execution of shots and delivery of final balls; even though the latter depends more on the abilities of the finisher than the actual creator) – mastered by Gouiri (+1,1), Osimhen (+0,8) and Vlahovic (+0,5), with Nunez (-2,3) Jesus (-2,6: by far the best xA-A stats, but the second worst xG-G) and Abraham (-5,1) at the end of the line.

Based on the combination of these aspects – with the emphasis on the revised player rating, and the goal contributions – as they could have been the sole factors in a less elaborated model, here are the final results without any consideration on the final transfer price:

The clear winner of the 13 is Gabriel Jesus. I might have been a slightly biased when weighing the factors, but the margin is convincing. He scored high on market value increase, had the highest league rating to begin with, and his 2 MotM ratings didn’t hurt his case either. His hard work is not an easily quantifiable, but the high key passes per game statistic also indicates his commanding presence and the energy he injects to the entire team.

The top tier are Toney, Nunez and Isak. Ivan had good scores in all aspects, albeit – somewhat surprisingly – never in the top 2 or 3. He scored the most goals in all competition from the strikers on the list, but the few assist and the lots of playing minutes prevented him from standing out. Isak scored high on value growth, which was a bit unfair, but his conversion rate justifies his presence in the top 3 (behind the winner). Nunez had produced great output for the limited minutes he played behind Jota and Firmino, but is a classic striker with minimal different contribution like key passes or tackles. Based on Undestat’s analysis, he actually should have scored and assisted a few more from his attempts.

The next 3 are Osimhen, David and Vlahovic – surprisingly 3 players outside the PL. Osimhen also had impressive scoring statistics, but his tackles are the joint lowest; basically, he is the Nunez of the Serie A.  Jonathan David scored the highest revised player rating, however his 3 MotM rewards could be the result of being the clear standout player of an otherwise average team. Vlahovic seems like the ‘child’ of Nunez and Toney here (apologies for the blasphemy) as he had good scores on all aspects (apart from other contribution), but he excelled in neither of them.

I think these were the strong picks. The next 3 are clearly below the middle line. Lacazette leads the bottom half. He had the third highest corrected player ratings and the best score in other contributions, but the constant loss of market value and his age disqualified him from the most desirable strikers. Gouiri follows him closely; his conversion rate, chance quality and goal contribution alone would make him a top target, but even those figures were a slight step back from his crazy performance last season, and the lack of international call-up also had its mark on his market value, thus eventually in my striker comparison model. Finally, Richarlison concludes this trio, who might be a high flyer in the World Cup, but his domestic performance was less than impressive. In his defense, he was often used as a substitute – resulting in a big dent in his ratings – and was predominantly deployed as a winger, so the comparison in his case is indeed a bit flawed.

Finally we have the last 3, where ‘dodging the bullet’ might not be an overstatement. Abraham couldn’t live up to the expectations from last year, missing easy chances, and the inevitable correction of his inflated value didn’t help either.  Scamacca started as a backup forward to deputize Antonio, furthermore West Ham is yet to exploit the aerial threat Gianluca poses. Finally, the unmitigated disaster was Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who started the year with a nasty injury, but couldn’t Salvage Everton’s catastrophic season when started to play regularly. He simply doesn’t belong to the top.

I didn’t take the transfer fees into account, as with the CL and silverware ambitions Arsenal doesn’t need a ‘good enough for the price’ type of striker, but a true world class – as long as we could actually afford the price and salary. However, taking the price into consideration would only make Jesus the undisputed winner here, as Nunez and Isak went for a considerably higher fee (not mentioning Vlahovic, or Napoli’s expected fee for Osimhen), and I doubt Toney would have changed club for less than 50M. Apart from Haaland, Gabi is the clear winner of the striker signing category.

Do you agree? Please don’t hesitate to challenge my method of comparison, and share your thought in comments. If you are interested, I can add players to the list (whom I might have forgotten).

Finally, do you think such data-driven comparison for other positions would add value? If so, I can do similar analysis on LBs and CBs to see how did Zinchenko and Saliba performed against other defenders. Or even apply the same approach to DM/CMs and wingers to see who are the most promising candidates in the rumor mill for our next wave of reinforcements.

By Peter Barany (PB)

The New Vieira is Clever Business by Edu

People online and on Twitter have been being negative on Vieira. I’ve been arguing that a 2 month injury and lack of preseason before joining a much harder league really would hold him back a bit. Add to that the difficulty of learning Artetas system (maybe the most complicated in the world right now), would be a big factor as well.

I said that even with all that, he still has a nose for creating and scoring goals, and still in his poorer games, he is always close to causing a goal from a beautiful play, or from popping up in the perfect place at the right time to get a shot off. 

Those are instincts that can’t be coached. 

They also talk about him being lightweight, but I see him as a slippery character, a little bit like Ozil who can squirt away from opponents trying to close him down or tackle. 

You’ll see that if you find the highlights from last year’s champions league games against Liverpool and other big clubs. 

It impressed Klopp enough that they purchased the right of first refusal if he was going to be sold. Luckily we came in after pool just spent loads of money on Diaz and Nunez, so they had to let him go. Smart business on that timing and opportunity from Edu. 

The game against Wolves is an example of his value. Called into the game unexpectedly early when the first 11 was underperforming in the first half. Eventually he found his moment of time and place for an assist. The way he controlled the ball until the perfect time, luring the keeper towards him, then chipping it over him. So well done that  if Ødegaard hadn’t got to it, Saka would have definitely put it in. 

He created 2 chances with one ball. 

It’s worth noting that the game was completely in doubt at that time, even though it ended up a comfortable win. 

 I think Vieira will have many more game changing moments for Arsenal in the future.

By JNYC

Arsenal have a New Bergkamp and 7 more Observations

Wolves 0 – 2 Arsenal: Give us a finger and we will take the whole hand!

Eight Observations:

  1. Pouncing on an opportunity to increase our lead is not something Arsenal have been particularly good at, but this time round the boys were professional and fought with the right spirit to increase our slender lead by 150%.
  2. I thought a few players were holding back a bit to avoid a WC-cancelling injury. Understandable but risky, as this was just too good an opportunity for us to finish on a high.
  3. The two guys who played like it was the most important game of the year were Big Gab and the Ode. They really were up for it and made the difference at the back and upfront. Saliba looked tired and made a few uncharacteristic mistakes but Gabriel came to the rescue each and every time. So glad he signed a new contract. Well done, Edu.
  4. Martin Odegaard is gradually growing into a true Gunner in the mould of Bergkamp and Cesc (the latter wanted to return but Wenger refused his prodigal son). I am so glad that we have a player of the Ode’s character and quality in our team. He lives football and in the moment, and his loyalty to Arteta and the club is second to none. You should watch the game again and just focus on Martin. The boy is so precious: the reincarnation of DB10.
  5. Would you swap GJ9 for any other CF right now? I wouldn’t. I know there is half moon face at Spuds and the Norwegian Berserker at MC, but I love CFs who carry a real goal threat and create mayhem and space for others as well. Jesus’s pre-assist for the Ode’s first goal was a thing of beauty. It cracked open a rather solid defensive position. GJ9 just never gives up and nobody gets a rest from him, yet he is not our centre of gravity in attack. All are responsible to score goals. Spuds and City have made themselves dependable on their CF to score most of their goals. They have the sort of CFs that will do this to a team, and when they have a bad day their teams could drop points. Jesus is perfect for us.
  6. Xhaka’s injury was a setback but Vieira deputised well. A different sort of player of course, but there is a real sense of creative genius. His assist was calculated and calm: the way he took a touch to force a move by the goalkeeper and delivered the ball gently to the danger zone, was special.
  7. The big thing again is how we controlled almost the entire game. Zinch was a great partner for Partey in midfield and Big Ben was also imperious. They make it look easy at times.
  8. We are five points ahead of the Oilers. To complete the first half of the season, Arsenal still need to play: Man City, Newcastle, Everton, West Ham and Brighton. Citeh have a slightly tougher final five games: Arsenal, Spuds, Chavs, Everton and Leeds. Arsenal also had eight away games and only six home games (Citeh 7/7). So the first half of the season gap could well be bigger than five points in the end. Of course, as the Ode so wisely said again on Saturday, we will need to remain humble. OGAAT, OGAAT, and who knows were we will end up by the end of the season?! In the meantime, Kev, Stu and Le Gall will keep singing their Gooners’ hearts out.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Wolves: All Guns Blazing for a Five Point Gap

Oh how nice it is to start the game tonight knowing we will remain TotL whatever the result. Man City unexpectedly got stung by the Bees and we can call ourselves Autumn’s Masters, or as the Germans call it Herbst Meister. It just shows us how important focus and respect for every opponent is in the PL. There are no easy games and it’s OGAAT all the way.

We are lucky to have a fit squad and can play our top Gunnners once more. The Seagulls’ Cup defeat was a damp squib, and Arteta will have noticed that not all is well with our second-11, if we can call them that; and the January TW will see some additions, I reckon.

But our first eleven mean business in every game and will relish the opportunity to put a massive five points between us and the light blue Oilers.

Wolves have been playing some beautiful football over the last few years, especially under Nuno Espirito Santo. But they are in flux now and we have a great opportunity to take all three points at Molineux.

I am hoping for a grant finale tonight and before the folly in the sandpit will take place. Many Gunners have been selected for the WC and they should all be happy as Larry. The only risk I can see is that they will be desperate not to get injured, and therefore not give their all. Well, Arteta will surely not allow any lack of attitude from anyone. Three points and a football show on Saturday is the demand, no doubt!

Bring it on boys!!

Lineup

Same as v Chavs.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

We’ve Got Arteta: The Beginning of a Great New Cycle

We all go through periods in life where everything feels like a downer. There are weeks and months where we’re so busy that we don’t have time to enjoy ourselves as much as we’d like. Just trying to get work done and pay bills is the focus for most like me. 

When things are normal for Arsenal, as in a average times for the past 10-12 seasons, the better times have been nice highlights, and I find the team has made me smile and feel some joy or satisfaction. Basically a nice distraction competing to get into Champions league. Also to go far in, and win some FA cups. 

I understand that we need to appreciate what we have, and that we could easily be cheering for a team that’s mid to lower table, with relegation fears, so in that way we have been slightly spoiled compared to the majority of English football fans, so I need to remind myself to not take things for granted. 

It seems to me now that we’ve been given a gift in the form of Mikel Arteta, along with owners and executives who recognize some errors of the not too distant past. They seem to be on the same page with how they want the club to look, Artetas vision. The way the players comport themselves in all ways, on the pitch and life in general.

 Arteta doesn’t want any bad apples in the bunch.

I really have no doubt that this is the beginning of a great new cycle. Not just because of the fine start so far. I know there will be ups and downs as always in life and football. I’ve felt this coming since the home game against Spurs last season, where we first began to display the kind of football that we’re playing currently. That’s when I bought in to Arteta’s vision completely. This included the stadium atmosphere and home dominance. TA was the one who had faith from the earliest time, and that faith is being rewarded in a big way.

I didn’t know how fast we’d get to this level of play consistently, but it looks to like we’re moving ahead of schedule. 

Let’s all appreciate every moment of what we’re getting from our club at this exciting time, because I’m pretty sure we’re at the beginning of a very special period that will be remembered a long time from now.

By JNYC

Chelsea v Arsenal Preview: a Brace for the Tornado?

A short bus trip to the west of London will see the boys take on the post-Abramovich Chavs with just one goal: to win and become League leaders again.

Chelsea is seldom a boring game and of course Potters’ men will want to regain some PL momentum after a mini slump in form.

The great news is that the Zinch is back and could start. Tomiyasu looks likely to miss out with injury and Emile is still not ready to be in contention. After all the games the team have played in recent months, we are very lucky to have almost all key players available.

I think this will become GJ9’s afternoon. He has been building up steam of frustration over a number of games and the top of the kettle is about to explode at Stamford Bridge. I predict a brace.

Of course, it is not important for us that Gabriel scores as long as the team score and win. I rated Giroud so highly for his ability to create space for others, and one day Sanchez and Ozil – whose careers have faltered rapidly after leaving Arsenal – will admit that Olly was instrumental to their goals and assists whilst donning the Royal Red and White. Gabriel has a similar importance to the team and he is close to MOTM every time for me, but a striker likes to score goals and Gabriel is due a few: today would be perfect timing.

We’ll have to be wary of the wounded Chavs and Potter is a fine strategist who likes to be the underdog, so we need to be ultra-focused, especially when we are pushing a high line.

Line up

Rams

BB, BW, BG, Zinch

—- BTh – – –

Buka, Ode, GX, Marti

The Tornado

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Forest Preview/ Lineup: Let’s Blast Away That Insult of a Performance in Eindhoven

Forest, apparently also nicknamed The Tricky Trees, which I love, come to the Home of football for a 2pm kick off. Despite a poor PL start, Steve Cooper has all the confidence of the owner, Evangelos Marinakis, who even rewarded his head coach with a new contract, recently. Well, I like this sort of vision and trust in a manager: a breath of fresh air.

Forest have spend money and brought in bus loads of new players, and of course it will take time for the manager to turn them all into a football machine. I like it that the famous two time European Cup winners are back in the PL, and I hope they survive, but today we will need to give the Garibaldi (another great nickname) a proper hiding.

The Canon will be red hot and the Gunners fired up after the Eindhoven insult of a performance. The Big bounce back is required and I expect the boys to be pumped up in front of the loyal home crowd. Honour and pride are at stake here, our values need to be reemphasised, and our place at the top of the table retaken.

Lineup

Well our good friend Le Gall said it all in the last post:

For what it’s worth, I would have loved Mick to give BigBill, BigGab, and GabMart a rest, and try something new, like
Ramsdale
Tomiyasu-White-Tierney
Nelson-Partey-Xhaka-Saka
Odegaard
Nketiah-Jesus
BUT
Ramsdale
White-Saliba-Gabriel-Tomiyasu
Partey
Saka-Odegaard-Xhaka-Martinelli
Jesus
… it’ll be!!

Le Gall is right with his last predicted lineup of course, and I would definitely not like to see any experimenting this afternoon. Let’s play our strongest team and at full tilt.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!!!!

By TotalArsenal

Eight Arsenal Observations: Lame Attack, Sambi’s Missed Chance, Let’s Shop in Eindhoven

PSV 2-0 Arsenal

Eight Observations:

  1. Arteta had a difficult choice to make: only a full strength team, or there about, would beat PSV at their ground. But he needs to keep players happy and rest some players. The team that started was not enough to get a result and yet we played a lot of key players at some point during the game..
  2. The attack was lame and not more than the sum of its parts, maybe even less than that.
  3. Martinelli’s first touch was below par, Vieira lacked presence and Eddie is no natural Jesus-Tornado. The collective movement and interaction was poor, and Odegaard had little to work with.
  4. Sambi had a chance to show us all how good he is, but he remains a work in progress. With both Xhaka and Ode also on the pitch there was great support for him, but Lokonga lacked presence to drive the team on like Thomas does. This performance will not have gone down well with Mikel.
  5. Playing two right footed CBs next to each other is not ideal. Rob and William are fine CBs but they need to play with a left-footed CB to create the best balance.
  6. Aaron got it wrong for the second goal. That did not look good. But he still made a few decent saves and he will learn from this.
  7. The PSV attackers made the difference in the end, and Xavi Simons definitely looks a better back up to Gabriel than Eddie or Gakpo. The letter showed what he is capable of too, and he would be ideal competition for Martinelli. Still Simons looks like a huge star in the making. Arteta may have seen enough to know where he needs to shop next!
  8. Maybe Arteta should have made 11 changes at the start and just take it as an opportunity to see who comes out on top. I am sure UEFA would not have been happy with that and many fans would have cried foul, but in hindsight this would have been a better option than going half way house. Anyway, sand on this one and let’s move on quickly.

Your thoughts?

By TotalArsenal

PSV v Arsenal: Starts for Reiss Lightning, Holdingho and Tomi to Tame Gakpo?

Today Arsenal play PSV Eindhoven away with the aim to secure top spot in the group and to bounce back from an unnecessary drop of points at St Mary’s. To show must regain momentum and it will not be easy. PSV have seen enough last week to know that they will have a chance against us, especially if Mikel decides to give a few sure starters a rest tonight.

PSV are a well established club in the Netherlands who every season fight for the Dutch title, mostly with Ajax. They may be less famous than the Amsterdam club, but they have had some very fine footballers over the decades wearing the stripy red and white shirt: from the Van de Kerkhof brothers to Ronaldo (Brasil) and Romario, and from Koeman to Gullit and Hans van Breukelen. But the club’s top scorer and seventeen seasons long most loyal and loved PSVer is unquestionably Willy van der Kuijlen, who sadly passed away last year. He was prolific for them, scoring over 300 goals in 500+ games.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/14692611/willy-van-der-kuijlen-dead-eredivisie/

I have written before that I had my first away game at the Philips stadium with my boyhood team, Roda JC, as a small boy and have been there on three more occasions. It’s the home of Philips and they have always had the best lighting system in the Dutch league. They love their football there and we can expect a raucous atmosphere.

Lineup

Arsenal will probably lose if Arteta makes too many changes. We can afford to lose as we still have a good opportunity to win the group the week after at home to Zurich. But Arteta will want to finish top tonight and he will pick a strong team to do so. This is no doubt the hardest fixture of the six for us, so little chance to do mass rotation. Sorry PB.

Yet, there is space for a few non-sure PL starters…

Turner

BigTom, BigR, BigW, BigTier

Loko-Granit

Nelson, Ode, GJ9

Eddie

That’s my guess but I love to hear your suggestions for the lineup.

By TotalArsenal