Was Wenger wrong: Are Arsenal badly missing a ‘DM Beast’?

Wanyama is the sort of DM Beast we have been missing this season.

Wanyama is the sort of DM Beast we have been missing this season.

Arsene Wenger’s comments about no longer needing a traditional defensive midfielder at Arsenal have been well publicized.  His theory is that the modern game demands balance and for all players to collectively attack and defend, opposed to being “purely specialists”.

This theory has been met with little success in important Cup/CL games, as well as against the top clubs domestically.  In the majority of those games that we have lost, we failed to settle in early because of shaky defensive starts, and/or were bossed in the midfield by stronger and more physical presences (Ramires of Chelsea, Schweinsteiger of Bayern and Parker of Tottenham are the most notable).  It was clear in those games that a proper, traditional holding player would have helped to counter both the strength of their defensive midfielders, as well as the creative talents on the opposition’s side.

Also, one must consider that our best performances have come in games where we have played rather compartmentalized, with our more attacking-minded players focusing on offense and a demand for all our players to track back, while our defenders be disciplined at our own end, only joining the attack when need be.  This pattern was evident during our early season successes, in addition to the recent upward trajectory in our performances since the draw against Liverpool.  The correlation is no surprise, since I believe we lack the personnel to properly play the type of football that Wenger envisions for this squad.

There is some truth to AW’s theory that the modern game has and continues to evolve.  A midfield “enforcer” will be useless unless the individual is either well disciplined and/or has the technical ability to protect the ball and find his teammates further up the pitch.  At Arsenal, we have a very capable player in Arteta based on AW’s defined role for a holding player, in that he is intelligent, anticipatory, disciplined and efficient with his passing.  However, what AW fails to realize is how much better we could be if Arteta had pace, strength and the ability to play any variety of pass (short, long, over the top etc.), in addition to the skill set he already has.  However, this breed of player is certainly rare, and to ask this from Arteta would be absurd when you factor in his age and natural playing position.

The old-fashioned approach is to employ a classic double defensive midfield spine, such as WBA, Athletico Madrid, Malaga, AC Milan, Bayern Leverkusen etc. with both midfielders generally sitting back to protect the back four and only attacking when necessary; while other clubs have switched to a formation with two attacking midfielders and one designated holding midfielder, such as Swansea City, Ajax, Barca (the Catalans has played this formation for a long time) etc, to take advantage of the creative talents in their central midfielders.

Finally, there are teams like Bayern, Manchester City and Real Madrid who play with two central midfielders, taking turns in attack and sitting back, with one generally being given the responsibility to carry the ball up field to transition the attack, better known as the classic box-to-box midfielder.  All of these clubs heavily rely on the players designated as traditional B2B midfielders and all of which are world-class talents (Schweinsteiger, Yaya Toure and Xabi Alonso).

The traditional box-to-box position, or ‘Vieira role’, requires an individual to have outstanding endurance, strength, ball control, pace, creativity and mental strength on both offense and defense.  It is by far the most physically demanding and mentally draining position in football, which also requires an elite level of skill to consistently be effective and dominate at both ends of the pitch.  Because of how rare it is to find the perfect blend of skill and natural physical gifts, I am led to believe that the traditional B2B midfielder is a dying breed.  I believe teams have switched to either a dual DM set-up or a sole DM with two AMs, due to all the aforementioned reasons.

However, as the modern game continues to evolve, so has the box-to-box midfielder position.  The modern day B2B midfielder is not expected to carry the ball up field as often, and mainly joins the attack through a flat passing system.  This allows the B2B midfielder to evade the direct attention of the opposition and experience less physical strain when running up and down the pitch.  Teams like Juventus, Chelsea PSG, Borussia Dortmund, Everton etc. commonly incorporate such a midfielder in their starting formation.

Then there are the clubs such as Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United who have seemingly gone back and forth between all the aforementioned strategies this season, adapting based on the personnel available to them and the strength of the opposition.  However, I believe this “versatility” has more to do with lacking the right personnel in the squad (whether it be injuries or not having the proper DMs in the squad) to consistently play one way than adjusting based on the opposition.

If we quickly examine the statistics of goals conceded among these five clubs without a true DM or a consistent formation in center of the park, compared to the other domestic top clubs (Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton), there may be some truth in the theory that Arsenal are in need of a proper DM, or a more stable DM set-up:



Games   Played

Goals   Conceded

1   Goal Games Lost

Manchester City




Manchester United
























One must keep in mind that some clubs approach the game more defensively and that the statistics are not purely based on the effectiveness of Chelsea and Manchester City’s defensive midfielders.  City is widely considered to have the best goalkeeper and strongest back four in the EPL, while United have conceded less goals than Chelsea, but the latter are in fourth, despite only conceding one more goal than them. 

In the case of Chelsea, Ramires, who is recognized by most as Chelsea’s best DM option, has only started 21 games due to the rotation policy of the FSW.  Of Chelsea’s 7 losses this year, he only started 4 of those games, half of which were to the current top 2 clubs.  Again, it’s not the most telling sign that a quality, proper DM is at the foundation of a club’s success, but it’s definitely something worth keeping in mind.

Also worth pointing out, is Everton’s record of conceding fewer goals than Tottenham despite working with considerably less.  The trio of Fellaini, Gibson and Osman in the heart of Everton’s midfield has worked wonders for them this season.  However, it’s worth nothing that the Toffees have always been known for having a stingy defense, which matches the club’s reputation in the transfer market.

What do these statistics mean to Arsenal?  Well, if one takes into account our goals scored domestically this season (59), we will all see that goal scoring has not been a huge issue (though consistent goal scoring in clutch situations is a different matter altogether and not what my article focuses on).  However, together with Chelsea and Tottenham, Arsenal has a high number of games lost by 1-goal margins.   5 games lost represents anywhere from 5-15 points in the table, and if we look at the current table, Arsenal could be as high as 3rd if we were able to come out with draws in those contests.

It is my opinion that a true beast of a DM would have helped us to gain more points in those 5 games lost by a 1-goal margin.  While it is true that there were several parties at fault in those games lost by 1 goal (i.e. lapses by GK or DEF, turnovers etc.), it never hurts to have a proper presence helping to protect the back four.  The DM could have aided in stabilizing the back early in games, allowing everyone to settle into the game and the creative players to focus more on offense.  Clearly, as the other teams stand now, Arsenal would have a distinct competitive advantage if we were able to acquire a proper, beast of a DM this summer.

So what is the best foundation for Arsenal to build on going forward?

As I stated earlier, I believe Arsenal should abandon asking any central midfielder to play the traditional box-to-box role, simply because we lack a player with the talent to perform at such a level, while maintaining a clean bill of health.  In addition, efficient and elite, traditional box-to-box midfielders are increasingly rare to find and we lack the resources/recent success to lure the caliber of player like Schweinsteiger, Yaya Toure or Xabi Alonso.

The dual DM set-up, similar to that employed by Juventus, is an intriguing option since we already have a deep-lying playmaker in Arteta who could eventually mirror his game after Pirlo.  However, in Vidal, Juventus have the ideal, modern day DM that Arsenal currently does not.  Vidal is not only aggressive, a tough tackler, has the strength to knock a player off the ball and the ability to strip them of it, but also the goal scoring instincts, ball control, passing range, pace and endurance to run up and down the pitch for the duration of an entire match.  He’s a versatile midfielder who contributes at both ends of the pitch, without the burden of having to also transition the attack with the ball at his feet (as a traditional B2B midfielder is expected to).

Thus, I would be happy to continue in Arsene’s favoured dual DM pivot set-up, with the caveat that none of our players be expected to play as a traditional box-to-box midfielder.   The injuries we’ve accumulated by forcing players into this role are astonishing and it’s clear that the perfect balance between talent, physicality, mental endurance and ability to remain injury-free is non-existent in this squad.  The set-up Arsenal was most successful with last season was with Arteta and Song interchanging between attacking and defending, with Song performing more of the modern box-to-box role, only sitting back to defend when Arteta joined the attack.

HH DM 1st

Based on our pattern of success this season, there is considerable merit in pursuing a compartmentalized strategy for the rest of this season and going into next year.  However, I believe if we buy a technical, traditional DM this summer that we can afford to play with two attacking midfielders and only commit one central midfielder to a primarily defensive role.  This will effectively eliminate our current, unsuccessful dual DM pivot set-up (ineffective against top clubs for the most part anyway), where one midfielder is forced to play in a traditional B2B role (i.e. Jack and Diaby), in order to compensate for the lack of a true DM.

HH DM post

Let me be clear though that buying a proper DM does not mean that I believe our attacking players should not honour their defensive responsibilities and avoid playing a collective team game.

The purchase of a traditional DM will only serve to better protect our back four, help slow down and outmuscle the opposition in the middle of the pitch, while unleashing the creativity up field.

I’m also a fan of the dual DM set-up at Juventus (aka the set-up we established last season), so long as we can find the ideal beast to play alongside a deep-lying playmaker like Arteta.  However, based on the style of football Wenger wishes to achieve at Arsenal, i.e. the flowing and beautiful approach, we may be better off shifting to a 4-1-2-3 formation with two attacking midfielders, much like other clubs that have adopted the same philosophy (ex. Ajax, Swansea City, Barca etc.).

Have your say: What DM set-up do you believe would be the best for Arsenal?

Written By: Highbury Harmony

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

172 Responses to Was Wenger wrong: Are Arsenal badly missing a ‘DM Beast’?

  1. AFC says:

    HH, great post and as you know I have been looking forward to reading this article.

    Firstly I am sceptical of Wanyama for DM. He is playing for the best team in the SPL where the rest of the teams are at a significantly lower level. If Celtic were in the Championship there is a strong possiblity they would not wim the Championship.

    We do need a defensive midfielder but I can see the point of Wenger having a box to box role in his formation. When Diaby plays there (in my eyes one of the only players in the PL can) we performed much better. I think having one true DM would not really solve our defensive problems. I feel we need two strict DMs to truly solve our defensive problems.

  2. AFC says:

    * win

  3. VCC says:

    HH….sorry, the previous post at 19:54. ……I posted games earlier in the day. Fixtures are from 13/14th April.
    Ars v Nor
    AV v Ful
    Eve v QPR
    Read v Pool
    Soton v WHU
    Mill v Wigan
    NEw v Sund
    Stoke v MU
    Chel v MC

  4. marcus says:

    Well thought out and articulated article. Kudos.
    I think that currently, the 2 person DM is working for us because neither of the two is a classic DM and therefore alone they aren’t as effective. However, I think going forward acquiring a real DM like Wanyama who does the defensive work then the rest can play as they wish is the way forward. This is because, while the 2 DM system works, it sacrifices on numbers when we attack which significantly reduces our effectiveness going forward in terms of churning out chances. This is mainly because two of our mids always have one eye on the defense even when we dominate a game which kind of shackles them as they tend to employ a reserved approach so as not to get caught in case of a counter. However if we had a natural DM, it would give Cazorla/Wilshere/Rosicky/Arteta the freedom to carve defense open at will as they’d know they are covered defensively. Imagine a trio of Wilshere, Santi and Rosicky anchored by a true DM. We’d have 80% possession with a chance created every 30 seconds..

  5. AFC says:

    HH, I also feel that nowadays players are now much more refined in their abilities. What we have seen now iis new roles being invented such as DM, nowadays you can even be one of 4 different types of striker. Teams are now using modern formations which means that players have their specifc role to perform they are often not wanted to do other roles. This is quite effective these formations have kind of seen the end of the classic 4-4-2. Saying that it is also very hard to find the right players who can play in these positions. For example in a classic 4-4-2 you need two box to box midfielders. What team in the Prem would be able to find to players to do so he are also good enough to play for a top team. Right now if I had to find two quality traditional box to box midfielders from the Prem who colud fit into a classic 4-4-2 it would be hard. I can only think of Yaya, Ramires and Diaby who are capable of performing the traditional box to box role in the Prem.

  6. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, thank you for the kind words and I’m happy to hear you were excited for my article :).

    I actually never claimed that Wanyama was my preference for the DM position. That was TA’s addition!

    My preference is to actually play in the Juve set-up with a deep-lying playmaker and a modern B2B mid. We already have an astute, smart distributor in Arteta who is decent enough in defence and reading the play, we just need a skilled destroyer with pace next to him. Vidal, Matuidi etc. are the perfect complements to a Pirlo or Arteta, as they can run up and down the pitch for the duration of an entire match without ever really getting tired.

    The difference between players like Vidal and Matuidi to a Diaby is that their ability to carry the ball up field is not as strong, but they are much stronger, assertive in their challenges and are more durable, joining in both attack and defence.

  7. AFC says:

    Marcus, what you are not seeing is that the point of having two strict DMs is to provide cover for ultra attacking fullbacks and CBs who attack. So with teams who are very attacking and have a poor defense such as Holland two strict DMs is very effective. We would not lose much from our attack as we would still have our fullbacks to aid our attacking moves.

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    HH 🙂

    Great post: you have been very thorough in your analysis and there is little to add for me. A real quality, well presented post and a total joy to read. Well done, Sir!

    I reckon Arsene was wrong, YES. The departure of Song left a big hole and not replacing him has backfired on Arsene.

    We have been missing badly a player in midfield who can win balls continuously, through tackles or in the air, and who keeps it simple when needed. This sort of player would have allowed Wilshere to express himself better in the box to box role, without leaving our defence in too a vulnerable position.

    Nex season, I reckon we should play 4-1-2-3 if we can get the beast, or still 4-2-1-3, but with the box to box midfielder still freed up through the addition of a beast next to him (your ‘Juve’ model).

    If we sign Wanyama (my preference) and Jovetic, play Jack in the box to box (or next to Jovetic) and Cazorla on the wing (in a free role) I reckon we will take the PL by storm next season 😛

  9. AFC says:

    HH, I get you now. 🙂

    Seems I have a bone to pick with TA then. 😀

  10. Highbury Harmony says:

    Marcus, thank you for the very kind words mate!

    There are two streams of thought that we should consider:

    1) Teams that have adopted “total football” philosophies employ 1 DM and 2 AMs. However, the DMs on these teams are both assertive and intelligent defensively, while also being skilled and technical enough to join and/or transition the attack. These clubs thrive on possession and the best way to keep opponents on their heels is to create plenty of scoring chances and pressing the opposition high up the pitch when losing possession.

    2) Continue to play in the dual DM pivot set-up, with the caveat that we buy a strong B2B midfield destroyer to play alongside a deep-lying playmaking DM in Arteta. This will allow Arteta to continue to conduct the play from deep, but also join the attack more frequently, sharing the attacking and defending responsibilities, as he successfully did with Song last season.

    I think either strategy will be successful, so long as we buy a new, proper DM this summer :). You seem to be thinking more along the lines of option #1, a la Barca, which is a great alternative!

  11. Highbury Harmony says:

    Hey TA, maybe we should have a picture of Vidal in the cover story 😉

  12. AFC says:

    TA, I am not sure about Wanyama. As I said to HH he is playing in a ruubish league where Celtic are the best team. Celtic are not exactly a brilliant team themselves so is Wanyama a good player in a boring and shit league?

  13. glic says:

    Bloody hell HH, that`s an epic post and to tell the truth it is so detailed that my head is spinning more than having 4 RedBulls and is probably too technical for me !. hahaha
    I admire the likes of you and the other BKers who put to shame most of the tabloid press with quality that they are shamefully lacking as so called professionals !. Well done HH !. 🙂

  14. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, Ramires isn’t even a traditional B2B mid ;). He’s more of what I categorize as the “modern” B2B. Dembele, Sissoko, Yaya Toure and Diaby would be the four players I’d identify in the EPL as “traditional B2B mids”. However, as you can see two of the four are not able to keep a consistent clean bill of health and one is entirely out of our price range and recently signed a new long-term deal for his club.

    I really thought we should have bid for Sissoko this past January, but he seemed dead set intent on joining Le Toon. Lord knows why though!

  15. Highbury Harmony says:

    Glic, thank you very much for the extremely kind compliments my friend! I put a lot of work into this article and took a few days to complete it :). Before I wrote it, I told TA that I was hoping for this to be a “tour de force” article hahaha!

    Hopefully, when you’ve had a chance to settle down, you can give us your always interesting, humorous and insightful feedback on which DM to buy/what set-up to use!

  16. AFC says:

    HH, I confident that he was a modern box to box midfieder because he is not as strong, physical as Diaby and Yaya and does not dribble with the ball as much as them.

    I was just not sure enough to say it. 😀

  17. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, forgot Wilshere in my list of traditional B2B mids too!

  18. AFC says:

    HH, are you sure Dembele is a traditional box to box midfielder. 😉

    I thought Dembele is very different from Diaby in terms of size, attributes etc.

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    HH 🙂

    You have definitely mentioned Wanyama as one of our options for the DM post, no?

    AFC, don’t focus on the league, but what the player has to offer and Wanyama is truly awesome in all DM areas. If you need evidence: he was also great against Juventus and Barca this year and they don’t come much bigger than that. 😛

  20. AFC says:

    Back in the day, Gerrard and Lampard were also traditional box to box midfielders. 🙂

  21. AFC says:

    TA, I am still not totally convinced. Everyone said Charlie Adams was quality to before he came to Liverpool. I could be provem worng though. 🙂

  22. Highbury Harmony says:


    Always a pleasure to hear your feedback and the encouragement you give to all BK authors! I’m very pleased to have been given the opportunity to write for such a fine site and it’s easy to put in the effort for such a nice blog owner!

    Replacing Song with Arteta was definitely a miscalculated risk and he failed to realize that Arteta’s success came by playing with a strong, destroyer, modern B2B mid in Song (not the other way around, despite Arteta being the deeper player at times. Song had a big influence over other teams and he could instil fear with an aggressive, assertive tackle from time to time.

    The 4-1-2-3 has always intrigued me and I reckon we would give teams hell with scoring opportunities created if we had the proper DM to unleash the creativity up field. I’d be very comfortable with a high pressure game like Barca play, so long as we had a Busquets type who is both technical and physical.

  23. AFC says:

    TA, I am still not totally convinced. Everyone said Charlie Adams was quality too before he came to Liverpool. I could be provem worng though. 🙂

  24. AFC says:

    * proven

  25. AFC says:

    * wrong

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    AFC, he is that good that Juve decided to simply avoid the middle of Celtic’s midfield. A beast I tell you.

  27. AFC says:

    Song is quality and was one of my favourite Arsenal players.

  28. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, Dembele loves to dribble the ball up field, but at Spuds he has not be given as much license to do so. I watched a fair bit of Fulham games in past years (some this year too), since I have found memories of Craven Cottage and absolute loved the grounds when I went there with my dad as a kid. He definitely has the skill set (strength, pace, ball control etc.) to play a traditional b2b game.

  29. AFC says:

    He is a beast but is Frimpong also a beast. Why can we not develop him. Frimpong is the closest player to Patrick in recent years.

  30. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, there were no suggestions of the DM we should buy in the article at all mate ;). Hahaha simply you projecting your own wants onto my article! Not that I mind though, I think Wanyama is quality.

  31. AFC says:

    HH, I always thought Dembele was a CAM/CF who has a very high level of stamina.

  32. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, Wanyama was f*cking brilliant vs. Juve and Barca in the CL this year. He showed in the top competition in the world that he could establish his presence on a game with a lower quality side against the best teams in the world!

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    HH, with 16 posts and counting you are one of the pillars of BK and we are incredibly lucky you have decided to write for this site.

    Whether it is 4-1-2-3 or 4-2-1-3, for me it is key that at least two midfelders play horizontally together. This season, our midfield has been often stretched vertically and that’s when we are most vulnerable in my opinion.

  34. Highbury Harmony says:

    What a goal by Aguero, this derby is ridiculous! Imagine what Manure could have done with a proper DM 😉

  35. AFC says:

    Does anyone know anything about a defender (CB) called Dede who plays in Brazil?

    He is around the age of 25 and is a beast. He is 6′ 4 and is quite fast as well

  36. AFC says:

    It seems I am wrong about a certain DM beast who plays for Celtic. 🙂

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    HH, I was refering to previous posts and comments by you. The picture is just background and the caption does not say he is your preference. It was just AFC jumping to conclusions! 😛

  38. Highbury Harmony says:

    Thank you TA, you asking me to write for BK to share my thoughts was all the motivation I needed! The response I got from the regulars in my first article made me adore the BK community :). Except for that Richie of course, he disliked my theory so much that he felt the need to write his one and only post to counter mine…hahaha!

    I agree that we get stretched vertically too often, as I feel it’s the result of Arteta’s lack of pace and the other DM playing alongside him committing too far up field. Mert is also not fast enough to recover. All in all, you can see why it’s been so easy to stretch us vertically this season. A new DM is a must!

  39. Red Arse says:


    A brilliantly written article. I will need to re-read it to make sure I fully understand all the info you have put into the Post. Well done, sir! 😀

    It will probably be the morning, UK time, before I can get back to you.

  40. TotalArsenal says:


    I watched the Scottish sportscene last night. First two goals by Celtic were both ‘indirect’ assists by the Beast. One tackle and one diagonal cross. He makes it look so simple and is clearly miles above the rest: he needs another challenge next season! 😛

  41. AFC says:

    HH and TA, sorry if I jumped to any conclusions. 🙂

  42. Highbury Harmony says:

    You’d be very proud TA, van Judas not rising to the occasion yet again!

  43. TotalArsenal says:

    What is the score HH?

  44. AFC says:

    TA, if he is that good I cannot wait to see him at Arsenal. 🙂

  45. Highbury Harmony says:

    2-1 for $hitty!

  46. Highbury Harmony says:

    Repeat of last season? That would be insane…

  47. Red Arse says:


    I know very little about Dede, other than that he is a 24 year old CB who plays for Vasco da Gama, and has just signed a pre-contract to play for AC Milan.


  48. Highbury Harmony says:

    RA, thank you for the kind words, always a pleasure to hear them from a wonderful author like yourself :). I am eagerly awaiting to hear your thoughts tomorrow morning!

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Redders 🙂

    Always good to see you active at this time of day! 😛

  50. AFC says:

    RA, that is a shame. He would have offered something different to our defence.

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks HH,

    I just checked. Stoke away next for Manure. Come on Pulis!! 😛

  52. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, I gather you are a proponent of theory #2 re: my comment @ 21:26? If that is the case, which modern B2B mid would you like to see Arsenal buy this summer??

  53. TotalArsenal says:

    Manure play Stoke and WH away next, then Villa at home and then the mighty red and white next….. could become interesting.

    Robin van Pursy he fluffs when he wants hahahaha! 😛

  54. AFC says:

    HH, I would want to see us play with either two strict DMs or one strict DM with box to box midfileder like Song.

  55. AFC says:

    But HH if we do play with two strict DMs, I would want someone with the physical attributes like Frimpong and someone with the technical attributes like Coquelin.

  56. Beegee says:

    Highbury Harmony – You Can write a book on football mate!!!… so much indepth insight in to the modern game… the best article – i have read in a year… Please continue the good work – Gr8 job

  57. Beegee says:

    But I need to know what the difference between having a proper DM and converting CB to DM position ( Eg: David Luiz for chelsea – i thnk they did sum time back )… can any one at our club could fit the bill like that ?

  58. AFC says:

    Beegee, people say Vemaelen could be turned into a DM. The main reason David Luiz was turned into a DM was because at times his defensive positioning was poor (like most defenders from Brazil I.e. Santos). A natural DM has more of the midfield attributes. Ability to pass, create, and possibly score goals although Vermaelen has a bullet of a shot.

  59. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi and welcome Beegee

    Both Vermaelen and Koz could possibly do it and Sagna could also be a decent DM. However, if we want a bit more than just a destroyer, i.e. a good passer of the ball and somebody who reads the game well, all three might struggle a bit.

  60. Milo says:

    I haven’t had time to read all of the comments, so someone might have already mentioned this, but I thought we missed a chance at signing a true box to box midfielder, when we didn’t go after Paul Pogba, at the second time of asking, when he left United. That kid can do everything in midfield!!! He’s a bit of an ass though, so maybe it is best we didn’t sign him!!! 😀 He certainly has everything you would want in a modern day central midfield player. Height, strength, composure, vision, capable of scoring a goal OR TWO, good range of passing, a very strong tackler…like I said, everything you could ever want.

  61. TotalArsenal says:

    AFC, would love to see another Vermaelen bullet going in soon! 😛

    Anyway, my time is up. Catch you guys at some point tomorrow! 🙂

  62. AFC says:

    HH, have you thought of a 5-2-3 where the middle CB also acts as a DM. So when we are attacking and playing a high line the player would act as a sweeper sitting quite deep behind the two CBs to act as extra cover and when defending deep the player would then come forward and turn into a DM sitting infront of the back four, shielding the defense. Not sure who could perform this role.

    When we are defending we play a 1-4-2-3 and when we are attacking we would be playing a 4-1-2-3. So the player I was talking about would be a sort of box to box CB, fusion of Sweeper and DM.

    In reality it would be a 4-2-3 with the one player performing the role of a SW/DM, splitting his duties between sitting behind the defense and shielding the defense by siiting in front of the defense.

    HH, I think a player performing this SW/DM role could win us trophies!

    HH, let me know what you think.

  63. AFC says:

    Milo, I thought Pogba was a DM?

  64. Highbury Harmony says:

    Beegee, by far the nicest thing anyone has ever said about one of my articles! Thank you very much mate :)! Glad you thoroughly enjoyed the read and I do hope you will stop by more often and comment. This site is all about hearing the thoughts and opinions of others in order to expand our own knowledge and I feel you have much to offer!

    There is certainly a case to be made for converting one of our CB to be a DM. I reckon Vermaelen would be able to fulfill the role most adequately, due to his pace, ball control and assertiveness in his tackling. He is our best defender at joining the attack as well and could contribute at both ends if put into a DM role. However, I feel AW is reluctant to try him there (or he is reluctant to move to that position) or that he may not have the endurance to perform in such a role.

    Mert is obviously too slow in terms of foot speed and his decision making, which rules him out, while Kos also lacks some patience on the ball and prefers to boot the ball out of danger, opposed to making a calm pass. Kos is also more of a straight ahead runner, in that if he sees danger developing behind him, he aggresively runs directly in that position to break up the play.

  65. AFC says:

    HH, these comments are from one of my previous post which is why they do not seem follow a order.

  66. Milo says:

    AFC, Pogba is far more than just a defensive midfielder, as he so much in his locker, that he can play almost anywhere in midfield. At United you didn’t see all that he was capable of, because Ferguson wasn’t willing to unleash him on the league. Juventus have also handled him carefully but have given him a better chance to show his true worth and potential than United did, and they will benefit from this in the near future, IF he stays there. Something tells me that he won’t stay there for very long though, because he’s such an ass, along with his agent, and he will go for the biggest payday, when the decision is there to be made.

  67. AFC says:

    Milo, it seems we have not seen the best of Frimpong and Coquelin as well.

  68. Milo says:

    I LOVE Frimpong, man. Always have!!! 😀 I think what he showed in his previous loan spell with Wolves, should have been enough to convince Arsene Wenger that his future is with us!!! He was brilliant for them!!!

  69. Beegee says:

    Hi Highbury,
    The Reason i did bring up that thought was AW did try to sign a CB from Ajax last year to play in that particular position – the very idea was rejected by the player n nw how he plays to sum club – (i dont say wana say the name ) – I always feel Arteta s a gifted deep lying playmaker and giving him the defensive responsibilities had reduced the effect he could have using his creating abilities (Not to forget his wonderful goal against Mancity last year)
    – I thnk we should have a player like One who makes the Team Moving ( One who makes the crucial tackles and initiates the Counter / One who Stops the rhythm or the groove of the other team ) – and for Comments on the Post – U thoroughly deserve it mate !!! 🙂

  70. Beegee says:

    I like reading – what type of player the Team really reads rather than the sum weird rumors that we going to sign the Next Viera,henry or sum GK from Spain… blah blah blah…you people must write more about these things and bring out people from the mess they are in to ( Over Expecting that we sign sumbody – that we really not after / Getting Disappointed / Curse the Club and the manager ) – next month the Transfer circus starts….Beware!!!

  71. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, I have not thought of playing a 5-2-3, as I believe it would leave us pretty in the middle of the pitch. We’d have more than adequate depth out wide, but our attack would become even more compartmentalized than it already is and the transition from defense to offense would suffer imo.

    In terms of the 1-4-2-3, I believe the sweeper was phased out of the game, primarily to adapt to the more offensive nature of the game, as well as to play a high line to catch people in the offside trap. Also, the sweeper was a pure specialist which I could never see Arsene re-introducing to his forward thinking philosophy.

    Finally, I’m not a big fan of too much focus on an overly defensive set-up or defensive mentality as I would prefer to see Arsenal win games in a beautiful, total football approach, opposed to an ugly, grinded out victory. However, with that said, we should still be able to grind out wins when necessary as it’s near impossible to win every game through our intended philosophy since we lack the quality of players that Barcelona do.

  72. AFC says:

    HH, I would really love to see a sweeper used at Arsenal buy you aree right in saying that we will not see Wenger use one.

  73. Highbury Harmony says:

    Beegee @22:57, all agreed mate. We need a beast, modern B2B mid to play alongside Arteta, similar to Song, who can share the attacking and defending responsibilities and have the pace to help cover for Arteta, ability to start the transition for our attack and the strength to dominate the center of the pitch. People often criticize Song for his lack of patience and commitment to the defensive side of the game last season, but I believe AW asked him to attack since we lacked the creative options in the center of the pitch. However, I do think that Song’s endurance was short of a player like Matuidi’s or Vidal’s, which allows them to seamlessly link up with the attack and run back to defend.

  74. AFC says:

    * but you are right

  75. Joshthegooner says:






  76. Highbury Harmony says:

    Haha AFC, no need to constantly correct yourself my friend. We all know what you intended to say!

  77. Highbury Harmony says:

    VCC, my updated UMF predictions then:

    Liverpool away win
    Manure away win
    Wigan away win
    Southampton vs. West Ham draw
    Arsenal home win

  78. Bond James says:

    cheers HH, that was a top notch read and analysis.

    i am more in favour of your 2nd formation which allows us a DM (i’m thinking etienne capoue/lars bender ) then using santi/jack/ros/arteta as the 2 in front , depending on injuries and squad rotation (maybe add another new signing for a creative player – gotze/remy cabella to have that depth in our squad)…

    you see, if we got one a proper DM then i’m thinking we may not need as many signings as first mooted….just like bayern munich they spend a fortune on martinez and see their transformation.

    i feel the lack of a proper DM is making us use 2 players (arteta and ramsey/diaby) when we could easily buy a DM and won’t need to sacrifice a player for defensive duties as such, it’s not Arteta’s fault that he has been chucked into this situation and he needs help almost all the time.

    this allows us to use podo from the left, with santi or jack behind a new world class striker (i hope)

    leaving us mouth watering options of walcott/the ox/gnabry and gerv (ox and gerv can also play on the left, so it’s nice rotation to have)

    we only need 3 or 4 signings at best if we stuck to your 2nd formation, which means we will keep most of our first 15, allowing us to get rid of the deadwood , promote a couple of youth team players and let the players know, right you have been together long enough to form an understanding, now let’s go and show everyone how good we are ..(of course, we need 3 quality buys still – minimum


    PS: sczny let’s in 3 for the u-21s, seriously , he needs to spend an entire season playing for the u21’s….here is to hoping we get casillas in the summer.

  79. Twig says:

    We were reported to be interested in West Brom’s Claudio Yacob about 2 seasons ago. What do you think of him guys? Kevin Strootman is another player who impresses me as well.

  80. Highbury Harmony says:

    BJ, thank you very much for sharing your insight and for the high praise :).

    The second formation is certainly more in line with our “total football” philosophy and allows for more creativity and attacking intent. However, I do question how sustainable it would be in the PL, without the proper quality up front. The front 5 would really have to gel well and not waste too many passes, while also constantly making good runs and be able to play the final ball to one another for it to be successful. Otherwise, we are forcing a lot of pressure on our back 5 to constantly stop counter attacks and crosses into the middle of our box.

    What I do like about the first formation is that it may allow us to play with the handbrake off more often. Having two central creative midfielders, in addition to goal scoring wingers out wide and hopefully a top striker up top would certainly look to be a good recipe for numerous classic, Arsenal goals.

    However, I think the first formation I suggested would only need 2-3 signings for it to work (with the majority of the cash being spent on the modern B2B who’s also a destroyer, as well as a striker). We already have the deep-lying playmaker in place in Arteta, a creative central midfielder in Jack, an additional creative option out wide in Cazorla, complemented by two quality goal scoring wingers in Theo and Podolski. The third signing would of course be an experienced GK since I want someone more capable and consistent than Fab to give Ches competition.

    Also, that’s too bad for Ches, definitely not a good sign if he was hoping to instil some confidence in himself or with the boss.

  81. AFC says:

    BJ, we definitely need new additions in the summer. We need a new GK only if Mannone and Fabianski leave, a new CB (however you will see in my article why I believe Sagna can be our new CB with a new RB brought in), a new DM and a CF/ST.

  82. Twig says:

    Podolski D.Villa
    Cazorla Wilshere Walcott
    Montreal Koscielny Mertasacker Jenkinson

  83. Highbury Harmony says:

    Twig, Yacob is definitely a solid DM who brings stability to WBA’s defence and is emerging as one of their better and more reliable players. However, I’m not sold on him being the ideal DM to bring us in contention with the Mancs.

    Strootman is a great B2B option, albeit more offensively minded than a player like Vidal or Matuidi. He definitely needs to work on his defensive awareness and concentration, but his runs up field are spectacular to watch and he has good technical ability and a range of passing that would allow him to succeed at Arsenal.

  84. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, I’ll save my thoughts on Sagna moving to CB for your article. I do think the 3 priorities should be GK, DM and ST this summer.

  85. AFC says:

    Twig, I do really not want to see David Villa at Arsenal. In my opinion he is not a safe option and would not be a good investment. In my opinion he is past it and is a Barcelona reject. He is not worth the wages and transfer fee.

  86. Twig says:

    David Villa is a big risk that might just pay off big time. At his age he still has some 2-3 years ahead of him: buying him will allow players like Joel Campbell, Akpom and even Walcott to grow. The only similar technical forwards with good finishing are probably Suarez and Aguero, but it will be a huge ask for Arsenal to land either player.

  87. AFC says:

    Twig, I appreciate your opinion but I do not want to see him at Arsenal. I would rather see an expereinced striker between the age 25-28 years old.

  88. AFC says:

    * experienced

  89. Highbury Harmony says:

    At the same time, I do not want to see Remy as the only player we buy to help out our attack this off-season. I swear if AW goes cheap yet again, I will be massively pissed and will be calling for his head!

  90. Fred says:

    Hi guys, great post, as for the problem in defensive mid, I personally think that Lars or Sven Bender would be a great signing for us, both are pretty strong, have good fitness records and are good technically. However, I have a feeling that Wenger will promote Aneke to the first team next season to avoid splashing out on a defensive mid.

    Unfortunately the striker problem isn’t solved quite as well. We have Giroud who has been preforming pretty well of late, although I am still not 100% sure he is good enough. If QPR go down then we could pick up a bargain with Remy, he’s rumoured to have a clause in his contract where if QPR get relegated they can sell him at around 4-6m. However, I still feel that we need a new left winger, either Isco or Muniain would be good at arsenal, Wenger might prefer Isco though as he is more versatile and has played with both santi and nacho.

    However, I have a feeling that Wenger might be in the market for an experienced goal keeper, once again we could look to raid QPR as Julio Ceaser could pass on some of his experience to Sczney and is a better option than both fabianski and mannone as a back up keeper.

    If we had a good (and realistic transfer window) then our formation next season would look like:


    My estimated costs for this would be:
    Remy – 5m
    Bender – 15m
    Ceaser – 5m
    Isco- 20m

    Total = 45m, which puts us well within the rumoured 70m wenger allegedly has to spend.

  91. Highbury Harmony says:

    Fred, thank you for the kind words and for the excellent additions!

    AW could definitely look in house and promote Aneke, as he has been favourably compared to Diaby and Yaya Toure in terms of his technical ability, pace, endurance and power. However, I’d express extreme caution in solely counting on Aneke as Diaby’s replacement since that type of strategy has failed in the past.

    I agree that one of the Benders would be excellent additions to our midfield, as they have the technical abilities, pace and intelligence to fit into our style of play, and also can help to improve our defense and transition play.

    Unfortunately, Isco’s new buy-out clause is 38mil, meaning Malaga will sell him nothing short of 30 mil (even if they run into further financial trouble). Also, none of your purchases have taken salaries into account. However, I do like the idea of Cesar and one of the Benders to Arsenal :). I just simply believe that Isco is out of our price range and would prefer a burgeoning world-class talent in Jovetic up front than another little, creative player.

  92. Highbury Harmony says:

    salaries = wages btw.

  93. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, you may be getting your wish :). Arsenal are apparently on the verge of coming to a collaborative agreement with Real Betis to receive many of their young players on loan (now and in the future). It’s like giving them better than Championship experience ;). The only worry would be for them to fall in love with Real Betis and all develop and stay there of course…

  94. AFC says:

    Great news, HH. 🙂

  95. Highbury Harmony says:

    Sorry, it should have read that Real Betis will receive many of our young players. But I’m sure you understood the gist of what I was saying :).

  96. AFC says:

    Course I did, HH. 🙂

  97. Charlie G says:

    Graet and well thought article. But…
    I think DM are more suited for 4-4-2 or similar formation. I the modern 4-3-3 amd its various variants 4-1-3-1-1 etc etc, the role of the DM has altered considerably. It needs someone who could play long and short passes and dictate the game’s tempo. A traditional DM would not fit as he would then be too far back or too slow, abeit can only play the ball sideways, like Mikel. This type of DM will be vulnerable to being closed down easily.
    A more modern type will be a Alonso. He can defend as well as launch attacks, using both long and short passes. Yes, he maybe caught by counter attacking teams, but this is where the others players have to help by closing down the opposition before they could make a telling long ball.
    Arteta was Alonso’s comteperory in Spain during their younger days. He, imo, was pushed back to this role this season. For the system to work the others needed to press the opposition. They had not been doing that until recently. Now, with confidence back in the team after the Bayern game, we could see everyone doing their fair share of work, tracking back and harrasing the opponents with or without the ball. And, Arteta is now playing slightly further back and he could intercept and launch attacks from there. Even MU plays this system with Carrick in that role.
    Wilshire can play that role, although he does not have the size but plenty of spirit. Theprevious England Italy manager said that in one of his interviews. alternatively, Capoue has shown he can defend as well as make good forward passes. He maybe the lomger term solution. Moreover he has the size and built.
    So is Arsene wrong in selling of Song, maybe not!!!

  98. Highbury Harmony says:

    Thank you rufus. Would you rather see Arsenal set-up in the 4-1-2-3 and buy a proper, traditional DM like Capoue or Sven Bender or a 4-2-1-3 and buy a modern, beast B2B mid like Strootman, Vidal, Matuidi, Wanyama or Lars Bender?

  99. Highbury Harmony says:

    My mistake, put Wanyama in the wrong category. He’s a hybrid B2B, who’s more defensive and falls into the tradition DM mould. These players can still in the attack though!

  100. Highbury Harmony says:

    Milo, never had a chance to thank you for commenting on the article! As you passionately follow the youth, can you tell us if Aneke would be ready to make the jump to the first team in the near future? Is he the natural successor to Diaby? Do you think we also need another DM to complement our DM group?

  101. rufus says:

    I’m not familiar with these players, but aren’t most teams from game to game set up with identical formations. What it really comes down to, is the quality of players you have at your disposal, which on current balance isn’t being addressed. Recent signings have been knee jerk and panicky leading to accusations of incompetence. A new and more robust approach in identifying and obtaining transfer targets must be undertaken to revive the Club. Up The Arsenal.

  102. Highbury Harmony says:

    Rufus, definitely agreed on the need to increase the amount of quality throughout the entire squad. There are too many unused players occupying first team spots and a few others that will never get a chance to prove themselves if there is not more frequent rotation.

    However the set-up does focus on how we approach the game. 1 DM signals more attacking intent matching our possession, total football approach more closely, while the dual DM pivot signals that there’s more of a need to be solid defensively before contributing and committig offensively.

    However, I agree that given the situation we are financially (consistent, sustainable and profitable), that we should not hesitant to meet a club’s asking price or the player’s salary demands if they are truly identified as a player our squad needs. I’ve had enough of settling for other players because they came slightly cheaper since the discrepancy in price rarely compensates for the difference in quality.

  103. Gerry says:

    HH – Great post, followed by great responses.

    TA – I must apologise to you as my future absence from commenting bears no reflection on the quality of the blog, written by yourself and fellow writers. However, you have got am ever increasing readership who are commenting in an intelligent way ..as seen above, so lack of my comments will barely be noticed.

    Back to this article. I still believe it is a team game, and I love the energy/demands that this involves.

    To expect any one player to destroy another’s attack is misleading. At best he might rob the initial attacker before others join in. At worst you would hope he would hold up any attack, particularly a counter-attack which is where we have been most vulnerable, until the rest of the defence regains their shape.

    The next stage, irrespective of the number of DM’s involved, is to win the ball back and get us moving forwards quickly, whether that be from his own movement with pace or an astute pass will obviously vary in the different circumstances, but ideally the DM requirements of the modern game mean he should be skilled in both departments.

    What that definition outlines is the difference from what we have? We have several players that can tackle, but they may lack in one area or another? So the need is for a solid tackler, but is also technically skilled as well to perform the second requirement?

    I’ll leave the rest of you to put names to who fits the bill. My own view is that we need someone who can allow Frimpong the time to develop, because he has the capacity to fulfill the role in the long term?. If the club allow Frimpers to leave, by not offering him a new contract would be a mistake. Mainly because that would require two purchases, one short to medium term, and one for the future.

    I will repeat my earlier thought that Sagna be tried in this role, being the best equipped of our current players, imo. That could be a solution that could carry over to next season, and be worth his increase and contract extention, should he prove able. However, I still believe a DM will be brought in.during the TW.

    On other comments.

    BJ -I hope you were not just follow the headlines regarding SZCZ? He made a top notch save that prevented ‘Pool from extending their lead. One goal was a tap in, and couple came from accurate crosses. They played against pretty strong team and were unlucky not to get a draw.

  104. Gerry says:

    From yesteday – Heart says support Diaby to the hilt, until it proves unrealistic to both parties to carry on.
    Head say, you cannot have a 25 man squad limit that carries even one potential weakness. If we are to battle on four fronts next season, then every playing in that squad has to be of a quality that can be called on to play at any time.

    Conclusion: Follow JM’s view. See how it develops, then loan out – to Real Betis perhaps?

  105. Gerry says:

    VCC – I heard your call … here are my early UMF’s

    AV v Ful – Draw

    Eve v QPR – Draw

    Read v ‘Pool – Away

    Mill v Wig – Away*

    Chel v ManC – Away*

    *Are these at 90 mins, or AET?

    It must be like Christmas having so many in by Tuesday?

    p.s The book prize did not go unnoticed! ha ha
    The season has yet to begin …

  106. henrychan says:

    Morning all..
    Verynice post HH..

    I don’t think We need a classical DM.. as TA always mention.. I can’t hardly remember who is our Classical DM ever..??

    I like Song verymuch.. not because he was a Cls DM for us.. but an Attacking DM.. is that sound weird..?? Hehe..
    Look what happened to Song at Barca..??
    And for that reason.. I like Strootman a lot.. He can defence and Attacking equaly..
    Almost all of our players did.. Look how Rosicky save our net last game.. or Giroud in some games..
    Defending and Attacking is a whole team jobs.. not particulary seperates.. but of course defenders do that jobs more often..

    And about TW..
    Some rumours say that We are chasing Cassilas for 20 mil euro.. and Higuan for another 30 mil..
    Very un-arsenal ways.. hehe..
    For I also doubt Wenger will bring Jovetic for 25 mil euro..

    Why must We buy Cassilas (30yo) for 20 mil.. if Begovic or Juluo Cesar only need 5 mil..
    Why must We buy Higuan for 30 mil if Remy only 7 mil or Bentake only 12 mil.. and as QPR seem will not survive in EPL.. they may cut off a lot.. as I said before.. Samba is also avaliable for 6 or 7 mil only.. but the problem is his wages is too high.. If he consider to cut price his wages from 100k to maybe 80k.. that maybe it woyld happen.. hehe..

    I prefer Wilfried Bony for only 15 mil.. hehe.. He scores 29 goals in 29 games at Eridevisie.. at lead Vitesse in the top three.. after Ajax and PSV.. A very different striker that We may need to break the wall..
    And yes he is too cheap.. but cheaper thst jovetic and higuan.. with better skill.. hehe..
    Chelsea is also looking for him to replace Drogba..

    So.. bring Begovic or Cesar for 5 mil..
    Bony for 15 mil or Remy for 7 mil
    Strootman for 12 mil
    Samba for 7 mil
    Only cost us 21 to 29 mil..
    And We can have the money with selling 8 to 10 our unworked players..
    Some of them still have a good prise.. hehe..

    Promote Eisfeld.. Gnabry.. Afobe.. and Miquel.. like Wenger did for Ox and Jenks this season.. Bring back Miyaichi and Campbell.. or Vela..
    Then We will have a very solid team..

  107. VCC says:

    HH. ..sorry for late response, but that article is up there with the best around any sites. The time taken and thought provoking was commendable. Hats off to you sir.

    For my twopence, I would go with 4-1-2-3. Only if we purchased two top players = DM and ST.

    Gerry….only teasing. Lol.

  108. VCC says:

    Gerry……to save any confusion, I think it’s best to take the end of play result.

    Once again it’s nice to have so many in as early as this. I feel like a strict school teacher, lol.

    If we continue with the UMF next season there is one thing I must enforce. That’s all predictions are in before say 18:00 Friday on week end games and 22:00 on mid week full programme fixtures the day prior. 🙂

  109. Red Arse says:

    Good Morning, People. 🙂

  110. Red Arse says:


    I agree — it is not fair on you otherwise! 🙂


    I think it is possible for one midfield player to have a huge effect on the game, but that player — surprise, surprise — has to be special.

    Roy Keane often seemed to break up the opposition play single handedly, as well as support the attack, as did Viera and Makelele in more recent times.

  111. VCC says:

    Red Arse…..Good day to you Sir.. ….so true of Roy Keane. He also had the fear factor, a trait we have been missing for several seasons now.

    We need a big strong DM, and that will cost money. My fear is Arsene will go for the cheap option as he almost always does, and we will be left short once again. Instead of pushing the boat out and pressing for honours.

  112. Red Arse says:


    I share your doubts. We have been assured there has been money available before this, and it did not seem to be quite true – for whatever reason – and I am waiting to see what happens in the summer with anticipation and hope, but also some trepidation.

    Have you noticed how some other clubs are alleged to have already made pre-transfer deals for players, while Arsenal are alleged to be ‘eyeing’, ‘watching’, ‘scouting’ this player or that, and I am also somewhat concerned that we seem to be linked with players who are 29, 30 and 31 years old. Short term at best – if true.

  113. Great post HH….i reckon Prof’s biggest mistake in the summer was letting go of Song…for all the perfectness in Arteta’s game, he is complemented by a midfield beast like Song….but then again, the Prof was banking on a fit Abou(again!!!!).

    Jack’s the future and the team will be bulit around him but 4 now, Diaby is the one who best complements our two spanish maestros…shame this guy just wont put in a decent run of games

    I share in your thoughts HH that a true midfield BEAST will help in our pursuit 4 deserved glories

    Up The Arsenal!!!

  114. marcus says:

    AFC, HH and TA,
    Note that Wanyama is far from the finished article. At Arsenal he become an even better player than he is now.

  115. Ben says:

    Nice post HH, a topic that is always going through our minds!

    I am a big fan of capoue myself, but have to b worried that we keep signing frnch league players that don’t look as good in EPL.

    If you watched west ham at weekend DIAME was a beast, proven in EPL as well, and wouldnt be to expensive.

    Also any one else notice how good Ramsey looks at the moment I think he can make the transition to CAM because he definetely doesn’t need to bother shooting!

  116. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    Thats quite a post you’ve assembled there HH. Quality mate.

    During this season i have often contemplated which player in world football will best suit us in this position. If we wish to maintain our philosophy of total football than this player ‘X’ must be able to play in a 4-1-2-3 or 4-2-1-3- or even 4-4-2. It is also imperative that this new signing will be able to help ‘bleed in’ our next generation (next 2yrs) in Coquelin and Ramsay, this player in my opinion should and might probably be a stop-gap. Otherwise what is the point of our academy, why pay wages to squad players who never get a go. He must obviously have experience in this position and must definitely be a good communicator with both the players around him and the manager.

    I give you ‘Jeremy Toulalan’. We talked about him the other night and i know you believe him to be slow, but when JM mentioned him it just made sense. I know he is the wrong side of 29 but if we continue the double pivot with Jack ahead and Santi in a free role on either wing, it would become very very solid. I also think that by taking this approach and sorting out this position we could then focus on a real diamond in Jovetic or Reus (ok the latter is a personal dream signing 😉 ) We could actually compete in a bidding war, no doubt there will be plenty of suitors.

    Trust me y’all, we will forever regret losing Coquelin. Why not show him some love. So much emphasis on Ramsay, Jack, Sczezny, Corps, Gibbs and Feo. In my mind Le Coqs development is coming along just fine, his attitude is fantastic and he has everything we are crying for in a new signing. He has height, a football brain, tenacity, is very nimble, can utilise in many positions (total football) and is Arsenal born and bred. Im sick of losing these type of players because of ‘our lack of patience. eg we give up on Vela only to be linked to a similar style player like Alexis Sanchez, Bojan etc.
    Who is to say that in 2 yrs time Coquelin will not be better than Capoue or Bender??

    OK, i recognise the weakness we currently have in this position but we should not be looking to spend more than 10 mil in this position. Leave the funds for better use, namely a top top quality striker. (Arsenal have always had a world class talisman till now. From Wright through to Judas.). Lets trust that Arsene is still the best developer of a modern day player, believe in the Coq and support him with an experienced stop-gap signing in Jeremy Toulalan.

  117. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    Morning BKers 🙂

  118. VCC says:

    Red Arse…….it would appear I am bowing to your superior knowledge, buy I wholeheartedly agree with your 08:23.

    We have all witnessed Arsene Wengers tactics over the past several seasons. He waits, and waits, and waits. Until all the ripe cherries have been picked, and then he goes for the cheap option.

    I can remember a statement he made last season about not knowing a player (cant remember name) was available, or he would have signed him????? This does not bode well with my thoughts on AW lately?

    With all Arsenals resources, you would like to think we have our finger on the button at all times. This would not appear to be the case.

    If money is still a problem, I would far sooner he spend big on ONE player and get the cream than buy 2/3 cheap options.

    Can you imagine our team with Falcao or Cavani up front with the rest as they are?

    We would definitely be in the running for silverware then.

    Just my thought’s, but hey ho, I’m the one unemployed and he is running the ship, so what do I know?

  119. Red Arse says:

    Sensible comment, VCC, and I totally agree that buying one top quality player would be better than buying three ‘quite good’ players.

    There was a time when Thierry carried Arsenal because he was that good — we have not even come close to anyone like him since and that includes Van Persie.

  120. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    we supporters know nothing. WE simply FEEL

  121. VCC says:


    Overall standings =
    Red Arse…….75

    Weekly scores =
    GLiC……..4 (yes your eyes r not playing tricks with you, that’s 4…FOUR)

    Well done to Highbury Harmony for getting double figures this week..10 points. Only just missing out on getting a full house, Give yourself a pat on the back. Your prize will be in the post shortly 😉

    Oz joins the Zero club. and GLiC scores 4 points…whoooppeeeee.

    HH climbs four places with his fine score this week. Shows what all can do. Come on catch that cocky Vicky 🙂

    VCC still wears the Yellow jersey, and for his consistency, expertise and handsomeness, wins a 4 night all expenses paid holiday to Tenerife, courtesy of Bergkampesque. Post cards will follow.

    🙄 😀 😉 🙂 😆

  122. VCC says:

    Gerry odds = 101-1
    HH………odds = 19-1
    Red Arse. odds = 33-1
    Henry…..odds = 48-1
    Alex…….odds = 12-1
    VCC……odds = 17-1
    PPP…….odds = 108-1
    GLiC…..odds = 751-1


  123. Red Arse says:


    Do I take it that Herb has dropped out of the UMF league? He was doing very well in it I seem to remember.

  124. Red Arse says:

    Sorry, Tricky Vicky, that last comment was meant for you. Gremlins! 🙂

  125. AFC says:

    Also HH, Arsenal do need a DM but suppose we were talking about Barrcelona. I don’t think they would. They could play Fabregas as their DM if they really wanted and I doubt it would affect them to a huge degree. But this is because they have the quality players who can close down and do the defensive work as a whole team. Maybe Wenger thought the likes of Walcott, Wilshere etc could make up for having no true DM.


    Fabuloso HH. I realy enjoyed reading that

    I realy am perplexed by the whole thing, but on balance would like Arsene to aquire a midfielder who defends with class and experience. A carrick, alonso, kadera type would be great.

    Vics, here are my five

    Arsenal 5-0
    Man City
    Man Utd

  127. AFC says:

    TMHT, Carrick is overrated like Parker.

  128. JM says:

    Firstly, thanks for mentions from (Gerry @ April 9, 2013 07:28) & (Prince-Purrfect-Poldi @April 9, 2013 09:37).

    A rational response. We need a midfield “destroyer/21st century Liberio” who is a ready “complete package”.

    1 GK: (If he is available, Roman Weidenfeller gets my vote)
    (Unlike Julio Cesar and Asmir Begovic who would demand regular 1st team starts as they are also playing for a spot in their respective national teams towards WC2014 places and qualification, Weidenfeller is not called up for Germany national team. He is still experience at club and continental levels and won titles/cups with Dortmund, an upgrade on our current GKs, yet still give allowances for improvement from our younger GKs if they should be able to step up with quality and consistent performances in future)

    1 Destroyer (not a DM/CDM or B2B or whatever else): (Jeremy Toulalan gets my vote) – link up play with Monreal and Cazorla, “teacher” for Coquelin, let Arteta play his more familiar “facilitator/midfield general” role, is dependable enough to feature alongside a younger player like Ramsey/Wilshere/Coquelin/Diaby if Arteta is unavailable in centre midfield.

    (The modern midfield 3 comprises of a destroyer/”21st century Liberio”, a facilitator/”Midfield general” and a creator/”The maestro”)

    – We have 0 “complete package” and 2 players deputising the destroyer role (Arteta and Coquelin). I should say if Matthias Sammer was playing and available, he would have been one of the best candidate for the spot for our destroyer/”21st century Liberio”.

    – We have 1 “complete package” (Arteta), 1 “able deputy” (Wilshere) and 2 players deputising (Ramsey & Diaby) the facilitator role.

    – We have 1 “complete package” (Cazorla), 1 “able deputy” (Rosicky), 1 player deputising (Wilshere) and 1 “player for the future” (The Ox) the creator role.

    1 CF/HS: (Not mentioning any names or club’s targets as this might indirectly lead to espionage from other clubs). Besides, the media has been giving plenty of names to discuss about.

    (If) RB is required for certain reasons:

    If we have to pay big money in transfer/player wages & bonuses/agent fees etc for 1 special quality player this coming summer transfer window, it would have to be the prized “forward/striker”, because simply … scoring goals helps win games (especially in situations where scoring chances are few and the opposition is top quality and stubborn in defence).


    A question: Any chance next season, Arteta = Captain while Vermaelen = Vice Captain ?? (i.e. an internal swap, still keeping Vermaelen, so we will not be selling our captain yet again in another season: as previously, Vieira – sold to Juventus; Henry – sold to Barcelona; Fabregas – sold to Barcelona; RvP – sold to Man. Utd. Adams was our last captain that retire at the club). In recent years, it gives an impression to the general public that getting a captain’s armband at Arsenal means the player will be definitely sold in the next couple of years.

    You look at the so-called big teams, they rarely if ever sell their captains after a few seasons. It gives a certain respect to the role a good, reliable club captain plays in a team.


    AFC, overrated by who? Ferguson seems to like him.

  130. AFC says:

    TMHT, Carrick is overrated by the English Media and English pundits. He is slow and would not fit into our team who play Total Football because he cannot pass the ball well. He is a good passer compared to some of the other English players because most of them are dire. I am sick of the media and pundits acting like this guy is the English Xabi Alonso.

    With Parker I remeber when people said he was one of the best DMs in the Prem and was better than Song. Please, Song is a box to box midfielder and even then he was a million times better than Parker playing as a DM even though this is not his best position.

    When Parker was in the England squad I was pissed off. Like I am pissed off that Osman is now in the England. All I have seen Parker do in an England shirt is do a few bloacks which I could have done and made a nuisance of himself which I could have done as well.

  131. AFC says:

    * remember

    TMHT, I am from England and I have been supporting England since I was a kid. England always fuck up. Choosing a racist over Ferdinand. Choosing guys like Parker.

    Even recently after the PSG game against Barca some pundits were saying that Beckham should get back in the England squad. Really. In 2014 how is he going to play for us without his zimmer frame. The England national team is a joke and we are ranked how high by FIFA.

  132. AFC says:

    TMHT, the whole England team needs to be stripped down and rebuilt. Why can we not move on. Are guy us like Gerrard even going to be good enough for Brazil considering his age and the age of so many others.

    What Roy needs to do is pick a new team. Players only under the age of 28. He needs to get rid of guys like Glen Johnson who cannot defend which is why Milner is in the team and all he does is run around with little end product. All he can do is cross the ball and who is our arial threat. Carroll the guy who probably was one of the most overrated England strikers of all time.

    It does not matter if we do not qualify for major tournaments with our young players. What is the point of being in a competition that you know you are not going to win. We even drew against Mont, what a joke!


    hahaha, i dont know what to make of all that AFC. I woild love to see England do well, and the iceing on the cake would be if we have some Arsenal players in the team.

    Besides, i desperatly need England to qualify for Brazil. I need the world cup as an excuse for flying over to secretly indulge a sex holiday. hahaha

  134. AFC says:

    TMHT, I want England to do well, but what pisses me off is when guys like Richards, Gibbs, Jenks are overlooked for guys like Johnson, Jones etc.

  135. jgc says:


    Sorry late reply despite being in Europe at the moment (and jet lagged as hell).

    Anyway, one thing I havent seen noted too much.. Or actually three…

    First, the real role of a DM “beast” they way they are talked about is, like any defensive aspect of midfield, to create “no go zones” for top players of other teams. Either through hard tough defending or simple intimidation based on prior tough defending. This constricts the field and forces teams to “go around” or “over” rather than dare to come through, at greater risk and thus making it easier so all defenders look better.

    A second, is to break up free flow of attack early in the true middle of the field (forward and side to side), tho that is sometimes what we ascribe to the B2B midfielder. Again, slowing attack, pushing ball wide/back and thus allowing all others to get back in front of the ball to make defending easier.

    Third, after all that you want to, sadly like rugby, get a quick play of the ball and be going forward the other way with venom as quickly as posisble

    IMO, doesnt matter how you get these things but you need them.

    So, my provocative statement, we have not consistently gotten all 3 too often this year. Do we need a “beast”, 2 deeper midfielders (one a beast and on B2B), something else? I think it’s less an issue of what type then getting the best combination from what we have.

    There is a strong argument that while we have great players around there (Wilshere, Arteta, Ramsey??) we have not gotten all 3 from any combinations there. IMO, some is the player combinations and form, but some may also be how we play in that perhaps we dont put out the effort or something isnt gelling. What that something is, is of course the real question butit may not mean a “beast” per se!

    Thus endeth my 2p…

    cheers — jgc

  136. Fred says:

    HH-Wow, Isco’s buy out clause is really 38m? Still a good player but not sure he’d be worth that money. In which case I would like to see arsenal sign Iker Muniain whos a winger and can play as a second striker and is being called the Spanish Messi, he should be available for 20-25m, I agree with you on the striker front, although I believe Jovetic is a bit overpriced but still a quality player. If we could get him for 20-25m I think it would be a good deal, however failing that one of Benteke, Bony or Dzeko (if we could get him for around 20m) would all be good alternatives.

    In Summary, I think we would have a great transfer window if we could get:
    One of the Benders
    Benteke/Bony/Jovetic or Dzeko

    All of which should come in below the rumoured 70m Wenger has to spend. In addition to this getting rid of some of the “dead wood” such as arshavin, squillaci, djourou and co would help to free up the wage bill to bring in these players. Whilst we could also promote some of the NextGen team into our first team, which seems to be Wengers preferred method.

  137. Highbury Harmony says:

    Some fine comments as always (overnight and morning) and I will be getting back to all of you throughout the day. Thank you very much for taking the time to stop by and comment!

  138. Highbury Harmony says:


    First of all thank you for the kind words. Your absence on BK will certainly be noticeable as you often hold an opinion that almost always goes against mine!

    I think you have slightly misunderstood my article though. I was not implying that one player be able to completely destroy another’s attack. As RA, aptly pointed out, it is possible though for one player to have a monumental effect on an opposing team’s attack. Just look at Wanyama for Celtic when Juve basically avoided attacking down the middle of the pitch if you need an example.

    However, my point was that we already have a rather solid defence at Arsenal and that we are just missing that physical presence with pace to lead our defence and force opposing teams to rethink their offensive strategy because of said player.

    Sagna’s an interesting choice at DM, but I’m not convinced he has the technical ability to survive in a midfield role. He’s also losing pace as he ages, but he still has a good level of defensive discipline and endurance that makes him an interesting candidate.

    With Frimpong, he certainly has the pace, aggression and physical attributes to fulfill the role of a destroyer, but he lacks the patience, discipline and technical skills to bring us to the level of the Mancs or better. He’s still young and has time to develop, but I’m not too confident that he’ll suddenly be able to drastically improve his technical ability. If we could combine Coquelin and Frimpong into one player, we’d undoubtedly have our answer, but unfortunately that is not possible unless we buy a new DM.

  139. Highbury Harmony says:

    Henry, thank you very much for the compliment and for enjoying the article and commenting :).

    I agree that a traditional DM may not be necessary. I believe it is completely dependent on whatever strategy AW decides to run with next season. If it’s the 4-1-2-3, you need a slightly more defensively disciplined player, but still must have the technical abilities to transition our attack through a wide range of passes.

    As per your choice to buy a B2B mid, so long as he as capable at defending as attacking and can be a physical force that can aggravate and distract the opposition from engaging in their normal routine/games then I’m all for it. This player needs to be able to play a full 90 mins running up and down the pitch without ever really tiring and still have the technical ability to fit into our style of play. It is one position that AW can not be frugal with since it could make a huge difference in our place in the table (some of the teams above us don’t even have such a presence/talent!).

  140. Highbury Harmony says:

    Henry, in respect to your questions/suggestions on transfers, there’s a considerable difference on being frugal at certain positions.

    At GK, the difference between 20 mil and 5 mil is not as noticeable imo. Unless your team is conceding 5+ clear cut scoring opportunities a game, a solid and reliable GK will more or less always return the same result. Composure is crucial to this position and a goalie like Cesar brings that in spades.

    At CB, the discrepancy in price between a 7 mil and 20 mil defender is primarily age. For example, Hummels is so dominant and has already accomplished so much at the tender age of 24 that it’s understandable why he commands the same fee. But, there are plenty of other defenders priced well below 10 mil that provide you with similar defensive output, while sacrificing some of the technical qualities Hummels would bring, in addition to his steady offensive contributions.

    DM/B2B mid and ST are two positions where you simply cannot “cheap out” on. They are premium positions that have a substantial impact on the game – one in influencing our attack, the other in influencing the other’s attack. As we have seen in past TW, there is a much bigger discrepancy between a 5 mil player at this position and a 20 mil player. However, we must not simply look at the transfer fees since British born players are priced at a premium, especially when being transferred domestically. A player at level of Remy or Benteke would certainly improve our attack incrementally, but a player like Jovetic or Cavani would put us over the top imo. Same goes with DM, a player like Diame is an improvement and a nice contrast to what we currently own at the position, but his effect would not be as substantial as Lars Bender, Kevin Strootman, Arturo Vidal or Blaise Matuidi etc.

  141. Highbury Harmony says:

    VCC, thank you very much for the high praise :). Your encouragement is always welcome!

    I’m thrilled at the mixed responses between formations, as each one has their own particular merits. May I ask you to elaborate on why you believe we should shift to the 4-1-2-3 if we buy a top DM and ST? I’d like to hear your thoughts!

  142. Highbury Harmony says:

    Redders, patience my friend :). Arsenal agreed a pre-contract agreement with Podolski last year, perhaps they are just waiting it out to see who may become available before rushing to sign a player that may be further down on their list? Obviously, it is just my assumption, but I am always concerned that Wenger’s frugal spending will continuously hold us back and prevent us from reaching new heights…

  143. Highbury Harmony says:

    Kenyan Gooner, thank you for the kind words mate!

    Completely agreed that it was a mistake to let Song go. However, whether this be the work of Kroenke or AW, we’ll never truly know. The gamble has clearly not paid off and it’s very clear that Arteta thrived while playing with Song and Arteta was not the reason our defense and transition game were so effective in the 2nd half of last season.

    Even if Diaby were fit, he often commits to carrying the ball up field and joining the attack, which often leaves Arteta’s lack of pace and strength exposed at the back. If Diaby had better endurance and health, then he might be the perfect complement, but unfortunately we may never see that materialize.

  144. Highbury Harmony says:

    Ben :), I’m glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for the compliments.

    Your comment about Ramsey made me laugh, as that finish of his this weekend was atrocious. Just goes to show that his confidence is still not fully re-established yet. Hopefully it will improve with time, but with better players hopefully coming in this summer, chances are slim that he’ll be able to maintain it while being a super-sub for us next year.

    Capoue is certainly an intriguing option as he really instils fear in the opposition, is outstanding in winning aerial duels and is a force to be reckoned with in that he relentlessly attacks the opposition when they have the ball. He’s also quite fast and has incredible endurance that allows him to chase any player down in his own half. If he can continue to improve his offensive output and technical abilities, he could be an ideal signing for us.

  145. Highbury Harmony says:


    I counter your theory of what is the point of our academy, by asking the question, “what if the players the academy are producing are not at a level fit to make Arsenal a much better team at the top level?”

    This, for me, has been the biggest problem of late. Coquelin, Frimpong, Ramsey etc. are all serviceable squad players but none have really consistently showed that they belong as starters on this team or have anything truly special to add. They all have positive qualities but are lacking in some other respects, which prevents us from being able to adequately rely on them.

    Purchasing a stop gap solution this summer would be a mistake, simply because players like Ramsey and Frimpong are simply not ready and never will be able to overcome their distinct deficiencies (maybe Coquelin will overcome his composure and decision making but I have my doubts with the other two, Ramsey is a squad player for me). Buying a stop gap solution is a band-aid solution, delaying the inevitable; that our academy has failed in producing the proper level of quality for Arsenal and that we need to address the DM position with a player in his prime who can contribute for years to come.

    Coquelin will likely not reach the Benders level, maybe Capoue’s though. The Benders are outstanding and dominating forces and will be German National Team starters (at least one of them) on a regular basis. They’ve already accomplished so much at a young age and their potential is through the roof, as they continue to mature and develop their games.

  146. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, don’t be silly, Barca obviously need a DM :). Without Busquets, that team would seriously fall apart defensively and in transition. He’s a capable aerial presence, has immense technical ability and is effective at aggravating opponents. His range of passing allows the players further up the pitch sit so far up to focus on attacking. Fabregas lacks some pace, but he’d still be able to fulfill a bit-part role at DM, but long-term his desire to push forward may hurt them.

  147. JM says:

    Another side question from my post @ April 9, 2013 12:26:


    Man United:
    1) ($130 million) Current shirt deal with AON, 4 years, running down in season 2013/2014.

    2) ($559 million or £357million) Incoming shirt deal with General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet division, 7 years, starting from season 2014/2015.

    3) ($230 million or £147million) Incoming training ground and training attire deal with AON, 8 years, starting from season 2013/2014.

    Also quote, “United, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, recently forecast record revenue this season of at least $537 million.”

    and quote, “Forbes said in January that United’s enterprise value, which subtracts debt from equity value, has risen to $3.3 billion, the highest for any sports team in the world.”

    Question: What about the latest updates on Arsenal F.C.? How are our new deals coming along? (Other than the announced £150million sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines).

    In EPL, there’s Man. Utd. with the global branding; Man. City and Chelsea with their rich and influential owners (and they also bring in substantial sponsorships deals as well).

    Where do Arsenal stand in the competition when getting new sponsorship deals, commercial deals, signing quality players etc etc, against the likes of Man. Utd., Man. City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus? And then Dortmund, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Napoli, CSKA Moscow, FC Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04, AS Roma, Lazio?

  148. Highbury Harmony says:

    Terry, thank you for the kinds words! Your suggestions are all near top of the class suggestions! It’s interesting with Khedira since his defensive qualities are nothing to write home about and many are calling for him to be complemented by one of the Benders in the National team set-up, in order to offset his deficiencies.

  149. AFC says:

    HH, we also need a ST in his prime who can contribute for years to come. 😉

  150. Red Arse says:

    Hi HH, 🙂

    What I love about your blogging, is that not only do you write very fine Posts, which are a wonderful and stimulating treat, but you also respond to everyone, and your comments/responses are always straight to the point!! 😀

    Sorry, I am not always able to be around as much as I want, (health problems at the mo’) but the standard of Post writing and chatting on BK is excellent and all you guys are ace, which cheers me up! 🙂

  151. AFC says:

    HH, what I was trying to say was that if Barca were in our position Xavi or Fabregas would be able to be their DM but having a proper DM would not affect them as much as us as they all the other players would do their defensive duties to males up for the lack of DM in their squad. Maybe if guy like Walcott etc worker harder in their defensive knowing we no DM we would have won more match.

  152. AFC says:

    HH, what I was trying to say was that if Barca were in our position, Xavi or Fabregas would be able to be their DM but not having a proper DM would not affect them as much as us as all the other players would do their defensive duties to male up for the not having of DM in their squad. Maybe if guys like Walcott etc worker harder in their defensive knowing we no DM we would have won more match.

    So in a nutshell, in the future we definitely need a DM but when at times this season some situations because of Arsenal not having a DM could have been avoided by other players working harder to make up for us having no DM.

  153. Highbury Harmony says:

    JGC, excellent additions to my article and I agree with all your points. However, with the beast, I think it actually best complements our current midfield since we have no player who is assertive defensively and capable of imposing his presence and altering the strategy of the other team. It’s way too easy for other teams to enter our zone and we are consistently in disarray on their counter attacks.

    However, it’s true that said “beast” player must also have the technical qualities to survive at our club as a starter, while also contributing offensively so as to not be a pure specialist.

  154. Highbury Harmony says:

    AFC, all understood now. Yes, the high pressure system and collective defending that Barca players learn from an early age is incredibly effective. Their mentality that they should not lose possession for 5 seconds or more is very effective and causes their opponents to frequently turnover the ball. I agree that it wouldn’t matter as much for them on who played DM since they are such a talented team, but it certainly is a HUGE benefit for them that Busquets is playing there.

  155. Highbury Harmony says:

    Hi RA :), disappointed you can’t join us in the discussion more and I hope you get well soon my friend. Your comments are always insightful and well-balanced and it’s always a personal achievement to receive high praise from a respective blogger such as yourself! Glad I could play a part in making you feel better 🙂

  156. Highbury Harmony says:


  157. Highbury Harmony says:

    JM @ 12:26, that is a great analysis in providing your reasons into which positions you believe should be upgraded this summer. However, I’m still not fond of your Toulalan suggestion since he doesn’t complement Arteta’s lack of pace and will only be regressing in that department as he continues to age.

    The only difference in our assessments seems to be that you have higher trust in Coquelin than I do. The hope is that he will become a regular for us in a year or two, but I very much doubt that he has the patience to continue to sit on the sidelines even for the rest of this year. AW does not know how to properly rotate his players and we’ll likely see promising talents such as Coquelin leave as a result. Even if he doesn’t leave (but especially if he does), then I sincerely hope that AW finally addresses the DM hole with a capable long-term solution such as one of the Benders, Wanyama etc. I’ve seen the strategy of relying on one of our youngsters to fill the gap fail miserably in the past, and it seems our academy is only good at either producing bit-part players or ones who are top quality that can immediately come into our side.

  158. Red Arse says:

    Hi JM 🙂

    You are a wonderful source of information! Here is a portion of an article I came upon recently that might give you some food for thought. It only mentions Arsenal in passing and is possibly to ‘accountancy’ biased, but is trying to show that you must be careful when looking at a football club’s financials that you (everyone that is) do not compare apples with oranges.

    The conclusion of the author is that Arsenal in the Premier League are second in value only to Man Untd. However Manyoo’s trophy winning abilities are putting them into a league of their own when it comes to sponsorship deals — particularly with American companies. We need to do a lot more or we will always be the Ugly Sister!!

    — “Arsenal were rumoured to be the target of £1.5bn offer by a Middle Eastern consortium, who have gone strangely quiet since.
    In January, Forbes said Manchester United had become the world’s highest value ‘sports franchise’ worth $3.3bn (£2.1bn). But on what consistent and rigorous basis are these claims made? TOM MARKHAM, a qualified accountant and former foreign exchange trader with an MBA in Football Industries from the University of Liverpool, has collaborated on projects with national associations, clubs, agencies and sports consultancies. About to complete a PhD in Football Finance at Henley Business School’s ICMA Centre, here he outlines exclusive new research that reveals a new reliable valuation model, universally applicable to Premier League clubs.

    Manchester United are the only football club in Britain worth more than £1bn, and by ‘worth’ I mean using a fixed set of financial criteria, and hard economic data, to look at what they make and what they spend to come up with a ‘rational’ value for the club.

    Rational: In this context means what somebody would pay for a thing if they arrived on earth with no preconceptions about glamour or otherwise, status for its own sake, or what others have said before.

    In a moment, in great detail, I’ll explain how my new valuation model works, and provide a link where you can read in greater depth precisely how this model stands up to scrutiny.
    But I can also tell you that West Bromwich Albion are currently more valuable than Everton, and that Tottenham are worth more than both Manchester City, the Premier League title-holders, and Liverpool, the 18-times champions of England.

    Before we move on, here are what the 20 current clubs are really worth. The prices assume that the buyer, on top, also assumes responsibility for any current debt the club has:

    Man Untd : £1,060m
    Arsenal: £943m
    Cheslea: £510m
    Spurs: £436m
    Man City: £401m
    Liverpool: £352m
    Newcastle: £276m

    [I could not be bothered transcribing the rest: RA]

    Between 2005 and 2010, twelve Premier League clubs changed hands. Currently, eleven of the division’s 20 clubs are controlled by foreign owners. Despite the dramatic increase in club acquisitions in recent years, it has become apparent that finance professionals within the football industry use vastly differing methods to ascertain a club’s value.

    This is illustrated in the example below of Tottenham Hotspur, which was listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) until January 2012.

    Model 1: Market Capitalisation Value: £84m
    Model 2: Revenue Multiples Value: £245m
    Model 3: Forbes Value: £351m

    [Now they cannot all be right – or can they? RA]

    These estimates above make you consider, which figure, if any, is correct? A potential investor’s judgement will unquestionably be impaired by the significant discrepancy of £267m between the highest and lowest club valuations outlined above.

    This was the underlying motivation for this research which analyses what methodologies are applicable to football club valuation.

    The full research paper, which is linked here where it can be download for free, introduces the Markham Multivariate Model (MMM) developed specifically to value Premier League clubs.

    Prior to developing the model, six established valuation methods were assessed for their accuracy in estimating an EPL club’s worth. Of these models, three were general company valuation techniques: Market Capitalisation, Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) and Bankruptcy Value.

    Three were contemporary football industry valuation models: Revenue Multiples, Forbes ‘Most Valuable Soccer Teams’ and Broker Values. For comparison purposes the models were calculated for a period of nine seasons between 2003-04 and 2011-12.
    This coincides with the first publication of Forbes ‘Most Valuable Soccer Teams’ in 2004.

    A valuation model needs to be reliable and universally applicable to all Premier League clubs to be considered as the optimal method to value a club. This straight away causes a problem for the Market Capitalisation method as only two of the current twenty EPL clubs are listed (Arsenal) or partially listed (Manchester United) on an exchange.
    This means that Market Capitalisation cannot be universally used to compare club valuations.

    It also proves somewhat erratic for club valuations from the evidence above. For example, Tottenham Hotspur’s 2012 market capitalisation of £84m (highlighted above) seems extremely undervalued especially given that midfielder Luka Modrić was sold by the club for £33.3m alone six months after this valuation.

    Spurs are regularly profitable, owns their stadium and training ground in London and have a strong squad of players including the coveted Gareth Bale.
    At the other end of the spectrum, Manchester United was valued at £1.49bn in 2012 which is £100m more than any other method calculated the club’s worth to be. This illustrates that the method cannot be universally adapted or relied upon to value clubs.

    DCF is recognised to be the most dependable means of valuing a regular company. The shortcomings from football perspective are that it requires regular profitability and accurate predictions of future revenues to provide reliable valuations. The majority of Premier League clubs are not profitable and cannot predict future financial performance due the volatility of a team’s on-field performance.”

    [I have condensed the article down, but it shows we are not doing too badly — and yet we are not competing with Manyoo off the pitch either. So, we need to ‘speculate to accumulate’ trophies by investing in players, before we can get into Manure’s faces.]

  159. Highbury Harmony says:

    Wow RA, that was a very compelling and enlightening read. Thank you for sharing that!

  160. glic says:

    Evening Testermorph`s 😆

    I hear Arshavin is planning to retire at the end of his Arsenal contract……….funny…….I thought he retired a few years ago, picking up a decent pension every week from Arsenal !.

    For those who have not met our Stretch ( TMHT ), this is him moonlighting as a Doctor when he`s not fiddling someones accounts !.

  161. VCC says:

    Highbury Harmony 15:18.

    AW likes to play attacking football so my thinking is with 4-1-2-3. this would give 3 forwards with back up 2 attacking midfielders.

    We could then spend big on just two players. DM and ST. as we have reportedly £70 million to spend. This amount would only stretch to two top players.

    Our formation could be =




    Walcott …….Arteta

    Walcott ST Cazorla


  162. VCC says:

    GLiC….is that his twin?

  163. Red Arse says:

    Is terry examining that guy’s chest hair for his new syrup?

  164. glic says:

    To both questions ……..yes !. hahaha

    It`s not the vid I wanted, but if you click on the youtube box at the bottom, you will see loads more of Doctor Terry…..sorry Bob !.

  165. Red Arse says:

    i am not clicking anywhere near his bottom, thank you Glicster!

  166. glic says:


    I`ve just looked on the disabled supporters page on Arsenal.com and if you become a member, I can get in free as your carer, we could also smuggle in a couple of other BKers, one under the zimmer frame and one in the colostomy bag !. Worth thinking about !.

  167. Highbury Harmony says:

    VCC @ 19:09, surely you meant Wilshere-Arteta right? I mean, I know Theo’s very fast and all, but asking him to cover 2 positions on the pitch would be pretty demanding ;).

    I would love to see that money spent wisely and on the proper talents. If the resources are there, the only thing limiting our spending potential would be AW’s or Kroenke’s frugalness. The 4-1-2-3 would be a delight to see if all parts are executed correctly and if the work rate is proper when losing possession of the ball (a la Barca).

  168. glic says:

    Right, ready to sit down and watch some proper internet porn !……..Gotze Vs Isco !.

  169. TotalArsenal says:

    Evening fellow G’s 😛

    New Post – New Post 🙂

  170. Fred says:

    Has anyone thought of Burak Yilmaz as a potential striker at arsenal? Apparently he wants to leave so could be picked up reasonably cheaply and has done well in both the turkish league and the champions league. And with a goal:game ration of 0.75:1 he represents a slightly better than a goal every other game ratio. He could probably be bought for around the 15m mark as he wants to leave Galatasaray, so could represent a good deal for us.

  171. Beegee says:

    Bottom line..!!! We dont need part players who can play in many positions and does an average job. But Specialists who are accustomed, have skill and discipline required for the particular position.
    When he (AW) will realize that ? – only god knows

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