Not Sexy But Lichtsteiner will Bring at least Three Improvements to Arsenal

Stephan Lichtsteiner is not the sort of sexy first signing by Emery we were all hoping for. In fact, had Wenger still be in charge and a Swiss 34 year old right back was his first squad addition this summer, we would almost all be jumping up and down and storm the Emirates with pitchforks and torches.

Yet this ex-Juve player is a sensible addition to the team and shows that Emery’s first focus is on improving the squad’s strength in depth and experience levels within the team.

See the source image

So what is he likely to add to Arsenal’s squad:

  1. Stephan will bring leadership and the ‘experience of winning’ to the team, both on the field and in the dressing room. He is the current captain of the Swiss national team, and if you have ever seen him play for club or country you will know him as a very focused, professional and no-nonsense defender with a strong engine. He will fit in straightaway and know what is expected of him. I have no doubt that he will improve the leadership ability within our team.
  2. Although he is 34, Lichtsteiner is still very fit and driven. He played 37 games on average per season (32 last campaign) for Juventus and is as hungry as ever. He will not be our automatic first choice right back and this is ideal to get the best out of Bellerin. Hector is a great talent and could become an Arsenal-Great, but his progress has stagnated a bit. Working with Lichtsteiner, a Master in his position, should help the apprentice tremendously in making that last step to a top-top wing-back. I can see them playing both a lot of games and provide real attacking thrust and defensive solidity to our right wing next season.
  3. Granit Xhaka is top captain material for Arsenal. Lichtsteiner’s compatriot has charisma, seriousness, a hard-edge and sits in the ideal position – central midfield (deep) – to see the game in front of him as well as behind him and function as the on-field strategist and team-coach. But he is still a bit young and hot-headed at times, and he came with a reputation from the Bundesliga which of course the referees jumped on straightaway (Arsenal players can get kicked about without any repercussions, but oh dear if a Gunner decides to do something back…). Xhaka will play regularly near, and often next to, the Swiss captain, and I reckon Lichtsteiner will teach him a few captain-tricks and insights along the way.

So a sensible signing that will strengthen the team and provide fine cover and a bit of competition and learning-opportunities for the fine-haired fashion-man. Next questions to answer is who will he have to play with at right-side CB: Mustafi, Chambers, Sokratis, ANother??

By TotalArsenal.

29 thoughts on “Not Sexy But Lichtsteiner will Bring at least Three Improvements to Arsenal

  • 1. Agreed
    2. Agreed
    (Boring so far)
    3. Granit Xhaka is top captain material for Arsenal… Good, yes. Top, no. That would be Aaron Ramsey 🙂

    Happy with the Licht signing. I think he’ll stay with us a season or two until we’re ready to play one of the RBs from our youth teams as Bellerin’s backup. Moore, Johnson or Osei-Tutu

    Also happy about us adding a talented 17 year old midfielder. He looks like he’s going to play a few games in the first team already.

    Now to add Sokratis, Nzonzi and a GK.

    Then to watch the World Cup, and wait for pre season to begin.

  • Cheers for responding, Shardo. It looks like it is a low comment day. Rambo as captain is indeed an option. Strong personality, tactically not so strong imo, and he also misses a bit of a mean, bossy streak that I like to see in a captain.

  • Xhaka isn’t strong tactically either. And Ramsey has a mean streak. He had his issues with Van Persie. He took no nonsense from Piers Morgan (refusing to shake his hand). It’s not mean in a bossy way, but he’s not shy about standing up for himself, and he’s quite clearly up for the fight and a challenge. He’s also won us trophies and right now, if he stays, he would be among the first names of the teamsheet.

    Oh, plus it means something to him. He mentioned it being an honour to wear the armband in Wenger’s last match. I think he’s provided wonderful service to the club, and if he signs would have shown great commitment. He’s contributed to our cause more than most. Ramsey for captain.

  • I will ignore your first line – I guess we see totally different things when Xhaka is on the pitch.

    You are not the only one who believes Rambo makes a good captain and it is of course subjective. I don’t see a leader but somebody who likes to run up and down and who neglects his defensive duties too often. Something is missing imo and he would flop as a captain. Xhaka on the other hand is a natural leader,,, that is what I see when I watch him closely.

  • Boys, boys

    #1-2 — agreed and something I think we lost with all our veterans injury-retired much of the last two years (BFG, Koz, Santi). All of whom commanded respect, were tough, were tactically smart/cool headed, and sat back centrally. Without all of them we sort of lost direction (not sort of but did). So, this addition is great IMO.

    #3 The captain debate, … again … I am not sure on Xhaka or Ramsey, but not sure who it should be. I would say Koz, but there’s a long and potentially zero ended wait there. Again, all those players are gone.

    TA, you and Shard put some good comments forth. Why not co-captains? They wont always be both playing either perhaps?

    cheers — jgc

  • Lichsteiner may not be the eye catching first signing of a new Managerial era that most looked forward to, but for a Free, it’s most ideal. Unlike most, but for the possibility his World Cup exertions will cause him to report for pre-season late, I’d rather he were the first choice right back; however, I won’t scoff at a shared game time scenario. He is still fit, still quick and has a wicked cross on him. England may be a new experience but at his age, he will be under little pressure and can just enjoy himself. Hector will have a lot to pick up from him and should be the better for it.

    As for the Skipper argument, both Ramsey and Xhaka will make good captains but on a scale, Xhaka has the qualities to make a better leader. He’s captained his former side, Borussia Monchengladbach, during his last season (arguably, as a way to keep him) and ended up in the Bundesliga league team of the year in 2015/15, repeated in 2015/16. I believe he was also captain of one of the Swiss age group sides he played for, and he played at almost all the recognized levels.

    Ramsey has worn the captain’s arm band on a few occasions, but on rather complimentary grounds, usually the absence of the substantive skipper and deputy. He doesn’t look like he cares about much more than to come on and do the business. In contrast, just see the rallying actions of Xhaka when we score a goal; then his expression when we concede one. What I’m saying is Xhaka has a personality that seems to bring the team together while Ramsey is indifferent. My opinion.
    Former Basel coach Thorsten Fink once said. “Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland…after Granit Xhaka.” Whilst the former Swiss National Football Coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, has dubbed him the ‘young Schweinsteiger.’. That has little to do with leadership but may say something about the importance of tactical/technical nous in the argument.

  • Of course, all of the captain arguments assume post-Koscielny, who is the current captain. Presently, I think the order is Koscielny, Cech, Jack, Ramsey (last two, strictly on length of stay at club). With the new manager, expect some changes.

  • Geoff, co-captains sounds like a compromise to me, and when it comes to leadership I don’t think that would be right.

    I guess it all depends on what we believe we would need from a leader under Emery, which is likely to be different from what Wenger required. I am thinking here of executing tactical plans for individual games; guarding the shape of the team and speaking to fellow players who are undermining the ‘plan’; about confronting the ref for bad decisions in a demanding yet tactful way; about inspiring the crowd with his leadership; about being the link with Emery on the pitch and in the dressing room; about overcoming hostile environments and in-game setbacks, etc.

    We would need leadership throughout the spine of course, but in there we need a leader of leaders as per above. Koz for me is an executer of duties who just wants to focus on his job. BFG was a leader but gone. We need a new one and I reckon it is Xhaka.

  • Ramsey leaves space behind because that is what was expected of him. The value he brings up front is usually enough. He also stays back and is more responsible against the big teams. Because again, he’s more valuable. I think Ramsey understands his game well and adjusts accordingly.

    Xhaka meanwhile is a little lost in his defensive awareness. He lets people run off of him or just wildly lunges into tackles. He has improved on his defensive positioning. But I remain worried about his slowness to react to danger. I agree he can be a leader. I also think he takes responsibility seriously. But at this time, in this Arsenal squad, I don’t think he’s the standout choice.

    Ramsey’s come through adversity in the form of a career threatening injury and some dog’s abuse from our fans. He’s been at our club for a long time and understands the culture. He may not appear the most vocal but I think he commands more respect within the squad, and if he stays, he would have proven his loyalty to the club.

    Kos, Cech and Monreal all deserve a shout but at their age, they won’t be at the club for long, and won’t be playing the majority of games.

    Ramsey Captain, and Monreal (Because he’s Spanish) as Vice captain.

  • Lichtsteiner’s acquisition seems to me to be following a discernible pattern. Suddenly we are recruiting players in the later stages of their careers: Mkhi, Auba, Lich, Ozil (new bumper deal) and there is the strong scent of Socrates.

    At the other end of the spectrum the rising stars: Mavro, the super talented Adli, our own Nketiah, AMN and Nelson. As the old folks begin to fade out the young ones would be stepping in matured. We avoid, as a policy, the middle where there is viscious competition for the best by the money teams because we cannot compete successfully in that market. It’s a strategy of going for the fading and the rising stars that would guarantees stars all the time at a competitive cost. Its also a show of confidence in our present squad.

    This wouldn’t mean we’d never buy from the middle, but we can afford to but in the ratio of say 1:3 to say Manu or City.

    I hope we are looking at 21 yr old Tanguy Ndombele who is something of a mix of Vieira and Yaya. He is already more than a rising star with a still modest market value.

  • Ramsey is as tough as nail. Many things go for him as captain including age in the team. But am not so certain that his box runs are not out of positional indiscipline (however goal yielding they might be …. it’s a lot more difficult to quantify its negatives). If it’s out of indiscipline then he should not own the arm band. Another thing is … until he signs the new contract he should not be considered as a captain.

    Xhaka looks the captain to me, but his age in the club, might count against him. As for his performance level, it has taken a sharp rise. His record of starting 37 games plus one sub appearance should be applauded. Imo, he became a most stable influence in the second half of the season.

  • Hmm, TA and others,

    Then for Xhaka it depends on which of AR and Xhaka “improve” more with whatever systems and structure Emery does, or does not bring in. Xhaka may well have looked misplaced due to lack of structure and I’ll become “godlike” in the right spot for a captain with the right changes. Or not. Same for AR.

    Thus, perhaps, Emery’s best choice would be temporary captains game by game for the first X games while this sorts itself. Or more precisely, until someone steps up! Could thus still be Nacho say, moved centrally… just for random example.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Good further comments re the leadership debate

    I am sensing that Rambo wants to end his career abroad, ideally at Barca. If he signs a big contract that would go for him and supports the belief he should become captain. For me, just like Koz and Mustafi and Ozil, Rambo is not a natural leader but brilliant at performing a (technical) role in the team: attacking midfielder with space to roam in, connecting midfield with attack, creating key passes, assists and scoring goals from inside and outside the box. Let him focus on that and really ARRIVE at Arsenal NOW – as in making a real game to game difference – is what I am saying.

    It is also important for a captain to have good hamstrings and general health…. Rambo comes and goes throughout a season and takes a long time to get back to form. Xhaka’s age is a good point but it did not seem to have held the Germans back to make him – a foreigner – captain at such a young age. Xhaka – and Bellerin – were the first on the PL games team sheet time and time again last season. Captain Granit!

  • Prof, et al,

    Been under the weather this week so not much comments here.
    For the 84 Gunner (I am an 84 Gooner), the things that he is able to provide other than that TA had listed down (all agreed upon) is the insights in the way Juve and the other top european teams play and how we can leverage our play so that we can be proficient in both the league and europe next season; something that no other team have done so far.

    A second or third in the league next season is best for me, and winning the Europa League is a priority for Emery, who won 3 UEL cups.

    Xhaka is a future captain, but I guess the captain will be Kos, and assisted by Rambo. Or will we see Auba becoming out next Henry? It is still a guess until everyone comes back from the off-season and holidays after the world cup and then it will be clearer about who goes where.

  • The first step (IMO) on breaking an archaic stranglehold on both domestic broadcasts and ticket resales:

    While it might appear a small thing with Amazon purchasing 20 matches each season for 3 years? The first step I spoke of– is another major global entity entering the domestic (UK) broadcast market. Until this, there looked to be nothing on the horizon to break the mold, the rules– in how are ‘allowed’ to watch football. The next anachronism that needs to be bent– are the reselling of match tickets.

    Little of this affects me personally. But things were quite similar stateside until the monopoly on broadcasting live events was busted into smaller pieces. Hope this Amazon buy is the signal.

    When Amazon does eventually buy a larger package– the ‘Prime’ deal (Prime costs £79 a year in the UK or a monthly subscription of £7.99.) is worth the cost for all of the benefits. I save that much alone in free shipping in about 3 months time.


  • Hey, thanks TA. Absence from the posts had to do with travels and time zone disruptions. I have a different schedule these days as well, but hopefully, that changes as things settle down and I get used to it.

    Went back to some hot topics and enjoyed the comments all round; wish I could have been able to chipped in, real-time, with my own twopence. But, all good. The World Cup buzz is louder in the air; looking forward to the games.

  • JW, it is an absolute nightmare for us British based supporters. The more broadcasters with exclusive rights there are, the more we need to sign up to in order to see all the (Arsenal) games. From 2019 onwards it will cost in the region of £50 per months to see all broadcastable Arsenal games (still will exclude Saturday 1500h kick-offs). So it sucks!

  • I have had periods like that, Eris, and there is nothing you can do but work through them. 🙂

    Your views are very valued here, wherever you are and whenever you get time to air them. Re WC, I am less excited without Holland playing, but look forward to see Arsenal players in action. Tonight it is Joel Campbell’s turn v England; and hopefully Danny W gets a start.

  • Thanks for the kind words, TA.
    Most football lovers will miss the Dutch side at the World Cup, to be fair. Hopefully, Ron Koeman gets the team going again and we get to see them (a new generation, hopefully) at the next mundial.

  • Will not be easy, Erismus. It looks like the Dutch will have some top class defenders in the next 1-10 years but not much attacking prowess, which is the world turned upside down for the Dutch 🙂

    Koeman has his work cut out.

  • Hey, I just saw Danny Welbeck score a goal…and then get hugged by a pack of Spurs players… 😀 😮

    Sorry to be amongst the non-comment people… I guess I’m just taking a (very) wait and see attitude with this new chapter at Arsenal… I will agree about the new RB signing… Not. Very. Sexy. That said, Lichtsteiner has always seemed very competent and a willing (and thundering) runner down that right side… Where are the stats people? Surely (playing at Juve) he must be an upgrade to Bells on the defensive end. It makes me wonder if there are any 3 at the back ideas with the new manager…

    It seems hard to say about the team-building and apprentice-mentor stuff and the tips and tricks of captaincy which he might pass on to a guy not so many Gooners seem to support, Granit Xhaka. They seem like nice ideas, however, so why not?… For the moment, I’m behind our spine guys (including Xhaka, Mustafi and maybe even Rambo…) but if the Junta (SIR Kroenke) says ship ’em out, then so it goes…

    What I’ve REALLY been thinking about are more general expectations giving our sea-change in management structure…and, maybe, in how Gooners go about assigning the most important thing that acts as a (the universal) salve against disappointment–blame. With Wenger gone, who shoulders the load?…

    (Already things seem to be lightening up, with “Patience”–another Guns n’ Roses song, btw–being invoked and top-4 finishes being the perfectly acceptable moved goalposts for success… With the air out of the situation I’m banking on a dozen point bump just due to Wenger being gone…)

    Except that I still believe that blame is the name of the game once a ball is kicked in anger…so, if we can’t get back to the top 4 (or top team in London…) then who takes the fall?…

    It’s got to be Ivan, no? And if so, mightn’t it be because he’s also been a part (maybe a big part…) in how we got to here? Couldn’t we blame him for the fiasco of the previous 1.5 seasons where we went from Wenger IN (new contract)…and deadline day delay on Alexit (a real killer, IMO…) to Wenger OUT–but still paid for next season!!! That’s a cool 10 million pounds btw…

    Then we might also talk his (IG’s) role in our squad building in the pre-Sven days. (Sven turning us into the new Dortmund seems so far, so good, IMO–PEA and Mkhi are BIG reasons I’ll still be watching come August…And I’m hopeful that Sok is another one…) My buddy JW says that a bunch of our acquisitions may have been influenced by the StatsDNA package (bought in which season?…A while ago, I think…) so does that make Ivan our own Billy Beane? If that’s true, then another facet of Arsenal’s recent demise might also fall onto Gazidis’ shoulders. Is Xhaka another “Stat Success” who doesn’t quite seem as good, you know, in real life? (Mustafi, of course, would be the other…) It almost makes me wonder…oooh, I know I’m gonna regret saying this…but… Where’s Waldo?… 😉

    Personally, I think football must be the most resistant of all sports to statistical analysis, but maybe that’s because I believe that what’s done off the ball is just as (if not more) important to what happens when your (crap) teammate gives you another (crap) pass that you can’t quite turn into gold…while you were busy making space for all the other (great) passes he might’ve taken… Or something…

    I could go on and on (of course) but you (or those still reading…) can see that my bent isn’t so positive… So, enough from me, back into hiding…or into that wait and see sort of mode…

    Until next time…

  • Before I get myself in big trouble with the boss, I will smooth things over by saying that Zhaka got Better as the season went on. But and this is a big but in my opinion at the beginning of the season he was pretty awful IMHO. Against Leicester first game last season his sloppy passing cost us one goal and nearly another from memory. I think Stoke away came next and I seem to remember him getting flak for that goal. I have never been a fan of Zonal marking but many times this season pundits have accused Zhaka of losing concentration. If he starts next season like that again I wouldn’t expect him to be in the side let alone captain, Rambo would be my choice and i think he would see it as a great honour, but I seem to remember when he captained Wales at a young age, his form suffered accordingly.

  • Good to hear from you, Seventeenho, and thanks for your observations. Blame is the game.

    Retsub, pundits often treat Xhaka as the DM of the team and when things go wrong it is easy to point out mistakes. I agree there is space for improvement on Xhaka’s technical executing of his role, but then with two kamikaze CB’s behind him, (often) an undisciplined Rambo ‘next’ to him and two FBs who like to bomb forward and leave acres behind them…. you may look exposed at times.

    Watch him play for Switzerland in a more conservative set up and see how he masters space and time and controls the game around him, and you will see what he’s capable of.

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