Arteta Needs to Build Further on Youth But There is One Player he NEEDS to Buy

my lay of the arsenal land

emirates showing my family home.


  1. this post is meant to provide an answer to PB’s brilliant one, but the first thing i have to put out of the way is that … i agree with his main point, ie our passing’s not nearly good enough. i don’t mean only the key passes that he did a great job studying: the number of times we gave the ball away during the final was a nerve-wracking source of frustration to me – and for anyone still living under wengerball’s spell, i guess – although, to be fair, now that i am calmer, I’ve started wondering if this profligacy was not part of mick’s plan, i actually think now he might be demanding from the lads that every single pass be a risk taken, and its consequences accepted whatever they might be.
  1. now, what’s the “lay …” of the title??

we’ve acquired certainties in the past two months, hierarchy being one of them. provided everyone were fit, i think suggesting the following one (in mick’s favored 3-4-2-1) is not erring too much:

team A:

    mustafi luiz mari    
  bellerin ceballos   xhaka tierney  
    pépé   auba    

team B:

    holding chambers saliba    
  soares willock   saka maitland niles  
    nelson   martinelli    

team C:

    ballard sokratis medley    
  osei-tutu torreira   smith kolasinac  
    smithrowe   johnjules    

on loan: mavropanos

in the wings: okonkwo, hein, swanson, coyle, clarke, olayinka

in limbo: özil, guendouzi

almost gone: elneny, mkhitaryan

Which gives us for the start of next season, taking the injuries into account (mustafi, mari, chambers, martinelli):

team A:

    holding luiz tierney    
  bellerin ceballos   xhaka maitland niles  
    pépé   auba    

team B:

    saliba sokratis kolasinac    
  soares torreira   willock saka  
    nelson   smithrowe    

team C:

    clarke ballard medley    
  osei-tutu olayinka   smith swanson  
    coyle   johnjules    

on loan: mavropanos

in the wings: okonkwo, hein,

in limbo: özil, guendouzi

almost gone: elneny, mkhitaryan

  1. what can this squad (not) achieve?

SPOILER: we won’t be champions next year!!!!!!!

  1. a) we ended up with 56 points, and ever since 16-17, a team needs 97,5 points on average to be champions (85,3 points from 10-11 to 15-16). that would mean nearly doubling our total; this just won’t happen

SPOILER (2) we won’t be champions any time soon!!!!!

we can’t – nobody can, even ‘pool – compete with oil-state funded citeh, we just can’t, won’t be able to, and actually i don’t want us to…

  1. a) they got a venue that cost ‘em next to nothing, while ours might well have bankrupted us, had it not been for The Great Man’s genius, who took us into the champions’ league year in, year out, with squads that most other managers would have been very happy not to go down with
  2. b) they have an extra -ordinary squad, coached by an extra -ordinary manager
  3. c) they can splash out whatever money they feel like splashing out; the sheer numbers of what they spent on defenders only are just mind-blowing (all the more so since eventually, they end up benching players like stones, otamendi, …); we won’t ever be able to do that (i don’t want us too …) – we have to be imaginative/creative
  4. d) they have just been allowed by fifa /SAT to bend the rules as they see fit (i don’t want us to, ever), nobody will stop them now from doing whatever they want to, whenever they want to
  5. e) ‘pool have been playing like a f…..g extra -ordinary attacking machine for the last two years, under the command of an extra -ordinary manager.

as much as i’d like to do so, let’s not dream on: there’s no way we’ll have caught up with them within ten months; they’ll be ahead of us too – again

(sorry kev, i did read about your story with them)


(WARNING: no buy – unless the below-mentioned sales are completed)

  1. a) finishing fourth should be our goal.

as compared to 10-11 to 15-16, the number of points needed to do so has actually gone down (10-11 to 15 -16: 71; 16-17 to 19-20: 66).

THAT we can do, without changing anything to the squad, because you know what?:

  1. b) arsenal have an excellent squad (see the A/B/C teams above … let’s keep in mind what these lads’ve just achieved), coached by an extra -ordinary manager

… while chelsea/m.ud/tottenham/leicester have only very good/excellent squads, coached by very good/excellent managers

(welcome back to the wenger years’ situation!!!)

  1. c) we can win the europa league – if the “restart” period (and our semi-final, in particular) has proved anything, it was that on one or two-tie games, we are now able to kickass any top-level team out of any cup.
  2. d) we should be following ‘pool’s example, i agree with that point (which wasn’t made by pb, but is made by many) but i don’t agree with WHAT should be followed (ie, spending money – THEY didn’t, actually):

d1) klopp was “sworn in” in 2015, he won his first title in 2019, that’s what i call trusting a process – by the way, winning the champions’ league before the PL speaks volumes imo, about how difficult it has become, to end up ahead of the city cheats, in a league contest

d2) what “next-to-zero pound, hard-working players” have brought to them has been played down way too much; their successes may be brought down to salah/firmino/mané/van dijk/alisson by many; i, for one, choose to bring them down to alexanderarnold-robertson-henderson also

d3) keita-fabinho in midfield are just excellent midfielders, nothing more; alongside van dijk no solution (lovren/matip/gomez) has been totally satisfactory … and you know what? they just live with it, they don’t spend their time making a fuss about it, and their fans don’t go to anfield in order to abuse these “weaker links”.

d4) if we chose to be obsessed by the money they supposedly spent on buys, we’d be trailing them again, because they’ve already gone to the next step, and guess what? trusting’s the academy’s the one.

here’s what klopp told the guardian a few weeks ago:

Jürgen Klopp backing youth to strengthen Liverpool’s squad; Manager admits financial fallout could pause transfer plans; Klopp believes academy talent can improve the champions; He … feels players such as Neco Williams, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott can provide back-up for a team that demolished the competition this season

Klopp has always been keen to leave a pathway open for academy talent – Trent Alexander-Arnold being the prime example – and believes uncertainty in the market offers opportunity for more to follow

“And in football now we get confronted with how much do you want to spend? How much can you spend if you don’t know how much you can have?”; “What we want is to create our transfers internally”; “You have to be creative and we try to be creative. We try to find solutions internally”; “We have three or four players who can make big, big steps”

d5) the way they handled their recruitment was indeed brilliant – but they took their time (again), in order to make sure their buys fitted their very specific needs, and bought (salah-firmino-mané-vandijk-alisson) 24 to 26 (not 30+) yo players, for a mere £50m on average (not taking into account the approximate £120m they made out of selling coutinho to barça)

so much so that at the end of the day, they had bought themselves this quintet for £25m on average; THAT’s what I call doing business

d6) (by the way, as much as I love the two guys, I think we should be considering selling leno – now that emi’s come of age: kepa was worth £70m, don’t tell me we can’t make good money out of bernd’s sale; as well as … 32 yo auba!! he can fill up our coffers, but it’s now or never. i know that by doing so, I’m tinkering with my A/B/C team thing, but I could prove that laca, for example, has been – statistically – just as good as auba, over the past three years.

anyway, this post is far too long already – but these are the sales I alluded to up above)

  1. well, it’s high time i tackled pb’s “passing” problem

i’ll say it again: I agree with you completely, pb, the way we seem to be recklessly giving the ball away can often be unbelievably frustrating – but i do believe giving in to that frustration is just a case of seeing the half-empty glass, my friend:

  1. a) arteta implemented his successful system for the first time in southampton, barely 6 weeks ago; this is a work in progress if ever there was one, let’s trust the process
  2. b) the process has already born fruition, actually: our 18-pass move ending up with auba’s goal in the semi, is obviously what mick wants to achieve, but sustaining that level of excellence a whole season takes time, much time – again; let’s give it to mick and the boys
  3. c) our progress on that front will depend very much on dani:

HIM we have to buy – he’s a remarkable player indeed, but let’s remember he’s become that good ever since he scored his confidence-boosting winner against sheffield only – that was 5 weeks ago. the lad needs time too; i think he could be instrumental in solving the problem you pointed out, pb, if only he could provide the same vision, passing quality, 20 meters further up the pitch.

… he will, let’s give him time (chorus)

  1. d) pépé’s two assists for auba in the semi-final, then in the final were brilliant stuff – he’ll provide him/us with many more in the months ahead
  2. e) our best assist-provider has been bukayo, so far, but he hasn’t been picked lately – understandably so (mick has stopped picking him before he got overplayed, he must’ve had jack’s misfortune in mind)

now if my “september 12th, 2020” A-team were to read as follows:

  holding luiz tierney    
bellerin ceballos   xhaka saka  
  pépé   auba    

we’d probably be much better off on that “passing” front, too … without wasting money over any joorabchian troll

  1. CONCLUSION: hale end vs. buying
  2. a) we have a dream generation in store; I expect not to be the only one who’s convinced of this
  3. b) this would be the worst time to favour buying over trusting them:

b1: we have made it to the europa league, eventually, which means that even though the more experienced A-team were to perform at the level they’ll be expected to in the PL (so they would start a majority of games), our younger B-team could be trusted with at least 12 full games at top-level: 8 in the Europa league (6 group stage + 2 round of 32); 2 carabao; 2 fa cup – not to mention the PL playing time they’re bound to be given, anyway (all the more so with the 5-change-rule).

becoming a first-choice first-team player at arsenal football club should be regarded as  making it to the top of an eight-thousander, and some of our lads (joe, reiss, eddie, emil, …) need a few more games of this type to leave the very last lung-scorching meters behind: 2020-2021 presents them with a golden opportunity to do so

b2: trusting hale end is the clever long-term strategy, if we do keep aiming at attracting the very best young players: if we don’t trust this generation, which one will we, then? i have a feeling the next time we’ll knock at a talented young lad’s parents’ door, we might well be told to s.d off. if i were in one of these parents’ shoes, trust me, that’s what i’d do

right now, i’d very much like to know what abraham’s/hudson-odoi’s relatives and/or advisers are thinking about the ziyech-werner deals … and which (documented) rumours about lampard/chelsea they’re going to spread from now on.

b3: hale end is the solution to the “give-me-your-money-or-i-will-run-down-my-contract” blackmail that 28-29 yo well-performing players are now systematically pulling on us (and others).

as good as he may be, i resent any 32 yo player demanding a £75k-a-week pay rise along with a more-than-one-year contract extension. we should always have in store top-class youngsters (and be ready to play them), so we’d be in a position to make one – and only one – proposal (in auba’s case, £25k along with a one-year extension, seems very fair to me) to the experienced player – should he refuse it, he’d be sold, or benched ‘til his contract were run down.

i have nothing against auba, of course, but right now we have laca/eddie/martinelli/reiss/bukayo under contract, so much so that we shouldn’t give in to blackmail again (after mesut’s!!! – wasn’t that eye-opening enough??): if we do keep giving in, all players will know we are but weaklings, and this madness will never end (that’s what blackmail has always been all about).

that’s all folks, see you ‘round, congrats and thanks to all those who will have made it to this full stop.

By Legall

25 thoughts on “Arteta Needs to Build Further on Youth But There is One Player he NEEDS to Buy

  • Thank you our very own Emil Zola 😀 Epic post and nice to see so much trust in our Hale End youth solution. Just wondering: are you allergic to capital letters?! 😕

    I think you are right that we will not become champions any time soon as the gap to be bridged is simply massive. We just need to see progress in the league and who knows we could win another trophy on top of that. To be honest I am mostly looking forward to the journey and I am hoping that C19 will not spoil it for next season.

    Unlike you, I do believe we need to add to the squad especially in midfield. Injuries to either, or god forbid both, of Xhaka and Ceballos would set us back. And I am still not sure about Ceballos as the nr1 next to Granit, but if Arteta believes in him then so will I.

    We are on to something again and that is just a fab feeling, as per Kev’s fine comment towards the end of the last post. So a happy Gooner here.

  • Thanks, LeGall. Another brilliant analysis of a post. I have not read through in full (will do so, some time later today) but from the assertion we will not be champions next year or even “any time soon”, I have only to remind you how Chelsea came 10th in the 2015/2016 season, only to go on to win it the following one (2016/17).

    Never rule out the power of momentum and a feel good factor; may even work to our advantage that the pre-season is so short and restart of our season’s preparations is in two weeks. I think Arteta just did the hard part: restore belief, improve defending, get some wins against the top sides and win silverware. After this, anything can happen.

  • Great work LG.

    I tend to agree, I can’t see us winning the league in the immediate future, but top four we could get close next season, possibly sneak in.

    Yes LG, I can’t stand Liverpool but I do admire the way that Fenway have managed them, to me they’ve done a better job than KSE, but Usmanov was always the elephant in the room.
    Klopp has done a brilliant job and shown that you can compete with the petrodollar clubs if your owners support you and your player acquisitions are of the required quality and mentality.
    They should be our template…

  • Selling Coutinho bought Liverpool time and allowed them to bring in a great centre half and a great goalkeeper, those two showed that you don’t have to rip it all up to improve things just look at what proper coaching has done for us with a squad of players going nowhere. So I don’t envisage a big turnover in playing staff, certainly nowhere near to what some media outlets are suggesting, the only two players who to me look certain to leave are Elneny and Mkhitaryan even Sokratis and Balogun could stay could stay?

  • Yes selling Coutinho for all that money was a masterstroke. It weakened Barca and strenghtened Pool. The latter became CL Winners as a result and Barca seems to have lost touch.

  • LG/TA that was an interesting statement on the Liverpool youth from Klopp and how important his young players will be to him with the financial effects of the Beast from the East still washing over us. Arteta has a great group to work with and as it stands we really need them, some will become 1st team regulars, some will become squad players the Remi Gardes’ and Gilles Grimandi’s of the next few seasons and some will move on but should earn us a decent income. What’s encouraging is that there’s another generation or two coming along so it should be a regular conveyor belt this decade, with the U16’s from this season moving into the U18’s of next season being rated as possibly the best in a generation, that’s some claim and hopefully it’s going to come to fruition.

  • Morning all, yet another fantastic post – thank you LEGALL.

    I just skimmed through your post – but I will read it more thoroughly later.

    Although my head agrees that we will not win the PL for a few years I remember well the victories by Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City – so hope is always there……………waiting on the back burner.

  • The redundancies are also reported on BBC. A very sad development and one hard to match with paying a player top wack wages right now.

  • £350k per week pays for 55 staff at an average wage of £32k per annum. The club is losing large income through no gate receipts so something has to give, or if FFP allows it Kroenke should pay out of his own pockets.

  • Loyal, knowledgeable staff are absolutely irreplaceable and should at least be offered a plan where they accept lower wages while the club receives less income – that can be repaid when the income returns. Ozil not being a part of the wage reduction plan is a disgrace and an indicator that he puts himself before the club and the staff.

  • Wow! I’m honestly (or in Australian slang: fair dinkum) moved that my previous post not only ignited a lively discussion, but also inspired such a well thought rich response article.
    A delivered a full day training an hour drive from the capital. So I couldn’t reply to it so far, but was agitated and excited to read the comments and finally reply.

    So instead of listing where my opinion differs from LeGall’s I will list the vast list of accordance.

    1. I agree that we are far from the level of Manchester City and Liverpool, so fighting for the PL title is – and for a few years’ time – not yet on the table.
    2. I absolutely agree (and genuinely delighted that someone from the blog’s residents shares this view) that we already have a suprisingly strong squad, capable of going far in the league and both domestic and international cups.
    3. I more-or-less agree about our next season goals. While I would prefer to aim for the third place – as our squad is not inferior to any of Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham or Leicester – I won’t be too disappointed if we finish fourth.
    4. I share Le Gall’s view on the chances to win the EL next season. While i don’t think we are the top seeded club (not to mention some surprise dropout from the CL group stage), we have the squad depth and mentality to beat any team.
    5. As I mentioned in the previous post I join LeGall in his message not to be obsessed with spending big money or paying higher salary than top teams. While we can’t afford to only buy established, already world class players, there are other ways to make sure we have (at least) one star in each position.
    6. I absolutely share LeGall’s faith in the Hale End academy. It is properly managed by Mertesacker (however I’m less convinced about the U18 and U23 coaches, Ken Gillard and Steve Bould), we already have some starlets close to the first team quality (ESR, John-Jules, Ballard), and we also have some future prospects in the making (Medley, Smith, Balogun, Azeez, Greenwood, Hein).
    7. I couldn’t agree more that we should go for Ceballos. He had an ‘alright’ year, starting low but finishing strong, which doesn’t make him too expensive to re-loan, or even buy, but his convincing performances as of late motivates us to sign him.
    8. And I finally agree, that while Auba was the standout player of the season, we cannot afford – neither financially nor emotionally – to give him a bianco check – the solution most (stupid) pundits suggest. It didn’t work out with Özil, and we shouldn’t make this mistake with a 31-year-old, no matter how good a season he had. Still I won’t mind giving him 250k a week for a 4 year contract, but anything more (350k, 500k) should be way out of question in a past-pandemic economy.

    Here are a list of topics where we LeGall and myself share different views, not in top-down order:
    1. I’m not sure if Arteta invented something new against Southampton.We played well before the quarantine, and we lost against a mediocre Tottenham and a poor Aston Villa since then. We were effective against top teams like Liverpool, City and Chelsea, but we were often lucky, and I’m not sure that we could break the defense of a less open-playing club like Brighton. Especially if we not play the Xhaka-Ceballos double pivot. And if they are our key to success, then there is a good chance that it’s not Arteta’s system, but actually our 2 midfielders capable of quick and precises passes our the secret.
    2. Anyway I agree with TA, that we should invest in a similar CM capable of key passes and assists, otherwise we’ll be slaughtered whith a Torreira-Willock pairing, even with a Guendouzi-Torreira-Willock trio.
    3. Not a major point, but I don’t see Olayinka close to the first team. I expect he will be sold/released this summer.
    4. Regarding the genius of Liverpool’s transfer policy, I think Salah and Mané were indeed masterstrokes (37-38M for a future 130M+) player, while van Dijk and ALisson were a vastly different strategy. They broke transfer records to bring the world’s best defender and goalkeeper to the team. It worked out perfectly, but it wasn’t a diamond eye risk taking, but Chelsea/United/City type move – except United often fails to find the real talent and buys only good players for their transfer records. This is something we can’t afford, but the Salah/Mané way is always open. And we have the Guendouzi/Martinelli way too, as well as the Academy promotion.

    5. Finally regarding the wide topic of passing, my main pain point is not the high number of recklessly giving the ball away. When playing here Alexis was famous of losing the balls, yet he was the danger personified, capable of creating chances from nothing by a visionary pass, a quick dribble or a precise shot. In fact I believe he was the best Arsenal player in the post-Henry era – Aubameyang included, but not very far. For a couple of years he was the best player of the league, superior to Kane and de Bruyne, and on par with Hazard. (Sorry, I got carried away, this is not about Sanchez.) So losing the ball is not the worst that could happen. My problem is that we have played under all 3 managers games where we had 60+% possession, but couldn’t win because our sideways passes and often tame crosses are not enough to cut open a well organized defense. Against Tottenham (Arteta) we had 63% possession (away!), but made only 6 key passes compared to the 14 from the hosts.
    Against Sheffield (Emery) we had 69% (!) ball possession, but lost the game as both teams managed 7-7 key passes, and they had the final laugh.
    Against Aston Villa (Arteta, in a game that was vital from the clear EL finishing point of view) we again had 69% possession on the road, but the Villa created 7 chances (and won the game), since we managed an abysmal 5 key passes with almost 70% control.

    I enjoyed the 18-pass goal against City, but I could similarly enjoy a 4-pass counterattack as well. I expect that we will see more from Pepe and Tierney, as well as Martinelly and Nelson will get more opportunities. But besides more accurate crosses, we need better key passes and through balls from the middle, otherwise we face the risk or becoming a mid-table team. Coutinho might help, but Partey (or Upamecano) would clearly not. Willian? Well, time will tell. But let’s not forget that while we have good chance of struggling again to beat Burnley by 2:1 at home and play a similar 0:0 in the reversed fixture, City and Liverpool will score 9 goals against them in the 2 games, and even Leicester, Chelsea or ManU will score 6. Unless we’ll double the number of key passes next year…

    Thanks again for the post, Le Gall! Much appreciated.

  • Ozil needs to be punted out of the club ASAP.

    A can’t remember a more entitled player to be honest. He’s been a train wreck since Arsene left. Content to chuck a tantrum and just collect 350k a week. Sadly he will do it for another season (if there is any truth to his manager’s comments). I get it, Arsenal gave him the contract but it highlights just how much power players have. What a waste of talent. Content to throw away his prime years and sit on his arse only to pop up from time to time to speak to flamini on a podcast.

    That sort of thing is cancer to a locker room…especially one filled with so much youth. Culture is the biggest thing Arteta needs to repair (he’s doing a great job!). Bin the trouble and start smoking out the joint with sage to get rid of the demons.

    My priorities:
    1. Uppercut ozil out of Arsenal
    2. Sign Auba. By Dennis do we need him to stick around.
    3. Throw mini luiz out behind Ozil
    4. Cash in on kolasinac, Socrates, elneny and mykaffjfjfarian
    5. Sign up Ceballos. Permanent. I think at his age if he continues on an upward trajectory we’d be forced to pay a lot more than the fee floated around now. No brainer imo. Arteta is the best person to extract the most out of him. His willingness to work and turn his fortune around is a sign of a good character.
    6. Willian on a free. Coutinho on loan. Two players that know how to win and have experience.
    7. Continue with project youth. More time for Nelson and Smith-Rowe. I’m really big on what ESR could potentially be. Heaven forbid his body holds up and he doesn’t go down the Wilshire route. I really think he could be our KdB (man city).

  • Oz, nice to hear from you – with Ozil it would be better to let him go for free and pay say 50% of his wages, that would rid us of a virus and save us 175,000 a week. I heartily agree with your comments.

  • Just heard some disconcerting news that Arsenal fired Francis Cigagao as well as several members of the scouting network not liking this at all. Looks like the agents have won the day and you can be assured Cigagao will be hired by someone like Liverpool or Chelsea to the club`s detriment.

  • Tim Lewis joined the Board of Directors as a non executive member over two months ago, pretty much as a straight replacement for Chips Keswick, he is an accountant so is very much the smart guy in financial affairs, he is also an Arsenal fan.

    I don’t know what his overall role is but I suspect that KSE wanted someone on the ground to report to them and to have an independent view on what Raul, Vinnie and Edu are up to and also to maybe make suggestions to the management team insofar as savings they can make.

    The staff at Arsenal ballooned under Arsene from around 100 staff to over 500 and was in line I suspect with how the club grew in relation, but it’s difficult to compare because the media rarely report on any other club to quite the degree that they surgically dissect anything surrounding Arsenal.

    Tottenham were quick off of the mark to try and furlough staff quickly followed by Liverpool, both clubs owned by billionaires, but had to backtrack due to the response of their fans.
    I’d imagine that many more clubs would have liked to do likewise but the reaction to the Scousers and Middlesex probably made them a trifle reluctant.

    Arsenal meanwhile retained a lot of staff, maybe more than other clubs and still ran a high profile charity supplying meals and other assistance to many local residence of Islington and the surrounding districts, this got minimal coverage in the media of course.

    So the news we are releasing 55 staff is a bit of a shock coming so soon on the back of many scouts from the clubs network being released recently. Of course most of the 55 aren’t scouts but people who work in Highbury House. British Airways are laying off staff, Virgin Airways are verging on bankruptcy, a major British store chain John Lewis is closing stores and laying off staff, it’s happening everywhere, it’s awful and we have the CCP to thank, but it’s just the start I fear.

  • Cheers G5.

    I agree. Any money saved is a win imo. Even if it’s a loan deal with part paid. Something like 2 million plus half his salary for a year.

    But factoring in motivation to play i think he’d prefer to just ride out the year doing nothing and getting 350k a week :/

  • As an aside I really like the picture of the Emirates Stadium as I can see my family home on Stavordale Road – they lived there from the 30’s through the 70’s and at the end of the pedestrian bridge to the right is The Drayton Arm pub that the family used to frequent.

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