Arsenal 2015-2016: The One That Got Away

blueguitar322

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The 2014-2015 season was a success for Arsenal, almost without qualification imho.  
 
Yes Wenger played fast and loose with defensive depth and it cost the team last fall; yes there was an embarrassing loss at home vs Monaco that de facto knocked them out of the Champion's League; yes the team only took 1 of 6 possible points vs the Spurs; yes the league campaign ended with 3 fewer points than last year.  But despite that, there's only one team in England who wouldn't want to trade their season for Arsenal's.  That's a success in my book.
 
Highlights:
- 2nd straight FA Cup
- Retained CL play and seeded directly into the group stage (no more qualifiers in Turkey)
- Wins away to City and United
- Francis Coquelin going from 4th or 5th on the depth chart (and out the door on loan to Charlton Athletic) to becoming a candidate for defensive midfielder of the year
- The solid debut of Barcelona's future RB, Hector Bellerin
- Alexis Sanchez's meaty man thighs
- Ozil's league-leading 3.3 key passes per 90 (minimum 20 appearances)
 
Not to mention my favorite Arsenal-related gif of all time:
 

 
Key questions for next year:
  1. Will Coquelin regress?
  2. Will the British core (Wilshere, Theo, Ramsey, Chamberlain, Welbeck, Gibbs, Chambers) finally reach their peak as fans and pundits have been expecting for the last few years?
  3. Who of Giroud/Theo/Welbeck will assert themselves as CF and will that trio score enough goals?
  4. With such a crowded roster and few obvious cuts, is there room to bring in new outfield starters without seriously hampering player development? 
  5. Who will play GK?  Will Wenger bring in a new starter?
  6. Will Wenger continue to play a 4-1-4-1 away to big teams as he did this year?
  7. Will Debuchy wrest his starting spot back from Bellerin?
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Just posted this on an Arsenal forum so I figure I'd cross post here too...
 
The more I think about it, the more it seems like we are likely to be pretty quiet this summer and then maybe make a splash at the end. That's not on my "wish list" but it just seems like the most realistic scenario.

The one thing I'm pretty confident about is that we're going hard after Cech. It seems like we stand a decent chance there and a lot probably depends on whether United blow us away with a silly offer after selling De Gea and, if so, how much Cech values staying in London versus higher wages. If we don't get him, its not clear to me that we'll look at bringing in other GKs (Handanovic perhaps?).

We need a backup DM, preferably a guy with enough all around ability to play next to Coquelin on occasion as well. While Schneiderlin fits that bill perfectly, I'm not all that confident that we make sense for him anymore, especially compared to United. The problem is that its difficult to attract players in their prime into this kind of role. You either need a young player who is willing to be an understudy (ie, Imbula), an older player who is willing to be a mentor and part-timer (ie, Schweinsteiger), or an absolute stud of a player in their prime that is going to take the starting role without a doubt (ie, Busquets). Schneiderlin doesn't really fit any of those categories. I don't see us signing a real world class player here so I think the best we can realistically hope for is a guy in one of the first two categories. I can see Wenger making some kind of solid value signing here but not a big splash.

Then we have CF and CB, two positions in which our problems are fairly similar. We have enough players on the depth chart at this point (Giroud/Walcott/Welbeck/Chuba and Kos/Per/Gabriel/Chambers) but some real questions about quality. I think its going to be hard to attract a younger player with lots of talent (ie, a Vietto type as striker) without also selling somebody, as we need to be able to show these players a reasonable path to playing time. We'd probably be willing to spend big on a star player in either position that would be a nailed on starter (ie, Benzema). But there aren't many of those players around and their availability is usually contingent on other moves made by their teams. I can just see us waiting it out with both positions and then moving forward with the status quo if nothing really enticing materializes.

I guess the bottom line is that I wouldn't be surprised if we do nothing for the next two months except go after Cech, make a lower profile backup DM signing, and continue to "monitor the situation" with a couple star players that might (or might not) become available. This isn't necessarily a bad strategy but I can see it being a painful one for the supporters, as we'll watch a bunch of other clubs improving and be subjected to all the familiar headlines talking about Wenger being cheap.
 

blueguitar322

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
Then we have CF and CB, two positions in which our problems are fairly similar. We have enough players on the depth chart at this point (Giroud/Walcott/Welbeck/Chuba and Kos/Per/Gabriel/Chambers) but some real questions about quality. 
 
Fun stat time: of all players with >10 appearances, Walcott led the league with 1.0 goals per 90 (small sample size alert) and Giroud was 8th with 0.7.  
 
Yet despite that somehow I can't help but feel the same way about their overall quality. Giroud had a long stretch this year where he was utterly magnificent, but virtually disappeared after the Liverpool game (Apr 4) and didn't score in 564 minutes of playing time until the injury time goal last Saturday.  Last year his pattern was roughly the same - started the year well but then went missing for large stretches. Whether the issue was more fatigue or form, I'm not sure.
 
Theo is a different case, and I don't really know what to think. I was somewhat down on Theo prior to the last two weeks, but the team looked reinvigorated with him as CF.  He's 26, so his "young gun" time has expired.  Two seasons ago, prior to all of his (most recent) injury issues, he was averaging a goal every other game for a side that had less talent than the current team (basically Sanchez type numbers), but because he's missed so much time, and because of the distorting effects of the hat trick + FA Cup goal, it's really hard to project how he'll perform next year.
 

sachmoney

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Arsenal just needs to be patient and buy quality where it is available. I absolutely agree that there are certain needs that have to be addressed, but I'm still in best available player mode. If you pressed me for a specific need, I would say that it is another match winner. A player that can make something out of nothing. Score from outside the box. That type of player. Or I guess, on the other side, another guy that is going to do whatever it takes to prevent goals. Give me the best player that Arsenal can get.
 

blueguitar322

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If we do add another "game-changer", Wenger will have to be ruthless about culling the roster to make room. We're already at the breaking point.
 
Outside of getting Cech (which is priority #1 in my mind), I really wouldn't mind if Arsenal didn't add anyone else this summer. I think the team already has massive built-in upgrades over this year just through playing our best players instead of giving out starts to the likes of Chambers (27), Gibbs (26), Flamini (21), Arteta (10), and the outgoing/loaned trio of Sanogo/Campbell/Podolski (7 starts between them). I wouldn't be surprised if 75%+ of those starts came in the first 19 games of the year when Arsenal went 7-5-7 in all competitions, compared to the final 36 games when Arsenal went 27-5-4.
 
If I had to wager a guess, I would expect Wenger to start playing without a true DM in games against lower-table teams, especially at home. We already saw that once a few weeks ago against Sunderland with the Cazorla/Ramsey/Ozil triangle in the midfield, albeit with a poor scoreline (28 shots, 75% possession, 0-0 draw). In my mind, this is a much better solution to fitting all of talented CMs we have into the game than the 4-1-4-1 with Ozil wide as happened last Fall; it just won't work that well against teams that have a similar share of possession or who have a dangerous counterattacking style.
 

sachmoney

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Please explain how we're at the "breaking point." I'm all for getting rid of some of the dead weight, but I would say that regardless of whether players are brought in or not.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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blueguitar322 said:
If we do add another "game-changer", Wenger will have to be ruthless about culling the roster to make room. We're already at the breaking point.
 
Outside of getting Cech (which is priority #1 in my mind), I really wouldn't mind if Arsenal didn't add anyone else this summer. I think the team already has massive built-in upgrades over this year just through playing our best players instead of giving out starts to the likes of Chambers (27), Gibbs (26), Flamini (21), Arteta (10), and the outgoing/loaned trio of Sanogo/Campbell/Podolski (7 starts between them). I wouldn't be surprised if 75%+ of those starts came in the first 19 games of the year when Arsenal went 7-5-7 in all competitions, compared to the final 36 games when Arsenal went 27-5-4.
Our quality and depth obviously improved with the emergence of Coquelin and Bellerin, the return of Theo, and the purchase of Gabriel. But the backup DM role is still a significant issue.  One injury to Coquelin and we're back playing Arteta and Flamini there.
 
If I had to wager a guess, I would expect Wenger to start playing without a true DM in games against lower-table teams, especially at home. We already saw that once a few weeks ago against Sunderland with the Cazorla/Ramsey/Ozil triangle in the midfield, albeit with a poor scoreline (28 shots, 75% possession, 0-0 draw). In my mind, this is a much better solution to fitting all of talented CMs we have into the game than the 4-1-4-1 with Ozil wide as happened last Fall; it just won't work that well against teams that have a similar share of possession or who have a dangerous counterattacking style.
 
IMO, the main reason he did that is because it was a nearly meaningless midweek game that came only three days after a very tough match at Old Trafford.  We knew that even if we had a bad result against Sunderland all we needed to do was win against West Brom to secure 3rd.  If we don't add another DM, I would expect to see Arteta or Flamini rotating into the lineup for Coquelin before we see Cazorla playing there on a regular basis.
 
 
sachmoney said:
Arsenal just needs to be patient and buy quality where it is available. I absolutely agree that there are certain needs that have to be addressed, but I'm still in best available player mode. If you pressed me for a specific need, I would say that it is another match winner. A player that can make something out of nothing. Score from outside the box. That type of player. Or I guess, on the other side, another guy that is going to do whatever it takes to prevent goals. Give me the best player that Arsenal can get.
 
I generally agree with this.  I think Wenger will mainly play the waiting game this summer and hope that a big player like Benzema becomes available later in the window.  As far as I can tell, he also really rates Sterling and if Liverpool were willing to sell, I think he would seriously pursue that as well.
 

blueguitar322

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sachmoney said:
Please explain how we're at the "breaking point." I'm all for getting rid of some of the dead weight, but I would say that regardless of whether players are brought in or not.
 
Look at Chambers, for example. He's 20, one year into his Arsenal career, and there will probably be some amount of pressure for him to get playing time to continue development. But he's likely fourth on the depth chart at CB, or third at RB. That's not going to get him many games this year, much less if another defender is brought in without a corresponding outgoing move. I think the best option for him would be a loan spell, but I haven't seen any rumors about that.

The issue is even more pronounced at the striker/right wing/CM logjam. Assuming that Sanchez will start most games on the left and Coquelin will start most games at DM, that leaves four positions for nine players (Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott, Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky). That means that two of that group won't even be on the game day roster. If you count Ozil as a nailed-on starter, that leaves eight players for three positions. Now let's say Arsenal brings in another Ozil/Sanchez big-name signing type who plays the majority of games; that's eight players for two positions.
 
The continued injury crisis mitigated the issue somewhat this year. Those nine players missed a combined 133 games by my count, which meant that on average there were 6.5 players competing for four positions. But even after taking all of those injuries into account, the crowded roster left Rosicky with only 576 league minutes and left Walcott stuck on the sideline after he returned (since Dec 21, Walcott has been on the gameday roster for all 30 games, but only managed 7 starts). If Arsenal get Chelsea's injury luck next year, that equals a bunch of disgruntled players.

Overall, it's a really nice problem to have. I can't remember an Arsenal team with this much depth going into a transfer season. None of our top 20 players are strongly linked with moves away from the club, a la Henry/Cesc/Nasri/RVP. None of our top 20 players will enter the next season with an injury. When was the last time that happened? The downside of all of this depth is that, barring massive amounts of injuries, there just won't be enough space for everyone. Competitive athletes who don't get to play tend to complain. Compounding the issue is that most of those nine will also be competing for slots for national teams for Euro 2016, and most NT managers are reticent to give starting jobs to players who cannot get playing time at their club. It's not Wenger's job to placate NT managers, but it does add more pressure.
 

blueguitar322

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
One injury to Coquelin and we're back playing Arteta and Flamini there.
 
You're right - I should have stated that I'm relatively happy standing pat except for getting a backup DM. But for the reasons you mentioned in your earlier post, I don't envision us getting anyone that will make me very excited, if we get anyone at all. I do think that Wenger likes Arteta and will keep either him or Flamini - or, God forbid, both - around to serve as backup DMs. After all Arteta "is like a new signing."
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
 
That's who I'm hoping for this summer. Bring in Benzema, ship out Giroud, find a PL team willing to start Welbeck on loan (a la Chelsea/Lukaku) and have Walcott spell Benzema at striker and share time with Chamberlain at right winger. But of course Arsene doesn't control his own destiny in this scenario; it all depends on what Perez/Rafa want to do.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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blueguitar322 said:
 
Look at Chambers, for example. He's 20, one year into his Arsenal career, and there will probably be some amount of pressure for him to get playing time to continue development. But he's likely fourth on the depth chart at CB, or third at RB. That's not going to get him many games this year, much less if another defender is brought in without a corresponding outgoing move. I think the best option for him would be a loan spell, but I haven't seen any rumors about that.

The issue is even more pronounced at the striker/right wing/CM logjam. Assuming that Sanchez will start most games on the left and Coquelin will start most games at DM, that leaves four positions for nine players (Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott, Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky). That means that two of that group won't even be on the game day roster. If you count Ozil as a nailed-on starter, that leaves eight players for three positions. Now let's say Arsenal brings in another Ozil/Sanchez big-name signing type who plays the majority of games; that's eight players for two positions.
 
IMO, Rozza is happy to be a passenger at this point in his career, playing a few cup games and league appearances here and there.  At that point, eight guys for four midfield or attacking positions is pretty common for top level Premier League teams.  You can do the same thing exercise taking out a DM and the best attacker (who are assumed to start) for other clubs, using last year's rosters:
 
United (taking out Carrick/Rooney): Di Maria, RVP, Falcao, Mata, Herrera, Fellaini, Young, Januzaj.
City (taking out Fernandinho/Aguero): Silva, Dzeko, Bony, Jovetic, Nasri, Navas, Milner, Lampard.
Chelsea (taking out Matic/Hazard): Costa, Fabregas, Oscar, Willian, Cuadrado, Ramires, Remy, Drogba.
 
I think if we bring someone into the team, another player will almost certainly go, with Walcott still the most likely candidate if he doesn't sign a new contract this summer and Giroud possible if the addition is a player like Benzema (as you mention in your other post).  But I'm not sure we're at the breaking point so much as just finally having the depth that other Premier League clubs have been accustomed to having.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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blueguitar322 said:
 
You're right - I should have stated that I'm relatively happy standing pat except for getting a backup DM. But for the reasons you mentioned in your earlier post, I don't envision us getting anyone that will make me very excited, if we get anyone at all. I do think that Wenger likes Arteta and will keep either him or Flamini - or, God forbid, both - around to serve as backup DMs. After all Arteta "is like a new signing."
 
 
 
That's who I'm hoping for this summer. Bring in Benzema, ship out Giroud, find a PL team willing to start Welbeck on loan (a la Chelsea/Lukaku) and have Walcott spell Benzema at striker and share time with Chamberlain at right winger. But of course Arsene doesn't control his own destiny in this scenario; it all depends on what Perez/Rafa want to do.
 
 I agree with all this, except for loaning out Welbeck.
 
I think I'm pretty much on the same page as everyone else...here's my Arsenal wish list for the summer, in order of priority:
 
1a) a DM who can play alongside or instead of Coquelin as circumstances warrant (e.g., Schneiderlin or possibly someone like Vidal) - there are times when we need a Vieira/Petit-like axis in the middle of the park, two players who can break up play and then distribute the ball to our creative players on the outside or further forward, and I'm not talking about Coquelin/Arteta or Coquelin/Flamini. This is the sort of formation we need when we're protecting a late one-goal lead, or from the start when playing at Manchester City, or in the first leg of a Champions League knockout-stage tie, and we just haven't had it for too long. 
1b) a world-class keeper (e.g., Cech)
3) a world-class striker (e.g., Benzema)
4) anyone else at any other position who would immediately and indisputably become a first-choice selection in his position at the club (most likely someone in defense)
 
That's it. If no players fitting those descriptions are available, don't buy anyone. But I'd hope Wenger can at least tick the first two boxes on that list.
 

blueguitar322

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
United (taking out Carrick/Rooney): Di Maria, RVP, Falcao, Mata, Herrera, Fellaini, Young, Januzaj.
City (taking out Fernandinho/Aguero): Silva, Dzeko, Bony, Jovetic, Nasri, Navas, Milner, Lampard.
Chelsea (taking out Matic/Hazard): Costa, Fabregas, Oscar, Willian, Cuadrado, Ramires, Remy, Drogba.
 
FWIW I'd put Drogba (37) and Lampard (36) in the Rosicky category. Neither of them was going to be publicly complaining about not getting minutes, and neither of them had to worry about securing a place in next summer's Euro tournament.
 
Cuadrado was a replacement for Schurrle; one player already left for brighter pastures and the other seems to be on his way out due to lack of playing time. Dzeko might be in the same category, and Bony and Remy both might regret their moves because of how little they are playing.
 
In light of those six players I don't think City's or Chelsea's situations are at all analogous to Arsenal's. Welbeck and record signing Ozil are the only players on that list who haven't been a Wenger disciple for at least three years, and for better or worse (mostly better) Wenger is well known for his loyalty. Maybe Welbeck can be dropped somewhat easily, but could you see Wenger treating Chamberlain or Wilshere like Mourinho treated Cuadrado?
 
United is a closer analogy, but to I always saw their transfer strategy as "throw it against the wall and see if it sticks" due to having three managers in the space of 24 months, and having both summer transfer windows happen before either new manager had seen his squad in action. Not to mention Falcao is already gone and I wouldn't be surprised if RVP leaves this summer, either. Both were unhappy with how little they played.
 
To refine my original statement slightly, it's not that eight players + Rosicky for four spots is too many by itself, it's that all eight players are in their prime and expect prime-time minutes. Other than Rosicky, there's no elder statesman willing to pace himself a bit less (e.g. Xavi) nor is there a young gun willing to wait for his chance for playing time (e.g. Januzaj).
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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blueguitar322 said:
FWIW I'd put Drogba (37) and Lampard (36) in the Rosicky category. Neither of them was going to be publicly complaining about not getting minutes, and neither of them had to worry about securing a place in next summer's Euro tournament.
 
Cuadrado was a replacement for Schurrle; one player already left for brighter pastures and the other seems to be on his way out due to lack of playing time. Dzeko might be in the same category, and Bony and Remy both might regret their moves because of how little they are playing.
Drogba and Lampard played a lot more than Rozza but put those guys aside for the moment. I don't really understand the other distinctions.  Yes, Cuadrado and Dzeko may be on the way out and Bony and Remy might regret their moves.  But that's just the nature of the beast at top clubs.  Its not something we should be looking to avoid. 
 
In light of those six players I don't think City's or Chelsea's situations are at all analogous to Arsenal's. Welbeck and record signing Ozil are the only players on that list who haven't been a Wenger disciple for at least three years, and for better or worse (mostly better) Wenger is well known for his loyalty. Maybe Welbeck can be dropped somewhat easily, but could you see Wenger treating Chamberlain or Wilshere like Mourinho treated Cuadrado?
 
United is a closer analogy, but to I always saw their transfer strategy as "throw it against the wall and see if it sticks" due to having three managers in the space of 24 months, and having both summer transfer windows happen before either new manager had seen his squad in action. Not to mention Falcao is already gone and I wouldn't be surprised if RVP leaves this summer, either. Both were unhappy with how little they played.
 
To refine my original statement slightly, it's not that eight players + Rosicky for four spots is too many by itself, it's that all eight players are in their prime and expect prime-time minutes. Other than Rosicky, there's no elder statesman willing to pace himself a bit less (e.g. Xavi) nor is there a young gun willing to wait for his chance for playing time (e.g. Januzaj).
I see where you're coming from.  My point is just that this is the level of quality depth that a club needs to compete on four fronts and one of the things that inherently occurs is that some players become discontent with the number of minutes they're getting. We shouldn't be afraid of players being unhappy because they wish they were playing more. We should be welcoming that situation as a sign that we finally have enough quality depth.  What we want is to get a bunch of top players competing for playing time, then to let the best guys play the most.  If the likes of Mata and Dzeko can sit on the bench then so can Wilshere or Theo or Ox or Welbeck.  Wenger is a loyal manager but he wants to win first and foremost.  Its not like he's going to be rotating the squad unnecessarily like a youth soccer coach just because he feels bad for Ox or Theo. 
 

blueguitar322

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
I see where you're coming from.  My point is just that this is the level of quality depth that a club needs to compete on four fronts and one of the things that inherently occurs is that some players become discontent with the number of minutes they're getting. We shouldn't be afraid of players being unhappy because they wish they were playing more. We should be welcoming that situation as a sign that we finally have enough quality depth.  What we want is to get a bunch of top players competing for playing time, then to let the best guys play the most.  
 
I agree with the bold, and as I stated before it's a good problem to have. 
 
However, the club is now at the point where serious trade-offs begin to emerge. Earlier this year, we saw Wenger change the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1 as a way of shoehorning Wilshere, Ramsey, and Ozil into the same lineup; it was a change that I felt was at least partially motivated by his desire to see the "Wilshere project" succeed (he wouldn't beat out Ozil or Ramsey for playing time), and it hurt the team substantially and led to the worst Arsenal start in 20 years or something like that. Then whaddya know Wilshere gets injured, the team goes back to a 4-2-3-1, and goes on a title-caliber run for the last 2/3 of the season (with the disclaimer that the formation change was one of several contributing factors).
 
Yes Wenger isn't some youth coach, but he believes strongly in player development and that fundamental philosophy sometimes gives him cause to allocate playing time to raw players - sacrifice today to help tomorrow. It's a great strategy, and far more sustainable than the alternative. Most of the big teams you're comparing Arsenal to don't have much in the way of development; they just buy the best players. Arsenal cannot compete on that arena, and I wonder if they can grow their roster any more without risking their developmental strategy.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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blueguitar322 said:
 
I agree with the bold, and as I stated before it's a good problem to have. 
 
However, the club is now at the point where serious trade-offs begin to emerge. Earlier this year, we saw Wenger change the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1 as a way of shoehorning Wilshere, Ramsey, and Ozil into the same lineup; it was a change that I felt was at least partially motivated by his desire to see the "Wilshere project" succeed (he wouldn't beat out Ozil or Ramsey for playing time), and it hurt the team substantially and led to the worst Arsenal start in 20 years or something like that. Then whaddya know Wilshere gets injured, the team goes back to a 4-2-3-1, and goes on a title-caliber run for the last 2/3 of the season (with the disclaimer that the formation change was one of several contributing factors).
 
Yes Wenger isn't some youth coach, but he believes strongly in player development and that fundamental philosophy sometimes gives him cause to allocate playing time to raw players - sacrifice today to help tomorrow. It's a great strategy, and far more sustainable than the alternative. Most of the big teams you're comparing Arsenal to don't have much in the way of development; they just buy the best players. Arsenal cannot compete on that arena, and I wonder if they can grow their roster any more without risking their developmental strategy.
 
Honestly, this seems more about your ongoing anti-Wilshere crusade than trade-offs related to the size of the squad.  If anything, we had a thin squad last fall, especially after all the injuries.  Wenger playing Wilshere, Ramsey, and Ozil together in that formation had nothing to do with squad size.  For what its worth, I disagree completely about this decision playing a major role in our poor start - injuries to Giroud/Kos/Ozil/Debuchy, playing a dead-legged Arteta at DM, and our Germans being badly off the pace after the World Cup were much important - but we don't need to rehash that debate.   But even if your narrative of events was correct, it wouldn't say much about trade-offs related to squad size.
 

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Thinning out the squad is nuts, so nuts that I can state with utmost confidence that it won't happen. Some dead weight will be thrown overboard (Flamini, possibly Arteta, the loan guys won't come back) but they should be looking to stockpile more and more quality. Having more quality players than there are positions on the pitch is a great insulator against injuries and keeps players hungry. 
 

sachmoney

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Spacemans Bong said:
Thinning out the squad is nuts, so nuts that I can state with utmost confidence that it won't happen. Some dead weight will be thrown overboard (Flamini, possibly Arteta, the loan guys won't come back) but they should be looking to stockpile more and more quality. Having more quality players than there are positions on the pitch is a great insulator against injuries and keeps players hungry. 
Exactly.
 
When speaking about "dead weight," we're talking about guys that should be on the very fringe of the squad. Flamini and Arteta are guys you may want on the team for their experience but shouldn't play at all. There's may be one or two other guys that should be gone (Diaby). It's not much. Every big team has "fat" and I understand that Arsenal has to be leaner than most, but let's not view the squad statically and panic about guys that aren't going to play. We all know that there will be injuries and players will need some rest. We always talk about depth and then, when Arsenal finally has some, we want to get rid of it. It's ridiculous.
 

blueguitar322

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Heh no one is talking about thinning out the squad as it stands now. The discussion (which is interesting, albeit purely theoretical) was framed by my comment "If we do add another "game-changer", Wenger will have to be ruthless about culling the roster to make room. We're already at the breaking point."
 
If I was Wenger's advisor, I would make the following arguments:
  • If someone new (Benzema, Vidal, Lacazette, etc) comes in, there's little reason to keep 9 players + Rosicky for four positions. Either sell someone if the cash is needed to finance the new signing, or send one of the players on loan if not.
  • Welbeck is still pretty raw, despite being on the cusp of his prime years (he's 24), and sending him on a loan so he can get some serious playing time might be an idea worth pursuing. The upside is that it would also give a bit more space for Chuba Akpom to see some first-team minutes as a late sub in games with a comfortable lead. If injury Armageddon happens, Welbeck can be recalled from loan just like Coquelin was.
  • I see a similar argument for Chambers - he'll need playing time to develop, and I don't think he'll get much as 3rd choice RB / 4th choice CB.
The question is not whether Arsenal have too many players; it's whether the long-term plan is better served by loaning out 1-2 players with the option to recall instead of letting them sit on the bench 95% of the year.
 

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Even if Arsenal adds someone on top of what they already have (i.e. someone better), I don't see anyone leaving unless a move is forced. The one player that I can see moving is Debuchy. I haven't heard anything about him wanting to leave, but I'm not he'd want to deputize Bellerin. That would solve your Chambers "problem."
 
But yeah, I disagree with Arsenal being at the breaking point...so...
 
Not only are there always injuries, but there are always players out of form. If everything had gone according to plan last season, Bellerin and Ospina hardly would have played, and Coquelin never would have played at all. You want the worst-case scenario to be that someone like Chambers never gets a chance to develop, not that you wind up starting Djourou, Jenkinson, Traore and 2011-vintage Coquelin at Old Trafford.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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BostonJack42 said:
Higuain? Is he better or more realistic than Benzama?
Link: http://highburyclock.com/2015/06/04/arsenal-make-higuain-move-in-e40m-bid/
 
Much more realistic but not as good, IMO.
 
Benzema is more of a hold up striker and a creator with the ball at his feet.  Higuain is more of a poacher that will also look to make runs behind the defense.  From a statistical perspective, he actually put up fairly ridiculous numbers in Madrid in terms of non-penalty goals per 90 minutes and conversion rate on chances, but that was playing generally against pretty weak sides in a team that was a scoring juggernaut.   His numbers at Napoli have been more pedestrian - one of the better strikers in Serie A, but not amazing by any stretch of the imagination.  Whether that's due to him finding his natural talent level or him just getting little support from teammates, I have no idea.
 
Edit: We were very heavily linked to Higuain two years ago before he went to Napoli (and we ended up with Ozil later in the summer).  It seems that Wenger likely had some interest then, at least in signing him at a good price, but I have no clue whether he would be interested now.  The reports then were that we wanted to sign him for £23m and then he went to Napoli for £32m.  Who knows whether those other reports were true but its hard for me to imagine Wenger wanting to pay more than he did then with the player two years older and coming off worse seasons.
 

BostonJack42

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
The reports then were that we wanted to sign him for £23m and then he went to Napoli for £32m.  Who knows whether those other reports were true but its hard for me to imagine Wenger wanting to pay more than he did then with the player two years older and coming off worse seasons.
 Yeah, the money mentioned now seemed a little far fetched.
 

sachmoney

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We'll see.
 
I put little faith into the British media because every year, there is a wide array of players that Arsenal are supposedly interested in and making bids on. It's hard to make out what's real, what is agent talk to drum up interest in their player, and what is the tabloid trying to sell rags or get hits. With Arsenal, there always seems to be red herrings. It seems like the media gets wrong who Arsenal is actually after too. The Ozil year, people were talking about Higauin a lot, but I wouldn't be surprised if the focus was on Benzema, who was potentially on the outs, and Ozil, players whom Wenger had tried to sign in the past. Last year, it was Cesc instead of Alexis, at least for a little while. I've been reading the rumors, but already have no idea what's going on.
 

Spacemans Bong

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All the rumours are meaningless. I mean, there are guys who definitely have sources, like David Ornstein, but The Ornacle doesn't really post rumors - he just tips people off when a deal's just about done. John Cross from the Mirror has sources in the club too, but I can't remember if he's a rumourmonger, even if he writes for a red top. 
 

blueguitar322

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHlPQRWvIME
 
Interview with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger ahead of the FA Cup Final.

In a wide-ranging chat with the Gunners boss he talks about the following topics:

0:18 - winning the FA Cup last year, securing Arsenal's first trophy for nine years

4:00 - reflections on joining Arsenal 16 years ago and the spirit of the English game

6:00 - Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa

7:30 - Failure against Monaco in the Champions League

10:00 - Key victories this season against Manchester City and Manchester United

12:00 - Ozil, Sanchez and the finances at Arsenal

15:25 - Management style & his half-time team talks

16:40 - Retirement plans
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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"If I move it brings difficulties. We must change everything, looking for housing, a school for children and so on.  I believe for what I have done for the club and what the club has done for me, we can arrange so we are all happy." - Petr Cech
 
I am going to be bummed if this Cech move doesn't happen.  It really seems like he wants to go to Arsenal and I have to think that Wenger wants to bring him to the Emirates.  The rumor is that Abramovich is inclined to let him determine his own fate but we'll see.  And of course United could swoop in offering stupid money.
 
An elite goalkeeper who has won everything domestically and in Europe and who knows the Premier League like the back of his hand would be such a boon for this team and would really increase our chances of making a run at the league next year.  And at 33 he's not even that old in GK terms. We could definitely get another 3-4 elite seasons out of him.
 

mikeford

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The Gray Eagle said:
Zlatan! 
 
This will never actually happen of course. But it would be so much fun. 
Just to hammer home the point that this will NEVER EVER EVER happen...
 
Zlatan makes reportedly 230k a week.
 
Arsenal's highest earner is reportedly Ozil, who makes 140k a week.
 
No. Chance.
 

blueguitar322

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Random comments from two players.
 
Rosicky:
 
"Since the moment Arsene Wenger 'used' the option in my contract, I haven't even been on the bench. I am laughing but it's not funny. It´s frustrating but I am a professional. Even if you lose your place, you must still be prepared because the situation can change. I'll start the summer preparation with Arsenal and that's the whole of my plan for the time being."
 
I understand the desire for playing time, but in Rosicky's case, he's been paid tons of money to recover from injuries (has appeared in less than half of all league games). It's sad, too - he showed incredible promise when he first came to the club in 2006.
 
 
Sanchez:
 
It was an okay season, but it was bittersweet. I would have liked to have been in the Champion's League final, or to have won the Premier League title. I believe that we have a bunch of skillful players so to not have achieved more was disappointing. Yes, we played the FA Cup final and won but I was sad to not have been in the Champion's League final, or to have won the Premier League.
 
Gotta love that attitude. I also wonder how motivating it is that Real sold Ozil and then won the CL, and now Barca sold Sanchez and then won the treble.
 
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The Abou Diaby era has come to an end.
 
He spent nine years in the training room, some of it on a ridiculous 60k a week.  But he did give us this glorious moment:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5hd-RJUHIg
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Petr Cech is close to a decision on his next club and keen to remain in England and ideally London, according to Sky sources.
 
The 33-year-old Czech Republic international goalkeeper is currently with his national side ahead of their European Qualifier against Iceland on Friday.
 
Sources in his homeland understand Cech, who has one year remaining on his contract, will meet with Chelsea on Monday along with his representatives and learn the minimum fee required for his transfer.
 
Cech is hoping the Blues do not block a move to a Premier League top-four rival if the fee is right as he is keen to remain in the division in which he has spent the past 11 years.
 
Sky Sports now picking this up.  As transfer rumors go, this one is about as legit as you can get.
 

blueguitar322

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Only caught the second half, but seemed like a good showing by Alexis in the Copa America opener against Ecuador. One assist, another should-have-been assist, and always looking dangerous.
 

soxfan121

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Credit due to Vinho Tinto for posting this in the Summer Transfer thread: 

 

blueguitar322

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sachmoney said:
Arsenal charged over Calum Chambers transfer. There isn't really any information in that besides "breaching football agents regulations." I would like to know exactly what went on. No idea how serious this is.
 
2016 summer transfer ban, 2017 winter transfer ban, Sanchez sits for 10 games, and £1 million fine.
 
Oh wait, forgot I wasn't in BBtL.
 

Vinho Tinto

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soxfan121 said:
Credit due to Vinho Tinto for posting this in the Summer Transfer thread: 
 
 
PositivelyArsenal really dug in. He posted this gem "Seems I was wrong, It turns out for the first year of your life, you are no age at all, Do you even exist then?".
Jackson being close to 30 is a legit concern, but that's why his transfer price is well below the 35 Monaco paid for Falcao.