We’re back. Reluctantly maybe as we head out of the last Interlull for 2017 and into the festive season and the New Year. As we do so we look at our Arsenal and collectively scratch our heads. Here we are with just about a third of the season done and we still have so many glaring questions about the Arsenal, that getting a sense of what we truly are the moment is well, impossible.
Why do so many of Arsenal’s Players Look Disinterested?
Go back to when it all fell apart last year. That run from mid-January through March. Players were there on the pitch, going through the motions and the results showed. Looking into the new season, we expected (hoped) that this type of malaise would be gone.
Sadly it’s not. Looking at losses to Liverpool, Stoke and Watford there were large portions of those matches where yet again, players went about the match without any sense of purpose. The last minute loss to Watford highlighting that malaise.
And it wasn’t just the losses, in some of our wins we looked like we just couldn’t be arsed. In each case it wasn’t a case of one or two players, it was a large portion if not all of the players who were just collecting a pay check on the day.
Of course the reasons are likely many. We’re not going to dissect them here. But if Arsenal are going to try and AT LEAST get back into the Champion’s League, they’ll need to show more impetus throughout the remainder of the season, especially in the tricky festive season.
With four losses in 11 games, the title is all gone. There is however still something to play for an the players should be doing everything they can to achieve it. IF they don’t want to. . . well that’s another story for another day.
Will the Sanchez and Özil Contract Situations linger on and on and on and on?
Two players who need no introduction are Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez. Two players who in their prime are some of the best in Europe. Two players who when they signed sent Gooners into fits of joy.
A few years later and it’s a completely different story. We’d be foolish not to acknowledge that contract situations are tricky affairs that can have an impact on a player’s performance. At the start of the season it looked like at least one of the pair would be gone and on deadline day it looked certain that it would be Alexis Sanchez.
But Arsenal’s contracting team being what is was unable to get another deal for Lemar done in time and Alexis Sanchez is still here.
If we’re honest, neither player has been even close to the level we know each of them capable of. There have been moments and spurts but for the most part they are typical of the players who look disinterested in this club. And when they go missing in a match, it leaves a big gaping hole in the shape of the team.
Word is that Özil may still sign a contract extension (I suspect if true its due to lack of interest elsewhere) and I suspect that Sanchez is gone. If Sanchez is gone lets make it January. We can’t expect him to play for a team he clearly doesn’t want to be at. And frankly, if he doesn’t want to be here – let him go. Same if true on Özil
When Will Wenger Settle on his Strongest Lineup
Against Swansea, Arsene put a side that had Lacazette, Özil and Sanchez all on the field at the same time. It was, when Lacazette was signed the attack Arsenal had hoped to see on a regular basis. That match was our 10th league match and the first time it had happened.
The movement and fluidity between the 3 was impressive and the fact the match was only a 2-1 score doesn’t do justice to the how well it looked for Arsenal. With Ramsey sitting in the MF and making his runs off the ball of old, we looked quite good.
Fast forward to a week later against Man City and Lacazette is benched and Arsenal fans are left scratching their heads. Now, there are likely tactical reasons Wenger made for this switch but when
he subbed Lacazette on when down 2-0 and he had an immediate impact it’s hard not to wonder if we would’ve been so far away from getting a result had he started.
Yes, we have no idea of whether or not Sanchez and/or Özil will be here in 2 months time but the fact is when they are the pitch with a talent like Lacazette they can make things happen.
If we want to achieve anything then this lineup needs to be our regular lineup until such a time that its no longer feasible to carry on with it (like part of that lineup gets sold.)
Who Replaces Steve Rowley
Reports are that after 35 years at Arsenal, chief scout Steve Rowley will depart Arsenal. Scouting has been a big debate recently as Arsenal, once the leaders in identifying promising talent across Europe, seem to be trailing behind missing out the latest batch of talent in Europe.
Rowley is said to be departing because he is being made the scape goat for Arsenal’s poor transfers. Some view it as a struggle between Arsene and Gazidis to modernize Arsenal’s backroom staff. Whatever the case, replacing a chief scout is big task.
ESPN FC is reporting that Dortmund Chief Scout Sven Mislintat is the likely candidate. IF that name seems unfamiliar to you he is the man responsible for bringing Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele to the Bundesliga.
Mislintat is a target for many of the clubs in Germany including Bayern Munich. He employs a vast network of agents and former players to help him unearth talent like Kagawa whom they signed for a mere £350,000 at the time he was identified.
If successful, Arsenal would have signed a leader in his field and maybe moved a little bit closer to getting the operations at Arsenal Gazidis wants.
How Does Arsenal Employ Stat DNA.
Arsene Wenger seems to be a waffler on stats. I can remember him previously poo-pooing the idea of stats and talking more about the intangibles a player has to be a predictor of success. However, in a recent rant about the Man City match he roles out xG between the two as “evidence” we aren’t that far off from City (yeah okay Arsene.)
So that beggars the question what is the best way Arsenal can use this business they bought a few years back.
What it seems like for a stats novice like myself is that Arsenal, knowing they couldn’t compete with the unlimited money of City or other big names wanted to use StatDNA as their way of bringing “Moneyball” to Arsenal.
For those of you unfamiliar with Moneyball it was employed by the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball. It’s basic premise is that the collective wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts, and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed.
Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th-century view of the game and the statistics available at that time. Moneyball argues that the Oakland A’s’ front office took advantage of more analytical gauges of player performance to field a team that could better compete against richer competitors in Major League Baseball (MLB).
So you can see why something like StatDNA would seem like an interesting venture to Arsenal. But the question remains has it been used to its best advantage or is it being used right as some of the signings tied to it have been less than spectacular.
What’s the Transition Plan for Arsenal
We’re not going to entertain a debate on whether Wenger should stay or go. Right now he is the manager of the club and that’s that. But we did find it curious that over the last few days Wenger has been talking about (and denying) that his job will come under review at the close of this season.
Forget for a moment that a manager’s job should always come under review at the end of every season, the real question is what is Arsenal’s plan to replace him?
Arsene has been at Arsenal for 21 years. He is institutionalized in the club. There isn’t a facet of that he is in some way doesn’t touch. Extracting him from that would/could cause a lot of issues to Arsenal. Hence why Gazidis seems so focused on updating the mechanisms behind the manager.
Manchester United is the perfect example of a club so affected by an institutionalized manager that the wrong replacement hurt them for a few years. Of course they had the money to course correct but as we know we don’t suspect Arsenal will make such investments. But the lesson remains – the next manager has to be as much a presence as Wenger is.
As important as it is to get a manager who is in tune with the modern game, it is important to get someone who can handle the pressure that is going to come from taking over from someone with a stature like Wenger. They’ve also got to be able to handle the changes that are going on around him at the club and work with that to improve and support it.
Someone timid who is overmatched will doom Arsenal and again, without the investment of that United poured into fixing their mess, Arsenal can’t get this wrong. They need to have a solid transition of power that insures as little a hiccup as possible.