Two Signings, which Offer Arsenal Depth and Quality
Following on from Arsenal winning their 14th FA Cup against Chelsea, the Gunners find themselves qualified for the Europa League next season and in need of some much needed quality and depth.
With Arsenal’s limited funds and major need to bring in key players for the starting eleven, I have taken a look at two potential “bargain” players – Emiliano Buendia and David Brooks, who could come in relatively affordably and offer quality and depth for Arsenal.
Many of those familiar with the Championship, will be aware of the feisty package which is Emiliano Buendia. The Argentine’s hall mark of aggression and determination has undoubtedly helped him step up and show many glimmers of his talent in a Norwich team which has been somewhat resigned to relegation all season. This has led to many high profile managers such as Marcelo Bielsa and Jurgen Klopp taking note of the 23-year-old.
Buendia joined Norwich from Getafe where he spent three seasons, bouncing between the first team and B team. Buendia spent the 2017/18 season on loan at CyD Leonesa, where he caught the eye of Norwich City. In the 2018/19 season, Buendia made a permanent move to Norwich for £2.25 million and shone in the Championship, becoming an integral part of the clubs promotion to the Premier League. Buendia has 4 Argentina U20 caps, scoring 2 goals.
Style of play
Buendia is a very tidy right footed player who can play on both wings and as a number 10. He is primarily a creative and attack minded player, however is not surpass to working hard for the team. He loves pressing high and biting at the opposition as they try to play out from the back. Buendia’s technical ability and vision makes him extremely good in tight areas and allows him to create many high quality chances for his teammates. This season Buendia had an expected assists of 7.68, however, these high quality chances haven’t been finished by his teammates, with him registering 4 assists in all competitions.
Over the course of Norwich’s campaign, Buendia has played 2898 minutes across 39 matches in all competitions. Per 90 minutes this season, Buendia has played 44.25 passes (ranking him 8th in the Premier League) and of his total 1425 passes, he has completed 80.49%. Buendia on average plays 14.34 forward passes per 90 and of his total 462 forward passes, he has completed 71.86%. Buendia’s progressive nature and link player credentials are further enhanced by his 217 (6.7 per 90) passes to the opposition’s final third and 7.42 progressive passes per 90 minutes, which is second in the League to Bruno Fernandes. Buendia is a real conductor of play and efficiently helps possession flow through him. This is shown by his 71 (2.2 per 90) shot assists. This actually ranks Buendia only behind Pascal Groß for shot assists in the league.
Regarding Buendia’s contribution to spells of possession, he ranks with a high expected goals chain of 0.63 per 90. This means Buendia’s contribution to attacking spells of possession that ended with a shot, have an expected goal measure of 0.63. To analyse Buendia’s contribution in more idle spells, we can use expected goals build-up. This metric removes shots and key passes and can better gain a grasp of a player’s deep-lying playmaking abilities. This season, Buendia has recorded 0.32, which is also on the higher side. This implies that Buendia gets very involved in play and helps distribute the ball well around the pitch. He really can be the creative director for his side.
Defensively, Buendia is more effective when reading the games rather than getting stuck in and tracking back. This is shown through Buendia’s 3.91 interceptions and 6.5 ball recoveries per 90. In fact, Buendia actually ranks 5th in the League for counterpressing recoveries per 90 minutes, with 3.52. Of his total 210 ball recoveries, 37% have come in the opposition half. Buendia has also won 38% of his 134 loose ball duels and has won 6 of his 10 sliding tackles. Per 90 minutes, Buendia makes 0.64 “dangerous” recoveries and makes 1.46 recoveries in the opposition’s final third. This really enhances his pressing credentials.
Buendia is not one for not trying, but when tracking back he does fall somewhat suspect to ball watching and can easily see his man run off the back of him. For Arsenal, I would imagine his defensive responsibility would be more central, shielding any inside passing options, with the wing/fullback doing most of the wide defending, but it’s still worth bearing in mind.
How does he fit Arsenal?
In terms of technical ability and gritty determination, he most definitely encapsulates what Mikel Arteta is looking for. Tactically, he would also seemingly fit Mikel Arteta’s plans. He could either play as a “loose 8” or one of the narrow wingers/forwards. He can comfortably come deep to get on the ball and move it up field. Buendia would also be great for Arsenal when receiving the ball under high intensity pressure. He is strong and with a low centre of gravity, keeps the ball tight to him with great control. He then looks to beat the pressure and find a teammate. This could really be important for Arsenal and is something they have been caught out with this season.
If Dani Ceballos does not extend his stay with Arsenal, Buendia could well be that perfect creative replacement who knits play and dictates the game for Arsenal. This can be shown through his 64 penalty area deliveries, which have a success rate of 70.3%. Buendia isn’t going to be the finisher of moves and this shown through his expected goals of 3.16 (scoring 1), but he will most definitely create for his teammates.
David Brooks 23, joined Bournemouth from Sheffield United for £11.5 million in the 2018/2019 season. The former Manchester City academy player joined Sheffield United in July of 2015. Later that season, he joined Halifax on loan. Brooks has 12 Wales caps and 1 goal.
Unfortunately for Brooks, he suffered a secondary ankle injury, which kept him for a total of 324 days. He initially injured his ankle in January of 2019 and was out for 24 days, however then required further surgery in July 2019, which led to the 324 day lay-off. This injury was thought to have ended his season, however thanks to lockdown, he has played 9 games and 537 minutes this season.
Style of play
David Brooks is a very dynamic left footed winger who encapsulates the modern playmaker. His skillful dribbling and bursts of pace make him deadly between the lines. This is shown in his 5.36 dribbles per 90 minutes (ranking him 16th in the Premier League). Of his total 32 dribbles this season, he has completed 56.25%. Furthermore, since his return to a struggling Bournemouth, his involvement in games has not been particularly large. He only plays only 27.31 passes per 90 minutes. However, this could be down to Bournemouth’s survival instinct in games in an attempt to keep their heads above water and focus on trying to get 3 points, rather than play their usual brand of football. Of his 163 passes, Brooks’ has a success rate of 72%. Moreover, of these 163 passes, 32.51% are forward.
A reason for why Brooks’ impact in games hasn’t been the largest this season aside from Bournemouth’s struggles and his injury, could be because he gets stranded out wide. He much seems to prefer being the hub of action more central or in an inside left channel position. Being as heavily left footed as he is, many opponents are happy for him to stay wide and look to pin him to the touchline, blocking an inside movement. He heavily relies on the mechanism of a fullback overlapping him. This helps to open momentary space to either cut inside or play a cross for a teammate. Brooks always looks to receive with an open body position, opening up the entire pitch for him. This is something Arteta will like and would greatly help Arsenal’s play between the lines.
As previously mentioned, Brooks plays wide on the right cutting in on his left foot in front of the opponent’s defensive shape. This is shown through Brooks’ 1.34 deep completed crosses per 90 minutes, which ranks him 10th in the Premier League. As well as this, Brooks has attempted 5.36 dribbles per 90 minutes, of which 1.51 are progressive runs, with an average distance covered of 25.11 metres covered per run.
Obviously thanks to Brooks’ few minutes this season (537) and Bournemouth’s struggles, he has had little opportunity to truly show his effectiveness in possession. Regarding his contribution during possession spells, Brooks has an expected goals build-up of 0.06. This implies that possession spells which involve him, end with a shot that has an expected goals of 0.06. His contribution in a deeper-lying playmaking role when moving possession up the pitch (XGChain), ends on average with an expected goals of 0.2. This very poor. However if you once more factor in his few minutes, Bournemouth’s goal scoring difficulties and his at times isolated position – it is a little more understandable.
Regarding Brooks’ defensive output, he makes 2.3 interceptions and 2.84 ball recoveries per 90 minutes. To offer further context, these ball recoveries per 90, rank Brooks 135th in the Premier League. Despite Brooks’ low number of recoveries, he does press high in the opposition’s final third. This is shown with his 0.5 “dangerous” recoveries per 90 minutes. Regarding his counterpressing game, Brooks makes 1.68 counterpressing recoveries (136th in the league per 90). Of his total 17 ball recoveries, 64.7% have been in the opposition half. Just like Buendia, Brooks want to press high and exploit opposition mistakes. This season, Brooks has made 35 defensive duels (5.86 per 90), with a success rate of 40%.
How Does He Fit Arteta’s team?
David Brooks would fit Arteta’s team very nicely. His speed and pace allow him to beat his man, receive between the lines, and play the ball forward. He often looks to receive on the half-turn, opening up the pitch and can then, therefore, see the entire pitch. Personally, I think to get so much more out of Brooks he too like Buendia, needs to play a central role. He needs possession moving through him. This best suits his skill set and allows him to play his complete game. A question would be on his press resistance. When forced onto his weaker right foot and at times on his stronger left, Brooks can look a little loose with the ball in a central area and against a coordinated press and pressing traps, could easily get caught out.
Brooks has an inordinate skill in that he can time his run into an opponent’s penalty area to perfection. This has led to many of his goals and greatly helps Bournemouth when breaking down compact defences. As well as this, his timing of the run to beat an opponent’s offside trap and back line is excellent.
In conclusion, I personally believe Buendia should be a top target for Arsenal, even if Ceballos stays. He brings all the conditions Arsenal fans want to see in their team. His Spanish schooling allows him to demonstrate his tactical and technical attributes in a fluid possession style. This is something Arteta is intent on enforcing in this Arsenal team. Moreover, that determination and unrelenting desire to fight for his team, whilst at times see him overstep the line, is a great asset, especially to an Arsenal team which does lack it. Having this sort of player on the bench who can come into games or start when Arsenal are playing three matches a week, could be vital for the Gunners. Transfermarkt value Buendia at £13.05 million, but a more realistic price would be around £20 million. Still a bargain.
David Brooks offers similar credentials, however, is less cultured and would appear to cost more. Transfermarkt value him at £18 million, despite his injury and many reports are rumouring a value of around £20-30 million. Brooks has the technical and tactical ability, however, lacks the bite. He is not really going to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and make it his own. On his day he could be world class, however, when really needed in a midweek fixture would he have that unrelenting desire to win and carry the team? I’m not too sure, but he would get the fans off the seats more often than not, with his flair and skills.