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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Arsenal make contact for Benfica striker

By 1970's Gooner

Image result for mitroglou benfica


Kostas Mitroglou is going through a terrific season on loan to Benfica. He has certainly been amongst the goals scoring 19 in only 28 appearances. That's 0.7 goals per game which is considered high.

The player belongs to Fulham having signed a lucrative contract back in January 2014. He has since been loaned back to his old club in Greece, Olympiakos and at the start of this season he went to Benfica where it seems has found form again having overcome several niggly injuries.

According to the Greek press Arsenal are showing interest. They have already contacted Fulham to begin the process of negotiating the player's transfer. It is believed that Fulham are asking for a minimum of 6m euros (4.7m pounds).


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Is the unthinkable happening?

By 1970's Gooner

At this stage of the season I was expecting to write about Arsenal's run in for the battle to the League title, the first in the post Highbury era. I would have been predicting the results of the remaining games for both contenders and we would have been coming out on top by winning at home our final game against an already relegated Aston Villa.

But now not only this is definitely not happening we are locked in a battle for fourth place with Man City, Man Utd and West Ham!

In fact the nightmare scenario is beginning to unfold.

Leicester drop further points now that Vardy is out and their confidence begins to diminish.

Spurs gain momentum winning all their remaining games.

They also gain the press's favour which influences referee decisions with adverse effects on Leicester.

Spurs sprint over the finishing line winning the title.

Man City with newfound confidence from the win against PSG and Chelsea continue their good form. They easily finish third and reach the finals of the CL (they get thrashed by Bayern in the final).

Meantime Arsenal stumble over the line like a drunken sailor trying to return to his ship without getting noticed.

But so spectacular is their lack of form they fail to beat Villa at the Emirates in the final game of the season in front of a half full Emirates.

Manchester United continue their good form and spectacularly gain fourth spot from Arsenal.

This proves to be the last straw for the much maligned Arsenal supporters who stage a demonstration outside the Emirates on the last match day of the season venting their anger with unprecedented venomous ferocity.

The Board is shaken but not stirred. They stick by Wenger and he sticks by them. He always sees his contracts out.

In the meantime Liverpool reach the final of the Europa League and under the invigorating tutelage of Klopp win the final on penalties (against Sevilla).

Preseason arrives and Wenger announces that he will be signing outfield players this summer if the right top top top players become available who will be better than what we've already got (England do well in the Euros going out in the Semi Finals on penalties against the Germans).

In the meantime Ospina is sold back to Lyon and Szczesny stays at Roma. Martinez is brought back from Wolves and promoted to second choice goalkeeper behind the ageing Cech (who repeatedly fails to get across his goal to stop shots from outside the box).

In order to bolster his central defensive options and to offer an alternative to the fast ageing Mertesacker Wenger opts to promote Bielik rather than buy. The supporters are getting really worried now.

HiguaĆ­n becomes available at 80m and Wenger balks at the asking price biding his time hoping to reduce the price to what he considers as reasonable, judging by the player's age.

In the meantime Benzema wants out of Real but is till embroiled in his dispute with the law.

In early August Wenger and Arsenal announce at last the signing of a player. He is another midfielder in the 20m bracket.

Apart from releasing Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini as their contracts run out Wenger lets Gibbs and Walcott leave the club.

As the first day of the season arrives Wenger announces that we are still looking for that top top top striker and if he becomes available we have the funds to push it through.

I will leave you to write or imagine the rest.....








Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wenger will splash the cash next season but not for the reasons you think

By 1970's Gooner

Wenger's reluctance to buy big in the last windows has come back to haunt him and us of course. Maybe he thought that with the addition of Cech it would prove enough to win the League. He was deluded of course.

But imo the major reason he did not buy was a financial one. And the major reason he will splash the cash next season big time will be for financial reasons again.

Let me explain.

The major reason he did not buy big this season is because Arsenal's profit and loss is at break even point. This means that all the revenue that the stadium earns (about 3m per game, the biggest of all stadiums in England) and all the revenue that commercial and other sales bring in just about cover the players wages and all the other expenses.

In fact Arsenal's revenues are quite high up the European League (around seventh). But for all that revenue NO PROFITS (or losses) are made. This is because no profits were made from the sale of players as was happening in previous years. as we all know. And this is because Wenger no longer sells star players. He has been buying them instead which bloats the wages bill and eats away at the revenue earned.

But this season, with the wages bill so high and no profits made, Wenger could not add any major stars on the wages bill as the club would have started making losses. Especially when there is a lot of dead wood around earning quite high wages whilst not playing. And losses are anathema to the shareholders like Stan Kroenke who are not in it to win trophies necessarily but to make profits.

Next season however the situation will change and Wenger will splash the cash.

One reason as explained above is that a substantial amount of wages will be saved from not renewing Rosicky's , Arteta's and Flamini's contracts.

The other reason is that next season there will be an even more competitive scramble for the top 4 places. This is of course because Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea as well as Spurs and West Ham will get stronger. Simply standing still may mean you go backwards.

But another equally significant reason is that if Arsenal is to make significant profits (and satisfy the shareholders) it has to substantially increase commercial, rather than stadium revenues which are anyway at their maximum. This is what the top German teams are doing and the Manchester clubs are achieving which are all quite above Arsenal when their commercial revenues are compared (some are twice as much as Arsenal's).

But in order to increase commercial revenues Arsenal have to become successful on the pitch. They have to win trophies both domestically but more so in Europe so as to tap in to the huge world wide commercial market that is there to be exploited.

Wenger and Arsenal can no longer buy enough quality players just to finish in the CL places. With the finances being at near break even point that is just not enough. It will also not be enough with the increased revenue teams will be getting next season from the sale of the Premier League rights.

Arsenal will get about 45m a year plus another 10m that will be saved from the release of Flamini, Arteta and Rosicky. But out of that a lot will have to be paid out for increases in players salaries (eg Ozil's and Sanchez's, if they agree to renew and for others) as well for the salaries of any new signings.

And more importantly the shareholders will be demanding that the club shows a profit. They are not in it to break even every year are they? The 3m paid out to Kroenke's company every year for services rendered without  going to tender may indeed be a way of appeasing him for the lack of significant profits and dividends.

The more profitable but of course more risky solution is for Arsenal to buy enough big players, win the Premier League and compete at the top of Europe. Only then will Arsenal upgrade its international profile, boost commercial revenues and make the business model profitable earning a high enough return on the shareholders' initial investment.

In other words taking into account Arsenal's cost base structure it will pay to think and act big. 

And this is why the Arsenal Board will be pushing and have been pushing Wenger to spend big next season.






Sunday, March 27, 2016

Gilberto Silva back at Arsenal?

By 1970's Gooner

The Greek sports press is reporting that Gilberto Silva is considering two offers for his return to Europe.  Both offers are for a management post.

His former club in Greece, Panathinaikos, has put in a firm offer for Gilberto to take up the post of Technical Director. Five years after he left Greece he is still very well liked among both the management of Panathinaikos as well as the fans having played for them for a number of years after departing Arsenal.  



The press is however reporting that Arsenal are also considering making a move to bring him back to the Emirates in a management capacity.

Gilberto is currently considering his options. Apparently he has to consider his family having previously spent a combined nine years away from Brazil.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

I don't sleep when I score but Ramsey's absence unbalances the team

By 1970's Gooner

Maybe Wenger should have a good look at himself. One of the worst things in life is not when we make mistakes but when we repeat them.

And Wenger certainly did repeat the same mistake he made when he summoned Theo Walcott to come on as a sub in the League Cup against Sheffield Wed. I was watching that game and I when I saw Theo getting stripped to come on it was obvious to me that he had not warmed up.

From my own experiences when playing football lack of a proper warm up was a very dangerous way to go. I was worried for Theo and then of course a few minutes later he was off, out for a couple of months or so.

Funnily enough I had the same thoughts when I saw Ramsey getting stripped to come on against Hull. It was obvious he had not had a proper warm up. And of course he was subed 16 minutes later.

His absence is much more important than you think.

This is because his contribution in central midfield had began to waver recently especially in the crunch games where Arsenal had to keep it tight and be resilient. This was especially true against Man Utd and even Swansea, games which we lost.

Wenger then made a tactical switch for the game against Spurs by deploying Ramsey on the right side of midfield just as he had deployed him when Cazorla was fit and playing.

This move had two beneficial outcomes for the tactical set up of the team.

Firstly Ramsey's position in central midfield was taken by a more defensively minded midfielder in Elneny (who greatly impressed). Playing Elneny and Coquelin together at Spurs was stunningly effective blunting their forwards and attacking midfielders and provided the platform to control the game. Where it not for the red card, Arsenal would have run out winners and back in the title race, big time.

It was not a surprise therefore that Wenger chose to play the same formation in central midfield at Hull by choosing Elneny and Flamini to start. This imo means that this is the way Wenger will go for the rest of the remaining games and so it should be. And this is why I have still hope that we will go undefeated for the rest of the season.

Secondly Ramsey's contribution from the wide midfield position proved very beneficial against Spurs. This is because he usually dropped into the midfield areas to help the more central players in keeping possession and also provided a goal threat, something which he is very capable of doing as we were so delighted to see.

This impact now will be sadly missed for the next few weeks at least (the prognosis is still not out yet). If Cazorla was fit he could have taken over duties in this position but he is not back yet till the 2nd of April.

So Wenger will now have to choose who to play in the wide right midfield position. It will be one of Welbeck, Campbell and Walcott. He could of course play Giroud at centre forward and Welbeck on the right which I would prefer.

Whatever he chooses to do it seems that we have missed a great chance to deploy a formation which would have given the team the perfect balance between attack, midfield dominance and defensive protection.

I am glad Sanchez cannot sleep when he doesn't score. It means that he is deeply troubled when he is not helping the team win games.

For my part when I score I don't sleep at all.....if you see what I mean. But Ramsey's absence does unbalance the team which may keep me awake.



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Forget what the national papers are saying. This is the way to beat Leicester

By 1970's Gooner

Leicester have to be given respect. They have a counterattacking mentality which has been practised, finessed and executed to near perfection.

They always keep Vardy and Okazaki up front. They allow you to have the ball and when you move forward in front of their packed two banks of four they spring into action trying to win the ball. They then release it early to their forwards and at the same time their midfielders rush into the opponent's area waiting to do the damage.

This tactic works because they have two very good ball winners in their midfield in Kante and Drinkwater and two very fast forwards in Vardy and Okazaki who stay up front. It's not a surprise that Leicester do very well against the top teams. And there is a reason for this.

Top teams play attacking football based on ball possession, pushing their opponent in their half. Top teams do also something that more often than not turns badly against them. They push both their full backs high up the pitch. This means that Leicester's counter attackers find the space to run into and the presence of their midfielders coming up to support them provides for a very potent attacking threat.

Arsenal and City were outdone in this way. In the previous game between the two teams Arsenal's Ramsey ventured in Leicester's box to take a shot and from his dispossession they counter attacked by passing to Vardy where Bellerin should have been who run on and scored their first goal.

Similarly City's Zaboleta was caught up field while Kante released Mahrez into the space vacated and he scored the killer second goal of course.

So ideally Ramsey has to sit tight in midfield like he diligently did against City and, alongside Coquelin, provide the cover for Arsenal's overlapping full backs.

But imo the three wingers that Arsenal can play on the right of midfield are out of form. Walcott is way below himself that's for sure. Cambpell has lost form probably tired from playing too many games and the Ox is still trying to find confidence. Even if he did score the goal at Bournemouth his overall display was still below what is required to play against Leicester.

Arsene Wenger will, I know, be tempted to start with the Ox hoping that the goal will have given him a boost to carry him through the game against Leicester. I think he should resist that temptation.

Instead Arsenal can line up on Sunday by playing both Coquelin AND Flamini in central midfield. This way they will sit in a disciplined way in the middle of the pitch and put a stop to the Leicester counter attacks by covering the space vacated by Arsenal's full backs (especially Bellerin).

Ramsey would then revert back to his previous position on the right wing (when Cazorla was playing in midfield). In this way he will be able to come in from the right and help in the play making interchanging positions with Ozil and also drop back to assist Bellerin when we haven't got the ball.

In this formation a balance will be created where Arsenal will still maintain their attacking mentality and ball possession but will be more robust and defensively minded in midfield.

And for a change Arsenal will have adopted their tactics to fit the opponent.

This is the way to beat Leicester.





Monday, February 08, 2016

The best way to hand Leicester or indeed Spurs the League title

By 1970's Gooner

There is something that keeps niggling me all the time. It started way back during this crazy season on the occasions all Arsenal had to do was win the game in front of them to go top of the League. They always failed.

Their performances were nervy, edgy and tentative. The only saving grace was that the direct opponents were faltering too. Leicester and Tottenham were drawing more than they were winning and City were suffering due to key absences of Company and Aguero.

In the meantime Arsenal's jitters continued with poor performances against Spurs at home when we snatched a draw, lost to WBA away with a shambolic display and drew away at Norwich where everyone is winning. Leicester and Spurs on the other hand kept winning.

Then Arsenal pulled a fantastic performance out of the bag against City winning at home 2 1. But when in the next game they needed to win so as to consolidate the advantage they gained and prove to everyone that this year is their year, they see the dizzy heights of the summit and of course get nervy again! They put in probably the worst performance of the season that far and get thumped by Southampton 4 0!!!

So don't tell me Mr Wenger that the players are not scared of the top. They are shit scared. They haven't got the bottle. It is obvious.

And the best way to hand Leicester or indeed the Spuds the League title is to repeat the display at Bournemouth in the next game against Leicester.

For don't be fooled by the 2 0 away victory at the south coast. The display was again nervy especially at the back with Gabriel adopting what I would call an agricultural display and slack marking especially on the occasion when he naively let Pugh slip past him and run clear on goal.  It is sad that our alternative is to start with the ageing Mertesacker.

Flamini was far from his best. He tends to mark only space and as a result gets by passed as he lacks pace. He surely has to be either replaced by Coquelin or indeed play alongside him.

And the Ox got a great goal but he is far below what we would need to beat Leicester. The out of form Walcott or the tiring Campell are not the answer either!

Wenger has to get his finger out and instill competitiveness and above all confidence. He also has to adapt his team selection and tactics to match Leicester. More on this will follow.
















Thursday, February 04, 2016

The reasons behind Arsenal's slump

By 1970's Gooner

Arsenal have only collected 3 points from the last four games. Draws against Liverpool, Stoke and Soton plus a defeat at home against Chelsea. Its not the form a title winning team is it? There are three main reasons that can explain the recent loss of form. I consider the last one as the most important.

Key players loose form

Where do you start. Mertesacker has been shaky for a long time and this was well exploited by a clever Chelsea tactic of getting Costa to run on his shoulder . In fact the whole team was underperforming up to the sending off.

This loss of form has been evident even in the games we won prior to the Liverpool game. Newcastle were outplaying us at the Emirates but couldn't convert their many chances until Koscienly popped up to rescue us. Bournemouth were only outdone from corners otherwise they were competitive alright.

Flamini, Ramsey and now Walcott have been way below par. The first two in particular have been very poor during this period. Flamini has not been closing down the spaces in midfield and Ramsey has neither been as mobile or accurate with his passing. This significant area of the pitch has been our Achilles heel. Let's hope Coquelin will return as strong as he was before he got injured.

The absence of Sanchez

Sanchez has been sorely missed as much as Coquelin. His runs and dribbles unsettle opponents as they don't know which way he will go. He offers something out of the ordinary but his mobility also offers an outlet for Ozil's innovative passing. And this should not be underestimated.

Lack of confidence in themselves

This lack of confidence has been very evident every time Arsenal have to win a game to keep themselves in contention or even to go top. It has been evident when say City or Leicester have dropped points and Arsenal only have to win to take advantage. They invariably failed every time.

There is an aura of uncertainty in their passing, crossing or in taking chances. It is also evident in their slow starts to games as though they wait to see what the opponent has to offer rather than imposing themselves irrespective of the opponent. This was very evident at Liverpool where they went one down relatively early in the game and also against Chelsea where they were so tentative in the early stages with Chelsea dominating possession and threatening. It was evident against Soton where we wasted a whole half to get into the game! And this was at home!

The players better start shaping up otherwise its goodbye to the title ( to possibly Spurs heaven forbid) and probably goodbye to fourth place.

Now that Coquelin and Sanchez are back we expect better days to come. Let's start at Bournemouth.





Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Debuchy is going nowhere

By 1970's Gooner

Arsene Wenger was until today ready to release Debuchy to go out on loan. This was so that he could get the necessary games and fitness levels required to maximise his chances of being selected for the Euro 2016 tournament. The possible destinations were Aston Villa and recently Sunderland.

Now with the sad news that Jenkinson has suffered a significant, possibly a season ending, injury during West Ham's game against Man City, this loan transfer for Debuchy is bound to be scrapped.

Surely Wenger will not take the chance and release Debuchy now he cannot use Jenkinson as a back up for the impressive Bellerin. The plan was that Debuchy would go to, most probably, Aston Villa and Jenkinson was to be recalled from West Ham.

The alternatives for Wenger will be Chambers, who is too slow, Gabriel who is a centre back and now needed in this position anyway as the BFG is out for 3 games and Flamini who has played in this position some years ago when he could run. Now he is not up to it.

Gibbs does not come into consideration as he is very left footed. Wenger could of course play Gibbs at left back and move Monreal at right back, if the need arises of course, but this would be placing square pegs in round holes. Unacceptable for a team chasing the title.

So Debuchy is going nowhere.




Monday, January 25, 2016

The reasons Wenger didn't play Elneny

By 1970's Gooner

There are three reasons Wenger didn't play Elneny against Chelsea.

The first is that he has just got together with the team only 10 days or so. He has not yet adapted to the way Arsenal play their football, what his position entails within the overall game plan and he has not yet got to know his fellow players.

Secondly Wenger got his man early this season because he knows that if he had waited for the summer then his price would have risen disproportionately. Why? because as everyone knows the much increased PL money for next season is bound to create large inflation in transfer prices adhering to the age old theory of too much money chasing the too few good players around.

And thirdly Elneny is going to be like Gabriel. Wenger will treat him the same. He will hold him back if he has Coquelin fit. Just like Gabriel is considered by Wenger to be an understudy to Mertesacker.

He is wrong of course. The BFG is on his last legs. he has no pace and no distribution capabilities. He has experience and is good in the air but these attributes are not enough in the PL.

As for the game against Chelsea Wenger was wrong to start with the BFG. He has been wrong starting him all season. I have said this in previous posts. His lack of pace cost us the game. The BFG should not have attempted the tackle thus would have kept himself and the team alive.

Ramsey had one of his worse games. He kept passing the ball to the opponents most of the time. Ozil gave up after we let the goal in. He didn't rise to the occasion, didn't lead the team. He became peripheral. The team as a whole became peripheral. They did not have any belief that they could come back which does not augur well for the run in.

Koscienly was as much at fault for the goal as the BFG imo. He is supposed to stay behind the BFG so as to cover for his lack of pace. On this occasion he was square. WHY?

Wenger got the tactics wrong again. We started slowly and gave them space to play about. WRONG. We should have blitzed them like we did Man Utd.

Nobody picked Cesc and Willian up in those first 15 minutes. They were free to run the game. WHAT WAS FLAMINI AND RAMSEY DOING?

The two positives were: When we finally decided to have a go in the second half we were decent which shows to me that we would have won the game if we had 11 players on the pitch.

The return of Sanchez was invigorating. He can advance with the ball leaving opponents behind and out of the game. He lifted the whole team up. He reminded us how we will be demoralising teams in the coming games. He will take the place of Walcott who is much below his best.

And when Coquelin comes back (which will be soon) and Cazorla too we will be real challengers again.