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An Arsenal fan happy with the business
Let’s assume that Arsenal buy Auba and swap Sanchez for Mikhitarian straight-up. And let’s further assume we pay a 50m fee plus Sanchez-wages-less-20% for Auba and Ozil-like wages to Mikhi. Whether we pull off the deals remains to be seen, but those financial assumptions seem reasonable enough to me, so let’s use them as a point of debate.
That really doesn’t feel at all like a bad January window to me. Do we need strengthening in other positions? Absolutely. Should those moves be prioritized over these ones? Perhaps. But we are unquestionably missing an attacker — starting one of Welbeck, Walcott, or Iwobi simply isn’t competitive with the rest of the top-six. The fourth-best attacker on every other team in the top-six is considerably better than any of those guys.
And, to my eyes, we would do particularly well to add a tricky, tough-to-dispossess type (— like, say, Alex Oxlade-Chamber… oh). Someone that can manufacture mismatches, break presses, and help us carry the ball from midfield into attack (another area where we are lacking at the moment).
So, consider: how would we feel right now if we had instead re-signed Sanchez and bought Mikhi outright for the Auba fee less 20%. Not too bad, right? Keep a star, attract a star from another club. Not too bad.
That’s relevant because it seems to me that the production is likely to be reasonably similar in either case (Sanchez and Auba don’t have identical profiles, of course, but they’re the same age and they both contribute to the attack at a world-class level). And the financials don’t look all that different either — Sanchez and Auba both suffer from the same sell-on value problem and the total wage+fee cost just isn’t going to be all that different between the two scenarios. Particularly as avoiding paying Sanchez an extortionate wage (and instead paying Auba a merely massive one, in addition to his fee) is likely to help keep wages down for others down the line.
Buying Mikhi is a meaningful upgrade on Welbeck/Walcott/Iwobi, right? I mean, his stats from last year aren’t great, but that’s the only knock on him. He has a sterling pedigree otherwise.
So our attack gets considerably better, so long as Auba’s attacking contribution is closer to Alexis’s than Mikhi’s is to Welbeck et al.’s. On the whole, that’s improvement. Could we have purchased a younger guy with a bigger sell-on potential? Sure. But guys that good AND that young are either risky or almost impossible to afford.
Still need a stud midfielder that’s more athletic than Xhaka. Still need a trusty 23-27 y/o CB. But we addressed a need and are likely to get better this season without getting worse in any position. And that’s more than any of Spurs, MCFC, Chelsea, or LFC can say about this window.
(And, yes, I know it’s academic because we won’t get these deals over the line and we will finish eighth.)
Stay away, Hendo
Dear Jurgen, please keep Can at the base of our midfield and resist the urge to put Hendo back in just because he runs around with loads of feckin’ pashun. If you must play him, watch our matches from the slip season and give him minutes farther up the pitch where he can’t cost us points with his awful positioning, poor touch, lack of any awareness what his teammates are doing, and absolute no vision for a pass that isn’t pure luck when it comes off. I know he looks like a footballer whatever Sir Alex says about his gait, but please resist the urge to be like Brendan and prove English players can succeed in technically demanding positions. At least for this year. Maybe next year you can try it with Milner after his roaring success defending a lead against his old team.
Time for Karius
This is an idea i’ve been wanting to get into the mailbox for a while but as chance would have it i could never find the time to accurately get my thoughts down, especially as i need to try and be as clear as possible as my argument is realistically a bit scatter-gun. Never the less here goes. Liverpool and Goalkeepers is an issue that is constantly being brought up and there is no real consensus on how to solve it. Actually buying a new GK is a popular suggestion but one i’m not going to be making…yet. I’m here to make a case 1) for Karius to be established as Liverpool’s No.1 from now until the end of the season and 2) for the firing of John Achterberg as Liverpool’s GK coach.
Now i know that a lot of Liverpool fans will not be extremely happy with point 1 as Karius has sometimes flattered to deceive. I’m aware that he has the worst save percentage of any GK this season with 43%, also making him the only GK to save less than he concedes as even Lee Grant has saved 50% (Mignolet is somewhere around the 58-60% mark) however i will argue that the sample size available this season is simply too low to make an accurate assessment on his abilities. This is not to say that i believe that Karius will suddenly go from looking like he is occasionally stood in cement to De Gea or even Jack Butland (personally not a fan) but i do believe that given time to settle into the team and hopefully with a more settled defence in-front of him, that his performances can improve especially when considering his age and the fact he has had time to acclimatize to his new surroundings over the last 18 months, something that was not the case during his first few games for the club. Hopefully he can even start diving for shots he cant save, standing still irks me regardless.
However all of this is really predicated on the idea that point 2 will at some point be enacted by the club. Now John Achterberg may be the nicest man on earth, he may even be a half competent GK coach, but not for Liverpool. This evidence i’m basing on the fact that he has been at the club since 2010 and in that time both our main 2 GK are making the same mistakes or similar variations of the same mistakes. Mignolet cannot command his box or consistently decide when is best to play as a sweeper, Karius is much better at commanding the box, but still has issues with his consistency when sweeping and possibly lacks some shot stopping ability, the reason that i overall side with Karius is again down to his age, i honestly believe that with the right coaching his game will improve, whereas Mignolet has reached his level and has no real room left to improve (the one handed attempted save from Xhaka was my final breaking point). This failure of our Keepers to progress as players could also be extended to Brad Jones, Danny ward (admittedly again i feel he hasn’t been given a fair shot) and Adam Bogdan (another exemption, hes just useless).
With the possibility that Karius will be given a shot at the first team after last Sunday, is it not in the best interests of the club to possibly look to strengthen the man who is tasked with improving the player> The club have giving Karius a less error prone CB to aid with his development, one that will marshal both him and the rest of the defence and give him a platform at which to grow, it is only fair they give him a more rounded coach to work with. Perhaps i’m blinded by the fact i just want the guy to succeed, the idea of having a established GK for a period of years is something that i feel would be in our best interests and why open the idea of just buying your way out of the issues when a better solution could be found. So thank you John Achterberg but i believe your time has come…Stephan Kuhnert could be the answer, his Coaching put Karius in the form that tempted Klopp to buy in the first place, perhaps a reunion is in order?
Alex LFC (I feel like im going to be slaughtered left right and center for this but i’ll take my lumps)
Regarding The Dell goalnets, to iterate the uselessness of them further, I remember a Matt le Tissier volley from a corner screaming through a crowd of players into the goal, rebounding off the advertising board that was 2 inches away from the back of the net, and back out in to play. Half the players didn’t spot it, let alone the referee and le Tissier himself looked just a tad confused. The single angle replay only just cleared the matter up but the goal was never counted.
On another note, the World Cup Goalnet Voluptuousness graph is the best thing I’ve seen this week, and I work in a strip club.
Seeing an Adam Hurrey article on F365 has immeasurably improved my week! The best football site on the internet just got even better!
To everyone at F365, keep on keeping on the great work!
James Jones, STFC
Love for Ronaldinho
This might be coming in a little late but I really wanted to write in about Ronaldinho.
I think the brilliance and longevity of Ronaldo and Messi has blinded the eyes of present-day football lovers to the sheer awesomeness of Ronaldinho. I also think that talk about the task of replacing Ronaldo and Messi being nearly impossible is utter bollocks. We will get another prolific two-footed winger soon. And Messi’s sustained creative genius can be replicated.
The difficult task, in my opinion, is finding a replacement for Ronaldinho. Here was a player that played football like it was futsal, all the while never losing his effectiveness. The reason why this is difficult is simple. Adel Taraabt and Jay Jay Okocha (to mention a few) are examples of players who did amazing things with the ball for fun. But those two (like the others) were criticized (rightly) for not adding a clinical edge to their game. See their individual and collective honors and also personal stats (goals, assists, key passes etc).
As a defender, he’s the only player I would never want to come up against. While the other showboats could dribble you easily, one could bet that they would run into the nearest adboard few seconds after. If Ronaldinho gets past you, you’re almost certain he’s going to score so you run back into position for the next kickoff.
Ronaldinho was the only player who did everything – goals and assists, spectacular goals and assists, nutmegs, flicks, stepovers, no-look passes, backheels, etc – and he never let that grin leave his face.
Jerry (if only Neymar was a little less petulant) MUFC
Big Weekend‘s little brother
Leicester City-Watford. A very important test for the Hornets, who are in danger of dropping into Paul Merson “I told you so” territory. In fact, their early-season success was partially built on unsustainable conversion rates, but by now you’d hope the defence would have compensated. Alas, only Stoke City have conceded more. Christian Kabasele and more recently Molla Wague have played pretty well at centre-half, but they don’t have enough protection, even with Ben Watson brought back to the lineup. Meanwhile Leicester are doing a pretty good impression of That Championship Season, with Wilfred Ndidi covering a Kantéesque amount of ground and Riyad Mahrez glittering like a player who just might attract the interest of a richer club. With Wes Morgan fighting a hamstring injury, Aleksandar Dragović is getting his first real action of the season, and seems to be adjusting fairly quickly.
Stat: Ndidi leads the league in attempted tackles, successful tackles, unsuccessful tackles, and successful tackles/90.
West Ham United-Bournemouth. Look out below. On Boxing Day these teams combined for six goals and a season’s worth of insanity. Bournemouth have gone 12 games in all competitions without a clean sheet, and their last blank was against Swansea City. But they haven’t lost in the league to a team below the top six since November. Ryan Fraser starred in the reverse fixture, and he figures to go right at Pablo Zabaleta again, with the help of Charlie Daniels or Adam Smith. The Moyes boys carved up Huddersfield last weekend on the counterattack, but at home they’ll have to play more on the front foot, so their back line should be seriously tested. Manuel Lanzini will also need support driving the attack, and the most likely candidate is Arthur Masuaku on the left. With a volatile lower half of the table, and Bournemouth still stinging from the cup loss to Wigan, neither side will be content with a draw.
Stat: Remember when Jordon Ibe was a failure? He’s now tied for the squad lead in assists, with four.
Everton-West Bromwich Albion. The long awaited Allardyce-Pardew (or, if you prefer, Pardew-Allardyce) summit meeting has a number of watchable sidebars. There’s Theo Walcott, of course—matched up against Kieran Gibbs, maybe? There’s whatever the bookies are offering on which minute the home fans start booing. There’s Cenk Tosun, who if you missed it, was apparently told by countryman Emre Belozoglu that Tosun’s “biggest misfortune” at Everton would be having to play under Big Sam. There’s exactly how conservative West Brom will set up: at his pre-match press conference Pardew explicitly said he’d be happy with a point. There’s the thrill of the set piece, and goalkeeper distribution. There’s which manager will praise his own tactics more in the post-match interview. But most important will be the tribute to Cyrille Regis.
Stat: In 33 games in all competitions plus club friendlies, West Brom have scored more than two goals only once, against Accrington Stanley.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
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