Same old Arsenal? No longer need Mikel Arteta worry about selling his best players…

Date published: Thursday 6th October 2022 8:35 - Editor F365

Mikel Arteta chats with Gabriel Martinelli after an Arsenal win.

The Mailbox illustrates why the outlook is different now for Arsenal. Also: Man City fans on their owners; Reece James is decent; and Harry for England.

Get your mails in to theeditor@football365.com

 

Same old Arsenal?
I surely cannot be alone in sighing when reading about how Arsenal’s bright shiny young players will be tempted away or even sold to balance the books. Then I think who these tempters are and conclude the following.

One bankrupt Catalan club or its rival who can surely mop up domestically without much spend due to lack of rivals and domestically lets be honest why would we sell to Manc, Liverpool or London rivals now that the club is showing ambition again. Arsenal are historically the most successful London club in the richest European league and are sitting pretty with a project progressing nicely.

I expect Champions league from this season and I expect us to be London s highest placed club as its unlikely Chelsea have a 2nd owners lottery win. Pool are in decline, United are a mess and Spurs is out of the question. This leaves either France or Germany s perennial winners of one horse races or City as the only progression step for such players.

Clearly a balance on wages need to be struck on progress for such players bearing in mind Cole or the Ozil/Auba wallet weighing down experience but that can be solved as Arsenal will be a global top 10 club for wages. Things are good at Arsenal currently and vultures should be dismissively chased away .
Ted Bythesea

 

…When we were at Highbury, we had to sell to balance the books.

For me, Highbury remains the most beautiful stadium I have ever visited but the inability to add to its capacity kept us back for so long. In the space of a couple of seasons we lost Anelka, Overmars and Petit.

The whole point of moving to the Emirates was to make us more competitive and we have been successful in retaining talent long after most clubs would have moved them on (ahem, Mesut Ozil).

What we need to do now is strike the right balance, and of course some players will be moved on, but let’s not act as if the Arsenal of today is the same Arsenal that used to ply its trade at Highbury.

It’s pretty much impossible to get a ticket for the Arsenal these days, matches are packed to the rafters and for the first time in decades our motto rings true.

It seems only Arsenal fans can find ways of being miserable when top of the league.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 


READ MORE: Arsenal fans should not be worried; the process will include selling a Saka or Saliba


 

The Coutinho theory
I was reading Steve’s theory that we shouldn’t worry about selling stars like Saliba, Saka and Martinelli because it’s worked for Coutihno.

I was quite surprised to find at the end that Steve was a Gooner and not a Liverpool fan. Because there’s one very big problem with comparing those players to Coutihno. It’s that they’re actually doing far more for Arsenal than he did for Liverpool.

Long before he left Liverpool I’d often wondered what Coutihno did for the team outside of cutting in and spanking 1 in 20 or a worse ratio of those shots in. Because from what I could tell, it wasn’t a lot.

Regularly you’d see him give up the opportunity to pass to a player in a better position to have another pot shot. The fact he had a good stint where his attempts to goals ratio was relatively low for him, seemed to mask the fact he offered nothing else. He actually was making the team worse.

I remember when Barcelona offered silly money for him and wondered how Liverpool had managed to get that done. A sign that Barcas recruitment was very much on the slide as proven by their decline into the financial turmoil they find themselves. I told my mate at the time that I guarantee they’ll be better now.

Whereas Coutihno looked good because he’d get a highlight friendly goal every few games. Saliba, Saka and Martinelli are actually really good players. In 3 years they are likely to be in the top 10 in their positions in the world. Saliba maybe higher.

So you can sell them if you like, but how are Arsenal going to find anyone else with the competition they’d have?

All of those players were bought raw and made good. At peak, we’d unlikely get near them.

Coutinho was bought, ok, made alright and got worse. Generally good players don’t fail at Barcelona and can only find an out at a struggling Villa, a place he only really ended up because of Gerrard. There’s really no comparison.
Derek, AFC

 

Lucky Invincibles
Ah, the ‘Invincibles’. What no-one ever mentions when talking about that season for Arsenal is that the last kick of the game at Old Trafford (a 0-0 draw) was van Nistelrooy hammering the ball against the crossbar from the penalty spot. If that goes in, there is no unbeaten season. So yes, you need to be good and lucky.
Ray (MUFC, Toronto)

 

Up and coming
That Reece James kid looks one to watch.
Adam, Midlands

 

Leicester among top ten
The top ten Prem teams of all time must always include Leicester in my opinion. Not only for the obvious fact they were 5000-1 to do it, or that they won 7/9 at the end of the season, the season before to stay up, but for the sheer way they did it.

Yes, the rest of the league had a terrible season, but that meant everyone was on the same footing, and it was Leicester who rose highest. They went undefeated against the big four, lost to Liverpool at Anfield and only Arsenal can claim to have lost no points to them that season. That’s no easy feat for any team in any season.

Would they beat many of the teams on the list? Probably not. But would you say with certainty they’d definitely lose? I’d go back to 2015/16 for your answer, because we all thought they would and they didn’t, which is what the greats do and what that side will always be.
Calvino

 

…Thanks to the ridiculous top 10 of the best teams ever to grace the Premier League – ridiculous because the order is quite clearly bonkers – some interesting debates kicked up in the comments (amid much frothing as intended).

So my question to the mailbox is this.

If City manage to continue breaking records and end up completing the season unbeaten while also winning the treble – a collection of unlikely achievements that you would absolutely not bet against happening – how should we feel?

Obviously as a United fan I’d be gutted to see them land the treble as I’m sure Arsenal fans would be to see them steal their crown, but should we be full of praise and enjoy the football achievement as we’ve been instructed in the mailbox? Or should we finally see it recognised that something might be a little amiss, a monster dragged to the daylight. After all, without getting too far into the ownership debate, we all know something rotten has been happening for a long time. To achieve either feat is something that remains unrepeated. To see them both happen would have to raise some flags.

For me, it would seem something of a hollow achievement. It’s perfectly possible to separate the appreciation of the football from the recognition of how it was achieved.

We all know that Europe is dominated by let’s say a double handful of teams. Occasionally a Monaco or an Ajax make a run of it, before being brutally dismantled by bigger beasts. Even Dortmund suffer this fate.

The Premier League is dominated by the same teams until another gets financially doped to the eyeballs to a level they can compete. This cannot be good for the long term health of the game.

Were City to achieve this fearsome feat, that should be a watershed on club finances, maximum squad pay levels, a rebalancing of transfer funds.

It wouldn’t be of course because money talks; we’ll just have to smile and nod and say how good it is that “little” City have given the big boys a black eye. Even though we all know that City are now a giant grown from steroids and the only thing to do is wait for those involved to get bored.
Badwolf

 

Dirty City
So what always seems to get lost in this interminable debate about City is the fact that we know City have been cooking their books for years. They didn’t just take the money and start running their club wonderfully. They’re running their club wonderfully, and they’re simultaneously cheating, systematically. The Der Spiegel emails proved this, without a shadow of a doubt. If you think they stopped after their last slap on the wrist, you’re a less cynical man than I. Go beyond the horrendous nature of their regime, and you’re just talking about cheating on a scale not seen before in the game of association football. Spending billions and billions to acquire clubs all over the world, laundering eye-watering amounts of money in and out of those clubs through pumped up sponsorship deals and so on. If there’s a more egregious example of large-scale, sustained cheating by one football club I’d be interested to hear it.

Just one of countless smaller examples would be that sweet workaround when they paid Mancini more than double his declared salary via ‘consultancy’ work with another City group team. Of course these kind of shenanigans are just a handy by-product of owning several clubs all around the world.

We also know they are willing to spend huge amounts of money on lawyers to defend any case that comes up against them. We know how arrogant and aggressive they were about the FFP cases being made against them. If you don’t think this kind of intimidation resulted in the very soft punishments that were handed out to them then, again, you’re a less cynical man than I. If you don’t think their acquisition of Haaland involved some of these very shenanigans too then ditto.

Through gritted teeth I have to admit how wonderful the football they play is. But it absolutely sticks in the craw to see people feting this wonderfully well-oiled business machine, when we know how systematically corrupt they have been from the very start of Sheik Mansour’s reign.
Pablo, MUFC, Dublin

 

…Yes Richard lets have a bit of balance when discussing Manchester City’s completely above board finances that have made them the most commercially successful club in the world…well done. That a club with a relatively tiny number of supporters worldwide who rarely even sell out their stadium could command such commercial activity is to be admired and celebrated. Maybe Tickner can write a piece about it?

Of course we’d have to forget the £40m per year stadium/shirt sponsorship from a bankrupt Abu Dhabi Government owned airline (for reference, Emirates paid actual big club Arsenal £6.6m per year for stadium/shirt sponsorship), the multitude of connected sponsorship deals from Abu Dhabi over the years (in just the last 6 months Aldar, Masdar, Emirates Palace, Healthpoint…. the Man City chairman Khaldoon is chairman of all 4 companies and they are under the umbrella of Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi royal family’s own Investment Vehicle), we’d have to forget the Silverlake investment of £500m into City Group which was reciprocated by a £2bn investment by the Abu Dhabi government into Silverlake a matter of months later.

We’d also have to forget the dodgy 8XBet partnership that is basically a ghost company operating out of Abu Dhabi, purportedly in Vietnam where gambling is illegal and has a CEO whose profile picture is a stock photo advertising a picture frame (I kid you not). This on the back of the crypto partnership with 3Key that they had to suspend after it was publicised that the people running the company didn’t exist. There are others but you get the point.

Let’s forget all of that, stick our heads in the sand and just praise an excellent football team without considering the detriment to our league that it’s already having let alone where it goes in the future.
James Outram, Wirral

 

Dear William of Leicester, If I may, let me try to put this morality issue caused by City’s current owners to bed. Firstly, because I’m certain it’s rather boring for the other F365 readers, and secondly because I’m worried about the long-term damage to both your and James Outram’s hands which must be inevitable given the sheer intensity of pearl-clutching you are currently going through.

Here’s the rub. I am absolutely no fan of the Abu Dhabi regime, but I LOVE what they’ve done with my club. And it’s at this point that the morality police amongst other fan bases start to fleck spittle at whatever screen they’re reading this on. Disgusting! How could you possibly sanction such a regime! Sports washing! Unclean! And so on, and so forth.

I attended my first game in 1972. I had about as much control over Sheikh Mansour’s takeover as I did with Peter Swales and Franny Lee (amongst many others!) owning the gaff, which was absolutely squat.

You see, the problem with the likes of William and James’ mails taking the moral high ground around Oil state ownership and/or sports washing is the clear inference that the author, were they in the same situation as City fans, would behave differently to any such takeover. Of course, we’ll never know, but a few years ago, and on this very point, I wrote in to F365 with the suggestion that, had Sheikh Mansour bought Everton instead of City, there would’ve been no mass exodus from Goodison Park.

Fast forward and a Saudi group buys the ‘Toon. Did Newcastle erupt with indignation? Were there mass season ticket/replica shirt burnings in the streets? Has St James’ Park been empty ever since?

Two perfectly genuine questions for you William:

1. What is it that you would like to see City (or Newcastle or PSG) fans do exactly?

2. What would you do in the event Leicester were taken over by an entity with a poor or downright rotten HR record?

You refer to City supporters holding demonstrations at home games in support of Human Rights or the LGBTQ+ community. Which seems reasonable. But here’s the thing. I don’t recall any such demonstrations outside the King Power whenever City have been in town. For that matter, and I’m more than willing to stand corrected, I don’t recall any such demos at any other ground either.

Oh, and I’m not sure why it must be City fans doing this. Nothing stopping you, and any other like-minded morally superior football supporter from travelling to the Etihad and making your own protests mate. Or, indeed, boycotting your own home games when playing City.

It’s as if the indignation felt by you, and your disappointment at the lack of moral fibre of Manchester City supporters isn’t shared by most of the other fans around the Prem.

Then again maybe it is, but that they’d rather just watch the game than hold up banners about HR and LGBTQ+ issues when playing Manchester City.

But that can’t be right. Because that would constitute moral hypocrisy, wouldn’t it?

Oh, and one other thing from your mail. People used to like City because we were no threat to anybody and mostly utterly pants. As a Manchester lad, I can tell you from personal experience that the same applied to the red half of Manchester until a certain Scotsman turned up. ABUs only became a thing after he and his teams smashed the top flight.

You’re welcome.
Mark (A mile in another man’s shoes and all that. Oh, and that’s our third against FC Copenhagen. SO gutted we were bought in 2008). MCFC.

Manchester City celebrate Erling Haaland's goal against Manchester United.
…In response to William (Leicester), City fan here:

I am enjoying City’s success and, to use your words, I am not particularly enamoured with the owners? How’s that?

While I am happy to say that without any qualification, I’d like to float a potential explanation (albeit not a defence) of the stance apparently taken by the City fans you have come across (especially those you have found in the YouTube comments section, a well-known haven of sanity and reasonable discussion).

I suspect that in the vast majority of instances where the topic of human rights abuses is raised with City fans, it will be as part of a tedious and partisan argument about football. When @bobbyf1rmino9456 talks about Abu Dhabi’s strategic interests in Yemen, my suspicion (sorry Bobby) is that he couldn’t care less about the subject, and he just needed something to say in response to some no-doubt hilarious Haaland v Nunez meme.

To him it’s just another “Emptyhad” or a “no history” jibe. And so when a serious topic is used as just another weapon in the on-going (and soul-destroying) social media banter wars, it’s no wonder that you don’t see many sober and reflective responses from City fans.

Maybe there are a lot of City fans who don’t care (though for what it’s worth I know there are those who do, and I hope more will). But rival fans pretending to care so they win a Twitter battle isn’t a great look either.
James (MCFC)

 

…In response to William, Leicester’s jumbled strawman argument can I please state that using YouTube comments as a barometer of anything is a lesson in idiocy.

Obviously each fanbase have their idiots, but as has been said on this site, City have much fewer of them, then the rest of the ‘big 6’. Lots of us, me included, have a grounding from watching City in three different divisions in English football and I’m enjoying the ride immensely. And if the owners get bored/something else bad happens etc then I’ll remember the good times and get on with enjoying watching the boys in blue in whatever incarnation remains.

And for clarity I appreciate how well-run City are by the owners, how they well they have developed the infrastructure of the club to create an environment for City to be successful. However, I also have significant reservations regarding the owner’s association with the Abu Dhabi/UAE human rights records, and other rules and restrictions in place. Life is complicated and I can hold these two opinions simultaneously.

Most arguments against City fans behaviour on this subject lack any nuance that is needed. Yes we could have protested, but we were broke under Shinawatra, with the previous owner to him paying the players’ wages, so were in desperate need of a new owner. The ownership changed in a day so we had no time to assess them. And even if we protested would that have made a difference? United still haven’t succeeded in ousting their owners.

Instead City fans by enlarge have judged them on their ownership actions (rather than just words) and appreciated how well they have run the club. In an ideal world I’d prefer a wealthy, morally pure Mancunian to own us (or Ryan Reynolds), but life isn’t perfect. I could walk away from the team I have supported all my life, but why should I? They are my team. I can’t just support someone else instead.

If you want to be annoyed at anyone then the failings from FA and the Premier League on ownership criteria is the problem. That is the level where morality of owners should be judged.
Andy D, Manchester. MCFC.

 

Attracting the wrong sort
I read William, Leicester’s mail with interest. I too, as a Liverpool fan, used to have a lot of love for City. Big club, loyal support and gallows humour in the dark days. A proper club with a soul until the takeover. I wanted to share one story in particular that happened a few months ago at the Cup semi final. I took my 8 year old son, so excited in his Liverpool shirt and first trip to Wembley.

As we were leaving the ground after a great win, 3-2, which really flattered City on the day, walking down Wembley Way, the majority of those around us were City fans who had left, not wishing to see the Liverpool celebrations I imagine. Anyway, I am walking along holding my son’s hand and one City fan, middle aged, pretty fat and very unhappy started shouting over towards us. We are outnumbered maybe 100:1 by the way: “You F**king Hillsborough c*nts, you ain’t gonna win the league you murdering bastards” “You’re all f*cking p*kis, Irish and Southerners you Scouse bastards” (I know this doesn’t even make sense!) etc etc. All this directed to another middle aged man and his kid, minding their own business. This went on for 2-3 minutes, while I ignored him and tried to steer clear. Part of me wanted to smash his head in to be honest, but obviously that could have escalated the situation and made things much worse. So I pretty much had to suck it up and just focus on talking to my kid, who was by now crying, terrified and wondering why a grown man was calling him a “c*nt”.

By the way, I am not some prude who can’t handle a bit of swearing – football is great for its passion but there is a limit to what is acceptable and that by any decent person’s estimation is well over the line. Of the hundred or so people (City fans) who witnessed this, one guy came up to us when it was over and said “sorry, we are not all like that” which was a lovely gesture, but not one other City fan said anything to fatso as he bowled down Wembley Way acting the hard man.

Now I am not using this as a stick to beat the whole of Man City, but I don’t think that would have happened 10-15 years ago. I think an arrogance has crept in and some of them cannot handle any defeat, even a well deserved one such as the semi final.

I don’t know, a one off maybe, but every time I watch City now I think of that bloke and hope they lose and he picks on the wrong person, but I doubt he would actually do it to anyone who was likely to respond.
Anon

 

Chill, brothers
This might not be a popular opinion in these parts, but will people please STFU about how they won’t be watching the world cup because of the labour used to build the stadiums, or the Man City sportswashing project? People are aware of the arguments, anything more said about it might come across as virtue signalling now. I got in touch with Amnesty international on your behalf and they confirmed my suspicions that the best way to fight oppression around the globe isn’t to write into a mailbox on a football website.

Channel your arguments in the most constructive way, then sit back, lighten up a little, enjoy Haalands time and space defying abilities, and remind yourself how amazing it was to see the yellow shirts of Brazil and Roger Milla’s celebration. You probably got into football as a release from all of life’s shit in the first place.
Adam, LFC

 

Postcard from (near) Bruges
Well done Liverpool for what sounded a dominant display, particularly interesting to see Jota back in the line-up, he brings a lot to the team.
But the story of the night has to be Club Bruges beating Atletico Madrid. 2-0 up after an hour, the Pro League champions suffered late on as they conceded a penalty in the 76th minute -which Griezmann hit against the bar. João Felix hit a good free kick in the 90th minute but it was saved by Mignolet.

FC Bruges, currently third in the top flight, become the first Belgian team to get three wins out of their first 3 games in the Champions League. And they still haven’t conceded a CL goal.

Beating Leverkusen 1-0 was good; beating Porto 4-0 away was excellent; but beating Atletico was unbelievable.
At last it looks like there will be a Belgian team in the knockout stages rather than dropping into the Europa League.
Paul in Brussels

 

Harry for England
Frankly I do not understand why anyone would think about Harry Redknapp as a potential England Manager, he is a terminal underachiever who talks a bit of sense every now and then. He is not a leader and has an opinion just like we all do but never offers up any insights, just opinions. Gareth, to echo others, has taken us further than anyone in 50 years and we will have a good World Cup, he may not be as exciting as some people would like but he is doing a great job. Trent will get there in the end, he is just not a very good defender and our defense is a weak point and we have a number of players who can take free kicks.
Gary

 

Belated reply
I often pour through the mailbox (usually 3 or 4 days late), and I happened upon an absolute pearl of a mail from Barry Fox, getting all bent out of shape about Arsenal originally being from South London.

What he conveniently forgets (or doesn’t know) is that Tottenham was officially part of Middlesex until 1965. My maths isn’t great, but even I know that’s way after when the mighty Arsenal rocked up at the other end of the Seven Sisters. And as for not taking any help from the authorities, didn’t they take a massive grant from the London Mayor to help build that ground?

Big club my ar*e.

And as for it tasting sweet when they beat us on Saturday…..erm…..

Kind Regards,
DP

 

Fantasy world
When I get bored of my fantasy team in December after seeing three of my starting-line up with long term injuries, I can cheer myself up by a mate who used to call his team “Chicken Tikka Mo-Salah.”

No doubt with a side order of Nani-Bread, and a pint of De Bruyne-Ale.
@rubym83 (MCFC…and bloody hungry now…)

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