There’s a reluctance among Arsenal fans to really get on the title bandwagon but the next couple of weeks are key – starting with Saturday.
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Mudryk and the most expensive transfers
Jack Grealish £100m
Romeo Lukaku £97.5m
Paul Pogba £89m
Harry Maguire £80m
Jaden Sancho £77m
Virgil Van Dijk £75m
Romelu Lukaku £72m
Kai Havertz £72m
The top ten most expensive transfers in Premier League history. Minus Antony and Mudryk. And on that list there is but one unarguable and unqualified success, Van Dijk. The rest are various shades of arguable. As an Arsenal fan I’ll happily admit to Pepe being an almighty waste of money, wages and opportunity.
The point of this isn’t that the most expensive transfers rarely succeed. Instead it’s to point out that the most expensive transfers don’t guarantee success, certainly no more than cheaper alternatives. And that doesn’t have to matter for some clubs. In the above list, Man Utd gonna Man Utd and the noodle partners keep coming. And Chelsea, well by amortising fees across near decades they seem to be skirting FFP, though you wonder if a reckoning might be on its way some day like Barcelona and Juventus.
But for others, the fees matter. Liverpool had to get Van Dijk right. Arsenal couldn’t get Pepe wrong, and then did. Spurs don’t feature in this list, nor in the top 20, because they can’t afford to even try to make that kind of mistake. So it is that I’m pretty sanguine about Mudryk going to Chelsea. Because that fee is no guarantee that he’ll be what either club needed or need. He might be a Van Dijk. He might be a Pepe. He’ll probably be somewhere in between. £70-£100m, is too much too far. I’d rather we spent that elsewhere.
Why don’t Arsenal fans believe?
A couple of interesting observations over this title race from a ‘neutral’ hoping Arsenal do it.
Firstly, a couple of people are raising similarities with the Leicester season. Leicester did have a perfect storm of all the competition collectively shitting the bed but Arsenal still have City on their tails who often start the season off poorly and end up winning. Arsenal also have the perception of not much depth beyond that 1st XI but I don’t think it is as true as it was for Leicester.
Remember also that Leicester came from a serious threat of relegation the season before whereas Arsenal have rarely been out of the top 6 in seasons past. Leicester had one way of playing, soak up the pressure (Kante stops everything) and then hit them on the break with lightning speed. How they didn’t get found out in the second half of the season is mind numbing but by then they had the confidence and momentum that got them through.
I can see why Arsenal fans are playing down their chances with Utd and two 6 pointers against City coming up. But if they can remain 4 or 5 points ahead after that run, they should deservedly be favourites. I think the Utd game will be a really tough one where Arsenal would be content with a point. However, I also think the City games are coming at a great time for Arsenal where it could be the opportunity to increase that lead at the top or at least maintain it.
I also see some Arsenal fans wouldn’t mind going out of the cups. I’d never condone my team losing any game, what I want out of lesser cups is for the youth and fringe players to go on a run and force themselves into the first XI reckoning. That’s what Arsenal need. Coupled with City having one eye and extra pressure on Champions league that does give Arsenal an extra advantage albeit small.
I may look stupid here if Arsenal lose all three of the games mentioned above however I think Arsenal will do it mainly based on momentum.
Arteta has built a team who play a good brand of football, have the belief and have built momentum and belief. That is not done easily.
City, on the other hand are the opposite. They had an arrogance in the past that they would brush all aside and they generally did. That arrogance is still there but they have forgotten they still need to perform on the pitch to take the points. There is no hunger or desire, they just seem to think that de Bruyne, Fodden and Haaland will rack up the goals and assists every game.
Sorry City, your brand of football has been great but teams are finding out how to play against you and when you’re slightly off the boil you drop points. Pep needs to reinvent and no doubt he will. Also, as Liverpool and Chelsea can attest to, once you get into a bit of a rut like City are in, it can take time to get out of it. City do not have time, one or 2 bad games against Arsenal and the title is gone. Arsenal just need draws, City have to win at least one of those games.
Final point on a different note as this mail is way too long. Where did the banter go? In seasons past of the 90’s and 00’s Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea were full of banter the whole season as to why they were better than their rivals and definitely going to win that year. Since City have been winning all before them no-one wants to talk up their team? Even City fans if you can find them. I guess we need a weakened City to make that banter more likely.
Jon, Cape Town (much more hopeful for top 4, would love to see the 2 Utds both make it)
We might believe soon
In a mailbox from this past summer in which I predicted Arsenal was on the come up (btw, I was not at all expecting it to be quite like this) I wrote the following:
‘Stay strong, fellow Gooners. Be confident…but forsake hubris. It might be agonizing…but it also might be glorious. That’s sports. Either way, the next 2-3 years will be a window into the next 10-15 for the club.’
It seems a large portion of our fanbase is caught between the ellipses of my statements. We’re refusing to get caught up in our success while also going about it far too timidly.
The simple fact of the matter is we truly cannot answer any of the unspoken questions at least until we actually play City – against whom three matches remain. If you think our FA Cup tie isn’t a potential harbinger for the rest of the season, well you’re quite wrong: that match is the perfect opportunity for City to lay down a marker prior to our league meetings. I am quite looking forward to how we handle that match.
But even before that, we’ve got United this weekend. If we are going to win the title then the standard is surely beating a non-contending United at the Emirates..period…particularly in light of United’s current “title-contending” form. If we are the best team then we have to prove that against the others week-in, week-out.
Stay strong, fellow Gooners – we’re at another tipping point in our history. We expected far too much from Spurs – this United home match is surely a harbinger for the aspirations of both clubs – whether it’s us winning the league or United being true contenders.
MAW, LA Gooner
The woes of Arsenal
I enjoyed reading through Chippy Brady’s list of all the calamities befallen on Arsenal over the years. Did anyone else also do it in Ewan Mcgregors voice like the final monologue from Trainspotting? Anyway, I was very surprised that in the list of regular drubbings, pants-being-pulled-down and cricket score lines, there was a very glaring omission from an arch-nemesis who personified the banter years more better than most. Step forward Didier Drogba!
On another note, if Man United can’t win it (stop laughing at the back), I would love for Arsenal to be champions this year over City, Newcastle and Liverpool (lol). For the love of God, please remember to rein your fans in a bit should the unthinkable happen.
Somebody’s got a little giddy
Loving all these people making their most desperate and pathetic attempts to tear us down. I’m revelling in the comments of Neville, that degenerate Keys and some of the usual mailbox naysayers. I’m thrilled at the behaviour of Richarlison and that knobhead Sp*rs fan that tried to assault Ramsdale.
We’ve dealt with this rubbish for ages now, we’re used to it and Mikel’s side is hardened by it. Keep bringing it on. This Arsenal citadel is preparing to withstand all of it and triumph above your salty, teary garbage.
Bring your hordes of barbarians, your siege towers and catapults. We already have a siege mentality in our fortress. We are literally THE ARSENAL.
Proud of my f**king team.
Vish (AFC), Melbourne, Aus
…People are stupid. Thinking that Arsenal don’t stand a chance at winning the title is stupid. The Neviller is a teensy weensy jelly about where the Gunners are currently. He wishes it was our beloved Man UTD. But it’s not. So grow up.
What stupid people fail to realise is that Arsenal just need one or two results against City and they have a real chance. Say for instance, in their next meeting, Haaland is so fired up he ends up committing two bookable offenses because he’s spent the entire match chasing shadows. Or maybe Pep overthinks like he’s wont and plays without a defensive midfielder like he did in the CL final. Or a very convenient camera angle fails to spot Saka is miles offside when he scores the winner and they have to go with the on-pitch decision because the lino didn’t raise a flag.
So people be smart. Arsenal can even afford to lose both games against City and still win the title as long as they match or better City’s results in the other games. And GNev isn’t fooling anyone with his diatribe dribbling with disbelief, disingenuity and diarrhea. He’s just jelly and can’t help but wish the league leadership was with someone else…
Gitonga (GGMU and MUGA)
Klopp in; Greg out
Sure you’ll get lots of Klopp defence emails, I would also like to add my voice to this please.
Yes, we are having a bad season. But come on, be realistic. Look at what the man has achieved:
1PL title, 1 CL title (3 finals in 5 years), 1 FA cup, 1 league cup, then all the nice little extras – super cups, world club cup etc. and a Europa league final to boot. If this is a man who doesn’t deserve patience, then you have to say what the hell is going on with football?
(As an aside, and as it always seems to come to this, from transfermarkt – list of clubs who’ve spent more than Liverpool in the last 10 years: Arsenal, Chelsea, United, City, Newcastle(!), Spurs and West Ham – sure we’ve spent loads, but we could have just as easily spent loads and won nothing. I’d also argue that when Klopp came in he started at a lower base than all except Newcastle and West Ham on that list)
The midfield needs a revamp. But it takes time to rebuild a squad. On the surface the Gakpo signing looks silly, and I would have preferred midfield reinforcements personally. However, what about the long term? When we get some new midfielders in the summer, we go in to next season with an incredible looking squad. It’s possible (likely) the club wrote off this season already and therefore chose to get a player from their list now, while he was available for a reasonable fee.
Yes, Champions League football is important – and yes it may impact summer plans – but Jurgen Klopp remains our ace in the hole – players want to play for him. Replace the manager – with who I ask you? And you’ve suddenly got Europa league plus no Jurgen Klopp. I know where I’d rather be.
Be less Greg, everyone. Get behind this team and manager that have given us so, so much to cheer over the last half a decade. And no, this doesn’t mean blind faith and ignorance of the issues, but just they are our team and if you can’t support them now, we don’t want you there when we win the next shiny pot.
…As a United fan I’m absolutely loving seeing Liverpool struggle right now.
However, I’m also not going to join in on all the schadenfreude going round about their struggles.
Klopp has shown for most of his time at Liverpool to be capable of delivering a team that plays incredible football. Many times I’ve watched them and been blown away by how they play. I’m 45 and I’ve not seen many teams play with such intensity, verve, pace and skill in my life.
Ok this year it’s slightly fallen apart. But dips happen. Even if they fail to make the champs league spots if I was a Liverpool fan I’d want to give Klopp one more season to get it right again.
A summer of rest and a couple of good midfield signings – would you put good money against Liverpool challenging for the title again next season?
Nishul Saperia (I did think Rashford was offside, but I’ll take the breaks that come our way)
…With Newcastle, there is now a top seven. There are only four Champions League places.
Two of these places will be taken by Newcastle and City for the foreseeable because they have more money than anyone else. I don’t like it anymore than you do but that’s how it is.
Now United finally have a manager worth the name – they will probably take the other place.
That leaves one other place to fight for. And given the North London clubs and Liverpool don’t have the financial resources of the aforementioned trio, they will have to make do with building a team for success which will mean they will have their bumper harvests and fallow periods.
Arsenal appear to be on an upward curve while the teams that contested the Champions League final a few years back have fallen away.
A rebuild was inevitable. Have patience. Liverpool already have an advantage over Spurs as I don’t think Conte will oversee their rebuild.
In short – if you don’t support Newcastle or the Manchester clubs, you have to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Why no mention of Chelsea? Well, I actually think the Chelsea fans have got what they were demanding. They’ve got their Chelsea back. The problem is it’s Mears Chelsea and not Abramovic Chelsea.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
…Quick one for Greg, The Press are not ‘scared’ to call out Klopp and ask for him to be sacked, it’s that they’d look like idiots, because it’s not going to happen. Klopp has enough ‘credit in the bank’ that he’ll go when he wants, he won’t be asked.
On a more general F365 point. It’s often mentioned, on these pages, that Gakpo was signed when Liverpool ‘desperately need a midfielder’ (we’ll gloss over that lazy regurgitated nonsense, Liverpool have always been ‘easy to play through’, if you can beat their press, which is now non-existent, that’s a full team thing, not just the midfield).
When have Liverpool, under Klopp, ever signed a player unless they a 100% the (in the managers opinion at the time) right player?
Never, none of the midfielders Klopp wants are available.
He’s not ignoring needing a midfielder, he probably doesn’t think it’s as necessary as media folk think and there are (probably) no midfielders that fit the criteria available.
Not signing Gakpo because there are no available players in a different position would be silly.
Has anybody else lost their football mojo?
A question to the mailbox for those who’re in their 40s and have been visiting the site for a while. Do we care as much?
As is often quoted, Lydon’s final words were “Ever Get the Feeling You’ve Been Cheated?” Well that’s how I feel about football post-Qatar. I’m wondering why and how i volunteered so much time and energy to football. What did it actually give me.
I didn’t watch the World Cup. I’d made the decision years before it kicked off, because of what Amnesty were reporting, with missing and non returned bodies; of the volume of ‘died in their sleep’ death certificates. This was a scandal.
To me, I think it very likely Qatar and their PR team paid media managers to try so very desperately to shift the narrative away from the staggering loss of life and instead make the arguments about women’s rights and LGBT+ rights, with the sole aim of then muddying the waters with whataboutery.
I found it quite sad to see these arguments parroted back in the mailbox, without a critical eye. Yes, England’s record in 66′ was dreadful. Yes, the ‘States is taking some less-than-empowering direction from 2014 onwards. Yes these things are vitally important and football as well as countries should be doing far more to address inclusivity issues. But I don’t recall the [labour without wages getting paid + inability to leave = clear slavery] in previous or pending World Cup bids. To those claiming this is tin foil hat behaviour, listen to what has been leaked about current UK Governments. How they’d intentionally had stalking-horse bad news stories. How Boris himself has been successful. How fostering opposition to the stories you yourself have leaked enables you to sew seeds to your own core base that those objecting to you are lefty loons, are focussed on the ‘piffle’ rather than important matters, or how they are hypocrites. All while enabling you to bury stories about much worse scandals. It’s basic 1:1 PR now.
I resent the accusation that those ignoring Qatar are just westerners trying to impose societal norms on foreign soil. nah mate. it’s because football isn’t worth killing hundreds of people so Salt Bae can grab a selfie.
So Qatar made me go cold turkey on football media.
But interestingly, there’s no withdrawal. I stopped the podcasts, but I haven’t returned to them. I watched Match of the Day religiously, though haven’t returned to it. I used to keep a relatively close eye on what the other teams were up to; Now I’m paying for Sky Sports in NZ and haven’t even made the time to watch the on demand condensed highlights of City-United.
I’ll always return to F365 as I’ve read it for 20 years, but find myself clicking on Mediawatch less and less, because the good guys now do what they used to lambast in the red-tops. I skim the mailbox in 2 mins and can’t find much in common with a lot of the authors. I like 16 conclusions and wish most football writing mirrored that, but there doesn’t seem to be a market for it anymore. Not enough outrage presumably, except of course the outrage if a certain game doesn’t then have 16 conclusions and is therefore demonstrating F365 bias.
For me, Qatar has probably killed football as an ecosystem. It’s now just the team I support. Which, with comic timing, has meant the team I support has fallen off a bloody cliff. But everything is so very tainted, tribal and rubbish. Even the Euros, with England’s once in a blue moon performance matching their potential, was delivered against international audiences writing in to say 3 Lions is a song about English Imperialism, which works… if you ignore the lyrics, the tone, the self-mockery and the intent of the song. Football now a vehicle for some to articulate grudges, legitimate or otherwise. Even when sticking to just the game, the commentary around football now is just so very tiring. VAR for gods sake; does Marcus Rashford moving his leg one way or another mean intent. What the bloody hell is this anymore. But i’ll tell who is definitely at fault – the guys in black; they are the ones that definitely need to be far better. Yep.
It’s likely always been this way, but I was strapped into the rollercoaster. Now I’m not, I’m actually feeling far better. Far less emotive.
I respect the ref’s whistle. And I’ll get used to my team likely being a bit pants for a while, but not get too het up about it. I’ll keep reading 16 conclusions as I recognise fewer and fewer names and faces in the teams concerned…