I’m not really sure what to make of Ryan’s blog that was up earlier. I’ll delve briefly into the reasons why we didn’t win that match against Liverpool and, in general, a defense of Olivier Giroud. This blog will be quite long, so please bear with me. Of course, this is all my opinion.
There are 5 basic parties that need to agree to a transfer for a transfer to take place: the player, the player’s family (e.g. wife, children, possibly also parents and other close family members), the agent, the selling club and the buying club. There are cases where a club gets put in an untenable position by a player (e.g. Liverpool and Sterling during this past off-season). A player may also not be in favour of their current coach or tactics and may seek a move away as a result. A player’s family may also be a hindrance to a potential transfer (e.g. Cech coming to Arsenal because he wanted his children to stay in London as they were settled). A player’s agent may also oppose a transfer for whatever reason (e.g. money concerns or possible playing time issues) – sure, the player can change his representation, but I don’t think most players change agents unless the agent does something really egregious that leaves that player at a disadvantage for whatever reason. The only two parties that people most often represent in their minds for a transfer are the buying and selling clubs, which need to agree a fee – most clubs will not sell unless they already have a player in place to replace the outgoing player with or if the manager is altering the tactics of his team and the player being sold is one who will not fit into the new tactics for whatever reason – this was how Arsenal managed to get Ozil and Sanchez. Real Madrid were already signing Gareth Bale from Spurs and Barcelona were signing Luis Suarez from Liverpool – both clubs had to recoup some funds so Ozil and Sanchez were sold.
Ryan then named a number of “world-class” forwards – most of these players, for one or more reasons outlined above, will not be available to Arsenal. Just for fun, I’m doing a little table showing Giroud in comparison with Benzema, Lewandowski, Cavani and Suarez, with appearances displayed first, followed by goals (G) and assists over the last 4 seasons – I’m only showing league goals here on an overall basis, not for specific “big” matches. 1st asterisk indicates the season where Giroud moved from Montpellier to Arsenal. 2 asterisks shows when Cavani moved from Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain. Lewandowski switched from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich last season, while Suarez moved from Liverpool to Barcelona last season.
|2011-2012||36 apps. – 21 Goals, 12 Assists||34 apps. – 21 Goals, 12 Assists||35 apps. – 23 Goals, 4 Assists||34 apps. – 22 Goals, 10 Assists||31 apps. – 11 Goals, 6 Assists|
|2012-2013||*34 apps. – 11 Goals, 5 Assists||30 apps. – 12 Goals, 13 Assists||34 apps. – 29 Goals, 5 Assists||31 apps. – 24 Goals, 7 Assists||33 apps. – 23 Goals, 11 Assists|
|2013-2014||36 apps. – 16 Goals, 9 Assists||35 apps. – 17 Goals, 10 Assists||**30 apps. – 16 Goals, 6 Assists||33 apps. – 20 Goals, 11 Assists||33 apps. – 31 Goals, 21 Assists|
|2014-2015||27 apps. – 14 Goals, 3 Assists||29 apps. – 15 Goals, 11 Assists||34 apps. – 18 Goals, 1 Assist||31 apps. – 17 Goals, 7 Assists||27 apps. – 16 Goals, 17 Assists|
|Total||133 apps. – 62 Goals, 29 Assists||128 apps. – 65 Goals, 46 Assists||133 apps. – 86 Goals, 16 Assists||129 apps. – 83 Goals, 35 Assists||124 apps. – 81 Goals, 55 Assists|
Looking over those figures (obtained from Transfermarkt – thanks!) shows that Giroud statistically is a little bit behind the other players, but there is an explanation for that. The players I compared to Giroud may well be better in the so-called “big” matches but none of the others will sign for Arsenal at present in my opinion for a variety of reasons which I will get to shortly, nor were we really in the hunt for any of them at any stage, outside of Suarez (Liverpool gambled that Arsenal would not take them to Court to force a transfer over the rejection of the 40 million and 1 Pounds bid that Liverpool received from Arsenal prior to the 2013-14 season) and, with his temperament and notoriety in England, Arsenal were never going to match the 75 million Pounds Barcelona stumped up for him.
Benzema isn’t a huge improvement over Giroud based on those figures and only has a higher assist count in my opinion due to playing with Cristiano Ronaldo and, to a lesser extent, Gareth Bale, both of whom tend to get themselves into good positions in and around the penalty box. Giroud has contributed to more team goals (e.g. goals he scored in addition to assists) than Cavani over the past 2 seasons and I think that trend will continue into this season should neither player get transferred. Cavani would also command a massive fee and, as I mentioned before, PSG would not sell him unless they have already targeted a replacement, which, in my opinion, is unlikely.
Lewandowski is, statistically, a better player than Giroud, but I recall reading something about him suffering from homesickness when far from home, which is why he did not leave Germany, as Germany is closer to Poland than England, France, Italy or Spain. It must also be noted that the Bayern team around Lewandowski is an excellent side who have multiple goal outlets (e.g. Muller, Ribery, Robben…) aside from Lewandowski. Lewandowski, like Suarez, changed clubs in the past 12 months and are unlikely to do so again so soon. It should also be noted that Lewandowski and Benzema likely also have one eye on the upcoming European Championships, making a move for either player extremely unlikely as neither would likely move before the tournament.
The other factor that must be considered is the massively high fees that any world-class player would command, both in transfer fee and wages. Arsenal have more limited means than Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Chelsea – that is a simple fact of life. Those clubs will be able to sign the world-class talent as they would all be able to outbid Arsenal in both transfer fee and wages, as the Board at Arsenal must be geared more towards long-term sustainability due to having more limited means, which means lower fees for players compared to other big clubs. PSG, Man City and Chelsea all have massively wealthy owners, Manchester United has a huge commercial division who have brought in a lot of sponsorship funds to the club in addition to a lot of debt management following the Glazer takeover some years ago. Real Madrid and Barcelona have always been massive spenders and mostly in their own market for players until recently.
Moving on to last night’s performance, I think Olivier Giroud does a great job for Arsenal – he did well against Liverpool last night in his hold-up play, beating both Skrtel and Lovren multiple times in the air and bringing the ball down for players around him but the manager’s selection of the starting line-up did him no favours. The forward line was mostly static for most of the match. As we know, Wenger started with Alexis, Ozil and Ramsey – Alexis runs more with the ball at his feet, which means that he will not get into open space as often and is more likely to draw attention from opposing defensive players, while Ramsey quite often drifts around but doesn’t make a decisive run often enough and is also often not quick enough to exploit space that opens up. This was a problem against Liverpool as the Reds started with two defensive midfielders in Emre Can and Lucas Leiva, who both tend to sit deep – with the lack of runners around him, Ozil was not able to influence the match as much as he did against Crystal Palace. It should also be noted that Alexis and Ramsey both drift centrally, making Can and Lucas’ jobs more simple. Ozil also, unfortunately, still has the tendency to pass the ball rather than taking a shot – all Liverpool had to do was stand their ground and not allow Arsenal to pass through their defense, which they did rather well.
If Wenger had started with Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right and left Ramsey on the bench, Arsenal may well have won that match. As soon as The Ox was brought on, Brendan Rodgers sent on Moreno, a left-back, to bolster his defence, effectively playing 5 defenders (Clyne, Gomez, Moreno, Skrtel, Lovren) and 2 defensive midfielders (Milner and Can – Lucas had been subbed off), which makes the central areas in and around the box even more congested than before. Cech and Mignolet both played well, making numerous saves – Cech was under greater pressure due to Chambers’ erratic and often downright awful passing last night.
Arsene Wenger should be looking at a wide forward now in addition to another defensive midfielder and centre-back, especially due to the continued (and worrying) absense of Danny Welbeck. I know many Arsenal fans have mentioned Marco Reus, but I think he is a bit too lightweight for the Premier League and does have some injury concerns. Julian Draxler may be a better fit and has the strength and physicality for the Premier League, but we’ll have to wait and see if Wenger brings anyone in. Giroud may not score as often as we would like in the “big” matches, but having a player who is intelligent enough to run into the space that he provides would likely bring more goals to the team and I think Draxler may well be that player – Reus definitely does but I feel he’d get injured a lot in the Premier League, which would be a shame. All that is, of course, up to the manager’s selection!
Right, that’s all from me. Please share and comment below. Thanks!