We can win the league even without further additions – Chelsea did it with less

If only they weren't injured for as long as they were

If only they weren’t injured for as long as they were

“We are not going to challenge unless we buy a DM and that world-class striker. Giroud is not good enough to win us the league, while we are one injury away from using Arteta whose legs have gone”. Apparently Arteta’s legs have left Colney in Diaby’s pockets on his way out, but I’m not here to defend Giroud (because I a) have already done that b) don’t think he needs defending). I’m also not here to point out United have won the league with Carrick, who’s exactly the type of player Arteta is… Oh, wait. Seems I have already pointed it out.

Anyway, Arteta is perfect back-up to Coquelin and I won’t dwell on the matter any longer as an abundance of articles have been written on the subject in the immediate aftermath of our lego-haired Spaniard signing a one-year contract extension. In my view Arteta is a great leader, both on and off the pitch, a consummate professional and is perfectly capable of 15-20 games a season to allow Coquelin some rest and/or offer something different to Francis.

Arsenal signs new deal and it's good news

Arsenal signs new deal and it’s good news

Rather, this article will be about squad balance and why I believe we can win the league even without further additions. To prove my point I’ll do a very simple thing: set a benchmark.

I think we can all agree Chelsea won the league deservedly this season? Yes, yes, we hate the club, the owner, the manager, a certain racist captain and a lot more about Chelsea, but let’s not deny Chelsea finished the season top of the table for a reason: they were the better team over the course of the WHOLE campaign. And so I’ll go over what I believe helped them win the league and search for these ingredients in our side.

A team is a microcosm of the manager

A team is a microcosm of the manager

But first an important note: the team is the microcosm of the manager. It adopts the manager’s respective style. Chelsea won the league relying heavily on their rock-solid defense, especially in the second half of the season when they were robbed of Costa and Fabregas suffered the usual dip in form.

That doesn’t mean the only way to win the league is to play defense-first. In fact, Chelsea has won the league for the first time in five years and I don’t remember them playing boring, boring football under Ancelotti. Before that their last league success happened under Mourinho, in 2006.

In ten years Chelsea won the league three times, the other seven times were shared between City (two titles) and United (five!). Neither team played the kind of football Mourinho preaches. So it’s entirely possible to win the league playing beautiful attacking football.

With that in mind, let’s go!

Defensive stability

Chelsea went into this campaign with one (!) right-back in Ivanovic, two left-backs in Azpilicueta and Luis and 3 recognised centre-backs (Terry, Cahill, Zouma). You can also count in Kalas and Omeruo, depending on how much you trust them.

Now get this: Terry and Ivanovic played ALL league games. Every single minute. 38 goddamn appearances. Cahill clocked 36 outings.

They played every league game!

They played every league game!

The left-back duties were shared more evenly: 29 appearances for Azpilicueta and 15 for Luis. Nonetheless, Chelsea had a truly stable back four the entire campaign.

On paper, ours defense that season looked better, dare I say: two right-backs in Debuchy and Bellerin, two left-backs in Monreal and Gibbs and three centre-backs in Mertesacker, Koscielny and Chambers. Our downfall was injuries: by Christmas we have played around 15 different combinations of these 7 players.

This year our defense looks even better. We can truly count on Bellerin, Chambers is chomping at the bit at centre-back, while the addition of Gabriel made us reach the Promised Land: two defenders for each position. In fact, our defense looks so good we had to ship out Jenko on loan once more. We showed how a team can benefit from a stable defense in 2015, if we manage to keep our defenders fit, they no doubt have the requisite quality to win us the title.

The final piece of the puzzle for our defense

The final piece of the puzzle for our defense

DM. D-M. DeeeeeM.

Yes, Chelsea have a romping DM: Matic. However do they have back-up? Yes, Obi Mikel. He made a whopping 15 league appearances.

But, you’d say, that’s a lot? True, however, here’s another fact: Matic played 36 games. Don’t you think Coquelin, you know, incidentally, can also play 36 or even more?

Even if he doesn’t wrack up that much, do you honestly think Obi Mikel is a better player than Arteta? More capable? So explain to me, why the hell should we spend ridiculous money on Kondogbia or Schneiderlin to play him 10-15 times a season?

If you want backup at backup prices, Arteta is your guy. If you think Schneiderlin is a better destroyer then Coquelin stop watching football now. If you think Schneiderlin should partner Coquelin in midfield look at our bench. Then at Schneiderlin and at our bench again. If Wilshere can’t make the squad and Ramsey was forced out wide to get some minutes, how probable it is that Schneiderlin will play a lot alongside Coq?

This guy can't get a start, the hell do we need Schneiderlin for?

This guy can’t get a start, the hell do we need Schneiderlin for?


Yes, Costa is a better forward than Giroud. But he also operates differently, facing the goal. Giroud’s role is more subtle: he is a springing board for our wingers: as such he plays with his back to the goal.

Nonetheless, Giroud scored 14 goals in 27 league games last season. A goal every two games is a decent return for any striker in any league.

When Costa suffered a series of injuries in the second half of the campaign, Chelsea’s goals dried up. In the period from mid-January till the end of May Chelsea almost couldn’t rely on Costa. They played 16 league games during that spell, only scoring more than two goals three times – and in two of these three occasions Costa was present. They had to rely on their defense and occasional goals from Loic Remy to rack up points, narrowly escaping draws and even losses on more occasions than one.

Unsurprisingly, our hardest period (September till beginning of December) coincided with Giroud being out. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s hard to score goals when your main striker is not starting week in, week out.

Better than Remy

Better than Remy

However, that’s not my point. Rather, who did Chelsea have as back-up? That’s right, the aforementioned Loic Remy. With all due respect to the man, he’s not much better (if at all) than our backup options: Walcott and Welbeck. Walcott on form is just lethal (however he was also out from September till December!), while Welbeck is also far from the flop people make him out to be.

A couple of words on midfield

We have (and had last season since no one was brought in yet) the best midfield in the league. It’s not the Arsenal fan speaking in me, I genuinely believe we have a brilliant midfield.

The problem was, you guessed it, injuries to Ozil and Arteta. Coquelin was yet to resurface early in the campaign. How do you think Chelsea would have fared without Cesc, Matic and Obi Mikel? Not nearly as good as they did with them, I’m sure of it.

We missed Arteta and Ozil

We missed Arteta and Ozil

Wrapping it up

I’ll make a bold statement: we are a better team than Chelsea. I’ll go even further: we were the better team at the outset of the last season. Why didn’t we win the league then?

Simple: stability. We lacked stability all over the pitch, not the least because key players spent a lot of time on the sidelines. As soon as they returned, we started killing it. Our last five league games weren’t nearly as good as we hoped, but I put it down to securing a Champions League place early. The players kind of…burnt out.

Chelsea won because the spine of their team played together for the whole campaign. If we could keep our players fit for the duration of the season, we will challenge, even without additions.

Over and out from me


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17 Responses to We can win the league even without further additions – Chelsea did it with less

  1. JM July 15, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    My opinion is that we easily have the numbers. However, some of these numbers are not of the highest quality (i.e compare Giroud to Costa, Coq/Arteta to Matic, Azpilicueta-Ivanovic to Monreal-Debuchy).

    We’re very close, but we just need to replace some of these numbers with simply better talents (or talents with higher potential) – which is what we’ve done recently with Cech, who will most likely oust Ospina, and Sanchez who ousted Podolski.

    If we can keep this positive transfer trend going, we’ll surely have a fearsome squad soon enough.

    • Ernie July 16, 2015 at 6:40 am #

      Real madrid have a fearsome squad. How many titles did they win this past season ? Oh yea. Zero! The stats indicate that coquelin was better than matic and most of the other top defensive mids in the league. Costa is not that much better than giroud. Giroud has way more to offer as a forward than costa. his link up play with his teammates is better, hold up play is better. yes giroud is not as clinical as costa but he’s getting there. Chelsea probably have better fullbacks than us, but the difference is not much. I’ll take the ox over willian any day, and sanchez over hazard. Koscielny over cahill. Terry over mertesacker. cazorla over fabregas. Ozil over oscar. So basically they’re better than us in ONE position, which is in central defense.(john terry). We now have a world class goalkeeper, so both teams are even there. The difference is that Chelsea are more consistent and fitter than us. That’s the two missing ingredients in this team. Consistency and fitness, not talent. Even van gaal said that Arsenal have a better team than chelsea, and that’s true.

      • Virgill July 16, 2015 at 7:36 am #

        The ox better than willian,sanchez better than hazard,pfa player was hazard,most dribnles in epl was hazard,whered u gey your stats,chelseas attacking midfield is the most deadliest in england as we have seen they won the league with games left to spare,coquelin better than matic,u dreaming,wot games u been wayching,lvg said that to wenger and the idiot beleived him,he dont want yourl to strengthen,chelsea had the best defence in england, they leaked the least goals,chelsea have a planb,c and d,then they have mourinho,your best ome which made me laugh is giroud better than costa,costa woulda had the golden boot,if not been injured so long,he played far less games than giroud but his vast goals really puts a stamp on how he outshined giroud,giroud aint a great striker,but costa is dealdy,funny your stats didnt show u these things

  2. Simon Ngulube July 15, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    It’s crazy that Arsenal Management doesn’t learn. Every year the problem is injuries for the past ten years now. It’s either the type of players our manager like are prone to injuries or the style he uses exposes our players to injuries. Therefore it is evident that we need additional players because we know that we are going to loose our important players and hence we will not be good enough to win the league. We have failed to win the league because of injuries for 10 years…tell me what have we done different that will make injuries disappear? It is insanity!

    • Ernie July 16, 2015 at 6:50 am #

      What have we done different? really? You didn’t notice when we brought in shad forsythe last summer? You didn’t notice that our entire team was fit during the 2nd half of the season due to his work? And this summer, another specialist who worked alongside forsythe has been hired to help the players with muscular injuries. So we have done some things to improve our injury situation. So you’re suggesting that we stockpile players just bcos we’ll get injuries? you realize that football is a game that starts with no more than 11 players right? where are we going to fit the players you’re suggesting we buy, when some of them are not even making the bench! ramsey has to play out of position just to make it into this team. walcott was not getting games until the last few games. rosicky can’t even get on the bench. So we have the quality. Adding more players is not always the answer. Just ask liverpool and tottenham. What do they have to show for the millions they spend on players every year. Not much.

  3. jossam July 15, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    Nosense chelsea is far much better than your so-called good than white army

  4. Paul Martin July 15, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    Sorry, Chelsea did it with considerably more than Arsenal

    Jose Mourinho v Arsene Wenger

    Has :
    Plan A Plan A
    Plan B If Plan A fails, try Plan A harder
    Plan C
    Plan D

    That’s why Chelsea NEVER lose to the Ars

  5. virgill July 15, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    U contradicted yoself,u said giroud is not good enu to win the league with arsenal,then u saying arsenal has better midfielders than chelsea,every teqm is strengthening,except arsenal,yourl always get left behind then wonder y,its gonna be another laughable arsenal season,cant wait to hear wot i hear after four months into the season for not dtrengthening with quality players rather than cheaper optios,ARSENE OUT

    • Ernie July 15, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

      Ok so let’s say we buy more players and they get injured like the rest of the team. Will those new players be of any use to the team then? We can only field a 25 man squad. Who is going to be left out to accomodate these new signings? People talk as if winning is just about signing players. how many trophies did real madrid, man utd,and man city win last year? Zero! And yet they spend way more money than us. Ramsey and wilshere can’t even get games in their best positions. Rosicky doesn’t even make the bench! And pls don’t tell me rosicky is not a good player. Theo wasn’t getting any games until the last few games of the season. This squad is overloaded with quality, but because of the “follow the herd” mentality of most fans, we must go out there and buy bcos other teams are buying players. Are any of the players liverpool bought better than what we have? No. The only player united have bought that is better than what we have is maybe depay. Schneiderlin is NOT better than ramsey, cazorla, or coquelin. Schweinsteiger is good but not on the same level as he used to be. City have bought sterling. is he better than chamberlain or walcott? Absolutely not. The key for this team is not the quality. It’s fitness and consistency. And I think we are starting to really address the fitness problems. We just hired a fitness specialist who worked alongside shad forsythe with germany. Relax guys. New players is NOT always the solution. The balance and harmony of the team is more important than any new players. Liverpool and spurs spend millions every summer and yet continue to fail. That shoud tell you something.

      • Virgw July 16, 2015 at 7:14 am #

        Arsenal only fin 8 points behind,but u forget it woulda been 14 points behind cos the league was already won with games left to spare,mou gave the youngsters and other 2nd tier a cjance to show wot they got,if he had put a full strength team out after the lwague was already won for every game it surely was gonna be 14 points behind chelsea,youbwould be singing a different tune,mou graced yourl with those 6points,every top 3 club hit arsenal last season,this was down to giroud not being good enuf,arsenal do need a quality holding midfielder,and a quality defender,almost half of the arsenal team is injury prone,wilshere,diaby,arteta,walcottyourls last buys have not worked out,yet yourl stay on the same course,then theres wenger,No plan B,yourl are the creators of yourl own failure,its another miserable laughable season for yourl,cos the first few games into tje season its gonna be the same story we hear each season,he shoulda strengthened,every team strengthens,if chelsea were not strong enuf for yourl last season hitting yourl for six,think again,thry are making themselves even stronger,that should be a warning to wenger,cos thry cuming back even harder thos time,sobis utd,so is city,so is liverpool and everyone else,even newly propmoted will strengthen,the arsenal always gets left behind then wonders y,then figures out y after ten games into the season,bought a goalkeeper and think theu ready to take on the world,especially with giroud,lmfao,bigger clubs will show yourl how its dome once again,which theyve been doin for the last ten seasons,

  6. Merlin July 15, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    I love it when fans are very optimistic like you the real reason why arsenal has not won the league for the past ten seasons has been down to losing players rather than gaining them . we have lost players through injuries and selling them to our direct rivals. just you think would we have gone this long trophy drought had we not lost the likes of rvp fabregas adebayor song nasri Ashley Cole kolo toure and clichy. we probably wouldn’t. so lets focus first on maintaining our players before buying new ones we had a Manchester city team before Manchester city and a Barcelona team before Barcelona

    • Virgill July 16, 2015 at 7:24 am #

      Barcelona team before barcelona,city team before city,wheres the evidence,trophies,players,i c one world class player in the team,sanchez,totally reliant on one man,he wont be playing in community shield,your views will be differenr after that game,chelsea will surely expose the whole arsenal team,dont forget they hit yourl for six last season,with sanchez playing,now without sanchez,diff story,but hey i aint hear to bring the arsenal down just saying wot i seen last season,it was a dismal season, only after the league was won did chelsea bring in 2nd tier players to give tjem a plauing chance,had a chelswa still fielded a strong eleven after the league was won, arsenal woulda been 14-17 points behind chelsea,u woulda been singing abdifferent tune,thats just the way i look at it,

  7. wolex July 15, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    You have absolutely missed the most important factor for Chelsea. Which is MOURINHO factor. The players could be balanced like you have pointed out but the coach knows how to get the best from his players this which I think arsenal lack. This factor is undeniable

  8. Ogbuehi Don Ndubuka July 15, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    Arsenal can challenge but cant win the league with present crop players only. Wenger needs strengthen the team in the defense and attacking departments with world class players

    • Ernie July 15, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

      You say that as if signing players is like going to a buffett and picking what you want. it’s not that simple. I think we are good enough to win this league. We just need to be more consistent and work on improving our fitness, which I believe we have. When the entire team is fit, like we saw in the 2nd half of last season, there are very few teams in europe better than us.

  9. esel July 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    Most of us gooner fans are actually waste, embarrassing and confused. Before you think you can address the club’s way of doing things, you need to understand the club first. Arsenal is different from man shitty, Manure, Chelski and shitpool. So if anyone wants a club that will splash ridiculous amounts of money on players that aren’t worth it, by all means please join any of those 4, etc. (Sterling 49mill, Di Maria over 60mil, Shneiderlin 25mill, haha shocking, come off it. Arsenal is a club that is self-sustainable…..which means the club has done so well finacially that it doesn’t need it’s owner to pump cash in like the previous 4 clubs I mentioned. (Although I think we could do with better alisher usmanov as the full time owner).
    As for transfers lets start by appreciating the fact that the world class deal for Cech got done early and we’ve added new face to the treatment room to sort out injuries. Anyone thats crying out for a defender can just stop supporting arsenal right now. We have 4 centre backs(kos,Gabs,Chambs,BFG) 2 right backs (bells,debu) and 2 left backs (Mon,Gibbo) so you do the maths. The DM situation is a bit sensitive for me though because I like the coq and to that prick who said matic was better than coq do your research. Stats show that in 2015 coq was the best defensive midfielder in the league and yes he was better than matic. I still feel like the height issue is a disavantage etc (coq v fellaini). Of course coq is way better than fellaini but he ended up copping for a broken nose due to size. Striker is a must and I don’t care what anyone says…even Le prof lol. We need a world class striker if we are going to challenge for the epl tittle and the champs league and to also complement Sanchez coz in some games you can see that Sanchez is on a level of his own.
    So with all being said we only need a WORLD CLASS STRIKER, which means lacazette is out. However À tall strong on the ball bully type DM would be a bonus. Let the club find the right players for us, they went to the school of football where as some of you haven’t been to school period. Deals take time especially “big transfers”. And to all you impatient cunts the best deals happen towards the end of preseason when managers have a good idea of which players they want to keep and get rid. Let arsenal club do their job and we do ours as supporters. Stop panicking coz manure are signing players. They did the same last summer and could only just about finish 4th. Dont panick like manure and shitpool fans where doing when we signed Peter Cech. Goonerforlife. P.s can someone tell Brenda Rodgers that I’m selling a Southampton pen for 20miĺl hahaha

  10. Astro July 17, 2015 at 6:58 am #

    we fans keeping shouting Wenger should buy this player and that player without considering where are they going to play. maybe he should he should change the whole starting eleven with new ones since we don’t truth our starting eleven when fully fit. come to think of it if the striker is that so good why will his club sell him when they too want to win there league and champion league also. let allow Wenger do his job and put faith in him.

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