Tag Archives: contract

Aubameyang – Stick or Twist?

With absolutely zero football taking place right now, our minds have a little more room for thought.

Instead of your brain juggling your teams impending fixtures, injury worries, potential changes in your fantasy team and league placements all residing in a cortex of your grey matter, there is now more room to ponder other things……

Erm…

In the absence of that leather ball bobbling around on that lush carpet we call The Emirates pitch, we have been privy to the usual mix of player rumour – especially circulating around our star striker and perennial goal machine – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gabon man is in contention to win the Golden Boot again after securing it last season. What puts that into perspective is that Auba has done this while for at least half of our season, the Good Ship Arsenal has plotted a course for mid-table ignominy.

Our number 14 has acted as a one-man lifeboat, keeping our precious cargo and personnel above the plunging depths. He has continued to terrify goalkeepers no matter what mess has been going on behind him. He has performed wonders – and we have recognised this.

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Our club has been attempting to lasso the striker into extending his stay with Arsenal as his contract winds down. Currently in his peak years, Auba is now approaching what will be the biggest decision of his footballing career.

Of course, the media have taken it upon themselves to write the alphabetical equivalent of smoke and mirrors surrounding Auba’s future at the club – and one story has certainly captured everyone’s currently free imagination.

The rumour surrounds Real Madrid, their unwanted striker Luka Jovic – and a large wad of money.

That’s right, the transfer rumour is that those at the Bernabeu want to lure Auba to La Liga, and will tempt Arsenal with a cash plus Jovic bid.

The question is – would you take it?

Everyone knows that the hardest thing to buy in football is goals. With Auba putting up more than his fair share of goals for the team, selling him and his numbers would almost certainly weaken our team.

We currently have Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah to make up the goals – but Lacazette aside, neither of the young strikers have proved week in, week out that they can make the difference in front of goal. How efficient will they be?

Lacazette has also changed his role somewhat since arriving at Arsenal. He still prowls centrally, but he is dropping deeper as his part in attacks is intrinsic to our moves. That has affected his goal return almost as much as poor form this season.

Then there is the Luka Jovic part of the equation. Jovic was a sensation in the Bundesliga – a competition far more similar to the rigours of the Premier League than La Liga ever has been. Rotation and reported poor discipline has seen Jovic play an ever-increasingly remote part of things at Madrid, but does his pedigree convert to success in the Premier League?

In short, can he be the man that replaces the certainty of Auba’s goals?

Maybe not, but throw in £50m and the search becomes a little easier.

There are other variables to take into consideration. Auba’s age means he has two, maybe three years maximum that we will have the PREMIUM version of the striker. Make no mistake, as he hits 33, 34, he will still bang in the goals, but he won’t be AS prolific, he won’t be able to beat as many defenders with his pace as he runs into the box, he won’t be AS lethal as the man we have now.

So, do we stick or twist?

Can we improve the team more with the money and Jovic?

Or do we stay where we are, potentially risk losing what is a huge asset on a free, but still feed off his goals while he does stay?

What a conundrum.

Good thing we have time to mull it over…

Emery Sacked! Why Now And What Now?

The club could endure no more it seems.

After another defeat and the seventh consecutive failure to win a game, it seems that the loss to Eintracht Frankfurt was the last straw for the now departed Arsenal Head Coach, Unai Emery.

His tenure ended in strangely eerie circumstances. Ticket restrictions for home fans and a ban on away fans gave The Emirates a suitably soulless atmosphere, for what was yet another abject performance.

A failure to inhibit our opposition whether home or away, constant erroneous performances and our inability to recreate even a portion of the style we are branded for, accumulated on Emery’s shoulders and with every dropped point, his knees buckled further.

The club were rumoured to want to give Emery until the end of the season, but it became abundantly clear to all that Emery would have been incapable of turning around our season, so Raul Sanllehi, Edu Gaspar and Vinai Venkatesham were left with a dilemma.

Either sever ties with Unai and bring in Freddie Ljungberg on an interim basis, or stay with Unai and see how bad things could get.

Luckily, they saw sense and Emery is now a former employee of Arsenal, just 18 months after signing for the Gunners.

It seems to have been a rapidly made decision, as players were unaware that the decision had been made this morning – and so was Emery who headed training this morning as usual. The squad were called for a meeting after training to announce the decision, and the only way is up in terms of results.

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Arsenal and Freddie now face the task of resurrecting our season, but the first step for the Super Swede will be to find our character that has made us a global brand. Coming from possibly the best team we have ever had, it should hopefully come naturally to bring back the good football that the Gunners are accustomed to.

 

 

So Emery is no more.

 

Who next for Arsenal?

How Long Is Too Long For Emery?

The rumours persist, the names keep coming like a torrent.

As long as Unai Emery continues to struggle, then the likes of Mikel Arteta, Freddie Ljungberg, Jose Mourinho and Maximiliano Allegri will be tacked onto stories emanating from the media, revolving around the beleaguered head of Emery like a flock of hungry vultures.

The Spaniard would, on paper, appear to be on borrowed time. A run of no wins in five games has seen Arsenal slump down the table, creating a chasm between our club and the hallowed berths of the Champions League.

It isn’t only results that have set us fans frothing and seething, as well as set the assorted media into a frenzy.

Arsenal have lost their identity too.

Even in the lean Wenger years, we had an identity. We were just as likely to concede five goals in one game as we were to win at times, but we always played in a manner that was a joy to behold. Even when the squad was more threadbare than a Poundshop welcome matt, we still managed to put together moves that often bewitched the opposition.

Under Emery, we appear to be lost at sea. It could be a combination of our players reportedly being unclear on instructions, being played out of position like Lucas Torreira, or simply lacking the conviction that comes from having belief in the man leading the club.

If a player doesn’t think the manager is the right man, if there is an inkling of doubt, then that will shine through in performances.

Pressure Emery

Emery has been given a vote of confidence by Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi, and according to reports, he will not be sacked anytime soon – but if this run continues, then surely there can be only one way to go?

Our rivals and neighbours, Tottenham, have just sacked their long-time incumbent Mauricio Pochettino. This was because of a sequence of results that saw them slump to a position and points total eerily similar to ours.

It prompted chairman Daniel Levy into action. Does that mean that the club that was forever in our shadow, now hold themselves to standards higher than our own?

If Sanllehi and Venkatesham believe that patience is key to Emery bedding down his methods and seeing the results blossom, then after a whole season, shouldn’t we now be seeing this in some form of improvement?

Last season, Emery can be excused for what was a mighty close call to being a successful first season. Yes, our squad flopped over the line when it seemed easier to succeed, and the Europa League final will forever haunt us in terms of being one of our worst performances in quite some time.

But two matches away from finishing in the top four and winning the Europa League? That would have constituted a good debut season for Emery.

So that whet the appetite for what we would see this coming campaign.

Instead, we have been the footballing equivalent of driftwood. No identity, floating instead of heading somewhere. Aimless.

The alarming stats regarding Bernd Leno making more saves than ANY OTHER keeper at this stage of the season. The amount of shots we are giving away per game is higher than ANY OTHER side at this stage. The number of shots on target we are registering? In the last three games, we amounted six shots on target – cumulatively. That is one less than Leicester City registered in their 2-0 victory over us in just one game.

Emery has left us rudderless. Have there been any signs that this is going to be turned around?

Pochettino built up plenty of patience and goodwill in his time at Tottenham. Yet that counted for nothing when it came to the team struggling. With mounting debt and the Champions League money fading away should they miss out this season, Levy acted quickly.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester are walking away with the top four spots with no fight from us or Tottenham. Our neighbours have pushed the button to remedy their situation, in the belief that a change at the helm will get the best from the current squad and that Pochettino was no longer capable of turning it around.

Emery has had time to do the same. Sanllehi and Venkatesham have the belief that it is only a matter of time before Emery’s way will shine through and that we will begin to claw the deficit back.

With the likes of Mikel Arteta, Freddie Ljungberg, Mourinho and Allegri being possible candidates and seemingly easy to get hold of, Emery must know that in three or four results time, his number must be close.

How long before we blink?

Replacing Rambo

Aaron Ramsey has shown his hand.

The discussion surrounding the Welshman and his long-running contract saga centres on the alleged contract offer being rescinded by the club. There are scant details available, other than David Ornstein declaring this via Twitter.

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All we are left with is knowing that Aaron Ramsey will almost definitely be in another jersey in the summer. Possibly even in December if our club want a transfer fee.

So, where does that leave us? Much depends on where Ramsey is best utilised.

The Welshman is most often listed as a central midfielder, but it is quite obvious that Unai Emery doesn’t see him that way. Every selection has seen Rambo slotting into the attacking three behind our sole striker.

Ramsey’s main strength is probably his late runs into the box to snaffle goals. To maximise this, he is better utilised further up the field. Sure, he can tackle and track runners, but Ramsey gets goals, so attack is his best option.

Now that he is departing the club though, do we need to recruit again? Will the Rambo-shaped hole we have derail any progress that Emery is forging? Does the Spaniard need to get on the phone to Sven Mislintat to find a suitable replacement?

No. Our squad is stronger than we think – and Ramsey leaving doesn’t have to impact us at all.

Since Emery has taken over, we have seen very little of the Ramsey we have adored. The attacking midfielder has been sorely lacking in the end product department, but someone has stepped forward and can plug the gap left by Ramsey. How do we know?

Because he has been doing it this season already.

Alex Iwobi has seemingly found his feet again after a shaky season in Wenger’s last campaign. The Nigerian has been fleet of foot, but crucially, his decision-making has not let his other talents down. He has been quite excellent, and would easily deserve  a starting spot ahead of Ramsey.

With Henrikh Mkhitaryan already waiting for an attacking spot to call his own, we have a fair amount of depth. Plus, Emery is known to chop and change his tactics, so we may opt for three central men – in that case, bargain find Matteo Guendouzi has shown that even inexperience can’t dim blazing hot talent on the pitch.

Ramsey will always hold a special place in our memories. His heroic fightback from his horror injury, his epic season of 2013/14, his two winning FA Cup goals – Ramsey has given ten years service.

Yes, it is mystifying what Ramsey must be demanding, but we must concentrate on the surface view, and how Rambo will be leaving us – and whether we will suffer.

It seems like we are well covered. If Emery has the faith in both Iwobi and Guendouzi, then the game time accrued will push them both on leaps and bounds.

Thanks for the memories Rambo.

Turncoats and Enemies

The bond between player and fan is an intriguing one.

We all have our favourites for varying reasons.

They scored a history-making goal. A titanic man of the match performance in a crucial game. An attitude that meant everything was left on the pitch after every game.

Fan favourites come in all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to those we despise? The turncoats, those that have desecrated the badge?

All of us share the hate.

There have been a few that we look at with venom, especially in recent years. Emanuel Adebayor cemented his villain status with his pitch-long run to gloat in front of Arsenal fans when he scored against us in a City shirt, the pain made even worse by the recent wound caused by the Togo striker abandoning us in our hour of need to cash in at the City revolution.

Samir Nasri isn’t looked at with quite so much vitriol, his move to City viewed by some as a player who wanted Arsenal to progress but refused to, so the French player moved to a club that could give him the glory he craved.

Robin Van Persie was shown untold patience and faith during his time at Arsenal, through consistent injuries, shows of petulance on the pitch, and growing pains. we enjoyed the Dutchman in his prime, but not for long. He maintains that the Arsenal board were not showing the same ambition that he had, and United came calling.

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The rest is history.

Ashley Cole was on the back of the greatest ever season that the club had ever had. The world was his oyster, and we recognised that Cole had a gleaming future, so we opened negotiations on a new contract.

We didn’t figure on Cashley being greedy and having his head turned by nouveau-rich Chelsea. The difference of #5k a week saw Cole enjoy his best years at Stamford Bridge, and win all there is to win with the Blues.

Cole hurt badly. This was an Academy graduate, he was one of our own. To see him go to a close rival smarted. To make matters worse, we got William Gallas as part of the deal. The French defender was a great player, but his mentality was sorely lacking and one of the few opportunities at a title tilt in 07/08 was partially ruined by the deconstruction of Gallas’ state of mind on the pitch.

Do these enemies of The Arsenal stand a chance of forgiveness? Will we ever look at these players with fondness? Or are they destined to be part of a rogues gallery of sorts, but far more nefarious:?

At the time of writing, the sands of time haven’t done much to dampen the way we view these players are looked at. How long will it take, or what would it take, for us to forget their past misdemeanours?

If Ashley Cole were to come out and declare he is still a Gooner, and give another reason other than his bare-faced greed for his departure? This will never happen of course, but would we erase his errors?

Like it or not, we have ex-players that crossed a certain line, and it certainly appears that once that line is crossed, the way back is then blocked from view. Outcast, all bridges burned – they are forever a nemesis.

Part and parcel of being a supporter is having a target for our spleens to vent at. Normally it’s a referee, a spurs player, Chelsea, but a former player who has wronged us?

They are forever reserved a spot in our mind, specifically for those that have cardinally sinned in the face of the Cannon. They form part of our history, after all, there can’t be the force without the dark side.

Head Over Heart

Every day, every part of the routine, didn’t feel monotonous like the daily grind should.

That had something to do with the fact he loved every single minute.

From a young child he was schooled in the ways of The Arsenal, first by his parents – both diehard Gooners – and then from his tutelage at the club.

He was like most children at that age, singularly obsessed with football. With or without friends, he would kick the ball. At goal, in the street, off the wall. His dad said that practice was the key, so he stuck gamely to his task. This is where he differed from most kids – he was driven, he wouldn’t let up. His mum sometimes worried about the fact that wherever he went, he had a ball with him, but she needn’t have fretted. It paid off big time.

He was enrolled in the youth team from an early age, and despite interest from other clubs, there was only one he would sign for. The moment he put pen to paper is still crystallised in the form of a framed photo on top of the mantelpiece at his mums house.

That was where the hard work really began. For eight years, he clambered up the ranks, the age groups. International recognition came for the Under-18’s, Under-21’s, but this was a mere flicker in the eye of time. By the time he had made his debut for the Under-21’s, full international caps came calling.

That was because his debut for Arsenal was packed with fireworks. He had seven minutes to make the coach and fans sit up and take notice, and he did so in spades. A goal and hanging the opposition’s right-back out to dry on at least three occasions meant that when the next season came, he was firmly in contention.

That was the beginning of his halcyon season – and the sole reason he was still at Arsenal. He played through the entire campaign, he grabbed goals, winners, made more respected colleagues look like they were wading through treacle. Experts and teammates, other coaches all commented on his meteoric rise.

It was his display against one of the best teams in the world though, that meant he was predicted to be a game changer not only for Arsenal, but for England too. He ran the show, weaving a mesmeric web that won plaudits around the world.

The footballing world was his oyster, but he never saw himself anywhere but The Arsenal. His faith and promise were rewarded as well, when injury bit.

It bit hard too. A whole season missed, then half a season. He couldn’t quite get back to where he was. Every time he scaled the insurmountable mountain of recovery, at the peak he fell down the other side. Critics were mounting, ‘sicknote’ tags were sticking.

Seasons were going by and he was no longer the promising kid who had the world at his feet. He now had to prove himself again. It wasn’t enough to have shown he had what it takes to run with the big boys. After his injury record, people doubted whether he could reach that height again.

Most importantly, the fans and the club he loved were beginning to worry about him too.

Fitness slowly crept back, and so did his appearances. Fleeting glimpses of form came and went, so did runs of matches.

Now came the time where his contract was running out. An offer was on the table, and it was once the case that whatever was on the table, he would have signed it, a la Tony Adams.

Now, after a conversation with the coach, he had a decision to make. He needed gametime. His stock was low, international honours was a dot on the horizon. He had played last season, but he was far from where he thought he’d be.

He felt superfluous, a groupie. A biscuit on the side of an extravagant coffee. He was not the main act, but he didn’t want that. He merely wanted to be a vital cog in the machine. At the moment, he wasn’t adding value, worth.

Now the coach has told him that he could stay and try to force his way into proceedings, but at this moment in time, he would be firmly in the ‘backup’ category.

He had spoken to his agent, his parents, his friends, his wife. All said that he owed his club nothing, he had done all he could. He needed to be selfish and do what he needed to do. His career was short, and if he stayed he would be on good money, but he could get more elsewhere and most importantly – he could get back into the international fold as he would play.

Stay at the club he loves? Fight for the badge and your career? Or move on for more minutes and perhaps a little better in terms of contract?

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Where does loyalty rank in terms of significance in decision-making? At what price does the heart come into things? When does business run the rule over matters of sentimentality?

If you were in this position – what would you do?

Nelson’s Brave Loan Move

A few months ago, I penned a blog looking at the future of starlet Reiss Nelson.

It was on the back of his breakthrough season at Arsenal. He had impressed in pre-season, and his displays for the Under-23’s the campaign prior were filled with rave reviews and tongues wagging about this precocious talent.

He was rewarded with a prominent place amongst the Europa League squad, where he looked every inch a first teamer. While his trickery was dialled down a smidgin, his effectiveness and work rate were just as impressive.

It left Nelson at a crossroads in his fledgling career, and with his contract entering its final year, I surmised his options and where each path could take him.

Enter Unai Emery, and the Spaniard has picked up where Wenger left off, in terms of leaving the door open to our Academy graduates. Jo Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Emile Smith-Rowe  and Nelson have all been included in first-team affairs and while first team opportunities have been hard to come by in our first games this season, the arduous nature of the season hasn’t reared its ugly head yet and that is where these kids can feature.

Nelson has obviously seen enough to know that his immediate future lies with Arsenal, as he has been persuaded to ignore the inevitable approaches, and sign on the dotted line for the foreseeable.

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His new deal will see Nelson ply his trade in the Bundesliga this season, as the winger will play for Hoffenheim for the campaign.

This move is an incredibly brave one for the youngster.

There would have been opportunities to remain in England, at the cutting edge of the game still, and up his minutes on the pitch.

Instead, he has gone to an exciting foreign side, managed by one of the hottest coaching properties in the game.

Julian Nagelsmann is an incredibly young manager, but what he has done for Hoffenheim in a short space of time has placed him on the radar for all the European giants.

Most importantly for Nelson though, is that Nagelsmann has a firm grasp on modern, tactical football. It will enable Nelson to adapt and come back into the Emery fold with more tools in his armoury.

Nelson has gone to Germany where communication for even the simplest things will be difficult. It is the better opportunity for his career though, and a great barometer to gauge where he needs to be for his Arsenal future.

Nagelsmann has already commented on Nelson before he signed, saying “If it all works out, we’ll have a great player with pace who can do a lot with the ball.”

Nelson could well follow in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho, who moved permanently to Dortmund and has since seen his stock rise immeasurably. While Nelson has committed his future to Arsenal, a move to the Bundesliga can pay off handsomely. The tactics and the level are high, and Nelson, if he gets enough starts, could come back a far more polished diamond than we had before.

So we will all keep a close eye on events in Hoffenheim. To watch a player we all know has the skill, but if he can make it at a tender age in a foreign land, then his mental fortitude and hunger will be exactly where it needs to be too.

Minutes into his first outing, Reiss scored and made an instant impact.

Good luck Reiss, we are all rooting for you.