Sensible Transfers: Arsenal

Sensible Transfers: Arsenal


In this series, we will analyse teams, identify
problem areas, and suggest solutions in the form of incoming players. We won’t follow
gossip, rumours or conjecture, we don’t have inside information, and we’re not considering
the brand value of players. Purely, their on-field performance, and their suitability
for the team in question. Today’s team is Arsenal. Welcome to sensible
transfers. This could really have been at least two videos
– last season, Arsenal’s system never seemed settled. Looking at the Premier League,
Unai Emery’s side played a back three-based in 13 games, winning 64% of their available
points; they used a back four in the remaining games, winning 60% of available points. Of
course, within both those variants there are different systems – the most successful
was a form of 4-3-1-2 or midfield diamond, winning 73% of points, but this was only used
three times. However, Unai Emery’s preferred system at
the beginning of his Arsenal tenure was the 4-2-3-1 – it’s the system he used most
overall and was also his preference at Sevilla – so that is the system we will be basing
this video on. We’ve looked for players under 27 who have racked up more than 800
minutes, so that there’s a reasonable data set and each player is either entering their
peak or is still a prospect. Arsenal’s major issue is clear. They conceded
too many goals last season, 51, the ninth worst record in the league despite their fifth
placed finish. They were even worse for expected goals against, giving up an xGA of 54.4, the
eleventh worst in the league. While central midfielders have their part to play in this,
as do wide defenders, it’s clear that Arsenal need an upgrade or two in central defence.
Holding and Bielik will develop well, but Arsenal should look for a strong defender
who can also help with deep build-up play. Our first choice, before, frustratingly, he
was snapped up by Sevilla, was Bordeaux’s Jules Koundé. He was fourth overall in Ligue
1 for total progressive passes, a great indicator of his ability to generate attacking opportunities
for his team from deep. He plays with authority and elegance and would have been a brilliant
signing – sadly for the Gunners, Monchi worked his magic first, and Koundé will be
one to watch at Sevilla. A strong potential option is Hoffenheim’s
22 year old Austrian centre back Stefan Posch. Posch is 6ft4 and wins 52% of his aerial duels,
while competing in 10.2 defensive duels per 90, the second highest in Europe’s top five
leagues for players under consideration; he only wins around 25% of them, but he’s a
very proactive defender, pushing out and looking to pressure the opposition. His Hoffenheim
experience means he’s capable in a back three, but he can look a little rash, and
his left footed passing needs work. He’s physically imposing, with lots of potential,
but not the finished article – with a valuation of around six million Euros, though, he would
be a good option. And Arsenal have already been linked with
William Saliba, a 6ft4 18 year old who played almost 1400 minutes for St Etienne last season
with a similar physical profile to Posch. Saliba is a strong defender, winning 31.4%
of his defensive duels, 61% of his aerial duels and making 5.17 interceptions per 90.
Fifteen forward passes per 90 at 77% is also healthy, but however promising he is, Saliba
has had very little top level experience from which to draw sensible conclusions. He’s
one for the future, but Arsenal might do well to pick him up now, though it’s hard to
be sure he’s ready for a full season in a demanding role. Nonetheless, signing him
would make sense and can be endorsed as a sensible transfer. Like Posch, he’s raw,
but Arsenal could potentially pick up both and begin to construct a tough, physical back-line
with a high ceiling. Attacking midfield is crucial if Arsenal are
to move to a regular, consistent 4-2-3-1. Last season the attack could look ponderous
in build-up as well, with Arsenal 14th worst for dribbles per 90, albeit with the fifth
best percentage success rate. They were the sixth best for progressive runs
per 90, but Arsenal’s 13.8 pales when compared to Manchester City’s 22.5. They were also
fourth best for deep completions 13.6 per 90, though only seventh for accuracy. This
indicates a team that gets the ball into good areas and creates good chances, albeit without
maximising their ball-carrying ability. However, Arsenal were only eleventh for shots per 90
(10.9) – their offensive ability was reduced by a lack of dynamic runners off and on the
ball, leading to attacks that were well constructed but lacking the incision that really puts
defences on the back foot. Part of the reason that Emery moved towards
two strikers towards the end of the season, and brought back Ramsey, was that late runs
from deep were not forthcoming. Mesut Ozil is still a creative force, but lacks dynamism
– Arsenal need to make sure that intricate passes result in unexpected movement and shooting
chances. We’ve looked, therefore, for a dynamic number
10 who can operate ahead of the midfield double pivot, making runs to support the striker
or move into wide spaces to help the wide attackers, combined with a high shot volume,
an ability to generate key passes, and who gets touches in the box. Joaquin Correa, 24 and at Lazio, meets the
criteria. He managed five goals and six assists in Serie A last season, just over three shots
per 90 with 43% accuracy, 0.74 key passes per 90. Crucially he’s a dynamic runner,
making 8.2 dribbles per 90 with 66% success and 3.1 progressive runs per 90, and managed
4.4 touches in the opposition box. He’s valued at around 20 m Euro, though, so unless
Arsenal offload some players, he could be out of their price range. If not, he’s exactly
the sort of player Arsenal should look at. However, a more sensible move could be looking
within, because for this sort of dynamic, attacking central midfield role, Arsenal already
have Joe Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe. Willock has shown an eye for goal in the U23s, he
carries the ball well, gets forwards dynamically, and looks a real prospect. Smith-Rowe may
end up playing further back, but has a similar propensity for dynamic running and has a greater
physical presence than Willock. If Arsenal are to improve the energy and athleticism
of their team, without spending money across each of the areas we’ve identified, these
are two U23 players who are ready to step up and assume more of a role in the first
team. Sometimes it pays to trust what you already have. For the same reasons as with the attacking
midfield berth, we’re looking for players who can add dynamism, dribbling, and shooting
volume. An outside choice is Alexis Claude-Maurice,
playing for Lorient in Ligue 2. Making 2.57 progressive runs per 90, taking 1.99 shots
per 90 with 46% accuracy, and scoring 0.39 goals per 90 from an xG of 0.24 per 90, he’s
a clear attacking threat, cutting inside from the left. He also made 8 dribbles per 90 with
71% success and has real skill and balance carrying the ball. He’s an outside choice
for two reasons – Alex Iwobi should nail down the starting left-wing slot, which is
where Claude-Maurice is happiest, and he’s only in Ligue 2. Having said that, and unusually
for a sensible transfer suggestion, we would probably buy him anyway as he looks to have
an excellent ceiling, could be available fairly cheaply, and could be loaned out for experience
if the squad is crowded. Viktor Tsygankov of Dinamo Kiev is another
interesting young player, though he would certainly command a higher fee. He’s a left-footed
inside forward, a good runner with the ball at his feet, who scored 11 league goals from
an xG of 9.4 and made 4.2 dribbles per 90 with a 77% success rate. He’s managed nine
assists with an xA of 7.5 and 2.3 deep completed passes or crosses per 90, showing that he
gets into dangerous areas and makes things happen. Valued at 20m Euro, though, he could
be a stretch for Arsenal and a gamble if the fee is at that sort of level. Our choice, therefore, is Robert Skov from
FC Copenhagen. He’s scored 20 goals, including seven penalties, from an xG 12.3, shooting
3.9 times per 90. His 6.1 dribbles per 90, at 77% success, is strong, as are 2.5 progressive
runs per 90. He also managed 3.3 deep completed crosses or passes per 90, though he only managed
three assists – that’s not Skov’s main function, though. He’s a goal-scorer – left
footed, right footed – he can dribble and finish or pop up in the box to slot home crosses
– and he’s exactly the sort of exciting, dynamic player who would inject pace and trickery
into Arsenal’s attacking options. If he can be persuaded away from Denmark, he could
cost in the region of 15m Euro. These three areas are not the only ones in
which Arsenal may wish to strengthen. Left-back may still be an problematic, and if Hector
Bellerin continues to have injury issues, he will need an understudy. We feel, though,
that Arsenal have a central midfield of Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torriera pivot that should
be allowed to develop together, while players like Maitland-Niles provide an interesting
back-up option. Arsenal need to add youth, dynamism, and attacking unpredictability,
while also developing a physically imposing back-line. These transfers would achieve that,
for a reasonable price. And here is what our team would look like: Cost effective options, who would improve
the defence and attack, and change Arsenal’s team profile for the better – these are
sensible transfers.

About the Author: Garret Beatty

100 Comments

  1. Yes, put Torreira, Guendouzi and Willock trio to your center midfield and watch them suffer for the entire season. I'm strongly suggesting that Ozil, Mkhi, Mustafi and remaining crap should leave, but quality matters in Premier League. One way or another there is no chance that both two squads will stay alive in the top 6 race. Since Arsenal lost it's best player for free, well good luck boys!

  2. Dear Fellow Gooners – Its ON! Buy a Ticket BUT do not go into the game v Burnley. Just one Game – Do not go in! We must show a sea of empty seats!!! Buy No Merchandise either.

  3. Arsenal need a 4 2 1 2,and need 2 good laterals with long runs to atack,need 2 solid MCD,1 MP and 2 CD,1 of them bulky and the other with agility.

  4. Why skip other areas like goalkeeper ? Got through each position & like you never even covered center back just picked a couple of players for the future but no one now.

  5. The series is a great idea! but
    Arsenal does not need AM. They need winger/wide forwards.. they have a lot of midfielders (not good ones) but they lack someone who could beat players 1v1 on wide positions LW/RW/DL

  6. Arsenal was never complete squad since recently, they had gollie problem then solved it with petr cech, they had strikers problem they saved it with auba and laca but now they have defense problem

  7. A proper look into players to improve the team not just people throwing around names the papers bring up! Brilliant

  8. Arsenal got a strong defender in the form of Mustafi. I don't understand why so many Arsenal fans wanted another defender. Smh.

  9. Arsenal feels like a team going backwards. I would not be surprised to see Wolves or Leicester City finish above them this year.

  10. Newcastle utd just bought some Brazilian kid from a Bundesliga team for 40 million euros. That's the budget Arsenal have for this summer>> Very sad indeed!!!

  11. Leno
    Bellerin Holding Saliba Tirney
    Xhaka Torreira
    Ceballos
    Everton Lacazette Aubameyang
    2 of which have already signed and the other 2 are well within our budget

  12. Arsenal have effectively sorted its issues, They have got Saliba though he won't be available till next season, they got cabellos for a season long loan who is a good passer of the ball so CM is resolved. Next we got Pepe an outright left footed RW who would run havoc on the wings. We have submitted bids for Tierney, LB from Celtic who is a huge prospect & lastly Arsenal would be going for a CB.

  13. Emery's preferred system 4-2-3-1 is a fat lot of good without a solid back 4. So at this point I stop watching .

  14. This is why you don't rely on stats.

    1) Saliba yes we signed him but as Tifo mentions his stats are measured across 19 games only which is a narrow band width.

    Plus at 27m eventually, you begin to wonder if we are not taking too much risk for a young player whom if he does not deliver will effect future transfers.

    2) None of the Cbacks are very good options and represent a risk compared to what we have already.

    3) Claude-Maurice, you're having a laugh. Plus none of the wide players are any good considering the number of proven options in market.

    We are now rumoured with Pepe but even so we had Fekir in market for only 24-30m, Zuyech offered to us for 22m

    4) No solution provided for central midfield. In the end we went for Cebellos a much better option than any offered. I would think if Cebellos was not available viable alternatives considering we need calmness and experience at CM would NOT be to risk on youth (however impressive Willock has been) but grab one of Khedira or Matuidi on loan or for cheap.

    Nah. No thanks. Nice try though.

  15. It's funny that just 2 weeks ago 20 mil for a winger was considered out of Arsenal's price range.
    Now we're on the verge of signing a winger for 72 mil(!).
    The Arsenal board works in mysterious ways…

  16. We’ve signed Martinelli, Ceballos, Saliba and now Pepe with Tierney coming soon, and possibly a CB. Good enough?

  17. Really love the analysis specially the emphasis on the need for a wide attacker , but hector bellerin plays right back for us.

  18. LOL Pepe (and Saliba, Ceballos & Martinelli) happened and blew that out of the water and everyone's idea of Arsenal's transfer budget and sensabilities…bring on Kieran Tierney and a CB and all these haters lookin like complete fools!

  19. two weeks later, 107 million spent so far and i'm starting to think that 20 million euro might not be such a stretch ……

  20. Wow! Just realized that Arsenal are just buy attcking players and are not sensible at all because the real problem is in the defence !

  21. We got Pepe, Saliba, Martinelli and Ceballos.. don’t worry about Arsenal mate.. 😉 sanllehi is a massive upgrade on gazidas.. you can already see the damage he’s doing to Milan, but that’s another story and he’s their problem now

  22. Arsenal have been screaming out for 2 Centre Backs for 12-15 years and they’ve spent 72 mil on a winger and had 1 in 1 out in CB position. They’ll have the same problems in defence this season…

  23. i really liked the video. a little offensive for me to put Iwobi as a starter though. guess the transfers surprised us all

  24. Are you saying that they should drop the player with most changes created in the last 10 years ?! Ozil can be lethal if you put him in the number 10 position.

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