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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Arsenal Has Become Boring

Written by on November 5, 2012 | 10 Comments »
Posted in Arsenal

The word “brand” pops up with increasing regularity in soccer articles. In the context of soccer and other sports, the meaning of “brand” is what someone thinks of when they hear the name of a club or a country. Simplified even further, it is another form of word association.

-          Manchester United – attacking play, dramatic conclusions

-          Liverpool – a bond between club…..to read more please click on the link.


10 Responses to “Arsenal Has Become Boring”

  1. Alberta Gooner says:

    Solid piece Bobby.

    What amazes me is how brands can change can evolve and mutate very rapidly in this media-saturated era with nonstop coverage during a 24/7 news cycle.

  2. John Bladen says:

    It’s not been a good few weeks for the Gunners, has it? I think most were pleasantly surprised by “the start”, but then, we were comparing the club to last year when the early season opposition was much stronger, and the club suffering from more injury and other absenses.

    They do look weak in the MF… no surprise really given who has departed in the last 2 years. I’m not concerned about the lack of big money signings so much as the apparent dearth of good young talent coming up.

    Question for you Bobby: Is the play of the MF being undermined somewhat by the need to help what is still a weak defense? Or is it just the MF players not performing?

    I look at the defense and think that it’s gelling a bit after 50 games together (or thereabouts), but it’s still not anything like good. For my money, Vermaelen is a far better DM than centreback… yet that’s where he most often is played.

  3. I think it is partly an overly cautious approach to passing the ball and the lack of a player who can drive forward – that might be Diaby but he his so fragile.

  4. Dr. Scoot says:

    Interesting that you bring up Diaby. Many people were praising Diaby’s contribution to the defense early in the year and now he’s injured and Arsenal can’t score or play defense. Is it possible Song’s departure was more important than RVP’s?

  5. I am not so sure it is down to the players so much as the number of touches that are being taken on the ball and the speed the ball is being moved forward.
    When you see that Mertesacker attempted 101 passes against Manchester Utd and 100 were of the short variety you know that the tempo is far too slow. The German has been Arsenal’s best defender but he takes far too long to move the ball into the midfield players. That thing restricts midfield options and the opposition have 9 outfield players behind the ball in their own half.

  6. Ed Gomes says:

    I loved the piece Bobby. I have been very critical of Arsenal and have had my share of disagreements on this site.
    I couldn’t agree more with the following;
    “The statistics still support the notion of Arsenal as a team that values possession. What the general passing stats do not accurately communicate is that possession appears to have become a means to simply stop other teams from scoring rather than offering a platform for Arsenal to attack.”

    The so called ticky tack beautiful game can get downright boring if the team that’s ticky tacking isn’t attempting or able to attack.
    It might sound outrageous, but Barca does look boring at times when they shut down a match with their possession. It definitely helps them in protecting, what is now a very leaky defense.

    I’m curious to see what Arsenal does with Walcott. I have never been a fan of his, since I think that he’s very one dimensional. Pace and, humm, never mind. His supposed demands to being an out and out striker, if true, also shows how he himself doesn’t understand his best attributes. In my opinion.
    I for one would let him go, and find out how far Ox can go. For me, Walcott would be the one guy to let go, out of the recent departures, yet he might stay. That alone is laughable.
    What they’ve brought in, just isn’t good enough. Instead of bringing in several semi pricey pieces, why not two special ones. Did anyone think Gervinho, Podolsky (soon to be another Arshavin), Arteta or Santos were going to be difference makers. I’ll give Giroud the benefit of the doubt.

    Some looks at recent transfers (in pounds);

    89/09: -12,628,000 – Bought Arshavin & Nasri
    09/10: +31,416,000 – Sold Ade and Toure, thank you City
    10/11: -12,144,00 – very underwhelming with Koscielny (11 mil) and Chamakh for free
    11/12: +2,477,200 – even with Nasri and Cesc leaving, spent profit on Ox, Gervinho, Arteta, Mertsacker, Santos and Park.
    12/13: +11,924,000 – Song and RVP out, Cazorla, Podolsky and Giroud in
    People can decide on their own if better talent could of been had.

    What Arsenal will quickly find out, as Liverpool has, if you are out of the CL it’s hard to convince world class talent to come. Yes they’re marquee “brands”, but now there’s more teams in the mix for that prestige. The Malaga’s and Dortmund’s of the world aren’t in the Man United, Real, Barca, etc… class, but Arsenal could fall to them and have more people competing for their “type”/”price” of player.

  7. John Bladen says:

    Ed:

    I agree with you on Walcott. I’m not sure there is a player you “surrender” to get signed, but even if there is that player is not Walcott. He might go somewhere (Man C?) and play on the wing with world class players and look brilliant at times. But he isn’t a guy you can build around IMO.

    No manager makes only “good” purchase decisions. Perhaps Wenger has lost the magic of late. It is also possible that we just see more of his mistakes on a regular basis because he isn’t able to bury them on the reserve squad (as others do).

    I’ve no issue with the Arteta or Mertesacker signings – I think they’ll do what they’ve been brought in to do. With Podolski, AOX and Gervinho, it might be too soon to make a definitive judgment, but the others you mention have not been good additions.

    I was happy with Vermaelen coming in, but frankly he isn’t the midfield (much less DC) anchor that I’d hoped he’d be. Koscielny has looked good in stretches, but has not been consistent enough. Just my opinion, but Vermaelen might be much more useful (and alleviate some of the issues Bobby noted above re: defense/passing) if they used him in front of the central defense rather than as part of it. It’s fair to say the club hasn’t brought in absolute top flight talent of late, but nowhere is this more noticeable than in front of goal in my view.

    Chamakh and Santos were low cost (at least in terms of purchase…) efforts to fill unexpected holes. They haven’t worked either, which is not that surprising given that they were available cheaply.

    I also agree regarding the danger of AFC falling out of the CL mix in the medium term. That is obviously an acceptable risk to the board, who feel that overspending to compete at a higher level is unwise at the moment. Every Gunners fan will have to make their own judgment on that (most – who don’t see it as “their” money – seem to disagree with the board), but with even large football clubs in financial danger I can’t argue against fiscal prudence.

    Even if the club did agree to target a DC and striker and were willing to spend 65-70m to get them, I’m not sure they could be lured given the strength of the rest of the squad. Thoughts?

  8. The next 12 months will be most interesting on the commercial front as the end of some deals come into view. Any loss of Champions League revenue could be made up with a better shirt deal alone.

  9. Ed Gomes says:

    Bobby, I agree.
    I have been very critical of the Arsenal stadium/jersey sponsorship deal. I know people said it was necessary in order to obtain finances for stadium loans, but it was still low. Arsenal is a world wide brand that’s in London.
    They’re a great draw for players, but any loss of CL money/play, it will hamper in obtaining those players.

    By the way, I believe that Chelsea has posted a 2 mil profit with CL win. If true, that clears them of any FFP rules, right? And they spent how much.
    Let me add that Chelsea will have Terry and Lamps and to a lesser degree Perreira, Malouda and Essien coming off the books which will lower the wage bill significantly. With already quality replacements in place, fill ins will cost less or even if they don’t there’s plenty there to use. I didn’t mention Cole since even if he leaves, they will most likely spend for replacement.
    I am not a Chelsea fan, but all of a sudden, they seem pretty set. Whether you feel the mids will be able to work together is debatable, but you can’t deny the quality.
    Arsenal has Carzola, which I like, but you mean they couldn’t nab one of the younger, more promising, Chelsea guys. And in not doing so, was it due to cost or actually player. Yes money is the main reason for players, but if funds were the same, is Arsenal or Chelsea more appealing? At this time we know that answer.

    I my opinion Arsenal should go hard after Willian (Shakhtar). A widely known and coveted wide mid that Chelsea failed to sign. Although in the Ukraine for 6 years, he’s only 24. Also, find another striker for upfront and off you go. Yes, not easy.
    Although not a fan, I don’t think Arsenal are that far away. They just need a couple of key pieces and they will be right there. Defensive problems could be smoothed over with better play upfront, which should have more goals.
    Why not move Vermaelen at defensive mid? It might actually strengthen the defense and free up the midfield.

    Am I way off?

  10. Seattle Loon says:

    Late to this party. I think Arsenal have become noteworthy for all the wrong reasons. As a Liverpool fan I think the two teams are playing similarly this season. Lots of possession but ponderous and with little cutting edge.

    On the finance front I think Arsenal are going to be the norm not the exception. Live within your means, milk supporters for everything you can and transfers should be revenue-enhancing.

    As such the number of teams who can win the EPL will probably remain at three. Which is ironic given Bobby’s recent comparison between the EPL and the NFL. While the EPL is more popular globally competition within the EPL is rather illusory and more focused now on the bottom not the top teams. The NFL (despite a long drawn-out game) is truly compelling because of enforced parity (through wage caps and the draft system).

    Interesting to read in the last couple of days about the prospect of the new international viewing rights for the EPL being over $8 billion dollars. Especially as the current formula dictates that this is divided equally amongst the 20 clubs of the EPL.

    So the real competition every year will be the relegation battle as the financial consequences of dropping into the Championship will be huge.

    One last point. Early days – but does anyone else fancy Everton for the Champion’s League qualification or Swansea for the Europa League?

    On early evidence both clubs could give Arsenal a lesson about using the money wisely from the sale of a star player (Jack Rodwell and Joe Allen respectively) to improve your team overall. (Kudos to Newcastle for doing this so well in 2011.)

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