Lacazette definitely not unhappy + head of scouting on the way out?

Morning all. It’s one of those fine Interlull mornings where there’s not a lot going on, although the bold and the beautiful were out in force last night for the world premiere of 89 in London. Hopefully everyone had a swell time.

I can’t wait to see it, I just couldn’t face the idea of another flight after coming back from down under, and for those of you in Ireland there’s an event happening in December – some vague details here right now.

Right, so let’s have a look around. First up, Alexandre Lacazette’s agent insists that there’s no problem and everything is groovy despite the fact that the French international wasn’t selected for the Man City game on Sunday. It follows on from his lack of selection away at Liverpool, and the fact that he’s only completed 90 minutes once since his arrival, and that was on the opening day against Leicester.

The agent says:

It’s not worrying, because he played at Chelsea. Our way of working is to relativise things: 11 matches, nine starts. Of course, it’s not nice to see that he didn’t start that match, but it was, as Arsene Wenger explained, for tactical reasons.

Alex isn’t complaining about his playing time, even if he would prefer to start games like those against City or Liverpool.

I listened to the Arsenal Vision podcast this week where they had what you might call a robust debate about the decision to leave him on the bench against City. Personally, I’d have started him, what with him being our leading goalscorer and being good foil for the creativity of Ozil and Sanchez.

I wonder about the message it sends when your record signing is being left out for big games away from home to accommodate other players who haven’t always shone in those particular fixtures, and while I think the agent is speaking calmly and playing down any talk of unhappiness, I think it says something that after just a few months he’s having to do that.

I hear the argument about him being not physically up to speed yet, but I’m not sure I buy it. I accept that the manager knows his players better than anyone else, but often his substitutions aren’t because Lacazette is tired, but because he wants to give Olivier Giroud some playing time. Also, he’s been a professional, international footballer for years, and the Premier League is not that much more intense that he couldn’t last 90 minutes. Not to mention playing 90 minutes might also help him build the fitness to play 90 minutes.

Perhaps there is something to the point of view that bringing him on later at City would give us fresh legs in the final stages, but to counter that if he’d been on the pitch from the start perhaps his quality might have ensured the game took on a different dynamic. Ultimately, I find it hard to look beyond the fact we spent £50m on a striker who has scored more goals than anyone else this season and for a game against a team as good as City, when goals are so crucial, we weakened ourselves up front.

It feeds into the ‘Oh, we got beaten but it wasn’t as bad as we were expecting’ narrative which, while I understand it, I find annoying. I don’t like that we’re at a point where we think that about ourselves, regardless of how good the opposition are. City are a great team, no question, but this resigned, self-defeating attitude speaks volumes about where we are as a club.

On the one hand people have been imploring Arsene Wenger to take a more nuanced tactical approach – particularly away from home against the top sides – but with just one win in our last 18 games in these fixtures, it’s hard to say it’s having a marked effect on the results. What we get is a kind of watered down version of an already watered down Arsenal, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that since he’s tinkered with his tactics more often we’ve become much less identifiable as an Arsene Wenger team.

I’ve said before I don’t really understand what our style is, what kind of football we want to play, or how we play it. What we see these days is very different from previous iterations, and I wonder if our lack of consistency is somehow down to this lack of clarity. Anyway, if I were Lacazette I’d be happy my agent said what he said, but I’d also be a bit cheesed off that I was the player deemed expendable when Wenger makes decisions like that.

Meanwhile, the Mail are reporting that chief scout Steve Rowley is on the brink of leaving the club. I’m not linking to the Mail because it’s such a noxious rag, but that’s basically the whole story. There’s some jibber-jabber about Ivan Gazidis, StatDNA and modernisation, but it’s just filler.

It would be a very interesting development if true though. There have long been questions over the state of our scouting set-up, and I’m aware that there are ongoing issues which have left staff scratching their heads, so this is an area where change would be very welcome. Assuming we make the right appointments, of course.

Remember, we still have to replace chief negotiator Dick Law, although we did bring in the Team Sky lawyer, Huss Fahmy. There has been recent talk of filling football executive position, with Marc Overmars linked to the role and a recent report that we’ll be bringing in former Barcelona man Raul Sanllehi as ‘Director of Operations’.

If this begins the behind the scenes restructuring that has to happen during Arsene Wenger’s final two seasons at the club, then it’s a positive move, but as ever we need to wait and see what actually happens. Arsenal are good at talking about doing things, but not quite as much at actually doing them. Fingers crossed though.

Right, have yourselves a good Thursday, Tim Stillman is here with his column later and I’ll be back tomorrow.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t give a flying fig who we bring in behind the scenes! Whilst Kroenke has control it won’t make the blindest bit of difference. However, I respect the fact that blogs has to write about something!

    • I beg to differ. With the right manager; a young hungry one preferably, the club could actually benefit from having an owner like Stan who does not meddle with the football side. In terms of backing the manager, I don’t think Stan is actually as bad as we make out. I’m not saying he is as supportive as Abramovich but he isn’t exactly a Mike Ashley at Newcastle.

      Fact is, some reasonable amount of money has been made available for Arsene to take care of new signings and wage bill. The job of molding said signings into a winning team rests solely on Arsene who has been given a free hand. So technically, what we actually need is a very good manager with hunger and fire in their belly to inspire the troops. Arsene is very good but the hunger has diminished over the years despite his best efforts.

      • Have to agree that success is possible under Kroenke, money is there and teams with less resource than us have been able to achieve more so if we start winning on the pitch people will forget about the owner. Kroenke’s biggest crime is sticking with a management structure which clearly isn’t working, it’s why I have long said Wenger needs to go first to really understand if Kroenke is an issue.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of Kroenke, more because I just don’t think he understands what is happening at the club and is only interested in the share price but that doesn’t mean we can’t win with him at the top.

      • Yeah but who?

        So many have been branded the next hot young manager from Owen Cole to Roberto Martinez to Ronald Kidman or Eddie Howe.

        Are they really going to show the consistency Wenger brings and market acumen?

        We’ve seen the likes of Moyes consistently keeping Everton 7th or higher then promoted to the big wigs and failing.

        Not so easy to identify someone who can at minimum achieve 4th or higher for two decades even if I agree the time for Wengers replacement is sooner than later.

  2. It saddens me when I realize that a lot youngsters who are just getting into watching football aren’t being mesmerized by the kind of Arsenal football that had mesmerized me when I was young :S
    The worst thing for any club is to lose future fans

    • We desperately need to return to our vigorous attacking football style and quick passing game, which requires a move away from the three-at-the-back system (which, I think, sends our players out with the mindset of being afraid to concede rather than eager to score) to get that extra midfielder or winger on the pitch. This would give Ozil his proper stage upon which to perform his magic (in a 4-2-1-3) or a way to get three central midfielders out there to win back the heart of the pitch (perhaps Xhaka between Ramsey and Wilshere). Wenger could opt for a very defensive setup in difficult away fixtures, but as many people are pointing out with considerable frustration, we’ve lost our footballing identity in general here and it is mindblowing that Wenger of all people won’t return to his ideal setups and have a go again. Confidence comes from not conceding and fighting the good fight in your own end, but confidence overflows and becomes swagger when you can cut through a team and pin them to the wall, again and again. Come on, Wenger, let’s give the boys their balls back.

  3. More and more back staff leaving Arsenal these days. Are they leaving because Arsenal wants a change or kicking them out because they asking for a change in Arsenal management?

  4. IMO.. AW’s plan against city was to defend as a unit in first half and have the score 0-0 until 60-70 min and have a late push with Laca. The idea was to have a 5-4-1 in first half and he would have though Laca being wasted in such a formation.

    Almost in all big games his strategy is similar. Defend in first half and push on in 2nd depending on game situation. I’m pretty sure, had Welbeck been fit he would have started over alexis/ozil and it is for the same reasons. DEFEND FIRST!

    This approach is a direct response of Arsenal losing big games conceding early goals in the past two years. Also this game would have never been like the Everton game even if AOL started up front. The plan there was always to go at Everton’s weak defence and not sit back!

  5. Our “style” disappeared when Alexis appeared. We change our style too much to accommodate him and his “world class” status. We played more cohesively with the kids. We did not win much with them but at least it was entertaining to watch.

    • I don’t know whether it is that straightforward or not, but I do think you have a point. While Alexi has always been world-class, he is very much a solo artist and our game has always been at its best when a cohesive creative unit. It’s not like he doesn’t make a ton of assists either, it’s just the way he moves and plays does in fact I think disrupt a lot of what is possible with the other players. So if that’s what you mean, I see it too.

  6. The landscape has changed, where Wenger once enjoyed monopoly on foreign talent in early tenure which coincided with a Golden era in French footy, much of the league has shed its xenophobia and caught up thanks to improved TV miner distribution.

    Couple that with the entry of a number of oil financed clubs and we have seen our technical advantage steadily eroded over time.

    Add the fact that Wenger also decided on some sort of Home Grown British core project and it is no surprise we have struggled in recent decade.

    Wenger generally buys well and at a reasonable price but the big question gas always been if he has been buying enough to make up for deficiencies or injury risk.

    Which is why we were again this summer at very least one more player short of competitive. Would have liked to see a Mahrez for Walcott or Pastors for Elneny but it hasn’t happened.

    We need more technical players on the squad at the moment.

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