Nice Guy Higuain or Monster Suarez? The New Badass Arsenal Know What They Want


In the wake of Arsenal audacious (or controversy) bid of £40,000,001 for Suarez, Gooners everywhere have been divided like the parting of the Red Sea. And we could assume that Liverpool fans felt insulted by that cheeky additional one pound coin. Apparently that weird amount of bid was designed based on advice from Suarez agent, in order to trigger one clause in his contract. Liverpool and the player camp have different interpretations of that clause and no doubt Arsenal had decided to exploit it. Whatever the outcome, this bid will unsettle the player and provoke debates among fans, agents and lawyers for the coming days.

I won’t discuss Suarez controversy here. I’d rather recommend this excellent post, The Suarez Dilemma, for the debate on his moral and wrongdoings. Let’s us focus on the Arsenal side. Did we really want him or Higuain? Napoli seem certain to sign Higuain within today or tomorrow, and for some Arsenal fans it was considered as a miss opportunity for the Gunners. We decided to drop out of a cheaper player pursuit and put all of our eggs inside one controversy basket (that bitey racist as they called him). But let’s check the facts again. Did we really lose Higuain or was Suarez our target from the very beginning?

Transfer Timeline 

A lot of things happened in the month of June and July. I tried to gather data from several news outlet and made a compilation of transfer rumors related with Higuain and Suarez in these two months.

June

01 – In the month of May, Juventus declared interest in Higuain. They’re looking for a top striker. On first of June, Higuain came out with a statement: “I’ve decided to leave Real Madrid.”

11 – Arsenal made Higuain enquiry. Report said we’re ready to break our transfer record.

20 – Arsenal tabled a £21M bid for Higuain, Juventus couldn’t match it, dropped their interest.

24 – Higuain’s father’s comment on the bid said his son might be interested to play in the Premier League

July

03 – Arsenal increased bid to £23M. Report said Real Madrid asked for higher price, demanded £25.5M.

04- Higuain’s father said deal was close, Madrid allowed us for negotiation of personal term with Higuain. Several media confirmed Higuain will fly to London in the next few days. On the same day, report of betting suspension on Suarez to Arsenal arose. Apparently on 3rd July, there were lots of bets put on Suarez to Arsenal transfer.

07 – Arsenal bid £30M + £5M add-on for Suarez.

08 – Perez came out saying Real Madrid never received a bid for Higuain.

15 – Liverpool came out in public saying there was an offer from Arsenal for Suarez and that they had rejected it.

16 – Napoli sold Cavani for £54.4M to PSG.

17 – Napoli declared interest in Higuain.

19 – Rumor of Arsenal preparing a second bid of £40M bid for Suarez

22 – Napoli bid for Higuain, and the bid was accepted. Higuain asked time for considering future (probably waiting for Arsenal to come back with improved bid)

23 – Instead of coming back for Higuain, Arsenal submitted a second bid of £40M+£1 for Suarez.

Napoli agreed £31.8M Higuain fee.

24 – Higuain agreed personal term with Napoli.

So what’s your call on this issue after checking the timeline? Did Arsenal lose Higuain or drop Higuain for Suarez?

My “conclusion” of above interlinked events:

1. Arsenal have fund to bid in excess of £20M, £30M and even £40M.

2. Higuain was Arsenal first target considering the relative easiness to sign. The player wanted out, Madrid wanted to sell albeit at their own valuation. Suarez was listed but not considered yet due to his high price and probably anticipating the eventual bidding war with Madrid.

3. Arsenal and Madrid have agreed at £25.5M fee for Higuain but Madrid hiked the price to £34.5M (equivalent to from €30m to €40m) after Arsenal’s talk with Higuain.

4. Arsenal were clearly disappointed with Madrid unprofessional manner (probably giving them the middle finger). Arsenal might rate Higuain as rotational player to compete with Giroud upfront, but not as the £30M main striker. Wenger said in pre-season tour that the problem with Giroud was not quality but quantity (we have only one striker capable of playing upfront – sorry Theo).

5. To piss off Madrid, Arsenal dropped Higuain interest and went totally for Madrid’s target, Luis Suarez. “Why should we settle with your back up striker when we could afford your transfer target?” This might be what Ivan thought of at that heated moment.

6. Ivan consulted Wenger, and Wenger gave his approval. Probably he was more than happy since he rated Suarez very highly. A 30 goals a season striker, someone who can create his own goal, and who could play as LW. Suddenly, we would be provided with more variations of combinations. Wenger was salivating at the prospect of starting Suarez, Giroud and Walcott upfront.

7. Some ITKs heard Wenger and Ivan Gazidis conversation. Cheekily put lots of bets on Suarez to Arsenal. This happened on the 3rd of July. The same day Madrid informed us of the Higuain “new” price. Quick decision on transfer twist was made by Wenger and Gazidis.

8. Poor Higuain a victim of Madrid’s greed. Arsenal then bid for Suarez with a opening bid of £30M+£5M add-on, matching what Madrid asked for Higuain. Madrid learned about this new development, got very angry and asked Marca to write about it (Headline translation: Why did this “crazy” Arsenal bid for Suarez rather than increase their bid for Higuain, at our price?). Perez also came out in public saying they never received a bid from Arsenal. He was so pissed off that he lied in public for the hundredth time.

9. Liverpool rejected Arsenal first bid. The agents informed Arsenal of the £40M clause. Madrid at the end got what they wanted with around £3M less from cash-rich Napoli. Inflated price for sure, but we can expect that after Napoli sold Cavani as the mega signing of this summer (cue: Liverpool after Torres sale).

10. Arsenal have moved on from Higuain and look confident to secure Suarez with that controversial clause. Helped by his agent, they designed a cheeky £40M+£1 bid.
They believed a bid over £40M shall be enough to release Suarez from Liverpool. But the management of Liverpool interpreted the clause differently. This bid certainly would upset them. Probably this was designed for that purpose. To incite uproar in the Liverpool camp. Why? Because Arsenal are not the nice selling club anymore. We’re the badass buying club now. Remember how the big boys used to unsettle or tap up our players? We’re doing it now to Liverpool, unfortunately.

So what’s next? Liverpool certainly were not entertained with our cheeky bid.

For this transfer to happen, Suarez needs to agitate for a move. And we wouldn’t bid for him if there was no interest from his side. I think he will pull a “RVP” on Liverpool and Liverpool eventually will succumb. They should learn from our mistake. It’s better to let the player leave early and go for his replacements (they could buy more than one player with that money) than doing it at the deadline. We know it’s not nice, but that’s the thing of we have to get used to for becoming a “buying club”.

How about Madrid? IMHO they will go for Bale and they can’t afford both. They haven’t signed a galacticos while their rival have signed Neymar. There was also no bid from Madrid to Liverpool so far. There’s only a mention of interest if the player is priced at £25M. Can Madrid afford a £40M player? Yes, absolutely they can. But can they afford £40M+£60M transfer at the same summer on the top of spending more than £60M already for 4 new players?

Let’s wait and see. Arsenal are prepared to finish this war they started until the end of the transfer window. Suarez or none. It’s a gamble worth taking just like when United signed Van Pursestring. They waited and waited until the disgusting public statement, the agitation, and finally got the only but the best striker they wanted near the end of transfer window (middle of August). And basically we’re doing the same thing now. So be patient.

I personally think Suarez will join us in August but he certainly will not do it based on the voice of the “little boy” inside of him. He is a monster, rite? He suits this new badass “buying club” Arsenal.

Let me know of your version in the comment sections. Feel free to do it as you wish but let’s keep the discussion of racism and morality out of this blog. This post is about guessing Arsenal intention not about moral high ground on football players. We can discuss about it another time. 🙂

The Return of The Fast and Furious


Liverpool 0 – 2 Arsenal (Podolski 31, Cazorla 68)

After a deserved 2-0 win against a good attacking Liverpool side (who should have beaten the champion last week) at Anfield, Arsenal finally proved the doubters wrong. No one has predicted that Arsenal would have goalless draws forever but very few who would have predicted Arsenal winning this match by scoring two goals and keeping clean sheet, and quite comfortably too. The Times wrote that of the 92 clubs in England’s top four divisions, Arsenal are the only team yet to concede a goal. Quite strange to be associated with that kind of quality, honestly.

Wenger said the new players will click, and they did it very well just three matches into the season. Cazorla and Podolski especially have established a very good connection between them resulting in two goals of the match. Two similar goals with fast dribbling, exchanging passes and ended up with a very hard low shot inside the penalty box. And the defence was a far cry from how we performed near the end of last season.

For full match analysis I’d recommend the brilliant Zonal Marking post.

Some points from the match that I would like to highlight:

1. Our defensive shape was very good. The two wingers tracked back diligently forming a two banks of four when we defended. Podolski and Chamberlain tracked back Liverpool wingers diligently, helping Jenkinson and Gibbs. Podolski physicality is impressive, so often won the ball in a 50-50 duel. The formation was closer to 4-4-1-1 with Cazorla stayed close to Giroud for counter attack. Both of our goals came from quick counter attacks, something almost absent from recent years.

2. Podolski often positions himself a little bit deeper for a winger because he needs space to dribble and burst past his opponents. It reminds me of one pacey striker who loves to score from the left. He could trap the ball while running, made it very hard for the opponent to track. And like Wenger said, he is deadly when there is a chance.

3. Cazorla didn’t touch the ball as many as his last two games but he was more efficient in this match. By staying up at the opponent’s half, Cazorla waited patiently for the ball from Diaby and Arteta before bursting and playing one-two with Podolski. He has the same “soft feet” as Podolski’s, his quick running and ambitious dribbling resulted in more penetration in a game than we could ever have last season. With his shooting more accurate than Rosicky, we can expect more goals from midfield this season.

4. Double pivot of Diaby and Arteta reminded us of Vieira-Gilberto era. They were disciplined, tracked back frequently and one demonstration of Arteta nicking away the ball from almost free Suarez was the highlight of this new Arsenal. Arteta tackled a lot and won a lot. Surprisingly he’s exactly the DM we need to replace Song although Song himself didn’t perform much defensive duties last season. I couldn’t remember Song did a sliding tackle and nicking the ball away from dribbling opponent successfully, which Arteta did very well in these three matches. We made total 26 successful tackles (from 32) and 20 interceptions. No wonder we could keep three clean sheets in a row. And Diaby was majestic yesterday, fully deserved his MoM champagne. Finger-crossed he stays fit and he could fulfill the prophecy of our manager.

5. Gibbs was excellent. He’s becoming a better left back in each match. Constantly overlapping and combining well with Podolski, we could have our deadly leftist combination back after the Invincible years. One thing he can improve is his crossing, both the low and high one. One occasion he dribbled inside the box and shoot. He’s more confident with the ball in the final third than Clichy. If he polishes it well, he could be a real threat in the future.

6. Giroud’s movements were good and it’s a matter of time before he would join his two new comrades on the scoresheet, either in Southampton game or at his former club stadium. Cazorla could utilize the second ball from his heading just like what Big Sam exploited from Carroll in West Ham game. By standing on the shoulder of opponent’s CB, he’s stretching the play for Cazorla to fill in. In the first goal, he drew his markers to the right, giving Podolski enough space to shoot. And I like how smoothly he traps the ball in the air. His first touch is definitely an upgrade over TGSTEL who has traveled to Turin.

We would have more variations on our play upfront this season. Podolski-Cazorla have demonstrated how fast and furious they were. No more over elaboration tiki-taka, replace it with come and get us then we’ll deliver you sucker punch of The Invincible. And with Walcott, Gervinho (different type of players than yesterday wingers) didn’t play at all in this game, we have more surprises from the bench, at least compared to what Liverpool have.

Balance between offence and defence was achieved yesterday. How Wenger and Bould achieved this with three new players and just three games into the season is admirable. They have also put doubt of the supporters away for a moment. This is exactly the 90 minutes we need to instill belief in the squad again and wash away the gloomy transfer window deadline talks. Football is played and won on the pitch not on the check you signed. We have started this season much better than last season and there’s no sign that we missed our supposed best two players of last season. The new chapter of The Arsenal has started, and its title is: The Return of The Fast and Furious.