Djourou: The Modern Squad Problem

There are an awful lot of people who know a lot about the intimate details of players salaries and transfer fees these days. Which is quite surprising given the wide divergence in the sums quoted by different people on the same subject. What surprises me – and it doesn’t at the same time – is the willingness with which these figures are lapped up, the speed with which an unsubstantiated comment becomes a fact. Just remember that before you quote anything, question how that person got the information, what is their source? Better still, ask what is their agenda for making it public or claiming that their information is right?

Plenty of advice is given to players, quite freely in these columns and by me as well. It was of no surprise to see headlines that told Johan Djourou to find another club, lots of people have been telling him to do so for the past twelve months. Even his national team coach is now joining in and you wonder if that is going to carry a tad more weight than a significant number of other peoples’ words.

Hitzfeld is, from a purely selfish point of view, understandably worried about the lack of matches in which his player participates. Having played 37 times in 2010/11, Djourou might have expected to reach a similar total in 2011/12, especially with the number of plaudits he received for his performances. The signing of Per Mertesacker would have signalled a significant obstacle to that but more than anything, the improvement and consistency of Laurent Koscielny presented the biggest blockage in his path. Koscielny made himself an automatic first choice.

It meant abits and pieces campaign for Djourou. Injuries stopped some opportunities and his obvious discomfort at right back precluded significant runs in the side when Bacary Sagna was missing. That was a step too far in his versatility; the competition for places in midfield, most noticeably the emergence of Francis Coquellin, and Alex Song’s continued fitness mean that Djourou is unlikely to be called upon in that position.

The question of whether to stay or go must rage through Djourou’s mind. He has received a good education at Arsenal but at the age of 25, surely his career demands that first team football on a regular basis be commanded if he is not to be left with regrets when the final curtain is called on his playing time?

But Djourou is a very modern problem. The rules that limit squad sizes mean that he is the type of player that clubs want to retain. Despite what is said of him, Djourou is not a slouch as his thirty or so international caps show. By the same token, he is going to find it hard to displace any of the three centre backs ahead of him on a regular basis such is the consistency of their form. Injuries offer opportunities but unless Johan is spectacular in his own game, he will inevitably be dropped. That is not a modern problem, football’s history is littered with similar players: a step above the journeyman but not able to quite take the next step themselves.

He is a good squad player to have though and this where he becomes a modern problem. As more money flows into the game, squads at the highest level become less threadbare. Quite often in the past, if you scratched below the surface, the substance of playing staff left a lot to be desired. In a lot of cases now, that is still the case. The grass though is greener on the other side; envious eyes are cast to Manchester as City set about signing anything that moves.

Arsenal cannot compile a squad using that much money, everyone accepts that. Well, aside from those who believe that a tubby Uzbek is the Second Coming even though like politicians, he makes the right noises out of power but when on the coalface? Different story.

With Football Manager or Championship Manager played to a startling-wide degree, player management is a simple game. Squad is unhappy at not playing just ignore them, they have a contract; tough, get over it. The real world is a lot different with agents, players and clubs all looking to move players to new clubs for sizeable fees and gold-gilted contracts. Obscure teams emerge from nowhere and a judicious phrase whispered in the right ear makes a superstar.

The squad player is not expected to be a diligent, hard-working player any more. He has to be a superstar in the making or better than the player replaced. If not, if a performance-level drops, a scapegoat is formed even if the player is nothing to do with the goal conceded or chance missed. The squad player does not have the chance to play themselves in over a game or two, more often than not they will have two performances consecutively and then spells on the sidelines until a minor cup comes along.

No chance that those weeks of inactivity will be borne in mind. Years ago, a bad performance (or even an average one) from the ‘reserve’ would be tolerated, forgiven with a good performance in the future. That was the norm although criticism could be sustained. Now condemnation is instant, forgiveness noticeable by its absence; redemption just does not seem possible.

The footballing authorities are to blame for that. Without a competitive reserve league, players lack match time as preparation. It means that they are moved from months on the training ground into a competitive match environment. Even with the best will in the world, the training pitches do not – and can never – replicated a match intensity. Yet players are expected to be instantly ready for this scenario. Moves are being made to rectify that but the focus on the first team is so intense that forward planning by officialdom is utterly forgotten beyond those spheres.

For players such as Djourou it brings on a unrelenting criticism that is not justifiable in the long term. All of the talk of squads is a smokescreen: it’s the first XI or nothing.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on May 28, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 172 Comments.

  1. Great piece. Djourou isn’t as bad as some try to paint. He was immense in the 2010/2011 season when Vermaelen was out injured. He played really well till after that cup collapse at Wembley.
    The situation with Djourou should make people think when they say a new Central Back is needed even after or if Djourou moves on. I didn’t for a second believe in the Vertoghnen rumours.
    The solution is right up there in your piece. A combination of good junior/academy players plus a competitive reserve league championship should mitigate the problems.

  2. Thanks YW for great work over the season.

  3. You nailed it spot on there, and if a player is a bit over sensitive the criticism affects his confidence and his form goes with it. Arsenal fans criticise our own players more than most and we end up looking like idiots. Flamini suffered it, came to form and left, Eboue was the worst affected, Song has had it, Diaby is getting it, Djourou oh dear. We call the dross. We want big names even though there is no guarantee of succeeding in EPL, a few names come to mind, Veron, Crespo, Sheva, Robinho. It takes a certain type of player and we have them they just need our support and to feel wanted, look what happened to Rosicky this season when he got fit.

  4. Excellent piece Yogi, but it will probably fall on deaf ears. Football Manager has a lot to answer for!

  5. Arseblog news ran the Hitzfield story last night and there were a few champ managers on there slating Johan. These dimwits havent got a clue.

    Djourou is a fine player and a great addition to the squad.

  6. people take their achievements on FM too seriously 🙂

  7. Cannons of Rhetoric

    I remember Djourou going years without being in a losing team and when he came back, all gooners clamoured for him to play. Then he got injured and many gooners are calling for him to be sold. We need some balance/patience as fans I reckon. Players shouldn’t be considered “world beaters” one day, then “dead wood” the next. I’m hoping he stays…

  8. tbh, i still dont know why some people complain about djourou. for a no. 4 central defender, he is decent enough. his problem last season was being played as fullback. he is big and lacks pace. even if you play song as a full back he will have the same problem.
    i like him coz he doesnt complain and that is good for the spirit in the camp.
    if he moves on, i will advise we go for a low profile defender who will do a good job when needed. not players that will be causing trouble if dont play regularly.

  9. Yogi. You are one of the sole voices of reason on the net. I have thoroughly enjoyed this blog since I stumbled across it. While Vertoghnen would be a fine addition would the current captain of Ajax be happy to fight to displace either of our current centre backs who have cemented their places with excellent performances throughout the season?

  10. not to mention he’s a decent bloke off the pitch from what ive seen and is good friends with a few important players. we need the midfield to be more consistent defensively not a new cb.

  11. what many dont know is that it is not easy to play anywhere in the defence for arsenal. check out for defenders who have left us, they have gone on to perform decently for other clubs.
    if you can manage to play decently in arsenal defence, you will be the best anywhere you go.
    you can quote me anywhere!
    if not for the fact that those that constantly slated clichy were too proud to eat their words they would have voted him the best last season.
    check senderos at fulham, silvestri is doin greai in germany.

  12. Jacobite Gunner

    Morning all,

    Djourou is a strong squad player but may start to get itchy feet. We could get circa 5 mill for him which would be good considering we picked him up for less than a mill and have developed him into a better defender.

    We need to keep him tho until we have a viable 4th centre back solution, which we do not have right now. Future options are spilt between bartley and iggy miguel, who could both make it at arsenal.

    Bartley has had two loan moves and frankly, his rangers loan won’t have taught him much because the quality of the SPL is low technically (i ken because I watch it), he needs to play regularly at either a top level championship side or a lower level EPL team, only after a season on loan where he proves himself can he be relied upon as 4th choice defender. The same goes for iggy miguel but if bartley goes on loan we’ll need to keep iggy for back-up just in case and vica-versa if iggy goes on loan for bartley.

    over and oot

  13. Like Senderos, Djourou would probably perform much better in a team that has a defensive mind-set. I think we should hang on to him though because I doubt we can get a better squad defender than him. Also, and I hate to admit this, I’ve taken a bit of a liking to his Arsenal Insider vlogs!

  14. let me also say that most of the defenders being hyped now will struggle at arsenal. terry for instance will be shit here so is vidic. as a defender at arsenal you are most of the times on your own.
    as for terry, i’m realy happy hazard is likely to sign for che$ki. with mata and marko marin playing alonside hazard, they will be forced to play high line defence. see what i mean? i see terry in trouble next season.

  15. i dont know for some people, che$ki looked vulnurable against us throughout last season. probably because of the addition of more attacking players.
    if they manage to get hazard that means mikel drops back to the bench and ramires will take his place in the defensive mid or lampard will be out of the team.

  16. He has been at the club for seven or eight years now, time for a change. Being forth choice for a player of his quality can’t be good for his moral.

  17. I agree with ‘koye, Cannons of Rhetoric, Passenal, YW, and yeah, I admit it, Dexter too.

    In other news:
    Robert Mugabe is a Chel$ki fan. It said in a London Rag this morning.

  18. talking about first eleven, let me say that all through last season, i always have my heart in my mouth anytime rvp goes in for any tackle or fall down under heavy challenge.
    i will like to ask that should arsenal put all their effort and resouces to re-sign rvp at all cost or get a vary good alternative who will give us 50 games a season without any fear of injuries.
    me, i know what i want.

  19. Although djourou is a quality defender i don’t like the idea of a 25year old as our 4th choice centre back, he needs to further his career somewhere else.
    Seriously djourou is too old to be an understudy and too young to be an experienced 4th choice. Squillaci would have been perfect for that role.

  20. Lets look at other clubs of arsenal’s stature and see if am making any sense.
    Note: i will be grouping the 4th choice defenders under; Experienced head or Understudy.

    *Man utd – Vidic, Ferdinand, Evans, Smalling(understudy)

    *Chelsea – Terry, Luiz, Cahill, ivanovic(Rightback/experienced head)

    *Man city – Kompany, Lescott, Savic/Toure (understudy/experienced)

    *Liverpool – Agger, Skrtel, Carragher, Coates(understudy)

    *Tottenham – error, error, forever in shadow, no champions league.

    *Arsenal – Koscielny, Vermaelean, Metersacker, Djourou (?)
    So you see my point, djourou may be the best 4th choice centre back among the top 6 but he is neither an experienced head or an understudy. If he has any ambition or wants to see his career moving forward he should look for another club.

  21. arsenalandrew

    Good post YW, especially your opening paragraph which should be hacked out and nailed to the front of (almost) everyone’s screens as a permanent reminder to question, question, question.


    Tim Luck – what kind of a name is that?

    ArsenalAndrew Luck – now THERE’S a name!

  22. Excellent central defender as proven most of 2010-11. Best of all we nurtured and developed hin over the past 5 years or so. Yet we have fools who ignore everything YW wrote and start throwing figures around playing “Ivan Gazidis”. Didn’t the Sivestre-Squillaci signings teach them any lessons. Only older, slower central defenders are willing to sign up for being 4th on the depth chart. We play a very high line and often our central defenders are left one-to-one with speedy forwards. Do we want to go down that road again?

  23. Fins;

    Ha! You must need a bath after admitting to agreeing with me man! I saw that Mugabe is a chav fan piece too. Well, we can top that, Osama Bin Laden was a Gooner!


    No offence dude, but that list of defenders just shows how strong our group of CBs is man. I think bartley deserves a shot at a place in the squad, if not then definitely a loan to a PL team, while Miquel also needs some regular playing time.

  24. More than capable as 4th choice, not good enough to threaten Koscielny or Mertesacker who in my opinion should start next season as 1st choice partnership.

    The issue then is his own ambition and his desire to play as he is certainly good enough to be a regular starter at a lot of other (lesser) sides. Is he happy to sit on the bench and perhaps get 1 start in ten plus Carling Cup games. The words of his national manager won’t be encouraging from an Arsenal point of view.


    Would disagree on Bartley who I have seen a few times now in SPL where he has at times struggled. It’s no disrespect to the lad to suggest his true level is perhaps Championship where he could develop and maybe move up in time.

  25. He’s an excellent fourth choice to have. We should certainly make him a decent offer.

    I am sure he is well aware of his situation. Should he wish to pursue new avenues that would be entirely understandable but I’d be sad to see him go.

    Khalifha even Wenger does not think Squillaci is good enough (or has adapted well enough) for the role of fourth choice defender!

  26. Fidel Castro is an Arsenal fan too. And (shudder) Dido.

  27. Dexter,
    I think khalifa is saying our CB depth is too strong! Maybe he’d rather we replace JD with Silvestre who after all is experienced/left back.

    Although I have to admit we seem to be rather poor at signing experienced CB cover. There has to be better than Silvestre and Squill out there, who aren’t expensive. More reason to keep JD then!

  28. Jacobite Gunner

    As a 4th choice CB goes, Djourou is a great option. He would be first choice in most of the bottom half EPL teams and even a few in the top half.

    Until bartley or iggy miguel prove they are ready to step up we should try and keep Djourou and hope he soes not want to move on before the other two develop

  29. I like Djourou. Good attitude and a rare mixture of size, skill and pace. I’d start playing him in midfield more next season, even if it’s only from the bench to give Song a rest. Keep him sharp/happy. He is mobile enough to play there and strong and experienced enough to provide extra cover for the back 4. Definitely NOT one of the players I’d want to see leave.

    23 appearances last season is not a bad return for the apparent 4th choice. Granted some of those were cameos but there was enough action to keep him interested.

  30. Upper Street Gooner


    I don’t understand why some of us get so upset when there is speculation about some of our players wages. Some of these fans freely speculate about other clubs grossly overpaid players so why cant it be done to our own.

    Let us be honest here, our playing staff wage bill rose to 130,000,000 last year whilst im well aware im not a forensic accountant you can with some simple math show what this could get you.

    From our website it shows us having 35 1st team players, 28 young professionals and 15 scholars.

    Lets say we paid 10 of these players 40k = 20,800,000
    20 paid 60k = 62,400,000
    5 players 100k = 26,000,000

    first team squad 109,200,000

    Lets say every young professional at our club was paid 10k = 14,560,000

    Every scholar paid 5k = 3,900,000

    Total wages 127,600,000 which is under what they were last year. What also needs to be considered is our 50,000,000 alternative costs which we never elaborate on which we can assume stadium maintenance, transport costs, staff wages etc.

    Thats allot of money being shelled out, but of course allegedly Djourou is only on 20k and Chamack signed on for 25k?

  31. Putting nostalgia aside
    I agree with Khalifa.
    I like Djourou but I’m not sue it’s not time to move on.
    @25, having been here for 8 years, a starting berth should be priority.
    Bartley & Miquel deserve game time
    If we sign M’V it could spell adios for him
    I mean Song and the 2 young guns will do more than adequately.
    5m would be great.
    Its about that time…

    Mission 2013: GUNNING FOR A DOUBLE!

  32. Notoverthehill

    Yogi, you DO make some very salient points! AS YOU ALWAYS DO!

    BUT, IF, some players DO like to boast? A certain Cole in the summer of ’06, a measly £55k a week?? Not on your nelly! A certain Dane: Kevin Davies is better BTW from vibes via Sunderland, £50k is cheap for the sacrifices HE makes! The Portuguese site is invaluable as it is based on agents/agencies boasting about their clients’ earning abilities.

    For Transfer Fees there are three main sources, again I suspect based on Agents. agencies tittle-tattle, without the codicils attached the the main contract?

    It is very obvious to me from off-the-cuff replies from Mr Ivan Gazidis, that HE had no part in the Arshavin transfer saga! I can say that I have a very good idea NOW of what is sum is available for a SUITABLE Arsenal transfer target, ALL things being equal. With 2 clubs in Manchester and 1 in London alone, the SKY may be the limit?

  33. USG

    Our wage bill includes EVERYONE on the wage bill; manager, coaching staff, even Doris the tea lady and she’s on a right wedge man.


    I wouldn’t say Bartley struggled at rangers, quite the opposite in fact and he was regularly depolyed in midfield. I remember Gibbs being on loan at Burnley (I think) and he had a torrid time there, looked out of his depth etc. It’s still too early to write him off IMO.

    I cannot believe people are suggesting Djourou lacks ambition because he is happy to stay with us? He gets enough games, plays in the champs league and is a very important squad player. It’s ridiculous to suggest we get rid just because his national coach says so.

  34. Upper Street Gooner


    Which then begs the question whats the 54,000,000 other costs we have??

    Would you not say that’s a quite ridiculous amount of money to be losing every year when your turnover is around 225,000,000

    If we dont pay players Djouou, Denilson, Bendtner huge amounts of money why in the latter 2 case could we not move them on due to their wages? Are these players not similar in terms of their ability in the squad a year ago?

  35. Dex,
    be honest can Miquel, Song or Bartley cover Djourou’s role?
    End of

  36. Doris is worth every penny – she makes one helluva mean brew.

  37. Aman

    The answer is, at this moment in time; NO. Miquel needs games on loan, as does Bartley while Song is wasted as a CB and would mean, at present, us losing our 1st choice DM. So, the answer is a resounding NO. And given how we have needed more than Cbs almost every season, your assertion that we don’t need him is flawed to buggery. 🙂

  38. USG;

    Not sure where you are getting these figues from, or what is considered within them TBH? I do know our wage bill as a percentage against turnover is lower than almost every other club.

  39. Dexter

    Not sure anybody has suggested we “get rid just because his national coach says so”, just people commenting on how he himself may think. A footballer has two managers, if one is saying something it may cause him to think, it is not unknown for players to leave a club in order to nail down a regular starting place at a lesser club.

    The media call it ambition but at the most basic level footballers like to play football, ideally every week, not one in 10. This can change when you are a player like John O’Shea at United who played every now and then but was accumulating a very shiny medal collection to look back on in retirement. Johann is accumulating nothing, his form could be affected by the sporadic appearances and if he was then to lose his place with Switzerland on the basis of another player moving ahead of him who plays every week then it would be a huge blow to the players confidence.

    I think Miquel is ideally placed to move up if Johann did decide to look elsewhere. Needs to play more as you suggest but then we’re back at the catch 22 situation which has prompted the article today.

    Bartley we will agree to disagree on, don’t see anything in the player, he has been away at Sheffield United and Rangers now. I would have thought he would have been back if he was good enough. The next Kerrea Gilbert.

  40. The truth is none of us know enough about the situation to be absolutely sure. If Wenger feels Miquel is ready to take the fourth place berth then that’s good enough for me.

    Personally I think a loan spell would be advisable and good for his development but if Djourou decides to leave Wenger will be forced into a tricky decision. Bring in another defender or to promote from within.

    For me the desirable outcome is to hold on to Djourou but I think we’d all be understanding if he chose to exert himself elsewhere.

  41. Dexter, you’re right our “percentage wage bill compared to turnover” is low. But surely the problem is the distribution of that wage bill??

  42. USG

    I get pissed off with people asserting that Djourou is on £60k a week or £80k per week for Squillaci or whatever. The truth is no-one knows and the stock answer is that a source has told them when it is challenged. May be they are but too often rampant egos want to make themselves look more informed than they are, without any basis or substance to their figures. When you challenge them, the tendency is to make you prove that the figures are incorrect.

    I have no issue with speculation but informed guesswork, e.g. all matchday staff get £200 so that’s 400 (I think that’s what the accounts say we use) which is roughly £1.6m per season. Then take admin staff e.g. below management grade (ave salary £25k) – guesstimated at 100 people £2.5m plus then the managers (ave salary 100k) so that’s another £1m, total £4.1m before looking at senior staff.

    Included in the £130m is employers national insurance at about 13% which reduces the total by about £15m and pensions (est at £5m). So before getting to those involved on the playing side, I’ve just knocked £25m off the wage bill, destroying the £127.6m you came to. Not forgetting the manager’s costs or that of the coaching / medical staff.

    That’s not me trying to say “Ner, I’m cleverer than you”, just pointing out that the maths is based on wrong assumptions.


  43. Yep Finsbury, wouldn’t ya know it, Robert Mugabe has confirmed he is a Chelsea (and Barcelona) fan. The leader has not previously shown football inclinations. Perhaps he sees these teams as “progressive”, Chelsea with its russian owner, Barca with its “ideals”, I don’t know. And this says everything, a short intro to the man for those who may have pondered. It is a mandatory jail sentence for bringing the “office of president into disrepute”, so I select my words and silences as well as Song picks out a looping pass over the top to our man RvP.

  44. For now, as I see it, Djourou and Arsenal is the perfect match. Djourou, who after all is an international player in a national team outside of the top guns, obtains first class exposure and skills, at one of the top clubs and overall training systems in Europe. Arsenal has a fine 3rd or 4th choice CB. It may not last. By 26-27 Djourou should be seen as “mature” (for a defender), and should look to regular top club appearances.

  45. The thing is that Fidel Castro has been an Arsenal fan since the late-1970s to my knowledge. In them days, I speak from experience, Arsenal had a reputation amongst lefties as a team worthy of support. The origins of this are unclear. At the time I put it down to Irish connections, and later, to a reputation for non-racialism (starting with Viv Anderson, and gathering pace with the Rocky, Davis era).

  46. On the whole, until he wuz “Drogba’d”, I saw Senderos as the better of the two young defenders; he just seemed more fiercely determined. to this day I wonder whether the right choice was made.

  47. “Good attitude and a rare mixture of size, skill and pace. I’d start playing him in midfield more next season, even if it’s only from the bench to give Song a rest. Keep him sharp/happy. He is mobile enough to play there and strong and experienced enough to provide extra cover for the back 4. Definitely NOT one of the players I’d want to see leave.”

    Markus, totally agree with your assessment of Dj.

    There will always be a difference of opinion with fans, as many of us have an image of the stereotype player we’d like to see in specific positions.

    I certainly could see this player being successful at DM and maybe more disciplined in protecting the back line.

    I’m sure player and manager will resolve.

  48. Compared to Le Coq, isn’t Djourou already a lesser alternative as a stand in DM type. I don’t see him playing there at Arsenal, not even for one game, unless we have … ulp … an jury crisis.

  49. Steve

    Again, you seem a tad defensive man, which is rather apt given we talking about a centre back! 🙂 This whole debate has stemmed from the words of Johan’s national coach, hence why I said that.


    Yogi has suggersted other costs already, but we havent even factored in expenditure on things like; player insurance, travel costs, utilities, equipment upgrades, repairs etc, Doris the tea lady’s solid gold tea urn…

  50. Henry Norris Dial Square

    He is a good 4th choice and certainly we should be looking to keep hold of him as a squad player. But if he does move on, it’s time to give Miquel some time in the squad as this lad has all the ability to make it and even become a first choice regular. I also think Miquel is more versatile than JD. So no great loss if he does decide to move on.

  51. ZimPaul;

    The thing with Senderos was that he needed a run of games to build up any form, whereas Djourou can usually come in and do a job for us. Plus he is a lot pacier and mobile than Senderos.

  52. FA shareholders will on Monday vote on reforms to youth football, including the introduction of small-sided formats for certain age-groups.

    Proposals include nine-a-side games on smaller pitches and smaller goals for under-11s and under-12s, and five-a-side for under 7s and under-8s.

    In England, children as young as 10 currently play on full-size pitches.

    OMG! Have they not even sorted this out yet? I thought they’d realised years ago how ridiculous it is to expect kids that age to play on full size pitches etc?

    What a fecking joke.

  53. Doris makes a mean cup alright.
    Just don’t mention the jam scones or poor old Steve/USG/Occasional Poster might blow a gasket.

  54. Colour photocopies? They can be pricy. For Barcelona.

  55. Yeah – and them gaskets ain’t cheap to replace either. 😉

  56. Dex

    My youngest has been playing small-sided games for years and continues to do so next season in U-10s. My oldest plays 11 x side in U-12s.

  57. Ahh the sc*nes, I won’t say a word Fins.

  58. Zim
    “Compared to Le Coq, isn’t Djourou already a lesser alternative as a stand in DM type.”

    I’ve only see Coq start in midfield twice. City – he was excellent; WBA – forgettable.

    Maybe the jury is still out?

  59. Yogi;

    It was saying the FA shareholders are voting on it today? So, somewhere kids are still playing on full size pitches man. Seems about par for the course for the twits in charge of the national game.

  60. Arsession

    I was really keen to see Coquelin playing in his favoured midfield position vs WBA man. I don’t think it was his best game by any stretch though.

  61. Dex – well noted, it really wasn’t his best game – in fact it was comfortably the worst performance I have seen from him. He has some learning still to do.

  62. JD is the one defender at Arsenal that HANDLED Drogba for that alone he deserves respect!

  63. Maria

    He has been consistently good, it seems the fact he had to play RB due to our outrageous injuries has clouded the issue with a few Goons.

  64. Jonny

    True dat man. I was one who thought he was ready to step into the breach, perhaps that explains our pursuit of a more established holding midfielder.

  65. Dex
    The shift Coq put in against City was amazing. My opinion, I don’t believe Arsene did this player justice after that performance.

    There were so many times during the season, where Arsene could and should have given Song (and Arteta) a breather.

  66. Dj at right back……

    Wasn’t it his cross against Udinese that assisted Ramsey in the late winner?

  67. I just think he wouldn’t have wanted to put him in when every game was a must win man. Eased in is how he likes to do it. I expect to see him feature more next season though.

  68. Yeah arsession and in fact he wasn’t even that bad as a RB, apart from city away (was it?)

  69. Zenit say they want to sign our meerkat permanently.

    Suicide watch goes to amber in Blackburn.

  70. We need to pick up some really good defenders and mid field players. We can’t afford to lose RVP. If this happens we are dead in the water. Robin Van Persie is trhe sole reason why we finished third. In baseball herev in the state the big boys have the minor leagues where the player can learn and apply his trade. The teams that win on a consistent basis have great players mixed with solid role players and great defense. We need a mixture of both.

  71. The JD/Kosh partnership last season was flawless best partnership, i’ve seen at Arsenal for awile, a joy to watch.

    I really believe any player be it Ramsey, Vermealen or RVP sruggles when played out of position. Especially since JD was previously a DM as well. Jheez fans act like jealous exs when he comes to players wages and position at the club sometimes. Yes JD gets paid very well, but it’s the club who have determined his worth and the manager who has chosen not to utilise him.

  72. Is legrove closed gee?

  73. jonny

    not quite amber yet; it’ll happen after the euros so PG can watch them and tearfully enjoy.

  74. Jacobite Gunner

    My experience of playing as a defender at primary school was just being yelled at by the coach to kick it up as far up the pitch as possible (and quickly to). In fact, the goalkeeper never passed out to the defenders.

    what a joke I realise it all was now!

  75. JG

    Yesterday, the goalkeeper on #2 son’s team was bollocked for playing the ball short!

  76. Same here jacobite! We played on a full size pitch from age 6 and used a ball as light as a beach ball!

  77. This is well worth perusal –

    Especially if you like a good graph.

  78. Get rid of it! Thats the golden rule in schools football coaching in England man. In fact, I think it’s the only rule.

  79. Jacobite Gunner

    I mean, the entire coaching system and the knowledge British coaches have of how to develop young (highly influential) youngsters is criminally inept in most cases.
    It’s always based on playing direct and scoring and never on developing technique. From the age of 9 i remember that we played on huge pitches (not full size but close) and as a defender I was just insructed to lump it and get “stuck in”, which is really a euphemism for injure the opposition player if you have to, to get the ball.

    My wee cousin plays for Raith Rovers (Scottish 1st division team) under 19’s and the way their coach has them playing shows very little change to how I played when I was younger. To be honest, I would like to see England to get stuffed in all three games at the Euro’s so that there will be a serious analysis into how use could improve youth development drastically and implementations will actually be carried out. I understand that Scotland and the SFA have implemented a youth plan but to be honest, I will not get my hopes up.

    On another note, we (Scotland) were guffed 5-1 by the USA on Sunday morning and comparing their technical ability and passing to us was quite frankly, embaressing- come on this is the USA! They were distinctly useless 15 years ago and if they carry on developing they will be a better team than england soon.

    rant over

  80. finsbury @ 1:48 pm

    According to John Cross, Doris is in the last year of her contract and has recently been seen in the vicinity of the Etihad stadium, so Wenger will probably need to panic buy at the end of the transfer window.

    I don’t believe it, of course, but it’s all over NewsNow.

  81. Jacobite Gunner

    It bemuses me sometimes when some british managers are held up to be some of the greatest in the world or highly commended but we cannot produce good youth players

    e.g. moyes, sir fergusen, arry, hodgson etc.

    It’s worth noting that after Steven Caulker’s loan move to swansea, he noted that his technical ability and comfortableness on the ball had made him a much better defender (due to Rodgers coaching the correct way-technical ability).

    lets just hope Rodgers wants bartley on loan next season!

  82. arsenalandrew

    Still, on the up side England beat the West Indies to retain their best in the world slot in the rankings in the cricket!

  83. Notoverthehill

    Yogi, Note 6 of the Financial Report always includes the AVERAGE number of match-day employees. 824 against 861 (2009/2010). Even with a London Weighting Allowance applicable, 5 hour day @ £40 per hour? 19 Premier League games, 3 Champions League games, say 1 FA Cup and 1 League Cup game, say 24 games say 24 x 800 x £200 per match = £3.84 millions. IF the temporary staff are on £40 per hour then an average wage for a full-time employee (35 hours say) would be £1,500 per week with 248 admin staff would amount to £372,000 per week or £19.5 millions p.a. Any self-respecting accountant would use 52.14 per annum, which I will not go into! WE are ignoring employers’ N.I.C. and pension contributions for those with a curious turn of mind.

    As for those muppets who cannot comprehend, The Arsenal own THE Stadium, London Colney, Hale End Academy, two or three properties in the new-builds and also expenses for Barnet (Reserve game) and Borehamwood (Arsenal Ladies games). FA Cup and League Cup home games are shared, after expenses, with the F.A. The income is in the turnover, so the expenses is shown in Other Expenditure! The Emirates, London Colney and Hale End Academy business rates will also appear in the Other Expendirure.

    Is that what you are looking for FG? Ignore The Swiss Ramble as he does ramble on with Deloitte’s hard work.

  84. bananas

  85. Notoverthehill

    Yogi, I suggest we use E&OE excepted? It should be Other Expenditure in the penultimate paragraph, last word!

    BTW no First! this time. I trust the perps are binned for an eternity by Yogi’s all-encompassing moderation “killer” app?

  86. Well looks as though Hazard to Chel$ki is done and dusted – reputed salary of over £100K a week. Just wish he had gone to Spain – he’s a beautiful player to watch but from the sounds of it he has found the right club to match his personality.

    Team full of c*nts.

  87. I think it having Song cover as 4th choice at Centre Back with Coquelin, Frimpong and M’Vila available as Defensive midfield cover is the way to go. I didn’t for a minute believe Vertonghen is coming to us, unless it means one of the left backs or the top three centre backs is cut loose.

    In case Djourou leaves it hurts us in another area, he is considered home grown.

  88. Clerkenwell Gooner

    Yogi, ZimPaul – I didn’t know that about Fidel Castro. Extraordinary. Thanks.

    (Castro later recruited Maradona to try to put some zip into the Cuban national football team, and I had high hopes of them qualifying for the last World Cup, but they/El Diego didn’t quite manage it. Maybe Brazil 2014, who knows?)

    Yogi – Also, the Guardian piece imaged in the link you put up, says that Zhou Enlai, former foreign minister under Mao, veteran of the Long March, was also a Gooner.

    And, tongue in cheek, that Guardian piece proposes Castro as a possible replacement for George Graham during a period of poor club form in 1995:

    “[Arsenal] could be tempted by a grizzled, Latin American schemer, known for his skills as a motivator, and with a 35-yearl record of survival in the big league.”

    Arsène, once in an interview I think with the Independent, was asked about what stuff he liked to read, that is, did he have any sort of intellectual life outside his footballing interests? He told the reporter that he was currently reading a history of the Mossad, the Israeli secret service!

    I can just imagine AW and Sir Ferg raiding the library for works on strategy, tactics, historic battles etc., trying to get the upper hand. (Sir Ferg’s certainly been on a long march of his own, no doubt.)

    Right now, I’d suggest Arsène study the life and undertaking’s of Viet Nam’s General Giap – no budget to speak of, but successively kicked the shit out of the superior firepower of French, the South Vietnamese, and the US armies.

    Giap of course modelled himself on his hero, Napoleon. ‘Nuff said.

  89. NOO

    You can’t ignore NIC / Pension, they are all in the wages line on the accounts.

    My point was that without detailed information behind the numbers, speculation is simply that; it is not fact which all too often it is passed off as.

  90. arsenalandrew

    YW – if only you’d made that point at the start of the day.

    Oh that’s right.

    You did.

  91. you aint half going through these topics YW..good post

    JD’s a good defender,
    as far as 4th choice defenders go hes the best in the league probably..
    hes taken one for the team hasnt he?..playing through injury when we needed him last season and then ending up at RB..

    if he wants a new challenge then fair enough but i think hes the kind of player who really loves the club and was eager to extend his contract not so long ago.

    besides, hes only 4th choice right now..
    what happens if he ends up getting a run of games again in the centre and this time Sagna dont clean him out?

  92. Clerkenwell Gooner

    This chap could be alternative to M’People, apparently. We have been stalking him for a year:

    Cheekbones, 6′ tall, with a spectacular long range shot, according to the Daily Heil [no link].

  93. metal guru is a good defender for a 4th choice what the fuck do people expect, a Vertonghen being 4th choice. Cahill looks a good fukin defender though doesnt he…shame..we all knew he was good didn’t we. now why didnt we get him eh??

    would be nice to get that good utility player that can come in in any position when we have injuries and do a sterling job, i think le coq can be that man but he is still probably a few years too young to take up that role.

  94. pedantic george

    Ah there you are .Now stop thinking about Zenit.You are not going.Simples

  95. Do we have to go over this every time Duke? Arsenal offered what they thought was a reasonable price for a player in the last year of his contract. Instead of negotiating like gentlemen Bolton chose to insult us by running crying to the media about derisory offers. You can hardly blame us for looking elsewhere in the circumstances.

    For all their bluster and posturing Bolton ended up with the same money we offered, which they found so insulting from us and less so when it was stained by the blood of the Russian people. We got a German international and Cahill got his wedge of Russian gangsta money via good signing on fee and higher wages than he would have got at Arsenal. It’s time to accept reality and move on. What’s done is done.

  96. “Ah there you are .Now stop thinking about Zenit.You are not going.Simples”

    You’ve seen the latest rumours then?

  97. pedantic george

    Of course they want him .He is a genius.
    Why would they not?
    I am not prepared to sanction it though.

  98. Jagielka called up in place of the crocked Barry? Good!

    Now all we need is for Downing, Glen Johnson, Milner, Terry and Green to be injured and England might be able to actually win a game.

  99. Not only did Bolton end up with the same (or less) money, they also had to pay his wages for 6 months and had the uncertainty hanging over them while they got beat every week too.

  100. Neither will I, pg….only AW can.
    I truly would love to see Andrey Arshavin play ACM for the Arse.
    We paid for a genius we need to at least enjoy it uncensored even if its for just a season!
    Free AA23!!!

  101. ..and let Djourou go IF & only if he demands it!

  102. Hart
    Jones – Jagielka – Cahill – Baines
    Gerard – Parker
    Theo – Oxo Kid – Young
    Biffa Bacon

    Thats about as good a line up as this England squad will allow me I think.

  103. Aman

    I think we need a petition man! Free the Meerkat one!

  104. Ah. Still in the first stage I see.

    It’s not a river in Africa, PG.

  105. Paulie Walnuts

    Like so many of our young players that have come through the ranks over the last decade or so D’jourou must be a dream to manage.

    Loyal, hard working, honest & sensible – & when he put that run together alongside Kos last season I really thought he`d cracked it.

    For me his failure to consolidate on that has been a major disappointment, although some of his struggles this season were admittedly not self inflicted.

    I`d like to see him stay & fight for his place – not just be a squad player. However if he wants more starts maybe now is the time to move, particularly as he`s no longer (if he ever was) flavour of the month.

  106. george has already been a grumpy old git lately feck knows what he will be like if/when AA leaves.

  107. hear hear Dex…i’m just praying he kills it @ the Euros like he did 4 years ago.
    Make them cream Andrei…make the whole world cream!

  108. Johnny, thanks for the link on those stats.

    Having checked out a statistical analysis on the performance on Koscielny, Kompany and Coloccini i can confidently say that coloccini is not fit to tie Kos’s shoe laces and he is on par with kompany, infact slightly better. The only stat Kompany has over koscielny is Aeriel duels won: 71% – 65%. Koscielny is among the best the EUROPE (unbelievable).

    Santos also has some quality stats, in comparism with gibbs he had the better numbers. Infact the only stat gibbs had over santos was No of times dribbled past: Santos:16, Gibbs:5, although that is a big difference, metersacker also did good.

  109. I would just like to reiterate that Johan Djourou has NOT, I repeat NOT said anything about any perceived lack of playing time. This idea he wants to leave to get more game time is based on nothing other than the ill advised musings of the Swiss national coach, Ottmar Hitzfield.

  110. Been going through some stat analysis for a while now, my head is full of numbers,104! See what i mean?, i don’t even know why i wrote that number.

  111. Santos better than Gibbs eh Khalifha???

    Hazard will sign for…


  112. Tells you about his motivation that he can sign for a club without a manager.

  113. Dexter, erm (checks if pedantic is around) according to those stats santos is the better leftback.

  114. pedantic george

    I will never say “I told you so” I wont ,No,No,I refuse too.You wont make me say it.

  115. Hazard to chelsea, Is it official yet?
    Again, this emphasizes my point about not losing focus on our basic requirement, which is champions league(hopefully bigger prizes to follow). Top 4 will not be a forgone conclusion for us, chelsea will be stronger next season, probably liverpool too, we must do all we can this summer to keep our star players and not embarass me :-).

  116. You are a very big man to admit that Khalifha.

    George, you are a podgy munchkin. 🙂

  117. If we can re-sign the three with a year left, try and tie down the likes of Koscielny, Sagna, whoever else might be getting near 2 years remaining also AND make 2 stellar signings and a couple of solid back ups, then that would represent an amazing summer’s dealings.

    But, I would be happy with about 75% of that scenario actually occuring.

  118. Hahahaha PG , you snake! Where were you hiding, i checked everywhere 😀

  119. Hazard with Mata & Ramires should be interesting w. Torres w/o Didier, Kalou & Bosingwa……ah what do I care????

    Dex we are just theoretically speaking ’bout Johan. He’s the perfect team player. I’d actually love for him to fight tooth & nail to be a starter rather than scare the bejesus out of “us” 50% of the time he’s on the pitch….you must admit he has been shaky lately. Maybe going in & out of the team ’cause of injury has tampered with his confidence but AW has been faithful to him and even rewarded him with an extension.


  120. Can’t remember what game it was, but Djourou was drafted in due to Koscielny’s ban. um, think it might have been Villa. he was flawless. Every CB makes a mistake every game, some get away with them due to luck and friendly refs ( 🙂 )

    I think it will soon transpire that Hazard was Roman’s signing all the way, with no input from any chav coaches or discussions with potential new manager. Bit of a risk, although he is a quality player. Hopefully he will bomb like Crespo, Shevchenko and Veron!

  121. pedantic george

    I see FFP has really kicked in Chelsea.

  122. Yes George, they are really putting their house in order financially that’s for sure.

  123. George

    What did you get Andrey for his birthday man?

  124. FFP is a pipe dream George, always was. Too many vested interests for it to work (Man City, Chelsea, Inter, AC Milan). Hope the club has a plan to deal with this other then blindly hoping that it gets enforced.

  125. George

    I can’t remember, is lew1234 alright, or is he a bit of a twat?

  126. Dexter

    A bit of twat 🙂

  127. Yea, i heard hazard had to pay lille in order for him to join chelsea, they are taking this ffp policy too seriously.

  128. Haha! Thanks for clearing that up for me man.

  129. To be honest the chavs would have made a few quid this season and they have got some heavy wages off the wage bill too. It all depends if they make any other big signings or not. They will need a few more new players, in defence IMO, but let’s not fret about any other team apart from Arsenal right now. 🙂

  130. Sid Celery ‏@sidcelery

    As a consequence of Harry Redknapp’s dyslexia, Tottenham Hotspur have just announced the signing of Eddie Izzard

  131. A few years ago Redknapp wanted to sign Rocastle but ended up with Roy Castle.

  132. Good uns Dupsff!

    And of course, there’s no way there could be any form of dodginess over here.

  133. Roger that. I won’t lie, at least i get the chance to watch this footballing god they call hazard – whisper this quietly, i heard hazard once scored a goal for lille that was so magnificent the ref had to suspend the match and watch the replay of the goal in 3D!, it was that good.

  134. No,no, no guys, redknapp is currently in france trying to finalise the transfer fee of rosievic brownpaperbag, never heard of him? Me neither.

  135. pedantic george

    What would you suggest Arsenal do to overtake clubs who lose £200 million per year,and don’t bat a eye?

  136. “you must admit he has been shaky lately.”

    Aman, that is a little unfair on JD – he has looked shaky at RB, where he is clearly not comfortable, but at CB other than the manure debacle he has not actually done anything wrong.

    Paulie Walnuts, I don’t think you are really taking into account the effect of the shoulder injury. He was really good until that happened and he was rushed back due to yet another injury crisis at CB. It took Theo a year to overcome his shoulder problems. Shoulder injuries really impact on balance and speed. JD’s main problem is that he hardly goes through a season without some niggly injury, which makes it difficult for him to hold down a place in the team. Hopefully he will overcome those in time. He is a quality back up and if he wants to stay a little longer I will be happy. He may not be flavour of the month with some ‘fans’, but unless Arsene has lost confidence in him or he wants to go, he’ll still be here next season.

  137. Well, well there’s a lot of obfuscation in there but glad to see you are coming round to my viewpoint finally Yogi’s Warrior on Djourou – glad. Though this is no time to blow my own trumpet, I shall be humble and all I will say is totally agree there is too much competition ahead of him.

  138. Kalou has signed a new deal at chavs. You can all breath again now.

  139. pedantic george

    Djourou is a fine defender.
    Our problem is we don’t defend as a team.We don’t press enough or fast enough.We need to blah blah blah fucking blah.
    I just want to enjoy watching Arsenal play,I don’t want to be the manager .

  140. “8 Feb 2012 – Arsenal’s Johan Djourou signs new contract extension until 2015”

    Seems strange him signing that only a short while ago if he had any thought about leaving.

  141. Dupps, that news is as good as a new signing.

    Surprisinly neither Yogi in his post nor anyone here today has mentioned oxlade chamberlain’s debut for England *scratches head in confusion*

  142. Pass,
    my intention is not to be “too hard” on DJ, just speaking my truth.
    I agree RB is not his best position but i don’t like the fact that I tend to hold my breath whenever he’s one on one with a quality CF.
    He has this tendency to prefer to shield the ball all the way to the keeper instead of clearing it when he has the positional advantage.
    To me its a sign that he’s 1st instinct is NOT that of a CB…
    always worrying

  143. I don’t know George I’m a microbiologist not a football consultant, manager paid £7m pound a season or a chief executive paid £1m with bonuses of £900k but you are right we can’t compete with that from City or Chelsea only really Utd could but they are crippled by the Glazers. Think we are in the situation Everton have found themselves in since the 90’s and will just have to get used to the fact that the PL is beyond our reach for the foreseeable future.

  144. Sad news – the Kalou news was a false alarm

  145. Nice article about Oxlade-Chamberlain. Cue City bid in 3…2…1…

  146. Aman | May 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Your reaction is your issue – you expect the worst so you only notice his faults. I could name a number of faults from certain fan favourites that regularly go unnoticed. But let’s just agree to disagree. We can’t all see things the same way.

  147. pedantic george

    Lew 1234.
    That is about the strength of it

  148. dupsffokcuf

    I don’t think Kalou is a bad player to quote Jack Wilshere he is decent but Arsenal need more then decent besides we already have our slightly uncoordinated couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo Ivorian space in the squad taken up by Gervinho 🙂

  149. Djourou is not going anywhere. He is quite happy to be a squad player at Arsenal. In fact, he is more likely to be pushed than to jump. He together with Senderos was supposed to be the future center half pairing. It did not quite work out for both of them, but Djourou is still at the club due to his better mental attitude as well as soft skills (think about his podcast at
    I think he is one of the players for whom the quality/salary relationship is not quite right. But I would link to be proved wrong by him.

  150. Was a sad day when I finally admitted it to myself but still think we try.

  151. beg to differ Passenal, I rarely expect the worst from life or any of our players but when someone does the same thing over & over & over again he kind of forces one’s arm…don’t ya think?…oh yeah, u don’t…..agreed to disagree.

  152. pedantic george

    Yes Lew1234,We do And our efforts surpassed all the other teams who also tried.

  153. now Big Phil…I liked & always felt he was instinctively a CB. I was quite sad that his retiring kryptonite stole his will to fight in red & white.
    He had more urgency to his game

  154. CORR..his now-retiring kryptonite…

  155. think djorou qualifies has a home grown player. allows us to get another foreigner into the 25 member squad

  156. Don’t agree there George, think Utd are the ones who deserve that for the want of a better word, prize. Winning what they have over the last few years against a free spending Chelsea and lately City with the millstone of the Glazers around their neck sucking as much as £75m pounds a year in interest out of the club has been a testament to Ferguson’s management skills. (I need a shower after writing that). We would be a very close second. (My opinion only)

  157. pedantic george

    But they just got the big spending in first .
    They pay £250k pw to a player.
    They were paying £30 million for players 10 years ago.

  158. Big difference though George is that they can afford to pay £200k pw to one player or £30m for a player 10 years ago through their own resources no Russian Oil tycoons or Middle Eastern Emirates need to bale them out a £100m every year (even with the Glazers interest bill). They earn all the money they spend like ourselves.

  159. pedantic george

    yes I agree .
    But you cant ignore the vast sums they have paid over the years to keep winning,
    And I have no problem with that.
    I just don’t think the biggest club in the world ,dominating its own domestic league,is some sort of great management.

  160. Neither would I before the Glazers but £75m a year in interest and constraints in spending (years ago if Barca had destroyed Utd Ferguson would have spend the equivalent of 100m’s) but its apples and oranges I suppose.

  161. Djourou’s case is a tricky one. He may be a squad player for the Arsenal but might make it to the first team of a club which is a step below. First team football could help him make a few tweaks to improve his game.
    Should he stay at the Arsenal? That would depend on his priorities and risk appetite – stay at a big club but risk being at the same level as a result of a lack of playing time or move to a lesser club which would give him more playing time and maybe improve sufficiently to get back to a top club as a top CB. Club football or international football? Being low down in the pecking order for both club and country will be hard to take.
    As an Arsenal fan, I’d don’t mind seeing him at 3rd or 4th choice. I would like to see him taken as first choice against less dangerous opposition – but it will be hard given that league is extremely competitive and we had very less breathing space in the last few years.

  162. The Arse in The Gamb

    It seems that Djourou has many followers in Arsenal from his eight years of playing for the club, which must be worth something.
    To reach the middle of his career he has had many opportunities in that time to prove himself at the club and it is unfortunate that he has not persuaded even his biggest fans that he is anything more than a squad player.
    He is tall and athletic possessing what many call ‘a lot to offer’, so it is not surprising that he and his Swiss coach want him to be part of a team that can offer him regular first team action.
    I personally would like to see him take up the challenge. It would be better for him in getting more games and it would be better for Arsenal as the statistics tell us we are likely to win more matches if he does not play for us.

  163. Since we have the ideal CB scenario for the first time in a long time, I hope it doesn’t change. 4 now experienced campaigners all with potential to become first choice, 2 currently rated as such and said (by us) to be the best pairing in the EPL, 1 player in his prime arguably very slightly behind, and Djourou taking up the rear but by such small degrees it hardly warrants comment. For Djourou it couldn’t be better performing in such company. I’m sure it has given him confidence for his country too.

  164. Apparently “the government has altered the definition of what is a “hot” pasty”.
    So there it is. And Ginsters are one of the sponsers of the England Football team.

  165. What a load of VAT.

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