Stick or Twist v.2

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Welcome back to Stick or Twist – a new semi-regular Tuesday blog from #ABW Chief Blogger, the Other Geoff.  The concept is simple – OG will pick a few topics each week and give his thoughts followed by a verdict using the terms STICK or TWIST.  New in this edition – you get your chance to vote after the verdict and tell us what you think. 

stick (stĭk): stand; hold the course. The state or condition of adhering.

twist (twist): hit; make a change. A variation in approach.

On Mad Frankie & a Defensive Mid:

The emergence of “Mad Frankie” Coquelin this season has been the sort of pleasant surprise usually reserved for finding spare change in the couch.  In our hour of need, the defensively styled midfielder has been a revelation – and is no doubt a big part of our strong second half of the season.

But despite his excellent displays, questions remain about if he’s the real deal and what, after so many years of longing for a defensive midfielder, should be our transfer strategy this summer?

For me the answer is a relatively simple one – but that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen all manner of debate in other blogs, internet forums, and the fabled jurisdiction of rational thought, Twitter, about should we or shouldn’t we be signing another DM during the next transfer window.

We should.

That isn’t a comment about Le Coq at all but rather a pragmatic look at our squad as a whole.  I genuinely believe Frankie is on the path to being a terrific DM for Arsenal – but he can’t shoulder that weight of expectation on his own.

For one, let’s look at the supporting cast: Arteta’s number looks to be sadly up and despite signing a contract extension, we should not be expecting him to feature in more that 15 games next season.  He’s at the age where injuries don’t go away and relyining on him for more than that isn’t the type of gamble we should be placing on our Captain.

Flamini too, is looking increasingly like a character who’s days are numbered.  As much as I’m likely in the unpopular opinion of genuinely liking the guy, his season has been rather…erm…dreadful at times.  The common consensus is that he’ll be off this summer if an offer comes in (it might not).

So where does that leave Frank?  He can’t possibly take 40-50 games next season on the chin.  Even if he somehow avoided injury, he plays in a high card count position and it isn’t unrealistic to expect a suspension or two.  On top of that, our European commitments mean that playing twice a week will be the norm.

Given our expectations to be challenging on multiple fronts, we need squad rotation and depth.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude we should still be in the market for a good defensive midfielder come summer time.  That’s in no way a slight on the emerging Frenchman – but rather a reality of an elite team in Europe.

Verdict: TWIST – We need depth in the DM position if we expect to challenge on all fronts.

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On Ageing Players:

None of our players are getting any younger.

It’s one of those interesting subjects that has popped up a couple times in the comment box on  #ABW Radio – if a big offer came in for one of our ageing players – should we take it?

The names I recall seeing have been those of Santi and Nacho – but we could extend that thinking to include Per, Mikel, Tomáš, and even Laurent Koscielny.  I can hear some of you yelling at me through your computer screens already as you read those names and I’m willing to bet there are mixed responses.

It’s not long ago that I recall Arsène approaching all of our elder players with type of generalist kid gloves that make me cringe just thinking about them (1 year extensions for Dennis once he hit 30 – are you kidding??!!). Fortunately his stance on that policy has seemingly relaxed over the last few years as he’s realized the qualities a mature player can bring to his squads.

So where do I stand on this? If a player is approaching that period where he’ll have little to no sell-on value due to age – would I accept a big money offer? Say £25M for Santi this summer as an example.

The answer is no.

Our business model has changed significantly over the last five years and we’re no longer in a period where we are relying on player sales to keep us in the black – this is not a situation where we have to sell (crazy £££’s aside).

Obviously this is a case by case situation but our policy shouldn’t be governed any longer by age or sell-on value – but rather talent and squad contribution. Any player, regardless of age, religion, position, etc. should be evaluated against what they are bringing to the team. Once they’re no longer capable of improving the Arsenal, that’s when we should sell – whether they’re 15 or 38.  It’s a subtle change in policy but a change for the better – our new commercial deals have afforded us that luxury.

Verdict: STICK – Gone are the days when we needed to sell players – we should keep our best players, regardless of age.

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On Theo:

Poor old Theo.

It feels like just yesterday when we were all worried about #SignDaTing leaving us on a big money deal to Liverpool (or somewhere equally glamourous).  The reality is that his last deal was signed in January 2013 and was said at the time to take him the summer of 2016 and worth an estimated £100K a week – not quite “poor” as I mentioned above.

Now fresh contract negotiation grumblings this week have put his future back in the spotlight with Arsenal supporters and there are no shortage of opinions on where Theo’s future should lay.  Will #SignDaTing continue to be an Arsenal player?

Many of the arguments centre around giving a player who has had a stuttering career at Arsenal a new big-money deal or whether we could reallocate that wage (and a possible transfer fee) to better effect.  Let’s not kid ourselves – there would be no shortage of suitors willing to shell out a big fee and decent wages for a guy who would be considered a homegrown player (Citeh *cough).

Putting the playing talent argument aside for one moment – here’s a guy who is only just recently back from a major injury – surely a little patience is in order?  I accept that he hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet but at 26, he still has time on his side.

We’re also talking about a guy who stayed loyal to us last time around – as fans, can’t we afford a little of the same?  I don’t know what he is demanding in terms of wages or compensation but at this point in the negotiations, there really shouldn’t be any debate – let’s back a player who has been loyal to us in the past and is recovering from significant injury.

That said – if we’re still having this conversation next January – feel free to stick the boots in.

Verdict: STICK – Theo remained loyal to us last time around.  Regardless of what you think about his playing ability, surely we can do the same this time around.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed Stick or Twist – now let’s go beat Monaco!

You know it!
The Other Geoff

Other Geoff is the ‘#ABW Chief Blogger’ and can be found on Twitter here: @Hollefreund.

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