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A number of years ago I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Sir Geoff Hurst. I made the point to him that since late July 1966 he has almost lived a Groundhog Day existence. He understood my point that every single day of his life everyone who meets him (like me) only wants to speak about that wonderful hat-trick in the World Cup Final. It’s not a bad Groundhog Day to have is it? It’s certainly better than reliving root-canal surgery or rush-hour commuting every day! Unfortunately, England’s football team lives in a Groundhog Day in which we live in a agonising penalty shootout. More of that later (as is always the case in a Groundhog Day). 

In this expressly produced piece on the Euros I’d like to look at three things. Firstly, how good a tournament it was and what we remember most. Secondly, how did the home nations do and thirdly, what might it all mean for Arsenal? 

The tournament itself was in a new format with multi-country venues which was not an ideal scenario during a pandemic and in a world focusing more and more on sustainability but the decision was taken by UEFA who are only surpassed by FIFA for crassness, greed and obnoxiousness.

It got off to a wonderful start with an exhilarating performance by a free-flowing Italian side dispatching Turkey easily but then we saw a horrendous incident in the second game when Denmark’s Christian Eriksen collapsed just before half-time in their game against Finland and had to be given CPR on the pitch as his teammates formed a chain around him protect his privacy. The Denmark captain Simon Kjaer emerged as a real leader displaying huge compassion and dignity in an appalling situation. That UEFA felt the game should continue in those circumstances notwithstanding the fact that Eriksen happily survived was extraordinary. Nobody wanted to play in it or watch it and the 1-0 victory by Finland was totally artificial as the Finnish goal was due to an error by one of the best goalkeepers in world football who had just watched his close friend fighting for his life a few yards away. 

After this the tournament unfolded and was hugely entertaining in places. I didn’t watch a lot of the less interesting group games, North Macedonia is still a mystery to me but we saw fine football in the group stages from Belgium, France and Spain, an initial stutter from Germany who then stuffed Portugal and encouraging efforts from Austria, Hungary and Ukraine. Denmark inspiringly roared back to qualify. 

The decision to only eliminate eight teams from twenty-four severely reduced the jeopardy element. It was twice as easy to qualify as to be eliminated. But that detail aside the tournament really took off in the knockout stage. There were some superb matches. Belgium eliminated Portugal and then fell to Italy. France were amazingly eliminated in a shootout with Switzerland. Spain and Croatia provided a cliffhanger and eliminated the Swiss. Italy stuttered against Austria but probably took part in the match of the tournament against Spain who were most unfortunate to be beaten on penalties after playing some exhilarating attacking football. There were a variety of styles and approaches which is, in itself, a blessing and most games saw positive and attractive football unlike so much of the attritional football we often see in tournament play. Perhaps the biggest change in approach came from Mancini’s Italy who without completely abandoning the defensive dark arts, had attractive creative midfielders and direct, exciting front players like Chiesa and Insigne. They forged their way to the Final as part of a 34 game unbeaten run. 

But what of the home nations? Wales had cause for encouragement after their superb run in 2016 although they are still heavily dependent on Bale and Ramsey, neither of whom are quite the players they were five years ago. A fine win against Turkey was offset by a bit of a thrashing by Denmark in the last sixteen. Then we have Scotland!  Ah Scotland that enigmatic footballing nation who showed both sides of their football psyche in their short time in the tournament. They lost two games at home against decent but far from top-quality teams in Croatia and the Czech Republic, Schick scoring an incredible long-distance goal in the first game, my Goal of the Tournament. But against England at Wembley they were in full Braveheart mood and with better attacking quality they may have beaten England who were slightly second best on the night. If only Scotland could muster the quality that they can dredge up against the Auld Enemy more frequently against less emotive opposition. Under a thoughtful coach in Steve Clarke they are showing progress and it is to be hoped they can build on this foundation to qualify for the next World Cup. 

England will ultimately feel that yet another heartbreaking defeat in a penalty shootout adds to the litany of failure but I think this campaign was an immensely encouraging one. Much was made of the so-called Golden Generation of Beckham, Owen, Gerrard, etc. who rarely showed much quality in an England shirt. The current generation is exceptionally gifted and because of the high-pressure environment in which they play in the Premier League and Europe they have gained enormous match experience. Southgate forged a terrific team spirit and every call he made up to the Final was joyously proved right. But in the Final, the switch to three at the back, his slowness responding with substitutions to Italy’s growing control (the switch to 4-2-3-1 later in the game suggested England might have achieved better in-game control with that formation) and the choice of penalty-takers in the shootout suggested that his hitherto magic touch had deserted him. Choosing penalty-takers is a very difficult thing and it was to be hoped that more experienced players might have prevented him throwing Bukayo under the bus. To put someone who has never taken a penalty in a senior match in that position was unfair and deeply unwise. Southgate appears a decent man, a fine role-model and honest communicator and if we want to choose an English manager, he is the outstanding candidate. 

But what does all this mean for Arsenal? Our involvement was pretty minimal. Granit Xhaka showed both sides of his skill-sets giving a Man of the Match performance against France but being overwhelmed by the Italian midfielders. His departure appears imminent and he may well flourish in a slower style of football with less high-level intensity. Kieran Tierney missed the first Scottish game but was superb against England but against Croatia, he was unable to resist some Modric magic. Nothing he showed here dispelled the notion that he is a very high-quality defender both centrally or as a multi-purpose left back. The big revelation was Bukayo Saka and how sad that his tournament will inevitably be remembered for his last kick of the tournament. I tweeted him last night to say how proud all Arsenal fans were of him and to encourage him to look forward to what will surely be a stellar career. He will probably never read it particularly because he may well delete his social media accounts after revolting abuse from online scum. He had a fine tournament and is clearly adored by his teammates. His impact has been greater than even we could imagine. I hope the reaction to him from Arsenal fans is as warm as it can be.  I am certain that it will be. 

There were many players on view that I would like us to sign but we have to be realistic. Duku, the Belgian wing-back was sensational but do we need him?  Locatelli the Italian midfielder caught my eye but although we are apparently bidding he seems destined for Juventus. I thought of the strikers on view the best was Chiesa followed by Lukaku, Schick and Dolberg. In midfield I also liked Barella, Damsgard the Dane and Dani Olmo of Spain. We seem likely to sign Ben White of Brighton who was not used by England and possibly Maddison who was unlucky to be left out of the England squad or alternatively Aouar who failed to get into the French squad. They are all fine players but we may have to shop in the category labelled ‘high-quality but not established,’ given our absence from Europe. 

So, Euros 20/21 comes to an end. A tournament that engaged, delighted, inspired and ultimately ended in the way a lot of English tournament campaigns end. Congratulations to Italy, a wonderful football country (a wonderful country full stop) and worthy winners. As I held my sobbing grandsons last night the eldest said ‘Why does it always end this way?‘ He is thirteen!  He has a lot of future heartache to endure but could we possibly be seeing the beginning of a golden era? I think that might just be possible. It’s the hope that kills you.

105 Drinks to “Groundhog Day and Not a Happy One”

  1. 1
    North Bank Ned says:

    A fair assessment of the Euros, TTG, and your points are well made. I always felt this was a tournament too early for this England team but that it has a good shot at winning in 2024 and that that success might carry over to the 2026 World Cup. (Qatar will be a crapshoot.) I don’t think a dispassionate observer could say that England at this point is an unarguably superior team to Spain, France or Belgium, let alone Italy even though they all have an Achilles heel. However, the talent is there that experience will hone into a tournament-wining team.

  2. 2
    North Bank Ned says:

    I see that Arthur Okonkwo has been promoted to the first-team squad as the No 3 keeper.

  3. 3
    scruzgooner says:

    well said, ttg. italy was the top team from the start, even though france was the holder; even losing spinazzola didn’t deter them. and denmark, england, and (remarkably) switzerland acquitted themselves well. it was a fun tournament to follow.

    southgate made the wrong choice to put him last, if anywhere in the penalty shootout. where was grealish? where was shaw, or sterling? difficult choices to make, yes, but why didn’t he choose them? very underimpressed with his decisions under pressure at the last; given his history, i suppose it’s not surprising.

    our man bukayo will be fine. he is strong of heart, and will be surrounded by love all season. he should just close his social media accounts to the outside world; the online abuse received by him, rashford, and sancho is horrible, and anyone doing that is a sad, sick, impotent bastard.

  4. 4
    BtM says:

    Good, TTG. Good para on England and Southgate.

    I recall Cesc saying of Arsene that at 17 he told him “Age is only a number, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough”. Had someone asked me ahead of the game if Bukayo was good enough take that penalty I would have said “Yes. Absolutely”. What I wouldn’t have anticipated was that at the stage he took his kick, England were slaloming downhill at breakneck speed on two consecutive misses which must have heightened the pressure greatly. By all accounts, B was shooting the lights out in training and had the balls to stand up and be counted. His character appears such that he’ll rise like a phoenix from the ashes of that baptism of fire and be a better man for the test. This viewer will remembers tournament for much more than that miss and unlike many, I hardly think he was thrown under the bus.

    By the way, Dundee are back in the SPL. You must find an excuse to be in Fife or Angus for a quality outing with me on some future Saturday of your choice. Dens Park in the sleet and snow, an experience not to be missed.

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Thanks TTG and I wish the tournament could have culminated a bit more agreeably for you English fellows including of course Bukayo Saka who may be knackered but seasoned for an excellent second (third already perhaps?) season as a star at the Arsenal. Southgate must be commended overall, I think.

  6. 6
    Bathgooner says:

    An excellent overview of the Euros, TTG. From the knockout stage onwards this competition provided a series of matches that were excellent to watch from a neutral perspective. I do think the two strongest teams reached the finals though Spain, Belgium and France may dispute that analysis. England should be pleased to be fully competitive in that company. IMO the better team over 120 minutes won the final but I do think Southgate made several tactical errors that prevented England taking full advantage of the excellent early goal.

    During the first 30 minutes or so when the Italians were shaken by the early goal, England should have pushed on to get a second goal and keep them on the back foot. Although England’s defence effectively rendered Italy’s attack toothless in the latter stages of the first half, a second error was to try to continue that strategy in the second half with the same personnel. The next error was to fail to change the personnel after the hour came up with a midfield that was being overrun and a forward line that was only spasmodically involved led by a centre forward who by then looked totally gassed. Was Kane (who I thought had an excellent first 30 minutes) simply kept on the field because he was a guaranteed penalty goal? If the handbrake approach to the first 120 minutes was with a view to not losing and reaching penalty kicks, then AMN should certainly have been selected in the squad. The lack of a positive attempt to win the game with the talent on the bench was a disappointment.

    Southgate’s final error was to select and sequence penalty takers simply on the basis of their success rate in training. Ian Wright did observe that he was not surprised that Saka volunteered when asked and nor am I as he is an honest and confident competitor and would not refuse a request from his coach, but young players sometimes need to be protected from themselves. Southgate should have considered a bigger picture than just the players’ success rate with penalty kicks on the training pitch. This 19 year old kid had never taken a matchday penalty in his entire professional career. If those five players chosen really were far, far better at penalties than the rest then he should also have considered the likelihood, as happens so often, that the fifth penalty carries the most pressure and needs an experienced penalty taker. If it was mathematically imperative that those five take the pens, that fifth kick should have been taken by Maguire for the same reason that the Italians used the usually extremely reliable Jorginho in that position (I know he missed!). However, like Roy Keane, I am unimpressed by the apparent spinelessness of some of Saka’s senior colleagues letting him take a kick of which they themselves were clearly nervous.

    Saka will be embraced by the Arsenal staff and community. He displayed impressive courage and character and we can be proud that he stepped up to that plate. However we have no idea how Saka will process that experience. Missing a pen had a major impact on DB10 and TH14’s subsequent approach. Que sera, sera. However he should certainly be advised to close his social media accounts and ignore racist vermin.

  7. 7
    Bathgooner says:

    It appears that Southgate didn’t have a great choice when it came to penalties (figures from the Torygraph; given Saka’s numbers, I guess these include last night’s efforts):

    Kane 46/53; Rashford 14/16; Sterling 4/9; Sancho 4/5; Mount 4/5; Maguire 4/5; Trippier 2/4; Henderson 1/4; Phillips 2/3; Rice 1/2; Grealish 0/1; Calvert-Lewin 1/1; Pickford 1/1; Walker 1/1; Shaw 1/1; Stones 1/1; Coady 0/1; Chillwell 1/1; Saka 0/1; the rest of the squad 0/0.

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Calvert-Lewin, Walker, Pickford, Shaw, Stones and Chilwell each have 100% records in scoring from penalty kicks? It’s interesting that none of them was chosen even if they only scored one each.

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    Nuno Tavares signing is official giving Arsenal two dedicated left backs. Hoping Tavares is as dedicated to the task as he is to the position.

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Pictures of the club’s first day of training in Scotland are on the official site for all who’s interested.

  11. 11
    OsakaMatt says:

    A fine summary thanks TTG.
    Lots of enjoyable matches this
    time round but agree the format
    wasn’t the best. Personally, I’d
    prefer a straight knockout with
    all the countries involved and no
    qualifying groups or tournament
    group games at all. I understand
    that won’t happen for financial
    reasons but it would be much
    more fun.

  12. 12
    Bathgooner says:

    bt8 @8, Calvert-Lewin, Walker and Chilwell weren’t eligible as they weren’t in the 11 on the field at the final whistle after 120 minutes. Pickford was allegedly number 6 on Southgate’s list with Phillips seventh and Grealish eighth.

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    Great job TTG. Really nice summary. I really enjoyed the tournament. I thought Italy were the best team overall. As a discussion point, here’s UEFA’s team of the tournament, with three English players and five Italians.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    TTG says:

    My disdain for UEFA, evident in this article has increased with the astonishing news that they have allocated one of their places in holding midfield in their Team of the Tournament to…..Granit Xhaka . The other place went to Pogba .
    This is beyond parody . Did they not watch Italy v Switzerland when he was overrun by Locatelli , Barella and co? Would anyone choose Xhaka for their team ahead of Phillips or Rice . Renato Sanches , Kante, Busquets , Witzel , Kroos etc etc ?
    Of course this should force his price up beyond the paltry €12 m offered by Roma.Member of Team of the Tournament ahead of that list should fetch €40-50 m at least . ….Absolutely no chance .

  16. 16
    TTG says:

    In the Times they had a team in there as UEFA’s team. Your version is much more realistic although Hobjberg isn’t of that quality in my view

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    This is UEFA’s official team of the tournament:


    A midfield of Højbjerg, Jorginho and Pedri. No Xhaka.

    Robbie Keane and David Moyes were among the 16-strong selection committee, for what it is worth.

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@10: Looks like Martinelli is following Partey in gettng a new shirt number as that is not him wearing 35 in the training pictures.

  19. 19
    Trev says:

    Cheers, TTG !

    A very good summary of a tournament featuring an England side that is now a lot more likeable than it was when built around the “golden” generation. There is plenty of room for optimism, given that Foden, Sancho and Bellingham were barely used, Grealish not much more, and our own ESR is still to be added, inevitably one would think, to the squad.

    Southgate has done a fine job of integrating so much youth into the international scene but will have to learn to be more positive to make the final step. Our tactics in the final were a real dog’s dinner. Creativity will have to be added to the midfield, and genuine pace will be needed up front. Apart from his goals, Kane already looks a misfit in that team and a more mobile leader may create the chances we mostly lacked.

    If Bukayo is reading this most sensible of online publications, I would just say he will not become an England star – he already IS an England star. We know how brilliant he is. We are lucky and proud to have him.

  20. 20
    Countryman100 says:

    Arsenal seem determined to squeeze every penny out of fans. If you are not a Gold or Platinum member, it will cost you £7.99 to watch a preseason kick about against Hibs tonight on Arsenal.com. The new adult shirts are £65 each.

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@20: Renewing Red members in the UK also get the four games for free, but other Red members only get the two Scottish ones.

    What do we know about Henry-Francis? According to Jorge Bird, the youngster is still on schoolboy terms but is training with the first-team in Scotland, suggesting he is considered a prospect of some promise. Also, I note that Azeez is not in the Scottish training camp. Injured? Out of favour? Going out on loan?

    It was Harry Clarke who was wearing the 35 shirt. As the youngsters are wearing vacant numbers, that strengthens my suspicion that Martinelli will get a new number. Will ESR get 10 once he signs a long-term contract?

  22. 22
    TTG says:

    I couldn’t believe that Gold members couldn’t access these games .Shirt prices are probably set by Adidas . But if you have three growing boys like one of my mates it costs you a fortune each season .
    I shall be exercising my culinary skills at 6pm so will rely on highlights
    I hear the 10 shirt is being offered to Maddison !

  23. 23
    Countryman100 says:

    Gold and platinum members can watch for free TTG provided you redeemed an online voucher by noon today. I cooked yesterday so will be watching the cricket at 6pm!

  24. 24
    Countryman100 says:

    And Willian starts so worth every penny of £7.99

  25. 25
    scruzgooner says:

    okonkwo having a bit of a mare.

    “willian” appears to be the answer to “who ate all the pies?”

    weird to see kola. glad to see nelson, nketieh, and amn.

  26. 26
    scruzgooner says:

    hibs, for what it’s worth, are outplaying us at the 40th minute.

    some joy, baff?

  27. 27
    scruzgooner says:

    hibs up 2-0, we’ve hit the post and had a penalty saved. sadly underimpressive by us.

  28. 28
    scruzgooner says:

    and esr answers for us after a nice passage of play.

  29. 29
    scruzgooner says:

    really preseason from us. very messy. esr in fine form, laca strong, pepe and partey look good. no willock, surprisingly. rekik and hein did well, okonkwo not so much.

    another week or so for the next game. onwards!

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@29: I thought Okontwo was OK except obviously for their first goal. I would bet that he never makes a mistake like that again in his career. The back pass from Soares was horrendous, too. I also thought that Hein was all over the place for the second goal.

    I would add Clarke to your list of those to be mentioned in dispatches. He looked like he had been playing alongside Mari for years.

    Four-five minutes each for Clarke and Rekik makes it feel like there is a backup right-sided CB berth in play. Holding off or White not coming, I wonder.

    A compelling cameo from Jack Henry-Francis. One to keep an eye out for.

  31. 31
    Cynic says:

    A compelling cameo from Jack Henry-Francis

    Someone get that lad a surname 🙂

    I don’t normally go for this kind of thing, but the Saka Hibs shirt in the dressing room was a classy touch.

  32. 32
    bt8 says:

    It sounds like a mixed bag to be kind about it, not having paid to see it and still being on the road in any case.

    It looks like we’re off to Florida in a week. Did the kit man remover to pack for both cold and hot weather?

  33. 33
    bt8 says:

    Or remember?

  34. 34
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cynic@31: 🙂

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    Can’t recall if John-Jules has a surname.

  36. 36
    bt8 says:

    Those who hurl racial abuse at footballers reveal themselves for the vermin they really are. A “sad” day for England made all the more so but they will crawl back under the cabinets soon enough.

  37. 37
    Bathgooner says:

    Today there’s an interesting report that 55 of the 105 offensive Instagram/Twitter messages to the three players who failed to convert their penalties were traceable. Only 5 of these originated within the UK. 50 came from abroad. What is the meaning of this? Is the rest of the world racist? Or are there forces working to disrupt the cohesion of UK society? In either case, speaking as a non-Englishman, I think tarring England fans with systemic racism seems somewhat hyperbolic.

  38. 38
    Cynic says:

    The meaning of it is that England is not the racist country the woke left, and the media, would love to have you believe it is. England’s attitude to race as a country is reflected in the response to the Rashford mural vandalism, which wasn’t racially motivated anyway in my opinion, and not the monkey emojis posted by bots and imbeciles overseas.

    Defacing the Rashford mural is a response similar to hanging an effigy of Beckham after he got sent off in 1998. Idiocy but nothing more. That the graffiti had no racial language in it at all speaks volumes to me. I may be alone in that view but meh.

  39. 39
    Countryman100 says:

    Guys this is getting very close to a political discussion, with use of phrases like “the woke left”. Let’s cut it out eh?

  40. 40
    Cynic says:

    Fair enough, but that smacks of the usual response where the narrative is not supported by the evidence. Don’t talk about it in case the truth hurts.

    I note the sensitivity about politics never seems to be a problem when it’s Tories who are being bashed though.

    Disclosure – I’m a Green voter, so about as left as it gets without being truly embarrassing.

    I’ll shut up.

  41. 41
    Bathgooner says:

    At least the Arsenal’s exertions in their first run-out last night have made the natives happy (and delusionally optimistic – in a manner familiar from the mob up the road).

    Arsenal victory leaves Hibs fans thrilled

  42. 42
    Countryman100 says:

    Appreciate it Cynic.

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

    My Hibee friends have been in touch. Their comments included:

    “Good to give our second string a run out”

    “Our first real test comes when we play Raith Rovers on Friday”


  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@41: Quality from the opposition was shown in flashes, but ultimately Hibs’ fitness proves decisive. from your link seems a fair summary of the game.

  45. 45
    North Bank Ned says:

    The other intriguing takeaway from the Hibs game was that we set up in a 4-4-2 diamond rather than 4-2-3-1.

  46. 46
    Bathgooner says:

    Ned, I couldn’t work out our formation – it was so fluid. We were certainly better to watch than we were in most games in the last few years. The movement of the ball through midfield was also a lot quicker – no doubt TTG can explain that.

    The result really doesn’t matter but we were, in truth, extremely unlucky to lose that game despite it being the first game of pre-season. It was exactly what was necessary, a good run out. The Hibs players certainly wanted it more and were more match ready and I was entertained by their fans’ small-team mentality. As C100 observed, they will probably produce a DVD as it will certainly be the highlight of their season.

  47. 47
    Countryman100 says:

    Interesting piece in the Telegraph about upcoming English talent, including ESR.

  48. 48
    bathgooner says:

    A very interesting piece, C100 and extremely encouraging for England supporters. It does seem that there has been a strategy and that it’s working. A semi in the WC and a final in the ENC that was lost on pens is undoubtedly evidence of progress. An assembly line stacked with talent is a clear cause for optinisim.

    However I personally would urge Elliot Anderson ‘tae think again’! What would Granny say?

  49. 49
    TTG says:

    Another interesting attachment . The conveyor belt of talent being produced is sensational and follows those two breakthrough triumphs by our age group teams with Foden and Calvert- Lewis involved . At Arsenal alone we have gold dust in Taylor- Hart, Azeez ( I believe he can play for England) , Patino , Balogun ( qualified for three countries ) , Henry- Francis , Hutchinson , Cottrell and I’m assured there are two or three coming through from the U16s . I didn’t include Okonkwo after last night but he is very highly -rated . Imagine other top academies like Citeh, United, Villa and Liverpool producing blooms in hothouse conditions and the future is very rosy. We just need some of them to be defenders . Most of the exciting talent plays further forward .y

  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    What kid grows up dreaming of being Harry Maguire, TTG?

  51. 51
    scruzgooner says:

    ttg@49, i thought rekik did a good job with marí in the center of defense vs. hibs.

  52. 52
    Silly Second Yella says:


  53. 53
    Pangloss says:

    SSY@52 🙂


  54. 54
    bathgooner says:

    SSY @52, Pangloss @53, primitive.

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    SSY@52: That doesn’t come around again until we play Brentford.

  56. 56
    Silly Second Yella says:

  57. 57
    bathgooner says:

    I’ve been pondering (always dangerous), when was the last time we made a signing who truly delivered what we expected?

  58. 58
    TTG says:

    KT3 ?

  59. 59
    bathgooner says:

    Agreed, and before him?

  60. 60
    Countryman100 says:

    I think Auba has delivered, albeit with a loss of form recently.

  61. 61
    bathgooner says:

    Agreed C100, and before him?

  62. 62
    Countryman100 says:

    Leno, Holding and Martinelli. Possibly Gabriel. Increasingly Pepe after a very slow start. Jury still out on Partey.

  63. 63
    bathgooner says:

    Agreed on Leno and Martinelli. Jury still out on Holding, Gabriel, Pepe and Partey imho.

    At least for part of their spell with the Arsenal Ozil and Sanchez delivered what was expected of them but we have to go back to the window of 2012-13 to find a clutch of signings who did the business for us for a considerable period: Cazorla, Monreal and Giroud. We also added Podolski that year who was much less influential. That was the season after the trolley dash season when Mertesacker, Arteta, Bellerin and Gnabry joined.

    We haven’t bought many influential players since those two seasons and it’s been nearly a decade since we added a group of players who went on to contribute as much as we had hoped.

    It puts the task that Edu has to achieve into perspective as he allegedly carouses in Monaco with Sanllehi and Joorabchian.

  64. 64
    North Bank Ned says:

    A tip of the hat to Sevilla’s French international CB Kounde for rejecting a move to the neighbours agreed between the two clubs as he considers it a step down.

  65. 65
    North Bank Ned says:

    What about Laca as a signing that worked out?

  66. 66
    TTG says:

    Good post Bath and I’m pretty onboard with your assessments . Another way to look at it is to look at which players have been transfer disasters . Disasters may be a strong word but in living memory we have had a number who have underachieved given their fee and reputation and some who we paid no fee for but cost a lot to bring in. Four in that category are Chamakh , Kolasinac , Lichsteiner and Willian . ‘ Free transfers ‘ but all a waste of money!
    Other underachievers in my view given their fee and reputation – Cech , Mustafi , Perez , Xhaka , Gervinho , Mkhitaryan and Sokratis .
    I was slightly disappointed by Arshavin but he gave us some wonderful moments . Theo did enough to justify his fee but still underachieved in my view One player who was great value was Nacho Monreal, rarely mentioned but a great professional . An interesting debate

  67. 67
    TTG says:

    Tim Stillman appraises Granit Xhaka – some great analogies . I still think he’s been too generous but you’d expect me to say that !

    Damn it, Granit

  68. 68
    Trev says:

    I know they didn’t cost a lot but for sheer weirdness can you beat Park or Inamoto ?

    Maybe with Kim Källstrom or Amoury Bischoff PI ?

    Did anyone ever find out what the PI meant – apart from Permanently Injured ?

  69. 69
    bathgooner says:

    Ned @65, on balance I agree that Laca has worked out as a frequently invaluable team member though he never became as prolific a striker as we had hoped.

    TTG @66, I agree that Monreal was a superb signing. Am interesting exercise would be to look t the ratio between excellent signings and poor ones. I might have a go at that.

  70. 70
    bathgooner says:

    Here is the first tranche as a photo from a Word file. Let’s see if that works. Data from pre-19/20 is from https://www.arsenalreport.com/transfercentre/history. Opinions are mine. The most recent two seasons are almost certainly incomplete for low budget signings. Apologies, the initial effort was both criminally incomplete and too large. Hopefully this effort will be better:

  71. 71
    Bathgooner says:

    Although the image is still too big, the essential elements are visible so I will add the further two tranches. First the second:

  72. 72
    Bathgooner says:

    ….and secondly the third:

  73. 73
    Bathgooner says:

    …and finally, a superb tweet from Mr. B. Saka, what a man!


  74. 74
    TTG says:

    Thanks for your efforts. Inevitably I have slight disagreements on some players but overall I have significant agreement with your ratings . I think I feel Pepe inched into the good category and the year before I thought Ceballos was good but he wasn’t last season ! I think I’d consider Malen a success but he was mishandled and although it ended in tears we had enough magic from Ozil to consider him a success. Ox was marginal but he was pretty effective ( when fit) and we made a huge profit on him . I thought Debuchy was playing well when Arnautovic injured him .
    In the early days of Wenger he had a great success rate but there were a few like Mendis and Maltz who weren’t a success.

  75. 75
    North Bank Ned says:

    A list to provoke some reflection, Bath, and helpful to see it laid out so clearly. I mostly agree with your assessments, though would footnote a difference between senior players for whom we paid serious money disappointing and youngsters bought relatively cheaply, who are always a roll of the dice. Gnabry and Malen are cases in point. Their subsequent careers suggest they were shrewd buys. That their success was elsewhere raises a different set of questions. I thought it was harsh on Sokratis and Perez to be marked as disappointing. Perez barely got a game and has been scoring for fun since returning to Spain. Sokratis is an old-fashioned stopper centre-half who was discarded by managers who did not value that style of player. He did win the Greek league with Olympiacos last season. I also agree with TTG that Debuchy was looking a good buy until he got knee-capped.

  76. 76
    TTG says:

    Ned raises a good point about Perez. The problem was that clearly Wenger didn’t rate him and hardly ever picked him . I remember he got a hat -trick, I think in Basel and a terrific goal in a recovery against Bournemouth but I voted him a failure because he didn’t make an impact in his time with us and we sold him at quite a big loss . You wonder how he came to be purchased?

  77. 77
    North Bank Ned says:

    Perez played a total of 948 minutes for us and scored a goal every 135 minutes on average, not a shabby scoring rate. If Wenger did not rate him, you do indeed wonder how he came to be purchased. Bought for 20 million euros. Sold two years later for 4.4 million euros. Not good business by any measure.

  78. 78
    Bathgooner says:

    Good observations on Pépé, Ceballos, Ox, Debuchy, Perez (that Basel game was one of my two European away games and I did think we had made a great signing that night), Ozil and Sokratis. The analysis should certainly have been a sliding scale rather than three distinct groupings and should be regarded as the players total contribution to Arsenal rather than simply their peak contribution. Thus Ozil who would certainly have been an unquestionable success in his peak seasons but was a disgraceful leech in his late seasons ends up in the ‘iffy’ group overall.

    I acccept the point about youngsters. I did wonder about ignoring cheaper youngsters but where do you draw the line? Bellerin was bought as a youngster but made it into the first team and has been an undoubted success overall despite recent travails. Others who were more costly did not force their way into the first team and claim a place. Also £0.5m here and £1m there does add up when you are dealing with Stan Kroenke! So I thought it best to add them.

    My own lesson from this is, having long since accepted that only a small fraction of the talent we see in the academy make it to the status of first team regular, one must accept that, no matter the price paid, a significant though smaller, attrition rate applies to purchases.

  79. 79
    Bathgooner says:

    Ned, I agree on Sokratis. I was wrong putting him in the ‘Disappointing’ category. He definitely qualifies as ‘Iffy’. At times I thought he was excellent.

  80. 80
    OsakaMatt says:

    Best of luck to Saliba in Marseille.
    And a great job Bath!
    I disagree on a few individuals but looking at it from an overall viewpoint and based on your evaluations we seem to be about 1/3rd in each category for signings over 5m (including loans / signing on fees).
    As an ex HR guy that’s about what I’d expect really

  81. 81
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Great summary of the Euros TTG, even if from an English point of view. :–)

    I thought the best team won the tournament and the second best team was the runners-up. England fans have all the reasons to feel optimistic about the future ahead, and they haven’t yet seen one Emile Smith-Rowe in action for the national team linking up with his mate Saka. IMHO, ESR’s ceiling is higher than Grealish or any other #10-ish players England now has. Saka was very impressive whenever he played.

    It was great to see Insigne — as Napoli doesn’t really win anything since the Maradona days, and is not club followed much outside its passionate core fans, he doesn’t probably get as much of a limelight as his talent and consistency deserves — impress in the national jersey, as did the new generation of highly talented and creative players in Chiesa, Locatelli et al. If somehow we cam manage to get Locatelli to join us it would be a great addition to the spine of the team.

    Even though France paid the price for probably a bit of hubris — after the third goal (magnificent by Pogba, who again had an excellent sequence of performances for the Les Bleus) they kind of assumed they won against Switzerland — it was unfortunate for Benzema who has been quite undeservedly kept out of the national team for a long time. He has been a great modern striker for his clubs — he was exciting for Lyon and has been excellent for Madrid in the last decade — and his combination play with Mbappe and Griezmann was showing great promise. Hopefully he will get another chance for the national team in the World Cup.

    Overall, it was a rather enjoyable Euro, and was great see some players like Patrick Schick who despite the talents haven’t impressed too much for their clubs to catch everyone’s attention.

  82. 82
    TTG says:

    It has been covered in print elsewhere but just should anyone be getting nervous Layth Yousif talked at some length to Arteta on Tuesday and ESR staying is not an issue , he is definitely going to be here next season despite what the Brummie press may suggest as they come to terms with losing Grealish . He did not vouchsafe to me the identity of any other new signings so the Mbappe news has to be kept under wraps….Oops

  83. 83
    TTG says:

    Apparently we have agreed the deal with Brighton to bring in Ben White and are by the look of it ideally trying to add Locatelli ( highly unlikely ) and Maddison . I think this does support what I was saying in my recent article about Arteta . KSE have decided to splash the cash and we could see some very interesting players next season at our club . White is by all accounts a central defender whose distribution is excellent . I hope the new players can be sorted out ASAP . It might be an interesting season !

  84. 84
    Bathgooner says:

    A superb analysis here by Tim of 7amKO of what we need to improve and what the thinking might be behind the interest in White, Locatelli (not happening) and Maddison (very unlikely)/Aouar.

    Ben White, Manuel Locatelli, and?

  85. 85
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Elneny and Partey

    a match made in heaven

  86. 86
    OsakaMatt says:

    Hi Dr.F
    Fair points as ever but I was curious why you thought Benzema was quite undeservedly kept out of the national team – wasn’t it for blackmailing his teammate? I don’t know the story in any detail but that was my understanding anyway.

  87. 87
    TTG says:

    I read that piece by Tim too and it does suggest a very clear thread in our planning. Locatelli won’t be coming but I would not be surprised to see Maddison pitch up. Certainly the players we add from hereon in are key because Tavares and Sambi Lokonga are squad players at present and Centre back wasn’t our biggest priority . We need a lot of activity in and out to change the personality of the team

  88. 88
    scruzgooner says:

    i’ll be curious to see how any new adds up the game of those who preceded them. capitola rob (oh, really!?) in particular.

  89. 89
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@88: What does Holding and Chambers missing the Scottish training camp say?

  90. 90
    OsakaMatt says:

    Too many pies on holiday perhaps😁
    Calum and right back are something
    I’m curious about during this window

  91. 91
    Countryman 100 says:

    Ben White plays CB or RB. Calum and Rob both had knocks but back in training yesterday. Expect them to go to Florida.

  92. 92
    TTG says:

    C100 is right about White’s positional flexibility and he can also play in a holding midfield role although I don’t think we’ve bought him to play anywhere other than centre back . Bellerin looks to be clearly off but we aren’t going to get much for him and Arteta has to decide if Chambers, AMN ( remember him ?) or Cedric can start . I think we will probably look for a right back as Stan is throwing the cash around and will try to sell AMN . We clearly have the option of playing three at the back as England did as an option to 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 and Rob Holding who I like very much and not just because he is Scruz’s big mate , would be one of those three. Holding has been bought for a pittance and given wonderful service in my view and I’d very much like us to keep him .
    It struck me during the Euros how similar Arteta and Southgate are in their approach , they tend to be risk averse and conservative but are tactically flexible – against Villareal it was not in a good way- but it underlines how a lot of modern coaches think

  93. 93
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Matt@86 : I meant undeservedly purely from footballing perspective, but as you mentioned that incident I would think “innocent until proven guilty” should have applied in this case too. 🙂

    Anyway, speaking of strikers one new player I am really looking forward to make his mark this season is Balogun. We already know about Martinelli, ESR and Saka and hopefully they will just go from strength to strength, but I also am hugely optimistic about Balogun establishing himself as a regular squad member and a starter for cup games.

  94. 94
    OsakaMatt says:

    Dr F,
    Oh I see, from a footballing perspective I’d probably agree though France did win the World Cup without Benzema.
    Yes, I hope to see Balogun too at some point. Though I like his attitude I think Eddie N is not going to make it at The Arsenal so makes sense to give Balogun an opportunity.

  95. 95
    OsakaMatt says:

    Hector is off, we will sell AMN and look for a right back is pretty much how I see it as well TTG. Rob has been a great buy I think, good enough to change Mikel’s mind which is not so easily done (certainly Cedric doesn’t seem to have mastered that trick) and a handy player to have around.
    As has been the case for about 5 seasons now I don’t know what will happen with Calum – another good player to have around, as he proved filling in admirably at right back, but if he prefers CB then Ben White pushes him further down the order. I’d like to keep him as a squad player but if I was Calum I would look to move on for first team football.

  96. 96
    scruzgooner says:

    ned@89 the answers from c100, ttg and matt will do for me. i hadn’t heard about the knocks, but hope they stay in the squad. chambers’ play at the tail of last season proved his value (at least as a squad member who can do a number of basic jobs in a way average or above) after getting back from doing his knee. and while it has been slow, holding has improved after *his* knee injury to a point where he has to be in the mix. our lack of europe and total number of games ought to raise the competition for playing time, which should hasten any improvement left to be made (or stall it, in the face of others’). i certainly hope, in rob’s and calum’s cases, for the former.

  97. 97
    Countryman100 says:

    Both Calum and Rob had a run out today in a lively 2-2 draw with Rangers.

  98. 98
    Countryman100 says:

    I think Ben White looks an excellent buy. We are filling in our gaps not in priority order, but as we can. DM and a box to box or 10 our absolute priorities, but still six weeks to get them.

  99. 99
    TTG says:

    Only saw a few flashes of the game. To put it in context tge team that finished the game for us contained nine players who might leave this summer . And we conceded two goals from set pieces . Our new set piece coach can’t get here soon enough .
    If Auba was in any sort of form we’d have won comfortably. Looked like Willock can play a deeper role but games like this are misleading

  100. 100
    TTG says:

    Raises bat to acknowledge ton !

  101. 101
    bathgooner says:

    Yellow card, white stick and pair of spectacles for self assist by TTG!


  102. 102
    Countryman100 says:

    When you hit 70 you don’t care Bath!

  103. 103
    TTG says:

    Shameless ?
    That’s a good description 😃😃

  104. 104
    Uplympian says:

    When you get past 70 you welcome every opportunity to be shameless 😉

  105. 105
    Pangloss says: