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Wenger’s creative trio pay back while Di Matteo’s earn him the sack

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1.07K   //    23 Nov 2012, 00:54 IST

Santi and Lukas – The time was right for experience

So in a week that has seen Arsenal thrash the old enemy and qualify for the second phase of the European Champions League what has been happening to our super rich oil baron rivals? Well it is simple Man City went out of the Champions League, whilst Chelsea teeter on the brink of exit sack their manager and employ an out of work Spanish waiter.

He’s just a fat Spanish waiter!

So what went wrong for Di Matteo and his all conquering £100 million creative hub?  This was the mighty 3 that our fans moaned we could not afford, or could afford but were unwilling to bid for our match the wages for.  This is a team let us not forget who play the same formation as us with 3 play makers, 2 wide and one central behind a goal machine, is that correct? Well the formation part is but as last week’s statistical analysis proved I feel we might at present have the edge with Olivier Giroud over Fernando Torres!

The mighty 3  had the impartial media drooling and excreting hyperbole and hyperbole. We all knew Juan Mata was a class act and I along with most Gunners would not argue that fact, but the addition of Oscar and Hazard surely made this a irresistible  combination. The press compared this potential to Barcelona and I reached for the sick bag. Here is just a sample from only last month…..

Chelsea’s brio trio of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard ready for tougher tests following defeat of Spurs

What has also changed, self-­evidently, is the expansion of Chelsea’s creative department with the arrival of Eden Hazard  and Oscar, forming the three musketeers with Juan Mata, cutting defences like Spurs’ to ribbons. “We have been lucky with the way the players we signed have settled into the club quickly and into the Premier League,” Di Matteo said.

Henry Winter 21st Oct Telegraph

Are you sure Henry? – Stick to Sunday Supplement old chap!

This season Mata has been joined by Eden Hazard and Oscar. And, for that matter, Marko Marin and Victor Moses. That is five new attacking midfielders in the past 14 months, and Di Matteo’s formation is 4-2-3-1, rather than the 4-3-3 hangover from the Mourinho days. This is a new Chelsea, an overwhelmingly creative side structured to maximise the imagination of three — yes, three — playmakers. Last year, we were marvelling that they simply had one.
“When you have great players you have to use them…as many great players on the pitch, it gives you more chances to score and to win the games. We’re training every day, to try to occupy the spaces and to settle in the system that we are using…all these players can play together.”
Fernando Torres, ESPN,  2nd October ( So how’s that working out for you Fernando?)

Mata, Oscar and Hazard giving off that Barca feel

Chelsea’s tasty trio have the potential to imitate Barcelona’s immortals

Citibet website 23rd October

Big money creativity and have they let their manager down?

So what happened?

One can only conclude that this positive multiple orgasm of talent has failed to deliver. Oh and that combined with Chelsea failing to invest in a striker to get on the end of this creative explosion. At the same time one might wish to compare the gradual bedding in of our own trio of excitement and creative wizardry purchased and marginally lower costs. But surely if they cost 50/60% less they are bargain basement and typical Wenger purchases and stop gap?

AgeCompetitive Club MinutesAssistsGoalsMinutes per telling contributionTransfer Market Value(£ Million)
Juan Mata2414541078533.5
Eden Hazard2115167413835.0
Lukas Podolski2713084711917.5
Santi Cazorla2715123421617.5
Theo Walcott23774794816.5

It’s an interesting bunch of stats and so many ways to analyse them. So here are few thoughts first off: -

1) Juan Mata is a super player but perhaps in Oscar and Hazard despite early promise what Chelsea  have actually done is spent the best part of £60 million on young ‘potential.’  Hazard started like a train but since the going got tough and the opposition was of higher quality he has gone missing. As I pointed out on many occasions to much derision Gervinho playing with Hazard in the same role outscored and out assisted him when Liile won the league in 10/11.

2) Oscar has hit a few wonder goals in Europe but interestingly Chelsea have only won one game in which the young Brazilian scored and his ‘huge contribution (3)’ of assists, which is why he was bought have contributed to defeats of the might Wolves in the League Cup and those giants of Denmark, Nordsjaelland. He has failed to register at all in the Premier League.

3) Statistics can be misleading as I feel we all know that Santi Cazorla has been arguably our most creative player, but in pure goals and assists he is the least effective.

4) Given that fact that he has only finished one game, which was this week against Montpelier Lukas Podolski’s contribution from the left of Arsenal’s trio is impressive. What is more I am 100% convinced the return of Gibbs at Left back will only enhance this contribution from our likeable German.

5) Finally I can confirm what we have all witnessed in the past month since his return from injury suffered with England, Theo Walcott is on fire. What is particularly telling though is the improved decision making on when to cross and the accuracy of the crossing. Giroud like RVP before him has reason to hope TW14 will stay at the Emirates.

Is it all about the respective transfer policy?

To be fair to the respective managers and transfer policies though, we should look at the new signings from the summer in isolation. It would be nothing other than churlish as a Gooner to suggest that Juan Mata has been anything other than an unqualified success. In addition he was not signed by the unfortunate RDM. Likewise however great Theo’s current contribution he has been with Arsenal 6 years and was an established first team player.

What is more interesting is to note the effect of an apparent reversal in policy of Arsenal and Chelsea and the current outcome at least. Chelsea have shuffled out the older experienced winners and replaced them with players who we are told are already world class, in Oscar and Hazard. At the same time Wenger and Arsenal, so often criticised for investing in young unproven potential, when established winners were required, reversed policy in buying two 27 year old internationals in Santi and Lukas. At the time Wenger was again questioned but these two players bought close to 150 international caps worth of experience with them an close to 50 international goals. Wenger combined investment under £30 million and Chelsea’s close to £70 million.

So the question has to be asked which change in policy will prove the correct one and of course this must be truly assessed in May but right now three  months into the 2012/13 season, when the going got tough for both teams in October evidence suggests that experience and talent won out of youthful talent and potential. A familiar story for us long suffering Gunners, but in reverse – Oh the irony!

The table below looks at the games played purely in the EPL and UCL by the four new signings playing in the three across the pitch since both teams entered a sticky October period:


It would appear that when both teams had to dig deep in late October and into November to pull their respective sides out of a dangerous slump Arsenal had the greater resolve. When great teams go through difficult periods and they all will, they need the character and desire to win that comes with the experience of having been there and done it. Cazorla and Podolski have demonstrated the inner strength and backbone Arsenal sides have perhaps lacked since Wenger broke up the ‘Invincibles.’ Sadly for Roberto de Matteo so shortly after his triumphant conclusion to 2011/12 his signings, the signings I might add, that most Arsenal fans wanted, particularly Hazard have up to now been found wanting.

So in conclusion  as I said last week when assessing Giroud  it is early days but the signs are hugely positive in late November that the change of policy stared last year with Arteta and Mertesacker and continuing with Giroud and most particularly Podolski and Cazorla, this past summer might be beginning to pay off.  Certainly in the last few weeks it has been the bargain basement purchases that have stepped up to the plate for the Arsenal whilst the £25/30 million plus superstars have hidden and ultimately lost an honourable chap his job.

Until next time thanks for reading.

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35 yrs a Gunner through thick & thin. Launched my own blog in Feb 12. Positive, original & different I hope as there are so many to chose from.
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