Howdy all and welcome to another ore season Saturday and it’s a Saturday in which I’m sure you’ve already seen yourselves, but we appear to finally got the Saliba deal over the line, so all that remains to be seen is for us to announce it.

I suspect it’ll be a low-key affair. After all he’s going back to St Etienne for a year and so I’m not even sure that he’ll be pictured in an Arsenal shirt. There will probably be an announcements, perhaps in plain clothes and a handshake photo or two, but for me I’m ok with that. We’ve spoke. Plenty about him already and he’s something to look forward to but for now we just have to be patient. And watch St Etienne games to see if he really is as good as all of the hype suggests.

It’s a good move, in a years time it could be a good price, so let’s just hope we can announce it and follow up with some more deals over the coming week or so. Lord knows we’re running out of time.

Speaking of deals, did you see the Sven Mislintat interview, which has also handily been translated in to English from the Arseblog team? This is what doesn’t quite tally up for me: we were told in an interview by Raul that we had to ‘outsmart the market’. To me that means finding those gems before anyone else does. As a club we own a whole data analytics company so we have the resources – or should do – to be able to identify early talent and also those that will probably be more cost effective and in our budget range. So why on earth are the clubs leaders going down the ‘network of agents’ route?

We all know the way football transfers have evolved and how many of these ‘super agents’ there are around who absolutely drill every penny out of every club that they can. So why on earth would we re-look at a model which we had under the previous regime, when there was already the people and systems in place to use statistical data – aka the ‘Moneyball’ route, that is clearly a better way to ‘outsmart’ the market?

The Mislintat departure really frustrates me when it happened because that was the clearest way to ‘outsmart the market’ I thought. We had one of the worlds best identifiers of talent and we binned him off because of a personality clash with the new regime.

Now of course, this is just his side of the story and I’ve heard that he wasn’t turning up at the ground as much and people weren’t impressed, which I heard as early as summer last year. But I haven’t exactly heard much other than the ‘network of contacts’ route since so it just seems to me from the outside that we’ve binned off the data-driven approach for an approach that every other club can probably do themselves anyway.

I’m certainly no expert and hey, perhaps I just don’t understand the inner workings of the football world enough, but this is the sort of convoluted and clearly not thought through approach which has made us so frustrated as fans. Josh recently spoke about the changes in the last 18 months but even in 18 months we’ve had ‘change in change’ as we’ve brought Sven in and binned him off during that time. The #WeCareDoYou campaign is all about us demanding proper leadership at the top and that kind of flip-flopping in 18 months speaks volumes to me of an ownership who have just let this club go off in different directions without reigning it in.

We need to see a better approach to bringing in fresh talent to the first team and it needs to be clear what is happening, because it still feels like a mess to me, and that means the ‘on the pitch’ stuff may not get any easier in the immediate term.

Anyway, there’s another game to focus on tonight which is great, because it’s another opportunity to see the team and also hopefully see a few of the established faces and whether they are looking fresher. I’m looking specifically at Mesut Özil because – again – although it’s just a pre season friendly, sometimes this time of the year is vital for players. Remember when Ramsey had a stormer of a pre season, then went on to have his best in an Arsenal shirt? I’m convinced it’s because of the great pre season he had so he could hit the ground running. If we can have that from Laca, Auba, Özil, Xhaka et al, at least we can start to feel like maybe some of them have a point to prove.

One player who may not be donning the shirt next season is our ol’ pal Carl ‘The Corporal’ Jenkinson who, if rumours are to be believed, is attracting Palace. That’d be a good move for him, would be a good move for us, plus it would give us an opportunity to tell them that their first offer is ‘derisory’! 🙂

In reality if that interest is real then you’d have to say Arsenal will go back sniffing for Zaha, although I still think that deal is an outside bet, but I also think that if there is interest the deals might be treated separately. Usually that would be the easiest way to do a deal so I suspect that’ll be the best way.

We wait to see with intrigue so let’s see how this all plays out.

Catch you all tomorrow.