Happy Wednesday folks. How we all doing on this fine sunny day (well, it is in England)?
England got battered at home in the Pointless-trophy-which-isn’t-worth-paying-attention-to-Nations-League-Cup friendly last night and the only thing that I learned from it?
Bukayo Saka is getting less time to rest before pre season starts again.
Honestly, at this point, I’m just hoping Arteta gives him a month off and we don’t see him until mid July performing his Arsenal duties. We are now officially halfway through June, the Premier League season finished three-and-a-half weeks ago, we’ve got pictures of some players on holiday, yet poor old Bukayo has to chug his way through a friendly match because Gareth Southgate wants to win a meaningless game.
I didn’t watch by the way. I have better things to do, like read my pamphlet about how I need to do jury service in the not-too-distant future.
But now, hopefully, he can get some R&R and hopefully we can see some kind of refreshed Saka for when we have the start of the season.
As for the other news going on, it appears the Arsenal online fanbase went in to its usual battle lines drawn approach over a transfer that is happening to another club. Many Arsenal fans have wanted Yves Bissouma from Brighton but it looks like he’s off to The Scum for £25million. I tweeted yesterday that it was too hot for me to have the energy to care too much about this deal and I still feel the same. Of course he will improve them, because he’s a good player, but the fact that there were some Arsenal fans that wanted the Mali international seems to have caused a bit of consternation from some.
Let’s look at the reality though:
- He’s a guy that plays in the base of a midfield in a position in which we have Thomas Partey. So he isn’t getting in above Partey
- He isn’t going to want to play understudy to Partey and, besides, we have Sambi Lokonga who is earmarked for that role and with more game time will hopefully get better this season (I’m sure he will)
- He is currently under investigation for an alleged sexual assault. Given how much stock Arteta places in the character of an individual (cited as one of the reasons in which we went hard on Ramsdale last season and we’ve seen just how impressive he has been since joining), this would be quite unusual for Arteta to swing in another direction and go for a player like that if there are question marks over his off field behaviour
- The Scum have signed players that Arsenal fans have wanted before and it hasn’t worked out (somebody else pointed out Victor Wanyama on Twitter yesterday – good call) so perhaps some Gooners just need to chill our beans
- We won’t spend a combined £50million on two midfielders when we have other positions we need to focus on
- We’re after Tielemans.
That last point is an interesting one because what we’re going for is a different profile of player. I had a look at FBRef for both players’ stats to see why and how they are different. Leicester finished eighth on 52 points and Brighton finished ninth on 51 points. So in those two teams we have sides that are very similar in their level and so it is an accurate comparison to look at both teams. If you have a player who is a squad player in a Champions League team, up against a first teamer who plays for Everton, for example, there are maybe some metrics that can belie the reality. Goalkeepers are a great example of that; a guy who makes 10 saves a game each week at the bottom of the table can’t be called a better shot stopper than a guy playing for a side who faces just a couple of shots, because you’re not comparing apples with apples. So in Brighton and Leicester – last season – we have two comparable sides.
So, what do we have? You can look for yourself here for Bissouma and here for Tielemans. Where Tielemans outperforms Bissouma is in goals, shots, assists, expected assists, shot-creating actions, as well as passes attempted. Where Bissouma is better is pass completion, dribbles completed, tackles, interceptions, blocks and clearances.
Tottenham have bought a guy who wants to sit at the base of their midfield and bring the ball out by dribbling it. They have a guy who does not attempt risky passes because he sits in the base of the midfield and keeps his passing short if he doesn’t dribble the ball out of midfield. Sound familiar? Sound familiar? It should, because before his injury and in patches last season, that’s what Thomas Partey was doing for us. Partey’s pass completion is better than Tielemans because he sits deeper in our team at the base of our midfield. So if we signed Bissouma it would be as an understudy to Partey. That would probably mean we’ve given up on Sambi Lokonga and I’m not sure that many Arsenal fans have done that. The club certainly haven’t.
Arsenal are looking to buy a guy further up the pitch who can create chances and score more goals. Tielemans stats show that. They show a guy who is willing to take risks, thread the ball in behind and if you’re looking at the profile of player we are after in Gabriel Jesus, you can understand why Arteta wants those two players hand-in-hand. Tielemans can spot a run and can thread a pass, but he’s also got a good shot on him and chips in with goals. He scored six goals last season in the Premier League in 32 games. That’s just under a goal every five games. Imagine dropping Tielemans in to Xhaka’s position and getting an extra five goals last season (Xhaka scored one last season)? What would an extra five goals have got us in points?
Now, I know Xhaka and Tielemans aren’t a like-for-like comparison, because Xhaka has a better pass completion rate, but when you look at the numbers here you can see what Arsenal are perhaps trying to get with Tielemans in the left eight position. I like Xhaka and I think he and Partey together worked well. I’d like Xhaka to stick around but if we’re getting Tielemans then I can see what he will bring instead of Xhaka and it looks to my relatively untrained eye as though it could be an upgrade. Not least due to the fact that Tielemans is so much younger.
So whilst people are allowed to be disappointed that Bissouma is going to another club and a club we all hate, if we get Tielemans signed up, then I wonder if some of the angst will go away a bit because we’ll have got the guy who Arsenal have identified as the one they believe will kick us on next season. And I’m super cool with that.
Anyway, that’ll do me for today, because I’ve got a load of work to get through before I pop off on me holidays. Have a good one, hopefully you’re chilled in the heat (if you’re in England) and I’ll catch you wonderful people tomorrow.
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