James Maddison Shows Arsenal What they are Missing

James Maddison Shows Arsenal What they are Missing by Eric

Many pundits and Arsenal fans have noticed that in spite of the club’s undefeated start, the offense has lacked potency and fluidity. In spite of achieving better than average results, and the brilliance of Declan Rice, it’s painfully obvious Arsenal’s midfield is “missing something”. Yesterday, James Maddison showed Arsenal exactly what that is: an all-action midfielder who can create, press and perform consistently in the rough and tumble EPL.

Arsenal were of course linked to James Maddison a few years ago, but a deal never materialized When Leicester was finally relegated and Maddison came available, it was Tottenham who snatched him up for a reported 40 million GBP. Around the same time, Arsenal was cutting a deal to pay almost double that to buy Kai Havertz from Chelsea. With every passing game, that decision is looking like a bigger and bigger mistake.

Not only did James Maddison make the difference in helping Tottenham come from behind on two occasions yesterday, but he was also more productive in 90 minutes than Kai Havertz has been in nearly two months. To date, Havertz’ most notable contribution has been a preseason goal and a solid appearance vs. a very average (by Champion’s League standards) PSV Eindhoven side. Meanwhile, on the other side of North London, Maddison has reinvigorated a Spurs side that many expected to be adrift without Harry Kane.

Not only did Maddison notch two assists yesterday, but he also nicked the ball off of Jorginho before setting up Son-Heung Min for a second equalizer. This is shining a very bright, very uncomfortable spotlight on Havertz’ lack of productivity. Imagine Arsenal with Maddison pressing, passing and partnering with Odegaard in the middle of the park while Declan Rice cleans up behind them. The simple truth is, Maddison is not just better than Havertz, he’s better than Fabio Vieira too, and by quite some distance.

Aside from a few productive spells that lasted for about 35-40 minutes, Vieira has done precious little to justify his price tag or his wages. Add that to the 65 million GBP for Havertz and Arsenal has paid 100 million quid for two eights, neither of whom look remotely like they’re suited for the rigors of the EPL. In their defence, Edu and Arteta have made some good deals as a coach/sporting executive tandem, but the gaping, unproductive hole Arsenal has at the 8 is beginning to look like something that could cost the club a shot at silverware this season.

It’s really not early anymore. The season is almost 20% over and James Maddison has given Spurs so much more than Havertz and Vieira combined, that it’s not a stretch to wonder what Edu and Arteta were thinking when they cut those deals. For his part, Havertz was already a disappointment at Chelsea before Arsenal came along and bid against themselves for his services. Until then, it looked like the Blues were stuck with him. A 20 million quid punt or a loan is one thing, but 65 million.

Vieira has obvious technical quality, but he’s so small that there isn’t a midfielder or defender in England who can’t fold him up like a lawn chair. All of this begs several uncomfortable questions like “Why are Havertz and Vieira here?” and “Why did Arsenal pay so far above the odds for either of them?”. Because as it stands, there is a short list of Arsenal fans who wouldn’t pitch in on a GoFundMe operation to ship them both out of town and bring Maddison in.

The two of them are being embarrassingly outplayed by one man. Maddison was a difference-maker for Spurs today, but when it comes to Havertz and Vieira, all Arsenal fans can do is pray this isn’t another Nicolas Pepe situation. The cold, hard truth is that nobody was lining up to pay the kind of money Arsenal paid for Havertz or Vieira until Edu and Arteta came along and did it. Needless to say, the return on investment has been sorely lacking. Maddison’s performance today only underscores that inconvenient truth.

With every listless, unproductive appearance by Havertz and Vieira, their transfer fees and wage packets look more like money thrown into the fireplace. Because right now, Arsenal would be better off with Granit Xhaka at the 8 than the both of them combined. That’s to say nothing of what James Maddison could provide. If the lack of production from Havertz and Vieira ends up being what costs Arsenal the title (and it certainly could), someone needs to be held accountable.

Arsenal fans suffered in the wilderness for far too long waiting for the Kroenkes to spend money on the club, only to see it wasted in such dreadful fashion. There is still time left for Havertz and Vieira to turn it around. However, they have no excuse if they don’t. There is world class talent all around them. Whoever starts at the 8 for Arsenal should be sleepwalking their way to double digit goals and assists.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, that kind of production looks more like a pipe dream every week. No one can be sure what Arsenal would look like with Maddison. But it’s safe to assume the offense would be much more fluid, productive, and dynamic than it is right now. That is a bad omen for Havertz, Vieira, and the men who signed them. If Fabio and Kai don’t dig deep and start producing at a level commensurate with their wage packets, it won’t be long before the fans start letting them hear about it….and that’s exactly as it should be.

Eric McConnell.


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Tags Arsenal v Tottenham Kai Havertz Maddison


  1. Nice write up everything was well pointed out. Arteta is definitely going to be held accountable and edu for sanctioning such transfer, I still feel I side my guts that there is something up in that havertz transfer to arsenal. It’s the only transfer I feel pissed about

  2. Vierra and Haverz are for me two very very bad signings. As stated, basically at the moment, over 100mil in transfer fees, wasted. Both involved yesterday and both failed to deliver. Plus i wont give Haverz ANY leeway because he was 65 mil and is our highest paid player. Arteta seems to be giving them far too much hame time for what they are producing. Yes Vierra had one very good introduction as a sub this season but he basically can not hack it in the hustle and bustle of the premier league. And for me neither can Haverz.

  3. Maddison’s passing and dead-ball skills are incredible, but he was extremely lucky that Jesus wasn’t composed enough to capitalize on his mistake

    Havertz isn’t productive at making goals and assists, but his other stats are good. If he became a starter in NLD, Raya would’ve been able to launch long balls to his head and he could’ve flicked or held the ball for our diminutive attackers

    Crying over Havertz and Maddison won’t solve anything. Arteta and the coaches should know how to maximize Havertz’s strengths

      1. Yes, this is the correct response for his saviors.
        He has not produced anything special in last 3 years. what arteta and edu were smoking while buying him only god knows.

    1. Gai I agree with you. No point over emphasizing why Havertz shouldn’t be signed deal already done. We can only hope the player step up a gear in his performance. And also the coach should maximize his strength. I believe he is a good player.

    2. And GAI, Nketiah was very lucky his late studs up tackle didn’t make contact with Vivario’s ankle or lower leg to end his football career
      How did this attempted tackle not result in a red card?

  4. What a propaganda. Did you watch the game? Maddison was playing in a position where he rarely defends downwards. He was given a free role. This, we should compare him to Odegaard. Havertz and Viera are playing in midfield so their game play are totally different. Maddison had an uneventful first half because our midfield was in control. He was only getting around when our players got tired in the second half. To criticise our new signings with Totties is very unwise.

    1. Whatever role they were playing in, they, Havertz and Viera, havent added any value to the team.
      We miss Xhaka and pray that Rice recovers soon and this MA obsession of wanting to get rid of Partey is bottled.
      We dont want a trip back to Lodibar, aka Europa League.

    2. Uuum when Jesus knicked the ball off him, Maddison was in Spurs box – he actually does his bit, defending deep sometimes.

    1. FL in my opinion Yve Bissouma has been another umsung hero of Spurs midfield. He is the DM Arsenal needed.

  5. I can find not a single thought in Erics well argued piece to disagree about. It was a well written, easy to grasp and thoroughly realistic piece.
    It is IMO,though sadly, TRUE!
    Maddison has always been a proven,if somewhat foolishly underrated(esp by Southgate), HUGE PREM TALENT.

  6. Said it a few times over the years and still stand by it that he is a better player than Odegaard,only thing that lets him down is his injury record .
    Maybe the reason we passed up on him .

    1. @DanKit honestly there isn’t any bases comparing this two players. The skill set are different and they are good at what they do depending on the coach tactics. Everyone sings Madison praise because Odegard didn’t come to the party yesterday. In our game against PSV Madison couldn’t have done better than what Odegard did in the game. And that Odegard isn’t really injury prone is a big advantage. Any coach would want to have both players in their team.

      1. They are both number 10s so I’m comparing them on that basis ,and I stand by what I said ,I’ve always been a big fan of Maddison and not just because of yesterday .
        Better on the dead ball ,and his passing range is exceptional .
        Odegaard is more intricate with his play but goes missing against more physical teams and struggles to get back time after time when he loses the ball because of his lack of pace .
        I would take Maddison all day long

    2. Omg you just said Maddison is better than Odegaard hahaha!

      If he’s a quality player why is it only a small club like Spurs bought him and all top clubs passed on the opportunity?

  7. Give Havertz a chance he has learn a new role to settle in like Maddison. (Wink)
    Most would agree the Havertz signing was a head scratcher.

    1. Why should a coach buy a player to play in a role he hasn’t ever played before. An important role like and hope he would fit seamlessly in that role.

      I could remember when he was asked if he sees Kai in that role, he said he doesn’t know if he going to play there. Football isn’t that complicated and if at all he wants experiment, experiment with a player that has a player that knows a thing or two about what that role required like Kiwior or white. He can even try Saliba there.

  8. The owner’s son trusts MA very much and will continue to invest for new players to win title but time will come to make him realise whether he invests in the correct manager.

    I have been supporting MA but some doubts started to creep in. I have commented previously that within 2 seasons and 4 transfer windows (1 window had gone), we should win a title because our investment will reach near a million pounds.

      1. It’s hard to disagree that Arteta has been well funded. What he has spent in nearly 4 years Chelsea have done in just over 12 months. All are astonishing sums of money

          1. Chelsea also make very good money from sales ,as we have found out .

            Net spend last 5 years
            Chelsea -680 mill
            Arsenal -550 mil
            Paints a different picture when you actually looked at the numbers

            1. Dan kit, Arsenal has certainly helped Chelsea in funding their disgards such as Cech, Willian, Jorginho and Havertz.

  9. A keep saying Arsenal need another powerful midfielder, if we refuse to make amends and sign one in January we will be caught with our pants down again.

  10. Well if MA could dump Ramsdale for Raya and the logic was that Ramsdale was the man to take us to top 4 and Raya to EPL glory, same can be applied to MA also. Get a manager to win the league as MA was the chosen one to lead us back to top 4. Four points off the leaders in 6 games, 11 goals scored is bad reading. We are NOT challenging City this year. Ange IMO is one of the better TH manager, just 4 points of the league leaders while Poch and CFC are 4 points off relegation! MA seems to have some preference in continental players over British. Would Pep hire Kavs or Fabs? MA has this arrogance in him, paying premiums for done and dusted Dacias with the hope refurbishing them to Mercs!

    1. You do have something there IG. If Ramsdale has been dumped because we cant wint the league with him. Can the same be labelled at the manager? He has took us this far but is this HIS max.

  11. I must commend Eric for this thoroughly well written article. Weldone! It’s quite obvious better players could have been signed to fill Xhaka’s void and make us more competitive this season, but MA chose to sign Kai. Let’s wait and see how/if it works.

  12. Injuries to top players are beginning to drown our season.

    Timber, Partey, Martinelli, Trossard. 4 talented players out at the moment.

    I guess the EPL title will be between Man City and Liverpool now.
    Hopefully, we can finish 3rd or 4th.

  13. Arteta was lucky last term that for most part our 1st 11 was available for EPL. Then instead of focusing on missing part the arrogant Arteta decides to shake the system.
    It was obvious to everyone that last term following were obvious missing parts.

    1. All action pack mid to support Granit and Partey (as partey can’t play full season)
    2. Clinical center forward
    3. Right back as competition for White (and versatility can support CB or mid)
    4. Backup for Saka

    Then any backup players as per budget.
    But what Arteta did is
    – He covered right back by bringing Timber. that is good
    – He bought Rice and Granit left so did not fill that DM hole.
    – He did not bought CF/9
    – He did not bought Saka backup.

    He wasted budget on luxury player Havertz and team is looking very unbalanced now.

  14. This is already gone. They didn’t even try to sign him this campaign and went all in for a guy who has a dismal record in the PL.
    That’s ok because we are all human beings and can err. Let’s forgive them because they have a positive record.

    My only request is that Arteta should play this Havertz guy from the bench because he has played all 7 games and doesn’t have even an assist. He’s always rated the worst Arsenal player including those featuring from the bench. He is simply not psychologically prepared.

    ESR has proven very performant in the past. Vieira who has shown glimses of good performances came short at a higher level on Sunday. That spot should be for Smith Rowe because he can’t come short in so many games.

    If ESR were at Brighton, we would be striving to pay 100M for him after the U21 European games. Why is Arteta ignoring him and playing soemone who has shown over and over that we can only hope to sturggle with him and nothing more?

    Then comes Nelson: Nelson would have come out very strong in the left wing with Jesus as 9. Nelson is always having a positive rating for all the few minutes he spends on the pitch.

  15. No doubt it’s true – Maddison would have been a great buy instead of havertz. He’d have been able to hit the ground running, and we wouldn’t have all this doubt (or outright certainty from many) that havertz simply might not ever be good enough to stand out in our team. Would certainly have been a better use of our money.
    I think we should be more forgiving of Vieira, though. He’s played well so far, but this game came too early. The signs are starting to show that he could still become a very good player for us.

  16. The annoying thing is that Nicholas Pepe is constantly disparaged as being a flop; yet his output of goals and assists for Arsenal is better than Havertz for Chelsea and Arsenal.
    Unlike Pepe who would be benched after scoring, Havertz appears undropable.

  17. Don’t think it’s time just yet for anyone to be pulling their hair out. Spurs are on good form and Maddison is indeed quality.

    But I have faith in Havertz. For me, Arteta sees him as giving us an instant outlet high up the pitch in being able to receive and offlay longer passes from the GK/defence so as to provide an alternative from always playing out from the back. Added to that is his exellent positional awareness and technical finesse.

    I agree with every other Arsenal fan that he looks very under par at the moment, almost like when your motor is lacking power and the car needs to go in for repairs. Let’s hope MA has the skills to turn Havertz into the killer I think he can be.

    We won’t worry about little James Maddison anymore once big Kai starts firing…

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