DID WE REALLY HAVE DEADWOOD PLAYERS? by dgr8xt
Hello all. From the title of this writeup, you would easily think that it will be full of statistics. But like I’ve said before, I’m not one given to much stats. Instead of saying that Aubameyang scored 22 goals, I prefer to say he won the golden boot. That’s a better read for me.
Now to the main thing. We have a group of players whom our esteemed fan base had classified as indisciplined, dross, toxic, useless, underperforming and deadwood. Tough words to describe the most despicable of persons.
But were/are these players actually deadwood? Generally, they are mostly players whom our manager met at the club when he arrived, though, not all of them. I will try not to mention our last FA cup win cos it’s been spoken of many times. Let’s take a quick look at some of these deadwood players and judge for ourselves. I will avoid statistics as much as possible. Trust me on that;
1. Granit Xhaka: Signed by Wenger. Why was he re-signed by our current manager if he was deadwood?
2. Mohammed Elneny: Signed by Wenger. Another to be re-signed by our current manager. He’s been one of the most derided and labelled as a complete deadwood. Why the sudden new contract by a management who once classified him as such? Am I missing something?
3. Sead Kolasinac: Signed by Wenger. This is the flag bearer of the deadwood label given by our fanbase. I wish to ask an important question here. It was very obvious that he wasn’t up to it at all… but this was when our current manager arrived. Was Kolasinac so bad under Wenger? How about under Emery? Did he play as bad for those two like he did under our current manager? What happened?
4. Mesut Özil: Signed by Wenger. Probably the most insulted ex-Arsenal player since Robin Van Persie. Let’s not pretend over the fact that his performances dropped after signing his huge contract under Wenger. Let’s not pretend over the fact that Emery had serious issues with him over his laziness and refusal to press and defend. Let’s not pretend over the fact that immediately our current manager arrived, he was one of the first names on the team sheet. Let’s not pretend over the fact that due to his work rate on the pitch from December 2019 till when COVID struck, he could not be dropped even without the assists. Let’s not pretend over the fact that he vanished off the face of the team immediately after the restart. Let’s not pretend over the fact that this was not the Manager’s fault. Let’s not pretend over the fact that this was a board decision due to his refusal to take a pay cut without assurances of where the money was going to. Let’s not pretend over the fact that he was later justified as the club sacked many workers. And finally, let’s not pretend over the fact that our midfield from then until when Smith Rowe began to play (about 8 months later) lacked organization, hence, fans were calling for his reinstatement. I also wanted him gone and I’m quite glad he’s gone. But was he deadwood to our current manager? Wasn’t it a board decision?
5. Shkodran Mustafi: Signed by Wenger. 85 mins of good performances always overshadowed by 5 mins of madness. But I wish to ask another question. How did Emery manage to use him to get fifth place and a European final? Remember the 22 matches unbeaten? Didn’t he play in these games? Is Emery a wizard or am I still missing something?
6. Alexander Lacazette: Signed by Wenger. Had a beaming on and off pitch relationship with Aubameyang under Emery which practically fell off the cliff (on pitch) when our current manager arrived. Why? Scored 17 goals last two seasons and was utterly atrocious last season (read the Kolasinac question above again). Why the sudden cliff fall in performance? Still missing something am I?
7. Calum Chambers: Signed by Wenger. In all honesty, would you choose to have a Cedric in your team or a Chambers? I know whom I’ll rather have. Went on loan to Fulham and was their player of the season. Returned and was good for us until injury struck. Wasn’t he useful? Why are fans complaining that his sale in January was part of the reasons for us missing out on the top four this season if he was deadwood? Deadwood shouldn’t have any uses right?
8. Kostantinos Mavropanos: Signed by Wenger. Fans being so livid by the atrocious £4m buyout fee put into his loan contract tells you all about his deadwood status.
9. Ainsley Maitland Niles: Signed by Wenger. Decent performances in the league and the FA Cup final don’t make him a world class midfielder or full back. But who would argue that his absence didn’t play a part in our top four loss? I’m not sure a £20m bid would have been rejected and much convincing and promises of playing time would have been given to a deadwood player. But he’s become deadwood now. How exciting.
10. Reiss Nelson: Signed by Wenger. Not sure why Feyenoord coach would complain about his fitness when he arrived, but he was surely correct as he got the best out of the player later on. We don’t seem to be able to get such from same players. Deadwood you say?
11. Hector Bellerin: Signed by Wenger. Wants to leave (I want that too) but surely better than Cedric. Has proved to be useful (very useful actually) on loan. Here, he seemed to be deadwood.
12. Guendouzi: Signed by Emery. Even with his perceived “attitude”, fans are still feeling upset that we got only £8m for him. This I would say is about one-sixth of his value. Deadwood?
13. Nicolas Pepe: Signed by Emery (The Arsenal board actually). His stats would not have been gotten by a deadwood player I’m quite sure. Playing excellently in one match only to be sent to the bench the next match doesn’t give much boost to a player, whatever their pedigree. Nketiah coming on to play as a winger when we’re chasing a goal at the dying stages against Everton at Goodison Park while Pepe watches on from the bench defies all natural, psychological, physical, spiritual and footballing logic. It isn’t a deadwood matter.
14. Sokratis Papastathopoulos: Signed by Emery. Again I will mention the 5th place finish, 22 matches unbeaten and the European final. Not too sure deadwood can do this, especially considering that we had Mustafi, Lichsteiner, regressing Koscielny and a slow & ageing Monreal in that defence. As a deadwood, he played in those games.
15. Bernd Leno: Signed by Emery. Not world class but certainly has world class reflexes. Kept us in matches along with Aubameyang’s goals throughout a season and missed out on the club’s player of the season award to same goal scorer Aubameyang. He was privileged to have the talents of Mustafi, Lichsteiner and Kolasinac in front of him. Not sure what level of deadwood he is.
16. Lucas Torreira. Signed by Emery. Man of the match awards in five games of the 22 matches unbeaten including the North London Derby. Upped his game when our manager arrived and like Özil, disappeared immediately after the restart, no explanations. I don’t think his displeasure with life in London explains the sudden disappearance from the pitch. Wants to leave, yes. But deadwood?
17. David Luiz: Signed by Emery. Had his contract extended immediately after the worst performance a player can have in human history (against Man City). Was a mainstay in the defence for another year. How dead is that wood? I’m not quite sure.
18. Edward Nketiah: Signed by Wenger. Like Elneny, was considered to be among the chief of the deadwood until suddenly, perception changes and he’s bagging a £100k p/w five year deal. Thought he was deadwood? What happened? Why the change in perception?
19. Pablo Mari: Signed by our current manager. Nothing more to be said.
20. Rúnar Alex Rúnnarson: Signed by our current manager. Nothing more to be said.
21. Cedric Soares: Signed by our current manager without even kicking a ball. Imagine if Wenger had signed Kim Källstrom
22. Nuno Tavares: Signed by our current manager. Very young but already classified as deadwood.
While I agree that most of these players weren’t world class when our current manager took over, I’m not quite sure of what makes most of them deadwood.
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