Friday, March 1, 2024

BFG: We’re determined to keep up with stronger rivals

Per Mertesacker says Arsenal will have to work hard to keep up with their traditional rivals next season having been lucky to finish second in the last campaign.

While the Gunners narrowly avoided the embarrassment of finishing behind Sp*rs for the first time in 21 years they know they need to improve when things get going in August if they’re to mount a serious title tilt.

Arsenal’s job looks considerably more difficult given the regime changes and big-money signings at Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea and the spending undertaken by Liverpool and champions Leicester.

Giving context to the challenge ahead, Mertesacker said, “The way last season went, we were quite lucky to finish second.

“We turned things around at the end but it was kind of a miracle we finished runners-up.

“What really disappointed us was that Leicester were able to take advantage of all the other big teams suffering and we couldn’t do the same.

“That will be a big motivation next season — to keep up with all those good teams who finished behind us.

“Of course, those big clubs will be stronger this time. That’s what I expect as they’ll start the season with a lot of new players.

“A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.

“So we also need to be stronger and I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.”

The German defender added: “Our strength is we have always been able to put all negative energy away from us.

“In the last five or six seasons, whenever the criticism came, we always bounced straight back. Even though we didn’t finish top, we always managed to get a Champions League spot.

“But, honestly, I don’t care what people say. I can’t control what people are talking about.”

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Let’s get Mahrez and Lukaku and smash everyone! 🙂


Not loving the sound of the “not a lot of signings” comment one bit!


Maybe he has the powder dry for a big surprise like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, like he did with Ozil a few seasons ago – day dreaming, as it’s Sunday afternoon!

Third Plebeian

Aubameyang is holding out for a big move to Real Madrid or Barcelona, and won’t move anywhere until that happens. Moving to Arsenal from Dortmund would be a lateral move at best.


Sadly more like a step down atm

Third Plebeian

Maybe. I like to think we’re the Dortmund of the Premier League (with the key difference that Dortmund actually do the transfer business they need to do in each window…they’ve bought really well this summer).


Aubameyang could ignite the window. Even if we can’t get his signature (and that is presuming Wenger is sniffing around), his transfer to let’s say Real Madrid, could open up an opportunity to sign Morata or Benzema. That is how the market works with strikers. When one comes in, the other is almost certainly going to leave if the new guy is the new leading striker. As of now, the only striker of real talent that has moved in this window has been the 34 year old Ibrahimovic who has chosen extraordinary wages to go play in the Europa with… Read more »

David hillier

I am just going to say this now:
– history repeats itself
– there is no way we will sign the players we need this summer
– we will never win the league or champions league with Wenger and the current management in place


That is all.


Well, i can always choose to see the glass as half full….


And the thumbs are at a statistical dead heat.


well they were at the time.


“I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.”
You and I both, Per.


Answer: Not well at all.

Blitz Bailey

Not alot of signings, many young kids and Per, Walcott and Giroud a mainstay in our first 11. Oh happy days 😛 Looking forward to Europa League football next season, we may actually reach a semi or even the final. At this point it would allmost even be a nice change of pace from the age old broken record knockout from the last 16 in the champions league. No need to watch champions league anymore, We all know what happens. Might aswell just watch a rerun of last seasons CL, or the one before that, or the one before that… Read more »

Dixon's Awesome Own Goal

Oh dear. Rolled out to say keeping up with teams that finished behind us (which is a bizarre sentence in itself) and that there won’t be many signings. Not s good sign… Hope I’m very wrong in my reading of this.


Are the club purposely winding us up with these negative press releases then bombard us with a couple of major signings? Otherwise I’d be extremely disappointed with the vision of the club if we maintain this small club mentality with a bulging bank balance.

Crash Fistfight

More likely Per can see that we’ll be hard-pressed to keep up with the other teams with newer, better players, as well as better managers, whilst we’ve done pretty much nothing from last season. A season in which we achieved fewer points than in the previous 2 and were lucky everyone else was awful (and still didn’t take advantage of it, other than finishing in 2nd).


“And lucky to finish second!”

1 year to go hopefully


Signing Xhaka is pretty much nothing. Okay, mate.

Crash Fistfight

Of course, you’re welcome to your opinion, but personally I don’t see signing someone who is going to help us keep possession better (because of course, that was our biggest failing previously (?)) is going to transform us into a title-challenging (let alone winning) team.

Xhaka is a good player, but he’s hardly the missing piece of the puzzle. He’s not going to score goals (he may get a handful if we’re lucky) and he sure as hell isn’t going to stop teams scoring against us on the counter (if his performances in the Euros were anything to go by).


Maybe you should go find some ‘Gladbach games to watch and see for yourself. He’s not just a “good player”, he’s a dominant force and the best player to come into the EPL this summer for sure.


Actually, once we lost Santi last season we lost all of our deep midfield control. That was a very big problem. It wasn’t until Elneny got up to speed that we got some of it back, and then some criticized him for being to conservative.

Deep midfield recovery and control is very important when you play a high line. And his upfield passing might be very very useful for counterattacking. I think he hits a couple of things we very much needed.


No, Xhaka is not nothing. He’s a replacement for the outgoing trio of Flamini, Arteta and Rosicky. Not nothing. But not the striker that we need. Not the effective, reliable wide attacker that we need. Not the experienced central defence cover that we need. Not nothing. But not the significant squad improvement that most of us feel we need to match that of our rivals. No, we have no divine right to win the league or even challenge for it. No, we do not have oligarch money or petrodollars. But we do have piles of good clean cash which many… Read more »


the club is not winding us up, the xhaka signing is done, the poor season ticket holders have renewed thinking this season would be different and we would sign who we needed to compete. But the penny is dropping on many that the club and its management and owner do not give a fuck about the fans or actually winning things. we are hugely successful in monetary terms and that is the be all and end all of all that matters to those that run there club. Wenger is complicit in this. 8 million a year without any internal pressure… Read more »

Crash Fistfight

I don’t think season ticket holders would give up their ticket because we hadn’t signed anyone yet. To get a season ticket, people have had to wait years on the waiting list, so would have to do so again if they gave up their ticket.

Even if things look ‘bad’ now (and that is obviously relative if you compare Arsenal to other teams), who’s to say they won’t change in the next few years? It would be a stupid move to get rid of your season ticket because for a few years the club wasn’t doing what you expected/wanted.

Mr. G

Yeah that’s pretty much what I’ve been saying ever since our ‘title challenge’ last season once again came to a familiarly pathetic end. At least our (to be) club captain is fully aware of this. Personally, I’m very worried about the upcoming season. Per is right, we stumbled into 2nd place thanks to all the other big clubs being shit and Sp*rs collapsing completely in their last four games. Now we have the other three big clubs spending big under new managers all better than Wenger is now, whilst we’ve made one big money signing so far and don’t look… Read more »


The huge elephant in the room is Ozil and Sanchez and possibly one or two others that have the talent and ambition to win win things. By not buying the players that would give us a decent chance of competing wenger is putting the whole next few years at risk. Be it with another manager or not. These players will leave for more ambitious clubs, the new manager if wenger goes will have a huge rebuilding job on his hands with a board that is reluctant to spend now let alone in year or twos times when prices are only… Read more »


I am not worried about Wenger’s legacy or how we will perform this season. It isn’t daft to think he will make at least 1 solid signing before the window closes, is it!? He does most of his business towards the end of the window when the better players are put up for auction. My concern is that the likes of Ozil and Alexis have come to Arsenal to play for Wenger, so maybe they are just waiting to see where his future lies before deciding on extending. For all the frustrations we have at Arsenal right now, it can… Read more »


The delusion is real.


Definite resignation in his words. Very odd interview – was it from the Arsenal site, or outside journos?

Goondalf de Gea

I love the BFG but the club are mugging the fans and the players off if they think they’re gonna be genuinely competitive with the ‘not a lot of signings’ we’ve made so far.


I am looking forward……..

Don’t worry per you won’t be challenging. Might get your 4th place which you seem happy with though.

Football next season is tactically going to be raised a level. Aw naivety will be highlighted quite savagely by pep Jose and conte to name 3. Bilic koeman klopp 3 more


I really hope Wenger’s leaving after this next season and we get a younger modern manager like Klopp or Koeman. Pity they’re taken already…

Luis Boa Muerte

Wenger leaving won’t improve a thing. The ambition needs to come from the very top otherwise the best we can hope for is to maintain the status quo. Chances are they will replace him with a Wenger-lite, someone who’s shown they can keep a smaller club stable on a tight budget without rocking the boat. Basically a yes man. Even if they do convince a top quality ambitious manager to join (and Koeman doesn’t belong in that category imo), they wouldn’t get the backing they need and would probably just leave frustrated. Wenger is the only person with any real… Read more »

Third Plebeian

I don’t think Per is happy about this at all. You don’t even have to read much between the lines to see he’s as frustrated as we are.

Cat Biscuits

If we don’t show ambition in the transfer market this summer the atmosphere in the stadium will be toxic after one bad result.


The atmosphere in the stadium is already toxic with fans like you.


Feels like the captain is calling out the manager for not signing enough new players. Cohesion is falling apart and it isn’t even July yet, hopefully Cohesion will only be out 2-3 weeks…


Talk about mixed messages


Negative from Per, that has surprised and slightly annoyed me, not that he would care much about that! 🙂


Well that hasn’t gone down well…:-)


Wenger is useless and we have no players of any note, we are doomed…
Is that more to your liking folks?

Crash Fistfight

I’d quit while I was ahead if I were you, Paul.


I have slightly rallied back!! 🙂
Helmut on…


Per is a good man. A player’s form may be fair game for criticism, but his attitude toward supporters and professionalism at the club are never in question.

Die Hard Gooner

yawn! ground hog day

Third Plebeian

If it’s a not-so-thinly veiled criticism of Wenger / the club, then I think it’s absolutely spot on and I’m glad he said it.

I wish the club would just admit that our ambitions rise no higher than fourth place. Because that is exactly how we conduct our transfer ‘business’ each summer.


I’m not sure the ambition is lacking, just the willingness to put your money where your mouth is

Third Plebeian

I’m not sure there’s much of a difference.


No I suppose there isn’t.

Vincent Kompany's Forehead/Jamie Vardinho

To me that’s the same thing. I hate to bring up Mourinho but he gave the transfer negotiation team a list of targets and alternatives and they made the transfers happen way before the season starts, which is fantastic for tactical understanding and team cohesion. Man U paid more for their players but that’s how this seasons market works, you more over the top to get the signing ASAP. BVB have done the exact same thing. Anyway, I doubt Wenger or the Arsenal PR team are happy with Mertesackers comment, whether its a veiled criticism or not, but respect to… Read more »


Given the disconnect between Gazidis and Wenger quotes, it looks to me as if the club and manager are in disagreement. Given the past comments from both sides it is really difficult to guess which is holding back. Wenger is the obvious and easy target, but he’s also always stepped up to deflect criticism of the club as part of his job. So was Gazidis trying to calm down expectations to cover for Wenger holding back? An attempt to avoid the calamitous ‘we’ve got plenty of money to spend’ only to not get our targets? Or is Wenger papering over… Read more »


Huh. That sounded more sure of Wenger’s want to spend than I expected. In reality I don’t know which to think.


are these quotes genuine? Just unbelievably negative!


Negative? I’d rather say totally realistic

Third Plebeian


Third Plebeian

I think what makes it particularly damning in this case is that we were thinking three or four players this summer minimum if we wanted to make a significant upgrade to the squad, but if we’re realistic (and not counting the future prospects), we look to be adding two at the most.

Woolwich Peripatetic

It’s the significant upgrade part that is the problem. The situation is the same for all clubs but for clubs like United and Liverpool finding an upgrade on their existing players is easier because their players are not as good as ours! When your best striker isn’t the teenager that you spent £60 million on but the one already in your academy – you have issues that are fairly easy to solve. When your best striker is 0.1 NPG/90 off Kane/Vardy, you need to be looking at players like Aguero/Messi to see a significant upgrade. Otherwise you’re just pissing money… Read more »


They are genuine sounding comments. It is just reflective of the lack of trust the fans and now the players have in the club and Arsene to really show intent in the transfer market. After 2015 there is a real fear that Wenger will just try to make do again. Hope I am wrong, but definitely worried.


One more season to go and hopefully Wenger will get the f… off


Then Gazidis and Kroenke have full control of the club. The horror.


I know – they actually might appoint a manager who might strengthen the squad during a transfer window and go into a new season prepared.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Those who keep on saying, we still have a month to go before the transfer market is closed, this one is for you:Juventus will buy Higuain, Napoli will buy Icardi to replace him, Chelsea will buy Cavani, PSG will buy Lacazette to replace him. Oh, Inter will buy Lukaku. All our targets will be gone in three weeks.


Yeah maybe if they were our targets??
I just like Arsenal a lot and love watching them from the age of four in North London.
48 years on I don’t get too upset these days.

Third Plebeian

I think what sucks is that even if we do add before the window closes, it won’t be prior to the start of the season (Wenger’s already talking about late August poker playing), and we already have a number of crucial players who won’t be ready for the start of the season.

Arsenal have no plan. With few exceptions, we react. We don’t act.

Vincent Kompany's Forehead/Jamie Vardinho

there are other good strikers out there, not of the same caliber as the aforementioned, but good nonetheless

Slimani (similar to Giroud, has a 1 in 2 goal ratio for Sporting Lisbon)

Also apparently “Arsenal transfer news and rumours live – ‘£75 million double deal to sign Riyad Mahrez and Alexandre Lacazette”—75m-double-deal-to-sign/

And Sczcseny is going to Roma, whether on loan or permanent transfer i don’t know (link above)


Apart from the bitter experience of so many previous disappointing transfer windows, when the club have failed to address obvious shortcomings, in a way that might have transformed us from also-rans to genuine contenders, I don’t know why some people are being so negative.


No its bizarre isnt it

Third Plebeian

My sarcasm detector went off with Georgeycharles’ comment, but it can’t quite get a read from yours. Did you fail to see his sarcasm, or am I failing to see yours?


I’m completely serious


Exactly. It’s as though people want to see one of the richest teams in the world actually use their ample resources to have a team which reflected that wealth.

Can’t believe some people.


How do you people sleep at night. We’re after top top top quality for a pittance

Dr Zebra

“On top of a big pile of money with many beautiful women”
R. Wolfcastle

Third Plebeian

Haha! Well said.


You sir.. made my day.. there’s no other way how to stay calm with the club other than taking everything (especially with a great bowl of cynicism


Apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?


It’s safer to walk the streets at night?…:-)


Yeah, it could be worse right. It’s not as if the club are twiddling their thumbs whilst our rivals are appointing innovative and tactically astute new managers with a point to prove and who have already been busy significantly strengthening their teams. People just need to lighten up…


There’s nothing innovative about buying the most expensive talents, parking the bus, and kicking the shit out of people. It’s just lower league football with the most expensive players.

It might be fairly effective. But innovative? No.


Before we talk about signings etc I really wish we would get this small club mentality out of our physic. The way the players talk about other rivals and our general approach before ‘big’ games really makes me think we are a goal behind before we kick a ball. We have a massive history, we have large financial resources (if we choose to use them) let’s start talking and acting like a big club and become a force in football instead of the also rans and saps mentality which seems ingrained in us. It’s time to show some balls and… Read more »


Needs to start at the top.


One small thought has crossed my equal sized mind.

Since the 1930s Arsenal have won the title at least once, in every decade bar the 1960s. No mean feat, considering the 1940s had only five years in it ! So unless we are to add this decade, to that little list, we have three years – starting in August to protect that record.

Will we….?


Nope. Possibly a virtual trophy, but the title…No.


“Yes” from me.


I’d like to think we will. But then, I like to think a lot of things…


Do any of them involve naked 18 year old underwear models?


This looks to me as a direct criticism of AW. The players can see the obvious lack of willingness to invest properly in the team in order to compete for trophies. For the same reason we lost our best players few years ago. It seems to me that absolutely nothing has changed in the mentality of our manager (or it has, but not enough).


Same old same old.

Martin Finley

The Chief Executive Gazidis and our Captain BFG both passively critisize Wenger within a couple of days.

Its like when someone is trapped in a unhealthy relationship and they only drop hints to others about their situation.

broken red army

“how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.” as clubs captain doesnt give out much confidence, rightly though.


Sorry I disagree with those who said that Mourinho just giving his transfer team a list of targets and them going out to get said targets and paying over the odds is “just how it works this season”. Sure there is more money running through the PL clubs hands, however by paying over the odds for players clubs like Manchester United know that they are in turn multiplying the cost for other clubs to buy less quality players. They know this and therefore the bitter pill of paying so much for a player who isn’t really worth that much becomes… Read more »

Vincent Kompany/Jamie Vardinho

That was me. Yes I agree Man U are affecting market prices but market prices were gonna be fucked to ridiculous levels this season anyway because of the PL tv deal i.e. that Wijnaldum deal 23m for a player now in the Championship going to Liverpool. Every club who have a player that is wanted by a PL club will rinse the interested club because they know that there is a ton of cash floating aroud. Its basic Economics, supply and demand and Wenger being a trained economist, I would hope knows he has to suck it up and pay… Read more »


I agree it is basic economics. But I disagree that Utd spending that much money wouldn’t have a large impact. It sets the tone for transfers for other British clubs, especially when you consider the ruthless manner in which Utd buy players – they go out pay whatever cash they need and f*ck off back to Old Trafford. Also, I think Wenger has a point when he says that it will only really kick off in that August period. I assume he means the amount of transfers that will take place will significantly increase as pre-season finishes and managers have… Read more »

Vincent Kompany's Forehead/Jamie Vardinho

Fair play, I think we’ll agree to disagree 🙂

I hope you’re right about your interpretation of Wenger’s comments and it’s not a case of Wenger looking for leftovers come late August


Very good point. The continued willingness of Wenger to wait for the final month of the window shows a huge amount of courage – all just to get a player of better quality. I don’t think its him trying to get a better deal, or trying to risk our season, that is far from the truth. Normally you overpay in the closing stages of the window. Many thought we massively overpaid for Ozil, but Wenger was just looking at the player’s quality/value to the club and waiting for the opportunity. It is easy to get frustrated with this policy, but… Read more »

Woolwich Peripatetic

I suspect Wenger would spend €100 million on the right player but he would never sanction €50 million on a player who isn’t obviously better than the player we already have in that position. For instance, Pogba is not worth €100 million. He’s a better than Xhaka offensively (for example) but nowhere near the kind of offensive output that would justify the prices being quoted. Players who might be worth €100 million would be the usual suspects, MSN at Barca, BBR at Madrid. They post the kinds of shot numbers and conversion rates that would significantly boost any team’s title… Read more »


Also, I don’t think Per is being negative or even putting pressure on the manager. He’s simply stating the obvious. We won’t sign as many players as other clubs will and therefore will be disadvantaged in comparison to them.
Plus didn’t Wenger say this period of the transfer window is like a game of poker? Maybe Per is just another Joker in the pack?

Bank of friendship

Wenger out.
Nothing will change until then.
We moved stadium to compete with the best but now they move the goalposts.
Sadly wengers tactics are obvious.


Apply for the job, since you are very qualified.


Not happy with our team captain saying “determined to keep up with stronger rivals”. So he actually believes that are our rivals are actually stronger than us and admits it publicly….


Maybe it’s a way of putting pressure on those above to improve the side. What I get from his comments is frustration and an obvious understanding that we need to do more in the transfer market

broken red army

Wenger is immune to these kinds of pressures. just ask Cazorla Sanchez or van Persie


I suppose it depends on who we sign. The manager said a forward and a defender. We already got a midfielder.

We have a strong squad but we’re obviously short. A defender would be welcome. I’m not sure one forward is enough. It could be i guess.

Leaving it so late doesn’t seem like a great idea either.


Maybe this isn’t the right time, but are we selling Theo? Probably wouldn’t get more than $25m at this point but we could use that to fund a move for Mahrez or someone useful

Third Plebeian

Who would pay £25m for Walcott?


West Ham, Palace, Stoke, West Brom, Watford, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Swansea, Burnley, Sunderland, Everton, Southampton and maybe even Leicester..from the PL

Half Decent europa league sides such as Valencia, villareal, lazio, ac, inter, Lyon, marseille, sporting, galatasaray, wolfsburg, ajax, fiorentina…

then you have to think about china and dubai/UAE clubs and possibly India (though less likely)

weather or not they could all pay his overpriced wages is a different story..
so at least 25+ clubs who imho would pay about 25mill


Dream on! £10-15m at best

Out of interest name 1 player ajax or sporting have spent 25m on?

The others can’t afford to spend that money on an inconsistent one trick pony


couldn’t, but can you tell me arsenal’s?
we don’t spend big, doesn’t mean we wont or cant. same goes for them.
(say Ajax lose 2 or 3 starters, could then invest 18 mill on theo with bonus’// feasible no?)

was an example on what type of club would be interested in a CL experienced winger in his prime.

£15 mill for a winger the right side of 30, playing for a top club, on over 100k p/w, with this seasons transfer inflation?
we would be more broke than an 80 year old martin keown lookalike prozzie

Goondalf de Gea

West Ham went some way to make sure their fans knew they had no interest in signing Theo earlier in the transfer window. Seems to be Arsene is the only one that sees the top, top quality in him anymore.


This is very sad. My beloved club is becoming a joke. Bracing myself for another single (first-team) signing summer and the seemingly inevitable consequences next season.


Let’s stop with the negativity, and get excited for some signings.
Stop being crazy, people.


More trite whinging yet again. The window is still open for quite a while! Its the fans who continously expect things to repeat themselves that are truly mugging themselves. They would have said we would never win a trophy and we won the FA cup (TWICE! BACK TO BACK!) They would say we are only ever content with 4th spot trophy and look at teams like Chelsea and Chelsea who would love to have that ‘trophy’. Besides we are going up the league and finished second last season. They would say Arsene puts too much faith in youngsters who are… Read more »


You sir are the type of fans the club need.


Bring back flamini


I’m with Greg on this one. We need to bring back Flamini and he can play in a free roaming role in all positions.

Dan D

Clearly a big hint to the boss and board.


Some of you fans are weird. 2013:- Ozil 2014:- Sanchez 2015:- Cech 2016:- transfer still open It took the club until 2013 to be competitive financially. Arsenal n Wenger are building a team not just for now, but for the future; safeguarding the clubs financial wellbeing. It took man Utd years to be a dominant force. Man city was bought in 2008, with all their spending, they didn’t win premier league until 2012. Chelsea on the hand had a really good team build by Claudia R. Yes, it took much sooner to win the league, but they are solely dependant… Read more »


We aren’t competing!


Beating our biggest opponents on the pitch and the table last year wasn’t competing?


I don’t think we’ve done our transfer work this season yet either, but that’s just not a true statement.


Building a solid team for over how many years? 2013:Needed a striker, signed none. Stuck with bendtner and Giroud 2014:Needed a ST, DM and CB. Bought a goal shy welbeck, stuck with the ageing duo of flamini and arteta, put faith in a young Chambers who played as a rb in his previous club. Cost us big time. 2015:Needed a DM, GK and ST. Bought Cech(success). Stuck with Giroud who went on one of the worse goal scoring droughts ever, lost league when santi and coquelin was injured. Cost us the title. Wenger is past it. Face it. He lost… Read more »


You Arsenal destroy your players by not supporting them 100%.


A bit over reactive from everyone but I see the resignation we have made a couple of decent signings in holding and xhaka.. not holding my breath for mahrez though. Its very odd to say the least as though were scrambling to keep up when we finished second. Almost as if hes making excuses before the seasons begun either that or hes challenging wenger to buy more, given the lack of concrete news about any strikers in the pipeline I imagine well make do with what we have in the no. 9 role .. we still have a chance to… Read more »

Nairobi Gooner

Per is right, absolutely right but maybe negative with him expected to captain the team to glory this season. Wenger should now pull the ultimate response- buy the Koulibaly guy from Napoli to take that bfg’s place and everyone will be happy and more positive. Both Per and Le Prof, and we the fans can wait for Mahrez more patiently.

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