The Rise and Fall of Arsene: An Analysis of Wenger’s Transfers and Results

Note: Definitions Used In Transfer Price Index Articles

  • CTPP = Current Transfer Purchase Price.  The player’s original transfer value adjusted for football inflation using the same method – but not the same figures – as the Retail Price Index. (Andriy Shevchenko holds the highest CTPP, his £30.8m transfer in July 2006 now worth £68.2m; the increase down to the difference in the average cost of a Premier League transfer that season – around £2m – and how the average in 2011 is c.£5m)
  • Sq£ = The cost of a club’s squad for a season in CTPP
  • £XI = The average cost (in CTPP) of the starting XIs in Premier League matches that season
  • MSq£ = Multiple of average Sq£. Not how much a squad costs in CTPP, but how much more (or less) it costs versus the average squad that season.
  • M£XI = Multiple of average Sq£. Not how much a starting XI costs in CTPP, but how much more (or less) it costs versus the average starting XI that season.
  • m£XIR = estimate of win, draw or loss (and thus expected resultant points) in relation to venue (home/away) and match starting XI cost ratios (the greater the advantage in the CTPP cost of the XI over an opponent the higher the chances of winning; but also taking the big advantage of being at home into account.)

The Rise and Fall of Arsene: An Analysis of Wenger’s Transfers and Results

To date, the m£XIR database has been used to analyze the performance of Liverpool’s two managers during the 2010/11 season, set realistic expectations for Aston Villa’s 2011-12 season, and quantify the declining fortunes of David Moyes at Everton.  Now, the focus pivots to the most embattled manager of the moment who also happens to be one of the Premier League’s most successful – Arsene Wenger.

To be sure, the end of last season, the horrible summer of 2011, and now the start of the 2011-12 campaign represents the nadir of Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal.  Once untouchable to the point of being trusteed to lead a “youth revolution” in the face of the mercenary hirings at Chelsea and Manchester City, Wenger’s failed experiment to generate success-on-the-cheap has now led to calls for his head and for the club to “spend some eff’ing money”.  But it’s never been that simple.

Arsene Wenger’s success during the first half of his tenure was certainly aided by some savvy purchases and high cost squads (both in terms of Sq£ and £XI), but they also benefited from a manager who played a very different game than the rest of the Premier League.  After completing the only undefeated season in the history of the Premier League (2003/04), Wenger and Arsenal embarked on a lone journey to continue success at a much lower price tag while building a new stadium and a refined club premised upon financial sustainability.

The experiment worked well for some time, with Arsenal finishing well above what one might expect of a team that was a fraction of the cost of the other three clubs it was competing against for a championship and Champions League qualification (initially Manchester United/Liverpool/Chelsea with Liverpool being replaced by Manchester City the last two years).  Like all crises, the outward signs remained far more positive than reality, with what seems to be the whole house coming crashing down on the club and their best manager all at once.

This analysis, using the m£XIR database, attempts to quantify how high Wenger has flown in the past, and how much he has fallen now.

The Data

Throughout this post I will refer to the graphic below, which represents the entire span of Wenger’s career in transfers and resultant success or failure on the pitch.  It’s a huge chart, representing nearly 2700 unique data points over his 15 years at Arsenal.  As such, it might be far more useful for readers to open up the original image in a separate tab to be able to view the full detail of the graphic (readers looking for the best understanding should print it off on a landscaped 11”x17” or A4 sheet of paper).  Either way, having the graphic viewable at the same time as this post will provide for a much more detailed understanding.

It’s worth reviewing the significance of each row of data before diving in to the analysis.  The main topic of data is shown in the column on the far left, with subsets of each main topic explained on the far right.  The data itself remains in the middle of the graphic.  Working from upper left to lower right, the data is as follows:

  • The first main column contains the results of the m£XIR model, specifically the club’s differential to model by match (i.e. if the model predicts an expected 1.8 points from a match and Arsenal only manages a draw, the differential is 1.0 – 1.8 = -0.8).  Over each season the cumulative point differential to the model is calculated to show how much Wenger is over or under performing versus expectations at any point in the season.  Below the bar graph showing cumulative point difference is summary data for the differential on a points-per-match (PPM) basis at the mid-point of the season as well as the final match.  This helps us understand the average rate at which Wenger is over or under performing against the model.
  • The second major row of data contains the club’s £XI data by match in millions of pounds.  The first subsection graphically displays the match-by-match fluctuation in the 2011 CTPP transfer costs of the starting XI.  The gray region in the middle of the match XI data denotes the interquartile range (IQR) of the cost of all of Wenger’s starting XI’s (bounded by the upper limit of £123M and the lower limit if £81M).  The IQR represents the middle 50% of the data  – moving above it denotes higher than average cost, while falling below it denotes a lower than average cost.  These fluctuations in match £XI manifest themselves in a standard deviation. Some variance is to be expected while balancing the demands of multiple domestic and European competitions, but too much variability can be a sign of injury woes, first team experimentation, or some other rhythm disrupting issue.  The final subsection provides point data for the average £XI, M£XI, and the 50th percentile prediction interval for predicted table position based upon M£XI.
  • The third major row of data contains the club’s Sq£ data by season.  Average Sq£ data for the season is converted to the MSq£ metric, which in turn is used to quantify the club’s 50th percentile prediction interval for table position.
  • The fourth major row of data contains the financial data from individual transfer purchases and sales.  Net outlays by season are shown in the first section (negative values indicate more money was spent on incoming transfers than brought in via sales of outgoing ones).  The net outlay is then broken down into its two parts – purchases and sales – with the three largest of each category listed.  Keep in mind that these numbers are expressed in 2011 CTPP figures to ensure all comparisons are made in constant pounds.  They will NOT be the same values as those declared at the time of sale due to the conversions required to get to a constant pound basis.
  • The final two sections summarize the outcome of the season.  League data is presented first, with the final row summarizing the outcome of cup competitions.  The first two subsections of league data are sparklines that graphically represent the location (home = black, away = red) and outcome (win = black, draw = no bar, loss = red) for each and every match.  The match outcome data is very effective at communicating streaks within a season, especially when compared with the overall record just below it.  Finishes in the top two of any competition are indicated with color coding – grey = 2nd place, yellow= 1st place.

Overall, the graph provides a good link between results (at the bottom) and a variety of causes (the upper 80% of the graph).

In general, I will refer to two eras in this post.  The first, the “Trophied Era”, refers to Wenger’s tenure through the 2004/05 season when they won their last trophy under him (the FA Cup).  The second era, the “Trophyless Era”, will refer to all seasons 2005/06 forward where Arsenal have been on their inexpensive youth program that has not earned them a trophy.

Now that the graph is explained, it’s time to move on to analysis.

From Buying Club to Selling Club

While Arsenal is to be commended for attempting to do things differently in an era of absurd financial outlays in the transfer market, it must be recognized that the championships that allowed Wenger the freedom to embark on such an exercise were earned at great cost.  Six out of the nine seasons in the Trophied Era ran deficits in the transfer department, for a total net spend during the era of CTPP £165.2M (it easily would have been 7 out of 9 seasons without Anelka’s huge sale in 1999/2000).  Wenger and the club set out to build a championship caliber team each year and spent an average net sum of £18.4M to do so, but they certainly didn’t pay the unsustainable fees we see today from the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City who run perpetual deficits.  Nonetheless, they did spend far more and had far higher £XIs and Sq£s during the Trophied Era than they have had during the Trophyless era.

To be honest, it seems that the Wenger of today is adamantly opposed to paying much more than about £15M for any one player.  Indeed, only four players top such a sum during the Trophyless Era – Walcott (£27.9M), Hleb (£26.0M), and Adebayor (£16.3m) in 2005/06 and Rosicky (£15.1M) in 2006/07.  That’s four players in the six years of the Trophyless Era.  Compare this with eight players with transfer fees equal to or greater than £15M in the Trophied Era of nine years.  The names in that list are a veritable who’s-who of types of players you hear that “Arsenal need today” – Overmars, Vieira, Henry, et al.

But it’s not just the high cost buys that marks the difference in the two eras.  It’s the volume of transfers of the non-free variety that also provides a stark contrast.  Wenger and the club paid for 41 transfers in the nine Trophied Era years at an average clip of 4.6 players per year.  In the six years since then, Wenger and Arsenal have paid for 20 players total, yielding an average clip of 3.3 players per season.  Similar trends are seen when comparisons are made on free transfers and trainees.  In the trophied era team acquired 21 players over 9 years via free transfers or from the trainee ranks, or an average rate of 2.33 per season.  During the Trophyless Era of lower transfer spending, the emphasis on free transfers and trainees increased and the total climbed to 19 players in 6 seasons (average of 3.17 per season).  This is yet another sign that the club has looked to minimize expenses and find undervalued players.

During the “Trophyless Era” the club was in the black in regards to transfers in three out of six seasons, with a total net income of £7.5M.  All players that were bought for more than CTPP £15M were purchased in the first two years of the era, a time of transition from the high cost squads from the Trophied Era.  Even more troubling for the club has been the lack of activity the last few seasons (present summer transfer window excluded).  In 2009/10, Arsenal was a selling club generating a net income of £38.5M with the sales of Adebayor and Toure and the purchase of Vermaelean.  The next season saw little of this sum re-invested, with sub-par purchases in Squillaci and Koscielny.  Other than Barcelona’s courting of Cesc Fabregas in the summer before the 2010/11 season, there was little selling activity to note and only a single player sold (Eduardo for £6.0M).  While this summer’s window was certainly more active, the trend of being a selling club continued.  Total sales were £65.3M, while total purchases were £52.5M

Wenger observed during this past offseason that to sell Nasri and Cesc would mean admitting Arsenal is not a “big club”.  Perhaps we need to reserve judgement on that for now, but we can certainly declare that Arsenal is no longer a “buying” club, and instead has turned in to one that sells its players.

Championships Cost Money

The sum of these differences in transfer expenditures during the two eras shows up in very different Sq£ and £XI values.

During the Trophied Era Arsenal’s average Sq£ was £225.1M.  Wenger’s first championship was won with a paltry £178.5M in transfers on the squad, but by the time he won two championships in three years from 2001/02 to 2003/04 he had raised the average squad cost to more than £256M.  This was roughly on par with Alex Ferguson’s championships with Manchester United during the same 9 year span (£230M over four championships).  In a sign of things to come Chelsea’s 2003/04 squad, which would finish second to The Invincibles that season, would increase their squad value by £225M that season to a total Sq£ of £430M.

Chelsea would add to their already expensive squad in 2004/05 (Sq£ of £498M) and win their first Premier League championship.  Arsenal would finish second with a squad less than half the cost of Chelsea’s.  Meanwhile, United had reacted to Abramovich’s investment in Chelsea and increased their squad costs by £124M to keep pace.  The era of teams built around huge sums of transfers had begun, and during the Trophyless Era Arsenal could not compete with these club’s investments given the investment required of a new stadium, the funds afforded via what was initially modest commercial income, and the lack of a benefactor willing to take huge annual loses.

Soon Manchester City would be bought by Sheikh Monsour, and they too would join the rare ranks of English clubs with Sq£ figures greater than £350M.  Meanwhile, Arsenal would fall to a lowly 6th position with a Sq£ of £155M while Liverpool (£238M) and Tottenham Hotspur (£225M) would leapfrog them (although in Liverpool’s case, they did not actually move – staying consistently around an MSq£ if 1.75, but with Arsenal falling beneath them.)

Similar trends are seen in Arsenal’s £XI numbers.  Wenger’s continual investment in the squad during the Trophied Era translated to talent that made it on to the pitch.  The club averaged a 53% utilization rate in the era (on average, just over half of the squad cost featuring in the side), for an average £XI of £118M.  During this time the club also averaged an M£XI of 2.0, good enough to ensure an likely finish position between 2nd and 5th in the table.  Wenger’s actual average finish during this era was 1.6, clearly outperforming the model even with his expensive squads.

During the de-leveraging of the Trophyless Era the utilization rate fell to an average 47%.  Wenger is certainly investing less in transfers but he’s also utilizing less of the talent he is purchasing (this is likely exacerbated by the increase of free transfers by nearly one player per year).  In the last two seasons Wenger has experienced his most consistent £XI numbers as indicated by the metric’s standard deviation over a season.  They’ve also been his least expensive average starting XI’s – £77.9M and £71.5M, respectively – that total less than 57% of the cost of his average starting XI that won two championships over the three seasons from 2001/02 to 2003/04.  Not coincidentally, these consistently inexpensive sides have also shown a steady downward trend in performance versus the m£XIR model, but that will be covered later.

Recognizing these realities is key to understanding the exodus that happened this past summer.  As I already wrote in my analysis of Cesc Fabregas’ departure:

It’s clear that while Arsene’s management of the team finances has prevented the club from going into debt like other clubs, it has also put a glass ceiling on the club’s table position and trophy case.  Cesc’s observation relating to “the routine” of late season failure was spot on.  Frustrated with a lack of investment and results that were progressively worse, especially when he gave the club one final chance in 2010-11, he decided it was time to end the relationship.  I can’t blame him for doing so – six years of rebuilding is certainly long enough to judge a team and its level of commitment to its world class captain.

The youth policy has to some degree failed Arsenal, and its failure runs the risk of making Arsenal no longer “a big club” able to attract top talent.  Especially when the world-class centerpiece of that youth policy had seen enough to give up on it.

Declining Fortunes Against the m£XIR Model

Where Wenger’s record really shines is when one looks at his point totals each season and compares them to the total that would be expected based upon the venue and the relative cost of his starting XI to the oppositions in each match.  That is, he’s performed extremely well versus the m£XIR model.

Even during the Trophied Era he performed well given his sizeable cost advantage versus the rest of the league.  When compared to other managers who managed a full 38-match schedule, he never finished outside the top three except one year.  In 2000-01 he earned a second place finish in the overall table, but escalating transfer costs translated to increased £XIs that didn’t deliver on the pitch when away from home.  Arsenal had a dreadful 5-7-7 away record that year, which more than offset their outstanding 15-3-1 record at Highbury and dragged down their PPM versus the model to 0.16.  Wenger’s 70 points that season may have earned him second place in the league, but it only placed him 8th place on a PPM basis.  That season represented Wenger’s lowest PPM during the Trophied Era.

Three years later, Arsenal had completed their run of two championships in three years with the undefeated season of 2003-04.  Wenger’s point haul that season and the £XIs that earned it (a paltry average of £115.6M) produced a PPM of 0.96 which is a Premier League best for any manager who saw all 38 matches in a season (Alex Ferguson’s 1999/00 championship is second all time at 0.82).

After fielding starting XIs well above his IQR in the second half of the 2002-03 season, Wenger started the 2003-04 season with an average starting XI right in the middle of the IQR.  By match 19 of that season Arsenal were 1 point from the top of the table, but had played a far less expensive starting XI compared to league leaders Manchester United (£108.9M vs. £145.8M).  This translated into a 1.0 PPM over performance vs. the m£XIR model for Wenger and Arsenal at the mid-point of the season.  Where Ferguson and United faded the second half of the season, Wenger and Arsenal maintained their form.  Draws during the last 10 matches cost the Gunners a shot at being the only team in the history of the Premier League to finish with a PPM over 1.0.  Especially costly were draws at home to Manchester United and Birmingham, which were under performances of more than half a point each given the venue (and especially the nearly 4-to-1 advantage in £XI vs. Birmingham).  Draws away to Newcastle, Spurs, and Portsmouth penalized Wenger much less given the venues (and especially Newcastle’s nearly equal £XI).

One interesting attribute of the Gunner’s undefeated season was the continual increase in the £XI as the season progressed.  The increase in £XI from the first half of the season (£108.9M) to the second half (£122.3M) continued to grow in the final quarter of the season (£128.9M in the final 9 matches).  This rise likely had minimal impact on the residual points and resultant PPM values given that the m£XIR model is based upon the ratio of the two team’s £XI’s and this ratio wouldn’t have changed much due to the modest rise in £XIs.

The Trophyless Era has provided a number of competitive teams against the m£XIR model, if not competitive for trophies. Certainly the first year of the era – 2005/06 – provided an inauspicious start.  Coming off two years of success – the Invincibles followed up by an FA Cup in 2004/05 – Wenger earned the lowest league point total of his career.  The 67 points earned that season, with what was still a relatively expensive side (average £XI = 117.6M. average Sq£ = 237.6M), only tallied a PPM differential of 0.09 to place him 9th in that metric’s table for the season.  This means that over the entire season Wenger only earned 3.4 points (or one win) more than what his squad’s assembled talent via transfers would suggest.  Like the similar result in 2000/01, it would be away form of 6-4-9 that would undo what was a home form competitive with the other Top 4 except Chelsea’s 18-1-0 record.  The 2005/06 season represented a number of low points for Wenger’s tenure in the league, even though his team made its deepest foray into Champions League that season, reaching the final.  This would represent the peak of the Gunner’s Champions League form, but likely be a harbinger of things to come for a thinner squad attempting to compete on too many fronts.

The summer of 2006 would see the departure of key Arsenal players from the Trophied Era (Henry and Cole) that lowered the club’s Sq£ and £XI’s greatly.  The net expenditures that season resulted in a squad worth £190.8M, a reduction of nearly £47M and the lowest of Wenger’s tenure since the 1997/98 season.  The average £XI for the 2006/07 season saw a corresponding reduction from £117.6M to £85.5M representing Wenger’s cheapest average starting XI up to that point.  All of this combined to lower expectations versus the m£XIR model, if not within the Gunner faithful.  Thus, Wenger could generate only one more point than he did the previous year, but his over performance versus the model went up by 0.20 PPM to a total of 0.29 PPM.  Good enough for second overall in that metric for the 2006/07 season.

The remainder of the seasons have seen Wenger steadily reduce the transfer costs at Arsenal.  The 2007/08 season may have been their most competitive during the Trophyless Era.  It represents the highest total for points in the era – 83 total – and the era’s highest PPM – 0.63 and good enough for top rank in the league that year.  Wenger wouldn’t finish outside the top three versus the PPM metric during these four seasons (2007/08 through 2010/11), and would finish 1-3-1-2 over the four year span in the PPM table.

The more troubling trend during these last four seasons was that Wenger’s squads clearly ran out of gas the second half of each campaign.  Earlier exits from the Champions League in the last three seasons are the clearest example of this in cup competitions.  Even more telling is Wenger’s performance versus the m£XIR model in the second half of the season compared to the first half.  A trademark of his first 10 seasons was maintaining or improving against the model as the season went on: 8 of those ten seasons saw him maintain or improve his PPM pace from match 19 to match 38.  He can be forgiven for not making it 9 of 10, as one of the two in which he did not achieve this feat was the Invincibles season.  In the last four years of his tenure, Wenger has maintained or bettered his m£XIR PPM pace in the second half of the season only once (2008/09).

In all three cases this fall off in form came after Arsenal was perfectly positioned at the season’s midpoint to challenge for the title – 2007/2008 1 point behind Manchester United, 5 points behind Chelsea with a game in hand in 2009/10, and 2 points behind with one more game played vs. Manchester United in 2010/11.

Wenger certainly has continued to outperform the expectations set by his meager transfer expenditures, but its led to a troublesome pattern of the second-half dip that has chased away so many pieces of the youth project (most importantly, Cesc Fabregas).

The Outlook for 2011/12

It’d be too easy to say “bet the trend” of continual second half dips and decreasing PPMs to the m£XIR model when making a prediction about the rest of this season.  It’d be especially easy given the poor start to the season that has seen one point earned from nine, a once-a-century demolition by Manchester United, and relegation form that has the Gunners sitting 17th in the table.  The reality is that it isn’t that easy, and the injury and suspension-ravaged team we’ve all seen play the first three matches is not the club that will show up for the remaining 35; players will return, and four new signings will surely help improve matters.

As was said at the outset of this post, crises tend to happen very quickly (not gradually) and thus all the walls come crashing down at once.  As quickly as those walls come down, they’re re-built even faster in an attempt to stabilize the team in the short term.  To judge the forthcoming season, a full catalog of the ins-and-outs from the summer transfer season must be provided and dissected.  A review of Arsenal’s transfer activities over this past summer is provided below.  Both the actual fee and the 2011 deflated fees are shown for reference, as well as the subtotals for players sold and bought and the net transfer expenditures for the summer.  Keep in mind that only the base fee is captured in the TPI as that’s the only part of the fee that is guaranteed.  Add-ons for appearances, trophies, etc. that may or may not be realized at a later date are not included in these figures.

Arsenal closed the summer transfer window with a £12.75M net income from transfers, but it was set to come in at a whopping £41.75M prior to the flurry of activity at the very end.  If they don’t spend any money at the mid-season window (which is inconceivable at this point given the still-threadbare squad and Champions League qualification aspirations), the Gunners would record their fourth profitable year in transfers out of an overall seven in the Trophyless Era (assuming no trophies come this season).  Either way, Arsenal can now add another £12.75M to the estimated £50M on hand for transfers at the beginning of the summer for potential purchases they make in January.  On a CTPP basis, it would be their second lowest profit of the era, with only 2007/08 being lower in net income.  It could be argued that while the net value of the squad has only gone down modestly (equivalent to one large Wenger transfer as of late), but the real impact might actually be larger given the latest confirmation from Barcelona as to how good of a deal they got on Cesc Fabregas.

This does bring up a good point, which is that Wenger’s last few years have seen him not only miss out on some good buys, but that this offseason he was especially hampered by having to negotiate with what was a weak hand.  While the sum received for Nasri was quite reasonable, there was no way Wenger could expect more given how close Nasri was to a Bosman.  More importantly, the Gunners seemed to miss out on at least £6M on the deal for Cesc given the offer made last summer.  While Wenger tried to squeeze one more good season out of Cesc and further demonstrated his value to any potential suitors, the reality was that only one club was of interest to him.  Another season of frustration for Cesc made him more desperate to leave, which in turn actually allowed Barcelona to make a lower bid knowing that the move would be forced through by the player and the manager.  Similar stories of failing to pull the trigger on buying Juan Mata suggest that Wenger and the Arsenal board aren’t effectively managing the business when it comes to transfers.

Nonetheless, the transfer activity was what it was over the summer, and Arsenal are now left with a very different squad and potential starting XI.  On the whole, the Arsenal Sq£ after the transfer window (excluding Nasri’s one match he played before his move) now stands at £182.2M, an increase of £27M over last season to a level of Sq£ value not seen since the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons.  This is a bit misleading, as part of the reason the squad was so cheap (and over achieved) the last few years was that Cesc Fabregas only counted for £5.7M and Nasri £12.4M based upon their original purchase prices and the annual inflation/deflation since then.  Based upon their most recent purchase prices, the Gunners were getting £33.7M worth of additional value out of them last season that did not show up in their Sq£ or £XI values.  This means that in terms of 2011 CTPP figures, the quality of players in and out of Arsenal over the summer of 2011 and the resultant squad resources is likely a small net negative.

While there is some concern about the regularity with which some players may show up in the starting lineup, one might expect the following players to be the regular first team choices given their current position in the squad or the money just recently spent on them (and once a few nagging injuries are resolved):

Szczesny

Sagna              Vermaelen       Mertesacker      Santos

Song                Wilshere          Arteta

Gervinho        Walcott           Van Persie

Such a lineup, when available, would provide the Gunners with a £XI of £93.9M (although £27.4M, or 29% of the total, is tied up in Theo Walcott, by far Arsenal’s most expensive player in terms of CTPP).  Given the availability of Rosicky (CTPP of £14.8M) or Ramsey (£4.9M) for Wilshere (trainee) and Arshavin (£14.6M) for Gervinho or Walcott, it’s coneivable that the Gunners could run somewhere close to such a £XI value for most of the season.  None of this includes Oxlade-Chamberlain nor Park, both of whom will contribute as well (with Park perhaps competing for a regular starting posiiton). It’s therefore reasonable to expect Arsenal to at least come in around the £82.5M mark for an average £XI over the season, representing yet again their highest valuation in this metric since the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons.  Given Wenger’s penchant for over achieving no matter what Sq£ or £XI is availble to him, expect bigger things than the numbers suggest.

Perhaps I am an optimistic supporter in spite of the horrible start to the season for the club, but I would stick by my assessment as part of the overall TPI pre-season predictions that Arsenal would finish 5th.  Sure, they’ve lost Nasri, Clichy, and Fabregas – three players who featured regularly in the starting XI.  Last season, however, they clearly were each on the downside of their Arsenal careers.  Clichy clearly wanted to move on from the club with which he was the last Invincible.  Nasri mailed in the second half of last season, and clearly Cesc’s heart was in Barcelona before the season began.  The second half collapse was inevitable when the leading scorer from first half of the season quit during the second half of the season due to a wage dispute, and the heart-and-soul of the youth policy was known to be departing at year’s end.

In their place is an mixture of young talent and older leadership intent on reversing the rot and making their own history at Arsenal.  If Wilshere and Vermaelen can get healthy, if Van Persie has anything close to the year he had in 2010/11, and if the majority of the transfers earn their worth on the pitch, Arsenal will end up having a very different season than the awful one staring them in the face as they left Old Trafford.  It will still be a struggle to crack the Top 4 this year given Liverpool’s form and the dominance of the three big spenders in Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United.  But with some old fashioned Wenger over-achievement, especially if he’s able to rally the club for an improved second half performance like he did during the Trophied Era, they just might prove that the Professor has one last lesson up his sleeve before he rides off into the sunset of a well deserved retirement, no matter his failures as of late.

In full disclosure, Zach Slaton is an Arsenal supporter and pays homage to Arsene Wenger via his email address.  He is also the author of A Beautiful Numbers Game blog, and a contributor at the Transfer Price Index and The Tomkins Times blogs. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

One Response to “The Rise and Fall of Arsene: An Analysis of Wenger’s Transfers and Results”

  1. Seun Labiran July 11, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    It turns out you were right. The old fashioned Wenger overachievement came to the rescue and Van Persie did have an outstanding season. Oxlade-Chamberlain was the player to make a telling contribution though and not park. I’d like to see your close season analysis and how Arsene performed in the second half of the season.

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