So Jamie Vardy to Arsenal appears to be an actual thing, like a real life thing.
I don't know about you but I've been through the full range of emotions since I first heard about it yesterday afternoon.
From 'Urgghh, what on earth are we doing with him' to 'how on earth does he fit into our club both on and off the pitch' to 'I can see how his strengths would benefit some of our players, perhaps we are seeing a shift in approach on the pitch from Arsène'
Those thoughts have been swirling around in no particular order and show no sign of slowing down, even as I write this.
There was the casino confrontation which at least to me, leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. It then all starts to get pretty murky. Do we like Arsenal players because they are registered to the club we support, what would I think of someone like Jack Wilshere if he was wearing different colours? Should it matter? I don't know anymore.
Anyway, that is all too confusing for my head right now so let me concentrate on the football instead.
There have been a few doubts about Vardy the player, fitting into our style of play and that was my first thought also. Leicester City were a counter attacking team who were most dangerous without the ball, pinching it back and breaking at pace. Most of Vardy's goals last season were as a result of him running into lots of space and finishing one-on-one.
I'm sure you've all seen the video but just in case, here are Vardy's goals from last season.
Arsenal probably only get a handful of those chances during the course of a season. Off the top of my head I can think of a few such as Stoke City at home (Özil to Walcott), Leicester City away (Cazorla to Walcott) and Zagreb away (Walcott scored, can't remember who made the assist)
Interestingly those goals were all scored by Theo Walcott, he is one of the few players in our squad who looks to get in behind
Teams more often than not sit deep against Arsenal and do not allow us the same amount of space to run into. That being said though, I remember Arsène Wenger talking up Theo Walcott as a central striker, pointing out that his movement and runs opened up packed defences for other Arsenal players. It also seems clear that Alexis Sanchez thrives better with a mobile and quick striker alongside him. At least that is my impression. Vardy is the kind of dude who runs along the line of the central defenders, points to where he wants the ball and darts into the spaces hoping to receive the pass before striking towards goal. We have other quick attackers such as Alexis Sanchez, Joel Campbell and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but those guys tend to get attracted towards the ball. Jamie Vardy is basically a lot more Walcott than Campbell.
Jamie Vardy also brings another positive aspect to the footballing side. Losing Danny Welbeck for such a long time means we will miss his pressing and energy in the final third when it comes to closing the opposition down. Luckily Jamie Vardy brings those very same attributes to the table, and I wouldn't be surprised to see us focus a lot on winning the ball and moving across the pitch as quickly as possible to create chances next season. Having Xhaka, Cazorla and Mesut Özil in the same team gives us some real cutting edge when it comes to carving out chances. If teams decide to drop deep to cut off any space for Vardy to run into, it will allow our creative players to get on the ball in dangerous attacking areas, at least that is the theory.
While I can see some positives to the signing, it still feels somewhat strange for me. Does Vardy have the technical qualities to play the football Arsene will want around the opposition penalty box? Does Vardy fit into the culture of the club? Is there such thing as a certain culture at Arsenal? To be honest I could ask a whole load of questions but what's the point? Ultimately it is down to the manager to find the pieces he needs to fit the team and we know Arsène is very particular when it comes to recruiting players into his squad, so I am going to trust him on this one.
Vardy scored 24 goals in 36 league games last season, on the face of it that is a good return but five of those goals were from the penalty spot, missing one. Incidentally Vardy won all six penalties, including an obvious dive against Arsenal that he dispatched past Petr Cech. During that same time period the entire Arsenal squad won only two penalties despite the amount of touches we have in the opposition penalty box compared to other teams. I don't see that number increasing with Vardy in our team, I just see referees not being as generous with their decisions if he had a red and white shirt on.
So if you remove the spot kicks, he scored 19 goals last season for his title winning team. Giroud scored 3 less in the Premier League while having a long stretch without scoring and also finding himself behind Walcott and Welbeck at certain times of the season. So the raw numbers are actually not much different from what we have but I guess it is the type of player and the impact that has on the players around him that will probably be the reason why we are making this somewhat unusual move.
So early June and we may have wrapped up two first team signings already, Arsene clearly means business. I'd be more than happy with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and nobody else in but you get the feeling that more ins and outs are to follow.
We'll see what happens, now let me continue to try and digest this deal.
'till next time.