|Desc||Scottish forward Charlie Nicholas brought flair and artistry to the Arsenal teams of the mid-1980s. Despite his obvious talent, he never quite fulfilled his potential. Off-field issues were cited as a key factor in Nicholas’ stunted development. Nevertheless, Arsenal fans still remember his flashes of brilliance fondly|
|Org||xxxx National Team|
|Club as Player||Arsenal FC|
2015 08 20 Retrieve
[Former Arsenal forward Charlie Nicholas on Thierry Henry] Thierry Henry could do things that were absolutely incredible, and it wasn’t just his pace - he was an intelligent footballer. He adapted to the scenario and the physical side of the English league. He came in and could do everything, and everyone was just wowed
2015 11 10 Retrieve
[on David Beckham] I think he’s been an absolute superstar. Forget about the Beckham brand, he gave every ounce of blood and guts when he was on a football field. Yes, he wasn’t Lionel Messi or in the top 20 most skilful players in the world, but he brought honesty, commitment and style to every team he played for. He’s been a credit to the game. I would have liked him to have been more ruthless with his comments as he took a lot of stick during his career and was never critical, but he’s been a credit to himself and everything he’s represented in football
2016 11 05 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas believes Mesut Ozil is the key to Arsenal’s title chances] He’s got assists in abundance, while he’s also looking fitter with the runs he’s making and is more of a leader now, with goals added to his game as well. He’s got touch as gentle as silence, like he’s controlling a sponge. If Arsenal are to win the title then he is the key
2019 05 03 Retrieve
[The former Arsenal forward says Arsenal need five new defenders] The reality is, Emery needs four or five defenders and that is a concern as that is an overhaul. I have faith in Emery though as he knows exactly what he needs and what he must do in order to make this happen
2019 06 29 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Kieran Tierney is not better than Virgil van Dijk] I’ve read so many different stories the last few days about how they’ve put a value on him, but the fact is that Kieran Tierney plays in Scotland and that’s where the value of the market is. I mean, they sold Van Dijk for £12m. So is he a better defender than Van Dijk? No. Is £15m reasonable? I would say that Celtic in the current market could probably get £20m. So my pitch would be £20m is a cracking deal for Celtic and it’s also a very good deal for Arsenal. That’s where I see the value.
People can look and judge in different positions and requirements, and of course I’ve been probably more vocal than anybody else about the need for a whole new back four for Arsenal, but in value terms I find it difficult to break down. The reason is; he plays in Scotland, he gets 85 per cent possession at his football club in Glasgow Celtic, but when they go to Europe the team gets found wanting a little bit. Kieran Tierney is a fabulous footballer, but he’s got a lot to learn defensively. That’s the issue in value. So I think if Celtic get £20m they’ll take it, and I think Arsenal will be relatively pleased with that.
[Nicholas added on the chances of the Gunners getting a deal done] I thought Kieran Tierney would want to stay at Celtic. He’s a die-hard Celtic fan, they’ve got eight in a row wrapped up, they want to go and do nine, and I thought if Kieran really wanted it, if he does nine then he’ll want to do 10 and get in the history books. But the stories I’m hearing here in Glasgow is that he might be keen to move on to the bigger league. That’s really what it’s about, a bigger league. Will it make him a better player? Probably. There is a question mark about his defensive frailties. But then again, he would be an improvement for Arsenal - there’s no doubt in my mind about that.
He’s power. He’s got a lot of power. The greatest Celtic full-back I ever came across was Danny McGrain and he’s the closest we’ve ever had to him. Danny could play right-back and left-back, but Kieran is just one-footed, his left foot. He’s got real power, real pace going forward. And of course in Glasgow Rangers, in Scotland, in the SPFL, that’s domination. His final ball could be a bit better, but I think it has improved
2019 07 18 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsene Wenger’s presence at Arsenal could help the club to attract top transfer targets] Sometimes I like to throw one [an idea] in every now and then, like we all do. It’s not just because I’m trying to be controversial but Arsene Wenger has been out of a job for a long time. Now, Arsenal tried to keep him as a director of football or on the hierarchy because he can help guide us in case there was trouble that was going to be there for the club. Bayern Munich have had Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Franz Beckenbauer, Man Utd have Alex Ferguson, Liverpool have King Kenny Dalglish.
We missed out on that because Arsene said he wanted to take a break. But he’s been out of a job a long time. I would have simply have said: ‘Well, why don’t you go after Arsene Wenger?’. Wenger still knows the game inside out and people will say ‘well, he wanted to leave Arsenal’. Yeah he did at that time as a manager, it was painful because he felt hurt and damaged. But I still think he loves the club. If Arsene Wenger sits in a room with these different players that we are trying to attract, if he’s sitting in a room representing Arsenal Football Club, I think we’d get more of a say and more of a feel that they can generally attract these players
2019 08 08 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Celtic are getting very good value in a mooted £25 million deal with Arsenal for Kieran Tierney] He, would be much better than what Arsenal currently have. My honest opinion is it’s quite a high price. Celtic have got very good value at £25m. I know Celtic fans say he’s worth £40m because of how much Aaron Wan-Bissaka went to Manchester United for. He’s played in the Scottish Premiership, he’s a treble Treble winner and an absolute diehard Celtic fan but the time is right for Kieran to move on. Fans might sit and say, ‘Why does he not stay for nine in a row’. But there’s no guarantee of Celtic winning that. Neither is 10 in a row. OK, you can’t guarantee trophies at Arsenal either but what I can say as an Arsenal fan is they’re signing a very talented left-back who will get better. Arsenal will make him better. And the club had to make a statement of intent defensively because they’ve been lacking in that department
2019 08 16 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal are a tremendously exciting prospect for 2019-20] I am extremely happy with Arsenal’s start to the season and the way the market has gone. We have to wait on a couple of players getting fit, but I genuinely do think that Arsenal are going to be a tremendously exciting team going forward this year. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is up and running, while Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe will add to this. I think what Unai Emery has now after a year is very promising. People can debate whether you spend £300m or £1m, whatever it may be, but you can improve the team with coaching and create the right togetherness.
He has identified that they are weak at the back, and that is going to take time so he will try to improve that. To counteract that he needs a plan B and that is to score as many goals as they can. He was the PSG manager with some explosive stars. Emery couldn’t control it and neither could the players, and PSG may win titles but they do not threaten anywhere else. Is the project working there? It’s not. He has a project at Arsenal that he trusts and believes he can go somewhere
2019 10 22 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas claims Arsenal manager Unai Emery will not throw Mesut Ozil back into the Gunners’ side as his work ethic in training is not sufficient] Will he throw Mesut Ozil into this situation? I think Unai Emery knows Ozil is not training hard enough, so that is why he is not putting him in the team. He is still there so I would play him
2019 10 26 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal have a soft belly] Unai Emery has come under scrutiny from some supporters and they are starting to ask questions. Why have they paid the money for Kieran Tierney and are not playing him, despite getting him fit? Why are you not playing Hector Bellerin when fit? I do not understand why he gets these players fit and he doesn’t play them. Bernd Leno makes some mistakes and is young, but he is left completely and utterly isolated by the lack of a defensive partnership. I feel sorry for him.
David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos high five each other when they give corners away. Matteo Guendouzi has good energy and covers the ground well, but he is too young to understand the protective role and needs someone in beside him to pivot him and look after him. These players have a soft belly but they are supposed to provoke and win the little scraps. I would be more interested in Lucas Torreira beside Guendouzi or even Ainsley Maitland-Niles could do it with his speed.
In attack, Nicolas Pepe needs a shake. He is very talented but he needs to want the ball and get on the ball. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is scoring goals in an ordinary team and Alexandre Lacazette must start. I like Bukayo Saka but you need to feed him in at the right time. Dani Ceballos needs to be in behind the front three. If you dominate games which you should do against Palace, the middle two and full-backs will be higher up.
Emery wanted to emulate Liverpool’s style of play, and when those two full-backs are high, you know there is trouble coming. Bellerin and Tierney must play higher when they play and that is when the two holding players come in handy and that is how the balance works
2019 10 29 Retrieve
[Ex-Arsenal star Charlie Nicholas has slammed the actions of Gunners captain Granit Xhaka and said the midfielder should not have a future at the club] He’s representing Arsenal as a captain and it is unacceptable to think you’re as big as anything at the club. His behaviour was atrocious, and I don’t see him having a future at the club. He’ll have to take his medicine. I’ll be surprised if he comes back in any capacity to play for Arsenal again
He’s obviously a team player in some category but the actions that we saw on Sunday are just unacceptable. Xhaka may be current captain but I don’t think he will be captain anymore after what he did at the weekend. The fact that he didn’t instantly apologise to the fans about his behaviour tells you that he’s probably upset and angry. I would imagine it’s a horrible feeling being in the position he’s in right now, but that anger must be controlled. To be a footballer of any significance, especially at the higher level, if you don’t have a thick skin to take some criticism, then you are not a footballer. You cannot live at the top end because you may get a lot of compliments, but you don’t think the likes of Messi and Ronaldo ever get criticised? Everybody does at some point
2019 11 02 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Granit Xhaka will leave Arsenal in January] You just can’t behave like that, it’s as simple as that. The fans pay their cash, they come in there - and they pay big money at Arsenal - and they’re wanting better. They’re sick to death now, for the last four seasons or so they’ve seen average performances. Because of the lack of leaders that Arsenal have, it’s actually backfired on him. Because the players have picked the captain, so he has an influence in the dressing room
This length of time that it’s taken him to get rid of his anger, if I was the manager I wouldn’t have played him, but I would have put him in the group today, to bring him back in. You bring him in, you get him involved in it. And then if he still feels the same, if he’s still in a bad mood, in a huff or angry, which he is probably all of them, what’s going to happen and materialise in the next week or two is it’s going to be a falling out of love with the club, the Arsenal owners have got to make a decision because they know the fans are against him, and I think he’ll leave in January.
For years and years, Arsenal players got away with this because Arsene Wenger took all the blame, got all the responsibility. Emery takes a certain amount of responsibility. He should have made the captaincy choice, it’s his responsibility. You take leadership, you show leadership, he already knows his dressing room, that’s where he’s got it wrong
2019 11 07 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal supporters are beginning to lose patience with Unai Emery after a mediocre start to the 2019-20 season] He [Emery] is certainly under scrutiny. I’m not calling for his head and the board won’t be calling for his head, but this isn’t Manchester United replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, it’s not at that level. This is Arsenal trying to find a new identity. Is this different to what Wenger got the sack for? No, it’s worse defensively. I think the fans are starting to turn. They are asking the same thing as I am: where is the improvement and what is the difference [to Wenger]? What is Arsenal’s personality? So yes, take it game by game, but if they are to lose to Leicester, the manager will come under serious, serious scrutiny
It’s seriously worrying. They’ve got Leicester on Saturday evening and at the moment it looks like they could blow them away. Arsenal fans have travelled and watched another basic performance. I like the manager a lot but I said the same with Arsene Wenger: things have to change. He [Emery] has to be stronger and sort these problems out. Arsenal have lost the urgency to go and win football matches. The defensive frailties have been there for 18 months, if not longer, and things need to get sorted now. Arsenal fans are starting to get pretty fed up
2019 11 07b Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal should have been looking to take Chris Smalling from Manchester United over the summer] Arsenal don’t sign personalities. Sadly I have to go way back to David Dein and he would sit down with Arsene Wenger and ask what kind of character he was signing. That’s gone now. It’s as if Arsenal sign players because they are desperate. Why not - and I don’t know how much he would have cost - go and get Smalling from Manchester United in the summer before he went to Roma? Because he’d be better than what they had. They could’ve had Cahill from Chelsea and sat him in the defence. He is better than what they have and is also a leader, but they missed out
His reaction was completely out of order. He’s small fry in terms of the size of the club and the fans have a right to air their opinion, whether they get it right or wrong is open for debate. Xhaka can’t play. I don’t think he’ll ever play for Arsenal again and I think he’s gone in January. I really do. His behaviour was so unacceptable. Xhaka can’t be on the bench and warming up in front of the fans because they won’t be thinking he’s wholehearted, he’s feeling it for us and working for us. He doesn’t want to be there anymore and Arsenal now have to make a decision. I think that decision will be made and he will leave. He’s 28 and someone will come in for him in January. Then everybody can say goodbye and thank you very much
2019 11 08 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Matteo Guendouzi is having a shocker at Arsenal] Kieran Tierney needs to work on his final ball and this is important to get the service into the frontmen. Matteo Guendouzi is having a shocker and he is getting away with it due to Xhaka - he needs to be taken out of the team. I would rather Unai Emery go with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Lucas Torreira. Mesut Ozil played well so he should stay in the side ahead of Dani Ceballos, while bringing Nicolas Pepe in for the counter-attack. I am not feeling good about this one
[Nicholas added, with Ceballos having been ruled out through injury] This Leicester side are much better to watch than the title-winning side. They have pace, balance and are technically very good - you can get at them defensively in my mind but they are a decent force with pace and movement in the attacking half. Arsenal do not know how to handle that and cannot defend. Leicester have too much of this for my liking. Xhaka is finally not the captain and will not be involved. That is a long way off now so the new captain is not going to be inspirational by being the captain, but by scoring goals
2019 11 11 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal should bring Arsene Wenger back to the club as technical director] I would go in for Wenger and get him on the board or get him in as the technical director. Why let him talk to Bayern Munich and float about on TV when you can have that brain, fabric and understanding at the club right. He could work with an experienced manager to get it right. He can also improve the decision making. Why did Arsenal miss out on Gary Cahill, for example? Wenger couldn’t sort his own problems, but he could help Emery in certain ways. I was always teased about the hierarchy not being right, but we have around four guys arguing over transfers. Is Edu the one who says these are the players Arsenal are getting? Is he in strong communication with Emery?
What is Arsenal’s style? It’s a complete disaster of a style and formation. He (Emery) does not know his best starting line-up or his best formation. This is why he’s under the pressure he is under, but I don’t think he will get sacked. He is asking for time, but will he get the 18 months that takes him to the end of next season? There are plenty of Arsenal fans wanting Emery to go now, but reports suggest the club’s hierarchy are going to stick with the Spaniard for the time being. However, if things don’t turn around quickly, it may go down the line of Emery losing his job. Come January when the transfer window opens, the Arsenal board will say they have no money, but they need money for defenders. It’s either that, or you need to get rid of the dead wood. They got rid of plenty in the summer but in my opinion there’s more to go
I am confused with where this is going, and that is created by Emery’s own choices. If he doesn’t sort it out before Christmas, he does come under scrutiny. The top four was there for the taking, but Man Utd were struggling, Leicester and Chelsea are doing better than anticipated, but you want to be in there fighting. Arsenal are hopeless yet are still in sixth, but you have to stay at it and give yourself a chance to fight for those places. Emery must go positive to win football matches after international break. If this doesn’t work, he may be out by January - he is hanging on. The board will not look to ease him out, but a lot of people are wondering why they should wait
2019 11 12 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Nicolas Pepe is an expensive £72 million risk that has not paid off for Arsenal] Has Emery made it better at Arsenal since Arsene Wenger’s departure? No. Things have definitely got worse, but Emery shouldn’t get all the blame. Other mistakes have been made along the way.
The defending is one thing that has certainly got worse and the money they spent in the summer has not improved them at all. Nicolas Pepe is struggling to get in a team which paid £72m - a club record - to sign him. Dani Ceballos started the season well. He is a talented player, but does his talent fit into this system? The guys in front are expected to be better but the attacking side of things has lost its way. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette don’t know what they are trying to do or what the style is. They want to get on the ball and make things happen, but they do not have any runners since Aaron Ramsey left the club to join Juventus.
[Nicholas added on the unnecessary purchase of Pepe, who has just one Premier League goal to his name] I said that, at the time, Pepe was a risky move for that amount of money. Pepe has got great potential but is not the one I think we needed to jump on. I like to play from the front, but the back needed sorting. They spent £72m on a potential talent going forward, when we have the likes of Saka, Nelson and Martinelli to potentially play these roles, it was strange to me.
I don’t understand how they spent over £100m, let a defender go and brought in a winger. Have you not seen where the problems have been for the past five years? They couldn’t wait to get Laurent Koscielny out, Sokratis Papastathopoulos is adding nothing to Arsenal and Shkodran Mustafi is finished at Arsenal. Petr Cech also moved on, so they needed to rebuild the defence. Did they do it?
Kieran Tierney came in for £25m but he’s needed time to get fit. He will be decent once fully fit, but Arsenal should be planning to sort their defensive problems out now, and they haven’t done it. The manager shouldn’t take all of the blame, but he should burden most of it. I don’t know how they have worked out on spending £72m on a winger when that is not the essence of what the team required. It has been a problem for years and until it is resolved things will not improve
2019 11 22 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been quiet for Arsenal recently] This will have been a banker in the past. Southampton normally don’t get anything at the Emirates in the Premier League. By now, the Arsenal players will have returned and Unai Emery will have had some words to say to them. These are two managers under scrutiny. Southampton are getting credit after their response to the 9-0 drubbing (by Leicester) but they keep getting beat. The goalkeeper and the back three are still vulnerable.
Alexandre Lacazette was not on international duty and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been a bit quiet recently, so it is time for Arsenal to get back to winning ways. They are sixth in table and have been awful. Chelsea are going to Manchester City, which could bring back a little belief once more that the top four is achievable. These are the games you are expected to win and Arsenal will win
2019 11 26 Retrieve
[Arsenal legend Charlie Nicholas admits it feels like the end of the road for Unai Emery at Emirates Stadium] It definitely feels that way. After 21 years of Arsene Wenger, it is hard to look at a manager leaving after 18 months and think he has had enough time. But it is not so much the time frame on it, it is the lack of improvement. They did spend a fair amount of money. Probably in the wrong positions in my opinion. Kieran Tierney has come in and it has taken him ages to get fit, so he will need time to settle. Hector Bellerin has been out. The centre-back position has been poor. Then there’s the lack of protectors in midfield. I have sympathy with him. But we all know that this is a results business and that’s down to the manager. If he doesn’t get results, his time will be up and the fans are starting to get angry now. When the anger comes to Arsenal, then the thoughts turn to the board. And when the board are shaking a little bit then they have a decision to make. Who will make the decision? It is a committee of four or five people. There are different people involved and it seems even they are confused about it. Arsenal have no leaders on the pitch and no leaders upstairs
[Nicholas added on the problems which the Gunners have failed to address] Arsenal have no excuses right now. This is an average team, but it is a pretty good attacking system within this team. The manager has found it complicated. He doesn’t know his best XI. He doesn’t know what his best defensive set-up is. He doesn’t know who his protectors in midfield should be. Because of this confusion they are all over the place. The price of £8m for David Luiz wasn’t much and we thought he might have improved it for a relatively small amount, but he hasn’t. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now the captain, but the forwards are feeling this lack of belief too - not good signs for the manager. I actually think they kept him in position during the international break because they expected to beat Southampton, before having Eintracht Frankfurt at home on Thursday and then going to Norwich away next weekend. That game has now become a must-win scenario
2019 11 26b Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas asks Would Pochettino improve Arsenal?] Of course. He is a top-quality coach. We did it with Sol Campbell in the past and we know what mayhem that created. This would be even more. He improved Spurs dramatically and got them to the top four and the Champions League final. The question mark beside him is that he didn’t win any prizes. They didn’t always get results against the rest of the top six so that’s a question mark too. Would he improve this Arsenal side? I am not so sure. I think it needs a rebuild defensively right from the centre backs
Matteo Guendouzi, I like, but he is young and he is naive and he is not getting taught how to play the position properly. They are all individuals and until they get that team spirit and understanding of it, then Arsenal are constantly going to have problems. Mesut Ozil is now in the team and has played quite well, but a few weeks ago we were being told he would be sold in January. What is going on at Arsenal? This is why I make the point that while it is the manager’s responsibility and the players are letting him down, the hierarchy has got to make a stand. When Wenger was asked to move aside from his position, we were told this was the new modern Arsenal. The young players will probably do well on Thursday, but it is the experienced players who are making Arsenal’s life a misery
2019 11 29 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas claims Arsenal need to get Brendan Rodgers before Manchester United or another Premier League rival looks to prise the Northern Irishman away from Leicester] The guy I said before Unai Emery got it was Brendan Rodgers. He makes players better. He makes average players better technically, he makes them mentally more aware. It’s not just that you can see that at Leicester currently. Everybody used to say ‘he’s won trophies at Celtic and it’s easy’. Of course it’s easy, but he did it with style.
He took a few hammerings in Europe but can anyone honestly point the finger at Leicester at the moment and say he hasn’t improved just about every player there? It’s what he does. People talk about egos, I don’t care. He has earned the right to have a big ego and, for me, to be the next Arsenal manager before we miss out on him. We might even get to the stage where Brendan Rodgers goes ‘why would I want to go to Arsenal right now?’ Are Manchester not interested in him? Are other clubs not interested in him? Arsenal need to get a bit of leadership and togetherness now. If they are really serious about moving this forward and it on, then they must get Rodgers
2019 12 03 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal remain a huge mess] They had a bit more spike about them at the weekend but Freddie, why are you picking Shkodran Mustafi? When are you going to learn about Calum Chambers? I also cannot understand how David Luiz is in the team. He just doesn’t want to run. He is only interested when he gets the ball at his feet. Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a shocker and Mustafi is even worse. Granit Xhaka also cannot run. It is such a huge mess. I honestly thought Freddie would not be close to getting the job, but now, I do not know how long he will have in charge. In the end, it may not be their No.1 target who they end up getting.
Regarding Freddie’s selection, what have you done there that was different to Unai Emery? I didn’t get it. It might be his first pick, but could also be who he has got fit. Bringing in Joe Willock I understood, but the re-introduction of Xhaka baffled me. Mesut Ozil wanted the ball and wanted to get into the pockets of space, he was decent again. There is an enthusiasm about Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This is about Arsenal getting back on the winning trail and trying to threaten the top six, and potentially the top four. They need to ramp up the action. The manager has gone and they need results and a winning formula
2019 12 14 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal need Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette to step up against Manchester City] We can guarantee goals in this one. Man City posted an emphatic win midweek but have major problems at the back. The Arsenal strikers looked as though they were more up for it and are scoring [in a 3-1 win over West Ham]. Bukayo Saka played his part in the draw at Standard Liege, as did Gabriel Martinelli off the bench - we have some real promising youngsters. These are the games that they haven’t got a result in and I am not expecting one here. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sometimes do not turn up in these games, if they get picked that is. I really have sympathy for Bernd Leno. He is a top-class goalkeeper but he will make mistakes as all goalkeepers do. He is playing behind a defence who do not protect him. There will be loads of goals in this
2019 12 19 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Mikel Arteta will need money to reinforce Arsenal’s leaky defence and three years to turn the Gunners around] I think Arsenal fans probably can’t believe how far they’ve fallen in such a short period of time. When Emery came in I think we all went ‘Well, understandable, he’s been at very successful clubs in Spain, he was at PSG where he worked with [Kylian] Mbappe, Neymar, [Edinson] Cavani, so he’s used to working with big-name players and big-name reputations’.
The problem that he never sorted was the prospects that the defence was getting poorer and poorer and poorer, and that’s why Arsene Wenger had to leave the football club. But because they’ve not sorted it, they’ve spent some money on it but it’s never been fixed, and I think Arteta knows if he’s going to come in he needs to be able to fix it. The academy looks as if it’s pretty promising although no defenders coming through. It’s a risk but I don’t think it’s a problem that I would look at to say ‘Is there a time expectation on him?’. No, if Arteta comes in for his first job, I think we all have to admit as Arsenal fans he has to be given a minimum three seasons to get this thing built back up again
2019 12 20 Retrieve
[Former Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas has suggested that Mikel Arteta could follow in Arsene Wenger’s footsteps at the Emirates] My initial choice was Brendan Rodgers. But the honest truth is that Arsenal needed someone, the second choice was Arteta, and this is a project, as they call it in modern-day football. Arsene Wenger came with no reputation, and look what happened to him. Arteta has been with, in my opinion, the best in Pep Guardiola, to learn and understand [the game]. He’s an intelligent guy, he’s a leader. He was a leader at Everton and Arsenal and was well respected at both. I did not want Arsenal going down the Manchester United line, which was to throw money at a big-name coach. They might win a couple of trophies, but you’re building nothing.
It’s all about building blocks, and Arsenal have to get back to that. Arsenal at the moment are an average team, a giant club, and they have to get the balance right. This is a three-year project and Arsenal are well behind. But they could be threatening for that top four again next season. Could it happen this season? No. They’ve got too many decisions to make, like: what do I do with the defence? Who is going to be sold? Do [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and [Alexandre] Lacazette want to stay? Do I get rid of [Mesut] Ozil? It’s a lot to calculate and process
2019 12 21 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas believes Brendan Rodgers is better choice than Mikel Arteta for Arsenal] My initial choice was Brendan Rodgers. But the truth is that Arsenal needed someone, the second option was Arteta, and this is a project, as they call it in modern football
Arsene Wenger came without a reputation, and look what happened to him. Arteta has been, in my opinion, with the best of Pep Guardiola, to learn and understand it. He’s a smart guy, he’s a leader, he was a leader in Everton and Arsenal, and he was very respected in both. He didn’t want Arsenal to go down the Manchester United line, which was to throw money at a renowned coach
They can win a couple of trophies, but you’re not building anything. It’s about building blocks, and Arsenal has to go back to that. Arsenal at the moment is an average team, a giant club, and they have to have the right balance
This is a three-year project, and Arsenal is lagging far behind. But they could be threatening for the first four again next season. Could it happen this season? No. They have too many decisions to make, like: what to do? I do it with the defense? Who will it be sold to? Does Aubameyang and Lacazette want to stay? Do I get rid of Ozil? It’s a lot to calculate and process
2019 12 21b Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Ozil & Xhaka also edging towards exits] Defensively, in midfield, in attack - Aubameyang’s all over the place, Alexandre Lacazette doesn’t get a game and feels unloved - he might have to sell them to get some money in. The other issues, the big ones, are the leadership issues that he has to take on. Does Ozil fit? No, well he can go. Xhaka? There is interest from Hertha Berlin, you can go because what you did would not suit what I want. There are many big decisions to make.
It’s easy to say get rid of six or seven players but they aren’t ready to replace them yet, so that’s the hard part. But the first thing he must do is walk in the dressing room and say ‘here’s my rules, here’s the way I’m doing things, I’m leading this football team now so get on board or move on’. It’s as basic as that for Arsenal to start the proceedings. It’s not easy, with the state Arsenal are in nothing is easy. Forget about style, because they don’t have a style, he needs to go in there and sort the issues
2019 12 31 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Finishing inside the Premier League’s top four is now a fantasy for Arsenal] I cannot give up on them, but Arsenal can’t buy a win at the moment, although it does seem more promising. There is more fight in there, no confidence, but there is a shape and a tendency to go and try to squeeze the ball. Mesut Ozil is playing better, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still scoring goals and Bukayo Saka has been class at left-back despite being an attacker. You cannot plan for the Bernd Leno howler [in a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea], but the defence was better but still vulnerable, as were the midfield protectors
[Nicholas added ahead of a New Year’s Day home date with Manchester United] They need a win and it is not about closing the gap to the top four as that is fantasy for them this year. Mikel Arteta started with a draw and a harsh defeat so it is time for them to get a win. Man Utd will be very dangerous on the counter-attack, but Reiss Nelson has been decent, and Arteta could give Nicolas Pepe a start. He may just be ready to come and do something
2020 01 10 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arteta is having to fix a lazy Arsenal team] It is a tough transition for Arsenal at the moment. There is a heartbeat in the team, and certainly more togetherness than what there was. It has a long way to go before it is fixed, but they are grafting away for Mikel Arteta. He is working them harder at this stage of the season, physically, than what they would like, but they were a lazy team.
They didn’t understand what teamwork was, and because of that, Arteta has said they needed to work harder on the basics. They have not got their mojo back, but there has been a couple of clean sheets, albeit fortunate ones, but he is getting a response. Crystal Palace are a better team away from home, so they will be happy to knock it back to front. Wilfried Zaha is getting tipped up to move once more - would that disturb them? It did last time, and I am hoping it does again. I am expecting Arsenal to squeeze and cause a lot of trouble for Palace
2020 01 17 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal need more from Nicolas Pepe with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang set to serve a three-match ban] Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is out and quite rightly, so, there is no debate about that, but Arsenal can adjust. They need more from Nicolas Pepe, but Alexandre Lacazette can turn it around for them and Mikel Arteta can ask him to be in the penalty box more. It was only a draw at Crystal Palace, but they should have had the game won in the first 45 minutes. Arsenal are only seven points above the drop zone, and I do not see that materialising but they are closer to that than they are to Chelsea
2020 01 23 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal so bad at the back & need two defenders in] There’s not much time to go [in the January transfer window], but I’d like to see some defenders in. We need two defenders in. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but you see David Luiz and you see the mess Shkodran Mustafi made for the goal. It’s still evident that Arsenal are so bad at the back. Hector Bellerin coming back is obviously a boost but there are problems all over the defensive set-up. We need defenders to come in and help the current situation
[Nicholas said of Gabriel Martinelli] We’ve got so many good young players. I like Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson but this lad [Martinelli] will be the number nine. Gabriel Martinelli will be Arsenal’s number nine, I’m convinced of that. He will eventually be Brazil’s number nine as well. He looks that good. The pace and composure was breathtakingly good. His record so far is fabulous so, yeah, he’s a superstar
2020 01 30 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal’s defence is useless & Arteta inherited a mess] Arsenal fans do appreciate what Mikel Arteta is trying to do, bringing appetite and energy to the team and giving his side the chance to learn from the philosophy he has brought in. The young players have bought into it. I think he has inherited a mess, though. To draw 12 games is a scandal and the defence has been useless. Perhaps Pablo Mari will be able to bolster it - we’ll see. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is coming back fresh, which could be the difference
2020 02 11 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Odsonne Edouard is good enough for Chelsea or Man Utd] Odsonne Edouard is good enough to go and play at a Chelsea or a Manchester United. I say that with some confidence. I think he could go into both their squads and make a real impact. That is how much ability he has. It is up to him how far he wants to go in his career. The sky’s the limit.
Why have I picked these clubs? Because they have both been linked with his former Celtic striker partner Moussa Dembele in recent months. For me, Edouard is a better footballer than the Lyon striker and his fellow Frenchman. He is absolutely nailed on to win the Player of the Year award in my opinion
2020 02 13 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Arsenal aren’t good enough to make top four] It has been an intriguing break for Arsenal. For the first time, Mikel Arteta can go and properly work with the players for an extended period of time. He is still trying to get his point across but Arsenal are more together and more understanding of what is expected of them, in terms of the commitment and togetherness.
It is not bang on though. They are becoming a side that is hard to beat but Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still do not have the balance right in terms of scoring goals. People will question about whether Aubameyang likes playing on the left. Lacazette also has no confidence at the moment, but let’s hope it is more positive after the break. The unity and organisation at the back is still key, while we will have fresh players once more.
It will be a tough afternoon, but Arsenal seem to have some drive back. The negative could be waiting around for Aubameyang and Lacazette to kick back into form. Gabriel Martinelli has been in great form, but we need to start seeing more from Nicolas Pepe. The Gunners are not good enough to make the top four, but they must have a go at it
2020 02 25 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas ask Does Nicholas Pepe deserve another chance? Probably not] I do not think this is a certain win [for Arsenal]. Mikel Arteta will sit and read into the fact that they let in two against Everton. Bernd Leno gets Arsenal out of a lot of holes but he did slip up for the second goal. Joe Willock and Alexandre Lacazette will come in I think. You have to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in for his goals.
Will Nicolas Pepe get another run? Probably. Does he deserve it? Probably not. I would probably look at Gabriel Martinelli. The game against Manchester City has been postponed as they are in the Carabao Cup final, which means Arsenal can go at it and get into the last 16. You can still see the mess at the back, but Arteta will change things again. Sokratis Papastathopoulos may come in, while Hector Bellerin may drop out. You have to play Bukayo Saka at the back. This side has got its attacking side back and got its mojo back in that respect
2020 02 29 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Gunners still ‘a million miles away’ from challenging for major honours] The result against Olympiakos is typical of where Arsenal are. Has Mikel Arteta improved them? Of course he has. Has he changed the dynamics? No, he cannot do that. It is impossible. If you think he has, with the likes of Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi in the side, while looking at David Luiz as the leader, then you are in denial.
I am a fan of Bernd Leno, but he gets lazy and slack-minded, and the whole of the defence is like that. Arteta has worked on the shape and protection with organisation - it is better and it looks better, but the issue is not solved.
I watched them win at Olympiakos, this was their best route into the Champions League. However, they are a million miles away from a team that would win the Europa League. This is not the toughest Europa League to win. Some of the teams that have come in from the Champions League are not as great as what they were. Sevilla are not as good, Ajax are now out too
Arsenal still have a long way to go to improve. How can people say Mustafi has improved? Really? Just because he has kept a few clean sheets. Xhaka was supposedly unbeaten in a number of games too. That does not make him a great player or part of Arsenal’s future. Their future will not be at Arsenal. They have been part of a group that have made it sound as though everything is good. It really isn’t.
It is ridiculous how they cannot see out a victory at that stage, even with the pace of Gabriel Martinelli on the counter-attack, or the organisation and shape at the back to defend. A simple cross and finish won the game and that is typical of the scenario and a task that Arteta faces. It is an aspect which Arsenal have not been taught and do not understand. He has made them better for a period but in reality it will still be the same
2020 03 27 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unlikely to leave Arsenal for Manchester United] It depends what people put down as a risk. If he was to go to Manchester United, does it help Arsenal? No, not at all. If Aubameyang wants to leave, you ideally want him out of the Premier League. However, he is of a mind and age that I can see the dangers and understand comparisons with Van Persie. However, I think he will be thinking about what happened to Alexis Sanchez rather than Van Persie. Would he want to be a part of a superstar reload at Manchester United? Is there a great appeal to that? If it was Liverpool or Man City I would get it, but Manchester United are miles away from the top two. I do not see the appeal of moving to Old Trafford
Would he win the title with United in the next few years? I don’t think so. He might not even be in the Champions League if he was to join so what is the real appeal? Is it salary? I don’t think he is that type. Van Persie jumped to a massive salary, but Manchester United are not the same calibre as what they were then. Would he be the cutting edge for them? Maybe. But, like Arsenal, I think they have other issues to address. If Arsenal were to get £100m for him to go there, I would take that. Arsenal were once the challengers to United for the title, but now neither of them are. If Man Utd offer £100m for Aubameyang, sell him
My preference would be for Aubameyang to stay. The problem, however, is that as much as I would like to get my way, I have a feeling Arsenal will not keep him. If it means offloading Ozil and others to fund his new contract and the rebuilding of the team, I would have no problem with that. But if Ozil stays, I feel they will sell him, because they cannot afford another Aaron Ramsey saga
2020 03 28 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unlikely to leave Arsenal for Liverpool] I don’t see Liverpool or Man City signing him. Would he get into Liverpool’s side? No. Manchester City could be an option if they were looking to replace Sergio Aguero. Would Aubameyang say that he has done Germany and England? Could it be time to move to Spain? He is a similar age to Thierry Henry when he went to Barcelona to play with Lionel Messi and Xavi, before winning titles and Champions Leagues. I could see him moving to the Nou Camp, but Real Madrid could also be an option
2020 04 07 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard would not be the answer for Arsenal if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ends up leaving the club] There’s been a lot of talk of Aubameyang being sold, but Edouard would not be the answer. He plays differently, more like Lacazette. Aubameyang is about pace and movement. Although he likes to play the No.9 role, he does not play it as what Edouard could. Similarly, Edouard could not play in the position that Aubameyang does, out wide on the left. He wants to be the key figurehead of the team as the link man through the middle. For that reason, I do not see Arsenal targeting him as a replacement for Aubameyang. Arsenal are in a horrible position when it comes to sorting out Aubameyang’s contract offer. Barcelona and Real Madrid have been mentioned and they have the funds to buy him.
Edouard is too similar to Lacazette, and if he was to move, it paints a different picture. Edouard would then fit into the Arsenal team as the No.9. You would still need to give him time as he’s not been playing every week against Premier League quality. His attitude has improved sufficiently enough to tell me he will become a top player but I am not quite convinced teams will yet be looking at him as a £40m player. But the current market, with the coronavirus likely to impact the value of players, this will play a crucial part
I just do not think Arsenal can afford to let Aubameyang’s contract run out, so they will have to renew it. Despite that, I do not see the Edouard to Arsenal link materialising, but I could certainly see him moving to the Premier League. He could be more suitable to Everton if they build their team in the right way. I have watched them quite a bit this season. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has had a purple patch but Edouard is a better technical player. He’s got more about him than Calvert-Lewin and there’s no doubt in my mind he would be a very good buy for someone
2020 04 14 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Aubameyang enjoys being an Arsenal superstar] Wholeheartedly as an Arsenal man, I would give him the contract that he desires. You put it on for three or four years - if he wants to stay that is. You give him what he wants because in a year’s time you can sell him and you get your value for money back, if that’s the case that he wants to leave. I just don’t see the point of running down contracts. If Barcelona or Real Madrid come in I’ll say ‘I’m not surprised he would want to go there, it doesn’t surprise me’. If there is anything else in England I am not so sure. I don’t expect Liverpool or Manchester City to go for him and try to get him. It would probably be a European team that he would go. At his age, and if you can get good money for him, no problem, I don’t have a concern for that. I think we have got people who can come in and softly improve it. We will miss his goals but I can accept if Aubameyang wants to go to Barcelona, Real Madrid or even Juventus. I don’t see the need that he wants to go. He is Arsenal’s superstar and I think that he enjoys that
2020 04 18 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says If Man Utd offer £100m, Arsenal must sell Aubameyang] I do not see the glamour and appeal of joining Man Utd. Would he win the title with United in the next few years? I don’t think so. He might not even be in the Champions League if he was to join. What is the real appeal? Is it salary? I don’t think he is that type. [Robin] van Persie jumped to a massive salary, but Man Utd are not the same calibre as what they were. Would he be the cutting edge to them? Man Utd have other issues to address like Arsenal. If Arsenal were to get £100m for him to sign for United, I would take that. It will make them better, that is why they would pay big. Arsenal were the challengers to United for the title, but now neither of them are. If Man Utd offer £100m for Aubameyang, sell him.
My preference would be to offer Aubameyang what he wants. Everyone will flag up his wages. I have been told differing scenarios, especially with Mesut Ozil. Is it possible Ozil could move on? Could this then help fund wages for Aubameyang and others? If they get him off the wage bill without getting anything for him, it will not be too bad. Arteta wants five or six out and he wants that money to rebuild. If nothing more is in the pot, sell to rebuild. If you are doing that as a financial package, you are not buying to replace Aubameyang. You can get rid of Shkodran Mustafi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has been out on loan. This will all help to filter through, so there are easy things to do. Give him what he wants, get rid of dead wood, you have the kids, and it would not cost £200m to challenge for the top four once more.
2020 05 02 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas claims Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard’s situation is comparable to that of Lyon star Moussa Dembele] Edouard is a very good technical player. There’s been comparisons with Dembele, who has now been linked with Chelsea for £40m-50m, and I look back at the balance of what Edouard has compared to Dembele. Dembele is a more aggressive character and is better in the air, whereas Edouard is a more laid-back individual. He’s good with both feet and he’s 6ft 1in so aerially he could be a threat. But he doesn’t really play that way. He will score a few headers because his physicality is good, but he’s more about link-up play, getting the ball into his feet, turning defenders. He will run in behind on the shoulder of defenders. Of course he could make it in the Premier League, but he would need to be playing in a team structure that has a lot of the ball. At Celtic, they have it 75-80 per cent of the time. That’s why he’s become such a marketed product. He’s had his best goalscoring season and he’s scored quite a few in Europe so you are not just judging him on his tally in Scottish football. In the last six months, we have seen that defenders have tried to get physical by kicking him, we have seen him start to react in a good way. Before, he might go missing for 20 or 25 minutes, but now when that happens, he gets agitated and tries even harder. As a result, he’s become Celtic’s key player and best by a distance. He will leave Celtic. Some people are suggesting he’ll stay on next season as Celtic go in search of 10 titles in a row. People up north get so bogged down by it, but Edouard is now reaching a side of his career at 22 where, like Dembele, he will be looking at who are interested in signing him.
[Nicholas believes Edouard would be a good fit for Arsenal] Edouard could certainly play at Arsenal because the way they play, his style would be more than suitable for it. The problem is getting the judgement right over whether he’s ready right now, playing every week for Arsenal compared to who is there already. I’m a big fan of Alexandre Lacazette, and Edouard has got quite a bit of Lacazette in style within his game. This will come down to what Edouard wants. If he wants to leave, then he will leave. Celtic will take the cash rather than have a player who is not committed to the cause because historically that’s what they have done - with Dembele, Van Dijk and Tierney. He has to go to a side that plays him. He can play with a partner and he can play on his own, but he must play in a team that’s going to give him a lot of service. If he plays in a side that sometimes gets 40 per cent of possession, he will find it really tough to adapt. His attitude has improved sufficiently enough to tell me he will become a top player but I am not quite convinced teams will yet be looking at him as a £40m player. But the current market, with the coronavirus likely to impact the value of players, this will play a crucial part
2020 06 04 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Aubameyang and co want out because Arsenal can’t compete] For years and years under Arsene Wenger we sold [Patrick] Vieira, we sold [Thierry] Henry, we sold most of our big players. We didn’t always get it right but went with the likes of Cesc Fabregas - who was a fabulous talent - because they were younger and they were always threatening to lose them quite young and not get the benefits of them. I can use the example of not just Fabregas, but [Aaron] Ramsey. We do all the hard work with Ramsey, then we let his contract run down and at 28 years of age he disappears for nothing. We have had a problem at the top level for a long time. Dare I say it goes back as far as David Dein not being present anymore. You have a problem identifying the players, then we started paying 30-40 million for [Shkodran] Mustafi and defenders who, no disrespect to them, have not cut it. They have been buying wrong and the players then realise that they are not a threat to win the Premier League, they are out of the Champions League, so the hierarchy have got it all wrong. They get there, they love the club, but then they realise they aren’t going to win any trophies - what’s the point, I want to move on to win trophies. If Aubameyang does go, he’ll want to go to a club that wants to win trophies. It’s the same as what [Robin] van Persie did, it’s what they do. Arsenal haven’t got an identity problem, they have got a decision-making policy problem and it has to be sorted at the top end
2020 06 07 Retrieve
[Gunners legend Charlie Nicholas backed his old club to make a move for the Frenchman last month] Odsonne Edouard could certainly play at Arsenal because the way they play, his style would be more than suitable for it
2020 06 25 Retrieve
[Charlie Nicholas says Any goalkeeper in the world would struggle when working behind Arsenal’s back four] I thought Emiliano Martinez did well when he came on [against Brighton], but tell me any goalkeeper who could play behind this back four? They are left so exposed. Martinez slightly got it wrong for the last goal but did not play badly at all. I cannot work out where a result is coming from for Arsenal at the minute. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked more lively, and I do like Alexandre Lacazette but he was out of sorts. He has to earn the right to play and he is not doing enough. Nicolas Pepe scored a great goal but is not doing enough either. Eddie Nketiah will probably get a nod again and I do not have a problem with that
How do you work it out for Arsenal? The defence is poor - Mikel Arteta left Kieran Tierney out, but he does need games to get fit. He needs games to get confidence, but how do you get that in this defence? He has been brought into this. I do not know what his midfield selection is. Matteo Guendouzi is a talent but he needs experience with him, while Dani Ceballos is good on the ball but not without it, and we are in an absolute mess at the minute. We do not usually get something at Southampton and the top four is long gone, but I would be grateful for yet another draw, just to get a point on the board