The anti-Havertz agenda persists despite a growing body of evidence.


Look. I’m not going to say he’s lit the world alight nor will I say he’s done enough to prove his critics (the rational ones, at least) wrong. However, there’s a certain degree of confirmation bias going on here, and there’s really only one way for Havertz to overcome that—by scoring a few goals. Too many fans focus too much attention on that one stat, vital though it obviously is. Havertz is doing a lot of things right. The goals will come. Until, that anti-Havertz agenda will be the 800-pound gorilla in the corner (why didn’t I use that idiom in the Brentford preview? I’m letting standards slip.).

By many standards, Havertz outperformed Smith Rowe against Brentford, but he didn’t score. Then again, neither did the Smith. And yet, our post-match poll deigned to rate him at 6.76 to Havertz’s 6.11. To my memory, Havertz was, if anything, more-effective than Smith Rowe. I’m not alone in that. Sofascore rated the two at 7.0 (shown in blue in the graphic above). Whoscored went even further, rating Havertz at 7.2 to Smith Rowe’s 7.0. These ostensibly more-objective ratings systems have their own flaws, of course (Mustafi, despite being a shambolic defender, would occasionally earn solid ratings just because he’d scored a goal).

As for our poll, I’ve never pretended that they’d be objective, so they’re at least honest in that regard. Havertz’s low score reflects that broader agenda just as much as it does his performance, but let’s face it: few were at their stellar best against Brentford.

When it comes to the Havertz-Smith Rowe comparison, Havertz not only suffers the “Chelsea reject” label but also the “he’s an academy product”. No small part of Smith Rowe’s superior rating reflects the fact that we’re far more willing to extend warm feelings of affection to him; after all, it was his first start in 499 days. The return of a somewhat prodigal son was always going to warm the proverbial cockles, but it almost certainly was watched through very rose-coloured glasses. Whatever rust, flaws, or mistakes were in Smith Rowe’s debut were forgiven.

By contrast, any mistake Havertz made or will make will be put under a microscope and dissected. Other mistakes will be imagined and projected onto him. To a degree, that’s fair. He’s being paid handsomely (reliable numbers can be hard to come by, but I’ve seen a weekly wage of £250k) and will have to produce if he’s to silence those critics, rational or otherwise. The best way to do that in the short term is of course to score. He should get some chances at the Vitality Stadium this weekend; Bournemouth aren’t shipping goals, but they have been porous. Even if they did dump our old nemesis Stoke out of the League Cup, I have to hope that Havertz does finally break his duck.

In the meantime, though, stop ball-watching. Make yourself focus on Havertz’s moment off the ball. Ask yourself whether he’s making himself available, if he’s finding space between the lines, if he’s making runs. Chances are, he’s doing a lot more than you might be giving him credit for. Of course, that’s not quite the same as saying he deserves more credit. There might be enough in it to moderate the criticism, whether that refers to the quantity, the tone, or a delicate mélange of both.

If nothing else, we have to hope that he’ll prove his worth. He’s with us until January at the earliest. Those who hope he fails really should give themselves a good, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves if that ugly mug is screwed on right.

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9 thoughts on “The anti-Havertz agenda persists despite a growing body of evidence.

  1. Palladio43

    I think it is as combination of lack of goal scoring by someone who, by virtue of where he is played, is expected to score aside from all those other metrics you cited AND because of the large, by most present-day standards, amount of money we gave Chelsea ( even worse) and are paying for scoring as well as everything else.
    We may, hopefully, see one day what Arteta saw when choosing Havertz as the replacement for the want-away Swiss. Hopefully, this was not just a belief that he had been missed at Chelsea, but that the infallible MA could save him and rebuild him into a formidable player. Ego, which abounds in most managers and is not found wanting in Arteta, might have been a potential Achilles heel in this instance and, I hope not as do you.
    That said, I wish they had paid less and not raised expectations beyond what Havertz may be capable of (much like for supporters of the American football Chicago Bears are now seeing or not seeing in Justin Fields). Further, had they paid less they might well have addressed the crying need for a true striker that was always there and now reveals itself as we go forward.

  2. A Simple Truth

    these are the kind of nonsensical, excuse-laden narratives that have held us back, from an organizational perspective, for the better part of two decades…Havertz didn’t come here to be a bit part player, he supposedly came here to be a readymade seminal offensive cog, which clearly hasn’t materialized thus far…his play on and off the ball has been bang average, at best, and there’s nothing I’ve seen that suggests this will change anytime soon…furthermore, there was nothing I witnessed while he was at Chelsea which suggested that he made logical sense from a tactical script standpoint…personally I believe that MA’s interest was largely predicated on the fact that Real had supposedly shown some interest, which isn’t the way one should conduct their recruitment practices…fact is, if he had gone to Real and played in a similar fashion, he would be spending so much time on the bench that he would need to employ a team of nurses simply to remove all the splinters from his backside

    tbf ESR displayed more direct intent in one half than Havertz has since donning the kit…the only reasons why anyone might give him a lower match rating than Havertz, wrongly I might add, is that he only received the requisite service once, when making a plethora of good runs into the box, because of the sideways tactics being deployed, and the fact that he clearly ran out of steam, due in large part to his glaring lack of playing time…please try and remember that the whole reason for replacing Xhaka was to inject some much-needed pace and directness into our attack

  3. jw1

    The multiple Gunner blogs I surf– I’ve come to taking a scroll past any comments that criticize Kai by name. Just redundant at this juncture– don’t see why anyone wastes the keystrokes. There’s so much else going on, and we still haven’t yet lost a game before October arrived. With any amount of good fortune that could continue for awhile.

    Only one stance to take if you’re a fan– if you support the team, you root for Kai Havertz.

    1. A Simple Truth

      you must be only visiting those blogs which best reflect your blinders-based, Pedro-inspired initiative…btw critiquing our obvious shortcomings isn’t akin to being anti-Arsenal, as that’s what’s required in order to both achieve and maintain a level of greatness…if you don’t believe me just ask the fanbases of Real, Barca and Bayern, who’ve never allowed their respective clubs to settle, at least not during their most successful eras…#raisingthebar lol

        1. A Simple Truth

          echo chambers unite lol

          your takes are a dime a dozen nowadays, so that’s why I opt for a more devil’s advocate-like approach…we both know full-well what can happen when the voices of reason are removed from the equation

          1. Jon Shay Post author

            AST, I do start to wonder why you persist it being not simply contrarian but unpleasant about it as well. I know that you and I have discussed this previously. It’s a bit much to label yours as the voice of reason, as if you are the victim. Surely, you’d admit that your comments are frequently provocative if not downright rude.

            To be honest, for as patient as I am–I do spend my days corralling 13- and 14-year olds–I’m starting to wonder whether I’ve been too patient. What you call “devil’s advocate” frequently comes down to derisive, out-of-hand dismissals that seem intended to cause offense rather than provoke enlightenment.

            If you can’t or don’t want to climb down from your perch, I’ll have to ask you to stop coming around.

    2. Jon Shay Post author

      Amen – as long as he wears the strip, we should support him…even if it’s only for the cynical reason that his success will inflate his transfer value. I’m not that cynical; I genuinely want him to succeed and believe he will.

  4. Welsh Corgi

    Yepp, maybe, don´t know. He looks like a deer in headlights in front of goal. Just frozen. I wonder how long Artetas gonna persist.

    Anyone remember how long he carried on with Willian?


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