Wenger sets aggressive targets and shuts down big name signing

by & filed under News Review.

via @Arsenal instagram

via @Arsenal instagram

Here we go, beers at the ready, football is kicking off on a Friday night this year which is super f*cking weird in my opinion, but hey ho, what can you do. It’s only annoying for people outside of the UK. If I were in London, I’d be amped to the max about Friday night beers then a bit of Emirates to cap off a warm summer evening.

Leicester come to town having been slapped down by the realities of the league last year. They lost a manager, flirted with an unceremonious drop, then steadied the ship after they rightly sacked said legendary manager.

This summer, they’ve done some nice business. Iheanacho coming in at £28m could prove shrewd business. Harry Maguire at the back injects a bit of fresh legs in their back four, and a Spanish defensive midfielder ups their technical ability in the centre of the park (such a casual pass about a player I’ve never heard of).

Difficult to know what to expect from the exChampions. They found their team spirit after Ranieri left last year, they showed some of that grit and fight that won them the league. Can Craig Shakespeare keep that going this season? Very doubtful, but it’s safe to say the game won’t be easy. Mahrez and Vardy are a lethal combo if they fancy it, and their new City signing has bags of pace and a lot to prove this season.

Arsenal will likely line up the same as they did for the Community Shield. Maybe we’ll see Ozil out on the right? I mean, if Leicester sit back and wait for the counter, it makes sense to have players that can unpick a tightly compact midfield and defence, but we’ll see. There should be no reason a fresh Community Shield side wouldn’t beat Leicester at home.

Wenger continued to crash through the communications challenge around what went wrong last season, whilst being sure of what’s going right this season, regarding the issue of unsigned contracts.

‘I created, with me not deciding, a lack of clarity in the dressing room and there is nothing worse than that in the dressing room.

‘When you are not completely in or the players feel you are not completely in, it is difficult to tell them we go (out to win).’

Make of it what you will, but I do find it amusing that he thought last seasons failure was because of his shenanigans, but this seasons success can be found in having six versions of the same scenario in the match day squad. The manager also spoke about his interest in Mahrez, which sounds less than firm.

“We were never close.

“I rate him as a player but we have similar types with Alex Iwobi, Jack Wilshere back, Mesut Ozil – we have plenty of the same type of players.”

The notion of Jack Wilshere being in the mix is interesting, that either says he’s staying because he wants to play him, or we can’t sell him because he’s not an attractive proposition on £100k a week. I love Mahrez, but our team spirit is wafer thin, adding his attitude to the unrest we’ll already be dealing with sounds like a disaster in the making.

The manager had good words and simple math for his most expensive signing of all time.

“With Lacazette, it’s simple. He is an intelligent player. We have a game backed on mobility and technique and I think he can integrate that well.

“After that, we get the efficiency. His record in France is to score one in 80 minutes. If he can maintain that record that would be ideal for us. As a game is in 90 that would guarantee you a goal.”

I love the numbers. If Lacazette drops digits like that, we’ll be on fire this season. I like that Wenger is talking about mobility because we’ve suffered from a lack of it up top for years. It still baffles me that the things that won Wenger the big trophies back in the day were dropped >>> power & pace. Seems we’re trying to get back in there. I just wish we’d beef up the middle of the park with a bit more power, finesse and fitness reliablity.

The game will be fun. There’s no second chances now. We need to win from the start because the run we have is very mean and we’re playing a bunch of teams who have things to prove with necks on the line.

Lets’ see how this pans out.

P.S. I spoke to the good people over at The Filbert Way about today. Read it and love it.

Also, listen to the podcast and subscribe. It’s essential listening and it takes me ages to edit.

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Arsenal season preview: Youth and rebel attitude key to success

by & filed under News Review.

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FOOTBALL SEASON EVE DO YA HEAR ME!

Yes you do.

Really felt like football was gone for a long time this year. I’ve missed it greatly. I’m very excited about the next 9months. Why you say?

I’m at ease with the situation at the club now. I think when you’re drip fed faux ambition over the course of a 10 year period, you find yourself upset when things go wrong.

This year we know. Wenger signing was a new chapter in the greatest power swindle in professional sport.

The club doesn’t really care about anything outside keeping the manager happy.

If you know he’s not going anywhere, it allows you to reframe how you approach the season.

I have zero expectations of this year.

Straight up, we’ve not done enough to the squad to pretend we’re a serious club. That’s both in addressing deficiencies, shipping out deadwood, or signing our best players to new contracts.

WHERE WERE YOU HUSS!

We didn’t do enough to the backroom team. Jens Lehmann is an interesting hire, but when you juxtapose it against the backdrop of Wenger’s career of aggressive authoritarianism, it’s hard to see how he impacts what we do, level that in with his lack of experience as a coach, and well, it’s a veneer. I wonderful veneer, but kind of pointless unless he’s afforded power. Huss Fahmy hasn’t done anything contract wise. The new fitness coach isn’t here full time until next year.

We are status quo. There’s even a story in The Standard about Wenger overruling suggested transfers (Lemina) to reestablish the notion he is king.

Training is the same. Prep will be the same. Outcome will be the same.

However, pushing all that to one side, I’m still a fan. I like seeing new names in the side, and I’m pushing into full on 2011 mode.

‘What if the kids come good this year?’

Iwobi is a talent. He was drained last year, then his form dipped, then we all wrote him off. I think he’s silky on the ball, he’s an awkward talent to defend against, and he looks like he’s bulked out a little bit over the last 6 months. He reminds me of a cross between Rosicky and Hleb. Intelligent, tight control, and the potential for 10 or so goals.

Reiss Nelson. I hate to say it, because I’ve seen this movie. But he looks one step ahead of his peers. 17 years old, explosive pace, a deft touch, and the arrogance of youth firmly on his side. It’s been 10 years since we last had a break out teenage talent. Could this be the jewel in the crown of our slow attempt at cultivating local talent?

Finally, I can’t not talk about Rob Holding. A bit rusty in the Community Shield, but undoubted powerhouse in the making. He has all the elements of a northerner we traditionally don’t have in our squad. He’s a basically a kid and he’s bullying Diego Costa and getting under his skin. He’s not afraid of anyone, he’s extremely comfortable in possession, and he has a calm head on his shoulder. What a find. I really hope he’s given games this year.

Then we have the new signings. I appreciate that Arsenal are going to have trouble attracting top talent this year. We have a less than elite manager and the club was in a shambles backend of last year. I also think agents smell blood at the moment, they know this is the year 1630 and Wenger has taken a nasty flesh wound fighting for the Kingdom of France. He’s in trouble, question is, how long will it take for him to succumb to the fever?

So on that note, Kolasinac, the best left back in Germany last year was a steal. We’re all excited about an Eastern European powerhouse that can impose himself physically, but also bring class and final product to the table. I’m also pleased with Lacazette. In seasons past, we’d have messed around trying to sign M’Bappe and Benzema.

Instead we’ve rolled the dice, hopefully they come in good. I have my concerns about his ability to make an elite impact on our front line. What I mean by that is we had a 20 goal a season striker, but not one who could change a tight game with one chance. Lacazette comes across as hard working, calm, humble, and extremely focused. If he sharpens his movement and falls into sync with the rest of the team, his mobility will add a different dimension to our forward line.

There’s a very strong chance we could keep Sanchez. I’d move him on if we could get big money, but it’s past the point of no return if there’s not a 20 goal, 10 assist winger to move in for. I really hope we don’t buckle, but I fear the board’s love of money could see us do so. We’re also keeping Ozil, and for all my annoyances about his attitude, he’s a provider. He’s like a trust fund best friend, he’ll fork out when the going is good, but don’t expect him to step in when you’re getting a beating from 5 West Ham fans on the District Line.

A big chunk of our success this season comes down to how the contract rebels behave. Do they fight? Or do they take a February summer holiday and drop the mic on our season?

Finally, we could still move for an upgrade on Coquelin. I mean West Ham, who are having an epic summer, just landed Carvalho. If Matuidi is on the market, we should move for him. A perfect fit for 3 seasons. Even Kyrochowiak would help out. Is there nothing we could do about Mahrez? Seems a lot of players need new homes this summer, is there a chance we could boost our chances, because our midfield is looking threadbare.

So there you have it. A weird post. But this is a weird season.

Buckle up, it’s going to be fun.

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