So, let’s get the bad news out the way. Gabriel picked up a nasty looking injury in the last minute of injury time against City. He rolled on his ankle and he was in so much pain, he couldn’t talk. It looked like one of those accidents that just happen, what I did find interesting after is Wenger associated mental fatigue as a possible cause…
‘Maybe he was a bit tired, I don’t know. Was his coordination a bit weaker, I don’t know. Was he locked in the grass with his studs… I have to speak to him’
Whatever the reason, he’s probably going to be out for at least 3 months.
That means, heading into the Liverpool game next week, we have Holding and Chambers. That’s not a good look. For all the PR champing Wenger has been doing with Holding, his bluff is about to be well and truly called… my bet is he’ll move Debuchy or Monreal into the middle before he considers the super green partnership of Holding and Chambers.
Worry is, we’re heading into a Liverpool game with a very shaky back 5. Liverpool aren’t actually that good, and our players are way better… but we know what Klopp will do, he’ll press like a crazy and try and destroy us in the first 35minutes with a firework display of relentless pressure. If we’re smart, we’ll try and absorb that pressure then take them apart like Sevilla did in the Europa final. I’d have far more confidence in us being able to do that with a decent centre back pairing. Fingers crossed a midfield of Xhaka, Elneny and Santi can weather the storm.
So what is likely to happen player wise? Now remember, this isn’t Arsenal in strategic mode. We’re in panic mode. Our hand is well and truly been on show for all to see, so we’re going to be the weaker negotiating party… which means we’ll be forced to pay a premium (heaven forbid), or Wenger will just say ‘fuck, let’s try and find value.’
So Mustafi is certainly on our radar, but he’s also on Milan’s. They shouldn’t be an issue (even though they’re starting a new era project), but their presence might mean Valencia ask for a higher price than the £25m we were hoping to pay. Then there’s Jonny Evans. He’s an obvious, right? He’s British, he’s won things, he’s prime age. He’s just a bit, well, unfashionable / average / not what we’d hope for as Arsenal fans. At least he’s tall… silver linings people, silver linings. Or what about Abdennour, the beast at Valencia who played really well against us for Monaco?
All I can say is that unless there’s a big shift in thinking, you’re not going to be that excited by who we bring in.
Back to the game. It was promising stuff. City looked in a bit of state to be fair. They looked really uncomfortable with whatever crazy ideas Pep is trying to bring to the table. Sticking Fernando at the back… he loves a midfielder to centre back story.
Arsenal looked very good in midfield. Elneny continues to impress with his wide range of passing, his brilliant reading of the game and his knack for being a nuisance from corners. We have a nice array of players now that give us good stability.
Iwobi really impressed. He scored a with a carefully placed strike, shooting past Joe Hart, which is no easy feat. He looks confident, like he knows he belongs in our first team. I love his tight control and his ability to surprise with every touch of the ball. What a find!
Theo Walcott played really well. His goal was a combination of tight passing, blistering pace and a delicate finish. That wasn’t his only contribution, he also made the tackle that set the move rolling for goal three and I’m pretty sure he assisted Chuba? He did. Yes he did.
Rob Holding didn’t look as comfortable as he has against lesser teams. He was caught napping by Aguerro for their first goal and he looked panicked ipossessionon a couple of times. It’s not his fault, this time last season, he wasn’t even a first team consideration for Bolton. We really can’t expect him to be leading the backline for us. I don’t think that was the plan, I’m assuming we’re going to learn our lesson from the Chambers thing last year… get these guys out playing games, making mistakes at other clubs.
Overall though, you have to be happy with a win against City. The games mean nothing, but we’d all be bitching if we were losing them. Plus, City are a great side with a great manager.
I’m not going to get too excited, Pep has a big project underway there, he’s a winner as well… he’ll get it right by the time we play them in real competition.
Sad thing about this season is we’ve once again failed to do what was needed. The absolute priority was a striker. If you’re brutal, Olivier Giroud was the main reason we didn’t win the league last season. His 17 Premier League games without a goal were vital. Put a Suarez in that team last year and we’re walking it.
This summer, we should have had a list of names and we should have gone hard for them. It looks more and more like we stacked all our chips on Vardy and when that fell through, we had no idea what to do. Rank amateur. It’s completely unacceptable we still haven’t solved that problem.
There are mutterings that we’re talking to Lewandowski’s agent and we’re still hoping on Benzema. Again, I’d love either of them, but why on earth would Bayern sell there main man? He’s the best in the world. Why would he want to come to us? What makes us think if either of those two were available, there wouldn’t be competition for their names from other clubs struggling up front?
Also, on the Benzema front, there’s a lot of concern in Spain about his fitness. Madrid are furious he missed 15 games last year through injury (sounds pretty good by our standards) and they’re putting him into some indepth study to root out the issue. Doesn’t sound like the sot of investment you’d be making if you were planning on shipping him out?
Then you have Lewandowski. An absolute dream machine of a player. Power, pace, sublime skills, mobility, clinical from anywhere… and Arsenal are talking to him?
Well, it doesn’t take much digging to find out what’s going on there… This is Bayern CEO Rummenigge on the situation.
“We have had several talks with his agents. We’re ready to extend it [his contract]. We certainly won’t sell him.
“We are always ready to extend contracts prematurely and adjust their conditions to the present situation and market value.”
“We won’t be able to pay wages similar to those at Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.”
Oh, I see. Contract talks. Use Arsenal to call the CEOs bluff. The player is on €9m a year at the moment, he wants to push that to €18m a season. Quite staggering really, but no more than Rooney is getting at United (how BAD was he today?). There is literally no way Lewa would ever consider Arsenal. It’s beyond the pale. Also, there’s no way Bayern would sell him to us… especially with Madrid lurking in the wings.
So for me, I’m sure there’s a lot of truth in us fancying these players, but I just don’t see there being much reality in them moving over to us. Maybe we should raid Madrid’s reserve team? Mariano looks a beast and he’s 23 years old… worked for Juve?
Back to the league. The opening three games of the season will be difficult. We’re a defence down, we don’t have Ozil or Koscielny. Sanchez looks really rusty. If we can land 5 points out of the opening 3, that’ll be good I reckon. United have an easy start, like they always seem to. So it’ll be 9 for 3. City have West Ham, but it’s easy outside that. Chelsea have West Ham and Watford, so not neccesarily max points. If we can get through August in the mix, we’ll start to find our stride in September.
Do I think we can win the league? Absolutely not. Unless we sign a striker, we’ll have the same issues we had last year. Do I think we’ll drop out the top 4? All depends on our start to the season. I feel like our squad on paper looks pretty solid. We have more power and finesse in midfield, our defence was pretty good last year… we just don’t have a goal scorer in the ranks.
Adding a Mikki and a Vardy would have been smart. That fell through, and we seem to have given up on that dream, which is a shame. So we’re resting a season once again on Giroud, who is now 29 and very unlikely to make a step change in his talent offering… and Theo, who looks good in flashes, but can’t hack the pressure when it’s on.
Then we also have our manager, who is Arsene Wenger. He’s been fresh out of ideas for years now. So the idea he’ll suddenly be able to turn it on feels like a hopeful one at best.
I think we’ve got too much for Liverpool and I think we’re better than Spurs. So I’d imagine it’ll be another 7 months of pretty standard Arsenal, with 2 months of shocking Arsenal, and we’ll do enough to merit Wenger getting another crack at the whip.
Wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to head into a season with hope? Real hope? I just can’t believe he’s fucked it again. I can’t wait for his tenure to finish so we can go in with a proper manager with dreams and a point to prove.
Right, see you tomorrow!
P.S. Interesting that Madrid are looking to sell Isco… a perfect Santi replacement?