So overall, you’d have to say the preseason is going rather nicely.
- A specific style is emerging
- No one is injured.
- We have breakthrough kids looking VERY good
- The morale looks excellent (noteworthy when you hear Mourinho squeal like a spoilt brat)
- There’s still a chance we might sign another name
There are still a couple of worries, the main one being that Aaron Ramsey still hasn’t signed a new deal. The 27-year-old is coming off the back of an excellent season, he’s finally fit, and he knows he’s likely hitting the peak of his dealmaking powers. He straight up wants Ozil money, his agent knows the fans and the new backroom team love his player, but once again, Wenger has left us in a situation where all the leverage is with a superstar player. Like an abusive parent who leaves the estate to a cactus.
The way I’d be looking at the Rambo situations if I were his agent is:
- £350k a week from Arsenal
- A deadline day move to a team with title-winning capabilities (CFC lingering)
- Roll into the final year of your deal and gamble on a FAT fee so you buy a nice flat in Cardiff town centre when you retire.
He doesn’t need to do anything else. He wins in almost every situation. Well, unless he breaks down with injury this season, but even then, people will take a chance on him. Maybe not on the £350k a week deal he thinks he deserves, because let’s be fair here, no club in Europe was prepared to give Ozil that until Ivan shit the bed. Aaron is a £200k week player in this market at the absolute tops, and he’d get that at Chelsea. Arsenal have the pay the premium to keep him, can we afford that after we went all in on Ozil?
I thought it was telling that Emery dropped Ozil the captaincy. Usually, I’d do a little vom into my mouth upon hearing a player with questionable commitment to the cause could be afforded such an honour, but if Ramsey says no to a deal, it wouldn’t be the dimmest move to focus Mesut with the captain’s armband. If we have ANY hope next season, it has to be with Ozil playing like he did vs Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final on the regular. It’s still a huge risk because you’re giving the armband to a player who gets tough away games off, you’re also giving it to a player who has questionable fitness in the backend of most seasons, but, a firing Ozil is unstoppable.
I’d be giving it to Guendouzi myself…
The second concern we have going into the new season is our center backs. Jury is still out with these guys in a new system, but I do have reservations about the desperate lack of pace across the board. Laurent K is not going to come back the same player, Sokratis looks very slow, Chambers is slow, Mustafi is fast but always a worry due to brain farts, Holding and Mavrapanos are the only two anywhere near where we need to be. A high line is going to be suicidal this season.
It looks like Emery is pushing for a 4-1-4-1 this season. We look to finally have two DMs in Torreira and Guendouzi. We have an abundance of bodies and names in Ramsey, Ozil, AMN, Xhaka, Elneney, and Smith Rowe through the middle. If we’re going to play a high-press, I’m not sure how Xhaka fits because of his lack of pace, but we’ll see. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see a breakthrough player as a mainstay by the end of this season.
We’re struggling with wide players, unless Auba is seriously being considered there, which feels like a huge waste of a world-class finisher. Mikki, Iwobi, Welbeck, Nelson and maybe Ozil feels a touch thin on the ground. We really do need to invest in an exciting wide player or at least a loan before the season is out. We still haven’t replaced Alexis, with a strong move there, we really will be looking formidable moving forward.
Striking options of Auba, Lacazette, Welbz and Eddie feels very comfortable. It’ll be interesting to see if the manager adopts a 4-4-2 at any stage this season, he certainly has an interest in trying it out.
“The 4-4-2 is designed more and more for zonal positioning. It’s less aggressive but is harder to get past. I am not ruling out the possibility of a 4-4-2.”
Hector Bellerin seems to be enjoying himself.
“As I said the other day, it’s all about learning the new system, about getting used to each other again and used to the new players,”
“It felt like things were clicking more today. Slowly we are coming more together – training every day with the new concepts we have is working better.”
Football is just like your day-to-day. If you have a manager who challenges you and keeps you thinking, the work becomes more interesting. Our players have been sleepwalking in a very comfortable environment, they’re now being pushed to their limits physically and they’re being stretched mentally. Emery is having to upgrade the way the players see the game, which is basically 10 years of neglect from the manager. I think that’s why he’s been so keen to bring in old heads, because they can help carry the message in the dressing room (and calm it when it goes wrong).
In other news, City lost Laporte, Mahrez and Foden to injury in Miami yesterday. I also watched Chelsea vs Inter yesterday, they had a great half in a very nice canary yellow kit, but looked quite average in the second half. Really hoping they start the season with Cabellero in goal. Two very winnable opening games… for once, being utterly shite could pay dividends.
Anyway, all very exciting. Let’s just hope we don’t lose Aaron to Chelsea. I’ll leave you on Arsenal playing out the back like heroes.