Today, we go to war for 3 points that’ll keep us #Top4 over the international break. Before the season started, I wrote that 9 points would be absolutely ideal from this session of games, and I still believe that. The post-break games are pretty grim, we have City, Leicester, United, and Villa in the league, as well as 3 Europa League games. Going into those games with momentum and positivity is absolutely vital.
We need a performance from the squad today. We’ve been inconsistent this season. Fulham was great, but then we realised they were shite. We didn’t show up against West Ham and scraped a win. Then we were soundly beaten by Liverpool. Our xG is looking a bit Emery like at the moment. 3 games is not a big sample, but we need to be correcting that before it corrects our points tally.
The main problem we’re having is chance creation. We’re fairly comfortable defending these days. We’re solid and tough to break down. Going forward is a different issue. There’s no clean connection from midfield to attack and our offensive playbook routines are getting a little predictable. The thing I worry about is it doesn’t look like we’re trying to solve it, it seems we’re banking on low chance high conversion approach. That’s rarely sustainable.
Sheffield United will be an interesting side to come up against. They’ve been abject so far this season, but we know they are a force on their day. They’ll not play a deep block, but they will aggressively counter us. It’ll be a game that will require creativity, they can defend really well and they will not let up with the pressure.
Our transfer business, on the face of it, looks underwhelming in the extreme. We’ve signed a lesser second keeper, Willian looks good but he’s certainly not the force to unlock our forward play, and Gabriel is 6 months away from being the man.
We basically have the same problem from last year carried over. That can’t be an excuse. We need to find ways of creating more good opportunities in attack, because it’ll be games like this that undo us this season.
If we don’t bring in suitable solves, the fans will look to Guendouzi and Mesut Ozil. It’s obvious. Especially as both are training with the first team. I hope that’s not the cloud of PR noise that a shoddy window brings, but you know it will be. From what I’ve been told, the big issue for Arsenal is that the squad is too bloated. Our wage bill hasn’t really been attacked this summer and we’ve done a very poor job moving on players. As I said yesterday, I don’t think anyone thought we’d struggle to move on players like MG and Lacazette, but here we are.
That is still no excuse for not having an 8 or a 6 at this stage of the summer.
I understand Arteta just wants Champions League level players for the now, but as I’ve whined about for the last 5 years, sometimes you need to build out talent and take a little longer to get back to the top. If our shopping list is Aouar, Jorginho, and Partey… or bust. Then that starts to look like negligence. We finished 8th, improving on our squad is not a precise science or balancing act like it would be a Liverpool or Bayern. We should be able to find an 8 for less than £40m that can do a job. We should be able to find a #6 that has the athletic profile we so desperately need.
I know I am not a scout, but Dominik Szoboszlai plays on the left, he can box to box, and he’s at a franchise that supplied the world with Mane and Werner. He’s 19 years old, he scored 12 goals last season and landed 18 assists. His buy-out is rumoured to be 25m euros. Is he blowing up the league this year? Maybe not. Would he be a better bet than nothing? Yes.
The same with the #6 position. We have no one with athleticism in our midfield. Don’t tell me there isn’t someone in Ligue 1 that we could pick up at less than £45m. Sangare/Sourmare look like talented player, clearly both need coaching, but that’s what clubs with fucked finances have to do.
There has been a real lack of creativity around our transfer business. I really, really hope this isn’t like seasons past where we break a season because our perfect choice wasn’t available. There are always options that can improve the squad, we cannot let the biggest problem of last season go unaddressed again.
That said, I think fans are forgetting that spending a shit tonne of money doesn’t always translate into points. Spurs blowing a load of cash doesn’t mean they’ll be electric. OGS dropping pound notes on Cavani doesn’t mean they’ll close the gap. Leicester are just as capable of bottling the season. What new players does is create excitement for the players, the staff and the fans. It signals progress and it creates good vibes. If we fail this summer, you’ll get the covid-lockdown histrionics and it’ll be a slog.
We will be better this season regardless of where we land with the squad. We have 20 wins out of 34 games under the new regime. The longer the process goes on, the better we’ll get. We are very well-coached, we’ll be tough to beat this season, and hopefully, we’ll find a solve externally before the window shuts, and if not, maybe we’ll have to reach for a ‘like a new signing’ type of pivot.
Let’s enjoy today and pray that we can make some magic happen by Monday.