SCOUTING REPORT: Solving the creativity problem in 2021 (LONG READ)

by .

Today’s scouting report is brought to you by the excellent Mike McDonald. He’s a coach and a love of all things transfers. This is a good one, enjoy and follow him @mike_mmcdonald. Also stay tuned until the end because there’s a BANGER of a new podcast for you with Janan Ganesh.

Arsenal, as a club, is lost. We’re in the desert. We’ve been searching for water to no avail. Dehydration is kicking in. The mouth is parched. Our tongues are dry and we’re praying to the footballing gods on our knees.

It’s creativity juice Arsenal pine for. The situation is so desperate, we can’t stop talking about a player who isn’t even registered and lost his thirst for football 3 years ago.

Creativity can come from four directions in the modern game.

It can come from the South. An on or off the ball ‘8’ that penetrates from midfield.

The East and West are providing most of the creativity these days. Wingers that wander.

The North offers a ‘Firmino type’ striker who connects for the benefit of others (see upcoming Striker blog).

Beyond the four compass points there are only a few teams left that still play with a ‘10,’ normally in a 4-2-3-1. As the game is becoming more compact the ‘10’ has to wander too, often to the wing to overload and slide balls behind the full-back into zones 16 and 18.

Before the detective work ensues, it’s fair to state that Arsenal has options in all 5 of these areas already.

They are yet to work or haven’t been trusted, yet (against decent oppo at least).

The North could be where Aubameyang or Martinelli rescue us. Nketiah too but I feel he needs us to play a certain way to get his best.

The East and West hasn’t seen Saka visit much or Nelson trusted. Willian created much for Chelsea there and Martinelli finds his natural home there. Pepe would be a success out East if only he’d play as an inside forward like Salah. Touch, shoot!

The South is where Willock could arrive from as he has done so well in the Europa League. I’d love to see Maitland-Niles given his chance here and I believe Partey was signed on a promise to be let off the leash and free to go box to box too.

The concept of Willian as a ‘10’ was what we thought we were signing too.

Emile Smith-Rowe in my mind is multi-talented and could play in at least 4 of the 5 positions if he can avoid the sniper at Colney that seems to show up every Tuesday of a Europa week.

In a perfect world these players would find fitness and form so we’d truly know if the transfer market were needed. As of now, fitness and form is not happening so here is a list of potential targets. I’m a fan of all these players and would be thrilled with any of them at Arsenal. Not sure if I’m indecisive or there are slews of players that would improve Arsenal right now as once again, we are panting for creative water.

The Zone 14 player

Firstly, there isn’t a list of players that exclusively play centrally as a ‘10’ and are potentially available. Those days are mostly in the past. These players play wide if you look at the pre-game formation but frequently find themselves in Zone 14 if you watch the game.

Martin Ødegaard (Real Madrid) 21

Perhaps my favourite European player. If I had endless money and a way to hypnotize this move into reality I’d have Grealish on the left and Ødegaard on the right.

Martin Ødegaard is the modern 2013/14 Ozil. Same eye, modern work ethic. Makes complicated situations look easy and unafraid to try what most would pass up. I think Real Madrid would be mad to sell and I don’t think they will as they move on from Kroos and Modric. I include him as Madrid has always changed with the wind and they have a history of not having faith in him.

Ideally, Ødegaard would play at Arsenal in a ‘modern 10’ way. Feeling the game, the opportunity to overload but most importantly be available behind the ball as the transition player, much like how Villa use Grealish. This would need Arteta to relax his desire for all players to be ball facing and allow such a player to simply position himself for the transition. This switch would change everything at Arsenal. We’d have a forward pass and a player capable of turning and utilizing Pepe, Auba or Martinelli for a far more effective counter-attack.

Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig) 26

Might be the perfect Arteta player. Plays in multiple positions and is effective in all of them. More of a goal threat than creator but we need both. I’ve seen Sabitzer at RB, DM, CM, RW and AM but I see him as the new Thomas Muller. A player who senses opportunity in the final third and needs freedom in order to feel the game. Due to his versatility and game intelligence, Sabitzer would need that freedom. To incorporate him at Arsenal I’d play him as a ‘free 8’ much as Ramsey should’ve been utilized. He could be our connector and offer a true goal threat too. Joe Willock offers the latter but can’t do the former. An upgrade allowing Willock to watch and learn.


Other options: Miguel Almiron (Newcastle), Nabil Fekir (Betis), Yusuf Yazici (Lille), Eriksen (Inter)

The wandering winger

This crew is similar to the Zone 14 players except they have more freedom. They float where the game takes them and can be of a goal threat.

Dominik Szoboszlai (RB Salzburg) 20

So, we all know a little or a lot about him as he’s the hot rumour. Firstly, his name is pronounced Sob-oss-lie, if you care about these things.

Szoboszlai has a first touch like Berbatov, power on the dribble and a creative eye. Freekicks to die for too.
A player with this level of grace doesn’t normally evolve until they are older. He has clearly got the ability to be a generational talent. I see a natural footballer. A player that makes football look easier, almost artistic. You could build your team around him.

He currently plays on the left side of two attacking midfielders in a 4-2-2-2 Salzburg formation. Arsenal could play Szoboszlai in one of many positions. As an inverted left winger in one of two current formations. As a central connector or a ‘free 8’ in a 4-3-3.

His talent and profile could see him evolve into either a DM or CM too. Right now, Arsenal needs creativity AND goals and he has both. The left side of a midfield three as a ‘free 8’ would best fit with Martinelli potentially returning to the left-wing shortly.

Michael Olise (Reading) 18

One of the most talented footballers playing in the UK. A head full of ideas and the skill and athleticism to match. I’d be scared that Arteta would coach the street football out of him if I pay attention to what I’m currently seeing. Much like Benrahma and Eze, he could make the step.

The sensible side of me says that you feed him in slowly at Arsenal and yet I think slightly differently. If it were me I might give him a game or three to check it out and then I’d give him my full confidence. You could play him anywhere across the front three as he has goals, huge creativity and elite weight of pass. Potentially he would offer Arsenal both the creative and goal threat. I understand that it’s a big ask to move from Reading to Arsenal but like Watkins, Phillips, Eze, Buendia and others, they were just in the wrong league and they needed faith in them and a chance.

If you are not one for clicking on videos pretend that you are and watch this ⬇️. You could be like the ‘told you’ guy in the office.

Michael Olise makes me dream.

Emiliano Buendia (Norwich) 23

I’ve been fighting myself for a while over Buendia.

I watched him the first half of last season and saw exactly the type of player we need. Dribbling looked easy. Creating looked like his first thought over ball retention. Most impressively he had the rare subtle through ball that tempted the keeper but fooled him. Pukki owed him big.

Then I watched the second half of the season and saw his effectiveness subside. Playing for a failing side or found out?

I thought that Willian was capable as he has the profile but it seems he doesn’t have the same first thought which is what Arsenal need… a player who thinks turn, look forward, slide behind the defense or dribble.

Buendia has a tendency to start on the right but dribble diagonally, leaving the wing vacant for an overlapping full back. This would be how I’d use him at Arsenal. Finally, we’ve all seen the repeated diagrams where Arsenal have a crater in the attacking midfield area (or leaden-footed Lacazette). Sign Buendia, problem solved.

Other options: Grealish, Coutinho, Bernardo, Isco

The ball carrier/ ‘8’

We have four of these at least but for various reasons we aren’t using them. Maitland- Niles could break lines but hasn’t mastered the final third. Willock the same except he offers a goal threat. Smith-Rowe lives in the doctors office. Partey could do it all if we had his twin brother to play DM. Willian has the skill set, but left his motivation in West London.

The likelihood is that whether one or more of the above can or will fulfill this role, we will sign an ‘8.’

Houssem Aouar (Lyon) 22

Will we go back? I think we might as Arteta is a big fan. He has the #1 quality that our current squad seems allergic to…. turning.

Aouar is a player that glides. He changes the pace of the game with sudden changes of direction, especially on the turn when receiving with his back to goal. Due to this quality if he came to Arsenal he would have to be given freedom to move centrally as well as wide as his attributes suit both. Arsenal also needs a small spaces player so we can ditch the horseshoe football and give confidence to Arteta that we can play laser passes between the lines. Once Aouar turns, it’s all on. More than anything, he would offer our forwards the opportunity to be freed up. A player attacking the backline would bring a defender towards him. Slot passes to Auba that we’ve never utilized.

With Aouar being dropped from the Lyon squad and Lyon being in financial trouble, we might get a cut-price deal.

Again, I say watch this video and I challenge you to tell me someone who can turn/change direction quicker than Aouar.

Rodrigo DePaul (Udinese) 26

The ultimate modern-day midfielder. Offers absolutely everything from effective high pressing, two glorious fast feet and persistent defensive running ability. He can play in any midfield position, as a DM, CM or AM. An Arteta dream?

If Arsenal chose him I believe that he would be best used as a central midfielder but likely in a rotational midfield so as to use him to his optimum.

He would modernize Arsenal’s midfield in any way you asked.

Starting for Argentina in a talented midfield. A player that Leeds were close to this summer.

Other options: Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Julian Draxler (PSG), Julian Brandt (Dortmund), John McGinn (Villa)

The traditional winger

Creative individualists. A traditional winger. If we switch Aubameyang and/or Martinelli to CF and if we saw Saka elsewhere then maybe creativity comes this way.

Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal) 21

Speed and skill galore. Won’t be a yellow submarine long. I’m somewhat surprised that he’s still there actually but probably better for his development. This would likely only happen if we gave up on Pepe as Chukwueze is a very similar player arguably with more power, speed and consistency.

He currently plays in Pepe’s position and would likely play there for Arsenal. He would hopefully solve the manic inconsistent performances of Pepe and get the same product but more frequently.

I’d think we’d all agree that Pepe at his best is deadly yet we never know which guy has jogged out of the tunnel.

Jeremie Boga (Sassuolo) 23

The former Chelsea wonder kid has flourished in Italy. Electric pace and directness but very one-footed. Getting rave reviews and definitely worth consideration. Likely to go to one of the Italian big boys but the PL are aware of him.

Boga at Arsenal would offer Auba levels of speed from the left but elite dribbling ability that neither Auba or Martinelli offer. Would probably see the end of Nelson as he is a very similar player. Maybe we should trust Nelson before we dive into the market?

Other options: Silas Wamangituka (Stuttgart), Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Milot Rashica (Bremen), Ousmanne Dembele (Barcelona), Wilf Zaha (Palace), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Raphael Leao (AC Milan),
Marcus Thuram (Moenchengladbach)

Free Thomas Partey

Is part 1 of the creative solution to free Thomas Partey to play box to box? Not the end game but part of the plan. Step one might be to get a defensive midfielder or a central midfielder with strong defensive qualities.

Yves Bissouma (Brighton) 24

It takes a while for me to recognize a top player at the other end of the PL table. I should start to realize that all teams in the league have gems and much like how Liverpool has snagged Southampton players and made them elite, they are there.

If you write a list of skills needed in our midfield I’d say it looks something like this… athleticism, speed, quickness, aggression, intimidator, fast feet, two-way running ability and comfort on the ball. This is a long list of which Xhaka and Ceballos have only one of these qualities at best.

Bissouma may play for BHA but he has all of them. Not necessarily top level at all but a far higher ceiling.
We’d use him as a natural DM in a 4-3-3 allowing Partey to advance. This would solve so many issues as it would give emotional and mental comfort and freedom to those in the back and upfront. A true DM (Vieira, Silva) gave wings to so many. Game changer.

Renato Sanches (Lille) 23

Similar feet to Santi. Quickness of a winger and strength of center-back. I’m very interested but would want to know why he was so poor at Swansea before I fully believed what my eyes have recently seen. I predict that Real Madrid will go for him. If Arsenal took the chance they’d receive Arteta’s dream. A hybrid modern athlete who can destroy and create.

At Arsenal he could play in a 2 man midfield allowing us to play a true creator in front or in any of the three midfield positions in a three man midfield. Sanches is a very interesting player as bar goals, he has everything Arsenal lack in midfield. If we don’t sign him, I’d say we will sign someone with the same hybrid profile.

Florian Neuhaus (Moenchengladbach) 23

The unknown gem of the Bundesliga. Like Kalvin Phillips, he marries a strong defensive game with top passing ability. Moenchengladbach has many players (including his partner, Zakaria) that are catching the eye.

Like Bissouma he is a true DM, less athletic but better on the ball. Either way, a huge upgrade on the player that we bought from the same club. He would give Arsenal the ability to play through the middle without fear of transition and no chance of catching said transition.

Boubakary Soumare (Lille) 21

The modern-day player. Strong, fast, athletic and skillful.

Arsenal has interest but will they spend big on such a young player for such an important position?
Interestingly he tackles better with his left foot but passes better with his right. Two footed which is a big benefit and would offer balance to Partey.

Similar to Sanches and plays alongside him but taller and less experienced at big clubs and in the PL. Somebody will take the risk on Soumare and if it’s Arsenal then we get a central midfielder/DM combo with one of the highest ceilings of any young midfielder in Europe.

Other options: Berge (SHU), Ndidi (Leicester), Witzel (Dortmund), Merino (Real Sociedad), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Erick Pulgar (Fiorentina), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Kessie (Milan), Rodrigo Bentacur (Juventus), William Carvalho (Betis), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ Alkmaar), Amadou Diawara (Roma)

Set play wizard

I’m not going all American Football here, I’m aware that this type of player has to offer more and I have two to consider. It is fair to add though that most teams average 8–10 corners or attacking free kicks each game and many games are won by someone with creative feet at the dead ball.

Just wanted to give you two names to think on…

James Ward Prowse (Saints) 26 and Hakan Calhanoglu (Milan) 26

My Conclusion:

Firstly, if we had £100M and if he’d leave, I’d sign Grealish. He’d be perfect.

Not likely so…

I would sign two creative players as I wouldn’t want to put the burden on one. As you’ve seen with our midfield , when our only ideal candidate gets injured, we are back at square one.
I’d buy Szoboszlai and Buendia. You could get both for £40M.

Buendia could make a more immediate impact and offer the connector we are desperate for.

Szoboszlai could eventually be elite and this is a great opportunity for Arsenal and a good next step for him. He also has a more rounded game and Arsenal need a goalscoring threat as much as creativity and he has both.

I’d also love to wander to my dream state and sell as many of the 12 I feel need to depart. Unlikely until summer but if it were possible to sell a few we could expedite the transition and create a modern athletic midfield allowing Thomas Partey to move forward and be part of the creative solution.

I’d sign Yves Bissouma as a true modern DM who would give others behind and ahead of him the confidence to focus on their game.

I’d pursue Renato Sanches too.

Bissouma, Partey and Sanches would suit Arteta’s desire for hybrid, athletic, rotational players.
A beautiful dream and again, more likely in the summer.

What will Arsenal do?

I think that we will sign Buendia as his impact is both short and long term.

I also think we are after a ‘special’ player which I think will be a loan. A player discussed by Fabrizio Romano and a player discussed in my Striker blog upcoming.

In that blog I will look at choices of Strikers/Number 9’s. We will also discuss whether we go for more creativity and choose a False Nine instead.

Well, there you go! We got there without mentioning Dele Ali!

You can follow me @mike_mmcdonald if you are interested in checking out my post-match blog on GunnersTown, ‘Positives, Needs and Hopes.’

_____________________________

NOW LISTEN TO OUR NEW PODCAST.

We invited Janan Ganesh – elite columnist for the Financial Times – to contribute to a podcast about the state of Arsenal as we stand. We talk about Arteta is clear-eyed terms (even me), we discuss leadership, the failing football strategy, and we also deep-dive on the players. It is NOT to be missed.

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204 Responses to “SCOUTING REPORT: Solving the creativity problem in 2021 (LONG READ)”

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  1. S Asoa

    Emirates
    On the other hand , our average defence becomes a disaster since the flimsy slack G-string Xaka does not hold up . Instead he keeps on back-passing putting more pressure on nervous Leno et al

  2. HerbsArmy

    Pierre

    Wenger is just as complicit and responsible for our decline as anyone else at the club.
    He laughed off the fact that our neighbours had overtaken us, operating on a much smaller scale, as though it were a fluke one-off. But by the end of his time, the smaller club left him behind and he didn’t have the intelligence to catch them.
    And what I find incredibly naive about Wenger going back to 2009, CL semi-final, we somehow escaped the 1st leg at OT with a 1-0 defeat, everything to play for in the 2nd leg at home.
    He put an 18 year old kid with very limited experience up against a rampant Cristiano Rinaldo, and in that one match probably destroyed the boys confidence and self-belief.
    Sure Gibbs stayed on played many more games, but was never convincing and his career has fizzled out.
    Name a young player, anyone, that Wenger improved during his long stay at Arsenal.

  3. S Asoa

    ANM in interview specifically mentioned he gave leggs to the midfield. A snide aside to the perennial Arsehole ( no legs) adorning the midfield

  4. S Asoa

    Mourinho mind game to force Arteta to play Williams !

    “ Jose Mourinho has warned his Tottenham players that Willian is still ‘dangerous’ despite his recent poor form for Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s side travel to Spurs on Sunday for the first north London derby of the season.

    Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2020/12/05/jose-mourinho-warns-tottenham-players-about-dangerous-willian-ahead-of-arsenal-clash-13704905/?ito=cbshare
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

  5. HerbsArmy

    Wenger allowed some seriously shocking ‘footballers’ to wear the Arsenal shirt, and if he’d tried pulling those fraudulent manoeuvres in any other area of life he would probably be doing a healthy stretch.
    I’d have gladly brought back the guillotine.

  6. Rich

    Graham 08.58

    “If it was up to me the following players would not be in the current team.GX
    Willian.
    Luiz.
    Bellerin.
    Leno( if Arteta had not cocked things up with Martinez)I would also have retained Torreira and Guendouzi”

    Xhaka – is playing recently because Elneny had COVID, and Partey injured.
    That means we’ve been left with Xhaka + Ceballos.

    Willian – on a 3 year deal was mental, but we don’t really know who to pin that on? Someone’s head should roll for that decision, maybe it already has?
    Arteta still has to work with the player though.

    Luiz – is the only centre half on our books who can progress the ball, he’s a liability, but we’re damned if we play him, and damned if we don’t.

    Bellerin – the other option is Soares who was Southampton’s back up right back, or Niles, who’s struggled in a back 4.
    Bellerin isn’t a bad player, but I’m not convinced by any of our options at right back

    Leno – I’d have preferred Martinez as well , but if there was no offer for Leno? And selling Martinez, meant we could sign Partey? Then it was a necessary move, otherwise we’d be left with Xhaka as first choice.

    Torreira – could develop, but nothing I’ve seen as of yet, suggests he’s anymore than decent, and he lacks the physical characteristics to play regularly in the centre of the pitch in the PL.

    Guendouzi – 19/20, I think he’s a brilliant young player, but playing young players centrally requires a learning curve, and will likely cost us during the education process.

    If he’s trouble? Then no manager can allow bad behaviour to go without consequences, there has to be standards in which staff conduct themselves

  7. Sid

    Jordan Henderson is more of Guen but stronger, Xhaka is terrible,
    apart from athletic limitations he has zero drive, i suspect its part of the reason he never gets injured.

    Luiz at CB has been given more responsibility and done better in creating for the team than Xhakalson.

    Let that sink in.

  8. Rich

    Sid

    Players generally have a significant increase in their physical developments between the ages of 22-24.

    Henderson is 30, Guendouzi is 21.

    In 2 years time, it’ll likely be the opposite, Henderson will be dropping off physically, and Guendouzi will become more dominant.

    It’s called ageing.

  9. Emiratesstroller

    Sid

    Xhaka is not terrible, but as I posted average. Most clubs including past Arsenal teams have
    got similar standard players in their squads who do not attract this level of bile.

    Henderson is also a bang average player, but the difference is that he plays in a more successful team.

  10. G8

    I don’t know for how long did Wengers cult wanted him to stay, probably till death do us part !!
    the man did excellent job for 12 years or so, started to get complacent and eventually negligent, compounded with arrogance and self entitlement.behaviour
    He became bigger than the club that gave him the ground to make a name in world football
    Yes it goes both ways!
    At the end he had to go with the good, bad and ugly plus 100 millions in his bank account !

  11. Marc

    Emirates

    Henderson is an average player he’s also 10 times the player Xhaka is.

    I’ve never seen a player so bad who’s got so many minutes for the club and is paid so much.

  12. Freddie Ljungberg

    “Ian Wright says the negative style of play on offer from Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka in recent weeks has almost made him ‘burst into tears'”

    https://www.football.london/arsenal-fc/news/arsenal-ian-wright-granit-xhaka-19405499

    Wrighty knows what’s up.

    Thankfully it looks like Arteta has realised what a complete dud Xhaka is too now and is only playing him out of necessity and not by default. Too bad he didn’t have that epiphany 11 months ago!

  13. Goobergooner

    I feel bad for xhaka though. He’s just trying his best, just isn’t the player we needed, especially for the price and wage

  14. Moray

    Interesting post. Thanks for that.

    With all this talent around one wonders how we have ended up with the chumps we have.

    Whatever we do, we have to fix that creativity hole in the middle of the pitch. Seeing these players who are very comfortable on the ball, on the turn, taking on and going past players, transitioning…it makes you realise how poor we’ve become, individually as well as from a team perspective. Is this kind of aggression and craft not being encouraged and trained in our team? I’m not sure if Willian changed nationality, but he’s playing like a British journeyman midfielder.

  15. Biggles

    I enjoyed this post, thanks for it.

    What strikes me about it is that Mike managed to find and identify loads of talent – much of which I’ve never heard of – that solves actual issues we have with the squad.

    And yet our own scouting network hasn’t found anybody bar Martinelli in years. Our “scouting” seems to amount to flicking through the bundesliga team of the year and following Chelsea’s gumtree account for pre-loved has-beens.

  16. Graham62

    Pierre

    Re: Your 12:17 post.

    I see it the other way around.

    It’s the AKB’s who were the major cause of our decline.

    Applauding our persistent weaknesses and capitulations.

  17. Rich

    Our scouting, recruitment, and allocation of funds, has been atrocious.

    Putting down €50mill cash for Partey, isn’t clever scouting, all we needed was the money.

    There’s a lot of pressure now on Edu.

    Lacazette looked good in the No10 role on Thursday, it’s something Steve Bould has previously championed.

    Wonder if we’ll see a 4-4-1-1 on Sunday?

    With Aubameyang central, and Lacazette in the No10 role?

    …………..Leno
    …..Mustafi Gabriel
    Bellerin……….Tierney
    …….Partey Elneny
    Willian Laca Saka
    ……Aubameyang

  18. Kris

    “Name a young player, ANYONE, that Wenger improved during his long stay at Arsenal.”

    This has got to be the dumbest post in the history of this blog, you sad cunt.

  19. Graham62

    Rich

    Your choice.

    As for GX.

    We have Ceballos, AMN, Willock and even ESR as options.

    Bellerin remains a liability and never looks comfortable with or without the ball.

    Sorry, but will argue until I’m blue in the face in respect to the MartInez/ Leno debacle. Been doing that anyway.

    Torreira, given the correct role, could have been an important cog in our team.

    Guendouzi is a rough diamond but still believe Arteta made a mistake.

    Luiz remains a liability and always will.

    As for Willian………….No thanks!

  20. Receding Hairline

    Iwobi is a shockingly average footballer who some reason can pick a pass, i was over the moon when he was sold despite the fact he was Nigerian but it has to be said when it comes to care on the ball and passing he is far ahead of Auba and Lacazette, those two are so careless with their passing it makes me want to puke

  21. Rich

    Graham

    I’d rather have kept Martinez, his handling was superb, and he commanded his box much better.

    Luiz is a liability, I agree, but we don’t have another centre half who can play through the lines.

    Bellerin is a liability at times, I agree, but I don’t think our other options are any better.

    Up until we signed Partey, Xhaka has been our best available, and most experienced central midfielder over the past 2 years, but that says more about the inexperience and poor quality of our alternatives, than it does about Xhaka’s quality.

    Guendouzi will likely develop into a superior player over the next 12-24 months, but that isn’t of much help,

    Willian, I agree with you, I just don’t know who’s to blame? so prefer to deal in facts, rather than hearsay.

    We’re broadly in agreement about the quality and suitability of the players, I’m just not convinced the available alternatives are any better.

  22. Sid

    ‘Up until we signed Partey, Xhaka has been our best available, and most experienced central midfielder over the past 2 years’

    Rotating Torr, Guend Elneny would have been a better option than having Xhakalson playing
    Shows the cluelessness if the managers involved.
    Im telling you for free!

  23. South African Gooner

    Rich

    *****Willian – on a 3 year deal was mental, but we don’t really know who to pin that *****

    Pin it on all of the Dopes.
    What did the gormless one , Josh state not so long back?

    **We have a CL wage bill on a EL budget**

    No way- no way is Mr. Non Negotiable getting off the hook with this one,

    Or Cedric,
    Or Mari,
    Or Luiz.,

    He is a control freak: he has already said on the record he is looking for ‘moles’

    So he must have signed off on Willian’s x 156 weeks retirement package at the club.

    100% Guaranteed Willian will be at the club longer than Arteta.

  24. Marc

    CG’s got a valid point about the “CL wage bill on a EL budget” we get within sight of losing a massive chunk off the wage bill and then stick someone on 200 grand a week who’s been utterly pants.

    The really depressing part is that with the way things look we’re going to have a “CL wage bill with no European football at all”.

  25. Rich

    Elneny adds some energy and tidy passing, but there’s a reason he was out on loan in Turkey last season, he’s average.

    Guendouzi was 19/20, I think he’ll develop into a really top player if he matures off the pitch, but he’s still raw.

    Torreira has even less physicality than Xhaka.

    I like Ceballos, but he’s a work in progress, and also lacks dynamism.

    At the start of last season Xhaka had more experience than Ceballos, Guendouzi, Torreira and Willock combined.

    Xhaka is a slightly above average midfielder, and I’m delighted we’ve signed an upgrade in Partey.

    I’m not making the argument for Xhaka being a good option, he was just our most experienced, and best available option.

    In a league that’s dominated by pace, power, stamina and aggression, we’ve assembled a squad of one paced lightweights through the centre of the pitch.

    Lacazette, Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Luiz, Holding, Chambers, Ozil.

    When you add in the calamitous Kolasinac, Mustafi, Lichtsteiner

    To the inexperience of Willock, Nelson, Smith-Rowe, Niles, Nketiah.

    And the decision to pay €80 mill for Pepe, who’s still very raw.

    I’m not surprised we’re struggling, this train wreck has been coming down the track for years

  26. Dissenter

    Guendouzi is one of the most keen young footballers I’ve seen recently.
    The lad never hides and always made himself available for the ball. He’s the type of player that will rally his team mates after a bad goal is conceded.
    He’s the type of player you want around in a NLD.

  27. Rich

    South African Gooner

    You don’t know though do you?

    You’re creating a narrative, without any actual evidence.

    I agree with you that the signings of Cedric, Mari and Willian we’re strange.

    Maybe Arteta did green light those deals?

    Maybe he didn’t?

    All we know, is Raul was mates with their agents, and he was sacked.

    Unless we get official word otherwise?

    Then I’m only judging Arteta and Edu on the decisions made, after Raul’s departure.

    Drawing conclusions to suit your narrative, without any proof to back up your claims, is straight up basket case.

  28. Guns of SF

    A CM needs to cover the defense and also try some semblance of creating, with clever passing. getting the offense going, pushing up, assisting and scoring a couple times per season.

    Xhaka does nothing like that

    I really hope TP is health the remainder of the season….

    Enough has been said about Xhaka. I just want to see if Arteta selects his buddy again tomorrow

  29. Dissenter

    Guns of SF
    That TikTok video was the Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C official account.
    I cannot think of a more disgraceful conduct that for one club to mock another professional in that manner.

    Traore took apart our team last Sunday. He disrobed Bellerin and Tierney too.

    I can’t wait for Xhaka to just leave the club….time to get our Arsenal back.

  30. Rich

    We should have gone with Niles on the left against Wolves, he handled Traore with easy last season.
    Niles is rapid, and brilliant in 1 v 1 situations

  31. Sid

    ‘Elneny adds some energy and tidy passing, but there’s a reason he was out on loan in Turkey last season, he’s average.’

    Like i said the managers involved were clueless, should have sent Xhakalson on loan to Qarabag FK, it took this long for them to realise average Elneny, is better than him

  32. Peckobill

    Some good names in the post the only trouble is most of them as he put would need “freedom “ , never going to happen in a arteta rigid robotic side . All these creative players we want or being linked with will regress under arteta. Not saying he can’t improve players but creators don’t stand a chance