A Christmas to remember (hopes)!

by & filed under News Review.

Good morning one and all!

I wanted to wish you all Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah… whichever religious event you used to wish the festive delight of Mikel Arteta into the job this year.

I think we’ve really been gifted something special, footballing hope, a brighter future, a reason to wake up on a Saturday outside stupid family responsibilities and stuff.

Outside that, I wanted to thank you. Yes, you. For being here for the website this season. It’s been one of the toughest years to write about The Arsenal. We had the football Grinch in charge of a miserable operation, a certified joy-sucker, but you came here for the group therapy sessions, even during the darkest of 3 at the back moments. (more…)


Scouting Report – Right-backs we should be following

by & filed under News Review.

Check out the latest guest post from Mike McDonald, give him a follow at @mike_mmcdonald

A few weeks ago Bellerin and Tierney were seen as the possible turning point in our season.

Time moves fast.

We may not see the best of either until the last 1/4 of the season.

What to do?

Do we play wing backs, giving opportunities to Saka and Nelson/AMN? Is Saka going to be trusted to continue after his impressive performance vs Everton? Can we recall Osei-Tutu? How good is Bola?

Will AMN have to play both sides (not at once, but he is an athletic boy 😉 Are Medley or Mavropanos ready to deputize at LB? Do we let AMN rotate at LB and use Mustafi and Chambers at RB?

If we find the solution in-house then this may free what funds we have to put into a DM and/or CB.

Two big questions have to be answered first:

1) What system does Arteta want and what does he think?

2) Are we looking for a first choice player (right back in particular) rather than back up, as Bellerin doesn’t seem the same player? Patience is needed as he’s still recovering but it’s a thought.

Either way, we need to know our options.

In the first of a two-part blog, I look at RIGHT BACKS that we may be interested in.

The first two players don’t need profiling as you know them.

You will probably get nauseous as I did, but unfortunately, they make sense.

Ashley Young can play both sides and has all the experience you’d want and isn’t getting games at Utd anymore.

Chelsea have just had their ban lifted and are looking for a left back and to get rid of Marcus Alonso.

Two possible loans?

Apologies for making you ill.

Here are a handful of other options that won’t make you want to hurt me.

The ideal option

Name: Achraf Hakimi

Position: RB/LB

Age: 21

Height: 5ft 10

Club: Dortmund (on loan from Real Madrid)

Nationality: Morocco

Potential fee: £40M

About: One of the best attacking full-backs in Europe.

Why ideal? He has played at least one full season each, at both left-back and right back.

Quick, skilful and determined at both ends of the pitch. On the flip side he has frustrated BD fans as he can be rash and flatter to deceive. Personally, I think this is because he has such a high ceiling and they expect much.

To date he has 2 goals and 5 assists from right-back this season.

As Arsenal tend to not play at 3pm on a Saturday, I’ve watched Dortmund all season instead.

I see Hakimi as an upgrade on Bellerin. Similar in many areas but far bolder in the final third. Maybe Bellerin played too long with Walcott, but for a guy who played further forward earlier in his career and spends over 50% of his time on our wing, he has no trick to match his pace and I’m way past frustrated at watching Bellerin one on one on the wing, only for him to pass it backwards.

For this to happen it would have to be part of other player negotiations. Selling Aubameyang to me would be foolish but if it’s going to happen then the club needs Hakimi more than Ceballos and possibly Jovic as part of the deal.

Young prospects, highly rated

Name: Noussair Mazraoui

Position: RB

Age: 22

Height: 6ft

Club: Ajax

Nationality: Morocco

Potential fee: 25M

About: Another Moroccan full-back.

First choice at Ajax and highly rated.

Mazraoui is an athletic, attacking right back. A player who is hard to stop when he gets a head of steam. Fantastic feet, skill and balance.

As a youngster he struggled with when to curtail his attacking instincts but has been trusted at Ajax recently which has led to a more intelligent footballer.

Defensively his most obvious strength is focus and concentration. Not something often seen from someone so young.

Spurs have an eye on him as Aurier is an accident waiting to happen, but Arsenal may step in, especially if they see AMN as a midfielder now and Bellerin needing a proper challenger.

Name: Yan Couto

Position: RB

Age: 17

Height: 5ft 5

Club: Coritiba FC

Nationality: Brazil U-17

Potential fee: £8M

About: Couto makes the list not because I watch Brazilian U-17 football but because he was linked last week as a potential Edu signing.

Leverkusen are also interested.

It makes perfect sense that after the success of Martinelli we would take the small risk of spending £10M or less on potential superstars.

The club is probably realizing that to keep Martinelli they might need to ensure he doesn’t get homesick and has a friend or two. Smart.

This breakdown is credit to the excellent www.footballtalentscout.net

A complete full-back, an attack-minded player looking to push on at every opportunity, offering great pace overlapping runs into advanced positions.

Very good agility and coordination, with great pace at all distances.

Able to play as a wing-back in 3-5-2 and even as a winger if needed but right back in a 4-3-3 is optimal for Couto.

Couto is often looking to burst forward to offer width to the attacking movement in the final third. Couto is known for his tireless runs up and down the wings to aid both attack and defence and is extremely dangerous on the counter thanks to his pace and acceleration.

Like many Brazilians he is known for his “quick feet”, speed of movement and close control.

He has endless energy and his powerful running make him an incredibly useful asset as he brings an offensive value to a team, with a lot of activity during 90 minutes on the right side

He is determined and tenacious in defensive phase and has great timing and game reading ability when going forward.

Couto’s main weakness is seen to be over-enthusiasm.

Name: Emerson

Position: RB

Age: 20

Height: 6ft

Club: Real Betis/Barcelona

Nationality: Brazil

Potential fee: 25M

About: Much like Hakimi, Emerson has the best attacking stats for a full back in LaLiga… 2 goals, 4 assists.

Barcelona have an option to buy him in 2021 for just €6M as he was part purchased by them then allowed to join Betis. I’m unsure if this clause is still active if Betis sell him beforehand.

Emerson is considered to be the future RB at Barcelona. He excels in the air, reads the game well and is very fluid on the ball.

His greatest strength however is his tackling.

Much like Yan Couto (see below), Arsenal seem to be interested in acquiring more Brazilians due to the success of Martinelli and the ‘Edu connection.’

Name: Lukas Klostermann

Position: RB

Age: 23

Height: 6ft 2

Club: RB Leipzig

Nationality: Germany

Potential fee: £35M

About: Lukas Klostermann is a powerful option. Considered to be strong both defensively and offensively with no obvious weaknesses.

Of all the options, Klostermann is a better defender, but perhaps less fluid on the attack.

Much like Hakimi, Klostermann has played at LB as well as RB.

At the perfect age where he can balance the energy of youth with sufficient experience.

Klostermann is physical specimen at 6ft 2in. Built more like a CB and with the pace of a winger.

Depending on how Germany choose to use Kimmich, Lukas Klostermann is likely to be first choice right back at Euro 2020.

It will be very hard to prize away any Leipzig player (Upamecano included) in January as RB are currently top of the league.

A summer transfer would be more viable.

Name: Max Aarons

Position: RB

Age: 19 (almost 20)

Height: 5ft 10

Club: Norwich

Nationality: England

Potential fee: £25M

About: Imagine Reiss Nelson with defensive skills.

Max Aarons is the stereotypical modern day full-back.

Quick with quick feet. Confident on the ball and tigerish off it.

Only two defenders attempted more dribbles than the youngster in the whole of the Championship last season, while he weighed in with six assists from right-back.

Max Aarons reminds me of many players at smaller clubs. Some clubs take the risk and empower them at bigger clubs and others wait. I’m thinking of Ndidi, Gueye now at PSG, Sancho and many others. Often when you wait they cost 4 times the fee. Aarons may be one of those.

If Arteta wants wing-backs

Name: Adama Traore

Position: RWB

Age: 23

Height: 5ft10

Club: Wolves

Nationality: Spain

Potential fee: 40M

About: People are starting to pay attention to Adama Traore.

Up until this year many saw him as similar to Theo Walcott. Blazing speed but an inability to slow the wheels down in order to make better decisions in the final third and have better final product.

This is starting to change.

To the point where his muscles are being used as bumper pads, as he is repeatedly fouled.

Alongside Ismailia Sarr (Watford), Traore is the fastest player in the Premier League. Devastating pace matched with good feet and power unseen in any of his type.

Traore has been used mostly as an impact sub on the right wing during his Wolves career but is now being used as a Right Wing Back and progressing quickly.

You get the impression when watching Adama Traore that if he was coached by an expert (Arteta) then he will ultimately end up where he started, at Barcelona.

A couple of others to keep your eye on

Elseid Hysaj at Napoli and Sylvan Widmer at Basel

Arteta may recover Bellerin’s form and improve AMN so all this may be unnecessary.

He may pull a worldie and get a two for one player on loan that needs game time to get into his Euro squad. I’m thinking Joe Gomez who could play RB for 5 months then become part of our CB pool.

That’s too perfect though, and Klopp’s just not going to do it, right?

We may be patient and wait. More will be fixed permanently in the summer and maybe we could prize Ricardo Perraira from Leicester or Matt Doherty from Wolves?

I think what will happen will depend on the Chelsea and Utd games.

If our Right Back has two impressive outings then I think we trust. If not, I think we get a loan.

My guess… Arteta will leave it and focus on Left Back.

The ‘Left Back blog’ is coming quickly on the heels of this one so check it out!

If you like my work, I write a blog for GunnersTown after every game called ‘Positives, Needs and Hopes’

@mike_mmcdonald


Who the f*ck is Steve Round?

by & filed under News Review.

GOOD MORNING MY DARLINGS ARE WE STILL BUZZING LIKE WE ROLLED INTO WORK AFTER A 5AM FINISH?

That’s how damn hyped I am because I watched a video of Mikel Arteta teaching players how to pass.

Super basic, but I love to see it.

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