State of the squad

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You know it’s a sad news day when publications start writing stories like, ‘Arsenal fans get excited about something someone said.’ If you’re a journo and that’s all you can muster, have a word with yourself.

So anyway, people in the comments section are talking about oral health today. Funny they should be chatting about that topic because I was introduced to a WATER PIK just last week. It is jet-powered flossing. I put it in my mouth and it was like letting off a sub-machine gun. Unreal how much pik-ing it did. I’d highly recommend it.

Damn, that only took us to 100 words?

Ok, Thomas Partey’s sisters best friend who owns one of those really cute cats with the bushy faces posted a relatable meme with a hidden message.

‘Live. Laugh. SIGN FOR ARSENAL U FUCKIN IDIOT’

You know you’re struggling to maintain a rumour when your circumstantial evidence is an inspirational quote.

Arsenal are really looking a little short in midfield heading into the new season. Our ‘like a new signings’ look like, well, our new signings. The opening day of the season might see Elneny, Ozil, and Guendouzi brought into the fold. Not exactly a thrilling prospect.

Stories out of France have the price of Aouar at £70m… and with Kai Havertz fetching £100m (nuts), why not?

The Thomas Partey story has been sputtering along all summer. They want the cash we don’t have, so there’s very little momentum that we know about there.

Then the link train seems to have shuddered to a halt.

I’m sure we’ll make some headway on deals, but I do wonder if some clubs are just thinking that waiting things out for a year might make more sense from a financial perspective? Aouar has 3 years left on his deal, he’ll be worth more next summer. Partey is at his peak, he might just sign a new deal if no one comes up with the £43m buyout.

We’ll see… but as it stands, the starting 11 we send out against Fulham will likely look very much like the starting 11 we put out last season.

Still, there could be some interesting movement there.

If we’re going to look to play a more progressive style of football, what does that look like? Deep blocks is where the issue is going to be this season. Does Arteta play Willian in a #10 role? Or does he keep him out wide where he did so much damage for Chelsea this season?

Does he bring Mesut Ozil back into the fold? The German ain’t what he used to be by some stretch, but if he’s playing by the rules, maybe there’s a role for him against teams that need to be unpicked? People don’t want to accept that there is still a player there. If Arteta can stop Xhaka from playing like the intention was mistakes, I’m pretty sure he can suss a way of making Ozil work in some games. As it stands, our creativity options are very lacking. We’ll have to try something, otherwise, we’ll struggle.

The other big questions I have is the defence. Defenders coming over from France tend to take a while to adjust to the power and pace of the league. How long is Arteta going to wait until he starts to bring Saliba and Gabriel into the fold? Saliba binned off a cup final to get prepped in London. He’s focused on the first team. I love that. He’s also a proper ball-playing defender. He’ll make us strong from setpieces as well. Is he starting next season? Or is it gradual?

This season is all geared to being competitive for the season after. We have a lot of the groundwork pieces in place. We’ve reshaped the keepers who will be top of their game this season. We have a defence built for the next 5 years. All they need is experience, familiarity with the system, and some elite moments together. The baton will be passed this year to Gabriel, Tierney,  Saliba, Mari, Tierney, AMN, and Hector.

It feels pretty sexy to say that we’re happy with our defenders, right?

Midfield is anyone’s guess. It still need a dynamic 8 and a 6 with power and pace. There are some unknowns. ESR looks a very good prospect, can we make him ready to challenge for the first team by next year? Joe Willock sparks something in all the coaches he meets. He needs to progress his game this season and be more than a super-sub. Saka has been mooted as a #10, will he be a chameleonic player this year, or will we settle on a role for him? We really need the club to come to the party with some midfield names if we’re going to be ready for next season.

Our striking options are also up in the air. Is Eddie ready to fight for his place this season? He scored a hattrick for the U21s. We need him to match his work rate with goals this season. He needs to challenge. Then we have Gabriel coming back into contention in October. Could he play like a 9? Or will he stay out wide. He’s great with his head, he’s fierce in the press, and he has electric pace. Or, will Arsenal move on Lacazette and bring in Odsonne Edouard in? Still some work to be done to stop us being so dependent on Auba.

Lots of work to be done, but still plenty to look forward to this season!

Wow, I made it to 900 words.

Tell me YOUR thoughts in the comments section. Podcast out a little later. x


Mesut Özil returns to fold in preseason loss. Is this an Arteta olive branch?

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I’m late to the party, buuuuuuuuut… welcome BACK to Arsenal, Dani Ceballos.

This is huge for our season. Dani started 2019 well, then slumped into averageness under poor leadership and an unstructured system. He then made things worse by trying to cut his loan spell short under Mikel… but then something clicked for him and he hasn’t looked back since. His restart stats were amongst the best in the league. He’s proven to be an aggressive presser of the ball, he loves to tackle, his reading of the game makes him expert at interceptions… he’s looked the real deal. Could do with some refining of that final third passing, but that’ll come.

Here is what he had to say.

“I think everyone will have seen last season that from the moment I joined, I bought into the club completely and always gave 100 per cent both on and off the pitch,”

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Poor Alexis Sanchez

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Alexis Sanchez told the world he regretted his move to Manchester United from the very first training session.

“Sometimes there are things that you don’t realise until you get there, and I remember the first training session I had, I realised a lot of things.

“After the session I got home and I told my family and my agent ‘can you not rip up the contract to go back to Arsenal?’. They laughed, I told them there’s something that doesn’t sit right, it doesn’t seem good.

“But I already signed, I was already there. After the first few months I carried on having the same feeling, we weren’t united as a team in that moment.”

Hilarious.

The Chilean was a monster of a player for Arsenal. No doubt. But I feel no empathy for his plight after going to United in one of the most disastrous moves for BOTH clubs. We landed Mikhi, which was horrible. They landed a £400k a week dud. Unreal from his agent, you have to say.

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DANI BOY COMING BACK HOME!

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I have a BUSY day today so I’m going to keep this sweet and short. Did the order of that phrase jar you? Good. I’m messing with your damn mind because it makes me feel powerful.

First up, good news, Mikhi has left Arsenal. A mutual agreement for each party to go their separate ways ends a pretty bland tenure and probably one of the least satisfying transfers of the last 10 years.

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Exit door about to see some action?

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Beep, beep, beep… what’s that you hear? It’s Arsenal doing a 3-point turn on Holloway Road to head the other way on the AMN and Martinez exit plans.

Beautiful prose, I know.

I’m not quite sure the u-turn came yesterday. Ex-Chelsea boss Sarri has said on numerous occasions (before he’s sacked) that professional execs never make decisions based on one game. Whatever the process is/was, I’m pleased that the club is planning to keep two players that have turned their careers at Arsenal around with great performances.

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