Keep, Discard, Nurture? Arsenal’s squad tagged for January 2019 transfer cull

The hot news of late is that we are in for Barcelona’s Denis Suarez and even Benetia.

But then whilst the club in some part can be commended for its part in getting in transfers, if we analyse the squad, are there players whom we should either:

Is Suarez incoming? [Getty Images]

  • Keep
  • Discard
  • Nurture


It’s true that the squad needs replenishing for various reasons, and it needs to be better balanced to compete at the levels we require.

But who can best enable us to do this? And who should be cut?

It’s clear that Emery has his own style, and the additions of Torreira and Guendouzi show (in the midfield at the least) where he wants to go. He wants hard-workers and has identified this area clearly in terms of weaknesses. Clearly, our midfield balance was all wrong in past seasons, and this is slowly being rectified.

Sokratis also shows a different direction, in terms of physicality and attitude. And overall, many players have improved via a vis previous seasons.

But let’s see who else can make this cut, or to reference golf, will not be up to par:



Leno has done well in the side thus far. Keep.


Leno – Keep. Has been error-prone, but generally is a good shot-stopper and commands his box well.

Cech – Keep. Has improved this season vis a vis last season, but not as adept at the ball under his feet. Can add some experience in the coming seasons.

Macey – Nurture. Could learn under Cech/Leno.

Martinez – Nurture. A loan move may be beneficial for him.

Ospina – Keep. A controversial choice, perhaps. But I think he can be an Emery-type keeper akin to Leno, and I don’t think he has been as bad as made out. Yes, he’s made errors in his time here. But he’s also had numerous performances where his saves have won points. Games against Spurs, PSG, etc. in his time were not losses in part to his shot-stopping.



Sokratis has done very well this season. A certain keep.

Bellerin – Keep. Has improved a lot this season, and showing his 14/15 and 15/16 form. Still young, and could be a big star to come. His playing style is matching his dress sense.

Monreal – Keep. Not a long-term option, but then he has the consistency and experience to add to the side.

Kolasinac – Keep. Offensively, he’s up there with the best in the league. Maybe he could be a wide-forward? This may be a stretch, but he has provided a lot attacking-wise this season. Defensive positioning is his weakness, which he can improve.

Lichtsteiner – Discard. He has experience, but he has committed several errors of late, which belie this. The Liverpool and Brighton games show this.

Jenkinson – Nurture. This may seem an odd choice for some. But then I don’t think he’s as bad as made out, and he seldom ever has had a long run in the side. When he has featured this season, he hasn’t done that badly. I’d give him a couple of years, and then sell or move him on.

Koscielny – Keep. I don’t think sentiment should feature here, but I like Kos the Boss. The Brum League Cup final error was bad (but Szczesny had to take some blame too), but he did well to recover to be one of the best CBs in the league, and arguably the world. From 2012-2016, he was prime for us and France. But then he is increasingly injury-prone now, and his experience and tenure can be valuable. However, I think he is better as a back-up than a starter. He clearly is reaching the end of his career, and may be used sparingly due to this.

Mustafi – Discard. He has improved somewhat this season. But then he is still error-prone, and despite his WC-winning pedigree, he is not a top-level defender in my view. He is not rubbish, but not top-four level, which is where we wish to be.

Sokratis – Keep. He’s not slow at all, which was the billing when he joined. He has brought a unique dimension to our office and is very Bould/Keown-esque in his defensive capabilities.

Holding – Keep. DEFINITELY keep. The injury is a blow, but then he can be a mainstay for us and England for years to come.

Chambers – Nurture. This may surprise people, but he’s still young, and hasn’t really gained a consistent place in the side. With some ageing defenders, he could feature more in coming seasons.

Mavropanos – Nurture. He has the potential to be a top player, and like Chambers could benefit from the ageing defenders in the side.

Medley – Nurture. He has potential, seemingly. But he needs more game time to get accustomed at the highest levels.



Elneny has done OK, but it may be time to move on.

Xhaka – Keep. He has improved this season with Emery in charge. And I think our improved midfield balance is aiding him. In past seasons, he had to alternate between Ramsey and Wilshere, who were very progressive players. For now, Torreira and Guendouzi allow him more time and space to get forward and provide long-range distribution.

Maitland-Niles – Keep. CERTAINLY so. He is playing more so in the midfield and is an Emery-type player in his energy, drive, and work-rate. If he continues, he can get in the Euro 2020 squad. Maybe if he does well, the UEFA Nations League finals later this year.

Elneny – Discard. I like Elneny. Yes, he’s not flashy, but his role is to keep possession ticking over, and he does this well. I don’t think he’s rubbish at all, but then I think there are better options out there.

Torreira – KEEP. He’s emerging as the best mid of his type in the league. Though in a few years, he could be a City, United, or Real Madrid/Barca player. But this is how it works, naturally.

Guendouzi – KEEP. He’s very young but provides a different dimension, and for me is more akin to Vieira than Torreira. He is more comfortable on the ball, and Vieira was a near complete midfielder in his passing, strength, aggression, and physicality. Guendouzi can be this, but he’s not there yet.

Ramsey – Discard. Well, this is self-evident, but the club clearly has its reasons for letting him go.

Iwobi – KEEP. He is improving this season, and I believe he can be top-level in years to come.

Willock – Keep. He is proving well in the side and can be top quality in years to come.

Smith-Rowe – Keep. He has done well in the Europa League games and could be bright in years to come.

Ozil – Keep. Yes, he’s inconsistent. Who knows if he’s injured or not? Or has a chronic injury? Whatever the truth, it is worth keeping him based on his qualities.

Osei-Tutu – Nurture. He hasn’t featured much, and it would be telling to see what he can do here.




Nketiah may need more nurturing.


Mkhitaryan – Discard. He is strong technically, but his end-product has been sporadic. Yes, he’s scored goals, but then not on a consistent enough basis.

Aubameyang – KEEP. KEEEEEEP. A world-class striker, and the best we’ve had since Henry himself. As good as, nay better, than Kane, Aguero, and definitely Lukaku.

Lacazette – KEEEEEP. Not as prolific as Auba, but has a more expansive game than him.

Welbeck – Discard. I like him, and his work-rate and energy make him Emery-esque. But then there may be better options out there.

Nketiah – Nurture. He needs a loan move, but his misses vs. Blackpool to some degree don’t favour him. That said, he is not getting consistent game time, and he may need this to mould his talent further.

Saka – Nurture. He has potential but needs to be developed more.

So this is the squad overview. I’ll comment more in subsequent articles on which players can best fill the voids from those available in the marketplace.


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