‘Arsenal and the ideal summer scenario’
Talent and impatience. A difficult concoction.
Amidst the frustration of not having the budget of those we are trying to catch, Arsenal need credit for their work in the Academy.
This is the hope for progress and the chance to catch up.
Thankfully, the Ljungberg promotion will have given these players hope. A very smart and needed move.
There are problems though….
- They are potential, not proven.
- Emery misused the Academy last year.
- The success of Jadon Sancho going from Academy to €100M talent in 18 months and that changing the landscape,
….. and the biggest problem……
In the past a player like Xavier Amaechi at the age of 18, would have been told that the chances of making it to the first team is small. That he needs to play through all the levels before he gets a chance.
This is changing. In fact it’s changed.
Call it entitlement. Call it unrealistic.
Call it whatever you want, Arsenal have to deal with it and either persuade them to show patience or give them the chance.
This chance ordinarily comes during pre season.
So, here is the next problem.
Almost all of the first team squad will be at most of the pre season giving very few opportunities to these players.
Cech, Lichsteiner, Ramsey and Welbeck leaving opens up opportunity but it’s the timing of the transfers that may prove to be pivotal.
If we want Martinez to potentially be number 2 and we are thinking of buying a number 2 or 3 keeper then we need to buy him late in the window and give Martinez the chance to play 50% of the pre season minutes. We don’t need a new transfer to take this opportunity from Martinez.
Right Back/Right Wing Back
Ideally, we need Osei Tutu to be given an opportunity before he’s sent on loan. If we had endless funds I’d be ok with replacing Lichsteiner as Bellerin’s back up (and first choice RB for first part of season) but with limited funds we need to try to see if Osei Tutu can be that player. Alternative option could be to look at Dani Alves. He’s free and wants to play in the Premier League.
Left Back/Left Wing Back
Another position that needs a signing unless Zech Medley can change that opinion. A centre back that has been tried at left back. I’d try him at CM too.
Again, do we have the budget for all that we need? If that’s in doubt, give Medley most of pre season.
Alternatively, I’ve wondered for a while if we could excite the fan base by signing arguably the best left wing back in the world, Marcelo. He’s apparently looking to move after being the best in his position for almost a decade.
This needs to be our first signing.
We need to give this player a full pre season as the most important partnership in a team is at Centre Back. I’m thinking it’s Sokratis plus one. Certainly until Holding returns.
I’d love to be able to afford Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.
Box to box midfielder
I have 6 ideas.
Five of them come from the current squad.
It will all depend on whether Emery plays a three man midfield. I’d love to see 4-3-3 with wingers, a DM, a passer and a line breaking box to box midfielder.
Option 1 and 2: Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe
Replace Ramsey’s minutes with a combination of the talents of these two.
Could arguably play as the third man runner in a 3 man midfield or an AM in a 4-2-3-1
Option 3 and 4: Iwobi and Mkhi
I’ve always thought that both Iwobi and Mkhi are the third man in a midfield three, not wingers or AM’s.
Their main talent is running with the ball from deep.
Take away the pressure to create from Iwobi in particular and ask him to break the lines and penetrate on the dribble, then feed the wingers and get in box. Iwobi’s success in the final third has actually been finishing from inside the box, not from off the dribble.
I’d try both of them and sell one of them. Mkhi’s wages would make me lean towards selling him.
Option 5: AMN
This would be my first choice.
The guy is a natural at breaking lines on the dribble. He glides. Needs to offer a goal threat if he wants to become first choice but it’s time to give him a chance to play in his natural position.
Option 6: New player
I’d love Foden on loan but City would never do that.
Very interested in Dani Ceballos and VanDer Beek.
With Rabiot going to Juve I’m wondering if Matuidi will become available. Not an eye catching player but much like Wijnaldum, all his coaches have chosen him over others his whole career.
Also, with the midfield I’m hoping for, we will need some seniority.
After starting last season giving accountability to our best players, Emery then seemed to go with seniority over talent.
The stars are aligning for Krystian Bielik.
Torreira, ElNeny and Guendouzi will miss a portion of pre season and Ramsey has gone.
I know he is also playing this summer but he has a golden opportunity to forego some of his rest to play in midfield during pre season.
Quite honestly, unless we plan on playing a one man Swiss midfield in pre season we have no options based on who Emery played in midfield last season.
This may also open up an opportunity for another CB/CM from the U-23’s, Ben Sheaf.
If you’ve seen Zech Medley win balls with his 4 ft legs and stride away, you’d want to see him at CM too!
It will come as no surprise to those that read regularly that I think that Bielik should be the breakout player at Arsenal of all the loanees/academy players. It might be at Centre Back but I think he’s a CM.
This is your chance, Krystian!
Again, timing is vital in how we handle this situation.
If we go on tour with Mkhi and Iwobi as wide options then I will weep.
If the plan is to sell Ozil and Mkhi, be bold. Don’t take them on tour. If you do you will have to play them or they will upset the group. If they aren’t going to be around and you also subsequently upset their potential replacement then you may have lost him too.
Take Saka, Amaechi and Nelson and give them significant minutes.
We play the worlds best teams in pre season who will also have many of their first team available.
Let’s see if Bukayo Saka can take on David Alaba!
If he can then the confidence he would gain would maybe mean he’s probably gonna do fairly well against Luke Shaw.
In order for this to happen it would become important to ideally sign your wingers at the end of the window.
It’s not as important for Carrasco, Fraser etc…, to acclimatize than for us to see if we could perhaps save on a winger because 2 of those 3 looked amazing in pre season against top players. We could then spend more on a centre back and get perhaps get ‘top class’ as you’d have an extra £30M.
I think that our whole window is on hold until we persuade Auba and/or Laca to stay.
If one is leaving then the knock on affect is huge. Maybe Martinelli becomes back up to Lacazette?
Maybe we don’t sign Fraser, we get Zaha and play 4-3-3?
Maybe that leaves more £££ for a centre back?
Much like the wingers, don’t send Nketiah or John Jules on loan yet or make a signing yet. Let them play on tour and make your decision after you’ve seen if Eddie can make life very difficult for Varane.
Eddie Nketiah looks nervous to me.
Show confidence in him and see what he can do.
Do you remember last seasons pre season?
Bits and pieces at best, right?
After it was over did you care about the results or did you care that Emile Smith Rowe and Matteo Guendouzi were given significant time and looked great!
Matteo Guendouzi played in most of our games last season because he was given significant time at the age of 18 and the confidence of the coach.
People were saying we had a £50M player. Remember?
For those wondering if I’m wanting 50% of our starting line up to be 21 and younger, I’m not.
I’d like Krystian Bielik to show he can do what Guendouzi did. I think he’s got a higher ceiling.
I’d like one of our wingers to start too.
I’d like the rest to be valued as competitive options for our bench.
Saka on the bench if Nelson is struggling. Medley as an option at CM against Burnley at home, not ElNeny.
Willock brought on when we need a goal instead of Guendouzi.
Amaechi and ESR start our first Europa and League Cup game.
We just need to pick and choose their moments as there are enough to encourage almost all of them to see Arsenal Football Club as their club.
Do you follow @mike_mmcdonald and @GunnersTown?
Former Highbury regular. Moved to TN, USA in ’99. Married with 3 kids. Coached in UK and US for 27 years.
Mike McDonald Soccer Academy in Morristown TN, Olympic Development coach, Regional Premier League Champion.