‘Nine Arsenal Thoughts’
By Mike McDonald
1) Why are Arsenal taking so long to buy players this summer?
I think that this has everything to do with their pursuit of Zaha, for two good reasons.
Firstly, I think that we are not wanting to purchase other players until we know how much we have to spend on Zaha. Big difference between £70M and £40M if we can include players in a part exchange.
Secondly, I think that our summer transfer strategy to ‘pretend we have only £40M’ is to allow us to act poor during negotiations. Many have said this and I understand that this is not an original thought, BUT what if we are not closing deals for Tierney, Saliba and possibly others because we don’t want the media to be talking about how we ‘clearly have more than £40M?’ Again, this would possibly hinder our purchase of Zaha as they’d potentially realize that we aren’t ‘poor.’
Alternatively, are we bidding, pausing, agreeing terms with players then getting close to purchase but not pulling the trigger because we are hoping or even asking the player to push for the move? The Tierney deal smells this way. Bid low, agree terms with him and then make him nervous that the deal won’t happen as Tierney sees us go quiet for 2 weeks.
2) Who is going to start the season at right back?
With Bellerin missing for apparently the first 6 weeks of the season we have a continuation of last seasons dilemma. With Lichsteiner gone, Osei-Tutu on loan and Jenkinson surely to be sold, will it fall to AMN? Is he finally going to get a deserved chance to play in his natural midfield position? I hope so.
I’m scared it will be Mustafi, wonder if it will be Chambers, hope for Dani Alves but think it will be Cedric Soares.
3) If we sign Tierney, do we sell Monreal or Kolasinac?
I think this totally depends on formation.
If we plan on playing a back three I think we keep Monreal to be a centre back option and Kolasinac to be a wing back option.
If we play a back four I think we sell one of them.
Kolasinac improved last year but if we need an extra £15-20M maybe we sell him.
4) The Mustafi situation
I’d love to sell Skhodran Mustafi.
If we don’t I think we improve simply by not playing him.
He played way too much last year and was given extra buckets of grace.
In previous seasons when we allegedly tried to sell him we still played him.
Just don’t leave yourself short of numbers at CB, please Arsenal!
He only needs to play at home against the third place team in the Slovenian league in the EL when first place in the group is already secured.
5) Centre Back targets
I watched Dortmund play last season almost as much as Arsenal.
Here in the States we get Bundesliga every Saturday morning at 9am.
As Arsenal rarely played at the Saturday 3pm BST time slot I watched Dortmund often over the PL
game. I saw Dan Axel-Zagadou play often.
He reminds me somewhat of Mamadou Sakho at Palace. Both players make me nervous on the ball as their posture tends to telegraph their passes.
On the upside, once you get past what you THINK will happen and watch what is actually happening, he is very good.
To be fair, he has almost every quality needed at CB.
He is quick, fast, confident, intercepts well, unmatched in the air and has good positioning.
I met him in a hotel in Charlotte last summer and can report that he is a man mountain of an athlete.
I also met Diallo his Dortmund teammate who is allegedly up for sale (Dortmund will only sell one due to Hummels return) and he is also a very impressive CB. He is also the most intelligent footballer I have ever come across, for what that’s worth.
We were apparently looking at Izzo at Torino but I think his price put us off.
Mario Hermoso at Espanyol is my pick. Has a relatively cheap release clause and has everything Arsenal need.
6) Lemina and ElNeny
Mario Lemina is a much better player than I think Arsenal fans realize.
He offers two of the three main qualities that we need in our midfield…. athleticism and ball carrying ability. The third is goals and he has potential in this area rather than stats to back up his prowess.
My only concern is whether this would hinder the opportunities for AMN.
Can we persuade Southampton to exchange him for ElNeny?
7) Dani Ceballos is going to make me cry.
If as reported, Dani Ceballos goes to either Spurs or AFC then I will either cry out of sadness or out of joy!
He is what we wish Xhaka was.
8) Will we make another ‘Guendouzi signing?’
Perhaps this is not necessary as we have so many young players in the Academy knocking at the door. If I was making the choice I would be super tempted by a player that has seduced me already…… Dominik Szoboszlai.
He is a central midfielder from Salzburg.
In all my years of watching YouTube clips of players I have never seen such a natural footballer as this guy. Watching someone make the difficult look effortless is such a joy.
Check out this link…
9) I’ve got a feeling…
…. that Martinelli and Nelson will be pushing hard for minutes after pre-season.
I think Martinelli is better than people realize.
Watching Nelson play in the U-21’s I saw a totally different animal. He was so confident and hungry.
It’s interesting that the club have used him twice in the last week to be the spotlight player for social media postings. It seems like they want him to feel important.
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.