Pre-Season Thoughts – Will the newly promoted Willock, Smith-Rowe and Nelson get the best out of Ozil, Iwobi and Mkhi?

37517981 2079393122388083 1455590414051442688 n

New Boys

1) There has been a strange pause in our dealings. Almost signed Saliba and then paused. Close on Tierney, paused. Bid for Zaha, pause.

In the first part of this blog, I wondered if we have paused due to prioritizing Zaha.

It could be this but it also could be that Kroenke has agreed to a meeting (apparently re; budget) with Vinai, Raul and Edu (apparently on Monday) and so we have paused as it COULD change our transfer choices.

It’s the hope that kills, right?


2) Is there no particular rush to sign Tierney as he is still recovering from injury?


No rush on Tierney

3) If we get Saliba I am all in favour of the loan back.

I’d be scared for Saliba otherwise. He is barely an adult. Stepping into the (yet again) very frustrated cauldron of the Arsenal fan base who would have laser eyes on him. Expecting to be significantly better than Mustafi. Too much for an 18 year old, for me.


4) One way or another Koscielny will leave. He has taken it too far for forgiveness.

If an experienced player is on the agenda to replace him with, ideally with leadership qualities then there is an option available that would fit perfectly… Thiago Silva.

He has one more year on his contract and is apparently looking to leave now. Emery will be fully aware of his situation with the PSG link.


No way back

5) If it is true that Ziyech is interested in playing for Arsenal AND he is available for €30M, then I will never understand why we are not all over this.

Hakim Ziyech proved last year that he is one of the most talented and productive creators in world football.

What Ozil was at Madrid?


6) With Edu on-board, there is a strong likelihood that future transfers will include players from the South American market.

The current hot pick is Everton Soares. A two way, super quick, very direct goal scoring winger.

Looks like he is an option this summer. Fagner might be a smart choice as a RB option.



7) What did ‘outsmarting the market’ mean?

Did it mean agreeing terms with players and then waiting to buy, making them and their clubs nervous, therefore potentially driving down prices as window draws to a close?

So, are we intentionally waiting until early August?

Why all the guesswork? ……


8) I am of the belief that Arsenal will sign the players needed.

I think that there are too many who are choosing to be negative. If we get 3 points at Newcastle with a new left back, centre back, centre mid and winger with let’s say, Nelson and Willock having had positive involvement, I think our fan base will be thrilled.

I am just choosing not to get upset when I could look silly on the evening of August 11th.

If we leave ourselves short and the performance and result are disappointing then at that point I will be upset.


I am not discouraged because I have seen five very positive things happen since May.


Firstly, as a coach, I see the huge potential in the best decision of the summer… the promotion of Freddie Ljungberg.


I strongly feel that we are often blind to the success we do not see.


We do not see training, conversations that encourage and change a career, who is the catalyst for a decision made, etc…

We cannot be sure that Bold had little impact but I feel very encouraged that Ljungberg will change Arsenal’s future as the Academy has many gems and he doesn’t seem to be happy to be passive.

Secondly, with Edu as well as Freddie we have two players who know what success looks like. They were both part of the greatest Arsenal team of all time and Edu has had multiple recent successes.

Arsenal Football Club need the hope of success.

I looked at our squad in May. The only players who had sell on value were those we do not want to sell.

Every other big team in world football have hundreds of millions of pounds of value in players they could sell if needed. Liverpool’s recent success came off the back of selling Coutinho for £140M.

I say all this to say that I am excited by the smart gamble in Martinelli.

0 Gabriel-Martinelli

Smart Gamble

Alongside the possibility of Martinelli’s potential, we have over 10 players that could break into the first team this season who have a total cost of nothing.

I remember having such a distaste for Wenger’s ‘like a new signing’ soundbite. I now see it with more clarity. Fans want shiny new transfers and do not consider Academy promotion, loaned return or natural improvement as anything to be excited about.

Fans are losing their minds at possibly missing Saliva. He is 18. What if we had just spent £40M on Nelson? We would be so excited because we would all have been on YouTube and someone will have provided a very impressive completion of his skills. What if alongside Martinelli we had signed four upcoming players that have attracted interest from Barcelona, PSG and Bayern!

This is the reality and we have them at our club in Smith-Rowe, Saka and John-Jules.

Then we bought the most physically impressive young player in England called Zech Medley.

0 Chambers-2

Chambers rotates 3 positions

Chambers solves three squad rotation issues and Bielik solves two.

We are largely ignoring those six players because we did not sign them this summer.

Ultimately, we just want some new players who are either better or have the potential to be better very soon, right?

It might be annoying to hear but the absolute truth is that they ARE like new signings because none of them affected the first team last year and they could this year. Additionally, there are many more names that we all know that could break in too.

My last point of encouragement is that we are about to see all of the above and Burton, Olayinka, Thompson, Martinez, Macey, Nketiah and Willock get significant minutes on tour.

As mentioned in my first blog of the summer, I would rather we do not sign certain positions before the tour as a handful of these youngsters would never have had this opportunity.

My son and I are going to watch the Real Madrid game in DC. He looked at their squad list and told me that we are going to be thumped.

He may be right but here is the thing.

We ‘thumped’ PSG last summer but they were smart enough to play their similarly talented youngsters who they are now either playing in the first team or selling for £10-15M a piece.

Do you think they care that Arsenal beat them in pre-season now!


My final thought is often overlooked too.


In my 29 years of coaching a young 15-year-old called, Adam Rhodes might be the most talented player that I have been blessed to coach.

He came onto my high school team last year as a middle schooler playing up.

I knew that he was highly talented and was debating on whether I should start the season with him on the field or not.

I thought he might need to ‘earn his dues’ and ‘get the respect of his teammates.’

I decided to go with another mentality. I thought that if the older boys saw him and realized that he was high level then they would raise their game. Who wants a young player to outplay you, right?

It worked. Many others stepped up their game, some even replicated his skills.


Is it too far to imagine that Ozil will step up because Willock is outperforming him?

Will Mkhi do the same when he sees Reiss?

What impact will Martinelli and Saka have on Iwobi watching from afar?




Arsenal DO need new signings but is it fair to ignore this long list of individuals that could produce exactly what we crave?



, , , , ,

3 Responses to Pre-Season Thoughts – Will the newly promoted Willock, Smith-Rowe and Nelson get the best out of Ozil, Iwobi and Mkhi?

  1. Stanley Eruemulor July 14, 2019 at 9:43 am #

    Brilliant write up if I must say so myself. You are right! But let’s not play down the psychological impact it could have on our opponents. Buying a marquee player says a lot about our ambition and put the other teams to play safe with us. While if we use the youth we have, the opponents might think they can run over us. I’m not against using them, but let’s also add quality to the team. In my opinion, I think Emile smith-Rowe (ESR) is ready to bench Ozil for that number 10 role. We should use him! Cheers.

  2. Gooner Sam July 14, 2019 at 10:41 am #

    Nice post Mike, I am frustrated like you about signings and I would rather see us have glimpses of talent from some youngsters than Ozil, Miki and Mustafi

  3. SammyNelsonsPants July 14, 2019 at 1:16 pm #

    Wow. A thoughtful, considered and not entirely negative Arsenal blog. I’m impressed, and agree with what you’re saying here.

    I thought Medley looked awesome in his brief cameos last season, and am mystified as to why he doesn’t get more coverage. Maybe it’s a good thing that he doesn’t get over hyped though. For me, he should be in the first team squad this year and I’d have no concerns seeing him get picked before Mustafi, in any competition.

    The only one of the current crop of youngsters coming through that worries me is Nketiah. No doubt talented, but he strikes me as one of those players that will struggle to show it in front of 40,000 partisan fans.

    If Chambers and Bielik can get the support of the staff, and show on the pitch that it’s not misplaced, I actually don’t have much of a problem with signing Tierney and Martinelli and leaving it there. We will struggle for top 4 perhaps, but the future will look brighter. Having said that, if 1 or 2 of the youngsters has a stand out season, and we can keep our best eleven on the pitch, then maybe we’ll sneak in. We only missed it by one goal last year, even with Mustafi, Ozil misfiring,Bellerin and Holding out, etc etc

    FWIW I’d back Willock and / or Nelson to have an amazing season that ends with a call up to England, 30+ apps, goals, assists….the lot.

Your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

%d bloggers like this: