9 Arsenal thoughts
1. The common reaction to a player potentially leaving is to find a transfer to replace him.
If Alexandre Lacazette leaves Arsenal, which is looking more likely, then comfort tells me we need to sign a replacement. Odsonne Edouard looks most likely. Due to the talent and age of Martinelli, Nketiah and Balogun, I’d go for the short term fix and guaranteed goals of Cavani.
Hold on though.
If we do sign a replacement then can we expect all three of Saka, Martinelli and Nketiah to stay? Are you ok with one of them leaving?
Two of them see Left Wing as their favoured position. Arteta sees Auba as a LW too. With Tierney likely being first choice LB/LWB, Saka will likely move back to his favoured position, right? That’s 3 big talents all at LW.
If the plan is to keep Auba then one of these three will be upset.
Auba goes back to CF or Martinelli goes to CF.
I’d hold off on buying a CF and trust Martinelli and Nketiah.
If it doesn’t work out, play Auba at CF.
This scenario would leave us with at least two options for the front three. RW.. Pepe and Nelson. CF… Martinelli and Nketiah. LW… Auba and Saka.
The rest of this season will probably be telling as if Eddie thrives then maybe we hold off on buying.
2. I’ve been wishing that Arsenal upgrade from Xhaka and Bellerin. I think Xhaka would be better served in Serie A and Bellerin seems to have been surpassed by many RB’s that could be available.
I don’t think Arsenal will sell either though.
If Arsenal did what I initially suggested then perhaps they find better players but do they lose more than they gain?
I was watching Watford beat Liverpool in February and was trying to figure out why Liverpool looked they lacked belief after clearly showing they lacked effort. The camera panned to the stands. There sat James Milner and Jordan Henderson. Those two are invaluable to LFC. There may be bigger talents at LFC and a lot of them, but football is far more than talent.
I’m reminded that I’d far rather have two 7/10 players with 10/10 mentalities than a bunch of 9/10 players with a fragile mentality in times of trouble.
Beyond David Luiz, I don’t see players at Arsenal that would motivate others when needed. In time I see Tierney, Guendouzi and Ceballos and perhaps Soares and Mari will, again in time.
I think if Arteta wants to replace Xhaka and Bellerin he may need to do it gradually as both are seen as leaders. Not sure either have the mentality of Milner and Henderson, but let’s be fair, who does these days.
3. One of the biggest regrets in my football life was experienced after I stopped playing.
I became a coach straight after and within weeks started to learn so much more than I did as a player.
Your perspective changes overnight. You become team minded, not selfish. You realize that the rules your coach has are necessary. You see the game with a totally different lens particularly standing on the sidelines. You see opportunity constantly, where you only see flashes of options whilst playing.
I think as part of a professional players development, they need to coach a youth team. Many of them kick their heels for many hours a day anyway.
I would’ve been a much better footballer if I had coached before I stopped.
Pepe is the current player that needs this experience the most.
4. VAR is partially killing the goal celebration and now we’ve got non-contact celebrations! Who would’ve thought we’d be here 2 years ago.
5. I’d love Arteta to go to a 3 man midfield.
In the modern game you either need multi functional midfielders who can rotate positions OR you need three specialists.
I’d go for three specialists. A destroyer, a line breaker (on and off the ball) and a play maker.
This summer I’d focus on redesigning our midfield.
I’d be satisfied with Soares as a RB option and Mari to play with Luiz or Saliba.
As explained earlier, I think we have the pieces upfront.
I’d love to have Ndidi and Torreira as our two options as destroyers.
I’d be so excited to see Partey and Maitlind-Niles as line breakers. I know Partey is seen more as a destroyer but his game is fully rounded. He could give us the Vieira-Petit fear factor with N’didi whilst being able to have the freedom to expand his game.
I’d re-sign Cazorla to use him for 1 year before adding him to the coaching staff. I’d reluctantly rotate him with Xhaka, understanding the importance of mentality (see above), whilst preferring Ceballos but knowing that we would unlikely have the funds to purchase him.
I’d keep Guendouzi as he can theoretically play all three roles, with a view to him taking Xhaka’s place in a year. I’d loan Willock.
Athleticism, speed, aerial ability, elite technical level, aggression and creativity would now be seen in a modern day Arsenal midfield.
More importantly we have balance that we currently lack.
6. I think Arsenal will invest in at least two potential stars this summer.
We have had such success the last two seasons in introducing many potential elite players into our squad. I think the introduction of Martinelli in particular will see us go back to Brazil. I think another Brazilian in Willian, will join too.
7. Will the club see the ‘Lacazette incident’ as a convenient reason to sell him? I do.
8. Two decisions that our club should make that would get 100% backing are as follows…
- A statue of both Rocastle and Wright together
- Either a statue or similar recognition of Thomas scoring at Anfield. Michael Thomas may not be as good a player as other ‘legends’ but he is clearly the main contributor to the single greatest moment in the history of the club.
9. Hopping back to potential new players….. I was watching Bayern yesterday and once again reminded of the insane quickness and potential of Kingsley Coman. Looks like Bayern are getting Sane and they aren’t not playing Gnabry. Muller has returned to form and so I wonder if Coman will decide to move on. We don’t necessarily need him, but he is hugely dangerous.
Alongside Coman I’ve found another winger but a different story.
I remember seeing Adama Traore at Barcelona. Wow! What potential!Then at Middlesbrough where he lacked end product. During the 18/19 season he showed flashes of brilliance. This season he has been unplayable at times and found his consistency.
He’s now seen as a £60M+ player who will likely play at the highest CL level.
He’s not the one I’m talking about though, although he’d improve anyone as he’s totally unique.
The guy I speak of is where Traore was in 18/19. Will someone sign Sarr at Watford before he becomes as hot as Traore?
Thanks for reading my random thoughts.
If you don’t mind sending up a prayer for the mother of my good friend @grahamb195 who is suffering from coronavirus, this would be much appreciated 🙏🏻
Many of you know Graham as the one of the best analysts on Arsenal Football Club.
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.