19 years on… is Mudryk Arsenal’s 2023 Jose Antonio Reyes January Injection?

Will history repeat itself?

Football history, yes, even before the Premier League, tells us that the most successful teams strengthen when they are on top. The great Liverpool managers of the 1970s always added 1- or 2-star signings each summer as league champions, even though in those days with only 1 substitute, it usually meant demoting a fan favourite. Ferguson always added to a title winning squad and of course, in recent times we have seen Guardiola do it with some aplomb. (Easy of course when money is no object!)

But what of the Mighty Arsenal, and most pertinently today, with only a few matches until the January Transfer Window, what about Arteta’s Arsenal?

Certainly, the latter day Arsene Wenger could, at least from many fans’ perspective, have been accused of being too loyal to players who were not good enough to take the team where we wanted it to go. However, in the early successful years the great man certainly had a ruthless streak and many star players were discarded. At the time, we may have been shocked but more often than not Wenger did know best.

The decision to sell Paul Merson, at his apparent peak, was similar to when George Graham shocked us all by swapping Lukic for Seaman. Particularly when the sale of the Magic Man was to bring in an apparent perma-crock, Marc Overmars. Perhaps some felt the same when David Platt made way for an unknown French chap named Petit, particularly as he had only played in defence for Monaco. Those 2 decisions changed Arsenal from challengers to Double Winners in a season.

Double surprise at expense of Merson and Platt

In the summer of 2001 Wenger swooped for Sol Campbell when he already had 2 of the Spurs player’s England teammates at Highbury. In hindsight, the foresight was obvious, with our skipper, Tony (I’m winning Strictly by the way,) Adams struggling with his back and retiring 9 months later.

Wenger breaking a club record signing fee on Sylvain Wiltord when he already had Henry, Bergkamp and Kanu scoring and creating for fun might have raised a few eyebrows, but again the investment proved shrewd.

Similarly, the fanbase might have been surprised to see the signing of Gilberto Silva in the summer of 2002, when an extremely strong foursome of Vieira, Parlour, Edu and van Bronkhorst had delivered another Premier League and FA Cup Double the season before. Indeed, the signing of the World Cup winner was the ultimate in strengthening when at the top by Arsene.

Gilberto – The Ultimate strengthening at the top

However, I would like to fast forward to now and draw a direct parallel with 2003. Arsenal were challenging for the title back then, as they are now, and it seems money will be made available to Edu and Arteta. The former, our Director of Football, will have witnessed first hand how his old manager strengthened even the very best of squads when he was on the playing staff.

In the January of 2004, Arsenal were unbeaten, had a fabulous squad, with great depth, particularly in attack. Yet, Wenger splashed big money on a young Spaniard, Reyes. At the time, many felt it was a signing for the future, with such a settled and competitive squad. Reyes could play wide, but we had Pires and Ljungberg on fire, with Parlour as back up. He could also play as a second striker, but we had Bergkamp and Kanu. He could also play through the middle where we had the great Thierry Henry and Aliadiare.


Simply a smart decision

The truth was, that Wenger knew his squad could be on the brink of something truly special but going into the New Year, they were still competing on 4 fronts and the need for rotation and rest for key individuals would be crucial. Reyes ended up playing on 21 occasions, scoring 5 goals between January and May. 2 of which at the end of the campaign, deputising for Bergkamp in the 36th and 37th matches, away at Portsmouth and Leicester ensured we took our unbeaten league record into the final match against Leicester.

With one Premier League fixture before the enforced World Cup break, Arteta’s Arsenal, 19 years on, may well find themselves leaders of the pack going into the January window. With the board making money available there are many rumours as to where our manager might look to strengthen, with a left footed centre back, a central midfielder and a winger/striker being mentioned.


Mudryk – This January’s Reyes?

The name that will not leave the back pages, with some suggesting a deal may already be agreed in principle, is that of Mykhailo Mudryk.  The link and possible move for the talented young Ukrainian winger, is the one that excites, and it is also the one that echoes Wenger’s January swoop for Reyes in 2004. Yes, we have fabulous young wingers in Saka and Martinelli, and in an old school sense, none of us would wish to see either dropped. However, the rigours and pace of the modern game are greater, and both our first-choice wide men will need to be rotated and allowed rest. Martinelli may well miss the World Cup, but Saka will not, and our young talisman is being asked to play so much it is a concern.

The decision for Edu and Arteta is simply whether a returning Smith Rowe, along with recent match-winner Reiss Nelson, is sufficient to maintain our challenges on 4 fronts in the New Year, or if a Reyes style injection is the preferred option. Smith Rowe, I feel might provide rotation for Odegaard and Xhaka, with Vieira still struggling to adapt physically, so Mudryk must be a serious consideration. Particularly as the Ukrainian can also play centrally – which provides competition for Nketiah as Jesus backup, which is a further parallel to Juan Antonio Reyes.

Will Reyes history repeat itself 19 years on and will the impact be the same?

Share your thoughts in the comments below…

, , , , , ,

5 Responses to 19 years on… is Mudryk Arsenal’s 2023 Jose Antonio Reyes January Injection?

  1. Cesc Ng November 7, 2022 at 8:23 pm #

    i hope so because sometimes attacking is best defence plus we really needs more players, especially those good players that can make the difference

  2. Welshy November 7, 2022 at 10:11 pm #

    I’d love him to join, it would take us to another level for sure, but priority to me still has to be TP5 back-up. In my eyes, we are a Partey injury/absence from dropping like a stone

    • Dave Seager November 7, 2022 at 10:16 pm #

      True enough but subject for another blog perhaps.

  3. L1ttLRT3 November 7, 2022 at 11:16 pm #

    The management must know they need extra quality to fill the widening horizon of oppurtunity we now have. Arsenal FC must be an attractive proposition for incoming young players and those already there must agree that quality reinforcements will ensure we stay in the game on all fronts and provide chances to shine for all. Strengthening when your winning makes sense if we get the right sort of versatile guys like Zinchenko and sounds like Mudryk fits the bill.

    • Dave Seager November 8, 2022 at 7:21 am #

      Sure they do.

Your thoughts?

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

Designed by Batmandela

%d bloggers like this: