Ozil is staying, Ramsey is happy, and Wenger is sticking with the back three

Good morning, nothing on the transfer front today and I suspect that Wenger’s cheeky transfer business for the season is over. Unless Arsenal are forced to sell Alexis, which Per Mertesacker doesn’t think will happen, then I think we are moving on.

Ozil is almost certainly staying. He stated that he’s happy at Arsenal and I don’t blame him. He’s on huge salary (about to get better), he’s settled in to the rhythms of the city, and he has a manager who has carved out a special niche in the team just for him. Not many teams play with a dedicated #10 so it’s not a bad gig if you can get it.

There will be more speculation over Arsenal potentially signing a number 8 but I’m not seeing any smoke. I’m just seeing the red-tops steaming. I do wonder if the speculation over Lemar and Mahrez is as backup for if Alexis leaves but that’s not exactly a number 8 signing.

I have a feeling, based on quotes from Ramsey, that Wenger is expecting Ramsey to pay off this season. Wenger has publicly announced that he is sticking with the back three (not in every match but they are starting the season this way) and Ramsey feels like it’s a system which suits him:

“The system suited a lot players,” he said. “It gives us a platform to build from.

“I felt good in that formation – it freed me up to get forward a lot more and get into some dangerous positions so I really thought it worked for us towards the end of the season.”

As I have shown in my analysis Ramsey is exactly right, the system allowed him to get forward more often and created opportunities for Arsenal – increasing Arsenal’s offensive output. But the system also didn’t make Arsenal more defensively solid. Arsenal’s defense is the problem and Wenger has a huge hurdle to climb to get the team’s defense down to where it needs to be to win the League. So I’m excited to see if those 10 games were just a blip or if the formation change really makes a difference defensively. To measure that, without people complaining about sample size, we will need to see 10 more games.

Wenger has made a number of changes to the backroom staff, bringing in Jens Lehmann. I think this is also supposed to help the defense? My favorite part of this deal is that everyone gets to make the same joke, “how long before Lehmann starts yelling at everyone?”

Down in Sydney Arsenal have a match tomorrow. The debut of Lacazette. Pre-season friendlies are always good for hyperbole.

And Arsenal announced a third kit. It’s black and pink. I like pink. I wear pink often. Pink is a power color. Pink and black are an excellent color combination. I just don’t buy Arsenal kits any more. I don’t have a reason why I stopped, I just did. I think maybe it was something about a curse. Like when I buy a kit, the player leaves the next season? I think that’s why I stopped.

I thought for a minute last season that I might buy an Alexis kit. You can thank me for one last season with Alexis. It’s all me, for not buying a kit.

Qq

85 comments

  1. If we arew playing with a back three and Sanchez is staying there isn’t really room for Mahrez. Lemar played mostly as left sided central midfielder – so he could actually be competing with Ramsey not Sanchez. Not sure about that either.

    Given defense if the problem do you see us bringing in any top rated CB’s or a defensive/defense minded midfielder

    1. I meant that unless Alexis leaves we aren’t signing either of Mahrez or Lemar. Both are attacking midfielders, both replace Alexis.

      I don’t get too stuck on exact positions on the field. Wenger gives his attackers a ton of freedom.

    1. If you want to, of course. I’ve stopped buying for the moment as I have one in red (Puma 2nd year), one yellow (Nike final year) and one blue (Welbeck at OT, FA Cup). Until one of these needs replacing I don’t feel the need to buy another, no matter how much I may like the new releases.

  2. I think Ramsey is suited to play well in this system and he and Xhaka are probably our first choice pairing. There’s Coquelin to do a defensive minded job, as well as Elneny to work the ball around and keep possession (based only on the eye test). And there’s Jack Wilshere to go running forward as well. Maybe he can stay fit for at least half a season and Santi comes back on schedule?

    Youngsters like Maitland-Niles and Jeff could probably get some game time in that role as well.

    If anything, there’s a problem of replacing Xhaka and not Ramsey in the team. A veteran midfielder to play the Xhaka role would be my preference I think, unless we can get a worldie of course.

    But it seems like any noise is around some young players. Not sure if he’s a CM but Lemar definitely seems to be of interest to Wenger (unless he’s a smokescreen), and Luzhny’s former agent says he watched Golovin at Wenger’s request. Not sure how true these rumours are, but hopefully we will get a CM (not necessarily a No 8)

    As for Ozil wanting to stay, I’m not sure why this would evoke a reaction which seems almost like a sneer. Barcelona have shut up about Bellerin too (Though like Jose with Lacazette they say he’s not good enough) and while we bemoan the club’s contract management on some players, we should also acknowledge when they get it right. Keeping Ozil and Bellerin is important and shows progress. We might just keep Alexis at least for another year and that shows progress too. Now, if only the Ox and his agent would agree a new deal, that would be some good work done by Arsenal.

    1. 1. Arsenal watch a ton of players, so I imagine the Luzhny fellow was probably telling the truth, but I find it highly doubtful we’ll go in for Golovin this summer (for one thing, the last several summers have seen several inaccurate reports about us being interested in Russian players).

      2. Totally agree about missing Xhaka being much more of a problem than missing Ramsey. If we’re looking for a more Ramsey type (aka box-to-box) player then it should be as an upgrade on Rambo, but also someone who can at least fill in as DM (or else, someone who can partner Coquelin better than Ramsey can, so Coq can fill in properly if Xhaka gets injured; what we must avoid at all cost is the dreaded Ramsey-Coquelin axis!!!!!). But in an ideal world, we’d get someone who can both fill in for, and partner, Xhaka (Claude and I discussed William Carvalho in this respect on an earlier thread). And I’d prefer it to be someone young, rather than old (if we’re looking for someone who’d be content to be on the bench a bit). That giant Norwegian kid at Genk we supposedly have been scouting could fit the bill nicely.

      1. Not really. I wouldn’t mind selling him to buy another midfielder. I’d sell him ahead of Coquelin and Elneny.

        I think him pushing for a loan move rather than staying to fight for an Arsenal spot last season made me lose what little sentiment I had for him.

        Still, even if we buy another midfielder, it might be worthwhile to keep him around for the season as a Santi replacement of sorts. It’s not like we’re going to get big money for him anyway.

      2. It hadn’t occurred to me. I wish he wouldn’t: I’d prefer he either stay at Arsenal and prove he’s still good enough to contribute, or else be sold before we lose him for nothing next summer. Maybe we’ll only get in the region of 15m (though anything’s possible in this crazy market!), but if he’s never going to be a significant member of an Arsenal squad again, then let’s get his (not small) wages off our books now! Surely there’s an English team who will take a punt…

  3. We still need an elegant brute in midfield. Someone who can win the ball like Coquelin, and use it like, say, Wilshere. Our middle has too many one-dimensional players. A supreme passer who cant tackle (Xhaka), a good box to box who doesn’t please the fans defensively (Ramsey), a good and tidy if exceptional Jack of all trades (Elneny), a young midfielder who has lost his way, hangs onto the ball too long and is looking slow and ponderous (Wilshere), a guy who’s a good ball-winner but can’t distribute (Coquelin), a crocked talisman and magician (Santi). We are short in midfield. Not in numbers… in quality.

    1. I think both Xhaka’s lack of tackling and Coquelin’s weakness in possession is overstated. However, I don’t disagree. If such an ‘elegant brute’ exists and is attainable, I would want Arsenal to go and get him. I’m not sure who fits the profile though I did like Danilo Pereira’s highlights. Never been convinced by Carvalho and he’s got Mendes as his agent anyway.

      As I said above, I think I’d be happy with a veteran presence to fill in for Xhaka as and when required. Ramsey will be first choice and hopefully he’ll be encouraged and inclined to pay more attention to his defensive duties.

      But of course, I just realised he’s got his own injury issues as well, so maybe a No 8, or better yet this elegant brute who can play both midfield roles, is a higher priority.

      1. I tagged Pereira as the man to get a few days ago, but Pfo convinced me that Carvalho was worth a look. We can get too antsy about agents, I feel. We did have a bid for Carvalho rejected by Sporting before we went in for Xhaka.

        Regarding the shortcomings of players, I agree with you to an extent. But Wenger talked about Xhaka’s poor tackling in a detail that shocked me. I dont remember him ever talking about another Arsenal player like that. It made me think that he disliked the player, that’s how bad the comments were.
        https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jan/26/arsene-wenger-to-accept-fa-misconduct-charge-over-clash-with-fourth-official

      2. Mendes is a snake but Carvalho is not that high profile of a client. None of the top European clubs are after him so maybe he will be less of a puta to deal with?

        In any case, if Wenger does bring in another mid-fielder I think it will be another box to box type. He doesn’t seem to favor purely defensive minded mid-fielders – the ball winner types. He seems to want offensive output from them as well. We do have Coq who fits that exact mold but he was a bit of a freak accident wasn’t he? Remember he thought Xhakha was a box to box player? I am still confused about that one. Fingers crossed we get this right.

      3. Shard,
        Their weaknesses are only “overstated” if we want our ceiling to be consistent top 4, rather than genuinely challenging for the title. They are both good players. Xhaka could be a great player. But we mustn’t minimize their weaknesses because we are fond of them and therefore consistently err on the side of optimism about what they can give us on the pitch with consistency. Wenger makes this mistake all the time, and it’s a big reason he has failed to upgrade on key positions over the past decade when given the chance (not saying there aren’t other, more understandable, reasons).
        We don’t need to upgrade Xhaka, but we need to compensate for his weaknesses, and Coquelin only does that at significant costs when we have the ball. Meanwhile, Coquelin is a great squad player, but he can’t really cover for Xhaka adequately, unless he’s partnered with someone who can compensate for HIS weaknesses, which happen to be very different from Xhaka’s, and in particular not one’s that Ramsey can cover. Ramsey-Coquelin is a disaster waiting to happen if Xhaka goes down or sees red (since Wenger clearly doesn’t trust Elneny much). And Wilshere is either out the door or way down the pecking order, and of course could get injured again at any moment.
        So we need AT LEAST one new, pretty versatile, high quality midfielder (or Elneny suddenly needs to learn how to tackle aggressively and pass less cautiously). But I fear Wenger doesn’t see it this way.

        1. completely agree about Coquelin-Ramsey. Not a combo who should play any significant minutes together.

          I don’t really worry about Xhaka’s tackling. I think he improved as the season went on and as he gets more used to England (and their refs’ special Arsenal tendencies) I think he’ll get better.

          Coquelin’s distribution is decent, but when Ramsey leaves him on an island, it is a recipe for disaster. I’m hoping Niles gives us another option here, and maybe Jeff can play the Ramsey role as well.

          If Ramsey and Wilshere were both reliable in their fitness, I would worry only about Xhaka, but they aren’t and I ended up agreeing with the idea of a versatile two way midfield player, or an elegant beast as claude put it. But AT LEAST one? Come now, don’t be greedy.

          I think we will get a midfielder, but who and how high profile he will be, I am not sure.

          What might also be complicating the issue is Ox’s stated desire to play through the middle. (There have also been rumours of our interest in a Right Wingback like Cuadrado) If that is forming part of the contract negotiations, it affects our buying needs, either way.

          1. 1. I agree the problem with Xhaka isn’t really that he’s not a great tackler. It’s that he’s slow and even a bit ponderous at times.

            2. I’m not expecting getting in more than one midfielder (not even expecting that), but it might be necessary unless the incoming player is versatile, with just the right combo of qualities. But clearly bringing in players requires us to also get rid of some, easier said than done.

          2. Shard,
            Wenger’s description of Xhaka’s tackling technique and effectiveness was harsh. Are we to believe that since that brutal assessment in January, he’s bridged the gap? I don’t think so. I think it was (unintentionally) scathing enough to not be easily minimised, and I therefore think that we remain underserved on defence in midfield, where Coquelin is the only specialist of that kind.

            352 has not just liberate Ramsey… it’s added a layer of security to Xhaka, and he’s less exposed.

            We need to buy class midfield D.

            BTW, I watched Vidal closely in a losing cause in the Confederations final, and he was superb — segueing smoothly between authoritative ball winning and joining the attack. I’m not advocating going for HIM. I’m saying that’s the level we should be aiming for in the market.

          3. I dont know Claude. You’re not wrong and Wenger almost never comes out and criticises his player in public, but I don’t read that as very harsh or stemming from dislike.

            My reading of it was that a) Xhaka wasn’t listening or able to adjust in training, and b) He was playing the ‘diplomat’ in the sense that he was willing to put it on the player to improve rather than blame the referee (Moss) for singling him out.

            The fact is that Xhaka did improve as the season went on. Whether Wenger’s public words helped or not makes no difference really. I think Xhaka is a good player and my feeling is he’ll be better this season. But then I’ve liked Xhaka since a couple of years before we got him, so I’m biased.

      4. Oh, and as for Ramsey “being encouraged and inclined to pay more attention to his defensive duties,” the quotes above about how the new system benefited him because it “freed him up to get forward a lot more and get in some dangerous positions,” is hardly encouraging!! I’m close to giving up on the hope that Wenger can convince Ramsey to be a really well-rounded box-to-box central midfielder first, glory-seeking goal-scoring talisman second. In every interview Ramsey has ever given since 2013, when invited to discuss his own game it’s always about how he loves to “get in dangerous positions” around the box and how that’s “his game.”

        I have high hopes that Xhaka-Ramsey will continue to dovetail, and that Ramsey can keep up his good form and maybe even return to something approximating his 2013 goalscoring self. But for us to challenge for the title either Ramsey needs to stay healthy and be in the form of us life for pretty much the entire season, or else we need to bring in a more well-rounded individual as cover/competition. A bonus would be if that individual had the physical presence, technical quality, and defensive discipline to allow us to return to a back four, at least sometimes, without that meaning we’re vulnerable to getting blown out by the likes of Crystal Palace.

        1. As Tim pointed out in one of his articles, Arsenal needed help in attack last season. Hopefully by adding Lacazette and a healthy Welbeck, that need is reduced and greater focus put on the defensive/positional aspect, of course while still getting forward at times.

          1. But doesn’t it bother you that the number 8 for next season, the guy I think is going to be nailed in for that position (Ramsey), is already planning his forward runs? You probably already know that it drives me nuts.

        2. I will add one other wrinkle: in 2013 (I think) Ramsey had his best ever year in an Arsenal shirt. I wrote a piece about him which basically called him a “five tool” which is a baseball term for a player who does everything well. He scored 10 goals that season, had 8 assists, and made 3.9 tackles per90. Last season he only made 1.5 tackles per90. And his tackle rate has fallen off from 67% to less than 50%. So, I don’t know. Maybe Wenger can convince him to tackle high up the pitch? I’d LOVE that!

          1. Completely agree with these two comments. Would be awesome if Ramsey can return to being a “five tool.”

            This also fits with Claude’s comment about Vidal: Ramsey can be that guy for us (Vidal’s also, incidentally, the right kind of player to partner a Xhaka-type, which is why Vidal-Alonso worked so well at Bayern). The other player that springs to mind is Roy Keane. Obviously Ramsey’s never going to be as skilled or aggressive a tackler as those two, but he has the same extraordinary engine, which few other players can boast. He can cover every blade of grass, as the cliche goes. And 2013 showed he can be an effective tackler, even if it’s not his strongest attribute.

          2. In 2013 Wenger (and I think Bould) talked about Ramsey as having increased physicality and being like a new age Vieira or something.

            Ramsey’s insistence on getting forward all the time does annoy me, especially because it’s not like he can’t be the all round midfielder, or 5 tool, that we need. He’s shown it before.

            Maybe fitness also plays a part in it? He’s always going to look to get forward. But when he’s feeling good, he gets around all over the park and plays the role we want. If his hamstrings are holding up well maybe we’ll see that increased intensity from him even to win the ball back.

    2. Fk it, get back to a back four, assemble and throw LMAO at everybody and rock! I miss lets-see-who-scores-more days

    3. We are short in midfield. Not in numbers… in quality.

      ===

      I agree.

      An elegant brute would be lovely, one who was also of the quality to match and complement the best players in the team.

      However, given that it’s unlikely Wenger will buy this player, I’m pinning my hopes on Xhaka having a break-out season in 2017-18. Of course, the problem is that mobility and speed aren’t necessarily things that can be taught, so I don’t know where to go from here… Trust that a back three can make up for the lack of a quick, genuine ball-winner in midfield?

      1. If Xhaka can up the defensive and defensive game-reading part of his skillset, he’d be an awesome player. As it is, he’s already a very good player, but one of the reasons he resorts to silly fouls (apart from not having tearaway speed), is that he hasn’t read the play and has been caught out of position.

        I like Xhaka. Bigly. Give him time and space and he’s going to pass you off the park. But this from Wenger in January worries me >>>> “He’s not naturally a great tackler. In his decision making he is quite intelligent on the pitch. But it’s more the way he tackles that is not really convincing. He doesn’t master well the technique. I would encourage him not to tackle, to stay on his feet. Tackling is a technique you learn at a young age. You can improve it but when you are face-to-face with somebody, it’s better you stay up. You have to accept that he can be punished for these kinds of tackles now. He has to learn from that.”

        I thought Arsene’s public comments were thoughtless, unnecessarily harsh and indiscreet. But you can’t ignore WHAT he said. If Arsen’s January assessment was true (and he’s the coach, he should know), then we either need a stronger defensive presence to play with Xhaka, or an elegant brute to compete with him.

        Much as I like him, Im coming down with a mild case of the Vermaelens when I think of him. Important season coming up.

        1. Yes, huge admirer of Danilo Pereira as well. He’s got an engine, a turn of pace and uses the ball intelligently. Not spectacular but given Xhaka’s characteristics his ideal partner needs to let him shine, not someone who constantly leaves him to support forward runners. Wenger’s comments were pretty brutal by his standards, but during that same period I remember saying if he didn’t improve athletically he might not make it at all in the England. So I share your worries about him.

          Xhaka did recover well, and it was a pleasure reading jealous rival fans praising his end of season performances. In a few months maybe we’ll look back and see clearly that it was just a “first season in the Prem” thing. But he still needs the right partner. Without knocking Rambo we need a legit 2nd option.

          Wenger has spoken of only “top, top quality” enough times. To live up to his own standard he should definitely sell and upgrade one of either Elneny or Coquelin. The most significant signing the last two title winners made was a CM. It would be Heath Ledger as the Joker-levels of insane to spend a small fortune this summer without addressing that position.

          1. “Not spectacular but given Xhaka’s characteristics his ideal partner needs to let him shine, not someone who constantly leaves him to support forward runners.”

            EXACTLY this.

          2. It’s only partly about letting Xhaka shine. It’s primarily about getting more rounded contributions out of ALL players. I know neither of you mean it this way, but no one has the luxury of a minder these days. Xhaka has to learn more D, to read the game better without the ball and more intelligent tackling. And whomever partners him has to be able to intelligently flip the coin from D to offence, and, when we’re chasing games, sometimes he’s simply going to be left on his own to shield, needs/must.

            I hear what you’re generally saying, though… that it’s a team game, and there has to be smartness and complimentarity.

          3. Ok, clarification: not EXACTLY that, I concede. I don’t think Xhaka needs, or deserves, a “minder”. But we need someone who compliments his game rather than “constantly leaves him to support forward runners.” That’s the part I was agreeing with. Ramsey can be that guy decently well, I think. But will he consistently?

          4. Noticed you pretty much stated the same thing earlier.

            And it’s so true about Ramsey’s comments. We’ve had too many players focused on playing in their preferred position or style, without prioritising or even understanding what the team needs to control games (assuming wins come as a result of doing that first). This can’t be another season where we let guys like Wanyama, Herrera, Romeu, or Gueye run riot against us.

            Seri is definitely the type that gets everyone else the ball and improves our play overall, same size (same height, couple kilos lighter) as Kante, but maybe doesn’t tackle and intercept enough for our needs. Tough call to make for the club.

          5. Agree in your assessment of Seri. Looks like a lovely player from his youtube clips and I wouldn’t complain if we go for him, but also looks more like a Cazorla-lite than a Kante, despite the similarity in appearance. Maybe he could be somewhere in between the two, which could work out really well, but his stats have me worried, as he doesn’t tend to make many tackles or interceptions. So I fear we’d still be a bit defensively lightweight in there if he were partnering Xhaka (maybe he’d go well with Coquelin?) especially against the other top teams, with United, Chelsea, and Spurs (at least) all likely to have very physically imposing midfields. So even if he made our midfield run much more smoothly in possession than it has done without Santi in recent times, and this helped us against a lot of the weaker teams, we’d still end up snugly back where we were a few years ago: comfortably in the top 4, perhaps, but miles away from the title simply in virtue of picking up so few points against the other big teams.

            But all of this is obviously just idle speculation, as it’s a long shot we’ll go in for Seri, and if we do he could be very different than I’m imagining.

  4. And on kit, Tim, the solution is simple…. Mertesacker 4 in pink and black. Or Lacazette 9. Can’t go wrong with the first, long odds on the hex working with the second.

    1. We used to get those kinds of articles all the time. In fact, one of the very first Amy Lawrence articles I read was about how Arsenal were a breath of fresh air in the transfer market. I think that was from 2001.

      But as with all things, that air grew stale and we ended up being the butt of transfer jokes around 2008-2010. Since then, the story has changed once again to “Wenger finally spending.” Next will be “Wenger most wasteful manager ever”. Probably pointing to his spend over the last four years and lack of trophies compared to other clubs.

    2. They really did used to write articles like that about us. About how Wenger wanted to win it ”his way”.

  5. I love the black and pink jersey. I’m gonna get one. Probably one without a name. I think the time to cast off my Wilshere jersey is near.

    Do you really think we are done with transfers? The new system does suit Ramsey better but he will get injured after a run of 10 to 12 games right after he starts looking like a world beater. That’s what usually happens. I think we need a world class central mid. Don’t see us winning the league without one to be honest – and any long term injury to Ramsey or Xhakha will eff us royally. So I do hope we get at least one more player even if Sanchez stays. Wenger did say he was looking to bring in 3 players. I would rather it be someone in midfield.

    1. Yes to all your points.

      Like you, I don’t think we are done with incoming transfers, and it’s based on our rumored interests in a central midfielder (rumors that have died a bit in the last month, to be fair).

    2. Oh wait… don’t get me wrong. I want a great midfielder to come in. Keita would be immense. Alcantara would be perfect.

      I’m saying that I think WENGER is settled and I base that off his latest quotes. I put Arsenal’s interest in Lemar at about 20%.

      1. 1. I agree with all of you we really should go in for another midfielder.

        2. I nonetheless share Tim’s worries that we are done in the market, because this is Wenger, and in spite of some folks remarking on how positive it’s been to “get our business done early,” we’ve seen this before: last year with Xhaka, a few years ago with Giroud/Podolski. Early activity followed by NOTHING until the very last minute if at all.

        3. However, I think Tim is a bit off base about our interest in Lemar. Of course Wenger’s going to play coy when asked directly, but the most reputable sources have suggested we are very interested, that we’ve gone in with two bids already, and that we’re preparing a third. You don’t put in THREE bids for a player unless a) you like that player a lot, and b) you have some confidence that you can get him. John Cross and Jeremy Wilson both reporting yesterday that the club are “increasingly confident” (or something like that–one of those weaselly transfer gossip phrases) that they can get him. There’s definitely significant smoke there. On the other hand, it still feels like a long shot to me, unless we’re really willing to break the bank, as Monaco don’t have to sell and really don’t want to sell.

        4. While the Lemar signing would be very welcome news, fun and exciting, and certainly way better than not getting anyone else in, I think it would still feel like way too little if that’s the end of our business. And I do fear it would be the end of our business.
        I think these things because:
        a) if Alexis stays, it’s really hard to see how we can accommodate Alexis, Ozil, Laca, and Lemar in the same team, unless we switch back to a back 4. I can’t see Lemar being ready, at this stage in his career, to be a central midfielder or wing back. And switching back to a back four could be really costly if we don’t sort out our centre midfield issues, especially for our defense and for our ability to break a high press. But I think Wenger will be tempted to do so, knowing him.

        b) On the other hand, while I don’t think our pursuit of Lemar is at all contingent on what happens with Alexis or that we’re only pursuing him as an Alexis replacement, I do think that if we get him in, it makes it considerably more likely that Wenger will consider taking the money and selling Alexis, probably to City (and probably only for around 50m). This ain’t great.

        c) We need a central midfielder more than we need a Lemar type if Alexis stays (and just as much if he goes), and I REALLY fear that Wenger is putting all his central midfield eggs in the Xhaka-Ramsey basket. Yes we were reported to be interested in box-to-box types in the spring, but NOTHING reputable reported all summer on that position (the closest thing, I think, is rumors that we were “still interested” in Jean Seri, after his Roma move collapsed). I think the FA Cup final performance probably convinced him to stick with what we have. The other thing is, if Wenger wants to keep the Ox, and the Ox is voicing his concerns about getting playing time in the center, this also might be an obstacle to us going hard for a new, high quality CM, at least until one or two others (Wilshere and/or Elneny?) are sold.

        1. I agree that Arsenal bid once on Lemar, that was reported in the Guardian. It was a £31m bid and Monaco’s response was £80m or nothing. I know that I’m alone in this, and I’m being probably a bit of a ass, but I give zero credibility to John Cross and Jeremy Wilson. Cross is a shill for Arsenal and the Telegraph has been taken over by a click-bait editor. These two writers are notorious for the hype-then-bash-when-Arsenal-don’t-sign cycle of news stories.

          As for where Lemar fits at Arsenal, the reason I think Wenger sees him as an Alexis replacement is that he’s a wide midfielder and made 33 of his apps on the left. He is also a stats stuffer: he dribbles, he creates, he scores. I think Wenger sees replacing Alexis with a guy who is more team oriented and having him feed/feed off Laca and Giroud up front with Ozil creating everywhere else. It’s just a theory.

          Logically, though, Monaco doesn’t need to sell Lemar. They are going to get £90m for Mbappe from Real Madrid. That’s why I think this is dead. That and I have changed my mind on Alexis. Unless he goes crazy, I think we keep him. So, my “pre-action” from a few weeks ago was “pre-mature”. But it was entirely based on facts from trusted sources.

          But we do agree: we both want a new number 8 and Wenger is probably going to ignore us!

          1. I don’t think Cross and Wilson are the world’s greatest journalists, but when they say clearly and unequivocally, “Arsenal have made a second bid for Thomas Lemar in the region of 45 million euros,” I take that as very probably true. Plus, I think it was reported on the French side as well (get french football, and probably l’equipe?), though I can’t remember and maybe they were just relying on the English media…
            Still think it’s going to be very, very hard to make happen, unless the player throws a fit or Monaco inexplicably decide to cave and take the money they don’t need.

      2. I think what Tim and Pfo said are all true!

        Are we really interested in Lemar, yes. Will we get him, probably not this season.

        And no, Mbappe isn’t going to Madrid to see his long term value diminished by lack of playing time, playing the role of the Morata replacement.

        Which is why Lemar will stay at Monaco. He wants to leave but the club will keep Lemar to keep Mbappe happy.

        Now what about a sneaky Juan Cuadrado loan singing….

        1. Cuadrado’s like 29. Not for me, unless we stupidly sell Ox and have to find a backup right wing back pronto (though Reiss Nelson looks like he might not be too far off being ready for that role!).

  6. Because I’m a bit sad, and starved of Arsenal content, I actually flipped through the pictures on the dot com of Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi, et al looking at koala bears at some zoo in Australia. It struck me that Elneny looks like a brown Ed Sheeran. This made me think of other Arsenal personnel past or present that reminded me of celebrities. Fabregas, for example, always looked to me like Mark Ruffalo. Ivan Gazidis = a bald Jon Hamm. Petr Cech = a younger Peter Stormare. Danny Welbeck = young Wesley Snipes. Etc.

    1. All I saw were 9 pictures of some guys afraid to feed a kangaroo and 3 pictures of men holding each other in amazement while watching a koala.

  7. Fabinho is the man we are dreaming off. He is the last missing link that makes Ars a well rounded team. Reminds me of Viera. He can pair with Ramsey as well as with Xhaka.

    1. YES to this. He’d be amazing, and you’re right he has the versatility to partner either (or any of our others, for that matter).
      But not going to happen. Monaco don’t want/have to sell, Man United are interested (whereas nothing on our potential interest), and Mendes is his agent. So he’s going to United if anywhere.

      1. Who is Danilo Pereira’s agent? Is it a Mendes hattrick? If so, that sends all my potential midfield EB (Elegant Beast) signings in the Mendes, and therefore not happening, bin.

        Only basing it on the highlights I just saw, but while Fabinho would work well with Ramsey, I couldn’t help but think he and Xhaka would be an awesome PL pairing. Like Vieira-Petit level.

        Still, must remember, not happening.

  8. My simple view is that we do not have a ‘functioning’ midfield partnership to challenge for the league, wenger stumbled on coq-zorla before and we lost momentum last season stumbling to get xhaka and Ramsey to work requiring a back 3 (stats not reinforcing results).

    The problem is we have injury or discipline concerns which compound this working xhaka/Ramsey workable recipe and in reality too many specialist types so there is no perfect partnership profile or like for like back ups to seamlessly replace.

    It’s for me a glaring hole. We need technique, mobility and athleticism in equal measure there.

    Another squad one player away?

    1. Nailed it. You said succinctly what I’ve been saying in long, rambling paragraphs for weeks on here.

      And indeed, it seems there’s a pretty strong consensus on these points on here, but sadly Wenger doesn’t frequent 7amkickoff (as far as we know…:)

  9. That’s why I buy jerseys but hardly put the names of current players on them. Currently I have :
    6 Adams
    7 Pires
    8 Ljungberg
    10 Bergkamp
    11 Ozil

    All on recent season jerseys. Nice and safe.

  10. Wenger rarely criticizes players in public. His comments about Xhaka staying on his effing feet and Ramsey minding his defensive duties struck me as directed straight at the players — through the press. I think this is a valid, frequently used technique when a manager is at his wits end.

    As for another midfielder, we need one. We’ve been overly reliant on Santi the last two years. We have a new formation that may have brought a new midfield combo to the fore, but the issue of a lack of depth is still painfully apparent.

    New formation, different players, same basic issue. Contenders do not assume key players — especially ones with poor track records — stay healthly!

  11. There were 3 things Wenger said he wanted to do right after the season ended:

    1. Keep Sanchez and Ozil
    2. Buy 3 players
    3. Trim the squad (he didn’t say this directly but he said the squad was a “bit heavy”)

    So far, we have bought two players. I think we will bring in one more player but we will trim the squad before doing that. We seem to have done well on the first two buys. Let’s see how well we trim the squad. I suspect we will buy a third player towards the end of the window if we have handled that right. They would rightly want to recoup some money from the sales of Perez, Gibbs, Szczney and maybe a couple of others. If Sanchez goes, I expect a flurry of activity towards the end and two new players to come in. Maybe I’m being naive to expect this but given what was said, this is what would make sense to me.

    You never know with Wenger though. The Wenger we have seen in recent years would probably take a look at Wilshere, Cazorla and think they may be able to come back in the 2nd half of the season. That might de-prioritize the midfield for him. He may even be waiting to hear an update from them. He has taken these sort of gambles in the past and it has NEVER worked out for him.

    I am glad to see most posters are generally in agreement on our midfield situation. If we see the issues, surely Wenger does too. I hope we see a more aggressive Wenger who is going to go for it rather than the Wenger of recent seasons.

  12. central midfield has been arsenal’s biggest weak spot whenever cazorla’s been unavailable. arsenal switched to three in the back to compensate for a weak midfield, not a weak defense. the problem is when cazorla’s out, who takes control of the midfield? there’s too many young guys that just don’t know how to do that. ramsey is the senior but he often plays with the maturity of a 19 year old.

    as for xhaka, he’s fine. it’s a natural progression and wenger’s done an outstanding job bringing him along. unfortunately, there was the injury to cazorla that curtailed his progression and forced him into the team. i believe he’ll prove a top player in the next year.

    the part about wenger putting players on the spot in the media is a page he’s copied from gallas. back in 2010, gallas tried to get through to players and after many failed attempts decided to spotlight certain problems publicly. while few condoned the idea of making team business public, very few argued the validity of his points. i believe wenger tells a player until he gets tired, then he says it in the media. this causes both media pundits and arsenal fans to pay attention to what the player’s doing and puts pressure on the player to get it right. xhaka stopped going to ground so it worked. however, not for ramsey. we’ll see.

    going forward, i believe chamberlain’s time has come. i believe he’s a better midfield option than ramsey. wenger needs to give that kid a chance before he leaves. as for xhaka depth, he’s the only defensive midfielder in the side other than cazorla. coquelin may be smart enough tactically to give a decent product in the 6 position but he’s not a dm. while i’d love arsenal to have depth at the 6, it’s easier said than done.

    1. Actually I never thought ox could play centrally, he looks like he gives the ball away too much? Not sure why you would think he ‘ll do better than Ramsey, who quite arguably has shown/produced a lot more…

    2. This. You need someone who can tackle, and Ox is not that person. CoqZorla worked, because one of them was a true stopper. Chamberlain and Xhaka is an opposition press waiting to happen. Ox, as we know though, is superlative going forward. Like Theo, I think he’ll find that his preferred position is not necessarily the team’s best one for him. Ox would be great central midfielder. At Southampton.

      1. The truth is somewhere in the middle here, I believe. Ox is still too much of a “head down” player, which is why he loses it in dangerous positions sometimes. But this can be improved with time in the middle, learning to be better aware of his surroundings, which is very different than when playing on the wing. He really, really, hasn’t played in CM for Arsenal very much in his five (is it five?) years at the club. He CAN tackle, as he showed last year in a few games (e.g. Chelsea away), he can dribble his way out of trouble, which is something Ramsey can’t do, and he has a really nice range of passing when given time on the ball. But again, the hope would be that as he gets more time in the center, he will begin to need less time on the ball to pick his passes.

        Ramsey is the better, more aggressive tackler, and has the better engine (though Ox isn’t a slouch). He’s also obviously better at playing the “Lampard role” from there. He looks more natural in centre mid right now, but he’s also had much, much more experience there. I certainly don’t think Ramsey, at present, gives us a better chance of breaking a high press than the Ox (indeed, I think Ramsey has tended to be pretty rotten in those situations), though he might be more conservative in possession when being pressed, thus ensuring he’s less likely to make a really glaring give away in a dangerous spot.

        Both have potential to be what we need in there. I think Ox’s ceiling is higher, but right now he’s behind Ramsey in his development in the position. I think either would have to significantly outperform what I expect them to do in order for them to be “the answer” in that position for us this year (i.e. play well enough for us to mount a title challenge with either of them playing as regular CM starter).

  13. i just saw giroud’s interview where he discussed the possibility of leaving the club this summer. he seemed resigned to the idea. i can’t confirm the story but i’ve heard arsenal gave him the option to remain in london instead of traveling to australia. how must that feel?

    i simply don’t believe lacazette can lead the line to good affect in the bpl the way giroud does. we’ll see.

    1. I hope we don’t sell Giroud. But I can understand him wanting to go, especially with the World Cup next year. Maybe he’s been told how much game time he can expect and so he’s considering leaving. Apparently Dortmund are an option.

      If we’re selling both Perez and Giroud, we’re relying on Walcott at CF I think, and though that can and has worked, I’m not sure it’s the best thing for us. Even though that is about the only spot Theo fits in in this formation.

      I’m also eager to see some of our young attackers in action in pre season. Sadly Mavididi is injured, but Reiss Nelson is widely seen as our best prospect. I’ve also had a feeling about Malen. He just has the look that he’s going to make it. Obviously too early for this season, but that’s part of the fun of pre season (and maybe the League Cup again)

      1. theo only works against poor defenses and he doesn’t fit anywhere in this team. no way should he be in the team ahead of lucas. you want to keep alexis sanchez? keep people in the side that he would enjoy playing with, i.e. perez while dropping a player he doesn’t like to play with, i.e. walcott.

      2. I think if it came down to keeping Giroud or Theo personally I’d prefer to keep Giroud.

        As you say, with Giroud it’s probably more about game time. Even if Arsenal sell Perez and Theo(ha ha!) he could still find himself 3rd choice behind Lacazete and Welbeck.

        Frankly he’s too good for that.

  14. lacazette off the mark. like i was hoping, lacazette played as a striker behind giroud and showed his finishing qualities. giroud made a good early run to take the defense and lacazette made a very intelligent run to the penalty mark to finish iwobi’s pull back. gotta keep giroud in this team.

    theo walcott was so poor. it’s like this kid is actually getting worse. nuts that arsenal brought him to australia but left perez in london. i would give theo walcott away. he’s simply not good enough to play in a top bpl team.

    1. I think on the Theo vs Perez thing, it’s more the case that one of them is agitating for a move, while the other one is more than happy to stay at Arsenal until retirement and pick up his large wages, playing about half the time.

  15. So Daniel Levy gets £50m out of Manchester City for Kyle Walker. Lukaku a reported £90 with add-ons. When will this madness stop?

    1. £50m for Kyle Walker to City is hardly shocking by today’s standards.
      Easily one of the top three fullbacks in the league and with the premium put on this particular position – fullbacks/wingbacks , and Guardiola’s hell bent attitude on winning the league this year, plus the shortage of available players makes this transfer very logical even at these prices.

      Besides, when did Levy give anyone away on the cheap anyway?

      1. Is he one of the best fullbacks in the league, or did Pochettino make him look like one? He certainly didn’t look like one of the best before Poch got there…

  16. I wonder if a move for Mbappe to Real in the near future affects the future of Audembang(sp). The impression I got was that Real is his preferred destination too. Would Real buy both?

  17. Kolasinac was a free, Lacazette cost 60m.

    We’re going to sell Szscesny (10m… I hope at least), Gibbs (2m), Ospina (6m), Jenkinson (2m), Perez (10m).

    That right there knocks our net spend to 30m. And that doesn’t include the potential sale of Oxlade-Chamberlain, who will definitely bring us to net zero spending. If we sell Giroud (which I don’t think will happen) we’re into positive territory.

    Wilshere will probably go out on loan because he’s crocked and nobody seems stupid enough to spend 10-15m to get him, which should be the minimum price for an England international.

    So all of those salaries come off the books, including Debuchey and there’s your pay increase for Ozil at least. I’m not seeing how we’re moving forward this transfer window, it seems to be treading water.

    1. We’ll get considerably more than 2m for Gibbs. Closer to 8-10m, if reports are even remotely accurate. We also can offload Campbell, presumably for AT LEAST 5m (if we can’t get 5m for him in this market, we are terrible at this whole transfer market thing). We’ve already sold one of our youngsters, I can’t remember which, to Wolfsburg (I think) for 2m! If that’s anything to go by, we also might get 1-2m for Jon Toral, who was Birmingham player of the season 2 years ago in the Championship, is a creative player, and is still only like 21 or 22.
      Oh, and in addition to Debuchy presumably going on a free, we’ve gotten Sanogo’s salary off our books. I’m still holding out a tiny bit of hope that, come the end of this window, when Theo realizes how little he’s going to play this season, he’ll want a move and we’ll be able to sell him to an “ambitious” mid-table PL club for 18-25m. But I know I’m dreaming.

      1. So all that to say, I agree with the implication of your comment: we really should be spending more.

  18. Am I the only one that likes Nelson and bramall?.. these guys have got amazing footwork…wow Nelson especially is so classy… that c**t is defo not 17..

Comments are closed.

Related articles