I have a post in the can ready to put up on Arseblog news but his web site is crushed with traffic, everyone has a hot take on the crazy close of the transfer window and they need to spill it, me included. So, I guess I can help you with your hot take by giving you a space to voice it while giving you my hot take.
Aubameyang – hell has frozen over. I still can’t believe Arsenal signed him. Up till the last minute I felt like this deal wouldn’t happen. I’ve never seen a situation where Arsenal needed to trade a guy to another top rival so that rival would do us a favor and trade a guy to a team that we are trying to sign a player from. Massive credit due to the Arsenal admin here, they pulled off what is easily the most complicated transfer of the decade.
As for the player, I’ve already written about Aubameyang over on Arseblog news. He is a poacher of poachers and if his record continues, he isn’t going to score you a bunch of eye-popping goals from distance. He is, however, going to be the first player in the box, he’s going to stand in the six, he’s going to clean up any sloppy clearances, and he’s going to be the answer to Arsenal’s question “WHY WASN’T ANYONE ON THE END OF THAT CROSS???” Auba will be on the end of that cross.
He will also frustrate you. Yep. Get ready to climb on his back! First off, he doesn’t really do anything other than score goals. He’s not involved in build-up, he’s not an outlet, he isn’t a hold-up player, and he’s not even a target man. He doesn’t really dribble, pass, assist, or do much of anything, except score goals. So, sort of like Theo Walcott, but with less crossing ability.
Second, he is NOT Thierry Henry. In their first media interview the dot com have already allowed that disastrous comparison to be made. Henry’s profile is so enormous that his name should never be mentioned in player comparisons. It will only end tragically for that player.
Third, he misses a lot of big chances. This is where I think fans are going to be really upset. He scores a lot of big chances but he misses more than he scores. I’ve watched him at Dortmund for a few seasons now and I can tell you that he frustrated me often with his missed big chances. But Dortmund were great at creating space and chances for him so that eventually he will score. Arsenal, as a team, will need to create a lot of big chances for Aubameyang to be successful. He doesn’t really score regular goals, most just tap-ins and one-v-ones. Fast breaks? hell yes. Alexis Sanchez style, break the opposition down with a clever dribble and dip of the shoulder before firing in a goal from the edge of the box? Not so much.
What I’m saying is that Aubameyang isn’t the kind of all rounder football player who gets picked up by clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, or PSG. Arsenal are going to have to change their style and build a team around him to maximize his ability. That’s not something I said four years ago when we signed Alexis was it? That’s something we have a great track record doing, right?
To that end, signing Ozil (announced today) is a great start. Ozil is criminally underrated for his counter attacking ability but now with Aubameyang (Mkhi) and Ozil in this Arsenal team, I expect the club to drill counters all day every day. This also fits Arsene Wenger’s love for verticality. Like the Invincibles of yore (did they really exist?), Arsenal will need to play “up the ladder” from Mustafi, to Mkhi, to Ozil, to Auba and bang, goals.
You’ll notice that I have Mkhi playing in the middle. Yep. That’s where he will land. He already did a good little job there in his first match, collecting and driving forward. He’s also got such grace and composure on the ball and unlike Wilshere he doesn’t over-elaborate or try to dribble into the teeth of the defense, and unlike Ramsey* he gets forward but picks his times rather than just bombing forward constantly and getting in the way of the other forwards.
Who to play next to Mkhi? Believe it or not, I’d pick Elneny. He isn’t perfect but he’s the best DM that Arsenal have right now. I love Ainsley Maitland-Niles but I’d hate to see him thrown into the middle of the park this season. Or maybe I would? But on current form I have to go with Elneny.
As for the rest of the team, Xhaka must be dropped. He was hiding yesterday and Wenger has taken to playing him in that ridiculous Coquelin “forward DM” role. He can’t tackle, he can’t read the game, he switches off constantly on defense, and now he’s hiding from his defensive duties (which is what Ramsey does going forward all the time). I remember a match against Man U when Wayne Rooney ran right past Denilson who was jogging back on defense. Denilson was dropped the next day by Wenger. Xhaka does this all the time and I honestly think he needs to be dropped permanently.
Does Wenger have the courage? Someone needs to be punished for yesterday’s performance. Who? Mustafi? Cech? Xhaka? Monreal? Who will take the fall?
And finally, Arsenal just spent a ton of money renovating the attack and no money on defense and midfield where we need it. Still, I welcome the new signings. I hope you know what you signed up for and that you’re enjoying the ride as the car takes you slowly up – note the exciting new paint job on our rollercoaster, pay no attention to the fact that our timbers are rotting, and that the safety hasn’t passed a real inspection in 15 years.
*we’ve been Ramboozled by the Welshman running around a lot, he’s the exact problem with Arsenal’s midfield and unless Wenger can chain him to the center circle, I expect he will be sold this summer.