Players we are keeping an eye on this season

A lot of former Arsenal players (both beloved and not) are still plying their trade in football this next season. So, I’ve compiled a small list of what’s happening with them, where they are playing, and what I look forward to seeing from them this next season. Each section will have an over/under prediction section as well.

The Ox

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is one of Wenger’s best ever bits of transfer business. Made 132 appearances for Arsenal over an injury hit career and while he showed flashes of brilliance, never seemed to reach the heights folks predicted he would. Wenger sold him to Liverpool for £40m and it looked like it was going to be a mistake on Arsenal’s part as he kicked off the first season with 3 goals and 7 assists in 16.6 90s. But in 5 years at Liverpool, Ox never recovered that first half-season’s form and in the last three years played a combined total of less than 1400 League minutes as he struggled from one injury to another. Now signing at Besiktas and at 30 years old he’s sure to have limited impact. I’ll be checking back on his stats but I probably won’t be watching him play since Turkish football isn’t my thing.

OVER/UNDER: under 20 full 90 equivalents

Granit Xhaka

Atreta and Edu managed yet another transfer coup moving Granit Xhaka to Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £25m. I was thinking about watching a bit more Bundesliga this season so I might latch on to Bayer just because. The big question for me is where he plays for them this year. He really struggled at Borussia and Arsenal in the DM role and unless Xabi Alonso has lost his marbles I expect he will put him in that modified #8 role that Arteta played him so that he has zero defensive responsibilities. It will be interesting to see what Xabi does there.

OVER/UNDER: over 1 red card

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Signed for Lyon on a free and joins former Arsenal captain Alexandre Lacazette in France for what looks to be another tumultuous season in Ligue Un. I do watch Marseille pretty regularly (more on that in a minute) and I’ve seen quite a bit of Lyon last season because of their superstar midfielder Rayan Cherki. One of the first things Maitland-Niles said on signing for Lyon is that he’d prefer to play in midfield but will do whatever the team wants. If he’d have had that attitude a few years ago he’d probably still not be at Arsenal. AMN will probably play RB at Lyon. He will absolutely not start in midfield unless pretty much all of their current young superstar midfielders pick up season long injuries.

OVER/UNDER: under 3 goal involvements

Folarun Balogun

I beg the gods that Arteta keeps this player. I don’t really care if he wants more playing time. We need to be working this young talent into the starting lineup and developing him in training. That said, Arteta has earned a measure of trust from all of us and if he wants to get rid of a guy who can get you 20 goals a season, then that’s his prerogative. I just hope we get £50m+ for him. I think Inter Milan are in for him and if he goes there he will once again prove himself to be invaluable and quickly become a starter.

OVER/UNDER: if he goes to Milan, over 15 goal involvements next season

Alex Iwobi

Has there ever been a player who divides opinion as much as Alex Iwobi? I would honestly take him at Arsenal RIGHT NOW because he would add huge depth and push several players for a starting berth. He can carry the ball, he’s got decent vision, and he connects the midfield to the forwards so well. Unfortunately a lot of folks hate him. I’m not going to go out of my way to watch Everton (because they are probably going to get relegated) but when it’s on I’ll watch for him. Tied a career best in goal involvements last season with 9. Hoping he kicks on from that this season, though with Dyche at the help it seems unlikely.

OVER/UNDER: over 12 goal involvements

Guendo and Auba

Hey look, I like watching Marseille for the drama of it all. Everything: the fans setting the stadium on fire, the players going berzerk, crazy score lines, firing their best coach, the players downing tools, fights, you name it Marseille has it. The football isn’t too bad but the drama, the drama is REAL good. I mean this is a club that has Guendouzi, Alexis Sanchez (returning according to rumor) and now Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Last year they also had Nuno Tavares, Malinovskyi, Payet, and Kolasinac (who is probably the sanest person in the whole of Marseille). In 2022 they fired Jorge Sampaoli and installed Igor Tudor. On June 1st Tudor resigned saying that managing one year at Marseille is like managing two or three years at a normal club! The new manager is Marcelino and he’s already lost his first match: 1-0 to Panathinaikos in the Champions League qualifiers. Auba started and Guendo came off the bench (for 5 minutes). How long will the romance last? LOLOLOLOL.

OVER/UNDER: Marcelino won’t last until January.

Pepe, Lokonga, Tavares, Soares?

Where are these guys going to go next year?

Pepe is a straight up bust. Three goals from open play last year, whole games with no contributions. He’s also on a crazy salary making him mostly unsellable. Lokonga was ok at Palace but didn’t quite kick on the way we would like and I expect him to be sold or loaned again. Looks like Burnley are interested. That would be a good move for him. Tavares was hit or miss at Marseille, mostly miss. He might be going to Bundesliga. Soares, well, I always forget he’s at the club. No one wants him as far as I can tell and I doubt he’ll even be included in the Arsenal’s 25 man official roster. Arsenal need to deal with these players and hopefully get some cash out of them. I’m not going to be angry about it if we don’t but I thought I’d put it out there.

I still think there’s a salvageable player in Lokonga but the rest are just bad buys. It happens! And it’s also true that guys like Soares are going to be incredibly difficult to move on because of their salary. This is just the cost of doing business at the Arsenal’s level. If we can recoup just about anything out of these deals it’s a bonus.


One comment

  1. You’ve also still left out two guys that also have zero role at the club: Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney.

    Tierney on his day is the best left back in the PL, while Holding is a perfectly functional Premier League level center back. If I am going to hazard a guess- West Ham for Tierney because of the Scottish manager connection, and Everton for Holding because Dyche will have so much fun with a player like that

    It looks like holding midfielders are the current hottest commodity in world football so I think our plethora of midfielders are going to be hoarded unless the club gets stupid money for one of them.

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