How Arsenal can potentially restart in 2017/2018

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With many of our major stars contracts in limbo and the manager situation up in the air, it seems Arsenal need to restart. Who ever the manager is there seems likely to be major changes in the playing staff as well as backroom staff.

The article will be based on the assumption that Arsene Wenger will be the manager for next season and Sanchez/Ozil will go. It does not take into account the contract situations of  the other players such as Wilshere, Gibbs, The Ox and Cazorla to name a few of the others. Below are just some issues I think the club need to address on the pitch.

Youth investment:

When Arsenal were at their best Wenger would constantly buy the best youth players from all over the world. Players such as Fabregas, Cliche, Oxlade Chamberlen, Theo Walcott and Van Persie were all brought in at a younger age, we also went after Christiano Ronaldo. We are losing top quality players to Chelsea and Man City, they offer higher wages but much less chance into the first team. Some of you may suggest putting all the investment into the first team now but strong clubs survive on long term planning.

We need to have a big recruitment drive across the world, particularly following how Dortmund attract top young talents.

Long term first team replacements: Goalkeeper

I think Cech is a top class goalkeeper but with age against him and the likely departure of David Ospina Arsenal need to start looking long term. The candidates for this role are:

Joe Hart – Would be an ideal keeper for the next 5/6 seasons for Arsenal. He brings a bit of leadership and passion to Arsenal something we lack. The only question is if Manchester City would sell him to us.

Jordon Pickford – Although he has only one season of first team experience under his belt, he has already shown he has quality. The transfer could be more likely if Sunderland relegate this season. He would have to wait his time though to displace Cech. Is he willing to wait his time?

Gianlugi Donnaruma – Only 19 but is already Milan’s number one and also heir apparent to Buffon. It would take massive offer to take him from Milan and also to fend off interest from other big clubs in Europe.

Long term first team replacements: Outfield

Our troubles seem to have stemmed from the Santi Cazorla from injury. We do not have another player who can transition the play from deeper in midfield all the way into attack. With his age, contract situation and injury record it might be worth bringing in a younger player to replace him long term.

With Ozil and Sanchez also likely to leave that leaves a serious lack of goals and assists drained from this side. The suggested players are:

Asier Illarramendi – Although he probably is slightly more defensive than Cazorla, he is still a player capable of controlling a midfield. Constantly linked with Arsenal it could actually happen this year.

Kylian Mbappe – If we were sitting here 10 years ago Mbappe would already have been an Arsenal player. Young, French, plays up front or on the wing and a hot prospect. This signing could go down as another we have missed in five years time when he is banging the goals in for a rival of ours.

Bernardo Silva – A player who can offer something a bit different. I think we probably will not get this man with Man Utd and Chelsea also in for him, but trying for him might not be the worst thing. If we can persuade him to join Arsenal it could be the game changer we need. A little like the Bergkamp signing.

Romelu Lukaku – Again another player Arsenal should be going for if we are to show any ambition. Yes he will be expensive but given his age the return will be there from Lukaku. It looks like he will leave Everton with many clubs circling around. Arsenal should be one of these clubs.

Arsenal should also look to buy stronger players who add value with work rate passion and those who are tactically aware. These are skills that the current Arsenal squad are lacking.

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We can’t let Oxlade-Chamberlen go!

 

a.espncdnWith the 2016-2017 season drawing to a painful close, all eyes will turn to what happens next at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger has never looked so shaky in his position, some of the top players are not closer to signing a new contract.

One of these players who’s contractual situation is less so reported is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlen, with only just over a year on his contract we could be set to lose one of our biggest talents to a rival.

Losing Alexis and or Ozil would be a massive blow for the club, but these players would more than likely go abroad. If The Ox left it would be more than likely he’d go to a direct rival of ours. Most likely one of Liverpool, Manchester United or Manchester City.

It all smacks of a badly run club, totally different to what we had when David Dein was at the club. A massive summer is coming up for Arsenal Football Club, change is needed!

The club in general need to pull their finger out and start to act quickly, if they dilly dally like always we will not only be looking for a new manager come the summer but also looking for replacements for Sanchez, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlen and Santi Cazorla (all players who’s contracts are close to finishing). At the age of 23 he can still become even better and add constancy, which another top manager will be able to add to his game.

We just cant let him go!!!

Please comment if you agree/disagree.

Leadership and defensive composure under question!

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It annoys me when a pundit such as Graham Souness talks about Arsenal. For years he’s been blubbering on about defensive frailties and a lack of leadership at the club. He constantly talks about how Arsenal can never win the league under Mr Wenger.

Over the years I have overlooked his comments as being someone from the ‘Old School’, i.e. someone who was dirty and did not care about the beautiful side of the game. However it is getting harder and harder to ignore such voices.

Everything the Souness spouts on about seems to be right, when the going gets to the toughest Arsenal fold like a pack of cards. Alexis aside there seemed to be no one on that field against Man City who really could, pass, shoot or even run.

The problems stem from Granit Xhaka in midfield, I have never seen such a weak performance, especially from a player who came with a massive reputation. He still has age and time to improve, but he will have to learn very fast.

Behind Xhaka and Coquelen we had our so called captain Koscielny and Gabriel. The later probably could not get into the Sunderland side on current form. Neither player showed any kind of dominance, no leadership and most worrying of all, the ability to string a simple 2 yard pass together.

Koscielny on his day is probably one of the leagues top defenders, but he can also have days where he has an absolute stinker. Yes he does not have Mustafi next to him to help out, but surely for such a good defender he can do better. Is he really the right choice of captain?

It is time Arsenal invested in a leader, he doesn’t have to be better than what we have he just needs to knock a few heads together in times of toughness. Viera, Adams or Keown would have rallied the troops at 1-0 up yesterday, this is something the Koscielny simply can’t do. Even an average player such as James McCarthy would make a difference. He might not be as talented as Coquelen or Xhaka but he surely will bring more in terms of the physical and mental side to the side. Danny Drinkwater is another who comes into this category. Players like these will improve their game, but bring another side to the game.

Ultimately I still truly believe that Arsenal missed a golden opportunity to get Jurgon Klop, this surely will be something we will rue in years to come. Wenger has an important January to come, if he is not wise we will see another battle for fourth.

Long term Cazorla replacements

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The Arsenal November curse (if this really exists) seems to have struck again, with no win in 3 games. Although this year it hasn’t been as bad as past seasons, I prefer to think of it that we have played three top sides and not lost. One worrying thing which has been highlighted though is Arsenal poor performances, lacking any fluidity going forward from the back. Can this be linked back to the injury to Santi Cazorla?

His last game was in the 6-0 win against Ludogerorets, since this game I cant remember a match that Arsenal have been that convincing. We have had a poor 0-0 draw against Middlesborough, Giroud saving the day against Sunderland and Man Utd late on, a laboured 3-2 win against Ludogerorets and draws against Spurs and PSG where we were outplayed. Cazorla’s absence may not be the only issue, Ozil’s poor form and Sanchez fitness issues could also be a factor.

Wenger has also hinted that Cazorla is this years Wilshere/Rosicky/Diaby or Vermealen as he doesn’t know of an exact return date from injury. Couple this with Cazorla turning 32 next month Arsenal need to start looking elsewhere for his long term replacement. See below my thoughts on potential options:

Jack Wilshere: (Current Side: AFC Bournemouth – Loan – Age: 24)

I personally think we have missed Wilshere this season, ironically he hasn’t had an injury yet at Bournemouth and is putting in great performances week in week out.  He would be starting alongside Coquelin for me in the absence of Santi.  Would it be a risk to put all our eggs in the Wilshere basket going forward? If he can stay fit (BIG IF) he’s the guy to make us tick in the absence of Santi.

Leon Goretzka: (Current Side: Schalke 04 – Age: 21)

Another German midfielder off the conveyor belt. He fits the build as to what Arsenal require from a midfielder. Primarily a defensive midfielder, but a goal scoring one. At 6’2 in height he has the power Arsenal lack in midfield, age is on his side, he has captained Germany at younger age groups and he also has the ability to get forward and grab important goals. His passing and movement are a bit in question compared to the likes of Cazorla but this is something that can be worked on. His natural ability to control a midfield would be a huge bonus for Arsenal.

Koke: (Current Side: Athletico Madrid – Age: 24)

A well known player in European football, Koke has a very similar game to Santi Cazorla. Being comfortable in a deeper midfield role but also very technically sound. His knowledge of plays and vision is similar to that of Xavi Alonso. Such a signing would be a statement, the only question is if he would want to leave Athletico Madrid, if so it would be close to £50mil.

Manuel Lanzini: (Current Side: West Ham – Age: 23)

A bit of a surprise inclusion into the list of potential replacements to Cazorla but in my mind an able replacement. He has experience of the league and living in London and we have seen how much of a talent he is, at 23 he will only get better. Like Cazorla he is able to play in both the attacking positions or a deeper role. We saw in the Arsenal game away at Upton Park last season how he bossed the midfield, not with strength and power but with a clever football brain. The only downside is that West ham made his loan signing permanent at the start of this season, so there would be no sale unless its a outlandish price.

My choice would be to assess Jack Wilshere’s fitness at the end of the season and possibly giving him the chance to take over first.

Could Ramsey & Arsenal part ways?

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The injury to Aaron Ramsey has come at a very unfortunate time in the Welshman’s career. This seems to be a bit of a constant problem for the 25 year old, in the fact that he always seems to pick up an injury when he’s on top form. In his absence it seems that Arsenal have now found a consistent formula in the midfield.

His injury and Jack Wilshere’s loan move away to Bournemouth have made the team selection pretty straight forward for Wenger. There is either Coquelin or Xhaka at the base of the midfield with Santi Cazorla as the link man, playing behind Mesut Ozil. The right wing position has now been filled by  Theo Walcott and the impressive Iwobi is now the first choice on the left wing.

There is potentially a change to happen if Giroud was to be fit. This may see Sanchez move back to the left wing in place of Iwobi. All of this means it will be harder for Ramsey to get back into the side.

In terms of talent he probably is one of the best midfielders at the club, being able to play in a number of roles. He can be the link player in midfield or play on the right wing, both positions he does a solid job. His best position however is the number 10 role (playmaker), a role we saw him play very successfully in the summer for Wales.

His biggest talent is getting into the box at the right time and scoring a goal. Ramsey and Wilshere have a problem in the fact that their best position is the number 10 role, a role which is currently occupied by Mesut Ozil. I have no doubt that Ramsey can do a sterling job in that position but if it came to picking out of the two right now I would have say Ozil has to stay there.

For this reason we will see Ramsey yet again be deployed slightly deeper in midfield, it is likely that he will drop back into the role currently occupied by Santi Cazorla. He can play this role well, but it is not his best position. At the age of 25 there may be a knock on Mr Wenger’s door asking to be played in his best position. Eventually it may have to come down to a straight choice of the two.

It will be a very tough conversation to say to a very talented player that he is not going to play in his favoured position at the club. For this reason I feel that one of the Ramsey may eventually decide to look elsewhere in the not se near future. For the record I hope he stays at Arsenal, but would not begrudge him a move away to another big European side that can play to his strenghts.

Please let me know if you think this is an actual problem that Arsenal will face in the near future by leaving your comments below. Please also share if you think this was a good read.

Can Alexis lead Arsenal to the Title?

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There are many factors that will decide the destination of the league. One of the factors which will decide Arsenal’s fortune is the form and fitness of Alexis Sanchez.

The combination of Oliver Giroud’s injury, Perez finding his feet in the team and Walcott  know realising he’s a winger has meant that we have seen the first sight of Alexis as a striker. So far we seen the Alexis experiment work wonders. The usually flying winger has started 8 games and has contributed to 9 goals for the side, most of these as a striker.

The above stats just highlight how important Alexis is for Arsenal, but the key question is can he keep up the form upfront over a prolonged period? Throughout his career Sanchez has generally played off the wing or with another striker. His partnership with Vargas for Chile has been very fruitful.

There is no place harder to ply your trade up front on your own in the Premier League. Case in example is Andrie Arshavin who was left out to dry by Wenger when he inexplicably picked him as a lone striker against Stoke at their strongest.

What Arsenal now have with Sanchez working out is two options, when Arsenal play sides such as Burnley or Stoke, Giroud would work better up front or with Alexis. Against the top sides who come at Arsenal a bit more, Sanchez up front will be deadly. A horses for courses approach should be taken this season.

The season will be interesting but the signs are promising for Arsenal.

Arsenal finally have a defence

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Arsenal seem to have finally found the missing piece of the defensive puzzle. The signing of Mustafi so far looks to have plugged the hole created by numerous average defenders that Arsenal have had over the last few years.

The injuries to Mertesacker and Gabriel may have seemed like a major problem at the time, but this could have been the best thing to happen to Arsenal this season. It meant that Wenger was forced to buy. Mustafi now seems like a bargain, a snippet of the price paid for John Stones by Manchester City.

The injuries also meant that we got to see the other new centre back Rob Holding in action. He looks to be the real deal, lets just hope he can develop the way we all think he can. We have seen a few games with Mustafi and Koscielny now at centre back and they seem to have the early signs of what looks like a complementary partnership.

As a back five, Arsenal can now boast to be up there with the top premiership sides. I would say only Spurs can match us in terms of defensive quality, although we shade it with our strength in depth.

Hector Bellerin, Petr Cech and Nacho Monreal now make up the rest of the pretty solid defence. Having the odd defensive lapse is what has cost Arsenal in the past, lets hope the guys at the back can keep up the good performances.