That was that then. The transfer window closed an unsurprisingly, given that so many people talked up ‘madness’ and went on about a defender and Dembele from Barca, there were only outgoings yesterday from Arsenal.
Lucas Perez ended an unhappy two years at the club by signing for West Ham for a paltry £4million and despite the large wages, that is a ridiculously low fee for a player of his quality. There was no doubt players in the Championship with not half of his ability that probably traded clubs in the English second tier for more than that, but Arsenal clearly had a need to lighten the wage bill, so off he went.
Carl Jenkinson remained, Cohen Brammall remains, even Dave Ospina remains – although that will most likely only be for the short term. Danny Welbeck also didn’t do that move many had touted and so we find ourselves with a new manager who has plenty of options for the season ahead.
And now it feels like the excitement can build. There’ll no doubt be a presser this morning and we’re already getting news that Aaron Ramsey is back in training and so should get some more fitness minutes today and also on Saturday. It means we’ll hopefully have him ready for Sunday and whilst the noises of his contract never appeared yesterday and probably won’t appear any time soon, it’s at least good for us to try to put that on the back burner for this weekend at least.
So all-in-all are we happy with the squad?
Personally I’d have liked us to get a centre half instead of Sokratis, but numbers-wise we have enough bodies. There’ll be more emphasis on Mavropanos and Holding to step up this season – especially if we get injuries or suspensions – so a lot of eyes will be on those two. Let’s just hope they live up to expectation.
But going forward there will also be a bit more attention on Nelson and Nketiah too. At least two spaces have been made available for them in the shape of Cazorla and Perez leaving, so I think we’ll be seeing more of them this season, and that’s quite an exciting prospect.
The whole of our forward line is the most exciting prospect in this Arsenal team actually. On Wednesday I wrote about my worry for the back line, yesterday I talked about the potential of the midfield working, but today I have the more positive side of the team to think about because I think we have some real potency.
Aubameyang showed us just glimpses of the player we’ve got from Dortmund but those glimpses last season in the league were awesome. He got goals, assists, some of which playing from wide positions, and if he can stay injury free this season then we’ve got a goal machine on our hands.
He’s also been great for the team and his attitude, gregarious nature and general smileyness has helped to foster that ‘happy camp’ mentality we’ve seen. And I think other players are thriving off of it too. Like Lacazette.
He’s a guy who I think might have a good season this year. He came in to an Arsenal team with contract issues over its two stars, one of those stars being a complete loan wolf, a manager who was in decline, a team who didn’t seem to want to press at all. He strikes me as somebody who suddenly might feel like he’s got more of a team around him to play to his strengths. The talk has been about whether we can accommodate Lacazette and Aubameyang in our team but my opinion is that quite simply, we have to find a way. We have a defence that nobody is really convinced about and so we’re going to need to get goals. Ramsey will chip in, Özil and Mkhi will create chances, but it’s Lacazette and Auba who will be on the end of them and if both fully fit I hope they play lots of football this season.
If that happens the question will be who misses out. I’m not sure our team can deliver the right attacking balance with Ramsey, Özil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette and Aubameyang all on the pitch from the start on Sunday, for example. It feels like somebody misses out. Who that might be we have no idea but given that Emery likes a bit of rotation, I don’t think those players mentioned above will have too much to concern themselves with if they’re not playing one week. They’ll most likely play the next week.
There will be time in the Europa League for Nketiah and Nelson I suspect, but where Welbeck comes in I’m just not sure, because by the sounds of it he was told he could leave this summer and nothing materialised. It may be a situation that he fights his way back into the managers thinking – especially given the energy he brings to the team and how Emery likes that – but I think his time on pitch this season will be limited.
And I wonder if that’s the same for Iwobi. The manager and club have had faith enough in him to give him a new deal, but surely he’s now down to third or fourth in the pecking order for a starting place in one of the wide positions. He’s got a big season ahead of himself as he will need to show a massive upside on what he achieved (or rather, didn’t achieve) on the pitch, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when he isn’t a regular, then gets time on the pitch to prove himself. Does he step up or does he continue to run down blind alleys and deliver no end product?
It’ll be fascinating to see how Emery gets his team to gel in an attacking sense. If they’re pressing higher, winning the ball back further up the pitch and putting teams under pressure early on, then quick movement and speed of thought and pass will be essential for goals and that’s why I think we’re going to see more from Özil and Mkhi. They are the eyes and brains of our team and both will see things that others can’t, so I’m hoping the ball flows through them more.
It’s upon us. The new season is here and after a week in which I’ve scratched my head and been apprehensive about where we’re at, now I’m just excited for the season, and long may that continue.
Catch you all tomorrow.