Happy Sunday to you and yours. After a glorious day of sun yesterday, in which I even managed a spot of practice fly fishing in the back garden of the in laws, today is looking decidedly greyer, sadly. Still, that appears to be inverse in comparison to the Arsenal universe, as everyone seems to be decidedly more upbeat thanks to the comments by both the club and the manager on Friday. It’s amazing what a couple of comments from the boss and the official site can do to lighten the mood. Of course, people are still a little apprehensive, but with Arsene saying that the club remain active, plus stories coming out about a double swoop for Lacazette and Mahrez, the outlook looks decidedly brighter.
I’m personally not so sure on the whole ‘double swoop’ story. I have a sneaky suspicion that if we get one player, we won’t necessarily get the other one, as I think Arsenal will look at filling one gap and rotating players across the positions. For example, if we sign Mahrez, I would expect Arsene to look at Giroud, Alexis and Walcott as the centre forwards, with Iwobi, the Ox and Mahrez as wide options. From that six, you have two sets of three that can be interchanged. If two come in, you’re really looking at – i would have thought – at least one leaving. I don’t think Arsene would offload anybody except potentially the Ox, but with a good goal under his belt, plus the fact that it’s common knowledge that he’s been working hard this summer to get ready for the new season, I suspect he’ll be given a chance to prove himself.
So for me, I think it’ll be one or the other out of the two rumoured players, with Mahrez probably being the most likely. If that does happen, are we ready for the start of the season? I don’t think so. Unless Walcott does something impressive in pre season that means the manager decides to give him another shot up front, but we’ve already seen for ourselves that it just didn’t work for him in Arsenal’s current set up. It’s weird though, because I would have thought that the way we are set top, it should be perfect for a player like Walcott. He’s a guy that likes running in behind, utilising his primary asset of pace, looking for the players in the wide positions and Ozil to feed in behind. But when Walcott’s form tails off, it really tails off and last season he looked like he simply couldn’t buy a good performance. ]
His stock is a bit damaged at the moment, because of that form at the end of the season, but some decent pre season showings will at least give some hope that he can be effective. He has to be, because when we play Liverpool, it looks like he’ll be the one who will be given the nod, unless any other players come in. If that happens, we want to see the Walcott that helped to dismantle United, not the one who ran into corners of the pitch or fell over the ball. If he has the pace of Iwobi and Mahrez either side of him, however, perhaps there’s a different dynamic that we could see at Arsenal at the beginning of the season? Who says we can’t have three players who are all quick and can rotate across the forward line? Who says that it wouldn’t work? We’d have to change the style of play and essentially ditch the whole ‘target man’ thing we have going on with Giroud, but that’s exactly what we would have had to have done if we’d have signed Vardy.
I’d like to see Mahrez. And he’d definitely get in to the team, despite what Ranieri says about him perhaps not playing as much, which I think is another attempt by the Leicester manager to keep one of his stars. I can understand that. Mahrez and Vardy were the two main reasons that Leicester were able to have such a successful season. They’ve already lost Kante and if they lost Mahrez, it would be the biggest test of his ability to keep the momentum with the tam that swept to the title last season. But Mahrez would definitely play at Arsenal. I wouldn’t have said the same about Vardy, because his style of play is suited to a certain game, but Mahrez is different. Mahrez has the technical ability to weave in amongst defenders, to operate in close quarters, so that’s why I could see him at Arsenal. Those types of games where we’re facing nine men on the edge of their own box, with little intention of pushing forwards, which we need somebody with that clever bit of guile to create something out of nothing. That’s what we’d be getting in Mahrez.
But it’s all just bluster at the moment. I think we’ll have to wait a bit for this to pan out. Sadly. But such is life. Patience is a virtue not particularly well know amongst the Arsenal fanbase. But I think we have little choice.
Until tomorrow, friends.