So where else do we start this morning than yesterday’s press conference in which Arsène seemed to all but admit that Alexis is off this January, but only if a replacement can be found and I must admit, at least it’s all out there and we know what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks.
Because let’s face it Arsenal aren’t exactly masters of getting deals done quickly so I’d expect this one to go right to the end of January. Sadly.
The way the Alexis situation has been handled at the club is a travesty and once more last summers last minute indecision just feels like another example in the litany of examples that Arsenal is a shambles from an administrative point of view. Mismanagement at our football club at the beginning of last summer has put us in this position and the result will almost inevitably be that the Chilean will be a Manchester based footballer by February 1st.
Arsène was right in his assertion that you cannot replace a plate like Alexis, but what the club must do now is move heaven and earth to find a player who can be effective in the final third (not Iwobi), who can contribute with a goal tally (not Iwobi) and who can contribute by being an effective wide forward (certainly not Iwobi).
There’s talk of Malcolm and maybe he’ll come in and be a fine player but at 20 years old it would certainly be a gamble from the manager. But that’s where we’re at I suspect. Arsène balks at high fees most of the time and so any kind of grand gesture like a signing of Draxler would be waaaay our of his comfort zone. So too would Mahrez because Leicester are a sensible enough club to get their players to sign long term deals so that they can price them out of moves. Aubameyang isn’t something we’re looking at and he isn’t a wide forward anyway.
And I do think we need to look at width. The only player in our squad who offers genuine width is now openly being courted by Everton and Sam Allardyce was very clear in his message yesterday when he said they were after Walcott. The players time at the club is done, he isn’t getting games at Arsenal and he doesn’t influence matches as much as a senior pro like he is, should do. But he is a wide forward and when he departs we won’t really have anyone who can fill that role so it has to be the club’s number one priority at the moment.
It’s all a bit of a mess. It wouldn’t surprise me if we ended this window with at fewer players than we went into it with and it also wouldn’t surprise me if the club are in surplus when it comes to transfer monies recouped.
But enough of the transfer tittle-tattle. It’s boring and I can’t be arsed if I’m honest with you. So let’s move on to the team news ahead of tomorrow’s game. The medical room still has a fair few bodies in it but at least Jack Wilshere isn’t one of them and perhaps Mesut Özil can make it back, but at least Ramsey is in contention for a place. Given he’s been out for almost a month I suspect he’ll be starting from the bench. Longer term there is a certain question mark over Jack, Xhaka, Ramsey and now with Coquelin gone Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but I suspect those questions might just be put to one side for this weekend with Nacho, Sead out – meaning Maitland-Niles deputises on the left and Jack and Xhaka will probably stay in the middle for this weekend.
More on the specifics of the game tomorrow but the composition of the team right now looks a bit of a mess with all of the injuries and question marks over so many players’ futures. Added to that will be the fact that we could be even further away from the Totts, or United, by the time we take to the field tomorrow and the pressure will be on a team that hasn’t seemed to cope too well with it this season.
We need players to discover their form towards the end of the season and nobody more than Lacazette, who Arsène also spoke of, saying he’s sure that he’ll rediscover his form. Personally I’m not as concerned in him as I am the whole team and the way we go forward. Mainly because in the games where he’s been quiet it’s tended to be where he’s isolated. Like in midweek. Those games happen but Lacazette is clearly a quality player and we should be playing to his strengths. Perhaps one of the most positive things to come from Alexis’ departure will be that a player can be bought who compliments Lacazette and maybe even Özil. Alexis is an individual talent. Perhaps a player who is better as part of a team. A player who can find space, or pick a pass when Lacazette runs in behind, is what we need.
We’ll just have to wait and see how this one unfolds over the next two weeks I guess.
Right, I’m offski, so you have a good one.