The last Arsenal ‘shake up’ occurred after the abomination of a defeat to United back in 2011, when Arsène finally admitted in August that the team needed a heck of an overhaul to even get close to competing for top four that he brought in Big Per, Arteta, Benayoun and Andre Santos as the window closed. Back then it smacked of a desperation of a man that knew he had problems. But to his credit he acted, we went on to finish towards the top of the league and in subsequent seasons even got back on the trophy trail.
Last season his desperate lunge to recapture some form took the form of a formation shift but, having now seen almost a year of that, the players aren’t responding.
This season he’s turned to transfers – both in and out – and done what looks on the outside is throw a lot of cards with players names on and see who lands face up.
Yesterday was crazy. This whole January has been crazy.
- Coquelin gone.
- Walcott gone.
- Giroud gone.
- Alexis gone.
- Debuchy gone.
- Bielik gone – on loan.
- Pleguezuelo gone – on loan.
- Akpom gone – on loan.
- Jeff Reine-Adelaide gone – on loan.
It’s been such a culling I am trying to work out if we’ve ever had anything even half as busy as that in January. I certainly can’t remember.
Admittedly half the players on there will be out for experience but still, that’s some work done by the admin team. It almost feels like Operation Deadwood 2.0. We all thought the season in which Arshavin, Denilson and Bendtner were shunted our would mean an end to the ‘Deadwood’ series, but clearly somebody commissioned a second.
But the good news? Plenty of cash from the wage bill has been stripped, meaning Arsenal could do what I honestly think was possible and get Mesut to sign a new deal. At 29 and clearly the leading light in this Arsenal team, Mesut has signed on for three and a half years and I have to say that was the bit of news that pleased me the most yesterday. Genuinely.
That’s not to say I’m not delighted with the signing of Aubameyang – he’s an elite player who will improve us no end – but the confirmation from all sources except Arsenal yesterday had me grinning from ear-to-ear because right now he’s the only man who is offering any semblance of quality in this Arsenal team.
On Tuesday he was the only player in that stupid blue kit worth watching. By committing to Arsenal he’s putting his faith in the club that we will do what’s needed to develop a properly assembled team around his talents.
Yes the figures are eye watering, yes there have been questions in the past about his consistency (which is tosh if you ask me) and yes, there will be the cynics who will say he’s chosen a comfy life at Arsenal with a fat pay packet. But right now who cares? He’s our shining star and should be paid accordingly.
His team have played this saga majestically though you have to admit, because with Alexis out the door and overtures from United supposedly on the table, they have leveraged that to make Arsenal blink and give him what he wants. And actually in this market, with what players of his quality are paid and with him having to endure being in a team with our defence and attack, it is worth the money in my opinion.
Now what is needed is the team needs quality around him. Defensively there needs to be action in the summer. We won’t get near the Premier League top four so the rest of this season has to be creating an identity, style and putting the wheels in motion for some movement in the summer at the back and also to sort out a quite frankly embarrassing midfield set up.
With Mkhi and Aubameyang we should have the makings of an attacking outlet that helps Özil. So it’s about righting the clear wrongs behind him now. New ‘keeper, new centre half, new ball-winning, engine-purring, ground-covering midfielder and Jack/Rambo alongside that person.
Then maybe, just maybe, we can also get a new coach – not manager – to develop a new football philosophy that works at the club. Because I’ve long said – and most of you tell me too in the comments – that it is needed.
The best we can get out of this season is to get players bedded in, perhaps win a cup (although I doubt we’ll get near City in the League Cup but you never know), then look at 2018/19 as one in which we can look up rather than down.
Another quick one on Aubameyang. I’ve kind of talked about it all week so don’t feel like going into War and Peace again on him, but he’s an elite player, who will vastly improve our attacking threat. Two years ago this was a dream to have somebody like this at Arsenal but it looked like an impossible one. Now we have an exciting player who has taking Thierry’s number. I don’t know why, because numbers mean little in the grand scheme of things, but that has added a little bit more excitement to proceedings for me too. You can clearly tell the confidence of the guy; his shirt number choice says to us “I’ll be your new Thierry. Leave this with me” and I love that.
Fingers crossed we get the first glimpse of that on Saturday.
A final word on Ollie G, who left yesterday and said nice words about Arsenal, which is nice. I don’t think we should have sold him but clearly this is the new Arsenal regime moving pieces around so there’s little we could do. Obviously I hope he doesn’t have too much success at Chelski but the way he has behaved, the effort he’s always put in and the time he’s had at Arsenal needs to be remembered more for the Scorpion Kicks and less for the Monaco horror shows. I will miss him and I think he’ll miss us. I have never seen a good player receive so much frustration just because he wasn’t an elite player. But such is life I guess. All the best Ollie G.
Laters peeps. Have a good one.