Arsenal are certainly moving faster than any other summer we’ve seen in some time aren’t they?
Yesterday the club confirmed the arrival of Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen in a deal which sounds like it’s not of €20million. It’s a deal that I’ve already mentioned I’m not sure of and I’ve already wondered whether or not we’re looking at shorter term, stabilising signings, rather than building a squad capable of winning the league.
Leno feels very much like that but do you know what? I don’t have too much problem in it. Think about what City did when they were on the rise due to the petro-dollar they were gift-aided. They went out and bought players who could see them qualify for the Champions League, then they bought the next level up.
Under Wenger in the last couple of seasons we’d seen the team become a little lopsided, we were weak in some positions but strong in others, so the need was to start getting a balance of squad that we knew could be more competitive in the top four after two years of decline.
So for me I’m coming around to the idea of Leno, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, who can hopefully freshen us up defensively provide more options in terms of rotation, etc.
And with a whole new coaching staff in place the hope has to be that they’ll get more out of the team that the previous incumbents.
Jens won’t be there though. In the spirit of this ‘Catalyst for Change’ summer Jens took a walk yesterday and announced it via Twitter that he was leaving. I think it’s a poorly kept secret that he wanted to be more than just a goalkeeping coach and I suspect Emery has offered him little else, which is why he’s gone, perhaps to return one day but certainly not in the current regime.
This is an Arsenal regime that Emery looks like he’s very keen to focus his own style and approach to and that is welcoming. There was talk about Arteta and how he would add continuity at the club but given the direction of travel of the club’s fortunes, can anybody argue that it’s not a good thing for us to see a bit of an overhaul being performed?
I certainly think so. Although I was surprised that Steve Bould stayed. Surprised because given what Ivan et al appear to be doing this summer, they kept Arsène’s ‘right-hand-man’ so to speak. I mean we all know he was pretty emasculated under Wenger and barely got the chance to have any impact, but he’s still part of the old regime and it feels like Ivan and his party have been at pains to offload the main faces that we all know and associate with Arsenal.
Quite what Bould will do as the second Assistant Coach I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s a continuity appointment for 12 months more than anything else.
So Bould stays but sadly, almost inevitably, Jack Wilshere leaves and its such a shame it’s ended this way. I’m reminded of Ewen McGregors Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Revenge of the Sith in which he shouts “it wasn’t supposed to be like this! You were the chosen one!” and that feels like how this is ending. Not with Jack at 35 and having had a glittering Arsenal career similarly to that of Gerrard at Liverpool, but with a free transfer exit at 26, when he should still have a good six or seven years on top flight Football left in him.
But there’s a reason why he’s not signing a new deal and that’s the reason why he probably needed to go. He just isn’t the best option we have in central midfield any more. Injuries have stunted his Arsenal career – he’s only made 197 appearances in 10 years I read today – and the questions remain as to whether the same Wilshere exists that broke on to the scene as a teenager.
I don’t think it does. I still think he’s a good player but he’s a player who would not get a start at any of the top six clubs and that is sadly why we’re letting him go. He’ll most likely stay in London I suspect and the rumours of Palace are the strongest. If that happens then it gives him a chance to play more football but as I think I’ve already said in a previous blog, it shows that he isn’t that elite level footballer any more, sadly for all of us.
We will miss him. He is one of us. He will always be one of us. But it’s best for everyone that we move on.
We’re in to bold and brave new territory here folks. Let’s not forget that. Let’s hope that all of this positivity will translate well when we hit the ground running against City in August.
Catch you all tomorrow.