Howdy y’all and welcome to another post season Monday, although Mother Nature has seen fit to deliver what feels like holiday weather in the UK, without the holiday to go with it unfortunately. You’ll never here me complaining though – I love the warmth and would gladly have it like this every day of the year.
A bit like Wilfred Zaha wanting to be an Arsenal player for every day of the year. There was a bit of Tomfoolery over the weekend (Saturday night I think) in which one of his mates got the club they were in to put ‘Zaha to Arsenal’ on an LED screen and then they all had a laugh about it. We all know Zaha is an Arsenal fan and he tried via his brother last summer to push forward some kind of move. But Crystal Palace stood firm, wanted a shedload of money more than what was probably a reasonable price, which meant the move never went ahead. Now we hear that Crystal Palace would ‘listen to offers’ of £30million and although that’s a more reasonable price, I think we can all agree that the ship has probably sailed, on account of the fact we’ve got Pepe and we’re on the verge of signing Willian on a free transfer.
So Zaha will most likely crop up somewhere else and Everton are supposedly circling again. As long as it’s not Tottenham I could handle that. Zaha probably could too I’d imagine.
The problem Zaha has was that he and his agent agreed to that longer term deal in 2018. Had they not then I think I’m right in assuming he’d have been a free transfer this summer and that would have given him the pick of clubs with which to choose from for that big move. But that longer contract ensured Palace could hold all of the cards and now Zaha finds himself in a place where he wants to move on but Palace know they still have another three years that they have on the contract so they don’t really need to be driven down on price. That’s why they went ‘Billy Big Balls’ last summer and essentially lost out on a decent fee.
Anyway, enough of a player who wants us, can’t have us, won’t have us. Let’s focus on what we do have and I saw an interesting thought on Willian and where he might be deployed by Arsenal if/when he does sign, as a central player just behind the forward. We’ve seen Arsenal play the 4-2-3-1 plenty of times, but not under Arteta that much and certainly not since the restart, so I had assumed we wouldn’t be seeing it as his preferred choice for next season. But perhaps he is looking at it. That would be interesting because I think we’re all assuming that Willian be taking one of the wide forward positions. But the worry some fans – me included – have had, is whether Willian blocks off a route to more minutes for players like Martinelli, Saka and Nelson playing as wide forwards next season. But if Arteta does move to a formation in which we have a player just behind the loan forward, we could see a situation where we have enough cover for players. That’s especially the case if you have understudies like Emile Smith-Rower for Willian in the centre, then you’ve got the other three youngsters I’ve mentioned for the two wide positions, with Eddie as the man to challenge Lacazette. If Lacazette goes and is off to another club then you shift Aubameyang centrally and you still have enough players to cover and whilst I’ve seen one or two suggest we could then get Zaha to play on that left, I can’t see it, purely because I think any sale of a player like Lacazette will result in the money being reinvested in another position for our team.
Which is the right way to go if you ask me. We need to offload some of the defenders in our team and they need to be replaced with upgrades, but then we also need to bulk up our midfield, especially if Guendouzi goes and the noises about Torreira are true. Those two leaving would mean that we have Xhaka and Willock only until any kind of agreement is made for Ceballos, so to me it feels like there needs to be a lot of work to sort out our midfield. Arteta may want to concentrate his efforts in that position then and although we know Arsenal are hot on Partey, I think we should not be held to ransom by Atletico. They have a player who has a deal until 2023 and in a way Atletico probably feel similar to Palace in terms of a strong negotiating position. Arsenal can pay up his clause of €50million or they can keep the player for another season, then offload him with two years on his contract to go then.
I just hope that if Atletico do play hardball, that Arteta and Arsenal have some ‘Plan B’ sorted for our deeper-lying midfield options. Look at what Liverpool have just done for example; they went for that Norwich lad Lewis but when Norwich tried to play some hardball and suggest he was worth £20million, Liverpool just shrugged and went to the next target. That’s what we need to do if the Partey deal starts to stall.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough for one day I think. Time to get on with some work.
Catch you peeps tomorrow.