Isn’t it just classic Arsenal, eh? There I was, looking at the newly announced fixtures yesterday lunchtime, ready to go in to an in-depth and forensic analysis of the games that we’ve got, how it might impact the start, middle and end of our season, where the ‘winning runs’ might be able to be put together and how Mikel Arteta’s team could potentially build some momentum in the early part of the season, when the journo’s on the Arsenal beat drop a transfer bomb on us, eventually confirmed by David Ornstein, that we’re on the verge of making our second signing of the season in Porto midfielder Fabio Vieira for around £35million all in.
I mean you get starved of Arsenal content for weeks and then two big bits of content land on your lap and as somebody who writes about Arsenal as a hobby and passion it’s like being a kid in a sweet shop. Where shall I start?
I think with the signing Arsenal are poised to make first. Let’s start with the name. Big tick there. Of course he’s not the same type of player, it is unlikely he’ll make the same type of impact as his namesake Patrick, but by the very little I’ve had a look on him in the last 18 hours or so, this looks like a very sensible and exciting signing.
Exciting because it came out of the blue first and foremost. I love those transfers. They’re the kind of deals we used to get all the time, like when we signed Sol Campbell, or when Eduardo Da Silva rocked up at London Colney. I love them because they show the club has been diligently working on the right profile of player, they’ve been doing their work in the shadows, identifying what appears to be a precocious young talent who has stepped up in the Portuguese league and for the Portuguese under-21s. From what I’ve looked at on FBRef, YouTube and TransferMarkt, this looks like a guy who has got a lot of talent with the ball at his feet, is creative in the final third and, possibly what also might have swung it for Arteta, can play in a multitude of positions. We all looked at that central role as Martin Odegaard’s and then Emile Smith Rowe as somebody who can do it in his absence, but the more I’ve looked at ESR when he’s been at his best, the more I think that wide left position is where we’ve got the best out of him. Fabio Vieira (are we allowed to just call him Vieira? I’ll keep the ‘Fabio’ in there for now) looks like he can slot in as understudy to Odegaard, he can provide wide left cover for Saka, plus he’s played as a number eight too, so if you’re looking at midfield options, he suddenly gives us that as well.
On paper this looks like a fantastic addition and if/when it happens, I’ll be excited to see how he acclimatises to the Premier League.
There have of course been some fans worrying about how this impacts any potential Tielemans deal, but the reality is that these are two very different players and I think that we’ll go for Tielemans to play in that left eight role, with Partey sitting, then on the right is Odegaard and Fabio Vieira can occupy either of those positions. Or if we play in a double pivot the Tielemans and Partey can play there, or Xhaka and Partey, with Fabio Vieira in front of either of those if Odegaard isn’t around.
The most important thing about this signing, I think, is that it shows we are willing to up the quality of our squad significantly. If the club presses ahead and gets Tielemans and Gabriel Jesus over the line in the coming weeks, you’re looking at the current side and thinking we have depth that can play in multiple competitions.
Turner can come in for Ramsdale. Tavares comes in for Tierney. Saliba and Holding in for White and Gabriel. You can play White instead of Tomiyasu and give Saliba the centre half minutes, meaning we never have to see Cedric again. Sambi is understudy to Partey. Xhaka, Fabio Vieira and Tielemans would rotate for the left eight position, with Fabio Vieira also able to slot in to Odegaard or Saka’s position. Wide left you have ESR and Martinelli sharing minutes. Then up top you have Eddie in for Gabriel Jesus. Suddenly it looks like a pretty decent team that could get minutes in the Europa League, huh?
Again, all on paper, but that’s still really positive from the club, if they get those two extra deals done. It means Arteta has 20 players all of decent quality to mix and match his squad. No filling with a bunch of kids. No worrying that we’ll break down and not have players to replace. This suddenly becomes a squad that looks like it has balance about it that is super exciting ahead of what is going to be a long and gruelling season truncated by that World Cup in the winter.
Of course this is all still speculation. We haven’t technically signed anybody and as it stands right now we don’t even have a senior striker on the books, with Nketiah having officially been released with his contract unsigned. However as Simon Collings reported yesterday, that is all but done so I suspect we’ll get an official announcement from the club any time/day now.
But the crux of the matter is that it appears the transfer cogs have whirred in to life for The Arsenal and that is good news at this early stage in the pre season. Let’s get these lads on board first though, then I’ll have my true excitement, but this is a positive noise and I’m all here for it.
Look at that; I said I’d split in to two and talk about the fixtures as well, but I’ve already dropped 1,000 words just on this young Portuguese fella. With that in mind, I might save a little bit of the fixture discussion for tomorrow, because I have a few thoughts about how they have landed that’s for sure!
You have yourself a good Friday. In England it’s going to be a scorcher and so I’m going to do some work from the garden. Catch you all tomorrow.