Morning Gooners, how we all doing today? How we feeling? Counting down the seconds until the first home game of the season? I know I am. Blistering heat, a home match where the atmosphere will be amazing, it’ll be one heck of a day – I hope – spoiled only by a Jamie Vardy dive after Leicester’s only counter-attack of the game. But I’m going to park those particular worries for now, because the overwhelming feeling I have on this Tuesday morning is of positivity. We had a good start to the season, we’re up and running for our Same Old Arsenal podcast which we recorded last night, plus it looks like the wheels are in motion for the exit of some of the high profile players not part of the first team but still at the club.
Yep, yesterday Lucas Torreira left The Arsenal for good this time and is now a Galatasaray player. We got absolute peanuts for a player who has wanted out of England since the first season he joined us. It’s a player who was homesick for Italy, homesick for Uruguay, so signed for Atletico Madrid in Spain and basically barely played all season after we snaffled Partey off of them. He had a good loan spell in Fiorentina and sounds like he was one of their better players, but they didn’t want to cough up the cash that they agreed and so now he’s moved even further away from Uruguay to ply his trade in Turkey. Go figure.
There was so much that went wrong with the Torreira situation, but I find it all a real shame, because I felt – and still feel – that there was a player in there and he would have a future at The Arsenal if he’d have at least tried to integrate himself in to the English culture. Who knows, maybe it was the weather, in which case he’ll be much happier in Turkey in 35 degree heat, but it is what it is. He had a good start to life at Arsenal, he was tenacious in the way he played at first, picked up an injury or two too many, spoke to the press a little too often, then made some pretty poor choices. Couple that with the fact that Emery went a bit mental with playing him as a number ten for some games, which all added up to a cocktail of failure for a transfer that should have delivered so much.
Hey, we move on, he moves on, life moves on. We are in the fortunate position that we aren’t feeling his exit as keenly as I thought we might when the time came for him to leave (I had a belief he’d do four years and then we’d lose him to one of the big clubs for a big fee when he first signed – that certainly didn’t pan out that way!!), which I guess is both a good and a bad thing; we have our settled team and based on last weekend’s performance they are already delivering. The key now, is consistency. That will need to be this coming weekend and then we need to take that right up to the United game at the beginning of September. We have a real opportunity to build momentum with home games against Leicester, Fulham and Aston Villa and with an away match to newly promoted Bournemouth, if Arsenal can amass a large number of points in this first ‘phase’ of the season before the first international break, then the mood amongst supporters will be joyous, amongst the players it will carry some swagger, amongst anyone affiliated or with a stake in the Arsenal game, it will be rosy. That’s the prize on offer for August and I hope we grab it with both arms.
One player who will also be looking to grab opportunities with both arms is Brooke Norton-Cuffy, who signed a new long term deal with the club yesterday. He’s an exciting young talent at right back who did well at Lincoln City last year, but I suspect it’ll be another loan for him this season. I haven’t heard anything about a loan move yet, but I suspect the club will look at the fact he player Legue One last season and want him to make another natural progression to the Championship this season. When you look at what Djed Spence did for Nottingham Forest last season, Norton-Cuffy is cut from a very similar cloth to the former Boro, now Scum, right back. He’s a guy who likes to drive from out wide, he chipped in with a goal or two at Lincoln I believe, plus he’s of an age where if he plays in the Championship and does well, he could come back to Arsenal next season with genuine aspirations of making the first team squad. This time next summer we’ll most likely lose Cedric as his contract will finally be up, which will create a space for him and I suspect that if he’s impressed in the Championship then Arteta would be more than happy to take a look at him as an option from right back.
The question would be how versatile Norton-Cuffy is on the right hand side, because what is clear from seeing Tomiyasu and White excel in that position, is that Arteta favours a specific type of player. Norton Cufffy is six foot one I believe and at 18 will probably grow a few more inches, so from a physical presence perspective that is a lot closer to White and Tomiyasu than Cedric. I haven’t seen enough of him to know if he can play that inverted full back type position, but based on physical stature and his running power alone, it feels to me like he could. That was always the challenge with Bellerin and remains the challenge with Cedric; both players just don’t fit the system and style of play that Arteta is looking for from his right sided full back. We use our left channel to push KT or now Zinchenko further forward, where the back two shuffle across slightly and Tomiyasu/White form a kind of hybrid third centre half on that right hand side. Cedric and Bellerin were outside, overlapping, full backs and we just don’t really do that often enough for either of them to work long term, even if both did have the required quality. Just think back to when Hector was playing under Arteta at first; I think he had one of his worst seasons and that is because he was being asked to make underlapping runs rather than overlapping. I remember seeing that quite distinctly and it’s why he has no real future at the club, which is of course a shame, because we all love Hector.
But the style of play is becoming very obvious for this Arsenal team now and it is clear that only certain types of players work in specific positions. Which is why a loan for Norton-Cuffy – the right type of loan to a team that will enable him to hone those skills at right back in the way Arteta wants, could be key to his future career at The Arsenal.
Anyway, just something to ponder on a Tuesday morning. Have yourselves a wonderful day. Catch you all tomorrow.