Morning folks and welcome to both a match day countdown, as well as a transfer window countdown, which promises to be quite a busy one in the Premier League, by the sounds of it.

One player who won’t be arriving in at The Arsenal is Lucas Paqueta, who yesterday signed for West Ham, so that’s one we can tick off our list. I know there will be plenty of people disappointed with that because by all intents and purposes he looks like a very good player. But I wonder if the gamble on Pepe from the last regime at the club has made Arsenal think twice about certain players hyped up as the best in the league? That’s what Paqueta has supposedly been and West ham have paid £51million for him, which is a club record for them and perhaps represents just a little too much for Arsenal to justify. If we’re looking at where our needs lie, it is supposedly in the wide forward position, as well as a cover for Thomas Partey. Paqueta doesn’t cover either of those positions and he’s more of an attacking midfielder, so I don’t ever think there was any real intention from us to explore that deal.

What we probably need more than anything else is a player who can slot in when Partey is absent, as evidenced from the weekend. Elneny was ok, he did nothing wrong, but with Partey and Zinchenko out we needed to find another way of playing and that is why for me, we have to look at a midfielder first. But we need to look at a midfielder who is not in an identical mould to Partey because that simply doesn’t exist in football. Well, not one who will just sit on the bench. So other solutions need to be found. For example, if Partey is not around, then instead of having him sit in the base of our midfielder with two more advanced number eights ahead of him, why not drop one of those players in alongside each other to cover for his absence. If you slot a player who is progressive and able to win balls alongside a Granit Xhaka, for example, we can cover in the absence of Partey. Alternatively, perhaps you buy that more forward-looking player like a Tielemans, then you slot him alongside Xhaka, whilst playing Zinchenko, who naturally drifts in to the middle of the park to cover spaces.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that ultimately when Partey is out we need to play a different system and ideally you play it with better players than Mo Elneny. He is technically limited, he slows down our play, he is a sideways passer and ultimately we know it isn’t going to work over a longer stretch of games other than the odd one or two here and there.

It does sound like that’s plan B though and plan A involves getting in a wide forward. I’m not sure I’m as desperate for that as some though, because for me we have cover there as it stands. Fabio Vieira hasn’t bagged a minute of football yet but his time must be coming soon and he can play across the front line (except centre forward). He is cover that I think we can use. Then we have ESR who has played wide left and right, so he can fill in there, if we need to. Then we have Marquinhos who is being kept around. That is probably for the Europa League and League Cup but if we’re doing that then surely it means we only really need to worry about the league? If we’re looking at our wide forward options, I would say you need four players for two positions, then one deputy who can fill in. We have Martinelli, Saka, ESR and Vieira, with Marquinhos as the deputy and even Reiss Nelson as an option if he isn’t moved on. It’s not ideal for Nelson and I am not sure he’s quite good enough, but he is an option for the club and so for me I’d be stressing less about that wide man and more about that midfielder we need.

But you can also make that argument in midfield too, to be fair, when you think about it. In midfield we need probably six players for three positions/areas of the pitch in the middle of the park, with probably one or two deputies who could be available if we really need them. What we have at the moment is Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Sambi, Elneny, plus Vieira who can play the Odegaard role, ESR who has done that before too. That’s eight players and doesn’t take in to account that Zinchenko can also slot in to that midfield too. So we have – in effect – cover across all positions. I think the next question is really where we can upgrade to ‘go to the next level’ in terms of quality and personally, I think a lot of that depends on how ready Fabio Vieira is. If he can adapt enough to deputise for Saka on the right wing and is at least at the level of somebody like Smith Rowe in those wide positions, I don’t think it is as much of a worry as midfield. However, if he isn’t going to be able to deliver us that level that only sees a slight drop in quality from Saka, then I can understand why the club would prioritise a wide forward. My gut feel is that by the sounds of it he’s going to be some player from what we are hearing about him in training, which is why I lean more towards that midfield option coming in.

Whatever happens, we know if there’s anything going on it’ll happen in the next 48 hours, as the window will be shut from Thursday. So Arsenal need to make their decisions and their moves now. It sounds as though everything is quiet on the Western Front on the transfer side at the moment, but that in itself isn’t something to be too stressed about, I don’t think. I was in Portugal this time last year and we had heard little to nothing about Tomiyasu at this stage last season I think. Then suddenly he appeared on the radar and the deal was done on deadline day. So there could yet be a left of field surprise like that which pops on to our radar over the next 24 hours.

Regardless of that though, I’m quite chilled about where we are at as a team. We have more strength than last season, we have a better squad, we’ve started the season really well, so we as Arsenal fans have a lot to be excited about – with or without any new additions coming in before Thursday.

Catch you all tomorrow.