Transfer Deadline Day – Is Mikel content?

So we have reached Transfer Deadline Day. That dreaded day which plays Russian Roulette with football fans mental health when activity has been non-existent throughout the month.

The transfer window is a time which I hate the most as it almost feels like daily a new name pops up as a potential target. The usual ITKs make an appearance whilst drip feeding nuggets of information which only succeed in whipping up a frenzy of speculation.

How genuine these links are can be debatable but for many information starved fans they run with it and go through a cycle of emotions as a player is linked, is close then the deal allegedly breaks down or they join another club whilst no actual concrete proof exists to prove Arsenal were even in for the player.

As I write this there has been no new signings confirmed to counter the string of exits that occurred this month. When you look at the bigger picture you wonder where Mikel Arteta is looking to improve the playing squad.

Centre Midfield

At the start of the month we were clearly short of players but by time we play our next game v Wolves on 10th Feb we should in theory have back all the players we lost to Afcon. Where we were short in midfield Granit Xhaka will return to the line up, Thomas Partey will miss the next game but will be back to complete what seems Arteta’s first choice to play in the middle. Mohammed Elneny will be back as cover alongside Sambi.

First choice pairing

Arteta had utilised the loss of Xhaka and Partey to drop Odegaard deeper so in trying to work out the thinking of Mikel Arteta he would in theory believe he has enough experienced midfield cover whilst having the option to blood the younger talents of Charlie Patino and Miguel Azeez.

That puts into doubt the desperation to get long linked player Arthur Melo to sign on the dotted line.

Flanks

Having looked at the amount of football Martinelli and Saka have had to play recently, the returning Pepe (if he’s still in the good books) could provide alternative cover on the flanks but he is only one player. One would think that would be a position to look at however Emile Smith Rowe could and has been used in the flank positions this season. Would Pepe and ESR be seen as able cover for flanks with the addition to blood a youngster like Salah Eddine or Omari Hutchinson?

Not to forget Arteta has often brought Eddie Nketiah off the bench to also occupy a flank position. Not a popular choice to play there but I’m just going on evidence of what Mikel Arteta has opted for (recently against Burnley Nketiah replaced ESR to play there).

Full back

In defence there might be a case for recruitments but looking at the full back areas it seems Arteta has decided on his first choice full backs and has decided on his back up in the form of Tavares, Cedric Soares and emergency cover Ben White. Cedric may not be flavour of the month with fans at the moment but he provides experienced cover if needed to be called upon.

won the back up race with Chambers and AMN

Centre Back

The Centre back position is treading a fine line as beyond the first choice pairing of Ben White and Gabriel we have Rob Holding available to step in but beyond that other than drafting in versatile players who have slotted in there before such as Elneny and Tierney its seems a big risk to not have more experience available to cover.

Despite all the plaudits for the masses of talent pouring through the revolving doors at Hale End we aren’t quite at the stage to have an available youngster banging on the first team door that specialises at centre back.

Closest you would think is Omar Rekik who will be coming back to the club fresh from achieving some full international football experience at the Afcon. Initially a Dutch youth international when we signed him from Hertha Berlin; he switched allegiance to Tunisia and was drafted into their squad for the recent Afcon tournament.

 Making his debut earlier this year for his country it is experience that will no doubt aid in his development however he is yet to kick a ball in anger for the Arsenal first team apart from a couple appearances in pre season. It would see a major jump up the development ladder but the young defender would be high on confidence given his recent experience out in Cameroon.

Very risky a strategy but just trying to think through Arteta eyes I can’t see any signing coming in that would be an experienced stop gap as we had that already in players like Mari and Chambers. If a player does come in it would likely be young and for the future (although William Saliba would have something to say about that).

So after going through full back, centre back, centre mid and flanks there is the possibility that Arteta is content with what he has so far?

Goalkeeper

In the goal keeping area there’s not much to discuss. I can’t see Leno leaving in this window. The rumours of the American keeper Turner doing the rounds suggest he will be an acquisition for the summer and so planned for next season. This will mean the German will likely be kept on and tasked to find a new club for next season.

Playmaker/No.10

Can’t see much call for recruitment in that position. Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard have that role stitched up whilst Lacazette has often occupied that position too when called upon and it’s also a role Bukayo Saka could well fill if required.

Central Striker

Now we have reached a position that seems to be the most in need to have acquisitions made. Given the massive cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the future of Pierre Emerick Aubamyang we find ourselves in a situation where our options are threadbare. Right now our two options to lead the line lay with Lacazette and Nketiah. If we cannot find any chance for reconciliation between the manager and the Gabon international then we will need personnel to come through the Emirates doors.

The lack of a main source of goals from our central striker has been one of our biggest Achilles heels in the team. One would suggest a striker that adds goals would be the missing piece to dovetail the growth of the team so far and take them up a notch in the ladder of improvement under Mikel Arteta.

Ostracised or not we have to admit the goals had dried up for Aubamyang long before his fall out with the manager. Alex Lacazette has filled in ably but at the wrong end of 30 there isn’t much scope to improve on what he offers already. Eddie Nketiah despite coming through the ranks and proving himself to be a decent striker he just falls of what we need for a striker in the role to get the optimum from our system.

It’s no fault of his own and he could probably move to another club which is more of a fit in football style to his strengths and bag a hatful of goals at Premier League level. Eddie feeds off service whilst we likely need a striker that can both feed of service and make goals out of nothing. It just seems there’s more demanded for the type of striker we need in terms of physicality, link up play, strength, finishing and creating goals for others (gosh, that’s a unicorn right there).

To get that type of profile of player is no easy feat and you have to wonder if that type of player is obtainable in this window at a not so inflated price.   

Vlahovic seemed the name that dominated all the rumours but that was put to bed when he signed on the dotted line for Juventus. Much similar to Locatelli last summer it led to a lot of acrimony on the social media amongst Arsenal fans at the players we lost out on.

here next season?

Nketiah and Lacazette are both players on course to leave at end of the season on a free. Throw in Aubamyang and that’s three players tasked with helping our fight for top four that are unlikely to be part of the set up next season. Balogun is out at Middlesbrough gaining valuable experience and Mika Biereth or the recently recalled Nikolaj Moller should not really be tasked with saving our season if any unfortunate injuries occur.

In fairness Mikel Arteta earned some kudos for what at the time was regarded as underwhelming signings but indeed turned out to be shrewd acquisitions which were all a success to some measure. Can Arteta repeat that trick again this window? Well first he needs to sign someone, the question is who? Callum Chambers joined Aston Villa completely out of the blue. Does Arteta and Edu have some deals under wraps to surprise us. Let’s see how the day unfolds, they have certainly cut things fine.

will moments like this return?

Going out of both cups in January probably put a pause on some potential deals getting over the line sooner but even without the cups there is still plenty to play for to the end of season. Arteta needs to ensure all the steps he has made forward this season are not regressing by the end when there are clear points in the season where mistakes could be pinpointed. Our January dealings so far could very much be the Damocles sword that swings above his head for the rest of the season.   

Will Arsenal Make The Most Of Transfer Deadline Day?

As the transfer windows draws towards shutting today many Arsenal fans are still left scratching their heads wondering if the club will address the problem areas which have been identified since last season to turn Arsenal from nearly men to genuine contenders for league honours. Gary Neville’s words last Monday may have ruffled a few feathers amongst the Arsenal hierarchy however it was hard for many Gunners’ fans not to agree with some of the points addressed.

The good feeling and belief from a near perfect pre season was wiped instantly on opening day and the grumbles and moans have become more and more audible with each week that Arsenal fail to live up to the big expectations laid upon them. A few results have been churned out to repair the opening day damage but the quality of performance in general has been lacking from the play.

Will the often pleaded signings of a defensive midfield challenger and top class striker have made a difference to the games so far? Most likely, in the same way that any new signings can boost a team’s performance on a psychological level.  Petr Cech is no doubt an excellent acquisition but the deficiencies outfield are yet to be addressed.

Francis Coquelin has earned his way into the 1st team but much of his elevation to the Arsenal team has been fuelled by a hunger last season to prove himself. That is only part of the battle, once you rise to the top and receive the plaudits you require a new focus to maintain the upward trajectory of influence upon the team.

Right now there is no one in the Arsenal squad that offers true competition to Francis Coquelin’s position in the defensive midfield role of the team. He can sit pretty in the knowledge that there is no true challenger to keep him on his toes from the likes of Arteta and Flamini. Beyond those two is the promising but completely raw Bielik and that is where the problem lies. It is not to say that Coquelin’s performances have been poor so far this season but the threat of complacency setting in is very real.

I can almost liken the defensive midfield conundrum to the goalkeeping situation at the club a few years back. Sczcesny rose through the ranks to become number 1 choice between the sticks for the club. At the time it was deserved, he was fulfilling his potential and making a go of it. His challengers at the time Vito Mannone and Lukasz Fabianski although as proved now are far better keepers than many believed at the time were never ever a threat to the number one jersey.

mannone

Season after season with no true threat to his position you could see the complacency set in with the Polish stopper. Instead of pushing on to a higher level he became stagnant in the knowledge he was number one and anytime Manone or Fabianski played they dropped a clanger. I still believe Sczcesny to be a good keeper but the professionalism and concentration in his game has waned in the last couple years. The arrival of Ospina was the kick up the arse he needed and although he is out on loan the door is not shut on his Arsenal career. It’s up to him to get his head down and focus on what is required of a top level goalkeeper and win back his place and respect of his peers.

Now we don’t want that situation to occur with Coquelin, an ideal situation is for him to have a genuine threat to his position in the team. A player that could usurp Coquelin if his level of performance drops and require him to fight to earn back his place.  At present Arteta and Flamini offer something to the squad but their best days are behind them and in all honesty do not pose genuine competition to Coquelin. Can Wenger surprise us and address this area of the team or will his loyalty to current midfield cloud his judgement?

Up front is the other problem area and you do wonder if the striking position will be addressed. All Arsenal fans can see it, all pundits can see it but the one man who can make it happen does he see it or choose to ignore it? With Danny Welbeck currently out of the picture the argument that a top striker is needed may be falling on deaf ears. Arsenal fans can argue that so far Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott haven’t delivered as much as we would like. The big question is whether Arsene Wenger has the ‘like a new signing’ excuse readied for Welbeck’s return as his answer to the criticism.

When we review Arsenals strikers’ you could say that Olivier Giroud offers power but lacks pace and a clinical finish. Theo Walcott offers Pace but lacks power and a clinical finish whilst Danny Welbeck offers Pace and Power but is probably the least clinical finisher of the three.

welbeck

The answer to all Arsenal’s striking problems is a striker that has all three attributes but they aren’t exactly hanging off trees. I struggle to list off established strikers that fit that criteria, it’s an exclusive club and is likely to cause some serious damage to the Arsenal Cheque book to acquire any. Arsenal have the spending power now  to get most players they desire, despite Manchester City doing their best to implode the market a top striker should still be acquirable within a non astronomical price range.

deadline day

All Arsenal fans can do now is sit back and watch how the rest of the day unfolds. For ITK’s today is like Christmas day, expect an avalanche of BS stories clogging your timelines/feeds.

Enjoy your day people.
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Great start to September for all Gunners as Ozil joins

What an amazing last 48 hours have been experienced for Arsenal fans, the excitement has come thick and fast and after experiencing such a high much like junkies there is likely to be an almighty comedown once things settle down. It won’t last long of course but in reflection a North London Derby win followed by the signing of the magnitude of a player like Mezut Ozil.

IMG_1182

I have to admit I am still buzzing from the victory at the Emirates, a clean sheet and first blood against our lesser rivals and their £100m signings. The atmosphere was electric as always when we play Tottenham, their fans were strangely subdued maybe they were just grateful we didn’t pop in another 5 goals against them. Either way the victory worked wonders for the moral amongst Arsenal fans, we have been frustrated at the lack of transfer activity and the frustration was filtering from the fans and causing an unpleasant vibe within the Emirates.

The games that followed the defeat at Aston Villa certainly did their part in the damage limitation; the victory over Spurs damn near wiped the Arsenal fans minds. Temporarily I must say, as transfer deadline day is a date etched in the diaries of all football fans.

The summer has been full of names linked only for nothing to happen at the club so the fans could have been forgiven when the news of Mezut Ozil filtered through on Sunday night that the club was in advanced negotiations with the player. The Gareth Bale factor certainly played a part in the timing of any negotiations and once he was confirmed a Madrid player it opened the door for Ozil to leave.

ozil

The negotiations took a further 24 hours before the signing was officially announced, a long and drawn out process as the reports gained credibility by the hour that the deal was as good as done. You would think that after the summer of non activity the Arsenal fans had experienced that waiting those few hours on the final day to get the confirmation would be a piece of cake. Far from it, things can happen in football; other clubs can come in and steal the player away last minute, the reluctance to add a decimal point in negotiations could scupper the whole deal, plenty factors could prevail.

Arsenal had experienced a similar situation hours before the announcement of Ozil when Demba Ba was close to joining the club on loan for the season. Initially it was disclosed that the loan fee was a sticking point with Chelsea demanding £3m for the player while Arsenal’s valuation was closer to £1.5. The deal eventually broke down though the official statement from Chelsea was they decided not to loan the player to a direct rival.

In the end, about 20 minutes before the deadline the signing was officially announced and Arsenal fans across the country released a sigh of relief. A record transfer reported to be around £42.5 million smashed Arsenal’s previous record transfer to smithereens and not one fan would question the fee for the player. This signing is huge as Arsenal pulled of a coup signing a player of such status and quality and at such a perfect age. This ranks up there with the signing of Dennis Bergkamp in terms of the calibre of player joining Arsenal.

A statement of intent from the manager and certainly well worth the wait; despite the concerns at the lack of signings Ozil will certainly raise the bar in the Arsenal squad and will certainly bring the feel good factor back to the Emirates for the long term.

IMG_1115

No striker or defender joined the club in the end and Nicklas Bendtner didn’t complete his proposed move to Crystal Palace. Time will tell if that is a mistake but that factor is totally overshadowed by the Germans arrival. The season long loan signing of Emiliano Viviano also suffered from the pending news on Ozil as the main focus was on when the record transfer would be announced. The Italian international keeper joined Arsenal on loan from Palermo; he’s 27 years old so not potential and likely to provide direct competition to the current keepers on our books. To be honest I do not know much about this keeper apart from the fact he eerily looks like Manuel Almunia. Hopefully he proves to be more talented and proves himself during his time at the club prompting a permanent transfer.

Almunia in disguise?

Almunia in disguise?

September hasn’t started too badly. Enjoy your day people.

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Deadline Day!! Bendtner,Essien gos.ECL,CapOne Cup draws – AFC

Big big day today, arsenal fans across the country (and world) expect some transfer action today. Arsene Wenger has hinted, he has teased the press that transfers will be made, he has kept his cards so close to his chest that we have no indication of who may be coming through the emirates door before the window closes. In the past few days Wenger has stated that any players coming in will be top top class players, no average players but top top class players. I hope he sticks to his word as nothing will be more frustrating than seeing us sign a couple of players who are the best players around for their age and have potential to be the best. We really need players ready to be leading lights in the first team now not youth who will jump ship as soon as they reach the required level.

All I know is I along with many other fans of all clubs will be glued to some sort of media awaiting news of players coming in whether it’s watching sky sports news, refreshing various football websites or listening to radio updates. We all get hooked in by the fever of the deadline day deals; I wonder who will be spotted in their private helicopter hovering over the football ground of the team they are going to sign for this time?

I really don’t think any genuine names have been thrown into the hat for potential arsenal signings, many have been mentioned without any solid proof to back it up. I personally have a feeling Clint Dempsey could be a potential signing, my reasoning for this is the silence, nothing has been mentioned from the American’s camp. This kind of silence could be because of the typical arsenal style of keeping everything hush-hush. Sorry guys that’s as far as my theory goes and it’s a pretty weak one. But never fear as I can guarantee you anything that does happen will be done TODAY.

With the incoming players not being so transparent we at least have some light shed on an outgoing player. It looks like Nicklas Bendtner has finally found a club that meets his 3 important criteria with news that Juventus are the most likely destination for the striker. After Dimitar Berbatov pulled a sly one on the club they turned their attentions to the big Dane to lead their line and he is known to have had a medical for the Italians and will probably have his move announced today. Good luck to him, he managed to get a move to a decent club (despite being Juventus pan B) after his agent’s phone refused to ring all summer.

Apart from the awesome excitement whipped up from today’s deadline day activity Arsenal were involved in some draws for a couple of tournament’s yesterday. In the domestic corner the draw was made for the third round of the capital one cup when we received a home tie against Coventry. A great draw and another brilliant chance for fans to obtain tickets at a discounted price to see some of the stars of the future grace the emirates pitch in first team duty. That game will happen in late September and I hope we can go on a good run in that competition with a nice balance of youth and experience.

In the slightly larger more important draw that happened yesterday the groups were decided for the champions’ league. Read into it as you may I think we received a reasonable draw considering some of the teams we possibly could have drawn. In our group we were paired with Schalke, Olympiacos and Olivier Giroud’s old club Montpellier. We will have to be on top of our game and the early season cobwebs totally blown away to ensure safe passage from the group.

There is slight relief that our group did not resemble that of Manchester City, truly a group of death. We’ve been in this competition long enough to not take any opponents lightly, no games are easy enough that we simply need to turn up. A good result in our first group game which is away to Montpellier would be a nice start.

Overnight The Mail and The Express have run with stories which link us with snapping up Chelsea’s Michael Essien on loan for the season. Now we are just being teased, I for one am not a fan of the football equivalent of ‘blue balls’. The awesomeness of such a signing would be off the scale, Essien would be the type of ready for now player that would fit the quality of player we need. How true the story is I don’t know, the logic behind Chelsea letting a player like Essien move to a rival is enough to confuse Spock. Understandably the Ghanaian hasn’t hit the heights recently of his days when Mourihno was still in charge but he would clearly be a quality addition to any team. The loan transfer of Yossi Benayoun last year was a different proposition; he clearly wasn’t part of AVB’s plans and needed Arsenal as much as Arsenal desperately needed him at this time last year. Don’t get too excited on this news yet Arsenal fans but take comfort in the fact that all will be resolved before we reach September 1st.

Enjoy deadline day today people, it will come with many twists and turns. hopefully that hot presenter on sky sports news will work double shift today.

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