The new season is beginning to take on a spaghetti western theme. It was good to get a an eminently winnable home match. It went bad when Sky moved it to Friday night and now it’s turned ugly with the PGMO appointing Mike Dean, presumably because he likes to get dressed up on a Friday night. Usually it’s in his hot pants as he ventures to the local Lurex Spangles nightclub but a night out in London was just too hard to resist.
Which side Arsène fields is the question. With Per Mertesacker doubtful following his head injury at Wembley, the likelihood is that Shkodran Mustafi will make a hasty return, flanked by Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal. While the Ox did nothing wrong against Chelsea, does the Kolasinac’s goal make him more of a threat in an attacking sense?
Both players are capable of marauding runs down the left but Kolasinac is by far the more threatening aerial presence. And with Riyad Mahrez still unable to force a move away from Leicester, is the Bosnian more likely to dominate the Algerian to neutralise him?
Theo Walcott did a good PR job for the newcomer,
“Sead looks an absolute tank. He’s one tough unit to get past and I’m sure his physical attributes are going to be key to us this season.
“Honestly, he is an absolute animal. He’s incredible. I see him in the gym every day; you can just tell he looks after himself well, he eats the right food and he’s professional. You can see the power he’s got when he’s got the ball, his pace and everything. It’s beautiful to watch and he’s a great addition to the squad.”
Theo will get plenty of time to watch him from his seat on the bench.
Van Dijk Parks His Transfer Request
The defence is the centre of attention at the moment. Or the centre of defence begs the question, “To invest or not to invest?”
Personally, I think the centre of midfield is more of an issue with Granit Xhaka most likely to benefit from a solid defensive partner. Jean Michael Seri is the name on everyone’s lips, mainly because he fits the bill. However, when an opportunity presents itself, the club should be looking to strengthen. Talk this summer has seen Calum Chambers linked with a move away to Crystal Palace and the emergence of Rob Holding looks to have cut off the former Southampton man’s route to the first team.
Even without that, reports of Virgil Van Dijk handing in a transfer request should be investigated to say the least. The basic question is whether he is better than in the current XI at present. Yes, is the answer. He is better than Rob Holding and in my view, Laurent Koscielny. The former he has experience over and mindful not to “kill” his career, I would use Holding in all cup competitions this season. We do it for goalkeepers, why not centre backs? And our injury record suggests he’ll feature in the Premier League frequently.
Let’s not forget, Koscielny is 32 this summer and even with the best will in the world, has maybe two more seasons left in the top flight of English football. While his experience is invaluable for the likes of Holding, I think Van Dijk has the edge over him in his all-round game.
Acquiring the Dutchman won’t be cheap but gives a more solid back three in my view. He ticks the boxes with experience of Europe and English football as well. Can Arsène afford not to look at the situation?
Y Viva España
The situation is helped by Valencia’s admission that they want Gabriel. We know he won’t be anything more than a squad player at Arsenal so the question of releasing him is valid. Certainly, if a sensible offer is received, I’d accept; the same goes for Calum Chambers, who has been linked with a move to Crystal Palace. As good as Chambers was for England in the summer and Middlesbrough last season, I’m not convinced he will nail down a place in the starting XI.
Football is a squad game but if the opportunity presents itself in this manner, it is worth pursuing. Reportedly, we were interested when he left Celtic; were that the case, we surely are now with an improved player?
Not that I expect it to happen. His arrival would mean shifting players on and that is something we are struggling to do at present.
Finally, there’s a new record of the week on Dad’s Jukebox. Click here to listen.