He wants to come to Arsenal. Dortmund wants rid of him. Arsenal has an Alexis-sized hole to fill. And yet the hokey-cokey goes on. The conmen play on; some have cards close to their chest, others with their cards inside their chests. Arsenal has shown a bit of leg, the German club want to see a bit more skin and so the show continues. Not to worry, just five more sleeps until this malarkey is over.
Spare a thought for our Olivier Giroud; fella doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. The only thing he knows is that if he stays at Arsenal, chances are that he won’t make the Les Bleus squad for Russia 2018. The mind boggles because Giroud is on top of Dortmund’s shopping list to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. You have to ask, what on earth is going through the minds of Ivan Gazidis and Sven Mislintat. Everyone wants this deal done already – hell, even the tea lady at Dortmund. Yet reports this morning suggest that an impasse will force Dortmund to go shopping elsewhere for a replacement before they let Aubameyang move to Arsenal.
Of Good Headaches And Horses For The Right Courses
Internet chatter from the world’s best armchair pundits and managers has now moved onto the options Arsenal has for the rest of the season. The League Cup, Europa League and 4th place trophy – mathematically at least – are still for grabs. The green shoots of recovery are springing on the horizon. Lacazette, Aubameyang – surely he’ll arrive, right? – and Mkhitaryan are most definitely upgrades to Giroud, Welbeck Iwobi and Theo. Who’d have thunk it at the beginning of the season? For me, the question as to how Arséne will fit in all these players is moot. It’s a very nice headache to have.
ON paper at least, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan collectively have enough firepower in them to trouble defences domestically and in the Europa league. Injuries, suspensions and rotation to counter specific opposition tactics will sort the selection headaches. With Ozil at his best, we have an assist machine, complemented by Li’l Jack’s growing influence, nous and ability to drive the midfield. Add to that Xhaka’s passing range and the options are promising. We just have to get the team working as a unit and not being dependent on an individual to have a one-man show. There is the question of Ramsey and where he will fit in. Wilshere has already made himself indispensable. My hope is that Ramsey’s continued time on the bench makes him a super-sub as and when he comes on to provide different options.
“I’ll Carry The Piano, You Play The Tunes”
Reading the match reports in the media after Wednesday’s League cup semi-final victory, I was bemused. Most football writers were baffled that Arséne was actually capable and willing to make in-game tactical adjustments. They were even more baffled that he did it at half-time. That tactical change provided an answer to a question that has lingered for years. A question that has misguidedly been framed as the replacement to Patrick Vieira, the supposed king of the defensive midfielder. Thing is, Vieira was more a box to box powerhouse with Petit and Gilberto playing more of the defensive midfield role.
The tactical switch saw Elneny doing a “Makelele” and playing more of a sweeper and a transition catalyst in the second half. Xhaka’s goal started off with an interception by Elneny who played effectively as our water carrier. He did the job perfectly, and you know he was effective because he kept it simple. Break up play, recycle and move the ball to the piano players. He was also very effective at foiling counter-attacks and when the need arose to immediately slot into defence when either Koscielny or Mustafi went walk-about.
Like Wenger described Monreal, on Wednesday, Elneny was also one of the silent leaders. I like him a lot, especially because he doesn’t do “Hollywood”. Every team needs players who keep the machine going without fuss, players who you only notice when they don’t play well. I would very much like to see our defensive formation from the second half given a run to help solidify it.
Director Of Football, Director of Recruitment, Who Cares?
This January circus has also shown that change is imminent when it comes to transfer policy. We have to wait and see if it will stop the madness of the last few years, the kind of madness that made us mock Liverpool by offering £1 over the buy-out clause for Suarez. Whether Wenger insists Sven Mislintat isn’t a Director of Football is immaterial. Something has to give.
Saying that I’m not too excited about the alleged talks with West Brom for Jonny Evans. He doesn’t make my socks roll up and down with excitement. If we have that kind of money for a defender, surely, we can look elsewhere and probably get a better deal in the summer. We have enough cover for now with Monreal also being Mr Utility himself, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Holding, Mavropanos, Bielik and Da Silva. Arsenal’s focus should be getting the squad to work better as a unit with the new names that have come in. We don’t need to go off the reservation for players who don’t make sense at this point in time.
Have a great weekend good people.