On Incomings: For Better or For Worse?

Coiled springs. That’s how the hacks at this morning’s press conference can best be described. Pens and laptops poised, it was a race to see who could type the variation on “I don’t talk about these things until they happen” as Arsène parried the questions on Aubameyang.

He was more forthcoming on Alexis; it could happen and in a phrase which torpedoed many who claim money is a blight on football, “I respect Man United because they raise the money they pay to players with their own resources. It’s up to them how much they pay. United is a club very well managed financially so I don’t have any problem with what they pay.”

A crushing blow to those who lump United in with City and Chelsea in disparaging financial terms. Moaninho will take that as a criticism of him, contorting the words into a jealousy-fuelled attack on him. Arsène will feel the full force of his rapier wit later in the day.

Sanchez might be off today or tomorrow but if he’s still here on Saturday, he’s playing. I know; why didn’t he play last weekend if that’s the case. Surely this time he’s even less inclined or motivated? Anyway, the good news is that Mesut Özil will still be here in February.

Arsène thought the German will be fit for Palace, along with Monreal and Koscielny. Maitland-Niles is out with the flu (flue, as the Mirror called it, although I’m sure he duct that question, chortle). It wouldn’t Alexis’ farewell show with his best chums there although the gossipy Arsenal dressing room probably suggested having it in a phone box, there would be that many people attending.

I’d guess his leaving do would be popular, with people attending just to make sure he is going and the like.

Begging to Differ

Theo’s departure came up and Arsène thanked him for all the fish. Walcott, he said, “is always welcome here.” You can tell how highly a player is thought of by the viciousness surrounding his departure. The rule of thumb is the more personal the attacks, the better the player.

A polite young man, the typical barb on his farewell has been, “thanks but you were never that good anyway”. It’s just one step away from the worst departure of all: “He’s left? When did that happen?”

Arriving to similar indifference is the real killer and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is facing that reality. His saving grace will be Pierre Emerick Aubameyang joining, deflecting some of the attention away. My view is that while Mkhitaryan is the ‘fee’ for Alexis, he’s more of a Walcott replacement. In the binary world of football, PEA is the new Sanchez.

Arsène will beg to differ. There’s no ‘new’ anybody; they are individuals replacing two servants of the club. Maybe they will be good and inspire us to glory in Europe and at home; we’re running short of options on the latter, admittedly. Both, however, must hit the ground running if we are to free ourselves from the shackles of mediocrity in which we find ourselves locked.

How would you view the transfer window if just Mkhitaryan arrived? Out would go Coquelin, Walcott and Sanchez, while in comes the Armenian. Fringe players down by two with a net zero in the first XI. Are we weaker as a result or is the jury out?

Certainly, Mkhitaryan needs to hit the scoring form shown in Dortmund to be an improvement.Standing still in terms of quality seems the likeliest outcome if he is the only incoming player. It’s a risk, but that’s Arsène’s approach to squad-building: high risk.

PEA Souper

Aubamenyang offers a tangible sense of upgrading. The “big personality” doesn’t bother Arsène. For the moment. Plenty would say Alexis was a big personality and he went down like a lead balloon in the Arsenal dressing room; how will they cope with PEA?

Onto last night’s VAR controversy. Definitely, a penalty when Willian was tripped and Morata was lucky not be sent off for the dive, but it was Chelsea so all the more amusing. The first instance was proof that the system was not as infallible as the PGMO likes to portray. That critics are so vociferous is surprising; Shearer, in particular, missed a trick as the VAR will certainly keep him in a job for years to come if last night is anything to go by.

’til Tomorrow.

85 thoughts on “On Incomings: For Better or For Worse?

  1. Just Mkhi? Undoubtedly weaker if that’s all we get. He scores less than Walcott let alone Sanchez. If that is the case I’d seriously look at 442 or some variation where we get two genuine strikers in tandem. It may even have to be Giroud and Lacazette once OG is fit and assuming we don’t sell him.

    The real problem though IMO is still Xhaka and his total lack of defensive ability. Get a real DM in his place and that would stabilise us a great deal. If not then getting PEA is just another attempt to out score the opposition and to hell with defending. It wouldn’t work.

  2. We’re not addressing DM this winter or next summer, not until we find out what AR is doing. My guess is he’s waiting to see how we handle the next two windows which leaves us in the same hole, more or less, we’re in now.

    AW’s empire is unravelling before his eyes.

  3. andy1886,


    Yea mate it was a bad sports day for me and FFS the Steelers defense waa shaky. Shazier was a massive blow (glad he is working back to proper health). O well, anybody but the Patriots.

  4. Re-posting from yesterday….

    Personally, if we swap Sanchez for Mhkitarayan and Aubameyang then I think we are a better side with actually more squad depth.

    I do think we would see more of a back 4 though with Xhaka being the DM with Arsene thinking Xhaka can do thr job Fernandinho does for Citeh.


    that could actually work if we had a true DM. Lacazette does track back but and Jack and Ozil have done more of it.

  5. Good stuff Yogi!

    I tend to agree though, we are failing to address thr DM position and I wouldn’t mind trying Maitland-Niles because he deserves it. I would be more than happy if the window ended with a DM, Mhkitarayan and Aubameyang.

  6. I naively thought that it was more than just about the money with Sanchez but obviously I was wrong. He didn’t want to stay at Arsenal, not because we are toilet but because he could get more money elsewhere. I would have more respect for him if he joined City to be part of a great team under a great manager.

  7. Starting to sound like the Mkhi deal is, at the very least, going ahead.

    Man Utd have allegedly arranged a private jet to take Mkhitaryan to London and bring back Sanchez.

    AW sounds quietly over Aubamayama too.

    I still think Mkhi has much more to offer than most – is he worth what we are being forced to pay or as good as Sanchez? No.

    But then, we are in a bind of our own making and options are few and far between.

    Little point in worrying about it really. Sigh.

  8. Not sure what’s going on with AW saying that Mhki fancies us while all the word out of Manchester says that he views moving to AFC as about as palatable as a pool of congealed vomit. Someone is telling porkies that’s for sure.

    If this all falls apart then it’s going to be one hell of a let down even for us (and we’re used to it!).

  9. Haha! Dortmund take a shot at Wenger after he speaks about Auba this morning:

    “We find it disrespectful to speak about players of other clubs,” Zorc said.

    “There is no contact from Arsenal. We assume that is because Arsène Wenger has enough on his own plate to take care of the performance of his own players.”

    Ouch! 🤣

  10. Wenger seemed to confirm that Sanchez/Mkhitaryan is a straight swap deal:

    Is Mkhitaryan the Sanchez replacement you mentioned?

    “This would be an exchange of players, and one would replace the other. Are we still on the transfer market after that? Yes.”

    If so, as has been said before, that’s a terrible deal for Arsenal.

  11. andy1886,

    I don’t think-with all things considered,it is Andy.
    Sanchez walks in 6 months anyway-for sod all.
    We get a player that wants to play for us in exchange-I think thats half sensible myself.

  12. Jonnygunner,

    Wants to play for us? Not what has been coming out of United, reluctant to be part of the deal and wanted to go back to Dortmund was what was in the press. I accept that I’m not a fan of the player so that may colour my judgement, but I’d rather take the cash.

  13. Andy,

    Not if reports of the players telling Wenger to get rid of Sanchez are true. The squad harmony is poisoned with him around now. We’re better off swapping him for the utd tea lady.

  14. Considering we wanted £35m for Sanchez to swap for a player that cost United just £27m eighteen months ago and has been mediocre in the PL at best would seem like poor value. If he proves me wrong I’ll hold my hands up, but I wouldn’t put any money on that happening.

  15. Dukey,

    I expect that those rumours are very convenient for the club and manager to have around. Of course AW would rather back the cosy little clique of Kos and Co who don’t see finishing twenty points behind the title winners as a failure.

  16. I’m not convinced at all that PEA will be signed. But if he does then I can see a front three of him, Ozil and Lacazette working well together.

    Johnny Evans ? That’s gone quiet as well.

  17. I would be interested to know who was backing Kos, who if any backed Sanchez and who kept quiet. A couple of things have struck me with the transfers this winter, one of which is that players like Theo and Le Coq who many thought were comfortable with sitting on the bench and collecting their pay packets were the ones that left.

    Sure Arsenal sold them but the players have to agree to terms and what was so noticeable is just how quickly those players did it, I mean Le Coq seemed to happen overnight and Theo, all the talk was about him going to Southampton or the Hammers and then Everton comes in and they both jump ship. Two players that grew up at Arsenal wanted to go elsewhere.

    I think the little cliques go something like this:

    Kos, Giroud, Ramsey, Welbeck, Iwobi, and that lot
    Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette, Mustafi, Jack and that lot

    Then you have the likes of Mert who doesn’t hold his tongue even on his own play.

  18. This reminds me of the Ashley Cole deal, another moment when Mourinho outflanked Wenger, as much as it hurts to say. We all know who got the better end of that one.
    The only way this deal becomes a good one is if Aubemyang or whatever he’s called reunites with Mhki and they are as good as they were together at Dortmund. But that’s a big if for many reasons not withstanding the two most obvious that Wenger will be their manager and probably wont play them together or in totally the wrong position and the fact that neither player has actually signed. I fancy this is all the usual stuff and nonsense very little else will happen bar the Mhki deal and we will hear the usual about “being in the market….but not liking january deals….no better quality out there etc etc” It’s like hanging around in a dementia home sadly hearing the same things again and again. Lots of players out, money in, trim the wage bill…..job done in anticipation of finishing outside the top four again.

  19. Theo looked bloody chuffed to be leaving i thought….there seems to be a pattern developing. How many more are gagging to get away….look at the Ox looks like he’s having a great time now. Who wouldn’t prefer to work for a guy like Klopp. Wenger isn’t yesterday’s man, he’s last century’s man.

  20. I actually think now that both Jack and Ozil will sign new deals. Naturally if Ozil left I wouldn’t be surprised but should we sign Aubameyang along with Mhkitarayan, I could see Ozil saying or at least waiting to see what Arsenal does in the early parts of the summer window

  21. Thanks for the post Yogi

    The idea of gettting Mkhitaryan is underwhelming and trading Sanchez for him is clearly a downgrade. However, we don’t have much choice with Sanchez and I can understand the idea of getting something for him. A front line of Mkhitaryan Lacazette and Ozil leaves us incredibly short of firepower but it is probably an upgrade over a front line that includes either Welbeck or Iwobe who would be our other options. Mkhitaryan would be a better fit as the Ozil replacement rather then a Sanchez replacement and if Ozil leaves next summer HM will fit in better in that role.

    I am certainly skeptical it will happen but I would be happy if we got PEA.

  22. If it cost 100million to pay off wenger tomorrow it would be money well spent imo. Sadly will never happen and sadly we’ve got at least another year and a half of this – he always honours contracts remember – unless he’s lying about that too….

  23. Keown really had a go at Sanchez:

    “Sanchez has got to be the biggest mercenary in football,” Keown wrote in his Daily Mail column.

    “Manchester City have wanted to sign Sanchez since the summer and, if no deal is done in January, they will be waiting for him at the end of the season.

    “City would be the natural place for Sanchez to go to develop his football. He has worked with Pep Guardiola before.

    “But for Sanchez, this is clearly not about going to the best team, working with Guardiola and taking his game to another level.

    “He has probably thought that he will not get a better offer if he waits until the summer, so he might as well take the best deal on offer now. It has been all about the money.”

  24. Bufallo,

    Yup, those are weasel words too. Arsene asked to be released from his contract at Nancy when Monaco came calling (Nnacy said no, then fired him later) and he asked to be released from Monaco when Bayern enquired about him (again they said no and later sacked him – there’s a pattern there!). He also left Nagoya Grampus Eight by ‘mutual agreement’ so I’m not sure if he still had a contract running that they agreed to terminate. So to suggest he always honours contracts is a bit disingenuous when he wanted to quit clubs previously but was prevented from doing so.

  25. Bufallo,

    Its a very convenient line he continually trots out.

    He seems to forget that he asked the board if he could talk to Chelsea when RA first arrived and they were interested in him.

    He ended up not going, but I suspect that was more down to him preferring the security of his long term cushy number than any sense of loyalty, otherwise he wouldn’t have asked permission to engage them in the first place…………………..

  26. C,

    There seems to be this narrative that Sanchez and Pep are such huge mates and just cant wait to be reunited.

    My recollection from Sanchez’s Barca days are that whilst they didn’t hate each other, they weren’t exactly bosom buddies either, in fact, I think Sanchez left because he wasn’t happy with Pep’s use of him.

  27. Adam, shhhhhhhhhhhh. If we don’t mention it hopefully it won’t happen…

    Johnny Evans ? That’s gone quiet as well.

  28. I suspect that a lot of the hate coming Sanchez’s way right now is the club trying to demonise him to placate the fans (its not like the club haven’t got previous for this).

    Any bets we’ll be lucky to get even 1 of the listed targets, with Wenger cocking it all up as usual then blaming the weather, time, the cost of toilet paper, the size of snarlies up his schnoz, etc.

    Anything except it being him screwing up.

    I can see us being a complete and utter joke for the rest of the season, and a total circus by next.

    I certainly hope I’m wrong.

  29. MikeSA,

    I know, I said it before but people tend to forget that Sanchez and Pep struggled together because even at Barca Sanchez routinely gave the ball away and we ALL know how much Pep hates players who lose possession even if they do go chase and win it back.

  30. Dukey,

    Not the Ox because he was one of the ones that spoke up last season against Sanchez and his attitude but I wouldn’t be surprised if Le Coq was.

  31. Xhaka has had his say:

    “Alexis is an important player for us, he’s got class which he shows every week, and I will be happy if he stays.

    “If he stays or goes? I don’t know what’s going to happen. At training, he’s always an example for many people because he always wants to win no matter what we are doing – a big game or a small game. I think that’s something that characterises him.”

  32. C,

    To me, the Sanchez thing looks more a case of “get out while the going is good” rather than play in a steadily deteriorating team for another half season and risk losing his own form and thereby being a less attractive proposition in the summer.

  33. IF we could get PEA anybody knows if he would be eligible in Europa ?…..to my surprise, have seen a number of comments he may not be (due to BVB being now “in the same competition” as Arsenal, even though he has not played a game in it)

  34. Orson Kaert,

    I get that and I think Sanchez, like Ozil and Jack’s talents, deserve better and deserve to be on a winning team. I think the thing about the Sanchez thing that will probably rub quite a few the wrong way is the fact that if it was about winning and lifting silverware than Citeh makes the most sense but if its about the money then United it is for Sanchez.

  35. Some interesting views today chaps, especially in regards to the cliques. Not that us mere mortals will ever know the truth.

    For what it’s worth (which is diddy-squat), I liked Alexis’ attitude on the pitch. He comes across as a winner and is frustrated when he is let down by others. Maybe other squad members didn’t like that, maybe he put a few noses out of joint, but then again maybe he was just too good for his team-mates. The proverbial big fish in a small pond. Albeit a cash-rich, big pond stocked with scraggy minnows. We are over a barrel with his contract run down, so have to take cash/player or accept nowt in the summer. That is indictive of poor business management by the club.

    As for Mickey whats-his-name, a reluctant arrival is never a good thing and ordinarily cash would be king. But as others have said, the cash would just dissappear and Mickey is, or was, a decent player at Dortmund, who coincidentally sold him to Manure before his contract expired.

    Now, if we were to dream, Mickey would be followed by PEA joining, Wenger hanging up his coat and Thomas Tuchel becoming manager. If only….

  36. C: Comment


    Clearly Sanchez wants as much money as possible but which footballer doesn’t. Do you really think the main decision point for Ozil is anything other then which team will give him the biggest weekly wage for the longest time with his last big contract. I can’t prove this but I suspect The reason he has not been pushing for a move is no one else has shown a real interest in paying him what he wants and that is the real reason he might stay with Arsenal.

  37. Bill,

    I don’t think that at all, sure big wages would be ideal where-ever you go, but nowadays big clubs can all pay the same amount of money so it comes down to silverware which is the main point for most futbolers at big clubs and their players. Make no mistake, we haven’t heard much about Ozil not because there hasn’t been interest as Barca, Juve and Dortmund have all shown interest, I think its more to do with Ozil and the way he is.

    Sanchez could have easily gotten the same deal at Citeh but it was Citeh who said they didn’t want to pay it not that they couldn’t have. Arsenal could have given him that amount of money but they chose not too.

  38. It certainly feels like most players who have other options of similar or better wages would prefer to move rather then stay with Arsenal. Perhaps Jack is an exception but I doubt he is going to get a whole lot of big teams willing to take time a risk on him. Time will tell how that one plays out.

  39. I won’t buy Aubameyang, good striker he is but unless Giroud is leaving, I won’t have him on the squad for just having him. We don’t have the setup that BVB has and therefore he won’t hit similar heights in my opinion.

    Liverpool bought Firmino, Mane and Salah for less than £40m each, surely there are players who are brilliant and that would still look at moving to Arsenal as an upgrade. I don’t buy into the re-build BVB attack in Arsenal colors.

    €70m for PEA is not a recipe for success, Morata is an excellent example, so I think get better wing forwards and improve the quality of our attack and defense but not PEA. Right now we need a Zaha like player to complement Lacazette, an exceptional dribber and not a centre forward.

  40. Why do we miss Cazorla ? He has a good control of the ball, intelligent movement, great passing and vision, double footed shooting, good dribbling and center of gravity. It is what we are missing now and what we need to replace, a player that can draw other players out of position and then make a good final ball that will create a direct goal scoring opportunity.

  41. So Aubameyang hasn’t traveled with the team for their match tomorrow with Hertha Berlin with Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has saying:

    “Auba trains in Dortmund. We have the impression that ​he is busy with other things in his head and is not fully focused.”

  42. C
    I am sorry about the Steelers… and the Saints. Two quarterbacks that I love and I hope are around next season despite their years. But, I have to say that I do enjoy Gronkowski and Brady.

    I honestly don’t know where Arsenal is going and cannot be bothered to watch the games. Maybe the newish players will bring some spring to their game. In the meantime, it is the NFL for me and the Vancouver Canucks who at least have an excuse for their ineptitude…they are in rebuild. They do have an exciting young player, Brock Boesser, who is near the top of the league in scoring and just a rookie.

    I am one of those that is glad that the Chilean is hitting the road. There is only so much that a club can do to make a player happy. Perhaps Martin is correct in assigning mercenary to the Chileans name. He will always go to the highest bidder. He deserves no grand sending off. Arsenal fans treated him very well while at the club.

  43. It’s hard to believe that a player who has other big teams options would come to or stay at the current Arsenal team for footballistic reasons. It does look not like we are on the verge of a breakthrough that will bring big trophies and Wengerball no longer looks like an exciting and dynamic way to play.

    We do have money and offer the chance to live in London. If we are paying more then $100K/week for Kolasinac he is probably one of the worlds higher paid LB/LWB and that has to be the model for how we attract players right now.

  44. To buttress my point: How does Bayern Munchen set up, 2 wingers Ribery and Robben in addition to a good central striker and a great midfield.

    How did Barcelona play good possession football a few years ago, Messi added an extra touch of skill to finish an already good team (pre-Neymar days). Even so, they added Neymar and Luis Suarez to act as potent complements to their strike force and now Coutinho.

    How were our invincibles set up ? flair players is the answer. Dennis Bergkamp, Robbie Pires, Freddie Ljunberg, Reyes, Henry, Kanu, Wiltord to mention a few attackers. Bergkamp was skill, movement and intelligence, Pires and Ljunberg were great wingers. Henry and Kanu had skill and trickery to add to their forward play.

    Sanchez’s style was good and bad for Arsenal at the same time, he could create a goal scoring opportunity on his own and he could loss the ball several times as well in key positions just like Ozil. Like I mentioned a few days ago, he is great but he needs to be a catalyst and not the main stay of a team. Sanchez came to Arsenal and Wenger refused to buy a striker with pace until his final season. The problem is Wenger manages the team as if it were his personal assistants lining up to solve an economic problem. He is insists on using chaff when he could use the real deal.

    Walcott, Oxlade, Ramsey, and Gibbs used to part of the british core that underperformed. Only Ramsey remains of that group, while Wenger has purchased and manufactured new problems like Welbeck and Iwobi. It is Wenger’s continued presence and lack of coordination in building a functional team, which harms Arsenal the most.

    I dare say, it seems there is a psychiatric condition impairing AW’s thought process having spent so long on the job,why ? because he bought Henry and Robin Van Persie and many other talented footballers, so why is he now fixated on midfield minions and possession without precision football ? He is totally incapable of making adjustments within his squad to lift the team.

  45. Damon,

    Players transferring can play in European competition for their new club provided they haven’t already played in the same competition in that season. There is also the requirement to ensure the new player is one of the registered squad members logged with UEFA in time for the beginning of the knock out phase. Dortmund have dropped into the Europa League from the Champions League and PEA would therefore be eligible to play for a new club participating in the Europa League as Dortmund haven’t played a game in the Europa League yet.

  46. Good vibes on PEA on twitter….
    For those interested in the Europa eligibility check out below (love going through the UEFA small prints), especially 43.02 (2)

    43.01 For all matches from the start of the round of 32, a club may register a maximum of three new eligible players for the remaining matches in the current competition. Such registration must be completed by 1 February 2018 (24.00CET) at the latest.

    43.02 One player from the above quota of three who has been fielded in a UEFA club competition group stage match for another club in the current season may exceptionally be registered, provided that the player has not been fielded:
    1. in the same competition for another club; or
    2. for another club that is currently in the same competition.

  47. Wavey,

    Yea I saw and it sort of makes sense. I could see both he and Jack signing and playing with Lacazette and I have to admit, its a really good start. Add Mhkitarayan and Aubameyang; the problem and what we need is a more mobile athletic DM to compliment them all.

  48. andy1886,

    Just a thought another Clive Allen deal , we swap Sanchez for Mhkitarayan then Aubameyang comes to us with Mhkitarayan going back to Dortmund.

  49. If Özil really does sign a new long term contract I suspect it will end up be one of the most expensive contracts in history in terms of how much we pay for each goal and assist we get from him. The mother of all overpaid underperforming assets. On the bright side it is face saving.

  50. Don’t know how much truth there is to it but Sky Sports Italy are reporting the Aubameyang deal is close with reported figures of 53m transfer fee and personal terms worth £8.8m-per-season were agreed.

  51. potter,

    Could be an idea!

    Just an aside, when we signed Clive Allen I thought ‘blimey! Arsenal spending big on a striker!!’ or something along those lines. Five minutes later when we swapped him for Kenny S it was ‘typical Arsenal!’. Didn’t work out too bad in the end though.

  52. Just chatting to a friend at BBC Sport, he reckons it’s a done deal too.
    €60M on a 3 year deal is the early word.

  53. Jonny,

    Yup, I am really excited for him especially if we can keep Ozil and Jack, thats mouthwatering.

    I think the thing that people keep overlooking is that bith Aubameyang and Lacazette were wingers who were turned into CF’s and because of that they can easily play together.

    Now if we could find a mobile DM ala Fernandinho then that would be perfect. I wouldn’t mind trying Maitland-Niles.

  54. So the final line means he’s cup tied, as Dortmund are currently in the same comp as us and he’s played for them this season?

    Good vibes on PEAon twitter….
    For those interested in the Europa eligibility check out below (love going through the UEFA small prints), especially 43.02 (2)

    43.01For all matches from the start of the round of 32, a club may register a maximum of three new eligible players for the remaining matches in the current competition. Such registration must be completed by 1 February 2018 (24.00CET) at the latest.

    43.02One player from the above quota of three who has been fielded in a UEFA club competition group stage match for another club in the current season may exceptionally be registered, provided that the player has not been fielded:
    1.in the same competition for another club; or
    2.for another club that is currently in the same competition.

  55. Damon,

    No, because they have only just dropped into the Europa and he hasn’t played in that competition yet this season. They have to register their squad for the EL by 1st Feb to allow for transfers. He could play in EL for Arsenal if we signed him.

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