Football interrupts the transfer business. The window might be closed and by general consensus, it was a good one for the club but there’s still a ‘but’ hanging in the air.
It’s a big ‘but’ and one we weren’t going to solve in one window. However, a defender or defensive midfielder would have been nice.
The summer will begin and finish early for Premier League clubs which will be interesting from our perspective. No last-minute trolley dash predicated on a couple of bad results or performances; we’ve got to plan ahead. Just as well the new boys are here to do that.
A new Arsenal is in town; Alex Song probably wants to keep fit and is grateful that Arsène lets him stay fit at London Colney. He probably thought he was in with a chance of getting a contract for the short-term but that avenue has been closed down. Surprisingly so, I must admit.
Unsurprisingly, most of the attention was focused on the new signings. Henrikh Mkhitaryan starts this evening but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unwell so might not. It’s not quite broken back territory and he didn’t look particularly ill in training yesterday from the photos on dot com. Then again, Yaya Sanogo looked a decent young prospect for France in an international tournament before he joined Arsenal so looks can be deceiving.
Much is being made of how we fit Özil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, and Aubameyang into the starting line-up. It’s quite easy: Mkhitaryan on the flank, Özil in the centre with Aubameyang and Lacazette flitting between the centre and the other flank. Seems easy to me, but despite being told football is a simple game, we contrive to make it anything but.
Back to Basics?
That’s certainly true of the defensive side of our game. It’s no surprise that we low-balled West Brom over Jonny Evans. Apparently, we told the Baggies he’d be cheap in the summer so we offered £12m, a £9m profit for them on June’s value after Albion are relegated. Ouch! A shame they were after double our offer to land him this winter. New faces, same negotiating techniques; perhaps Raul Sanelhi will redeem that reputation.
The surprise is we didn’t try and sign a defender sooner. It’s not like the defeat at Swansea was a shock and nor should it have been a trigger for belated action. Arsène’s well-earned reputation for doing nothing until we’re desperate strikes again.
Wenger agreed with his inquisitors yesterday that we had problems with our defensive numbers. Mainly ’34’ in the goals against column. It’s not like we don’t have good defenders at the club but they suffer from the over-emphasis on attack in training. We don’t have the will to coach defensive play; it’s why we favour zonal marking. Man-marking requires hours of practice to get right where marking a lump of grass is easier.
‘You stand there, you there and you there. Right, that’s the defending done, let’s go back to attacking’ is how I imagine the sessions going.
Arsène kind of backed all of that up when he said:
“Attacking is in our DNA. We are an attacking team. The danger when you are an attacking team is that if you don’t score, then, of course, you create your own problems.
When people say we’ve conceded too many goals, I think we don’t score enough goals. That’s our basic problem”
The first rule of attacking football is that there is no attacking football…without a defence. His philosophy as he explained it is parks football; the football of the schoolyard where the next goal wins in the 79-goal thriller. It’s why we’re becoming an irrelevance in English football.
We won’t return to previous heights or even the top four if we don’t improve at the back. It’s no good buying world-class goalkeepers or defenders if they aren’t going to be trained properly. Might as well stay at the current level and be done with it if the will isn’t there among the coaches or more importantly, the manager.
I’d expect to see some improvement on Tuesday this evening but I’ll believe it when I see it. That expectation flies in the face of everything we’ve seen previously this season so maybe it’s more hope?
But the forward line is what everyone wants to see and as I said earlier, it will be a surprise if Aubameyang doesn’t play. Jack Wilshere too, pictured eating a banana on the Colney pitches. A nation of Sunday league footballers thought, “Oh yeah, he’ll toss that skin on the pile of dirty needles and dog turds…” as they lament the state of council-run facilities in this country.
Jack didn’t of course; he’s neat boy and being a dad, knows the importance of setting a good example. Probably even had a little bag to put his rubbish in so he could dispose of it properly. Boy scout and all that.
Which leaves us with a team resembling:
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny; Ramsey, Wilshere; Mkhitaryan, Özil; Lacazette
Half-an-hour is the cameo I expect for Auba this evening with a full debut at Wembley. The ‘controversial’ choice in the team is Ramsey and Jack together. Meant to happen but doomed to fail is how it’s probably viewed but Xhaka’s form is so hit and miss that it’s hard to make a case for his inclusion in the team any longer.
He really does need to get his head together and develop the consistency he showed for Monchengladbach which made us buy him in the first place otherwise he might find himself one of the summer’s casualties.
A win is vital today after the midweek debacle so gentlemen, it’s over to you.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.