You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination where £45m allows you to spend over £100m. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!
Sometimes when you wake up, it feels like the world is out of kilter; there’s something wrong and you can’t quite put your finger on why. Unlike when I woke in hospital recently and had no idea where I was; a quick dose of morphine, to keep the levels topped up, soon put that right.
I don’t want morphine this morning. Not yet anyway. The kids are still in bed so haven’t started bickering and demanding, and to be honest, watching Atletico dick Real 7 – 3 is more comedy than one man can take; it’s funnier than Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
There’s something Pythonesque going on with Arsenal’s accounting as well. A signing for next season not coming out of this season’s budget? An $80m-rated winger being genuinely chased when Wilfried Zaha is £20m cheaper? No sign of a central defender?
Nicholas Pepe, it seems, is a genuine target. The Sage of Salford spoke and we listened:
“24/48hrs”? Isn’t that when the Emirates Cup takes place? “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! We’re not as f*cking useless as you think – all the way from Lille…Nicholas Pepe!”
Can he play centre-back though, that’s my question.
Good work, if it happens. And that is a big IF; this is football and jumping the gun in a celebratory fashion, whilst understandable, does have a habit of leaving you with an omelette on your face. One created in a battery farm as well; an entirely unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Yet, this is football and you can’t live in denial. The simple truth is that we’ve decided to get points by scoring bucketloads of goals. We can’t defend for fig so expect a plethora of seven-goal thrillers throughout the season. Will we go a whole campaign without a clean sheet? It can’t be ruled out; Arsenal, first Invincibles of the Premier League era, the first team to qualify for the Champions League without a clean sheet.
I’m resigned to that. For a club whose success has always been built on strong defence, it’s an anathema. Or is it? Success is, after all, relative and the top four isn’t particularly successful; it’s a means to an end.
I have made no secret that I want us to sign a new centre-back. Even before Laurent Koscielny’s treachery – and let’s call it for what it is – we were low on defensive quality. Unai admitted recently that Nacho Monreal as a central defender in a back four is not making best use of the player’s qualities. That leaves us shuddering at the prospect of Mustafi playing until Rob Holding is match fit. Please god, let that be soon.
Kieran Tierney’s impending arrival strengthens us on the left. Recent events gave Kolasinac something of a free pass for the early part of the season, elevating him to cult hero status. I’m sure he’d rather acquire that some other way but beggars can’t be choosers.
BTW, you know that the two herberts he confronted are going to turn out to be Arsenal fans, don’t you…
More Questions Than Answers
If they happen, do Tierney and Pepe make this a good window for Arsenal? It’s only part of the answer. We have players to shift on. I find myself sanguine about this. With the exception of Jenkinson – and possibly Bielik – most will be sold to European clubs.
Elneny, Mustafi, Koscielny, Mkhitaryan; none are going to Premier League clubs in my view so there is no immediate need to shift them off our books. Most continental transfer windows close well after the English clubs commit hari-kari before the season begins.
And when you look at the list of players, it’s not hard to think they are all – without exception – panic buys. Maybe not Bielik if he goes to a Championship club. It isn’t easy to believe that the quartet of ‘Europeans’ are strategic buys; they aren’t players around whom you’d build a side, for example.
This area is one which is more testing of the Transfer Window Action Team’s abilities than buying. Negotiations are tricky when you want to find a buyer without making it look like you are desperate for them to leave.
Frighteningly, Mustafi’s future is directly linked to us getting more central defenders in. Zech Medley is training with the first-team and he may be part of the solution. Maybe it is time to give youth a chance?
We aren’t pinning our hopes on Medley as a starter, after all. Chambers is surely ahead of him in the queue for that slot, on experience alone. However, I’d want to see Medley given the chance in the Caribou Cup, as well as the Europa League group stages. I’m sure Unai has that idea in mind, so he doesn’t need advice for us ne’er do wells.
There’s still much work to be done in this window.