Two Years Left: Are We To Be Brave Or Foolhardy Sellers This Window?

It seems just like days of olde. The Emirates Cup arrives with some vague expectation we will land a big-money signing. Wheeling out Nicholas Pepe pre-match or half-time in the clash with Lyon is a step too far. However, just as Willy Saliba and Dani Ceballos arrived (late) on a day when the suits met fans, nobody would be surprised by a deal being announced to give the day a bit of zing.

This year’s Emirates Cup is different; two matches in one day as per usual but this time, Arsenal Women find themselves sharing top-billing as they face Bayern Munich before the men take centre stage. Tim Stillman wrote a good primer on the Women’s team, as well as a match preview.

Both matches are on Premier Sports; the Women’s game kicks-off at 12.30 with the men following at 3.15pm. There’s a healthy gap between the two matches, time to enjoy the club’s new partnership with the Camden Town Brewery. At last, a decent pint in the stadium. It might almost be worth turning up early for a game…

Will Dani Ceballos make his debut today? He trained with the squad ahead of the game and may play some part. With a trip to Angers in midweek, anyone who doesn’t start this afternoon surely features from kick-off in France. Unai must, however, look at fielding what he considers his strongest line-up so that we don’t have a bunch of strangers on the pitch at St James’ Park in a fortnight.

Who forms his strongest XI is anyone’s guess. In attack and midfield, we have an embarrassment of riches. Which is just as well because most of our defence is embarrassing. Less than a fortnight to go, Raul; tick-tock.

I Pity The Fool

There is an element of fantasy football across the XI with options to suit all occasions. Auba and Pepe with Laca in the centre with a midfield combo of Torreira, Ceballos and Ozil. Or Guendouzi. Or Willock. Granit’s place in the starting line-up is anything but rock solid.

Everyone is rightly excited by the potential signing of Nicholas Pepe. Two former Lille wingers graced the Premier League previously with Arsenal’s buy proving to be a dud. Gervinho enjoyed the most productive seasons of his career with the French club; hopefully, Pepe’s are just a stepping stone to better things if he signs for us. If he doesn’t, I don’t give a rat’s arse how it turns out…

This is shaping to be a particularly busy fortnight for the club. Back in May, Vinai and Raul promised to be brave – later morphing into “outsmarting the market” – and take unpalatable decisions in the club’s favour. One of those was over contracts. Vinai said:

We need to make sure we are really disciplined.

A good example of that is senior players that aren’t towards the end of their careers, we need to make sure that those players, when they’ve got two years left on their contract, we’re making the difficult decisions.

We’re either renewing those players’ contracts, or we’re selling those players. So we’re going to have to be brave with those decisions along the way, because we can’t be in a situation where we are allowing players to walk out the door for free unless they are coming towards the end of their career.

Vinai Venkatesham on transfers

The Terrible Trio

Brave words or foolhardy? A quick glance at Transfermarkt shows the words definitely fall into the latter category. Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Carl Jenkinson, and, Takuma Asano all see their contracts expire next summer. We’re surely actively looking to move three of the four on but Nacho may yet serve a purpose.

More disconcertingly is the group whose contract expire in two years. Sokratis and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang surely get new contracts by Vinai’s rules. We’ve got problems aplenty already in defence without the Greece international, who while not being perfect, is head and shoulders above the rest of the back four.

However, if either is sold, a transfer window which currently sits at a solid 7 out of 10, plummets in those circumstances. Aubameyang’s sale would explain the current splurge in the market and fits the M.O. being pushed; older players replaced with youngsters whose value increases. Pepe, at €80m, must go some to make that happen; Saliba too, whilst we are at it.

The other three whose deals expire in 2021 find themselves topping the list of players we should sell. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Shkodran Mustafi, and Mesut Özil are consistently inconsistent. Quite a few tears would be shed by some over the latter’s departure but the former two? Nobody, surely, will be surprised if they go. Most of us will be surprised if they do go.


Vinai’s bold claim sprang from a desire to prove he isn’t Ivan Mk II, but it is one which is going to haunt him. Reports this morning claim Real Madrid face losing Gareth Bale for no fee with the Chinese Super League transfer window closing in a few days. We may face a similar situation with Özil and Mkhitaryan as clubs struggle to fund their wages and a fee as well.

Is that brave – forgoing a fee to cut costs – or folly? This is Arsenal, we expect the latter. And if we were going to forgo fees, Laurent Koscielny would already be gone.

As ever with football executives, words flow too freely to appear different. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. If we do shift these players and finish in the top four, I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution…

’til Tomorrow.

57 thoughts on “Two Years Left: Are We To Be Brave Or Foolhardy Sellers This Window?

  1. YW says:

    Console yourself with the 1st Comment of the Day trophy…

  2. andy1886 says:

    Do we let them go for free? Absolutely we should, no point in flogging a dead horse or dead horses in this case.

    If we’re serious about fixing the defence then Tierney will come in. If not then there is no way it’s going to end well with the same old problems as last season when scoring goals wasn’t the issue, it’s conceding them.

    Maybe it’s a generational thing but the idea of football being like basketball, who scores most, makes me feel sick. AFC as older readers will know was always based on a solid defence first and foremost, in my time at the aforementioned LB position we’ve had greats like Sansom, Winterburn, and Cole with honorable mentions to McNab and Nelson (shame Wenger tarnished the list with the likes of Santos, Gibbs and Clichy). Let’s hope that we sign Tierney and he becomes another great to add to that list.

    I expect Ozil to stay simply because of his wages but don’t see how he gets a game with Laca, Auba and Pepe on the pitch.

  3. Damon says:


    Yes mate, it’s been said too many times already, but the madness of Ozil’s basic with no performance/results related incentives means even if we give him away, he’s unlikely to sign with someone else, as no one interested in his “services” is paying that a week.

    At best I can see him going back to Turkey and we’ll only pay a quarter of a million pounds a week towards his upkeep

  4. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi

    You are definitely back to your best.

    The Nicolas Pepe rumors seem like they are too good to be true. The goals and assists stats in France make him seem like the ideal wide forward that we have been looking for. I read a stat on 7AM kickoff that we only had 3 total counter attack goals last season despite having Aubu and Laca upfront. That shows just how incredibly ineffective Mesut and the rest of our central midfield was at transitioning from defense to attack. Based on the stats I saw counter attacking Is one of the things Pepe is really good at. Hopefully Ceballos and Pepe would mean the end of regular minutes for Iwobe and Ozil. All that said Andy is absolutely correct and trying to score our way back into the top 4 without fixing the defense may be pointless. Hopefully Tierney comes also and we find a way to add a good CB.

  5. C says:


    You made mention of the Xhaka size whole in midfield…..I think with Ceballos and Guendouzi you have players that can easily fill that whole who not only can play when pressured but offer more athleticism defensively. We saw last year that Emery doesn’t mind dropping Xhaka for Guendouzi.

  6. jw1 says:

    As always, appreciate a hot cup of pith to start the morning YW. 😉


    ‘And if we we’re going to forgo fees, Laurent Koscielny would already be gone.’

    Best practice to take savings wherever they are found– as the club extricate from the past’s tarpit.
    Kos though? Another, different situation. Either a fee, or even– get 6 months from him and move him on in January. As much as it pains to think we still could use someone who pissed on the club’s boots? Let’s also recoup value wherever we can.

    With this move for Pepe? It’s safe to say the New Backroom Order are not an open book. Not to say we should expect any more soon of this magnitude– but I’ll be less surprised when the next move occurs.

    Best sign on the Tierney front? Neil Lennon has finally stuck-a-sock -in-it.
    Even if the Celtic press and bloggers continue bleating. Raul needs to stop toying, pony-up the few remaining quid– or ship ’em Jenks, Elneny or whatever combo moves the situation to finish.

  7. Colts says:


    I guess zaha’s will was fried when his dream came knocking. unfortunate, would have been a nice story but wow. The French bonnet, I noticed manure fans broke out the scotch when the news came in.
    what a difference a fortnight makes aye, welcome aboard.

    not sure xhaka is that close to walking the plank given he’s got the most experience and bones of granite. Ceb looks a little too slight to be at the base and I thought he was supposed to be replacing Rambo?

    should be out of the question selling bammy now, we’re starting look like a champions league team. add the Scot and get rugani on loan and I think the three amigos might deserve a standing ovation.

    this is home.

  8. C says:

    Team news:


  9. C says:

    Lacazette off early and Nelson comes on. We look a bright side, need a goal.

  10. C says:

    Nelson looks hungry and more than willing to run at defenders. Have put in a couple crosses that if Mhkitaryan was on his toes could have gotten to.

  11. C says:

    Who is managing Lyon in his 1st manager position, our old LB Silvinho.

  12. C says:

    Mhkitaryan drills with loads of pace and Aubameyang with a delicious finish!

    Aubameyang directs it to the far corner.

  13. C says:

    Been thinking about it, and the commentator has echoed it….what about Lacazette as club Captain, I would certainly have him. Natural leader, was Captain of Lyon at a young age, everybody seems to follow him and he not only leads the line brilliantly but sets the tone for the team and the club as a whole.

  14. Colts says:

    decent half, Mickey looks sharp, Gwen looks more physical and I forgot how much of a nuisance he is. Nelson needs games doing well till the final ball.
    Will’s energy from 10 is soothing to the soul. back line so far look pretty comfortable.

  15. C says:

    Is it just me or does Willock look physically ready?

  16. Colts says:

    I thought all the signs were pointing towards xhaka for captain?

    we sticking with fly better? it’s nice.

  17. C says:

    Nketiah should have buried that!!! Really good stuff from Willock yet again

  18. C says:

    Nelson is showing some really good wing play.

  19. C says:

    These youngsters are really showing some hunger whether its Willock being all action in midfield, Nelson running at any and everything and fizzing in some good balls or Nketiah looking lively in his movement and play.

  20. C says:


    He just checks all the boxes and I think also would have the supporters fully behind him.

  21. C says:

    Our CB’s turn completely off and lets Dembele get a free header leaving Leno with no chance.

  22. C says:

    Ceballos, Gabriel and Mustafi coming on for Mhkitaryan, Willock and Chambers.

  23. C says:

    Maitland-Niles down looking to have taken a knock

  24. Colts says:


    I think niles was beaten way too easily for a soft cross, starting to see why maybe as I type…?

  25. C says:

    Gabriel gets his goal on his debut at the Emriates!!!!!!!!



  26. C says:

    Goal was disallowed but NOBODY but Moss knows why.

  27. C says:

    And then out CB’s are beat and let Dembele though clean on Leno and he buries. Good job Sokaritis.

  28. andy1886 says:

    I see our defensive issues remain regardless. Only major changes will help IMO, we need to clear out those that could potentially infect new signings with the Arsenal disease.

  29. Colts says:

    backline didn’t have a clue what was going on then, soft counter

  30. Ras says:

    Good afternoon all . Watching the match and I can say that defence and midfield worry me.

    Xhaka and Mhiki pre season or not just do not cut it. It is embarrassing to watch.

    Any fool, idiot can see that Xhaka has none to very little turn of pace, and has no athletic ability to bring to the team. He can pass a ball and that is it.

    Mhiki is a passenger. He tries his delicate flicks and spins with little to no effect.

  31. C says:

    One thing Ceballos will definitely bring is a player who likes to carry the ball and has shown that in a couple of moments.

  32. C says:

    Rugani on a season long loan with need to buy next summer would be absolutely ideal.

  33. andy1886 says:

    Have to agree with Ras, even if we do buy a new CB (and I think it’s unlikely) then Xhaka remains a menace to his own side at the back. A 4-3-3 simply cannot include Xhaka at the base of the MF three. Liability.

  34. C says:


    I think that’s why we could see more of Ceballos and Guendouzi next to Torriera. Both are better under pressure and have shown they are more than willing to get in their defensively.

  35. andy1886 says:

    Oh well, it’s only a friendly after all, but you’d have to be blind to see that unless we do something in the next week about the defence we’re going to struggle with or without Pepe to make top four. Plenty of mid-table sides will fancy their chances and the best sides will hammer us.

  36. Blue Yonder says:

    I can’t back this up but I seem to have a hunch that the brains trust are resigning themselves to losing players who are nearing contract end without recompense.Simply because there is much to be done and so little time. But that the new rule will be as stated that with two years to go it will be new contract or sold.

  37. SV says:

    The two goals conceded in the second half, when the defence was easily opened up. It’s a friendly, but still… The solidity is still not there.

  38. Bill says:


    Hope springs eternal but Madrid is not a stupid team and they may need help this season. They are sending Ceballos on loan because they think he still needs to develop and he is not ready to play regularly in their first team. I think it’s asking a bit much to hope for him to adapt immediately to the PL and to be a difference maker.

  39. C says:


    Madrid are sending him on loan because Zidane is fiercely loyal to a midfield of Casermo, Modric and Kroos. Ceballos wanted to play and Zidane has made it known that ia hia midfield for the season. Your right, Madrid isn’t stupid, they know he is talented but needs to play hence why they didn’t want to sell unless their was a buyback clause. Unlike Suarez, Ceballos has come in fit and ready.

  40. G4E says:

    Honestly I think we are doing good in the sense or building a team for the future and not for the present.

    Pepe (If True)
    Tierney (If we could)

    We have Torreira, Bellerin, Holding, Willock doesn’t seem far off, Guendouzi, We have enough players in Midfield. It’s a young team and being built for the future.

    The whole new philosophy depends on our success to keep our best players, as we failed many times in the past.

    I’m all for it….I just hope we can keep building, but obviously not expecting any surprises this year.

    Once a Gooner…..Always a f8cking Gooner. What can I say?

    Can’t stay away, damn Arsenalitis.

  41. Bill says:


    Zidane is a good manager and I assume Zidane is loyal to those midfielders because they are his best option. Those first 3 midfielders won’t play every game even if they all stay healthy and every team needs depth in case of injury. Zidane wouldn’t be sending Ceballos on loan if he was ready to play regularly right now.

  42. C says:


    Mate, Ceballos wants to play 30+ matches and has made no secret of that. Zidane ia fiercely loyal to those 3 midfielders, even last season the managers stayed loyal to them despite how poor they were because he knew them. Same reason he stuck with Marcelo and others despite their shit season. Sure Madrid is a different club, but unlike what your accustomed to and really most logic, they do things differently and politics tends to play a part as well. If Zidane and Madrid thought he wasn’t nor was going to be ready then they would have been willing to sell or even install or insist on a permanent deal at the end….except they didn’t and did the complete opposite. The boy is a talent and when he has featured, came good for both club and country. If you think he isn’t that good then fine, but his performances when played show otherwise.

    For instance, Neves was a MASSIVE part of their CL success and was at times brilliant, but Perez want Courtious so he went and bought him, forced him on Zidane and now Neves is set to leave and Courtious has struggled, and that’s being kind, since he moves to Madrid.

  43. BobDazzler says:

    I haven’t followed the carjacking furour very closely (I’m trying to cleanse my mind of the extraneous). But the basic rule for armoured car drivers is that, if one of them is bailed up outside the truck, the truck driver MUST immediately drive off and leave his pal with the bad guys. That is the safest course because it prevents the guy outside being used as a hostage. Of course, lots of armoured car drivers hate that rule. But it is the smart play. So, really, Ozil should have got behind the wheel and driven away from Sead!

  44. Dukey says:

    Ceballos ” so mesut and saed, what’s it like in London? “.

  45. andy1886 says:


    “Probably still safer than a holiday in Turkey or Bosnia. And you can also take up our shirt sponsors offer of a free holiday in Rwanda!”

  46. Damon says:

    Whoever your god may happen to be, can you all cast a little prayer in their direction that the rumours that Roma are going to pay us money to take Mustafi off our hands are in fact, not a wind up

    Cheers in advance all

  47. Dukey says:


    I wonder how many more people are through the power of advertising visiting Rwanda?


    “Probably still safer than a holiday in Turkey or Bosnia. And you can also take up our shirt sponsors offer of a free holiday in Rwanda!”

  48. andy1886 says:


    Not many I suspect, ‘Visit Rwanda’ sounds more like a threat than an enticement.

  49. andy1886 says:


    Can we do a BOGOF and throw in Xhaka? (regular readers of this fine publication may have noticed that the Swiss has taken over from MO as my particular bug bear at this point).

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