That’s phase one over. English football’s determination to shoot itself in the foot means there are no more signings incoming at Arsenal. The squad is what is until January at the earliest; let English football and VAR do their worst.
Kiernan Tierney arrived to a social media fanfare but by the time David Luiz completed his move, there was an air of fatigue about it all. The pixies and elves who man the club’s Twitter, Instagram and God knows what else accounts couldn’t rest; there was still the sale of Alex Iwobi to announce.
Tierney and Luiz strengthen our defence. Yes, you read that correctly. An injured player and Sideshow Bob make us better.
In fairness to the Scot, the scaremongering over an eight-week layoff subsided. Neil Lennon took his life into his own hands and brought his red head into the daylight to quash those rumours. Tierney is a couple of weeks from being fit. That is until our medical team get their hands on him and squirrel him away in some black hole for months.
Luiz? Well, I made my views clear yesterday. Perhaps I can crystallise them better with: if David Luiz is the answer, how bad must your defence be?
The Brazilian brings experience, is a decent passer of the football and has a Masters degree in Football Sh*thousery. We need all those things. What we don’t need are his lax positional play and error-strewn performances. If he brings them, we’ve basically bought a curly-haired Mustafi. Granit Xhaka may be relieved though; Luiz is likely to cede possession more frequently.
I think he’s a poor signing and will prove to be Silvestre and Squillaci’s soulmate. But he’s here and in any case, there are two grounds for optimism.
Do Tell, Do Tell…
Firstly, Rob Holding is back next month. Secondly, he and Sokratis will spend half-a-season each on the sidelines after VAR pick up their dark arts. So long as they aren’t missing at the same time; anything, anyone but Mustafi.
Which brings us to the day’s departures. Some will be coming back, such as Eddie Nketiah. Going to Leeds can surely only be beneficial. Marcelo Bielsa is a tactically astute coach and they have a set of players burning with desire to win promotion.
Nketiah will also benefit from the competitive nature of the Championship. But crucially, he should be used more often than he would at Arsenal. That is the big thing; he needs playing time.
Which is something Alex Iwobi might reasonably expect to get at Everton. I wish him well. For whatever reason, he plateaued over the last year or two. Was it a natural break in progress or just his ceiling being reached? We’ll find out.
Whatever the case, I wouldn’t fault him for effort. He always tried – sometimes too hard – to make things work but the arrival of Nicolas Pepe pretty much spelt the end for him. With Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka emerging, opportunities were obviously limited for Iwobi.
The fee of £38m seems fair. Reports started it at £45m but with every hour it dropped.
Ignoring Saliba (as the club is), it took our net spend to around £42m this summer; closer than some want to admit to the £45m bandied around…
Who cares how we’ve made the budget work? Surely no-one, beyond those who believe football finances to be nothing more than wizardry and chicanery which puts convicted fraudsters to shame. Oh, and the media.
Which Brings Us To The Big Question…
Was it a good transfer window. From the shadows of chaos and destruction, emerged a shining light.
The signing of Nicolas Pepe kickstarted it all. I know Saliba was signed before, so too Ceballos. I’m struggling to get excited by the Saliba deal; it’s next year’s thing and there is nine months of this season to go.
I will, however, try to watch Saint-Etienne vs Bordeaux, just to see him soar salmon-like about Koscielny to score a last-minute winner. If it secures European football at Bordeaux’s expense or relegates them, so much the better. That won’t happen; the games are in October and March – I just looked.
I know; it’s scary to think any research goes into this drivel.
But looking at the squad, it’s hard to think that we’re not better off. Luiz might be a similar model to Koscielny but he’s marginally younger and more streetwise. Ceballos isn’t a replacement for Ramsey per se; his goals quota won’t match the Welshman’s hence the signing of Pepe. That takes care of Ramsey and Welbeck’s.
Pepe is a strange one. The #wecaredoyou letter sparked the club into action. It didn’t demand Viv Nicholson be given the keys to the safe but Raul unleashed his inner Viv on the world. The ferocity of the reaction surprised the Kroenkes, as Junior’s lame-arse interviews showed.
Arsenal unfettered chased Wilfried Zaha. We tried to get him on the cheap; old habits die hard. £40m, then £40m plus wastrels we no longer wanted. Palace didn’t bite on either.
Surprisingly, we never went back, despite Pepe proving we had the money. Maybe we talked with the Eagles hierarchy about a similar-style of payments but they told Raul to bugger off.
So we did and arguably, got a better player out of it.
We shall see.
Come On, Get To It!
A few weeks of the window remain with time for some players to be sold. Eyes are focused on Mesut Ozil; Team Mesut is talking MLS, specifically DC United. If Derby can fund Rooney’s wages via sponsors, so too can DC for Mesut.
There were times during the pre-season when I thought he was reinvigorated, alive to another season. Then on other occasions, it was 2018/19 Mesut. The half-arsed effort and slipping to the periphery of games. If he doesn’t go to DC this summer, next year is definitely on the cards. The retirement home is calling…
Which brings us to an overall view of the English transfer window. We kept hold of star players, e.g. Aubameyang and Lacazette, while the youngsters emerged from the shadows to shine in the daylight.
Joe Willock looked completely at home, so too Robbie Burton. Saka was lively in his appearances while Reiss Nelson improved with every game.
Overall, the window gets a solid 7/10. Had we signed an Upamecano or Rugani defender, one for the long-term but ready for the coming season, I’d have said 8/10. Sell Mustafi and it’s higher than that.
But those things never happened. We fixed a problem with a short-term solution – and Luiz’s two-year deal is short-term – so we’re as good as we could have expected for 2019/20. Probably better.
And I, for one, feel reinvigorated about the new season ahead. Until we lose to a last-minute Andy Carroll goal on Sunday, that is.