Jim Steinman reckoned two out of three ain’t bad; this morning sees two Arsenal players leaving and whilst they aren’t bad deals, one isn’t necessarily good.
Mohamed Elneny is now a Besiktas player or for the rest of this season. The Egypt international signed a loan deal and I hope it goes well for him. As midfielders go, he isn’t bad; he just isn’t what we need, or indeed needed at the time.
Unai Emery didn’t fancy him as part of his trio on the pitch. He played more minutes of international football last season than he did in the Premier League; 50% more, just to emphasise the point.
And so he goes. For once the speculation out of the Super Lig has substance.
The (un)surprising move was Nacho Monreal’s departure, one about which I have serious misgivings. Our left-back options are Kolasinac and Tierney. There’s a lot of hope for the latter but the former is very hit and miss. His barrelling runs down the left destroy everything in his path, including his defensive sense.
While the Bosnian is inconsistent, he can’t be all bad. You don’t make the Bundesliga team of the season by being rubbish. We need, however, the good Kolasinac turn up all the while Tierney is recovering.
The decision to sell the Spaniard takes into account formations. Will we revert to a back three, to accommodate Rob Holding? Kolasinac’s better with the security of a left-sided centre-back behind/beside him.
I remember his debut; #2 son and I sat through a numbing performance against Stoke which a Podolski thunderbolt made bearable.
Since then, Monreal has been a consistent performer which was something of a rarity in recent years. Reliable left-backs is something we’re used to; we’re waving goodbye to one too soon in my view.
That’s what we read into the situation. There are still two days to go until the window closes but nothing says you’re not wanted more than Chris Smalling signing for Roma on loan. Chris Smalling is rated more highly than Mustafi.
Therein is the player and Arsenal’s problem. A year out of the limelight may do his reputation some good but both club and Mustafi know his value is waning.
It’s a situation which decreases his desire to move; the paycuts on offer will be significant and why leave a home where he is settled? Even if he is unwanted.
There is no simple answer to the problem of a tarnished reputation. Mustafi remains stuck to Arsenal more strongly than any superglue or Gorilla tape you can imagine.
And for both parties, that’s no-win.
Days In Europa
The dream of drawing Celtic in the Europa League and crushing their dreams into the sand must wait. We ended up with Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vittoria Guimaraes.
It’s a bog-standard group; Eintracht are a dangerous obstacle but in all honesty, not a stumbling block if we apply ourselves properly.
European football’s absurdity is highlighted by Celtic. They are drawn in the same group as Cluj, the team which knocked them out of the Champions League. It doesn’t bother me that they are in the same group, just that either is in the Europa League.
The latest proposal from the European clubs is to do away with the qualifying rounds and have a 96-team Champions League, divided into sixteen groups of six. There would be six English clubs in the initial group stage.
A sprawling group phase gives way to a knockout round which will be equally ludicrous. I lost the will to live with the initial idea and things didn’t improve as I read further. No team gets knocked out of Europe at this stage; the top two go through to the Champions League while the next and bottom two to the Europa League 1 and Europa League 2.
Essentially, the 96-team phase is a lucrative qualifying round, the very thing they said was being done away with.
As far as this season’s Europa League goes, I don’t see any teams to fear in the draw. Even looking at the Champions League, we can beat anyone.
Anyone except the Premier League teams; we never do that.
Should Unai Emery be worried that we are second-favourites to win? Probably; our ability to screw things up is legendary.
Still, you’ve got to be in it to win it, as they say.