Roma Take the Mkhi & The State of the Squad

Alas poor Henrikh, I knew him well.

Which, of course, I didn’t. Suffice to say, I do not mourn his passing as an Arsenal player and despite exhortations otherwise, will not be following Roma’s English social media accounts to keep an eye on his career.

There are several reasons for this. If I do this for an overpaid underperformer like Mkhitaryan, I must do so for hundreds of other ne’er-do-wells who’ve worn the red and white shirt. Football consumes enough of my life as it is; I don’t think there’s any more room for it.

And to be honest, I don’t want to make any more room for it.

Personally, I’ve never subscribed to the idea of following ex-players careers. Once they stop wearing an Arsenal shirt, they are good for nothing more than pantomime villainy.

Once the crest on their chest changes, they are toast.

It’s a similar principle to supporting English teams in Europe. I can’t do it; I want them to fail as much as I do every weekend. There isn’t a little switch to flick which makes foes friends and vice versa. This is medieval politics.

Anyway, the upshot of that is you now know for certain that I am a miserable sod. Which you knew already, of course.

Some concerns were raised that Mkhitharyan’s departure leaves us light in depth. Sunday’s bench answered that question. Reiss Nelson is one to benefit, so too Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal’s model is now to promote youth, as well as outsmarting the market. Let’s be honest, getting shot of Mkhitaryan was clever enough, but forcing Roma into an option to buy is not so much outsmarting the market as making it sit in the corner wearing a dunce’s cap.

Winning Mentality

As I mentioned earlier, the Armenian underperformed at Arsenal. We couldn’t fix what Jose Mourinho broke at Old Trafford.

If that doesn’t turn your stomach at the prospect of the Special One managing Arsenal, just consider his behaviour on every touchline and press conference at Chelsea, United and Real. He might possess a winning mentality but he is just mental.

Our squad is now what it is. For the briefest of moments, we dared to dream of a Mustafi-less Arsenal but Juventus sobered up pretty quickly when they realised everyone was taking them seriously.

The German will surface, I’m sure, against Nottingham Forest and maybe in the dead rubbers of the Europa League group phase. I wouldn’t, however, risk him in a tricky game.

We’ve got enough error-prone defenders as it is but on the balance of probabilities, we know they are likely to give up just one error each. Mustafi is multiple mistakes in the making, even if he has a barnstorming match otherwise. And we won’t remember that bit; it’s only the mistakes which are etched into your brain.

Most mistakes on a football pitch are a lapse in concentration or forgetting instructions. Not all of them but certainly the ones we’ve seen so far this season are mental errors; carelessness.

That suggests the solution to our problems lies with sports psychologists. Either that or the players need to stop thinking about the list of chores their partners gave them.

You know, tightly typed A4 sheet you’re expected to do by the end of the day. The ones which carry over a day then appear on the next list in RED at the top of the page. Just for an added element of malevolence.

The State of Play

Exits at this stage of the transfer process are unsurprising. With the English window closed several weeks ago, the likelihood of a major player leaving was zero; you don’t sell your best assets without the opportunity to replace them.

Well, not anymore we don’t.

So, what is the state of play? The attack is settled. We have an issue if either Lacazette or Aubameyang is out for a significant spell; it puts a lot of pressure on the remaining player unless others chip in with goals.

OK, that’s primarily Nicolas Pepe, so if someone could send him his shooting boots from France, it would be much appreciated.

Like attack, we’re principally well-stocked in midfield. It’s a case of personnel rather than getting new faces in. I wouldn’t shed a tear if Xhaka left, but then there are few who I feel that strongly about.

Ian Wright chimed in this weekend, questioning his suitability as captain. He observed that with the Swiss’ only travails, getting his own game sorted out is the most important objective.

The defence? I wonder if we’re going to be more settled with Bellerin and Tierney? I don’t know if that has an impact on the centre-backs? Genuinely, I can’t see how since mistakes happen irrespective of who plays on the flanks.

In the lead up to the January window, I’d expect Team Shkodran and the Transfer Window Action Teams to work round the clock to find him a new club. Rob Holding is about to return to the fray and Callum Chambers is above Mustafi in the queue for the first XI.

All For One But Not One Of The Four

We’ve got four first XI central defenders so I would use one of the experienced players plus Medley in domestic cups and European dead rubbers. Keeping the German out of the first XI may rehabilitate his reputation better than him treading the turf.

However, there is a balance. Injuries may force Mustafi’s use; he needs to be match fit or as close to it as possible.

Enough on the Mustafi, however. He’s an incidental player, quite literally, is this scene.

I do think we’re well set for the next few months. If – and it is a big ‘IF’ – we can sort out the stupid errors, there is no reason we shouldn’t be in a prime position to reclaim a top-four finish.

‘til Tomorrow.

33 thoughts on “Roma Take the Mkhi & The State of the Squad

  1. Kadeet says:

    That Mhiki left it’s a good news for our Academy players. What’s the essence of keeping them and how will they be hopeful of making it here if there’s no substitute role at least.

  2. Ferkov says:

    Not that I ever understand the relationship.
    I’ve started a new game, at least for the interlull.
    Click the email link to the post, read it, boom if applicable 👀, then guess what film caption will be on the homepage.
    Today I guessed barfly. Don’t know what it is tbf, but I’m not close😁

    Mick and shocker are both history now. Onwards and upwards. Will be interesting to see how the CBs get sorted.
    Last year UE chopped and changed, but had excuses of injuries and suspensions. The Saturday morning selection raffle. … sorry Sunday. Look forward to your Predictions

  3. C says:

    So Mhkitaryan is gone and Mustafi seems buried in the stands. At this point, I think Xhaka simply doesn’t fit so I could see him off too in the next 2 windows….sell Mustafi and Xhaka and use that money to make Ceballos’ loan permanent.

    I think that both Mustafi and Xhaka are good players, just not ones suited for the PL.

  4. jonnygunner says:

    Thanks for the post YW
    I looked on in amazement at Granits inclusion on Sunday.I just hope and pray that the Spuds match was his last start…however…I’m not convinced Unai will drop him

  5. blazon says:

    Granit Zhaka
    he has been known to pack a…
    the Ref, well aware of this
    has him for…

  6. Adebanjo says:

    Good post as usual. On Pepe “OK, that’s primarily Nicolas Pepe, so if someone could send him his shooting boots from France, it would be much appreciated.” I rather wish someone finds and sends him his scoring boots. We are now well acquainted with the shouting boots.

  7. C says:

    Can Emery just name Lacazette captain and be done with it already!

  8. Ferkov says:

    Is pepe the new gervinho??

    Yes he Is.
    Except that he has talent and pace, and reasonable hair. And he’s not Gervinho

  9. Paulie Walnuts says:

    I’m not sure what to make of Pepe so far. He could well be trying too hard & it’s still early doors.

    Big money strikers need to hit the ground running goal wise or else the chants of ‘what a waste of money’ begin.

    Mikhi had overstayed his welcome so I’m glad he’s gone. It makes you wonder if some players are completely just hyped or genuinely lose their way. Was he ever any good?

  10. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi

    The squad is certainly improved from last season. Pepe and Tierney are upgrades at 2 positions where we needed help. Ceballos is a short term upgrade but anything that moves Ozil to the bench is great with me. I think we have also dumped a few of the left players from the Arsene era which is a positive.

    I think our front 3 is very good assuming Pepe can come close to living up to his transfer fee. We are the 3rd best in the league right now

    I think Guendouzi is potentially a very good Jordan Henderson or type energy role player. The problem is he is not a defensive mid nor is he a creative attacking mid. Guendouzi could be a very valuable player but he has to be paired with a better defensive mid and better creative attacking mid to give us a balanced midfield. Ceballos might be a really good creative attacking mid someday but unfortunately we only have him for a year and if does he does come good it probably won’t be for Arsenal. Willock seems like a very similar player to Guendouzi. The evidence to date suggests we are over rating Torriera. He lost his place as a starter for Uruguay and he has not been that good for us. Emery has not used him as a defensive mid and the manager does not seem to rate him as highly as we do. We have talked about Xhaka endlessly. The bottom line is I think Guendouzi has a lot of potential if paired with better DM and creative mid and we probably need to buy those midfielders.

    I think we are set at fullback but we need to buy a really good CB.

    Leno is certainly not a top 6 GK and its debatable if he is a top 10 GK in today’s PL. Hopefully he will be adequate if we build a decent defense in front of him. Upgrading our midfield and CB is certainly a higher priority then buying a new GK.

    Chelsea, ManU and Spurs are all looking worse then last year so unlike last year 4th place is a real possibility

    By far most important of all is I think things are certainly moving in a positive direction with our front office. I think they actually have a plan and the smarts to execute the plan. Josh Kronke needed to get rid of Arsene a lot sooner but he seems to care and that has to give all of us more hope then at any time during the last 6-8 years. This is far more important then anything else for the long term prospects of the club. Hopefully our brain trust can build on the momentum and finish the squad rebuild.

  11. philmar says:

    How much better would we have been if we’d taken the 70 million from Citeh for Sanchez and traded Ozil for a serviceable defender…and used the Ozil contract money instead to keep Ramsay?
    Gadzis failed miserably on all 3 fronts when we had the 3 entering their last year on contract

    Sell any shares you own in AC Milan Spa.

  12. C says:


    You mean the Ramsey who is currently injured with quite a few reports saying Juve are considering leaving him off their UEFA CL list….that Ramsey?

  13. philmar says:

    Can Emery just name Lacazette captain and be done with it already!

    The captaincy is a poisoned chalice. Ozil and Mustafi need to be co-captains.

  14. philmar says:


    You mean the Ramsey who is currently injured with quite a few reports saying Juve are considering leaving him off their UEFA CL list….that Ramsey?

    Yeah THAT one. It would be cheaper to pay him to play the 50% of the games in which he isn’t injured that it is costing us to pay Ozil to sit on the bench. Ramsay’s minutes would be more productive than Ozil’s. He scored goals and was a great late game sub. Yeah, Ramsay is brittle, his hammy twinges constantly, doesn’t have blazing speed but for all his faults he is an upgrade on Ozil who clearly doesn’t give much of a damn. How much money per minute played has Ozil earned this year?

  15. C says:


    Would they be more productive, in the current team I doubt it because he would have gotten in the way of Aubameyang and Lacazette, plus Ceballos is IMHO a better version of Ramsey. Ozil, well lets see what happens cause I’m not sure we will know much of anything until after this international break. The money could well be saved and with the potential sales of Mustafi and Xhaka could be spent on the purchase of Ceballos.

  16. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    Xhakas pen is grotesque but maybe just maybe Xhaka gets a panic attack when AMN gets skinned at the right back with subsequent brain fart.

    Maybe we could try Mustafi as Hectors deputy and put AMN back to his preferred place🤓.

  17. Paulie Walnuts says:


    Pretty much agree with all of that, particularly about Josh K. I’m hoping that he doesn’t need to respond to criticism before taking action from now on.

  18. Bill says:


    I fully blame Stan and Josh for waiting about 5 years longer then they should to sack Arsene. They deserve full blame for their inaction. However, I guess better late then never.

    I think the fact that the end of the window action and the critical letter from the supporters group came at about the same time was coincidence. It Seems hard for me to accept the idea that our front office had nothing planned and they decided to change everything and put together a really solid transfer window after the criticism hit the media.

  19. Bill says:


    I agree the way the Ramsey contract was handled was poor management. However I also agree with C’s point that we couldn’t give Ramsey a big contract when he can never stay healthy We already have Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Mustafi, Kolasinac and the last thing we needed was another high wage underperforming contract. 5 wrongs do not make a right.

  20. Bill says:


    We saw last year that a healthy Ramsey can be a really big asset. Aaron was so good for a couple months he actually made Ozil look good when Mesut was playing besides him. Its quite amazing that anyone could make Ozil look effective. However, he can never stay healthy and I agree giving him a big contract would have been a mistake,

  21. jonnygunner says:


    Bill…..that is a very structured and realistic appraisal of everything in our team at the moment-I agree with everything you’ve posted.

  22. consolsbob says:

    Miserable bastard? Pfft, talk to my wife about what a miserable bastard is like!

  23. Blue Yonder says:

    Paulie Walnuts: Big money strikers need to hit the ground running goal wise or else the chants of ‘what a waste of money’ begin.

    Lacazette was a bit slow to get his scoring boots laced up so perhaps it’s reasonable to expect something similar from Pepe.

  24. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    It’s too early to judge Pepe. I don’t understand those who are already criticising the lad. Would like to see AMN given a chance in midfield at some point.

    94-2 in the cricket and Smith is starting to bed in! I’m gonna make a prediction either Smith will get himself out or he’ll make 200 runs on his own and scupper any chance we have of getting the Ashes back.

  25. Damon says:

    Didn’t Bergkamp take something like 8 games to open his account?

    I can vividly remember his celebration, blowing his cheeks out with relief. Against Southampton, if I’m not mistaken?

  26. C says:

    Are people really judging Pepe already? That’a madness, it really is.

  27. Ferkov says:


    I don’t think so C. It’s the interlull so anything to maintain a football dialogue.
    Tick tick. Time passing slowly.

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