Monday, May 20, 2024

Arsene Wenger press conference bingo*

A bad start to the day folks, we have no coffee in the house. That means my morning cuppa has to be tea. Now tea is fine, it’s grand, it’s all right, but not first thing in the morning.

It doesn’t have the KICK required when you lift your I’m-sore-coz-I-was-playing-football-last-night carcass out of bed.  Still, we all have to overcome insurmountable struggles and challenges in our lives, and this one is mine. Let’s hope the day improves from here.

While it’s quiet this morning in terms of news, the manager will be holding his first pre-game press conference of the new season. It’s been a while, but I’m going to guess at a few of the topics that he’ll be asked about.

Alexis Sanchez

Despite saying consistently that the Chilean would be staying, he will be asked again if the Chilean is staying. Yesterday there were reports that PSG were going to bid £80m for him, but by last night those had been countered by other reports suggesting that they weren’t going to do that at all.

The situation remains something of a saga despite the consistency of Arsene Wenger’s message, and yesterday there was a story that said certain members of the board were inclined to sell if a big bid came in, only for the manager to put his foot down and block any chance of a Sanchez departure.

I think everyone can see the logic of accepting £50m or £60m for a player in the final year of his contract, but given that kind of money only buys you a Kyle Walker in the current market, you can also understand why Wenger would be so adamant that he wants to keep him.

It would be extremely difficult to turn that money into goals and assists on the pitch. Perhaps he views someone like Thomas Lemar as someone who could do that in the longer-run, but expecting a 21 year old in his first season in the Premier League to make up that kind of shortfall would be optimistic thinking indeed.

So, Wenger will once again say that Sanchez is staying, he’ll say discussions over a new deal will have to be kept in-house, and the stories linking him with big money moves away will continue despite there’s no obvious destination for him anymore now that PSG have gone so large on Neymar.

Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain

These two players are somewhat in the shadow of Sanchez, but their contract situations are the same. I’m strangely calm about Ozil, I think he’ll sign an extension, but it wouldn’t be any surprise to me if, by the end of the transfer window, Oxlade-Chamberlain is not an Arsenal player.

He is firmly wedded to the idea of playing as a central midfielder, and when Arsene Wenger played Joe Willock there in pre-season rather than the Ox, I think that tells you how he views him. Right now, he’s basically back-up wing-back left and right, and he has made it clear via his agents that his reluctance to sign a new deal is not about money. It seems to be about where he plays, and right now he’s at something of a crossroads.

I think he likes it at Arsenal, but I think he also realises he’s playing under a manager who will not use him in the position he wants to play in unless there’s an emergency. I also think that Arsenal, while willing to take a financial hit over Sanchez, may find it much harder to justify the same stance over Oxlade-Chamberlain. There’s only so much talent you can let go for free in 12 months time, so if the right offer came in I have a feeling we might sell.

Further departures

Wenger said after the Community Shield that he needs to ‘trim the squad‘, and as yet we’ve seen no departures beyond that of Wojciech Szczesny. He’ll undoubtedly be asked for updates on the likes of Jenkinson, Debuchy, Gibbs, Gabriel, Wilshere and Perez – all of whom are either unwanted or being linked with moves away from the club.

In some ways it’s difficult because you don’t want to be too dismissive about them because you want to get as much as possible for them, but we also have to be realistic. Everyone knows some of those players are completely surplus to requirements and will bid accordingly.

The transfer market

With the world record smashed by PSG, and the knock-on effects that will have both in this window and subsequent windows, it’s likely he’ll be asked for his opinion on the market itself. He’ll probably say something that makes sense, but will annoy people in some way. Could we hear about ‘internal solutions’, or something like that? As is stands though, Arsenal’s squad is too big rather than particularly short anywhere – although I still feel a central midfielder is one of the missing pieces of this season’s puzzle.

I don’t see anyone else coming in until we make some room in the squad though, and free up some of the wages we’re currently paying.

Something ludicrous and irrelevant

Maybe it’ll be the bloke from Sky, or the other bloke with the weird nasal voice, but at some point he’ll be asked about something which has little relevance to a press conference that’s ostensibly about Arsenal v Leicester on Friday night. It might be football or sport related, perhaps about Jose Mourinho just to start that nonsense as early as possible in the season, but it’ll happen and he’ll answer it.

We’ll have all the press conference stories and coverage on Arseblog News over the course of the morning, there’ll be team news as we wait for updates on injuries to Ramsey, Ozil, Mertesacker and more. And now we’re just a little over 48 hours away from our first game of the new season.

As is traditional, I’ll be posting a season preview later today or tomorrow, but the countdown is well and truly on folks. Till tomorrow.

*apologies for the lack of bingo, this isn’t bingoblog though.


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