Later this week our focus turns to the Europa League with our final game of the not-that-enthralling group stages. Arsenal have already topped the group so it’s a game that could give Arsene Wenger the chance to experiment a bit with his team, but I suspect he’s going to play it relatively safe.
I’d be all on for a team which included a good handful of youngsters, but having just lost at home to Man Utd, I’d wager he’ll err on the side of caution and hope that his experienced fringe players can make things click. We’ll have more on that game over the next couple of days, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of crowd we get for it.
On that, an interesting story yesterday from the club about how nine suspected ticket-touts were arrested and over 200 Arsenal memberships were cancelled because of misuse over tickets. I’m sure some of the fan groups, the AST in particular, will urge the club to do more when it comes to the re-selling of tickets and making them available through legitimate channels.
For a game like Thursday’s, when interest is going to be low for myriad reasons, being able to safely and legally pass on a ticket to somebody who wanted to go could offset the empty seats we’re bound to see.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s new Head of Recruitment, Sven Mislintat, has been speaking to German magazine kicker about his new job in London, and what’s expected of him. It’s an interesting piece and he comes across as a very smart guy. Some snippets:
What do Arsenal expect from their new ‘head of recruitment’?
When I check the press in England and Germany, people probably think I’ll find an (Ousmane) Dembele in every transfer window. I’ve been put on an inconceivably high pedestal.
You’ve been billed as a ‘transfer-guru’. Are you under more pressure than at Borussia Dortmund?
When I started at Dortmund, the most that was asked of me was whether I could do analysis or opposition analysis well enough. I was lucky to start at the beginning of a new era.
In what way?
I had ways to develop myself that wouldn’t have existed had I arrived at a club with an strong structure. I could establish myself and grow into my role. Today Arsenal have signed me with brutal expectations, it’s impossible not to be aware of that.
So: With Mislintat, everything will just fall into place?
Signing me isn’t a guarantee that you’ll make good transfers. That needs an outstanding team who are driven, hard-working and really really on top of the task to find the next Ousmane Dembele or Dan-Axel Zagadou.
You can’t help but wonder what these ‘brutal expectations’ are, but it’s interesting to note that he talks about the need for a good team around him to make the deals happen. That obviously ties in with the arrival of Raul Sanllehi from Barcelona as ‘Head of football relations’, and that’s going to be a big part of his role. Identifying players and potential targets is one thing, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
You have to convince that player a move to Arsenal is the right thing for him and his career; you have to deal with agents and increasingly complicated contractual demands; you have to deal with the other club and make them an offer you can’t refuse; and do all this while probably fending off interest from other clubs too.
It was interesting to note that Mislintat has started already, while Sanllehi doesn’t begin his work officially until February. Perhaps a sign that the club are focusing primarily on the summer market, which is understandable, and maybe we feel like we have the personnel to do what we want to do in January. If I had to put any money on it, next month will probably be more about shifting one or two out that bringing anyone in.
There’s talk that Theo Walcott could be on the move, and that’s one that’s overdue really. He’s played barely half an hour of Premier League football this season, for his own sake he’s got to find another club, and hopefully whatever happens there will be permanent rather than a loan. It would swell the coffers a bit, reduce the wage-bill, and allow for better distribution of that money.
He’s not alone though, without the Europa League this season there would be more players considered well and truly ‘fringe’. The second-string European team has given them some playing time, but it’s clear there are some who have little or no chance to force their way into the reckoning to the Premier League side unless there’s some kind of injury crisis, and if there are plans for heavy recruitment – and perhaps a last attempt at retention for one of Ozil or Sanchez – then we could see a few moved on. I guess we’ll see soon enough.
Anyway, the full transcript of the Mislintat interview is here, and it’s very interesting reading.
Finally for today, the third round draw for the FA Cup was made last night and we’ll be away to Nottingham Forest. We played them in the EFL Cup last season and won 4-0, and their manager Mark Warbuton was linked with us when speculation over the academy position was rife. It should be an interesting tie.
Right, I’ll leave you today with the latest Arsecast Extra, discussing the Man United game, the good and bad and the very bad of our performance, Alexis, Ozil, Ramsey and lots more. Listen and subscribe below.