Morning all. A quick Saturday round-up for you.
The fixtures came out in mid-June but as we know they’re just a guide until the TV companies get their mitts on things. Yesterday we found out when the games nominally due to kick off at 3pm on a Saturday would actually take place, and due to TV picks and the Europa League, we’ve had 11 fixtures rescheduled.
Our opening game of the season against Newcastle will take place on a Sunday; the first home game of the season will be at 12.30 on a Saturday because it’s on BT Sport; we travel to Anfield for a worrying 17.30 kick off against Liverpool; and the North London derby against Sp*rs will take place on a Sunday with a 16.30 start.
The Europa League obviously has an impact too, because after every Thursday game we have to play on the Sunday, so we have another season of that to look forward to. And then we have Manchester United away. Traditionally one of the biggest games of the season, but perhaps not quite as big as it used to be as the 8pm Monday night kick-off suggests.
Leaving aside the fact Monday night football is a pain anyway, Arsenal fans have to get to Old Trafford and according to some reports the last train back to London leaves during the second half. I don’t know what to say only that it’s another addition to the fans as an afterthought canon. Yes, there are other means of transport, but it’s still an example of how the broadcasters who make out all the time like they really care don’t actually really care at all. It will happen to every club this season to some extent, but that doesn’t make it right either.
Also, it looks as if our first 3pm of the season will be when we face Sheffield United away in mid-October. Who knows when we’ll have at home.
If you’re looking for some hot gossip this morning about our transfer business you are in the right place! Which isn’t to say that we’ve bought anyone or sold anyone, just that I’m not going to try and fool you into thinking we might doing so any time soon.
Over on Arseblog News we’ve been rounding up the transfer stories for the most part, and applying to them that most trusted of implement: the Poo-o-Meter. This gauges the veracity of a transfer story via the poo emoji where 1 is a rock solid deal – almost certain to happen, and 10 is … well … you can all imagine what 10 is.
Sturdy and all as this machinery is, it nearly exploded with the nonsense doing the rounds yesterday. Lucas Vasquez from Real Madrid, for example, got a 9, because in what world does anyone think we’re going to spend €30m+ on a 28 year old winger who was a key part in Real Madrid’s worst season in years? Not this world. Not even in the upside down (Stranger Things 3 is out btw for those of you looking for something to binge on).
Arsenal need a wide player, that much is true, but I’d rather tie Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka’s feet together like in a three-legged race and let them have a go than spend that kind of money on that kind of averageness. We have enough players around the 30 mark whose contributions aren’t good enough, we definitely don’t need another.
Then there’s stuff in the papers about Mesut Ozil and Fenerbahce which might sound interesting – particularly as I’m told the German has a strong relationship with the Chairman Ali Koc. However, I just can’t see any way this goes through based on the player’s repeated desire to stay in London, and even wait around until a new manager comes in which might suit him better. The Turkish journalist running the story says there’s a ’50-51% chance’ of it happening, which is hilarious really. Did he run all the permutations through a super-computer to churn out that extra 1% to make a 50-50 a 51-49?
I really think that Arsenal would consider any offer for him and for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the club’s two highest earning players, but they have the kind of contracts which seriously limit their options – unless there’s an incentive from our end. Would it be worth us paying Ozil £150,000 a week to play somewhere else to save £200,000 a week, or pay £100,000 of Mkhitaryan’s £200,000 to knock half his salary off the wage bill? Potentially, but of course it all depends on what you do to replace those players in the squad and with so much work still outstanding anyway, we might have to prioritise other deals.
Here’s what I think we absolutely have to do between now and the start of the season:
- Add a quality central defender
- Sell/loan Shkodran Mustafi, his Arsenal goose is cooked
- Bring in a proper left back which allows us to use a back four regularly. Things are ongoing with Kieran Tierney, and from what I’ve been told if we want this deal to happen we could make it happen tomorrow, but so far we haven’t done that. If he comes, sell Kolasinac for some reasonable money, have Nacho as back up, source a new left-back in the next 12 months.
- Bring in a quality central midfielder to shift us away from our reliance on Granit Xhaka and allow us to play a different kind of game
- Add a wide forward. It could be Zaha, it might be another signing, but it might also be an internal solution like Nelson or Saka
Things we could then think about doing:
- Right back – cover for Hector until he’s fully fit. I know we have AMN but I don’t think right back is his position (he is listed on the official site as a midfielder), and if he picks up a knock – a broken leg on the opening day of the season like last year – we have nobody for that position.
- Ozil, Mkhitaryan etc
- Shift some fringe players like Carl Jenkinson, Mohamed Elneny, Takuma Asano
I’m sure there’s probably more, but it’s still a fair amount of work to get through in a month. I suppose the thing about our current set-up is that because we have a football structure now where the manager isn’t as involved as he was, it should ostensibly be easier to make things happen. Arsene Wenger had the distraction of going on tours, training and all that stuff, while still hugely involved in the transfer decision making process, whereas Head Coach Unai Emery shouldn’t be as fundamental to it, leaving Raul etc to get stuff done.
Again, it strikes me that the lack of a Head of Recruitment since January is far from ideal, and I’m not ready to hand out plaudits to Sanllehi and Cagigao for managing to secure the services of an 18 year old from Brazilian regional football. It’s not exactly a transfer coup to make the world sit up and take notice, is it?
Anyway, another day, another eye on the news feeds, another 24 hours closer to the start of the new season. Let’s see what they do. Join me tomorrow for what I assume will be more nothing!
For some extra reading, I enjoyed 7amkickoff on the £40,000,001, Dick Law stuff doing the rounds this week. Have a read.
Until then, have a good one.