The countdown to the new season begins in earnest this week. It’s Monday morning, and on Friday evening we take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
As it stands, I think Arsenal are in pretty good shape after an excellent pre-season which culminated in the 6-0 win over Sevilla on Saturday. The defence looks good, the attack is exciting, and with Mikel Arteta hoping injured players like Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe, Kieran Tierney and Fabio Vieira should all be available for Friday, then he’ll have a very strong squad at his disposal.
For those looking for more additions, this is what the manager had to say about that after the game:
We’re still hoping to do something else if the market allows us to do that. You’ve seen some movement in the other direction in the last few days so we want to get the perfect balance and the plan we wanted right at the beginning. Whether we can accomplish that or not is another story, but I’m happy with where we are now.
There will be a longer season preview post later in the week, but while we can all look for greater quality and more depth in certain positions, I don’t think there are any glaring holes in the squad as we prepare for Friday. If anything, the squad is too big, and perhaps this week we’ll see that trimmed down with a number of departures on the cards already.
First up, it looks like Bernd Leno’s move to Fulham is almost done:
🚨 Fulham have reached agreement with Arsenal to sign Bernd Leno. Fee in region of £8m. Final details being sorted between clubs. Personal terms in place. 30yo goalkeeper expected to undergo medical next week before completing move @TheAthleticUK #FFC #AFC https://t.co/q6PEG7BriG
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) July 31, 2022
Assuming there’s no snafu with the medical, this one seems sensible for all concerned. Leno gets to stay in London and play regularly, while Arsenal get some money in for a player in the final year of his contract. I think Fulham will suit him, to be honest, he’s a keeper who is best when he’s busy, and I suspect a newly promoted side who have been up and down between the Premier League and the Championship in recent years are going to face a lot of shots this season.
Elsewhere, it looks as if Flo Balogun is heading out on loan for the season, with a medical set for today ahead of a season long move. From the player’s perspective, it makes a lot of sense. He had some experience in the second half of last season at Middlesbrough, but at 21 he needs to be playing competitive football and lots of it. There’s a good case to be made that he’d provide useful depth for the Europa League group stages and the early rounds of the EFL Cup, but in terms of what’s best for his own development, there’s no doubt the prospect of playing week in, week out is going to be far more beneficial to him than sporadic Arsenal cameos.
He is, for now at least, nominally our third choice striker, and with just Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah recognised centre-forwards after his departure, I do think there’s a discussion to be had about depth in that position. We have some False 9 options, should we need them, and Gabriel Martinelli could play there, but I do wonder if the addition of another forward might well be on the cards to ensure we have the requisite firepower for what will, hopefully, be a long season.
Finally for now, Pablo Mari is being linked with Serie A side Monza, but given Silvio Berlusconi is apparently primarily interested in recruiting clean shaven Italian boys with tidy haircuts (that definitely doesn’t sound like someone recruiting their own private army or anything) he may have an issue there. Nevertheless, he remains one of those players well and truly in the departure lounge.
With the new seasons across Europe about to get underway, you’d like to think that fringe players who realise they have little chance of playing regularly at Arsenal, would be motivated to get a move somewhere else as quickly as possible. I realise the market dictates plenty, but if a player wants to play, that can get things moving in the right direction.
Before I go today, a word for the Arsenal women involved in England’s European Championships success last night. I love my English friends, but as an Irishman it’s hardwired into to you to root against English sporting success. That’s just how it is, sorry!
However, I really pleased to see England win last night, for what it means for women’s football, but in particular because of the Arsenal connection. Beth Mead was Player of the Tournament and won the Golden Boot, and how great was it to see Leah Williamson captain side to success and lift the trophy? What a performance she put in too, such composure on the biggest stage. With Nikita Parris and Lotte Wubben-Moy also in the squad, and with Alex Scott, Ian Wright and Jonas Eidevall on the TV, it felt very red and white.
And for those who might have tuned into women’s football for the first time during this tournament, I’ll point you in the direction of our Arsenal Women section over on Arseblog News. You will not find more in-depth analysis and coverage of the team anywhere else, and Tim and crew are already gearing up for a new season.
Get on board.
For those looking for a podcast today, you’re in luck. James and I recorded the brand new Arsecast Extra yesterday, and all the links you need to listen and subscribe are below. Enjoy.