Monday, September 25, 2023

Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

Morning.

There’s some stuff from Mikel Arteta to kick us off this morning. In a long interview with the official site, he reflects on the season, what went right, where we went wrong etc, and sums it up at the end with this:

I think we are in a moment of our journey where we have built a lot. We have a great foundation and we have become really competitive, but now I think it is time to press the reset button, and go again.

We have to be faster, more determined and ruthless because the dimension that opens up now is bigger but the margins are really small so we have to be really smart.

Our aim at the start of this season was to secure Champions League football, and we did that. Of course, expectations shift when you do what we did, but ultimately we didn’t have the depth to get over the line. That’s where the focus is going to be this summer.
We all want to see improvement, and that’s going to be tough. Not impossible or anything like it, but it’s definitely going to be more difficult to improve on a season when we finished 2nd versus one where we finished 5th. As he says, the margins are small, so what we do in the transfer market this summer is going to be vital to that.

When he talks about being ruthless, I guess that means making decisions on existing players. Some will be sold to generate funds to reinvest in different players, I think that’s given. Maybe too he’s talking about how we buy as well though. It’s a very competitive market when you’re a Premier League club because of just how much money is sloshing about – especially in comparison to other countries.

I think we’ll see a lot of big deals go down between English clubs. We’re already being linked with players from West Ham and Brighton, and we know that Arteta values Premier League experience when it comes to recruitment. No doubt we’ll have our eye on a few players plying their trade abroad, I expect a couple of Tomiyasu-esque signings to bolster the squad. We already brought in Jakub Kiwior in January, and that felt very much like a summer signing brought forward. I think there might be a couple like that among a couple of bigger names.

The outgoing aspect of this will be fascinating. In some cases, you can see that it’s obviously the right time for the player to move on. I’m preemptively sad about Emile Smith Rowe, and I hope his situation can be turned around because he’s such an exciting player to watch when he’s on form. But you look at the squad right now, read the rumours going around, and you wonder how Edu and Co are going to manage with the sheer number departures.

Selling hasn’t exactly been a strength in recent years. Some of it is understandable given the players we were trying to move, and the deals they were on – legacies of our Champions League stature at times – but Arsenal is now a club on the up. A rising tide lifts all boats, and all that, so it will be very interesting to see what we bring in for Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Smith Rowe (if he’s in that boat), Flo Balogun, Charlie Patino, Nuno Tavares, Nicolas Pepe, Cedric, Albert Sambi Lokonga, and perhaps one or two more who have been linked with other clubs. That’s a big boat.

When Arteta talks about being smart, I look at reported interest in Mason Mount and wonder how that fits in. I guess he is looking at the Mason Mount that scored 13 goals and made 16 assists for Chelsea in the 2021-22 season, and not the one that delivered much less this season. It’s probably not a fair reflection of any player to judge them on what they have done at Stamford Bridge this year, but the old cliche in football about only being as good as your last game comes to mind. He’d be expensive, and according to David Ornstein he’s leaning towards Man United anyway, but how exactly Arsenal replace Xhaka is going to be a key part of next season’s puzzle.

If it’s not Mount, I don’t think it’s going to be Gundogan either. Could it be Declan Rice with someone else, or indeed Thomas Partey still in the deeper role? I suspect mobility is an asset we’re looking for when it comes to that position. Another one out of left-field, in as much as you can do that when trying to fill one of the most important roles in your team, wouldn’t be a big surprise.

It’s all ahead of us, in a tight summer schedule. Bukayo Saka and Aaron Ramsdale will be playing internationals for England up until June 19th. There will be others with international commitments too, including some players we’re trying to buy. Will that impact our ability to get deals done if they’re away with their countries? Let’s see!

Anyway, we’ll talk transfers and more on tomorrow’s Arsecast, join us for that – and we’ll have any news throughout the day on Arseblog News.

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Thanks folks, have a great Thursday.

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