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By Sir Hardly Anyone
We are without doubt now back in a world in which the prime aim of the media in relation to Arsenal is to suggest the club is badly run, makes mistakes morning noon and night, and is in real trouble.
For example, the Express is currently running, “A tricky start to the season has seen Arsenal take just seven points from their opening three Premier League games.”
Consider now the word “Just” The most points we could have had were nine. The second highest (obviously from two wins and a draw) is seven. Which is what we have got.
And the Express didn’t leave it there, also running “Arsenal’s nightmare Champions League draw: Bayern Munich await in group of death” That was a shock as I expected the draw to be made tomorrow. And in fact it is being made tomorrow although the Express is full of relish for the Arsenal group to be Bayern Munich, Arsenal, AC Milan, Celtic.
There is yet more with the Express also adding “EXCLUSIVE: Mikel Arteta could be left short of defensive options as the season wears on.”
Now this is pushing exclusivity a bit far in that it is about something not happening: “Arsenal have passed up on the opportunity to sign Victor Nelsson from Galatasaray. The Danish defender had been touted as a possible replacement for Jurrien Timber, who is set to spend the majority of his first Gunners season sidelined by injury.” One might write, “Exclusive: Tottenham Hotspur risk having their ground repossessed,” which of course would be true if they failed to pay their rates bill, but a) they are unlikely to fail to pay their rates bill to the local council, and b) even if they did the council would simply take them to court for the sum due, not repossess the ground although technically it could apply for such an order.
But my point here is slightly more serious. After a spell last season when the media went out of its way to talk up the wonders of Arsenal we are now back in the world of knocking the club at every turn simply because it is the easiest, simplest copy to write. And cleaerly some people lap it up.
TBR football for example have come out with the headline “They’re struggling’: Arsenal desperate to sell 28-year-old but can’t find him a new club – journalist . That article gives us the shock news that Arsenal haven’t yet managed to find a buyer for Pepe.
I imagine the reason is that the player was put on a fairly hefty salary when he was bought to Emery for his then record fee of £72m. But Arteta has his own approach and style and some of the players brought in under Emery or left over from before, don’t fit.
Which led me to think it might be interesting to see who else Arsenal have let “slip through their fingers”.
Emi Martinez went to Villa for £17m when, like so many keepers before him, he wanted some action. He’s played 112 games for them.
Henrickh Mkhitaryan moved to Roma where he won the Europa Conference. He’s now with Inter and has played 33 times for them.
Matt Macey had multiple loans, before joining Hibs and then being sent on loan by them to Portsmouth
I was sad when Sokratis left, as it meant an end to the “asking all the questions” joke. His contract was cancelled by mutual consent and joined Olympiacos in January 2021.
Then there was Mesut Ozil who left on a free (I think) for Fenerbahce and then Basaksehir on a one-year deal and retired last March.
Mustafi was allowed to join Schalke on a free transfer in February 2021 and has more recently moved to Aris Thessaloniki in the Greek league.
Willian was the first Arteta signing to have moved on, and it looked like he simply couldn’t fit into the role Arteta wanted so he left by mutual consent and went back to his original club Corinthians. David Luiz left at the end of his contract and returned to Brazil.
Joe Willock was sold to Newcastle for £25m after a loan spell and has played for them 64 times so far. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a player you won’t need reminding about. Reputed to be very troublesome and disruptive he went in quick succession to Barcelona, then Chelsea, and now Marseille in a very short space of time. He scored one goal in 15 games for Chelsea and this season has had three games but no goals at Marseille.
Calum Chambers left in January 2022 and went to Villa, for whom he has played 25 games.
So do Arsenal let their great gems slip through their hands? Well maybe Joe Willock, but the club had other players who were probably always going to be ahead of him. And the one we’ve not mentioned: Serge Gnabry. Losing him was a mistake I think, and last season he played 47 games for Bayern scoring 17 goals.
So out of that list maybe Willock and certainly Gnabry were players Arsenal might have kept to their advantage. But the rest? No, I suspect not. And in this regard, I suspect Arsenal are doing rather well.
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