Who would Arsenal drop from the “25” if anyone is to be signed in January?




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By Tony Attwood

There was a time when every international break was a time for the stories on Arsenal to be fundamentally about two things: the players Arsenal had injured and the players Arsenal were about to sign.

The “about to sign” activity is still there, but it comes with a bit of a problem, in that Arsenal clearly has a very good team, and named a 25 man squad for the season, including more than the regulatory eight homegrown players.   

Which means that for once the chit-chat about who Arsenal are going to sign in the next window is not constrained by the player’s nationality or length of time spent with an English club.   But it does mean that there would have to be someone dropped from the 25 for any new signing to come in.

The obvious person to drop would be James Hillson, who Arsenal.com describe as a keeper who was “on the bench for our first team for three Europa League games last season. James joined us in 2019 from Reading and regularly trains with the first-team goalkeepers. Now in his fifth season at the club, he is a vital part of the goalkeeping fraternity in the youth section.”

It would be a bit of a blow to him if he were not jettisoned from the 25 to make way for another incoming player in January, but certainly someone would have to go if the frantic calls for new players by the media were to be answered by Arsenal.

Another player who might be dropped is Mohamed Elneny, although he has been named on the bench since returning from injury, and on 21 February this year he signed a new one-and-a-half-year deal with Arsenal. My suspicion is that he might stay on and join the coaching department.   The current 25 man squad list appears at the end of this piece.

But the fact is that for each new man coming in, someone will have to go, and thus while Caught Offside tell us that Arsenal is “in active negotiations for hit-man who will be final piece in Arteta’s jigsaw” and TBR Football announce that “Arsenal want to sign 24-year-old Champions League winger who’s a ‘very instinctive finisher’” we are not being told who would be sold to make way.  Those two players wanted are Brentford’s Ivan Toney, and Galatasaray winger Kerem Akturkoglu.   

The Mail however does seem to have an idea – and that is get rid of Havertz.  They do note that “Havertz can be the man for the big occasion. Brushing off criticism, Havertz came off the bench to smartly assist Gabriel Martinelli in Arsenal’s seismic win over Manchester City at the Emirates.” 

But they do like to focus on the negative and so add that “registering neither a goal nor an assist in his first nine appearances until he struck from the spot in the Gunners’ 4-0 victory over Bournemouth.” And in what turns out to be a typically bonkers and contradictory Mail piece they also note that, “During his runout in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat against Lens, L’Equipe went as far as to hand the player a woeful four out of 10 rating for his unfocused play.”   

So never to be outdone by the French the Mail, ends what is a rather weird report even by its own weird standards, by giving him three out of ten.

Elsewhere there is still continuous talk about Arsenal’s significant injury list so it’s not a bad idea to have a look and see exactly where we are with that.  And rather interestingly Arsenal are virtually at the top (or the bottom if you want to read it the other way around).  Arsenal have four injuries at present, and only two clubs are below this with three.  Top of the injury tree, or bottom of the injury chasm if you prefer are Chelsea and Crystal Palace.

Arsenal’s four men out are Saka, Saliba (a big toe problem), Trossard and Timber.  Numbers of playes current injured come from the EPL Injury Table

  1. West Ham United: 3
  2. Wolverhampton Wanderers: 3
  3. Arsenal: 4
  4. Everton: 4
  5. Fulham: 4
  6. Aston Villa: 5
  7. Brighton and Hove 5
  8. Burnley: 6
  9. Liverpool: 6
  10. Luton Town: 6
  11. Newcastle United: 6
  12. Tottenham Hotspur: 7
  13. Bournemouth: 7
  14. Manchester City: 7
  15. Nottingham Forest: 8
  16. Brentford: 9
  17. Manchester United: 9
  18. Sheffield United: 9
  19. Chelsea: 10
  20. Crystal Palace 11

And while we are on tables, here is our squad list of 25 with the home growners indicated with a *.   Just so you can decide who to get rid of with each of these new men that Arsenal are about to sign being announced on a daily basis.

  1. Mohamed Elneny,
  2. Kai Havertz,
  3. James Hillson*,
  4. Gabriel Jesus,
  5. Jorginho,
  6. Jakub Kiwior,
  7. Gabriel Magalhaes,
  8. Gabriel Martinelli*,
  9. Reiss Nelson*,
  10. Eddie Nketiah*,
  11. Martin Odegaard,
  12. Thomas Partey,
  13. Aaron Ramsdale*,
  14. David Raya*,
  15. Declan Rice*,
  16. Bukayo Saka*,
  17. William Saliba*,
  18. Emile Smith Rowe*,
  19. Cedric Soares,
  20. Jurrien Timber,
  21. Takehiro Tomiyasu,
  22. Leandro Trossard,
  23. Fabio Vieira,
  24. Ben White*,
  25. Oleksandr Zinchenko.

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