Who should Arsenal buy: the complete guide

Tim Charlesworth

Following the cup final there was a general consensus in the ‘commentatorsphere’ that Arsenal would challenge for the Premiership next season, but only if they bought ‘two or three high quality improvements.

This started me thinking about who or what these reinforcements might be.  So here is a view of Arsenal’s players and options for next season.

But we must remember that us Gooners are a little bit misled by the Alexis Sanchez experience, which has encouraged us to forget that most big money transfers are a failure (after all there is usually an unspoken reason why the selling club was prepared to let him go).  In fact, Sanchez is an exceptional character and an exceptional player.  There are not lots more like him sitting on a shelf ready to be plucked.

First Choice


Debuchy/Bellerin    Merts/Gabriel   Koscielny   Monreal

Le Coq   Cazorla

Sanchez Ozil  The Ox


Second Choice


Debuchy/Bellerin     Merts/Gabriel       Chambers         Gibbs

Arteta  Ramsey


Welbeck                      Rosicky


Not included in either:    Diaby, Gnabry, Bielik, Akpom, Sanogo, Hayden, Martinez, Toral, Podolski, Flamini, Daniel Crowley, Joel Campbell, Wellington Silva.

There aren’t that many positions where the first choice players are clearly much better than the second choice ones.  (Ozil is probably the best no10, Koscielny is better than Chambers, Sanchez is clearly the best winger/AM option and Le Coq is head and shoulders above Arteta).

We can clearly see why pundits think Arsenal have enough ‘depth’ and ‘cover’.  This leads to the conclusion that the only real way to improve is to sign some exceptional players.  However it is not really obvious which positions these signings could be in either.  Lets look at the positions most commonly talked about positions.

GK: This position looks like a weakness for Arsenal, albeit not a terrible one and Petr Cech looks like he might be better than either of our top two.

However, I am always suspicious about players who lose their place in a team.  Their supporters work hard to argue that the place is lost due to some ‘view’ held by the manager.  In reality, terminal decline is often found to be the true explanation (Arshavin, Podolski).

You certainly can’t trust anything that comes out of the mouth of Mourinho, the man who knows best what is going on with Cech.

Cech is 33, and may well have his best years behind him.  Alternatively, he might not (see Pat Jennings).  I don’t see any other realistic options.  Only Lloris, De Gea and Courtois look better (possibly Casillas), but are unobtainable.

CB:  Mertesacker looks under pressure here, but he is still a good player.   Remember he had a hard 13/14 season, followed by a long world cup and then played 48 games for us in 14/15.  He is entitled to be tired, and looked it when celebrating his goal at Wembley, and in the post-match interview.

We may find he is an improved player next season with a bit of rest and international retirement.

Gabriel looks excellent, apart from a tendency to make over-eager mistakes.  I presume these errors are a function of newness, and not a permanent feature of his game.  I don’t think any incoming centre back is going to do better than him.  Kosciely is obviously excellent.

Chambers is the best no4 choice CB I can remember at Arsenal (Squillaci, Stepanovs, Ceasar).  Monreal and Debuchy also appear to be good options.  Liverpool and City managed to piss away large sums of money by trying to improve this position last summer, and I don’t think it likely that Wenger will make a similar mistake.

DM:  I think the brilliance of Coquelin is killing this debate.  I think we all still feel his performances are a bit too good to be true (how can he suddenly be this good?  Why didn’t we –including Wenger- ever notice the potential?). [If I may jump in here, there are Untold articles on him going back to 2008, but I’ve referred to that before.  Try this one from 2011 – Tony]

However strange it is, we must probably accept that he is a world class player, and is likely to prove this point over the next couple of seasons.  I am in awe. At the very least, Wenger is going to give him the chance to prove he is as good as he looks over the next season.

Arteta is not a world-beater, but has done very well for us, and is surely good enough to be no2 in this position.  I feel certain that he will be given that chance.  Surely Flamini is redundant with Bielik, Wilshere and Chambers available in emergencies?

CF:  Neither Giroud nor Walcott are proven world class options here.  However, it is perfectly conceivable that one or both will be very good next season.  Giroud is massively improved on the player than arrived at Arsenal, and the limit of Walcott’s potential is still unclear (but exciting).

I would probably swap either of them for Suarez, Aguero or Costa, but this is not an option.   I’m not sure that any of the available players (Cavani, Falcao, Higuain, Benzema, Ibrahimovic, Martinez, Van Persie, Benteke, Lukaku, Kane) are obviously better (even before we consider a settling in period).  As a general rule, it is easy to spend a lot of money on a No 9, and the majority of such transfers fail.  There is also an argument that the traditional no9 position is on the way out.  Barcelona don’t really play with one at all, and all No 9s are much more involved in general team play than they used to be (Giroud, Van Persie and Walcott are all more integral that Ian Wright ever was). Even Thierry Henry recorded far more assists than was decent for an out-and-out No 9.  So could the answer to the no9 question, simply that you don’t need one?

All in all, it is hard to see where these three world class signings could possibly fit in.


Anniversary of the day

14 June 1973: David O’Leary signed for Arsenal.  He went on to become Arsenal’s all time record holder for first team appearances.  He stayed for 20 years whereupon he transferred to Leeds.

And don’t tweet we forget.  No that’s not right.  @UntoldArsenal

57 Replies to “Who should Arsenal buy: the complete guide”

  1. I don’t think we will have a first choice 11 next season. More a core group of players who Wenger will change to suit the opposition, Theo up top in certain games and Giroud (or a new signing?) for other games and so on.

    I would like to see three new signings as I think we need to improve on the excellent squad we have. I also think Szczesny needs to play, so a loan would benefit him and the Arsenal.

  2. We WILL sign new players, and never will a season pass when we don’t make improvements, it’s the only way to progress
    I’m a bit of an AKB (although not terminally so) and assume he has it all under review and think that for a change there is no real pressure to make urgent signings, just a little squad strengthening and one outright change in GK.
    This would put us in a Premier League title challenging situation, but if we are looking beyond to the Champions League then it will require a thirty goal striker, a monster central defender and an extra hard man in central midfield.

  3. We may need to make signings for the future, or to challenge and provide backup in certain positions but we will be hard pressed to improve on what we already have.
    If reports are to be believed, looks like, hopefully Theo will sign on.
    Also if improvements on the injury front are to be sustained, that will present the nice to have problem of how to give all these players game time.
    Then we have youngsters coming through, is there another Coq or Bellerin waiting in the wings for next season?
    As for Arteta, he may not be a first choice, but , like Per, clearly has a massive influence at the club, watch this space as to future roles for this player.

  4. Regarding Coquelin – I wrote back in June 2013 that all our DM-problems would have been solved if Wenger could have merged Coquelin and Frimpong into one player. It seems that it indeed happened – Coquelin has added the missing bit (he always had speed and passing ability, now he added self-confidence and tackling to his game) and he looks like a world-beater.

    Speaking of goalkeepers, one thing I don’t get at all. Čech is a world-class keeper, no doubt about it, one of the best of all times. However, we have two international goalkeepers already. I don’t know if there was a team with three international goalkeepers. One of them would have to sit on the stands. It doesn’t sound logical to me.

  5. Happy Sunday to all Gooners. Timothy, let me in my personal believe say, Arsenal don’t need to sign a striker this summer. But they truly should sign a top quality left back, a top quality right winger and a top quality holding midfielder to reinforce. Arsenal have 3 strikers but they only give regognition to 1 out of the 3 as striker. Just as Arsenal did not regognise that they have Francis Coquelin as a CDM in their mist until an emergency had told them so. So too they have not recognized that they have Walcott and Welbeck as strikers in addition to Giroud. They had been wrongly been deploying the duo to the right wing rather than to allow them play in rotation at the center to get the maximum result out of them. Which incoming striker will guranteed Arsenal 30 goals per season? hard to pinpoint, Harry Kane? Or Ronaldo of Madrid or the Barca trio? But the Arsenal trio could guranteed AFC 20 goals each to total 60 goals if the Boss will agree to play then as strikers in efficient rotation, week in week out.

  6. Josif

    Your point about having a GK sitting in the stands makes sense. One would have to go (on loan?), to make room for a first choice new keeper.
    I think we have to be brutal in these situations and even if they are both internationals (and Fabianski has usurped Czez), the world class option is the only one.

  7. Has Untold now fallen to this low level of publishing nonsense? I will be very surprised if Wenger signed Cech, as explained by two commenters above. Fans still claiming Giroud is not good enough amaze me. Like a lot of sheep Per and Olivier are now singled out by those who always have to find some players who “are not world class” Silly season is really silly.

  8. The presence of Debuchy in the squad is a hidden asset. He can play alongside Coquelin or instead of. He has all the attributes. There are enough skills & personnel in the current squad to go through a season without ‘bad officiating/luck’. If we have 2 or 3 players injured then we have to change tact. Chez (smoke free) is our number one with Ooooospina keeping him honest.

    Grass is always greener in teams that have not won the FA cup in the last 2 years but ours must be more succulent ;).

  9. Tim, No mention of Zelalem either.

    We have a lot of players that need to go out on loan.
    Who goes and who doesn’t will decide where we strengthen, with the exception that AW will have a few ‘Top Quality’ players that he’ll make space for if they become available.

  10. Arsenal have a great team as it is, it just needs a few tweeks here and there and 2 or maybe 3 signins at the club, first of all we need a left back and get monreal sold hes ok but we need gibbs playing everyweek and a new left back to cover gibbs but improve aswell so someone young, we need a good keeper , although i like ospina and would like him to stay if we got a new keeper, midfield has alot of talent but we definately need a viera player who can come in with control and strength and own the midfield, and last we i would add a striker like ibrahovic from psg he can head, score from way out the box and in the box ,hes a all round striker, i have big hopes for arsenal when this 2015/2016 season begins, TODAY , TOMOROW , FOREVER ARSENAL TILL I DIE. ps ARSENE WENGER THE MESSIAH.

  11. There’s only one position I’m really keen to see us bring a player in at. I think another dm would ,as well as providing cover for a player who already looks alarmingly indispensable, give us the most versatile set of midfield options in the leagues history.

    But I’m more and more willing to accept these days that not only could my opinion be wrong, my incomplete knowledge makes it impossible to properly assess things from the outside. Wenger knows better than anyone what scope for improvement there is with each player, and he also knows how happy each player is at the moment and how much game time those players need next year to remain happy.

    This is massively relevant here, because we already have so many quality midfielders and ,while I have my ideas about how you might just be able to just about keep those guys happy and accommodate another good player into the mix, there could so easily be things I don’t know- like whether or not Ramsay is growing less willing to shift to the right sometimes- which determine the true state of affairs and make my ideas impractical.

    I think we’ll get the clear answer this summer as to what Wenger’s way is in the modern premier league era. This answer has previously been obscured by the loss of key men and the huge financial constraints relative to direct rivals. No more. Those swines are about to go nuts with their cash yet again, but we are so much better positioned to cope now..

    He has a very strong squad, and we’ll now see if he believes the best route to the title truly is through a Barca-like near total commitment to passing football, or something closer to Heynkes Bayern team.

    The latter featured the option, one I wouldn’t think they deployed for more than a quarter of their games, of two very strong central midfielders providing a shield.
    I saw something similar from us in an u21 game at Villa this year. Diaby and Coquelin were the pairing and it worked like a dream. Similar in fact to the way Coquelin and Frimpong worked in that youth cup winning team.

    You take a good defence, add two solid disciplined players in front of it and then it feels like, on most occasions, it’ll be only a matter of time, should you have class in the rest of the team, before those in front of them make their quality tell. The other four in that game- maitland-niles, crowley, zelalalem and Akpom grew and grew once security was established and seemed to revel in the insurance behind them.

    I look forward to finding out. The more obvious solution would seem to be that Bayern style (or the option to deploy it when deemed necessary), and it would more closely resemble our past title winning teams under Wenger, but by far the bolder way would be the alternative. More like the high-stakes daredevil stuff that saw PSG’s Verrati and Motta play through Chelsea’s pressing to great effect. I really can’t wait to see what we opt for.

    Wenger can undoubtedly read the landscape better than me, so I believe whatever he chooses is the right choice.

  12. First up you need a keeper who is ging to get/ save you an additional 10 points per season,I.e de gea at manure as an ex of what it’s done for them.do we have one?no so cech please if that ” snake” Maureen will sell,we’ll see…2nd up,as good as our “coq” has been ,he is not “world class”yet?arteta with pace gone is NOT the answer,so yes another dm is a must,whether it is schneiderlin,Wanyama,kondogbia,bender or whoever but injuries occcur(us mor than anyone as we all know) .striker,who can finish?will that now be theo?who knows?me personally as an addition would go for wild card “tevez”imagine hom & Sanchez chasing around all day.an absolute mare for defenders!one thing for sure!if we are genuine about competing & lasting on all 3 fronts these type of additionsWILL be needed but it doesn’t have to break the bank.one last thought.what if we get a transfer ban?

  13. Sanchez should be our Nbr 9. In the same way as what RvP did a few years ago. Walcott, wilshere or ramsey could enter in the team as well.

  14. That there is not much position where the first choice is much better than the second doesn’t mean that the team can’t be strengthened.Cech is better than our best in his position.I find it funny you think Cech is past his best because of his age,but wants us to stick with Arteta.A player losing his place in a team doesn’t mean he is finished and Ashavin and Podolski were regulars in there respective teams before joining us while Ozil and Sanchez lost theres. Its not just the pundits that say we need exceptional players,Arsene said he will only buy exceptional players.The talk is not that we need a traditional center forward but a consistent one that has qualities that Giroud lack.Am sure you were one of those that never agreed that we needed a D.M and said that Arteta and Flamini were the best around that couldn’t be improved upon.You can see now with Coq’s emergence that neither was good enough. Do we have a great squad, YES.Can it be strengthened, YES.

  15. I meant to say that we don’t need a traditional center forward ,but a consistent goal scorer upfront. @uwot. I wonder what makes a player world class because you said that Schniderlin,Kondogbia and wanyama are world class but not our Coq.who is better on all fronts than your so called world class dm’s since he started playing regularly in December.

  16. Ben

    If Coquelin played for another team, he would be considered world class and there’d be clamour and demands for Wenger to sign him.

  17. DNFTT

    Coquelin could always tackle. Always in evidence whenever he played at FB, left or right.
    Prior to this season he was previously picked to play against Utd, Tottenham and Chelsea. And played well in all those games.

    He was hacked off the park by Ramires. An uncalled hack. This led to an injury. As described in another recent Untold post these injuries arising from uncalled fouls occur with an unacceptable frequency at AFC, and that’s one of the set backs Coquelin had on his path.

    A word of note for those who exhibit immature confirmation bias by delcaring that Coqeilin “is the player “AFC were missing”, who has “a bit of steel”.
    That consideration, that myth, it did not proetect him from an impartial official! I suppose that like Wilshere, like Diaby, he must be injury prone?
    Viera and Silva both played in the 50th game. The prophecy of D**M about the DM position has never made any sense (AFC had to play rookies in the role when they were broke, was that a sursprise to anyone?) but it was a good excuse to groan.

  18. “But we must remember that us Gooners are a little bit misled by the Alexis Sanchez experience, which has encouraged us to forget that most big money transfers are a failure…”
    Uh, does Ozil come to mind at all?
    Do you think that the HUGE TV contract doesn’t introduce a chance for us to take a bit more of a chance? even to make an informed mistake (since nothing is guaranteed no matter what) — a chance that we haven’t had? C’mon now — Is it your piggy bank that’s being spent? To win – to actually win — we need a better complement to Giroud. Perhaps having him come off the bench in the last few games is AW’s introducing that scenario as at least a tactical possibility, even probability, depending on the match situation. Flexibility on all fronts, not dug-in-purity is what we need. We have the money now to afford flexibility and quality backup. If, that is, we/you aspire to championships – as does AW.

  19. @Ben and Herman, Ben, nobody on earth let alone an Arsenal fan ever said that Arteta and Flamini couldn’t be improved on so stop talking arse, which leads to Herman, perhaps Flamini was brought back to the club by Le Boss as a short term fix waiting for Le Coq to understand what was demanded of him by Le Boss, to make him this top class DM rather than the box to box CM Le Coq thought he was, perhaps Le Boss does know what he is doing and what he is talking about…

  20. @bob, do you not think Giroud compliments our side, he has the ability to bring all our attcakers in to the game with his hold up play, this could prove invaluable to runners such as Walcott now for, Sanchez as runs all day, and an option of Ramsey who loves to time runs into the box, if the build up is too slow, then through runs from the flanks and supplied by Ozil, Jack, or Santi they can skip the hold up of Giroud and play in a Sanchez or Walcott running from wide using space created by Giroid dropping deep, or play Samchez up top as he can, Walcott up top as he can, Welbecks endless running and occupying of both CB’s from up top. I love the idea of a big signing, just don’t know who or how he would improve us…

  21. Dex: I Agree on “a core group of players who Wenger will change to suit the opposition/injuries”. The team has been moving towards this since the riddance of RVP.
    Arsenal now has a squad with many different options.
    AW will know his players, the ones who are a little unsure about their future, the ones who may think of moving, the ones who are not improving fast enough etc. He will try to fill those position if he finds suitable replacement. He already knows which areas need reinforcing and no doubt already has 1,2 or even 3 potential replacements lined up.

  22. OT
    The BBC and Yahoo are quoting the England manager as saying ”it doesn’t matter how we play as long as we win our match against Slovenia.”

    Try telling Arsene that!

  23. I wouldn’t be too fussed, if come September 1st, we have not signed anybody. The team I saw dismantling Villa in the FA cup is capable of beating anyone. This team is bursting at the seams with talent. And as said previously, many in January were lambasting Wenger for not signing Khedhira. But who is looking clever now? I bet most of those who wanted Khedhira had not even been aware – or just didn’t rate him – we had a gem called Coq (Khedhira could have cost us £25m, Coq = £0). The same could be said of Bellerin; who else – apart from Walter perhaps – knew we had such an amazing right back in that kid? I remember that was the other position Wenger was getting slaughtered for not strengthening. But now even a seasoned international like Debuchy can’t even get into that squad. The same was also said when he sent Jack on loan at Bolton. Or Song to Charlton…. point is why don’t we just let Wenger work his magic again and ‘unearth’ another gem.

    It makes me laugh to read comments such as ‘Wenger never realised what a top player Coq was’. Really? Who brought him to Arsenal then? Or more improtantly, why did he choose to show faith by recalling Coq from loan when he could have gone and signed a top DM in January? Doesn’t that suggest he knew how good the player was? My father used to say (he was a cop, and me being an IT consultant), ‘son, when you see me try to tell you how to do your job then that’s a sure sign I have lost my mind…’ We have doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, etc etc amongst us, and each one of us is good (and perhaps is an expert) at what they do. Sadly some of us think, while we are experts at our jobs, we somehow also know better than Wenger. FFS just let the man do his job in peace.

  24. Although it may offend some, I wouldn’t mind the team buying another player that wears a black hat from time to time to deal with the thugs we run into regularly. Flamini brings a bit of that but is not a regular starter anymore. I watched Vidal play in the Champions League final and though he trod on the line at the start, his efforts probably stopped Barcelona from scoring three in the first 20 minutes.

  25. Tim, a very interesting and well written article.

    The squad was really strengthened during the season by the breakthrough of Bellerin and Coquelin and also by the addition of Gabriel. Overall we appear to have a well balanced, strong and versatile squad.

    I would not be surprised (or overly disappointed) if we did not make a major signing, but I do expect AW to bring in some young talent to develop for the future. A lot will depend on how much potential AW sees in our existing young talent and if he feels additional skills are required.

    We need to remember AW builds a team (and just now has built a very good one) rather than buys a team.

  26. colario,

    Correction: Wilshere scores TWO for England! And what a double he scored!

  27. 2 goals & an assist by Arsenal gives England victory over Slovenia.

    Jack scores 2 scorchers & Walcott lays one on for Rooney.

  28. Cazorla starts for Spain against Belarus.

    No games in WWC2015 today.

    Chile play Mexico tomorrow in Copa America. Or, it is tomorrow for me, it might be the day after for England.

  29. Arsenal saves England.

    I hope we get the credit. But I’m not holding my breath.

  30. Pat, the press will say that Shrek scored the decider and therefore he ‘saved’ England.
    The fact that he was useless for pretty much all the game and finally didn’t miss one will only be a footnote in the great book of rooney.

  31. I forgot a Gunner.

    Columbia versus Venezuela. And it appears Ospina is starting for Columbia.

    It is hard finding anything about Copa America and Conmebol.

  32. I still believe that Cech would not be a good signing. His ability is not in doubt, but I am happy with our existing keepers.

    However, on this, as well as the wider question of signings, my view is that Arsene Wenger knows best, so I will be happy with his decisions.

    Listened to BBC radio commentary on England match. Funny how they were criticising Wilshere for not scoring for England, (unlike the sainted Gerrard and Lampard), whilst ignoring the apparently good chances not taken by Sterling and Rooney!

    So Jack spectacularly proved them wrong, but no sign of their words being eaten.

  33. The online media are lavishing praise on Wilshire ( and so they should ), with an obvious nod to Rooney for scoring the winner.
    Nothing about Theo’s assist though, perhaps that will come in the more detailed reports in the morning papers, but the Guardian gave Jack 9/10 for the match.

  34. Watched the game and Rooney missed two sitters before Wilshere scored his brace. I’m sure they will praise Rooney for his fortitude or some such drivel for scoring the third.

  35. Was Theo’s an assist or did the defender’s tackle knock it in Rooney’s path?

  36. It looked a nice little dink with his left foot straight into Rooney’s path.

  37. Okay, I know this is a bit off-topic.. But please, with cherries on top, please don’t include Van Persie in a list of potentially available strikers.

  38. Just like to weigh in with my two cents worth on the issue of transfers in/out. We still have to balance the books and three players in might cost us 150/200 thousand per week in wages. Diaby will be off the wages bill for sure and with Szez out on loan we just need to lose one other player off the payroll.
    I’m a fan of Peter Cech and consider him among the elite goalkeepers, and he’s only being kept out of the Chelsea side by the current best in the world, but hope inactivity hasn’t eroded his edge.
    Age isn’t really an issue, he 32 with five more years of his best to come.
    Last and probably least, congrats to England. We over here (in the US) don’t think much of your team, but maximum points in the qualifying group speaks for itself.

  39. Very happy for the press to continue to lavish praise on Rooney. Some would say he has gently been undermining good players and morale at United for sometime now – long may that continue should that be the case.

  40. I wonder if Cazorla enjoyed himself today? I only seen his name mentioned in the commentary at UEFA once (72 or 73 minutes), taking a shot.

    Ospina was busy, and Colombia ended up losing 0-1 to Venezuela.

    The BBC player rankings for England are out. I suspect Gibbs was fouled for the last opposition goal. Gibbs was given a 5, because he didn’t get up to interfere or stop that goal.

  41. GGG
    I think you’re right, the ball was deflected into Rooney’s path. Not an assist by Theo then.

  42. An interesting post which I feel poses many of the right questions.

    On incomers I am confident that Arsene is very focused on world class as the current squad without question has excellent depth and cover for almost every player. It is in the first criteria that I would feel the purchase of Cech would fall. I feel any purchase up front would also be only if it met ‘world class’ now or potentially. The one exception that fits the second criteria where buying somebody like Morgan Schneiderlin would essentially be cover and I can’t help wonder how he would feel about frequent benching?

    This brings me to my last point. I believe Arsene is showing signs of recognizing that his different but excellent players in the large squad enable him to have more regard to the opposition in front of Arsenal each game. Therefore sometimes a lock-down midfield of Coquelin and Schneiderlin would be appopriate (Chelsea springs to mind). Similarly sometimes the speed and flexibility of Walcott up front will enable us to swamp defenses whilst other times Giroud’s target man talents will better serve us. I also hope that this new flexibility will be influential on a greater variety of the players making the bench which must be linked to abandoning the highly irksome absolute that subs are made only in and around the 70 minute mark.

    But in summary nothing much needed unless it adds world class and we have a very real potential for Arsenal to be very serious title contenders throughout the season and hopefully a double at the end of the season.


  43. Blog not worth referring to.

    Talking about the USA U20 World Cup team, and Zelalem.

    > 2) Player who was the least impressive was Zelalem . Maybe because he joined team late but can he ever NOT try to go through 3 players? Kid needs to learn how and when to pass. IMO

    This was in a comment quoting the original “observation”.

    The original comment seems to be written by someone with selective memory. From reading reports on the U20 World Cup in New Zealand, Zelalem made a number of very good passes. The person commenting on what I’ve quoted, says that in practice, Zelalem is working with players better able to make that run, that Zelalem can feed. With nobody making constructive runs, the only option left is to try and dribble. And I’m sorry, Zelalem is not (yet) the equal of Ozil, Sanchez or Cazorla. And idiots still bitch about those 3 players.

    This thread is about the never ending transfer BS. Another thread talks about Jenkinson. It may have only been once, but Jenkinson was mentioned in (at least) one report on the EPL as being the fastest defender that week (playing for WHam). Which is a good thing, as Bellerin is fast.

    I think that out of all our full backs, Jenkinson is the one most likely to send in the long cross. If he is to go on loan again, it should be to a side where he is called upon to make those long crosses. A lot. And as he will be at Arsenal for pre-season stuff, another thing to throw on his plate is the long shot. Have him start taking some shots from 40+ yards out. And that can start in practice sessions.

    Gibbs (and Monreal) are on the other (left) side of the field. If we picked up another fullback (temporary) for that other side, that would make it possible to send Gibbs out on loan. There are no end of comments about Gibbs only having one foot. Get him into a loan where he needs to develop that other foot.

    Giroud is useful in lots of games. In the games where he is not so useful, are there types of play that Sanogo, Gnabry or Akpom could pick up on loan? Afobe picked up a lot of useful abilities at Arsenal and on loan, and unfortunately didn’t fit into Arsenal plans. But he is still a very good striker, and I hope he moves on to a wonderful career. Hopefully not scoring too many times against Arsenal.

    The only purchase I can see, is for a fullback for Gibbs/Monreal. Monreal is 29, I think someone 32+ at left back might the ticket. A person only looking to play one (or so) more year at the top.

    Fine, I went looking and he is a left fullback. With the idea that Gibbs gets loaned to a team to develop his other foot (the right one). And as Gibbs is also an England player, it would probably be best if he played in England. If Hodgson is not too stuck up, I think playing right midfield for a Championship side would be best, but if Hodgson is stuck up, is there a EPL team he could play right midfield for? Wenger wants attacking fullbacks, and to keep the emphasis on attacking, it would be midfield to place him in a loan.

    Hull got relegated in part because they were forced into playing Europa League, with insufficient resources.

    Tottenham, Liverpool and Southampton are the teams playing Europa next season. If we need to loan players to EPL teams, I think Southampton is the first place to look.

  44. There appears to be a growing assumption that we are going to invest in a new goalkeeper in the upcomming window. Peter Cech being the most mentioned option.
    I have the height of respect for the abilities of Cech (at least as they were when last he was first choice) but let’s be clear here, bringing in a senior new first choice keeper (and what world class keeper will agree to join just to warm the bench?) will undoubtedly spell the end for both Szczesny and Ospina. One would no doubt remain at club, but signing a new keeper above our existing 2 would surely send such a devastating signal to whoever remains that he would not be the player he is today and would be a huge setback in his development. I see both Szczesny and Ospina as top class keepers and well worthy of fighting for the top position. We don’t need a new keeper.
    As far as new signings are concerned, I’d be of the opinion that we’re not particularly desperate to sign anybody. Over the last year we’ve pretty much seen the emergence/reemergence of Hector, Coq, Theo, Jack and
    Nacho, all of whom are miles better than they were a year ago.
    Ozil is performing better than ever (I believe due to the wonderful example of Alexis), Santi’s had his best season in ages and Gabriel looks a class act as well.
    Our current squad is the strongest we’ve had in a decade or more and I for one can’t wait to see them unleashed in August after a decent break without stupid international tournaments.

  45. GoingGoingGooner 🙂 Well said. I used to look out for the “revenge” foul from Flamini when one of our players gets fouled hard, and then shout, Good on yer Flamini. Only worry i had was that he got sent off.

    Vintage Gooner:
    “I believe Arsene is showing signs of recognizing that his different but excellent players in the large squad enable him to have more regard to the opposition in front of Arsenal each game”
    I’m sure AW has built his team exactly this way 🙂 and it is not an accident that he plays players out of position either(besides having to because of injuries). This allows them to get a feeling for the players who usually play in that position.

    Why is everyone on at Gibbs. I think AW rates Gibbs highly even though Monreal took his place. I remember when Clichi left and everyone said no worries, we got Gibbs. I won’t be surprised if there was not some personal problems that made Gibbs drop a little in performance. Hope he gets back for new season.

  46. I noticed your 1st team playing 4-2-3-1 and the 2nd 4-2-1-2-1 or is that meant as 4-3-2-1 ? Also you missed Chezzy from the 2nd team. Deliberate?

    The great thing for me is we now have 12 players who can take the 6 positions in front of the back four. 12 players that most of them can even play convincingly in more than one position.

    I agree 100% on Cech, I just do not trust Mourino, plus he will know Cech’s weaknesses anyway.

  47. Suprised to see Szczesny omitted from even the 2nd team. He has had a bit of a wobble but he is still a mighty good GK. I think he was especially fantastic in the FA Cup final where he totally nullified Benteke’s aerial threats by coming out and punching the ball before Benteke could present any danger.

    On the other quote by the other ” I think the brilliance of Coquelin is killing this debate. I think we all still feel his performances are a bit too good to be true (how can he suddenly be this good? Why didn’t we –including Wenger- ever notice the potential?”

    I recall reading somewhere that when Wenger first signed him, he was very impressed by his clean and robust tackles, reading of the game, and physical strength. However, as a youngster who was still learning, he complicated his game and was trying to do too much and sort of lost his way. But now he has discovered his strength and performing to the best of his ability.

  48. This is the strongest squad since the ‘Invincibles’. Half of the players can play at least 3 positions naturally. A good combination of youth, experience and world-level quality. Healthy competition in all positions and fantastic squad spirit. Reminds me of the exciting Ajax team last won the Eurapean Cup. Don’t know why some idiots questioning the presence of Arteta, Rocisky and Flamini. You want veterans to provide experience and keep the young players in check, you got them, then why get rid of them? Which experienced qualities like these trios will sit on the bench and keep cheering for the first eleven? I’m also respect the attitudes of the new players, Welbeck, Chambers, Debuchy, Gabriel and especially Alexis even in dip of performance and results. I believe the team is ready. All they need now is support and encouragement from the fans.

  49. Gord, I’m pretty certain no club would take a player on loan with a requirement that he plays in a certain position (especially one which isn’t his best) or where he has to a ‘starter’. When a player goes on loan, his new manager decides when and where he plays.

  50. M Ram

    I don’t think Tomas fancies another year of sitting on the bench, ‘cheering on the team’ though… Arteta will probably stay, although there’s still no official word on his contract extension.

    I agree the squad is excellent, but I think Wenger will add a couple of top players.

  51. Thanks for all your excellent comments. I have really enjoyed writing this article and seeing what you all had to say about it. To respond to a few specific comments:
    1. ‘yes’ I did intend to show Szczesny as the second choice goalkeeper.
    2. The omission of Zelalem from the list of ‘other’ players was a mistake (Jenkinson and possibly Crowley should also have been in the list).
    3. There are some interesting comments about whether or not Wenger should take credit for the emergence of Coquelin. On one level, the answer is obviously, yes. He supported him as a youngster (does throwing him to the lion’s den at Old Trafford really count as supporting him?) and obviously thought he had potential. Wenger is a superb judge of players. He supported Ramsay, Cole, Pires, etc, when others had lost all faith. However, he does not always get it right with young players (Denilson, Senderos, Bendtner). His record is excellent, but imperfect, and what else would you expect when he is dealing with human beings? Interestingly, although Wenger makes mistakes, I cannot think of a single example in nearly 20 years when he has given up on a player, who subsequently turned out to be brilliant. The mistake he usually makes, is to keep faith for too long with players who eventually turn out not to be good enough. With Coquelin, I think he very nearly made the mistake of overlooking potential, for the first time. I think he had genuinely lost faith in le Coq. I conclude this from the fact that back in January, Coquelin’s contract was due to expire in the summer of 2015. Arsenal had to rather hastily sign him up to a new deal when it became clear that he was a first team player in Jan/Feb 2015. I think his contract was expiring because Arsenal hadn’t offered him a new one, not because he was refusing to sign it. He was also nearly 24 in Jan 15, and this is very late for a player to ‘emerge’. Wenger has said himself that le Coq is a £30m player. If Wenger knew he was going to be a £30m player, why did he let his contract get so close to expiry? In the years to come, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on Le Coq’s psychology. He will not feel as indebted to Wenger for his success as others have – Henry, Pires, Ramsay, Ozil, RVP, Fabregas, Cole etc (some of these have not abounded with loyalty!). Coquelin has made it through sheer force of performance, not the faith of the manager. You didn’t need to be a managerial genius of Wengerian proportions to see that he was playing well in 2015, even I could see it! And the impression remains difficult to shake that Wenger played him out of desperation, not as part of some grand plan. I sometimes think Coquelin is a bit semi-detached from Arsenal. He openly talks about how annoyed he was with Wenger for recalling him from the Charlton loan. After the FA Cup final, he seemed to be wandering around in his own world. He almost doesn’t believe that he really fits in. This detachedness may evaporate with time, but it may not.
    4. I was glad to see that I was challenged on the implicit comment that Ozil was not a successful transfer. He is my favourite player, and I think in the long-term we may look back on his transfer more favourably than the Sanchez one. However, for now, the very expensive Ozil transfer is not an unambiguous success. I hope next season is the one that finally proves what a great purchase he was.

    Overall, I think no-one has really made a good case for the big money transfers as suggested by the ‘commentatorsphere’ (with the possible exception of a goalkeeper). Our squad looks large, but it is amazing how that perception can change with a few injuries and 2 games per week (which you basically get as long as you are in the Champions League). I remember thinking that our squad looked large at the start of the 14/15 season, except at CB, but that soon changed with injuries. Our squad looked large towards the end of last season because injuries reduced and we were out of the Champions League. Let’s hope the reduction in injuries is permanent, and the early elimination from the CL temporary!. Certainly there are signs that Arsenal has reformed its athletic management/conditioning/medical services (Shad Forsythe, GPS, new facilities etc) and that this might be bearing fruit in the form of lower injuries. Even so, there may be room for one or two additions of promising players rather than established stars, and maybe a couple of departures. However, those additions may be internal (Zelalem? Toral? Bielik? Crowley? Sanogo? – the pre-season teams usually reveal these)

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