by Billy “the dog” McGraw
With talk from some on what looks to me increasingly like the lunatic fringe of football journalism, about how half the squad need changing, I thought I’d have meander around some of the players who have arrived or emerged in what we now know to be the last couple of years of Mr Wenger at Arsenal.
For a player who was an absolute reject at Man U and subject to a load of abuse from their manager I think he’s done well – not just as a player but as an interesting pairing with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Indeed, brilliant as Alexis could be at times it was great to see a player who didn’t have to be the centre of all attention all the time, and nice not to have to listen to stories about difficulties in the changing room here, but to find them turning up over there.
He has scored and assisted and settled in well before his injury. I’ve great hopes for next season.
A perfect transfer at every level. He does what he is paid to do (score goals), and throws in a few nice sidelines by appreciating at once the local rivalry. Six goals and one assist in his first seven, he was directly involved in more goals in his first seven Premier League games than any other Arsenal player in the entire history of the PL.
No period of adjustment – he’s been straight in there. What more could we ask for?
It really has taken a little while to get going – but this is how most transfers work, as we’ve explored on this site so many times before. Currently being tipped to be transferred to Atletico Madrid by the Daily Express, I very much hope this is just at the normal level of tittle tattle.
13 goals in 30 league games is OK, but not brilliant, but he has adjusted more and more of late and all the signs are very encouraging and for a brilliant partnership with Aub and Mk next season.
He’s been in the squad but not played yet, instead has been playing for the under 23s, so we are waiting to see what the club bought.
Looked astounding for a free transfer and earning player of the month awards but then wasn’t so sound after all it seems. But he’s knocked up over 30 appearances and this could well be another case of first season adjustment.
Had been appearing occasionally before this season as he made the transition from the under 23s, and now he looks superb. Calm, organised, talented and can play in multiple positions. If he’d cost us loads of money he would look worth it. But as one of our own coming up through the ranks, that’s even better. No wonder he played 30 times when on loan with Ipswich. Brilliant work from the youth section of the club to bring him through, and for guiding him through a troubled home life.
The criticism has died down somewhat, although that doesn’t mean people are appreciating what he does – which is deliver a very high number of passes indeed to get the team moving from defensive positions. He joined aged 23, and has clearly improved since he came from the Bundesliga. Maybe I am still out on my own in seeing what he brings to the side, but surely others are seeing improvement all the time too.
He’s played 51 times for us and 20 times for Germany, and he gets a lot of stick. But maybe people forget that all players have good and bad games and the aim is not always to sign superman, but players who can be afforded and can deliver when on the pitch. He’s not perfect, but the calls for him to be replaced suggest that it is easy to go into the transfer market, buy a player who is for sale and willing to come here, and get him to fit in from the start. I suspect we’ll see more of him next season and with further consistency.
Back on a season-long loan with Deportivo and he’s made 31 appearances for them. He’s now 29 and I can’t see any way back. All the club can do is try and get some money back.
Clearly without any chance of getting a work permit, and now seemingly less likely to in these insular times. But he’s still only 23, and has played 12 times for Japan, so maybe… He’s played 37 games for Stuttgart in this and last season, so he’s getting the games.
I still see Rob at £2.7m as the deal of the decade and think he has a great future, hopefully with us. Despite his youth (just 22) he’s knocked up 19 appearances for us. I just hope that in the post-Wenger era we can still find deals like this. I see him as a long term fixture at the club, increasingly getting a hold on his position in the team. Bolton’s directors should all resign for allowing this young man to leave for such a pittance.
He’s now 35 – not an impossible age for a keeper to continue, but there have been doubts. Ospina is not seen as a long-term successor, but we do have a whole plethora of young keepers awaiting their chance, with Matt Macey at the top of the ladder. Macey is perhaps too young to take a new manager’s eye immediately, so it could be that Cech gets another season before Macey steps up or we get in a new keeper.
For £11m transfer cost this guy now looks a bargain and a half, which makes his recent injury even more frustrating all round. I see him as one of those Wenger buys which happen out of nowhere, with no other club circling, and ultimately we get to see what Wenger saw two years before.
With Mr Wenger going I think this unexpected transfer and the dream it brought to the 20 year old is not destined to go further for Arsenal. But maybe we’ve helped him find a place in a lower league which would still be a major step forwards for him. And I really hope he has enjoyed the experience.
Eddie Nketiah, Joseph Willock, Reiss Nelson
What Mr Wenger gave Arsenal was an endless stream of talent from the youth teams – a stream of talent that most clubs could only dream about. I do hope these three guys are not just cast aside by the new manager because they all look very promising to me.
That’s 17 players (I think) and the vast majority are either in the “certain to continue” or “likely to continue” category for me, which of course makes my view utterly different from the “get rid of half the squad” approach. These players are only ones brought in, in recent transfer windows or up from the junior ranks of course, but mostly I see them as a success. It doesn’t mean that we can’t upgrade in some positions, but for me it proves the point that this is not a squad that needs to be utterly transformed.
But then, that’s just my view.
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