By Tony Attwood
It was upon this day last year that Walter and Blacksheep combined to hi-jack this site and publish a birthday greeting to me, so it was with a fraction of hesitation this morning that I opened the trusty laptop to check the site. But as I suspected both gentlemen have more style than to repeat what was quite an overwhelming bit of fun, still fondly remembered chez moi. No one has taken over, so I can go ahead with my planned piece.
Which is – an update on the players we now have for next season, along with a reflection on who might drop out of the squad.
It was only on 10 June (that is just 12 days ago) Talk Sport with that certain bravado that they having secure in the knowledge that most of their listeners have fairly modest sized memory spans, told us that this was likely to be our team on the opening day next season…
Stephan Lichsteiner, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal
Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey
Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan,
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A couple of names in there already seem unlikely and I don’t fancy making any more of an idiot of myself than usual on my birthday by trying to predict an entire starting XI for the season – although you are very welcome to have a bash below if you wish.
But I disagree with Talk Sport. I believe, for example, that Lacazette will stay and play – but of course I have no insider knowledge. So instead I have tried to pull together a list of players that are likely to make up the mainstay of the squad, remembering to limit the number to 25 players aged over 21. With that in mind the under 21s in my list are marked with an asterisk.
The number is brackets after each position is the number of players aged over 21 we have for that position.
Goal (3): Cech, Martinez*, Leno, Macey (plenty of choice with many others available and still on the books)
Right Back (3): Bellerin, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson,
Centre Back (5): Holding, Chambers, Koscielny, Sokratis, Mustafi, Mavopranos*
Left Back (2): Monreal, Kolasinac
Defensive midfield (3): Torreira, Xhaka, Elneny, Maitland-Niles*
Attacking midfield (2): Ramsey, Özil, Nelson*
Forwards (5): Mkhitarian, Aubameyang, Iwobi, Lacazette, Welbeck, Nketiah*
That gives us 23 players aged over 21, thus making space for two more without any further pruning of the side. The only position that looks slightly lacking in troops is left back, but we do have players like Maitland-Niles who seems to be able to play anywhere in defence.
I have included the newcomers whose deals seem to be complete or near complete, but not assumed anyone else who is rumoured, actually to be coming.
So that means Torreira, (defensive midfield) Lichtsteiner (right back), Sokratis (centre back), and Leno (goal) are included and I have cut out players who I think will be departing.
In the goal keeper department the tradition (although not kept to last season) has been to have three over 21 players and one under 21, and I have reverted to that idea for this season.
Additionally we have a number of under 21s likely to make a significant contribution. I have included a very modest number but there are plenty more and I am sure one or two of these will emerge during the season. Here is the list (once again) of those who gained first team status last season and who are still under 21.
|Jeff Reine-Adelaide||France||31||Forward||Angers Jan 18|
Meanwhile men have been leaving en masse. Lehmann has departed as a first-team coach. Neil Banfield, Tony Colbert, Gerry Peyton and Boro Primorac, have also left the club which is a huge change.
I can understand the new manager wanting his own men next to him as the coaches; men like Boro Primorac who has always been very much Wenger’s man, although it is a shame to see such long term servants of the club go without any fanfare for their work over the years. Boro Primorac, like Mr Wenger, has been associated with 10 major trophies at the club – it seems a little lacking in style that he just goes.
But that is not all as Arsenal also confirmed the leaving of the head of medical services, Colin Lewin, physiotherapists Andy Rolls and Ben Ashworth, osteopath Philippe Boixel and travel manager Paul Johnson.
This is such a contrast as to what happened when Mr Wenger arrived; he worked with who was at the club including Pat Rice who had been the interim manager.
Why for example, I wonder, does the new manager feel he has to have a new travel manager in place? Did the players end up arriving too late? Was it the wrong sort of plane that was used? Was the coach dirty?
When a new manager arrives does he really say during the contract negotiations, “And I want my own travel manager?”
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