Arsenal’s first team for 2018/19, and why have Arsenal sacked the travel manager?

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…

Jasper Cillessen

Stephan Lichsteiner, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal

Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey

Marouane Fellaini

Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan,

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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.

Player Country No. Position Loan 2017/18
Ainsley Maitland-Niles England 15 CM/Wing
Edward Nketiah England 62 Forward
Jeff Reine-Adelaide France 31 Forward Angers  Jan 18
Joe Willock England 69 CM/Wing
Konstantinos Mavopranos Greece 27 CB
Reiss Nelson England 61 Forward
Joshua DaSilva England 43 Forward

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?”



20 Replies to “Arsenal’s first team for 2018/19, and why have Arsenal sacked the travel manager?”

  1. A fascinating post Tony, well-worthy of your birthday!
    I will sample a libation of Calvados tonight wishing you many happy returns. 😉

  2. Happy B’day Tony

    Interesting question indeed, but i guess its just another one of those things that go unanswered in today’s world

  3. Well Water you see what an impact it made on me one year ago. Most extraordinary and amazing birthday present I have ever had, not least because it was so unexpected.

  4. Happy birthday Mr Attwood and many happy returns.

    The important thing is for Arsenal to win the EPL Title this season and possibly buttress the win beforehand by winning the League Cup which they’ve not won for a long long time. And add colour to the 2 wins by winning an European Title for the first time, the Europa League Cup toward the end of the season campaign to have a treble winning season.

    I believe this is the main reason why the Arsenal board vis the owner of the club have made the current changes at club that saw Monsieur Arsene Wenger, the former Gunners boss and the majority of his backroom staff got relieved of their jobs at the club. So that Arsenal can turn a new leaf by reinventing themselves to start winning Titles again again again. I know Arsenal have won the FA Cup 3 times in the past 5 seasons. This is a good achievement. But the club want to move on beyond winning the FA Cup by winning other Titles too.

    It’s good as Unai Emery, the new Gunners boss has been given the free hand to bring in his own backroom staff who will support him as he manages the squad. So that he won’t give the excuse of imposing Monsieur Wenger’s backroom on him should things not work according to plan. And not only that, I believe the 4 new signings Arsenal have done and about to do soon are done with his full knowledge and approval of Unai

  5. Happy birthday Tony.

    I think that the fate of most of the departing backroom staff – including the travel manager – was decided
    long before Arsenal choose Unai to succeed Arsene.

  6. Tony, that is why we couldn’t repeat such a thing each year. Then the special thing about it would be lost….

  7. Many happy returns Tony.

    Your goalkeeping list is interesting. You have an asterisk beside Emmie Martinez, who’s 25, and you’ve omitted David Oooooo. I infer you believe he will go. Sadly, I concur. I also hope Cech either leaves, or gets bumped upstairs. I have thought for several seasons that Martinez looks the best all round keeper on the books, while Matt Macey looks rather good too. Added to which, their “home-grown” status gives the management more flexibility with the outfield.

    Normally, I snigger at all the dead season speculation, but this year’s changes at the top, make it more intriguing, notwithstanding the usual pin-stickers list from the press.

    Do you know for sure that the Travel Manager was let go? Could it be he was given the choice, but was a loyal friend of AW, so chose to depart?

    I can’t quite subscribe to Samuel’s win-everything list. What’s more, nice though a trophy or three would be, I don’t care that much, as long as they continue to play progressive, exciting football. After all, there are only four trophies available, that the first team can aspire to, and there are many other aspirants, including four (it seems the Liverpool owners are happy to chuck cash at the situation) who have substantially more funds available than the Arsenal.

  8. Happy Birthday, Tony! May you enjoy at least 50 more!

    I’ll just copy & paste my comment under the goalkeeper post.

    My guess for “25”, even if we take into account that Kos is probably out until New Year which means he can be left out of the registration list, is:

    Martinez/Macey/Iliev HG

    Bellerin HG


    Chambers HG
    Holding HG

    Ramsey HG


    Iwobi HG


    Welbeck HG
    Akpom HG

    That’s 25 players, with 8 HG players and 17 non-HG players. U21 players for 2018-19 are players born on or after 1st January 1997 which means Alex Iwobi and Cohen Bramall no longer qualify for the list. Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Joe Willock and Gedion Zelalem (remember him?) are still U21 players and don’t have to be registered.

    Also, if Akpom, Welbeck, Chambers or any other rumoured HG player leave the club – permanently or on loan – their place on the list of 25 can be taken ONLY by a HG-player.

    My list doesn’t include HG-players Carl Jenkinson and Cohen Bramall as I believe neither of them will stay at Arsenal as we have excellent four solutions for the full-back/wing-back positions – two (relatively) young FB/WBs (Bellerin, Kolašinac) and two experienced ones (Lichtsteiner, Monreal).

  9. A couple of points in relation to the squad. Mavrapanos will count as over-21 because he has only been at the club six months, you must be at the club two years to qualify under UEFA rules (but he could be left out of the Uefa squad, and just be in the Premier League).

    Leno, Cech, Macey/Martinez, with the other loaned could make up the three goalkeepers with Ospina leaving, and Iliev also going on loan as he is over-21. Fourth choice would be Virginia, highly-rated, who will play for the U-23s.

    At the back – Bellerin, Lichsteiner, Chambers, Holding, Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolasinac and Soyuncu/Mustafi as I can’t see Soyuncu signing without someone leaving. That is 9 defenders and Mavrapanos could be in the UEFA squad instead of Kos, who may not be back until November. Available as U-21s are Bielik, Sheaf, DaSilva, Bola etc but only to be used in Carling Cup.

    Midfield is Torreira, Elneny, Xhaka, Ozil, Ramsey, Iwobi and possible Banega, with Maitland-Niles and Willock U-21 but part of the first team, giving us 7 for the midfield.

    That leaves us with 6 spaces available up front with 5 to be taken by Lacazette, Aubameyang, Welbeck, Mkhitarian, possible Martins, if the free signing is true, or another signing. Nelson and Nketiah will be U-21s available.

    Overall, that adds up to 24. One of Martinez, Iliev, Jenkinson, Bramall, Akpom, Campbell, Perez could be kept then, with the rest sold/loaned.

    However, one to watch is the 8 required for homegrown. Macey, Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Ramsey, Iwobi and Welbeck only make 7, so Perez and Campbell would have to go with one other kept.

  10. In the past rarely did the term ‘club manager’, mean manager of the club. It meant ‘manager of the team’ in today’s parlance, ‘head coach’

    In the past the new man would bring with him his right hand man. Today he usually has a ‘trusted team’.

    I agree the lack of public appreciation for his service by Arsenal to Boro is shameful, but may be he didn’t want a public farewell.

    When Arsene arrived there wasn’t the set up that there is today. Boro was the first Arsene man to man to arrive.

    We will never why he is leaving but we are glad he came. Merci Boro merci.

  11. cent’ anni, tony, but … (watch out, the party-spoiler is about to talk)
    this travel manager may have been one more casualty of … “modern” management: they’ll hire a younger, and much cheaper, one.
    it may reveal something about post-AW, though: a club that gets rid of his wounded soldiers (santi), of a red-at-heart lad, who literally gave his body to the red cause (jack), of as class an act as petr, and is going to advertise a dictatorship on its shirt-sleeves (kagame is systematically (re)elected with 90% of the vote, whatdoyoucallthat? – not to mention the fact that “visit” rwanda so soon after the genocide, sounds a lot to me like “visit auschwitz”)
    anyway, the day he resigned, AW evoked the “values” of the club, we know why now: he was given the following “choice”, either accept the above-mentioned decisions, or … do what he eventually chose to do, as the great man he is.

  12. I’d guess that most of the backroom changes, especially the non-football staff, have left because of Ivan, Sven and Raul.
    Only the main coaching staff would be under the new managers direct control.

  13. Tony

    Don’t always agree with you (But I do most times). But many thanks for running a very informative and in my opinion a quite intellectual site. Also happy birthday.
    No doubt we are now living in very interesting times.

  14. A couple of years ago my boss departed my place of employment, followed by a small exodus of employees. They didn’t leave because the new boss brought in new people but in fact they had stayed because they genuinely liked the boss and his work. Indeed, a couple left to work with the boss in his new place.No,when he left, many just thought it was a good time to move on with their careers elsewhere.

  15. Belated Birthday greetings , Tony .

    Keep up the great work in fighting the good fight and maintaining this blog for the regular UE hard core,obstinate and loyal Arsenal fans that throng these portals in the millions !

    We the AKBs , will continue to remain the same for as long as we shall live. I think now that Arsene Wenger has left , we now become Arsenal Knows Best .

    Up the Gunners !

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