By Sir Hardly Anyone
But no, it turns out that all this time he hasn’t been an Arsenal man at all, and we’ve just been keeping on keeping on. And on. And… well you know what they journalist johnnies are like.
But no, lo! and behold! yes, the Telegraph tells us “Unai Emery is close to finalising his midfield for next season following positive contract talks with Aaron Ramsey and the planned completion of a £26 million deal for Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira.”
Now tucked in there is a double bit of good news. Xhaka is apparently extending his contract until 2023 by which time my homeland of Rutland will have completed its Rutxit negotiations as we leave the UK. And we have Terrieir. Or Torreira of whatever his name is. And Ramsey is extending too: four or five years we are told. All jolly good stuff.
Ramsey plus Torreira plus Xhaka. No wonder the boss told Jack he would have limited playing time.
And as if this were not enough for the “middle of the park” as the commentators like to say, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny are on new contracts too.
So how do they play?
My guess is you play Torreira in front of a flat back four, and then place Xhaka and Ramsey in front of him meaning the team can break up the attacks and counter quickly.
But staying with the Telegraph, they even managed to catch up with Wednesday night’s meeting with the supporters groups. According to the Telegraph the new boss said “he would endeavour to implement an attacking style of football next season. ‘I prefer to win 5-4 than 1-0 because football is about emotion and what is the best feeling in football? When you score,’ he said.”
Well, yes, that rather does miss the nuance of what was really said, which included the comment that 5-0 was better still and the intimation that the 5-4 comment was not meant to be taken that seriously. But journalists and jokes – I’d never bank on one of them getting it.
They did however get the Ivan Gazidis quote right when he said, “We really have a collective effort now, in terms of how we identify players and then how we take forward our interest, and of course Unai is a huge part of that. This is now a different way of doing things, one with a very, very accomplished team of professionals who we have spent time bedding into the club.
“We have the challenge of integrating an awful lot of new ideas and new people and new energy. We have brought in a new head of recruitment in Sven Mislintat and alongside him is Huss Fahmy, who has been involved with negotiating a lot of our player contracts, and also we have Raul Sanllehi who joins us from Barcelona.
“Unai has been in the thick of that process in terms of what we need in the squad. I don’t believe in bringing a player in that the coach does not want individually and also positionally.”
The implication of the Xhaka Ramsey and Torreira combination is that there are only three attacking positions left to fit in Ozil, Aubamayang, Mkhitaryan and Lacazette, and that’s before we think about Welbeck.
Selling one of them might be necessary, but it means that the moment someone gets injured we are really reducing the force of our forward line. What’s more we have four competitions as usual, and if (by way of example) we can qualify for the second phase of the Europa after four matches we can use the last two to use some very inexperienced players supported by whoever hasn’t been getting regular games, led by just one of our regular men to stop them getting too excited.
And you never know, we might actually go over to having a different formation away from home from the format at home. If we could start replicating last season’s home form away, then life would be very different indeed.
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