Arsenal next season: the story the media refuse to reveal

By Tony Attwood

If you want to know what the media are saying about Arsenal this summer and have been saying since the end of the season it is simple.  We need to buy loads of players – particularly defenders.  Indeed Charlie Nicholas, increasingly disjointed from contemporary reality, summarises nicely in the rant reported in the Express which says, “We’re being slow again in the market.   The manager has identified plenty of options.  Defensively is the key area. I just hope we don’t delay these deals. Arsenal need to get into the market. We need three defenders to come in which will cost £60-£70m.  We need three defenders to come in which will cost £60-£70m.”

But when we look at the situation, it is not Arsenal that is being slow, but the brain power of Charlie.   Here are five issues he just doesn’t seem to comprehend…

1:  The Home Grown list and the “25”

The most non-home-grown over 21 year old players that can be in a PL side is 17.   What’s more, with both of the men who are hoping to be the next Prime Minister of the UK being vigorous supporters of leaving the EU quickly, once that happens the rule could become a lot tighter and overseas players could lose their value rapidly. Certainly the FA are pushing hard for this change.   So buying foreign born players might not be at all clever at this time, and indeed bying anyone can only work if we can sell some of the unwanted squad members.

2.  The youngsters

Within this issue we might also look at the youngsters coming through.  Maitland-Niles has proven himself to be a solid and reliable performer, and he’s learning all the time.  I suspect he’ll improve again in the coming season and we’ll see more of him.   And I think that we should see more of at least two other youngsters.  Possible contenders are Nketiah, Willock, Nelson and Smith Rowe – and of course there are others.  Bielik is less certain but he’s had a lot of plaudits on his latest loan spell.

I don’t mean any of these will start playing every week but this is a very useful crop of players and history suggests at least one will come through as a regular, with at least one other making occasional solid appearances.  Maybe two.

2: What about our injured players

Rob Holding was in excellent form last season before he was injured and he is still only 23, so his best years are ahead of him.  The latest predictions are that he will be ready for the new season, but even if not, he will be ready soon after.  And Bellerin will only be a few weeks behind.

Yet Charlie Nicholas says, according to the Express “We need three defenders to come in which will cost £60-£70m.”  But how will we fit these in?   Presumably by selling players such as Mustafi, Jenkinson and Koscielny or Monreal.  But even so, with Bellerin and Holding in the team, and no one saying we should be selling Sokratis, we only have one regular first team defender’s place left.  And will anyone come to the squad knowing they are going to be a backup?  It seems unlikely.

So that suggests we are buying back ups.   But three backups when we still have Mavropanos and Kolasinac.  Unless the wonderful Charlie wants Arsenal to sell them too.   But if so, then virtually the whole defence is being changed, with only a few weeks for each player to get used to whatever playing system is evolved for them.

That would be utter chaos.  And yet in the end that is what the oft-quoted always talking semi-skimmed Charlie is proposing.  It seems a pretty whacky idea to me.

3:  Does it matter to incoming players that we are not in the Champions League?

The very best players want to be in the Champs League, and promises that in another year we might make it will probably hold little sway with most big time players who are already established.  Which is why getting Holding and Bellerin back into the team is so important.  They are already with us and under contract.

What makes the whole thing more annoying is that the attacks upon Arsenal and its management by Nicholas and others in the “more you say it the more likely it is to be true” brigade mean that players and their agents are less and less inclined to believe in Arsenal’s ability to climb back into the Champs League.  Indeed the more that Nicholas and others rave on, the harder it gets for Arsenal to progress.

Mr Wenger overcame this by buying in unknown and out of favour players like Vieira and building a team around them.  I suspect Mr Emery is going to have to use the same tactics.

4: Can we actually get into the CL  next season?

To get to 4th we need to look not just at Arsenal’s squad but also what is happening to other clubs.  After all, if we get six points more next season than we did last, that won’t help at all if Chelsea and Tottenham do the same.  So much of the issue of our progress now depends on those two clubs.

Chelsea as we know can outspend us ten times over if the owner has the desire so to do.   Except, first the owner is hardly ever seen these days (the re-building of Stamford Bridge is on seemingly permanent hold), and the club is banned from making transfers to two windows.  And they have had a managerial change which may or may not help.   So in Chelsea’s case, as things stand in late June, it does look possible for us to overtake them.

And just to mention in passing, there was a hilarious article in the Daily Mail on 22 June (page 116 if you are interested) under the heading “Chelsea Limbo”.    The story is about Chelsea not having announced who their new manager is, and therefore can’t buy any transfers for the new season.   Everything they say depends on the new manager and, they add, these difficulties “are accentuatedby the fact that the transfer window is shorter this summer, with the market closing on August 8.”

Actually guys, it is the fact that they are banned from making transfers, and have neither put in an appeal against their conviction nor asked for a stay of execution.  You might think the Mail might know that, but seemingly they don’t.  Still, this football lark is hard to keep up with.

Tottenham are a different case.  To step aside from the usual chit chat we might offer about the noisy neighbours, they have spent nothing and ended up above us which is clever.  Can they do that again?   Maybe – or maybe some more money will be put into the team.   But what makes that unlikely is that they now have the megadebt of the new stadium to pay for, and mounting supporter and media expectations.

Tottenham were pretty naff in a pretty naff Champions League final, but this will quickly be forgotten as expectations rise, and so it could be that they will slip back just a little next season.  Which means that yes, it is possible that neither Chelsea or Tottenham will be able to improve next season, while Arsenal might just do so, even with a limited budget.


So we come back to the conclusion that getting back into the top four in the 2019/20 campaign is not primarily about who we sign this summer, although the media would like you to believe that.   It is primarily about getting Holding and Bellerin back to their best, bringing through another youngster or two, and of course holding on to the forward line who performed so well last time around.

Now according to the media, they are all off… but then that’s what the media normall says.



10 Replies to “Arsenal next season: the story the media refuse to reveal”

  1. I’m very much in agreement with you there, Tony. By the time the interlull is over in September and all our players are fit and available for the 5th game of the new season, I expect this will be our starting 11;
    Leno, Bellerin Sokratis Holding Kolasinac, Torreira Xhaka Guendouzi, Ozil Aubameyang Lacazette ( in a 4-3-3 formation with Iwobi replacing Guendouzi in a 4-2-3-1).
    Ah, Ozil! There’s an issue. Can we find a player better and affordable? Who will be Ramsey’s replacement? This is one position that ought to be addressed. The defence, as Tony said, is the least worrisome if the two injured players come back fully fit. Any new additions will be players who will rotate with the ones above.
    I also believe that the youngsters named in the article will come through this coming season. We should have more homegrown players in the squad than ever before. Looking forward to a more rewarding season ahead ! COYGs…

  2. Irrespective of Charlie’s thoughts and advice it seem so obvious that Arsenal’s next season’s team rebuilding is going to be based mainly on the promotion of some of the superb young players (that we’ve seen) from the academy and integrated into the regular match squads plus a couple of purchased imports.
    There are one or two players that might benefit by leaving & some others going on loan, but I think the nucleus is going to be home grown complimented by established overseas international’s, and I for one am looking forward to this.
    It’s going to be difficult replacing favourites like Ramsey & Welbeck and to be honest I don’t think we’ll achieve any more than we have this past season, but if the fans and the club boss’ give Emery & Freddie a chance they’ll mould a competitive squad of locally sourced prize winning talent worthy of the praise heaped on the likes of early Wenger & George Graham teams.

  3. Tony

    The mere notion that the likes of Nicholas would want to, or even could, put in the kind of research, analysis, and ultimately draw the intelligent conclusions that you have, is beyond laughable.

    Even if the likes of Nicholas was capable of such inciteful journalism , which I very much doubt, these people have absolutely no interest in implementing it.

    Their sole intention is to shit stir.

    If we HAD already bought players rest assured the like of Nicholas would be calling them ‘panic buys’.

    As you said Tony, the fact the Mail don’t even appear to know Chelsea are serving a transfer ban says all you need to know about the level of intelligence we are talking about when it comes to football journalism.

    I don’t agree with everything Untold has to say, or indeed what some of the posters have to say, but to my mind (with the honourable exception of a few) it is patently obvious that level of intellect, incite, research, analysis and good old fashioned thought that goes in to what is said on here, is infinitely superior to anything you may read from 90% of the so called ‘professional’ journalists.

    And what’s more it is an open forum where people can come, and often do come to question what Tony et el has said.

    Who at SKY is there asking Nicholas to explain exactly how his suggestions are to be implemented ?

    Tony has often said, why does nobody ever ask WHY?

    Well I beg the question. Why does nobody ever ask ‘what the f*** are you talking about’ ?

  4. I think the same applies to many bloggists who fill their contributions with lists of players that they think we should buy.

    What do they actually know about these players, other than what they may have seen on TV or on Youtube?

    Do they know whether those players that they suggest will be able to cope with UE’s tactics, or match well with the players we have?

    What do they know about these player’s personalities and how they mix with other players and people of other nationalities?

    How are their fitness levels, their willingness to train and graft and to put themselves out for other players and the team? ARe they injury prone or are they carrying long term injuries?

    What are their domestic arrangements and will they and their families fit into living and working in London?

    There are many other similar questions that the bloggists are unable to contemplate because they simply don’t know or maybe even care.

    Players are major investments so any club investing in one will need to carry out substantial due diligence, which our colleagues on this and other blogs, as well as knowalls like Nicholas or Merson are incapable of doing.

    The truth is we all do not have a clue and have to leave it to the club and its myriad of administrators to fathom and work out.

    What is clear is that wholesale replacement of players rarely if ever works.

    Even one addition could have the effect of bringing out the best in players that we have who may have struggled last season.

    The perrenial targets for the negative fans are frequently found to have a good season one, having a difficult one the next and then a good one the year after.

    IF Xhaka was so awful, why did AW and UE play him so much?

    The answer could be that they see the whole picture, whilst the fans only see the errors.

    It is best, surely, to leave it to the professional.

  5. To me, even if Bellerin and Holding do eventually come back for Arsenal from the start of next season’s campaign in the PL, which could be unlikely as they could return late up to 4 weeks before they can start playing for Arsenal again due to the possibility they might not have regained full match fitness to allow them to start playing after they might have recovered from the ACL injuries which had them sidelined for Arsenal on the sidelines for half a season last season. In the anticipation of their unlikely come back to play for Arsenal from the beginning of next season in the PL, Emery MUST put the plan in place that will see Arsenal start the new season on the front foot and not on the back foot because Bellerin and Holding are missing for Arsenal in the defence at the start of the new season. This shouldn’t be an excuse by Arsenal to start conceding defensively to the opposition teams in the PL but be defending stoutly winning games upon games from the start of the new season. I think maybe that’s the point Charlie Nicholas is trying to stress by saying Arsenal should sign defenders this summer. But where is the transfer kitty at Arsenal this summer to do that for the Gunners?.

    Nevertheless, for Emery to actualise a strong defense-line in the Gunners defence particularly in the PL next season that will see Arsenal have a strong start to new season winning from day one and continue winning, a realignment of defenders in the Arsenal defense-line has to take place which should keep Arsenal unreachable defensively before Bellerin and Holding are back. Which I believe Emery is a were of. In this regard, keeping the duo right backs of AMN and Chambers at the club this summer will be a good decision if Emery makes it as both players can play at right back.

    Then of course, it has become unavoidable for Emery to improve the defending quality at Arsenal left back. Kierian Tierney from Celtic could be the answer to flaw being experienced at Arsenal left back if he is signed by Arsenal this summer with the intention to replace the aging left back and now out if sort Monreal with him.

  6. It’s nice, at this time of the year, to read good news about our coming season, particularly when few millions are likely to be made available to strengthen the first team squad.
    The reminder about the return of Messrs Bellerin and Holding in our defence, is therefore especially welcome.
    Added to which, a number of our youngsters are knocking on the dressing room door.
    The limited budget may not be the millstone once thought. 😎

  7. We need bodies on the field, per the club’s site, if we remove those whose contract have expired, we have 16 outfield first team players. We need bodies on the field. Not all academy players are going to give us 10-15 games each (sub/start). We need to get some first team players.

  8. I rarely comment on here nowadays although I still read Tony’s postings with interest.

    It’s important, no obligatory, that going into a new season that supporters are positive about the upcoming challenges.

    So to the reason for my post.

    Chelsea are indeed subject to a two window registration ban but the suggestion that the sanction is not under appeal is not correct.CAS acknowledged the receipt of the appeal a couple of weeks ago.

    To date Chelsea do not appear to have asked for the ban to be suspended. My take on it is that is that either they acknowledge the guilt and the appeal purely is about the punishment ( Real Madrid were charged with more breeches of the regulations and argued the ban down to one window) , or Chelsea weren’t intending to bringing many in , or quite simply they haven’t yet decided what to do.As an aside four or five other PL sides are said to be the subject of investigation by FIFA which my understanding is not quite as straight forward as has been suggested indeed the trigger for FIFA s scrutiny surrounds the signing of non EU players close to their 18th Birthdays, the same group of players playing in extended trial periods and or appearing in matches sanctioned by the FA but not of the age but more importantly not of a nationality that allows under 18 players to do so.

    Excluding Christensen and Ethan Ampadu who did compete at youth level at Chelsea but some don’t think their longevity at the club qualifies them as academy products that said and to a degree acknowledged we have several who many at Chelsea believe the up coming season is make or break for them. Indeed with the probability of FL being appointed and the likelihood of no transfers in this should be the ideal opportunity for them to breakthrough
    Tammy Abraham is a full English international .He is far too good for the Championship but will he make the step up? He is still very young indeed younger than Maitland Niles so plenty of time to improve . If he is given a game or two iBeacon may well develop into a very decent PL player

    Calum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Lofus Cheek again are full Internationals sadly both had a bad injuries after breaking into the first team last season . These lads are special but just like Holding and Bellerin at yours recovering from an injury is straight forward

    For me there are two others that are ready for the squad and if rumours are correct will be promoted following loans. Reece James and Mason Mount.

    As Tony’s acknowledges getting one or two through is a challenge.

    As is well documented we have quite a number of senior pros out on loan.

    My guess is that Zouma and Batshuayi will be added to the squad an
    along with Pulisic. There is no doubt that in advance of potential rule changes on the number on players who a club can send out on loan then quite a number will be departing indeed two have already been sold

    If you ignore Higuaín and Kovacic then we lost Rob Green,Gary Cahill and not surprisingly Hazard.

    Rob Green will almost certainly be replaced in the squad by Jamal Blackman, Cahill by Zouma and Hazard by Pulisic. We almost certainly will be selling a few others like Zappacosta and possibly Drinkwater but FL will not play with quite the same style he almost certainly will play a narrower front three with width from the full backs and that then puts Azpilicuetas position up for grabs and to a degree will put into question Alonso as a starter.

    There is no doubt that losing Hazard will hurt but far from pessimistic about the ban it could well lead to one or two youngsters getting a real chance and at the same time if the ban is not overturned or indeed shortened then it’s highly probable that with the CL qualification and indeed the monies that brings then having banked the Hazard fee along with other fees that will be incoming in trading terms it’s possible that the accounts for 2019/20 will show a profit topping £150 million possibly north of £200 million
    Now that would be a turn up.

  9. OK so U don’t agree with mr Nicholas, so attack him, insult him, call him names-slow brain. Its preseason, say arsenal is doing the right things. Come may, after another failed season, say the same things Nicholas is saying now, use them as excuses for a poor season, but blame other clubs for being faster. Come July next year, when another pundit accuses us of being slow in the market, insult them again, tell us how another set of youth players are ready to explode, another set of injured players are like new signings, the team has learnt from another set of mistakes, Bla Bla Bla. Fact is Tony, in preseason every year, you insult people who say we’re not prepared for the coming season, but come may, you make the excuse that we were not as prepared as the competition due to Xyz reasons. It is you who is inconsistent, the pundits tell it as it is and at seasons end they their narrative prevails.

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