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July 2021
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Hibernian v Arsenal: no signings, everyone leaving so what team can we pick

By Bulldog Drummond

So far the number of players tipped to be coming to Arsenal this summer is 107, while the number actually signed seems to be lurking somewhere around zero.  Everyone currently in the squad has been tipped to be leaving, mostly because of Arsenal incompetence in negotiating their contracts.

Thus having created the story pundits continue with their daily list of signings.  But there has been something of a shift as several websites have started to back away from the notion that the whole team has to be changed and instead focusing on what to do at the centre of attacking midfield now that Martin  Odegaard has gone.

However there is the question of Saka, Tierney, Xhaka and Leno who have been in the international knockabout.   Even the most bonkers of the bonkers media scribblers has not said that Saka and Tierney are going to leave but both Xhaka and Leno have been repeatedly tipped to be on the way out.  Martinelli is still very much with the club but playing in the Olympics in Japan – a nice safe place with a corona-virus pandemic rising even faster than the number of cases in England.

But we do have Joe Willock who most writers seem to think is going back to Newcastle and yet who played in seven games for Arsenal last season.  Joe signed a new long term contract on 12 September 2019, played 14 times for Newcastle, including equalling Shearer’s record for consecutive games scored in and has appeared in under 21 games for England.

And just to get that goal scoring record straight he scored 17% of Newcastle’s league goals last season.  Are we really just going to throw him out? 

No one is suggesting that Pepe is leaving, largely due to his much improved form (he scored more goals than Aubameyang in fewer appearances although to be fair that was in all competitions).   And we have Lacazette still with us – assuming none of them go then one would imagine playing two of Pepe, Aubameyang and Lacazette, with one of the two dropping out midway through the second half so that newcomer can take on tiring defenders.

But something needs to be done with the attack because we only scored 55 in the league last season, 28 fewer than Manchester City, and leaving us as the ninth most successful attack in the League.  Even Tottenham scored 13 more than we did.  The defence as we’ve so often pointed out was remarkable – the third best across the whole season in fact, so really we ought to be holding on to that.   (Holding on!!  Geddit????)

It also seems that all the stuff about Smith Rowe refusing a contract was media gibberish as usual and so he will be back in the team again.

To remind you, what we ended up with in our final game of the season was

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Bernd Leno,

Calum Chambers,  Rob Holding, Gabriel,  Kieran Tierney

Granit Xhaka  Thomas Partey

Nicolas Pépé   Martin Odegaard  Emile Smith Rowe

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

 

So what now?  If Saka, Tierney, and Xhaka can’t play because of Euro engagement, we might still have  Leno because Germany were knocked out early.  If not I am not sure who plays in goal, what with Ryan having returned to Brighton – unless we borrow him again or indeed suddenly buy him.

Football London have produced a new line up for Arsenal for the pre-season which includes four players we have not yet signed (which at least for the early games seems unrealistic).

Leno

Tavares, Holding, White, Chambers

Sambi Lokonga, Partey

Pepe, Aouar, Smith Rowe

Aubameyang

The realisation seems to have sunk in that bringing in a goalkeeper to replace Leno, when that goalkeeper could not play because he was banned due to drugs offences (as was the story through much of this summer) was perhaps never going to be the wisest thing.

But the fact is that the opening game of friendlies is next Tuesday, 13 July, and I doubt we will have any transfers through and ready to play in that game.

So we need a full back, and defensive midfielder, and a central attacking midfielder.  To me that looks like Joe Willock has to fit in there in attacking midfield, Mo Elneny plays in defensive midfield, and Hector Bellerin in the back line.

Unless of course some of the youngsters are ready.  That was always Mr Wenger’s trick – to give one or two of the kiddies their chance to shine.

But of course it may be that there is an agreement with Hibs that the number of kiddies is limited.  We shall see (and yes I’ve got my voucher all in place so I can watch it on Arsenal TV – good idea that.)

The Glorious 2021 Revolution

 

 

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