One week. That’s all that teams now have left to sign new players is summer, but you wouldn’t know it by Arsene Wenger’s demeanor. Having dropped 3 of a possible 6 points through 2 games, fans are already anxious, with some continuing to call desperately for more additions to the squad. Wenger would love to oblige them, or so he might maintain, but as he has maintained for the majority of August, Arsenal’s priority remains clearing out some of the non-contributing members of the squad. This is certainly not the news fans were hoping to hear from their club, especially since Wenger has barely tapped a third of his reported transfer budget.
Interestingly, Wenger’s resolute insistence on the quality of his squad was echoed by his counterpart in this Sunday’s heavyweight showdown with Liverpool, as Juergen Klopp spoke in a way that would seem very familiar to North Londoners. In his Thursday press conference, the charismatic German spoke of the difficulties finding players out there that represent real improvements over what is already at the club, especially for the astronomical prices we have seen this summer. Surely, had Arsene Wenger been the manager at the podium delivering those words, the collective eye roll from reporters and fans alike would have been palpable. In this case though, I would lay money on some bloke in tomorrow’s papers praising the Liverpool manager for his realism and philosophical comments.
There is no point in understating how important Sunday’s match is with Liverpool. Both teams have not quite had the perfect starts that they would have hoped, but that won’t stop Sunday from being a full throttle affair with two teams that love to play beautiful attacking football.
Arsene Wenger has all but guaranteed that Alexis Sanchez will take the pitch with his teammates, taking his place back from Danny Welbeck on the right flank. Defensively, this could be a match for Per Mertesacker in the middle of the back 3, as Arsenal seem to have struggled without he or Koscielny at the back so far this season. Whatever Wenger decides to do, it will be imperative for the Gunners to keep tight at the back for what could be the first time all season.
Let’s look at some of the week’s biggest rumours with just 1 week left in the Transfer Window!
If you were not able to see Jack Wilshere’s red card in the recent U23 match against Manchester City, you missed out. After taking immediate exception to a dangerous challenge, the Arsenal man immediately shoved the defender (whose name I will not repeat, as no player blatantly attempting to make a name for himself by injuring a star in a rehab stint should not be recognised) to the ground and started a bit of a scuffle between both teams. Inevitably seeing a red card for his antics, Wilshere left the field early, later taking to social media to apologize to the fans and talk of his determination to succeed this year.
At his press conference today, Arsene Wenger reaffirmed his love for Jack Wilshere, but said the one-time future of the club would need to fight for his next Arsenal contract. This should come as welcome news to Wilshere who finds himself in a similar position to a year ago, but with much more of a potential role in this team than what was on offer last season. And what a role it could be.
Slotting Wilshere in next to Xhaka in the centre of the park in Arsenal’s 3-4-2-1 would be a match made in heaven for the Englishman. As a hybrid between a holding midfield ‘6’ and a free roaming ‘8’, Wilshere would have the opportunity to influence the match from just about anywhere on the pitch. Despite his obvious and growing physical limitations, Jack Wilshere possesses a top shelf footballing brain, and would potentially give a much more rounded interpretation of the position than Aaron Ramsey, who tends to forget that he is not a striker sometimes (an honest mistake, no doubt). Of course, Steve Bruce would love to manage him at Villa Park because, well, I guess English managers still think it’s 2013.
This one doesn’t make any sense. Not so much that Juventus and Inter Milan are both interested in him, as they both understandably are. No, the bewildering thing about the Mustafi to Serie A rumours is the total lack of conviction with which Arsene Wenger denied the move. He totally refused to rule it out. For a man that has taken such a cavalier approach with nearly £200 million in talented expiring contracts, denying all the while that those players will leave or that it would be a problem for the club if they did, his answer perplexes.
Of course, there could be some bigger plan at work here. Wenger actually wanted Kostos Manolas first last summer from Roma, and grew frustrated as the summer progressed and Roma refused to soften its stance, leading to a late window push for their alternative: Mustafi. As I am sure every single Arsenal fan knows, Virgil Van Dijk is not happy in Southampton. Perhaps Wenger sees a way to cut his losses with one player in a non-offensive manner in order to replace him with a better player? No, I don’t think it likely either, but then I would have expected Wenger to burst out laughing when asked about a possible deal, so anything is possible, especially during the final week of the transfer window.
A move for Thomas Lemar is officially dead. Those aren’t my words, but Arsene Wenger’s. Do you believe him? Well, no matter, because the world’s footballing press knows about other wide men, including Real Madrid’s own Marco Asensio. Having had praise lavished on him all summer by fans and former Real Madrid players, one would be forgiven for believing that Asensio is comfortable in the Spanish capital. Well he is, but reports are that he has refused a new contract with the club, presumably with a €35 trillion release clause or something like that…
But still, it is hard not to get excited about a player of his potential. Valued around £42 million by, well, a newspaper, he could still represent good value in today’s market. There are some other options out there as well, two of which immediately follow this one, but Asensio might ultimately represent the most Arsenalised option out there. Would be interesting to see this deal done.
Arsenal and Liverpool are currently leading the race to sign Julian Draxler from PSG. It is not yet clear who is leading between the two, but it is certain that PSG do need to sell in order to avoid the massive penalties in relation to FFP rules. Draxler was a very high priority target (allegedly) when he moved from Wolfsburg to Paris in January of this year.
Draxler is a special talent, but he has been on the move a lot over the last few seasons. He essentially shot his way out of town when he left Schalke for Wolfsburg, shocking many at the time with his lateral move. However, the same could not be said of his move to PSG, and many fans might recall some of the assertive comments attributed to him on the way out of Wolfsburg. With talent like his, it would be hard to resist making a bid for him, but his hair-trigger approach to leaving if anything goes against him does smell vaguely of a lack of competitive fire. Of course, if this particular PSG winger isn’t their cup of tea, they could always opt to try and sign Lucas Moura, also in need of a move away from the French capital.
Another day, another article explaining Arsenal’s stepped up interest in Juan Cuadrado. As I had stated when this silly rumour first came out, Cuadrado is simply too old, too expensive and too not good enough to be worth making a move for this summer. So expect him to be Arsene’s final signing of the summer.
They really must just be throwing numbers against a wall now, no? With Arsene Wenger and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scheduled for “crunch talks” this week (always laughed about this particular phrasing- I mean, they work in the same building every day…) over the Ox’s future at the Emirates Stadium. As recently as today, reports of wages up to £180k (?!) per week have come out, causing even the most dribble happy Arsenal supporter to wince. For those keeping score at home, that’s £50k more than what lured Mesut Ozil out of the Bernabeu. Wow! Or at least it would be if these numbers weren’t magically conjured up from the depths of some random writer’s a—well, you get the idea.
The Ox is turning into a great player. He has yet to find his best position for Arsenal, but the level of trust and shelter that has been extended to the Englishman over the years by a very paternal Arsene Wenger should count for something with him. He wasn’t always a rising fan favorite. To many fans, right up until this season, he was simply another Theo Walcott with better dribbling and a worse final ball: bought young, a world of potential, followed by years of increasing expectations being met with injuries and inconsistencies. Now that the Ox has started to come good, with Arsene Wenger arguably going through even more pains than with Alexis to make him feel welcome, he might leave for Chelsea? Let’s hope not.
Arsene, Get On It!
Lucas Perez needs to be sold before the transfer window closes. Yes, I know, we don’t want to lose money from the purchase, but that is life! He is a good soldier who was robbed of the opportunities he deserved last season. At 28, he may never taste the national team, but he certainly can’t make a push for it when he is stuck behind Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott in London.
Finally, Arsene, mate, pal, friend…my captain: Sell Debuchy. Now. Or better yet, 10 minutes ago. Or stick him at right back. It doesn’t much matter at this point, but it would be nice to know that he hasn’t secretly been offed or something.