The anti-Arsenal media agenda has gone into hibernation awaiting our next poor result. Reflecting on the past weeks, having already identified Arsenal-flop articles as a ploy to amplify negativity, a more damaging trend has surfaced of late which pinpoints individual players to be sold in the summer. Whilst inevitably every squad has players that move on, recent analysis would have us believe that 95% of our squad needs to be sold. Three examples stood out in last week’s media, displaying either a fundamental lack of knowledge or a desperation to continue themes of negativity but in a new and original way. The below are examples of so-called players that need to be moved on:
Laurent Koscielny: “Finished”, “Past it” and “Can no longer be relied on”, are quotes from tabloids last week. Whilst Koscielny has experienced injury problems, he is still our best central defender and most capable of performing at an elite level. His recovery pace, one vs. one defending proficiency and reading of the game are still evident, with such qualities responsible for categorizing him as world class just two seasons ago. Clearly, the challenge for Wenger (or a new Manager) is finding an aggressive, commanding and aerially dominant partner that will compliment Koscielny (who prefers to play as a pure sweeper), allowing him to play the role that will help him to regain his world-class status.
Granit Xhaka: Wrongly labeled as a defensive midfielder not making the grade. Firstly, Xhaka is not a defensive midfielder, he is a deep-lying playmaker whose value is building play from deep with a quality touch and passing range. The rationale for keeping Granit is that a new Manager will likely understand his quality and deploy him correctly alongside (rather than instead of) a proper holding midfielder meaning he can control games from deep without the need to track runners and break up play which are clearly not his strengths. Employed with the right partner and in the right role, Xhaka could have the impact that Alonso and Pirlo had on their respective clubs.
Alexandre Lacazette: Considering players like Robert Pires took over a season to adjust to English football, reports that Lacazette should be sold are kneejerk. The signing of Aubameyang is the catalyst for such reports but these ignore that successful teams build a squad that contains at least two top quality forwards. Arsene has since stated that Aubameyang could play from the left in order to accommodate both which adds further weight to the argument. As a genuine goalscorer, it is likely we will see more output once he has adapted, especially if we start to control games better and provide more service. Such need for top quality forwards and given he is yet to adapt, it doesn’t make sense to part ways yet.
It is important not to believe all the manufactured negativity around Arsenal at the moment. Arsenal do need new personnel with inherent attributes such as power, aggression and experience (which are lacking) but that doesn’t mean the whole squad needs turning over. Koscielny, Xhaka and Lacazette are examples of top-quality footballers that have a role to play next season, in fact, if the required adjustments are made (to the personnel around them and a better approach adopted to bringing the best out of them) could additionally realize individual elite level status.