With the transfer window padlocked up until Christmas, it is time for a little review of the Arsenal squad.
Now I have seen some on social media claim that “Arsenal have a paper thin squad” after missing out on Douglas Luiz and deciding not to pursue Youri Tielemans.
I must point at that these fans are mainly the Arsenal-incels that I have describe previously.
They spent Friday posting up picture of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They hate that William Saliba is still at Arsenal. They spend more time supporting Matteo Guendouzi (and Nuno Tavares) in Marseille than they do Arsenal.
Despite us being top with a 100% record, they have moaned about Ben White, about Martin Odergaard, and lately about Bukayo Saka.
Largely, their viewpoint can be ignored because they take a position to be negative no matter what the situation is. It is all about hits, clicks, RTs and attention.
It gets to a point where you have to feel sorry for them.
Their “online negative persona” will transfer into real life and they will end up very unhappy people.
But how does Arsenal’s squad actually look?
It feels like we have returned back to the “old school” method of squad building with our goalkeeper.
Rather than trying to accomodate two international keepers – utilising one in the Premier League and one in Europe – we have a clear first and second choice.
I expect Ramsdale to play every Premier League & FA Cup game. Turner will come in for the League Cup and might get the group stages of the Europa League. But expect Ramsdale to come in as cup games become more important – no more playing the 2nd choice keeper in a final.
Hein ticks the boxes of not requiring registration which would free up spots elsewhere (if required).
Summary: Turner might be a drop off from Leno, but I would be surprised if he plays 10 games this season. More than happy.
Jose Mourinho always spoke about having two quality players for every position.
Now we are not Manchester City so can not afford to have £50million centre backs sitting on the bench.
At right back, we have 3 solid options in Tomiyasu, Soares and White.
Some might question why Soares is still with the club (the same people who moan that the squad is too thin!) but it is due to the potential of Brooke Norton-Cuffy.
Excpect BNC tp prove himself in the Championship as being as good – if not better – than Djed Spence last season. No point spending big money on right back cover when you have a potential £20million teenager out on loan getting experience.
Centre back excites me.
Whilst some were arguing over who starts between White, Gabrial and Saliba, I was just delighted that we have 3 top class central defenders.
Yo udo not see Manchester City fans arguing over Laporte, Stones, Dias and Ake. Or Liverpool fans with VvD, Ibrahima Konaté and Joel Matip.
With 50+ games to play, we need 3 quality defenders. We now have that. And in Rob Holding we have a 4th solid option who should allow us to rest 2 in the Europa League.
Left back we have improved dramatically with Olexsandr Zinchenko coming in for Nuno Tavares. Real competitionm for places there.
Summary: Arguably the best defensive options since the invincibles.
Albert Sambi Lokonga
Like in defence, we have 2 players for every midfield spot.
The elephant in the room is that Partey and Elneny are both out injured. Should we have addressed this in the summer?
This is where I take a leaf out of Jurgen Klopp’s book – you should only be buying players to cover an injury if they were a player you wanted prior to their injury. You should not be bringing in a player on a 5-year deal to cover a player out injured for 6 weeks.
At the moment – with the pair out injured – we do look a little short. However, Lokonga played well as the deepest midfielder against Fulham and we also have the option of Zinchenko there (if he is not required at left back).
Moving forward, it made little sense to sign Youri Tielemans this summer whilst Xhaka is at the club – we blogged on this a few times.
Xhaka has shown himself to be undroppable, and is covered by Lokonga, Zinchenko and Vieira.
On the other side, we have signed some class creativity to cover Odergaard.
One of our issues last season is we did not have adequete cover for our star players (Odergaard and Saka) which led them to be over played.
Signing Vieira has resolved this for Odergaard.
Summary: It might feel like now, but Partey will only be out for 3-4 weeks and we have plenty of cover for him. With Elneny longer term out, we could have covered him in the summer window but were right not to over pay. Expect someone to join in January.
Emile Smith Rowe
If we are short anywhere, it is in the worward line.
Martinelli, Jesus and Saka is top class, but the drop off to ESR, Nketiah and Marquinhos is too large.
Arteta expects his front line to work hard – pressing, harassing and closing down. But over the course of the season this will take its toll and if workload is not managed properly will lead to their explosiveness diminishing.
What we needed was another top class winger to give us 3 options outwide (like we have at centre back) so we could rest and rotate Saka and Martinelli.
I am also unsure if Nketiah is the top class cover for Jesus – although we have seen with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham in recent years that “2nd choice striker” is not an easy position to recruit for. And can be expensive.
What we needed was that 3rd top class winger which would have allowed Martinelli to be an option through the middle.
ESR had a great season last year and needs to back it up, whilst no one really knows anything about Marquinhos. I would be surprised if he would be ready to replace Saka in case of long term injury – but I have been wrong before.
Fabio Vieira is an option outwide, but it gets too a point where we have too many players covering too many positions.
Summary: We are one short out wide.
We have a 23 man “senior squad” – Two players for every position and a 3rd choice keeper.
Due to the ages of some of the players, we will only have 18 registered in the A list for the Premier League; so there was plenty of space to rectuit had we wanted too.
How does a 23 man senior squad compare with our Big 6 rivals?
Liverpool – 27
Manchester United – 27
Tottenham – 26
Chelsea – 25
Arsenal – 23
Manchester City – 23
Alongside Manchester City, we do have the smallest squad of the top 6. But these figures can be missleading.
Manchester United’s 27 man squad includes the likes of Phil Jones, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe. they are only still with the club because no-one else wanted them – even on loan.
Whilst Tottenham’s squad is boosted by Bryan Gill (who they tried to get rid of on deadline day) and Harvey White (who?). They also have 3 right backs (Matt Doherty, Emerson Royal, Djed Spence).
Chelsea had a 23 man squad going into deadline day and secured Denis Zakaria and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang late Thursday evening.
The reality is, Liverpool aside, every club has a core group of around 18 senior outfield players that they will rely upon throughout the season. The rest of their squads are players they do not really want – but could not sell.
For the first time in a long time we have a squad where everyone is wanted. Everyone will get game time. We are not carrying everyone.
Yes, I think we needed a winger. And we could have signed another central midfielder. But if the primary targets were not available (especially in midfield) then we are better waiting for January to get them than spending big on temporary cover.
Will our squad be good enough to challenge for the title? Manchester City look imperious.
Will it be enough to be Top 3? I think so.
Now it just depends whether those incels move their goalposts to continue moaning…