Arsenal to avoid panic buying a central defender in January

There are two mantra’s that I use with Arsenal in the post-Wenger era:

  1. It is not what you spend but who you buy
  2. Arsenal are a long term project; changes will not happen overnight

Due to this, I do not expect Arsenal to buy a central defender in January.

Following the defeat to Southampton with a makeshift defence, a few fans responded with the fairly logical “we need to go out and buy a centre back in January”. Whilst I understand where they are coming from, we do not need to buy a centre back in January.

What we need to do is buy the right centre back, regardless of whether they join in January or the summer. What we should not do is panic buy someone who we do not quite want, tying up transfer fees and salaries.

Panic buying in January is the short term solution. We could go out, spend £40million on a centre back who is not high or our list, and end up missing out on preferred targets who could come available in the summer.

We saw this with the acquisitions of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez. Both were panic buys. Players who we did not really want. Players who we overpaid for and ended up stuck with.

Over the next two transfer windows, we need to recruit a winger, a left back and a central defender.

Unlike Manchester City, we do not have unlimited funds to go out and spend £42million on Eliaquim Mangala, not fancy him and spend £28million on Nicolas Otemandi a year later. Not like him either so spend £47.5million on John Stones and 18 months later still spend £57million on Aymeric Laporte. all the while Vincent Kompany still being the teams best centre back.

We can not afford to get it wrong. We do not have a bottomless pit of transfer funds.

Therefore we need to buy the right centre back, regardless of his price. We can not afford to panic buy someone to cover for 6 months, before dipping into the transfer market again in the summer to buy another centre back.

We would be better waiting for the summer, if the right man is available in the summer. If he is available in January, go for him in January. Sven Mislintant and Raul Sanllehi know what they are doing. They do not need me to tell them that the next 6 years is more important than the next 6 months.

Arsenal’s defensive crisis was only for one game.

Against Tottenham in the League Cup, and moving forward into 2019, we have Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis.

If the right man is available who improves on those 3, then we move for him. If they are not available, I am comfortable that all 3 are of the quality and experience to see us into the top 4 this season; and then next summer we go for the defender we need.

We need to focus on the learn term. See how Jurgen Klopp has built a strong Liverpool squad over half a dozen transfer windows. Arsenal will follow their blue print (and hopefully actually win some trophies whilst rebuilding).

Wait for a Virgil van Dijk to come available, do not waste your money on Marcos Rojo, then Eric Bailly and finally Victor Lindelof, and still moan you need to buy a new centre back.

If the solution to our defence is not available in January, we should not panic buy.

In January, No centre back is better than a poor centre back.



Makeshift defence results in Arsenal unbeaten run coming to an end

Throughout Arsenal’s 22 game unbeaten run, most of us were honest with ourselves. We could see the side had flaws. There were games within the run that we should not have won. We were perhaps not as good as being 22 unbeaten would have indicated.

But we were 22 unbeaten, and we have to remember that after the defeat to Southampton.

The defeat on the south-coast we a reality check to some fans. It showed just how far we currently are from Liverpool and Manchester City – just like Chelsea losing to Wolves a couple of weeks ago shows how far away from the top they are.

Before the season, most of us agreed that we were someway behind Liverpool and Manchester City.

City have spent a billion pound collecting some of the worlds best (and best paid) players; whilst Liverpool are in the 4th season of the Jurgen Klopp Project.

And that is where we have to think realistically.

Klopp is in his 4th season at Liverpool
Mauricio Pochettino in his 5th season at Tottenham

It was always going to take some time to undo the weak squad and poor transfers that haunted the back end of the Wenger era. We are 6 months into the Unai Emery era. Are some fans unreasonable to be expecting us to be competing with Liverpool? Definitely.

With Sven Mislintat, Emery and Raul Sanhelli, I am confident in the direction the club is going, but we have to remember it is going to take time.

Take Klopp at Liverpool. It has taken him into his 4th season to build a team capable of finishing above 4th, whilst for all the hype around Pochettino and Spurs, they have won nothing in his 5 years in charge.

My feeling was it would take £300m and 6 transfer windows to fix Arsenal.

Under Mislintat, we have had two of those windows and seen us sign the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Lucas Torreira and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The likes of Matteo Guendouzi and Kostadinos Mavropanos have been exciting young recruits.

But we do not have £300m sitting in our pockets ready to spend in a single window. Arsenal fans who expect (and moan that he has not) Stan Kroenke to be pumping in billions of pounds are completely unrealistic.

It is going to be a slow process to return Arsenal to the top. Just like it has been slow progress at Liverpool. You need to buy well, coach well, and sell well.

Arsenal still have many players from the Wenger-era who are not really good enough if we want to compete at the top. The likes of Mohamed Elneny, Shkodran Mustafi, Saed Kolasinac and Danny Welbeck.

We will improve again in January and improve once more next summer. We still need a new centre back, a left back and at least one winger. I expect these to come in over the next 2 transfer windows; and we move forward again.

On the defeat to Southampton, some have complained about the state of the defence.

We had 3 central defenders out injured. Our only “fit” centre back was clearly off the pace having not played a Premier League game in 10 months.

At left back, we had a casualty just before kick off with Saed Kolasinac pulling out injured. This meant Nacho Monreal – returning after 2 months out – shifted to left back and saw a makeshift defence of Kosciekny, Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner.

During the game we lost Hector Bellerin ad half time and Lichsteiner half-way through the second half. The back 4 that finished the game contained just 2 defenders who were making their first Premier League starts after long lay offs.

The defence does not improving, and it will improve, but against Southampton the injuries and suspensions just caught up on us.

The only side in the league who could have coped with the amount of missing men we had at the back would have been Manchester City – and they have spent over £300m on defenders.

We are closing in on half way through the season. I write this whilst the Manchester United v Liverpool game is on. We are 10 points off top and in the race for 3rd.

Emery’s Arsenal record reads: P 25 W 17 D 5 L 3

We are a club on an upwards trajectory. We are moving forward. But we are perhaps not advanced as what some think, or demand.

The world is currently a reactionary place. Things are either brilliant or awful. There seems to be no in between. We live in a fast food culture where we want same day delivery, short attention spans and little patience.

Arsenal are certainly not awful, and we are not brilliant. But as long as we support the likes of Emery, Mislintat and Sanllehi, we will become brilliant once more. Just as Liverpool have done under Klopp (but hopefully we will actually win trophies).

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,


Arsenal graduate XI see Arsenal to 22 unbeaten

When Arsenal fell into the Europa League last season, I saw it is an opportunity. It gave Arsene Wenger a chance to give Arsenal’s talented youngsters a first team run out beyond the League Cup.

This season we have seen a lot of youngsters get their chance in the competition; and it shows an exciting future for Arsenal.

Last night Buyako Saka was the star of the show.

Barely 17-years-old, the talented Englishman was Man of the Match against Qarabag. He showed pace, power, skill and excellent technical ability. He would have been disappointed not to score.

Qarabag resorted to fouling the youngster. He was unstoppable.

Saka was not the only youngster to impress.

Eddie Nketiah did a solid job out wide as he showed just why Arsenal were willing to lose Danny Welbeck on a free.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles continued his return from a broken leg and showed his versatility. Capable of playing at full back, central midfield and on the wings, he has a bright future for both Arsenal and England.

At 6 4, 18 year old Zech Medley has all the physical attributes to make it. A left footed ball playing centre back, we will be seeing a lot more of him in the future.

Finally Joe Willock continued his transition into a box to box midfielder. With Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Maitland-Niles; Willock offers something different in the middle of the park. You can perhaps see a case for letting Mohamed Elneny leave in the summer, and promoting Willock to 5th choice central midfielder.

This season has seen Emery give a lot of game time to academy graduates.

Alongside the above, we have also seen Emile Smith Rowe, Charlie Gilmour & Julio Pleguezuelo get game time this season, alongside senior graduates Hector Bellerin, Alex Iwobi and Emiliano Martinez.

You can actually make an XI out of the academy graduates to have taken the field for Arsenal this season.


Bellerin Pleguezuelo Medley AMN

Gilmour Willock

ESR Iwobi Saka


22 unbeaten and on to the next round…