Do Arsenal need to replace Aaron Ramsey?

Aaron Ramsey is heading out of Arsenal (although the door is not complete closed). There will be a lot of speculation in coming weeks as to who will replace the Welshman at Arsenal. Miguel Almiron one name frequently mentioned recently.

However, do Arsenal actually need to replace him?

The theory behind Arsenal being happy to let Ramsey go is that they do not see him as a first XI player in an Unai Emery team.

Emery has tried, and failed, to fit Ramsey and Mesut Ozil into the same team. With the more talented German playing wide. This has lessened Ozil’s influence on the team.

To get the best out of Ozil, you want him to be free to glide across the pitch. You always want him close to the ball. He can do not this on the right hand side of midfield.

In terms of number 10, Ozil is better than Ramsey. For all intents and purposes, Ramsey is Ozil’s back up.

Ramsey does not have the discipline to play in a midfield 2, he has shown us this during the last 5 years or so. Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira are starting to forge a well balanced partnership.

So Ramsey’s place within the current squad is to provide cover. Cover for Ozil and to a lesser extent, cover to Xhaka and Torreira.

When you accept that Ramsey is cover, you then need to question if we actually need to replace him.

In the middle of the park, Matteo Guendouzi has performed brilliantly this season. He is a key reason why we will not have to strengthen further in the middle of the park over the next few seasons.

Backing up Xhaka and Torreira are Guendouzi, Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. That is more than sufficient options in the middle of the park. 5 quality players all offering something different. For the first time in a decade we are not screaming out for a central midfielder.

Further up the pitch, when you take Ramsey out of the picture, back up for Mesut Ozil also looks healthy.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a class act, and more than capable stepping in for Ozil for the 30-40% of games he missed injured and sick. At 29-years old, he is a senior pro. You know what he can do and he is more than useful.

Even with Ramsey in the squad, some would make a case that in terms of creativity, Mkhitaryan is the better back up for Ozil.

You then have Alex Iwobi, and even younger than him, Emile Smith Rowe.

Iwobi has been one of the most improved players under Emery, and Smith Rowe one of the most exciting young talents in England.

I would rather see Iwobi or Smith Rowe get game time, then Arsenal take a risk on someone like Almiron.

When you actually lay out the front 6 into a formation, you can see where money needs to be invested

Over the next two transfer windows, we need to focus on bringing in natural wingers.

Aubameyang is doing an average job out there, and Danny Welbeck and Iwobi are sufficient back up, but not regular starters. Add in Welbeck’s contract situation and it is the wide positions we need the investment.

For Ramsey’s reported £250,000 a week salary, we could almost split that equally on a left winger and right winger. £125,000 a week each in salary. In terms of yearly budget, it would then only need to be transfer fees we would need to find.

Two £50million wingers on 5 year deals would cost the club a combined £20million a year in amortised transfer fees, that is more than feasible within the clubs current budget.

The likes of Anthony Martial, Leon Bailey, Hirving Lozano, Kingsley Coman and Emil Forsberg spring to mind. We have also been recently linked with youngsters Kai Havertz and Ismaïla Sarr.

What is for certain, losing Ramsey is not a big deal.



How have Arsenal’s new boys settled in?

With us in the middle of the most boring time in football – a pointless international break filled with glorified friendlies, it is perhaps a chance to reflect on the start of the season, and see how the new boys have bedded in.

Bernd Leno

To many peoples frustration, Petr Cech start began the season as first choice keeper.

Unai Emery’s philosophy is that new players have to force their way in, to prove that they are better than the incumbent first team players. This led to Cech starting the season as number 1.

Leno’s opening came when Cech limped off injured against Watford in the league. Prior to that he had only played in the Europa League and League Cup – where he conceded goals but did not have much to do.

Against Watford he looked a little shaky, coming off the bench. However he made some smart stops and distribution was excellent.

Fulham was a vastly improved performance, with some sharp saves. He could have done little with their goal.

It will take a while for him to get used to the physical side of the Premier League – with the bumping and barging at corners. His shot stopping and distribution are certainly up to standard.

With Cech set to miss the next 3 or 4 games, Leno will have plenty of time to establish himself as first choice.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

The experienced Swiss right back has not had much of a chance this season.

Beyond a substitute appearance at left back versus Manchester City, his 3 starts have been limited to the Europa League and League Cup.

His influence on the pitch may well be happening at the training ground, however.

Lichtsteiner has bought some leadership to the playing squad, and you have to feel that he has bought his winners mentality to the training ground.

We have also seen improvements in Hector Bellerin as the season has gone on. The presence of Lichtsteiner must surely be helping to push the Spaniards performances to the next level.

It would not overly surprise me if Lichtsteiner’s one-year deal was extended by a further 12 months.


Greek centre back Sokratis (I can not be bothered to Google his surname) has split opinion.

Some have labelled him clumsy, slow and uncultured, whilst others have praised him for being aggressive, and focusing on defending and clearing the ball.

I fall into the later camp.

We focus too much on ball playing centre backs. “Rolls Royce defenders” like Rio Ferdinand. Players like the now retired Englishman who looked classy but could also defend are few and fair between.

Sokratis is a defender. He defends. That is what he is paid for.

What he creates is a rock at the back that others can play around. A reliable defender that will let Arsenal go out and get a ball playing partner, knowing they have a solid option next to him.

He is more Vidic than Ferdinand, and is exactly what Arsenal have needed for a decade.

Lucas Torreira

Uruguayan central midfielder Lucas Torreira has been a revolution since he broke into the team. He is exactly the player we have been missing for some years.

Like Sokratis, he understands his role within a balanced XI. He is there to defend, to shield the back 4, to provide them cover. His influence on the entire team is obvious to all.

Torreira not only defends, however. He can also play. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, he has given the side another passing option alongside Xhaka.

The sign of a top player is they make those around them look better, Torreira has done this with Xhaka. It is a partnership that we can look forward to developing as the years role on.

It is incredible to think that Torreira is just 22-years old. He will deveop into one of the best central midfields in the world.

Whilst Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool went big on Fred, Jorginho, Fabinho and Kieta, Arsenal secured Torreira for just £22m – we clearly got the best player.

Onwards and upwards for the lad!

Mattéo Guendouzi

The greatest compliment you can give Matteo Guendouzi is that people are now wondering why we did not cash in on Aaron Ramsey in the summer.

Football is easy in hindsight, and no one could have guessed when we signed the 19-year old Sideshow Bob impersonator from the French Division 2 for just £7million that he would be pushing senior team mates down the pecking order.

The fear for the club over the summer with Ramsey is that we only had 2 senior midfielders – Xhaka and Elneny. Torreira was a new signing and Guendouzi was coming in to be on the fringes of the first team squad. He was pencilled in for the Europa League and League Cup.

Due to players returning from the World Cup, Guendouzi got some game time. And he has proved the old age correct. If you are good enough, you are old enough.

People already actually forget that he is just 19. He is younger than Mason Mount, who was called up for the England squad after some impressive displays in the Championship.

He has not been perfect this season. He is a little bit slow on the ball when passing, and doesn’t easily make space for himself to receive the ball off the defenders. But he is 19-years old, and will improve.

Guendouzi has moved ahead of Elneny in the pecking order and is first choice back up for Xhaka and Torreira. His performances are going to save Arsenal a lot of money when it comes to Ramsey leaving.

The Frenchman will have a bad patch. All young players do. But with the squad depth around him, Emery will be able to take him out when he is performing poorly.

This lad has a bright future.

In summary, the first full transfer window for Sven Mislintat has been a success. He has added some experienced leaders to the squad, and signed some very talented young players.

He seems to have bought pro-active planning to Arsenal’s transfers for the first time in years.


Unai Emery’s Red and White Army

There is not much to moan about down The Arsenal at the moment.

9 wins in a row, 2 points off top, the place is brimming with positivity. However, there is something that has done me head in since the arrival of Unai Emery.

The backing the manager has got since he joined has been tremendous. We are now singing about him once more and his army. But this is what is annoying it.

It is not “Unai Emery’s red army”.

It is “Unai Emery’s red and white army”.

It was “Georgie Graham and his red and white army”. It was “Arsene Wenger’s red and white army”. But at Fulham, it was “Unai Emery’s red army”.

Has it been that long since we sang about the manager that we have forgotten the words? Or does it just sum up society, that we are now lazy, looking for short cuts through life. That dropping off the “and white” is systematic of society.

Well let’s stop being lazy, lets get it right.

We became “Herbert Chapman’s red and white army” back in 1933 when he introduced white sleeves to the shirt. Despite kit manufactures meddling in away kits, it has remained that way for 85 years.

We might sing “red army” at times, but it will always be the managers “red and white army”.

Let’s start getting it right please.

It is “Unai Emery’s red and white army”.