Over the years there have been many players to have left us that have felt like a dagger to the heart.
If we mentioned them all, you would still be reading this blog after the World Cup has finished.
The nature of the game, many more players will leave us than retire with us. Here is my list of most disappointing departures:
Most disappointing departure – Robin van Persie
What a player RVP was. The club could, and should, have done more to keep him.
Even now it still annoys me. He could have gone on to be an Arsenal legends.
His just sums up where Arsenal were as a club at that point. Unable to meet the ambition of any decent player.
I do not have as much animosity towards him as maybe I should. Football is a short career and we could not guarantee what he wanted, trophies. He was also not home grown like Ashley Cole
He says that we never offered him a new deal and that AFC got tired of him.
Surely this cannot be true, but whatever the truth, we should have done everything we could to keep him.
Most bitter departure – Ashley Cole
I really do not need to go too much into it. I do not think I have seen Arsenal fans throw as much hatred towards a single player for leaving.
In those seasons he played for Chelsea, you would never hear a good word said about him, never hear anyone trying to justify his decision.
Emmanuel Adebayor – That celebration when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the AFC fans was nasty, you don’t do that. Thinks that he’s misunderstood. No he isn’t, we just loathe him.
Samir Nasri – Another one following the money, very good player, but not as good as he thought he was.
Unhappy departure – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
I liked Ox.
On his day he was a very good player, but plagued by injury. I don’t think we’ve missed him, but I did want him to stay.
Bemused departure – Joe Willock
I always felt that he was a good player and that letting him go was a mistake that could bite us. I hope it doesn’t.
No hard feelings departure – Theo Walcott
He was a very good player on his day and a top bloke. His time had come to leave us. I wished him all the best on his departure.
Danny Welbeck – I always felt that he had real potential. He had serious pace, but he was injury plagued and lacking a that killer instinct that strikers need. Really liked him though.
Alex Iwobi – Promised much, but never really delivered. Glad to see he’s doing ok at Everton, even though they’re a crap team.
Who was your most disappointing Arsenal departure?
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” – Job 1:21.
I am by no means a religious fan, but I can not help thinking of this Old Testament chapter and verse with yesterdays news.
Early in the week, we got what could only be described the best FA Cup tie we have had since 2018.
Last season we got drawn away to Nottingham Forest – a repeat of the 2018 3rd round; our last decent FA Cup draw.
What makes up a good FA Cup draw? Everyone has their own criteria.
Some prefer “the easiest team at home” whilst lower league clubs go for “the biggest team away”. Me? I want an away game, to a club I have not been to before, at a ground of decent enough size where a decent amount of Arsenal can go.
Nottingham Forest in 2018 was the last of that, despite the result.
In 2019, we face Blackpool away (horrible journey to make in January) and Man U at home. 2020 we had Covid, so away games were not on the agenda.
2021 saw a home game to Newcastle and a trip to Southampton, whilst 2022 saw a repeat of the game (and result) to Forest.
Drawn against Oxford United away looked a cracker.
A team who we had not travelled to since 1988 in the old Division One. A side we had not played since 2003. And less than an hours train journey from Paddington.
The buzz was real, but I also foresaw the future, turning to a mate and saying “bet we will be Monday 8pm”.
And as the Lord gave us a great draw, he then proceeded to chanel his powers through ITV and the game was selected for that 8pm Monday slot.
We already have a horrid Christmas period.
The West Ham game moved to 8pm (then 7:45pm) on the 26th already meant a race to get a train home and no real chance of a post-game beer. TfL will be running their Bank Holiday service which means not many trains beying 11.30pm.
We then visit Brighton on NYE – a trip younger me would’ve been all over with hotels and night out on the south coast. But then our first game of 2023 was moved to Tuesday night against Newcastle.
A disgraceful kick off time on the first working day of the year (and worse for them than us – they will need to take two days off work for it).
They really should ensure all “first games of the year” happen on New Years Day (or the in lieu Bank Holiday). Asking loyal fans to take two days off work just as we return to work is not right.
And now we have the Oxford United game move to a Monday night. Instead of it now being a cracking away day, it now becomes a horror show.
Do I work before the game or not? Maybe need to take a half day. And after the game, it will be a late dash to get home.
Oxford’s Grenoble Road stadium is one of those build next to a roundabout in an industrial park outside the city. Think Reading and Stoke.
It is 4 and a half miles from the station – a 90 minute walk or a bus journey back.
Under these circumstances, we would usually find a pub local to the stadium, let the crowd die down before jumping in a taxi. But with the now evening kick off, that is not really an option.
That last train I can get back to mine from Paddington (I live on the London / Essex borders) is 00:17. Now I need to get the 22:32 from Oxford and hope there are no delays.
So rather than it being a decent away day – if it happened lunch gtime or mid-afternoon on the Saturday or Sunday – it is now a horror show. And once again shows that TV companies do not care about travelling fans (and the criticism of the Super League was just content for them!)
Prior to the Nottingham Forest game in 2018, we had a couple of decent trips in 2017.
Preseton North End away ticked the boxes. And whilst Sutton was a Monday night, it was a ground no one had been and there were trains home!
After Forest, Preston and Sutton, the only other decent trip we have in the last decade was Brighton (prior to them being promoted).
In recent years, we have had far too many games against Premier League or recently relegated sides. As a travelling fan, I have been starved of a decent away trip.
And in Oxford I thought we had one to kick off this seasons FA Cup. And now, in reality, I probably will not got.
Touted as a future Balon D’Or contender, Rafael Leao is already a superstar.
The Portuguese winger was named Italian Footballer of the Year last season as AC Milan won their first league title in over a decade.
He has continued what he started last year, putting in the consistent performances that show he is not a one season wonder.
A player like Leao would usually command huge money, but next summer he will have just 12 months left on his contract.
AC Milan might be tempted to cash in during the January transfer window before his value plummets.
Whether Arsenal will want to spend £50-60m is up for discussion.
It really depends on whether we want someone who could walk straight into our first team ahead of Gabriel Martinelli; or whether we are backing our young Brazilian and looking to get someone cheaper (and younger) who will provide competition and cover on both flanks.
The feeling is it will be the later.
Arsenal will likely look to bring in someone a little less established, and cheaper, rather than a superstar.
However, if Bukayo Saka’s contract talks continue, we might see Leao as a big name replacement.
PSV’s Cody Gakpo has been on many an amateur scouts watch list for a few years. He has also been extensively watched by every top club across Europe.
The feeling was always that he had the physical and technical ability to be a superstar. But his output never really lived up to the promise.
This season he has hit 9 goals in 10 Eredivisie games, further adding 7 assists.
Now 23-years-old, you had to wonder why no top club had yet taken the plunge.
Last year he was heavily linked with Leeds United to replace Raphinha, but eventually he stayed at PSV.
There are some rumours that he simply does not want to leave Eindhoven. That he is happy being a big fish in a small pond.
He is already hero to the PSV fans. He captains the team and their side is built around how he wants to play. He seems to revel I being front and centre.
Would he still have the same impact when he is asked to play more of the team rather than himself? And is he more an Andros Townsend than Arjen Robben?
He will only be able to answer those questions when he plays at a higher level.
And we know the step up from the Dutch league to top end Premier League is a big one. Someone will eventually take the risk. But will it be Arsenal?
A year ago Mykhaylo Mudryk was a little known Ukranian player.
He was linked with Arsenal towards the end of last summer which led to many researching him, and keeping an eye on his progress.
Mudryk is a quick, skilful winger, who predominately plays on the left, allowing him to cut in on his stronger right foot. His left leg is by no means just for standing on, and he is equally as confident beating his man on the outside and crossing from his left peg.
Just 21-years-old, he potentially has a very high ceiling. 3 goals and 5 assists in 6 Premier Liga games followed up 2 and 7 in 11 last season.
It is frustrating that his 2021/22 campaign was cut short due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as he was beginning to sparkle.
Mudryk has also impressed in the Champions League this season where he has been Shaktar’s best player – scoring against both RB Leipzig and Celtic. He also didn’t look out of place against Real Madrid.
The rumoured price tag of £50m+ is steep for one with so little experience, and you feel that price will have to halve for us to become interested.A
Although if you look at our “whole” frontline, £130m for Jesus, Saka, Martinelli, Mudryk, Nketiah and Smith Rowe would look like a bargain
His ceiling could be huge and he would be a fantastic edition to our young squad of the price is right.
Whereas Mudryk and Gakpo are still yet to take that set up, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia made the move to Napoli this season and has been devastating in Serie A.
Since making a £10m move from Dinamo Batumi in the summer, “the Georgian Messi” has justified his hype with 5 goals and 3 assists in 10 Serie A games. He has also added 2 and 3 in the Champions League.
Having only moved to Italy a few months ago, January might be too early for a move. And with Napoli unbeaten and top of the league, he will unlikely look to be in a rush.
Next summer he might be swayed by Premier League money, and if he does come available there will be a lot of interest.
If Arsenal are to “go big” on a winger, the top league experience of Kvaratskhelia might be the clincher.
The odd one out for more than one reason.
Firstly, the only man on this list that is Premier League proven. Secondly he turns 30 in November – the next oldest on this list is just 23.
In 2018, Arsenal were heavily linked with the Crystal Palace winger; with Zaha reportedly extremely keen on the deal.
A £40m deal did not go through, Zaha signed a new 5-year deal and 12 months later we signed his compatriot, Nicolas Pepe.
That 5-year contract is ends this summer, leaving Crystal Palace with a decision for January.
They will probably be in “no man’s land” in the middle of the Premier League – unlikely to go down or challenge for Europe.
That will mean they could potentially cash in on Zaha without us damaging their season.
With Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze, they have some exciting talent ready to step up.
Zaha would make an immediate impact at the Emirates, and would freshen up our attack for the 2nd half of the season.
At his age, he would be a short term option, proving experience competition on the left and right whilst not getting in the way of Saka and Martinelli’s continual development.
Zaha would compliment rather than replace that younger ones.
A deal could come down to what Zaha wants.
Is he only after guaranteed regular first team football? Or is he up for challenging himself at the highest level once more following his failed spell at Man U?
And with him entering his 30th year, would he be looking for that “one last big contract” that will finance his retirement?
Having made the mistake with Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal will be reluctant to offer him big money and a learn term contract.
A 3-and-a-half year deal on similar money to what he is on now (£130k a week) would be an agreeable deal from Arsenal’s point of view.
But if it is all about the money, Zaha would be better off letting his contract run down and pocketing a huge signing on fee next summer.