Tag Archives: Arsenal

Arsenal to target both Brandt & Buendia despite Smith Rowe emergence

This is the 3rd blog in 3 days involving Emile Smith Rowe. I had never really written much on him before but his performances have turned the spotlight on him.

Yesterday I spoke about how Arsenal should switch from looking to sign both Julian Brandt and Emi Buendia, and only focus on with of them. And that Smith Rowe would be sufficient competition to play in the middle for which ever one we signed.

But as I was writing, it came to me that there is still the space in the squad for 2 attacking midfield signings.

If Arteta is to continue with 4231, Arsenal need 6 players capable of playing behind a single striker.

At the moment those 6 options are: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, Willian, Nicholas Pepe, Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson. Throwing in Gabriel Martinelli and Joe Willock makes it 8.

8 is a lot of numbers, but it lacks quality, highlighted in our struggles to create this season.

Nelson and Willock have both stagnated in the last 18 months and Arsenal should look to cash in on them. They would raise £30-40million combined, which would finance their replacements.

In building his team for 2021/22, Arteta needs to focus on versatility and fluidity.

One of Ozil’s great attributes was his ability to drift across the pitch and find space. He did not just stay central and would be a creative outlet throughout the final 3.

When he drifted to the wide positions, it then gave space in the middle for Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla or Alexis Sanchez to fill. This concept is something that Arteta needs to build on.

The 3 behind the striker should be interchangeable. All capable of playing left, right and centre. That way it creates fluidity behind the leading striker and allows us to create 2 or even 3 on ones outwide.

We have already seen the benefit when Smith Rowe drifts left, teaming up with Kieran Tierney and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to overload that side. Likewise with Saka and Bellerin on the right.

A fluid 3 behind a striker also makes us a lot harder to defend.

Saka, for example, has very different attributes to Smith Rowe. A full back would have to switch up his game plan as the two interchange positions.

I am sure one of the reasons Willian was signed was due to his versatility behind the front man.

So we basically need 6 attacking players who can do the job behind a single striker.

In Saka, Willian and Smith Rowe, we have 3 players that have the type of versatility that Arteta desires. Lets ignore the debate over Willian’s future. With his contract, he is going no where.

So that is 3 of the 6 positions filled.

One problem for Arteta is Aubameyang does not have the versatility behind the front striker.

He is best utilised either down the middle as that main striker or on the left hand side.

We have seen often this season that our creativity down the left is stifled when he plays – with an over reliance on Tierney.

My view is Alexandre Lacazette will leave this summer with Aubameyang moving centrally. This gets rid of the problem of Aubameyang not really having that versatility behind the front man.

So with Aubameyang moved up top, we have the 3 aforementioned as well as Martinelli and Pepe.

I would prefer to see Martinelli as Aubameyang’s cover up top; but he is more than capable playing a little deeper. He would be 2nd choice striker (with either Eddie Nketiah or Folarin Balogun as 3rd choice) and one of the 6th options in attacking midfield.

Saka, Smith Rowe, Willian, Martinelli. It still feels lacking.

We then have Nicholas Pepe.

Pepe joined 18 months ago for a huge fee which should not be held against him.

Based on his performances, he has been a poor signing – regardless of whether we paid £72 million or £27million for him.

Joining from Lille, we spoke a few years back about how he would either be the new Gervinho or new Eden Hazard. He is closer in talent to his Ivorian team mate.

If Arsenal can somehow get an offer in the region of £40million for him, we should cut our losses and move on.

Pepe does have the versatility to play across those 3 positions – he played more centrally in France – but the feeling is he does not have the quality.

So if Pepe stays, we have the space for one new signing – and the feeling is that should be Brandt. But if he leaves that could open the door for both Brandt and Buendia

Like Saka, Smith Rowe, Willian and Martinelli, Brandt and Buendia can both play across the 3 behind the striker, and would give Arteta plenty of options.

Arteta could go

Aubameyang

Saka Brandt Buendia

Aubameyang

Brandt SmithRowe Saka

Aubameyang

Martinelli Brandt Saka

Martinelli

Brandt Buendia Saka

Martinelli

Saka SmithRowe Buendia

We would have options, versatility and fluidity.

So whilst Smith Rowe’s emergence means we do not need to sign both Buendia and Brandt, the departure of others would leave the transfer of both firmly on the table.

Final note: The above would also leave the door open for Houssem Aouar who is equally adept at playing all 3 roles behind a striker.

Brandt, Aouar, Buendia. 2 out of 3 to come to Arsenal next summer?

Keenos

Despite Emile Smith Rowe’s performance, Arsenal still need to BUY to replace Mesut Ozil

Yesterday we spoke a little about Emile Smith Rowe’s development, and continuing down that line, I would like to expand on some thoughts.

Smith Rowe has been fantastic since coming into the Arsenal team against Chelsea on Boxing Day.

He has now started the last 5 league  games in row, with Arsenal winning 4. He also came off the bench to score the winner against Newcastle in the FA Cup.

But it is important that we do not overhype him.

Despite his performances, we should be careful not to label him as the successor to Mesut Ozil as Arsenal’s number 10 or “the next Kevin de Bruyne”.

Ozil was a world class performer for Arsenal – albeit he had not performed to that level for a few years. Whilst Smith Rowe is a young kid with half a dozen Premier League starts to his name.

What Edu, Mikel Arteta and the recruitment team need to do is add an experienced head alongside Smith Rowe in the squad – and no, I am not talking about Willian “experience”.

I had a blog in my drafts about how Arsenal should be looking to sign both Julian Brandt and Emi Buendía to replace Ozil; giving Arteta 2 options at 10.

The saving in Ozil’s wages along would be enough to finance a move for both layers, covering salaries and amortised transfer fees.

That blog is now scrapped as I believe Smith Rowe has shown enough that he should be back up 10 next season.

This would not only save Arsenal money but would also save us a non-home grown player squad space. Smith Rowe is home grown, Brandt and Buendía not.

So we have Smith Rowe as one option as 10 and go out and sign either Brandt or Buendía (not both) to be the senior man.

This is not saying that Smith Rowe is not good enough; more that at 20, he still needs to improve to reach the level of Ozil. He is not yet at the level of Brandt.

My feeling is it should be Brandt ahead of Buendía. The German is the superior player.

This would then give Arteta the option of Brandt or Smith Rowe as a 10.

What is exciting about both (and Buendía) is their versatility. All 3 men can play in the middle, left or right of the 3.

One of Ozil’s great attributes was his ability to drift across the pitch and find space. He did not just stay central and would be a creative outlet throughout the final 3rd.

When he drifted to the wide positions, it then gave space in the middle for Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla or Alexis Sanchez to fill. This concept is something that Arteta needs to build on.

The 3 behind the striker should be interchangeable. All capable of playing left, right and centre. That way it creates fluidity behind the leading striker and allows us to create 2 or even 3 on ones outwide.

We have already seen the benefit when Smith Rowe drifts left, teaming up with Kieran Tierney and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to overload that side. Likewise with Saka and Bellerin on the right.

A fluid 3 behind a striker also makes us a lot harder to defend.

Saka, for example, has very different attributes to Brandt. A full back would have to switch up his game plan as the two interchange positions.

I am sure one of the reasons Willian was signed was due to his versatility behind the front man.

Smith Rowe is equally as versatile as Willian. His performances do make you further question why we gave the Brazilian a 3 year deal.

My feeling is Arteta had just not seen enough of Smith Rowe – he was out on loan for the 2nd half of last season and he started this season with a shoulder injury.

Smith Rowe might not yet be ready to fill Ozil’s shoes, but he has shown that he has a future at Arsenal and will be a key member of the first team squad for the next 18 months.

We just need to add a senior man alongside him.

Brandt rather than Buendía.

Keenos

Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 0 Newcastle

Arsenal (0) 3 Newcastle United (0) 0

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Monday, 18th January 2021. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Cédric Soares, Rob Holding, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney; Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka; Alexandre Lacazette.

Substitutes: Hector Bellerin, Gabriel Magalhães, Willian Borges da Silva, Alex Rúnarsson, Nicolas Pépé, Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.

Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (49 mins, 76 mins), Bukayo Saka (60 mins)

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 66%

Referee: David Coote

Assistant Referees: Marc Perry, Nick Hopton

Fourth Official: Graham Scott

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Peter Bankes; AVAR Sian Massey-Ellis

Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions

For tonight’s match against Newcastle United, which is the second in nine days of course, Kieran Tierney is back in the team after finding out that his calf injury was not as serious as was once thought, thankfully, and Thomas Partey gets a start in midfield alongside Granit Xhaka in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Sadly, Pablo Marí has a calf issue and will not play this evening, and it’s good to see Cédric Soares getting a start at right-back. Let’s go!

Both sides started strongly here at the Emirates tonight, with firm tackles going in from both sides. Slowly Arsenal started to gain control of possession though, as we managed to wrestle the game from the visitors in the first quarter of an hour or so. The general tempo of the match was quick, and both teams were doing their best to contain the other one. In a move which you would think it would be easier to score than to miss, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the upright of the Newcastle goal from a tight angle after some fabulous link play by Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka, and for the next ten minutes or so, we utterly dominated possession. The distribution skills of Thomas Partey were magnificent tonight, as a lot of our forays on the Magpies’ goal often started from him. The visitors are constantly and consistently under massive pressure from us, and although they are defending well, and have the odd breakaway, Arsenal are by far and away the better team out there this evening, but if they don’t convert all this effort into goals, then all this wonderful play could be in vain. Emile Smith-Rowe is constantly pushing and probing the Newcastle United defenders, and Kieran Tierney is doing such wonderful work out on the left, but despite all this and more, we are struggling to break the visitors down this evening. Just before half-time, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross took a really awkward deflection off Emil Krafth and almost squeezed in at the near post, but goalkeeper Karl Darlow did well to get across and turn it around the post for an Arsenal corner. David Luiz headed the resulting ball over the bar, just seconds before referee David Coote blew the whistle to end the first half.

The second half started just as the first one ended with immense pressure on the Newcastle goal; Alexandre Lacazette struck a hard, low shot through four defenders, only for Karl Darlow to tip it around the post. At last, four minutes after the restart, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ran onto a long ball from Thomas Partey, ran forty yards, completely turned Emil Krafth inside out and smashed the ball into the net to bag the opening goal of the evening. The goal lifted our confidence, and diminished theirs somewhat. Although the Magpies were having their chances to score (with namely Andy Carroll blasting wild shots hither and thither), the better chances were by far ours. Easily. The point is, can they grab a second goal to cement things? Of course they can! On the hour, Emile Smith-Rowe ripped down the left-wing, completely skinned Emil Krafth, crossed the ball into the penalty area, to find young Bukayo Saka, who simply slotted the ball into the net. And still we came forward for more; Emile Smith-Rowe, Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka were shooting at will, hunting in packs for that oh-so elusive third goal. Mohamed Elneny replaced an exhausted Thomas Partey after sixty-seven minutes, and we just kept going and going. The Magpies looked shattered and broken now, and we appeared to just be able to push the ball around at our leisure. Bukayo Saka was easily finding space, as was Emile Smith-Rowe, and with fourteen minutes remaining, Cédric Soares took the ball to the byline, crossed the ball just as it looked as if it was going over the line, for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to grab his second of the night, and our third. The was the last kick of the ball tonight for our two-goal man; a couple of minutes later, Willian replaced him, and the Arsenal train rumbled on. Emith Smith-Rowe made way for Gabriel Martinelli with eight minutes remaining, and almost immediately our last substitute of the night got involved in the action; he tried to keep the ball in play on the touchline and he ended up getting an elbow to the chest from Jamaal Lascelles. No harm done, as he was running around and getting into the thick of it just seconds later. In the three minutes’ injury time, we did not let up on the visitors, we just kept going right up until the final whistle.

Our players won a very important three points for themselves tonight. They played and played until Newcastle United were ground down and dazed, and it was always thought that they could have scored more, but hey, whose complaining? So many great performances out there tonight, but just to pick out one would be unfair, but not to mention the work of Emile Smith-Rowe in this match would be churlish somehow. This gifted young man was everywhere tonight, and caused the visitors headaches up and down the pitch, backwards and forwards, he had the Novocastrians in his pocket.And he’s not even twenty-one yet, folks. 

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Southampton or Shrewsbury Town at either St. Mary’s Stadium or the New Meadow on Saturday, 23rd January at 12.15pm (FA Cup). Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.