Tag Archives: Granit Xhaka

1 month left in the transfer window – what do Arsenal still need to do?

So we have a month to go until the transfer window slams shut. Now that pay day has been and again, perhaps Arsene might open his window and buy everyone a beer. Before poncing a pint and tobacco off everyone for the rest of the month.

Arsenal still have a lot of work to do between now and the 31st August

The Thomas Lemar Saga

It is all getting a bit silly now, and starting to resemble every other transfer window over the last decade. From Higuain to M’Vila, Kalou to Trabelsi, we have been here before where we spend the entire summer searching said players names for update. And the only updates are from attention seeking ITK’s.

The Lemar saga looks to last all summer.

The Alexis Sanchez saga

Arsenal are bringing out a double album this summer. A movie and a sequel. Chuck in Mesut Ozil and it is a trilogy. Add in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and I am not really sure what that makes it?

Arsenal’s resolve on Sanchez will be tested in the last month, as clubs see if Arsenal really are willing to let the Chilean leave on a free in 12 months.

Boost the midfield

With Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Franci Coquelin, the midfield looks short of quality competition.

Ramsey and Xhaka are class, but there is a big talent gap between them and Elneny and Coquelin.

A need to get in another more defensively minded midfielder who is at a similar level, or even better than, Ramsey and Xhaka is a must.

Another centre back?

A bonus could be Arsenal signing a top class centre back. It is unlikely, and it would be a Brucie, but if the right man come available, at the right price, Arsenal need to pounce.

Sell Sell Sell

All of the above need to be shipped out over the next month

It is going to be a busy day for Arsenal’s new backroom team.

Keenos

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Arsenal’s shocking transfer dealings exposed

https://shewore.mysupadupa.com/Throughout all of the Wenger stuff, one thing has become increasingly clear. Our transfer dealings this season have been atrocious.

When the summer transfer window shut, I was fairly optimistic about our season ahead. And part of the reasoning behind this was due to our transfer dealings.

Arsenal had signed two excellent experienced players Granit Xhaka and Shkdoran Mustafi, a talented young centre back in Rob Holding, and a fairly unknown forward who had excellent statistics in Lucas Perez. But it all seems to have unravelled. £93million spent on some exciting talents.

Granit Xhaka

When we signed Granit Xhaka, I was excited. I had followed him since his Basel days and was excited that we had signed him.

He looked the complete midfielder. Defensive awareness mixed with a fantastic range of passing. He would add steal to our midfield, protection to our defence, but would also be the man to start our attacks. He was the leader in the middle of the park that we had missed for so long. It seemed he had no weaknesses.

But then it all began to fall apart. His ill discipline that had hampered his early career reared its head once more. Rash into a tackle, he was clumsy rather than ferocious. 2 red cards and 9 yellows this season. And it could have been more.

Yes, he was unlucky to see red against Swansea, but there have been other times when he has been lucky to stay on the pitch.

He has probably not been as bad as it seems, but his position is made to seem worse due to the fact we picked Xhaka over N’Golo Kante, who has taken another huge step forward at Chelsea and is now the best defensive midfielder in world football.

With Xhaka, we are peering over the fence at our numbers Chelsea, seeing what we could have had, and it feels we picked the wrong option.

Shkodran Mustafi

I questioned Shkodran Mustafi’s ability back in December. At the time he had no lost a single game at Arsenal which he had played in. I was mocked in the comments o nthe blog, on Twitter and Facebook. How could I be criticising a player who had yet to lose in an Arsenal shirt?

Well at the time I looked beyond the results of the team and was looking at the performances of the defence.

At the time, Arsenal had not kept a clean sheet for 10 games, with just 4 all season – 3 of which had Mustafi in defence, and the Mustafi / Koscielny partnership was conceding at a rate of a goal a game.

I ended the blog with;

Arsenal defensive frailties have become worse this season. Mustafi has solved one problem but created another.

4 months on and he was part of a centreback partnership against Crystal Palace that failed to make a single tackle. Two crude tackles in the 1st half meant he probably should have seen red. He was lucky to stay on the pitch.

Mustafi has played 17 games in 2017, Arsenal have conceded 31 goals. We have conceded more 3 or more goals on 7 occasions this calendar year. We have kept just 6 clean sheets. 3 of which have been in the FA Cup.

It is not just Mustafi’s fault. The entire defence from Bellerin across to Monreal has been shocking. But Mustafi has shown as huge technical issues which worry.

He tends to chase the ball. He is a poor judge of a high ball. His headers rarely reach a team mate. He dives in to tackles. He is beaten too easily.

I still think he will turn out to be a good player at Arsenal, but at £35,000,000 you would expect better performances than the Sunday League level ones he is putting in at the moment.

Lucas Perez

It is easy to forget the Lucas Perez is an Arsenal player. He ha splayed just 265 minutes in the Premier League this season.

Whether this is because he is a poor player, Wenger does not fancy him, Wenger is misusing him, or a mixture of everything, it will probably never be known.

It would not surprise me of Perez was shipped out this summer with Arsenal recouping what they spent on him.

A hat trick against Basel in the Champions League has been his career highlight thus far. His other goals coming against Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Sutton.

He was clearly a panic buy when it became obvious that Danny Welbeck was going to be out longer then expected. With just Olivier Giroud up top, we lacked a pacey option and Perez was bought in.

Perez has been hampered by the decision to play Alexis Sanchez through the middle. Whilst this did work out for the good, it has meant less game time for Perez. Walcott has had a very good season wide right (18 goals this season) but I perhaps would have liked to see Perez get a run out ahead of Alex Iwobi in a few games on the left hand side.

With Welbeck back fit, Perez is currently behind Welbeck, Giroud, Sanchez, Walcott & Oxlade-Chamberlain to get game time. You would struggle to make a justification for him to start ahead of any of those.

A very expensive panic buy. Not good enough to challenge for the 1st team when everyone is fit.

Rob Holding

It would be unfair on Rob Holding to label him a flop. He is just 21 and has shown good signs when called upon. At just £2million, he was clearly signed with the future in mind.

Unlike Calum Chambers, he does not have the hefty price tag over his head which will lead for calls for him to be ready for the first team.

He ha sonly played a handful of games this season, and could do with going on loan to a Premier League side next season to get some game time.

We could have a decent player on our hand, but he needs game time.

Takuma Asano

Does he even have a work permit yet? Throw him in the box with the likes of Joel Campbell, Wellington Silva, Samuel Galindo, Pedro Botelho & Carlos Vela. Players who we signed, spent years getting them valid work rights, and they ultimately turned out to be useless.

Kelechi Nwakali

Just a baby. We would moan if we signed him, and then moan if, after a trial, we turned him down and he became Yaya Toure.

£3,000,000 is a lot of money for a player who had only every played on sandy fields in Africa, but that is the cost of talented young players these days..

Cohen Bramall

Would be completely unfair to judge him as a flop. And I will not do so.

What he does highlight is just how poor our transfers have been this summer. He was the only signing in January, and he highlights just how little business we did in January. Just a young, non-league full back.

We have barely won a game in 2017. Not signing a single senior player in January is now looking like a ridiculous decision.

 

£93,000,000 spent. Money not well spent.

There is no point moving to the new stadium, having a big load of money to spend, if we are not going to spend it correctly. Just another reason why it is time for Wenger to go.

Keenos

Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career over – who will replace him?

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The news was as expected. Santi Cazorla has been told to undergo surgery for Achilles tendon injury.

A quick Google of recovery times shows that after surgery, someone will be able to walk unaided after 6 – 12 weeks. But will not be able to return to full activity for 6 months. Taking into account we are a football club, not a normal person going physio once a week, you could probably guestimate that Cazorla will be out for 4-6 months. Pretty much ruling him out for the season.

It is then safe to assume that Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career is over.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla goes down injured against Norwich City.

He is 32 in a few weeks and with 1 year left on his contract, Arsenal were already debating as to whether to reward him with a new contract. There had been little talk of one being on the table. Cazorla had also spoken a few times about finishing his career in Spain.

With his age and his recent injury record (2 serious injuries in 12 months) it will be a very big risk for Arsenal to offer Cazorla anything more than a one year deal. Cazorla would be crazy to accept – knowing that a Spanish club would possibly offer him more.

So the love story of Arsenal and their cheeky chappy Spanish dwarf is over.

So where does this leave Arsenal’s midfield?

We only discussed a week ago about how much Arsenal were missing Santi Cazorla. With his career at the club now almost certainly over, it is time to look at the options.

Like for like replacement

Santi Cazorla is unique. His two footedness is only equalled by Ronnie O’Sullivan’s ambidextrous snooker playing.

He might be small, and not be physically capable for a heated midfield battle, but he always gave his all, and his control, dribbling and passing ability got him out of trouble when up against bigger men.

He was able to wriggle out of tight situations where he should really be getting overpowered with ease. A drop of the should, a quick pass off both feet. And it is the way he opened up both sides of the pitch that made him such a danger.

The fact is, there is no one in world football who is as gifted off both feet as Santi Cazorla. So a like for like replacement is unlikely.

You might see the likes of Isco get mentioned as a replacement, yet he is more lightweight and does not have Santi’s gifts.

Nice midfielder Vincent Koziello has had some comparisons to Cazorla. But this is more due to his size than his ability. Cazorla is far superior.

The only man who gets close to Cazorla’s attributes is Dimitri Payet. But he does not have the attitude of Cazorla. He would not be able to adapt to playing deeper.

So the realise is, a like for like replacement is an unrealistic demand.

Midfield Combinations

If we can not get in a like for like replacement, we will have to look at getting the midfield pairing right. The strength of two being great than one (and the power of three setting us free).

Discounting Cazorla, Arsenal currently have 5 central midfielder’s on their books to chose from going forward (including 1 on loan). How would they match up, and how could they partner with each other?

Francis Coquelin: The legs of the midfield. He covers the ground. Arsenal’s Kante. It is he who when partnered with Cazorla, allowed Santi to stroll through a lot of games. He was Cazorla’s legs. Getting round the park, winning the ball, and laying it off to the Spaniard. It is unlikely that we will get in a player as gifted on the ball as Santi, so Coquelin’s lack of ability on the ball could see him drop down the pecking order.

Granit Xhaka: Once he gets up to speed (I am still baffled as to why Xhaka is not yet playing regulary), Xhaka will be a terrific ball playing holding midfielder. Very much in the Xabi Alonso / Michael Carrick role, he has a terrific passing range, but also has very good defensive awareness and a bit in the tackle. He is a bit more defensive than Cazorla, not as good in tight situations, and it just one footed. But his passing ability will be essential when it comes to replacing Cazorla.

Mohamed Elneny: Kind of a mix of Coquelin and Xhaka. He doesn’t cover as much defensively as Coquelin, but can get round the park more than Xhaka. He is a better passer than the Frenchman, but no where near as good as Granit. He has been exposed in a couple of recent games for not giving the defence enough cover, and not quite having enough creativity. He has a place in the Arsenal squad, but as cover, rather than first choice.

Jack Wilshere: By now he should be Arsenal captain. Instead he is on loan at Bournemouth. Some think, like Cazorla, he will not be seen at Arsenal again. If fit and firing, he would offer very similar to what Cazorla did. The passing ability, being able to take the ball in tight situations and wriggle out of them, he should be exceptional. He just lacks Cazorla’s ambidextrous. And then we have his injuries. Last year we planned to build the midfield around him, and he got injured. Can you really pencil a player into the 1st team if he can not be relied upon? I am not sure. Also, if Granit xhaka is behind him, Mesut Ozil ahead, we have a midfield 3 of left footers. Not much balance.

Aaron Ramsey: And that leaves everyones favourite, Aaron Ramsey. Who had a shocker mid week. But his class is undeniable (even if some do try and deny it). For me, his best position is as the ‘waterboy’ of the team. Doing the hard work between someone more defensive and someone more attacking. If we are under the cosh, he has the defensive awareness to sit in alongside the defensive midfielder. If we are on top, he is free to get forward and support the front 4. He just needs to be played in his right position.

So an Aaron Ramsey / Granit Xhaka combination. And it is a combination that could work.

One left footed, the other right, gives us balance not seen since Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit. Xhaka has the defensive awareness and ability on the ball to sit in front of the back 4 and start the play, as Petit used too. Meanwhile Ramsey has the legs to get around the field, press a bit higher, a bit like Vieira did.

With Mesut Ozil ahead, it should give us plenty of creative fluidity, and plenty of defensive cover.

We would then have the options of Jack Wilshere, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin as cover depending on the opposition / injury situation.

 

Losing Cazorla will be tough. A popular player who offered so much on the pitch. But we now need to move on. Let’s get the Xhaka / Ramsey axis developed.

Who do you think should play central midfield (pick 2):

Keenos