Tag Archives: nicolas pepe

Nelson and Willock set to be dropped as Pepe in line for first start

Arsenal will look to continue their 1 game unbeaten run in the Premier League this weekend against Burnley.

Having beaten Newcastle 1-0 at St James’ Park, Unai Emery has a bit of a selection headache.

Does he stick with the players who defended well, but created little for the match against Burnley; or does he bring in some of the fit again senior pro’s, including a couple of new signings.

Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Matteo Guendouzi and Calum Chambers all performed well against Newcastle and probably do not deserve to be dropped. However Emery will know how important it is to play the best team available, even if it ruffles a few feathers.

David Luiz sat patiently on the bench against Newcastle following his deadline day arrival. He had a full pre-season with Chelsea and is ready to play. Will Emery pick Luiz over Chambers or Sokratis? My bet is Emery might just reward Sokratis and Chambers with a fine 1st display and keep the pair in defence.

With Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac all out for one reason or another, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nacho Monreal will be the full backs.

Moving to the middle of the park, the axis of Granit Xhaka and Guendouzi provided good cover for the defence. But at home against an average side, do we need to play 2 defensive midfielders? Could Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos come in for one? Giving the side a more creative option for deep.

And what for Lucas Torreira?

The Uruguayan midfielder played next to no part in pre-season (just 4 minutes against Barcelona) due to only returning to training on 1st August after the summers Copa America. Taking into account Xhaka and Guendouzi played a full part, I would not expect him to start against Burnley – he did not even get off the bench against Newcastle.

If Arsenal are winning comfortably, I expect Torreira to come off the bench and be given 20 minutes as he regains full match fitness.

That leaves Xhaka, Guendouzi and Ceballos fighting it out for the central midfield positions.

I actually think we might see all 3 start, with Ceballos replacing Joe Willock as creator in chief.

Willock had an OK game against Newcastle, but his performance is more remembered for a tackle than anything he created. He is a hard working talented footballer and I see his career actually being a little deeper than playing Number 10.

At home against Burnley we do not have to worry as much defensively, so it might be a better option to play the more attack minded Ceballos with Willock relegated to the bench.

On the wings, record signing Nicolas Pepe looked fairly sharp on Sunday despite only recently returning to training following playing in the African Cup of Nations and the stress of his big move.

Games like Liverpool away is why Pepe was bought. His pace and power key on the break. For that reason I expect him to start against Burnley on the right hand side, replacing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Pepe to be substituted off on 60 minutes will be a bank bet if he starts.

The left wing is an interesting conundrum.

Nelson had a solid game against Burnley and you also have the aforementioned Mkhitaryan. Alexandre Lacazette is also available which gives Emery the option of playing Aubameyang wide left.

With one eye on that Liverpool game, I have a hunch that Emery might plumb for Lacazette up top and Aubameyang on the left. That will give 60 minutes to his 1st choice front 3 – Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe.

It might be harsh on Willock and Nelson, but football is not a business of compassion. We ned to play the best team we can. That means an exciting front 4 of Ceballos, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Expect Willock and Nelson to come off the bench (if we are not chasing the game) as well as Lucas Torreira.

It is exciting to actually have so many options.

Expected starting XI:

Leno

AMN Chambers Sokratis Monreal

Xhaka Guendouzi

Pepe Ceballos Aubameyang

Lacazette

Keenos

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Arsenal can only sign ONE more foreign player

In June I analysed the state of the Arsenal squad.

The theory behind it was to evaluate what exactly Arsenal currently has in the squad, in terms of players that must be registered with the Premier League (Players born on or after 1 January 1998 do not need to be register) and of those registered players, who is home grown (HG) and non-home grown (NHG).

At the time of previous blog, Arsenal had 22 players over the age of 21, 15 of whom had to be registered. This left Arsenal with 3 senior spots, 2 of which could be filled by a NHG player if desired.

Since that blog, Arsenal have signed Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba, with Nicolas Pepe on the cusp of joining (at the time of writing). David Ospina has been sold.

This leaves Arsenal’s squad looking at follows:

The signings of Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe, with David Ospina leaving puts Arsenal in a position where they can sign 2 more senior players – enough room for a central defender and left back.

This leaves Arsenal with just 1 space for a non home grown player.

Scottish players are considered NHG under Premier League rules. This means that were Arsenal to sign Kieran Tierney at left back, they would have reached the maximum amount of NHG players.

Things can change quickly in football, however.

Laurent Koscielny is likely to return to France, with Edu having recently met with his counterpart at Rennes.

If a new central defender joins, it will most likely mean the end for Shkodran Mustafi. Either Saed Kolasinac or Nacho Monreal will surely make way for Tierney.

Losing Koscielny, Mustafi and a left back will free up 3 more NHG places, taking us down to just 14 – and 21 registered players in total.

That would leave us the places to add someone like Samuel Umtiti or Daniele Rugani – both of whom we have been linked with. It would also give us a bit of breathing room if we wanted to make a late bid for another central midfielder like Sami Khedira.

With the likes of Mohammed Elneny and Henrikh Mkhitaryan set to be on the fringes of the squad, Arsenal could free up further space if needed.

We are closing in on the maximum registered squad number (25) and maximum amount of non home grown players (17), but there is nothing to worry about. Yet.

Keenos

Could this be Arsenal’s best transfer window in over a decade?

A short apology for the lack of blogs in recent weeks. Real life has taken over and with work being at its peak period, annual leave and weddings I have barely had enough time to think, let alone write a blog.

It has been 6 days since my last blog and a lot has happened since I blogged that Arsenal’s transfers were heating up.

On the Thursday I was at a wedding, sweltering in my suit in an old stately home with no air conditioning. Anyone that has ever met me will know that I am not the fittest of blokes. Let’s just say there was a lot of perspiration.

Since my blog last Tuesday Arsenal confirmed that signing of Dani Ceballos on loan and William Saliba, who was immediately loaned back to St Etienne.

Both transfers interest me because of the deals themselves.

Ceballos is a wonderful player, but the loan deal does not include an option to buy. This means if he excels and has a good season, Arsenal will probably have to pay even more to secure him next summer. This makes me feel that we see him as short term option.

Next summer Ozil will only have 1 year left on his contract. We will have to go big to replace him – an attacking midfielder will be next seasons marquee signing. That is perhaps why we have opted against paying (or pledging to pay) a fee for Ceballos. We want to ensure that we have enough in the bank to go big on a target, rather than have £20 or £30million less due to buying Ceballos.

Of course, if Ceballos does perform, he could become that marquee signing.

Saliba has also been loaned back to St Etienne.

At 18 we have clearly signed him with the long term in view. A replacement for Sokratis in 12 to 24 months rather than an immediate replacement for Laurent Koscielny or Shkodran Mustafi.

My feeling all along was that a senior starting central defender would only come in once Mustafi has left the club.

On a side note, the booing of Mustafi by Arsenal fans was childish. Grow up.

If Koscielny is released by the club in the coming weeks, it leaves us with Sokratis, Mustafi, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Kostadinos Mavropanos. Signing a 6th central defender does not make sense. Either Mustafi or Chambers will be moved on 1st.

Then in 2020, Saliba returns and we have our new centre back signing, Holding, Saliba, Chambers and Mavropanos (or Medley or Ballard).

Over the next couple of days Arsenal will confirm Nicolas Pepe, who flew home from Miami last night.

The French-born-Ivorian will be a real statement of intent. He is one of the best wingers in Europe and it shows that top players would rather play for top clubs who are temporarily out of the Champions League, then small clubs who do not win trophies.

It would not surprise anyone if we did the deal for Kieran Tierney towards the end of the week.

Carlo Ancelotti has recently announced that Napoli are out of the running leaving Arsenal with no opposition for the signing.

Arsenal have reportedly met Celtic’s asking price, but the Glasgow’s 2nd club are unhappy with the structure of the deal, preferring the full fee upfront. Expect the deadlock to be broken this week.

That would leave Arsenal having signed Gabriel Martinelli, William Saliba, Dani Ceballos, Nicolas Pepe and Kieran Tiernay. It would be nearly £125million spent excluding whatever fee we have paid for the Ceballos loan deal.

We have always said that the £40million was a lie. We have been proved right. We are not ITK, we just did the maths and looked beyond the clickbait headlines.

The last piece of the jigsaw this summer would be that central defensive signing to replace Mustafi. If we complete that, Raul & Edu should be congratulated on a very good 1st summer transfer window under the new regime.

It is going to be another exciting week.

Keenos