Tag Archives: Southampton

Signing Pablo Mari keeps door open for Dayot Upamecano bid

The key for Arsenal in January was always to get in reinforcements that did not take funds away from the club signing key targets next summer.

Whilst Pablo Mari would not have been at the top of anyone’s list on New Years Day, there is plenty of logic behind the deal.

I am sure the club would have wanted to go for a long term starter. Dayot Upamecano for example. But are these players available in a January? Probably not.

Arsenal could have gone and spent £20-30m on someone – Jamaal Lascelles or James Tarkowski for example. But these guys are not really good enough in the long term for Arsenal. And £20-30m is a huge lump sum that would restrict what business we could do in the summer. It takes a lot of money out of the pot. Money that we need to buy Upamecano (or whoever).

So we bought in Marí on loan with an option to buy. 5 months wages and a reported £4.5million loan fee, we are not tying too much money in him. The deal leaves us with plenty left in the pot to launch a bid for a top class central defender in the summer.

The Cedric Soares deal from Southampton is similar.

The Portuguese right back is a very good player. A couple of years ago he was regarded as one of the best right backs in the league. A falling out at Southampton led him to join Inter Milan on loan for 6 months, but is back as 1st choice right back with the south-coast side this season.

28-years-old and with over 100 Premier League games under his belt, Cedric will provide good cover for Hector Bellerin.

Available on a free at the end of the season, Arsenal are reportedly set to take Cedric on loan, with the club having agreed with his people they get 1st option to sign him at the end of the season if they wish.

Cedric coming in would also reinforce the middle of the park as it means Ainsley Maitland-Niles can return to his favoured position, rather than being emergency right back cover; meaning that Arsenal do not need to go out and buy a midfield reinforcement in January.

Like at centre back, not spending £20-30m on a central midfielder that the club do not really see as a long term option in January ensures our funds remain strong for a summer assault on someone who we actually want.

We could have easily gone out and spent £40-60m on a new central defender and new central midfielder. This would have kept some fans happy. But if they were not players Edu, Mikel Arteta, etc saw as being long term solutions, it would just be flushing money down the drain. It would restrict what business we could do in the summer.

By bringing in Mari and potentially Cedric, the impact on Arsenal’s summer transfer budget is negligible. They are cheap, smart moves.

The success of this window will be judged by who we sign in the summer.

If we go out and sign (for example) Upamecano, Wilfred Ndidi and Leroy Sane, it will be down to us not over spending in January.

In football, you always need to keep an eye on the long term. Plan for the future, not just tomorrow.

Match Report: Arsenal 2 – 0 Southampton

Arsenal (2) 2 Southampton (0) 0

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Sunday, 24th February 2019. Kick-off time: 2.05pm

(4-2-3-1) Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolašinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobi; Lacazette.

Substitutes: Čech, Koscielny, Özil, Aubameyang, Monreal, Suárez, Guendouzi.

Scorers: Lacazette, Mkhitaryan

Referee: Graham Scott

Attendance: 59,877

Truthfully, after just seventeen minutes, this routine Sunday afternoon match against struggling Southampton was all but over, courtesy of two well-taken goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan; but in essence, this victory probably told us more about Arsenal and their self-imposed limitations more than we thought possible at this stage of the season.

Both goals came from some truly lackadaisical play from the visitors. The first goal was made possible after a sloppy effort by Nathan Redmond that saw us do what we know we can do best, which is smash-and-grab football of course. Almost immediately we broke out, and although it looked as if we were going to get a penalty awarded to us after Lucas Torreira was ham-fistedly tackled in the penalty area whilst attempting to meet an Alex Iwobi cross, Henrikh Mkhitaryan fluffed his shot, but thankfully Alexandre Lacazette was on hand to make no mistake in scoring his thirteenth goal of the season. Eleven minutes later, another Southampton error led to our final goal of the day. Some kind of schoolboy football that involved the Saints’ goalkeeper and a defender saw the ball land at the feet of young Alex Iwobi who wasted no time in getting a low cross over to Henrikh Mkhitaryan who drilled it into the back of the net.

Pressure, boys, pressure. This was now the measure of Arsenal for the rest of the half. How on earth we didn’t score any more goals after that degree of domination was nothing short of incredible. Alexandre Lacazette by rights, should have added another three goals to his tally at least, whilst Granit Xhaka somehow failed to hit the target with a superb effort just before half-time. Arsenal had eleven shots on the Southampton goal, two of which found the target; of the others, it would not have been unkind to the men from the south coast to say that by the time Graham Scott blew his whistle bringing proceedings to a halt, we should have been at least 4-0 ahead at the break.

After the natural hiatus, the visitors did change formation and it did look like they were going to get something out of thus match at various points in the second half, but thanks to a winning combination of great marking from the defence and a superb performance by Bernd Leno, we deservedly kept a clean sheet here at The Emirates today. As usual, Mr. Emery utilised all three substitutes in the second half; Laurent Koscielny for Stephan Lichtesteiner after 56 minutes, Mesut Özil in place of Aaron Ramsey on 63 minutes and with a quarter an hour remaining on the clock, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replaced Alex Iwobi up front. And still, we could have scored. Mesut Özil saw an opportunity for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to add his name to the score sheet, but unfortunately his effort was very nearly turned into the net by a Southampton defender. However, we won, kept a clean sheet, put three points on the board, and even better that all that, we are in fourth place in the Premiership table tonight.

Although there was no doubt as to who the dominant side on the day was here at The Emirates, our problem still remains that when Arsenal are leading in matches, we are just not ruthless enough. We need to be able to demolish, not just beat the opposition, and not allow them back into the game at any time during the proceedings. Every man today played their part in the win, and they all played well; it was good to see Mesut Özil in particular back and in form, with some of his passing being truly amazing. Our next opponents here are Bournemouth AFC on Wednesday evening; let’s hope that we find consistency in our play and continue this winning feeling. A top four finish is here in our hands, now. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


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.

Who would Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain start central midfield for?

So Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has turned down a move to Chelsea.

According to the BBC;

Oxlade-Chamberlain believes the Blues planned to use him at wing-back, and his primary reason for wanting to leave Arsenal is to play in central midfield.

This backs up the thinking that I have had all along with Oxlade-Chamberlain, that he thinks he is a better player than he is. That he sees himself as an action man central midfielder at the highest level. He has delusions of grandeur.

He is not good enough to play central midfield for Arsenal, so what makes him think he can play their for Chelsea? In fact, going through the top sides, who would he play central midfield for?

Oxlade-Chamberlain is not a central midfield, so the reality is there are 3 positions he could play. Box to box, attacking midfield, or as a winger.

Would he get into any top sides playing this position?


Box to Box – Recently signed Tiémoué Bakayoko will partner N’Golo Kante in central midfield, with Cesc Fabregas backing them up.

Attacking Midfield / Winger – Eden Hazard, Pedro & Willian.

Chelsea might not have many options in their dangerously thin skin, but the options they do have are all better than Oxlade-Chamberlain. He would provide good cover for Bakayoko, Fabregas, Hazard, Pedro & Willian, but, like at Arsenal, he will find himself at right wing back, then back up for positions further forward.


Box to Box – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has a very similar style of play to Mousa Dembélé, but is not as good.

Attacking Midfield / Winger – Christian Erickson and Dele Alli are guaranteed starters. Son Heung-min and Moussa Sissoko are options for the other wing if Spurs play 4 at the back. They are a similar level to Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Oxlade-Chamberlain might get a chance to play for Spurs if they play 4 at the back, but the favoured formation at the moment is 3 at the back. That leaves Oxlade-Chamberlain in the same position as at Arsenal, playing right wing back.

Manchester City

Box to Box – Central midfield options of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, İlkay Gündoğan, Fabian Delph and the option of playing Kevin De Bruyne deeper.

Attacking Midfield / Winger – The aforementioned Kevin De Bruyne, plus David Silva, Bernard Silva, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.

Manchester City have an abundance of options in midfield and attack. Oxlade-Chamberlain would not even get into their 2nd team


Box to Box – Georginio Wijnaldum is the type of player Oxlade-Chamberlain could become, but the Dutchman is better. Chuck in Emre Can and Oxlade-Chamberlain would be 3rd choice. They have also just spent a world record fee on Naby Keïta, due to join next season.

Attacking Midfield / Winger – Even without Coutinho, Liverpool had enough going forward to destroy Arsenal at the weekend. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were electric on the wings. Add in Adam Lallana.

The side Oxlade-Chamberlain wants to play for. But do they even want him? They are also targeting Thomas Lemar. They have better options in their squad, and better options set to sign.