Hi JustArsenal fans, this is Michael Thomas with my latest column just for your ears only. And today I think we should start with England’s opening performance in the Euros.
The way England played was a pleasant surprise in the way they controlled the ball. Croatia obviously have the quality in the middle of the pitch that are used to keeping hold of the ball, but I think our midfield were excellent in breaking things up, and then obviously showed the quality when needed to create a couple of good openings.
There will for sure be tougher tests going forward but I think if Southgate can get the forward line firing then they will have a real chance. They lacked a little bit of cutting line passes without Grealish but it is to be expected in their first game against arguably the toughest opponents in the group.
It’s a shame we didn’t see any Arsenal players in the line-up, but Gareth Southgate clearly likes Saka and who wouldn’t. He is an immense talent and so grounded. He was on the bench over Sancho which could be seen as a little bit of a surprise, but he can also play in an array of positions which might give him the nod over others. I am sure if he gets an opportunity he will take it with open hands.
The other big talking point at this weeks Euros was the terrible cardiac arrest suffered by Christian Eriksen. It is absolutely amazing the work his teammates and the paramedics did to save that young man’s life and I am so happy for him and his family that he survived first and foremost.
Regarding the game, it should never have been continued so quickly and should have been taken out of the players hands. The mental health of all players, staff etc would have been affected and to go and attempt to focus on a game is crazy. Football is great and has obviously given us an opportunity to express ourselves, but it is entertainment. I can only imagine what the Denmark players’ motives were coming back out, and how conceding a goal could negatively affect them again. We need to protect society and understand we are all human.
We are all hoping for a very positive transfer window and we are being linked with all and sundry, but it is obvious that midfielders are one of our highest priorities, so it is a surprise that the big rumour right now is Granit Xhaka going to Roma as he was one of our most consistent performers last season.
But perhaps Arteta is happy to replace him as he wants players that will work into his system. Xhaka has his qualities that are evident, but can he play in the system that will help the team progress? He is very error prone and cannot play in Arteta’s preferred 4-3-3. In that system the deepest player must collect the ball with their back to goal and be comfortable to turn or keep it and we have seen how uncomfortable he can be when doing that. He is a player that plays best facing the game. He also doesn’t have the physical capabilities to play as one of the 8’s in that system, so Xhaka leaving is probably best for all parties going forward in the hope that Arsenal then replace him with real quality.
Now that Ceballos and Odegaard have gone back to Madrid, and and after losing out on Buendia, it would seem Arteta’s top choices to replace him are Ruben Neves or Yves Bissouma, and I believe Arsenal would be best suited to getting both of them.
Bissouma would be my number 1 priority and then there are a few players I’d look at for the other e.g Aouar, De Paul, Kalvin Phillips. Those players would really push Arsenal forward as we have the likes of ESR who’s getting better each game. I would love to see Jack Grealish in an Arsenal shirt too.
Arteta has been saying regularly that Arsenal have had a clear plan on targets since January, but I am not at all worried that we haven’t bought anyone in the opening days of the window yet. With the Euros it is always difficult to get deals done. players will be focused in their camps. Clubs will have deals in place and the deals will be completed upon teams being knocked out of the tournament and/or it coming to an end so as not to interfere with the players focus.
Also, having missed out on Europe for the first time in 25 years, Arteta may find it harder to persuade top players to join Arsenal, but hopefully this is a short term project and the club invests what’s needed to get them competing. If the club can sell that idea to his top targets then I don’t think a season without European football will have too much effect.
With no European competition, and with hardly any Arsenal players involved in the internationals, Arteta will 100% be expected to produce a much better league campaign, but he needs to be given the resources to do so. All the top clubs will be getting better this summer and we can’t fall further behind. He will have more or less a full pre-season with the players and hope to get his system imprinted and the players raring to go.
I have total faith that Arteta is the right man to take Arsenal back to the top. Now the owners need to convince the fans that we should have faith in them. You won’t see the real quality of Arteta until he is allowed to put the right people in place.
This is a massive transfer window for him and the club as a whole. They have been getting rid of dead weight and look as though they will do more of the same this summer. Will they be replaced with top quality is the real question. Doing it early will help Arteta so the players can understand what he is asking of them and get them fully prepared to fight for him right from the first game of the new campaign.
Let’s stay positive and get behind the team all the way. The supporters need to be Arsenal’s twelfth man to make the Emirates our fortress once again.
Looking forward to some positive news in the next couple of weeks when I will come back and give you my thoughts on our progress.