THE MICHAEL THOMAS COLUMN
The Aubameyang decision didn’t really surprise me, it just felt inevitable. The player wasn’t adhering to the rules and the culture Arteta is trying to set at the club, and as a senior player, that cannot happen. He wasn’t playing or getting anywhere near the squad and he was also the highest earner at the club, so finding a solution to get him out permanently was probably the best way to go. Now the club and players still here can fully focus until the end of the season to finish as high up as possible.
As for Vlahovic or Isak coming in as Auba’s replacement, I think Arsenal did really push for a player they obviously wanted. The club wants the best talents out there and rightly so. That is what the fans want to see and I am sure the players at the club already also want the best players coming in to build a better team. Unfortunately this player was out of reach and had different ambitions and I think the club did the right thing in not panic buying to compensate. That being said I do think the club has a real chance at top 4 and a player of Vlahovic’s ability may have given us the push we needed. Isak is a very different player and although I think he would fit in very well with his abilities, I would love to see much more of a killer instinct and passion for scoring goals from him. Arsenal needs a striker that will work for the team, combine with others and LOVES scoring.
The January window is always hard and teams don’t like losing their best players mid season, especially if they cannot replace them. I do believe the club tried but at the same time, the calibre of player Arsenal required to get better was not available in this window. Hopefully we have a good second half of the season and can add some quality in the summer.
Since Arteta has arrived at the club he has been reshaping the squad both on the pitch and the staff behind the scene. He is trying to build a team that can compete on all levels and that takes time. Sometimes we as fans don’t have the patience for, but if we keep the faith and he continues to develop then I am sure you will see a lot of young hungry players playing for us.
But Arsenal can’t have a whole team of youngsters, I think every team needs some experienced heads. When a team is low you need those players to up-bring the young who probably haven’t experienced that sort of situation. If you look at how Lacazette leads with his talking and he also knows when to give advice and put his arm around a player.
Yes the squad is much leaner now but with just the League games remaining we have enough to get through to the summer. I think that was definitely in Arteta’s and the clubs thinking. They’re out of all other domestic competitions and can focus solely on their league position. They have some really good young players that can also play, the likes of Hutchinson & Azeez is now back so I feel they will be fine as long as there are no serious injuries to key players.
The quality we have in our young players is amazing. The more experienced players like Lacazette, Partey and Xhaka really need to nail it in now, and get their heads and the young players heads in game-mode to push. It is going to be tough but very possible.
Arsenal were the biggest spenders in the EPL last summer, and will 100% need to spend a similar amount next summer to reinforce the squad. It is not all about the cost of the players obviously, but we can probably expect a few big deals.
With Aubameyang gone, Arteta may be aiming to try out Guardiola’s tactics without a recognised striker and more goals from midfield. Guardiola has an amazing team with both youth and experience who have been playing together for a while now. I don’t think this tactic is viable at Arsenal currently but It can definitely be used in certain games.
I can understand many Arsenal fans were not happy with the transfer window and think Arteta now has to prove his decision was right by getting us back into the Champions League, but I think at the start of the season, most fans would have been happy with a top 6 finish. Now that we can see we have a real shot at top 4 the supporters rightly want the most.
We just need to be calm and get behind the manager and team as they’re going to need it.
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