The Michael Thomas Column
Good Morning Gooners
Let us start by talking about last week’s defeat on the opening day of the League. Brentford’s team (that started against us) cost £53.51m to buy, and not one of them had ever played in the Premier League before. Our Arsenal team cost £238.23m (and that was without expensive buys like Auba and Laca) but still lost to the Bees.
Our team performance has to come under scrutiny. Brentford were bang on it, winning second balls and really fighting for their cause as we knew they would. Arteta wouldn’t have anticipated the drop outs of two of his main players, but the team on the field had more than enough to get a good result from the game. For me the manner in the way we lost was the downside. 22 shots- and I don’t recall any of them being clear cut opportunities. Arsenal have to find a way to create good chances and very fast.
Many rumours are saying that either Aubameyang or Lacazette could be sold. Arsenal need goal scorers and yes Auba didn’t have his most productive spell in front of goal last season, but we know he is a goal threat. I am not a fan of Auba coming in off the left wing so I would say it’s 1 of the 2 rather than both, unless a 4-4-2 system is used. Arsenal ‘sell unless we are buying a proven replacement.
As for the new contract given to Granit Xhaka, I’ve said it before regarding the Swiss captain; He is a player that divides opinions massively with the Arsenal fans but he has a performance in him, and it’s whether Mikel can get the consistency of that out and have him playing to his strengths. Xhaka playing facing our goal is never a good situation because his awareness and ability to turn are not the best. If you can get him the ball on the half turn or facing the opposition then we have a player. The player clearly looked like he was leaving but like in every business, you have to pay the price! If that price is not met, you keep your asset and ideally don’t let the value diminish.
The sale of Joe Willock was one I really didn’t want to see happen. I think his qualities are something Arsenal haven’t had since Ramsey and with some fine tuning he could have become an important part of the squad. He is Arsenal through and through. I wish Joe all the best and maybe one day we will be in a position to lure him back!
It is a tough start for the season for Arsenal which is why the result against Brentford was a kick in the teeth. We have Chelsea and Manchester City to come and this could be a disastrous start. A result and performance against Chelsea will be massive, but again you will look at why they couldn’t have the same level against Brentford. The club needs to cut this group down massively and invest in another 3 starting 11 players minimum.
We have Chelsea up next, and after watching Toney against our cb’s it is very worrying having Lukaku as the next man up. The game was going to be a tough one regardless and the players know they have to play out of their skin to get a result. The fans hopefully will be energising the team and hopefully the team go out and put on a performance that is required of an Arsenal squad. I think Saka will come in which may push Martinelli up front depending on Auba and Laca. AMN or Cedric should come in at RB for me also but I’d understand if we kept Chambers in especially to defend set pieces.
It’s good news that Arsenal have signed another keeper. not just as back up, but to challenge Leno for that number 1 jersey. I am extremely happy to have young keepers like Okonkwo and Hein coming out of Hale End, but they must have experienced pros like Leno and Ramsdale to learn from.
The Willian situation is a terrible one to be in for Arteta and the player himself. He is a high earner and a massive under-performer. Something needs to change and fast. It’s hard to see who would want to take a hit on him given his wages.
The summer signing I am most happy to see is Martin Odegaard. He is a brilliant young player. Intelligent with the ball, his work ethic is enormous and he just looks like he loves the game. I think he will be a hit but the club needs more to supplement his qualities and help him create.