The Michael Thomas Column
Hi everyone, Mikel Arteta is being very active in this transfer window, going by the rumour mill, but up to now we have only seen Albert Lokonga and Nuno Tavares offically confirmed. I am a llittle worried that the lack of early arrivals could hinder Arteta’s ability to get new players integrated into the team ahead of the new season.
Ideally you would want to get the players in early and integrated into the squad and system, especially if coming from another league. I can imagine they are working really hard behind the scenes and the Euros would have made it all the more difficult. A few prices changing, injuries etc. We need to get a few more players out of the club and have the deals in place ready for the new arrivals.
But the good news is that Tavares, Lokonga and probably Ben White will all have a few weeks in training with Arteta ahead of our first game against Brentford, but are any of them likely to go straight into the starting line-up? Ben white is probably the most likely but it will depend on how match-fit he will be. Lokonga will at least be on the bench but I think Elneny may play in there ahead of him for that game & Tavares will depend on the system. It looks as if Arteta wants to stick with 4 at the back which will see Tierney get the nod and rightly so.
Having let Luiz leave this summer, and the terrible news that Gabriel has suffered a long term injury, added to the fact that Saliba will not be joining the squad, Arsenal are likely be short of defenders at the start of the season even if Ben White arrives.
It is a massive loss to lose Gabriel as I had him down to have a big season this year. We do have Chambers who can also play CB and has played there during some pre-season games. In the circumstances, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arteta signed another CB.
If the rumours are to be believed, there are going to be quite a few outgoing from the team as well. If there are a lot going out the door perhaps Arteta could be short of players before their replacements are brought in and the outgoing players will need to be handled carefully, especially if there are still doubts on the terms being acceptable. We have had this problem before with the likes of the Ox and I would like to think that the club have learnt from those mistakes and will either get the players out beforehand or not to involve them in the games. If they don’t leave, they’re professianals and I’m sure they will come back in and fight for the team regardless.
The “small Covid outbreak” in the Arsenal camp ended up forcing the Gunners to cancel the trip to America. It could be a plus that the squad didn’t have to travel, but Arsenal could have done with a couple of hi-profile games against top teams to improve their fitness. Travelling long distances is always a lot for the body but I’m sure the club will be working hard to put the relevant games on, back here. We are living in a tough time right now and sportsmen are humans so will be at as much risk as me and you. Don’t be surprised if this happens to a few more teams throughout the season.
Playing too many pre-season games can be a plus and a negative. On one hand you don’t lose the rhythm but you can also suffer from burnout. The players that didn’t go away with their international teams will feel well rested and come back really refreshed for pre-season which hopefully shows in the fitness levels in that first game. For me the first 4-5 games are won on how much harder you can work than the opposing team. It’s all about getting the points on the board and building confidence.
The Gunners are only left with the Mind Series games against Chelsea and Tottenham to gain in confidence and fitness, but 100% pre-season can be damaging if results go against you. You don’t want to go and get smashed 3-4 games in a row going into game one of the Premier league. Saying that, we have had good pre-seasons in years gone by and still not performed early on, but I am still sure they would like to get a couple of good performances in and avoid any injuries.
Looking on the positive side though, Arsenal ended the season with five EPL wins in a row. If we can beat Brentford convincingly in our opener, should we be feeling even more confident to keep our run going in the more difficult fixtures. We have a very hard start to the season which makes that opening game even more important. Start off strong and then go into the following crucial games against Chelsea and Man City on a high and pick up as many points as possible.
I am confident that we can pick up points against both Chelsea & Manchester City. Arteta’s record against the big teams isn’t the worst and he should feel good. We are probably not expected to pick up points in the City game especially, but all you want is 100% application and the team fighting for the badge.
Can’t wait for the season! 3-4 more quality signings and I think we will be talking of the good job the club has done to get this group of players together, and hopefully the home crowd (maybe full capacity!) will get behind Arteta and the team, and not send out negatives vibes before the season even gets started.
Let’s head for the new season in the best possible condition Gooners!
Speak again soon