Failing to address the midfield situation will come back to haunt us. by Konstantin
Well lovely Arsenal people, we opted not to sign another player. It’s honestly disappointing, because we’ve started the season so well, but just like January and many other transfer windows, we’ve opted to leave our squad short, and that’s the reality.
For me the pain isn’t about not signing someone on deadline day, it’s the short-sightedness. Thomas Partey has been available less than half of the games we’ve had since he came here. Our win percentage with him in the side was 66% compared to the 42% without him.
It was apparent that we needed cover in that position even before Elneny’s injury. Now we’re playing Sambi in the lone 6, or we’re back to Xhaka in the middle. Remember how that worked for 6 years? The reason Granit has done so well now’s because he’s been moved out of the zone where his mistakes has cost us so much over the years.
People say we can move Ben White to midfield or play Zinchenko in midfield. Is that an experiment you want to make 6 games into the season? Midweek games have started already and our squad has 23 senior players, compared to the 24 of last season. You can make a case that the quality has improved, but we didn’t have Europe last term and still finished 5th, playing practically one game a week most of the time.
Remember that 3rd round FA cup exit
? I don’t want to see it again, so we’re either back to Wenger ways of playing the youth team in the cups or we’re risking overburning players, because there aren’t any bodies to cover.
And we’re again letting AMN on loan, this time to Southampton. It’s poor on multiple levels. Last year we had 30 million pounds on the table for him and we opted to keep him, not to play him at all, and now when we’re desperately short of bodies and we could actually play him, we’re letting him go on a loan that would save his wages? Is he the player I want in that position – No – but can he help with EL games and against some weaker teams in the prem? Yes, he can.
But again, we’ve let a ton of players go for nothing. We were in need of goals, yet we let Auba leave for nothing, now Barca managed to get Alonso and 6.5 mil for him. We wanted cover for Saka, yet Pepe went to Nice and we signed nobody. The boy has played over 100 games for Arsenal at age 20. That’s 3 years we haven’t addressed the need for cover on his side.
No wonder the boy looks tired and sometimes out of ideas, he’s been carrying this football club for a long time, which shouldn’t even be the case, but now Sambi is in a very similar position in our midfield. Keeping the squad fresh and managing players is just as important in football as is their ability on the ball.
Pep left De Bruyne on the bench. A player that would walk into any Arsenal midfield of the past 18 years, and they still won 6:0. Our team is one Partey injury away from a disaster and it’s already here. And I’m prepared for people labelling me negative, it’s just that we should be better than letting a run of 5 games blind our entire season, but it has already happened two times in Arteta’s tenure.
That win against Chelsea in December, where we played ESR, Saka and Martinelli started a run of 5 consecutive wins, that practically saved Arteta’s job. Last year we won 5 on the bounce before going to Liverpool and eventually we ended up 5th.
The reason we started so well this season is because Zinchenko, Jesus and Saliba elevated the level of our starting 11, but the bench is worrying. And now if Jesus gets an injury we’re back to last season’s team.
I’m not buying excuses anymore. It’s year 3 of project Arteta. The whole Arteta or Nothing documentary was to make him look good, but remember when he was lauding the talents of Willian age 32? I think the wheels will start to come off this Sunday at Old Trafford. Our record there is atrocious. I remember a full strength Arsenal side going there and starting the career of Marcus Rashford with 2 easily gifted goals.
Last season we were again the better team and somehow lost. If we don’t get a result there, the medias’ knives will be out saying “same old Arsenal” and it’d be hard to argue. Man Utd is the biggest game for me as a foreign fan. You never see people wearing Tottenham shirts outside of the UK. On the other hand I have a ton of Man Utd supporting mates who’ll be in full voice if we bottle it there, like last year.
Football is a results based business. In the end I’ll judge by the results. I feel we didn’t do enough in the window and I’ll give it a 6/10 and that’s generous honestly. Ramsdale touched his hamstring against Villa and I just see how we go to OT with Turner, who gave me Runarsson vibes in pre season, letting the ball fly in the middle of his goal.
Honestly the 3.5 millions for Leno weren’t worth it. We could’ve easily kept him till his contract ran out instead of spending those 3 million signing Matt, so we can sell shirts on our USA tour. I hardly think that can save as much as CL tv deals will bring, if we get it.
It’s just deflating that we’ve started so well, and instead of using that momentum to make it even better by signing players in areas of desperate need, we’ve opted to be cheap. If one thing you should take away from the Amazon documentary, it’s that players also feel what’s going on. Just because they are professionals doesn’t mean they don’t miss Partey in midfield for example.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. If our mentality has changed, it will show on Sunday. Zinny, Partey and Elneny are out, Odegaard and Ramsdale could be out too. If we go and get a result without them, then we can speak about character. I just think that the lack of activity in the window will show up and come back to hurt us again, and it’s the again part that hurts the most.