Well perhaps some of the anxiety felt by all honest Arsenal supporters has lessened in the past 24 hours with the imminent signings of Mustafi and Perez. Were they the 2 names on all our lips in June? Probably not but given our start to the season and the defensive injury crisis suffered since then most are happy just to have the deals concluded. So here are just a few personal thoughts on the business that seems to have been agreed…
Friends in Gemany think Mustafi is an excellent buy and will fit seamlessly alongside Koscielny. From what I have seen I tend to agree. Not only that but he is experienced enough whilst not too old to also be the long term partner for Rob Holding when Koscileny finally succumbs to his age and nagging Achilles. I think we may have ended up over spending on the German international, as we should have moved for a first choice centre back before the injuries which gave Valencia the upper hand but I guess we have the money so no matter in the grand scheme.
I think this is the end of the road for Gabriel who on his return from injury will find himself, in my opinion 4th choice. Chambers will have gone on loan but Per is now skipper so when the veteran German returns the Brazilian will be arguably 5th choice. Gabby without doubt has something about him and elements of his game remind me of Martin Keown. Sadly others aspects that have come to the fore remind me more of Igor Stephanovs. Wenger clearly does not have full faith in him and if our Club Captain is fit for January I feel Gabriel could leave the club then.
Rob Holding is the one now that the club need to focus. He obviously had the Ferdinand/Stones element to his game so PLEASE Wenger allow Bould to spend time developing the Bouldie/Adams aspects of his game. The £2 million spent could see us having the other half of the future England Central defensive partnership with Stones. Time will tell whether City got over £40 million’s worth if extra ‘baller’ which I doubt. Of course he will be watching and learning from 2 top internationals week to week.
Lastly, whilst still on the defence, a note on the full back situation, Debuchy is not a positive influence and should be exited. With Jenko inured Mustafi can also easily cover Bellerin if needs be as I am sure he has played there for his country. In fact isn’t it compulsory that all German Centre backs can play full back for their country? On the left I almost feel disloyal saying this having lauded him for 2 seasons but I have my doubts on Monreal. Maybe it is his seniority catching up on him or maybe it is the opposition working it out but at the end of last season and very much versus Liverpool if he is beaten in the insider he is out of the game. Just maybe this is why either Wenger decided to keep him or even Gibbs himself decided to stay and fight. Last season I would have thought Kieran very optimistic but now I think he may well get a run in the team.
So on to Lucas Perez, quite evidently not the name anyone was expecting and in some senses a left field signing and for many even a gamble. I will not pretend to have any depth of knowledge here and I would urge all of you to read ex Gunners Town stalwart @Moarfootball on this. He is a Deportivo supporter and I would trust his knowledge over any FIFA or YouTube scouting. What I will say is that while Wenger may have said he was looking for a striker to be an upgrade of Olivier Giroud at some point he has also praised the Frenchman and backed him. So with the failed attempt on Vardy, the bid for Lacazette and the ‘rumoured’ wooing of Griezmann I always felt and was supportive of the idea that he was seeking an alternative not necessarily only an upgrade.
All the players we have mentioned and certainly the one we have signed would offer Arsenal and Wenger alternatives and options. I have consistently said this in my support of Lacazette. He could play instead of Giroud, with Giroud or to the left of Giroud and I sense Perez offers us the same. As with the France set up we saw in June he could play with Giroud in a 2 striker system, on his own as he was last season for Deportivo or on the left of a 433 or indeed in our 4231. It seems like Alexis he has a fabulous work ethic so he certainly can play in the role the Chilian has mostly played, although seeing both operating on either flank is a stretch unless we played 2 holding players – It is however an option. As Chris points out in his piece don’t be fooled by the lower goal tally’s ahead of 15/16 as he has mostly played wide until the last campaign.
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So if I am correct (unusually,) what Wenger has really bought is an upgrade on Theo Walcott and a stand-in and potential upgrade for Danny Welbeck. Our unfortunate Englishman has also been the man that Wenger was happy to play on his own upfront or wide. He was the Giroud alternative when fit and now Lucas Perez has the role. He has until January when Danny is hoping to be fit to prove his worth and to determine not just his own position in the starting 11 but perhaps even in a new formation. Much as I liked Joel Campbell he made the right decision and I wonder now whether Walcott might rue his own to stay, fight and take the wages.
One final thought on Mustafi that may or not have been commented on is that he is close friends with Mesut Ozil and I am sure I don’t need to spell out the positives on that. Okay I will anyway – Showing intent to strengthen the squad is critical in the contract talks that we hope are ongoing with Ozil but doing so and simultaneously bringing in a fellow German and his pal has to be a bonus.
End of musings. Have a great day and a lovely Bank Holiday weekend in the sun.