International breaks can be rather dull and more so these days with little Arsenal interest, certainly from an England perspective. In a tenuous link however we happy Gooners, are more than quietly confident that our interest in The Three Lions may well change in the not too distant future. In recent years, we have pondered the inclusion or occasionally lack of inclusion of Walcott, Wilshere, Chamberlain and Welbeck. In 2018 we speculate whether, under a coach willing to select on talent not reputation, we might see Nelson, Maitland-Niles or on current form Holding pull on the national shirt.
Those three players are perhaps at the forefront of my mind is because I was told this week just how much Emery rates these three. One could even add young Eddie into the equation. The youngster was I understand was to be loaned out from January to May but who will now be retained, in light of Welbeck’s misfortune. Certainly, Nketiah will now have opportunities starting this Thursday in the Europa, to prove to his manager that he can step up into Danny’s boots. With Elneny’s injury and speculation linking our Mo with a move away from London, AMN will also have the chance to step up his claims to rival Guendouzi as first change in central midfield. I suspect Nketiah, Maitland Niles and of course Emery’s other young English Gun Smith-Rowe will all start on Thursday in Vorskla.
Whilst the media will continue to link Arsenal to all and sundry, the truth is more likely to lie in the message our new hierarchy hardly attempted to disguise in their interview in the Independent. The Arsenal model whilst out of the Champions League will be to hunt for hidden gems, contract buy-outs set to low and of course on internal promotion. It is against this backdrop that the likes of Sven, Raul and Vinny will be asking Unai if he feels he can take this Arsenal back to the Promised Land on a shoestring.
The Club are being linked with both Pepe at Lille and Santi Cazorla’s exciting teammate Pablo Fornals, the latter who is breaking in to Enrique’s national plans. It should be said that both players are seemingly ‘unlikely’ to move or be allowed to move in January. The Spaniard, from what I can see would ironically be a ‘typical Wenger signing rather than and Emery one.
Fornals, to me at least is the type of running creative midfielder I wanted at Arsenal in the latter Wenger era when our only wat through packed defences was by passing them to death. I yearned for a Hleb or a Rosicky style 10 who could beat a player to create space and naturally that man was Isco. Fornals is that style of player but if he did come to Arsenal, like Rosicky and Hleb because of Frabregas, because of Mesut Ozil the same would happen with Pablo if he arrived.
For the ‘Yellow Submarine’, Fornals, of late at least in the league being playing on the left of a four-man midfield, essentially as a winger from what I can gather. However when Villareal, do switch to a 4231, he does play at 10. He is an assist provider of note, like Ozil and should he arrive it would be Mkhi or Iwobi’s wide berth at threat, or indeed Aubameyang’s position. All that said Fornal’s is an exciting talent with his best year’s ahead of him and with a 25 million Euro buy-out clause he fits the price bracket I suspect our budget allows. Sadly, our chief rivals in any pursuit may well be Barcalona.
A signing like Pepe would excite many Arsenal supporters who feel that the shoehorning of PEA into the left-hand role is limiting his impact. I am not sure I agree, as I do not see the Gabonese having the hold-up play or back to goal ability of Lacazette in Emery’s 4231. With a strong pivot, which Emery had the four players ahead have a flexibility and a licence to interchange with the fullbacks providing the width so I think we may see is continue as we are at present. Given the crucial role of the fullbacks this is perhaps the more likely area of strengthening in January and I will explore this in part 2.)
Between now and the transfer window opening, Arsenal have some huge games, including two NLDs and Emery will be giving his current squad every opportunity to demonstrate they can take us back where we need to be and gain that top four spot. That will certainly mean that Aubameyang, Iwobi and Mkhitaryan proving they can carry the creative burden alongside Ozil and chip in with telling contributions in the big games. If they cannot Emery will continue to have to fall back on Ramsey, which he can do but I sense he would rather not. In addition, getting back to where we began, all these players must be sensing the breath of Reiss Nelson’s form in Germany on their necks. Nelson might be the other main reason why the club might sooner rely on those they have until May, in an attacking sense at least.
That is enough for today and I will continue these musings in part two when I come back to the club’s young English talent and look at where I think our transfer budget is more likely to be spent.
To be continued..