Reading through the various blogs, you get the feeling that fellow Gooners’ happiness is largely dependent on Arsene Wenger spending enormous sums on new players. It is like they have stopped breathing properly and are in constant state of dissatisfaction, or even despair. We know from many transfer summers that Wenger will do it his way, which means he can suddenly surprise us with a well known quality new player or one none of us have ever heard of… he can also decide to make do with the squad he currently has. Whatever happens it is out of our hands, and as we all have heard more than once before, you should not worry about the things you cannot influence.
I would be perfectly fine with Arsene giving the likes of Theo, Iwobi, Gnarby, Sanogo or Akpom a chance to prove themselves during our August games. Wenger will rest many, if not all, of Rambo, Ollie, Alexis, Sanchez, Mesut and Koz till after the international games in the first week of September, I reckon. He needs to do this in order to avoid fatigue, injury and/or lack of form of these key players during the key phases of the season. We especially need them fit and focused towards the end of the season and this can only be achieved with a good post-Euros rest.
No doubt Wenger will still look for another gem in attack, but the adage of adding extraordinary quality if and when this becomes available will of course prevail. There is not much easily available quality that will clearly improve our squad out there, and I reckon the chance of us singing a gem of an attacker, or a indeed a CB, are not more than 40%.
Is this cause for grave unhappiness for Goonerdom? Not for me. I reckon we will start strong as a result of a good core of players being fully fit and not having participated in the Euros. Cech and Xhaka were eliminated early and should be able to take part in the early part of the season. The same goes for Jack Wilshere who has hopefully continued his progress in becoming fully fit again.
Mertesacker, Bellerin, Nacho, Gabriel, Santi, Elneny, Theo, Coquelin and Chambers have not played much if at all this summer and should be able to make a strong start to the season. The signing of Xhaka gives us a lot of options in midfield now, and I expect that we will play very compact and hard to beat. This is a prerequisite to success, especially during the coming season when the likes of MU, MC, Chavs and Spuds will all be leaning back on mean and nasty defences. I reckon it is really important to get the defensive balance right first and for all. With Xhaka, Coquelin and Elneny we have three fantastic defensive midfielders who all have something special to offer: finding the right balance will be key and I cannot wait to see how Wenger will have us play in the centre of midfield.
With Ozil rested, we will see Santi and Iwobi play in the hole, or will it be Jack who will start there? All mouthwatering prospects especially if they are covered and supported by the likes of Xhaka, Elneny or Coq.
Many have expressed a desire to see Theo leave the club, including yours truly, but I reckon Wenger will have been working to get his confidence and form back to his very best, this summer. With Ollie being rested in August, Theo has a brilliant opportunity to shine once more and I expect him to have a strong start to the season. Teflon Theo is capable of this and we all know that Wenger believes in his players as long as they work hard and listen to him. It is fair to say this will be Theo’s last chance to establish himself as a first team Gunner, so let’s see whether he will do it.
I have high hopes for Iwobi and Akpom to make significant progress this season and I anticipate Wenger will give them both starts in our August PL games. Then there is the very talented Sanogo who has hopefully worked hard on his technical finishing, which is the only area in which he is lacking. He can do Ollie’s ‘holding CF’ role: he is strong and holds on the ball well, he has a good first touch and passes well, he positions himself well and has a natural anticipation of where he needs to be in the box AND he is fast. He is also not bad in the air. He probably is not ready to play a big part in our new season, but I still hope we will see him play occasionally.
Gnarby is another player who needs first team time and I reckon we will see him get 20 to 30 minutes in the August PL games. And then there is the Ox of course; no doubt he will get another chance to burst through and become a first team regular.
Team to beat Pool and Foxes:
Bel – BFG – Gab – Nacho
* Bring on Sanogo if either of our opponents decide to park the bus…
So for me there is plenty of positives to look forward to even if we do not sign another world class player. Wenger can experiment a bit with the attackers mentioned above whilst falling back on an experienced and solid back-four and midfield. And then in September he can gradually reintroduce the super Euros’ starts Koz, Ozil, Rambo and Ollie and Copa America winner Sanchez.
We may drop a few points in August but of course this could also be the case if we added the likes of Higuain and Mahrez…. There are no guarantees in footie and Wenger will make a balanced decision, no doubt about it.
So my suggestion is to not succumb to signingitis but to sit back and see how our team will do during the preseason, and how Wenger will set up the team. I reckon we will see a strong start to the season and our squad is deep and strong enough to have a good go at playing attractive footie and winning silverware in the process. All to play for and bring on RC Lens on Friday!