What if Arsene signs no more attackers? PL Starts for Iwobi, Theo and Akpom just as exciting

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ย 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 ย 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 anticipateย 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



——Theo/Akpom *——–

* 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!

By TotalArsenal.





35 thoughts on “What if Arsene signs no more attackers? PL Starts for Iwobi, Theo and Akpom just as exciting

  • ‘There is not much easily available that will clearly improve our squad’. What tosh! Why are we here again at Groundhog Day whilst all our rivals have bought the available talent. Batshuayi, Jansen, ibrahimovic , Mikhitarayan.come to mind. Leicester have bought Ahmed Musa who Iwobi has stated will light up the premiership. Was he not available or is it that Sanogo is better! Groundhog Day awaits and we will not come anywhere near the championship or champions league again. While our bank balance will please Stan and no doubt Wenger!

  • Mickeylp, We have established top quality players already whereas the others need to buy them… We finished above them and we should stick to our system of football and add only if it can improve the squad. I know it is not sexy but it will work.

  • Hey Total…hope you’re well

    Speaking Frankly….I’m stunned that Theo is still at our beloved club after the way his season fizzled out completely…with hardly any on pitch mins in April and May.

    Hopefully we see the other guys that you list being given the chances to impress instead. No way should Theo be getting any more mins in an Arsenal shirt. With his piss poor attitude to at least putting a shift in, how is he ever gong to improve .

    Amongst other things last season, two things really stood out for me. One was his complete and utter no show at Old Trafford, including his non attempt to recover a ball he’d just lost. Instead he simply watched them swap passes only 5-7 yds away, before tootling off to score the opening goal. The second was away at Sunderland when he completely and totally bottled that challenge with Younes Kaboul, when we really needed him to man up and possibly win that game for us. To come off the bench and be so cowardly instead of having the cojones to grab the opportunity that he’d be given by being subbed on to the field.

    I simply refuse to support him this season, and still have a small hope that we’ll be able to farm him out somewhere before the window closes

  • Spot on, I believe we have some quality youngsters at the club. Watching players develop is such an important part of why I love watching football. You also get to see players on the upward curve of there career rather than those looking for payday. We are a football club not a yacht club.

  • Spot on, I believe we have some talented youngsters at our club. Watching players develop is such a large part of supporting the club. At Arsenal you see hungry footballers on the upward curve of there careers not those only chasing a payday. We are a football club not a yacht club.

  • Hey Sharkey ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nice to hear from you and mostly agreed re Theo. I reckon Wenger will use him at the start and that he will deliver the goals/assists initially. Then Euro finalist Ollie and Copa America winner Sanchez will take over and steel the show…

    How is your family?

  • Liam

    It is a balancing act and Wenger will not pay silly money for just any player just to please the fans. And yes bringing young players through, like Aaron, Bellerin and Le Coq is just fantastic. I have high hopes for Iwobi who I saw live against Everton and was just fantastic. I also like to see Akpom get starts as he looks the complete package.

  • Are you off your trolley!! Walcott is a waste of time why? got his contract 2yr ago and then the carpet slippers went on(no need to try, getting ยฃ120.000 a week) and to injury prone as well.
    Iwobi started well first 2 or 3 games then realised that we had no one else in that position and eased off knowing that he would get picked, and then started to get subbed as the performances dipped….but we all know that the fans want superstars in that area not a wannabe, sorry to be harsh but we are ARSENAL………… aah Akpom showed promise early doors and a loan spell with Hull never really worked for him! ….So here we are another transfer window(bit like a prem season early promise bad ending)with no strikers or creative players…and no signings anywhere on the Horizon..No change there,but seriously guys if our start is based on 3 no hopers, god help all the fans that turn out to see us play against LFC.

    Bergkampesque……………I don’t think so.

  • DS

    You will be surprised how well we would do with those players. Jack/Santi and Xhaka would find those attacker very quickly and we will be lethal. Look, I respect your views re Theo, but reckon he will start strongly for us and when he starts to falter Wenger can bring on Ollie and Alexis..

    If Theo is not your man, Akpom or possibly Campbell could do the good stuff up-front. Key is to play our system of football and then you will see that some new youngsters, supported by an experienced and balanced defence and midfield, can/ will thrive ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I still think we need a striker to stand in for Welbeck. I don’t mind Carlos Bacca, He is available and wants to join us. This is no season for another spate of experimentation. Wenger would be swept away with the backlash. Get an established back-up to Giroud. He doesn’t have to cost the world; and shore up the back as well, and then we could stand a chance. I was hoping Welbeck would learn to stand on two feet this season to continue what he started towards the end of the last. But no!!!

  • ogban ๐Ÿ™‚

    Fair point re stand in for Welbeck. I dont think a ‘don’t mind Carlos Bacca’ will do for Wenger. If he does not get really excited about a player he will not go for him… unless it is one for the future like the Japanese player we just added to the squad. Maybe Wenger will look whether Akpom or Theo will be that stand in for Welbeck, and maybe he will still add a quality attacker to the team. Whatever happens, as long as we keep our top players, I reckon we will have a very good squad to compete this season.

  • Hi TA! Good thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚ Of the lot, I am puzzled about Sanogo. Like you say he appears to have everything …except the finishing! Boy wouldn’t that be a Vardy-like surprise (or, dare I say it, Kane) if he gets going! Clearly dream-time…would the odds be 5000 to 1? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Agreed stH ๐Ÿ™‚

    I watched him live against Dortmund two seasons ago and saw his excellent reading of the game and positioning, combined with his athleticism and power. He will need time but he could become a great player..

  • Our main goal is a new striker.. I do not think that we can live with only Ollie for one more season.

    Previous seasons are like this too.. we are interested in someone, then we took too long to tie things up, and the whole idea died off.

    This time it seems the same.


  • I’m going to keep beating my Ben Yedder for striker drum. ๐Ÿ™‚

    However, I am excited to see, at least in pre-season, what Akpom and Sanogo can do. I’m glad I am not alone in thinking that Sanogo has a lot of potential. It also seems to me that the strikers with that frame tend to hit their peak later. I think of Drogba, Luca Toni, and even Giroud. Hopefully, Sanogo will accelerate his development a bit. It’s ridiculous that Sanogo is treated like he’s a joke, even among the less reactionary section of the Arsenal public. He may be a bit clumsy at times, but he’s still been quite effective in almost every game he’s played.

    We also have Joel Campbell. He didn’t get too much game time last season, but hearing him talk, he seems to view it as a positive campaign and reckons he can do even better this year. I don’t doubt it.

    On Theo. I was totally totally done with him. But I was watching our games from last season and in the early part Theo did contribute a lot. He’ll never be the most technical player, but he adapted in the system. I also think he’s a better wide forward than striker. Also, he was coming off a knee injury. We’ve seen players come back from serious injuries like a house on fire, but then struggling. Getting out of the way of that challenge at Sunderland might well be down to him not feeling confident in his body. That may be excuse making, but what I’m saying is, I’m cautiously willing to give him another chance. Though I’ll be honest and say I’d prefer an upgrade in the wide forward role.

    The CB rumours have surprised me. As does the widely held view that we NEED a CB. I think Per’s lack of speed causes some issues, because he’s the best we have at playing out from the back. But I reckon Chambers can play that role, and the (potential) new arrival Holding looks like he’s born to play that role, though he’ll need time.

    But it did occur to me that the rumours of a CB might indicate a shift to a 3-5-2. Think about it. It takes away Per’s weakness because you have another player on the cover. Monreal can cover at CB too.And Bellerin can provide the width on the right. (this means you can also shift to a 4 at the back) Gibbs can play as a wingback or midfielder.(Or you just play Wilshere, Ox or Iwobi as LMs) We still get to keep a three man midfield where Ozil can play in the middle. And we get to play 2 up top. Giroud/Sanogo with Alexis/Walcott/Campbell/Akpom. Add another Giroud type striker (Icardi?) and you have your strike force.

  • Well done TA, a positive post for those, given a chance, could excel …
    however …
    Ignoring the Theo divider, I think this season is where our 2nd tier youngsters need to establish themselves as capable of holding down a first team place. What you are asking them to do is jump into the deep water, where most will simply drown, to take on roles which require experience. That is what you pay for in the transfer market? Not from a lack of ability, but more from the pressure of getting it right every time, and where every mistake can knock them back. This has a lot to do with confidence in their own ability, but I think that needs to be developed.

    Toral is a good example of how competitive it is. He had a really solid season on loan at Birmingham last season, but for his position as an attacking midfielder has got for more difficult now than it was two seasons ago before his injury.
    Iwobi is probably the biggest hurdle he needed to get past just to get on the fringes of first team games. I totally disagree with Dennis Seymour’s view on Iwobi’s performances last season. He started well, retained his position because the team were picking up results, but then the team around him began to change. At first it meant his positive passing was not being picked up, then followed indecisions on his part, and all that was good about his first two appearances were gone. The kid hasn’t lost his ability, nor did he stop trying. But as I have said many times before, youngsters getting themselves established cannot, by themselves, carry a team when things are not going well.
    That is the problem that all youngsters face at this time in their career, and possibly true of Theo too?
    This is why I am in favour of some of some spending in the market. I think we need to have a winning side that is already playing well, so when a young player is introduced during their transition from under 21 level to the first team, they can make mistakes while they build on their strengths. Vardy would have been great for Akpom, because by next season he could slot into the team with no problem, and be our key striker thereafter … providing he can build on what he has got already. Some of that is in his head.
    I would like to see Gnabry, yes Gnab-ry, really knuckling down and impressing in the under 21’s before making any decisions about loans for him. He has a great ally in Mesut Ozil, and he should listen and learn before his career passes him by.
    I haven’t given up on the Ox either. Personally I think he is a much better long term prospect than Campbell. But he is an example of a player trying to hard to impress, rather than working on how his positional play best supports the team around him. Circumstances, and AW conspired against him in the early part of the season. Again, not helped by us not signing a striker that might have eased the pressure on the team as a whole. He may get one more chance this season because the squad may fall short of ‘home grown’ players, if replacements elsewhere come from abroad?
    This could also apply to Gibbs, btw.
    During this spell without BK posts, I did respond to one other(O-Posts) when the question of youngsters making their breakthrough this season. The shortlist of 4 was as follows:
    Toral – mentioned above.

    My response was my usual comprehensive one, and I concluded that Bielik was the most likely. Nort a complete breakthrough, but one who might make the bench most often. This was on the thinking that if Chambers goes on loan to play more games – his reported wish – then Bielik is the most veratile, and could cover 3 positions; rb,cb, dm. That was before Holding came on the scene. He may be a starter, so the bench is still a possibility. However, Jorge Bird seems to play down this thought, whist Bielik is still learning about other positions than his natural home as a future DM. We shall see?
    ‘The Jeff’ has a lot going for him, and could well feature more often from the bench. Particularly if Walcott goes and no replacement is brought in? He has the age game over the most talented kid on the block, Riess Nelson, who, in two or three seasons will be hard to ignore, or keep out of the first team!
    Zelalem I feel still needs more development time. A loan abroad would be ideal.

    You name Sanogo TA, but alas, like Campbell – he of the woeful first touch – needs that split second too long to get the ball under control, and both will be much better suited outside of the EPL, imo.
    Maitland-Niles falls into the same category as Toral … Simply too much competition for the similar positions? Another year, if established stars fall by the wayside who knows?

    To conclude. Buy to make the team more confident. Then bring on the talent where it can blossom under no pressure.

  • 84

    You are suffering from singingitis as well. Who says that this cover for Ollie could not come from within? Akpom, Sanogo and Theo will want to be that man..

    Wenger will have a good look at these guys whilst keeping an eye on the transfermarket and the preseason is a good time to make the right decisions.

  • Shard

    I reckon you should elaborate on BY a bit for the benefit of BK readers.

    Agreed on Joel Campbell who could feature a lot in pre-season and August PL games. Wenger does actually not need to play any of the ‘young’ youngsters if he does not wish to do so:

    Bel – BFG – Gab – Nacho
    Coq – Elneny/Xhaka
    Joel – Santi – Jack

    Three at the back has its benefits but I somehow feel Wenger will not go for this. I do like the line up you presented, and this is very close to my preferred line up for next season.

    I can see Xhaka or Elneny staying deep with the two CBs, thus allowing both CBs to bomb forwards regularly but I reckon we will play again 4-2-3-1 next season, with freedom for one of the attacking midfielders to join the CF in attack continuously. I am hoping we will see a player develop into a Griezman around Giroud. The obvious candidate is Alexis, but Iwobi and indeed Campbell could do this too.

    I feel that Wenger will gradually go for Koz and Gab as his preferred CB pairing with Xhaka sitting deep to provide additional protection and leadership and BFG and Chambers being our first choice back up. It is not totally inconceivable that Wenger will turn Xhaka into a Beckenbaur-esque libero CB either. His ability to pick a long and accurate long distance pass is such a big weapon and his organisational skills are also very impressive. Not sure though whether he has the defensive abilities to be an effective CB and the deeper DM role seems to be one for him. Cannot wait to see him play for us in a red and white shirt. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Gerry

    As per above comment, I reckon we do not even need to play the youngsters if Wenger does not want to. But I reckon the likes of Akpom, Gnabry, Iwobi and Sanogo just need this period to test themselves and Wenger is very likely to do just that.

    I disagree that Ox is a better long term prospect than Campbell and your views re him and Sanogo. I guess I have had the benefit of seeing them live and therefore know how good they really are. Ox could do with an extra 1/2 second to get his game in line with the rest of the team, but like you I hope he will still come good – very unlikely though imo.

  • TA

    Wissam Ben Yedder is a 25 year old forward who plays for Toulouse in Ligue 1. My liking for him is mostly illogical. I’ve never seen him play. I only base my opinion on highlights, stats, and gut feel.

    But it appears to me that he’s got good close control, is a calm finisher, shoots with both feet, and isn’t a bad header of the ball either. He’s also been remarkably consistent in scoring with Toulouse over the past 4 years. (17, 14, 15, 16) Ok, so not a prolific goalscorer. But that’s at Toulouse. Play him as Arsenal’s striker and I think he’ll score 25 goals and would fit well into our style of play.

    The Guardian reported recently that both WestHam and Leicester are looking to buy him. That he’s in the last year of his contract and so could be available for as little as 10m euros.

  • Well Shard that sounds like an Arsene signing all over. ๐Ÿ™‚

    We probably needed between 5-10 extra goals and assists to win the league last season and we will need to get the goals from somebody. Maybe it is Theo, Akpom, Iwobi or Sanogo, or maybe it is a new signing like Yedder that will give us those extra goals.

  • TA

    Let me add that I have some form in picking Arsenal players. Just before we signed Pires and Lauren, I had bought them on FIFA for Arsenal ๐Ÿ˜›

    I’m just as excited as that about Xhaka who I had identified two years ago as Arteta’s successor (along with Lucas Silva who went to Real Madrid and it appears might be forced to retire with a heart problem) I also wanted Alexis at Arsenal in 2010, before he went to Barcelona.

    I will be upset if we let WBY go to any of these English clubs. It’s just one of those things. Obviously I’m not going to resort to abuse of the manager or decry our transfer policy. (I might like to pretend I know more than him at times, but I know I don’t) But it will be a source of disappointment.

  • I will be checking out on WBY now, Shard, and if he is indeed to join Arsenal I will credit you for it on the blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I can see Liverpool trying to press us in our own box and then Coq/Elneny and Xhaka winning the ball and the latter pinging it over to Iwobi, Theo, etc to score on a quick break. Then later in the season the combo and diversity of Xhaka, Ozil, Rambo, Ollie, Sanchez also really excites me… and now again replacing Ollie with a speedy CF is also attractive…

  • TA,

    Everyone is writing off Sanogo, Theo has shown that he is not good enough for striker, Akpom still has a couple of seasons to go before he is able to break into first team.

    For Campbell Wenger is only willing to make him a backup striker or winger, not a out and out striker.

    So, we definitely need one more.


  • You dont know Wenger very well then, 84. Unlike ‘everybody’ he does not write people off so quickly and keeps believing and developing, as per the values and key building blocks of our club. We finished second and have every chance to do well again this season, either through our current squad or adding another player. Lets see what will happen.

  • Thanks TA. From your first paragraph I see we are in 100% agreement regards to this season. This is the season where they develop, or not, without being seen as essential starters.

    On Campbell, we will have to agree to disagree. Fine player, and will do very well should he move a less congested league, and that plays to his strengths. Without doubt he puts his heart and soul into his game, and willingness to track back and win the ball back are all pluses.
    However, I don’t think being pitchside over armchair viewing of whole games, not highlights, is in anyway advantageous to spotting his poor first touch? The is not just confined to medium passes either, but to most of the touchline short passes when Bellerin needed an outlet ball.?
    Just my opinion, others can have theirs.
    Sanogo I do like as a player. However, he still reminds me of Diaby with his spindly frame. He does not look like the type that will be able to ‘bulk up’ to be another Drogba? Some players are well suited to the PL, others not so. For his sake I hope he gets out soon, before he does a complete Diaby?

    As for Ox. it may be he will ‘find himself’ with another club. If that is the case I think we will be looking back and saying ….’If only …”
    I can still remember the then Saints manager saying that his biggest asset was his vision and ability to bring others into play. This is my starting point when I said he needs to concentrate on how HIS positional play can help the team as a whole. Now that could be wide right, or attacking CM. He should not try and be everywhere. Once given the role, he should take the opportunity to show off that initial promise, and not try to promote AOC.

    As for not signing anyone up, well that is a disappointing thought. If one assumes that Chelsea, Liverpool, and the two Mancs will be better this season, it is hard to think that we will compete with only top class DM added to our ranks? Otherwise, youngsters will be dragged in at the first hint of an injury crises?
    Let us hope it does not come to that in reality, eh?

  • Some great comments made for an informative read. Thanks all

    Total – yeah my kids are all fine. Not long before I’m the shortest in my house ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Hope yours are well too

  • Good to hear it Sharkey… and it does not matter how big your kids will become, they will always look up to the master of the house ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Gerry, Ox had 100 or so PL games and is just not progressing. By all means, let’s give him another chance but my expectations are low.

  • I’m a bit conflicted on this Ox vs Campbell debate.

    I think the Ox does have a higher ceiling and is more naturally talented. However, he really needs to play according to what the game demands. Too often he sets off on one of his runs rather than using his skill properly, which ultimately lead to losing possession. Partly this is a mental issue, and perhaps borne of trying too much to impress. Also, his injuries probably have affected his development.

    But, and this is my main concern, he seems to run with his head down rather than up. If it were purely a mental issue, I’d say he’d play out of it. But since he doesn’t keep his head up while running, it appears to me a far more fundamental issue. Can he ‘unlearn’ this bad habit? I hope so, but ‘unlearning’ is one of the hardest things to do once you attain a certain level of competency.

    As for Campbell. He seems to me to be a very intelligent player who makes the most of what he’s got. He plays within himself too and just does what is needed. If he can convince the manager to give him increased game time, I think he can really thrive. He doesn’t need to be a world beater (he isn’t). He just needs to fit and make the most of our system. Which I think he’s capable of doing.

  • Fully agreed, Shard. Joel is an intelligent player who plays to make the team better and be dangerous himself as much as he can. I do not get that from the Ox even though he possesses more raw, technical qualities.

  • Campbell always shows himself to be a strong team player. Even before he started to flourish, you knew you could always trust him to do his defensive work in a wholehearted fashion.
    Then when he started to blossom….OMG…some of his passing was Ozilesque.
    Glad the rumours of him leaving have subsided a bit ๐Ÿ™‚

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