We are still in the hunt for a top four finish in the league. We are in the semi final of the FA cup. Nothing that much different from our history over the last 12 seasons. Yet it is tasting all different. The Arsenal fandom who are unable to put up with perennial second best seem to have hit a critical mass and the toxicity in the air is threatening to choke the very life out of the club. Some of the fans are lashing out at the Board and the majority share holder, others at the players, but Wenger is sandwiched between the two and bears the brunt of the outcry.  Is he going to quit or will he hang on? That decision lies solely with him because there is a 2 year contract already on the table waiting for his signature. Whether he signs or not, the least that Arsenal Football Club can do to display some concern for the sentiments of the fans is re-enforce the team in a manner that would give hope that the club has finally acquired the will for the step up to the very top.

To successfully take that final step requires some brilliant signings. Signings that MUST IMPROVE the starting 11. It is a wide field with plenty to choose from, but I will not be suggesting names here. Suffice it to say that we need as our minimum requirement a brilliant left full back, a well rounded defensive midfielder who can play both sides of the ball and a world class striker.

For this exercise we constitute the present squad as :  (Cech, Ospina), (Bellerin, Debuchy, Jenkinson), (Mustafi, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Chambers, Holdng), (Monreal, Gibbs), (Coquelin, Elneny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla), (Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott, Wilshere, Campbell), (Giroud, Perez, Sanogo). We assume we will be able to keep all our top players.

Come 2017/18, the 1st eleven that I would like to see is: (X denotes new 1st team signings)






To help recoup part of the fund for the three top new signings, the club would need to sell a minimum of six players from amongst the following 12 players : Debuchy, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Monreal, Gibbs, Elneny, Ramsey, Wilshire, Campbell, Perez and Sanogo. Any deficit in the squad numbers would be filled by promoting from the academy.

Gooners, what are your opinions? Do you have names of top players you wish signed (maximum 3)? Do we unearth or do we go Galatico? And who are the ones you want sold or allowed to go (minimum 3)? Remember that buying or selling is never a trolley dash.

Planning and dreaming help make it clearer why we must roll up our sleeves and keep fighting. To the drawing board, all hands!

by Pony Eye


  • Super star signings?Even with a few ss,.Arsenal have been unable to challenge and a collapse every spring is a regular event. Tactically,opponents know how Wenger likes to play.
    His obsession with possession and passing frenzy with a reluctance to shoot and head are the flaws in his game plan.All the other other teams have to do is wait for the gunner attack to break down through an interception/misdirected pass and hit on the break.
    Look at the no times the gunners have lost to the other teams and you will know what I mean,
    This Sundays game against MCis,imho,make or break for Wenger.Lose and the clamour his exit will really reverberate around ES so much so the US ownwer will have to take action.

  • Always an interesting topic PE. Before I respond would you be able to clarify:

    1. How you envisage Arsenal will primarily attack in that 4231 setup (e.g. Sit deep cede possession and counter attack, patiently monopolise possession in the opponents’ half and probe for an opening to thread eye of the needle passes, monopolise possession in oppositions half looking for long range shooting opportunities, a focus on creating crossing opportunities, etc)?

    2. How you envisage Arsenal will primarily defend in that 4231 setup (e.g. play a high line and rely on the back four to scramble, the back four and 2 CDMs sit deep with the front four positioned on the halfway line ready to counter attack, everyone in the defensive half, etc)?

    3. How you envisage Arsenal will transition from defence to attack (e.g. long range passes from the CDMs and fullbacks, forward dribbles from CDMs and fullbacks, short calculated passes forward from the the CDMs and fullbacks to our front four who drop deep to receive the ball, etc)?

    Knowing the envisaged system of play on and off the ball within that 4231 setup is important as it will dictate the ideal transfer targets and who from Arsenal’s current squad should should be sold.

  • We need the following players in the X departments:
    Defensive X: currently there are only a few quality left backs, and most of them are not in the EPL. We need to look overseas for a good left back.

    Midfield X: We need another Cesc. Or Santi.

    Attacking X: Two Alexis perhaps? On his best behaviour.


  • Hey PE… Cheers for the post…

    I made some tiny edits to it and then went to bed hoping that maybe you’d get a few comments during my overnight… Only a couple, but maybe some more folks will weigh in…

    I always appreciate your enthusiasm (and your inimitable style)…but this one, for me at least, feels premature. A LOT needs to be clarified before we get towards transfer season. The big one is who will be the manager which will then drive all the decisions about playing personnel. Unfortunately, I fear it is a big stretch to think that we’ll be able to keep all the players we’d like to… Also, if the manager (Wenger or somebody new…) feels “fiscally restrained,” (which, IMO, is a message sent down from ownership…) I think we’ll continue with the notion that you always get more value for money by re-signing your own players rather than by buying new ones.

    I’ve got to run this morning but maybe later I can get into the specific names in the (my) afternoon.

    Cheers again…

  • Waldo,

    You are a Pep. The minutest detail matters.👍👍👍
    Here, my humble opinions.

    Q1). Our undoing this season is that we have been so poor when the opponents have the ball. This is less due to poor instruction and more to the type of players we have. A new well rounded DMF can only improve the situation marginally. A tree cannot make a forest. Therefore our best way of defending should be by denying the opposition possession. Slow patient build up becomes our best strategy with the personnel we have even though the fans hate it. The quick transition, though more incisive, has a lot more turnovers and must be backed up with gengen pressing for it to be worth its salt. We have shown poor attitude for high pressing. Ozil is its weak point and Ozil is important to us.

    Q2) In patient build up, the team moves forward and backward together. Therefore defending is primarily by keeping a compact shape. Dominating possession in opponent’s half means a defensive high line.

    Q3). Our transition though chiefly by slow build up, cannot exclude, when the opportunity presents itself, the longer incisive passes with players like Xhaka and Ozil in our ranks.

    This way of playing doesn’t usually present 6-0 wallopings either way. It’s results are more predictable.

  • njk,

    Am with you. I can’t see any LB in the epl that is much of an improvement on Nacho or Gibbs.

    For the CMF, specifically DMF I would keep dreaming of a certain Carzola and Coquelin rolled into one.

    Striker? I see Sanchez as a prolific goal scorer lacking the temperament of a striker who sometimes has to do absolutely nothing but wait. He is a natural support striker.

  • HT,

    Thanks for the edits. Your two feet are so well planted on the ground. Me? I swing. By the way, what do you tell your team 3-0 down at half time? You can’t begin to talk tactics. Find a way to bough them up. Lift them up to the high heveans and who knows, it might end up a game of two halves.

  • Nice one, PE. In the ideal world, this is the way to view squads before the summer as you make plans for the next season’s squad list. Unfortunately, it may not always work out (as is likely in the case of Arsenal this summer) because there are a few uncertainties dogging our ability to make plans; key of which is the Manager’s future. Then, whether Ozil and/or Sanchez stay or go.

    Otherwise, I am in agreement with the positions which need new faces; for LB, I find any one of Ryan Bertrand and Luke Shaw (both EPL ready) a slight improvement on Gibbs, for one. But my pick will be Schalke 04’s Sead Kolasinac; he is my dream pick for LB. For the DM role, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye (EPL) or Monaco’s Bakayoko will both be upgrades on Coquelin, in my view; but I will think the manager, whoever it is, should decide that one, as well as the choice of striker. I would have liked to have Lukaku but read that he’s almost on his way back to Chelsea.

    If we were to lose Ozil, the man we must go for is Madrid’s Isco. Keeps the ball well, can be nippy and able to thread passes through defences. As for departures, I feel the likes of Debuchy, Jenkinson, Sanogo and Mertesacker will be leaving. It is possible to consider selling Jack, Gibbs, Campbell and Perez (because we read he is unhappy and deserves playing time somewhere else, if he won’t get it here). Like I said, all of the above is if we have “all things being equal” in an ideal world.

  • Goonereris,

    No harm having a plan, and adjusting as things unfold. I do wonder why we’ve developed so much inferiority complex to believe that our best players can just be snatched from us so easily. How many teams in Europe would be ready to pay very much in excess of £200K per week wages for Ozil say, which is about what he is demanding. Not many. And most of the few that can are already stocked full.

    I like your choices. Kolasinac, Gueye and Lukaku which gives:-

    Debuchy, Jenkinson, Per, Sanogo, Campbell and Perez look like sure bet departures to me.

  • Back now in the afternoon (for me)…

    I’m still at least a tiny bit hopeful that we can get up for a CL position even if I still believe that it would be easier to do so if AW announced that he was not signing a new contract. Like I’ve said before, I think there could be a (massive) relief of pressure and that the support would rally around the manager (in a send-off mode) which would also benefit the players–and thus results–as they audition for their new manager–at Arsenal or somewhere else.

    Playing in the CL makes a big difference when it comes to attracting talent our way. Having a manager with a strong reputation does also. Wenger is one such manager but players would also know that they were coming into a poisoned environment. High wages would attract some–even w/o CL football–but would they be of the very highest quality? I wonder. Plundering other English teams (Liverpool’s modus operandi, esp. from Southampton) is maybe a way forward. Like TA wrote in the previous post, we would need players who are ready to go, not ones who are young and untested and/or ones with iffy fitness or injury histories. The list of talented guys we’ve bought who have proven to lack durability is rather unbelievable… It’s not their fault but constantly working their way back from injury hurts the team. How often have guys like Rosicky, Diaby, Ramsey, Wilshere, Theo, the Ox, Gibbs, etc., etc., played when they were not at the top of their games?…

    So, in the end, I’d wish away the hateful anti-Wenger atmosphere, have us go on a winning run (in the league and cup–While watching teams like our friends just to the north melt like chocolate in the sun)–and then have our fine manager buy some good new players while being able to keep our best ones too. Do I think this will happen? Sorry, but I do not…

    Instead I fear a big turnover (including selling some players with real market value–Alexis and Bellerin, maybe the Ox, Wilshere and Ramsey–PE, you make a good point about Ozil’s wages…) and many of the others you mention (not my avatar guy, Elneny, please…) and having to buy a plethora of new players, many of whom would have to be considered 2nd tier, if not totally off the radar…

    Again, sorry…

  • l have a feeling the club would try to move the final gear up this time. My worry is whether Wenger can make the choicest signings. I fear hes gotten addicted to bargain buys. Fetches the wrong fellow because of a few quid or otherwise being a little bit too clever with his signings looking for the exotic buy. I fear Lukaku would not excite him because the whole world know about him.

    if am asked to predict I’d say Wenger ain’t quiting. Even Bill Clinton admitted he wouldn’t have minded a 3rd term. The project never concludes. Further more the club is least ready to fill the mighty void Wenger’s absence will create.

    We just have to trudge on Wenger or no Wenger.

  • Evening All

    My son texted me this afternoon with the offer of a ticket for the Man City game…
    I needed to work this weekend, but the opportunity to spend some quality time with my son over rides driving my cab, so I shall be at the Emirates Stadium, resplendent in its Arsenalisation, this Sunday, and shall take in the atmosphere.
    I will of course report back to base on what I see, hear and feel in our stadium.

    An early Arsenal goal will be, I suspect, critical to the general vibe of the place with the threat of revolution in the air, it’s a 1776 situation, brother against brother (sorry girls) civil war between Gooners, never have I known such a damaging schism in the fan base.

    Promises of jam tomorrow have a hollow sound to supporters who’ve heard empty promises for too long. Transfer treasure chests, parity with Bayern, it’s all a bit weary some to those of us with long memories of underinvestment from Arsenal directors of yore and of today.

    Arsenal are one of the wealthiest sporting institutions in the world so maybe they should act like it this summer if Arsene does indeed stay, as I suspect he will, barring a complete meltdown between now and May.

    The two games vs Man City are crucial, as are the visit to White Hart Lane and the visits to N.5 of Koeman and Mourinho, two managers who Arsene just cannot crack.

    The rest of this season has minefield written all over it, enjoy the ride… 😳

  • Excellent one, PE.

    Benjamin Mendy (Monaco) for the left full-back position. Why? He is physical enough not to be bullied in a way Monreal has been this season and capable of making overlaps down the wing with a decent final product (8 assists in all competitions).

    Gregorz Krychowiak (PSG) for the defensive midfield position. Why? He is physical enough not to be bullied in 50-50s as often happens to our central midfielders, he is excellent in protecting the back four and, here is a big one, he might be available on a bargain price next summer given that he has gone through a stinker at PSG this season, mostly because PSG don’t need a player of his (mostly) defensive qualities in their league as they have the ball all the time.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) for the striker position. Why? He is physical enough to endure whatever English football throws at him, is pacier than any other striker in the world and can score loads of goals with a decent supply.

    As you might have noticed, the physical part would play the most important role in my rebuild which means getting both pacy and strong players.


    Mathieu Debuchy – injuries have destroyed his career; he has a year or two of a serious football in himself but not at the club of our level.

    Gabriel – too raw and, I’m afraid, too old to become more intelligent on the pitch.

    Nacho Monreal – I like him more than Gibbs but Gibbs is both younger and Englishman and with Article 50 in action, you never know what kind of consequences it will have on the transfer business and squad requirements. Nacho is over 30 and might relish playing in a league that is less physical than the English one.

    Francis Coquelin – if he wants to act irresponsible on the pitch just because he got a new contract, he should be asked to leave. I like him but he wants to be something that he is not.

    Yaya Sanogo – no need for him.

    Lucas Perez – it’s not about his lack of quality (because he has pace, aggression, crossing with his left foot and strong left foot) but because we’ll have to sell players in order to get money for better ones. Wenger doesn’t seem to like him and use him sparingly. Perez hasn’t impressed while playing in the starting line-up.

    Theo Walcott – yes, he is an Englishman just like Gibbs but I don’t see any team winning titles with Theo playing an important role. With Aubameyang and fit Welbeck, possibly even Akpom or some other young Gunner promoted, our attack would have enough pace and Walcott wouldn’t be The Pacy One anymore.

  • Admir,

    Your points are so well marshalled. Benjamin Mendy looks a handful. Giroud would love him. It’ll be a dream, having Aubemayang in our ranks. A true world class. For the DM, please take a closer look at Idrissa Gana Gueye of Everton. He has the best tackling and interception stats in Europe’s top 5 leagues for this season. Ngolo Kante and whoever are all trailing him. He is the best at winning the ball and excellent transiting the ball. He’d fit perfectly into the Arsenal team. Not a bulky player but very effective.

    For the offloads, I’d be minded to keep le Coq. Our squad lacks ball winners and I feel he might make a good RB which is a position that doesn’t require much creative passing. And Walcott? Who would want to buy him with that wage tag? He is ours forever.

  • New Post…And apologies (in advance) for its length…

    And don’t fret, JK, a match preview will be coming… 😀

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