The One Player Arsenal Need: Dutch, Delightful and Devastating in Attack

There is no doubt that Arsenal need to improve their defending next season. Only two teams in the PL top-ten conceded more goals than us and Citeh and Pool combined ‘goals against’ was lower than ours. For quite a while now we are rubbish at defending, and although we could improve the quality of our individual defenders this summer it remains to be seen whether it would make much, if any, difference.

With Holding and Bellerin back at some point this Autumn, we should have more than decent options to choose from at the back. It would be good to add a quality LB and of course I would not mind a quality CB either, but unless they are of the ‘Van Dijk’ pedigree I don’t think it would make much difference. It is time to build the defence around the Holding-Sokratis axis, supported by Bels (and Nacho, at least for one more season).

What is as important to defending is the set-up of the midfield and the instructions they will get in terms of protecting the back. And this is where Emery appears to be all over the place. One (half of a) game we play more compact, sit back and look to play on the counter, and the next one we stretch ourselves and the midfield is split vertically between supporting the attack and somehow offer some protection to the defence as well. As a result our defending becomes kamikaze, we look disorganised and our defenders have to deal with loads of unprotected space for opponents’ attackers to run riot in. The difference with the likes of Pool and Citeh is immense: when they lose the ball whilst attacking the opponent, the shape of the team remains strong and relatively little space is given away. As a result, their defenders are able to remain calm and organised and very few  goals are conceded, despite the attacking nature of these teams. They also seldom suffer bad injuries, whereas our defenders suffers badly physically from all that last-ditch defending, with devastating consequences.

The question is whether our defending as a team will get much better under Emery, and I remain sceptical, very sceptical. I reckon we have to hope for an even more lethal attack next season to make progress in the table. Citeh managed to score 22 goals more goals than us, and with the likes of Auba, Mesut and Laca in the team we have the potential to get much closer to them this time round.

And if there is one position I would like us to buy a top quality player for to make this happen, it is on the wings. We have Iwobi and Nelson and then there is Auba who is also positioned on the wing during most of our games. But none of these are as yet the quality wingmen we so desperately need. A fit Bellerin and further improved Kolasinac offer good additional attacking wingplay from deeper in the team, but to get the very best out of Mesut, Auba and Laca we really, really need a Hazard-esque winger.

Non-participation in CL football is of course not great when trying to attract such a quality player. So it needs to be somebody who still has some years ahead of him and who can be convinced that Arsenal are going places again. Somebody with a strong desire to win and with high levels of intrinsic motivation and, of course, the quality to really make a difference.

That player is somebody I have been watching carefully recently. He is Dutch, delightful on and with the ball, and devastating in front of goal: Memphis Depay. Memphis is Ligue 1 leader in key passes, with 3.1 pass on average per game. He is fourth in terms of assists (10) and shared second for crosses per match. He scored 10 goals this season, which is an area where the (only) 25 year old still can improve, but 10 extra goals from the wings next season would make a big difference, no doubt.


Depay would bring that extra energy and desire to our attack, a bit like Sanchez used to bring. But Memphis is much more of a team player than the self-adoring Chilean; and I have no doubt that his cooperation with Ozil, Laca and Auba would make all the difference, allowing all of them to shine even more next season. He worked his socks of in the Dutch national team to give them an attacking edge somehow, and it’s those performances that made me think that he is The man we need at Arsenal next season.

I am not sure whether he can be bought away from Lyon, but if I was Emery – and therefore allergic to defending – I would spend all our money on Memphis Depay this summer.

By TotalArsenal.

24 thoughts on “The One Player Arsenal Need: Dutch, Delightful and Devastating in Attack

  • If we’re going to get back to being a force in the next decade, we need to start buying the best players, such as a Depay from lesser leagues. We’re currently being linked with KT from Celtic, why wouldn’t we have targeted Moussa Dembele before he moved to Lyon himself. Seems easy to be a scout by video, but harder for our guys to actually do anything. Hopefully our inaction has more to do with Edu not being in the Technical Director role yet. We did seem more decisive last year when Sven was around.

  • There’s a lot of good young wide players on the market, the money situation and us needing to find a group of players is making it more difficult. May have to ship out some players, I think Ozil would be one of those only again it’s a money situation making things difficult. Emery would’ve came out and said Ozil ain’t going anywhere, if he was a fan I’m sure he would say something on it (instead we hear his agent saying: how Ozil is happy and has a contract). Look at Auba and Laca, first order of business was to get their agents and start the negotiations, if the reports were true.

  • I dunno, TA. Depay is an explosive player, who will certainly give us that fear factor in offense but having already had a stint in the EPL and made to look ordinary after an initially bright start, will he have it in him to prove United wrong the way Salah and Kevin De Bruyne did Chelsea? It will be up to him.

    I watched him a bit in the Nations league and noticed how matured he looks/played and that may have been because he is at a club where he plays every game. With the top players at Arsenal and potential for changing dynamics in EPL games, unique to each opponent, he may not get that kind of status, especially with Emery in charge. I can imagine the fans and media out in their numbers to criticize the club for blowing its transfer kitty on an offensive player when we have all kinds of problems defending. A stubborn (earned from early years of success and that shiny new stadium) Wenger may pull it off, but not the current management, who need to work to bring a new era of success to the club.

    Having said all that, it looks like an idea worth exploring, if we can still have enough money (player sales and Europa participation money) to buy to improve those areas we appear to be short. Then, I will be all for it.

  • Hi LeesburgG (you based in USA?), Like you I am hoping the lack of activity is due to internal appointments and remits being settled…

  • Hi Domo, yes Ozil needs the full love and appreciation by the manager in order to shine for us and Emery does not seem to be giving him this, at least not in public. This is likely not to end well, unfortunately..

  • Cheers Eris, Memphis is a great talent but he went too early to the PL, as Eredivisie players often do, unfortunately. But he is a bit older now and did not play every game in France either, I believe. He also has found some inner peace recently by reconnecting to religion and becoming more mature. I don’t expect him to join us, and as far as I know there have been no rumours either, but really believe he would make a big difference.

    I get your point re fans believing we need to invest in defence first, though.

  • He did look mature for The Netherlands and even Lyon in the CL, I’ll admit. The chances he will leave Lyon, who play in the CL next season (I believe) to join Arsenal are low, though.

    No rumours about him…. yet. There are rumours (or even real interest) which get started by reading the blogs. You never know. 😜

  • TA, am completely sold on your arguement that our poor defensive record has a good lot to do with poor protection of our defenders. Even Van Dyke wouldn’t be able to handle vast spaces around him. That makes my priority a big physical and athletic presence in the central midfield. If all the stories about Arsenal not minding about Torreira leaving is true, it would be to use his money for such a presence. That’s ok by me, not because he is not a good player but we need a better fit for the unathletic Xhaka or Douzi.

    Left back is another priority area. Kieran Tierney that we are been linked to would be a good acquisition. He is the kind of player we should be investing on. Young, with great potentials but not yet too expensive.

    Because of low funds, am not rooting for a new central defender. I might be man alone here. We already have, Sokr, Kosh, Holding, Musti, Chambers and maybe Bielik. Not the best CD line up, but up front should be a bigger priority. That’s where a top player like Menphis comes in.

    It isn’t the best that we would have two top strikers, when the team is still so unbalanced. Am expecting that one of them would be sold, possibly Laca. Martinelli already acquired can be a cover. In a 4:2:3:1 formation our attacking 3 becomes our weakest link. Ozil is a great.player but it doesn’t work for Emery. So we are left with Iwobi and Mkhi and the Acadeny players. I would do with a Menphis Depay there. Laca’s money would get him.

  • Very bold suggestion there, PE, to sell Laca. However, I also see a problem with the compulsion to play both when it causes us some measure of discomfort forcing Auba to play from wide and only coming centrally, occasionally. For good money, I’d sell any one of Auba and Laca; and I am talking upwards of £65m, irrespective of the buying team.

    As for Torreira, he is on a long enough contract and may be sold, only if we want to sell. If it is to bring in a player whois a better fit to play with Xhaka, even better. If we choose to retain him, then he will stay and do well, notwithstanding that interview he had which, I maintain, was published out of context.

  • Hi Eris and PE, are you guys watching the ACN games? I saw a couple of halves of games and really liked the tempo and desire to attack. Senegal look sooo strong and athletic; one of the favourites?

    PE, I don’t think we will be selling either Laca or Auba. We lost goal scorers Rambo and Welbeck already and that leaves us with very few players who are good at it. It would be a gamble to find players who are goal-scoring guarantees, and we just cannot afford that risk. Imagine Auba getting injured and Laca already been sold…. it would alarm phase one for us. Of course, if the club takes a long term view and wants to bring on youth instead, then that would not be impossible but it would be risky, very risky.

  • “.. it would be risky, very risky” @ TA. That’s the name of the game. It’s always a gain one way and a loss the other way unless one is Citech with all the money in the world. Laca @74.2% passing success and Auba out of position @ 74% actually assures more goals at BOTH ends of the field but only one end would be apparent. If we are ambitious enough we should keep both of them but use them one at a time. The latter is a luxury I don’t believe we can afford at this stage of our team rebuilding.

  • Cheers PE, if we sell one and not replace like for like we will have to hope for 40 points and not get relegated. It is imo not a luxury but necessity… but happy to agree to disagree >)

  • TA, of course, I am watching the ACN (speaking for myself) and it’s not disappointed yet, save for some minnows serving up conservative styles while being very aggressive. One thing is guaranteed at the AFCON: physicality! Then skills. Most of the big hitters have played and it’s been as expected, except for Italy who played a draw with Angola.

    Senegal are the favourites but we have to wait to see who they get in the knock out phase and how they fare; then we can really know.

  • Unfortunately for me, I may have to endure not being able to see ALL the games, from tonight. I leave the country for Toronto and I know my provider isn’t showing the games; I shall seek another provider soon as I return from a 7-day family vacation to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

  • Tunisia, it is. Thanks. Not sure how that became “Italy”; but these things happen when you’re typing and the call for boarding is made.

    Thanks, TA. I’ll sure try to enjoy it.

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