…. For Better or For Worse?!
GN5 posted this list of ins and outs at Arsenal this summer:
OUTS: Aaron Ramsey, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Cohen Bramall, Julio Plegezuelo, Charlie Gilmour, David Ospina, Daniel Ballard, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Ben Sheaf, Xavier Amaechi, Krystian Bielik, Takuma Asano, Carl Jenkinson, William Saliba, Danny Welbeck, Dominic Thompson, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Eddie Nketiah, Alex Iwobi, Nacho Monreal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mohamed Elneny, Kelechi Nwakali.
INS: Gabriel Martinelli, Dani Ceballos, William Saliba, Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney, David Luiz
Now I totally understand that in order to give young players a chance and to offset money spent on new players, we have to let go some players. But sending 25 players away, either for good or on loan, is quite something. If you look at this list, you will see a lot of youngsters who simply need a chance to play football which Emery just could not offer them this season. Fair enough, and hopefully a few will come back better, wiser and stronger.
However, the bloodletting of experienced Gunners on our left side worries me a lot, but also excites me a bit. Left back Nacho especially will be missed; it puts a lot of pressure on Tierney and the more-winger-than-left-back Kolasinac. It is a long season and I reckon Emery may come to regret this decision… if indeed he was involved in it.
But there is more left side player-depletion to deal with this season: Iwobi is gone, Mkhi is gone, Koscielny our LCB is gone, Welbeck is gone. You could also argue that Elneny and Ramsey played a lot on the left side of the team and they are also gone. Together these players wore the Arsenal shirt for well over a 1000 games (I would imagine), and they will be missed.
So we got new signings Tierney and Luiz to support the left side of the defence and we should be really pleased with them. In attack we added Pepe, Ceballos and Martinelli, and I reckon only Martinelli will re-strengthen the left side a bit. I say a bit because he is still young and it will take time for him to settle in and become effective. There are also high hopes for Saka and Nelson but also they are young and it will take time before they can make us forget the goals, assists and key passes of the likes of Iwobi, Mkhi, Welbeck and Ramsey. The cup games cannot come soon enough for them.
What’s interesting, though, in the last game Emery opted for a flat-three in midfield with Guendouzi on the left, and maybe that’s a sign of what is to come. He certainly had his best game since joining Arsenal and was much more effective than when he was played on the right v Pool the weekend before. I also reckon we will see more of the PALs starting games together with Auba on the left wing. I am still not sure whether this gives us the best attacking balance – a creative midfielder who is comfortable on the left wing may still make us stronger, and I believe the letting go of both Mkhi and especially Iwobi may bite us in the backside sooner or later – but to go out All Guns Blazing is attractive and will put fear in many opponents. It also seems to totally fit Emery’s ‘5-4’ philosophy.
So thinking about this, we may well end up with a left side of Tierney(Kola), Guendouzi, Auba, and LCB Luiz this season, with cameos for Nelson, Kola (once Tierney has established himself), Martinelli, Saka, and possibly ESR and Ceballos.
That is quite some change on the left side and we will lack a lot of experience – and that includes our back-up options – but it will also bring freshness and, with a bit of luck with injuries and especially Tierney hitting the ground running rather sooner than later, it could make us stronger this season.