Three Big Remaining Arsenal Squad Questions

So the new season is upon us and the question is are Arsenal ready to go?

It is not easy to answer this question just based on the preseason friendlies. The Millwall and Watford games saw us score loads of goals but they are not deemed equal opposition; and the Chavs and Spuds games we lost both narrowly in tightly fought encounters. Feel free to pull conclusions from these games but I cannot do so.

The squad was good and has seen good improvements in defence and midfield. Keeping Xhaka will provide great continuity for the Arteta philosophy – Granit is his embodiment on the pitch – and IF (and it is a big IF) Partey can stay fit for most of the season and Sambi Lokonga can hit the ground running in his absence, I reckon we will see a step improvement in deep midfield.

The big remaining questions are:

  1. Will we get an extra ‘nr10’ midfielder, given that ESR, Azeez and possibly Saka are all still very young (but super exciting prospects)?
  2. Will we get an extra ‘more allround’ CF?
  3. Who is going to be our nr.2, and even our nr.1, goal keeper?

I would like to hear your views.

For what it is worth, here are my views:

  1. With the imminent departure of Joe Willock it looks like we are going to get a talented, youngish creative midfielder before the TW shuts. We need a player who is two seasons ahead in their development compared to ESR and will give him healthy competition. I like the sound of Maddison but reckon that we are actually after somebody else. Adding a ready to hit the ground nr10 is of course very exciting so let’s hope it will materialize.
  2. This would not surprise me, but I reckon we will get goals from the current squad. With 1.7 PL goals per game since Christmas, the boys know how to find the net again. The big question is what to expect from Auba. He has had a poor season and seemed not really present for some (good) reasons. His confidence may still be low but I predict another 19-25 PL goals this season. Letting one of Auba and Laca go soon would also make sense, as long as we replace them. In a nutshell, I don’t expect a extra CF to join us anytime soon.
  3. I really don’t know. Leno seems to be aware he is not regarded as automatic nr1 anymore…. and the club have been linked with other established goalkeepers. It would not surprise me if a quality GK is bought in the next two weeks and I hope Arsenal do.

And yes I do think Arsenal

What do you think?

Finally, where are Arsenal going to finish this season?

By TotalArsenal.

43 thoughts on “Three Big Remaining Arsenal Squad Questions

  • Get Odegaard and a goalkeeper, that’s all we need to maintain, or even improve on, our second- half form of last season.
    Lokonga looks a pretty good replacement for Ceballos and Tavares addresses the substitute LB challenge of last season
    With no European football(and therefore less games to play), our coaches would have no excuses whatsoever not to get us into top six, at least

  • Cheers Corporate,

    I would not mind Odegaard returning, but I cannot say to be super excited about it. I missed the healthy aggression and focus in the guy at times.

  • I agree with you Total his play was lacking “bite” in the EPL you don’t have the luxury of time and space – you need to make it yourself which demands an aggressive approach to the game. But when given the time and space his play was very smooth and silky.

  • GunnerN5 says:
    I’m re- posting our competitions to see if any other Bkers want to join us,
    Here we go – this is week one of our prediction competition.

    Simply predict “H” for a home win “A” for an away win or “D” for a draw.
    The star indicate a correct score game.
    1 point for each correct prediction.
    2 points for each correct score.
    4 points for most correct predictions.

    Week 1 games are:-

    Brentford v Arsenal *
    Manchester United v Leeds
    Chelsea v Crystal Place
    Newcastle v West Ham
    Tottenham v Manchester City *
    Borussia Dortmund v Eintract Frankfurt *
    This is our second competition.
    Just indicate 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss.

    At the end of each week and period I will report:-
    1. How many points you predicted.
    2.How many correct predictions you made.

    Here are Arsenal’s first ten games:-

    1 2021-08-13 Brentford v Arsenal
    2 2021-08-22 Arsenal v Chelsea
    3 2021-08-28 Manchester City v Arsenal
    4 2021-09-11 Arsenal v Norwich City
    5 2021-09-18 Burnley v Arsenal
    6 2021-09-26 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
    7 2021-10-02 Brighton v Arsenal
    8 2021-10-16 Arsenal v Crystal Palace
    9 2021-10-23 Arsenal v Aston Villa
    10 2021-10-30 Leicester City v Arsenal

  • TA, here are my opinion
    1. With willock gone (sad i actaully want to write a blog on this, i will find time and send it to you), we may get Maddison or Ode, but it will be closer to end of Window.
    2. I would love to sell both or either Auba and Laca , get a 24-26 yr striker to lead our line. i wouldn’t hold my breath.
    3. Would love to have someone better at commanding the box but i guess we are stuck with leno and we will get a backup.
    For me the Center Mid still remains a concern. Please note that Partey and Mo are gone for 6 weeks for AFCON. Sambi is an upgraded version of Guen and love him, looks classy. But we will be left with only Sambi and Xhaka, we need one more but i guess it may be AMN and kick the can for next season.

  • TA, missed your last question.
    I believe that Arsenal will finish between 6-8. If Arsenal are not at 35 points (18 games) by end of Dec, Arteta should go. We have to target 70 points this season to have any chance of finishing between 4-8.

  • I cannot fathom why Gooners feel Leno is not up to standard. It is what I call the Xhaka syndrome, where everyone disses someone who is actually above average, for invalid reasons. He has done better than Martinez, who I really liked.
    If willock leaves, another young gunner similar to White or Tierney would do very nicely thank you.
    Anyone suggesting we get rid of Arteta is either smiking their breakfast or totally unaware of what we have in him. He is still rebuilding after the damage done by Emery and it will take another season to solidify the team and rebuild the chemistry but watching our recent performances, i am confident we can finish in the top 6 this season.

  • Madhu, a post from you would be very welcome.

    I don’t think we can sell both Auba and Laca simultaneously. What if the new CF gets injured?

  • TA, I don’t feel confident answering your last question until the club answers your other questions + one of my own!

    1.Like you, I would be very surprised if Maddison joins us and believe it may be someone else. Maybe Ode but he needs to move up a level with his aggression and his shooting.

    2. Right now I would prefer to keep Laca over Auba. He gives far more to the team. We don’t have anyone else who hwo can hold the ball up like him and he can be very effective when pressing. I believe that he would have scored a lot more goals last season if he had been given more starts. As he has only 1 more season left on his contract though, we are more likely to sell him due to Auba’s ridiculous contract which is a shame. Maybe Tammy will replace him but, I don’t see that as an upgrade.

    3. I don’t agree with OMG about Leno. Our defence looked far more comfortable in front of Martinelli. He was better at commanding his box and his communication and distribution were better. It will be difficult to get better than Leno now that we are not in European competition though. I’m disappointed that Ryan wasn’t given more of a chance.

    4. I think it might be better for both parties if Bellerin moves on. He has been a great servant to the club but I think a change would do him good. I like Chambers and Cedric but neither is as good as prime-Bellerin so, is that an area we should look to strengthen?

  • Cheers OX10,

    I prefer Laca to Auba too. Auba for me should not start many games but become our super sub instead.

    Saka, Laca, Pepe all have goals in them and I would start most games with those three upfront.

  • OMG, I feel that the problem with Leno is his commanding of his space and ability to catch high balls rather than punch. Punching will lead to danger coming back in but catching kills the move. I can’t comment on his playing from back which is a very specialised skill but commanding your box and catching balls is more basic.
    I agree with OX10 that Ryan should have been backup this season as well. Atleast one headache would have been.avoided.
    TA regarding forwards either one of them going and getting another striker will only do us good. Let’s see the rumour around Tammy is any good or not.

  • Out of interest, who among us voted for DB10? He had my vote for a number of reasons; more than any player he transformed our club, he made other players around him better, his technique, especially his first touch was otherworldly, he never left us for another club.

  • I’m on holiday and have little internet time, but the posts and the comments are so exciting and interesting, so I have to undertake some conflict with the missus. 🙂

    On strikers: no matter whom we prefer, only Lacazette is marketable. Auba is simply unsaleable, and it has little to do with his current form. (I might have to reconsider this point if/when Willian gets sold without us playing 10+ million to the “buyer”, as the reasons are identical. But if Willian goes – extremely unlikely, but Romano is convinced – then there is still chance for Auba.) However for the time being we are stuck with him, and I wouldn’t prefer to sell Lacazette though. Nevertheless if we manage to sell him, I sincerely hope that we won’t buy a replacement, as we are well stacked on strikers. Even if we sell or loan one of the youngsters (which is not yet on the table, but there are 3 more weeks in this transfer window) we would still have plenty of options up front. And I don’t see Abraham making us any stronger.

    On Leno: I’m with OMG with this one. Leno is not error-free (but neither is Ter-Stegen, Allison, Simon, De Gea, Neuer or were Seaman, Lehmann, Kahn, etc.), but he doesn’t make more costly mistakes than the PL average. And Madhu is also right that Bernd’s aerial command is not on par with the top keepers of the world. Yet, when it comes to reflexes he is one of the best shotstoppers, if not the very best. It makes sense to debate whether he is better or worse than Martinez (who has weaker reflexes, but superior positional awareness and a more precise right foot for distribution), but hinting that he is a constant liability or not Arsenal standard is just low. He is a class above Cech (late years), Ospina or Szczesny, as well as Ramsdale, Johnstone and Raya. Onana is a different story though, but we are not there yet.
    By the way, do you know many (top) teams where the concept of 2 world class goalkeepers compete for the starting spot actually worked out?

    On AMs: TA is perfectly right in Odegaard showing his talent but lacking the “bite” or aggression that needed to become a success in the PL. Yet it doesn’t mean that he cannot strive here, but his first half a season didn’t make him the savior we all expected/hoped. One of the reasons to go with him anyway is that he feels he is better than how he was treated, so I see a hunger and determination in him to prove the Real Madrid leaders wrong. While Maddison is indeed PL-proven, but he is not particularly motivated to join us; even if he does it would be because his conflict with his manager, and would have nothing to do with Arsenal tradition and Arteta’s charm or all other bullshit. Still I would prefer to sign nobody, and give ESR the opportunity to deserve the #10 jersey he already negotiated.

    By the way Arteta, I really appreciate Madhu’s summary “If Arsenal are not at 35 points (18 games) by end of Dec, Arteta should go”. I think this is as simple as that, while one might argue for 33 points, but I fully agree on setting up the success criteria well in advance… Anyway, with no distracting competitions, a lot of money spent (not yet finished) there are no more excuses for not showing us the quality (attractive yet efficient) football. So while I agree with OMG on Leno, I don’t share his views on Mikel. Nevertheless, let’s give him a blank state, forget about this disastrous season, and let the first half of the campaign do the talking. And don’t forget to come back to this discussion in mid-December.

    On DM/CMs. Again, the squad is already huge as it is. Guendouzi is out, and Willock is close to the door. Assuming Torreira won’t stay either we still have Xhaka, Partey, Elneny, Lokonga and AMN in the first team. With Thomas injured it will be interesting to see who Arteta prefers to partner Xhaka, but this is only a managerial challenge, not a squad liability. When Partey and Elneny leave for the ACN we will still have Xhaka and Lokonga with AMN as backup as well as Chamber and White capable to step in as defensive midfielders. And if the super-talented U20 international Miguel Azeez sits on the bench for a couple of games that wouldn’t show weakness either. So the numbers are there. But if Arsenal would prefer to spend some money on proper reinforcements here it would make sense to invest in a quality DM (Zakaria, Locatelli, Neves, Berge, Koopmeiners, Bissouma) and/or a top CM (Camavinga, Aouar, Gravenberch), but in that case I would prefer to sell Elneny and AMN as they would have no more role to play without secondary competitions.

  • T, good questions. I don’t expect anyone to come in at cf unless 2 go out, like Eddie and Laca. English teams that aren’t considering buying Nketiah are making a mistake in my opinion. Teams like Southampton, West Ham, crystal palace and others should be in for Nelson and Eddie. A run of games as a striker and Eddie will definitely score more than his share, but not the way Arteta used him, of course. If he hadn’t misused him, maybe he’d have a higher value to sell or extend him now. Also the need for a striker is nothing compared to midfield.

    My thinking on the keeper is that Ramsdale is the guy we want because Leno wants to leave. So we’re not looking for a backup, but a future starter. Homegrown is a bonus, and he could push Leno right away. I like Bernd, but I don’t like a keeper who’s heart is not in it. Is Sczezny available?

    We should sell Willock. He’ll never be worth more than now. He has no midfield qualities, and even if he does score some, he won’t help in the area we desperately need to improve. We blew it by not selling AMN last summer. I like him, and I think he can be a very good player, but it doesn’t seem its going to happen with us and his valued plummeted.

    I think we should get Odegaard because I don’t want Pepe pinned out wide or watching crosses from Hector and PEA for 90 minutes. Arteta deserves to be given funds to bolster the midfield, so I want him to have a chance, but he needs to inspire more creativity than he’s shown. I think a good manager could impress on Odegaard that he should look for goals much more. Wenger would do that. He already looked more of a shooter than Ozil ever was, and I always wanted him to try more. Cesc would be the model.

  • I can see us finishing in Top4, no Thursday night football will really help us, Europa League has had a negative on our league performance for last 4 years.
    Can someone tell me why there is so much negativity surrounding the Ramsdale possible incoming, surely it’s a positive signing; young, home grown, England number 2 pushing Germany’s number 2 goalkeeper. All positive in my eyes. Surely we need 2 good players for each position, why should goalkeeper position be any different to all other positions? Tammy possible signing, I’d love this too happen, whenever I’ve watched him play he looks strong and a lethal striker, would be great to replace Nketiah.
    I am also hoping that Odegard joins us, he’s link up play is a joy to watch, I get the feeling if Emirates was he’s actual home, we’d start seeing how lethal he’s shooting bird can be. In my opinion with these 2 signings it would be a brilliant transfer window, all additions would be 23/24 the future would start looking bright again.

  • Great comment Rocky07 and welcome to Bergkampesque.

    I agree we need a good new goalkeeper and I don’t think Leno fits Arteta’s game very well.

  • I’m not really sure how to answer those questions TA because until we move a few out of the club I can’t see what we desperately need, coming in, unless of course Edu has some more young guns up his sleeve who we’ve not heard of before and who can be plucked by our Brazilian from relative obscurity and signed for sensible Billy Beane type fees.

    I’m really pleased with the business done by Edu so far, the addition of Ben White is a coup whilst Bertie Lokonga looks very promising and Tavares is also a step in the right direction in terms of athleticism, pace, physicality and forward directness. Add that to the directness of Saka and Smith Rowe and we can see some really interesting team evolvement.

    Keeping some old heads around is just the ticket to balance out the inexperienced youngsters and Xhaka fits the bill, but we still have to many guys hanging around and just picking up wages and not doing enough to take us where we want to go. I sense a frustration building in Arteta because he cannot do all he wants to do until he’s moved on the immovables.

    I’m not sure about Aaron Ramsdale and if he’s the ultimate answer but Arteta and his coaches seem set on the Englishman, he’s a Yorkshireman and they are a resilient breed of proud working class people, David Seaman was the last Yorkshireman we had in goal, before him John Lukic…

    Maddison is too expensive for me.

    I like Odegaard, Arteta likes Odegaard but does Odegaard like Arsenal and the Arsenal project given the financial behemoths we’re up against – I wonder?

    Right back for me can be kicked down the road.

    I like the thought of Bruno Guimares and also the fee touted for him, it’s gone very quiet in that link and that might be a positive?

    Our attack may well be an issue addressed in the final week, final day or final hours of the window?

    I’m pretty relaxed about it all tbh, the fixtures are a joke though, it’s close to being a carbon copy of Emery’s first season, what prized dickhead programmed the computer? I could work them out better on the back of a cigarette packet.

  • Since I haven’t been able to see any preseason, I found on YouTube basically every touch by Lokonga and its as good as people have described. He has that ability to know where he wants to pass the ball (or at least who is open) even before he receives the ball. He squirts out of trouble nicely but seems stronger than Guendouzi. My favorite thing about Guendo from the beginning was that he was always getting the ball forward, never sideways or back.

    Funny thing in the Ben White videos. A pass to Bellerin, Hector takes 2 steps, turns around and passes is straight back to White. ….Again, the exact same scene plays out a second time. No more passes from White to Bellerin. I hope its because Ben made a mental note. When Cedric or Chambers are forced to retreat, they never seem so content as Hector. If he can’t be moved out, he would be my 3rd choice rb. Think how many possessions we’d gain without his foul throws and awkward crosses to oblivion.

  • Excellent comment, Kev. Still loads to sort out but Edu is indeed doing a fine job. Arteta is building and is making progress but a further ‘clear out’ is required.

  • I am no big fan of Hector, J, but to be fair on him he is our outlet a lot and when he receives the ball there are often no good forward options.

  • Hi Rocky, it will be great to have another participant.

    All you have to do is copy and paste into a post the teams from my post at 13:35 on the 10th and follow the instructions and I will enter you into the competition. There is a nominal fee of 15 pounds and the winner will take all. If you have any problems let me know, on the blog, and I will assist you.

  • Rocky you can look back at previous posts to see how other bloggers have made their predictions.

  • Kia Joorabchien it turns out is the agent who represents Neto, therefore I don’t think it would be a very wise move for Edu to bring him as an alternative to Ramsdale, not unless that is he wants to open himself up to even more criticism from some very vocal and disgruntled fans, It’s all about perceptions I’m afraid and Kia has bequeathed us Willian, Luiz, Soares and Mari, decent players occasionally but none of them are (or were) going to get us back into the top four.

    Edu could really do with some in depth advice from a top PR firm….

    In other news there’s a good prospect that Miguel Azeez could join Portsmouth in League One and come under the thoughtful tutelage of the Cowley brothers. I’d be all in favour of that.

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