Is Sambi The Answer for the Midfield Jigsaw?

What to do in midfield: push, buy or marry?

I like our midfield options when all are fit, yet could we, should we, strengthen in this area? I am interested in your views.

I guess it depends to some extent whether Arteta wants to play the midfield triangle pointing forwards or backwards, one solid DM type or one all orchestrating nr10 type?

I like us to be able to play both Martin and Emile in the team. These boys are growing and growing and we should get more from them again next season.

Partey when fit and in his groove is top class. The problem is he is injury prone. XhakA, our only 250 games man, is solid and luckily seldom gets injured. I prefer him playing deep rather than pushed up, but Arteta has been doing the latter recently.

Wherever the Swiss clockwork plays, a fully fit combo of Xhaka and Partey is a very good central duo. Back up is a bit of an issue, though. Elneny is a solid option but injury to Granit had/has us weakened, at least organisationally. The lining seems to go out of the team then.

So what happened to Sambi Lokonga? What is Mikel’s plan with this promising Belgian? He featured very little this calendar year. Is that why Arteta appears to be looking for (a) Tielemans? And where would this enigmatic Belgian play? Next to Partey or Xhaka, or in front of them instead?

And is Tielemans really an improvement to what we have and will not be in the way of Emile and Martin’s development?

My view is that if Sambi needs more development then we need to buy a player who can replace both Granit and Thomas without too much loss in quality. But don’t spend too much money here and use it instead for a second quality CF, LF type of player.

Finally, is any of our returning midfield loan players worthy of a squad place next season? Any youngsters?

By TotalArsenal

49 thoughts on “Is Sambi The Answer for the Midfield Jigsaw?

  • A very interesting question, from my point of view we need a player that could replace both Xhaka and Partey. Xhaka is getting older and Partey has his health issues. What if Elneny has to play 50% of the games? If we have limited funds we should prioritise at least one top striker and perhaps a new first choice left back. We need a central midfielder, but most urgent do we need upgrades in other departments. Perhaps we can make the midfield upgrade in the next window?

  • Bryan Ruiz is the player arsenal should be going for . He could easily replace xhaka.

    As for sambi – he needs game time there were games last season where he was deployed as dm and he struggled and we lost. It’s a learning curve but we actually need him playing for the reason we bought him. Arteta needs to give him game time in the league not just cups and that would mean if we are in a winning comfortably and dominating possession he should be brought on for partey

    Alot depends on how arteta wants to use a dm. Does he want a dm to just sit back or does he want to CM as xhaka isnt a holding mid neither partey . Teilemans, Ruiz etc or more attacking players and if they are purchased then a holding mid is required also. Ruiz can play that position also but in the premiership that maybe tougher to do than in seria a. Alot of panic by fans watching spurs make signings, city and liverpool adding strikers , fans need to be patient, its clear the players they want are either om International duty or holiday . Or it just could be a case of players wanting to see their options before committing to joining arsenal.

    I wouldnt be suprised if jesus doesnt arrive , neither would I be suprised to see jovic turn up arsenal. I wouldnt be happy with dominic calvert lewin , though

  • Didrik,

    I think that is what Mikel is after indeed: a player who can replace either Granit or Thomas regularly so he can rotate more. Elneny is a great backup player but we need a bit more now we will play much more games. Good point about the left back situation. Tavares is pretty similar to Lokonga in terms of their development. Promising but not the finished article and loan moves might be the best way forward. Biscuit hips Tierney is, like Partey, great when fit but unlikely to play a full season without injury. We need that sort of consistency in such a vital position.

  • Ad, all good points. Brian Ruiz is less familiar to me, but he sounds like the kind of guy that would fit in.

    I am in full agreement to remain patient. We have a good squad but clearly need to sort out the CF situation this summer as first priority. We need quality and not just short term. Arteta is building a great team. All will play 10/20% better again next season and that in itself may push us into top three/four. So let’s add quality attackers and we should see a further improvement. I am really excited about this journey.

  • Thanks for the post Total, a lack of useable funds from the owner could be an issue this summer, Stan has just been fined a reported $700m for lying and deserting St Louis, will that mean a lot less for Arsenal?

    There is a story going around of KSE buying the Emirates Stadium from Arsenal Holdings and Arsenal becoming a tenant, paying £10m per annum on a 99 year lease. KSE would pay £120m for the stadium, quite a bargain considering it cost Arsenal £390m. Maybe that’s how we’d get our transfer funds?

    We’ve lost €15m from the Torrieira deal and any alternative suitor from Serie A would expect to pay less so stitched up Fiorentina again.

    The deal to take Bellerin to Betis looks dead in the water so that’s even less funds coming in, no wonder we aren’t signing players…

  • Interesting new points there, Kev.

    If true that this will hamper Mikel’s ability to strengthen this summer. £10m per annum is peanuts of course BUT do we want to give away the stadium?!

    Re Torreira, I happily have him in our squad. He will have gotten stronger and is good back up I think. Let’s get those CFs sorted first and for all.

  • After watching the Ukraine-Wales match, I’d take a punt on Zinchenko, as he can fill so many positions: left-sided midfielder, left back and attacking midfielder. I like Sambi and can see him becoming integral to things as he grows older and Elneny has shown he can do a job. Up front, I’d go all out for Christoph Nkunku, another player who seems to be able to do it all, (or Abraham if he wants to come back to London). Those would be my priorities, assuming we have the cash and they want to come. I’m not wowed with what I have seen of Scamacca and Jesus would leave us without enough height and physical presence in our attacking players, especially now Eddie appears to be staying

  • Great post as usual love reading this when it pops up on my news now one of the last non b*ll shit websites to click on. I like sambi potential think he was left exposed by partey and xhaka’s absence’s last seasons too much expectation on the boy to try to be the glue on midfield. He has quite a ceiling we just have to be patient with him. He has more games this year especially with europa league. I just feel with how our 2 best midfielders were in and out in xhaka and partey that bringing someone in like tielemens is a no brainer, could form the future of the midfield with sambi. Elneny is a workhouse who’s happy to fill in when called for and I think it was a no brainier to renew he’s contract, we just need to concentrate on getting that quality striker who can take us next level, I think we need a full back like hickey one who is for the future and send Tavares out on loan toughen him up a bit. It seems Mikel doesn’t favour Pepe which for me is a shame but if that’s the case we need to look at bringing in some more goals to support saka and martinelli out wide.

    Keep out the good work mate, I enjoy the blog.

  • Interesting post and subject T.

    You know I feel Sambi is not ready to play in front of our box protecting the defense. Size, speed of play, experience, defensive instinct all make it too dangerous.

    I’d like to see him get some minutes with someone holding behind him. He could thrive.


    Some really good info. You stay on top of so many details! However they find funds, I hope they can make it work.

  • Kev, I hope that the stadium rumour is not true. It might seem to make sense in the short term but if the KSE board decide to focus on real estate in the future rather than the sporting side of their portfolio it may not be in the best interests of the club. One of Oxford United’s past owners decided to sell the club but retained ownership of the ground which is to the south of the city. The club is now trying to negotiate with the local council to acquire suitable land in Kidlington (to the north of the city). Coventry City have suffered even more from losing their ground after falling out with the owners of the Ricoh over rent.

  • Sam, I like Zinchenko too.

    Sambi needs help to develop which might come from a loan spell or better still as Jync has suggested in a formation and with players behind/around him who won’t make him look as exposed as he did on occasion last season. Playing him in games where this is possible will give Xhaka and/or Partey a rest too.

  • Hey J, yes Lokonga has a lot to learn, and I am still not sure what type he is. Yet you can tell the boy has talent and is easy on the eye when strutting his stuff.

  • Johnnie and all, regarding Albert Sambi, if the club don’t think he’s quite ready to take full responsibility in the midfield, how about a year on loan at Burnley under their new manager? 😉

  • If we can’t get a transfer fee for Torrieira or Bellerin and maybe even Pepe, we’re lumbered, we lumbered, if we let them go for zero then that’s just weak and we’ll probably still have to pay up their contracts, so if it’s possible why not register them for the Europa and League Cups and play them with our youngsters and a few of the fringe players – that way we’d get some use from them before they bugger off?

  • The thing is guys it’s not just Arsenal, although as some on here who read NewsNow would attest to it just seems that way from the oppressive negativity you get from that platform, but more and more players are playing out their contracts – lockdown will have accelerated this – Dybala, Pogba, Mata, the guys from Chelsea, it’s across the whole continent just as Wenger predicted…

  • TA, it’s not a bad thought if Torreira can be persuaded that (a) London is where he wants to be and (b) he’s not the manager’s first choice for the bigger games. I think he would prefer to be in Italy if a suitable suitor can be found.

  • Europa League group stage dates are; 8 September, 15 September, 6 October, 13 October, 27 October, 3 November.
    So our Premier League fixtures after these six dates will be moved to Sunday.

  • When is the Europa League knockout stage?

    Knockout round play-offs: 16 & 23 February
    Round of 16: 9 & 16 March 2023
    Quarter-finals: 13 & 20 April 2023
    Semi-finals: 11 & 18 May 2023
    Final: 31 May 2023

  • Arsenal EPL 2022/23

    05 A Crystal Palace
    13 H Leicester City
    20 A AFC Bournemouth
    27 H Fulham
    30 H Aston Villa

    03 A Manchester United
    10 H Everton
    17 A Brentford

    01 H Tottenham Hotspur
    08 H Liverpool
    15 A Leeds United
    18 H Manchester City
    22 A Southampton
    29 H Nottingham Forest

    05 A Chelsea
    12 A Wolverhampton

    26 H West Ham United
    31 A Brighton & Hove Albion

    02 H Newcastle United
    14 A Tottenham Hotspur
    21 H Manchester United

    04 A Everton
    11 H Brentford
    18 A Aston Villa
    25 A Leicester City

    04 H AFC Bournemouth
    11 A Fulham
    18 H Crystal Palace

    01 H Leeds United
    08 A Liverpool
    15 A West Ham United
    22 H Southampton
    26 A Manchester City
    29 H Chelsea

    06 A Newcastle United
    13 H Brighton & Hove Albion
    20 A Nottingham Forest
    28 H Wolverhampton

    Copyright 2022 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

  • I see that Stan’s showpiece SoFi stadium in the US could well be the venue for the World Cup Final in 2026…

  • Fabio exciting player. Listened to a couple Portugal experts on podcasts. Sounds like he’s very versatile, and that his current coach makes his players work hard off the ball and pressing… that would be a requirement that Arteta would have had our scouts looking for besides passing skills.

  • A very thorough analysis, Kev. One of the big three JCs in the Netherlands! The other ones are Johannes Calvijn and Jesus Christ 🙂🙂

  • I didn’t realise Calvin was so esteemed in the Netherlands, Total. A worthy member of the aforementioned trinity, though neither he nor our beloved Saviour could turn on a ball like Cruyff.
    Some fine signings so far. Three young and impressive talents. Will we hear the old refrain (slightly amended) “He comes from Portugal, he plays for Arsenal, Vieira… Vieira”?
    Total, I posted a message in Dutch in honour of your Dad before I left New Zealand but it doesn’t seem to have made it to the site.
    Een psalm van David. De HEERE is mijn Herder, mij zal niets ontbreken.
    Hij doet mij nederliggen in grazige weiden; Hij voert mij zachtjes aan zeer stille wateren.
    Hij verkwikt mijn ziel; Hij leidt mij in het spoor der gerechtigheid, om Zijns Naams wil.
    Al ging ik ook in een dal der schaduw des doods, ik zou geen kwaad vrezen, want Gij zijt met mij; Uw stok en Uw staf, die vertroosten mij.
    Gij richt de tafel toe voor mijn aangezicht, tegenover mijn tegenpartijders; Gij maakt mijn hoofd vet met olie, mijn beker is overvloeiende.
    Immers zullen mij het goede en de weldadigheid volgen al de dagen mijns levens; en ik zal in het huis des HEEREN blijven in lengte van dagen.

    God bless you, mate.

  • Thank you Stuart for the beautiful and comforting holy text. The funeral was on Friday and it was a beautiful farewell. We honoured his life in style and with almost all of his beloved Fam and friends around him.

    The musical highlight in terms of evoked emotions was Ave Maria by Schubert.

    I will miss him dearly but the memories will warm up my heart. He is in a very good place now. 🏞️

  • Yeah Stuart, somebody once said that the Dutch have been formed by these three JCs… And their values are based on their teachings. Cruijff was also a philosopher and teacher in his way.

  • Total, the choice of Ava Maria must have brought goose bumps, it’s a wonderful piece of music. At my own fathers funeral we played a recording of him playing the piano, he had a very distinct style (he was self taught) he was playing tunes from the late 30’s early 40’s – it brought gasps and tears from the older family members of the congregation who were gathered to pay their respects. Take good care my friend.

  • Happy Fathers’ Day to all the great Dads on here; trust you had a good one too. The men only get that one day so we should make the best of it, right. 😉.

    A lot has been said already on the topic. I worry that with if we went on to close a deal for Tielemans and still have Xhaka in the side, Sambi may have to go out on loan. He will have a great team to go to in Burnley, seeing as his former boss, Vincent Kompany has taken charge there. May be a win for all parties.

  • Stay strong, TA. Your Dad is sure in a good place now.

    Jync, saw your reaction in the last thread on the Bissouma discussion. I didn’t even realize he still had that sexual assault case to answer for; completely forgot about it. So, on that score alone (while acknowledging he is innocent till proven guilty), I won’t lose sleep over us not going for him. Spurs may have him.

  • Yes Total, my team up in Heaven will have an all Dutch frontline. Cruyff and Van Basten with Bergkamp tucked in behind them. Was your Dad a footballer?
    I am in the UK now, helping Sarah look after her parents. I am planning to go to the Bournemouth and Fulham games in August, and will be up in Durham on Saturday 2nd/Sunday 3rd July, Holy Island on the 5th. Returning to Somerset on the 6th. Circumstances don’t allow for a visit to Scotland on this trip, but if you have time for pint in Durham or Lindisfarne…

  • Arsenal prospects Omar Rekik and Mika Biereth are close to securing loan moves to the Eredivisie next season, The Athletic understands.

    Rekik, a 20-year-old centre-back, is expected to join Sparta Rotterdam, with the expectation that regular football will help him ahead of the World Cup with Tunisia.

    Biereth, a 19-year-old Danish youth international, is set for RKC Waalwijk. The plan is for the striker to spend a year in the Netherlands ahead of a potential loan in England in 2023-24.

    Both players were regular starters for Arsenal Under-23 last season. Biereth scored 11 goals in 21 appearances in Premier League 2, while Rekik made 14 starts in the same competition — also making his Tunisia debut.

    The loan moves signal a degree of turnover in Arsenal’s Under-23 side, with head coach Kevin Betsy leaving the role to take charge at Crawley Town earlier this month.

    Arsenal see these loan moves as a way to build value in their academy products — whether preparing them for first-team action, or by raising the price-tag for a sale in the coming seasons.

    Last year, Waalwijk finished 10th in the Eredivisie, while Rotterdam finished 14th.

    (By James McNicholas)

  • Morning Total, I have little to musical talent – except i like to whistle and sing. My dad taught himself to play both the piano and accordion – he was the center of attraction at family parties.

  • Thanks for the greeting, Eris. We have a different date for Fathers Day back in New Zealand, and despite many reminders my three sons manage to forget every year. I have taken to writing my own card and purchasing and wrapping my own gift. Now, daughters would never do that to a Dad.

    That sounds super, Total.
    Naninga? Well he did do what JC never did, score in a World Cup final. He also endured three broken legs, a broken arm, five ripped ligaments, six broken collar-bones, sustained broken ribs on three occasions, two broken toes, a broken wrist, a ruptured spleen and two hernias, all during the course of his career. Little wonder he became a florist upon retiring from football!

  • Oh yes he suffered, Stuart. He was a florist for most of his life and also during his footie career. A classical CF with a fantastic leap.

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