Transfer deadline day is now a thing of the past. Thank goodness for that. I really can’t remember the last time we had a satisfactory transfer period. I suppose, when we had our marquee signings of Ozil and Sanchez, we were quite happy about that. But there again, we Arsenal supporters tend to have short memories due to the fact that there is so much in the recent past that we don’t really want to remember! But, if you look at our transfer history over the past years, it reads as follows:
2017-18: Players In – two – Lacazette and Kolasinac. Players Out – twelve – Ox, Gabriel, Szczesny and Gibbs. Net profit of £24.4m
2016-17: Players In – seven – Xhaka, Mustafi, Perez and Holding. Players Out – six – Gnabry. Net loss of £77.3m
2015-16: Players In – seven – Cech and Elneny. Players Out – six – Poldi. Net loss of £19.3m
2014-2015: Players In – twelve – Sanchez, Welbeck, Gabriel, Chambers and Debuchy. Players Out – seventeen – Vermaelen and Djorou. Net loss £72.8m
2013-14: Players In – ten – Ozil. Players Out – twenty four – Gervinho. Net loss £27.7m
2012-13: Players In – seven – Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud and Monreal. Players Out – thirteen – van Persie and Song. Net profit £1.56m
Other than this year, the last time we made a profit on (summer and winter) transfers was back in the 2012-13 season when we were still regarded as a selling club. The years prior to that season and since the 2000-01 season saw an overall net loss on transfer dealings to the tune of £10.3m where we fluctuated between making profits and losses across the years. So, what can we conclude from all this? My feeling is that the club is being run more and more like a business than a football club. It is understandable that one cannot just go out and be reckless and spend more than one earns but in the same breath, there needs to be progress made on the field and we cannot rely on home grown talent to fill the gaps. As has been pointed out, we finished last season outside the top four for the first time since the 1995/96 season and what do we do? Buy a striker and freebie left back! Were those the areas that caused us to fall behind those other four teams and allow Sp*rs to finish above us for the first time in 22 years? Where is that central midfielder we so desperately need? And who is Bellerin’s back up on the right – Chambers, Debuchy? It would appear that Arsene and his team have missed a trick or two in this transfer season and we could find ourselves being punished for it.
However, not all is doom and gloom and I suppose it depends on what your outlook is. On paper, we still have two world class players in Ozil and Sanchez and we have a potent striker with the purchase of Lacazette. We also have a lot of quality across the field that if their heads are in the right place and their hearts follow suit, we can do well this season. And when I say well, we could challenge for the title. But not if we have any further displays similar to the one at Anfield last time out. I don’t profess to know why we played in the manner we did, there could have been a number of factors but it’s safe to say that if we don’t resolve whatever those factors/issues are then we could quite easily drop out of even the Europa qualifying positions. It’s a scary thought and with the supporters ready to turn on any mishap that may occur from this point forward, Arsene has a very tricky situation on his hands. He needs to pull his team together and show us that they are a team capable of winning the league, capable of competing with the Citehs, the Chelskis, the MFUs, the Liverpools and the Sp*rs and at the same side have the qualities to wipe aside the lesser Evertons and Southamptons. These will be his last two seasons in charge (if he makes it that far!) and he will be eager to show the world that he still has it, that x-factor that he had in abundance when he arrived twenty one years ago. We all hope that he can show us all, we now must wait and see whether he can pull it off.
Looking forward, we have a few tricky games to navigate and the results of the next three premier league games will give us a good indication of what the season holds for us. In addition to those, we have a (Thutrsday night) Europa game against Cologne and a Carabao EFL Cup game against Doncaster Rovers to contend. Our next match is on Saturday, which will be a rarity this season due to our Europa commitments. The next Saturday match after this one is mid October, so enjoy this one whilst you can. It’s against Bournemouth, a team unlucky not to have picked up a point against Citeh last Saturday and who caused us all sorts of problems last season. In the same fixture last season, we won 3-1 with a brace from Sanchez and one from Walcott but it was far from plain sailing. The first half saw us take the lead but then get pegged back by a penalty. Bournemouth then proceeded to put us under pressure and had some fine opportunities to take the lead. We were able to hold out to half time and the second half fortunately was a different game with Arsenal scoring twice, however the visitors were never really out of it until injury time when Sanchez put the game to bed. Our return match was a totally different story where we were 3-0 down with 20 minutes left on the clock. The fact that we managed to come home with a point and three late goals showed the character of the team and hopefully this is something that will be more prevalent in our games to come.
What team will Arsene put out? Coming off the back of this international break, there will be some heavy legs. I think the only question will be whether Sanchez starts as he will most likely be involved in Chile’s encounter with Bolivia which is a must win game for Chile with Ecuador and Brazil being their final two opponents. Other than him, and if there are no surprise injuries I don’t believe anyone else will be rested. That said, who Arsene puts onto the park will be interesting, but of more interest is whether he will revert to a back four. My feeling is that he will and thus the question therefore is will he play Mustafi or Mertesacker with Koscielny, or indeed Holding? As much as Mustafi is a bit of a liability on the pitch with his lunging tackles, he is more mobile than Mertesacker and has more experience than Holding. Bellerin will start on the right and it’s between Monreal and Kolasinac as to who fills that left back position. As much as I would like to see Kolasinac start, I think Wenger will be cautious and stick with Monreal. In midfield we have Xhaka, Ramsey, Coquelin and Elneny. I would probably keep Coquelin on the bench and play the other three. We haven’t seen much from Elneny this season, but he’s a tidy player that keeps the movement and passing going and I think he needs to be brought more into the starting XI. Ozil, Lacazette and preferably Sanchez would complete the team, but if Sanchez does not start then it’s between Walcott and Welbeck. My preference, based on recent games is to go for Walcott. I feel that Welbeck is still too left footed and when I say that I mean that he has got two left feet! He’s great at getting into position but his finishing leaves a lot to be desired. We all know about Walcott’s abilities and I see Bournemouth as a team that will suit his style of play. They won’t cram 11 men into the penalty area and Walcott should have space to run at them. That leaves the goal keeper and as solid as Cech can be, he has had a few hiccups of late and Ospina needs to be given opportunities. I don’t see it happening for this game but I feel that we will soon be seeing a lot more of Ospina.
We’re into our third week of ArsenalSA Fantasy League and SuperBru and the top of the respective tables look as follows:
Fantasy Premier League
Oxcatcher Jared Timm 185
JELLYS NPO Eugene Cardoso 185
Hedge FC Swelihle Ngubeni 185
London Rox Mfundo Nkosi 185
All very tight with 4 teams on the same points. Special mention goes to Cedric Angelo Nappies’ CLK team with a week high score of 70
Joffie B 27,50
Highest points for the week goes to Jonosky who moved up 57 places to 25th with a well scored 11,25 points.
So, back to the wonderful ways of Arsenal FC and as supporters all we can do is…….. support! So let’s do it, down at the Brazenhead, on Saturday and also have some fun. See you there.