Saka to Liverpool?

March 11, 2020
 
Make him an offer he can't refuse
Make him an offer he can’t refuse.
If the headline shocked you, it’s because it’s intended to.

We know that the champions-elect are sniffing around our talented young attacker/wingback and they’re not the only ones. If our club doesn’t get its act together we could lose him before his Arsenal career has barely started.

Bukayo Saka has a year left on his Arsenal contract and I would love to be able to sit here and say: “It’s OK, the Arsenal would never let such a highly valued player just walk out the door.”

But we all know that’s not true. To have earned precisely nothing from the departures of Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck last summer is evidence of serious failure at the highest levels of the club.

So how can we be confident that we won’t make the same mistake with Saka? Or that we won’t be forced to sell him at the end of this season?

After all, if he has his head turned by a club that’s currently more successful than we are he can just refuse to sign a contract extension. In those circumstances – and given what happened with Ramsey in particular – it seems inconceivable that the club would not decide that the lesser of two evils is to sell him and take the money rather than wait and let him leave for nothing.

We can only hope that behind the scenes the club is doing all it can to sign him up to a long contract extension. He has shown enough in his outings this season to demonstrate that he can play, score goals and make assists at the highest level.

We have a few things in our favour. Firstly, the fact that Saka has come all the way through the Arsenal youth system, so our club is the only one he has ever known. It has been his home, his school, his family, his place of work and the place where he gets to hang with his mates.

Secondly, he has emerged into the Arsenal first team alongside a group of young players with whom he has already been sharing the ups and downs of football life for many years. We should not underestimate the power of the friendship bonds formed between young men like Saka, Nelson, Willock, Smith-Rowe, Nketieh and Martinelli. You can imagine them wanting to go on to win the big prizes with one another.

Finally, we have the presence (in both senses of the word) of our new head coach, Mikel Arteta. If Emery were still in charge at Arsenal I could well see our best young players being tempted away by the likes of Liverpool or Manchester City. With Arteta at the helm there is a sense of direction and optimism that has been (mostly) lacking for a number of years.

But those three reasons to persuade Saka to stay will not be enough unless the club does its bit in making the young man an acceptable offer. 

Ever since the stadium move we have had a bad habit of blowing deals with penny pinching. 

Take our pursuit of Luis Suarez some years ago when he was at Liverpool. Our inept management team believed he had a £40m buy-out clause so we offered that number plus a pound for a player who was arguably the best striker in the world at the time. The bid, unsurprisingly, was seen in the Liverpool boardroom as a case of us trying to extract the urine; they dug in their heels and we never got Suarez. I’m fairly sure that if we had gone in with a £45m offer we would have got our man and the recent history of Arsenal might have been very different.

I’m not saying we should give Saka a stupidly high number for his new contract (the club has to consider the impact of any raise he gets on the other promising young players who will soon be knocking on the door asking for comparable increases).

But there has to be a concerted effort to make him an attractive offer and to wrap it up in a lovely big bundle of affection and commitment. We should be saying that we see Saka as a future Arsenal legend in the mould of Henry, Pires, Wright and Ljungberg.

If the club lets Saka go, it will be a dereliction of duty that will seriously dent our faith in the management team’s ability to take us back where we belong: competing for the Premier League and the Champions League.

A year later the same issue will be coming up with Guendouzi and Nketieh, so we should be considering extending them even as early as this summer to avoid any cliff edge negotiations in the future.

Will Saka stay? What do you think?

RockyLives


Saka MOTM, just brilliant

January 28, 2020

I haven’t written a match report about a win for ages. It’s actually quite a test to not go overboard 😉

Watching Arteta’s controlled post match interview was interesting. His body language is soooo calm and his words are well chosen delivered statesman like from that handsome chiselled face when I’m sure that inside he was jumping up and down with excitement at a plan executed ….. for a while …… to perfection.

Rio Ferdinand and Martin Keown, in the studio for BT Sport, were excited at what they saw. Very young players carrying out the instructions of their new very young coach.

The point they both made about how the belief in Arteta’s system builds confidence in each player is an important one. They are playing to a system now and each time it works they’ll want to do it more.

Saka has been a revelation, he’s a winger, playing as a left-back and Arteta’s system allows him to play as a winger when we have the ball. We don’t have another left back at the moment with injuries to Tierney and Kolasinac and Arteta has persuaded Saka that he can be both. A MOTM performance, a great goal and an assist. Brilliant, just brilliant.

The curse of the ‘centre-back injuries’ struck again and Mustafi’s looked nasty. I don’t wish him any I’ll will but many won’t miss him. Can Luiz, Holding and Sokratis keep us going or will we be able to add a CB before the window closes.

All in all we played the first half brilliantly going in to the break 2 up but knowing that Bournemouth would come at us second half. We did well to stop them scoring until late on. Having a bit of a wobble is part of football but oh how fabulous is the good stuff now 😁

I can’t wait for our next game.

peachesgooner

If anyone wants to write some player ratings I’ll add them on.


Cariboa cup Arsenal v Nottingham Forest pre-match

September 24, 2019

The Carabao Cup returns on Tuesday evening. Arsenal welcome Nottingham Forest to the Emirates, in the 3rd round of the competition.

 

Our opponents are on a pretty impressive run, not only knocking out Derby in the last round, but are also sitting in 6th place in the championship, having lost only once, on the opening day.

Forest is now home to the one and only Carl Jenkinson (we love you, Jenko!) After 8 years (& various loan spells) with us (41 appearances, 1 goal) he bade us farewell & headed for pastures new. He’ll always be welcomed back at the Emirates ……….. just a shame it won’t be tonight, as he’s injured his ankle! Get well soon, Jenko!

After our heroics, against Villa, on Sunday.. I expect a lot of rotation. Maitland-Niles will be missing through suspension, due to his dismissal. Lacazette is still out of contention. It may be too soon for Bellerin & Tierney, having only played 62 minutes for the U23’s at the weekend. Holding is now available and we may even see Mavrapanos.

This is who I’ll go with –

Martinez
Chambers   Mustafi   Holding   Kolasinac
Willock   Torreira   Saka
Martinelli   Ozil   Nelson

I also think we’ll see John-Jules and Balogun make an appearance, from the bench.

We’ve played Nottingham Forest before, at the same stage of this competition, back in 2016. Arsenal ran out 4-0 winners at the City ground. Forest had their revenge, 2 years later, winning 4-2, at the same venue, in the FA cup and completely ruined my Birthday! So come on Arsenal!!!

I’m fancying a penalty shoot out….

Mrs Kolasinac


Pepe to wing it for Arsenal

July 30, 2019

We have been renowned as a predominantly attacking club ever since the start of the Wenger era, but over the last few years we have arguably seriously overlooked one area of our attacking department within the squad.

Earlier Wenger teams seemed to be bolstered by high quality, attacking, goal-scoring, pacey wide players, but for the last number of years this position has seemingly been overlooked at Arsenal to the point it almost appeared as if it was deemed non important to us in the modern era. However, a good look around at the other top sides seemed to highlight that all other clubs deemed these positions to be of high importance, and most often set up with these players in a 4-3-3 system, or a close variation on this.

Fingers are currently crossed throughout goonerdom that Pepe will be the new man to wing it for Arsenal.

The modern wide player seems to be something between a winger and a wing forward that operate either side of a lead striker most often, with the majority of the top clubs, in a rotating front 3 sharing goal-scoring responsibility. These wing forward players also give the attacking width that can stretch the opposition without relying solely on the full-backs for width, so arguably also provide extra problems for the opposition in wide areas, with the wing forward and the overlapping full-back combining during the game.

Another factor in having specialised attacking wide players is that the full-backs don’t need to be permanently camped high up the pitch, and can therefore choose the right moments to get forward and join the attack, thus ensuring they are still, for the most part, covering their defensive responsibilities as part of the back 4.

I feel we have suffered a fair bit at times in not having these players in recent years, preventing us from being able to deploy a more balanced, but still attack orientated, formation. It is why I am excited this forthcoming season by the prospect of young players like Saka and Nelson coming into the first team environment and giving us something I feel we have missed for many years. If we were also to add one more top established attacking wide player, like Zaha or Pepe, to this then my legs will start to literally quiver in anticipated excitement.

One big question though is how should these wing forward players be deployed? Which particular player should line up on which side? Here are a few comments from yours truly, Fred, and LBG to get the thought process going.

Fred says:

Yea Nelson hasn’t impressed at all with Eddie I actually think je should be playing on the left on the 433 to start the season, I know it isn’t his natural position but he is a rich vain of form

GoonerB says (in response):

Fred, I had always assumed that Nelsons natural position was on the left side of the striker. I have still to watch the last 3 games which I have got recorded. Does this mean that Nelson has been operating from the right side? I seem to recall that most of the decent footage you see of him when he has done something in games, either in our academy matches or last seasons loan, seem to show him operating from the left. Either way Fred, I would agree with you that Reiss Nelson is a left inside forward predominantly, and should be utilised this way.

LBG says (in response):

Nelson is a left sided wide attacker, but as is customary left sided players nowadays are often used on the right and cut in to hit shots with their left foot. I personally want wide players to go round the fullback and cross from the byline, like olden times.

GoonerB says:

Wilf would really take up the position of Nelson while Pepe would take up the position of Saka but as I say pepe looks like he could move in centrally behind a single number 9 as well which may give us the better balance and also squad options.

Fred says (in response):

Think u got that wrong Saka plays on left and Nelson on right

So with the inside forwards, or wide attacking players, (or whichever other description you prefer), it would seem the jury is out as how to best deploy them. Academy players that are still developing should arguably spend time playing in 2-3 positions to develop their all round understanding, but I would suggest that once a player starts to become more of a first team regular that they should have a preferred specialist position (or side) where most of their play takes place.

Both Nelson and Saka, at their still tender ages, seem to have played both sides at different times, if you watch any footage of them. Maybe to date Saka has had more time on the left and Nelson on the right, but as a left footer and right footer, respectively, I would suggest it is now time to deploy Saka from the right and Nelson from the left if they are to become top class prolific goal scoring pacey winger / wing forward type players.

Why do I say this? Well if you were to make a list of all recent (maybe last 10 years) top level attacking wide players, at the top clubs, it is nearly always right footed players on the left and left footed players on the right. However I would love to hear your thoughts on this AA’ers.

GoonerB

 


It’s the young guns NOT playing against Borehamwood that you should be excited about.

July 6, 2019

At last … I know it’s only been a few weeks since our disappointing end to last season. I, like, many felt like I needed a break from football … but you can’t help salivating at the thought of seeing those red and white shirts strutting their stuff again at Borehamwood today.

The first team will only return to training next Friday and so we will field a side composed mainly of under 23s with Steve Bould back in charge. The exact team has not been announced at the point of publishing, but there will be plent of young talent on show at Meadow Park.

It is expected that Amaechi, Balogun and John-Jules will feature whilst Zech Medley is also likely to play along with promising young goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo. There will also be several promoted from under 18 level, the likes of Mazeed Ogungbo, Sam Greenwood and Matthew Smith.

However, more significantly, these players are not in the squad …

Eddie Nketiah

Emile Smith Rowe

Bukayo Saka

Joe Willock

 

… they will be joining the  first-team for training. This is great news and one that is likely to be music to the ears of AA bloggers following the comments this week calling for their inclusion.

Zech Medley (he’s a centre back if you didn’t know) may be one who some wish had also made the step up … does this mean we will be getting a new, more experienced CB?

Just for the record, in the same fixture last season we fielded a side peppered with first team stars and won 8 nil with a hattrick from Auba, and a goal apiece for Laca, Mkhi, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.

Rasp


Unai Emery … listen to Freddie … you already have the young talent

July 4, 2019

There’s been a lot of talk about using Academy players to plump up the squad as we seem to have run out of money … thanks Stan for not putting your hand in your pocket to help your team!

I find it worrying that often when we talk about buying players we agonise over not disrupting the squad and yet there are legions of fans wanting to sell more than half of our current first team.

Back in 2008 we had a fabulous set of players in the Academy/Under 21’s and Arsene Wenger knew that he was going to need to use some of these players in the First Team. Anyone remember a stunning victory in the Carling Cup against Sheffield Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium. The game ended 6-0. A hattrick for Carlos Vela, a brace for Nicklas Bendtner and a goal for Jack Wilshere, making him the second youngest Arsenal scorer. It was a night of fabulous football, I was there as our boys tore into the Blades and I can tell you I was excited at the prospect of Bendtner and Vela playing together in the First Team.

I’m not sure they ever played together in the First Team, I remember that van Persie got injured and Bendtner became his replacement. But the special way that they had played together that night was never seen again.

Last season we witnessed another night similar to that one in 2008 when several young guns lines up against Vorskla away in the Europa league in November.

 

We won the game 3-0 with goals from Emile Smith-Rowe, Ramsey and Joe Willock. Eddie Nketiah also started the game. In the second half more youngsters were given a chance of game time with Medley, Saka and Charlie Gilmour replacing Holding, Ramsey and Guendouzi. It was a fabulous display, the young guns knew how to play together and it showed on the pitch. We saw some of them individually later on in the season but not in numbers. They’re used to playing together, they know how to read each other, I feel we need to use them as a group.

What I’m trying to say is that they have to be given a chance to play regularly if we are going to reap the rewards of the fact that they’ve been playing together since they were tiny tots.

Arsene Wenger wasn’t brave enough to do this consistently but maybe Freddie Ljungberg will be and Unai Emery will listen to him. I hope so.

peachesgooner


A Youth Revolution?

May 19, 2019

So disappointed with the belief seemingly held by Dick, some here on our blog, and so called “knowledgeable commentators” on other sites, that pressure to produce results in the Premier League prevents the Manager from blooding youth regularly.

Instead Suarez, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Micky, Elneny, Jenkinson, Chambers to name a few of the non controversial  ones, labour to make a mark, to make a difference, and rarely achieve. Saka and Amaechi may yet have seats on Arsenal’s extended bench for the Europa Final – but is it enough?

Mavididi playing for Juve

Stephy Mavididi signed for Juve u23s in 2018 and is now on the verge of the first team. Ismael Bennacer’s performances at Empoli have caught the eye of Napoli. Chuba Akpom has won the title in the Greek league. Donyell Malen is a regular in a PSV Eindhoven side that pushed Ajax close for the Dutch title.

Arsenal have one of the most talented set of youngsters in their Academy and U18s that we have ever had. They are the legacy of Liam Brady and now the future under Freddie. But only if they are given a proper window of opportunity. Scouts from all over Europe are ready to snap them up, are visiting each and every game they are involved in. They understand the Arsenal system, the Arsenal family, and they want to succeed big time.

Well, I’m sorry, the Club is doing them a disservice.

Nelson, Smith-Rowe, Nketiah, Willock, Amaechi, John Jules, Pleguezuelo, Medley, Thompson, Saka, Mavrapanos are all worthy of significant game time. This is a serious watershed moment.

We are close to losing potentially top class talent, but at the very least, better quality than many who have gone through the motions this season. Give ’em a (proper) go, Dick, and save the money on bigger gambles you are considering.

LBG