Our central midfield conundrum

August 10, 2020

Arteta said he knows where to strengthen the team. We also know that he wants to have more control of the game and more creativity in the middle of the park. So how will he address our midfield’s lack of robustness and creativity? It will be an act that requires fine balance because we also have to make some key decisions regarding our younger players like Willock and ESR for example.

So who is likely to stay this summer?- Xhaka has won Arteta’s trust and Ceba is due to extend his loan so these two are for sure staying. – Willock seems to be seen as a massive talent and Arteta recently had some really positive words about ESR.

Verdict: Xhaka, Ceba, Willock to stay for sure

So who is likely to go out this summer?-

Mkhitaryan is most likely not coming back to us and will be staying at Roma. People say we might do a swap deal with J. Kluivert but I ‘d rather want another player from Roma like Veretout or Pellegrini. –

Guendouzi is a goner, unfortunately. He is a player that I believe will go on to become a very solid central midfielder. I believe he should leave the EPL and join a team in Italy, France (ligue 1), Germany or Spain to further ply his trade. I can seem him in a team like AC Milan for example. He d form a great partnership next to Bennacer and Kessie. –

Ozil has also been frozen out and I think for him, it will take a destination like Barcelona, Bayern Munich (top clubs) or Monaco, L.A (more glittery clubs) to end his story at AFC. We saw some greatness from Ozil but his time is up – Arteta could not be clearer. – Question marks remain around Torreira and ESR…

Verdict: Mkhitaryan, Guendouzi, Ozil to leave for sure and I believe they may be joined by Torreira. Arteta to keep ESR and if he does not get enough playing time by December, he will be loaned out again…

Based on the above, these are our midfielders (before any acquisition) for next year:

DM: CM: Xhaka, Ceba AM: Willock, ESR

Given the above, I am rather certain we will invest in a DM and a CM. We have been pursuing Partey for a long time so hopefully this move materializes but let us keep in mind that Partey is not a DM per say but could be played as a trio in midfield. As we are still looking for a DM, I would say to make a move for Brozovic, Declan Rice, Zakaria, Neves or Zubeldia or Capoue (not ideal) as the likes of Ndidi may be impossible to get. If we do not get Partey, then we could go for Vecino, Veretout or Doucoure.

So, possible central midfield options Partey, Xhaka – Ceba ; Capoue – Willock, ESR OR
Brozovic, Xhaka – Ceba; Zubeldia – Willock, ESR

Any thoughts?


Note: This post was written before the idea that Willian may be about to join from Chelsea.


Which Youth Team Players will make the 1st Team Squad?

April 6, 2016

On Monday night I watched a really enjoyable FA Youth Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Man City.

First the bad news. We lost on aggregate and MC had the best two players on the pitch. Brahim Diaz and Manu Garcia, both Spanish, were a constant danger and showed why they are so highly rated.

But we are not interested in the worrying success of the Northern Oilers youth policy, what we want to know is are our chaps any good?

Well, it is hard to assess based upon just 90+ minutes. Some fared better than others.

Starting at the back, I was impressed by the keeper, Keto. Finnish,  6’3″ and athletic. He looked assured made some good stops. Do Finns make good keepers? I know they like a drink, fishing , ski-ing and Sibelius.

Centre backs are always of interest because the last time one came through the ranks seems a long time ago. Bola and Beilik are highly thought of, Bola got sent off and made little impression but Bielik looks a player. Mobile, powerful and with an eye for a pass he may well be the man who progresses from the defence. He is normally a DM but is being played at CB to learn his trade, this became clear as he was out of position too often for my liking but nonetheless was our stand-out defender.

The full backs, Robinson and Johnson looked typical Wenger FB’s – fast, concentrated upon getting forward and thus open to the counter-attack.

In midfield Bennacer impressed. A French Youth international, he reminded me of Samir Nasri in his play.

A very young man named Nelson (could his nickname be Lord?) did well against older players. He has Wengerball  – power, control, pace and always looking to pass the ball forward. An England U-16 regular he is highly rated at AFC.

I was looking forward to an evening of Jeff but despite working hard he rarely found space to impress. This was thanks to an excellent defensive display from the MC DM’s. Nonetheless Jeff is comfortable on the ball and I predict will be a success at Arsenal.

Upfront Hinds and Maviiddi worked ceaselessly. Hinds plays like Chuba Akpom which is no surpirise. A Dutch chap named Marlen came on in the 60th minute and looked sharp, scored and generally impressed.

But my favourite player on the night was Chris Willock. Playing on the left he has obviously spent many hours watching Alexis Sanchez. He scored a neat goal and was a constant menace.

It is impossible to accurately predict how such young men will develop. I did not see any baby superstars like Rooney, Owen or Fabregas but we do have talent.

My guess, based upon very little, is that Bielik, Jeff and Willock will be the next ones to join the first team squad but what do I know?  I thought Glenn Helder would be the a Superstar!

Disclaimer: The above is based upon just one game with hardly any background research!