When the final whistle sounded yesterday evening at the Emirates Stadium I asked myself a question. How many Arsenal players currently would get into the Manchester City squad? Not the team, the squad, and I could only think of Saka, Partey, Tierney, Gabriel, Leno and possibly Smith Rowe. That’s it, that’s how much work I believe we still have to do to even compete.
I’m not saying that any of the players I’ve excluded from the above are not good enough to be in a competitive Arsenal squad because they can contribute, but the overall level needs to improve massively and that means a huge amount of work needs to be done by Edu, Tim Lewis and of course Arteta before we can ever hope to take on and match the top dogs on a regular basis.
Most of us pretty much know that that’s the case already but it does no harm to be reminded of how far we still have to go, and the visit of Manchester City certainly crystallised that fact, just in case we were deluding ourselves.
There is still a lot for Arsenal to play for this season, especially as everybody is beating everybody else except Man City, so even finishing high enough in the league and qualifying for Europe isn’t totally out of the question for us even if it might seem a million miles away at the moment. Plus we have the Europa League. Anything can happen in a Cup competition and even taking into account Arsenal’s terrible record in European football in general, it’s up for grabs.
I know it’s been said before, in fact we pretty much say it every summer but I really do believe that this summer is one of the biggest that this club has gone into since the golden era of Arsenal Wenger. There are a lot of clubs out there that are financially hurting. Arsenal are one of them but we have an opportunity here to maybe pick up some top top quality players at reasonable prices. This might be an opportunity which we won’t get again for many years, if ever and it would be criminal if we pass up on it.
I also think Arsenal currently have a good crop of players who we can sell to help finance any new signings. This might mean moving on a few favourites but the ends justify the means.
I like Joe Willock and I also like Ainsley Maitland Niles, whilst Eddie Nketiah is one of our own and so is Reiss Nelson, but are any of those Hale End lads going to take us anywhere near the level we want to be if you want to compete with Manchester City? If the answer is no then maybe you just have to accept the fact that we’ve got to sell these boys and use the funds to invest in another Thomas Partey or another Kieran Tierney because that’s the level of the player that we’re going to need if we want to compete at the top.
Then there is Lucas Torrieira and Matteo Guendouzi whilst not forgetting Dinos Mavropanos and Sead Kolasinac. Arsenal need to be moving on from these players. I’m not saying they are bad players it’s just that they’re not the level we need. We’ve tried them and it hasn’t worked out so we say thank you, good luck and off you go and then we reinvest the money in maybe another striker, somebody that can actually seriously challenge Aubameyang for his position for example, so that he doesn’t think he’s playing every week when he is fit.
Then there is the Lacazette question and what do we do about Alex’s contract which runs out in 2022, so a decision has to be made this summer. Too much money has already been invested in players who are maybe passed their best so Arsenal need to be ruthless and cut their losses even if it means moving Alexander on for a smaller fee than we are comfortable with because of his wages that are just too much. A similar decision has to be made over David Luiz because we can’t keep on paying these extortionate wages to players that have no sell on value. We cannot afford it, not anymore and especially not if we want to invest that money in better quality players.
Also, what do we do about the players we have on loan? Do we invest in them? Are they up to the level we need for the price being asked or could we get better value elsewhere?
Mat Ryan, Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard, all popular with the fans but are they going to be worth what Brighton and Real Madrid ask and are they taking us to the level we want to be at if we truly are ambitious?
There’s a few others we may consider moving on like Runarsson and Elneny. I’m sure that you all have your own favourites to add to the exit list too but we can’t move on everybody we’d like to in one go. Even so, you can see that there is still a heck of a lot of work to do and a long long way to go for Arsenal and it needs to start this summer. Or carry on as Edu and Arteta began the clear out last month
Personally I’m quite optimistic that the people we have at the club are capable of taking us where we want to go, it’s just going to take a bit of time…