It’s that weird time of the year in football. The domestic season has ended, the FA Cup has just been played, as has the Europa League Cup Final but still to play is the Europa Conference League Cup Final as well as the Champions League Final. The transfer window has yet to officially open but let’s be honest, that’s all we’re really interested in. Rumours of players joining Arsenal are up and running as well as those leaving but as yet, nothing is concrete.
Declan Rice to Arsenal has already been mentioned many times in relation to a move across London and despite Bayern and Man Utd showing interest in the player, his preference is to stay in London. Goodness knows who leaked that little gem to the media but I strongly suspect it wasn’t anyone who actually knows what the player’s future plans are. Other than preparing for what’s expected to be his final game for West Ham this week that is.
Granit Xhaka is rumoured to be heading back to Germany this summer but just as it looked like Bayer Leverkusen we’re going to snap him up, Bayern Munich have entered the rumour pages. If true, it could good for Arsenal because a bidding war might just bring in a few more pounds.
Going back to the FA Cup, City won the battle between the two Manchester clubs so it looks like Guardiola will replicate Utd’s treble winning season. That is unless Inter Milan cause an upset next weekend. No, I can’t see that happening either. City winning the FA Cup also means that Arsenal’s season will kick off with a trip to Wembley for the Community Shield on the 6th August.
Before then though, there are international fixtures to be played, including senior and under 21 Euros qualifying matches, transfers to be completed and a number of pre season friendly matches to play. By the time June changes to July, all of our players should have had at least one, if not two weeks of much needed holiday.
Transfers, what do Arsenal need to do this summer to keep up, if not better Man City as well as to pull away from the clubs who we finished ahead of this season? The million dollar question which on paper equates to multimillions really because that’s what it’s going to take. Mikel Arteta has a very good team when every player is fully fit and in great form but 11-15 players can’t play every game for ten months. If they could, we’d have won the League this season I’m sure. A ten month football season is about balance and rotation and one can have a detrimental effect on the other but you already know that. Injuries aren’t the problem for most clubs, not in their own right but the level of player who replaces the injured is, or at least can be. That’s not to suggest the incoming player is a bad player but because he can’t replicate what the player he’s replaced does, the balance of a team changes. Often in a negative way. A fully fit and functioning Partey, Martinelli, Saka, Saliba, and perhaps even Odegaard are in my opinion, irreplaceable. By that I mean there is no one in this current squad who seems able to do what they do when they’re at their best. Nelson is a very good alternative to Martinelli, or at least he has been in the few times he’s actually played, Trossard too perhaps but we still don’t know if Nelson is staying. Rumour has it he is of course but….
Every club in the Premier League is going to invest as much as they can to make them stronger so in theory, next season’s challenge for a top four finish will be even tougher than this one was. Ten Hag will be another year wiser in this league, Poch will have set his stall at Chelsea and unless Klopp really is on a downward spiral which I doubt, Liverpool will be stronger. Brighton, Aston Villa and even Brentford will be looking to break into the top four too. Do I dare mention Totts? No, ok then. The aim of course is to topple Man City and regardless of how close we came points wise, they remain head and shoulders above Arsenal and the rest. That’s not to say they cannot be caught or overtaken and despite what the so called experts say, I think Mikel Arteta and Arsenal are the best placed club to do exactly that. But, it’s going to take spending a few million pounds to do so because unless Arteta has a squad of players he’s truly believes in, winning the Premier League is likely to remain a pipe dream.
Contrary to popular belief, having compared the figures between Guardiola and Mikel Arteta, their rotation of player numbers are very similar but I imagine if one was to dig deeper, it’s when, where and who is rotated rather than just numbers. Not one City player played all 38 Premier League matches yet at Arsenal, Ramsdale, Saka, Gabriel and White did and I suspect, had Saliba not suffered injury, he would have too. Xhaka and Odegaard played 37. According to TransferMarket that is.
Lastly, Reiss Nelson’s strike against Bournemouth back in March has won the Premier League’s Gamechanger of the Season award. It was good wasn’t it….
Catch up in the comments.