The Arsenal Monthly: July
Ah, July. The month where teams like to make their top transfer targets real transfers, get their first team decided and get their players fit for the upcoming season. Arsenal have managed to get their man this month, acquiring Alex Lacazette. Sead Kolasinac was acquired earlier. If you’d have asked an Arsenal fan what they wanted from July in terms of transfer activity, most would be happy. The job to be done was to manage to keep Ozil and Sanchez, sign Lacazette and Lemar. 75% of the work is done but it seems unlikely now that Lemar will sign. The signing of Lacazette brings a sense of optimism around the Emirates after a rather dull premier league campaign last year and also reminds people that even without the Champions League, Arsenal are still capable of buying players. Arsenal fans would be relieved more than anything to see Sanchez still as an Arsenal player. His happiness though, still begs a question or two. This Sanchez speculation has managed to keep the public eye off players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez, all who have been linked with moves away from the Emirates. The pre season for Arsenal has been mixed with winning the Emirates cup and beating Bayern being highlights whereas a humbling defeat by Chelsea was a low point. With no major injuries incurred in pre season, it seems the doubt would only fall on Jack Wilshere(unless he leaves) and Santi Cazorla for fitness. These two developments have led the rumor mill to believe that Arsenal may need another Central Midfielder. The name being floated around now is Jean Michael Seri. An Ivorian midfielder from Nice, his transfer hinges on Nice’s Champions League qualifier. Another spark in pre season was Riess Nelson. The 17 year old midfielder fitted in the 3–4–3 formation of Arsene Wenger as a wing back and followed in the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi and Serge Gnabry by shining in the Emirates cup. His performance vs Bayern also brought a lot of plaudits leading people to believe he could get a run in the league cup where Arsenal tend to give their youngsters a chance. Arsenal seem in decent shape to mount a title challenge this season if they can sign a midfielder and a defender considering the strong back end of last season using the 3–4–3 system. This formation brought tactically hard fought victories against teams like Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd. Not only that, it also ensured that Granit Xhaka managed to finally find his feet at the centre of midfield alongside Aaron Ramsey which seems to be a long term solution to Santi Cazorla’s absence. Not only that, it also seemed to be getting more out of Mesut Ozil, who has a free role as part of a front three that could only get stronger with Lacazette. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another player that seems to be thriving in this new system as a wing back. The team looks a lot more resilient with this system. There is more fight to the team now, the performance in the FA cup final was testament to that with the team engaging in a more physical battle at times.
Although, such positives does not mean that the team is all good, there are many problems within the club which need to be sorted out. Arsenal have quite a few players who could be considered ‘dead wood’, that need to be cleared in order to make room for new signings. Players like Kieran Gibbs, Lucas Perez, Gabriel and Carl Jenkinson. Not only that, a lot of other players are in the last year of their contracts and need to be re-signed in order to not be sold on a free next season. Players like Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez who are vital to the Arsenal first team need to sign new contracts. Also, they need to manage Sanchez well. He may be staying but his contract and happiness needs to be managed properly. I believe Arsenal still have a chance to keep him beyond this year if they can prove to him that they can fulfill his ambition of winning the Premier League and the Champions League
All in all, Arsenal seem to be well positioned to start the premier league well, there is no need for panic buys, the club just needs to worry about contracts for current club players being extended and maybe one or two positions for which they have players in mind. In the last few years, Arsenal have been slow starters, taking 2–3 games to fully get into their stride due to players not being available, lack of preparation, etc. This season though, it seems like they have prepared well, players are back and fit and the Community Shield encounter will be a good curtain raiser to assess the improvements Arsenal have made.
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