Arsenal 2019-2020 - Because Thursday Games are the Best Way to Start the Weekend

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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First year under Unai Emery is in the books, and it was one that showed promise but ultimately disappointment as Arsenal finished in 5th place by 1 point and lost to Chelsea in the Europa Finals meaning that for the 3rd year in a row they'll be in the Europa League instead of the Champions League. In addition, to the lost revenue for the club, it also has an impact on bringing in any transfers that want to play in the CL or compete for a league title.

The biggest questions are who leaves and who stays as Arsenal definitely needs to make some roster changes and fill some major holes.

The biggest loss is certainly Aaron Ramsey, who agreed to a mega deal with Juventus as a free transfer. It's already been confirmed that Danny Welbeck and Stephan Lichtsteiner, who are at the end of their contracts will not be back next season. Petr Cech who ceded the #1 position to Bernd Leno last season has retired. Nacho Monreal is also at the end of his contract and 33, but I wouldn't be opposed to keeping him on board if he was interested in a one year deal.

The Gunners reportedly have only £45m to spend this summer. Emery has indicated that he is going to sell a few players in order to raise funds for some incoming transfers. David Ospina has been sold to Napoli for £3.15m. All indications are that Mesut Ozil will be gone and while Emery reportedly wants £35m for him, that seems like a pipe dream with his form over the last two years and heavy wages. Also reportedly getting shipped out is Shkodran Mustafi, who was the center of an awful defensive crew and has only looked worse in his second season at the Emirates. There are rumors of interest in Lucas Torreira, but Emery would reportedly prefer to move Granit Xhaka instead. There have been rumors of Barcelona interest in Alexander Lacazette as well, and while I think he's one of the actual talented players on the roster, I'd be happy to have the funds if Barcelona was interested in a massive overpay for the striker.

The strongest rumor around an incoming transfer right now is French 18 year old CB William Saliba who plays for Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1. Arsenal will have to fill essentially an entire back line both for the players on their way out and depth. They'll need to add a #2 GK with the departure of Ospina and retirment of Cech. A replacement defensive mid-fielder for either Torreira or Xhaka, one of whom appears to be gone. I think one of the biggest questions is what we'll see in the attacking center mid position, which has long been occupied by a combination of Ozil and Ramsey. I think it's possible we may see a rotation here as Emery's system favors players that he believes can shift between positions in the midfield.

Arsenal is also set to return CB Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin, who both suffered season ending knee surgeries. Holding showed some flashes last season, and I believe could slot into a starting role next season.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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There's an article at The Athletic today about Arsenal's summer transfer strategy which posits that selling one of the two strikers - Aubameyang being more likely because he's older - might be the best way to raise money to fund multiple purchases at positions of need, not least because Lacazette and Aubameyang don't really fit up top alongside each other. This isn't at all an RVP-type situation for me; if Man Utd wants Aubameyang and is willing to pay an MUFC premium for him, I'd be willing to let that happen.
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Gazidis is long gone. Kroenke, on the other hand...
Not sure how his departure to AC Milan mid season slipped my mind.

Unfortunately, I think the problem we're seeing indicated within the finances here are actually not Kroenke's fault. It's one thing not to spend despite profits, it's even worse that they've been allowed to have the profits fall off from their competitors.
 

hube

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That's true, and it's a problem that's been around since before Ivan. It began in earnest during the last few years of Wenger's charge and hasn't gotten any better. There's no one at the club who can maximize the transfer market.
 

mikeford

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Season starts in 3 weeks and Arsenal haven't spent a dime so that's pretty good. And the only scuttlebutt in the press is around Zaha who would be a luxury buy not a "need".

God forbid they buy a CB and throw Mustafi out of a high speed train going over a bridge.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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A few updates:

Arsenal bought 18-year-old Brazilian winger/second striker Gabriel Martinelli from Ituano for a reported £5m and is seemingly on the verge of closing the deal for 18-year-old French CB William Saliba from St. Etienne for a fee in the £25m range, who would then be loaned back for the year. This seems like excellent business, getting one of the best young talents in Brazil and one of the best talents in France. But 18-year-olds obviously aren't going to help much this year (even if they weren't loaned back in the case of Saliba). Both essentially played first team professional football for the first time this past year at age 17 and only just recently turned 18.

Martinelli made the team of the season in the Campeonato Paulista (which involves the very top Sao Paulo clubs like Corinthians, Palmeiros, Sao Paulo, and Santos but is sort of like a League Cup type competition that those clubs don't take as seriously as other competitions), and was brought into the Brazilian camp by Tite in advance of Copa America, not getting a real look to make the team but as part of the squad that his group would scrimmage against. Basically, he is on a very impressive trajectory and considered a top talent but is still very young and raw so who knows.

Saliba is supposedly the only player in the French international youth system playing two age levels up (currently playing for the U20 team as a player that just turned 18) and the only one since Mbappe to do that. He actually comes from the same banlieue as Mbappe, was discovered by Mbappe's father, and played for him much of his youth career. There hasn't been an official announcement yet but there are reputable news sources like the Guardian reporting this not as a rumor but as a done deal, pending medical. In football its never definitely done until its officially announced by the club, but this appears to be as close as one can get.

We still need a LB (lots of rumors about protracted negotiations with Celtic over Kieran Tierney), a creative midfielder (lots of rumors about a loan for Dani Ceballos), a winger (rumors about Zaha and Brazilian Everton Soares), and ideally a new CB, especially if Kos leaves (as seems likely now). My guess is that Tierney and Ceballos end up happening but I'm skeptical about the winger rumors given our budget and I have a terrible suspicion that we'll just make do at CB with Sokratis/Mustafi/Holding/Chambers/Mavropanos.
 

shaggydog2000

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That would be the death knell for any hopes of progress this season, wouldn't it?
Holding looked very good before his injury, and he should be back for the start of the season. Sokratis improved as the season went on as well. I think those two as a central defense pair has a lot of potential. But Holding is coming off a very serious injury, and the selection behind that top pair is pretty weak. I think the lack of depth is going to kill them. Unless Chambers or Mavropanos take a big step up, which I have my doubts about.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The loan deal for Dani Ceballos was just officially announced.

While he appears to be a bit of a fascist, Ceballos could offer the real quality and dribbling ability in midfield that we've lacked since Santi's achilles imploded. I also think there is a decent chance we end up signing him permanently. Its so hard to get into that Real team at this position - by next year, Florentino will no doubt have his eye on some other shiny objects to be the Modric/Kroos successors. Plus, Ceballos and Zidane appear to truly dislike each other and odds seem good of Zidane staying at least one more season after this one. There is no guarantee that Real would sell him to us if he does decide to permanently leave next summer but we'll at least have a leg up on the competition assuming that this year goes reasonably well for him.

 

67YAZ

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The loan deal for Dani Ceballos was just officially announced.

While he appears to be a bit of a fascist, Ceballos could offer the real quality and dribbling ability in midfield that we've lacked since Santi's achilles imploded. I also think there is a decent chance we end up signing him permanently. Its so hard to get into that Real team at this position - by next year, Florentino will no doubt have his eye on some other shiny objects to be the Modric/Kroos successors. Plus, Ceballos and Zidane appear to truly dislike each other and odds seem good of Zidane staying at least one more season after this one. There is no guarantee that Real would sell him to us if he does decide to permanently leave next summer but we'll at least have a leg up on the competition assuming that this year goes reasonably well for him.

I've been intrigued by Ceballos because he looks like a Klopp player to me. And he could be a great #10 for Emery, play the same role Banega did at Sevilla: a willingness to drop back and dig in defensively but also surge ahead and make plays around the box. With Lacazette and Auba driving into the box, Ceballos can be primarily the playmaker and not a finisher, which plays to his strength.

I'm less sanguine about the loan without an option to buy.
 

shaggydog2000

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Kolasinac is a big dude. I would not want to mess with him. It looks like it may not have been targeting the players in specific, but just nice cars in the area. Other local rich non-athletes have said they were targeted as well.


Looking forward to seeing what Ceballos has to offer, and the Saliba and Martinez signings seem to be smart plays for the future. Still need another defender for this season though.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Kolasinac is a big dude. I would not want to mess with him. It looks like it may not have been targeting the players in specific, but just nice cars in the area. Other local rich non-athletes have said they were targeted as well.
That's definitely how it seemed to play out. The carjackers were probably expecting some posh wanker in the car, not a hopped up Bosnian madman.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Here's a new pic I just saw on Twitter, capturing how the whole thing started. I don't know whether that's a knife or a massive icepick but holy shit its big. But Kola doesn't seem too worried!

25378
 

ConigliarosPotential

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This can't be real, can it?


£72 million on a winger? Not that I'm complaining, but what happened to Arsenal's summer transfer budget? (£40 million in total, wasn't it?)
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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This can't be real, can it?


£72 million on a winger? Not that I'm complaining, but what happened to Arsenal's summer transfer budget? (£40 million in total, wasn't it?)
Incredibly this appears to be real. Should put to rest the Zaha rumors. Wonder if they're still looking at Everton. That'd be one hell of a youth set up in front for Arsenal.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I'm not going to fully believe this one until its on arsenal.com but that is a massive signing if it comes through. If Tierney also gets over the line (which seems pretty likely), this will have been a great window and a big step forward in turning over the roster.

This looks like a pretty exciting and well balanced team.

---Auba-----------Laca-------------Pepe---
------------Ceballos--Guendouzi----------
---------------------Torreira----------------------
Tierney--Sokratis--Holding--Bellerin
-------------------Leno----------------------------

Alternately, we could play a 4-3-1-2 with Ozil behind two of the Auba/Laca/Pepe trio.

CB is still a huge weakness but that is a dynamic front line, a midfield with a ton of potential if those young players keep developing, and two pretty good fullbacks. And seven of those outfield players are 24 or younger and we'll also have Saliba, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Iwobi, Nketiah, Saka, Martinelli, Willock, and Mavropanos also 24 and younger and in the first team mix. Through buys the last two summers and promotions from the youth ranks this has become a very young team fairly quickly.
 

coremiller

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It's hard to say it's a great window when they didn't fix their most glaring weakness. This is still a pretty mediocre defensive team. They were about 10th in xG allowed last year and I don't see a lot of reason to think they'll be that much better. Sokratis-Holding is just not a Champions League-caliber CB pairing.

I don't think the Pepe signing makes any sense at all. Arsenal's attack was already good, and Pepe blocks one of their most promising young players (Iwobi). They would have been much better off spending that cash on a top-class CB.
 

shaggydog2000

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This can't be real, can it?


£72 million on a winger? Not that I'm complaining, but what happened to Arsenal's summer transfer budget? (£40 million in total, wasn't it?)
It sounds like they spaced out the payments on it. With Saliba being loaned back, and Ceballos being a loan, and this signing, I'm guessing they spent very little money this summer, but committed to a lot of money in the future when they expect to back in the Champions league.
 

JimBoSox9

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"Don't buy Pepe because he blocks Iwobi" is, with all due respect, some grade-A prospect-humping with an extra side of lube. Ligue 1 ain't the Premiership, but 22 goals and 11 assists doesn't come by every day in that table either.

I'm with MMS. Including Saliba next year, this is a pretty incredible pivot to loading up for the Eddie-Smith-Rowe generation with a window that might still contain a couple peak years for the Auba-Laca-Ozil core. Somehow we've broken our transfer record twice in a year with penurious ownership - weird.

Signed,

#joshkronkestan
 

shaggydog2000

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"Don't buy Pepe because he blocks Iwobi" is, with all due respect, some grade-A prospect-humping with an extra side of lube. Ligue 1 ain't the Premiership, but 22 goals and 11 assists doesn't come by every day in that table either.

I'm with MMS. Including Saliba next year, this is a pretty incredible pivot to loading up for the Eddie-Smith-Rowe generation with a window that might still contain a couple peak years for the Auba-Laca-Ozil core. Somehow we've broken our transfer record twice in a year with penurious ownership - weird.

Signed,

#joshkronkestan
Pepe is all of a year older than Iwobi too. It's not like he's 30, and He's light years ahead of Iwobi as a player. I have no doubts about this move as a short and long term upgrade.
 

coremiller

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The point is not that Iwobi can't be improved upon, just that he's good and young, so it makes no sense to throw tons of money at upgrading that spot when they so badly need quality at other positions.

Pepe's stats are also wildly inflated because he scored 9 penalties last season. 13+11 look a lot different than 22+11.

Also I think you're underrating Iwobi. He had .52 non-penalty expected goals + assists/90 last season at age 22. Pepe was .65 at age 23, against weaker competition. Iwobi also provides significant buildup/ball progression, while Pepe profiles as more of a pure attacker. It's not obvious clear to me that Arsenal significantly improve by swapping in Pepe for Iwobi.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The point is not that Iwobi can't be improved upon, just that he's good and young, so it makes no sense to throw tons of money at upgrading that spot when they so badly need quality at other positions.

Pepe's stats are also wildly inflated because he scored 9 penalties last season. 13+11 look a lot different than 22+11.

Also I think you're underrating Iwobi. He had .52 non-penalty expected goals + assists/90 last season at age 22. Pepe was .65 at age 23, against weaker competition. Iwobi also provides significant buildup/ball progression, while Pepe profiles as more of a pure attacker. It's not obvious clear to me that Arsenal significantly improve by swapping in Pepe for Iwobi.
Iwobi is a case where the stats and the eye test really seem to diverge. I don’t know any Arsenal fan who sees him as a future starter if the club improves as we hope. His movement and football intelligence are both pretty good but his end product is really poor, he isn’t a dynamic dribbler, and his defensive contribution is very inconsistent. The team really lacked a wide player who could dribble and take advantage of one on one situations. Iwobi just isn’t that guy.

Pepe scored nine penalties but he drew six of them (or so I’ve read at least). So that’s worth something.
 
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mikeford

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Also supposedly Arsenal are close to finishing Tierney for a signing so at least that is something on the defense end of things.
 

fletcherpost

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Also supposedly Arsenal are close to finishing Tierney for a signing so at least that is something on the defense end of things.
I really wish they'd get this one over the line. I want to see Tierney in the EPL, and i want Celtic to get the cash and retool. I've been watching some vids of the Arsenal US tour. I never realized how much support they had in the USA.
 

lars10

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It's hard to say it's a great window when they didn't fix their most glaring weakness. This is still a pretty mediocre defensive team. They were about 10th in xG allowed last year and I don't see a lot of reason to think they'll be that much better. Sokratis-Holding is just not a Champions League-caliber CB pairing.

I don't think the Pepe signing makes any sense at all. Arsenal's attack was already good, and Pepe blocks one of their most promising young players (Iwobi). They would have been much better off spending that cash on a top-class CB.
Have you really not seen enough of Iwobi? He can't cross the ball, he's poor at passing and poor at finishing. He runs fast, but doesn't dribble well. He may be great some day, but he's been given a lot of chances here and has been fairly mediocre in those chances.

Is Bellerin coming back? Holding was playing great before he got hurt last year. Anything to get Mustafi off the field will be an improvement.

edit: I see that the Iwobi part has been covered several times.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Iwobi is not a winger and shouldn't be played there, he needs to play as an attacking midfielder. Hopefully he will get that chance this year.
Maybe he will become Ozil's understudy this year. (That's a job that offers a lot of playing time, for those times when Ozil doesn't feel like playing up north, or comes down with another illness.)

If they land Pepe, that will hopefully be the end of trying to play Iwobi as a winger, and hopefully they will start using him in the center of the midfield, where he strengths are useful and his weaknesses minimized.

Here are couple of interesting takes on Iwobi, both talking about how he receives the ball and is usually in position to move it on:

"Play the way you're facing" was the old clichéd advice. Really, it's about facing the way you should be playing the ball, and this is where Iwobi excels. He boasts a great ability, whether natural or learned, to receive the ball with his body in the right position to play the next pass, usually to the overlapping Kolasinac or the alternative left-back, Nacho Monreal. Consider, for example, the way he linked with Monreal for Alexandre Lacazette's opener in a 5-1 thrashing of Fulham early in the season. Or the way he slipped in Kolasinac to cross for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's winner at Bournemouth. Or with Monreal again for Henrikh Mkhitaryan's header at Southampton, or with Kolasinac again to win a penalty against Cardiff."



"Alex doesn’t quite have that bending far corner shot motion that wide forwards at the top end of the Premier League need. Nor does he have a propensity to cut in and shoot. Wide forwards either need to make runs in behind or else fashion their own shots and Iwobi doesn’t really do either. He is more facilitator than provocateur.

Iwobi’s ball reception is his most obvious midfield trait. He is excellent at receiving on the half-turn and spinning away from pressure- which are qualities the Arsenal midfield lacks. When Iwobi broke into the first team in 2016, Mikel Arteta spotted the same quality, “I played with him in the Under-21s recently and I was surprised he could play in central midfield as well.

“Forwards don’t normally have that 360 degree vision you need in midfield. Alex is capable of reading the game well, understanding his positioning and his body shape when he plays.
” Iwobi’s use of his body helps him to link play because he has a knack of receiving the ball at the right angle to move it on quickly. This is an attribute typically far more prized by coaches than it is supporters."
 

shaggydog2000

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Have you really not seen enough of Iwobi? He can't cross the ball, he's poor at passing and poor at finishing. He runs fast, but doesn't dribble well. He may be great some day, but he's been given a lot of chances here and has been fairly mediocre in those chances.

Is Bellerin coming back? Holding was playing great before he got hurt last year. Anything to get Mustafi off the field will be an improvement.

edit: I see that the Iwobi part has been covered several times.
Bellerin and Holding should both be back, but not for the start of the season.

And Iwobi is good at some things, receiving the ball and moving it up field is part of that, but he's not a finisher, doesn't make great final passes that open up other players, and can't dribble past anyone. He can be improved upon in his role. Maybe a move to a different position will get more out of his skills.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I don't think Iwobi has particular good qualities for central midfield either. He doesn't have a big engine, he isn't all that involved in build up play, and his defensive contribution certainly isn't a strength. If he's playing through the middle its going to be as the most attacking oriented of three midfielders (whether its a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3). But that's also a role that Ozil, Mkhitaryan, and arguably Ceballos are suited for (Ceballos may also have the ability to play slightly deeper but I expect to see a lot of games in which its Xhaka-Torreira-Ceballos in midfield or Torreira-Guendouzi-Ceballos).

Frankly, if Emery saw Iwobi as an important player in attacking midfield going forward, he probably would have let him take Ramsey's role in the side rather than immediately running out to bring in Ceballos (and reportedly promising Ceballos that he'd appear in 40 matches this season). And then you've also got Smith-Rowe and Willock, both of whom Emery seems to rate and who will probably continue to get some chances in cup games if they don't go on loan.
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Chatter kicking up about Mustafi maybe being sold to Monaco for €30m


Best addition of the summer if it happens
Last season felt like basically the same team as 2017 plus Torreira.

What an offseason this has been. Pepe, Ceballos, Martinelli, Saliba.

Would love for them to sell Mustafi at Tierney and another CB. Is it too much to hope they can find a suitor for Xhaka as well? What a horrific transfer window 2016 was: Xhaka for 51m, Mustafi for 46M and Lucas Perez for 22m.
 

JimBoSox9

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Emery seems to love Xhaka, though, it's sounding like he'll be named one of the captains, if not 'the' captain. It'll be interesting how the playing time sorts out between him, Ceballos, Torreira, and MG. The latter in particular seemed to get a lot of run last year even with other options available, but it's hard to see any of the other three not featuring regularly.
 
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mikeford

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Last season felt like basically the same team as 2017 plus Torreira.

What an offseason this has been. Pepe, Ceballos, Martinelli, Saliba.

Would love for them to sell Mustafi at Tierney and another CB. Is it too much to hope they can find a suitor for Xhaka as well? What a horrific transfer window 2016 was: Xhaka for 51m, Mustafi for 46M and Lucas Perez for 22m.
Plus whatever they paid for Asano (bust) and Elneny (championship level player)

Maybe the worst window of all time
 

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Arsenal have officially announced the Pepe signing. He'll be wearing #19.

The team may have its flaws, but the thought of Pepe, Lacazette, and Aubameyang playing together puts a smile on my face.

Arsenal's official page has some videos to go with the announcement. (Sidenote: sports can be so strange - why do I need to see Pepe getting his blood drawn in a promo video? Not sure, but I still watched the videos.)

 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Arsenal have supposedly had a 55M bid on Dayot Upamecano rejected, but have made him a priority.

This is just an insane transfer window. Can't remember anything like it in Arsenal's history and a ton of very young players. Best I've felt about the future of this team in a long time.

Koscielny apparently having a medical with Bordeaux in what appears to be a done deal.
 

The Gray Eagle

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It's silly season!


Google translate:

"Transfers: Philippe Coutinho (FC Barcelona) to Arsenal
The attacking midfielder from Barcelona should be on loan to the London club.

Regularly linked to the news of Paris Saint-Germain since the start of this transfer window, Philippe Coutinho (27) will finally return to the Premier League, where he has already played in Liverpool. Under contract with FC Barcelona until June 2023, the Brazilian midfielder should be loaned to Arsenal."

I give this one about a 10% chance of happening, only because they aren't using the typical "are close to" or "on the verge" or "preparing a bid" type of transfer language.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Lots of chatter about loaning Eddie Nketiah, with Leeds looking like a favorite. That would be a great loan destination with Bielsa surely having them playing some good football.

The interesting thing to me is that you don't loan your third string striker if you plan on playing your first two strikers together very often. I think lots of people have speculated about an Auba-Laca-Pepe front line but what we might end up seeing more often is a 4-3-3 with a real winger like Nelson on the left to go along with Pepe on the right and either Auba or Laca in the middle. Alternatively, we could see more of the 4-4-2 diamond shape that Emery experimented with at times, with Ozil as trequartista and two of the Pepe/Auba/Laca trio starting ahead of him.
 

shaggydog2000

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Arsenal have supposedly had a 55M bid on Dayot Upamecano rejected, but have made him a priority.

This is just an insane transfer window. Can't remember anything like it in Arsenal's history and a ton of very young players. Best I've felt about the future of this team in a long time.

Koscielny apparently having a medical with Bordeaux in what appears to be a done deal.
Kos to Bordeaux has been confirmed by Arsenal. Really need to add a central defender now. Hope they can get that done by Thursday. A good young one like Upamecano would be ideal, but as long as the guy is better than Mustafi, I'll be happy. Cover at left or right back would be great too, but that's a lot to get done in about two days.
 

shaggydog2000

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BBC reporting that a £25 million fee has been agreed with Celtic for Tierney. Also L'Equipe and others are reporting that David Luiz is trying to force a move to Arsenal despite having signed a two-year deal with Chelsea in May.
Luiz and Tierney could be a good combo. I know Luiz is older so he's not a long term guy, but Tierney would allow Monreal to move to central defense more often, where his decline in foot speed won't show up as much. Monreal doesn't have ideal size, but he's competitive there. The issue would be how long Tierney is going to be out recovering from his double hernia surgery, which is going to be at least another month or two. But eventually having Bellerin and Tierney at right and left back with Holding, Luiz, Sokratis, and Monreal rotating in central defense isn't bad. Maitland-Niles, Callum Chambers, Monreal, and Kolasinac as subs on the outside isn't that bad either.
 

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Neil Lennon said that Tierney could be back in training in a week. I think the reports of him being out a couple months were bull. I would expect him to be available for selection around the end of August.

I think Sokratis and Luiz will be the starting CB combo, with Holding gradually worked into that mix as he recovers from the ACL surgery and Chambers an emergency and Europa League guy. I hope that by October we'll see Tierney and Bellerin as the regular starters on the outside.