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We now have the squad, but do we have the team?

FOR the first time in what feels like a long time, it feels like come the end of the August transfer window, we genuinely have a full squad.

By my count we’ve two international keepers, two good left-backs, two good right-backs, five bona-fide centre-backs, two right-wingers, various midfielders, an assortment of what the old Championship manager would have called attacking midfielder/forward left/centre and at least one out and out striker.

Numerically, I can’t really argue.

Personally, I can’t understand why on earth we’ve let a player of Wilshere’s calibre go out on loan for year with no break clause, not least because we’ve needed to call on him in two out of this season’s three games. But I’m not going to argue that numerically it has left us short. Shorn of a potentially outstanding player maybe, but not short overall.

What I’m less clear about is what on earth our first choice team is. I feel pretty certain of Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Koscielny, Ozil and I think Sanchez and I guess Xhaka. But after that, I’ve frankly no idea.

I think it matters. Granted, injuries will crop up and force changes of personnel. But to win the league, you need a first team.

9 Responses to “We now have the squad, but do we have the team?”

  1. Simon says:

    My best bet is the guys you mentioned plus MOST OFTEN

    …Perez, Walcott, Ramsey, Mustafi

    We will see Giroud, Santi and Elneny against weak opposition.

    Ox will be a substitute, I hope.

  2. Bakri says:

    The Arsenal team are still missing the cutting edge , goal scoring machine , a striker who can score 20+ goals a season and this will be the main reason that they will not win the championship this year. There were more than six world class strikers that Arsenal could have signed one of them , but their prices were far higher than can Professor Wenger imagine.

  3. slc gunner says:

    My best guess (at least in the short-term while Gabriel, BFG and Welbeck are out ) at a 1st team:
    Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal
    Xhaka, Ramsey
    Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez
    Midfield is the area where there is the greatest competition: Elneny, Coquelin and Cazorla are all more than capable. I have hopes that the Ox will stay fit and develop (I had the same hopes last year). I feel he is a far more gifted player than Theo, but continues to frustrate. I also hope Perez turns out to be a jewel in the crown: but for now, he has plenty to prove. All that said, Theo seems to be in the good books right now and has played a little better than last year. I would be surprised if he is not playing after the break.
    The competition for places is good. Time will tell on the quality of the new recruits. Perez is the biggest question mark. Is he a one-season wonder or another Jamie Vardy?
    I agree re Wilshere, surprised to see him go. Even if it took him a month or two to get back to his best, his best would be worth waiting for. Maybe a half-season loan, but I don’t think the full year is justified.

  4. Sean Williams says:

    This squad can function at a peak perhaps 60% of the time. I don’t understand at all why Sanogo is in the squad. Had we have filled that place with a real quality striker who could add 20 goals or so, we may have competed. I really don’t get Wenger. I think Mourinho is right, that Wenger is “a specialist in failure”. It seems that Conte, Guardiola, and Mourinho (sadly maybe Spurs too) will be fighting for honours. I’m not sure Wenger is quite right in his mind anymore. I feel sorry for the man.

  5. vishnu viswa says:

    my arsenal first XI.
    bellerin, mustafi, koscielny, monreal
    xhaka, cazorla
    ramsey, oźil, sanchez
    I think this season arsenal have a depth in the squad. many players will have to fight for a place in the central midfield. we don’t know how perez well adjust to the atmosphere of premier league. still I think giroud is the main striker at the moment.

  6. Elvis says:

    We now have five centre-backs (plus another one out on loan) and three right-backs on the books. Wow. Expect departures in January.

    My first team: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, Sanchez, Giroud.

    By the time Mertesacker, Gabriel, Jenkinson and Welbeck are fit again, we’ll have Mustafi, Koscielny, Bellerin and Giroud crocked for the rest of the season so the competition will be less fierce than it seems.

  7. MDP says:

    The crux of the issue with this squad is that Ozil, Alexis and Ramsey are all number 10′s and Ramsey can also play further back alongside the holding midfielder as can Cazorla who can also play number 10. These 4 players are all certain starters for me, fighting over 2 positions.

    Ozil gets the nod behind the striker as he’s most effective there. There’s a big argument for Alexis behind the striker but he can operate effectively on the left wing but do we get the best of him there? Cazorla and Ramsey are hard to split but Ramsey often gets pulled to the right.

    I think the wings do suffer. Alexis looks more orthodox than Ramsey but both have a tendency to get sucked into the middle and we lack the width. I like the directness of the Ox on the right driving at defences. Theo would probably have gone by now were it not for his huge wages but his pace and runs offer something when we can get in behind the defence. You feel this is an area that could be improved but hope to see the Ox fulfilling his potential this season.

    Add to this the more physical presence of Xhaka, Elneny and Coquelin and I guess it does get confusing. Xhaka gets the holding role for me. And the other two don’t only back him up but offer a bit more bite next to Xhaka if needed. A good example of this was against Spurs at the Emirates last season when they played two holding midfielders and had us in midfield. We have better options to combat that now.

    As for Jack. Hard to see him go out on loan but I think it was right. I’m not sure how he would have got the games he needs. On his day, he starts but form and fitness have changed that. I don’t get the length of the deal. I would have thought a review and extension at Christmas would have been wise. Hope he returns fit and ready to slot into the team next season.

    I agree we don’t have an obvious first 11. What we do have is a squad that can adapt to the opposition which could be a strength if Arsene can orchestrate things from the touchline. A hard task.

    I also have this hunch that Giroud has a 25+ goal season in him off the back of great run of Internationals. I could easily be wrong but I just think he’s good enough.

  8. PD says:

    First 11 if everyone fit ? Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Mustafi, Kos, Xhaka, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud for certain. In the middle with Xhaka, probably Santi against ‘easier’ opposition but with one of Coq, Elneny or Rambo for tougher games. On the opposite wing to Alexis : one of Theo, Ox or Iwobi. I know a lot of people like Rambo on the wing but for me the only valid reason for him playing there was to support the middle given our previous weaknesses & lack of leadership there but with those resolved, I just don’t see the point.

    The squad looks for once to have no glaring weaknesses….though I do worry that we didn’t bring Ches back as I’d be much more comfortable with him over Ospina were Cech to miss significant time. I’m also bemused by letting Jack go. We’ve loads of options in midfield but if Ozil or Santi got injured I think we’d be lacking in ‘creative’ options. (ironic really given the last 10 years of being overloaded with them !)

    So, positive enough then but before we start applauding the club, I still think the summer was a bit of a shambles. We knew in June we weren’t getting Vardy & still took 2 months to buy a striker – one who we bought by paying a release clause which we could just as easily have activated in June. We also (by the sounds of it) spent 2 months haggling with Valencia trying to save a few million before paying them want they appear to have wanted right from the start.
    As a result we are 5 points behind already. And not to 1 team, but to 3 teams. And not any 3 teams, the 3 title favourites. Do I see us making 6 points on all 3 of those ? Not a chance to be honest.
    We’ve also rushed Rambo back early & he’s already injured. We’ve rushed Alexis back – a decision that was proven to be disastrous last season. And we’ve rushed Ozil, Kos & Giroud back too – the outcome of which we don’t yet know. We are where we are but it is not good.

    It’s now or never for Arsene : he’s put us in this position. Will another improved second half of the season to finish 2nd – 4th be enough ? Not for me. Winning the league (or CL) is the only way a new contract for Arsene can be justified.

  9. PD says:

    Not sure if anyone else saw the interview with Jon Smith (football agent & Arsenal fan) in the Sunday Times on Sunday. Someone has posted the interview here :

    A couple of fascinating things from an Arsenal perspective : one re: Arsene’s reluctance to make substitutions until late in the day & also his view that Arsenal as a club are overly reliant on stats when making signings.

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