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The new year has began with a buzz following the Mikel Arteta managerial announcement and the performances on the pitch have clearly improved from the shitefest that was Emeryball.

However, there is one player that will not take any further part of the Arteta Renaissance this season due to yet another unfortunate injury. Arsenal has confirmed that Calum Chambers will be out for six to nine months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee. It’s not an injury that’s uncommon to the club, bearing in mind that Rob Holding (against Manchester United in December 2018) and Hector Bellerin (against Chelsea in January 2019) suffered similar injuries last season.

The timing of this injury is really bad for Chambers because he had turned out to be a silver lining in what has been a shambolic defense for the most part of the season. Prior to the valuable clean sheet, and of course, victory that was achieved against Manchester United on New Year’s Day, Arsenal had only managed three clean sheets in the Premier League – and Chambers started in all three. It’s not like he has been our Virgil van Dijk or something, but he tends to show more composure than the older folks in the defensive rearguard, hardly putting a foot wrong making those vital blocks, clearances and interceptions.

Despite the fact that the perceived duration for corrective surgery, rehabilitation and recovery for these injuries typically span into nine months, the reality has always shown that these players take a whole lot longer before they return to full fitness.

I can only wish Chambers a speedy recovery and we will be expecting to see him at the tail end of what we hope to be an amazing year with Arteta at the helm.

With Chambers injury in the spotlight, it was only normal for the journos to bug the gaffer on his plans, and as expected, Arteta indulged them with this,

“We have some bad injuries, like Calum a few days ago. That’s obviously going to change our plans at the back, but the reality at the moment is that we’re not going to be able to do much.”

“I’m more concerned at the moment about getting people back from injuries than I am the signings. I want to improve the players I have here, get everybody on board and understanding what we’re trying to do. If something extra comes up and we think it’s the right opportunity to improve what we have, let’s do it.”

These comments from the gaffer leaves us with two clear alternatives;

  • Make the best out of the defenders we have at our disposal or 
  • Delving into the transfer market to find some much needed defensive cover

Let’s throw some more light on these alternatives shall we?

Alternative One: Improve the Current Defensive Lot in the Squad

30 goals conceded in 21 Premier League games, seven goals conceded in six Europa League games and five goals conceded in two Carabao Cup games. Only seven clean sheets kept from 29 games in all competitions.

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The stats above clearly show that Arsenal’s defending has left a lot to be desired and whether it was a back four or back three, the Gunners have struggled really badly at the back. Sometimes, it down to individual errors. Other times, it down to poor collective defending but it has been shambolic watching our lads play so poorly at the back this season.

Yes, our club captain, Laurent Koscielny, bailed out on us so close to the end of the transfer window but the quick fire replacement we got from Chelsea didn’t light any fireworks and has seen his form dwindle. His experienced Spartan partner we acquired from Borussia Dortmund hasn’t covered himself in glory with a series of comedic displays that has seen fans call for his head on a spike.

Then there’s dear ol’ World Cup winner that was so bad, his manager opened the door and told him to leave but sadly, no one out there wants him to become their own liability. Finally, the promising youngster that we have been putting our hopes from just returned from a lengthy layoff and has suffered several niggling injuries that has seen him miss first team football as far back as November.

There you have it – the Arsenal defensive circus that concedes goals as easily as Unai Emery uses hair gel.

However, these same defenders have been subjected to the “Arteta effect” – three games played, three goals conceded, but it has taken its toll on their performances. The lads are more physical, robust in their challenges and committed in their tackling like they were injected with some kind of biological serum no different from the type that changed Steve Rodgers to Captain America.

Some may say it’s early days but David Luiz in particular has drastically improved in his form and that are certainly rubbed off on his partner-in-crime, Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

I firmly believe that there’s little or no hope for Skhodran Mustafi in the wake of yet another horrific showing in the game against Chelsea, but Arteta might yet prove me wrong. As for Rob Holding, we will continue to monitor his fitness and hope that his muscles will be able to cope with the physicality and intensity of the Arteta pressing.

Alternative Two: Delve into the Transfer Market

It’s times like this that I wish signing players in reality was like Football Manager, where you make a few clicks here and there, and Bob’s your uncle. Sadly, it’s not – there are a lot of engagements, discussions, agreement and transactions to be done for the signing of a player can be completed.

It’s even worse in the January transfer window, because the “selling club” preys on the desperation of the buying club to get deals with exorbitant prices.

Everyone watches the news, so its not a hidden secret that Arsenal needs a center back faster than Gilberto Silva’s goal against PSV Eindhoven in 2002. Enter Dayot Upamecano, a sought after young French central defender that has a lot of potential to be the next best thing since fried plantain, and as you’d expect, he’s going to cost a whole lot of money in today’s transfer market.

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According to the Metro, RB Leipzig has informed Arsenal that they will not lower their asking price of £70m. This is a lad that just started competitive playing football four years ago – a two year stint with RB Salzburg before he moved to their sister club, RB Leipzig in January 2017 for just €10m. Now RB Leipzig wants him to be £5m cheaper than Van Dijk.

In all honesty, I haven’t watched this lad well enough to make an informed analysis on his performance, and I have no plans of going to watch his clips on YouTube (even Yaya Sanogo had insane clips), but I’m in the opinion that acquiring him for that insane amount of money isn’t a good piece of business.

We have a William Saliba who’s at his age bracket coming in next season, and in Rob Holding we have a very bright young prospect so why should we burn that kind of cash? I’d rather go with a more conservative option which brings me to the next player we are linked with…

According to Sky Sports, Arsenal are interested in acquiring the services of Jerome Boateng from Bayern Munich. Since leaving Manchester City a decade ago, Boateng has made 300 appearances for the German outfit, winning seven Bundesliga titles in a row, four German Cups, one Champions League, one Super Cup and one Club World Cup.

He even managed to squeeze in one World Cup title while playing for Ghana Germany. Despite the fact that superstar signing from Atletico Madrid, Lucas Fernandez, has sidelined with injury, Bayern has confirmed that the 31-year-old Boateng can leave for €10m.

For me, getting an experienced defender like Boateng for that amount is a very shrewd type of business. I’d pick Boateng over Sokratis at the moment to partner David Luiz while we wait for Holding to gain full fitness to stake a claim for a first team berth.

Let’s get your thoughts in the comments.


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It Makes Sense to Send Chambers on Loan, but Wilshere?


Arsenal are set to make the announcements of new signings, Skhodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez but Wenger confirmed in his last press conference that a player or two would leave on loan, rather than on permanent basis. After leaving the Gunners to join Sporting CP on loan, Joel Campbell made his debut in the 2-1 win against FC Porto. 101 Great Goals have posted some of his personal highlights of the game for those interested.

With the capture of Mustafi, the journos asked the manager about the future of Calum Chambers as he was going further down the pecking order in the heart of Arsenal’s defense. It’s bad enough that Rob Holding has axed him out of the team despite injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista, but Chambers has not covered himself in glory, following that torrid start to the season against Liverpool. Yes, he might have scored a goal on the day, but his defensive performance was questionable, and fans can agree that losing his place in the team to Holding was justified.

With the manager confirming that Chambers was leaving on loan, there were many clubs that were mentioned but according to the Independent, Middlesbrough emerged as the favorites and have secured the lad on loan for the entire season. Will Chambers be able to break into the Boro team? Maybe, maybe not but he’s worth monitoring and with Boro in the Premier League, Chambers development can only get better. He arrived at the club with some hype surrounding him and he did well with some early season performances but he suffered a roasting from Jefferson Montero at the Liberty Stadium and things haven’t worked out too well for him since then.

A move to a club like Boro will be good for the lad. At least, he will get away from the spotlight and can concentrate on regular football, which is what he would be hoping for.

I wish him the best at the Riverside and I will be monitoring his progress.


So I saw some tweets on social media about the possibility of Arsenal sending Jack Wilshere on loan and I took it with a pinch of salt but when Sky Sports and other reputable columns carried the story, I had a rethink. Is Arsenal really considering sending one of its favorite, if not its favorite sons, Jack Wilshere, out on loan?

Jack Wilshere could be allowed to leave Arsenal on loan

WIlshere has featured mostly as a sub this season

First of all, why would Arsenal even consider the possibility of sending Wilshere out on loan? Is it because of Sam Allardyce’s comments on the lad that he should get regular football before he earns a place in the England squad? Is that what it’s about? Being concerned about Wilshere making the national team, rather than the team that has stuck with him through the countless injuries and what have you?

From a footballing standpoint, I think it’s a rookie move from the club because Wilshere is one of the most unique players in the squad. There is no one else that can offer us his lung-bursting runs and sleek style of play that sees him break opposition defenses with consummate ease. I know many have been concerned about his injury record and are unhappy that he can’t be relied upon to stay fit but it’s Arsenal – injuries have become a way of life here.

Look at the captain, Mertesacker, that spent the entire holidays drinking beer and watching Germany at the Euros before their exit in the semis to France. He was meant to be one of our fittest players in the preseason but after featuring against RC Lens, it was reported that he picked up a knee problem in the game (something we didn’t see in the course of the game) and bam, he was out for five plus months after a successful surgery.

Wilshere adds depth to the squad and can deputize in two playing positions, the attacking midfield role manned by Mesut Ozil and the box-to-box role currently deployed to Santi Cazorla. According to England, he can feature as a holding midfielder but I’m not convinced by his abilities there. The bottom line is that Wilshere is a player that would have his chance in the team and he hasn’t Debuchyed yet.

I just hope the news is false because it wouldn’t make any sense sending Wilshere out on loan.


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Football Draws and Chambers Out on Loan?

Arsenal defender Calum Chambers started in club's 4-3 season-opening defeat by Liverpool

The transfer window will be closed in less than a week and the fans are still wondering whether the club is signing any new players. For some reason, the same guys seem to be linked with moves to the club and in Joel Campbell, the Gunners have shown that he was probably surplus to requirements, with the winger going on loan to Sporting CP.

With the vast amount of players that could feature in Campbell’s position, you can say that he may / may not be missed but with Arsenal’s ever-increasing injury list, you can never tell. Campbell was a guy that got his chance when so many first team players were out injured and many fans would feel he utilized the opportunities afforded to him.

It seems like there would be another Gunner that would be joining the long loan list but his case is quite puzzling because the team is heavily depleted in that playing position. According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal is exploring the possibility of shipping out Calum Chambers on loan. The young ex-Southampton defender has managed to make 59 appearances in three seasons with three seasons with the club and he hasn’t really reached the heights expected of him.

He struggled a bit in preseason and the writing was on the wall for Arsene Wenger to go into the transfer market to sign a new center back following the injuries to club captain, Per Mertesacker, and Gabriel Paulista, but he kept the faith with an inexperienced back line in the form of Chambers and Holding. Sadly, their naivety at the back, coupled with lack of protection from the holding midfielders and all round shitty performance cost Arsenal three good points at home, to add to the consistent torrid opening start of the new campaign.

Even though I usually don’t take such transfer news with a pinch of salt, it would make no sense whatsoever for the club to allow a center back go with no replacement in view. I have seen all that Shkodran Mustafi shit but he’s not a Gunner, so my focus will always be on the players available to us, not some super mutant player from Krypton. We will have to monitor the situation well and hope the club makes the right decision on his future.

Elsewhere, the second round of EFL Cup fixtures were concluded and the draws for the third round are out. The Gunners got a favorable tie against Nottingham Forest, and it would be interesting coming up against Henri Lansbury, one of Highbury’s favorite sons. As expected, there were some Premier League clashes with the most exciting being the Leicester vs Chelsea game.

The pots for the Champions League are out as well and as expected, the Gunners would be paired against of the European juggernauts this campaign.

Pot 1: Real Madrid (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Leicester City (England), Bayern Munich (Germany), Juventus (Italy), Benfica (Portugal), Paris Saint-Germain (France), CSKA Moscow (Russia).

Pot 2: Atletico Madrid (Spain), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Arsenal (England), Sevilla (Spain), Porto (Portugal), Napoli (Italy), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)

Pot 3: Basel (Sui), Tottenham Hotspur (England), Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine), Lyon (France), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Sporting Lisbon (Portugal), Club Brugge (Belgium), Borussia Monchengladbach (Ger)

Pot 4: Dinamo Zagreb (Cro), Monaco (France), Besiktas (Turkey), Legia Warsaw (Poland), Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria), FC Copenhagen (Den), Rostov (Rus)

Obviuosly, I would prefer CSKA Moscow or Benfica and to some certain degree, Paris St. Germain, but I’m not entirely confident of my club’s abilities when they pair up against Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Juventus. The first two names on the list have dealt terrible blows to Arsenal in recent times, so I will be hoping for a good draw, so I’d keep my fingers crossed.


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