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Midfield Substitution: Jorginho In, Lokonga Out

The winter transfer window is finally over and now, we can concentrate on some sweet football from now till the end of the season. With Arsenal out of both domestic competitions rather prematurely, all hands are on deck as the club aims to win its first Premier League title in 19 years, as well as its first Europa League trophy.

One essential feature any team challenging on all fronts need is squad depth, as last season’s Champions League qualification shortcomings proved so. With Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey suffering major injuries in the tail end of last season, Arsenal lost vital games against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Brighton, before getting some good results, which included a win at Stamford Bridge, but when the going got really tough and results were needed at White Hart Lane and St. James Park, the Gunners failed woefully and settled for a fifth placed finish, despite being odds on favorites to finish fourth.

A new campaign has commenced and the Gunners recruited smartly this season, signing players that have come into the first team and made massive impacts, as well as galvanizing the ones already in the squad. The Gunners were desperately short up front with the acrimonious departures of their usual goal getters, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette – Gabriel Jesus resolved that. Nuno Taveres showed that he was not up to scratch when Tierney got crocked, so getting Oleksandr Zinchenko was a touch of genius. Talk about killing two left back and central midfield birds with one Zinchenstone.

Central midfield, however, remained a problematic position that needed to be addressed, due to the gulf of quality between the first teamers and their deputies. Besides the issue of quality, Granit Xhaka is a fart away from his next undeserved suspension and Partey’s bones are probably made of glass, so the pursuit of Youri Tielemans seemed worthwhile, but the Arsenal hierarchy didn’t get the move over the line. Seeing how efficiently the Gunners signed Porto’s Fabio Vieira out of the blue, it seemed evident that Tielemans wasn’t a priority, or maybe it’s the fact that he could be signed on a Bossman that played a role in the decision making.

With Partey suffering an injury scare in the FA Cup loss to Man City, coupled with the fact that the club confirmed that Mohamed Elneny has gone under the knife to mitigate a niggling issue on his knee, and of course, the underwhelming form of Albert Sambi Lokonga. Signing a central midfielder in the January window was an absolute priority.

With the failed pursuit of Moises Caicedo from Brighton as well as the limited time available, Edu and the recruitment team must be hugely commended for signing an experienced player like Jorginho at such short notice.

Yes, I have my reservations about him as I expressed in yesterday’s post, but he is certainly a stop-gap measure that will hold the fort in the next six months and probably the year after, while the Gunners go hard for Declan Rice this summer.

While I was a bit puzzled by letting Sambi Lokonga go to Crystal Palace on loan with Elneny injured, it is a transfer that makes a lot of reasons. Lokonga has failed to nail a first team berth since he arrived at the club and his performances haven’t also helped his cause. He’s a young lad that needs consistent game time to really develop, like William Saliba, and at this present time, he cannot get that at Arsenal. And finally, he’s going to play under the tutelage of a midfield legend like Patrick Vieira, who can turn him into a beast like Conor Gallagher when he arrived from Chelsea.

With Jorginho arriving, Lokonga departing and Elneny out injured, Arsenal still looks short in the middle, but one can assume that Mikel Arteta is probably seeking short term solutions like deploying Smith-Rowe in central midfield to play the left 8 Xhaka role. The club also has a natural replacement in Zinchenko, who can be deployed there to allow Tierney play as a left back.

So it’s not all doom and gloom.

Jorginho arrives at the club hungry for a new challenge, despite winning major trophies at club and international level. This is the sort of mentality that Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko rubbed off on the team, so I’m keen to see what the Italian has to offer in his time with the club.

It’s time to return our focus to the football, and all hands will be on deck to continue the winning run in the league, against an Everton side refreshed with Satanball’s ambassador, Sean Dyche.


Arsenal Linked with Jorginho?! – No, Please!

Jorginho: Arsenal seriously considering move for Chelsea midfielder but are  ready to do deal for Brighton's Moises Caicedo | Football News | Sky Sports

Yes, I understand that the injury scare to Thomas Partey, compounded with Mohamed Elneny’s injury and Albert Sambi Lokonga’s shitty form has made Arsenal desperately light in central midfield, but Arsenal can do better than Chelsea’s Jorginho. 

Unfortunately, Arsenal has had two bids for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo turned down, despite the Ecuadorian midfielder pulling a Trossard on his parent team. Brighton’s response to Caicedo’s antics was to give him some ‘time off’ from the team to clear his head, while they continued their business on the pitch, by recently eliminating the current FA Cup holders, Liverpool, from the competition. To a certain degree, you can understand how the upper hierarchy at Brighton feel, especially with the way they lost Trossard, who was one of their most important players, but allowing Caicedo go would set a precedence that they may not recover from. Who would be the next to go to social media to declare an exit? Kaoru Mitoma? Nah, the Japs are too honorable for that.

It is believed that Arsenal is coming back today with a monster third bid for Caicedo, but we have to see how things pan out before the transfer window closes tonight. Has the media linked us with other targets? yes! There have been the Declan Rice whispers and in as much as I love me some Rice and ofada stew, he’s West Ham’s captain, and he will, at the very least, want to steer them away from relegation waters before jumping ship. We were linked with Juventus’ Weston McKennie, but he has already moved to Leeds United on loan, which leaves me with the android Sergi Busquets, Martin ‘Azubuike‘ Zubimendi

For the life of me, I didn’t see Jorginho coming. Not for a long mile, not even over the damn horizon. 

With Chelsea closing in on a Premier League record bid for Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez, has reported that Arsenal is considering making a move for the Blue’s midfielder, Jorginho. In recent seasons, Edu and his technical team have done so well with their transfers, and even the genuine targets that were missed like Raphinha and Mykhailo Mudryk, were downright exciting. Which is why I’m genuinely confused with the Gunners linked with Jorginho. 

First things first, the transfer dealings between Chelsea and Arsenal have been nothing to write home about in recent seasons, and one can’t look any further than Willian, that showed up on the shores of North London, and played like a true pensioner, before sodding off to the sunshine at Corinthians. There was also the David Luiz deal that leaves us with mixed emotions, but signing such a washed-up player after losing such an important figurehead like Laurent Koscielny was a bitter pill to swallow. 

Jorginho even rates lower than the Willian deal in my books because he’s expected to come into the team to deputize for Partey. Are you kidding me? I’d rather manage my underwhelming Sambi Lokonga or even draft new boy, Jakub Kiwior, to the holding midfield role before considering that footballer whose only attribute tends to be hoping to the penalty spot before converting the spot kick. Thanks, but no thanks.

To make it worse, Chelsea, in their absolute madness, want us to pay around £15 – £20m for the washed-up midfielder that has only six months left in his contract. A player that they are certain on letting go on a Bosman this summer. 

As an Arsenal supporter, I have an obligation to back the team no matter what, but decisions like this can come back to haunt us. I’m more hopeful for that monster bid for Caicedo, or for Edu to go all Fabio Vieira and Kiwior on us, getting us an unknown holding midfielder from another solar system. 

Hopefully, these links with Jorginho are just a joke, and while I hope it is, its certainly not funny. 


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Elneny’s Injury Makes Central Midfield Signing a Priority

Arsenal 'assessing Elneny knee injury ahead of Man United clash'

In the past couple of seasons, Arsenal has been desperately unlucky with its central midfield contingent. In the latter years of Arsene Wenger’s reign, the defensive lynchpin of the team, Alexandre Song, left for pastures anew, allowing academy graduate, Francis Coquelin, an extended run in the side alongside the aging genius, Santi Cazorla. With the arrival of Unai Emery, Arsenal already had the likes of the Swiss Player of the Year, Granit Xhaka, and Mohamed Elneny, but the new gaffer added the tenacious defensive dynamo, Lucas Torreira, and the cultured midfielder, Matteo Guendouzi, to our ranks, and the team was quite stacked in that position.

With Mikel Arteta taking over from the ruins left by Mr. Good Ebening, Torreira quickly fell out of favor and was shipped around on loan to Italian clubs, while some disciplinary issues with Guendouzi saw the French prospect shipped away to Hertha Berlin in Germany, before finding a home for himself at Olymique Marseille. Arteta plugged a giant sized hole in the midfield with the acquisition of Thomas Partey but the midfield has suffered a litany of injuries in his fledgling Arsenal career, which has kept Arsenal fans on the edge in regard to his fitness issues.

When Partey suffered an injury last Spring, Arsenal had to rely on Mohamed Elneny to hold the fort, following Albert Sambi Lokonga’s underwhelming display in the home defeat to Brighton. Elneny featured consistently and did his bit to provide cover, even though his football wasn’t similar to what Partey offered. Early in the season, Elneny missed out for almost three months with an injury, and luckily, Partey featured consistently this campaign, and also featured for Ghana in the FIFA World Cup without any major injuries. 

Mikel Arteta was also concerned going into the new season without a credible backup for Partey with Elneny injured, so the Gunners made a late push for Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz which fell through before the window was closed. This January transfer window, Arsenal has been heavily linked with moves for Declan Rice, Martin Zubimendi and Weston McKennie, and these defensive midfielders that can be adequate covers for Partey when the inevitable happens. 

While I remain hopeful that we can have our midfield general for the entirety of the campaign, the fact that the Gunners are still in the FA Cup and Europa League essentially means that Partey’s minutes have to be managed, and Elneny’s injury, as well as the sheer lack of trust in Lokonga following his inconsistent performances, signing a new central midfielder in the remaining days of the January transfer window is a priority.

Jakub Kiwior is adept playing as a defensive midfielder, so he would be a stop-gap option if the Gunners fail to secure a central midfielder this window. However, with the decisiveness shown in the acquisitions of Leandro Trossard and Kiwior this window, I’m pretty confident that Edu and his team can come through with what we need.


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