Okay, its official… this has been the WORST second half to a season that Arsenal have EVER delivered to fans and the football world at large (even Arsenal haters are shocked at this…barring Spurs fans though, they are loving this). Normally, when the team has it’s frustratingly usual January-February blip (which rips the season apart), there’s a normal reaction: Wenger tweaks the system, sticks to the new system, team goes on great run and…yay! We’re back in Top 4 (add an FA Cup in there if you like). However, this season has been a disaster with more issues than usual breaking out of the club. From the contract issues to the bad form; from the protests to the huge likelihood that Arsenal will be playing 2nd-tier European football next season, it makes for a really different summer for any Arsenal fan at the moment.
For starters, it’s the Europa League, which means getting our season started early with possible qualifiers to negotiate in August (although it’s not new that Arsenal get to play qualifiers in August). So pre-season might be tricky but I think we should all embrace what could be a refreshing journey. It could be better (or easier) that having to deal with Bayern or Barcelona every year.
Next one is the transfers. Although Wenger has stated that dropping out of the Champions League places has no bearing on transfer targets, I’m pretty sure that it totally does. Reports have suggested that Lacazette is interested in playing in the Champions’ League, which probably rules us out. Plus, it’s likely he moves to Atletico as a replacement for Griezmann (who’s probably going to Man United or PSG or wherever). I think it alters the target list to have players who view Europa League as a step up in their careers or players who just want to play for Arsenal. I doubt there are many players in that category that are much better than the ones we already have.
Speaking of the ones we already have, there lies another issue. Much of the bad run has been about the players that need to be moved on. Everyone has their list: Ramsey, Coquelin, Giroud, Monreal, Gibbs and even Elneny…plus some think Alexis and Ozil have their heads elsewhere so it’s only right the rest of their bodies follow (lol). For me, selling off players may not necessarily solve the problem but I expect certain players to be moved on. Monreal and Giroud are wanted elsewhere while Alexis is a serious target for many clubs. If we get good money for them, then it’s not a bad summer (even though I will miss Giroud so much). It may be harder to let go of Coquelin and Elneny though because of their ages and a lack of much better replacements (that are not hell-bent on playing the Champions League…keep that in mind). Ramsey and Gibbs are British so they may stay put. Most likely outs are Jenkinson (who wants to leave), Debuchy (was always going to leave), Ospina (definitely leaving), Gabriel (must leave), and Campbell (has NO business staying). Quite a number of outs which means getting replacements will be tricky.
I expect the contract issues to be solved very quickly. Barring Alexis and players like Campbell, Debuchy and Jenkinson, I expect everyone else with a year left to sign on very quickly (that includes Ozil too). It’s important to keep the core of the team together for it to survive. Moreover, it will ensure stability and the club could do with that this summer.
Finally, and I’m not going to dwell on this, Wenger will sign on for the next 2 years and stay. He will feel it’s his mess and that he’s the one to fix it. Sounds fair enough.