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OK, we are continuing our look at the best chance of Premier League teams ahead of the season's restart. The community shield is next week, believe it or not. So football is right back on the radar. And I'm delighted to say that we are turning our attention to Arsenal. And we are joined today by Andrew Mangan of our blog. Andrew, how are you getting on? Not about taking sides yourself. Very well, thank you. So we're going to be chatting a little bit over the next little while about what players actually should bring in, what areas to target.


But I think it's as interesting as anything right now to chat about how Arsenal are recruiting. And people have seen last week that he has left the building. So what does that tell us about how Arsenal are recruiting at the moment?


I think it tells us there's a bit of a gap in terms of how the process is going to work, or at least a gap in our knowledge of how the process is going to work. I suppose the thing we should point out. Before we talk about the departure of Raul Sonnier, he has had a football is that the previous week or maybe 10 days previously, they basically dismantled their scouting operation. So the head of international recruitment, who was basically the de facto head of recruitment, a guy called Francis cagy guy, left the head of UK scouting left Brian McDermott, the former retting manager who was high up in the UK scouting set up.


He also left and I think the scouts in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, all the big European markets were let go. So it suggests that something different is going on. There's talk of a more data led approach. But but certainly if I'm speaking to people at Arsenal when it comes to recruitment, a lot of those people have felt a bit marginalized in recent times as well, because it felt like all the deals Arsenal were doing were were done at board level, basically, or at executive level.


A small collection of agents were involved in the players who were coming into the club. I think three of the last four permanent signings have been clients of one particular agent. So right now, we don't quite know what's going to happen if Sonya Hughes departure has is going to change things in terms of, you know, how our signal process, their their recruitment, we'll just have to wait and see.


I think it'll be very interesting to see what happens between now and the end of the window, because one of the Senate's downfalls, I'd imagine, was just how loyal, I guess, he was to his manager and to his loyalty to Annamarie, I guess could be seen as a criticism. So maybe there was a factor in that in his departure. Maybe that soured the atmosphere a little bit. It certainly seems to me that we never got a full outcome on how successful what he was going to be at Arsenal.


Well, look, I think he has had two years basically as head of football and whatever concerns people might have had about the way players were coming into the club and the people who were involved in those deals. If you look at the overall performance of the club while he's been in charge, you know, there was a decline. I think everyone could see there was a decline at the end of the ice and Vanger era. But he hasn't done anything or he didn't do anything.


I think we should say, obviously, because he's gone, he didn't do anything to arrest that decline. In fact, it got steeper arsenal just about scraped into eighth place on the final day of the Premier League season. Winning the cup was fantastic, a brilliant achievement and something that was hugely enjoyable.


But without that, Arsenal would not have been in Europe for the last for the first time in over 25 years.


So even just leaving recruitment aside, I think if you were looking at the work that Sanjay was doing and how it was being reflected in Arsenal's performances on the pitch and in the Premier League, it's you know, it doesn't really stand up to a great deal of scrutiny.


Do you have confidence in this new model, then, that if it is going to be more of an agent led process, that better results can be found?


Well, no, I hope it's not really an agent led process. I think Arsenal need to to embrace all the aspects of recruitment that includes agents relationships that agents are are good, of course. But you need also to have good video, video analysis, data scouting, all of those things combined. Give you this. I don't want to use the word holistic approach to recruitment because it just sounds a bit, you know, marketing speak, whatever it might be.


But, you know, I think you have to use all the elements that are available to you as a modern football club. All the data, all the stats, all the the knowledge that's available, combined with scouting, combined with maybe a bit of insider knowledge, combined with, you know, having an agent who might be able to help you get a deal done. All of those things, I think, are the right way for any modern football club to recruit.


So like I said, we'll see what's what's going to happen. Obviously, Mikel Arteta is going to be a lot more involved now with technical director Eddo. You know, he's got some question marks over him as well because of how close he was to the previous setup. You know, he needs he needs to prove some people wrong. I think so. It'll be fascinating to see what happens. Maybe not so much this window, because I think a lot of the plans they have in place would have been, you know, it's very difficult at the last minute to to pivot to something completely different.


But but going forward next January, next summer, seeing how they do things and the way they do things will be very interesting for sure.


So for anybody who's just joining us and missed out, Liverpool, the depth chart earlier this week, it's very simple and it's what it says in the ten, we're going to call position by position and see how arsenal are stacked basically today in each position. Let's start with the front three, Andrew, because this is as interesting a position as you can get with Arsenal. There's no question the number one talent is in this department on a percentage scale. How likely and how confident are you that Aubameyang and his name is going to get sorted this week or before the community here?


And I'm pretty confident, actually. I think it's from from what people are saying, it's pretty much done. So it's just a matter of it being announced. Obviously, things can change. But I do think he is going to stay. I think he's been very encouraged by working with Mikel Arteta. I think he's got. To be very encouraged by a very healthy pay rise at 31 years of age and a nice contract, I think that's, you know, that's par for the course.


When you've got a world class talent like him, you've got to pay what it takes to keep him. So I think that's going to be a big part of what what makes for a successful summer for Arcel. I think he's going to stay. And then there are obviously players around him, Mickolus, Papay, Alexander Lacazette, who I think might just be on the way out. It wouldn't surprise me if he were to leave what they've brought in, Willie and of course, from Chelsea.


And there's good young talent there as well, because Hosaka, Gabrielle Martinelli, Reese Nelson, players who can provide some depth in that front three. So I think it's probably the area once Aubameyang signs, it's the area of the pitch that will have the least to worry about.


They're quite stacked. So when everybody fully faced with that, the same Lacazette is staying at the club and that's assuming that Martinelli is fully fit. What is your front? Three, who are a number two and three and a step further forward?


Well, I mean, I think I think at 31 years of age, you have to protect a player's physicality. And a goal scorer like Aubameyang does not need to be chasing up and down the left wing. To be tracking fullbacks is not to say he won't do it and doesn't do what he does. He's he's a very committed player. But I think if you're looking to get three years out of a guy at that age, you have to make a decision about where you're going to play him.


I would play him as Arsenal's central striker. I think Nicolas Papay will play from the right hand side. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if William played quite regularly from the left hand side. Martinelli is out until the New Year with an injury. Sacher can play over there as well. My suspicion is that that Lacazette will go on and I think that then opens the door for four Aubameyang to play is the central striker. So they have options.


Willian can play from the right as well. So, you know, there's a bit of versatility there. And if Lacazette goes and I know eddying Castillo is very highly thought of at Arsenal, it wouldn't surprise me if there was a signing of a striker to back up.


Aubameyang, what sort of caliber striker are we talking about? Like, I guess the Lacazette thing makes perfect sense. The way you're talking is the hype is real within the club. Antianxiety thing is a central striker. If you can offload that amount of money on to wage. Well, it makes sense. Yeah.


I mean, I don't think they're going to go out and spend massive money on a on an established striker. I think they might look at somebody, you know, on the cusp of of making a breakthrough in their career. I know they have a close eye on the guy at Celtic Edwards. Yeah. Yeah, they've got some they've got some eyes on him. And in terms of the profile of the player and his age and what he might, you know, what he might cost and what he might develop into, I would suspect if there's a striker signing, it'll certainly be something more along those lines rather than somebody 26, 27, 28, who's going to cost quite a lot of money.


Because I think Arsenal have I've got to use their money in other areas first.


And one of those areas might be midfield, which is where we move to next. This is not one where I can try out and aubameyang AQ here, you're going to have to do the work on this one a little bit, I think. What is Arsenal starting midfield. What are you looking at if you had the power right at their midfield.


Well look, I think the, the, the, there are big issues, big issues here in midfield. Matteo again deucy looks like his time at Arsenal is over. So he's he's very much in the departure land, the departure lounge, I should say, as is Lucas Tahera. I think because there are strong suggestions that he might go back to Italy. Danny Tobias is somebody that Arsenal want to keep or bring back on loan from Real Madrid.


Whether that's going to happen or not is a is another question. I think that's up in the air at the moment. So as it stands, the only central midfield player that you can really rely on from an Arsenal point of view is Grant Ajaka as a senior one. And there's Joe Willock, of course, who's coming through as well, and played forty games last season, Joe Willock. But again, he's still only twenty and maybe not quite ready to be a first team regular at Arsenal.


So this is an area where I think there is a lot for Arsenal to do in terms of making decisions on Deucy and Herera. Do you sell them and bring in the money and have a target that you're going to bring in to to play alongside Jaguar or maybe to replace Shaka? I don't quite know. I'm up in the air about midfield as you are. It just strikes me that there are so many question marks over so many players. Messitte Ozil of course as well, didn't feature at all after the lockdown, didn't play a single minute.


And there's been a lot of talk about what what the future might hold for him. But of course, that has to be a question mark over. Over whether he's going to play, so this is an area where I think Arcel have got a lot of thinking to do, and you would hope, I suppose, as a central midfield player in his day, Mikel Arteta has got a clear idea of what he wants and who he wants for that area of the pitch.


Right now, it's very difficult to know who is going to play on the opening day of the season with the squad as it stands.


Is there a world in which we can solve the situation at Arsenal whatsoever? Your guess is as good as mine, to be honest, I don't really understand why he's been out of the team. Clearly, something is going on in the background that we're not aware of, Mikel Arteta knows him very well, former teammate. He knows that, you know, as a team, as a squad, arsenal lack creativity. And yet he hasn't used Machado's Ozil or didn't use Messitte Ozil at all after the lockdown.


You know, Arsenal one. In fact, without Messitte Ozil, his agent has been very clear to say he's not going anywhere. And you could read that in two ways. One might be that take him at face value. He is literally not going anywhere. The other one might be, well, PAICE, what we're going to earn and we'll you know, we'll go somewhere else. It might well be that it's just impossible to say, you know, it's been a soap opera.


I do feel it's one that needs to be resolved one way or the other other, you know, get value for money from him as a player or move on.


But as seems to be the case with Masset Ozil, a lot is easier said than done.


It's such a shame, really, from our point of view, because it does feel like ancient history at this point. But when he is on the pitch, with the exception of Aubameyang, he's clearly a court above everybody else when it comes to pure talent.


Yeah, I mean, nobody I don't I don't think anybody has ever really doubted the talent. There is clearly no doubt about the talent. He is an exceptional footballer on his day. The unfortunate thing for Arsenal is that those days are so infrequent and there are myriad reasons as to why that might be the case. Some of them collective, some of them personal, individual maybe. But but what's true is that Arsenal have very rarely seen the best of most of Ozil in in the last couple of years, a decent starting midfield for the community.


It's looking like something, something like Chocho Sakka and then one of Willock or Terreros. Is that essentially what you're looking at?


Could be it could be even younger players. You know, we have to remember that the Premier League season doesn't start until September the 12th. And the community shield is, you know, two weeks out from that. The players have had a weird season. They've had a bit of a break. I think they're coming back this week to do, you know, to start their their preparation and their training, their physical training for the new season.


So I suspect and I don't think this will just be true for Arsenal. I think it will be true for Liverpool as well, that we could see very young teams playing the community shield, because I think the the academy players from from both sides will have been back a couple of weeks previously. So there might be a bit of experience. But I don't I really don't think Michael Arteta or Juergen Klopp are going to risk any of their their key players in a game, which ultimately doesn't mean a thing that makes sense, like in terms of recruitment and midfield parity goes right to the top of that.


That chart doesn't it's in any other year you can possibly make a case that ASADA might find the fifty million quid. Is that British? Cause that's required and that would make reasonable sense. The fighter, you know, he's in his late 20s at this point. It's hard to see a club who have made fifty five redundancies going out and spending fifty million quid this summer as it is.


Yeah, it's one of the you know, it's one of the things which which rankled about that that announcement from Arsenal is that they they framed those 55 redundancies as necessary to keep investing in the team when the figures just don't add up, you know, fifty million pounds on a player versus the a couple of million it would have taken to keep those people in their jobs. You can't tell people those two things are connected in any way. You you look maybe again, doesn't herera.


And you could say they could if you sold well, probably bring in most of that fifty million to pay parties release clause. The question, of course, is who's got the money to pay for those players. It's going to be a very restricted market. I think a lot of clubs are going to find it difficult to come up with transfer funds. We are going to see, I think, increasingly creative ways of moving players around. A lot of loan moves, a lot of swap moves.


So it's whether or not Arsenal can can find the funds for that particular transfer. He is a player that they like. He is a player that they want. Quite ironically, he is a player who the club have been targeting because Francis Kaju Goude provided a lot of reports and scouting on him before he was let go. So he's he's a he's a scouting based target. But whether they can do it or not really depends on what else they do in the market and who else they might be able to move on.


Yeah, I thought reported in the athletic are so are keen on him, not least because they found playing from Yorkshire and kind of like you see them playing for tactical and trade. Who actually really cares where he was at New York. And I wonder if that's actually part of the way of thinking right now where it's like we've put together a huge scouting departments and we've had great intel. We haven't exactly acted on us. Like, I wonder, is that part of this?


Or maybe I mean, look, you can you can look back at some of the players that Arcel have been linked with in the past and wonder why didn't you do it at a time when it was, you know. Thomas party at New York, for example, is much more gettable player than Thomas Party, Atlético Madrid. The classic example, of course, is Virgil van Dijk, somebody who are still were absolutely interested in while he was at Celtic and they were after central defenders and they went and they brought in central defenders who weren't anywhere near that quality.


Maybe the Van Dyke itself wasn't quite the Premier League ready, Van Dyke. But sometimes you just got to take a punt on the player. What did he call Southampton? Something like 12 million maybe. And they sold him on to Liverpool for 70, 75, whatever it was. You know, he was a player that Arsenal could have got if they'd wanted to if they had maybe just pushed the button a bit earlier. I think there is a need.


This is why the scouting thing would concern you. There is a need for Arsenal to to maybe move for players more quickly than they might have in the past. You know, the idea is this guy ready for a team that is a top for challenge or a team that wants to challenge for the Premier League, which is where Arsenal's ambitions used to be. I think Arcelor in a different place, that they just finished eighth and just scraped into the Europa League.


It's the fourth successive season in the Europa League.


Maybe you have to think about doing things differently about when you bring in players and maybe you can you can soak up some of their development time and reap the benefits of it in a season or two, you know, so it's not quite they don't have to be quite as often ready as they used to be for sure.


Do they have a plan B is Thomas part is unaffordable.


I don't know, I mean, just talk about a swap deal with a guy at Roma whose name escapes me right now, Lucasta IRA may be going to Roma and I'm this guy coming in.


I can't remember his name off the top of my head, which is which is a shame. But there you go. But beyond that, I haven't really heard of any other targets, midfield targets that Arsenal have been after. I think they have to be creative. I think they're going to have to look maybe a little bit deeper through the through the leagues and perhaps even go down into, you know, the championship and try and find some players who who might be ready for the Premier League and come through there because money is an issue.


There's no question money is an issue. Fifty million pounds is a lot to spend on Thomas Sparty. Also, there are issues, you know, defensively that Arsenal have to figure out, too, and they might be about to spend some money there as well.


So is the Alara the robot there?


Is it Deora? Yes, I think so. I have it here somewhere. I should look it up. Yeah, I think. What's his first name? Amadu. Dora. Yeah, that's the guy. So he could be an option. But again, this is going into the sort of deal that I was talking about where it's essentially a swap deal. Maybe some money goes one way or the other.


But but you're you're you're giving Lucas Tawara the chance to go back and play in Italy and you're bringing in a player without really doing a cash deal. So he could be an option, but quite, quite, quite. What else they have up their sleeve? I don't know.


Let's talk about central defenders then, because there's quite a list here. David Luis Pablo, Mari Mostafaei Secretase Qalibaf holding Callum Chambers MANUELITA by defenders. But I think to set a lot of them. Hmm. Yeah.


I don't know what else to add to that. That is very, very true. They have a collection of central defenders who who range from being adequate to not quite good enough. And that's an area in which they have to they have to address. They have brought in Salibi from Saint Etienne. He was brought in while he was signed last season, but he spent the year on loan with his former club. He's part of the the squad now and there are very high hopes for him, but he is also nineteen.


And just coming into the Premier League, I think we've seen experienced players and players with a certain amount of pedigree take some time to adapt to the Premier League. So there's a lot of expectation about Salibi, but hopefully people will give him the time he needs to to develop them to learn about the Premier League. You know, in physical terms, he looks he looks fantastic. You know, he's tall, he's strong, he's quick. He is the epitome of the modern center half, if you like what you need to be mobile, you need to be good on the ball.


You need to be good, good in the air. You need to be physically strong. He takes all of those boxes. Quite. Who's going to go out, though, remains to be seen. Mustafi. And secretase of less than a year left on their contracts. So. That could mean they go for cheap. It could also mean that they decide to stay in Seattle the final year of their contract. Calum Chambers is coming back from a cruciate ligament injury.


Rob Holding played in the Cup final, but hasn't necessarily been convincing. And, you know, he's at the he's at a point in his career, I think, where I still have to make a decision based on what they know about him and what they say they see from his performance levels, from the stats, from what it tells them. Is he going to make it? Is he going to make it? They have to they have to make a decision now, I think.


And if he's not, he might be somebody who's who. So, you know, he's 24, 25 now. Maybe so he's not a kid anymore, really. They have enough information about him to make a decision. He is English. He could raise some funds. So I think probably two or three of those defenders could go.


Do you then see a constellation? And that's a long list of names that could be a half decent partnership for us, given the fact that they've got more time at Arteta. Now, they looked a little bit better at the end of the season than in the first hours after the restart against Manchester City, which doesn't say much. I know, but he's a good coach. Let's not forget that these defenders are probably going to seem like better players after a bit more time at Arteta.


Yeah, I think I think one of the interesting things will be what what kind of formation he he uses. Most of those defenders look more comfortable in about three than about four. David Louise, in particular, I'm thinking up here, who in about four gives me nightmares in about three, he can still do that, but more often than not, he's very solid. He enjoys that position. He plays it very well. He's got lots of experience.


It really depends what Arteta wants to do with his team and how he wants to set it up next season. One of the issues that are still have had is a lack of creativity. And we touched on the message Ozil absence earlier on. Part of that absence, I think, was because of the formation that are so we're playing, they didn't have that extra man in midfield, they didn't have that that nominal number 10, if you like. So if Arteta wants to move to a back four and get that creativity further up the field, whether it's Ozil or a different player or somebody that they bring in, he's going to have to think very strongly about, you know, what kind of defenders he's got or what kind of defenders he's he's looking to bring into the club.


They are very interested in signing Gabrielle from Lille, who's a left footed central defender who you might imagine could play on the left hand side of a back for with perhaps Salibi playing on the right hand side of that.


That looks like it potentially could be a new, exciting partnership for Arsenal, but that could also be me projecting good things onto players who I haven't seen make countless mistakes or arsenal defensively like I have with most of the others, you know. So it's kind of like, well, might as well give this a try because, you know, everything else hasn't really worked.


There is nothing like a shiny new toy in the transformation. Nothing beats it. Yeah.


Fullbacks are pretty good, aren't you? Like, I mean, they're and say you're looking at even the depth in both positions as a position that they're fairly well stacked. And I think that is reflected by the lack of links to fullbacks this summer. Yeah.


I mean, I think the only I mean, look, the only links have been to a couple of players who might go, one is say, class. And actually I think Arsenal are keen to move on whether they find a buyer for him. But I suspect he could head back to Germany, back to the Bundesliga. They do have depth, though, because Kieran Tierney is obviously a fantastic player.


Hector Beltran is there. Cedric Suarez, again, one of those deals which raised a few eyebrows, given the length of contract he got and the circumstances in which he arrived. But, you know, a fairly solid Premier League player, at least in backup terms, Ainslie, Maitland, Niles, can play on the right, can play on the left. So I don't think there's any urgent need for a fullback. I think they can get through the season with what they have.


And I would be surprised if there was any money spent there at all, given the given the the sheer number of players who are there and the quality of some of the players who are there as well. For sure.


Goalkeeper really looked after itself. Martinez has been brilliant and is more than capable number two. And that'll probably be a conversation about himself, although when Leno comes back, but you can't imagine he'll hold off on for too long. He was asked of the season before getting into it.


Yeah, but I mean, I think if you were to if you were to say, you know, let's imagine we were midseason and Leno comes back from his injury, can you drop Martinez? I don't know that you can. I don't know that you can. You know, he he really did take his chance very well.


I think it's probably. The best problem arsenal have in terms of what they do with their squad, having two very good goalkeepers seems like a good thing to me. At some point there's going to have to be a decision. At some point one of them is going to be unhappy. But it's probably a better issue to have to worry which of my two good goalkeepers will I play rather than, oh, my God, I need to find another goalkeeper because neither of these two are good enough.


You know, I think Arteta will be quite happy with that side of his thinking. You know, if that's not one that's going to keep him up at night, you know what he does with central midfield, what he does in the centre of defence, he might have some sleepless nights over that, but I think he can have a lot of trust in Martinez and Leno, of course, who was great before before he picked up that injury, the arsenal that characteristics looking exceptionally well, probably the first time I've ever uttered about half of our problems looking at.


So just to sum up, in terms of the wish list, for us, looking like the likes of party and Edward Diawara and Gabriel Gabriel are the four players that Arsenal linked with. If they can get rid of Kwaśniewski, Tahera, Lacazette and holding a bit of cash, you could definitely see those four transfers happening on a final point and feel free to wear your heart in your sleeve. At this point, are you confident that the club are going to be able to pull off a successful transfer window as things ratchet up over the next little while?


And are you confident of that being able to propel them into top for contention?


I'm confident that Mikel Arteta knows what he wants and knows what the team needs, whether I'm confident that they can do all the deals that he really needs this summer. I'm I'm not 100 percent sure on that. I, I feel like Arsenal have been through quite a lot over the last couple of years with with the end of the Vanger era, the unanimous era, some of the things that have gone on around that, you know, as a club, it's been it's been fairly traumatic at times.


You know, there's been so much has happened this season and last season. But where there is confidence is in Arteta and the clarity of the vision that he has as a coach.


I think he's I think he's more than the coach. I think he's the manager of Arsenal. Even if that's not his official title, I think he he talks like a manager and he behaves like a manager, things like a manager. And I think that's something Arsala needed. They need somebody with with real vision, with an ability to communicate that to the players and to the supporters and even perhaps communicate that to to those on high, as well as to what is really required to get Arsenal back to something like the Arsenal fans want to see, you know, team that is competitive, that can you know, there's such a huge gap between the top teams in the Premier League and an arsenal right now.


You know, Liverpool and City and the top four would be a great achievement next season for Arsenal. I think that's what they've got to aim for and what the ambition should be. But it feels like we have somebody at the helm who who has the ability to convince players, which is important, and convince fans that he knows how to do it. Time will tell whether that's true or not. But but it gives you something to believe in, gives you something to hope in and gives you a sense of optimism, which is something that I think has been missing for a little while.


And when you go into a new season, you always want to feel that that kind of childlike optimism, which I've had since the time I was a kid. Like it's a new season. It's a fresh start. Arsenal can do anything. And then after a while, you realise that's not the case and you've been a fool. But, you know, it's nice to have that at least going into the start of the new season. I hope that Arsenal can improve under Arteta.


I hope that the club give him the backing he needs to make that happen. And if they do, it should make for an interesting season next season, you know? So fingers crossed, fingers crossed into that.


And you're going to our blog. It's always great chatting to you and hearing your insights. Thanks for taking the call. Thanks, Owen. Anytime, OTB.


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