Arsenal have, finally, addressed the two major shortcomings within the first team squad.
Of course, Arsenal being Arsenal, nothing is that simple. And so the good cheer engendered by the slightly enlongated pursuit of Shkodran Mustafi being successfully concluded, in addition to the signing of Lucas Perez and the joy of a first win of the season at Watford has now dissipated somewhat.
And it only took a day.
Last week, the loan of Joel Campbell caused a bit of consternation amongst the fanbase. On Tuesday morning, most of us arrived at our desks to be greeted by the slightly baffling notion of Jack Wilshere being sent out on loan for the season. And then there’s the Serge Gnabry transfer to Werder Bremen (or is it actually Bayern Munich?). A situation which, yesterday, developed in a way the great Lieutenant Columbo himself would have struggled to unpick.
It is true that Serge Gnabry, having got injured and missed two years of first team football, is far from being an essential part of the first team picture. I get that. But it feels to me that people have forgotten just what an impact he was beginning to make in the first team. Skillful without being extravagant, pacy, an eye for goal; the kind of proper winger it feels to me that team has lacked for some considerable years now.
I guess, in the final analysis, he would struggle for minutes in the queue behind Alexis, Theo Walcott, presumably Perez, the Ox and Alex Iwobi. I can understand him wanting to leave and with just a year left on his contract, what choice do Arsenal have but to let him go? This just feels like one we may come to regret, to me anyway.
And what of Jack?
Is Jack Wilshere
— Paul (@rockthecasbah77) August 30, 2016
This, in no way scientific, poll on my Twitter seems like a tacit acknowledgement that it’s not quite Jack’s time at Arsenal, though people haven’t given up on him – yet. Talent is worth waiting for, after all. That said, we have been waiting for a long time, since 2011 to be exact, for Jack to properly impose his talents on the Premier League across a season. And for, mostly, injury related reasons he has been unable to do so.
Still, doubts remain about just how committed Jack is to living the life of a serious professional footballer, not surprising when you consider the skirmishes, the cigarettes. It sounds ridiculous to say it, but I feel he is in danger of letting his career pass him by.
However, as I write – though it will doubtless have changed by the time you read this – it seems as though he’s off to join
the smoker’s club in Italy and spend the season at Roma Bournemouth with their healthy sea air [ed]. And maybe, we have to look at this decision and say, okay, the guy needs to build his match fitness up in order to be able to compete properly. If he can’t get in the Arsenal team at the moment, then how is he supposed to get his match fitness, that sharpness he needs, back?
The thing is though, I look at that last question and think, if he can’t get in the Arsenal team now, having been part of the first team squad for the last six years, why is it likely to change in the next couple of years? Can it really be as simple as Santi Cazorla leaving in the next couple of years and Jack taking his spot? Jack isn’t a kid anymore, at least not in footballer’s terms and there will always be competition for places, particularly at a club like Arsenal.
Hopefully, wherever Jack goes, he can have a season of regular football, get that sharpness back and come and prove that I’m worrying about nothing. I suppose for Arsenal too, it makes some sort of sense to have Jack getting back up to speed somewhere else. At least, until Santi, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Mesut Özil and Mohamed Elneny are all struck down by the Rage virus. At which point, we’ll all wonder why the hell Arsenal have done what they’ve done.
We started this article with positive sentiments, for two sentences anyway. Let’s get back there, before we all jump like lemmings off a cliff.
The two additions we were crying out for all summer have been made. Now, there may be doubts over whether Lucas Perez, in particular, is exactly the signing we wanted up front. However he scored 17 goals for Deportivo La Coruña, apparently works like a demon, is quick and can finish. I don’t see anything not to like about that. He may not be an upgrade on Giroud, but he is an alternative and, in the continued absence of Danny Welbeck, we needed that. Let’s just hope that he’s a bit more successful than the last LP we had at the club!
As for Mustafi, we have seen before that La Liga success does not guarantee that you will take to life in the Premier League. However, the guy is 24 and a German international. He feels like as good a solution as any to me. With Rob Holding proving an early success at Arsenal, we don’t have to rush him into first team action and that can only be a good thing. If Mustafi can take to life in the Premier League, then we may even have the option to rest Laurent Koscielny and protect the Frenchman’s battered Achilles tendons from time to time.
It’s funny, you know, in my head, I’ve already all but written off Mertesacker and Gabriel. I suspect that I may be unwise to do so, particularly as I have seen nothing of Mustafi and, if 32 years of watching football has taught me anything it’s that you shouldn’t judge anyone before you’ve seen them play.
So, I’ll shut up then.