Trimming The Fat of the Squad

Published on Goonersphere.​

If there is one thing us Gooners have learned over the past few seasons, is that squad depth is paramount in launching – and maintaining – a push for silverware.

Every campaign in recent memory has seen a period of consistent results which has seen us primed for a push at glory, and yet the wheels have come off time and again when the gruelling amount of games starts to snap at our heels.


Injuries to Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, and a raft of defenders has repeatedly vanquished our dreams, as our side has been forced to field back up players who have failed to match the level of excellence we require.


It places a focus on those very fringe players, and it shows that every single signing that is made is just as important as the marquee transfers which capture our imagination. It is a cause for optimism when we sign players of the ilk of Alexandre Lacazette, but it is just as mandatory having a man like Danny Welbeck waiting in the wings to cover any injuries or tactical changes.


Some players, if bad luck strikes, are irreplaceable and will leave a chasm in the team regardless of who slots in to replace them, but with an able and adequate understudy, we can breathe a little easier every time an opposing player clatters into our star men.


We endured the years when our squad was so shallow that even the first eleven was below par, but now we can look upon our squad and have the luxury to say that our fringe men could get into the majority of PL teams.


There are weaknesses in our pool though, and with our numbers fit to bursting and in need of some thinning if we are to strengthen again, which players need to be mercilessly culled in order for progress to be made?


Our players who can operate at wing-back are of particular importance, seeing as our recent switch to three at the back has placed more importance on these transitional players. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal continue to play huge parts in the team, and new boy Sead Kolasinac looks to be a shrewd signing. We have a few though, that have their heads on the block.


Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson and Calum Chambers all seem to be set for a role on the periphery this coming season, but are they actually good enough to slot in when they are inevitably called upon?


Debuchy seems the most likely to be discarded, with the Frenchman having been a ghost in the team since his unlucky debut season. Carl Jenkinson, whilst a fan favourite is dispensable. 


Kieran Gibbs has done an admirable job of coming into the team whenever called upon, so what of Calum Chambers?


His age and his recent loan spell at Boro should be reasons enough to keep him, but what if Chambers wants more? His recent exploits with the England Under 21 side mean his stock is high, and his progress could be halted if he is used as a utility player. His chances in his favoured position of centre-back look pretty slim, so it is down to 

Chambers himself if he should want to go.

We have promising youngsters coming through in the form of Krystian Bielik, Ainslie MAitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Rob Holding. Shouldn’t these promising youngsters be given the chance to play those 10-12 games in a season when injuries mount?


We cry out for driftwood to be chopped, but nearly every player has good reasons to keep them. The only reason we should sell any of them – Debuchy aside – is if we can acquire better. If we can, then there is one other question.


Will these prospective new signings be happy with a bit-part role?


Let us be honest, the majority of our side is nailed down, and whilst rotation has a place in modern football,  a constantly shifting eleven does not promote consistency. We need to have players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud champing at the bit, waiting for their positional rivals to slip. This is the motivation that our players need to pull elite performances out of the bag.







Do Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin put enough pressure on Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey in the centre of the park? Whilst they may have their uses, are they first team material? If not, then how difficult will it be to find a player willing to be the equivalent of a new goldfish – sitting and waiting in a bag whilst they become acclimatised?


We all cry out for signings, but with so many different facets to consider, whilst we all wait for David Ornstein to give us a morsel of info, we need to look at the bigger picture. Signings are much harder than they look and we all forget this from time to time.


The chopping block is in place and the axe has been sharpened – but who should go?

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3 thoughts on “Trimming The Fat of the Squad

  1. Another well written, thought provoking article. The issue raised is one which Wenger himself has (only) eluded to.

    The answer attracts the temptation to nominate players that the nominator has a personal dislike or preference for, it is a challenge to be totally objective when determining a squad that is current with an eye on the future and a depth that is necessary to cover all the season’s competitions.

    I think that first of all Arsenal need to confirm who are committed and who are not, i.e. Sanchez, Ozil and the Ox. Should any, or all of them decide to make a move then it has an impact on who becomes peripheral and who is of value to the squad at this advanced stage of the transfer window.

    To replace (like for like, or near enough) Sanchez and Ozil would be nigh impossible in the time available, so decisions that involve say Jack Wilshere take on a different context. If they stay he could be fringe, if they go he becomes significant.

    In an ideal world, taking all known situations into the decision making process, including Wenger’s own favoured and unflavoured choices into the equation, my list of potential departees who would attract buyers would be: Ospina, Jenkinson, Gabriel, Wilshere, Welbeck, Lucas, Campbell, Debuchy and Chambers.

    There are a couple on my list who I believe haven’t had a fair crack of the whip and would be unlikely too if they stayed. All things being equal I would probably prefer them to a couple of names who are not included.

    Faced with the Sanchez situation I would let him go to an overseas bidder, e.g. PSG. However if an EPL club offer over 100m pounds for him it would be worth consideration.

    Now then should I buy a pint of bitter or a pale ale – ah decisions, decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another excellent response and exactly what I wanted to spring from my article. It’s so difficult with all the different variables to call who should go, with only a few certainties.

      Like

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