Football Index

A Big Week For Arsenal

Following four points from two tricky looking fixtures, Arsenal are within touching distance of the top four and showing real improvements under new boss Unai Emery. 

North London is red again.

What a performance it was in Emery’s first North London derby at the weekend. The intensity and passion shown from the players was something the fans have been waiting for years to re-emerge. It was a derby to remember for both the neutral and of course Arsenal fans, with high quality football and emotion on show throughout.

Strength in depth was on display in this game as was Emery’s ability to be bold and make two half-time changes. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi were hooked for Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey, with the substitutes having a significant impact on the result of the game. We also saw a shift to a 3-4-1-2 formation, allowing Aubameyang and Lacazette to combine in attack, with lethal consequences. Arsenal haven’t been prolific in the transfer market in recent years, but Aubameyang and Lacazette were hefty purchases at £50million each and so far they are proving that the investment was worthwhile.

Whilst both have good goal returns, their ability to make the difference in the big games was doubted before this fixture and it was great to see them at their best when it mattered.

20 unbeaten despite Old Trafford and Mourinho.

Arsenal fans feared the unbeaten run would come to an end when the team travelled to Old Trafford, so often a terrible venue for the club. Despite this, and the presence of Jose Mourinho, the Gunners remained unbeaten, taking the run to 20.

Arsenal will be upset that they didn’t take all three points after leading twice and conceding two avoidable goals. The decisions were also leaning in the favour of United, most crucially for Anthony Martial’s equaliser, with Ander Herrera offside in the build-up.

The young duo of Lucas Torreira (22) and Matteo Guendouzi (19) were mightily impressive in the heart of midfield, not intimidated at all by the environment or opposition.

Whilst there were many positives, the same weaknesses were clear. The defence was again the issue for Arsenal, conceding four goals in the last two outings. Rob Holding’s injury may force the club into the market, but even when fit, it’s clear that a world class defender needs to be added to the squad to take the team to the next level.

Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan again struggled, highlighting the clubs lack of end product and quality in wide areas, whilst Aubameyang did not look comfortable on the left after Alexandre Lacazette was introduced.

There’s plenty of positives for Arsenal to take from recent performances and the marked improvements in big games is certainly great to see as a fan.

Emery already eyeing summer changes to the squad.

We might not yet be one year into Unai Emery’s spell at Arsenal, but already we are seeing some long-term clues as to how the Spaniard may be looking to shape his squad next summer. These clues may be worth considering for Football Index traders with long-term strategies as Emery looks to bring players in that align with his style of play.

The club appear to have confirmed that Danny Welbeck will not be offered a new deal upon conclusion of his current contract, which ends at the end of the season. His latest injury is the third long-term setback the Englishman has encountered since joining the Gunners, it is a sad way for his time at the club to come to an end, but a sensible decision from the club, led by the head rather than the heart.

His departure opens the door for a wide forward to join. The most heavily linked in this position to date is Lille’s Nicolas Pepe. The 23-year-old predominantly plays as a right winger and has scored 10 and assisted 5 in 16 appearances so far this season. His final ball is a particular strength, with his ability to pick a pass and find the back of the net his best attributes. This is something Arsenal’s current wide players (Mkhitaryan and Iwobi) often lack.

Despite his recent upturn in form, it seems Emery and the club are still not keen to hand Aaron Ramsey a new contract, so the Welshman is also set to part ways in the summer. It will be interesting to see how he is replaced, with Sevilla’s Ever Banega heavily linked. Emery is a known admirer of the Argentinean midfielder who consistently scores highly on match day rankings on the Index – certainly one to watch as the transfer period approaches. There’s also some question marks over Mesut Ozil’s future under Emery, so could Banega be the new conductor at the Emirates?

Stephan Lichtsteiner was the first signing under Emery, but set to turn 35 in January, he only signed a one-year deal at the club and so far there is no indication that this will be extended. This could see the club dip into the market for an alternative to Hector Bellerin on the right hand side. Monaco’s Djibril Sidibé has been regularly linked in the past and the French clubs poor start to the season may see the player push for a move in the Gunners come calling again.

Nacho Monreal’s contract is also set to expire in the summer. Emery may wish keep Monreal as a versatile defensive option, especially with the Spaniard’s ability to play as a central defender in a back five. If not, it could open the door to a new left back arriving, with the Gunners still unconvincing in that position.

Petr Cech is another who may be let go in the summer with his deal expiring and Bernd Leno now taking the number one spot. The Gunners would benefit with keeping Cech’s experience on and off the field at the club, but the 36-year-old may be looking for regular minutes considering his age. Should Cech be allowed to leave, it may present a chance for Emiliano Martinez or Matt Macey to move up the pecking order – saving the club some money to invest in other areas.

No matter how Arsenal perform this season, you can expect Emery to make some significant changes to his squad in the summer now that he has had some time to work with the current crop.

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Football Index

The Arsenal Potential

Reiss Nelson has exploded onto the scene this season following a string of brilliant performances for Hoffenheim. This has seen his price sky rocket on the Index – so traders
will be wondering, who could be the next Arsenal player to rise like Nelson when exposed to more regular first team football.  

 Emile Smith-Rowe (£2.69)

You’ve probably already heard about Smith-Rowe, he’s moved into the first team picture
since Unai Emery took over, and has looked impressive in his brief game time during Europa League games this season. With Aaron Ramsey set to leave the club either in January or at the end of the season, Smith-Rowe will probably have more opportunities to grab the attention of Emery, the fans and the media. Still just 18, the sky is the limit for Emile and he will certainly take inspiration from Nelson’s recent form.

Eddie Nketiah (£2.31)

Aged just 19, Nketiah is a young English forward with a huge amount of potential.
Unfortunately, he has had to compete with Lacazette, Aubameyang and Welbeck so far this season. Welbeck’s injury may present opportunity for Nketiah, especially in the final Europa League group games. If he can get on the scoresheet when given the opportunity, expect hype to follow.

 Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£1.87)

Maitland-Niles is an interesting one. Aged 21, injuries have perhaps restricted his progress so far, but there is clearly a lot of talent there. Now back fit, a few good performances over the festive period could see his price move significantly, especially if he starts to get mentioned in the national team picture. It’ll be interesting to see where Emery deploys the Englishman. He’s very versatile, able to play as a full back, winger or central midfielder. One to watch. 

 Alex Iwobi (£1.83)

He’s not English so won’t get the same media attention, but there’s still plenty of room for
growth in Alex Iwobi’s price in my opinion. Now a regular for club and country, the 22-year-old currently costs less than £2. If he can develop his end product then Iwobi’s price could seriously sky rocket. Emery is clearly a fan of Iwobi and there’s been a marked improvement in his performance since the Spaniard took charge. With a new contract signed in the summer, Iwobi will have the time and space to continue to make steps forward.

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FootballIndex Futures

Arsenal and France centre-back Laurent Koscielny, 33, is a target for Barcelona, along with Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz, 31. (Mundo Deportivo – in Spanish)

Arsenal and France centre-back Laurent Koscielny, 33, is a target for Barcelona, along with Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz, 31. (Mundo Deportivo – in Spanish)

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Chelsea & Liverpool unsure on bids for Aaron Ramsey

Chelsea are having second thoughts about making a move for Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey because of the impressive form of England internationals Ross Barkley, 24, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22. (Star)

Meanwhile, Liverpool have ruled out making a move for 27-year-old Wales international Ramsey, who is set to leave the Gunners for free in the summer. (Sky Sports)

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Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey, 27, has been told by Arsenal he can leave the club next summer. (Mail)

Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey, 27, has been told by Arsenal he can leave the club next summer. (Mail)

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Arsenal and Tottenham are interested in signing Barcelona striker Malcom, 21, with the Brazilian getting limited playing time at the Nou Camp. (Mundo Deportivo via Mirror)

Arsenal and Tottenham are interested in signing Barcelona striker Malcom, 21, with the Brazilian getting limited playing time at the Nou Camp. (Mundo Deportivo via Mirror)

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Talk Sport

Arsenal transfer news: Unai Emery wants to sign Fulham captain Tom Cairney, but lack of Champions League football has diminished finances

Tom Cairney is a transfer target for Arsenal, but the move appears unlikely to happen because of financial constraints in place at the Emirates.

Failure to qualify for the Champions League in back-to-back seasons has seen Unai Emery’s transfer purse strings tighten – with British talent also at a premium.

The Scot is currently out injured with a troublesome ankle injury picked up in August
 

The Fulham captain is one of a number of homegrown talents being looked at by the Gunners, but his value is deemed too pricey.

According to the Daily Mailnew head of recruitment Sven Mislintat has been shocked at the valuations of the young talent from the UK.

In fact, the German is reportedly focusing his attention on recruiting young players from abroad instead in order to be more cost-effective.

Failing to qualify for the Champions League in consecutive seasons has also limited the club for two reasons; the lack of pulling power afforded to the north Londoners and a reduced revenue stream as a result of failing to qualify.

Cairney is the skipper of Fulham, and Slavisa Jokanovic’s right-hand man


West Ham United tried to sign the Scotland international in the summer, but saw their bid of £20million rejected.

Cairney’s Fulham teammate Ryan Sessegnon was also linked with lucrative moves to the biggest clubs in the Premier League over the summer, but Cairney told talkSPORT back in July it was vital to keep as much of the squad which got the Whites out of the Championship into the same side.

The Gunners have not signed a homegrown player since Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers in 2016, with Danny Welbeck’s move from Manchester United two years prior the only other British player to sign for the club in the past four years.

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Hoffenheim’s on-loan Arsenal forward Reiss Nelson, 18, has played down leaving the Gunners on a permanent basis to move to the Bundesliga. (Independent)

Hoffenheim’s on-loan Arsenal forward Reiss Nelson, 18, has played down leaving the Gunners on a permanent basis to move to the Bundesliga. (Independent)

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Talk Sport

Arsenal transfer news: Gunners submit £8million bid for Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico

Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico could join Arsenal in January after the club submitted an £8million offer for his services, according to reports in Italy.

The defender, who was part of the Argentina squad at the World Cup during the summer, has emerged as one of Unai Emery’s top January targets after impressing in the Netherlands.

Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico in action

 

The 26-year-old has been a star performer so far this term with the Dutch giants enjoying a strong start to the season.

Newcastle were in hot pursuit of Tagliafico in the summer but couldn’t force through a move during the final days of the window.

And now, according to Calciomercato, Arsenal are ready to trump Newcastle again in January after submitting an £8million offer for the defender.

With interest in the Argentine continuing to grow, Ajax could well hold out for a lot more than the Gunners’ initial valuation as the race to snap him up in January hots up.

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Barcelona’s France forward Ousmane Dembele could be allowed to leave in January and Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have been linked with the 21-year-old. (Sun)

Barcelona’s France forward Ousmane Dembele could be allowed to leave in January and Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have been linked with the 21-year-old. (Sun)

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