What next for Arteta and Arsenal?
We sat down with @DeanJamesSBTB the co-host of the Saved by the Bellerin Podcast (@SBTBPod) to discuss all things Arsenal....
So, what have you made of Arsenal’s return to action?
Dean: I think I'd be stating the obvious if I said disappointed is an understatement. We've been saying on the Saved by the Bellerín Podcast that we believed the club were best placed to come out of this restart on top, what with the players returning earliest to training and having 4 players in the top 7 for league fitness monitoring early on. But it seems the opposite has taken effect and I'm seriously beyond baffled at the last two results.
What do you put the 2 results down do? Manchester City away is always a difficult game but the manner of the defeat wouldn’t have sat well with many. Then the Brighton defeat may have signalled the end of a challenge for the Champions League places. What’s gone wrong? Is Arteta to blame? Or it something bigger?
Dean: I think it's a mesh of a few things to be honest, as you say City is always tough competition but I feel the two very early injuries and of course the actions in that game of David Luiz, ruining what appeared to be a very solid plan to begin with. Losing Xhaka in midfield then Marí in defence really threw us through a loop. I also feel currently Arteta is still trying to work through kinks he's inherited so to speak, technically the only players who are his, are Cedric and Marí and one of those hasn't played a minute for us. With Brighton they've actually always been a bogey team of ours, we've drawn two and lost three in our last five meetings against them now. Again however I feel the injury to Leno did play a part in that. Still eight games and 24 points to play for though.
You mentioned David Luiz, where do you sit in terms of the defender’s future? Does he deserve that new contract?
Dean: It's actually been confirmed he has signed a year extension, with both Marí and Cedric signing four year permanent moves and Ceballos extending for the restart. Whereas I've said before Luiz has saved us a few times this season as much as making mistakes and him being an experienced head, I personally don't feel it was the right move by the club... He's on 120k PW wages and I don't believe he agreed to take a wage reduction, he's also taking up a Non- Homegrown spot from a player potentially a decade younger and better than himself.
What sort of affect do you expect this to have on Arsenal’s transfer window? Should signing a centre back not be an absolute priority for the club?
Dean: I believe we'll still sign another CB outside of keeping Marí and having Saliba on hand. I also believe we'll grab 1-2 Midfielders and 2 FWDs including a Winger.
You believe Arsenal will sign up to 4 or 5 players this summer? Even with the COVID situation?
Dean: Yes I do and I see at least 4 outs if not more.
Who do you expect to come in and who you expect to leave?
Dean: Outward bound I expect Mustafi, Sokratis, possibly Holding on loan, Chambers and maybe Mavropanos on loan again. Kolašinac is a possibility. Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Mkhitaryan and possibly Lacazette. I'm holding out for Aubameyang.
Inbound. Upamecano, another CB, Thomas Partey, Marc Roca, Kluivert and a Striker.
How likely are those incoming you’ve mentioned? Do arsenal have the finances for such a spending spree? Will it depend on sales?
Dean: I think swaps will be involved for the most part, but despite the same rhetoric that goes around every window regarding Arsenal, they're not a broke club. And I also feel a lot of what's going on currently would actually benefit the club. Upamecano will be free next year for example and if Leipzig don't want that, they'll have to negotiate on his €60m Release-Clause. Partey has been mooted as an open secret where Arsenal are concerned now, Kluivert seems to be getting closer and part of Mkhitaryan's exit. Scenarios such as these are more possible than fans think.
On Aubamayeng’s future, where do you see the situation heading? Will he leave? Should he leave?
Dean: A few days ago I'd have said I feel he's trying to negotiate the best for his legend status here at Arsenal. Now with reports he's discussing potential terms with Barça, I'm not so sure. However the move to Catalunya will only come if they're unable to get Lautaro Martínez and with Juventus supposedly stumping up close to £72m for Arthur I see the move from Inter being a possible one now which may leave Aubameyang with us. Should he leave? Absolutely not.
Should he stay, do you believe he’ll have the opportunities to challenge for the major honours at Arsenal?
Dean: I believe if he stays and we build the way Arteta is trying to, we'll make a considerable jump next season and challenge for the major trophies, yes.
When you say major trophies, would you include the Premier League in that?
Dean: I know a lot of people may say give Arteta a window or two, to reach the Premier League title. But I genuinely believe if the club back him this Summer, we can challenge for the title, yes.
Interesting. And finally, what have you made of the Guendouzi situation?
Dean: I've not hidden my thoughts on the subject, my opinion is easily found. But I'm not happy with it in the slightest. He's a young kid, who was signed from the depths of Ligue 2 and he's acting above his station. His reaction to Maupay wasn't the issue. The issue is with certain things he's saying to opposition players and allegedly this isn't the first time. Also since he's signed for us, he's been pulled aside more than once by both Edu and Arteta. Some players are also reportedly that fed up with him, they're not even bothering with taking him under their wing for guidance.
What would you do with the player? Is he worth persisting with or would you cut your losses?
Dean: As myself and the lads mentioned on the Podcast this week I think he needs to learn some humility and be loaned out to a club where he'll see what it's really like to actually rely on things and fight for a place. If that doesn't change his attitude then he'd have to go imo.
And one final word on Arteta? Naturally any manager need time. Will Arteta get time and are you confident he’s the right man?
Dean: Again my view before he came was no secret and I've never been so happy to be wrong about something in my life. I definitely feel he's the man for the job and I think a lot of fans, as is the nature of the Gooner fanbase, have been very unfair on him. If he's backed up in the window as I say and is able to bring his own guys in, I can definitely see him getting the best out of this side.