When you look at the list of players who left this summer, it suddenly hits home that this has truly been a summer of major pruning and clearing out of the Arsenal squad. The last home league game brought attention to the widely dismayed departure of Ramsey, the retirement of Cech and the fall from favour and unfortunate injury woes of Welbeck. What got less attention was the 1 year stay of Lichtsteiner, probably rightly so. Coming out of the painful loss in Baku, it was clear this summer was make or break for Emery, so let me give my assessment of what he and the club have done.
The first thing we should touch on is the refusal of our captain to travel pre-season and thus trigger a move back to his homeland. I've always been a fan of Kos', but after this - I just struggle to hold him in the same regard to be frank. That he missed out on the French world cup squad by getting injured playing for Arsenal was incredibly unfair, but to leave in this disgraced fashion only compounds what must be a career of unfulfilled potential. Anyway, he was replaced with some deft maneuvering with David Luiz - jury out, but I think probably an upgrade.
Next we should talk about Carl Jenkinson. Who doesn't love Jenko's enthusiasm and love of the gunners? Unfortunately he just isn't up to the right standard, and we can only wish him luck with his career! Similar sentiments on the other flank go to Monreal. Never a star, but a true workhorse who definitely improved in his time at the club. Showed versatility when shoved into a back 3. With young Tierney coming in and everyone up north tells me possibly the best player at Celtic in recent years you have to say the club have upgraded again, and Nacho leaves with his head held high.
There were departures like Bielik, Asano & Bramall that highlight how tough it is to break into the squad, let alone first team at Arsenal. Other departures like Iwobi I sense were more a necessity than a true desire to jettison someone. His fee helped make a large net spend palitiple - in some regards the fall guy. When he came on in Baku to bring the score back to 2-1 the crowd loved him for those fleeting moments of sheer hope. A player who has massive potential, but just never reached it with us, surely we all wish him good luck? Ospina, I like to think another fan fave, who served us faithfully and made kickouts just a little more interesting for those of us in the stands, OOOOOooooosssssspiiiina! Best of luck!
Not everyone who has left is a lost cause of course, and first amongst our loanees is surely young Eddie Nketiah. How I hope he will return possibly to fill the boots of Laca or Auba in coming seasons! Less hopeful am I for the return of Mhki, his departure opens space for the likes of Willock & Nelson to get game time and progress. I still think the swap deal for Sanchez was shrewd business! Final shout out to the likes of Elneny, Iliev, Saliba & the ill fated January transfer signing of Suarez!
As for the incomers. Pepe, one leg of the new Arsenal terrific front threesome? Early days, but the kid has oodles of potential, gives us speed and once settled in hopefully will be part of a regular attack force. Shrewd business behind the scenes show we can when pushed stump up big fees with a little creativity. Young Saliba & Martinelli are hopefully wise investments for next season and beyond, won't help this campaign, but only way Arsenal are going to get back challenging is wise & shrewd long term investments like these! Although many were sad to see Ramsey head to Italy on a free, we get to witness Ceballos grace the field in his place. Not a permanent signing, but if he helps us get back into the top 4, it will open the spigots to better signings in coming seasons.
Was this the clean out and refresh we needed? Early days, but I do think we're moving in the right direction. I can see more changes coming in January (Mustafi & Ozil anyone?), but the main hope is the squad is younger, better and can get us back into the top 4! COYG