By Nana Quojo Antwi-Boasiako
This winter transfer window brought Gooners hope so to speak. Arsenal players like Walcott and Coquelin leave for Everton and Valencia respectively for a combined fee of 32 million pounds.
The duo has been underperforming so it was a step in the right direction to see them exit the club. One transfer news which didn’t sit well with the majority of Arsenal fans is the sale of Olivier Giroud to Chelsea. The elegant Frenchman in 180 games produced 73 goals and 23 assists in the Premier League. Over the past two seasons, he has found himself on the substitute bench as their plan B.
The Chilean obviously undoubtedly has been Arsenal’s best player in terms goals. He gave his all and became a better footballer under Arsene Wenger. His departure is a good riddance because he was becoming a bad influence in the sense that, he reportedly had rows with his teammates in the dressing and acted unprofessionally in the last 9 months. It is good for the future of the club that he has left and it comes as a good news to some fans.
The good news which excites Arsenal fans is the signing of goal machine Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh “assistaryan” Mkhitaryan. The duo is accustomed to each other from their days at the Signal Iduna Park and should they click right away, then, Arsenal fans are in for some wonderful time. With 21 goals in 24 appearances this season and 40 in all competitions last season, the former BVB star would certainly be Arsenal’s best centre-forward since the days of Robin van Persie.
If there is one area Arsenal struggle then it is scoring lots of goals in the 18-yard area and that is where Aubameyang comes in handy. He scored 31 Bundesliga goals last term and 12 of them came inside the 6-yard box. Comparing to some deadly predators of the 6-yard box, Sanchez led Arsenal with 8 and Suarez led Spanish La Liga with 8.
If you have watched Aubameyang closely, immediately you’d notice he scores most of his goal in the 18 area. 24 out of the 31 goals he scored in the Bundesliga were scored in the 18 yard and he has 6 in the 6 yard this season and zero outside the box.
For a club like Arsenal who loves to walk the ball in the net, they have found a perfect poacher, “a fox in the box” popularly called. Arsenal has only taken 22 in the 6 yard this season in the Premier League while Aubameyang has already had 15 shots in the 6-yard box in 15 appearances.
The combo of Mkhitaryan and Ozil playing behind the ice cold finisher Aubameyang makes gunners salivate. The Armenian and German are no doubt excellent in their departments as chance creators. Before Arsenal’s new number 7 joined Manchester United, he had provided 30 assists and scored 41 in 141 appearances for BVB.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s league stats before Man U
2013/14 – 9 goals, 10 assists
2014/15 – 3 goals, 5 assists
2015/16 – 11 goals, 15 assists
Just like Shinji Kagawa before the Armenian, it has been nothing short of a disaster for a player tagged as one of the world’s best number 10. He was left out of matchday squad, his confidence was rocked big time and never got to grip with Jose Mourinho’s effective but dour system. If Arsene Wenger can reinvigorate him in his favoured expansive type of football, together with Aubameyang, they would form that formidable partnership once again in the colours of Arsenal.
One area that was in dire need of augmentation is the defence. Arsenal, especially this season has made it a habit to concede sloppy goals. Already shipped in 34 same number as bottom side West Bromwich Albion and 15th Brighton and Hove Albion.
This is disastrous for a club of Arsenal’s stature. They have conceded 1and 2 more than Newcastle and Bournemouth respectively and whichever way you look at it, Arsenal needed strengthening and it makes little sense why Arsene Wenger did not bring at least someone. With the rate of goal concession, we are talking about teams struggling and fighting at the bottom of the table. It would have prudent to strengthen the defence just as the attacking department was. It remains to be seen how Arsenal would fare from here on.
They are apparently out of the Premier League title race and a place in the top 4 looks improbable, but they have the Carabao cup final date with Manchester City later this month and still in the Europa League. The season can be salvaged if Wenger finds the right balance in defence and in attack especially because he knows first-hand how good Ozil, Aubameyang and Mhkitaryan are.
Interesting times ahead for Arsenal, lots of things look like changing for the better i.e. “dead woods” have been shown the exit door and they have proven they can break their transfer records and they can pay big wages as well. Arsene Wenger is making sure he leaves a legacy team behind for the next manager, a team that is decent enough to work with.
Arsenal has managed to convince Ozil to stay at least till 2021. He becomes the club’s highest-paid taking home about 350k per week reportedly before tax. It would make little sense to let a player who has been loyal to the Arsenal course, a true professional and the very best in the division walk for free in the summer. This a player who since he made his premier league debut in 2013, has created more goalscoring chances (458) and assisted (50) more than any player.
This season alone, considering Arsenal’s poor run of form, he has 7 assists and 4 goals in the Premier League. He has shown in his entire career that he is very professional and. he has taken all harsh criticisms in good strides. Paying him over 350k weekly is a sign of good things to come. The sale of Alexis and the purchase of Aubameyang is a strong statement to every single player that, no one is bigger than the club, players come, players go but the club will always be in existence.
The goal scoring duty of Sanchez is taken care of by the signing of Aubameyang, the chance creation task is for Mkhitaryan and there is Ozil. Sanchez was a big player BUT Arsenal will not miss him.
Article By: Nana Quojo Antwi-Boasiako