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Arsenal are a team in development but the future looks bright

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The future looks bright by AndersS

Arsenal should aim to win the PL. No doubt about it. It must be our goal, and anything less is unacceptable. But is it realistic? How? When?


2 seasons ago we were a massive 37 points behind the EPL winners and although that gap last year was cut to 28 points, it is still a huge difference to make up.
Given we don’t have an owner, or rather a sugardaddy, with almost unlimited amounts of money to spend on the team, we have to find another way.

I will suggest that other way can’t be to hope for a “miracle season”, like the one Leicester had a few seasons ago. We must be a bit more clever than buying a lottery ticket.

Before this season started I found it unrealistic that we could compete for the title. I think we had a good transfer window, but there is no way those improvements would be enough to close the massive gap we have to Man City and Liverpool. Unless they implode, we are competing for 3rd, and I still think this is the situation.

Now, I am sure a lot of fans will argue, if we had another manager, we would do much better. I am not going to go into that discussion, as it is already in full flow in as good as every article on this site at the moment. But I will say, I don’t think any manager in the world could turn us into champions this year. We were/are too far behind, and maybe another manager could do better than Emery. But champions this year? I am sorry, not realistic.


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For me the only realistic way for us to compete for the title, is to take a longer view, maybe 2-3 years, and develop a team, which by then will be ready to compete for the title. I think the current regime is doing exactly that, and it seems to me they are doing a fine job.

In 2-3 years, we might have a completely different squad to the one that finished 37 points behind City 2 seasons ago. Nearly every position could be with a different and, hopefully, a better player. When you can’t just go out and buy whichever world class player you desire, that really takes some clever planning and a huge football knowledge. It also takes the courage to trust and develop young players and providing the current trend continues, we could see this squad in 2-3 years:

GK: Leno/Martinez/Macey

RB: Bellerin
CB: Holding/Saliba/Mavropanos/Medley
LB: Tierney
MF: Torreira/Willock/Smith-Rowe/Guendouzi
Attack: Pepe/Laccazette/Saka/Nketiah/Nelson/Martinelli

Not many players left from the season 17-18.

If you think about it, it is not only very drastic to give your team such an overhaul in only 5 years. It is also very ambitious, and you could possibly excuse some periods, where the team won’t look very organized.

All the players above are at an age, where they should still improve quite a lot in the coming years, and as such it looks very promising to me. I admit, we haven’t seen Saliba and Tierney and there are of course many uncertainties, but overall I am confident, many of those can make a strong Arsenal in the future.


There could be other players in the current squad, that may still be in the frame in 2-3 years, but I don’t think it will be many. They simply aren’t good enough for a squad competing for the title, or they may be too old in a few years.

The 2-3 year perspective does not mean the next 1-2 years are without meaning. On the contrary. It is very important we offer the players the right opportunities to develop and it is very important, we economically can offer salaries that will keep the players here, and will attract the ones we need. Champions League football is close to being crucial to this.  So although top 4 is not “the goal” it is an important goal until, we are ready for something bigger.

Going by the above, I think we will see our coming transfer windows concentrating on the following:

  • Additions to RB and LB
  • Maybe a promising CB or even better, an experienced CB with 4-5 years in him (if we can find one)
  • 1 or 2 additions in Midfield
  • One attacker suited to play on the right wing as backup for Pepe

Should be possible to do in 2-4 transfer windows.

This is what I think our coach and management are planning towards. To me it looks good so far.  

What do you think?

 AndersS


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Traore, Martinelli and Henderson are new entries in our Premier League POWER RANKINGS

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Adama Traore, Gabriel Martinelli and Jordan Henderson are new entries… but which Manchester City star has claimed top spot? It’s our Premier League POWER RANKINGS

  • There is plenty of movement in Sportsmail’s latest Power Rankings
  • Five stars are new entries in the list including two Liverpool players
  • Find out here who Sportsmail placed at the top of the latest Power Rankings

Each week throughout the 2019-20 season, Sportsmail will bring you a Power Rankings table, listing the top-10 hottest players in the Premier League

As the stories of the season unravel, the rankings will provide a form guide with players moving in and out of the top 10 depending on both their performances in the previous fixtures and also in recent weeks.

So, who wins a place in the latest edition of our Power Rankings?

LAST WEEK’S TOP 10 

10. John Fleck

9. Wilfried Zaha

8. Raul Jimenez

7. Gabriel Jesus

6. Sadio Mane

5. Virgil van Dijk

4. Kevin De Bruyne

3. Danny Ings

2. Sergio Aguero

1. Mohamed Salah

 

10. Virgil van Dijk (Down Five) 

Since Richarlison stooped low to head past Alisson on the stroke of half time of the Merseyside derby on December 4, Liverpool had gone 681 minutes without conceding in the Premier League.

Raul Jimenez finally breached their defences six minutes into the second half as they sought an eighth successive clean sheet.

But for the hulking presence of Virgil van Dijk it could have meant the end of Liverpool’s proud unbeaten run. 

With Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez doing their best to disrupt, i was another towering performance from the Dutchman to keep the pair at bay.

Virgil van Dijk steadied the storm for Liverpool in the second half at Molineux on Thursday

Virgil van Dijk steadied the storm for Liverpool in the second half at Molineux on Thursday

9. Ayoze Perez (New Entry)

Eyebrows were raised when Leicester splashed out £30million on Ayoze Perez. 

But his improvement at Newcastle had gone under the radar, and he has proved at the King Power this season – with a better quality of team-mate – that his talent has been underappreciated for a while now. 

A late double helped Leicester see off West Ham and returned them to winning ways after a recent wobble. It could prove a vitally important brace by the end of the season.

Ayoze Perez scored a late brace to get Leicester back to winning ways at the King Power

Ayoze Perez scored a late brace to get Leicester back to winning ways at the King Power

Ayoze Perez scored a late brace to get Leicester back to winning ways at the King Power

8. Mohamed Salah (Down Seven)

After his late heroics against Manchester United last Sunday, the time felt ripe for Mo Salah to go on another one of his runs.

He certainly had enough chances at Molineux on Thursday to add to his tally, but it was to be another wasteful night for the Egyptian King.

He looked certain to score in the first half after a mazy run gave him a sight of goal, only for Matt Doherty to get a block in. Then in the second half he worked a good opportunity on his left foot only to drag it wide of the near post.

But, by quirk of fate, it was from Salah attempting to overplay on the edge of the area, that the ball broke for Henderson to slide Firmino in for the winning goal. 

It was a wasteful night from Mohamed Salah but he was a constant threat for Liverpool

It was a wasteful night from Mohamed Salah but he was a constant threat for Liverpool

It was a wasteful night from Mohamed Salah but he was a constant threat for Liverpool

7. Adama Traore (New Entry)

Few players offer as unique a threat as Adama Traore right now. After years of fleeting promise he is finally coming into his own and delivering on the potential that had the whole of Europe taking notice.

Though it came in a losing cause on Thursday night, his display against Liverpool was further proof of his growing maturity. He was electrifying on the ball, bouncing off opposition players and working opportunities.

His delivery is improving all the time and he laid the equaliser to Raul Jimenez on a plate. 

Adama Traore continued his electrifying form as Wolves gave Liverpool a fright on Thursday

Adama Traore continued his electrifying form as Wolves gave Liverpool a fright on Thursday

Adama Traore continued his electrifying form as Wolves gave Liverpool a fright on Thursday

6. Gabriel Martinelli (New Entry)

It could prove to be one of the iconic images of the year. As Gabriel Martinelli sprinted towards the Chelsea half, N’Golo Kante slipped on the turf in the face of the lightning counter attack.

The Brazilian teenager was offered a free run on goal and there was never any doubt that he would slot the ball home.

At just 18, the ceiling of potential for Martinelli is huge. It was just his third Premier League goal, but his 10th of the season. His spectacular solo strike at Stamford Bridge could well be the start of something truly special.

Gabriel Martinelli left N'Golo Kante lying flat on his face as he raced through on goal

Gabriel Martinelli left N'Golo Kante lying flat on his face as he raced through on goal

Gabriel Martinelli left N’Golo Kante lying flat on his face as he raced through on goal

5. Roberto Firmino (New Entry)

Another game, another win. Liverpool march on. But it was away day specialist Roberto Firmino who came to the rescue with his 10th goal of the season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have won their last two away games thanks to Firmino strikes, and this one was special. 

Coming just minutes after he missed a great one-on-one opportunity against Rui Patricio, he made no mistake with the second chance, making room on his weaker left foot and arrowing his shot into the top corner to send the travelling Reds wild.

Roberto Firmino celebrates after firing Liverpool to another victory on Thursday night

Roberto Firmino celebrates after firing Liverpool to another victory on Thursday night

Roberto Firmino celebrates after firing Liverpool to another victory on Thursday night

4. Raul Jimenez (Up Four)

It shouldn’t be any surprise that it was Jimenez who finally netted past Liverpool on Thursday night.

It was the 28-year-old’s 20th goal of the season and he is now being recognised as one of the leading strikers in the Premier League.

It was a clinical finish, directing his header right into the corner, and he came close adding a second only to be denied by the enormous frame of Alisson.

Raul Jimenez steers Wolves level in another impressive performance while leading the line

Raul Jimenez steers Wolves level in another impressive performance while leading the line

Raul Jimenez steers Wolves level in another impressive performance while leading the line

3. Jordan Henderson (New Entry)

In a team of no standout individuals but characterised by collective will to win, the Liverpool captain has come to epitomise the runaway league leaders.

It was a rare goal from the skipper that set Liverpool on their way at Wolves on Thursday night, just a second of the season. Even rarer was the sight of him ghosting in to head home a near post corner.

He then had the clarity of thought at a critical juncture in the game to pick out Roberto Firmino for the winning goal late on. The plaudits are beginning to rain down on Henderson and he is a genuine contender for Player of the Year on this evidence.

Jordan Henderson scored one and set up another with a typical captain's performance

Jordan Henderson scored one and set up another with a typical captain's performance

Jordan Henderson scored one and set up another with a typical captain’s performance

2. Kevin De Bruyne (Up Two)

Amid Manchester City’s struggles and Liverpool’s imperious form, the majesty of Kevin De Bruyne has gone overlooked this season.

The Belgian has been outstanding for some weeks now despite the inconsistencies of his team-mates.

And his assist for Sergio Aguero’s winner at Sheffield United on Tuesday night was another collector’s item, threading a through ball across a crowded penalty area to find his team-mate at the back post.

Kevin De Bruyne provided his 17th assist of the season against Sheffield United on Tuesday

Kevin De Bruyne provided his 17th assist of the season against Sheffield United on Tuesday

Kevin De Bruyne provided his 17th assist of the season against Sheffield United on Tuesday

1. Sergio Aguero (Up One)

It’s six in three games now for the Premier League’s greatest foreign goalscorer. The winner at Bramall Lane came just minutes after he had climbed off the bench to rescue his side.

It has been a superlative January for Aguero, and how City missed his penalty box killer instinct over a difficult Christmas period.

With 16 league goals now this season, the Argentine will be eyeing another Golden Boot if he can keep fit. 

Sergio Aguero was left alone at the back post to score his sixth goal in just three games

Sergio Aguero was left alone at the back post to score his sixth goal in just three games

Sergio Aguero was left alone at the back post to score his sixth goal in just three games

 



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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta's stance on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang amid transfer exit talk

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists he’s happy with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s position at the club, despite suggestions he wants to leave the Emirates. The Gabon international’s future with the north Londoners has been the subject of intense speculation for several months.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with a move away from the Emirates.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists he’s happy with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s position at the club, despite suggestions he wants to leave the Emirates. The Gabon international’s future with the north Londoners has been the subject of intense speculation for several months.

The striker – who has been Arsenal’s top goalscorer for the last two seasons – is said to be keen on leaving the club to play Champions League football, which he’s yet to do with the Gunners.

A big-money move to Barcelona has been mooted for the 30-year-old, who is reportedly open to the idea of swapping London for the Catalan capital.

JUST IN: Arsenal are ‘front of the queue’ to sign transfer target Thomas Lemar

Aubameyang has missed Arsenal’s last two league matches through suspension, which he’s currently serving for the straight red card he received in the club’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace earlier this month.

He’ll be eligible to return to the starting XI next Sunday for Arsenal’s trip to Turf Moor to take on Burnley.

Arteta, however, has refused to confirm if he’ll throw the forward back into the fold straight away.

The Spaniard said: “He needs to get back to fitness and fight for his place like any other player.

“After that we will make a selection that is fair with what I see on the pitch.”

Arsenal enter their match against Burnley on the back of a 2-2 draw with their London rivals Chelsea – which has left them ten points behind the fourth-placed Blues.

Burnley, meanwhile, enter the game on the back of a 2-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, which has heaped even more pressure on the under-fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

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FA Cup on TV: Which FA Cup fourth round fixtures are live on TV this weekend?

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The FA Cup third round saw Premier League and Championship clubs enter the fray. And with fourth-round action taking place this weekend, there are eight televised games for fans to enjoy. Broadcasting rights to the FA Cup are shared between BT Sport and the BBC in the UK.

Existing BT Sport customers can live stream the action via the BT Sport app and on the company’s website.

However, EE mobile customers will be able to stream matches for free, thanks to a subscription plan announced by the network.

The company said: “To say thanks for being with us, here’s a special sporting treat for our pay monthly mobile and tablet customers: three months’ free BT Sport on your EE phone and connected tablet. Just text SPORT to 150, register for a BT ID then download the BT Sport app and get watching!”

Matches shown on the BBC can be streamed using the BBC iPlayer app and on the BBC Sport website.

FA Cup TV schedule (GMT)

Friday, January 24

Northampton Town vs Derby County (8pm) – BT Sport 1

QPR vs Sheffield Wednesday (8pm) – BT Sport Extra

Saturday, January 25

Brentford vs Leicester (12.45pm) – BBC One

Hull City vs Chelsea (5.30pm) – BT Sport 1

Sunday, January 26

Manchester City vs Fulham (1pm) – BBC One

Tranmere Rovers vs Manchester United (3pm) – BT Sport 1

Shrewsbury Town vs Liverpool (5pm) – BBC One

Monday, January 27

Bournemouth vs Arsenal (8pm) – BT Sport 1

Non-televised FA Cup fixtures

Saturday, January 25

3pm: Southampton vs Tottenham

3pm: Millwall vs Sheffield United

3pm: Reading vs Cardiff

3pm: West Ham vs West Brom

3pm: Burnley vs Norwich City

3pm: Coventry vs Birmingham

3pm: Newcastle vs Oxford United

3pm: Portsmouth vs Barnsley

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