Gunner Thoughts

Arsenal snapshots: Quick hit news from the weekend

Slow news weekend, but 4 hits of news for you: 2nd round of testing, end of WSL season, Maitland-Niles sale links, and links to Coutinho

If you are someone who follows blogs, Arsenal news, or Twitter, you’ll know the flow of interesting and important news was at quite the standstill this weekend. The Bundesliga had its second weekend of games, although to be honest, I didn’t watch a single second of a live game. Unsure if that says more about me or the fact that the allure of sport or football matches is only so powerful when I have little attachment to the league or teams.

Checking the scores today, it looks like my new team Fortuna Dusseldorf managed another 2-2 draw over 10th place Köln, but they would have taken all three points had they not conceded in the 91st minute.

Complete lack of concentration, manager needs to sort that out, it won’t do. This is why we find ourselves in a relegation scrap. Gotta play all the minutes, until all the whistles, as hard as you can go. For the badge, for the fans that can’t be there. [input continued rant…] Schalke 04, Bayern, and Dortmund are 3 of the next 4 games – points are needed.

Maybe Dusseldorf will manage, maybe not, but in given the lack of news, I thought I would give a quick hit of 4 stories from the weekend for you:

2nd round of testing

On May 23rd, David Ornstein of The Athletic, Tweeted that the 2nd round of Covid testing took place and the results were slightly grim. Results were better than the first round of tests, but still added 2 positive results from 996 players/staff from 2 separate clubs. This batch covered all 20 clubs, plus round 1 of Norwich tests who weren’t included in previous results. At the time, neither of the clubs with positive tests were announced, but Bournemouth confirmed one of those positive tests were within their club. Positive cases will self-isolate 7 days.

While it is not a rampant resurgence by any means, it is a continuation of players and staff being ill, further challenges for the clubs to handle, and more proof points of how the league will handle these situations. I noticed an interesting switch from 14 days of self-isolation to 7 days given the times, as well as, it appearing as though the league will attempt to push on as best as possible despite setbacks like this. Something to keep an eye on.

Arsenal Women’s season ends immediately

Yesterday, it was announced that the 2019/20 WSL season would end immediately. Arsenal posted, The FA released a statement saying, “The FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board has today confirmed the decision to end the 2019/20 season for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Championship, with immediate effect.

“Following overwhelming feedback from the clubs, the decision to bring an end to the 2019/20 season was made in the best interest of the women’s game. This will also enable clubs, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board and The FA to plan, prepare and focus on next season when football returns for the 2020/21 campaign.”

There no doubt will be questions to answer surrounding how that will all work and what it will mean for specific teams, but good to see their goals being to protect the players and staff while preparing for a more successful 2020/21 season when there ideally are less hurdles to navigate.

AC Milan interested in AMN

In a bit of transfer intrigue, AC Milan stated they were on alert and interested in the potential purchase of Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles. It has been well known that Maitland-Niles does not see eye-to-eye with Mikel Arteta, nor his desire to play him at the right back position.

After a fairly impressive start to Arteta’s time, Maitland-Niles openly stated his refusal to play in the right back position. This statement, coupled with reports of Maitland-Niles showing up late for training and lack of work ethic on and off the pitch, has led to a falling out and Arsenal’s willingness to move on from the 22-year-old.

It is a shame that things have not worked out, especially after the promising start, but in a post-COVID world, where funds will be scarce and in high demand, it is no surprise Arsenal may look to sell a player with his value. AC Milan could be a very good destination for both player and club given their size and assumed access to funds, although no details around any sort of deal has emerged. Maitland-Niles could be one of the few youngsters on the roster to be moved along given Arsenal’s believed desire to overhaul the team for the long term with a reliance on youth.

Links to Phillipe Coutinho

In an announcement that may not be all that surprising, Arsenal have now been linked with Phillipe Coutinho. The Barcelona player, currently loaned out to Bayern Munich, is apparently looking for a more permanent home and would love a return to the Premier League. What makes this link incredibly unsurprising is Coutinho’s agent being Kia Joorabchian.

Joorabchian is quite open about his support for Arsenal and is often seen attending matches alongside Edu and Raul Sanllehi. In a post-Mislintat world, Raul has been quoted to prefer a more traditional approach to recruitment, including deals with super agents like Joorabchian. It is a worrying addition for any fan that does not like Arsenal’s ties or reliance on these agents who feel as though it narrows the pool of players Arsenal are likely to try to entice to The Emirates.

After ties to three different Joorabchian players – Cedric Soares, Willian, and Phillipe Coutinho – one would have no problem believing in the likelihood of Arsenal signing at least one of their super-agent friend’s players. Where they are getting the money to afford Coutinho remains to be seen, as does the potential for landing Coutinho with a “loan to buy” offer in an attempt to give themselves time to raise funds.

There is little doubt that 28-year-old, Coutinho could offer the midfield a boost in replacement of or alongside Ozil, if Arteta can make that work, but some concerns over Arsenal taking their eye off the ball, again. It is clear that the emphasis needs to be put on building a team correctly, for the long term, rather than chucking more money at the idea of getting back into Champions League as soon as possible. It is a tactic that has seen Arsenal rack up a massive wage bill and be further from the Top 4 than they started.

If Arsenal can address all of their higher priority needs like the backline, a defensive midfielder, a box to box midfielder, and still have left over funds to land someone like Coutinho then it is something that should be strongly considered, but simply adding Coutinho and not addressing the ineffective defending and need for a midfield overhaul could see us in the same position we currently are, next year.

A few things to think about, a few different aspects of the current football landscape, and a few of my thoughts on it all. Remember to subscribe to the blog if you would like a more direct reminder of when news is posted. Hope everyone is safe and well!

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