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  1. Should I stay or should I go now? Ramsdale, Cedric, Tierney, Partey, Smith Rowe, Jorginho, Elneny, Vieira, Jesus, Nketiah, Nelson, Tavares, Patino, Lokonga, Marquinhos. These are, to me, the most likely players to be gone next season. If you check out a previous piece here, you will see I wrote about five players left from the Wenger era first team squad of which only Nelson, Nketiah and Elneny are left. It seems like Elneny will stay and there is a logic to keeping him as he is versatile, he won’t fetch much money, and he wants to stay and help the team get better. You do need experienced veterans who have performed on the big stage and he has won trophies with Egypt and Arsenal. 10% chance of going. Elneny is Arsenal Reiss Nelson? He hasn’t started this season, came on 13 times but only has 171 minutes from those and no goals. If I was him I would want out and he would fetch something in the transfer market being young. If we need to raise money he could go. I would say 70% chance of going. If I go it will be trouble Nketiah? Not the same situation but still may be heading out the door. He has five goals from 10 starts and 24 games in total with 1046 minutes played. Again, if it was me I would go. He has to start playing regularly and it is not going to happen at Arsenal. He would fetch a sizable sum as a goalscorer, enough to help fund an expensive transfer. 60% chance of going. I do feel that the Wenger influence will definitely be weakened. Emile Smith Rowe - could still be a great Ramsdale? For sure I would go and a keeper never gets subbed so he won’t get many games. 5 starts but definitely second choice. He needs to go and he will fetch good money. 90% chance of going. Cedric? 2 games and 34 minutes. I am not sure what his logic in staying is. Won’t fetch much but seems well out of the plans. 90% chance of going. Tierney? Played 16 matches so far for Real Sociedad but was out injured. He has played excellent for Scotland and would fetch a nice sum if sold. I suspect he could go. 80% chance of going. If I stay it will be double Partey? A true enigma for us. Gets booed all the time because of dark allegations against him and seems to be forever injured. On his game he is really top quality but when does that happen anymore? 3 starts and 4 games so far means we don’t really need him. Now a veteran and I doubt if anyone would put out large money for him but probably on a big salary. Could be his last season with us. 85 % chance of going. Smith Rowe? To me a potential great but does not seem to have a strong position within the club. Would get good transfer money and for his career he probably needs to go. 10 games but only 2 starts and never a full game plus no goals. 65% chance of going. Keeping him makes sense to me Jorginho? To me he should not be on this list but it seems his contract is up for renewal and there are rumours he will not be re-signed. I would definitely keep him and play him first choice as well. Being a veteran and out of contract he won’t make us any money other than saving on salary. I hope he stays. 80% chance of going. So if you want me off your back Vieira? Probably because the team are playing so well he hasn’t had much chance but I feel he is seen as one for the future. Only 2 starts and 8 games and no full games means he is not high on the list at the moment. A loan spell may be imminent. But he is young and I think they will want to keep him. 40% chance of going. Jesus -Is he still worth big money? Jesus? The constant injuries affect his price and his necessity for the team. If we are winning without him do we need him? Still he is a huge disruption on an opposing team when on form. I am really not sure at all if he is seen as a player to keep or sell. Sure to be on big money, though and that will be a factor. If one or two new strikers come in he may go. 50% chance of going. Tavares on loan hasn’t made much impact at Forest and if Arsenal can get a price for him I reckon they will let him go. Still very young, though. 70% chance of going. Well come on and let me know Lokonga on loan at Luton has been good in some games I have seen him but doesn’t seem to be first choice. I can’t see him making it at Arsenal. 70% chance of going. Patino on loan at Swansea gets lots of games and has 4 goals and 4 assists. Still only 20 he probably shouldn’t be on this list as he is seen as one for the future. 30% chance of going. Charlie Patino - still one for the future? Marquinhos on loan at Nantes and now Fluminense in Brazil is not setting the world on fire. I think if Arsenal get an offer he will go. 90% chance of going. One day it's fine, and next it's black So there you have it, up to 15 players could be on the way out. We may, with a bad result against Porto have only 13 matches left so the chance of playing your way in is starting to look slim. Of course, if we beat Porto we may have an extra 5 matches to play giving players a chance to prove themselves but they are running out of time. This guy surely is gone? This article has surprised me because that is a lot of players that may leave. We could see a fairly big amount of new arrivals. Six on the list are UK so the club will want to keep that connection, with Brexit a problem, so I feel some of those won’t go. However, as far as I can see, all those UK players should go for the sake of their careers. I think I would. What’s the point in staying as a young player if you are only warming the bench? We may have a different Arsenal next season. Update to the Table of Doom Table of Doom Fixtures Current Max Liverpool Man City (h) Spurs (h) Villa (a) 60 96 Man City Liverpool (a) Arsenal (h) Villa (h) Spurs (h) 59 95 Arsenal Man City (a) Villa (h) Spurs (a) 58 94 Villa Spurs (a) Man City (a) Arsenal (a) Liverpool (a) 52 88 Spurs Villa (h) Man City(a) Arsenal (h) Liverpool (a) 47 86 And so no change this week. Villa are hanging in there with a nice win over Forest. And with the Spuds not playing, they are still about. Man Utd shot themselves in the foot by losing at home to Fulham giving them a maximum of 80 points and, I feel, with their tough matches coming up, have probably blown all hope of a Champions League spot, even if there are five.
  2. Matt Turner Kieran Tierney Tomiyasu Jakub Kiwior Rob Holding Jorginho Fabio Vieira Emile Smith Rowe Reiss Nelson Eddie Nketiah Leandro Trossard Could our second team be as good as our first? Supposing something very strange happened and a premier league team bought all our (probably) second choice players and decided they would have them as their first choice? How would they do? And suppose they paired them with a top young manager like Marco Silva? Let’s call this team Learns AFC. I feel they would do surprisingly well. I have put the names up above as my choice of our second choice. I am sure some would disagree with me and feel free to do so. I am doing this exercise to challenge the perception that we don’t have strength in depth. Let’s take a look at their attributes. Turner jumps up to the highest level Matt Turner in goal is a permanent member who has won keeper of the tournament and keeper of the year plus the Concacaf Gold trophy with an improving American side. The Yanks might grab Balogun to make them even better. A regular start for a premiership team should see him iron out his nervousness and giving the ball away. I am fairly certain plenty of games would see him being praised as a top goalkeeper. Learns AFC would do well to have a top international keeper in their side. The fullbacks are fantastic Kieran Tierney is playing wonders for the Scottish team on this break, being twice rated as second highest ranked Scot. Has already played 36 times for them and is bound to have many more. Always a threat going forward and he has that burst of pace to go past people and get in dangerous crosses and pullbacks. Surely if he keeps injury free a huge asset for any team? Tomiyasu, is, I feel, a superb player who is a tenacious defender who rarely has a bad game. He is an integral member of a Japanese side who beat Spain and Germany at the last World Cup. Played 32 times already at 24 and seems guaranteed to keep getting picked. He is still young enough to have plenty of improvement and should easily be recognized as one of the Premier leagues top fullbacks. A young and old centreback pairing could be magic Rob Holding is another who would, I am sure, improve enormously with a regular place. The last time he had an extended run he was one of our best players. He has 5 England under 21 caps and is still only 27. He could have ten years as a centre-back left in him. I believe he has the ability as he has sometimes put top players in his pocket such as Erling Haaland recently. He isn’t the quickest but an awful lot of superstar centrebacks weren’t and aren’t. It is that nous to sniff out danger that really matters. The fullbacks can provide the speed. Holding - can he finally be a top player? Jakub Kiwior has played 11 times for the full Polish team so has got experience at the top level. He was nervous on his debut but that is understandable. He could well turn out to be a real gem once he finds his feet. Can Kiwior combine to produce centreback magic? Jorginho leads the midfield Jorginho has an extraordinary amount of trophies and awards during his career including UEFA men’s player of the season 2020/21. 46 caps for Italy and more to come. Could be one of the wise old heads to push Learns AFC forward to being winners. If he gets back to his best could be a significant player for a few more years. Vieira - a new Portuguese superstar? Fabio Vieira is surely one for the future. Lots of caps at under-age level for Portugal and it seems like it won’t be long before they become full caps. He has impressed at times when he has come on but those of us with long memories will tell you that even Saka and Odegaard looked poor at times at the start so I wouldn’t take too much notice of his mistakes. I feel certain he will come good simply because of the good passages of play he has had. He has definite ability. Will injuries derail Smith Rowe? Emile Smith Rowe is, to me, an incredible player. He badly needs to stay fit but surely he is one that will claim a first choice spot for Arsenal. Lots of caps at underage level for England and one full cap but if he recaptures his form I believe he will be an undroppable player for both but for the purposes of this exercise I am placing him in Learns AFC. Trossard, Nketiah and Nelson to match Martinelli, Jesus and Saka Reiss Nelson just seems to do amazing things when he comes on. I feel he would walk into most teams in the Premiership. Again lots of underage caps for England and massive belief in him by Arteta. Surely, with his talent, he will make it? Reiss races to the top Eddie Nketiah is next. He was unbelievable for England underage being top scorer with 16 goals for 17 appearances. He has done well for us this season when given a start. 9 goals in 32 appearances this season doesn’t sound too good but so many of them were just a few minutes at the end. He hasn’t let us down and could well be needed towards the end of the season. Nketiah-The team will need this guy to score goals Leandro Trossard has come here and been terrific. With 25 games for Belgium since his first in 2020, he has shined at one of the top countries, and truly is great to watch. He has brought pure skill, and great intelligence plus drive to Arsenal and Learns AFC would be phenomenal with him. Only 28 so lots of time left. A nightmare for the other teams There you have it. Let’s say that team somehow appeared in the Premier League next year, and like I say, with a top manager such as De Zerbi or Silva who could work with young players. Where could they finish? I would say Champions league is an excellent possibility. What do you think? The only negative I can see is that some of these players have had injury problems and we have all seen with Walcott, Oxlade Chamberlain and Wiltshire that they may not make the heights when they come back. Also a few are unproven at Premier league level such as Vieira, Nelson, Kiwiora and Turner and throw in Holding and Nketiah who need to step up to their best, but this team could be a match for almost anyone out there. Only Jorginho is over 30 and plenty are still young enough for lots of improvement. If this Learns AFC team existed, were coached well, developed partnerships and understanding, and, of course improved as they got older, they could even be a match for the first team Arsenal. This shows we have good players ready to come in. But I fear some could go in the summer and we will miss them as they could well prove Arteta wrong. I just hope I haven’t given a great idea to some billionaire to furnish, say a Leeds or an Everton with a readymade team who all know each other and could challenge for the highest trophies.
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