Hard Brexit – Surprising?


Why? 17.4m and a general election in 2020.

May has confirmed that Article 50 will be served by March 2017, lets assume she will aim for a fiscal year so end of March 2017. 2 years later it will be 2019, the year before an election – that gives her three years to deliver on the pledge of getting control of borders. And in order to win the next election, she believes delivering that pledge in unequivocal terms will give her a win in the election. And you know what I think she is right.

Europe has been posturing – no negotiations before Article 50, no special deal, not going to make it easy, appoint a hard nose to lead, no priority over other trade deals. They have even got other countries to pipe up and add their doom and gloom to Britain’s chances of trade deals. They have no interest in making it easy for Britain.

But here is the thing – without a hard Brexit, one where Britain has full control of its borders, May will provide fuel for UKIP and the far right. These are powerful forces but whose core is driven by racist, nationalistic xenophobes; ones who have put on fine suits, learnt to speak with the Queen’s English and become acceptable. They had 4m people vote for them and because of them, Cameron gambled and lost.

She knows that the only way keep them quiet and away is to give those people exactly what the Tory party think they want – border control. Whether this is true or not is another question and one for another day.

The added benefit of this is that suddenly all those Europhiles now know that the option of a soft exit, one where Britain remains part of the single market is no longer possible, an option. It is simple – when you are in a job and it is ok, then you don’t tread the boards to find another, you wait for it to come to you. But when you are unemployed, you knock on doors and get creative. Britain has to find a way of making itself relevant so that other businesses think the UK market is attractive in itself rather than being a big player in a bigger market.

And if we do not get the trade deals? We operate on WTO rules – businesses will find a way to compete because if they don’t they will go out of business. If Europe doesn’t give Britain any trade deal then we deal with them on WTO basis and for some European countries that will be really expensive – Britain does import more than it exports.

Will any of that happen? No – what will happen is that broad rules will apply:

  • No tariffs between UK and Europe so that companies can freely trade as before (that is the one big thing of the common market, no import/export but that parties can agree this)
  • All EU and UK citizens given the right to stay where they are whether on visas or as citizens – what is the point of moving them?
  • UK continues to make a reducing contribution to the pension pot (or a carve out and one off payment) – a legacy item that will eventually disappear
  • Travel – visas for all UK and EU citizens to allow freedom of travel: again why wreck the short haul flight business as I am fairly sure Europe still wants the Britain to come and have a weekend visit

The biggy is of course financial services: Paris and Frankfurt want to be the financial centres and there are unlikely to be any real concessions there. Britain will do as much as it can and post-Brexit it can – it will no longer be tied to the extensive regulations that bog the rest of Europe down – as a capital market it should get better. Apply recently announced it will build a base at the old Battersea Power Station, other big companies will be encouraged to do the same. As an English speaking country, London is a world city, and will continue to attract a lot of business outside of Europe – Asia, Americas, Africa are all English speaking and will find London attractive in itself.

And of course all the government has to do is ensure that it can replace the trade that it currently enjoys being part of the single market with other countries to maintain tax revenue and growth.

When 2020 comes around, May is hoping to present a picture that will show that Britain can stand on its own two feet, household income has gone up, homes didn’t lose value, and overall is prospering. All of delivered by the Tory government. UKIP will lose its focus, and Labour will be left sniping at the edges. Lets face it the Socialist agenda Labour have is not going to have a big effect until they get behind Corbyn and take on the Tories and the media and make sure that there is a real, viable and attractive alternative.

And of course if none of that happens – she still is able to say that she delivered that pledge of border control and that is the winning stick.

Trump Supporters and Corbynistas

The other day I finally received my ballot papers for the Labour leadership. And yes, I probably will vote for Corbyn. On my newsfeed on FB, I have a lot of pro-Corbyn people and also a lot of Anti-Trump people. Both post very one-sided videos – for Corbyn it is usually the corrupt nature of many of the pro-Blair and anti-Tory facts and figures; for Trump it is the stupidity of his supporters as well as his own stupidity and inconsistencies.

One thing that got me thinking is whether Corbynistas – those pro-Corbyn and many are quite fanatical are as one-sided as Trump supporters. The latter just do not see what an utterly corrupt self-interested person he is. They are a big old example to illustrate of people seeing and believing only what they want (the other being religion of course). But you could say the same about Corbynistas.

Corbyn was elected by the members, he is very much a socialist, very hard left. He was in power for the best part of 9 months before he was challenged. I understand that there is a fear that not only could Labour lose the election, but could lose so many seats that there is no longer an effective opposition, freeing up Tory party to pretty much do what they want. I get that. Also, there must be serious questions to be asked about his leadership – his demeanour hardly lends itself to inspiring leadership and the coup proves that to be true. Yes, the man on the street is inspired but seriously, the man on the street voted for their own annihilation via Brexit.

Yet, many Corbynistas are oblivious to this – they simply want him because he says what we want to hear. He represents the anti-establishment, a non-politician in a world of slick, media savvy men and woman like Blair. He dresses like you and I. He didnt rise to the baiting of Cameron. There is a sense of honour and rightness about him that is undeniable. Tax the rich to pay for NHS, and other public services, print money to build new schools and not enrich bankers, build more social housing so that it doesn’t only benefit the rich, take back privatised industries because it will be cheaper.

How is that different from the way Trump is lending himself – anti-establishment, looking to make America great, reduce immigration, feeding into peoples fears and desires?

Are Corbynistas equally blind in challenging Corbyn? In the 9 months he was in charge, he really failed to rally the rest of the MPs, put forward a cogent plan to become an effective Opposition and build on policies that could show that he could deliver a social model whilst at the same time not robbing the middle class to pay the poor (what the old Labour did and why they had to change). And yes, I am ignoring the media bias against him as I am confident that I generally read up enough to get past the various stories.

I do wonder.

FINAL: I will still vote for Corbyn, not because he is an effective leader of the Labour party, but because politics needs a person like him. Our society that has become so focussed on self-interest, it needs to be reminded that a society that leaves people behind wrecks the foundations for a successful and safe society. Corbyn is a mirror to that and a reminder that if we all work together then we can all do well. The Labour party does not need to worry about winning another election but needs to be an effective opposition so that a post-EU Britain represents all of society and not focussed purely on the rich and trade.



Transfers and Wilshire

So the transfer window closes and one of the more surprising exits from the club was the loan of Wilshire. I think this makes a lot of sense.

I love Wilshire, a player I happened to see once at traffic lights in North London and he grinned at me. As a player, he is tenacious, committed and not afraid of doing dirty stuff on the pitch. Despite being a star for such a long, he remained hungry. Unfortunately his body let him down, repeatedly. I know that many were impact injuries and arguably “accidental” but the same player, again and again suggests that the common factor is Jack himself. Over the last two years, the team has evolved and slowly his role in the current team is hard to fathom. The closest you get is Cazorla, but Cazorla works well because he is two-footed and fleet of thought. He also off-set Coquelin limited creativity and together they are a formidible pair. Cazorla and Xhaka is likely to be even better.

At this moment in time, Wilshire is not going to displace Cazorla. Wilshire is probably behind Ramsay in that Wenger is likely to try and find a way to incorporate Ramsey into the team but he is unlikely to do that. In reality, he would have to excel in the short spaces of time given, or wait for an injury for both Ramsay and Cazorla and stay fit!

So Wenger and/or Wilshire decided that he must go on loan and the offers rolled in. People thought that he should go to a CL team, abroad to a league that plays slower or is more tactical.

But no, what he needs is less games a week, less spotlight. He needs a manager that plays the same way as Wenger, but understands the emphasis on attack to bring out the best of Wilshire’s talents. He needs to be in a team where he can rediscover his mojo, what he is good at. At a place like Milan, he would have played at a higher level but honestly, I think he had already shown he can handle pressure and “bring it”. This year, he just needs to play. He needs to be at a club where he is the first name on the sheet, and the team would mold itself around his talents. He can do without CL games for year. He can have a good cup run but without the club being condemned if they lose.

And of course, he has a mate in Afobe and Afobe must be relishing the through passes and the one-twos with him.

No, I think Wilshire has done the right thing – after a lifetime in the spotlight, he just needs to go somewhere to play football. And if he remains uninjured then not only will that allow his body to actually be not broken, but may also shine a spotlight on Arsenal. If he does well then Cazorla will be one year older and maybe Wenger will give up on Ramsey instead!

As for the other transfers – love Xhaka who looked really good against Watford. Like the idea that we have a Spanish version of Vardy who hopefully will stay fit, and another smaller BFG in Mustafi. Good additions. Actually the spine of the team is looking more interesting – Cech in goal, Mustafi and Kos in defence, Xhaka and Cazorla in midfield, with Sanchez and Ozil up top. Once both Perez and Mustafi are fit – then you could pick the first ten with ease:

Cech – Bellerin – Mustafi – Kos – Monreal

Xhaka – Cazorla – Ozil

Perez – Sanchez

That leaves only one spot, currently filled by Walcott who must know that he is only there because Iwobi is injured. That is an impressive looking team. It doesnt quite have the wow factor of other teams but it should be good enough to get 4th for a club as unambitious as Arsenal.


Deja Vu and The Arsenal

I made the mistake of listening to the Arsenal v Liverpool and was mildly surprised when Arsenal took the lead and generally seemed in control. I turned off when the second Liverpool went in and then checked the scores ten minutes later at 3-1. Final score 4-3 as Arsenal did what they have been doing for years – switch off, get punished, try and recover, fail gallantly. Injuries to Ramsey and Iwobi compounded the result.

Given that we haven’t won for 6-7 years, it wasn’t a surprise. As Arseblog makes the point, the consistency of the first day results is down to lack of preparation over the summer – the lack of signings, the extended breaks of those in tournaments (longer than other clubs) or rushing back players half fit.

A definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. How on earth can you expect a squad that was found wanting at so many different points and for different reasons – consistency, bottle, intelligence, pressure and think they can do anything different this season? Deluded especially when you consider that Man City, Chelsea and Man U all had bad seasons, they changed their managers and re-invigorated the clubs and squads.

Arsenal have done the same thing – end of the season: glaring gaps in the squad, evident; an early signing, a few youth/future signings, failed signings, and then no signings for the start of the season, a bad start to the season and then the shopping trolley with no leverage at all. Except for last season when in fact there was no shopping trolley and no signing until Jan.

Today I emailed Arsenl.com and asked about cancelling my membership. Their response included “The Arsenal” as a heading. They have to be careful, when you become “The” something you are leaving yourself open to being defined in a certain way. In this The Arsenal means means deluded mediocraty – Arsenal: a club that once won the league and now only do enough to keep creaming the monies from the CL using the talents of Wenger. It has no ambition to do anything but survive – a mid table team just a bit higher up the table than your West Brom etc. Except with the highest tickets in world football, with the most overpriced food at the stadiums and a shed load of money sitting in a bank devaluing.

I have no problem supporting Arsenal and will always keep track of their scores and will know when they play, who they sign etc but there seems little point in spending money on The Arsenal or their commercial partners so that they can keep filling the bank account. I will support from afar.

Whilst the current regime are in place, then this club will do the same thing – a few promising performances against lesser teams will build confidence, people will start talking about the title and being winners but then Arsenal play Man U or Man City or Chelsea, all of whom will be tactically more adept and boom, Arsenal go on a losing streak. Then there will be weekends where Arsenal will have the opportunity to make up points and they will fail that much more often than they will succeed. Injuries will play their part, but at some point Wenger will have a full squad to choose from for about a week. The only bright spark will be the emergence of a youth player or a player thought long and buried.

The final weeks will see us in a fight for a CL place and a new contract for Wenger and another 3 years of the above.


Man City and Gabriel

Yesterday I watched the Arsenal for the first time this pre-season and for a while if I am honest.

We won and that is good with three English players (sorry Nigeria, Iwobi may have chosen Nigeria but he is English!) scoring. We came from behind, something that we didn’t do a whole lot of last season. We got the one injury that we couldn’t afford and Wenger needs to go and find that black cat that he crossed, repair all those mirrors and stop walking under ladders. And may be get some kind of blessing and an exorcism. I hope the injury is not as bad as the clear pain on Gabriel’s face.

Overall, we deserved to win – apart from 20 mins at the end of the first half and towards the end of the second half, we were pretty much in control and had better structure. The two goals they scored were from mistakes in defence and midfield but then you could say that about the three we scored. The players:

  • Cech looked sharp.
  • Holding looked nervous against Man City and that is understandable – Chambers looked more comfortable.
  • Bellerin and Monreal were good though Monreal seemed a little rusty, and careless at times.
  • Xhaka looks good but I think Elneny had a bigger impact when he came on. Maybe it is because Elneny has been here since Xmas, and didn’t have a summer tournament, but there is a good argument that he should partner Coquelin. Also once he came into the side, last season, I don’t think we lost a game in the PL.
  • Ramsey got his desired position and didn’t quite make it is his own – lets give him the benefit of being a little rusty.
  • Alexis as centre forward – in theory it should work but in practice he doesn’t maintain the high line and drops far too deep. There were far too many times his positional play meant that there was nobody to aim for because he was so deep. Unless he stops that (and nothing to suggest he will) then it may be better to give Walcott or even Akpom that role and revert him back to the left side.
  • Wing play of Ox and Iwobi – excellent. Ox should have scored 2 but the rest of his play was excellent. Iwobi looks like he belongs and force play. Took his goal well and overall play improved after the first 20 mins or so when he was pretty anonymous.

Our first game is against Liverpool and then Leicester – neither of which is easy and the priority has to be damage limitiation. There will be calls for a new centre back but unless we buy a player that is PL ready, then the existing resources will have to be used. This means that Monreal will be in the centre along with either Chambers or Holding or Kos is rushed back. To add protection I would have Cazorla, Coquelin at the base, a tried and tested partnership with Ramsey in front of them. Front three is likely to be that one that started today but I would use Alexis, Walcott and Iwobi – this is tough on Ox but with Alexis on the other side, Iwobi adds better balance. Also Walcott would force the Liverpool defence back.

Unlike previous seasons, I am quite indifferent to the new season. Maybe I should have a further think about it.


Arsenal Summer Transfers

I am so overwhelmingly underwhelmed by anything that comes out of the club at the moment – from comments by Gazidis, then contradictory comments from Wenger, the inevitable injuries, the lack of signings of anything that could push this team on.

There is a staleness about the club that is highlighted even more when you see almost every other club being revitalised with new management and refreshing the team with purchases that address the weakness in their squads. There is a lack of ambition in this club – the recent bid for that French bloke – if we want him then we will end up paying, just make it seamless and get on with it. Slow incremental increases played out in the press because the selling club is offended by the original offer. Seriously, this isn’t like the Pogba deal that is likely to break a record but for a player that is a slightly more mobile version of Giroud.

In two weeks we begin the league against Liverpool, with a team that will be short of a fair number of key players and even if we buy players tomorrow, will not have had a full pre-season with team, in other words strangers in the team. It is all a bit of a joke really.

There are positives of course but I cant be bothered to list them as feeling far too grumpy for that!


Maturing but ignorance is bliss

The Referendum was a “good” thing for me – it matured me, made me grow up and see the role politics played – no, not see but finally understand and feel the role that politics plays in our day to day lives.

Before the Referendum, I would class myself as one of those infrequent voters – I vote only occassionally, when it was convenient for me. The first time I voted I think was when I was able to and that was 1992 – I think I would have voted Tories then – don’t ask my why but I suspect it was because I heard my sisters talking and just followed them. But I voted Labour in the 1997 election and have done so ever since. Why the change? Who knows because I am fairly sure I really didn’t know what I was doing. Maybe Blair just looked like he knew what he was doing.

However, it is only the last year or so as I sat at my desk having lunch and reading the newspapers that things started to interest me. And you know I sort of regret getting engaged with it all. I finally realise just how f***** up it is here – I mean really screwed up.

Firstly, the role that the media play in shaping opinion is chronic, like properly sick. Most people don’t have the time nor the gumption to do what I do – read loads about one topic and get as much a balanced view of things as possible. If you only read one newspaper then your opinion will be of that newspaper – pure and simple. And if that newspaper has an agenda, then you are going to be receiving a very biased report but one that parades itself as a news reportd, considered opinion.

Secondly, there is so obviously an unholy alliance between the Tories and the media. If anyone thinks the amount negative coverage that Corbyn gets against the fact that the Tory government is currently being investigated for election fraud! Or how the media decided that the story concerning a date with a prostitute by the MP responsible for governing the press, wasn’t newsworthy is a joke. Seriously has anyone seen what the newspaper are doing? And yet Ken Livingstone’s comment which was a statement of fact was all over the newspapers!!

Then there are the political campaigns – the Referendum, the London Mayoral elections, the current Labour leadership. Full of outright lies, subliminal messages, acceptable xenophobia, bordering on racism. It is just as acceptable to attack personally the other candidates. It entirely acceptable to competley make up stories knowing that once in print, and absorbed into the collective psychy, that any retraction is unlikely to do much – the damage is done.

All of this before you even get to the policies! I recently understood left, right, centre for politics. This means I do understand the socialist message of Corbyn but I have no real idea what the Tory’s stand for – all I know is that the recent budget, allowed those with higher incomes to take more but cut welfare – I mean seriously why was that necessary? The Tories obviously hate vulnerable people but then again given that many of the Cameron government were all from privilaged classes – why would they understand?

Now Corbyn himself is the current voice of a lot of disaffected people. I understand his desire to remain but it is ambiguous. Is he staying because he believes he has a mandate from all the members and needs to continue. But then again power corrupts and is he sticking it out knowing he will win, no matter what happens to the party? I read an article that did more than suggest the latter. It got me thnking that are Corbynistas the English equivalent of Trump supporters – blinded by their devotion, their passion? I mean unlike Trumpt who only excretes hate, Corbyn preaches socialism, a message of hope and higher purpose so it is ok to be devoted but blindly? I am not sure.

The fact is that he has managed to appeal to a massive crowd but if he had genuine leadership qualities, why hasn’t he managed to convert his own MPs? I think it too facile to simply call them Blairites, too convenient. The role of the NEC to increase the membership in order to prevent new members joining to reduce the numbers to vote for Corbyn is just outright manipulation. I mean seriously? The reason – to ensure it is only those committed to the Labour party values that should be members. In an age when it is getting harder and harder to engage voters, to actively discourage them is crazy. Ideally you simply make sure any opposing, unity candidate has a better message and if he doesn’t then you don’t win.

This is all very confusing and because I am engaged and semi-intelligent, it all just seems crazy to me. Trying to make sense of it is really hard work. There are days when I read articles and make sense of it all, I wish I could go back to being an Arsenal fan and watching films!

Rant – Remain and Leave

On Facebook I’ve made comment and shared a few and liked many many things.

In general I think I can count on one hand the number of leavers I have as part of the friends list … well those that are willing to share that they are leavers. Since I woke up at 6am on Friday morning, the 24th and read the news, I’ve been in a state of disbelief. I realise now that is the optimistic part of me that thought this country couldn’t really do something that would be so wide spread. But it did. Bitterness on the net rained, and in this world of shared opinions we were deluged with them. Anger was raged at the smugness of the Brexiters and Brexiters defended themselves with democracy and accusations of sore losers. Groups were blamed – the aged, the less educated, the racists, the far right facists, Daily Mail readers, Sun readers, the poor, the disillusioned-with-the-elite-with-politics class.

The anger is misdirected – 17m voted to remain, 16m voted out, combined they represented 72% of the voting public. Where the f*** were the other 28% who didn’t vote? At least 33m went out and did what they thought – whether it was right, wrong, misguided, or a protest against the elite – it didn’t matter. They had one vote and they used it. Yes, some could say they wasted it, but it was theirs to waste.

The ones that didn’t vote – what? If they complain about what has happened to this country then that 15m or so can simply f*** off. Would they have voted for leave or remain? Didn’t matter but what would have counted was their vote and with a greater turnout, there would have been a clearer picture. Now it is hard to stomach that a minority of the people have ended up changing the course of history.

And it will change. As a remainer I’ve read all the articles about what can happen and maybe the exit will never happen. It is hope, but it is on the same foundations that I thought I would wake up and this country had decided to remain in Europe. It is false hope. At some point we will exit and I think the Article 50 notice will be done before Xmas, you know just to give everyone an opportunity to wreck their Xmas as young ones look at their elderly relatives with suspicion and borderline disgust.

The sad thing is that nobody is winner in this. The remain camp will lose their right to be European citizens, never have that joy that they can simply get up and go live elsewhere and be treated equally like any other citizen. The remainers will always be outsiders, both in this country and as part of Europe – a child looking in through the sweet shop window knowing it is closed.

The Brexiters will be betrayed by the very men that led them, inspired them with phrases like “take back control” “independence day” “make Britain great again”. Swiftly and sharply, they ripped up every promise they made – no more money for the public services and the NHS, no reduction in immigration, no more soveriegnty than we already had. The only difference will be once we eventually do exit, no more having to implement laws into this country (note that we willingly implemented all the laws anyway).

What will happen over the next period is a prolonged and painful negotiation and reduction in expectation. Once we exit, everything will be the same unless of course we do not agree to the rules of accessing the common market (or of course, the EU relent and accept that we do not need to abide by the four freedoms but still access the common market, something that all 27 countries have to agree to – unlikely). If we don’t and do not access the common market then the shit will really hit the fan. At the moment everything is stable – business is as usual despite the market and currency and once people realise this then they will continue. Knowing that we may lose easy and quick access to that market will really destablise the economy and every business.

The UK and whichever government does end up serving the Art 50 notice, know that they have to access the common market and if they can not renegotiate the four freedoms they will have to accept them and pay the price. I suspect that as part of the negotiation we will be forced to give everyone of the 27 countries concessions on granting citizenship their nationals as we would expect that to be case the other way round – all those Brits abroad with properties etc.

The Brexiters will feel betrayed and rightly so – they were told so many outlandish lies that it is hard to believe they were lies.

And finally David Cameron – he is smart cookie. Threatened to serve notice but knew that he wouldn’t – he will now be the prime minister who didn’t light the torch that set the fire alight. Boris the fuckwit Johnson is a Europhile, make no mistake he is. You can not grow up as the son of a many who spent his entire working life in Brussels working on the EU and not be a Europhile. He knows Britain needs Europe and Europe needs Britain. He knows that all those ridiculous promises made during the campaign were lies – not half truths but lies; all will be broken and he will have about 17m hating him if he becomes Prime Minister, serves notice and then proceeds to exit making so many concessions that were so important to that 17m that he will never be re-elected. He will be either handing the baton to Labour or, more likely, UKIP and even he knows that would be disastrous for the country and its multicultural communities. Somehow he has to find a way of exiting, looking as though he got what was needed for Britain but at the same maintaining the status quo so that the country prospers and doesn’t fall into another deep and dark recession (or struggle to get out of one).

He could of course wait, not serve the notice and then spend a period of time attempting to negotiate with the EU and managing expectations. And if the economy wobbles, people lose their jobs the narrative can change – the EU can solve all problems and by agreeing to the common market rules, he can save the day. Of course, he will pressure from a very loud minority supported by UKIP and their c*** of a leader, a leader that certain shit red tops will be more than happy to give a platform to. Somehow he has to avoid all that and do something that he hasn’t managed to do in his entire life – do something that is not for himself.

Dark and uncertain times ahead.






I had another blog that was about Arsenal but I’ve decided to merge that one with this one mainly because I plan on writing a lot less about Arsenal but didn’t want to completely abandon it.

I wrote it for about three seasons and until there is a change in approach by the club, it is pretty much the same thing and quite frankly there are others with greater insight and writing capabilities than I have.

Squad Changing – the magic 3

As I write this, photos are appearing of Xhaka at Arsenal who will be our first signing of the season. I also listened to the Arseblog podcast, and they went through a range of players who would leave , who they wanted to sign if they lived in fantasy world. They all sort of agreed that we are likely to need more than 3 players, the number that Wenger used. They also identified that this team was basically broken without Cazorla and no ball playing, creative midfielder replacement which led to a dysfunctional midfield.

Having watched a number of games during the period when Cazorla was out, it was fairly clear that the Cazorla and Coquelin axis worked because they made one super player – basically a Patrick Viera: a player who was able to defend and then turn it into attack in a swivel of a hip launch a pass with a foot that was best able to do. But also what was missing was class on the wings, somebody for Ozil to aim for, somebody who pulled other players and made gaps for midfielders to run into, and of course score themselves. With the players that Arsenal have, the striker needs to mobile and swift – his job is to pull the defence out of shape, and of course be on the end of passes. Giroud does a lot of that but he lacks the ability to go behind players and his mobility lies mainly in those passes around corners. When Welbeck came back then he went straight back in and did what Walcott could have done but failed through injuries and form.

So when Wenger says he needs three players, he is actually thinking about 3 key players rather than pure numbers as pure numbers he will stock with youth players.

We have 33 players and of those that have left, we know three Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky. Two had very different roles from the third – Arteta and Flamini are both base of the midfield, to receive the ball from the defence and distribute. Well Arteta yes, not so much Flamini who just became a destroyer, an ill-disciplined one but one who needed to work with a creative passer. Arteta could do both – receive the ball, look up and begin the attack. Rosicky played higher up the pitch, an attack minded midfield, the link between midfield and attack, either through runs or passes.

I don’t think Wenger will “replace” any of these three. He knew in 2015/16 they were squad players at best, no more. Or if you like, he has done so already – Elneny – a ball playing enforcer, one who has the discipline to watch how the team is playing and fill in the gaps, but has the requisite technique to make the passes and the footballing intelligence to put himself in overloading the attack. It is telling that when he came into the side, we didn’t lose and we looked more balanced.

Of the other 33 players, well I would expect the following to go: Ospina, Walcott, Campbell, Gnabry, Debuchy, Hayden, and Sanogo. Of those, only two are anywhere near the bench: Walcott and Ospina. The latter replaced by, I hope Szczesny, and who will  recognise the benefits of being an understudy to Cech but if not then Martinez will take that position and Szczesny sold or loaned out again. Campbell and Gnabry are interesting ones – one had a good season – he came on when he needed to, never complained, and did well enough to have not let the team down ever. The latter is young, had a poor loan, and struggling to find that verve he had before injury. I would like to keep Campbell – every team needs one of those but you can understand that he would want to play regularly. I suspect if a team comes in for him, he will go especially if he has a good Copa America.

When Wenger is talking about 3 players he is talking about midfield and attack in a 4-2-3-1 system: a more reliable and upgrade on a striker than Giroud. Assume he gets Morata, the player currently being linked. Then Morata will be number one striker. Then I hope he will use Akpom as back-up: he has had a good season at Hull and should be given the opporuntity to prove himself especially with Welbeck out injured now until forever – 2016/17 is gone for him, poor sod. However, Wenger did say that with Welbeck’s injury, he may have to rethink the transfer strategy ie the back up role and may not give it to Akpom. I think we were always going to go for a big name stiker anyway.

In the 3 behind him, two places are taken with Alexis and Ozil. This season we had Walcott, Campbell, Ox, Iwobi, and Ramsey. Of those only Iwobi made it his own though Ramsey adds balance when the team shifts to a more 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation.  I think Wenger’s preference is Ox but doesn’t mind using Iwobi who has equally talented. Ox is injured for god knows how long and Iwobi is young, and you’ve got to wonder if attempting a joint attack on PL and CL it is wise to go with somebody young. I think Wenger wants an upgrade there a maturer player hence the players that we’ve been linked with there: Rhiyaz of Leicester, or more likely Mkhitaryan, the Dortmund player or even Gotze of Munich but you can’t see that happening. But you can see why we are linked with a player such as this – mature attacker who can play 50 odd games a season backed up by Iwobi, Ox when he gets back.

Of the two in front of the defence: the first pairing has to be Cazorla and Coquelin/Elneny/Xhaka but that will change as Cazorla is not getting younger. I think Xhaka is there to replace Coquelin and goes back to my old theory that Wenger wants passers and people who can contribute to the attack in every position even holding midfield. Xhaka can certainly do that and take the pressure of Cazorla (or the limitations of Ramsey) and solve one of the key problems of this season – a dysfunctional midfield. This does leave the question of where Ramsey and Wilshire fit in – I think that they have to show that they can do what Cazorla does (not necessarily in the same way) and ensure that we are not open to counter attacks but can force play. Ramsey had a chance and it didn’t work too well with Flamini and hasn’t really had the chance with Coquelin. But I think Wilshire is better suited to that role – he has the ability to draw players to him and that creates gaps; he has also shown for England he understands the deep lying midfield, play-making position. If he has a good Euro 2016,  then can stay fit then, then it will be a question of who plays with him – one of Ramsey, Coquelin, Elneny or Xhaka. Given where it is the propensity for tackles, cards and injuries, there is plenty of game time for them.

In defence, I suspect there will be more game time for the Gabriel-Kos axis with support from Mert and Chambers. The full backs – if Gibbs stays, will remain the same unless of course we look to get a Bellerin mark 2 for the left back position (the Leicester player linked, Chiswell) and I suspect Jenkinson will be used to support Bellerin – Bellerin is undeniably the first choice so having a Gunner-loving as back-up and for cup games will suit Jenkinson.

In terms of bolstering this, then I expect the youth players to fill in the gaps as Iwobi did this season. They will probably all train with the first team and be ready for when they are needed. Of that I would hope that to be:

  • Zelalem has had a stella season in Scotland and may well be given a change in Arsenal’s midfield especially if Wilshire breaks down again.
  • Toral has had an amazing season with Birmingham and will want to continue with that. Central midfield is a tough place and whilst he was good is he really going to displace
  • Jeff Reine-Adelaide – he is French. Nuff said. (Though he is much the same as Iwobi so he could compete with him)
  • Dan Crowley – possibly a Wilshire Mark II but hopefully without the injuries or propensity for smoking.
  • Chris Willock – by all accounts an amazing winger
  • Krystian Bielik – came with a load of hype but has been converted to ball playing central defender rather than as a holding midfielder. I saw him playing and he was very good, very composed. He may well be promoted to defender number 5 in the first team and compete with Chambers.

So far, we can see that there really only 2 more spots – the attacking midfielder along with the striker and hopefully we can get massive upgrades on those.