The closing of the January Transfer window comes with the reveal of Arsenal’s immediate future. The ‘will they, won’t they’ sagas surrounding the futures of Messieurs Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil have been sorted. Fringe players of importance in yesteryears have been moved on and best mates Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been reunited in London. Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel for Arsenal or is this the latest in a string of false dawns?
The footballing world has seen attacking combinations such as Liverpool’s S.S.S, Barcelona’s M.S.N, and Real Madrid’s B.B.C recently but Arsenal can now put forth the aptly named L.M.A.O. ‘Aptly’ because despite the renewed optimism from the assembly of these pieces, a chuckle at the very least should greet their formation because the window closed with a multitude of questions Arsenal now have to answer. Namely:
1. How on earth do Arsenal intend to utilise these players?
2. Do these moves address, or even put paper over existing cracks in the team?
3. Do these moves help Arsenal win the Europa League or Capital One Cup?
4. Do these moves make Arsenal a stronger team?
Arsenal over the last year and a half has been nothing short of a patchwork team…a collection of players, some very talented, that at no point in time appeared to have a consistent philosophy, style or system of play to execute. Is Arsenal a possession team? Are they a counter-attacking team? No one can definitively answer that question based on their on-field performances. This may soon change as Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan suggest they may finally be committing to a clear philosophy. One where quick transitions and less “Wengerball” is evident.
Transfers are nearly 6months too late but these stats from this partnership are exciting 👌.. #Arsenal 👑🔴⚪
— Shane Lawless (@Bawo_93) January 21, 2018
Based on words emanating from the club, the intention is to recreate the successful partnership Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan enjoyed together in Germany (never mind that they only had one good season out of three together) which suggests Aubameyang will be Arsenal’s main striker while Mkhitaryan should line up in a free role from the right. Of course, these positions are currently occupied by Lacazette and Ozil but it’s not hard to envision Ozil moving central if a switch to a 4-3-3 is made.
However, for those hoping for an end to the 3-4-3 Wenger adopted at the tail-end of last season, it should be noted that Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan’s magic season together in 2015-2016 did see Thomas Tuchel line up Dortmund in a 3-4-3 on a few occasions, including the final of the DFB Pokal. Therefore it is feasible we could see Arsenal continue with this system and simply swap out Sánchez and Lacazette for Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang. Either way, things don’t look good for Arsenal’s former record transfer fee holder Lacazette.