With Arsenal riding the wave of their identity crisis all the way to third in the Premier League, one point behind the reigning champions with a single defeat in all competitions all season, time is running out for Unai Emery to turn the tide.
That is more than a little disingenuous, of course: the lack of a discernible, distinctive, defined style is a point of contention among the fanbase, who feel the Gunners are achieving largely in spite of rather than due to his management.
Defending has been a particular issue, with Sunday’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth representing only their second Premier League clean sheet in 13 clean games. The supposed solution could be a man who helped prevent Manchester City from scoring in a league defeat under Pep Guardiola for the first time ever.
The Sun say Willy Boly ‘is on Arsenal’s radar’. They are ‘still reeling from losing’ Laurent Koscielny, while David Luiz ‘is not seen as a long-term solution’ at 32 and Sokratis, 31, ‘is not getting any younger’.
Calum Chambers is ready to step in where and when needed – Rob Holding is weirdly not mentioned in the story – and Boly would help their current growing pains. But Wolves do not want to sell the 28-year-old, even if they ‘would get a decent profit’ on the £10m they paid Porto in summer 2018.
The current state of Manchester United means that anything and everything can and will be used as a stick with which to beat them. Which brings us to the Daily Mirror’s story of them baulking at a £35m asking price for a player now valued at £100m.
They say Real Madrid are ‘in pole position’ to sign Donny van de Beek from Ajax ‘just three months’ after United turned down the chance to sign him. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side ‘failed to make a move’ after being told he would cost £35m in the summer, presumably because he is young (22) and hungry, but Dutch instead of British.
It seems curious that the Mirror are sort of mocking United here with the ‘just three months after’ and ‘failed to make a move’ claims. Real wanted Van de Beek at the same time and presumably could have signed him for a similar fee. Yet now he’s rated at £100m they ‘will not be put off by Ajax’s dramatically inflated valuation’. Weird.
The Daily Mail brings more transfer news from Old Trafford. United apparently sent scouts to watch Moussa Dembele AGAIN, which is perfectly normal practice but seemingly worthy of all caps.
And what’s more, they were ‘handed’ a potential ‘boost’: the striker was benched for the 1-0 defeat to Saint-Etienne, only introduced as a substitute in the 59th minute.
That’s not a boost; that’s an unfortunate and unpredictable waste of resources. Anyway, carry on…
It does feel rather crowbarred in, but the following paragraph offers some fresh information.
‘There’s a risk for Lyon that United would have the encouragement to push for a cut-price offer in January if they move for Dembele with him dipping in and out of the side.’
Considering they were reportedly quoted £50m for a January move recently, a ‘cut-price offer’ would make sense. But this claim that Dembele has been a victim of manager Sylvinho’s rotation policy seems a little over-egged. He’s started seven of nine Ligue Un games, one of two Champions League fixtures and played more league minutes than all but four of Lyon’s outfielders this season.
Still, he’ll definitely swap all that for being third in the pecking order behind Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, level with Mason Greenwood.
AND THE REST
Real Madrid are ready to rival Juventus for Chelsea and France midfielder N’Golo Kante. The La Liga side could pay a fee of about £70m for the 28-year-old… AC Milan were on the verge of sacking manager Marco Giampaolo at half-time during Saturday’s win over Genoa…