Unai Emery made a great start to his F.A cup career with a dominant 3-0 victory against Blackpool at Bloomfield road. The manager has big shoes to fill when it comes to this competition. Arsene Wenger is the cup’s most successful manager with seven wins and held an impressive record against lower league opposition. The decline of our competiveness in the league, has shrouded the magic of the F.A cup in recent years. However, it remains entwined with Arsenal’s history and the memories of fans, so for Emery to become a legend, he’ll need success in this competition.
With a large volume of the Blackpool fans boycotting the stadium due to an ongoing protest with their owners (everyone’s at it!), the game lacked the usual verve of a third round tie. That did not distract the players who put in a business-like performance led by the consummate professional Aaron Ramsey. More than anything, our dominant display further emphasised the strength of our young talent. Academy graduates Alex Iwobi, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah started and looked like seasoned professionals with 19-year-old Willock stealing the show. The midfielder rounded off a fantastic display with two well taken goals. Along with Maitland-Niles, Matteo Guendouzi and Emile Smith Rowe, he has emerged as a top prospect this season.
Youngsters give the manager a nice headache
I am always troubled by transfer rumors and how they impact the expectation of fans. As society continues to be devoured by consumerism, the transfer windows serves to compound that insatiable appetite in people to buy, buy, buy. I know fans want us to spend big, but the focus must be on recruiting top quality talent only. As we have seen with Torreira, well priced talent is available and as we have seen with Alvaro Morata, money doesn’t guarantee progress.
Like most fans I think we need a top class centre back, left back, centre midfielder and winger to even get close to Manchester City and Liverpool. The superiority of their squads is frightening and many of our current squad would struggle to make either of their top 15. As a result, we have to think long term with our transfer policy and that supports a strategy of adding only world class players or those with world class potential to a strong crop of young players. Desperation in the transfer market just leads to bad decisions. Mustafi joined in 2016 for a fee believed to be around £35 million. To put it into context, Spurs paid approximately 42mil for Davinson Sanchez in 2017, who is four years younger and a much better player. To make matters worse, Liverpool signed Sadio Mane in the same transfer window for around £34 mil! This provides a case in point that rushing transfers through without the correct diligence comes back to bite you. Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Matteo Guendouzi, Rob Holding and Mavropanos are all top prospects who I would prefer be given a chance than us spending on mediocre talent.
Does Denis Suarez meet the right criteria?
As Aaron Ramsey looks closer to securing a well-deserved summer move to Juventus, we have been heavily linked with Denis Suarez. Now this is a transfer I would welcome as we are in desperate need of players who can receive the ball on the half turn and move it forward quickly. At 25, the Barcelona midfielder is at a good age and fits the bill of having world class potential.
At £20 mil, he may be a steal.