Fans would be waking up sore this morning and to an all too familiar, disillusionment. It doesn’t quite take a theoretical physicist to figure the that the equation to a title-winning Arsenal side isn’t quite complete. LHS is not equal to RHS, nor are the expectations in parity with the bitter reality of the situation at the Emirates. Finishing second last season, one would expect Arsenal over the summer, to have bolstered their roster for the big push for the elusive Premier League title. That, however, hasn’t been the case, as fans, new and old, have been left frustrated by a dearth of initiative and money being thrown to address the all too blatant deficiencies in the squad. Granted, Granit Xhaka has potentially, the potential to be a world-beater in midfield; but the boy is not the 30-goal-a-season striker, nor is one who would be making goal-line clearances and barking commands in the defensive third. The latter, a glaring chink in the armoury which Liverpool twisted the knife through.
The newly-appointed captain, BFG, otherwise known to others as Per Mertesacker; the Vesuvius Gabriel, are sidelined with injuries. Laurent Koscielny is struggling for match fitness, tending to his wounds after a European Championship final defeat to Portugal. Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, and Krystian Bielik, for all their collective promise, aren’t battle-hardened enough to stake the claim for a regular starting position.
And to further rub salt, widespread reports are linking a seemingly over-the-hill-and-far-away, veteran, Jeremy Mathieu to a switch to the youngish Gunners. The premise of the story is simple – flying high in downcast/overcast winds of the general pessimism, the dailies would have us believe that Arsenal are likely to miss out on Valencia’s Skhordan Mustafi. Opting to be none the wiser to Wenger’s inner workings, the dutiful T4O looks at the pros and cons of the move – and why it may not be an entirely unmitigated disaster.
For starters, 32-year-old Jeremy – let’s call him Jez, in an effort to make him look younger than 50 – because, frankly, he looks 50. So, Jez lad has featured for over 50 matches in his two seasons at Barcelona – by no means a quiet, leisurely, middle-aged jog in the park. Jez can’t be a pensioner as certain holier-than-thou Reddit forums and Twitter twerps make him out to be if he’s been clocking in the hours for one of the very best teams in Europe.
The six-foot-two-and-a-half Jez is naturally a bit of a beast in the air. Left-footed, yet ambidextrous enough to play across the back – in either of the right-hand-side or the left-hand-side of defence, with an adroit technical proficiency to underpin the very fact. Jez lad is a thinking man’s defender, philosophical with his approach play to the art of tackle, he remains reserved throughout the course of a match and rarely looks to slide in. Proactive, looks to step up when his team is hit on the counter instead of back-peddling, the pièce de résistance of his game are the uncanny interceptions and blocks which are plentiful and timely. His ability to mesh play from the back, has come to the fore in his time with the tiki-taka merchants.
Not many to speak of apart from the noticeable receding hairline. A very well-rounded defender. Honest!
Low-risk, low-money, high on game intelligence and technical ability – the Frenchman is as Arsene Wenger a signing as they come. Jez would bring with him a world of experience, composure and the knowledge of knowing what not to do in any given defensive situation – three attributes Arsenal have blatantly missed.
This would be a wise signing from Arsene Wenger provided he does go for another defender, considering his side’s long seasonal tryst with injuries. At 32, Jez has at least three more seasons of playing at his prime, and may not be a ‘stop-gap’ solution as Arsenal fans may think him to be.
However, there is still one few question that needs to probed, but can only be investigated upon his arrival – the change of tempo and pace in the Premier League may be rude surprise, as compared to the languid nature of play in Spain. While he is good enough, will the old dog be able to learn a few new tricks?