As it’s my first formal solo contribution to The Bakery blog, it’s only fitting that I introduce myself. I’m Dustin Platter and I’m the other half of the OG Bakery Crew. A Madridista at heart, I’ve also come to follow Arsenal FC through their EPL high jinks. Suffice it to say Brooks and I have become avid followers of the league, amongst our many other common interests that you make have heard highlighted in the Bakery Podcast, and we’re here to impose our thoughts on you all.
My first official post comes on The Premiership’s opening day-eve-eve, which is perfect timing because I firmly believe we’re on the cusp of what has the potential to be the most rousing EPL season in years. If you’ve been jamming to the podcast, then you’ll no doubt have heard our feelings on the league as a whole, but that’s not what this is about. This is about the Gunners. This is about Arsenal’s off-season, transfers, forecasts and of course my cautiously optimistic expectations for the team, so let’s boogie y’all.
Off-Season and Transfers
Up until a day ago, I had been in utter emotional shambles concerning what I had considered (and still sort of do) putrid off-season. In the months leading up to the season it’s been no surprise that striker has been our weakest position. Even prior to the injury to our erratic Frenchman, Giroud, it’s been crystal clear that we either need to find him a partner or at the very least a reasonable sub. With Danny Welbeck out for an entire season, our options are limited, and so the search started. First we started with Lacazette (Lyon), then we moved on to countless others including Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg), Higuain (formerly Napoli), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), and Mauro Icardi (Inter), but I’m sure I’ve missed some.
Time after time our fearless leader Wenger low-balls the potential sellers and time after time he’s denied. Surprise surprise. As the wheels turn and the season looms, we look even more and more desperate, which gives other teams the upper hand and results in an asking price of roughly £70M for players like Lacazette (?!). We’ve become the laughing stock of the transfer window and the options are dwindling with only hopes and prayers left that we can land one of these guys or a long shot signing like Lewandowski (Bayern) or Greizmann (Atletico). Bottom line, we need a scorer. Giroud is inconsistent and Welbeck is out. Perhaps Iwobi can come and put numbers up, or maybe Alexis Sanchez can find the net, but otherwise we’ll be relying on what we currently have to get us through and that gives me doubts about how offensive we’ll be this season. Not to mention that we loaned out are back up keeper Szczesny to Roma with the option to by, so god forbid Cech picks up an injury or can’t play every single game, we’ll be in jeopardy in goal as well.
With all that said, we’ve made some solid pick ups in the midfield with Granit Xhaka (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and on D with Rob Holding (Bolton) and Mustafi (Valencia), so there’s that. If we can’t score, then at least maybe they won’t. Not to mention that we’ve been plagued with injuries.
The ever-injured Jack Wilshere is …guess what?… injured to start the season and that leaves us with even fewer quality midfielders despite our buying them at disproportionate pace. Aaron Ramsey also picked up a knock in the Euros as did our aging back Per. Laurent Koscielny suffered an injury in Euros also, but worst of all, Alexis Sanchez’s sprained ankle in the Copa America looked the size of a grapefruit not but 1 months ago. Most of these guys will be back in the second matchweek, but where I have a bigger beef. Vacations.
Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love vacations. The beach, the desert, the forest. Whatever. But I have huge problem with our single best player Mesut Ozil taking a vacation, granted it was approved by Wenger, that is going to last into the season. I get it, Germany had a deep run into the Euros, but for Christ sake your team needs you. Cut your galavanting by 1 week and come back in time for the season. My biggest problem here is that we need him to win, yet he’s insistent on leaving if we don’t produce. Help me help you. Same goes for Sanchez who, while injured, is also open to leaving if we don’t pick up some hardware. This season will be telltale because if we perform poorly, then we lose our two best players and what comes from that black spiral nobody knows. You can understand my pessimism here. That said, these are my thoughts on the season and why it may not be so bad.
Season Forecast and Expectations
Given our injuries and players on vacation (looking at you you owl-eyed goofy looking motherfucker), I have a hard time believing that we overcome our opening match against Liverpool. They’ve got a strong squad that was only strengthened in the off-season and Klopp has had time to settle in as manager. That’s dangerous. Mind you, it’s at home and our defense is looking reasonably solid with Bellerin, Monreal, Mustafi, and Holding (possibly Chambers) at that back, but we need a win to kick off the season. Every point counts. We can’t afford to drop early points because as last season can show you, we have the potential for a long skid that could take us out of UCL placement.
Again, I’m cautiously optimistic because despite all the negatives and our lack of a true striker, our team isn’t all that different from last year when we snuck into second place ahead of the Spuds. This season the competition will be more fierce for a top spot with both Liverpool and Chelsea (you have to assume they bounce back) out of European competition and thereby having more time to rest as well as the beefing up of ManU and West Ham. Overall, I have faith that we finish in the top 4, but it’s going to require another wonder-season from Ozil and way more production up front.
Regarding the young cats, this is going to be a big year in development. Iwobi and Elneny have tremendous potential and Apkom and Campbell have shown hints at strong seasons. I fully expect Walcott to flounder and one of these guys to pose a serious threat to his starting spot.
All in all, I believe in this team and I think we retain our rightful place at or near the top of the table, but it’s not going to be easy. I know that was quite the diatribe, so thanks for sitting through that if you did. I can’t explain how pumped I am for the season to start and I’ll be sharing that enthusiasm all season on both The Bakery blog and pod.
DP over and out.