Arsenal transfer news: Watkins links, potential Zinchenko exit, wonderkid interest, Trossard contract & more

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Villa defeat is disastrous but a result at Bayern can change the narrative

Sunday was a disaster for Arsenal, especially following on from the events at Anfield prior to kick-off. Liverpool’s home defeat to Crystal Palace gave Mikel Arteta’s side a chance to take full control of the title race, but they fluffed their lines in a way few of us were expecting.

It was the classic game of two halves really. The first half was actually pretty decent and had Arsenal taken one of the good chances they created, they probably would have gone on and won the game. But they were wasteful in front of goal and Villa made them pay the price after the interval. Villa were excellent and they deserve a lot of credit. Unai Emery adjusted things at half-time and Arsenal had no real answer to it.

And that’s the big worry really. Given what was at stake and the unexpected opportunity that was handed to them by Liverpool, the fact Arsenal couldn’t rouse themselves in the second half and find a way to get themselves back on top was really disappointing. But it has to be remembered that Arsenal have been pretty much faultless in 2024 in the Premier League. The results prior to Sunday had been sensational and it’s so, so hard to maintain that sort of level for months on end.

A setback was always going to happen, the crucial thing now is how they respond. Yes, Manchester City are now in the driving seat, but it’s not over yet and Arsenal do play twice before City are next in action in the league. Win those games and they will be four points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side. That has to be the aim because you never know what can happen. It’s unlikely, but City could always slip up.

I don’t think the defeat should change anything in terms of how Arsenal approach things against Bayern. Mikel Arteta will still believe his team can win both trophies, so he won’t be prioritising either competition yet. It’s going to be an incredibly difficult game for Arsenal. Not taking a lead with them for the second leg has left them facing a really tough task. They don’t exactly have a mountain to climb, but they do have a pretty steep hill to scale.

But what an opportunity it is. A win at the Allianz Arena at this stage of the competition will go down as one of Arsenal’s great European results. They have a great chance to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and that’s how they will approach it.

I thought Declan Rice’s post-match comments on Sunday were spot on. “It’s time to pull our socks up and show everyone why we’re in this position,” he said. All eyes are on Arsenal now after the result against Villa. Plenty think they are about to see the season implode in April yet again. A positive result in Munich, however, will quickly see that narrative shift.

Don’t rule out Arsenal targeting a new left-back but are we writing Zinchenko off too soon?

Oleksandr Zinchenko has become a bit of a scapegoat this season at Arsenal. There tends to be one player who is a bit divisive within the fanbase and Zinchenko is certainly that player right now.

Some of the criticism is justified, but some is a  bit harsh in my opinion. When you look at what went wrong for Arsenal on Sunday for example, I’m not really sure Zinchenko was at the heart of it. But, judging by the amount of criticism that has come his way over the past few days, you would think he was. Yes, there were a few errors of judgement in the second half, one of which could easily have been very costly. But there were also good points in the first half which could easily have led to Arsenal opening the scoring.

Could Oleksandr Zinchenko seal a transfer away from Arsenal?

And that’s always been the thing with Zinchenko – there are undeniable positives, but there are also obvious negatives. The thing is that right now, probably for the first time since he joined, the negatives are starting to outweigh the positives. Arsenal’s side has evolved at pace under Arteta. Last season Zinchenko was an essential part of it, but now his place in the starting XI is up for debate.

Arteta definitely has a decision to make when it comes to Zinchenko in the summer. Arsenal have clear priorities in the summer transfer market and they are higher up the pitch than in defence, but I wouldn’t rule out a new left-back arriving. Whether that be a specialised left-back, or a player who can operate both as a full-back or as a centre-back remains to be seen. Arsenal have been monitoring Jorrel Hato at Ajax for example and it’s understandable to see why a player of his versatility and potential could be appealing.

But I wouldn’t say we are definitely approaching the end of Zinchenko’s time at Arsenal. I still think he could have a key role to play in this squad, potentially even higher up the pitch where his defensive deficiencies could leave the team less exposed. He’s a quality footballer who is having a difficult period, but Arteta believes in him and it’s far too early to write him off as an Arsenal player.

Ollie Watkins would be a superb signing for Arsenal but there are two more realistic alternatives

Ollie Watkins is having a remarkable season. The way he took his goal on Sunday showed just how confident he is in the final third. He’s long been mentioned as a potential target for Arsenal, but as far as I’m aware there has never been anything close to happening when it comes to him and a move to North London. He was a big Arsenal fan growing up and he has Arsenal connections through his representatives, but that is as far as it goes.

It’s no secret that Arsenal are looking for a new forward and of course Watkins’ name will be on any list that they have drawn up. It would have to be given the heights he has reached since joining Villa and how his all round game has improved under Unai Emery. But I would be surprised if he is someone they would actually go for. Obviously, you can never rule anything out, but he has a long-term contract at Villa, who are a club who are financially secure and could well be competing in the Champions League next season, so they have absolutely no need to sell – it would take an astronomical offer to tempt them into doing business.

Plus, Watkins will be 29 in December, so I just can’t see it happening. Strikers like Benjamin Sesko and Viktor Gyokeres, who both have release clauses, are probably far more realistic. But the fact is, nothing is decided yet when it comes to Arsenal’s hunt for a new striker. They want one and I think they will get one, but I just can’t say for now who that will be and what sort of forward it will be. Signing a top striker is notoriously difficult due to the finances involved and Edu will know he has a very difficult summer ahead of him as he looks to improve Arsenal’s frontline.

Leandro Trossard transfer was a late Plan B option but has proven excellent for Arsenal

Arsenal’s move for Leandro Trossard was a classic example of a club having to think fast in the transfer market. They had spent the entirety of January, 2023 (and several weeks prior to that) trying to sign Mykhailo Mudryk and they thought they were going to get him.

But then of course Chelsea hijacked the deal late on in the window and that left Arsenal with a decision to make. They could have stuck with what they had, but they were going for the Premier League title and Arteta wanted more firepower. Arsenal always have backup options in the transfer market. That’s how Edu and Arteta operate. They have shown they can quickly shift targets before, such as when they went for Zinchenko after missing out on Lisandro Martinez and also when they landed Jorginho almost immediately after failing to sign Moises Caicedo.

So when Chelsea signed Mudryk, they had to shift attention elsewhere and Leandro Trossard was a player they knew well and one they knew was available due to his situation with Brighton. It was a low risk signing and one Arsenal were happy to do. They knew they were getting a versatile, Premier League ready attacker who would fit in well to Arteta’s demands.

I wouldn’t say he was someone Arsenal always had at the top of their list, but he was a player who ticked a lot of Arsenal’s boxes and he’s proven to be an excellent addition. I don’t know if Arsenal are working on a new contract for him. It’s not something I’ve heard of just yet, but I know everyone at the club is very happy with him and what he has produced so far. He’s not even been at the club for 18 months yet, so there is no rush when it comes to Trossard. I can’t imagine he will be going anywhere any time soon.

More Stories Benjamin Sesko Charles Watts Jorginho Leandro Trossard Mikel Arteta Moises Caicedo Mykhailo Mudryk Oleksandr Zinchenko Ollie Watkins Viktor Gyokeres

1 Comment

  1. Watkins can surely help us win Trophies but his age and price tag risk being an issue.
    So i will go with the younger strikers and there’s a good number of them out there.

    Gyokeres’ game participation seems really intersting from the number os assists that he makes

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