There is an argument that you can improve your squad by culling the weaker players which in turn “raises” the talent of your squad on average – although some would call that a logical fallacy. Arsene Wenger made it clear in his latest press conference that the club tried hard to move players out this summer to make room in his squad for new stars and promising young players. It seems the long-serving Arsenal manager didn’t manager to offload as many players as he wanted and ended up selling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on Transfer Deadline Day despite his earlier adamance that the former Southampton youth would not be leaving the club.
Oxlade-Chamberlain followed Gabriel, Gibbs and Perez out of the doors at London Colney, albeit the latter on loan, and the question now is what impact will that have on Arsenal’s title chances and their Smartbets odds for the Premier League given the glaring gaps in the squad. Despite having a large number of players on their books Arsenal look worryingly light in defence with what depth they had last season arguably replaced with less talented and/or reliable players. The same can be said of the midfield, although Lacazette is a huge upgrade in attack.
Losing a player like Oxlade-Chamberlain can be looked at many ways. Considering his overall performances for Arsenal and the fact he is in the last year of his career it’s not the worst decision we’ve made however with Jack Wilshere looking a shadow of the player he once promised to be and Santi Cazorla’s return to first team action seeming like some lofty myth Arsenal may find themselves lacking a little creativity in the middle.
However, Arsene Wenger believes he may have the answer already in the ranks. Having made his breakthrough at under-23 level after signing his first professional contract in 2016, Reiss Nelson earned a place on the preseason and has already set the Premier League 2 alight with five goals in three games on his way to winning the player of the month award.
At just 17 he is showing similar promise as Oxlade-Chamberlain did when he joined in 2011 although arguably with more consistency and a more natural, rounded end product.
Reiss is highly regarded at Arsenal and the departure of an often frustrating character may give him the path in to the first-team needed to develop his potential. However, Oxlade-Chamberlain demonstrated a useful versatility last season that saw him excel at wing-back, perform satisfactorily on the wing and show promise in central midfield. Reiss will take some time to develop the physical and defensive elements of his game to become an influential first-teamer but for now there is a gap in the squad and it’s up to him to fill it.