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Part 2: Is Arsenal's Left Wing Solution Already at the Club?

The second part of three sees Michael Keshani discuss what impact two highly-publicized transfer targets would have on the club and the current squad

Clive Mason

When we last left you, Kesh was discussing our internal options for left wing and playing that into what sort of center forward would be best in that arraignment.  Today, in our second part, he goes into what our squad would look like if Arsenal move for a pair of Real Sociedad footballers.


TK: You brought up Carlos Vela. It's looking potentially likely that the former Arsenal man will be making his return through Arsene Wenger activating his buy-back clause at a ridiculously low fee. Vela can play up front, but he can also play out wide as well. The future of Olivier Giroud at Arsenal is still a bit unknown, but assuming the Frenchman stays at the club will the return of Vela complicate matters for Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Serge Gnabry, in that Wenger would need to find a spot on the pitch for Vela in addition to the three youngsters trying to find their identity within the squad?

Of course, if Wenger also moves for Vela's Real Sociedad teammate that you brought up, Antoine Griezmann, the rotation gets even murkier, doesn't it?

MK: This Vela situation is an odd one. It could be that we're pushing to activate the clause because we want him back for good; it could be that we want him back only to sell him on at a major profit while his stock is high; or it could be that we don't actually want Vela and we're pressuring Sociedad to make sure we end up with Griezmann. Or, of course, it could all be nonsense, but I feel as though there's too much smoke for that.

Vela has mostly played on the right this season but is capable on the left, off the main CF and as the CF, at a pinch. For us, were he to come back, he would mostly play wide - personally I'd rather we play Theo Walcott at CF than him but I've not actually seen Vela play there in a while. He's not as lethal as Theo but he's more technical and would be able to help with play infield a bit more. Because of his ability to play on both sides, where he plays could just depend on who the other wing player is. If it's Theo or Wilshere, Vela on the left, if it's Santi Cazorla, Chamberlain or Gnabry you imagine Vela would start on the right but they could switch among themselves. Vela would, if he worked, just do Lukas Podolski's job. 15+10 from the wings (hopefully not all against West Ham), but with the added bonus of having the pace and intelligence of movement to stretch teams, and having more strings to his bow than a really hard shot and a really hard cross.

The main advantage of Vela beyond his price is that he can play both sides and in doing so leaves us with a load of options, and being short of a massive name, there would be no pressure to play him in games where he isn't suited because of his reputation and standing at the club, which is an issue I feel we have had with Podolski this year.

As for Griezmann, he probably has a lot more in the way of a guaranteed return - it's tough to say who's the more talented because, despite all his issues with being arsed, Vela has always been an outstanding talent. Griezmann is exclusively a left winger and offers goals and the ability to stretch teams from those areas, while similarly being strong enough technically that fielding him on one wing and Theo on the other means we don't rely on our central players to do too much in those areas. With him being solely a left sided player, he would force Santi, Chamberlain, Gnabry and Tomas Rosicky to the right if ever they played as the opposite winger. Even though I maintain all four are more effective from the left, they're none of them lacking on the other wing. I'm a fan of Griezmann and his risk factor is a lot less than Vela's, but if we could somehow guarantee they'd work but only sign one, I would probably pick Vela.

That said, there's just as good a chance we end up with neither!

In the final part of this dive into the Arsenal conundrum at left wing, Kesh predicts what squad member ends up where on the pitch, and why, assuming Arsenal don't buy either Vela or Griezmann.