Ahead of Sunday's tie at Old Trafford with Arsenal FC, we reached out to The Short Fuse, an Arsenal site here on the SB Nation network and they were kind enough to do a Q&A exchange with us. Aidan Gibson, their site's editor, along with pdb, a contributing writer, provided answers to the questions that were posed by you, our readers here at The Busby Babe. Without further delay, here is the the Q&A:
TBB: What are your thoughts on potential transfers coming in and who are some possibilities to replace Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri? Are you pleased with the Gervinho signing? What is the plan on luring top talent to replace Fabregas and Nasri?
TSF: Wenger said that it’s impossible to replace Cesc Fabregas, and while that’s true, I’d like to see a signing in a central midfield role. We’ve desperately lacked creativity this season, especially without Jack Wilshere. Eden Hazard, Marvin Martin, and Jadson would be good players to replace Fabregas, though Hazard would more likely be a Nasri replacement, if he comes, which is doubtful. I like the idea of signing M’Villa; he’d allow Wilshere to go more forward, and would also be heavily involved too. Getting into the Champions League, though, was big in terms of getting signings, even someone like Jadson. Would he move to a team without CL football? I don’t think so. I think Gervinho is going to be a very good signing, if inconsistent. He’s got very good pace and dribbling skills, it’s his final ball that’s so frustrating.
TBB: Is discipline an issue within the squad? With having players sent off in Arsenal's first two Premier League matches, is this a disturbing trend?
TSF: No, discipline isn't a problem with this squad. Arsene Wenger's earlier teams had the reputation of being undisciplined, and Patrick Vieira in particular had, shall we say, a bit of a temper before he realized he was awesome, but overall I don't feel that this Arsenal team is a red card magnet.
TBB: Is it time for a change in managers? If this were to actually happen in the near future, who would be your ideal (and realistic) replacement for Arsene Wenger?
TSF: Right now, I don’t think it’s time for a change in manager. Yeah, there's the whole 6 years without a trophy, but I think most people don't realise that Arsenal literally had no money to spend unless they sold players. I'd certainly give him another couple of years to mold this team. If he were to go, I think there’d be very few managers who could fit in with the economic structure and the playing style, but Jurgen Klopp would be intriguing.
TBB: Any thoughts on Manchester United's new training sponsorship deal and that it is worth more than Arsenal's kit sponsorship? To be fair, this new training sponsorship deal is worth more than every club's kit deal in the Premier League but five (I think).
TSF:That sums up the Premiership era of English soccer to me pretty perfectly. A sponsorship deal for a practice jersey that won't be seen by almost anybody (it's only worn in training, as pre-match gear is branded with their shirt sponsor) and can't be worn for European games? Why not? Let's pay more than most shirt sponsors pay! And people say the economics of soccer are out of whack.
TBB: You've been having some woes with with your top end talent, but how is the cupboard? Is there lots of young upside in the pipeline?
TSF: I think our youth system has quite a lot of talent coming through. Frimpong looks a good player, Kyle Bartley has had success with Rangers, and Benik Afobe looked very promising last year in League One. Further down the line, Chuks Aneke, who scored the winner against United’s reserves, looks like Abou Diaby, without the fitness problems. Beyond that, there are some very promising youngsters 16 and under, including the pair we signed from Barcelona and a couple of strikers, Austin Lipman and Chuba Akpom. Of course they might not all pan out, but they are exciting talents.
TBB: What is the general mood amongst the fan base? I can't imagine many Arsenal fans feel optimistic about this season or even the near future. What are your expectations for this season?
TSF: It’s quite hard to get a read of the fan base. I think a lot of us are somewhat frustrated, but understanding. The problem many have is spending the money that we know exists; we’ve seen United, City, Chelsea and Liverpool all splash out, but as of yet Arsenal haven’t, and we all know we have to if we’re going to do well this season. I’d say we’ll finish 4th this season; neither Tottenham nor Liverpool convince me that much, and our squad will be deeper. If we get some good signings, we may even get to 3rd, but I don’t think we’ve got a chance at winning the title. Maybe one of the cups.
TBB:How intense will Nasri's reception be when he goes to the Emirates this season? Any thoughts or hurt feelings over Nasri saying that City fans are more passionate than Arsenal fans?
TSF: Nasri will get the Adebayor booing treatment. I think what Nasri said was stupid, for a couple of reasons: 1. He didn’t play at Highbury. 2. He’s ignoring a lot of fans who sang his name last season, and last week against Liverpool. I think it’s really poor PR from Nasri; when you compare the way Cesc left and Nasri left, you can see why a majority of us still love Cesc (and follow him on Twitter) while we curse Nasri.
TBB: Given the injury and suspension issues, who is likely to feature on Sunday at Old Trafford? Can you offer up a guess at a starting XI? And lastly, how about a prediction for the match?
TSF: Ugh. I’d say right now, the team is probably Szczesny; Sagna/Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs/Sagna (depending on Kieran’s fitness); Djourou, Ramsey, Rosicky; Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin If Koscielny is still out, then Djourou plays, and maybe Jenkinson or Lansbury plays an unfamiliar holding midfield role. Either way, unless we get Yann M’Villa and Eden Hazard by Friday at 5 PM, it’s a weak team, and I’ll say it goes somewhat like the United-Spurs game; open game, chances for both sides, but ultimately United win 2 or 3-0.
TBB: Thoughts on your Champions League group stages draw today?
TSF: Should be winnable. Having Dortmund is annoying, but Olympiakos aren’t that challenging, and we saw OM last year against United and they weren’t terribly convincing. We’ll go through, personally think we’ll finish second.