Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has surprisingly claimed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was not the most disappointing departure from his squad this summer.
Despite the England international moving to a direct rival in Liverpool for £35 million, it is Kieran Gibbs’ move to West Brom which irked the Gunners manager the most.
The Emirates side will play host to the Baggies on Monday night, and ahead of the game the 67-year-old discussed how having worked so hard on making the former Norwich City loanee into a top level left-back, after he had come through the club’s academy, it was more difficult to see him go.
“Overall it’s true that with Gibbs (it hurt) more than Chamberlain because he had been educated at Arsenal from the age of 10,” Wenger told Sky Sports.
“When he arrived he was a left-winger. I transformed him into a full-back because he was not necessarily rated as a guy who would make it as a left winger but I saw something in him that was very intelligent, with pace, that made me feel he could make it as a left-back.
“(Academy players) carry the values that you think are important, which are based on mental qualities, humility, respect and commitment, and as well football qualities which means you always try to play in a positive way. Plus real team play and focusing on a collective way.”
With the disparity in transfer fees (Gibbs was sold for £7m) and the level of creativity Chamberlain could yet bring to the Reds despite a poor start to his stint on Merseyside, many will question the theory behind Wenger’s comments, particularly as Gibbs played in just eleven Premier League games last term.
However, it is perhaps more difficult to let go of a player a coach has worked so hard on over the years.
Either way Arsenal must move on quickly from these exits and return to some kind of form having started horribly this season. The Gunners currently sit in twelfth place in the table having lost two of their opening five games, conceding eight goals and scoring just seven.
Arsenal certainly have the players to mastermind a win over Tony Pulis’ men, but doing so in their current form will be easier said than done.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena