What’s happened to our power Serge?

gnabry wba1

So Arsene Wenger has decided to scrap Serge Gnabry’s season long loan at West Brom and bring him back to Arsenal. There seems to be much consternation amongst the Arsenal faithful that Tony Pulis took a dislike to the German Youth international. Apparently Pulis disapproves of pacy, tricky wingers in favour of playing without any. Let’s chart his history and later attempt to unpack the reasons for his wasted opportunity.

Gnabry made his professional debut in the 2012/13 season, although he would really spring on to the scene at the start of the following campaign. Arsenal had raced to the top of the PL table at a blistering pace and Gnabry contributed with several eye-catching performances which included his first professional goal in the 2-1 victory away at Swansea.

He would cap 2013 by earning a new long term deal and a nomination for Tuttosport’s Golden Boy Awards, alongside the likes of Paul Pogba, Rafael Varane and Julian Draxler. It seemed all good, right…? Unfortunately, and as is the way with many a promising Arsenal youngster, his progress would be blighted by injury.

Fast forward to August 2015 and his arrival at the Hawthorns last August to great anticipation from Baggies fans. They’d failed to secure the signing of QPR’s Matt Phillips and saw Gnabry as a decent back up option considering his early promise and exciting style of play.

He would find a paltry 12 minutes of PL action and two appearances in the Capital One Cup.

"This guy is absolute class. Would probably already be very much in Arsenals first team picture if he hadn't of missed all of last year with injury." - westbrom.com forum

“This guy is absolute class. Would probably already be very much in Arsenals first team picture if he hadn’t of missed all of last year with injury.” – westbrom.com forum

 

But why?

Everyone thought Gnabry would fit in well with WBA’s 442 formation and provide competition for the likes of Sessegnon, McClean and McManaman but it never came to fruition. There’s also a school of thought that Tony Pulis for whatever reason doesn’t appreciate players of his ilk, prefers to play without wingers. I’m not trying to defend Pulis but I feel a little bit of context is required here: look at how he’s framed his philosophy and you’ll find pacy or tricky wingers were vital ingredients to how his teams played.

At Stoke Etherington, Pennant, Walters all had a mix of these attributes which provided ammunition for the likes of Crouch, Fuller and Kenwyne Jones (as well as Delap chucking missiles into danger areas) to take advantage of.

At Crystal Palace he also utilised Bolasie and Puncheon in wide areas. At WBA he has McClean and Sessegnon playing wide. Yes, even Sess has adapted his game to own their right channel.

Ask any Baggies, Eagles fan or Orc and they’ll tell you he loves players who work up AND down the line.

So I’m afraid that argument has to be debunked as a myth. I don’t like Pulis much but there you are. Take a look at their fans forums and you’ll see a common theme of initial excitement slowly turning to indifference.

It’s not to say Serge isn’t talented. He obviously is. But even Wenger said he’d have to man up and rise to the challenge. Allow me to be purely speculative here but it painted a picture of Wenger almost agreeing with Pulis that Gnabry had to improve his application, maybe even questioning his desire…

 

Back in familiar surroundings, but for how long?

Back in familiar surroundings, but for how long?

 

So what happens now?

Well, Wenger could take this time to assess him at close quarters, see if we can bring him back up to speed. Some will say he’s ahead of the Ox but if he’s not ready to defend as well as attack, is he really improving the situation?

The word on twitter street is that another loan move is likely.  He could go to another PL club. We could send him to Remi at Villa for tutoring, he may see minutes there. Fellow relegation candidates Swansea need some added spark too. But apparently he’s favoured to go to the Championship. That would suggest the coaches don’t think he’ll get many minutes in the PL but at least he’d get more playing time in the rung below.

He needs time to re-establish himself and show to everyone he’s the player electric Arsenal think he’ll become. I’ll leave the final words to Wenger:

“We signed Serge Gnabry because I believe that he will be a great player… He has technical ability, he has power, he has pace, he has finishing quality and he can give a final ball. He’s a powerful offensive player and I believe that he will be a great player for Arsenal Football Club.”

Enjoy the week whatever you’re doing.

Up your Arsenal!

 

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