This morning I found myself in a greasy spoon in Waterloo reading the Sun. The backpage was dominated by two stories. The first, Aston Villa's increasingly frustrating period of fortune continuing. More on this later. The second, Arsenal's £12 million bid for Everton's Mikel Arteta. I sincerely hope this is true, and am inclined to believe it (wishful thinking or not).
For me personally, Arteta stands out as an exceptional player with high quality and talent. I have always thought he would be a perfect Arsenal player. Why and how on earth he is still at Everton is beyond me. I don't mean to disrespect Everton, but this guy is a fantastic footballer and he deserves to be playing for a team that challenges for titles and that competes in Europe's top competitions.
Arteta would be a perfect signing because he would need no adaptation period to settle in to the Premier League, and he has vision and skill akin to Cesc. However, Arteta would need to be one of several signings (at least two more needed) in order for us to turn this season around.
We still need that Flamini/Vieira/Mascherano-type holding midfielder. As much as I think Song and Denlison have vastly improved in the last few weeks, we are still showing an incapability to finish off games, and defend narrow leads. We need someone who has the grit and determination, and experience, to help us with this frailty. For me, these two players are a minimum requirement for us in January, but it would be nice to bring in another winger to compensate for the long-term losses of Rosicky and Walcott.
Aston Villa. People are really starting to take notice of the fact that Villa are doing their utmost to dislodge us from the top four. This is because they are actually scoring some good results, reaping the benefits of having a good manager, and a quality young side, and they most certainly are getting the rub of the green at the moment. There is no doubt in my mind that they are a threat. There is also no doubt in my mind that we will ultimately finish the season in the Champions League places. I think we are due a very strong second-half to the season, and I also think that Villa's participation in the UEFA Cup may distract them from the task at hand. Many clubs find it very difficult to handle league games at the weekend, and European games in midweek. Given Villa's lack of European football for many years, I am confident (and hopeful) that this could be a problem for them.
Many of us are anxious as to what January will bring. We are all praying that Arsene signs a couple of players, and are secretly concerned that he will decide not to, and rather rely on the resources of the club and keep the faith in the youth. Only time will tell.
Dev should be back writing tomorrow and the day after. I'll be back on Saturday evening with a post-match analysis of the Plymouth FA Cup game. Have a great night tonight, whatever you are getting up to, and have a Happy New Year.]]>