That’s the question on everyone’s lips and after a season of finishing fourth and four years without a trophy, it seemed only sensible to add to the squad this summer.
The season before last was probably our best in the last four years, having led the table for large periods of the season and finishing four points behind eventual winners Man United. Of course, the season before and last season were two seasons where we really struggle and in both seasons we’re sure of our fourth placed finish until the run in.
It is true that a season can change quickly – look at the last three! After last season, many people thought the answer to all Arsenal’s problems were to keep the squad and add two players – a defensive midfielder and a defender… of course, from a fans point of view, it’s been very much the opposite.
I’ve always trusted in Arsene and of course will continue to do so, but when Arsene made his earlier decisions in the glory days when players like Vieira, Henry and Pires were signed, was this based on a different situation than now? Back in the Highbury days, Arsene didn’t have to consider selling any of his players and could keep on building a squad.
Now, Arsene has to change his strategy and as a result, are his decisions now based on something else? And if so, should we be worried?
There is of course a flip side to all of this, and as I’ve said on today’s earlier article, which I’ve actually seen quoted by other people (very flattering)…
If you look at the squad and where it was last summer, add Arshavin instead of Adebayor and add in Vermaelen instead of Toure – then throw in Eduardo and Rosicky, two players who were missing for pretty much the whole season, then give everyone in the squad an extra year of Premiership and Champions League experience, you have what we have now. Is that good or bad?
And of course, in theory it is good. But there’s more to it than just that. News coming out of Arsenal is that Rosicky isn’t ready yet and has been sidelined through injury during the last three friendlies – there is a concern that for this season he will not be able to play many games and of course, will suffer many injuries along the way. With Nasri also sidelined, there is a potential issue here, that we only have two wingers available at the start of the season, those two being Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin – both players preferring to play up top than out wide.
This of course, leads me to belive that we may go into the season with a 4-3-3 as we saw yesterday and this may allow more players in different zones. However, if you add in Eboue and Vela to the wing list, we can push through. We saw last season without Rosicky and Arshavin and Theo injured, we ended up deploying Diaby and Denilson on the wings.
So, back to the question of should I be worried?
Well, no in terms of our first XI – if all players stay fit – but in reality – I think yes – if we do suffer injuries and our players are off form. Alex Song and Denilson both looked very much the part against Hannover – but can they sustain that level and not be injured for a whole season? That is my major concern.
Nigel Winterburn is worried and he said:
“Given the quality of player that has left the club people will always say that it looks like they are standing still or have taken a slight step backwards but if they get players in and then start to move forward then obviously it will be very, very good for the club. The supporters are sitting on the fence at the moment. They’ve had great success in the past but now all of a sudden that success has dried up and they are now saying ‘when are we going to win our next title?’ They probably need to bring in another three players to help that squad,” he added. “You have to trust Arsene Wenger. He seems to be able to pull a gem out of the bag and it looks as though he has got to do it again because he has let two big players go. Arsenal have always had a wage structure, a valuation of buying and selling players and Arsene Wenger has a policy that if a player expresses a desire to leave he will try to talk him out of it if he wants him to stay. But if at the end of it that player still insists he wants to leave then Arsene Wenger will always let him and try to create the best value for money for that player that he can. “What Arsene Wenger now has to do is try and replenish this squad, bring players back in and make Arsenal stronger again. We may not know a lot about the players that come into the squad but if they make Arsenal stronger then we have to believe in what Arsene is doing.”
And this is a worry about the size of the squad in key areas.
My issue last summer – and I’m sure it was the same as yours is that we were one defensive midfielder short and one winger short. And if indeed, it is Arshavin in, Ade out and Vermaelen in, Toure out – then we’re back in the same position as we were last season. Okay, so Traore is back and Vela will play more – so I can do without the winger if absolutely impossible to buy someone who will help our cause. But I don’t think I can do without the defensive midfielder.
And not because I don’t think Denilson and Song are good enough, but simply because I do not think they can remain on top form and injury free for a whole season. How would you react if you heard that any one of Cesc, Denilson or Song suddenly got injured for two months – it would be one nail in the proverbial coffin… so with an additional £45m to spend this summer, or £20 if Arsene wants to give £25m more to service the debt (although this I believe is already serviced for this year)… then surely there is a good player who is on par with or if not better than our current group of central midfielders.
And finally, Kolo has spoken about his move and thanked the coach and the fans, he said:
“I believe we are title contenders, that’s why I’m here. We’re going to work to be on the top.
“The target is to go as far as we can. Last season we were mid-table and now we will aim for top six or four.
“We all know that Arsenal, it has been a good time for me and I want to thank Mr Wenger and all the fans for all the support. I was expecting to leave and it was really important to leave at the right time. I didn’t want to leave England because I love the football.
“Manchester City gave me a chance and I think they are a really good team and they want to do something. I want to be part of it. I’m 28 and I think I’m in my prime, I am really delighted to be here.”
Til later mes amigos.