I know it’s a little early… but 5 players who could make a difference…

One thing that has struck me in last couple of weeks is the quality and quantity of our squad and the real reasons why we’ve been unable to sustain our challenges for trophies this season.  I’ve often thought that we needed a player here or needed a player there and it’s easy to say that we need to buy, buy, buy. But with more reflection, it is apparent that we have a significant amount of players in various different positions – all with varying skills. The question comes down to the quality of the players we have rather than the quantity and we’ve got to look at the squad, player by player and think about whether they’re good enough or not.

Arsene, naturally, will have to do the same thing.

Normally, this type of article is reserved for the summer, post season, but with our very saddening collapse at the end of the season and our very emphatic losses to Chelsea, United and Barcelona throughout, my cogs have been rolling and running and I’ll divulge myself now.

I’ll start off with a comment that Arsene made yesterday about the quality of the squad and ambitions for next season… he took time out to mention potentially signing players from Real Madrid, which was a bit random…

“It was surprising that they [Real Madrid] got rid of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, who have both done well in the Champions League. Maybe it’s worth waiting outside their stadium and seeing what players they let go this summer!”

… but he did continue to talk about improvements we’ve made this season…

“I feel we have made huge steps forward this year compared to last year and the year before that.

“We are not far away. We were fighting for the Championship and missed the key moments against Barcelona to knock them out of the Champions League quarter-final.

“I know we have to answer the demands of the people. But this year I feel we have appeased our fans a lot. We have always shown a great attitude, a great response when needed.

“We have convinced people that we are making progress and improvement. When you listened to people at the start of the season they were writing us completely out of the race, so we have improved a lot.”

And he will be the first to rue some of the opportunities we’ve missed this season… before the run in, we knew if we won our remaining games that we be able to challenge for the title, but the draw against Birmingham and the losses to Sp*rs and Wigan were points we never thought we’d lose. It’s amazing what a blessing in disguise exiting the Champions League earlier would have given us.

The problem, I feel is the lack of depth in our squad, but it’s hard to envisage that we’d be without our three first choice defenders at this time of the season in Gallas, Vermaelen and Djourou. Having known that Djourou was out for the season even in January, an extra man in that position would have been very beneficial as a player like Silvestre, making mistakes at the rate of knots may have simply been the downfall for us this season, but of course, it’s not that simple and it’s easy for us to say this in hindsight.

Our goalkeeping situation is officially in crisis and it’s a position that everyone in football knows we’ve got to look at this summer.

My first signing would be Joe Hart, currently at Birmingham, on loan from Man City – young, with experience and English – whether or not he will be available is another story altogether. We could potentially fund this transfer by the sales of both Almunia and Fabianski.

Add in a central defender of the impressive Gary Cahill, the current Bolton centre half – a player who has seriously excelled since joining the lancashire outfit – he looks solid, a no nonsense defender and someone I think would compliment Thomas Vermaelen. With the departing Gallas and Silvestre, his wages would be covered and add in Djourou, Nortvelt and Campbell, who has really proved himself and that’s 3 quality centre halves, a golden oldie and a youth prospect.

In midfield, one player who has impressed me is James Milner and he could do a better job than Denilson or Diaby next to Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas. Milner has been inspired at Villa and I would love to see him in an Arsenal shirt next season. Whether or not players like Denilson or Diaby will be on the way out if we did see him is debatable – there’s no point training them just to let them go. Maybe a bit more competition would make sure that they knew that they would have to play well to get into the side – something you feel they don’t have. I really don’t think Diaby is worried about his position.

The fourth player I’d like to see come in is Frank Ribery – now, he is probably out of our price range – well, if Eduardo does go to Lyon for £8m, we would have a little bit more to spend on him, but Ribery and Arshavin on the wings would be something very exciting. Throw in Walcott who would probably get loads of games considering how many injuries we always suffer every season. Whether Ribery will be priced out by our rivals remains to be seen, but you think if no-one has gone in yet, he may be available.

Finally, up front, it’s clear that the striker pool we have isn’t good enough. Yes, Van Persie is our best striker and can contribute a lot, but Niklas Bendtner is still learning his trade and we can simply not rely on him for large parts of next season if we’re going to try and win something. Eduardo looks like a spent force and God only knows what has happened to Carlos Vela. The striker I’d like to see brought, which links nicely to the Real Madrid exodus this summer, is Gonzalo Higuain – he looks a bit special and has been awesome for Real Madrid. But, as Real Madrid are, they’ll probably try to sign Rooney and get rid of the Argentinian.

You’re probably asking how on earth we could afford these players… well… Arsene has an answer for you:

“For a while we were not investing maybe because we had built the stadium but I think our financial situation is now becoming much stronger and we will be capable to buy the players we need to buy.”

But before you get excited about the prospect of Higuain, we may be close to signing a slightly cheaper alternative in Maroune Chamakh, who has also been very impressive for Bordeaux this season. Arsene said this:

“We will announce the deals after the league [finishes]. He is one of the players who has a good chance to join us.”

And it’s obvious that Arsene knows we need to freshen up and also increase the quality of the squad. If you could sign 5 players, who would they be?

  • AJ

    I agree in general with your 5, Joe Hart, yes, Gary Cahill, yes and the fact he is English is a plus as it always helps when you have to have a certain amoutn of English players in your team for the CL. The other three you have mentioned yes to all those aswell, Milner, I had never thought of, but he would be a quality signing and Higuian I would love to see, Ribery too, but perhaps Gourcuff from Bordeux would be a great signing and more realistic than Ribery, while Vargas from Fiorentina, who can play fullback or left mid would be another good signing I think, as for a goal scorer, you can throw around names like Villa, but they are going to cost a bomb, maybe someone like Fernando Llorente could be worth a gamble.

  • Adrian for Arsenal

    3 no talent English man. No thanks!!!

  • Ace

    I also agree with Joe Hart and Gary Cahill with the latter being more realistic. Asenjo at Atletico Madrid has dropped down to number 3 there and we could get a cut price deal there. He’s a very highly rated spanish u21 who’s bee tipped for the big time. Chamakh will be a welcome signing, a physical presence with some pace. What about Sakho from PSG? Without Song in midfield we do look a little weak and for me Denilson just isn’t good enough. Either way we need to get rid of some players who have got complacent or just aren’t good enough and for me Silvestre, Denilson, Eduardo (sadly) and even Diaby looks like he doesn’t care at times

  • vj

    id get joe hart if possible, hes a quality keeper. not sure about cahill, wenger likes to sign players from other leagues, hence our lack of english players, so we might see a different defender, metzelder (real madrid) or chiellini would be nice. id go with blaise matuidi or melo, i think once ramsey gets back he will are patner cesc and either nasri or rosicky can fill that role. i dont think we will sign a winger since we have nasri arshavin walcott and van persie who can all play those roles plus wenger might want to use wilshere more. and once we have chamakh we dont need another striker, van persie bendtner and chamakh

  • If you really care for Arsenal!

    1. Joe Hart is a quality player but he is 22. Woicjeh Scheszniy is 19 and he is a diamond. Too little age difference between them. And that is bad for goalkepers.
    I think Akinfeev is a better choice.
    2. Gary Cahill is exciting but Roger Johnson would be better
    3. Melo/Inler/Matuidi/Velozo/Flamini/Cattermole
    4.We cannot afford Gourcuff or Ribery that’s for sure. Even if we do we will not be able to splash on other areas. Yes we have the money needed but not at that extent. Eden Hazard could be cheaper and affordable if we raise money on selling Almunia, Fabianski, Eduardo and Rosicky. Eden Hazard can become next C.Ronaldo.
    5. It is obvious that Chamakh will sign for us and Wenger will not buy another striker

  • Yemi

    I doubt if we can get hart cos mancini wants him back in citeh.
    GK – Manone/Hart/Szczesny
    DM – Melo/Flamini/Lassana
    CF – Higuain/santa cruz/ Chamakh/ Dzeko/ balotelli
    CM – Milner
    CB – Hangeland, Cahill
    LWM/RWM – Wilshire/ Adam Johnson/ Lennon,

    Then i’d sell off The following
    Silvestre, Alumina,
    I’ll give gallas and sol one more year each.

    I’ll send Denilson and Diaby on loan at bolton and birmingham respectively.

  • ny

    @If you really care for Arsenal

    Excellent scouting.I dont think Rosicky will be sold as his experience will be needed here.Also if saw last 2 game , wigan game in particular it was the lack of commitment that stood out.

  • Yemi

    Diaby stood out in that last game. Even rosisky had was better than in the spurs game. It was also clear in the wigan game and even the spurs game that B52 had to play deep cos he was way alone in front. There was no service to him. It was as if we were playing a variation 4-5-1 formation but the lone striker was nowhere upfront so it was more like a 4-6 formation (if there is anything like that

  • Kuka

    @Devday:- The names you have are indeed exciting. Watched Milner and would be glad to have him at Arsenal. The problem I have with Ribery is his attitude. He has this “you need me more than I need you” attitude which I have found quite unappealing. Otherwise he is a great bargain if we got him.
    …..Like -If You really care for Arsenal- I do not think AW will go in for another striker if he gets Chamarkh

    On a separate note, I have been reflecting on why some of our players or signings lack the zeal, commitment and hunger that we as fans would like to see. This is just my 2-cent assessment:

    I think if we are to make additions to our team, we should also target “footballing” countries and at least players involved or seeking to participate at national level. For example, Lehman was not an exceptional keeper. He was an OK stopper, but since he was in a war front with Oliver Kahn for the German number 1 position, he was forced to really improve his game. The contrary is the case with Almunia. He has no ambitions to play in the Spanish squad – so being at Arsenal is a dream enough for him. But when you look at CESC for example, he badly wants Xavi’s position in the Spanish side and that becomes a major motivation. When looking through our squad, there are times when I feel some of them are content at being Arsenal FC players as that it itself is a major honor. They have no other drive. I am not saying that this is the only motivation, but when I look around us, many of the top teams having players also competing for national caps, which gives them extra hunger to prove and excel in their leagues……

    Let us target top prospects in footballing countries. Cahill, Milner, Joe Hart, fall very well within that category. These are young individuals seeking to break through a very competitive English Team. They would want to impress.

  • parksy

    spot on with them signings Dev. Would love to see a world class defender. Maybe someone from Villa

  • Nick

    As much as I would love to see Ribery at Arsenal for his ability I don’t ever see it happening. I think he’d be locker room poisoning as well.

    For me I think Joe Hart or Brad Guzan, James Milner, Eden Hazard, Cahill, Kevin Prince Boatang, N’Zogbia, Phillip Lahm, Chamakh, Darren Bent or Rodallega, Romelu Lukaku, Hangeland, Felipe Melo, Blaise Matuidi, and David Villa should be targets. Realizing there are some longshots in there like Lahm would wouldn’t leave Germany and Villa who we couldn’t afford to get into a bidding war over.

    Aside from who we sign I think it’s equally important who we let go as we look to not have adequate replacements should we have another injury ravaged season.

  • Nick

    Forgot to add Luis Suarez from Ajax and Hugo Lloris from Lyon who’d be one of my top goalie picks.

  • goonerman

    We are talking about potential transfers and its all good and wll wanted who we want and in the real world a player like milner should be available for 12-15 million but when you see stories that man city are lining up a bid of 24 million for him it just makes a joke out of football, man city will single handidly ruin the transfer system by giving clubs the impression their players are worth double or even triple their true worth. a few years ago some one like rooney was worth 30 million and now city are willing to pay 24 million for a player like milner it is pathetic. he is an excellent player but its sad and to be honest we should all be hoping tottenham get into the champions league becuase if city get into the top 4 then they will bid whatever is needed and give a player whatever wages they want just to get their man leaving no chance for a single other club!

    also in the past wenger has said he likes him as a palyer but thought there was little chance of getting him and to be fair this season playing on the wings he has been a scarey opposition for most defenders….Craig Bellamy, personally i dont like him as a person but his passion for the game can not be questioned and to be fair having a player in the team not afraid to speek their mind could actually work as long as he didnt get to big for his boots. with the news that he is worried hes not wanted at city he wouldnt be a bad option to have on the left or right wing

  • Yemi

    I heard arsene was interested in rodallega and nzogbia

  • devday

    @ Yemi: rodallega and nzogbia… definitely not going to happen… and neither are good enough… i’ve read the same stories…!!!

  • devday

    @ Nick: good call… Hugo Lloris

  • Francis


    I think your comparisons of Milner and Diaby is unfair. We all saw the best of Diaby when he was playing in midfield with Song and Cesc. He was playing a support defensive role but more offensive. In this role Milner is not even close to Diaby. I’ll bet my head on this one.

    The issue with Diaby is consistency which comes from playing regularly…we all know his injury problems. Also the lack of consistency in the players selected for the midfield due to injuries in the team has not helped his game. Last season we saw Diaby play in the advanced wide left side of the midfield.

    In certain games this season, he plays in a more advanced role, in other games he plays the quarter back role and still in other games he is purely defensive. Diaby just hasnt had the playing time to build his game to the multiple roles that he has been asked.

    Yes Milner is a good player, full of drive and passion but on a level playing field he is not close to Diaby. As a winger sure Milner is miles ahead.

    Let’s compare apples with apples.

    If Wenger is looking at which players will be off loaded at Madrid, then he probably looking at the the following players…Mamadou Diarra, Metzelder, Benzema, maybe Guti
    (who was close to joining a few years back but had cold feet at the last min).

    Diarra would add steel and experience to our midfield if Melo doesnt join us, plus i believe he has retired from international football so that helps. This would be more than decent cover for Song. As well, Wenger can play 2 holding midfielders in Song & Diarra with Cesc.

  • Nick

    Mamadou Diarra is another pick of mine to add a wall in the midfield. He’s an absolute beast and has tons of experience. I think he’d be the best bet coming out of Real. Guti is a sublime midfielder (when he’s on) and would fit in well. I doubt he’d be persued though. Benzema would be a great loan acquisition if we could negotiate it. He’s being wasted at Real and has the potential to be a superstar with us. He’s got size, pace, creativity, etc.

    @goonerman: Spot on with the valuation process being ridiculous these days. Players are being highly everrated then clubs with big bank accounts and no brains like Man City come in and pay it. It’s a shame.

  • devday

    @ Francis:

    In reality though, Diaby has had a massively long time in the team, he’s played a lot of games. Against Barcelona, Sp*rs and Wigan (last three games – he’s started all of them), he somehow regressed. His fluidity had gone completely. Now, if you think about it, Diaby has played in 37 games this season and his last three performances were amongst his worst.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s clear to see he has talent, but consistency is required.

    Milner on the other hand has played RB, DM, AM, LM and RM this season and done admirably in all the roles…

    So, in reality, both players are central midfielders with attacking intent, both players have been asked to play in a variety of positions – I do think I am comparing apples with apples…

  • devday

    @ goonerman: Spot on, if Milner went to Villa for £12m, he won’t leave for more than £20m… although I think he’s a great player, I doubt he’ll be an Arsenal player next season… City looks odds on…

  • devday

    @ Kuka:

    Interesting points about Almunia, the same can be said for Silvestre, but the rest of the squad all do have International aspirations.

    It has been puzzling me how the team lacked spirit in the last few games – against Barcelona we just lay down completely… but then again, if I asked you to name our players with spirit and leadership, who would you say?

    Cesc, Van Persie, Arshavin, Gallas, Vermaelen or Song… right?

    Our 6 leaders are missing at the moment, and maybe it’s not just the player’s ability we miss, it’s their passion and desire…

  • Kuka

    You are absolutely right. When you look at Fabregas, Van Persie, Arshavin, Gallas and Song for example – those are players who would want to win the World Cup. We have seen how Russia’s lose to Slovenia affected Arshavin (I have always wondered if things would have been different if they made it to the world-cup). Van Persie has to make it to the World cup squad and CESC too. Cameroun and Song believe they could rally the African troops at the Cup and one can therefore see the zeal and desire to perform well for their clubs. Unfortunately, we have Vela who plays for Mexico even if he stays on the bench all season at AFC. The same for Eduardo. B52 has no competition in Denmark and Ebuoe will make the Ivory Squad whether be performs well or not. Diaby seems happy to be named on the French bench, even if he remains an unused sub. If Denilson really wanted to break into the Brazilian team, he would by now, given the number of starts he had for AFC this and last season. The reason they have not looked at him, is because he has just been average….

    ….So if I was to think of transfer targets, player ambition (both at club and national) would be a key factor to consider. I would give priority to the top footballing countries where competition influences the game of the individual players…..

  • JDD

    i would like to see gk-lloris cb-cacaeres dm-melo
    am-sneijder st-villa&balotelli

    4-2-1-3 or 4-1-2-3

    st-van persie&villa&arshavin/balotelli,bendtner,chamakh,vela,

  • JDD

    plus all the youngsters e.g wilshere,nordveit,botelho etc and of course AARON RAMSEY when hes back

  • Francis


    excellent response to my post..i guess it keeps the debate alive. Sure both players have been asked to play in a variety of positions. The crucial ques is the number of games both players have put in on a consistent basis as a building block for the variety of positions they’ve been called to play in.

    Most players on top of their games are able to manage at least 2 seasons of virtually uninterrupted games. Diaby hasnt had this. Milner on the other hand (i need to verify his stats) has been playing consistently for the past 2 seasons or so.

  • Gooner Get Ya



  • Gooner Get Ya

    Oh and cahill plus another if gallas leaves

  • Sammy M

    my feeling is hart is quality but too close to chesney in age so maybe an older keeper like frey or possibly green (english) then a few years on a chesney will be soooorted! we have been linked with any decent CB under the age of 23 so its a lottery who AW is actually looking at. DM – senna would come on the cheap but i feel sissoko or to a lesser extent blaize would offer long term competition to song. love milner so fingers crossed. Lets hope we also get eden hazard and this young danish guy dennis has told AW about, would trust his judgement!
    I think AW may have a cheeky bid for BENZEMA, we all know he is a big fan and the player himself says he wants to play under arsene one day and i feel 17mil for a player of his quality is a bargain
    sam M

  • goonerman

    I know its nice to think of the kind of players we could get in the summer and who will take us to the next level but after completley blowing it at wigan we seriously have to fight to secure our third spot in the league becuase we cant be relying on city and spurs to loose any more games and witht he confidence obviously low wenger needs to drum into their heads the importance of the next three games!

    IF tottenham were to beat man united and we lost to city then spurs would be 4 points behind us with a game in hand so assuming spurs won their game in hand it would leave them a single point behind us, that would make us need results from blackburn and fulham and the pressure would be huge to stop them chasing us! i know everyone else isnt to worried but i cant help of think about spurs pipping us to third on the last day of the season and that would be BAD NEWS! the team needs to play then next 3 games as if they are to seal the title!!

  • Yemi

    @ goonerman:
    Spot on, This was my same view immediately after we lost to spurs and i made that comment here that we have to start looking behind us. We went to wigan and flunked it after that making the situation more dire. I guess most pple dont know spurs are that close to us. 7 points having played one game less. If they win their outsatnding match, ut comes down to 4, if they beat united or draw, it comes to 1 or 3 respectively.

    Happy times are not here in WOA