Morning fellow Gooners. First of all, apologies for the downtime, and comment system failure. We’re undergoing some changes down at WOA headquarters but as I understand, everything is back to normal… well, at least as far as the blog is concerned. Personally, I’m not sure exactly what is going on this summer in terms of clear out and regalvanisation of the squad. After a promising start to the transfer window, with the quick announcement of Maroune Chamakh, which was followed up by the protracted signing of Koscielny.
Both have looked “okay” in pre-season, but neither have really shone – yet.
There have only been two pre-season games, so a little more time can be given to the two new recruits. We have obviously deficiencies in the squad, and the big question is whether they will be addressed properly or not this summer. Before the start of the transfer window, we knew we need to replace the exiting defenders with some fresh blood and with the exits of Silvestre and Gallas as well as Sol Campbell and the final departure of Senderos, we do look thin on the ground in defence. We have four defenders in Vermaelen, Djourou, new signing Koscielny and loan returnee Nordtveit. Pretty much as a group of defenders they are inexperienced – albeit the captain of the last game, Vermaelen, who I would say was quite experienced, but has only one season in the Premiership. Numbers wise it looks okay. 4 defenders and maybe Song… but apart from Koscielny, we had all of these players on the books at Arsenal last season. So we’ve basically let Gallas, Silvestre, Senderos and Sol Campbell move on and got Koscielny in return. When you look at that stat, you have to think another signing is required. But is that signing the re-signing of 35 year old Sol Campbell? Yes he was good last season, but was he technically good enough?
If I told you before the summer that Eduardo, Gallas and Silvestre would leave the club and that we’d replace them with a free transfer, an unproven centre back from the French league who had been playing in Ligue 2 the season before, the resigning of a 35 year old Campbell and a 37-year keeper in Schwarzer, you would have laughed at me. The squad has been crying out for a real world class keeper since Lehmann fell from grace – Almunia and Fabianski have just not cut it. The squad has been crying out for a world class defender – we finished the season with the most goals conceded out of the top four, have we made our defensive unit better?
We’ve had to put up with high earners and low performers like Diaby, Denilson and Theo Walcott – the latter, a player who just seems like he has not progressed as he should have in the last couple of years – to the point where Capello picked the clueless Lennon and the hapless Shaun Wright Philips ahead of him for the World Cup.
Yesterday Arsene spoke on the defensive side of things, saying:
“There is no news on a defensive signing but numbers wise we are short in defence. The situation is still open for Sol Campbell and for the rest we are still looking.”
And my gut feeling is that Arsene would like to bring back Sol Campbell and thus conclude the addition of any further defenders.
I have to admit that I am genuinely worried at the pursuit of Mark Schwarzer. I don’t rate him – he is 37. Fulham want in excess of £3m for him. The star of the World Cup, Eduardo has now moved from Braga to Genoa for £3.4m who in my eyes was a better prospect. There are some rumours that there is a get out clause in Schwarzer’s contract and thus the fee wouldn’t be anywhere near £3m – not the case if the papers are to be believed.
Will the signing of Sol and Schwarzer really galvanise the squad? Does it appease the likes of Van Persie and Cesc, whom have both been with us for some time, without a sight of a trophy? Is this the extent of what we can do within our budget? Questions have to be raised, as Ade, Kolo, Eduardo have brought in just shy of £50m, and their wages have also been taken off the wage bill – as well as high earners like Silvestre and former captain Gallas.
Sol Campbell has shown us – again – that he is not as loyal as we want from a player whom we’ve supported through thick and thin and has tried to earn a package with Sunderland, West Ham, Celtic amongst others – all whom have decided against him – if he is not good enough for them – where Steve Bruce would rather sign the error-prone Titus Bramble instead – then how on earth is he good enough for us? I may be jumping the gun – there have been some interesting performances from the youth, and yes the future does look promising – but to win the biggest prizes we need top quality now – and with Man City and Liverpool back in the transfer market and Chelsea always there – if we don’t strengthen, when will be able to stop competing.
I don’t want to put a downer on things, but I really do hope Arsene can bring in some better players than the ones we’ve been linked with. It’s make or break…