Morning – Dev is away at the moment, so I’m stepping once more unto the breach. Two posts from me in one week, you lucky bastards.
I’ve read a lot of posts/comments/blogs in the last day or two suggesting that the win at the weekend completely underlined Arsenal’s strength in midfield and that the trio of Ramsey, Wilshere and Song would mean that we no longer required Cesc’s services. I’m not so sure.
For a start, Arsenal already lack leaders and I do not think a 20 year old injury returnee (Ramsey) is ready to fill the void left by our club captain a World/European Champion. Sure he deputised magnificently against United, but let’s face it – the team put in a fantastic performance all round. It’s not when the team are playing well that players really shine, it’s when you’re playing badly, a goal or two down – that’s when great players shine. And Fabregas has done that for us. Maybe not as often as I’d like but he’s the best we’ve got at it.
So whilst the future is undoubtedly Wilshere/Ramsey in the middle, the future isn’t now. Losing Fabregas and promoting internally without replacing him would be madness at the moment. We did it with Vieira, and consequently we’ve only just started to regain our competitiveness. Would we really want to set the club back another 5 years?
Ignoring Denilson who begins to resemble a rabbit caught in the headlights more as each new day passes on and Rosicky who wears concrete boots, it would also only leave us with 4 ‘classic’ midfielders. Wilshere, Song, Ramsey and Diaby. There is hardly any real experience or leadership there. All great players, Wilshere the most advanced currently, but not enough to win a championship I don’t think. The technical ability is clearly there, I’d have all 4 of those players above 99% of the premiership, but Wilshere aside, none of them have shown that tenacity, grit or willingness to drag a team through a rough patch yet.
So, in my mind the only viable alternative is a full replacement. If Cesc were to leave, Arsenal would simply have to replace him to remain competitive.
Now I’m far more receptive of this idea – Cesc’s season hasn’t been the greatest, he’s begun to exhibit a worrying string of injuries, and I firmly believe that a big money bid might not be the worst thing that could happen to Arsenal. I should point out, that I absolutely adore Cesc and would prefer to keep him, but as far as “what if’s” go, I wouldn’t be heartbroken if he left.
This season Arsenal have fallen short in one key area for me. The midfield. We have a great goalkeeper, solid back four and a good array of attacking talent. What we don’t have is a Kevin Nolan, or a Steven Gerrard, or a Yaya Toure, or a Scott Parker. A player who will take a match and take everybody with him. I suspect that had Arsenal featured a player like that this season, we would have won the league. The league was in our hands just a few games ago and we lost our grip. A player like Nolan would not have let that happen – he dragged his own team from four goals down to rescue a point don’t forget.
Wilshere may well be that player shortly, but he isn’t quite there yet – there have been times this season that alongside Fabregas, Wilshere has looked like he had the entire game on his shoulders. He looked like he was the only player who wanted to win.
Can you imagine two players with that attitude in the middle of the pitch?
That might sound harsh on Fabregas – his season has been wrecked by injury and he hasn’t had a chance to build any consistency, but I don’t believe he is the leader Arsenal require in the middle of the pitch. The leader that Arsenal need before they will win another trophy.
So options… Scott Parker? If West Ham go down, you have to assume he’d move on and stay in the top flight. He’s got the right attributes for Arsenal, being a ball player, he’s got our missing attributes in leadership, drive and experience, he can play holding providing backup to Song in that position or further forward and he’s the right age that after one or two seasons he’d be phased out and not block the careers of any promising youth players. The haircut goes against him though.
Nolan is very similar, though perhaps not quite as technical with his abilities. Also, I think he’s a bit of a shit, but then if he was playing for us and being a shit to other teams, I could probably cope with that.
If selling Fabregas allowed Arsenal to buy that leader, then I wouldn’t cry myself to sleep. If Arsenal sold Fabregas and didn’t replace him I might just cry forever.
Who would you pick? What would you do?