Afternoon all and it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon here in North London. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, there are smiles on people’s faces…. and that doesn’t happen that often during a season – especially where Arsenal’s season has been one of embarrassment. I’m not going to start ‘aving a go… but instead reflect on why this is Arsenal’s most important and biggest summer.
If you look at the current squad, there are a lot of very good players – but in reality, how many “world class” players do we have? If you think about it, we only have Cesc, Van Persie and possibly Nasri. Two class players, capable of winning games. Back in the day, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry were all players capable of winning games from nothing – plus we also had the likes of Van Persie on the bench as well and a solid spine to back them up.
The problem is now, that the bench of game changers has turned into a bench of has-been’s – Rosicky and Lehmann, and a bench of kids, Ramsey, Gibbs, etc and a bench of fringe players who offer little or no substance when they come on, Chamakh, Bendtner, Denilson etc.
If anyone thinks for a minute that these players “will come of age” next season, they will be mistaken… When I hear Arsene come out and say this:
“We have enough quality to beat anyone in the world, even with the current squad. You have a Champions League Final and only one team has beaten both of them and that is Arsenal.
It worries me! He is right though, we have beaten Barcelona and Man United at home this season, so yes, we can all agree that there is a lot of quality in the squad. But then again, we’ve lost to Newcastle, West Brom and Aston Villa at home – so, what is the reasoning for that?
Arsene said yesterday that this is our biggest summer:
“[One of the most important summers of my time at Arsenal?] Yes, I think so, we had a few important ones but this will certainly be a big one, on all fronts.”
And I really hope it is… it has to be – the likes of Van Persie, Cesc and the emerging talents of Ramsey and Wilshere need quality players around them. Having a clueless Walcott on the right of midfield and a hopeless Arshavin on the left doesn’t help much – to have people like Bendtner, Chamakh and Denilson on the bench simply doesn’t inspire. I don’t agree when I say project youth has failed, it’s created a nucleus of good players – enough quality in the side to beat the top teams and compete until March / April…
Just imagine a team like this:
Sagna – Vidic - Vermaelen – Marcelo
Nasri – Cesc – Wilshere – Hazard
Suarez - Van Persie
With a bench of Fabianski, Djourou, Song, Ramsey, Walcott, Arshavin, Chamakh…
And the likes of Gibbs, Koscielny, Lansbury, Miyachi, JET, Watt in and around the squad…
This example of a squad has proved to me that we are 4 players short of team able to compete on all fronts – of course, the four players I’ve mentioned, Vidic, Marcelo, Hazard and Suarez are only examples of players out there that would transform our squad – but I don’t think for one minute we’ll possibly sign any of them. If you now look at the bench, you’ll see it’s relatively strong – with players available to change the game. That’s what we need.
Our left side is obviously in need of a full scale replacement – neither Clichy or Gibbs have really proved themselves and they need to be replaced. Out of the four players I mentioned, Edin Hazard could be a realistic £15m signing if we wanted him. Of course, Vidic, Marcelo and Suarez are out of our budget – they’re first team players and talismen for their current clubs – but if Alex Ferguson can find Hernandex for £8m and Vidic for £6m, then surely Arsenal – who apparently have the best scouting network in the world – can find players of that quality.
Many people say we need a big strong defensively midfielder… but it’s not the defensive midfield position that has let us down – United don’t even have such a player… it’s the team formation, the team defending as a unit and the individual mistakes that our back five his season have created that have undermined our season – confidence in our team mates and mental strength has been lacking.
I’m not an accountant and obviously not the manager, but for me, the exodus of Clichy (£10m to Juventus), Eboue (£6m to Athletico Madrid), Diaby (£8m to PSG), Denilson (£7m to Sevilla), Squillaci (£3m to Villareal), Almunia (£2m to Galatasary), Bendtner (£12m to Bayern)… could easily raise £50m +… surely enough to get 4 quality players Arsene Wenger style… I’m not sure if you would agree with me, but who would your four players be, if you had a £50m budget?
Arsene continued talking about the summer and said:
“[That my first priority is to keep my squad together] is true [but it] doesn’t mean that there will be no movement. There will be some movement of players who have played less, who need to play and as well of course we will try to strengthen our squad again but we want to keep the basis and style of play we have. We are very very busy all over our Club, we are looking, analysing, talking to people. There are two steps in the transfer market during the summer, the first is very early and the second one is very late.
Considering it is late May now, do we think we’ll suddenly get a news of a new signing very soon? Hmmm, debatable… but fingers crossed…
Okay, back to the Arsenal Ladies game, it’s half time, they’re looking good, and we’re 2-0 up… come on you Arsenal….!