Do you remember my blog from last week? I said Thierry Henry was right in his criticism of Olivier Giroud, I said I agreed with him about us not being able to win the title with (only) Olivier Giroud upfront.
I didn’t change my mind since, however I’d like to point out that anything else the King said after the match against Chelsea was – how can I say – less impressive. I am being very polite here, he actually went into a tirade about how Arsène Wenger should turn his team around to stand a chance and how players like Mesut Özil should start performing, something that should easily be labeled as – how can I say – idiotic, even if these words come from Thierry Henry himself.
There is one point which seemed to turn all pundits on: Thierry Henry’s suggestion that the Arsenal is currently missing a proper backbone and need at least four big signings to compete with Chelsea and Manchester City.
According to our legen (wait for it) dary striker, we need a world class goalkeeper, a world class centre-half, a world class holding midfielder and – of course – a world class striker to mount a serious challenge next season, otherwise we will end up fighting for Champions League football and hope to have good run in the domestic cups – again.
I would like to remind everyone that this spineless team has a very strong chance to finish the season in second place and is going to play the second FA Cup final in as many years; also, despite a terrible start of the season and despite injuries that ravaged our team, we currently hold the third best offensive record with 66 goals scored (with one game in hand) and we have the third best defensive record of the league with 33 goals conceded.
This doesn’t sound bad at all: it’s not the best either but it’s a good platform to build on, nothing suggests we should start from scratches to be listed among title contenders.
Although I agree with the hypothesis that a new striker would do wonders to our team, I am less sure that we really need a goalkeeper, a defender and a holding midfielder: David Ospina is performing really well since he took over from Wojciech Szczesny, his numbers in the league prove that he is on par with David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois – arguably the best goalies in the Premier League; I still think the Pole is an overall better goalkeeper, however the former Nice man is doing a great job and deserves to be our number one. The only reason I see for Arsène Wenger to buy a new goalie is Wojciech Szczesny leaving, which I hope won’t happen; if both of them stay onboard, I’m confident no upgrade is needed in this area, at all.
Shall any replacement be required then I wouldn’t go for Petr Cech: he’s a great goalkeeper but he’s 33 years old already and that would look like a quick-fix; goalkeepers like Hugo Lloris, Salvatore Sirigu or Samir Handanovic should be on our list, instead.
The same must be said about Francis Coquelin, another great revelation of this season: the Frenchman took his chance to become the destroyer we were so desperately looking for and deserves to be in the team; again, his numbers are there to show everyone that he is offering what Nemanja Matic offers to Chelsea in terms of tackles won, interceptions and clearances; if the Serbian is getting praises for his influence on José Borinho’s successful team, so should Le Coq.
Since Mathieu Flamini is set to leave this summer and Mikel Arteta is not sure to be around either, Francis Coquelin will need to have a proper challenger for the role, so it makes sense to pursue the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin, Gianni Imbula and William Carvalho; what I don’t agree with is that any of them would be an automatic starter as none of these players have any relevant experience or title to claim his place in the team.
Again, Francis Coquelin has done nothing to be demised from his role, I hope Arsène Wenger will stick with him and help him fulfill his potential.
Talking about our defensive roster, I reckon Per Mertesacker is not getting any younger nor any quicker, however I’d like to see more of this Gabriel fella before deciding whether we need an additional centre-half or not; the German had a torrid start of the season but he has improved since the turn of the year, rediscovering some form, while the Brazilian was often impressive in his cameos and would get better once he has a proper pre-season camp with his teammates – and let’s not forget about Calum Chambers, whose bright start of the season saved us many times; he’s young and raw but he could be a valuable back-up option at centre-back.
I reserve my judgment, then.
This spineless team is on an impressive run of three losses, one draw and eighteen wins in its last 22 games since the turn of the year and since Arsène Wenger set-up a more balanced formation, which proves that the most important improvements needed to be done internally rather than on the market.
This team needs some refined, accurate fine-tuning and not another revolution.
I want to keep judging players for what they do on the pitch and not for their pedigree; players like Courtois and Matic weren’t world class signing but proved to have the exact profile top fulfill José Mourinho’s plan – why shouldn’t our current players do the same?
Both Francis Coquelin and David Ospina are doing what they are asked to do, perhaps in a very quiet way (especially for the Colombian) but they are performing at the level required – let’s focus on this more that astronomical amount of money to be spent on this or that so-called world class player.
Unfortunately, tiny adjustments do not make headlines while revolutions do – and it’s very sad to see Thierry Henry accepting to play this game.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.