Where do Arsenal need to strengthen in the next 2 weeks?
It wasn’t so long ago – I had just returned from my holidays, Arsenal had just completed the signing of Petr Cech, and me and my sun-kissed skin had a strange feeling the squad was now complete and set to challenge. However, here I am a month later – oil-stanched from work, and damp from Britain’s ‘summer’ – and that feeling has disappeared like a rat up a drain pipe.
We had signed Cech – a top bracket, world-class goalkeeper. I could literally not be happier with the new stopper. Then when Woj left the building I was even more delighted, because to be frank, I’ve never rated the young Pole: erratic and far too often caught on his heels. Which left Ospina as a capable number 2, and young Martinez a plucky number 3, left to learn off Cech. But then Martinez was loaned out to Wolves. Now this is probably me being far too over-cautiou, but we’re now (for me) a goalkeeper light, and two injuries away from being left with a rookie between the sticks. I know it’s all based on permutations, but I’d be far more comfortable with a Poom or Warmuz in the squad for an unfortunate extreme circumstance.
It’s also un-Wengerish to go into a season with just 2 goalies. You only have to think back to 13/14 when he brought Viviano in on loan for just that purpose.
So that would be one player.
Not much to say here. We’re well stocked in this area: Debuchy and the young Spangliard, Bellerin (who’s improving on such a trajectory he’s disappeared into the skyline) at right back.
As well as having two good options on the right we now have two on the left: the ever-dependable Nacho Monreal, and, of course, the lightning quick Gibbs. So at fullback I’ve still got the taste of foreign lager on my lips and feel totally comfortable.
Back in the day when I was at ease with every other area of the squad. Centre back was my wish for a luxury investment. First off, I feel if Chambers is to develop into the centre back we want, he would be best-suited to a season-long loan at another Premier League club – playing 38 games and really learning his trade. With Kos we have a top-quality centre back up there with the best in the league, and I think Gabriel behind him will be his replacement and understudy. Because as much as we laud and love Bosscielny – as soon as he hits 30 he becomes a time bomb. Pace is what makes him a cut above – the minute he sees the danger he’s there. Once his pace leaves I have a horrible feeling he’ll go off the edge of a cliff. That’s for another day though because today he’s one of the best in the league.
Then we have his partner-in-crime: the BFG. Now Per, since arriving at the club, has caused division across the fan base: he’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last. I would like someone brought in to slowly push Mertesacker out of the team over the course of the season because no matter how well we play, he’s the link in our defence that opposition teams always target, due to his lack of pace. He deals with this admirably. However he – and we, as a team – still have to deal with this. I would have loved John Stones, but with what’s happened further up the field, it seems far less important for now.
Ah – the good old DM. Oh, how us Gooners could have done with a physical, hard-tackling, horrible bastard of a DM over the years! Now we have one. His name’s Francis Coquelin. I must apologise for criticizing his long-balls post West Ham. Having read some pieces and done some research it seems he is actually very good at them. It’s an area of the pitch I’m comfortable with and have been. I was pleased Arteta signed another deal because I like him; against teams where we dominate the ball he’s a perfectly viable option to don the cannon on his chest. In our youth squad we have a highy-regarded Beilik and did have Hayden at the club (before his loan to Hull). We also still have Flamini in the squad who, in my opinion, as a third choice isn’t a travesty – however if he were to go, I feel we would need to strengthen for this season. And if that does happen, I feel we’ve missed the boat. Scheinderlin would have been my first choice, and I certainly would have taken Vidal (don’t @ me saying he’s not a DM). I hear people rave about Camacho and Carvalho, but I know far too little about them to pass judgement on whether they’d improve the side.
So for now in this area I feel comfortable.
Feeling comfortable doesn’t do this area justice. I’m nearly aroused. We’ve got diminutive little Spaniard, Santi Cazorla – who, when he plays from his deeper role, earns plaudits from all quarters. And he leaves Ramsey, Wilshere and Rosicky all trailing in his wake. Each of them are first teamers and star players for any side out of the top 4… (maybe excluding SuperTom, given his age…) and they would certainly be in and around the other top 4 clubs (bar maybe Chelsea, and City if Yaya’s in the mood).
So there’s still no worries in this area, besides making sure Le Prof rocks out with the Santi-Coq combo so I can sit back with a piña colada and enjoy games.
And in at 10:
Well what can I say? We’ve got Mesut Ozil for starters, so there aren’t many (or, for some: any) we can buy who’re better. And if he’s injured, theres Alexis, Super Jack and Tom. And even the OX. So: no signings required here, Mr. Wenger. (And Mesut, by the way, how you played against Palace was majestic – you almost made me feel like I was on holiday again. If you can perform like that 4 out of every 5 games this season we’ll be right on track…)
The front 3:
Now, taking you back to my post-holiday Arsenal squad bliss – I saw our front 3 positions like this: on the right we had THE OX, who was going to step up this year and make it his time. We also had a young German waiting in the wings: Serge Gnabry, who I was really looking forward to seeing, but as we now know won’t be in an Arsenal shirt this season.
Then from the left there was the wonderful MVP: Alexis Sanchez. Let’s all have a dance and a jig rejoice in his brilliance and thank our lucky stars he plays for Arsenal! Behind him I saw Danny Welbeck; he can certainly play out left and up front- he’s one player I really believe in. Though I don’t see him as a leading talisman, I don’t think he’ll ever let us down, and I think that’s what Sir Alex and Arsene believe too. (Not bad people to have for a footballing reference!) When you go back to Middlesex away last year, he was thrown straight in the first team after injury and whiskey nose would start him ahead of Rooney in the big games towards the end of his reign.
Then there’s the much maligned Number 9 role in the team. I feel Giroud is prefect for the games where his qualities are required. He’s useful when we’re trying to break down a deep defence. He’s a good sticky pin when we want to bring more of our midfielders around him into the box. My biggest complaint with him is he doesn’t do the more traditional big man things very well: he doesn’t bruise or bully his opposing centre backs, in fact he seems to get bullied by them – and his heading is far from consistent enough. Our foil to Giroud is our lovely little Theo. His finishing is up there with anyone in the squad. He rarely misses the target when the opportunity presents itself, and his pace gives defenses kittens. If anyone dared playing a high line against us, he would be as good as anyone at exposing it.
And then we had young Chuba Akpom: far from proven, but on the little evidence we’ve seen would certainly have been capable for cameos and the odd start in the Whatever Shit Sponsorship Trophy. And I can’t speak for everyone, but I love seeing our youth prospects given opportunities. It to me defines the difference between a club and a team. Now the problem with our options with the front three is two of the players I’ve mentioned have been shipped out on loan, and that makes us thin in terms of numbers. So we need some bodies up in here Monsieur Wenger. My skin’s now peeling!
Wrapping it up:
With the players who have now disbanded on loan, I feel we’re a bit short in attack.
Now I know what you’re going to say. What would Martinez ,Gnabry and Akpom really bring to the table? Martinez would have brought peace of mind when Petr or Ospina pick up their inevitable injuries -this is Arsenal, for goodness sake! It will happen and we will be thinking we’re a red card away from a youth player who’s never made a senior appearance… So for that position anyone with experience would be better- kind of like what Schwarzer was for the Chavs.
And then we’ve got the problem with selection across the front 3. If Ramsey is going to be a permanent fixture at right win,g you could argue we definitely need another all-rounder in central midfield. Who that would be, at this point I have no idea. It’s hard to buy back up – so you go for young promise or a world class bank breaker.
I’m not getting into the world class striker conversation because I’ve touched on it in a previous blog. One thing there’s no shortage of today though is top bracket wide men but again: do we need a blockbuster there? I don’t think so. I don’t want anyone put in front of the Ox; in my heart I want to see him develop. Does anybody get in front of Alexis? NO! and if you think otherwise go have a lie down and contemplate what you’re doing with your life!
Unfortunately, anyway I look at it we need at least one more attacking player to give us something extra and supply depth to the front three positions. A Draxler or Gotze could suffice – or even a younger striker, perhaps a bit further along than Akpom. Who..? I have no idea. All I know is, with all the players out on loan, the manager has left us a little short. So, Arséne must blow the cobwebs from the wallet, let the moths fly free and get what we need done. Otherwise there’s going to be an awful lot of disgruntled I told you so’s come next May when we look back.
Please send me back to holiday mode Mr. Wenger. I liked it there!