By 1970's Gooner
It was a huge relief for all gooners when Dudu’s transfer was announced out of the blue. And the intensity of the elation was I think much more elevated as it came after the shock news of the departure of the club’s talisman.
But amidst all the frenzy of getting to know the new player we forgot that he was brought in as a replacement for the loss of a forward. In real terms there has not been any net addition to the squad. There are we hope more transfers to come.
Obviously Arsenal’s transfer policy should concentrate on correcting the glaring weaknesses of the past season. And it was very apparent that the team faced a real problem in scoring from open play and seriously lacked width.
Let’s look at the forward position first.
There are those who may maintain that with Dudu’s arrival Arsenal may not need another forward. I beg to disagree.
The most obvious weakness in the forward line up of the current squad is that there is a distinct lack of experience. With Henry gone there are now only two relatively experienced players in Robin Van Persie and Adebayor. They are however only 24 and 22 respectively.
Not to mention Bendtner who is 19 and has not yet played in the Premiership! Or even Walcott who theoretically could play as a forward but for now is a wide player and is only 18!
The addition of Dudu to the squad (aged 24) does not of course do much to increase the average age and one has to allow for the dreaded adjustment period to Premiership football.
Additionally account has to be taken of injury, suspensions, loss of form and the Africa Cup of Nations. Remember what happened last season when injuries to Henry and Van Persie in particular deprived the team of its two most lethal forwards.
Taking into account that Adebayor will be away at the ANC for about a month then it becomes obvious that the squad will lose serious depth.
It’s not as though “we can wing it” and take a chance that none of these things will happen (injuries, suspensions and loss of form) and that Adebayor would not be missed. You would in fact be taking a big gamble. And with the competitive nature of the Premiership rising substantially this coming season you can not afford the merest of slips as we would be playing catch up all the time.
Remember the period when Terry got injured. That’s when Chelsea lost the title. And since the Arsenal team is littered with inexperience, heads and confidence drop that more easily.
The ideal for Arsenal would be to recruit another forward who will be a little bit more experienced and Premiership hardened.
There are reports that Arsenal are interested in Martins who knows the Premiership. He has pace and given the opportunities he will get you goals. But he is also relatively young at 23 (next October if his birth certificate is to be believed) and I don’t really see him as a centre forward. He is more a winger or an inside forward playing off the centre forward.
At the moment, in the absence of Henry, only Adebayor can perform this role. Robin Van Persie could be trained to do it but he is much more effective playing off a centre forward or occupying a wide position in a 4 3 3 or 4 5 1 formation as he was deployed last season.
And in my opinion these are the formations that Wenger will consider adopting as they offer, among other benefits, the opportunity to include all the three excellent central midfielders that are now available: Fabregas, Gilberto Silva and the exciting Diaby.
If Arsenal are serious about challenging for honours next season then I would expect, and it would be pretty exciting, for Wenger to come up with another signing for this position who would be experienced and old enough to supplement the existing forward line.
Now let’s look at the wide midfield position.
Here, on the face of it, Wenger has two strategic options. Either he goes for a tried and tested winger who would of course have pace, dribbling ability and will not be afraid to shoot.
Or he “promotes from within” by moving Eboue to this position and signing another right back. Like Bakiri Sagna. The rationality of the latter option is analysed in my posting “Is Wenger about to abandon his search for a wide midfielder?”
But there could be another option. The “stingy one”. Just stick with signing another forward. This is because of the flexibility added to the squad by Dudu who can play both as a central striker and a wide midfielder.
As Wenger has stated: “He is a very good finisher and although he is predominantly a striker, he is a very adaptable player”
In this way Wenger will only need to sign one more player, preserve Arsenal’s scarce financial resources and allow his young prodigies more room to grow (for more on this thinking check out my posting :Arsenal need two but may sign only one player).
I wander what Wenger's next move will be.
I hope he makes one.