Friday, November 30, 2007
Arsenal’s failure to sign Anelka could be Man United’s or Chelsea’s gain in the title race
By 1970’s Gooner
A transfer that looks very likely to happen this January window is that of Anelka who is looking to play in the Champions League.
"I feel well in Bolton, but as I have said before, I want to evolve at a big club that seeks to be in the Champions League”.
As Liverpool and Arsenal look like they have completed their spending for this position the likely candidates are either Manchester United or Chelsea.
Both are indeed in need of a front player like Anelka, but for different reasons.
One of Manchester United’s major weaknesses last season was the lack of quality alternatives in the center forward position.
This problem is again persisting in this campaign with Saha being the only proper centre forward in the traditional sense. He is however very injury prone and has looked out of form recently.
The alternatives used by Ferguson have been Roonie and Tevez. But both are not really genuine centre forwards. They are more effective playing in the area between the opposing defence and their midfield.
Chelsea on the other hand have a quality center forward in Drogba who is scoring goals for fun.
The problem here is that there are no viable alternatives when he becomes unavailable; unless you consider Shevchenko, Pizzaro or Joe Cole as good enough to fill in that position.
And there is his enforced absence looming on the horizon with the Africa Cup of Nations drawing near. Drogba could join Arsenal’s “Ivorians” Toure and Eboue as early as the beginning of January.
Now step in Anelka.
He has a lot of qualities that not a lot of other center forwards have. I have expounded on them as early as last March when in one of my posts (Anelka for Arsenal)I considered Anelka as the most appropriate signing that could propel Arsenal to the title.
Now, alas, it looks as though he might be propelling one of our main rivals towards the title.
Wenger opted to go for Eduardo for about the same money that Anelka would have cost then. Although Eduardo looks a very good player who will be the longed for fox in the box he still has to come to terms with the Premiership.
So much so that during Van Persie’s recent absence Wenger opted to keep Eduardo on the bench and play with only one player up front. It will be interesting to see what Wenger will do now that Van Persie is still out for another three weeks.
Both Chelsea and Manchester United recognise that Anelka has a lot going for him. He is ideal as a forward to play with or without another front man. He is also a very skillful player who scores goals for fun but can keep the ball and bring players into the game.
He knows the Premier League well and at only 28 years old he now has a blend of relative youthfulness along with maturity and experience.
He has scored 11 goals for Bolton last season out of 35 appearances with 5 assists even. This season he has scored 7 in only 11 appearances. And for the goals scored this season he was playing the lonesome striker role; in an average, launch them long and high, Bolton side.
Imagine how many goals he will score in either a Manchester United or a Chelsea side that obviously create a lot more scoring opportunities than Bolton.
If his transfer goes through to either of these two clubs then it could turn out to be the most hotly contested title race for years.