Thursday, June 19, 2008
Arsene’s revised transfer plans?
By 1970’s Gooner
Arsene Wenger finished off last season promising new signings.
'I know what I want and I am very confident,' he said. 'I hope to turn that around in the next two or three weeks. The fans should be re-assured by what they see.'
He identified as one of the main areas that Arsenal needed strengthening as that of central defence pinpointing as a major weakness the inability to defend high balls into the middle.
With Mathieu Flamini having already opted to sign for AC Milan and Alexander Hleb ready to opt out, Wenger looked set for a busy two months.
But we are in the middle of June and the only apparent transfer activity so far has concentrated on trying to replace the “departing” Hleb.
It is reported that Samir Nasri will sign now that France has been knocked out of Euro 2008.
A possible reason for this inactivity is that Wenger may not want to further dwarf the chances of the younger players coming through by adding more players on the roster.
Wide midfielders: No more to come?
This is an area where there is a plethora of wide midfield players at the club even without Hleb.
Players such as Theo Walcott, Carlos Vela, Tomas Rosicky ( who by the way never said that he will actually miss the start of the season) and now it looks like Nasri too.
I have kept Eboue out of this list for obvious reasons!
And there are also forwards that can play as wide midfielders such as Robin Van Persie and Eduardo (in a say 4 3 3 formation with Adebayor in the middle).
Which ever way you look at it and taking into account that Rosicky and Eduardo will come back early enough, Wenger may be hesitant to splash the cash for any more forwards and wide midfielders other than Nasri.
Not unless there are more departures other than Flamini and possibly Hleb.
Not withstanding the above I would very much like to believe the rumours circulating that a bid is imminent for Andrei Arshavin.
I have enthused about him not so long ago as I think he will be that fantastic winger that Arsenal have been looking for a long time (No wonder Wenger is interested in Arshavin).
He is ready to make a huge impact. A much bigger impact than Nasri would make.
Wenger has shown interest before but somehow with Nasri’s arrival any day the chances of Arshavin coming at the Emirates may be affected.
Central midfield: Promote from within?
Now this is an interesting area where a vacancy is open for Fabregas’s partner.
Again I really do not see Wenger splashing the cash for a major signing. This is because there are alternatives within the existing squad that could fill the void.
As pointed out in one of our articles on this site (“There are four ways to replace Flamini”) Arsene would not want to jeopardize Diaby’s chances to eventually play in his natural position.
He would also like to give Song a chance there as well as Denilson and Gilberto who would probably be used as understudies (Toure is another alternative).
So again adopting this mode of thought it's difficult to predict a major signing in this area either.
Another goalkeeper; surely
I have written on this subject before (Arsene’s wish list?). Arsenal need to buy another goalkeeper to replace Lehmann.
Otherwise it would indeed be reckless to try and go through next season with only Almunia experienced enough to play in the first team.
Fabiansky is good and should be given a chance but what will happen if both of them get injured at the same time? Mannone would prove too raw to figure in the first team.
We therefore need to recruit another goalkeeper (maybe nearing his shelf life) who will add experience and would be fighting for a first team place with Almunia (and Fabiansky).
Full back positions: Don't even think about it
I consider the full back positions, manned by Sagna and Clichy as set in stone.
They are in my opinion the best full backs in Europe and their back ups Hoyte, Eboue, Gallas, Toure, Djourou and Traore are also adequate enough so as to allow Wenger to divert cash elsewhere.
But what about central defence?
This is an area that every Arsenal fan has been waiting to see a major signing.
Arsenal after all conceded 31 Premier League goals last term, the worst record of the top four clubs. Manchester United let in just 22, Chelsea conceded 26 and Liverpool leaked 28.
If you look at the results of the poll we set up on the subject this was the area that most fans wanted new faces.
517 votes out of a total 1369 (38% of the total) were cast for this option against those for a wide midfielder of 454 (33%).
Maybe most fans were conditioned to expect a signing here after Wenger’s comments pointing to the need to strengthen this area.
Well, his recent comments on the possibility of signing Vincent Kompany have usurped this idea!
“I have been interested in Vincent Kompany ever since he was 16, but I am not interested in him this year. There is nobody I need for my team’s defensive department”!
So there you go.
He will probably consider Alex Song as a reliable centre back.
And buying in another defender would dwarf his chances of shining through.
You will remember how enthusiastic Wenger was about Song at the question and answer session with shareholders at the end of the season.
You will also remember how well Song played in that high pressure game at Old Trafford last season.
Forwards: Stay as you are
You would not expect Wenger to enter the transfer market for another centre forward would you?
The excellent news that Eduardo will be ready to start pre season and (touch wood) Van Persie's apparent fitness imply that having four players for the two centre forward positions is adequate, even by Chelsea's standards.
If the above analysis proves correct, Arsene Wenger is likely to concentrate his transfer activity in buying younger players (as he has done for Ramsey and may do for Spear for example).
And he will expect that the youngsters will improve next season due to the experience gained.
'It doesn't look like we have no team and we have to build a team. 'We were unbeaten at home and that is only the second time in the history of the club.
'We have done that with young players who will be better next season.' he said recently.
He will then hope that a) there are no more departures and b) that the freak injuries that took out two of the three most potent goal scorers do not happen again.
I do like that Arshavin though.
No wonder Wenger is interested in Arshavin
There are four ways to replace Flamini
Arsene’s wish list?