Can Arsenal Get Those Last Missing Links to Become a Dominant Force?
Let me make one point clearly evident. I am and always will be a DIEHARD fan of Manchester United. I've followed them since I got into football at the age of eight in 1997, and have been chanting "Glory Glory Man United" ever since.
That being said let me explain the following; I genuinely admire and respect Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
Outside of William Gallas, Patrick Viera and Cesc Fabregas, I generally have no problem with Gunners of past and present. Unfortunately for those three, they will never get onto my good side.
While the Red Devils have been scurrying to titles throughout Europe and England over the past four years, Arsenal has been coming up just a tad bit short, always because of two things; injuries and lack of depth.
This has been showcased in this season as well, when a lack of quality has hurt Arsenal when key players such as Robin Van Persie, Fabregas and Gael Clichy all missed extended time with injuries.
In their places Nicholas Bendtner, Samir Nasri and Kieran Gibbs filled in respectively. Out of this bunch Bendtner and Gibbs don't merit starting in the Premier League little less for a grand club like Arsenal, while Samir Nasri is a world class player.
Because of the lack of depth and quality of that depth, Arsenal not only lost out on the Premier League title but a solid Champions League run too, after meeting Manchester United in the semifinals and were trumped out.
So here is the scenario: with Emanuel Adeybayour and Robin Van Persie expected to be sold this summer to help fill the transfer kitty in addition to Wenger finally cutting ties with Mikael Silvestre and William Gallas, who should Arsenal buy to make the strong push for the top?
Allow me to give the full analysis of every hole on this Arsenal squad and player(s) most suited to address it.
The most pressing needs: should one of Adeybayour/RVP be sold this summer, a striker would now be a necessary purchase along with two defensive center midfielders two centerbacks and one other playmaker.
To start from the back moving forward; although not a pressing need, a new goalkeeper would work well for Arsenal, seeing that Almunia is inconsistent and simply not world class quality.
The solution to this: Carlos Kamieni, the GK from Espanyol who is available on a Bosman.
Kamieni has single-handedly kept Espanyol alive and away from relegation over the past two years.
Facing teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid, Villareal, Valencia and Sevilla, Kamieni should be more than upto the task of facing off against a strong team such as Manchester United or Liverpool.
The fact that Arsenal can sign him on a Bosman (free transfer) should be further incentive for Wenger to go out and get him.
Going onto the backline, which has been a cause for concern for the Gunners all year; with the headcase William Gallas and the slowly deteriorating Mikael Silvestre, Arsenal need to move fast to shore up the main problem to their team.
With Clichy, Kolo Toure and Bacary Sagna already in place on the backline as cornerstone pieces for Wenger and Arsenal, it is now up to him to find two more centerbacks to shore up his world class defense.
Likely candidates for Arsenal: Lucio from Bayern Munich, and Christoph Metzelder from Real Madrid.
The Brazil national team captain and world class defender, Lucio has openly said he is looking to leave Bayern Munich in order for a new challenge. He should look no further than Arsenal.
Arsenal can provide Lucio with a nice pay wage, Champions League play and a spot in their lineup.
Metzelder is highly likely to leave this summer with the appointment of Florentino Perez as the President of Real Madrid.
It is well know through all of the media that Perez will be cleaning house, and it is safe to say that Metzelder isn't in his agenda of players to keep.
Arsenal have everything to gain in signing Metzelder. He is hungry to prove his worth and eager to earn a spot in Germanys squad for the 2010 World Cup.
With his place not secured, a move to Arsenal where he can get more playing time would work out for both parties.
When healthy, Metzelder is a MONSTER of a defender. At 6'4" he is a gargantuan figure and strong enough physically to handle the battles of the Premier League.
Couple the signings of Metzelder and Lucio along with leftovers Emanuel Eboue, Johan Djourou and the three pillars of Sagna, Clichy and Toure and suddenly Arsenal have the proper depth and talent for a respectable and efficient backline.
Onto the midfield: parts, talents and quality is there, just not the right blend of it.
Tomas Rosicky has been injured for the last year and a half and his future is unknown. Nasri has been a pleasant surprise in his first year at the Emirates, along with Theo Walcott and Alexandre Song blossoming, Wenger is going somewhere with this.
Along with those young Gunners are three more YOUNGER guns: Jack Wilshire, Aaron Ramsey and Denilson; all young unproven talent who have shown moments of brilliance.
Adding Song, Walcott, Nasri to a group that includes Cesc, Abou Diaby and Rosicky and then the youngsters Wilshire, Ramsey and Denilson, Arsenal certainly have the numbers.
But its QUALITY that wins Championships. Outside of Nasri and Cesc, the rest are uncertain.
Lining up in Wenger's 4-4-2 formation a midfield of Walcott-Diaby/Song-Cesc-Nasri looks like one that can produce, but the MF is all flair and no muscle.
This is where the signings come in. The four players that should be looked at are: Yaya Toure from Barcelona, Mamadou Sakho from PSG, Mamadou Diarra from Real Madrid and Stephen Appiah who is not signed by any team at the moment.
It is extremely important that Wenger look to sign at least two from the bunch listed above.
Yaya Toure was nearly signed by Arsenal in the January transfer window, but they opted to address another hole and signed Andrei Arshavin.
By signing Toure, they would be adding a significant force to the midfield that Arsenal have been lacking since Flamini departed for Milan.
A warrior in the trenches, Toure is one of the key reasons to Barcelona's success this year. With playing time scarce due to Barca's star studded midfield, a move to London could once again be reignited.
Mamadou Sakho is young Frenchman; we all know that tickles Wenger's fancy.
Outside of that this is certain; Sakho is a young talent who's potential is huge. Forming a partnership with Cesc in the middle, we could be looking at a combination similar to Essien-Lampard on another part of London as well.
Mamadou Diarra's time in Madrid looks up. With Lassana settled in at Mamadou's old position and Florentino's reign coming upon us, Mamadou could be on his way to Wenger's squad.
For what he accomplished during his time at Madrid, Wenger would be foolish not to welcome Mamadou to the Emirates with open arms. A clone of Toure, he should come cheap considering he is coming off a knee injury.
Stephen Appiah makes too much sense; a gritty defensive midfielder available on a Bosman. He has Champions League experience and has recently played on a trial for Tottenham. That shouldn't scare off Arsenal from signing a missing part to their midfield.
Signing two of these midfielders is beyond essential. The grit and fight that Arsenal have lacked from their midfield is available right in front of them. To not sign two or even one of these listed midfielders would be a complete disaster.
The last and hardest position to analyze; forward. Arshavin, RVP, Adeybayour are all star players. Vela is an up and comer and Eduardo was destined for glory prior to his horror ankle injury.
The one who does not fit in this bunch is Nicholas Bendtner. By saying he is terrible is keeping it polite. He must go, whether on a loan or just given away. Words cannot describe how he has managed to throw away games for Arsenal.
The problem arises for who leaves; Adeybayour and RVP are two different players.
Should RVP leave, Arsenal should look at Karim Benzema.
The young frenchman has drawn comparisons to Zizou, and oozes class. With the tutelage of Arsene, he would be able to take Benzema to the next level.
Due to his poor form of late, and Lyon failing to qualify for Champions League play, Benzema may be sold cheaper than that $40 million euro pricetag that was slapped on his head. Wenger needs to jump at him first chance he gets.
Now what to do if Adey leaves? The answer; Klaas Jan Huntelaar.
Another outcast at Madrid, Huntelaar was nearly signed by Arsenal in the summer transfer window, only to be scared off by his pricetag.
With the sale of Adeybayour at an expected $35 million to $40 million, Arsenal will have more than the necessary funds needed to sign "The Hunter."
Although it seems Arsenal's problems were all solved, there's one thing that keeps getting overlooked. It's the grinder type of player that both Chelsea and Man Utd. have.
Michael Essien and John O'Shea.
Michael Essien may seem like a center mid, but he's more than that. He's often been lined up on the right wing, the left wing, throughout the entire backline and always in the trenches; excelling wherever he is put, and often bailing Chelsea out of troubled situations.
It can't be stated enough about how underrated and underappreciated Essien really is. The same should be said for O'Shea at United.
O'Shea is the footballing equivalent of a sixth man. He comes off the bench and does what is asked of him. He is clearly SAF's most loyal and trusted solider. Time and time again, he slots in wherever he is asked, and gets the job done.
This is ultimately what Arsenal are missing. This is their main void: a gritty utility player.
Is it possible to get one? Appiah is the one who best fits the description and given his ability and talent to play all over like Essien, he should be highly pursued.
My final analysis: Wenger has stuck with his Youth Policy through thick and thin. But Arsenal fan's patience is wearing thin.
It's time to splash the cash and take your team to the promise land Arsene; a little money spent goes a LONG way.
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