After today's match against Bolton, we finally make up for the game missed early in the season and hopefully come three points closer to Chelsea. And with the transfer window open and Arsene’s statement that he will be busy during the transfer window, it is definitely an exciting time to be a Gooner.
The thinking heads must be looking over countless scouting reports, starting lineups, bank accounts, and making phone calls from dawn to dusk. But what exactly should be the strategy for improving the team? What kind of players help us not only this season, but also in the long term? What is the priority? Questions over questions, believe me, Arsene must be asking himself very similar ones.
For starters, Arsenal is not Manchester City (thank goodness), but that also means we don’t have millions of petrodollars to throw away and sign whoever and everyone we wish for and hope one or two players pan out.
Arsenal, although a big club, neither has Man City money, neither wishes to spend it as such. Arsene has always been about economy and buying someone that is maybe not as famous, but who can do the job nonetheless.
Just look at the Thomas Vermaelen signing this past summer. For £10m he got a defender not widely publicized by the papers and who turned out—so far—as a better investment than Man City’s £25m Kolo Toure signing.
The point being, do not expect Arsene to shell out £20-25 for the likes of Dzeko, Viera, or Shay Given. The deals that will happen will probably not be the ones written on a slow edition of The Sun or anything written on The News of The World. Arsene like to keep his cards close to his chest.
The priorities also seem to be skewed a bit. Everyone wants a striker, but with Eduardo scoring three goals in his last four matches, and Niklas Bendtner returning from injury before the month is done, is a striker really the best way to spend the money?
Say we buy someone, say Carlton Cole. What happens when Bendtner comes back? We will have a surplus again. And when RvP comes back next year, do we just sell Eduardo or Bendtner?
Signing a striker may not be the wisest decision.
Besides, most goals from this formation do not come from the Centre-Forward, but from the players around him, notice how we have fared just fine without RvP in the lineup.
Then where shall Le Boss turn his eyes to next? The answer lies in the back.
Of the defense that is.
Our situation at goal has been what some would call a minor problem, others would describe it as what is keeping us from the number one spot. I am somewhere in between.
Almunia has not been reliable since returning from the worst stomach bug in history. He hasn’t been that bad the past month, yet someone with a stronger presence in the box would greatly improve our chances.
Some names who have been thrown around but are probably just smoke include Joe Hart (Birmingham is as good as they are mostly because of him, he won’t go easy or cheap), Igor Akinfeev (CSKA is in the knockout stages of the UCL, so he’s going nowhere), and Shay Given (Man City are looking for a top-four finish, and reports that Given wants out seem far-fetched considering the three straight shutouts since Mancini arrived).
The answer may lie in mainland Europe. Two names not discussed often are Hugo Lloris of Olympique Lyonnais and Rene Adler of Bayern Leverkusen.
Lloris has, through great play, helped Raymond Domenech keep his job. Adler is the keeper of the only undefeated - yes, undefeated - team in any of Europe’s four major leagues. Leverkusen are undefeated and yet sit only one point ahead of Schalke 04 mostly because Adler has kept them in games they had no business picking up points.
But our most pressing need may not be any of the above positions. Our biggest weakness may be at centre-half.
Yes, centre-half, where William Gallas and Vermaelen have done an excellent job this year so far. Yet, they have played in every game this season - sans Carling Cup - and if any of them picks up a knock we will be faced with the reality of Mikael Silvester playing an extremely crucial role. Silvester isn’t my definition of confidence.
A reliable veteran—not Silvestre old veteran—should be added to help give the defense depth and keep us from having to shuffle the lineup around in case of injury.
If Arsene is going to buy, which he said he is, don’t expect it to be reported on the papers a week before it becomes official. Like I said before, Arsene likes to keep everything close to the vest and when he isn’t saying much it means he is doing some work.
The addition of a centre-half, to give the team depth and security, with the inclusion of a fresh, young goalkeeper may be what takes us to our first trophy since 2005.
Now onto other Arsenal related news:
Tomas Rosicky has signed a new contract with Arsenal . A wise decision I feel, he has been fantastic when not injured and gives us depth and creativity to an already crowded midfield.
Fran Merida has signed with Atletico Madrid and will join them in the summer . Arsene says he is shocked , but I am really not. It was only a matter of time really, with Rosicky signing a new contract Merida probably realized his future was not at Arsenal and went to a club close to home to have a better chance at a starting role.
I believe he will be a very good player in the future, but with Cesc, Denilson, Diaby, Song, Wilshire, Nasri, Ramsey, and the aforementioned Rosicky, there was really a steep ladder for him to climb for a place in the starting XI.
Arsene has once again said he will spend wisely . He talks about how he will not put the purchase of new players ahead of the development of his young players and also, about how he will not overspend for any player, saying: “Why should I pay 10 [million pounds] for a player worth five?” Very wise, typical Arsene.
Arsene also talks about how he is unsure whether to rest his starting XI against Stoke for their upcoming FA Cup tie . It seems as though he is giving some serious thought about the FA cup, the introduction of Nasri and Diaby on Sunday reflect that sentiment. Right now, I feel any silverware is good silverware, although the League should remain the focus.