Sell, Sell, Sell: How Arsenal Can Stay on Top

Brad SimkuletSenior Analyst IDecember 9, 2007

IconArsenal manager Arsene Wenger has to be in selling mode during the January transfer window.

Arsenal’s shocking loss to Middlesbrough this weekend revealed the Gunner’s greatest weakness—Wenger's soft spot for aging, ineffective players.

The first man to go should be Gilberto Silva, the Brazilian captain. Gilberto has been a loyal servant, but he no longer fits the club's style of play.

Mathieu Flamini isn't just as good as Gilberto—he's better. Flamini is more creative, has better pace, and is a superior passer than his veteran counterpart. When Flamini is unavailable, Denilson could and should start in front of Gilberto, making the latter expendable.

If Wenger rids himself of Silva, he rids himself of temptation.

Next up for sale is Lassana Diarra. The French international and former Chelsea man has struggled to maintain first team form in the Premiership—and it's easy to see why.

For all his work ethic, Diarra is sloppy, tackles poorly, and constantly gives away possession. And still his big name gets him onto the field ahead of Theo Walcott.

Again, Wenger should sell the vet and cater to the strength he's worked so hard to create—youth.

Minus Silva and Diarra, Arsenal really wouldn’t require any replacements—but one more young, hungry, creative midfielder couldn’t hurt. Croatia’s Luka Modric would make a nice fit with his speed, agility, and grace.

The final big sale should be goalie Jens Lehmann. Put simply, Lehmann needs to be played or shown the door.

Despite Manuel Almunia’s decent form, he's only a shadow of the big German at his best. But Lehmann wasn't at his best when the season began—and one wonders if his time on the bench is an indication that his form is still suffering.

In any event, the most compelling reason to get rid of Lehmann is his attitude. He has been overly critical of Almunia in the press—and as Arsenal’s season becomes more and more difficult, Lehmann’s brand of negativity can only hurt the team.

As for buying—there will be much talk about the need for a centre back with Kolo Toure heading to the African Cup of Nations in January, but a simple recall of Johan Djourou will be enough to plug the hole.

What Arsenal really needs, on the other hand, is a true No. 1 keeper.

West Ham’s Robert Green is being touted as the most likely candidate—but is he really the sort of goalie who can carry the Gunners when the going becomes downright impossible?

Unless Wenger wants to spend big for one of the game's true goalkeeping greats, he may very well have to be.