Arsenal’s failings during the 2011 Premier League campaign are well documented.
Beautiful, flowing football: Yes. Silverware: No.
Brilliant creativity on the attack: Absolutely. Strong iron core: Er ... not so much.
Simply put, Arsene Wenger’s youth movement cranks out talented offensive players like MIT cranks out scientists. Centre backs are another matter. Not that Arsenal’s youth program has never returned any talented central defenders, it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be any good prospects at the moment.
The Gunners need to get a harder edge to their game. The way to do that is by sprinkling a few experienced veterans amongst the youthful ranks—not only on the back line, but in the middle and up front as well.
This is absolutely imperative if the Gunners are to turn into title winners next season.
Wenger will bring in his usual cortege of swift-footed juveniles during the summer no doubt, but with a reported $50 million available for players, the professor has indicated that he would like to bring in some experience—preferably of the Premier League variety.
Sure, that’s the goal and a noble endeavor it is, at that. The problem is that players with Premier League experience—or any experience, for that matter—of the caliber that is required to don an Arsenal kit are not readily available at reasonable rates, and when they are, quickly become highly in-demand commodities.
But never fear fellow Gunners fans, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the truest spirit of modern professional sports, one set of supporters’ miseries is another’s silver lining, and such may be the case this summer.
With club’s like West Ham facing relegation—and seemingly putting all the resistance of the archetypal milquetoast—players like Scott Parker and Matthew Upson will be memories at Upton Park faster than you can say, “mass exodus.” Chelsea are rumored to be eyeing a fire sale at the conclusion of the current term, and the scuttlebutt says that nobody is exempt from being shown the door. John Terry anyone?
Not to mention, a club like Arsenal could conceivably pry almost any player from any non-big four/five club with the proper amount of money. Also, plenty of players are out there without EPL minutes under their belt, but lots of international experience as well as with clubs in the top-flight leagues of other nations.
So which greying horses should Arsenal hitch its wagon to for the upcoming season? What veteran players should Arsene Wenger take a long hard look at during the summer transfer window?
Here are five that I feel merit watching and could potentially turn the Gunners into title winners in 2012.