As a non-Arsenal fan, I feel that I can give the best view of what Arsenal need to do in the transfer window should they want to be successful next season. They’ve already signed Gervinho from Lille (more or less) and they are in the process of trying to hold onto their key midfielders in Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas.
However, after reading countless of blogs and opinions, I feel that I am so engrossed in this topic that I have found a solution for Arsenal that even all the football manager enthusiasts will agree with.
Before Arsene Wenger can even think of bringing in any new players I think he needs to shift a few players and he needs to shift them fast. There are players on the arsenal bench right now who are just earning a pay check for coming into training each morning and not even getting considered for first-team action.
The first thing Wenger needs to do is get rid of Almunia. This guy was never a number one keeper and in Wojciech Szczesny I feel that they have a No. 1 keeper in the making but they have to be patient with him. I believe that he should have a season or two playing understudy to an experienced keeper and shadowing him to learn new things because as of now, I’m not sure how much he will learn from Manuel Almunia or any other keeper at arsenal right now.
I think that a good short-term No. 1 keeper would be Mark Schwarzer or Shay Given. Both of these two keepers could slot into the Arsenal first 11 perfectly and Wojciech Szczesny, along with Lukasz Fabianski, can learn quite a lot from either of them.
Gael Clichy has already made his exit and I think that is the smartest piece of business he could have done because he has been a liability for year at Arsenal. I’m sure everybody remembers his crucial mistake at the end of the infamous Birmingham game which had it all—goals, red cards, injuries, a comeback, a last-minute penalty and somebody going through a mental breakdown. Not naming any names, William Gallas.
In Kieran Gibbs they have a ready-made replacement who is capable of doing much more for Arsenal than Clichy ever did. Arsenal’s defence needs a major overhaul and I think the only person who can be certified of a starting berth is Bakary Sagna. Defenders such as Sébastien Squillaci, Djourou and Koscielny would not be missed if they are sold on. Perhaps only one of them should be kept for extra cover.
Yes, Vermaelen is a good defender, but I believe that Arsenal need competition in that area to make sure all their defenders are at the top of their game. There have been talks that Arsenal is linked with Gary Cahill of Bolton, Phil Jagielka of Everton and Christopher Samba of Blackburn. I believe that Arsenal need to buy two of the three if they really want to improve.
Buying one of these defenders won’t help as there would still be no competition for places which breeds complacency. If you look at Chelsea and Man United, who have had the best defensive records in the league for a long time now, they have three or four centre-backs who can walk into the Arsenal team and pretty much any other team, for that matter. This provides no room for complacency regardless of who you are.
As for midfield, I believe that this has been Arsenal’s strongest area for many years now. They have midfielders that every team would want in Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.
However, the former two could very well be on their way out of Arsenal. If Arsene Wenger is serious about keeping Nasri, which I think he should be, then he needs to take a page out of Alex Fergusons book and give in to the player’s demands.
Imagine if SAF had decided to be stubborn and keep with his mantra of “no one man is bigger than the club” and refused to give Wayne Rooney what he wanted? United would not have won the league and they also would have sent out the wrong message to their rivals and that is something that they did not want to do.
To be a good football manager, you need to have some decent PR skills and by holding onto Wayne Rooney, Fergie showed the world that United were still a force in world football. Arsene Wenger needs to keep Samir Nasri at all costs because if he leaves along with Fabregas, then what is stopping Robin Van Persie from turning his back on the club?
If I was the Arsenal manager Cesc Fabregas would be allowed to live out his dream and play for Barcelona and I will take the £35 million which was offered for him. Sure, Arsenal might be able to get more money for him if he was sold to City, Real Madrid or even Malaga! But the fact of the matter is that Barcelona does not need Fabregas right now and they are in the unique position of knowing that he will not go anywhere else other than to them.
Real Madrid may bid for Fabregas, but with his heart set on going to Barca knowing that it will happen sooner rather than later, they will not be drawn into a bidding war that Wenger hopes will happen. With Xavi being 31, Barca can wait till Fabregas’ contract runs down and gets him for free. The fact that they are willing to pay for Fabregas should be seen as a gift for Arsenal and they should grab it with both hands.
Arsenal have no need for a replacement for Fabregas as they have one in Samir Nasri. Even though he has more or less said that he wants to leave the club, Wayne Rooney said the same thing in October but after a week of conversations behind closed doors, he signed a new lucrative contract.
Not saying that Nasri will get that sort of money, but he wants over £100K a week and I think Arsenal should give it to him and ensure him that he will now be the focal point of Arsenal’s midfield and play in the middle of the park where he was most effective.
Of course he had an indifferent second half of the season but that will happen when he plays out of position. Nasri is not a left or right winger and even Fabregas will not play his best football out of his preferred position.
With the Fabregas and Nasri situation sorted out, the next thing to do is to get rid of the fringe players who are good players but not good enough for Arsenal, unfortunately. This includes Abou Diaby Denilson and I’m afraid to say Andrei Arshavin.
Perhaps I’m being harsh on Arshavin because he is in the same situation as Nasri in that he is being played out of position. His best position is behind the striker and I do not think he will get to play there at Arsenal. His best bet is to call it a day and head on back to Russia where he will be appreciated once more for his style of play.
I think Arsenal only need to buy two, maybe three midfielders and the Cesc Fabregas transfer money alone should be suffice to cover these expenses. Arsenal does not need a tough tackling, all imposing midfielder because I believe they have that in Alex Song.
What they do need, however, is a disciplined midfielder who will stick to his position in front of the defence, which Alex Song is not. This player does not have to be the best player in the team, but they have to be disciplined.
Michael Carrick is a perfect example of this because he is not considered the best in the Man United midfield however he does his job, sticks to his position and because of that he breaks up a lot of the play and his passing qualities help United to set up attacks because of that.
They also need somebody who is mentally tough as well as disciplined which is why I don’t think Joey Barton fits that description because although he is mentally tough, he is ill-disciplined in his actions on and off the pitch.
I believe that Scott Parker would be the best value for money as he is disciplined as well as mentally strong. He proved it last year by single handily making West Ham look as if they had a chance of surviving relegation.
In addition to this kind of player, Arsenal need direct wingers with pace and I’m not talking about Theo Walcott because he is not a winger (more on that later). Stewart Downing and Charles N’Zogbia are two wingers who are on the market and will add something different to Arsenal’s style of play.
Only one of these wingers might be enough because to the best of my knowledge Arsenal have a Japanese wonder kid on loan at Feyenoord by the name of Ryo Miyaichi who has been branded the Japanese Messi. I have seen one of his videos on YouTube and with the right guidance he will become an excellent player.
However, his time is not now so he is probably better off with the Ronaldo treatment of playing the majority of his games coming off the bench and getting accustomed to life in the Premiership.
Arsenal’s main goal threat at the moment is Robin Van Persie, and when fit he has been in lethal form over the last three years. However, he will be the first to admit that he has a problem with injuries and he can’t do it all by himself. I
f he could stay healthy for almost the whole of the season much like Rooney did when he had his great goal-scoring season, then Arsenal will have a much better chance at silverware. The only problem is that this happened only once for Rooney and it has never happened for Van Persie.
Arsenal currently have Gervinho, Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh in their ranks, but I do not think that those three are good enough to provide back up to Van Persie. Nicklas Bendtner is already on his way out while Chamakh will most likely stay even though Arsene Wenger has lost faith in the Moroccan it seems.
The last time that Arsenal seriously looked like doing something in recent history was when they had an out-and-out striker, a fox in the box, a goal-poacher so to say in Edurado. Arsenal was looking unstoppable until he broke his leg unfortunately thus effectively ending his Arsenal career.
I am surprised that Wenger has not noticed this and brought another out and out striker or even thought of moving Theo Walcott’s development ahead and moving him into the centre forward role.
Speaking of young Walcott’s development, I think it has been stifled under Wenger. Theo Walcott is clearly not a winger because he cannot dribble and he is not the best at crossing. He also does not get into good positions as a winger because he does not know what to do out there. This does not mean he is not a good player, however.
I’m sure Michael Owen would have looked unimpressive in an unfamiliar role on the wing when he was starting out. That’s because Owen is not a winger, he is a striker; and he was a very good striker at that.
Theo Walcott is better when he is running without the ball at his feet and if he had been playing up front two or three years ago he could well already have had near enough 75 goals in all competitions with his pace and the creativity behind him, which is no exaggeration.
He has proven that he has an eye for goal, especially with his hat-trick against Croatia, and with his pace there is no doubt in my mind that he could develop into one of the world’s most lethal strikers. The only reason why he is not on his way there is because Wenger is obsessed with creating another Thierry Henry. What Wenger needs to realise is that he cannot re-create that kind of greatness as Henry was one of the greatest strikers of his generation.
However should Wenger not trust this option and want to buy another potent striker and given his record of signing un-fancied players, Roberto Soldado at Valencia or Alessandro Matri of Juventus is right up Wenger’s alley and one of the two should even be considered to compete with Theo Walcott for a starting berth up front.
With all this said, Arsenal’s first XI should be:
The substitutes bench will include the likes of current No. 1 Wojciech Szczesny, Eboue, Samba, Ramsey, Song, Miyaichi and Walcott as a striker. This is a strong looking bench, which does not even include new boy Gervinho, and the current first XI which I have just put together is not one that is not impossible to make happen. In fact, I believe that there is a very good chance of this happening.
I am not too familiar with the Arsenal youngsters but they always produce potentially exciting players and I do not think it will be any different with Henri Lansbury likely to lead the way in this field after impressing with the few cameo’s he made in the U-21 European Championships.
The team you are currently seeing is better defensively than any of Wenger’s previous teams and I think that this was the problem as Arsenal have had no problem scoring goals when they needed to but they have had a big problem staying tight and defending when they have had to.
And to probably answer what will be the most frequently asked question is why would a team like Arsenal ever go for players like Stewart Downing, Charles N’Zogbia and Scott Parker? Well the answer to that is Arsenal are not a super club anymore.
Arsene Wenger spoke to Phil Jones before Manchester United did and he chose not to join Arsenal for one reason. Although that reason is not known, it is widely believed to be the same reason why Samir Nasri wants to leave. He had doubts that Arsenal can win trophies.
So if a relative unknown outside English football like Phil Jones does not want to join Arsenal, then why would a household name want to join Arsenal?