EPL Opinion: Arsenal Need Cover to Continue Winning

Asif KhanContributor IIDecember 23, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02:  Rafael Van der Vaart of Tottenham Hotspur (C) scores the opening goal past the challenges of Bacary Sagna and Per Mertesacker of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on October 2, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

What a marvelous turnaround it has been since the day Gunners were beaten 8-2 at Old Trafford. While I was totally devastated with the result, I understood the situation and special circumstances under which the match was played, and I strongly believed that it was a one-off and did not represent the state of Arsenal's decline.

That belief and faith were rewarded with an unbelievable run which has seen the Gunners perched very close to the top-four Champions League spot. But the Gunners need cover if the are to maintain their winning ways.

While the playing 11 is certainly top class and capable of finishing in the top four, proved especially by the performances against Chelsea and Man City, it's the bench that leaves a lot to be desired.

It's the lack of depth in certain areas that threatens to bring the current charge by the Gunners towards the summit of the Premier League to a grinding halt.

While Robin Van Persie has been sensational, rival fans regularly taunt about waiting for him to get injured. If RVP does get injured or has a few bad games, the question is: Who will score the goals for the Gunners? This is not about RVP getting injured. He is human and there would be days when he wouldn't be at the top of his game or things aren't working out on the pitch. So who does Wenger look to?

While Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Campbell are fantastic prospects, how often will the team be able to rely on teenagers, one of whom played the last season in League One, to rescue them from unwinnable situations.

Ju Young Park is comparatively more experienced, having played at the top level in France and for his country, but is still an unproven commodity in the Premier League and has not yet shown the spark. It's too early to judge him, but relying on him when he has little experience in the league is taking a big gamble.

As for Chamakh and Arshavin, it's a waste of space to mention either of them.

I am a great admirer of Demba Ba. I noticed him with West Ham, where he stood out in an otherwise relegation-grade team, and he has proven his worth again at Newcastle with 13 goals this season. Given that Newcastle got him for free, it would be worth tempting Mike Ashley with a few million for a quality striker with proven goal-scoring ability.

The situation with defence is already very close to dire. Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou, Andre Santos and Gibbs are all out with no immediate prospect of any one of them coming back to the first team. While we have three top-quality defenders in Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Koscielny, youngsters like Francis Coquelin and Ignasi Miquel might slot in to hold the rear guard. But if either one of them goes out of action, it's anyone's guess where the top-four battle will head.

Arsene Wenger made the case when he said he has enough defenders and he can't buy 17 of them as a contingency. There is no need to sign more defenders on permanent deals as there are really quite a few good ones on the team.

But getting in some loan signings shouldn't be ruled out.

Wayne Bridge isn't a bad option. With a lot of Premier League experience, he can warm the bench at Emirates as a cover instead of playing golf on match days, which is his current manager's guess when asked about what Bridge does on Saturdays.

One route that Wenger wouldn't go, but would have been very useful as a long-term strategy, was to sign Gary Cahill from Bolton; £7 to 10 odd million will get him, although it won't be easy to beat Spurs and Chelsea in a bidding war.


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