Tuesday, 6 May 2008

No time for mincing

I reckon it's time to stop mincing around, this summer is a major crossroads for the club, the bull needs to be taken by the horns and we must push on. We simply cannot afford to have another disastrous close season where top players are missed out on and we are still panicking around in August with a squad that is not strong enough to launch a multi-pronged attack on all fronts.

The club needs to get a new managing director in who can bring in the men that Arsene wants and needs, ANR is right on this, however not with the rather stupid comments concerning Walcott never being a patch on Ashley Young. Flamini has gone, and there's no doubt that his contribution will be missed next season, although we do have some fantastic talent waiting to step into his postion.

As always the man known as Arseblogger has hit the nail firmly on the bonce, again, he rightly highlights Hleb's poor return over the last three years and thinks that we should get rid of anyone who is not 100% committed to the cause. I agree, Hleb needs to be shipped out, I suspect he will be and that Arsene is playing hard to get in order to extract a decent fee from the Milanese scummers.

So what should our plan for the summer be? I think we're reasonably equipped as far as goalkeepers are concerned, and Almunia has been one of the most consistent performers in the top flight this year. I see no problems at full back either. Arsene has already hinted that he wants to invest in a tall powerful centre back, and given our slight weakness defending in the air I think this will be a priority in the summer. Unfortunately for the lovely bloke that is big Phil, it appears that his time is up at Arsenal.

The midfield is a problem area. Flamini has gone, Hleb may well follow him, Eboue is not good enough to start, while Rosicky cannot stay fit for a full ninety let alone a full season. That leaves with only Cesc, Denilson, Gilberto, Song, Diaby, Walcott, Vela who have any top flight experience plus a few other youngsters who will be knocking on the first team door such as Traore, Gibbs, Wilshere et al. There are obviously some unknowns, such as where will Djorou play and will Toure be moved into the midfield if we bring a top centre back in from elsewhere? However it is clear to me that we need to bring in a top drawer wide midfielder who can score goals, such as Kranjar from Pompey, plus at least one more player of quality if Hleb is allowed to depart.

Up front I think we're pretty well equipped, assuming that Eduardo continues along his path towards a quick recovery and that RVP can stay relatively injury free for a whole season, as we have Adebayor and Bendtner who have come on bundles this season, plus Walcott who is able to play off a target man. Goals from our strikers have not been our problem this season, but a lack of goals from wide midfield and our propensity to leak soft goals have.

It's easy to sit on the fence and hint at solutions but much harder to come out with concrete plans, so here's what I'd do if anyone was stupid or mad enough to appoint me as Arsenal manager. I'd break the bank to bring in Micah Richards, he's a strong athletic beast who could help us become more formidable at the back. I'd make Pompey an offer they couldn't refuse for Nico Kranjar. I'd also be tempted to tease Antonio Valencia away from the JJB, he's quick, direct and would give us a bit of width down the right hand side. Having said that, Arsene will probably go out and buy three unknowns, then convert them into full internationals before September; stranger things have happened and reading Arsene's mind is not easy, after all if it was then he'd be easy to replace as our manager.


Ted said...

Ok, this one's going to run all summer so what the hell.

In general terms I agree with you and it would be nice to think that Wenger is just two signings away from the promised land of unbeaten seasons and endless silverware. However, the experiences of the big spending Liverpool, Newcastle, Spurs etc shows its just not that easy.

I would be very pleased if Richards and Kranjar joined. They are both decent prospects. However, I think we would be kidding ourselves that they will even get in the first XI regularly, let alone be the reasons why we land the quadruple next season.

Richards is a conundrum to me. He looks big, strong and fast. He plays alongside the excellent Richard Dunne. Yet Man City leak goals all over the place. Adebayor saw them off by himself this season.

I like Richards, but he had a good season last year and has barely been mentioned this season. His performances for England are also suspect. So much so that he got replaced at right back by Wes Brown. Thats a bad sign.

So, I see no reason to think that spending mega bucks on Micah Richards is going to solve anything.

Also, whilst strength in depth is a good thing, a large number of talented and expensive players on the bench often causes problems. Just ask Diarra. If we sign Kranjar and he doesn't play, he might pack it in by christmas as well. Spurs' and Chelsea's squads are full of fringe players moaning that they don't play. Sidwell, Ben Haim, possibly Alex, may well all try to leave Chelsea this summer.

You have to remember that for Manure's much vaunted strength in depth, their third choice striker is Louis Saha and they have no fourth choice. At all. Their third choice centre back is Piquet and if they have a bigger problem they shuffle around with Silvestre. Hargreaves is playing at right back at the moment.

So lets look at it the other way round. Lets suppose that RVP and Rosicky raise from the dead next season and can play 30 games each. Eduardo makes a good recovery and can play regularly from October onwards. Walcott / Song / Traore / Denilson continue to develop. Djourou remembers what a football is. Hleb stays in the summer and starts putting some goals in. Kolo and Gallas start heading the long balls etc etc.

Not sure Eboue can be saved, but maybe. But he is a talented player and if he came back to play right-back, couldn't Sagna play in the middle if required?

All this means, in my opinion, that Richards and Kranjar may just about get on the bench. Or may not even get on the bench.

No matter what anyone says, Wenger is not going to drop Gallas. So I just don't like the idea of Kolo sitting on the bench because we signed Richards. Kolo is a legend and gives 100% for Arsenal every game.

So whats the point of spending £20m to £30m (maybe more) to land Richards and Kranjar?

I know no-ones going to agree with me, but unless Hleb goes then I wouldn't sign anyone. If Hleb does go, then pick up someone like Kranjar.

If we can't find a centre back pairing from Toure / Gallas / Song / Senderos / Gilberto / Sagna then we might as well give up and watch the ladies.

At least they win everything.

K man said...

You're right Ed - no one is going to agree with you because you're wrong. And yes, given some of your comments we should start watching the ladies.

I know I have been most vocal about us spending some money but I would agree that spending a silly amount without seriously improving the squad is a waste of time.

I agree with 1979 that we can probably leave the goalkeeping position - Alumina deserves another season and lets see how Fabianski progresses - so far so good.

As for the defence: full back is comfortable although I would have Eboue as our reserve right back and let Hoyte find himself some football elsewhere. I think if Clichy gets injured then Gallas has to fill in - Traore is still very suspect defensively and looks more likely to make it on the wing. Centre back needs an addition - we need Keown Junior and happy to get rid of one of the others (probably Djourou or Senderos) if needs be.

Midfield - Vela is on his way already. I think Gilberto should get an extra year as he can more than fill the shoes of Flamini. Lets tell Diaby, Denilson and Song that they will get a chance and see who takes it. If they choke then we can get someone else in January. Even if Hleb doesn't leave I agree with 1979 that we need a goal scoring winger. Trouble is there aren;t many around - one from Krancjar, Ben Arfur and Young would be nice but expensive.

Forwards - I think we are covered here but I do rate Martins highly - I think he and Ade would be lethal together. Is RVP really going to rid himself of his sick note tag? I hope so but I doubt it.

So, 2 or 3 in and 3 or 4 out.

I do agree with Ted that having a big squad for the sake of it is pointless - don't want to hear people moaning about not playing. It will also stiffle the youngsters coming through like Gibbs.

1979gooner said...

I agree and disagree.

I also think Arsene disagrees from reading his recent comments:


He wants a commanding centre back of physical size and a playmaker.

Richards has all the raw attributes and I think under Wenger's careful watch could develop into a top top defender.

Kranjar reminds me a bit of Bobby Pires, he is wirey and quick, and has an eye for goals.

I do see your point that we do not want too big a squad, because it restricts the development of youngsters and can breed discontent.

However as with all things, it's a balance, I really think we are way short in the wide midfield.

Rosicky cannot stay fit and even when fit doesn't cut it as a wide player for me, he can't beat a man and he hasn't scored enough goals.

You mention manure, look at the number of midfielders they have- bloody oodles of them, they have so much strength in depth there, especially in the wide areas. Admittedly they are short at centre back and up front, but their luck will not hold forever.

We have been unlucky with injuries up front, I reckon we're strong enough there.

However the midfield badly needs strengthening. In so many games we have had no width and no ability to stretch the sides that are happy to defend with 11 behind the ball. Cesc has been our only regular scorer from midfield.

We neen a Bobby type player back, fifteen goals from someone like him could have converted afew of those draws to wins and the title may be within our grasp, a big if I know.

Anonymous said...

we need a centre back end of.

Ted said...

Any number of good points here.

I'm glad no-one agrees with me. K-Man's favourite player last year was Djourou and he would have sold Ade in the summer for an ice lolly. Shows what he knows.

I'm just surprised that most people don't think Kolo and Billy aren't up to it. You won't find two stronger and faster centre backs in the world. Admittedly they aren't great in the air, but they can work on that.

Pires was a great player, one of my all time favourites, but he played in a midfield that didn't score many goals from the centre. Freddie had a good season in the neolithic period, but no-one else scored regularly, certainly not like Fabregas this season.

I guess I am also surprised that people put so little faith in Walcott and Vela, but there you go. These guys are going to play most of their games on the wings, probably with one or two strikers in the middle. They may get the odd game playing up top alongside one of the big boys, but not many.

Just goes to show that one minute you are touted as the next big thing, then next you are looking forward to getting a game in the Carling Cup because you can't even get on the bench for the Premiership. If Theo doesn't start regularly next season then he will be off to Liverpool. Its practically guaranteed.

Anyway, when do the ladies next play?