Friday 31 August 2012

Judgement day: squad holes need plugging

The good news thus far is that Park and Bendtner have gone, temporarily on loan that is, and we have hopes of clearing out several other pieces of dead wood come midnight too.  The bad news is that nothing incoming has happened since Song's departure and most of us agree that we need at least a couple more players for the squad if we are going to be strong enough to compete on all fronts this year.

I have summarised our current squad below, players in black are excellent players, players in blue are decent squad players, players in green are promising youngsters, while players in red are not good enough:

Goalkeepers: Szczesny, Mannone, Martinez, Fabianski

Defenders: Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscelny, Vermaelen, Djourou, Gibbs, Santos, Squillaci

Defensive/all-round midfielders:  Arteta, Coquelin, Ramsey, Wilshere, Frimpong, 

Attacking midfield/wide forwards: Cazorla, DiabyRosicky, Gervinho, Walcott, Arshavin

Centre forwards:  Giroud, Podolski, Chamakh

Obviously the colours and the positions are very subjective, but overall this is a pretty good way of focusing the mind and appreciating where the strengths and weaknesses of our squad lie.

Overall I am pretty content defensively, we have three top centre backs and a decent 4th choice in JD.  We have two excellent full backs and decent back up, Jenkinson's performance at Stoke may well have cemented his place as Sagna's deputy.  I rate Szczesny, Mannone is ok and Martinez is  a great prospect.

When we start to move further forward the problems start.  With Song departing we are very short in terms of experienced players who can sit and play with discipline in a deeper midfield role.  Arteta is great but we need some quality to complement him, as well as take over from him when he is injured or fatigued.  I firmly believe we could come into serious trouble if Arteta gets a significant injury, it is too big a gamble to take, especially given his injury record.  The counter argument is that Coquelin and Frimpong are good enough, this is a decent point, however if we are without Arteta for any significant period then it is too much to expect these young chaps to deliver consistently.

Up front we are also short of central forwards.  Giroud and Podolski are both excellent but in different ways, Giroud is a strong and powerful player who can hold the ball up, Podolski can play centrally or as an inside forward.  The problem is that we have very little back up beyond these two and that is not enough.  When the games come thick and fast, we may get hit by injuries, so it is utterly barmy to start a season with just two centre forwards.  We need a third forward and ideally this player would be young and pacey, and someone who is happy not to be starting week in week out.

That's my two pence worth anyway.  We need an experienced midfielder and a pacey 3rd choice forward.  The frustrating thing is that we're not far off at all, but gambling by leaving ourselves short in these key areas could see us utterly shafted if we get injuries in these key areas of the squad.  We need to minimise our chances of being shafted by bad luck and a couple of additions are essential in this regard.

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