What If Arsene Had Signed …

Well, it’s that time again. We’ve lost to a title rival and it hurts like hell. It hurts so much that the internet is full of hundreds of experts who know all the answers. We have a mind numbing barrage of Wenger didn’t buy so we are screwed posts asking for his head. I tried to look for an article that clearly showed what our problems are and which player would solve those issues. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I didn’t find even one.

Before I proceed further let me be clear, I wanted to see new signings. As I wrote in this article at the beginning of December, I was hoping we get a Center Back who can play DM and if possible a striker. Sol Campbell partially answered the first requirement but we couldn’t get a marksman.

All the argument in the media and the blogosphere seems to be about spending big. People conveniently forget that most of our best players were small money signings. Amongst the few who have cost money, Nasri has now lost favor. When he scored a few initially, he was hailed as a huge improvement over Hleb, now after a few poor results he is no good. A couple of Chelsea like games and we might soon see Vermaelen classified as a flop as well!

That’s the fundamental flaw with people who think signing big names is the be all and end all of football. If we’d spent big on let’s say someone like Villa, he’d have been hailed as a savior but if he’d struggled to adapt to the league he would just be another midget and a wasteful signing. It’s too easy for anyone to criticize the players once things go wrong and hype up someone as long as there is no accountability. Frankly, could anyone have rationally predicted that the likes of Berbatov, Shevchenko and Robinho will be such flops. What guarantee do we have that any big name is just going to walk in and change our fortunes?

The second point is, how much choice do we have? Chamakh, Remy, Traore, Carlton Cole, Kenwyne Jones, et al. are not in the same league as Drogba, Rooney or Van Persie. So where do we find the real class player?

I asked myself, “what if arsene had signed a goalkeeper?” Let’s say Given for example – Could he have saved any of the goals against United or Chelsea? What’s the point if he couldn’t have! (And no, I don’t think he would have saved the first goal. He is three inches shorter than Almunia and the ball would have sailed over him and Park would have scored at the back post!) So before we slag Wenger for not signing a keeper, we must be rational about how it would improve the team.

My point is not that Almunia is a great keeper. When you live in a house where none of the windows has a proper latch, there is no point spending money on a high end lock for the front door! It makes more sense to fix the windows first.

Then I asked myself, “What if Wenger had signed a striker?” Apart from David Villa, I couldn’t think of a top class player who would be ready to step in. And we don’t want another midget do we!?

When people criticize our lack of strikers against Chelsea they forget that United failed to score at Stamford Bridge even with the likes of Rooney and Berbatov. They also fail to notice that Chelsea have conceded only five goals from open play! We also fail to see that Drogba didn’t have too many chances but he was clinical, Arshavin wasn’t. So how do we know any other big signing would have done much better!?

Set pieces are our weakness but it would be extremely naïve to think that it can be solved by buying one striker. In fact it is another clear example of an area where we need to improve and the work is to be done on the training ground.

I have spent the whole week thinking which signing could have changed our results against United and Chelsea. Frankly, I can’t think of anyone who would have. A lot of work on the training ground on defensive drills, on set pieces and some psychological therapy might have.

Of course, Wenger is responsible. The buck stops with him. There can be no denying that. But is it fair to question his judgment on buying players!?


33 Responses to What If Arsene Had Signed …

  1. oz gooner says:

    The answer to your last question is YES. Who else would you judge ?

    • desigunner says:

      No my point was would it be fair to judge only on the parameter of buying players … given our knowledge and the information available to us, and considering the other problems that we are facing which are distinctly different from signing players.

      He is definitely responsible for the results and we have the right to question him. But to just condemn him for not spending seems unjustified and even daft.

  2. WC says:

    Then you’re not thinking about it hard enough and you’re only thinking in a vacuum.

    Firstly I’m not sure why Chamakh isn’t in the same league as RVP. I love RVP but Chamakh is arguably a more complete striker. At the very least Chamakh can head the ball and score with with it – something RVP lacks. This problem of signing someone is not just a January phenomenon, it extends all the way from summer. Why not Eto’o? He already wanted to leave Barca and he’s one of the most prolific strikers today. Even Huntelaar is looking like an improvement over whatever we have right now. Babel could thrive in our 4-3-3 seeing as that’s the only formation he can play. All of these players were advertising themselves and Wenger didn’t care. Where’s our depth in attack now?

    We all wanted more defensive cover. Vermaelen was a good signing but who else is behind him? Silvestre? A joke. Senderos? He couldn’t even make it at Milan. Djourou? Injury prone and to be honest hasn’t impressed me anyways during his career thus far. How Wenger made a player like Richard Dunne slip through is beyond me.

    As for predicting flops? Yes I knew Berba was going to flop. How? He’s lazy and you can’t be lazy at Man Utd. Robinho? Yes I knew he was going to flop because he’s egotistical and selfish and football is a team sport. Sheva? I was indifferent but he was constantly injured before his transfer and I’m not surprised he’s been struggling.

    As for a goalie? Yes a top class goalie wins you about 10 points a season. Ours isn’t even on the bench of a national team – that’s how poor he is. Shay Given was begging to leave Newcastle and he’s been consistently one of the best keepers in the EPL for years. 9M for him is a bargain. What does a good keeper do? Organize his defense, catches crosses and gives his defenders confidence that he can gobble anything up, not flap at everything like Almunia.

    • iniloy says:

      To WC…
      perfect reply to the article…..

      to the writer of the article…
      yes, its a good thing that you defend our manager but seriously a change is what we need at this very moment…enuff said

    • reo says:

      Can’t agree with you more.

      We don’t need a Drogba.

      Carton Cole, Chamakh may not be in the same class with Van Persie, Drogba, but with they can share the burden on Ces, Arshavine’s shoulder. Wenger was too stubborn to accept that his system doesn’t work.

    • heffy says:

      to be fair, i don’t think there’s a very good or brand name striker out there we can afford. eto would have been great, but i know he was asking for like 200,000 a week – even man city rejected his wage demands. us offering cesc 120,000/week is already a breakthrough.

      the thing is, even when we can afford the transfer fees, wages are a problem for us. n breaking tt structure might lead to jealousy and unhappiness in the team. so it really is difficult. chamakh shd’ve come, but both wenger and bordeaux behaved like childish idiots, esp bordeaux.

      • desigunner says:

        Your observation on wages is spot on.

        I doubt if the Cesc rumors are true. Given his stature in the team it would make sense for him to be a cut above the rest. I hope it’s true and he signs.

    • desigunner says:

      lol.

      This is precisely the kind of comment that proves people have no clue what they are talking about.

      On one hand you slag Senderos by saying he couldn’t make it at Milan and at the same time you want us to sign Huntelaar. Guess your thoughts are too profound!

      Statements like top class goalie wins you 10 points and our isn’t even on the bench of a national team don’t mean anything. By that logic Bendtner, who is Denmark’s player of the year, should solve all our striking problems.

      I don’t see why you are wasting your time commenting on blogs when you should be saving millions for people like Fergie who couldn’t see that Berbatov was lazy and won’t succeed. I wonder how dumb Fergie and his scouts must be that they couldn’t see this!

      The real beauty of your comment is that you cannot see how hollow and meaningless your arguments are.

  3. ryan says:

    you make some fair points, but i can name you one player right off the bat who’d improve this team significantly. his name begins with f and ends with lamini. not talking in for song,but in for denilson. not that denilson played against chelsea but irregardless it would make our midfield considerably tighter defensively and free up the attacking players to do their jobs better. it’s a real shame we didn’t do more to stop him leaving and there’s no chance wenger would re-sign him just out of principle to be honest.

    you mention how bloggers and the fans are only seeing problems and not suggesting solutions, but we aren’t privelaged enough to have huge scouting networks across europe (and south america) who can give us detailed reports on half the best players in the world we could afford. i don’t get much chance to see a player like gignac or dzeko but can you really say that neither of these two would have improved out front line? i might not be an expert on them, but i suspect the real reason we don’t persue a serious interest in half the players who might improve us is because we’re not prepared to spend an extra 2 or 3 mil to get the man we want. same story as with alonso. we were prepared to pay around 12 mil, liverpool wouldn’t accept less than around 15 so no deal was done. whilst we will never know how good a signing he would have been for us, do you honestly think saving 3 odd mil was worth more to us than those extra points (and perhaps money earned from doing better in competitions) if we’d had him instead of denilson?

    i think you have to question wenger’s transfer policy lately because it’s hard to make too much sense of it. for example interest in chamakh who has a very poor scoring record in a weaker league and isn’t that young. if we need someone who is not likely to score that many goals, but is good in the air and helps hold the ball up, we already have niklas bendtner, how on earth is chamakh likely to suddenly turn from a halfway decent striker in a poor league to a world beater for us is beyond me. stranger things have happened and wenger has turned average players into great players many times before, but frankly he strikes me as another experimental signing. we’ll be watching him wasting half his chances and saying ‘hopefully at some point he’ll improve’ just as we do with nik b and we’ll wonder why we can’t win the tight games like against chelsea.

    • desigunner says:

      Flamini had a good year and then made a bad decision. His present plight illustrates the point that he might have been complacent and a poor performer even if we had given him a bigger deal.

      At times I do feel that Wenger could have gone the extra mile. I also agree that we don’t have enough information to provide a solution. The point here is that Wenger has been working for years and there is a method to his madness. If he is not loyal to his method he will lose the ability to make decisions and will get lost in public opinion.

      As it is, we can see that public opinion is short term oriented and fickle. Nasri and Clichy are perfect examples. Any manager would have to take decisions on a more long term basis.

      I thought Chamakh was a signing for the future with RvP, Bendtner and Eduardo the present solutions. That is the reason we didn’t sign him in January. I am guess Wenger must have searched for a ready made player in Jan but didn’t find one.

      At the beginning of the season, who could have said we needed a top class striker? Even till a couple of weeks back when we were leading the scoring charts, who could have objectively justified the need for a striker?

  4. Aussie Jack says:

    I`m not qualified to suggest names who we might have signed but the striker problem goes back to the Birmingham match when Eduardo was taken out. This coupled with van Persie`s riduculous exit in an internaional friendly and the fact that Adebayor was not replaced forced Arshavin to play out of position, something that does not please him. I have never been quite sure what Vela`s role is but it appears he`s not one of Wengers favourite sons and expect he will be on his way this summer.
    At about the time Adebayor left I seem to remember an ex Arsenal striker seemed keen to come home, but nothing came of it. I refer to Anelka, but I may be wrong. For me Wenger made the mistake of relying on van Persie who was always suspect and carried the name `chocolate leg` because he was so injury prone.
    Right now the best thing for the Gunners is to employ a motivator.

    • desigunner says:

      I doubt if any manager can deal with long term injuries to three strikers. Could we have predicted that RvP and Bendtner will both be out simultaneously is a difficult question.

      Arshavin struggles centrally but I feel these days he talks more off the field than on the field. Big money players have to raise their game. I don’t see Rooney complaining that Fergie didn’t buy a replacement for Ronaldo. He is just relishing the extra responsibility. Food for thought perhaps.

  5. krishthegunner says:

    may be our defence was bad against manu and chelsea ..but you do well to defend wenger……Why mourinho buys five to six players in the january transfer…he could have won the italian league by saying AC milan will drop points…It happens though…but he really targets another two cups …Champs league and Coppa italia…so arsenal fans who are trying to defend wenger please ask wenger to make his team better in defence ,offence and all areas…we do not want five or six players in january..just one or two…who is better than denilson and bentdner…..what denilson does nothing and bentdner currently coming out of long term injury is struggling and takes some time..See the major thing is we cannot win a single cup with this squad…Where is squad depth…..Squad Squad and squad.. Compare with top european teams….

    • desigunner says:

      I’d suggest you make a list of our injured players. Then take the European teams and remove the comparable players. You will see for yourself the depth we have.

      My point is not that we don’t need signings, the point is that Wenger has tried and didn’t find the right players. The other point is that there is enough room for improvement in the present squad which can make us a much better team so we should not be blinded by the thought of signings.

  6. Arnold says:

    Just read what Ballack and Cech had to say about our so called good football system??/ am ashamed for having defended AW over his comments made against A.villa.

  7. oz_gooner says:

    Wengers tactics.. allowing his team to move so far forward and being vulnerable on the counter..

    he still hasnt learned his lesson on that one..Thats a simple and easy one to fix.. ( you would think so anyway )

    Our midfield is a huge problem. Denilson we already know.. Song has improved i must say.. but he isnt quite there yet. Lately we have been saying so many good things about alex song that it typifies how bad the rest of our midfield is ( song is good at best but he’s not class )

    He’s decision making can be a bit slow and his passing a little sloppy. But having said that he is still one of our best out there..

    Nasri is still trying to find his feet but he still cant string together 2 or 3 good games..

    Rosicky just back from a long injury so we can forgive him for this season.. Next season he will have no more excuses though ..

    We really do miss Hleb & Flamini & Adebayor

    Those 3 arsene should’ve done his best to hold on to. Bad judgement

  8. Prabal Rakshit says:

    Desigunner,
    Good points as usual. We have RVP. Eduardo and Bendtner missing through injuries. Isn’t that similar to chelsea missing Drogba, Anelka and Kalou through injuries? or Man Utd missing Rooney, Owen and Berbatov? In that case would we expect SAF or Ancelotti to splurge in another attacker, who would take time to set in and would be fighting for places once the top strikers were fit? A loan might have been a good option but hardly any striker worth his salt would have been loaned out by his club at the middle of a season. Marouane chamakh is a slightly different story. Bordeaux’s success in the Ligue and the champ’s league had resulted in an enhanced price tag on him. It did not make sense to buy him at that moment, when you know he can be available for free at the end of his term. In fact that’s exactly what has happened, and he is already indicated his willingness to join Arsenal. Although I am not completely aware as to how his game is.

    In fact I feel the problem has been done earlier, when we Le Boss renewed the contracts of RVP and Eduardo. I know this sounds harsh, but with the truckloads of talent that he has, RVP does not have the physical constitution to last for a full season. This is something that will haunt him all throughout his career. Without doubt, his presence was essential for the 4-3-3 to work. He was someone who could hold the ball for enough time to let the likes of Fab and arshavin come at scoring positions, he was more than an adequate dead ball specialist and yes he was picking up the fox-in-the box game well. HOwever all this becomes undone with his propensity to get injured. Had it not been Chiellini, it would have been some other physical EPL defender and his season would have been curtailed.

    Eduardo is a classic old school 4-4-2 striker. He is a wonderful forward , but certainly not the right kind of person that can hold aloft arsene’s Barca-esque footbal vision. To make matters worse, his lack of height makes up less likely to pick a cross, or to go past defenders like Terry, Carvalho, Vidic and ferdinand. That leaves us a with a backup cast of a work in progress Bendtner, an out of form walcott, and an undermined Vela. It is hard to believe that the reason Adebayor was not replaced was the assumption that we have enough attackers already.
    Unfortunately at this point, it becomes all the more difficult to get a new striker and more importantly to release players with whom you have already signed contracts.

    Regarding defence, I concur with WC. We were never on firm ground with the kind of defenders we had. Gallas, sadly does make mistakes particularly when the occasion is demanding. In fact, he has looked better this season because he was playing alongside Vermaelen. The biggest tragedy is his fagile temperament which will never allow him to become the tough as a nails defence captain, that we badly miss. Some person who could hold the defence together like adams, Terry or even a Carragher etc. Djourou, injury or otherwise, was still learning and being young, liable to more mistakes. senderos and Silvestre, were never quite up to the mark. But then well, nothing ever materialized.

    I was very hopeful earlier in the season that we would land someone like Miguel Veloso (at least) if not Felipe Melo, not as a substitute but as an addition to song. In my opinion the 4-3-3 is more successful when the ‘wing’ midfielders can hold the ball and help the defence. They do not get in the way of the full backs overlapping and also add to the central spine of the team. No wonder, even a team like Brazil plays with Gilberto and Melo, supporting kaka, fabiano and co. Instead today, we have Song as the only defensive medio and more often than not, find one flank or the other unguarded by the likes of denilson.

    All said and done, there is no other option but to go back to the drawing board and see how best we can iron out the collective defensive failures. desi’s earlier suggestion of a full time defensive coach, might be a good idea. Not sure if Arsene is able to get the defensive house in order, all by himself. PHW, Gazidis and group claims that Arsene has the full backing of the board. Even if now there is no real positive intent, it has to be concluded that Arsene has been mandated to do what he does the best, keep on rolling top four finishes on a minimal budget. In other words, the Emirates debt still haunts us.

  9. steve says:

    don’t crucify me BUT:

    I’m skeptical as to whether or not a 433, or any formation for that matter, can work in england with a team built around cesc fabregas. he’s wonderful, of course, but a 4 man midfield becomes too exposed while variations of 433 and 451 will call for a big boy to haul lumber up front. with that said, i think arsenal could make a better challenge in spain and certainly wrestle the title away from inter in serie a. without signing an entirely new spine, i fancy our chances in the champion’s league far more than the league – and that is not at all limited to just this season.

    • desigunner says:

      I can see your point about Cesc. The thing is we need to free him up to get the best offensively and that upsets the balance.

      We would certainly be doing better in the other leagues around Europe but that is just our opinion and other might disagree. I fancy our chances in the Champions League but not if we continue to make such basic errors in defense.

  10. diceman1984 says:

    The problems are from within.

    Solve those then no signings in the world will be needed.

  11. Beaver says:

    In 6 months time we will be able to play a formation like this:
    Van Persie Bendtner Chamakh
    Diaby Fabregas Song
    Clichy Vermaelen Gallas Sagna
    Szczesny

    That would put the average height it over 6ft. The best line up would be to replace Bendtner with Eduardo or Arshavin. Nasri and Rosicky will also be able to play in midfield more as that is their main position. I think we only need Chamakh, Yaya-Toure, a replacement for Gallas (Tusci) and maybe a new keeper (I think give Szczesny a go)

  12. Richey Back says:

    Van Persie isnt exactly a monster and he adapted to our 4-3-3 formation perferctly so much so he was an asset to teh team at providing and scoring!!

    I’m pretty sure a man of David Villa’s class could have done the same after a few training sessions and a couple of games??

    This would have allowed Arshavin to go back to where he is best and would have offered us even more of a dimension against our biggest rivals?

    Moving forward to next season (so still in hope we can bring him in, though I feel after the world cup the whole world will want him??) I think when RVP is back and fit him and Villa could both play in the 4-3-3 with Arshavin on the Right. That way they can interchange and share the load …. perfection??

    With the addition of Chamakh and theres your Plan B??

    Also Joe Hart and Gibbs back fit at left back and you have a title winning team with more than capable bench?

    Unfortunately due to Wenger’s stubborness and the World Cup its not gonna happen??

    • desigunner says:

      If we play Arshavin, RvP and Villa in front three it will mean neither of them will contribute much in defense. I doubt if that will work out. We can manage with someone like Bendtner on the wing because he has developed the ability to track back. Even Eduardo has learnt that. Just a thought.

      My point is not that Villa wouldn’t adapt. He could but if he fails people/media will have a ready made excuse that he is short. Secondly, if we buy him for the money Valencia are demanding our budget will be exhausted. So in effect we will have all our eggs in one basket.

  13. Jason says:

    Clichy is totally out of what he used to be at the left back position. Well, Gibbs may fit in the role on left-back after he is back. But a strong Terry-like or Vidic-like defender is very much important. They certainly need someone influential at the back. Sol Campbell maybe, but he is now 35. In long term, AW needs someone else.

    Almunia, another one to be replaced with his underpar performance. I couldn’t understand why Wenger comment that he is very much under pressure as this applies to all EPL goalies. Why do Sorensen and Joe Hart can perform much better than him? Wenger should consider this issue. SERIOUSLY… Naming alternatives? Well, Joe Hart is young and shows great improvement by the time. Akinfeev seems to be good in National Team performance. AW may try. Or else, release Fabianski and Vito Mannone!! I bet they will appreciate their chances more.

    Striker role. Chamakh maybe. But some may say he is not in the same level with Drogba and Rooney. Well, but since he is on free agent list, AW might look on it. RVP is very much unlucky on injuries, but his skill is good enough to create goals for Arsenal. Eduardo, Bendtner, and Vela, I don’t know how much they can score for Arsenal but this is definitely not a good season to them. Bendtner especially, shows more work than what you can say. Vela seems not to get enough chances to show what he can do in this season compared to the previous one.

    In my opnion, these are the players might boost on what we have to make us a better team.

    GK: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Joe Hart (Birm)
    CB: Ryan Shawcross (Stoke)
    DM: Miguel Veloso (Sporting)
    CF: Chamakh (FCGB), Gignac (Tolouse FC)

    If Fab really leaves Arsenal, it will be a disaster.
    Finding someone to replace will be difficult. Maybe Yohan Gourcuff…?

  14. yinka says:

    hello there. read ur views… agree and disagree with them… arsene wenger gave us a reason for not buying striker in the transfer period due to the fact dat we were had scored more goals than any other team, bendtner was on the way back and all sorts of things i cant explain. clearly he was wrong cos now we are ruing those decisions now… to be frank, arsene is never goin to buy a fully established striker like villa, torres, aguerro or thhe likes… he goes for half baked lads who will still do nothin against the big guns and to be frank, he(chakmah) wouldnt have done anytin against chelsea… i have watched him a couple of times, he misses goals like shit and am afraid that if we do not buy world class player we will never challenge for top honors. we have to stop being sentimental and call a spade a spade just like ballack and cech said… they all keep taunting us. lets not forget the title challenge is not over but now we will be depending on others and that doesnt always end well… We still keep the faith… till tomorrow
    Iyalaya

  15. Richey Back says:

    but Wenger has publicly declared he tried to sign Villa in January?? … Valencia were having none of it??

    Least it shows he tried I guess??

  16. bobbygee says:

    Dude the title is not lost. Fifteen matches are left. This is a ton of futebol to be played. Anything can happen. This year in the EPL is a prime example of this. Top clubs losing to bottem feeders. Chelsea,Man U, Arsneal and Liverpool all are struggling on the road.
    Wenger didn’t see anything of value in the transfer market. Don’t buy. No one did. beat Liverpool baby on Wednesday. http://bobbygee.wordpress.com/

  17. bob says:

    our problem is not having the right mix of players. We do not have the very physical players with great ball skills like we had in the past (Vieira, Ljungberg, Henry, Bergkamp, Parlour, Adams). We have extremely skilled players that are too soft, that is why we lose to Man u and chelsea and even struggle against lower level teams at times. they are too physical for us. Man u and Chelsea have a good blend of skill and strength. our only enforcers are Vermaelen and Song and Song looks very tired right now. Diaby and Denilson need to pick it up and get tougher, or Ramsey. our back line is too soft with Sagna and Clichy and they cannot cross. i’d rather see Eboue cuz at least he is more physical and can cross. We need to stop always getting the player that plays pretty, but get the player that plays tough. i’m not saying we need to become bolton or blackburn, but a better balance is what is needed. Does every player we put on the pitch have to be silky with every pass? set our sights on technical players with and edge to them, Essien type players, Vieira types, Bergkamp types.

  18. BOOZY says:

    WHY DO WE KEEP LINKING OUR SELVES WITH SECOND RATED PLAYERS LIKE CHAMACK, while man united is being linked with ribery, and chelsea is linked with every good player on earth, why have we come to settle for such mediocrity, why cant we bid for the benzemas, fellainis,and other top stars.

    • desigunner says:

      We don’t have the money to buy people like Benzema and Ribery. Some fans don’t understand the limitations of a transfer budget. If we have a budget of 40 million we can never spend it all on one player. If he gets injured or fails to adapt to the league, we would be in serious trouble.

      Teams that have a budget in excess of a hundred million can afford 30 million risks. Teams like us with 40-50 million budgets can only afford 10-15 million risks.

  19. nikkogunners says:

    Maybe the defensive fragilities can be cured by signing Vermaleen into the DM role together with Song. Campbell can take the vacant slot in defence. I think with his tall frame and his knack for goal, Diaby can move to Central Forward for the time being so Ashervin goes back to the usual left role. Desperate times call for desparate measures.

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