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!?