Thoughts On Denilson, Bartley, and Campbell

July 20, 2011

Denilson’s finally moved on. I believe all concerned will be happy with that. Those fans who supported the Brazilian will appreciate a fresh lease of life for him. Others who couldn’t stand him must be delighted he’s gone. For Arsenal this opens up a slot in midfield and saves on some wages. For Denilson it is a chance to get his confidence back and an opportunity to work his way into the Brazilian national side.

I believe, just like the Clichy transfer, this one is a win-win. The important issue here is whether he will be replaced by a new player or via a promotion from within. Clichy, based on Arsene’s statement, will be replaced by Gibbs with Traore providing competition and Vermaelen the back up. I think that will be an extremely risky approach even if we discount his inexperience because the English youngster has had some serious injury problems and might miss a big chunk of the season again.

I am not blaming Gibbs for his injuries. And I believe he has the talent to be a top class left back despite some worrying performances during the slump last season. But to start with him as the main man is like challenging fate to a duel. Your luck will never hold out.

Traore is an interesting player but is not consistent enough to be a top four player in a defensive position. If Vermaelen is viewed as a third choice left back then chances of a new defensive player arriving are also slim because any new signing won’t get enough games with Vermaelen and Koscielny likely to partner as first choice pairing.

By the same logic, if Denilson is replaced by Frimpong I expect to see the squad weakened. That is not to say that the youngster is a bad player. I want him to develop and can see the need for giving him some playing time. But Arsenal need at least one more defensive player who is not in the learning phase, and if both Clichy and Denilson are replaced internally the squad will lack balance.

That brings me to the case of Kyle Bartley who had a decent-ish loan spell at Rangers. I was surprised he wasn’t even on the Asia touring party. Does that mean Wenger rates him as fifth choice centre back or thinks he needs another loan? If that is the case the need for bringing in at least one more defensive minded player is all the more pressing.

Considering the fact that Arsene did bid high, given his standards, for Phil Jones, I am inclined to believe he is looking for such a player. But in this transfer window Wenger will have to be a lot more decisive than he has been in the past. I am not in panic mode though, there is a long time to go and these things can take time. Based on past evidence some fans will be sceptical but I don’t see any constructive value coming out of that attitude.

Finally, I want to express disappointment that the Joel Campbell deal is off. Once it was clear that other clubs were getting involved and offering better deals, or at least hinting at better deals (if they’d offered better deals the transfer might have been completed), it would have been a surprise if his father had agreed to the Arsenal offer. They are looking after their own interests and it’s hard to blame them for that. Arsenal too did their best and I’d not admonish the club for missing out on the opportunity. It’s a shame but its part of life in the football world.

Let’s see if the kid was a flash in the pan or has real talent that shines in the U20 World Cup. If he can perform the Campbells will be well rewarded.

Since it wasn’t a priority signing for Arsenal I am not too concerned. But it’s good to know the club are always on the lookout for talented players in all positions. We should not blame them for the realities of the modern day transfer market.

Now I’m going back to waiting and watching.


A Comprehensive List Of Arsenal’s Weaknesses

July 15, 2011

I have had this thought in my mind for a long while – to create a comprehensive list of weaknesses of Arsenal as identified by fans, pundits, and others.

This list is not a judgement on the club, manager, or the players. All the criticisms in this list aren’t necessarily valid. I believe most of these arguments don’t hold water upon closer inspection but want to avoid a debate on the merits of each, at least for the time being. Since everyone has their favourite gripes against the club and those working for it, such a debate will go out of control in no time.

I just want to put down everything in one place and see how the opinions compare to it over the course of the season. If time permits I will also try to see how other teams fare against this list. I think it will provide us a good benchmark and some interesting discussion points over the course of the season. So please help me in building this list by mentioning any supposed weaknesses that I miss out on (There are so many complaints that I am sure to forget a fair few of them).

I have broadly classified this into criticisms of Players, Manager, and Board.

Players

  1. Strikers (and others in general) are not clinical enough
  2. Club lacks a 20 goal a season striker
  3. Big stars were never replaced
  4. Players lack a winning mentality
  5. Players lack leadership
  6. Central defenders don’t command their area
  7. There is no organizer in the team
  8. Full-backs can’t cross
  9. Full-backs can’t block crosses
  10. Very few players can attack balls put in the box
  11. Players can’t defend set-pieces
  12. Can’t defend long balls
  13. Attacking set-pieces are wasted
  14. No consistent free-kick taker
  15. Club lacks a world class goalkeeper
  16. Don’t shoot from outside the box often enough
  17. Not physical (big,tall) enough for the Premier League
  18. Lack grit and determination
  19. Some players are lazy
  20. Some players lack commitment
  21. Get injured on a regular basis
  22. Cannot hold on to leads
  23. Cannot counter-attack at pace

Wenger (and staff)

  1. Tactically – Anywhere from weak to utterly clueless
  2. Defensive coaching is poor
  3. Playing style lacks balance
  4. Lack of a plan B
  5. Blind to obvious problems
  6. No/Poor training on attacking and defending set-pieces
  7. Reluctant to spend money
  8. Arrogant
  9. Stubborn
  10. Gives ridiculous interviews/ Makes excuses
  11. Rewards underperforming players
  12. Happy to finish fourth – lacks winning mentality
  13. Prefers tika-taka football and ignores the other needs of the team (many points mentioned under players)
  14. No 2 and others are ‘Yes  Men’
  15. Medical staff cannot keep players injury free

Board/Owners/Management

  1. Greedy
  2. Happy with fourth as long as Champions League money is coming in
  3. Don’t care about fans
  4. New owner(s) just want to make money
  5. Not interested in investing in the club
  6. Sold the club short on commercial deals
  7. New commercial team has not performed

That’s all I can think for now. Please add to it based on what you’ve read over the last season or two. I realize there is a bit of redundancy but I want to err on the side of excess rather than leave something out.

Just so no one gets me wrong, I want to reiterate this is not a list of weaknesses/problems that I agree with. It’s just a collection of top criticisms that I have heard or read in the past two years. Some of these concerns are valid, some are partially valid and others are just a result of the fans’ frustration or borne from the creative minds of anti-Arsenal hacks and pundits.

Of course, if we take some distance and look at this list, it is startling at the very least. How can a team with 23 issues (can increase based on your suggestions) of such magnitude with an additional 15 against the manager and his staff come in the top four of the Premier League with such consistency? Surely others who have spent hundreds of millions must finish above such an Arsenal side, no? It took Man City more than half a billion pounds and three years just to finish three points above the Gunners with so many issues? Why haven’t the Tiny Totts overtaken the Gunners despite doing what many Gooners have been asking for (sacking managers, selling and buying players in bulk)?

As I said I don’t want to judge anyone or discuss any of these points so will leave you with these observations and those questions. I will return to this post tomorrow with an interesting comparison and then again during the course of the season when something relevant turns up.


Gervinho To Compete With Walcott While Making The B-Team Stronger?

July 12, 2011

The official website had a somewhat uncharacteristic announcement this morning. Usually, we see a player introduced after a transfer is completed but in the case of Gervinho, Arsenal.com tells us that the player has agreed a deal but the transfer is subject to a regulatory process. I am guessing this has something to do with his work permit. Hopefully, it will be sorted soon.

Before venturing into a discussion on the player and his likely place in the squad I just want to discuss this announcement. Why was this rushed? The club could easily have waited till the paper work was complete before making the official statement. Is this a PR exercise or an attempt at placating the fans? At least a start of sorts? I hope it is as fans need and deserve much better communication from the club.

Moving on to the topic of the post, I’d like to join the others in welcoming Gervinho to the club. He will make the squad stronger. Just how much better will depend on the way Wenger uses him, the understanding he develops with other Gunners, and his rate of development.

I have not seen much of Gervinho in the French league but did see his performances in the World Cup last year. He looked like a pacy player with quick feet. I would say his biggest strength is his running, with and without the ball. That should make him a big threat on the wings and on counter-attacks. His movement and speed should also make Arshavin and Fabregas that much more dangerous as they will have better forward looking options.

On the flip side, I am not convinced about his passing or finishing abilities despite his fairly impressive stats for Lille. That’s an area where Arsene will have to work his magic.

On a fast break, the Ivorian’s pace and dribbling abilities will present numerous opportunities for scoring or squaring the ball for a team-mate to tap in. It worked well for him in France. But given the way Arsenal’s opponents play it will be hard for Gervinho to get that kind of space on a regular basis. Nevertheless, the Ivorian should fill in for Walcott better than Bendtner or Rosicky did. He seems more naturally suited to that role than the Dane or Little Mozart.

In the absence of Walcott, the Gunners lacked a direct threat last season. Gervinho is a positive signing in that regard but he will have to work on his game to make an impact in the Premiership.

Gervinho’s weakness seems to be his technique which is not as good as that of top international strikers. Even in compilations on youtube one can see scuffed shots and passes. Pace, positioning, and intelligent link-up play can often make up for this and we have to hope he will not take long to tune into the wavelength of his teammates.

I doubt he will be a part of the starting line-up if Cesc and Nasri stay at Arsenal. Even if Nasri leaves, it’s hard to see Gervinho starting ahead of Arshavin next season as he is not that strong on the left wing.

Consequently, it will be extremely important to see how he reacts to being a substitute for most games. Last year Wenger had a first choice eleven and a B-team (even if that distinction was unintentional). Many of the players in the second string struggled because of lack of games. It could easily happen to the Ivory Coast international. I would like more rotation and better balanced rotation but so far Arsene has showed that he prefers certain players and combinations more.

I am completely ignorant about his defensive contribution/abilities. My guess is that he will be somewhere in between Arshavin and Nasri on that front but I’ll have to see him in pre-season before forming any opinion.

At 5’ 10” he isn’t a very tall player but is physically strong and athletic with a good leap. Those characteristics will come in handy.

To be completely honest, I don’t expect Gervinho to be the man who makes or breaks Arsenal’s season next year. He will be a useful squad addition and will probably produce some breathtaking moments but don’t be surprised if he frustrates more often than he delights, at least in the first season.


Goodbye Gael Clichy, You’ll Be Missed

July 4, 2011

I haven’t had the chance to gauge the general sentiment of the fans about the transfer of Clichy to Man City so I will just share my views. I think this transfer is good for all concerned.

From the player’s point of view, this move will give him a fresh start in a completely different environment where he will get much better defensive support than he did at Arsenal in the last three years. I expect Clichy to thrive at City and perform better than their overhyped acquisitions like Bridge, Lescott, and Kolarov. While the Frenchman might need some time to adapt to the new system, manager, and teammates; I won’t be surprised if he rediscovers the form that got him into the 07-08 PFA team of the year.

For City, it is an excellent signing. They have spent a lot of money on left backs but most have struggled to perform consistently. The Blues from Manchester could have spent three times the reported £7 they paid for Clichy without finding half the quality in the present market. I am disappointed a rival has been strengthened but if Clichy had to go, it is better he went to a club that can afford virtually anyone rather than a club like Liverpool who are also struggling to find the right player for that position.

From Arsenal’s point of view, a change at left back provides a chance to rework the balance of the squad. In my opinion, Clichy had to sacrifice his attacking instincts while playing alongside the likes of Arshavin and Wilshere. Wenger should now pick a more defensive minded player for that role, especially one who can deal with aerial balls a little better than Clichy did.

There are many opinions about the replacement. I am with those who think Vermaelen should be moved to left back. This would make even more sense if Arsene goes out and buys a good central defender.

For all his talents, Clichy didn’t offer enough in the air often ending up on the posts while the team defended set-pieces. If Vermaelen moved to left back and a new central defender of similar quality is purchased, Arsenal will have a much stronger aerial presence in the defensive and attacking third.

Technically, the Belgian is good enough to play the role and has indeed performed admirably in the past for Ajax and for his country.

Gibbs can continue to deputize and can take over if Vermaelen is needed in the centre of defence due to an injury or any other reason.

To be frank, I am saddened by this departure because Clichy was one of those who went about his job without complaining and never made a scene. Others in his position would have found many reasons to whine but the Frenchman was extremely professional and devoted to the club while he was here. I will miss him and will continue to track his career over the next few years. It will be entertaining to see Sagna and Clichy on the same flank on opposite sides rather than the other way around that we have become used to. Hopefully, his best games won’t come against Arsenal.

Goodbye Gael. Wish you all the best.


2010-11 Season Review: Thoughts On The Attack

June 28, 2011

I am finding it hard to form any sort of a conclusive opinion about Arsenal’s attack.

Nasri, Walcott, and Van Persie have contributed significantly more than they did in previous years. Arshavin too made a telling contribution in terms of goals and, more importantly, assists.

Arguably, the loss of 11 goals from last year’s tally of 83 does indicate the attack struggled a bit. Fabregas, Vermaelen, and even Bendtner’s contribution was not comparable to last season.

I don’t know how many have noticed this but all the top teams have scored less this season compared to the previous one. United scored 8 less, Chelsea dropped a whopping 34 (they did have an exceptional year last time around), while City lagged by 13. Even the Tiny Totts managed to score a dozen less than their paltry 67 from 09-10. Arsenal’s 11 seems par for the course in this context.

There could be many reasons for this collective slump. Some observers believe the top teams were weak this season whereas others believe the League was stronger. Given the amount of money City have spent I’m inclined to go with the former argument. If the top teams had been weaker Mancini’s side should have run away with the title. The fact that they did not, and indeed struggled to perform against the smaller teams, suggests that the other teams defended well and fought harder.

Another common argument that I have read during the season and in the summer is that the Gunners don’t break at speed anymore. I haven’t found any such opinion backed by actual evidence. Usually it is based on the writer’s feelings which are often triggered by watching ‘highlights’ of the seasons past.

If we believe the WhoScored website, Arsenal scored only 3 goals from a fast break this season. In comparison, United scored 5, Chelsea 4, and City got 2. Now there could be a debate over the definition of a fast break but one thing is certain – the definition is same for all the teams. Why did a team that was assembled at a cost of nearly half a billion and was based primarily on a counter-attacking style score only two goals from fast breaks? Didn’t they score that many or more against Arsenal alone in one game last time around?

Once again we can compare these numbers with the 2009-10 season to get some perspective. City scored 10 goals from fast breaks last season. Arsenal had 9, United 6, while Chelsea managed 8. To me, that is further evidence that in 2010-11, the smaller teams tightened their defences.

Based on the above discussion, I believe it’s safe to say that Arsenal’s attack wasn’t that bad.

The development of Nasri and Walcott was timely and the manager deserves enormous credit for nurturing them the way he has. It is also important to acknowledge the contribution of a little Russian in the success of the Frenchman and the England international. Many of their goals came after excellent work by Arshavin.

The diminutive playmaker often frustrates with his work rate and body language but it’s hard to ignore the value of his contribution. Is it a co-incidence that Nasri and Walcott lost form in the final few months when Arshavin wasn’t playing regularly?

Unfortunately, Arsenal did continue to disappoint with their crossing and set-pieces. I am one of the first to say that both of these methods are highly inefficient ways of attacking but the Gunners seem to have regressed in this department.

This season Arsenal scored 9 goals from set-pieces (excluding penalties). The Manchester sides managed 13 while Chelsea knocked in 18. A year ago, Arsenal finished with 16, United 13, Chelsea 17, and City topped the list with 21. The loss of Vermaelen might have been more of a blow in the opposition box than our own!

Van Persie was unplayable at times but his free-kick delivery was poor. It could be a mental issue and he might have been trying too hard because last season he did excel at corners.

Wenger has to make the set-pieces more dangerous. Even if they don’t lead to goals, Arsenal have to use them as a form of increasing the pressure. These days the opposition finds set-pieces to be a respite against Arsenal’s possession game and are happy to knock the ball out to get a breather and reorganize. Arsene has to infuse more creativity and purpose into the way the Gunners approach free-kicks and corners. This can only come from rigorous and focused training.

Before concluding I want to briefly mention Chamakh. The Moroccan had a respectable start to his Arsenal career after an impressive pre-season. Unfortunately, his form dropped off around Christmas and he failed to make an impression after that.

I believe he wasn’t signed as a typical goal-scorer or poacher but as a player who could bring the others into play more often. The early form of Nasri, Walcott, and Arshavin did justify his style. But, in a long season, there will always be times when the midfield struggles or the wide players cannot contribute as much. In such games one would expect more from a striker. So far, Arsene hasn’t been able to get the best out of Chamakh. Better set-pieces and a change to a more traditional approach every once in a while can help the striker and the team.

To be fair, Arsenal do try going wide and putting crosses in but it is a style they haven’t mastered as a collective. The team lacks cohesion on such occasions. More often than not there aren’t enough bodies in the box or in the right areas for a cross to at least cause confusion/panic. Once again, training is the only realistic solution.

On the whole, I was impressed by some developments in attack but felt there is room for improvement and flexibility. Arrivals and departures will affect the possibilities for next season so I’ll revisit the topic just before the start of the season.


Arsenal Should Sign Usmanov’s PR Team, Cesc Commitment Commendable

June 15, 2011

Apologies for being two days behind a story once again but having given a great deal of time during the season, I am trying to balance it during the summer. And while I do let a lot of rumours and events go by without comment, this PR stunt from Alisher Usmanov is hard to ignore.

I don’t want to repeat the comments as they’ve been all over the internet. Just in case you missed them the link above provides the full statement.

Telling people what they want to hear – it is usually an art mastered by successful politicians but any entity, be it an individual or an organization, that is connected with the masses has to, at some point or the other, rely on this skill to steady the ship or get the weight of popular support.

In the past I have mentioned that the Arsenal manager and players often give very honest and intelligent interviews that come back to bite them in the, well, arse. While the discerning readers/listeners appreciate their comments, they get twisted by the media and the mass opinion is often manipulated to the detriment of the club and the squad.

The point is not that people are stupid. But I strongly believe that collective or popular opinion is often ill-informed and illogical. It works on the principle that if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes the truth. Those who scan the internet with a perceptive eye will have noticed how many people voice an opinion just because they think everyone else is saying it. An individual’s power to rationally judge right or wrong is indirectly proportional to the number of times he or she reads a particular twist on a story.

Let’s consider the Usmanov statement. To me it appears to be a blatant PR exercise where his team have captured the pulse of the disgruntled fans and succinctly captured the sentiment expressed by many. Such a simple exercise has done a lot to increase the support for the Russian who was widely regarded as untouchable just a few months ago. Many fans now think it might have been better if the current board had sold out to Usmanov instead of Kroenke. Some are even demanding similar rhetoric from Silent Stan.

But does the Russian oligarch really have Arsenal’s best interests at heart? His actions don’t support his words which seem hollow, appeasing, and meant to lure in the gullible.

Lady Nina wanted to sell her shares but there was no taker for a long while. One might wonder, why didn’t Usmanov make her an offer she couldn’t refuse? What is the point of offering £14,000 per share now when such an offer earlier could have taken him in the 40-42 per cent share bracket? Subsequently, he could have released a statement like the one he has done now, and with promise of significant investment he might have been able to acquire a portion of the minority shares. Who’s to say he would not have crossed the halfway mark? Some of the directors opposed to him might also have been tempted by such a generous offer. After all, doesn’t the Russian claim that they were in it for the money?

The simple fact is that Usmanov didn’t act when he could have and was probably caught off-guard by the suddenness of the deal between Kroenke and the others. So it is safe to say he didn’t put his money where his mouth is.

Then there was the other publicity stunt where Usmanov offered to donate shares to the AST if Kroenke matched him. What prevented him from donating a few shares unilaterally and unconditionally? Surely, it would not have put a dent in his considerable fortune! That would have shown his intent and put the ball firmly in the American’s court. It’s just another instance where his words were not backed up by action.

Ultimately, this is a big money game and fans would be naive to assume anything else no matter the spin put on the story. I have my issues with the previous owners who were not perfect and could undeniably have done better. But that doesn’t mean Usmanov is different nor is he the saviour.

In another public statement of significance, Cesc Fabregas has reaffirmed his interest in joining Barcelona and his loyalty to Arsenal. Those who have seen through the unabashed lies and concocted tales surrounding this saga have always known the few hard facts that matter.

Fabregas wants to go to Barcelona. To be honest, I don’t grudge him that wish. It is natural to dream to be part of something great. Which football player worth his salt would not want to play with Messi? More so if one has grown up playing with the phenomenon.

Equally important is the fact that El Capitan has immense respect for the club, the manager, his team-mates, and the fans. He does not want to throw a tantrum to engineer a move he craves. Only a man with impeccable values can behave in the way that Fabregas has done. Those values must be cherished and respected, especially in the modern world. Fans have to give him space for his individual desires and hopes while admiring his principles and collective based actions and decision making.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised when this transfer eventually happens. It could still happen this summer but only if Arsenal are convinced such a move is in their best interests. That is the key. For that, Barcelona have to cough up a small fortune to sign the only player in the world who can significantly improve that superb squad. I am not sure the Catalans can afford that after the Ibrahimovic fiasco. And I am absolutely certain Wenger will not succumb to the incessant pressure tactics from Spain, or the baseless rumours in the media followed by meaningless but extremely annoying noise on the internet, none of which is likely to cease anytime soon.

Looking back at the events of the summer so far, it seems to be heading in the right direction.


2010-11 Season Review: Thoughts On The Midfield

June 11, 2011

As I did with the defence, I looked at my review of the midfield from last season. It isn’t as relevant now as the one about defenders was but there were a few points I could borrow,

Our midfield is integral to the way we play and the performance of the three men in the middle often decides the sharpness in our attack and the solidity of our defence.

I think our defence is strong when our midfield is alert to the threats from the opposition…

There have been quite a few games this season when the midfield has gone AWOL and we’ve seen the defenders hoofing the ball up-field only for it to return in a matter of seconds.

These are relevant points, especially the first one, but there is a lot more we can discuss with regard to the Arsenal midfield.

I guess we have to start by acknowledging that Wilshere has truly been like a big signing this season. I don’t think Wenger could have acquired that kind of quality even if he’d spent 30M or so. The youngster has offered a lot to the team with his technique, tenacity, tirelessness, and temperament.

Unfortunately, what we gained from Wilshere we lost elsewhere, perhaps more.

Cesc had a few good games but was a shadow of his self in many. He still was the best player in most of those games and that only highlights how good Fabregas is and why Arsenal need him to perform all through the season. I have said this before and will repeat it again – unless the best players in the team have seasons worthy of winning awards the club will struggle to achieve the big targets.

El Capitan wasn’t the only one who disappointed. Diaby struggled with injuries all through the season and never looked near the kind of form he showed last season when he was able to string together a run of games.

These issues were compounded by the loss of form for Rosicky who’d started brightly on the back of a good pre-season. And it got worse as the likes of Denilson and Ramsey failed to perform when called upon, albeit for different reasons. Some would say Song too had an inconsistent year and Nasri didn’t really fill in Fabregas’ shoes when required.

Now you could take that as a damning indictment of a number of players but I prefer to see it as a combination of different problems.

For instance, Nasri didn’t really play in a single position on a consistent basis. This made his work that much harder. Ramsey was coming back from injury so his inconsistency and mistakes were understandable. Song was solid for most parts even though he struggled to adapt to the rotating triangle in the early stages. Diaby suffered three horrendous tackles which is hardly his fault. With Cesc it’s difficult to judge whether the impact of injuries was higher or his mental turmoil was too much for a young mind even if he wanted to do the right thing.

If we think about it, every player has a different story to tell. Each story has some bloopers, a few disappointments, moments of quality, and reasons for hope. The problem for the manager is that he has to knit it all together and keep it going all through the season. That is where the system is so important and is an area where Arsene has struggled.

Wenger always says he has to adapt the style of play to the players he has. That is the sensible approach no doubt. But a fairly valid argument is that he has to adapt the squad he has so that he can have more flexibility in the system. This is an area where Arsenal can improve.

Due to the similar nature of so many players, Arsenal don’t really have the ability to change the style as often as necessary. The midfield tends to struggle in certain games. As mentioned above, it affects the sharpness of our attack and the solidity of our defence.

People blame the defence for conceding the four goals at Newcastle but we have to ask why the team failed to hold on to the ball in that period. Did the Barcodes suddenly morph into Barcelona to win the ball back within seconds? No, the midfield went AWOL and failed to contribute in attack or defence. Ball retention is a key aspect of both.

Of course, that will make the next season that much more complicated. If we want to play two defensive midfielders and need greater height, will Wilshere have to sit out (assuming Cesc stays)? What about Ramsey? It’s not an easy decision, is it? I will cover this further while discussing tactics and formation.

No one can honestly deny the need for greater depth in midfield. In this regard, Denilson’s desire to leave can only be a positive. Hopefully, Wenger’s interest in Phil Jones was the signal of intent that the Boss is looking for the right players to shore up the defence and midfield. I am convinced the defence will look much better if the midfield offers the right support consistently.

I’d love to see a player of the quality of a younger Michael Essien added to our squad but it’s just not easy to find that kind of talent with so many clubs around that can outspend Arsenal.

In an earlier post, I’d also mentioned that Arsenal could do with the signing of an experienced player like Seedorf. I don’t believe that is possible anymore, nor is the acquisition of Pirlo, but if Wenger can find a player of that stature it will help the younger players immensely. It doesn’t have to be someone who starts many games but just a player who can come in and make a difference in the final few minutes when the team needs greater composure and stability in defence or imagination and decisiveness in attack.

This whole discussion could be rendered meaningless if Fabregas and Nasri were to leave the club this summer. That would force the manager’s hand in the market and will also prompt a change in system. We will have a good idea about it only after the transfer window closes so I’ll refrain from speculative analysis.

For now let’s just see how the summer evolves while hoping we get a lot more from some midfielders who disappointed this season.