By William Boone (The Oakland Gooner)
Good win at Brighton on Saturday, even if we did leave it late and shut down a couple of times on defense (The table I was sitting at did not enjoy that). A win in a Cup tournament is a win. Enough said about that, on to the matter at hand and I’m not talking about a slightly in-form Liverpool (Luis Suarez bites people, and Brendan Rodgers gave him the arm-band???) on Wednesday. Let’s talk transfers, or more specifically what Arsenal need in this window.
With the transfer market closing down in the next several days, (I still don’t understand how they decided on this as the appropriate time and length, but that’s a different story altogether) everyone is clamoring for signings. Fair enough, we’ve put in a couple of crap performances this season—especially in January—that outlined the need for additional squad members. The highlight of this is the plight of Andrey Arshavin, who can’t be bothered to go to the gym, let alone play 20 minuets in a high-tempo Premiere League game.
To me, the issue is the squad: How thin is it? How thick is it? Where’s the deadwood? If I could, I would look directly at Nicklas Bendtner and Sebastien Squillaci (AKA the Squid) but again that’s neither here nor there. The question to me is what can be done to improve the group? No one person will change the 10 other people around them, regardless of the time, space or whatever else. So the question is, what needs (or doesn’t) need to be added before the window closes?
So I thought about this in several ways, and outside of making a chart I decided that I could simplify my thinking and look at in two ways which are broken down as such:
1) What Arsenal need with a fully healthy squad (I know, this is purely hypothetical and will never happen).
2) What Arsenal need right now based on current resources available. There are four positions, in my mind, that need to be addressed. Here is what I’ve come up with:
Healthy Arsenal: I think we’re good. Podolski can play there, and as much as I hate to admit it, Walcott can as well. He’s not TH14 in size, but pretty much everything else is of similar capabilities (blasphemy, but he did re-sign so he has a couple of more years to try), the speed to cut in incisively and could be used in that role if injury required. That being said, I think we could use another striker, unless Arsene thinks he’s turning someone into Bergkamp. If we’re playing a 4-3-3, we have plenty of options, but perhaps not a plan B.
Injury Riddled Arsenal: We are screwed. If Giourd goes down, who do we have? All of our purported strikers are wingers who come in. The ‘Shavin? He is both out of shape and out of contract in June. There is a definite need for at least a little cover and someone who can bring a difference to the side. They may sit on the bench if everyone is healthy but I think making some kind of move, even promoting from the youth team would make people a little happier.
Healthy Arsenal: With Dijorou out on loan and looking for a permanent move away (I’m sad about this, by the way), there is the need for cover. Ignasi Miquel has done nicely when he’s played and I think he’s a keeper, but we only have three center halves (I don’t count the Squid in this as he is just there to make up numbers for training and look forlorn on the bench like Skeletor with skin). It would be good if he had more experience but he’s shown that he can do the job, even filling in as a full-back on several occasions. I’ll miss Kyle Bartley, I think he will come good as his performances in the COC showed but as long as he’s a swan, I’m glad he can only head it off the bar.
Injury Riddled Arsenal: We are screwed. If we let Miquel go out on loan, we need someone in. Period. Someone who would be versatile (could play on the flanks) would be nice but with at least (hopefully more) games to go, we need cover it we loan anyone else out.
Defensive MF/ All around player
Healthy Arsenal: His name is Aaron Ramsey. Now he gets to earn that new contract. I like him a lot and when he’s on—like he is now—he reminds me of Ray Parlor. Good box to box, as long as he keeps his focus and limbs attached (see previous article). I think that’s all we need until Mikel Arteta gets back into the squad. Emmanuel Frimpong could have been the cover here but I think he needs the games as opposed to the bench and hopefully he can get them with Fulham at the Cottage.
Injury Riddled Arsenal: If Arteta is out longer than expected, the run in is going to be tough. Counting on Abou Diaby and Ramsey to stay fit and Jack Wilshere to stay healthy as well is a big ask. I know that Arsene talks about not wanting to “kill” players like Coquelin with new signings, but we need to be honest. Unless they can all stay fit, there will be a hole there.
Healthy Arsenal: Gibbs is the future, provided he can stay fit. Jernade Meade looks promising, but he’s had some injury issues this season. He looks to be one for the future, though. As much as I like Andre Santos as a character that every team needs, his fitness is a joke and I’m pretty sure that I would have been a better use of 8.5 million pounds.
Injury Riddled Arsenal: If Gibbs goes down we are screwed. Santos may be able to put in a shift here and there but against top class opposition he’s going to get destroyed, especially if Theo is playing in front of him and drifting in as he has been lately. Cover is definitely needed here, I just don’t trust Gibbs’ legs.
So what am I asking for in the transfer window? Not much. I think we really need some defensive cover and if we can find a player who can play full back and center half, I think we would be probably alright based on the form of the last couple of games. I may totally change my mind after the game with Liverpool on Wednesday but I guess that’s just a wait and see…