Third For Grabs, Transfers And Mental Anguish
As the Premier League focus shifts to Eastlands this evening and the possibility that third place might be sealed without even playing, Arsenal’s ‘woes‘ are having the Alka Seltzer of transfer talk this morning which focusses on the goalkeepers. Joe Hart is the subject of a ‘bid being prepared‘ story despite the fact that he may well be the Manchester City Number One next season, to begin with at least, making it very unlikely that his current employers would agree to any deal, no matter what the player may desire.
If Wenger does not have a Hart then he may like to cast his gaze to the East where the heavily-lacquered eyes of Gianluigi Buffon are fluttering seductively, hiding the nervousness at the prospect of being given the elbow by his Old Lady. And at the start the next Premier League campaign, the odds must be fairly short, in a decimal kinda way, that neither will be wearing the Arsenal goalkeeper’s jersey, looking like a Yeoman out of Star Trek.
Amid the criticism that is raining in on the squad comes, for the most part, the admission that scapegoating Fabiański is the wrong course to follow, even if the critics are so blinded by their desire to blame someone. He is currently the first choice goalkeeper through Almunia’s injury, real or otherwise, and as such is there to be shot at. However, the common theme is that the Pole is not a Number 1, he is a back-up at best. Which is exactly what he is; the first choice back-up, there to cover when the first choice goalkeeper is not in the team.
He has made mistakes, there is no denying that. Yet he is playing behind a back four which is clinging to its form by the tips of their fingernails. He is playing behind a midfield where form is an absent partner, mournfully missed. Holding one individual as the root cause is a dangerous path to tread, especially when the collective are equally to blame. That Sol Campbell has been voted Player of the Month is an indicator of the problems which have been encountered recently.
I have nothing against Campbell and would give him enormous credit for his form. However, in the absence of Fàbregas, I would have expected Nasri or Rosicky to step up to the plate, driving the team forward. Too many of the squad are immersed in a run of indifferent form, lacking the mental strength as high profile defeats ended domestic and european trophy challenges.
How Wenger resolves this problem is difficult to decide; most of the resolution must come from the players themselves. A lot of talk is about ‘winning’ mentality, the strength that previous squads have had in lifting trophies. Whilst my memory is far from perfect, I do not recall concurrent injuries occurring to key personnel in those eras. The squad system is designed to rotate and cover injuries but not to the extent which are being suffered at the moment.
That is not an excuse however for some of the performances. A number of the players are internationals and have been underperforming, the disappointment of a failed campaign tangible in their form. In itself, that indicates that the players had the desire and belief that they could win trophies this season. The part that is missing is handling that disappointment and recovering which is taking too long. 2007/08 showed similar traits as the title slipped from their grasp, arguably that was a harsher lesson than this season. Could that be a fundamental reason for the disheartened state of some of the support this time around, a feeling that those experiences have not been entirely drawn upon?
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Posted on May 5, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Rumours. Bookmark the permalink. 458 Comments.