Arsene Has To Define “Defensive” In His Search For Fresh Faces
A quiet Arsenal morning, the excitement of Laurent Koscielny’s sudden transfer to the club has barely subsided before Arsène raised the anticipation levels further with a Dickensian plea for more money to spend. Medical assistance was no doubt administered to the Board on hearing that such frivolous spending is planned.
The target according to the manager is focussing on the defence:
We identified Koscielny as a very, very strong centre half. He can be an outstanding addition to our team. But it is not over, we are still open to buy. We are still on the market for another defensive player because we have the need for one more
How that calculation was arrived at is open to interpretation. The obvious suggestion is centre back but defensive player is a broad brush term and ranges anywhere from goalkeeper to midfield. The latter position has numbers and seems unlikely – Juventus are determined to foist Melo upon us – as does the need for full backs. Even with Kerrea Gilbert leaving, there are options at right back with Eboue as cover and the left side is equally filled with Gibbs recovery from injury.
That leaves centre back and goalkeeper. Both have seen plenty of suggestions for potential targets although these seem to be dwindling with media favourites Kjaer and Eduardo both joining new clubs yesterday, Wolfsburg and Genoa respectively.
Sol Campbell has been working his way south from Glasgow, rumours of a medical at The Stadium Of Light seem premature. It is hard to find fault with Campbell taking his time in deciding his future, the picture at Arsenal is quite clear: best hope is fifth choice centre back with a one year deal or another club, higher up the pecking order and a contract which is twice as long. At least this time there is no charade about wanting to play abroad.
Current solutions for Wenger lack experience though with Koscielny and Djourou some way behind Vermaelen in this aspect. Promoting the youngster Nordtveidt and Bartley offers a partial solution in that the Carling Cup must surely be their target this season. However, as the last Premier League campaign proved, fifth and sixth choice central defenders may be required for a spell and putting in untried youngster is ‘sink or swim’.
The futures of Gallas and Campbell appear to be edging away from the club which is the problem facing Wenger. Of the two, Gallas would be nearer to be a first team regular. Indeed, were he to stay then Wenger could conceivably go into 2010/11 with the players he already has. Campbell remaining would mean that one of Koscielny or Djourou would probably be Vermaelen’s partner in the starting XI.
Last season may be clouding judgements. The injury levels were horrific and it is hard to decide whether it was a freak occurrence or there is something different with Arsenal players and their fitness. The numbers of players for the two central defensive positions ought to be sufficiently covered between four players; last season, there were times when it seemed that six was insufficient although that might partly be the fact that Mikael Silvestre was the sixth choice and did not inspire confidence.
The World Cup has enabled us to cast immediate judgements upon those whom the media foist upon us. None has covered themselves in glory and to some extent, appreciation of those already at the club is heightened. Problematically, injuries have cast aside memories of Djourou’s abilities with his stop-start progress being a barrier to forming a genuine assessment. Potentially, he could be a world-class centre back but that will take time, a precious commodity in an unforgiving league.
It might be that Wenger was referring to his goalkeepers. A new custodian would mean that there were five at the club who would have eyes on the prize, some harbouring more realistic ambitions than others. Almost certainly, any addition to the squad would signal the end of Almunia’s career at the club. It is unlikely that the Spaniard would stay for the obvious reason of wanting first team football but from Arsenal’s point of view, he would be a barrier to progression by younger team-mates.
The situation would appear to pave the way for Szczesny to go out on loan once more although that dubious honour might fall to Fabianski. That would be the best outcome, letting him regain confidence which will have been dented by the events of his recent first team games.
No doubt the outcome is clearer in Wenger’s mind than it is to supporters. The next week or so should provide the answers.
Posted on July 9, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 135 Comments.