Swiss Steel, Russian Roulette, Dutch Courage & More Transfer Chat
The World Cup fallout continued with Laurent Blanc suspending the entire French squad for one match – a meaningless gesture since the fixture in question was a meaningless friendly against Norway – which helps Arsene to a degree as he knows that three of his players are not in danger of being crocked before the visit to Liverpool. Were there to be rests given to a few others then the week before Anfield might not be as pointless as it was originally conceived.
Johan Djourou has decided that aggression is the answer and is looking forward to being the ‘daddy’ of the team. Quickly hiding the pool ball in the football sock behind his back:
I thought that we were looking quite solid. But it is true that 41 goals is too much when you are playing for the top places. I think sometimes we are missing a bit of aggression. It is not that we are not good enough, because the team is good enough. We have top players at the back, top players all over the pitch. It is just that we have to be stronger as a unit.
As much as finding a new centre back is a priority for Wenger – William Gallas seems set for Celtic now – it the cohesion between the back four and midfield that needs resolving as well. Whilst the back four held a good line in the early part of the season, injuries began to impact upon that and at times, the straight line was more twisted than a corkscrew towards April and May.
I am not suggesting that Wenger adopt the extreme measures of George Graham by tieing everyone together with a rope but there is scope for a leader in the back four. This season, I think it will be Vermaelen who deferred to Gallas and Campbell to a certain extent last year. He did not need to for he adapted quickly to the English game; now he can assert himself irrespective of his defensive partner.
Djourou is almost back at square one, twelve months on from his injury:
Now it is time to step up and start. I will always say that but now I am mature enough. We will have to see with the injury because when you have it for so long it is difficult to come straight back into things. But I played 90 minutes against Strum Graz and it went well. I have to get other games under my belt and hopefully I will be ready.
How quickly that chance will arise depends on the transfer market activity undertaken by his manager. If a new centre back does not arrive before the start of the season, Djourou would probably be in the Pole position to partner Vermaelen, physically more ready for the English game than Koscielny appears to be. Concerns have been raised about his build but there were criticisms of Vermaelen’s height which proved to be wide of the mark.
English football is obsessed with a neanderthal being at the heart of the defence yet height is no guarantee of being good in the air, see Peter Crouch’s career for proof of that. It seems that Wenger though is after a little more experience than can currently be offered, Everton apparently willing to discuss terms over Phil Jagielka or not, depending on which news outlet you read / believe.
The goalkeeping conundrum is full of near misses at the moment. David James will not be the experienced gap-filler that Mark Schwarzer appears to be and Igor Akinfeev wants to move to Arsenal or Manchester United. Or quite possibly anywhere should a suitable offer be received by his current employers although he prefers London as an abode as it is in his DNA. Maarten Stekelenberg at £4m represents a better deal than Schwarzer at the same price but is hard to conceive that Ajax would put such a low value on their goalkeeper, especially after a decent World Cup by the goalkeeping standards on show in South Africa. Further up the pitch, The Sunday Times reports that Mesut Ozil is available for £10m and wants to come to Arsenal or Manchester United as Barcelona and Real Madrid are doing their shopping elsewhere…
Backhanded confirmation that Cesc is staying emerged from Barcelona – or tacit acknowledgment that the Catalans won’t be able to muster the funds to buy him – in the form of Iniesta’s comments:
He is a special player and I hope he wins the title at Arsenal this season. For them to win Cesc will have to stay fit and injury-free but he deserves to finish with a title.
Apparently the Arsenal supporters are close to his heart which seems to be more important than any make-up of his DNA. However, Cesc is going to have a very short conversation with Wenger this week in London – shame the manager will be in Austria for a lot of it – about a move to Barcelona. I doubt Wenger will be too chuffed with the notion of his star player doing a daily commute of a couple of thousand miles but if it keeps him happy…
Posted on July 25, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 73 Comments.