Does Arsène Need A Sacrificial Lamb To Shake The Squad?
A by-product of the season finishing in freefall is that Arsenal become an easy target for transfer stories. Major stars are going to be unhappy and there will be dressing room unrest. To be honest, I hope they are and I hope there is. It would be a sign that the players care about what has happened in the past month.
This morning’s star with a car waiting to zoom into the distance is Andrey Arshavin. Hardly a surprising choice having already been heavily linked in the media with a return to Zenit St Petersburg.
Perhaps there is some truth in this tattle, perhaps not. The inference of Wenger’s disappointment in the player is not hard to believe. Surely he feels that way about most of the squad? He has every right to after the climax to this season.
The first consideration is whether Arshavin is the right player. He was inconsistent during the season but then again so was Samir Nasri. The Russian battled through a desperate dip to regain his form to equalise against Everton at The Emirates following a two month goal drought.
The most decisive reason though to keep him is his assist total of 17, the highest at the club. With ten goals, this means he was involved in a quarter of the total that Arsenal scored. Add into that equation, fifty one appearances and the statistics seem to back his retention.
He is not the most industrious player but that is a criticism which can be levelled at Walcott and Nasri as well. Defensive duties are shirked but on the right, Bacary Sagna is more reliable as a defender in my mind than Gael Clichy. This is why Arshavin’s inability to track back is perceived.
And it is not necessarily true. The Russian is capable of putting in a lot of hard work and frankly I don’t care about his body language, that is no indicator of anything on a football pitch. It does create the perception though.
The real problem with everything relating to Arsenal at the moment is that the media are desperate to pander to the disaffected. They know that an anti-Arsenal story is going to garner hits or sales whilst striking a chord with the current mood. In those circumstances, the ‘bad’ news is portrayed as ‘good’, in this instance cutting loose deadwood.
But this story begs the question, does Arsène need to be ruthless with a ‘big name’ to shake complacency out of the squad as a whole?
Creating a sacrificial lamb is not a solution. It weakens the squad whilst appearing to be a decision that is expedient in the PR battle. Would the sale of a star player be in the longer term best interest of the squad?
That has several issues, firstly how does it improve the playing side of the squad? No matter which way you look at it, the initial move weakens the squad. Only if a better player is signed, of which there is no guarantee, does strengthening occur.
Secondly, how does it affect the dynamic? For all of the intention to paint it thus, there is no evidence that Arshavin is an unpopular member of the squad. His interviews on his own website do not suggest anything other than an awareness of the world around him. He merely puts out the views others espouse on the official club website. The Q&A’s though do tell us that he has some wonderfully weird fans.
The only benefit that I can actually see, is that any sense of complacency would be shaken brutally from the younger members of the squad. The thought must at that point cross their minds that if they don’t shape up, they will be shipped out ruthlessly.
But Wenger should be doing this anyway. A number of the younger players are not going to be first team regulars – or appear that way at this moment – so perhaps it is surely the case of finding them places where they can have a decent career. In that Arsenal have been successful in the past.
The current trend in the media though is of playing to the gallery. Scott Parker is hot favourite to join, Gary Cahill’s proposed transfer has developed into a ‘dream move’. If no-one else is bother, the media will make sure that an English spine is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We’re reminded that an English spine is needed to win the Premier League, no team ever does so without it.
Except for The Invincibles of course who in Cole and Campbell had more of a left rib than a spine.