The Great Arsenal Summer Clearout
The Great Arsenal Summer Clearout began yesterday with seven players released by the club. The impact of these departures is minimal, not even freeing up space in the Premier League squad. The wage bill is reduced and redistributed elsewhere – in theory at least.
Manuel Almunia was the most high profile – if you can say that – of the departures and I hope the Spaniard finds a club this summer. He was an easy target with his confidence shaken on a regular basis. Every conversation about him inevitably turns to Paris, the final lost because of the two goals conceded with no castigation of Lehmann or even Henry for spurning chances that were normally converted with a gluttonous haste. A convenient scapegoat for numerous occasions, Almunia’s recent performances for the first team featured some of his best with partial redemption coming against Barcelona in 2010.
Such exits inevitably turn attention to others considered to be surplus to requirements. Quite why Johan Djourou regularly features in these lists escapes me. There is a certain refreshing naivety in believing that Arsenal will be able to have four world-class centre backs at the club with two content to sit on the bench on a weekly basis. Perhaps we could phone Winstone Bogarde to see if he fancies signing up? We have four internationals at the club filling those positions; yes, Djourou is a Swiss international with thirty caps albeit gained mainly in midfield.
Taking a leaf out of Almunia’s book, I will be polite about Squillaci’s spell at the club. Unsuccessful, that will do to describe it. The usual suspects of Bendtner, Denilson, Vela and Fabianski are joined by Arshavin on the way out. None are surprising, most will depart with few tears offered. The Dane might be capable of much in his career but at this moment in time, it is hard to see him leading an Arsenal frontline – Dortmund are once more hovering in the wings – whilst Vela is ill-suited to English football.
It is a major clearout and Arsenal have a balancing act to strike. With players such as Campbell and Ryo returning from their loan spells, the wide forward positions have plenty of bodies. Reports suggest that Campbell has potential but is not yet ready for the Premier League; how true that is up to the manager decide whilst Miyaichi struck me as doing well at Bolton and is worth holding onto as a substitute.
We saw last season how injuries decimated the midfield and defence at times. The reserves have to be able to step in and to not replace any of these would be derilect in their duties; Arsène is certainly not that. Of course, we have our new signings Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere coming back to strengthen the squad whilst Etienne Capoue on the radar as back-up to Yann M’vila in case the Rennes midfielder decides that Eden Garbo’s decision-making timescales are a good example to follow.
Wilshere had successful surgery on his knee and his Twitter feed suggests that it went well with Jack seemingly in good spirits. Perhaps that is helped by Jermaine Defoe paying his losing bet to Cancer Research. In an age where footballers are regularly derided for greed and egotistical self-promotion, Defoe’s actions are a glimmer of hope although I am sure that the ubiquitous John Terry will take time out from saving the Euro to spoil it all.
The club described his recovery as not being ‘significantly‘ affected which all depends on how you define that word. The surgery itself suggested that something more serious was amiss than was being disclosed which is fair enough. Recent returns from injury for other players have not gone so well and caution with Wilshere is not to be criticised. It ends any vague hope that Stuart Pearce might have retained for him playing in London2012. Even if the player has recovered his fitness, is there any credible evidence that could be produced which would support him playing in tournament football with all of the intensity which that brings? I cannot see it myself.
Were Wilshere and Diaby to be fit for a season, the midfield would look strong. The addition of a purely defensive midfielder is seen as a panacea to all our defensive ills; there are other issues that I am sure will discussed at some point…