Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has pulled off an exceptional bit of business in unloading Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City in return for £25m, especially given the fact that Arsenal don’t have much money and need to add to their squad significantly if they are to bring some silverware to the Emirates any time soon. However, to see Wenger state that he’ll “see in pre-season if we need to make any additions” may worry some Arsenal fans.
In recent seasons his reluctance to spend money to add to his squad has been a major downfall, and they’ve seen many players miss long spells through injury and lacked adequate depth to cover these losses, creating an inconsistency that has ultimately cost them success. And however much they may bemoan Adebayor’s attitude, Arsenal fans will know that he scored 46 goals in all competitions over the last two seasons, and that they will need to replace him with someone who can guarantee a similar return.
Wenger said that he’s happy with what he described as a “big squad” and noted that Eduardo will be back fit and he feels that they “also have Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott who can play striker.” This is a valid point, those players can indeed play as strikers, but of the five of them I think only three of them should play as out and out strikers. Andrey Arshavin is the sort of player who thrives playing in the hole behind a forward or two, while Walcott’s pace is (at least for now) best utilised in scaring the shit out of full backs.
That leaves the fantastic Robin Van Persie and the rather hit-or-miss (though many Gunners would suggest it’s just ‘miss’) Nicklas Bendtner, plus Eduardo. Van Persie is a top player and he will get you goals, but he’s been troubled by injuries a lot in the past few seasons and is also liable to miss a few games a season through suspension thanks to his fiery temper. Bendtner… well he’s got the potential, but as yet he hasn’t fulfilled it and I don’t think he’s ready to lead Arsenal’s forward line just yet.
Eduardo is a clinical finisher, there’s no doubt about that, but you can’t help but wonder at this point if he’s ever going to get fully, properly fit. The man’s had an awful lot of bad luck, and pulled off a pretty much miraculous recovery from his horrifying leg-break, but since his spectacular return he has hardly been seen again, as he continues to struggle with niggles. He played a part in their recent pre-season match, but you have to wonder how long he will stay off the treatment table ‘this time’.
So of Wenger’s proffered five striking options, only three are genuine strikers, and of those one isn’t ready for consistent first team action and one is liable to break down at any moment, while the other is hardly the model of consistency. I would argue then, and I think that most Arsenal fans would agree with me here, that Mr. Wenger really needs to splash some of that £25m that he got for Adebayor on finding a replacement for him.
However, Wenger has a history of seeing what he wants to see when it comes to his team. Famous for ‘not seeing’ incidents which may reflect badly on some of his players, Wenger also seems to refuse to accept that his current squad simply is not good enough to win the league. I’ll admit that if they could get their best XI fit and keep them fit all season then they could win it, but that’s a ridiculously big ‘if’. It just isn’t going to happen.
While he’s finally taken a bite of the bullet and bought Thomas Vermaelen to sure up their defence so far this Summer, he has yet to secure the services of a holding midfielder, and having shipped out one of his biggest goal threats he now has another hole to fill. Of course, Wenger being Wenger he will doubtless regard some of his prodigious youngsters as potential short term solutions should injuries be received, but the likes of Carlos Vela can’t guarantee goals at the top level yet.
Overall then, if I were an Arsenal fan reading Wenger’s comments I’d be a little concerned. I’m a huge fan of Wenger, he’s revolutionised football in England in the modern era and he created arguably the greatest team I’ve had the privilege of seeing play with the Invincibles of a few seasons ago. However, since then, he seems to have become blinded almost by his own brilliance: he’s too sure of his current players to bother with spending a bit of money, preferring instead to rely on his youngsters.
And that’s an admirable strategy, and it would be quite nice in a way if everyone was like Wenger in that respect, choosing to give youth a chance rather than spending money. Indeed, that’s something I’d love to see happen widely in football, but I’m not naive enough to think that it will. So if Wenger genuinely wants to compete at the top of the Premier League and to win some more silverware for the Gunners, he needs to accept that money has to be spent.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he should take a leaf out of the books of either Manchester City or Real Madrid. What they are doing is obscene, but that doesn’t mean that buying players is bad full stop. After all, Wenger had to go out and buy the likes of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, players who made his Invincible team invincible. Overall then, I think it’s essential that Wenger invest in a striker to fill the void by Adebayor, as well as looking to add more depth to the rest of his squad.
Of course, Wenger could be following in his old pal Sir Alex’s footsteps by telling porkies, and that in actual fact they are working away behind the scenes to bring in some more players with the cash they’ve just been handed from Man City. However, Ferguson has a history of being sneaky and playing mind games, whereas Wenger has a history of neglecting to adequately add to his squad, so I would be getting a tad nervous if I was an Arsenal fan – it could be a long and frustrating season at the Emirates.
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