Dispatch #101 from the Casbah club…
It’s incredible the difference a week makes, isn’t it? A week ago, we were all a quiver over the imminent visit of the gobby neighbours (actually, I wasn’t). A week ago, we were asking why, why, why hadn’t Arsène made at least a bit of a dent in the cash mountain that is dwarfing one corner of the Highbury House boardroom. If you close your eyes, it’s possible to imagine Stan Kroenke flying over from the US just to come and sit in the middle of, tossing used twenties around like a kid with his toys, in a sandbox. I jest, but, having been told we had loadsamoney to spend, it was only with half hour left of the transfer window that Arsenal announced they would not be making a profit this time. Oh, how we rejoiced; Mesut Özil was, and is, a Gooner.
Say that again, Mesut Özil is a Gooner. Sounds good, no?
As the Gooner army went collectively barmy, some more level headed types have tried, helpfully but in a Scrooge like fashion, to point out that one Özil does not a squad make. And, of course, they’re right. But whilst it’s certainly fair to look at our bench, as it was on Sunday say, and think we are a few injuries away from disaster, it is also true that we have several players already out. Some of whom are likely to be back with us sooner than later. I look at our squad and think that aside from the lack of a convincing alternative to Olivier Giroud, something that is almost a necessary evil of our one centre forward system, it ain’t that bad. Yes, really.
We wanted a decent option as back up to Wojciech Szczesny, we got someone with 6 caps for the Azurri. Ok, so he’s a little too reminiscent of Manuel Almunia for comfort and I don’t know much about him. But he seems like a good fella (a wiseguy…). Some of you even wanted Szczesny replaced, I don’t see that. I think the Pole in goal is close to being a fantastic keeper and has contributed in all of our previous three matches, making some great saves. Replace him? Really?
In front of him, Mertesacker and Koscielny have created a formidable barrier, to the effect that our club captain wouldn’t be able to get a game even if he was fit. Obviously, our reliance on these two is an area of concern, but Bac Sagna has proved more than capable of providing cover in the centre. I do worry about our best right back playing there though, and I’m not sure what would happen if Merte and Kos were missing at the same time (as well as Vermaelen), having let three centre backs go without even one coming in seems rash to me. It’s not even as if there’s some young tyro waiting to step into the breach if required (is there?). I wonder if we may yet see Carl Jenkinson at centre back some stage- not, before you all start, that I am suggesting that would be a good thing…
As for the full backs, well, what can you say about them? Two experienced internationals and two young English lads, who appear to be making rapid progress. Certainly, Mr Jenkinson has come a long way from his first, chastening, experience of Old Trafford. And why, after a month at the club, having only just stepped up from League One, should that not have been chastening? You will rarely hear complaints from me regarding Kieran Gibbs, or Bacary Sagna. Sagna, in particular, now seems to have recovered his poise following last year’s recovery from two leg breaks which is great news for him, and us. And Nacho Monreal has proved to be a decent, if not spectacular, signing. Consider me happy with those four. We know that both Flamini and Ramsey could be pressed into service there, if necessary, although what happens if The Great Left Back Plague of 2005/06 rears its ugly head again, we may be in trouble.
In midfield, I think we are well stocked with good options. Some may be concerned by our lack of a Gilberto type, someone we’ve never really replaced since, er, Gilberto left the club. It does seem now that the closest we’ve got is the reinvented Mikel Arteta. Flamini isn’t really a defensive midfielder, but he is the one most likely to go and destroy whoever may need to be destroyed in any given situation- a good option, but not a first choice for me. The reinvigorated Aaron Ramsey has made such an impressive start to the season that he would currently be my first choice in the base of midfield. Though I would balance that assessment with the fact that I think he probably needs to play alongside one of the “baller” midfielders, I.E. Wilshere or Arteta, rather than the enforcer Flamini if we are to retain control of the football. I think we saw an illustration of that against Spurs at the weekend. Jack himself has had a slowish start to the season, which isn’t a massive surprise bearing in mind years of injury woe. Once he gets going though, we have ourselves a nice little competition in the base of midfield, because I would say Jack’s chances at “Number 10″ are going to be seriously restricted from now on.
And that’s because of Mesut Özil. Having spent the big bucks to bring this guy in, I really hope Arsène makes him the fulcrum of the team and doesn’t exile him to the wings. Having both Cazorla (the little magician) and Özil in the same team will give us a fluidity of approach that, I think, can only benefit us. If the two get on the same page quickly, then we could see some pretty spectacular results. With the ever improving Walcott, now safely esconsed as the first choice on the right hand side, I look at these three and see big things ahead. And that forgets the fact that we have Podolski and the Ox currently sitting on the treatment table. I don’t see a massive problem with injuries in this area as Tomas Rosicky can play, albeit with varying degrees of effectiveness, in any of the attacking midfield positions, whilst Ryo has already featured on the wing this season and then there’s Serge Gnabry. Hopefully, there will never be a need to see Aaron Ramsey on the wing again.
It is up top where the real problem lies. Olivier Giroud has had a mightily impressive start to the season, but if he loses form, or gets suspended, or injured it would appear that we are in a bit of a hole. Mr Wenger may talk up Yaya Sanogo, but he has no experience at the top level and has looked a bit awkward when he has featured this season. His is a steeeeeeep learning curve. Podolski? Not good enough to play up there on his own in my opinion and is, of course, injured anyway. Which leaves us with Theo or, the most maligned Arsenal player since Emmanuel Eboue, Nicklas Bendtner. Cards on the table, as much as Bendtner is the epitome of all that is bad in the modern footballer, I would much rather see him up top than Theo. He can head the ball, for a start. I would take Theo’s finishing over Bendtner’s any day of the week, but he isn’t a realistic option against any team who is likely to sit back and defend against us. So….
So, yeah. In summation. Very light at centre forward, but other than that I declare myself (keeping my fingers crossed that nothing bad happens to Olivier, ever) happy. Just in time for the international break. I should have kept my mouth shut.
Oh well, sorry.
55 total views, 1 views today