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Arsenal In Dire Straits

It’s now or never for Wenger.  The squad is the weakest since Arsene’s reign started that there is no doubt.  Suspensions and injuries are mounting and we have only played three games.  Our squad for today included two players who are outward bound and contained 8 youngsters.

Whilst we could see the potential in both Frimpong and Miguel today, trophies are not won with potential, but as Wenger told us in May with experience.

Our attack was blunt today with the only Nasri showing any inventiveness.  The defence was on the whole solid but Jenkinson looked exposed on several occasions.

Arsene has insisted that the players he has brought in Gervinho, Jenkinson, Ryo and Oxlade-Chamberlain are good quality players and by implication adequate replacements for Febregas, Nasri, Denilson, Vela, Eboue and Clichy.  I think Wenger is either deluded or lying to the fans. Defence is the main area to strengthen, yet Arsene has refused to move for any of our “targets”, why?  Is it that he thinks they are not good enough for Arsenal or does he think they are too expensive?  We have had bids turned down for both Samba and Jagielka within the last 12 months, so they must be good enough, but Wenger appears to refuse to spend.  Arsene needs to spend money and strengthen our defence there is no other option.

Midfield is devoid of players with invention.  We were missing Gervinho and Wilshere, but that is no excuse.  Wenger is culpable allowing this situation to develop.  Everyone know that Cesc was leaving, Denilson wanted out and Nasri was not prepared to sign a new contract, so why were so indecisive in the transfer market?  If we go back to Ricardo Alvarez, how did we let this one slip away over a reported £1.5M difference in valuation?  At the end of July we were about to sign Mata for £13M, but failed to lodge the bid before his buyout clause expired and now Chelsea are favourites to sign him for £28M.

In attack we have let Carlos Vela go out on loan and Niklas Bendtner is due to leave, this leaves us with van Persie who only plays 50% of our games and Marouane Chamakh who looks like he’ll never score again.

Frankly our squad is too weak to compete this season, not to challenge for the title but too weak to even try and make a fourth place finish.

Why has this happened?  The board needs to accept some of the responsibility.  They have, since David Dein’s departure allowed Wenger to dictate and conduct transfer negotiations.  This adds pressure on Wenger in terms of spending, he is fearful of spending say £17M on Cahill and then the player not producing the goods.  The situation at Arsenal is calling for a Director of Football who is responsible for transfer and contract negotiations. Wenger hands this person a list of players in priority order and he then goes out and buys the player within the transfer budget.

Arsenal now have two vital games, away to Udinese and Manchester United.  Defeat in these games will be disaster; we will have Europa League football at Arsenal and potentially out of the title race by the end of August.

Unless Arsene brings in a minimum of three players this week, Arsenal fans are going to have a very long and frustrating season.

Today saw swarms of fans leave the ground once Liverpool took the lead, there was dissent from fans calling for Arsene to spend the money and for the second game in a row there were hundreds of empty seats.  The latter has prompted the club to stop announcing the attendance during the games.

The Next 3 Games Will Define Our Season

The next three matches are the most important matches in Arsene’s time at Arsenal. Never has an Arsenal team been so short of quality players and never has our season hung on thread so early.  Three defeats and the fans will be calling for Arsene’s head, three undefeated games and Arsene will have bought time to restructure the squad.

Matters have not been helped by early season suspensions, Gervinho and Song will miss both games against Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as the Swansea City game. To compound matters for tomorrow’s game, Gibbs, Diaby and Wilshere are all out injured, whilst there is a doubt over the fitness of Rosicky.  In attack we welcome back our captain van Persie, but that is it.

For tomorrow’s game Arsene must decide as to whether he plays Traore at left back or moves Vermaelen to that position, a move that could reveal our weakness at the centre of the defence once more.

Crucially, will Wenger play Arshavin in the playmaker role?  Arguably the Russian’s best games for Arsenal were when he joined and played just behind the striker, this role allowed him to roam around the field and did not require him to track back, something that our little Russian does not enjoy doing. If Arshavin plays in the playmaker role, I would like to see Lansbury employed on one of the flanks, and given a similar task that Ray Parlour used to perform, that is asked to tuck in when we do not have the ball.

Arsene has few options for tomorrow a game that will see many youngsters on the bench.

Both league games will big tests for the Arsenal squad, but I would hope that by the Manchester United game we will have bought one or two more players.

On the transfer front, everything has gone quiet, which in Arsenal terms is normally a positive.  Wenger pulled out of the Mata deal once other teams entered the fray, Arsenal are not prepared to enter into an auction which was one of the reasons that we did not sign Ricardo Alvarez earlier on this season.  Arsenal prefer to do business behind closed doors and nearly always walk away once a transfer has been leaked.  I do not believe the Mata deal is dead, Chelsea may using Mata to force Modric’s hand at Spurs.  If Mata does not move to Chelsea next week, expect Arsenal to try to sign him prior to the transfer window closing.

Everyone agrees that a centre-half is a top priority for Arsenal with four centre-halves linked to us this summer, Chaill, Jagielka, Dann and Samba.  Samba has probably been priced out of the market as far as Wenger is concerned and Jagielka seems set on staying at Everton, though if we have not bought a centre-back, Wenger will try a transfer deadline day swoop, Everton have financial problems and are unable to enter the transfer market without selling.  It was interesting that Scott Dann did not feature for Birmingham City in the Europa League last night.  If was due to sign for Liverpool, playing in Europe would not be an issue, but Arsenal would not have wanted him cup-tied. Gary Cahill will go to the wire.  No club has made a bid for him, Bolton are in need of money and unless he has a change of heart and signs a new contract, he will leave on a free next summer, something that Bolton cannot afford to allow.  Wenger would well tie up Scott Dann soon and then wait until transfer deadline day and offer Bolton £10M-£12M.

Last weekend we were strongly linked with Shaktar Donetsk Brazilian playmaker Jadson, with Shaktar claiming we had agreed a fee for the player.  This was flatly denied by Arsene.  Is this a case of a selling club trying to generate interest or did Arsenal tell Shaktar and Jadson to keep quiet or the deal is off?

Reports from Italy this week have linked us with Lazio’s Argentina attacker Zarate, with some reports claiming we were discussing terms with his representatives over a possible £10M – £18M move.

On the exit front, Nasri will be leaving to join Manchester City this week-end, Armand Traore has been linked with a loan move to QPR leaving us short of left-back cover and Niklas Bendtner has still not found a club.

All in all a very nerve racking 8 days ahead for Arsenal fans.

Wenger Needs to Buy Wickham

The young striker Wenger needs to turn his attention to is Ipswich Town’s Connor Wickham.

Arsenal fans got a couple of close-up looks at this player when we played Ipswich in the carling Cup, and even though he played on the wing supporting the lone striker he showed us he has everything needed to be a top class striker.  Wickham has strength, speed, determination and importantly an eye for goal.  He is 18 years old and 6ft 3”.  Unlike our “world class” striker Bendtner, Wickham works all the time, never shirks a challenge and scores goals.

Arsenal are not the only club chasing this west country youngster, Harry Redknapp is always sniffing around Arsenal targets as is Kenny Dalglish. Wenger should open discussions with Ipswich Town, especially if as some reports claim, Ipswich will do business at around £12M, the same fee that we are asking for Bendtner.  I know who I would prefer at the Emirates next season.

Wickham could easily play alongside van Persie, in an orthodox 4-4-2 or even play the lone striker, he is built for that sort of role.  Wickham has played out on the wing for Ipswich using his strength and speed to cut inside and score or create goals and that is a role he can perform for Arsenal.

Arsenal are looking at selling both Carlos Vela and Niklas Bendtner, Connor Wickham would be the ideal signing to replace both players. All the is needed is for Wenger to make a decent bid and start the ball rolling.

Arsenal Will Challenge for the League Next Season

The press and radio are having another field day with Arsenal, writing about our demise before a ball has been kicked.  The rationale behind this theory is we haven’t spent any money so we will struggle to qualify for the Europa League, never mind the Champions League.

Well let’s look at this matter in detail.

If Clichy and Sagna can rediscover their form of two years ago, once more we will have a solid defence.  Wenger has strengthened the defence with the signing of Vermaelen and if Toure leaves, then he will add one more defender. 

In midfield the key is not the “holding” player, but Fabregas.  If Fabregas starts to tick from day one, so will the rest of the team.  In Denilson, Song and Diaby Wenger has three players who should compliment Fabregas, but is Cesc does not find form then we will suffer.

In the attacking third of the field we have the most attacking players and option available than any other club in the Premier League.  Commentators ignore the return of Rosicky and Eduardo, they do not realise what these two players will bring to the team.  In addition we will Arshavin for the whole season.  This player is a winner and possesses the ability to unlock some of the packed defences we will encounter at the Emirates.  Wenger has a wealth of riches to choose from in terms of attackers, van Persie, Eduardo, Bendtner, Vela, Arshavin, Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky and Wilshere.

Now let’s look at our rivals.

Liverpool have added Johnson, period.  They could lose one if not both of Alonso and Maschareno this week and they are so reliant on the goals of Gerrard and Torres that they are two long term injuries away from Premier League mid-table football.

Manchester United have lost Tevez and Ronaldo and Fergie has been riled by Manchester City.  He is worried be cause he realises that despite the goals that Owen has scored in friendlies they count for nothing once the season begins.  Ronaldo scored 25 goals last season and countless assists, where are they going to come from this season? Fergie has his wings clipped in terms of spending money this season and does not like it.

Chelsea are as always stable and will one or two players.  Their biggest problems are the age of the squad and Carlo Ancelotti.  Ancelotti is Roman’s pick and the previous manager chosen by the boss failed, furthermore Ancelotti has won only one league trophy in all his years in Italy.

There are as always several pretenders.  Tottenham, Everton, Aston Villa and Manchester City.

Tottenham are stuck in a vicious circle of buying plenty of mediocre players, overpaying them and not able to sell them on.

Everton have no money and Moyes will cobble together a challenge for the Europa League, but Everton are traditional slow starters to their league campaign.

Aston Villa have lost a key midfielder and replaced him with an over-rated winger who has a broken leg.  Their season went pear-shape the moment they bought Heskey.

Manchester City are the biggest challengers, but Hughes did not show last season that he can get a group of players to gel together.  City at one stage flirted with relegation.  It will take one or two bad results and the Cit bubbler will burst with the likes of Tevez and Adebayor complaining about spending too much time on the bench.

I do not believe or listen to the doom and gloom mongers.  Wenger will strengthen the team but we are not far off challenging for the league, we need to find form early this season and start to score goals from all over the place then we will challenge and plent y of pundits will have to eat their own words.