Listening to Arsene Wenger talk about the January transfer window one comes away with the distinct impression that he loathes it. He also loathes talking about potential transfers as well and would rather prefer to believe that his squad is on the verge of playing great football. To have to bring someone in is like admitting that your preparations over the summer were inadequate, unless you’re buying to replace someone injured. What makes it all the more galling is that everyone in August told him the squad was inadequate, that he needed a defensive midfielder.
Knowing Wenger, I’m sure he will buy just one or two players (not counting any young future star he can get his hands on). The only way he’ll buy more players is if someone leaves, otherwise he’ll only make minor adjustments to his squad. If I could hazard a guess I would say he will buy that defensive holding midfielder and that he might buy a winger.
The latest blow is the injury to Fabregas. At this point we don’t know how severe the injury is, but behind Cesc the cupboard is pretty bare. Replacing Cesc there’s Denilson … probably, Nasri … maybe, Diaby … hopefully not. I cannot see him buying a midfield playmaker (despite rumours about Arshavin), but if the injury will keep Cesc out for months he might reach into his wallet. As for the other central midfield position, one good performance against Liverpool (minus Mascherano) by Song doesn’t erase concerns about the position against other gritty teams. Even he can see that Denilson, Song, and Diaby cannot do the job on a consistent basis. Diaby is not defensive at all (Wenger admitted as much in a recent interview), Denilson is not physical enough, and Song is not quick enough and his passing lacks the sharpness that the Gunners need. I don’t know who he’ll purchase but he needs to be better than the three we have.
As for a winger, Nasri is out half the time (even Wenger pointed that out), Walcott is out till March, the same for Rosicky, and Eboue has recently lost his confidence. I’m sure he’d like to get Traore back from Portsmouth as Adams doesn’t play him as often as Redknapp did. Failing that he might look to get someone else who can give the team a shot in the arm and get wide on either side of the field.
As for other purchases, he won’t make them unless someone leaves. He won’t buy another central defender unless Gallas leaves. Even should Gallas depart I’m not sure he’ll buy a world class defender to replace him. I suspect he’d just slot Toure into the position and buy someone on the cheap who can step in if there is an injury. If Bendtner leaves he might make a more significant purchase, someone like Gervinho, Gomis, or Santa Cruz who has some size. If Eboue leaves he’d need to definitely buy a winger and maybe even a right back, which is why I think he’ll stay to the end of the year.
It was three seasons ago that he made his biggest recent splash in the transfer market when he bought Diaby, Adebayor, and Walcott. Things were not going well for the Gunners back then, but things are even worse this season. He definitely needs to make some changes but I’m fearful of the team playing really well for the next three weeks and Wenger changing his mind about dipping his toes into the transfer market. The other fear I have is that he is so loathe to spend large sums that he ends up getting nobody because they’re all overpriced. We’re at the point of the season where financial prudence now could cost us added revenue down the road, because if we don’t finish in the top four we stand to lose much more money than several players might cost. I hope he moves fast in the New Year as well because waiting till the end of January doesn’t mean you’ll get a bargain. That strategy failed in August and will fail again in January. Most of all I hope he moves quickly so I can relax, rather than fret about the situation for a full month.
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