The necessity for taking advantage of the transfer window this January has always been obvious, however it has certainly never before been this requisite.
A team lacking a defensive partner to match Cesc’s guile, a defense looking for a dominant center back, and doubts surrounding Ade’s commitment, Nasri’s integration, and the injury woes of Rosicky and Eduardo has always looked fragile at best, however in this time of turmoil the addressing of these concerns in the form of proven stars is the only sufficient answer.
With Sunday’s clash with Liverpool now effectively ruling out our brightest star, the time for Wenger to break character and splurge is most definitely now. Comparing the squad now to the one of the same time last year is embarrassing, as well as starkly revealing of just how much a shadow team our Club has descended into.
The only major losses of last year were Hleb and Flamini. In Flamini, Cesc had a partner who, although not blessed with great size, had bountiful courage and enthusiasm. To many fans of Arsenal, it seemed as if replacing Flamini from without was obvious and a foregone conclusion. Wenger, ever the believer in the talent of youth, decided to replace from within. So far, that replacement has been fruitless and punishing. It must be said, however, that Song and Denilson have most definitely improved, and will in time become respectable.
The contribution of Hleb was less concrete, it seems. A player blessed with great dribbling, he seemingly had an allergy to the idea of shooting. He was a player as mesmerizing as he was frustrating, a seemingly replaceable player because of his lack of goals. This past summer, there was great optimism for the next squad, and rightly so, what with Wenger’s statements of bringing his chequebook to the Euro’s.
In hindsight, such optimism was naivete at best. Once again, Wenger decided to promote from within, while only buying youth. Fast tracking to the present, we see how utterly dreadful his plan was. I admire Wenger and realize the revolution he has brought English soccer, however I see the blind stubborness and arrogance he also possesses.
The simple fact is that Wenger has not been crippled enough to change tactics. Put simply, he runs the Club. However, with fans starting to turn, the board has quite nearly demanded that he spend money this winter. With Cesc’s omission, our season has gone from bad to worse, to near incomprehensible. Wenger is on his last leg, and must act fast to save his once sparkling reputation.
In my opinion, the solution for the loss of Flamini and Hleb can be a compromise between buying and promoting from within, although a slight change in tactics is needed.
I propose the idea of a dutch-style 4-3-3. Adebayor is easily capable of running the line himself, as well as providing an aerial target for crosses. Robin van Persie, ever the improviser, ever the arrogant yet immensely gifted player Wenger loves, would naturally fit into the team at right forward/midfield, exactly as he does so successfully.
The left forward/midfield spot is filled with the player with whom the Club has been constantly linked with recently, Andrei Arshavin. He has speed, dribbling, passing, and a deadly eye for goal. Not only would he fit the Wenger model of an outside player coming inside, he would also open space for exploitation by drawing defenders onto him, exactly the same job Hleb performed. Also, his eye for goal would be something Hleb did not have, and his speed would provide Arsenal the ability to counter-attack.
In the center of midfield, I recommend one player playing a highly-advanced attacking midfield role, with two holding midfielders behind. Obviously, that attacking role would be filled by Cesc, but for now Nasri is more than talented enough to deputise. It is the position he quite often plays for France.
For the two holding midfield players, I suggest promoting from within, and allowing Denilson and Song to play this role. Denilson and Cesc could even be interchangeable, as Cesc has a propensity for dropping deep.
In defense, Clichy, Djourou, Gallas, and Sagna would become a well-marshalled backline, as long as there is a capable defense wall in front of them.
Obviously, my suggestions are merely suggestions. However, Wenger would not have to go on a spending spree. He also would not stunt any player’s growth, as there are still three center midfield positions open.
The final squad would look like:
Sagna – Djourou – Gallas – Clichy
Denilson – Song
Arshavin – van Persie
Wenger is definitely smart enough to come up with the right scheme, but whether or not he swallows his pride remains to be seen.