The topic of today is Andre Arshavin.
Since arriving on the scene he has entertained us with his dazzling skills and his endless quotable newspaper talk. Half comediene, half footballing genius… half misogynist… yes, I did the math and it all works out.
The tough question facing Arsene Wenger this summer is what to do with him. The Russian likes to play centrally, it’s where he plays the best and where he is used to playing. Being the centre of attention is how he likes it to be and he’s made that vocally clear. This isn’t a Hleb or Rosicky situation here, this is a truly world class performer requesting he is moved into the middle. So what does this mean for the team?
Well, the way I see it… it means that we are going to be seeing a lot more 4-5-1 next season. I know, I know… it pains us all. However, for me, I don’t see it as a bad thing. A 4-5-1 with the players we have going forward could be a fantastic set up… if we addressed defensive frailties this summer.
If you look at our squad, we seem to be top heavy with creative midfielders. We have Nasri, Vela, Wilshere, Rambo, Cesc, Arshavin, Rosicky, Walcott, Lansbury, Diaby… there is no way we can accommodate all of them unless we play with a 4-5-1… Arsene has been using it most of this season and watching Barca the other night made me think we could be operating in a similar fashion.We have lots of small technically gifted footballer who keep the ball really well… we’ve now added a goal threat into the mix and we have Rosicky coming back into the fold slowly but surely. We’ve lacked a striker with enough nous to play in that system, but I see no reason why Eduardo couldn’t play in the Eto’o role next season?
Robin Van Persie can play outwide or in the hole… Nik B can play in the tougher more physical games… and we have at least 3 other players who can move up top if they have to.
This is how I see us lining up regularly next year… obviously personnel can be interchanged…
Sagna Blank Gallas Clichy
Walcott Cesc Nasri
The only issue I see there is defence. There are two possible blanks in the first team next year.
Firstly, there is no question that we need a great centre back to partner Gallas. Kolo is a bit like that old family pet dog everyone loves… he’s stinking the place out… but we love him… so there is no chance we’re going to black-bag-river-thames him… but we’d be happy to keep him outside, letting him in occasionally to make a gust appearance.
The second more contentious issue is the holding role. I think the long term plan for Song is central defence. He’s done better in the second half of the season, but he’s not top class and he doesn’t really have the pace required to make that position his own… which leaves Denilson.
Denilson has great stats, the 16th best player in the league this year… the 5th best midfielder. If actim are to be believed, he must be doing something right… however, according to the same stats, Berbatov has performed better than Torres by 50 odd places… Ryan Shawcross is a more polished performer than Rio Ferdinand (Maybe he can take Kolo’s place?)… and Dirk Kuyt has done more for his team than Ronaldo. Basically, take the stats with a pinch of salt or a smattering of grey…
Denilson is compact, a good tackler, an ok reader of the game and he’s got a good work engine. Does he live to shield the defence? Probably not… Does he have the physical presence to deal with ‘in your face teams’… not at the moment. Could he become great in the next 3 months? The jury is out…
The fact is, Arsenal need a great centre mid to win the league. Someone who can dominate with technical ability and power. Someone who can compete in the air. Someone the opposition fear… someone on the verge of greatness NOW.
You see, great players don’t need statistics to prove their value. Their skills are there for all to see… if you rely on statistics to justify your existence, chances are you’re probably not that great. Can Denilson make the jump to superstar in 3 months? If not, can Wenger sign a defensive midfielder in the same quality bracket as Arshavin because the fact is, one of those two situations has to occur for us to stand a chance of doing any damage in the title race next year.
Wenger can’t afford to make mistakes this transfer window… players wont hang around forever, their careers are too short to constantly live for next year. Thierry winning the European Cup was probably a bad thing… it proved that their can be life after Arsenal and if we continue to play for plaudits instead of silverwarwe I fear we could see others head in that direction.
I had two e-mails and a few messages from people saying that RvP told numerous people at the end of season dinner he was going to wait until he saw Arsenal’s moves in the transfer window before signing up this year. No one is asking for £40mill signings… we’re just after signings that signal our intent… I’m sure Robin feels the same.
Oh, and that singer I was talking about in my post the other day was Pixie Lott if you were interested!
So, tough decisions lie ahead for Wenger this summer… he’s going to have to kill someone’s career temporarily… but if he makes the right choice, next season could be a very exciting!
Keep em’ crossed Grovers and make sure you e-mail in if you’re interested in season tickets!