BREAKING DOWN ARSENE WENGER’S RESPONSE TO BRINGING IN NEW PLAYERS TO ARSENAL by Uche
Hello boys. That Hull performance was pure art and just reinforced the points behind this article I am writing. It surely did come as a shock to some of us a few days ago when the Arsenal manager said that the current form of his team has made him rethink his transfer plans. It was startling at first to hear that sort of statement just as the transfer window is looming on the horizon. But most managers in his position will think the same purely because this Arsenal squad is a solid one. When you look at our starting eleven right now, who will you replace? It is hard. If you replace David Ospina with Peter Cech, is that necessarily an upgrade? Absolutely not. Ospina has been near flawless so far and that is exactly the point the boss was trying to make. And then we have a decent group of players who cannot even get games. If there is anything as challenging as buying a top player, it is trying to placate your top players who cannot even get games.
We all want to see Marco Reus in an Arsenal shirt but if he does come in, who will he replace? Alexis Sanchez? Nope. Theo Walcot? Alex Oxlade Chamberlain? Aaron Ramsey? Maybe but even the much maligned Theo Walcott will get you 20 goals a season when fit and he sits on the bench. Reus can’t stay fit either and he won’t sit on the bench. And then there is Oxlade Chamberlain who has been brilliant all season and single handedly made Manchester United look like a mid-table team in the FA cup. So do we reward Ox by signing Reus or Pedro? Fans just want to buy players, which is understandable. But only managers get stuck with the difficult job of what to do with the talent they already have. Say we bring in Pedro or Reus, we will have a bench that features Ramsey, Ox, Walcot, Wilshere, Welbeck and Wellington Silva. Good luck convincing most of these guys not to seek a move away from Arsenal to a place where they are guaranteed first team football. That is the hard part. That is Wenger’s dilemma.
Signing a top player is not our only challenge in this transfer window. The elephant in the room is the bench. When you have a squad like Arsenal’s, buying a top player will mean assuring that top player that he will be in your starting eleven and frankly, that is very difficult right now. Like most Gunners, I want to see Morgan Schneiderlin in an Arsenal shirt because Francis Coquelin has no decent replacement when the injury curse strikes. But for 20 million pounds, do you see Schneiderlin accepting a place on the bench? Nope. Has Francis Coquelin not earned his place in our starting eleven? Absolutely. This means that whoever comes in must be on the bench and that my friends is the difficult aspect of transfers that doesn’t get a lot of mention. I mean, why is Peter Cech leaving Chelsea? They would have still won the league with him as first choice goalie. So why is he leaving? He is leaving because he cannot sit on the bench.
And then there is the small matter of squad balance. Criticize Olivier Giroud all you want but he is the only striker we have that has been able to play through the middle. Podolski couldn’t cut it and Sanchez, Welbeck and Walcott have equally failed their auditions. As for bringing in Dybala or Lacazette, it is all a gamble. We have seen what happened with Di Maria and Falcao. A player can be a genius in one team and not fit into another team. Each time a top player is rumored to be joining us, the balance of our current squad is under threat. Wenger thinks about these things even more now. Team balance is such an important part of team building otherwise clubs like Man United, Spurs and Liverpool will be winning the League based purely on the over hyped squad of players they each splashed over a 100 million pounds on.
So Wenger is dreading this transfer window for the right reasons this time around. Of course every top team out there can use an improvement and we need decent additions here and there. I want to see top players brought in but I dread the logistics because someone dear to us will inevitably leave. At best, we let Flamini leave when his contract runs out this summer and that frees up just one space for maybe a Schneiderlin or Wanyama type. And that is when the headache really begins. Issues of squad space, who to bench, and squad balance will ensure that subsequent buys will be difficult. That is why Wenger feels that when you manage to get the balance right, guard it jealously and ponder every possible transfer deeply. It makes sense.
Do I think he will buy in this window? Yes I do especially if we lose players like Szczesney and Walcott in addition to Flamini. But if they stay, I don’t foresee us buying more than one or two players. Wholesale changes are not needed. Peace.
Lagos – Nigeria