How Should Arsenal Spend Their Money?
Arsenal have declared they will be big players in the current transfer period. Who will they sign? More importantly, who do they need to sign? Today on the blog Football Ramble presenter and Arsenal fan Jim Campbell tells us where the Gunners should invest their money.
This is a strange time to be an Arsenal fan. Since the club started making bold declarations about the state of their financial affairs a few weeks ago there's a sense of optimism among the fan base, something that's been lacking for so long that a generation of young Arsenal supporters may be experiencing it for the first time.
For the first time in a long time there are no fears that a star player will be leaving – perhaps because there aren't really any left – and there's excitement that big names may be coming in. The transfer excitement isn't a one way street either, as the dead wood that has been cluttering up the squad for too long is being cleared out. In the case of Denilson the club didn't so much clear him out as set him on fire, cancelling the final year of his contract to put a definitive end to his Arsenal career. It looks like Arsenal are planning to put together a squad that can mount a serious challenge for the Emirates Cup. Also some real trophies.
With a slow start to transfer negotiations, some of that familiar panic was starting to settle in, but after years of uncertainty about what Arsene Wenger's transfer budget has actually been it's now clear that he has significant amounts of money at his disposal. If the current squad is to be upgraded to one that can compete for the title then a lot of work needs to be done. Let's look at how this can be achieved...
Wojciech Szczesny found himself relegated to the bench last season following a poor run of form. Lukas Fabianski did well in his place but both he and Vito Mannone are expected to look for pastures new in an attempt to play regularly. Julio Cesar and Simon Mignolet have both been mentioned as possible additions.
Cesar would be my preferred choice as at 33 his stay would likely be relatively short term, allowing he and Szczesny to duke it out for a starting position, hopefully bringing the best out of both.
The combination of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in the latter part of last season was the bedrock on which Arsenal's top four finish was built, so any central defensive additions may well be little more than cover, though any team serious about challenging for silverware need strength in depth.
Phil Jagielka has long been linked with a move and his versatility would make him a huge asset. Now may be a good time for all parties to make that happen. Swansea captain Ashley Williams is another reported target. Williams averages 15 defensive actions a game compared to seven for both Koscielny and Mertesacker and his all action style could bring something different to the Gunners' back line.
Rumours of Cesc Fabregas going to Manchester United must be stopped. If that happens it will bring up memories of his departure for Barcelona and also of Robin Van Persie's move to Old Trafford last year. It's a nightmarish combination and I don't think I could handle it.
In happier speculation the name of Marouane Fellaini is one that is on Wenger's transfer radar – which he keeps in the Weng Cave under the Emirates – and he appears to be the perfect fit for the Arsenal midfield. He scored 11 goals last season, would add height and is strong defensively. He's an obvious choice and signing him would be the statement of intent fans are craving. Napoli's Gokhan Inler is another player that would add steel as well as a touch of creativity to the midfield.
Gonzalo Higuain is the name that is exciting Arsenal fans in this department and this position is in desperate need of reinforcement. Olivier Giroud is the only realistic central striking option at the club and that just isn't good enough for a team like Arsenal. Higuain has a shot accuracy of 65% and this is exactly the kind of ruthlessness that Arsenal have lacked in front of goal. Christian Benteke is another obvious target and either would improve the front line immediately.
Cynics have suggested that the club have made these statements about their transfer intentions solely as a way to get fans to renew their season tickets but everyone at the club must know that last season wasn't good enough. It was too close for comfort and Arsenal cannot rely on Spurs contriving ways to finish below them forever. Getting that fourth spot with such an inconsistent team was a big achievement given how unlikely it looked for most of the season but it should be the minimum requirement.
Now it's time for Arsenal to step up and remember who they are.
Odds To Be At Arsenal After Summer Transfer Window
|Hatem Ben Arfa||9.00|
Odds as at 23rd June 2013.
Follow Jim on Twitter: @JimCampbellTFR
And listen to Jim each week on The Football Ramble