Jan 012010

Nineteen games into the league season, nineteen to go, and unlike last year, we’re well and truly in the title hunt. With the year turning, I thought it a good time to see just how how squad is performing so far. I won’t be marking the individual players, but the positions, in order to see our relative strengths and weaknesses.


It would be fair to say that Almunia hasn’t had a season to remember so far. Seemingly dropped after early wobbles, he has been hit and miss since his return, the highlight being a penalty save against Hull, but with too many unnecessary punches and flaps at crosses and generally haphazard displays, the defence seems to have lost an element of faith in him.

Elsewhere, the depth is great – Fabianski will probably have further chances to impress in the cup, Mannone was stunning against Fulham, and Szczesny is impressing on loan. Almunia has plenty of backup, but is not currently performing as we know he can.

Mark: C- (Almunia to continue, but must improve)

Central defence

What a signing Vermaelen has been. His attitude to defending is spot on – even at 4-0 he hates to let a clean sheet slip away. Tough in the tackle and aggressive in the air, he is also something of a revelation going forward, possessing a thunderous left foot shot. He has formed a superb partnership with Gallas, and both are ever present in the Premiership. There have been hiccups along the way, but the pairing is as good as anyone has.

Those two would probably earn the position an A, but the problem is the backup. One injury brings in the untrusted Senderos or the perhaps even less trusted Silvestre, and Djourou’s career is also stalling through injuries of his own. If the first choice pair miss out for a while, we suddenly look incredibly weak at the back.

Mark: B+ (Sign a backup, let Senderos go)

Full Back

At left back, we are both blessed and cursed. Every player we have there gets injured, but on the flip side we seem to have a never ending queue of talented youngsters ready to step up. Clichy has been out for ages, Gibbs impressed and then picked up his own injury, now Traore has stepped up admirably.

On the right, Sagna and Eboue are a good pair. The former is a better defender, the latter adds more going forward against teams looking to park the bus. If our full backs could cross, we’d be great.

Mark: A- (Only danger is a Sagna injury while Eboue is in Angola)

Defensive Midfield

Some would hand our player of the season award to Cesc for his work so far, but while the captain has been terrific, for me he is pipped to the post by Alex Song, without doubt the most improved player of 2009. He has been nothing short of awesome, but like some other positions the worry is a lack of backup. Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey and even Nasri have been tried, but none fit the bill as well as the Cameroonian.

Denilson is probably the most likely replacement, but his injury may mean Ramsey gets a lot more game time while Song is away.

Mark: B+ (Song is an A/A+, but we knew we needed backup for January and we haven’t got it)

Attacking Midfield

Until the last few games, Diaby has been a disappointment, but he seems to be putting his troubles behind him, and a haul of five goals suggests he has added a goal threat to his game. Denilson has scored a couple of pearlers, Nasri has bite and skill, Rosicky still has the eye for a pass and finish, but the undoubted star is our captain, Cesc Fabregas. Into double figures on the goalscoring charts, plenty of assists, and a true match winner, it is remarkable to think he is only 22. What a player he is.

We have suffered injury after injury to our attacking midfielders, yet we have no trouble filling those roles. Our depth here is superb.

Mark: A (Plenty of quality, plenty of depth, and plenty of youngsters knocking on the door)


It looked like being the year of Robin Van Persie. Scoring for fun, feeling unstoppable, his goals were looking like being the spearhead of a title challenge. That we are still in the race despite his season being (probably) ended so prematurely is some achievement, but we have no-one capable of the goalscoring regularity of the Dutchman.

Arshavin is a match winner, but is struggling in the centre forward role, and should return to full effectiveness when he drops back behind a front man again, while Eduardo is woefully short of confidence. Vela looks timid, and while he is still a massive prospect, he hasn’t had a great few months, while Walcott and Bendtner are both fighting persistent injury problems.

With everyone fit, our forward line is absolutely terrifying. But right now the only fit strikers we have are horribly short of form and fitness.

Mark: B (Van Persie was heading us towards A+, but injury and loss of form elsewhere means we need to buy)

So there we have it. The first team is as good as anyone’s, and our squad is deceptively deep. The issue remains that we are top heavy in certain positions – plenty of attacking midfielders but a paucity of central defenders, for example.

I think anything up to three signings would benefit this team, all up the spine. One of those is a defensive midfielder, but I don’t see that happening – Wenger wants to adapt a couple of his more attack-minded players to be able to play that role. So that leaves two positions – central defence and striker.

The former can be a one in, one out situation. I still rate Senderos, but Wenger clearly doesn’t, or already knows the Swiss is on his way, but he must be replaced. With Djourou still out for a while, having Silvestre as the only backup is potentially season-ruining. For me, the need for a defender is even more pressing than a front man.

That said, a striker would not go amiss. It would allow Arshavin to drop back, it will give us a new dimension, and with Bendtner still out for a few weeks, we lack height, power and variety up front.

The transfer window is now officially open, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be buying. If the right players aren’t available, we will remain as we are. But if they are, and Wenger can snaffle up a defender and a forward, we might have everything we need.

  15 Responses to “2009/10 Half term report – how have we fared so far?”

  1. I agree
    Wat really bugs me is one good blow to vermaelen or gallas and we are down to my useless silvestre(wonder why wenger signed him in the first place i really think we should buy hangeland or some one to atleast have a back up (senderous is for me done and dusted to everton)
    As far as frontline is concerned if keep popping up the goals i dont care if almunia scores them but we seriously lack height up front (arshavin can never win a header) i think if we buy a genuine striker with a good height someone like chamakh we will have a great chance at the title
    Otherwise i think we are well stocked

  2. Agree with everything you wrote.

    I do think we need a CB and i think we need a world class one because whether Gallas resigns or not (looking more like he won’t and will join PSG) the backups are useless or out for a year. January would be the perfect time to buy a CB, give him 6 months or prem football to acclimatise and get ready to replace Gallas in the summer (if he goes) or soon after when Gallas is set to retire.

    I don’t think we need a DM, Denilson will do fine there… is he as good as song? NO, but to expect him to be is stupid. Is Mikel as good as Essien, Lucas as good as Mascherano, Gibson as good as Carrick, NO.

    Our squad is huge, not to mention the youngsters who I am disappointed haven’t been given more games recently (Merida, Wilshere) but we have a clear weakness at centreback. One that Wenger must address this month.

  3. I also don’t think we need a striker as the poster above recommends.

    We have Bendtner back in a few weeks, Eduardo (needs games to get his confidence back), Arshavin, Vela (has quality but like Eduardo is lacing in confidence due to lack of games), Theo (see above), Rosicky (see above), Nasri (has looked much better recently, would seem a run of games has done the job) and RVP back in 4 months and youngsters.

    I don’t see how we fit another Forward in there.

  4. Spot on my friend. Great analysis,, I agreed 100% with you. We need good backups to cover our first team players. I would be jumping on my bed if we could get a player who can play as a winger, a striker, or a midfielder (ex. Cahill, Fellaini, Higuain, etc.). A nice and strong defender who can play at right back or center is also needed.

  5. I have a sneaking suspicion that Wenger won’t buy a striker.
    He has hinted at as much on a couple of times by saying that we have a record goal haul already with the players we’ve got.
    Also it’s well documented that he wants Chamakh now but imo has no qualms about picking him up for free in the Summer.
    I think he’s hoping that Eduardo can improve his form for the second half of the season and fill in for V Persie.

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  7. Agre with your comment folks – if we only sign one player in this window, I would really hope it is a centre back.

    There is room for another striker if he is a different type to those we have, but for me a defender is the key.

  8. Read AW is continuing to accumulate world class kids.If they can perform in a year’s time well and good. Is there any guarantee?
    What happens if some of the current senior players are banned/injured/lose form?Already Son and Eboue are leaving for the ANC.
    Maybe AW will surprise us by getting someone.yeah I know in arsene we trust but the buck stops with him and his experiment with buying for the future .

  9. We’ve got the biggest squad in the league, we’ve got some of the best players in the league, we’ve got the best midfielder in the league, we don’t need to buy anyone. This is our season now. We’ve got 8 players missing through injury or international duty but we still beat Portsmouth away 4-1? Easy peasy this year for the Arsenal.

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  11. Yes Yes Yes… we do need another back up for the CB position. In events of a gallas or vermaelen injury, we do not have another capable back up that can deal with the likes of Rooney, Drogba and Torres (the 3 most fearsome striker in the EPL). Silvestre is old, and he fails to impress me when he plays. I would like to give senderos a chance to play, but then again, he seems to be moving on in January so as to obtain some first team football before WC2010. Therefore, the loss of senderos leaves us with only silvestre as the only back up in the CB position, which I think is definitely disasterous. With DJ out until the end of the season, wenger must definitely buy another CB to provide depth. This new CB must be someone that is capable, experienced, strong and fearless. We do not need another 18 year old kid back there. However, if senderos stays with us, then I would be fine if wenger decides not to buy another CB defender. I am willing to give senderos another chance, as with the WC2010 looming, he would probably up his game to stake his claim for a WC place as well as to show wenger how much he has improve since his milan move last season.

    In defensive midfield, the loss of Song is massive!! Denilson is a capable replacement, but he is definitely no where the standard of song. Song to me has been by far the most impressive arsenal player this season, alongside cesc fabregas. Denilson has shown us that he is also capable of holding the fort in the DM position, but his persistent back injury, might actually rob us of his service. Therefore with Song and Denilson who is going to play in that position? I seriously hope that Denilson comes back sooner rather than later. Diaby has shown that he prefers to play up front as he is a much much much better player attacking than defending. Aaron Ramsey might do it for us, but he is only a kid and thus might not be as strong as Song is. Anyway, I prefer to play ramsey as an attacking midfielder. Nasri can play as a holding midfielder as well, but it depends on wenger whether he would like to see nasri in that position. Therefore, it would be interesting in my opinion to see how arsene fill that void left by Song’s departure to Angola. My no.1 replacement would be denilson, but with him still out, then it would be challenging to see who steps up to fill in that void. Right now, my mind is telling me a midfield combination of ramsey, diaby and nasri (with both denilson and fabregas injured). I do not see that need to buy another defensive midfielder, because we have the ever impressive Song to start with. We have Denilson as well, whom just signed a contract extension with us. Next up, we have Ramsey who could also play in that position. In the reserves, we have frimpong, coquelin and eastmond as well, and they most likely would be training with the first team next season.

    As for full backs, goalkeepers and attacking midfielders, we need no additions as we are truly well-stocked.

    As for the striking department, the loss of RvP is massive!! With Bendtner out as well, we lack height and strength. Eduardo is low in confidence at the moment, and his skills have deteriorate so much that i feel that he is no longer the same eduardo as we first signed. Arshavin has been doing great, but then again he isnt up to the task of playing as a main striker, he is best deployed to play on the left. Walcott is forever injured and vela is definitely getting too few games to show his skills. I would say that if bendtner is back, then we would probably not need to buy another striker. However, since his groin injury forces him to be out for another 3 more weeks, then it is definitely crucial for us to get another target man. However, it is also very important that by getting another player, how are we going to fit him in since we already have so many strikers at our disposal. How are we going to satisfy Eduardo, Rosicky, Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott, Vela, Bendtner, RvP when another player is recruited. This is tricky and it depends on how wenger feels. My say would be that its best that we dont buy anyone, but then again, can our midfield keep supplying the goals, i certainly hope so.

    Therefore, providing that we dont buy anyone, I would play my arsenal team as such – GK:Almunia, RB:Sagna, LB:Traore, CB:Vermaelen & Gallas, DM:Denilson, CM:Ramsey, CM:Fabregas, LF: Arshavin, RF:Rosicky, CF:Diaby
    (With Bendtner still injured, and Song to ACN)


    GK:Almunia, RB:Sagna, LB:Traore, CB:Vermaelen & Gallas, DM:Ramsey, CM:Nasri, CM:Diaby, LF: Eduaro, RF:Rosicky, CF:Arshavin (with denilson, fabregas, bendtner, rvp all injured, and Song to ACN)

    Playing Diaby as a CF did cross my mind, as he possesses the height, the skills and the strength to take on defenders. He also has a vicious shot in him and could easily have a shot on goal.

  12. I agree with the original synopsis totally, we need a class backup defender, a class cdm, i wud take a striker if wenger went an bought one, but i thnk where blessed with attacking players when every one’s fit and on form, so if wenger buy’s anyone he has to adopt a better rotation policy, we are going to have a problem next season when ramsey wilshire merida eastmond coaqalin gibbs traore sanchez watt want to get 1st team games under their belts oh n not mention wenger has bought 2 barzillian kids already. so my ideal transfer window wud be upson / cahill yaya toure, weve got the money so so i cant see y we cudnt get them or unless wenger will pull another rabbitt out of the hat with his transfer aquasitions.

  13. Wenger has spoken publicly about looking for a striker to make up for the goals we will be missing because of RVP and NB’s injury lay offs.

    Personally, i think that’s a smoke screen as I believe we are well stocked up front once NB and (Edu’s form) returns.

    A centre back please!

  14. Malaysian Gunner, there isn’t anything wrong with Wenger buying kids, and it drives me nuts when he’s criticised for it. We love the fact we have so much depth at left back, for example, that is only the case because Clichy, Traore etc were among those kids.

    There seems to be agreement that we need a centre back. I guess it is only the ever present nature of Gallas and Vermaelen that has stopped the press realising our lack of depth there.

  15. Very good article. Weneed a cdm to unlEash fabregas.

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