Aug 072011

So, the summer’s been fun, then?

It has been some time since I last wrote anything, for a variety of reasons. There hasn’t been an awful lot to talk about, unless you count commenting on the speculation of those who know nothing new in the myriad of transfer ‘sagas’ we’re involved in, but make up nonsense anyway because they have to fill pages. Beyond that, I’m not always that interested in anything other than concrete stories in July – the matches are relaxed kickabouts, the talk is endless, and even the official Arsenal site is packed with banality. But most of all, I just needed a break, from all the whining and complaining about a lack of transfers when there were still eight weeks left of the window. Frankly, I found it all a bit pathetic.

All summer, I’ve been saying ‘wait for the start of the season‘, because I’ve been convinced that the ‘busy summer‘ we were promised would kick into gear at some point, and breathe new life into a squad that was devoid of confidence and belief at the back end of last season, and have shown few signs of change in the warm ups. But with just six days to go until our trip to Newcastle, which holds all too relevant memories from the last encounter, I’m getting worried.

Our summer business hinges entirely on which of our players leave, and it has always been clear that our signings are intrinsically linked to our departures. And therein lies the problem – the futures of Cesc and Nasri remain unresolved, which is nigh on unforgivable this close to the opening game, because it has such an enormous impact on all our preparations. Cesc hasn’t even been involved in any friendlies, which suggests that a deal is close, but even if Barcelona raise their bid to a level we find acceptable, the window of opportunity to rebuild is closing by the day. Any new arrivals will certainly be absent for the rest of August, which leaves us without those who may leave and those who may arrive for games against Newcastle, Liverpool and United, not to mention our vital Champions League qualifier against Udinese. Not ideal, by anyone’s standards.

That said, I am still confident we will see new arrivals by the end of the month, and there is one overriding reason for that belief – if we weren’t going to, then why would we be making space in the squad by loaning out established players? Denilson has already gone in that manner, and Eboue and Vela may soon follow. With the sale of Clichy and possibly Cesc also making spots available, any such thinning would be counterproductive. So, for me, the question isn’t whether we will get players in, but who and when.

Those in the Arsenal hierarchy certainly know the mood of the fanbase. That was never more evident than at Members’ Day, when they ditched the usual routine of bringing the squad out one by one, perhaps fearful of the mixed reaction some would receive, and then heavily neutering the questions allowed in the subsequent Q&A. Wenger even alluded this week to the frustration he knows we all feel, so those who believe the club to be oblivious to the growing divide are mistaken. The question is – can they make the moves that will bring people back on board?

Looking at the squad, the holes are fairly obvious. Up front, Van Persie is increasingly vital, unless Bendtner can be convinced not to leave, but to play second fiddle. Chamakh is a shadow of his former self, a baffling situation that becomes even odder when you watch the games from the early past of last season. It is easy to forget how well he did back then, before losing all semblance of confidence and becoming a total passenger. Without Cesc, we still look devoid of ideas against ‘park the bus’ opposition, although Gervinho is at least a breath of fresh air, and with pace that we’ve been sadly lacking in recent years (Walcott aside). And in defence, we are still short a centre back, while the left back situation is fragile at best.

But then, none of this is new, nor is it is a surprise. And given the mooted transfer targets, the flaws are well known, and attempts are being made to address them. The issue is simple – because in similar situations in recent years we’ve made do, the fear is there that we will fail with our primary targets and choose instead to promote from within. No matter how good our kids are (and some of them are very very good), you can’t replace Cesc with them and expect to improve.

In a way, this summer is demonstrating exactly why a summer transfer window should end before the season begins, otherwise you end up with farcical situations where players play a couple of games for one club before moving on, or spend the whole of August nursing ‘niggles’ on the sidelines. Right now, we risk starting the season on the back foot because none of our summer action has been concluded, which would have the knock on effect of making the atmosphere even worse.

The next three weeks are incredibly important, and busy for everyone involved – a lot of business needs to be sorted (Cesc, Nasri, Eboue, Bendtner, Vela and Almunia all need their futures sorted, and then we need to bring players in), and all the while we’ve got a sequence of very important football matches.

The summer action should always be assessed at the end of August. Right now, it really could go either way.

  26 Responses to “August arrives – a week to go and plenty of questions to answer”

  1. I stated at the end of the last summer and again at the end of the januarys transfer window that wenger has shown pure negligence towards strengthening the squad especially in defense. This transfer window is no different CESC has 4 years on his contract and thus a statement should be made that he is not for sale
    Tentative offers for jagelka and matu just befor the emarites cup was nothing more than a publicity stunt to stop mass demonstrations by the fans wenger rice gadis and hill wood should be dismissed with immediate effect to save this club before it becomes a laughing stock similar to the Liverpool situation of the last few years we have spent less than both Sunderland and stoke are currant leadership lack ambition this is why cesc and nasri want to leave next year it will be RVP Walcott the year after Verminator and Wiltshire

  2. two things:we can’t shift “the deadwood”on like coco,barry bender,deckchair(now on loan ffs!)ebousless,playboy vela,the squid,sicknote,dopey diaby(eight & counting)cos they’re all on wonderful contracts that no one else can afford or wants to pay-soecondly & worse le boss is NOT GOING to spend on anyone unless a)he’s free or b)is cheap as f***ng chips!-therefore do not expect a left back,defensive mid,top striker or the two top c/backs we need-i do not care,actually i’ve gone beyond it for the sake of my sanity what anyone says with regards to the transfer market,right price etc blah,blah,blah-we have become a second class club in all but name.sad.

  3. The thing that makes our lack of activity all the more worrying is the signing being made by our rivals. Chelsea have a new manager, Romeu and now Lukaku, as well as Torres and Luiz from last January, Man United have signed Young, Jones and De Gea, Man City have signed Aguero, Clichy and Savic, and Liverpool have signed Downing, Henderson and Charlie Adam. Meanwhile we have signed a reserve full back and Gervinho, an impressive player but in a position which was already covered by Theo, Arshavin and Nasri.
    Our best player is Cesc Fabregas, no doubt about it. Over the past 2 years we have struggled in every match where he hasn’t played, think of all the cup games where Cesc came on and saved us last season! He MUST be replaced by a similar player, someone like Marvin Martin maybe although it’s almost impossible to replace him with a player of better quality. We need to replace Nasri too if he leaves, Mata would be a good acquisiton.
    And then we need to replace Clichy, here we can actually improve the squad from last season. Enrique is better than Clichy was but I fear Arsene will play Gibbs who is just a worse version of Clichy. Defensively he isn’t good enough, not even as cover for the LB position in my opinion.
    And then the centre backs. Squillaci needs to leave. He’s terrible, we concede every time he’s on the pitch. Djourou has 1 bad game for every good game, makes too many errors. Koscielny is a great tackler but he lacks composure, although he has potential. Vermaelen is more than good enough. We need 2 centre halfs and I think new tactics. Our line is simply too high and our defenders not good enough to stop themselves from being caught out.
    To summarise, we’re not gonna win anything without at least 3 more signings, and that’s if we keep either Cesc or Nasri. Otherwise I can see us finishing between 5th and 7th…
    Your worry is warranted.

  4. Barca should be told they have left it too late, go away.
    Cesc should be told, buck up and play like an AFC player or
    dont include him in the squad, however good he is/was.
    Just play him in the CL opener so barca can know we mean business.

    Go out and sign the players we need, we have some money.
    The first real match is approaching fast and thew team/supporters/fans are still unsettled.

    Learn not to approach a match out of the blocks and then peter off towards the end, this is how Manu lets teams play, and then punish them, see the Charity shield, typical Manu strategy.

    Learn how to use the strenghts of AFC depending on opposition, create more than one game plan.
    AW seems so lost and forlorn when we are losing, like he does not know what to do or try.

  5. We cant get rid of the deadwood even if we want to.We pay the likes of Eboue Almunia and Bendtner too much that no club will pay them the wages we do.And no player will take a wage cut.They are under contract so we either loan them out like Denilson and pay their wages or we are stuck with them till their contract runs out.This is all Wengers fault.Bendtner £52k a week what a joke

    • The £52k a week thing is a myth, incidentally. But your point does stand.

      It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation though – if he doesn’t tie players down to lucrative long term contracts, some leave on a free. There are some players that we’ve benefited from taking this approach, as they’ve been tied in and we’ve sold them on will a sell-on clause, and obviously some we can’t shift.

  6. I agree that any further transfers will become more likely in time. The thing that hurts Arsenal the most now is inadequate backup, that’s also quite true. But I wouldn’t say Wenger’s going the wrong way relying on Gibbs. From what I saw this pre-season, he is actually better than Clichy, and far more likely to maintain the line (which was a problem mainly for Clichy himself, he kept lagging up there, and several times cost the team heavy losses). I also liked what I saw of Traore, who seems to make for capable backup. Gervinho is not only a backup for Walcott, who’ll arguably spend a third of the season sidelined, but actually a backup for anyone and everyone in Arsenal’s front line – and maybe even more than that. In my opinion, he compares favorably to Theo, which isn’t to criticize the Englishman, who’s a formidable player himself.
    I wouldn’t take this transfer window too seriously. Of the teams under scrutiny only Liverpool visibly gained in potential, but the players acquired this summer are not of the kind I would fear (key signings came in winter, with Caroll and Suarez). Chelsea’s acquisitions so far will spend the season on loan or on the bench (I don’t think Lukaku can just up and start playing the EPL). I can’t say whether Villas-Boas can make the kind of impact Mourinho made, that’s something we’ll learn over the season. I’m not betting on that. ManU actually didn’t move ahead, or at least not that far ahead. I agree with those who say this might have been the weakest ManU squad to take the title, and I don’t think Young (backup for Giggs), de Gea (replacement for v. d. Sar) or Jones (replacement for Brown & O’Shea) can really change that. The only other team that’s gained some weight is Man City, but I’m not so sure those names will play the kind of game each of them can play.
    Also, ever since Nolan left and Barton turned into a virtual persona non grata, I don’t think the Newcastle of this season can replicate the painful blows on Arsenal this season. Also note that one of those blows came from the head of Andy Carroll.
    In other words, it’s true there’s too little movement at the Emirates, but the movement out there is also too little to really worry the fans.

    • The main thing that concerns me about Gibbs isn’t his ability, which is no more raw than Clichy’s was when he became a first teamer. It is his fitness record. Traore still scares me, despite his obvious potential.

      Liverpool’s signings have made me chuckle rather than be worried – the likes of Downing are okay players, but they are blowing huge amounts of money on adequacy. For me, they remain the favourites to miss out on the top four. Chelsea is all about the manager and how he organises the dressing room, which probably means United are favourites again.

  7. Dein says AWs looking for 2 or 3 more players. It would have been nice to have had them already but our 1st team is good. Our issue is that it can’t work with more than 2 of the second team replacing injuries. We should be in a reasonable position at the end of the month and then we’ll see how the transfer dice have fallen.

    I do think that the friendlies have shown that it wasn’t ‘still bedding in’ for the Squid last season. He really isn’t good enough. He’s positionally poor and is easily the slowest of all our defenders, although that wouldn’t be the case if we did end up with Samba.

    • I agree that we still need to wait for the end of the month, it just concerns me that August is a really tricky period of games, and if the ‘wantaways’ (to nick a horrible press term) won’t play, and we haven’t signed the ones we want, our squad, at least temporarily, is going to be very thin.

      • Do the ‘wantaways’ really want away as the liar papers say?

        We know Cesc wants to go their some day, but not that it has to be now.
        But equally, if AW accepts a bid then Cesc cannot decline it as they’ll never offer again. So he keeps quiet. If it happens then it happens and he will have left his second favourite club for his favourite. Many players never get to play for their 10th favourite let alone better (if you see what I mean).

        As for Nasri,
        1) where does this 20m figure that we’ll be offered come from? That’s a very big number for a player with 12m on his contract.
        2) He’s not happy but why jump now when he can wait a year and either he could become happy again and sign a new contract or he can get a very serious salary rise on a bosman

        I don’t know the problems of signing a player but I’m pretty certain that it’s not like championship manager, however It does seem to be taking longer than it should to get those 2 players AW said he wanted.

  8. As for the “deadwood,” it’s true there are dramatic cases like Denilson, players who won’t go if they aren’t paid right. But some of those players are actually struggling to win, or maintain, a spot in their national squads. By now, most of the national team coaches learned to rely on players who don’t spend most of their seasons warming the bench. So for Bendtner at least it’s not only a question of being paid the right amount, but also of baing acquired by a club that represents some quality and one in which he’d feature more often than he does at Emirates. Diaby, who’s often counted among the “deadwood” would arguably face the same issue, as do Vela, Eboue, and also Chamakh and Rosicky. So long as Wenger relies on them to whatever extent, they aren’t likely to want to leave. The moment they are told they are going to be cut down, the possibility of experiencing a pay cut will no longer seem so horrid.
    But, of course, the financial policy of Arsenal is an important issue, no doubt.

  9. Re the chavs new boys, Romeu is 19 and Lukaku is 18.
    AW would have been slaughtered by the doomers for only buying 2 youngsters like them.
    It’s a shame as I think either of them would be a good addition to us but AW just can’t be seen to spend that type of money of such young players.

    • Last time I checked, Wenger brought in Bellerin and Toral, he’s still linked with the Costarican, and Miyaichi is a previous signing that seems more and more likely to join the team this season. Oh, and what about Jenkinson? Arsenal generally buy players that have a lot of skill and next to no price tag. Romeu has only played 1 game in Primera Division so far, so he’s untested, the same kind of gamble as Toral, and even worse cause Toral is virtually a kid and you could still shape him whichever way you want (and you don’t need to spend 4 million plus). Lukaku is a big one, but whether he’s a big as the hype he comes with remains to be seen. Plus – do you really believe he’ll make a mark on Chelsea’s game this season? As far as I can see where he stands it’s by the sidelines waiting to get in. Is that what you expect from a 20-million striker?

      • Yeah, I’ve got no problem with our policy of hoovering up youth, and probably most people won’t as long as some senior players come in to augment the side too.

        As for Lukaku, I’m not happy he’s at Chelsea – seen quite a bit of him and he’s a serious talent. It’ll be interesting to see how many opportunities he’ll get.

        • Bellerin and Toral are even younger. They clearly will not get in the 1st team squad this year.
          Lukaku will be a 1st team squad member. If the chavs treat him like they treat Sturidge, he’ll be whinging to the press non-stop.
          It’ll be interesting to see where Romeu goes this season.

          AW is under real pressure to get some experienced players. They don’t have to be 25+ but he’ll have problems if they aren’t full internationals

          • And then he signs Alex O-C to prove me wrong………
            The Doomers will be moaning. ;-D

  10. Have it on good authority from someone close to wenger that Cesc will be sold next week along with Nasri,Bentner and Eboue combined total of 75 million
    Deals allready agreed on the quite are Snider in exchange for Nasri plus 10 million Matu 24 million Cahill 15 million Jagelka and bains 35 million 74 miilon spent
    Also chance of Parker on loan for one season 4 mmillin payment to West ham

    • If that were to happen, i think i would have to pinch myself to make sure that we were not dreaming. I would be very quiet and applaud if we made those types of moves.

    • Who’s “Matu”? And “bains”?
      You’ve been using your calculator, I see.

    • Little tip – if you’re going to claim to be ‘in the know’, at least make your worldly predictions the slightest bit realistic.

      Thanks for the laugh though.

  11. We’ve effectively allowed Farca to dictate when and how much Fabregas goes for, so I will not be surprised if this situation remain unsolved until the 31st August. The longer this runs, the more it plays into their hands.

    I’m not sure why we haven’t gone ahead and made the necessary additions either, particularly the defensive ones. We all know that come the end of the window we’ll hear about all about the players we attempted to sign, and that they did not happen for blah blah blah reasons. I too believe that the youngsters coming through the ranks are the future but they should not have to be wholly relied upon at this stage in their development

    • Well, if you insist that any kind of comment directly from Arsenal is just “blah blah blah,” you’re bound to be satisfied.
      Also, since when Barcelona dictate Cesc’s price? If that were true, he would have been sold a year ago! As far as I know, he hasn’t been sold precisely because Barca are not meeting the stated price.

  12. Ken – that sound too good to be true, but hey that lot would put the so called cat in amongst the pigeons!

  13. Hey Pete, what are your thoughts on Mertesacker?Do you think he will be better than a Cahill, Jagielka or Samba? I think he has incredible composure for a player in that position.

  14. Is Mertesacker as slow as Samba?

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