A Spaniard, a Frenchman and a German walk into a football club…
By Lance Beauregarde
Has Arsene Wenger bought well?
Right, I don’t want to be one of those Arsenal fans who complain all the time about everything. I don’t want to be the kind of person who, when given a Ferrari, starts whinging about the paucity of cup-holders. However, in the last article I posted here, which was about what a great season I thought Alex Song had had, I got slated by just about everyone, and, on reflection, perhaps I was a little too glowing in my assessment of him. So this time I thought, b***s to it, time to get back to some good old-fashioned complaining.
Having said that, I would like to begin by saying how delighted I am that the Arsenal board has finally shown some ambition by signing exciting, established international players before the start of the season, spending somewhere in the region of 40 million sheets in the process. I think it’s great that, after the débacle of last August, they’ve actually made a conscious effort not to repeat their mistakes. I think all three of the new players are potentially very exciting, and it shows that, at the very least, a top-four spot looks a lot more secure than it did a few games into the last campaign, when we were worse than England.
Okay, here comes the but … I’m sure I’m not the only person to have noticed that the new signings, as sexy as they are, don’t address the real problem with the team, which is a lack of fight in those games where the pretty passing game isn’t working and we have to tough it out for a draw or a one-nil. Scoring goals has never been a problem for Arsenal; even when we were thrashed at Old Trafford last season, we scored twice, which is no mean feat when you are playing United on their own patch. The problem was that we conceded eight. Other matches which spring to mind: 4-4 away to Newcastle the season before last, 3-2 at home to Spurs, 3-2 away to Swansea last season … In short, even when we don’t win, we usually score.
I was therefore hoping Wenger would bring in at least one tough-tackling workhorse to sit in front of the defence, either instead of or alongside Song, to roll his sleeves up, get stuck in (insert more clichés here), and generally make a nuisance of himself. For a while we were, apparently, looking at Yann M’Vila, but interest seems to have cooled. This might be because he is, by all accounts, a difficult character, and having offloaded Gallas, Adebayor and hopefully, by the time this gets posted, that smirking, obnoxious, boxer short wearing Danish cretin Nicklas Bendtner, the last thing we need in the dressing-room is another mouthy bell-end with opinions bigger than his talent. So fair enough, perhaps M’Vila was never the right man for the job. But, having tacitly admitted that we are weak in that area, Wenger appears to have given up on trying to sort it out, and gone and blown his load on three players of a completely different ilk. It’s as if he’s prepared himself for an Everest attempt by purchasing some lingerie after failing to find a winter coat in his size in the one shop he looked in.
Now, I know there are counter-arguments. Wenger himself would say that the way Arsenal play doesn’t require a ‘holding’ midfielder in the traditional sense of the word. When the team attacks, everyone gets involved, moving the ball around and making off-the-ball runs. When the team needs to defend, everyone gets back and helps out. He might point to Spain and Barcelona as evidence that you don’t need that ballsy, wears-his-heart-on-his-sleeve, sixties throwback type of player, but the thing about those teams is that they don’t play in the Premier League, which is far more competitive than La Liga and the international game, and you are always going to have games where you have to put your body on the line, give a hundred and ten per cent, and so on and so forth.
Other people will claim that there’s no point signing those kinds of players if you don’t first sort out the coaching side of things, and the evidence seems to suggest that Wenger is not really all that interested in defending. I completely agree with this, and I definitely think something needs to be done to get the whole team defending as a unit when they lose the ball, but I think signing at least one gutsy, would-sweat-blood-for-the-team, would-shave-his-b***s-with-a-rusty-knife ... you get the idea … type of player would help with that.
Anyway, despite all my moaning, I’ve decided to finish on a positive note. This is the first season since 2005 when we’ve gone out early, spent a bit of money, and brought in some genuine quality, as opposed to mediocre players with massive foreheads who were never going to make the grade, or unknown youngsters who were going to be good, but not for another few years. Even if a certain Dutch forward with unusually square shoulders and wobbly arms does leave
18th August 2012
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
DW Thomas 17:20pm 18th Aug 2012
Ridiculous miss by Giroud, but I liked him and Santi. germ was lively too, but Ramsey still can't shoot, why is Arshavin still on the bench?, and Gibbs is flat out not good enough, again! Wenger is way past it, so obvious. I have started my count of how many water bottles he will throw this season. Same s..t, different day. Now title challenging team can tie a team like Sunderland at home. We will struggle again this year. If Arsene does not replace RvP and Song with seriously good players, we will stagnate, end of! No plan B again and the team's overall crossing is still horrendous. How are so many players at this level, on this once great team, that bad at basics? Every season we change too many players. No consistency. Just so angry and frustrated, AGAIN! - Post No. 27970
A long season ahead 18:43pm 18th Aug 2012
Can anyone tell me why we buy pony French forwards, Henry and cantona aside they all flop and this new clown looks to be another flop who can't take his chances. Still we have banked 40 million now and spent 40 million so that'll be it for this seasons purchases. - Post No. 27971
GG89 22:50pm 18th Aug 2012
A new beginning Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla are great players.... Can the next signings have premiership experience like Arteta did, best signing in ages... And could the next signing please please please be a fulback or someone to sit in front of the back 4... Song wasnt the greatest player in the world but I kind of liked him... more sorry to see him go than RVP after his choice in new club... C'mon the Gooners, show the former players you can win something. - Post No. 27974
Frankie 22:59pm 18th Aug 2012
What worries me about Podolski is he failed at Bayern.And he was relgated at Cologne.When ever i have seen him play he has never been the stand out player.Really i didnt think it mattered who we brought in.We still have the same manager with his failed tactics.One upfront v Sunderland FFS.Until Wenger goes we cant think of winning silverware again.Another Groundhog season - Post No. 27975
Peter Wain 9:43am 19th Aug 2012
The management of the club is again to be congradulated. Having spent £40m on players it has recouped this and made a profit again in the tranfers market. If we get another loan signing to replace Song it will have yet another triumph for the owner board and management to say yet again we have made a profit against all odds. Does it not sicken you that we are reduced to having year long loan players. How can you not be embarassed that we cannot keep players who have 3 or 4 years on their contract. Still at least we still have Bendtner Chamak Park and Squillacci. So long as this happens we will fial to win anything, Wenger Gazidis and kroenke out now. - Post No. 27976
Bob dob 10:18am 19th Aug 2012
What Wenger does at arsenal is nothing short of amazing. I am growing tired of hearing all this crap about how he doesn't know this or he doesn't know that so let's consider the most important constraint Wenger has to manage the team under - financially he is not competing on a level playing field. Arsene haters need to get this into their thick skulls. He will always struggle to keep his best players when they can be tempted by doubling or tripling their salaries..footballers are the same as any rational employee anywhere..very few love the badge if the money isn't right and given they all know how much everyone else is on at all other clubs it's about oneupmanship and getting what your worth. Clubs bankrolled by Arabs, Russians or debt will always have an advantage over Arsenal...but you know what... I like the way my club is run and what it stands for, I like the fact that like most other clubs in the premier league outside the top four they operate in the real world as a business and balancing the books and Wenger is one of the best at doing this, hence why he finishes consistently above all those other clubs having to operate in this manner at the same time as competing in the Champions league. For all those fools saying Wenger doesn't know what he's doing or the Board should go, take a basic accounting course and go study the annual reports of Arsenal FC...then you will understand the reasons Wenger and the board have to make the decisions they do! - Post No. 27978
Moscow Gooner 19:01pm 19th Aug 2012
Bob dob - I think you re the one who needs to take a course in accounting... Usmanov is waiting to put 100 million straight into the club: if loyalty doesn t come into it any more why not take his cash - offload Stan and Peter H-W - and get back to winning silverware? And reconnecting with the fans. You gloss over Wenger s management of the club: no attempt to address our defensive frailties in terms of Summer purchases; too patient with his 'favourites' even when its clear that they re not going to make it; poor grasp of tactics - one up front at home versus Sunderland; lies to the fans left, right and centre; show no sense of sportmanship whatsoever; prefers foreign players over English players thus helping to break the link between club and community; acts as the uncritical mouthpiece of the Kroenke regime; seems incapable of persuading any player to stay on at the club - unlike SAF at Utd; doesn t know how to use subs, doesn t coach for defence..... etc etc etc. Of course he can do a better job than you and me but there are probably 30 or 40 coaches out there who could take us to a new level if given the chance. But at core I accept this is more of a board problem than a managerial problem. It would be interesting to see if Wenger could work effectively with Usmanov and Dein - no point at all in seeing if another manager could work effectively with Mr kroenke... - Post No. 28011
11th June 2013
Online Ed: Just give us a couple of years, says Ivan Gazidis at annual q&a