Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Arsenal Need To Concentrate Their Efforts On Signing Quality Players.

It seems that the latest capture for Arsenal could possibly be 19 year old Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell. They have been after his signature for a few weeks, and they are now favourites to land him in the next few days. He has impressed playing underage football for his country recently and Arsenal are always in the market for talented young players.

Campbell is available for a fee of around €1 million, and if he lives up to the hype he could be a very good buy for the club. Over the last 15 years Arsene Wenger has managed to bring in a lot of young players who have gone on to become valuable members of the Arsenal squad. He has also made a few mistakes of course, but most of his mistakes tend to come when he buys young English players.

However, Wenger himself has admitted that Arsenal need to strengthen their defence, and signing a 19 year old striker is hardly likely to do that. Arsenal already have quite a few talented young strikers in their ranks, and the purchase of Campbell would make it tougher for Benik Afobe or Chuks Aneke to make a breakthrough at the club. Jay Emmanuel Thomas has already been sold to Ipswich Town, as he had turned 21 and his chances at the club were severely limited.

It also looks like Nicklas Bendtner might be on his way out of the club with several clubs interested in signing him before the new season begins. With both of those players gone it would seem there might be a place in the Arsenal squad for another striker, but Wenger has plenty of other options too. Besides first choice striker Robin Van Persie he also has Marouane Chamakh, Theo Walcott, Carlos Vela and Gervinho who can play in a central strikers role.

In my opinion Arsenal need to concentrate all of their energy in the transfer market on the search for a defender to give them the strength which was lacking far too often last season. Arsenal's inability to defend set pieces was blatantly obvious last season, and Wenger stated that he would bring in the players to change that this summer. As it stands there is still almost a full month left in the transfer window, but the signs are not encouraging.

Arsenal never seem to go about their transfer dealings with any ease, and with the new season now only 11 days away their need to change that is dire. Plenty of defenders have been linked with Arsenal so far, but they don't seem to be any closer to making the signing they need than they were on the first day of the transfer window. It can even be argued that Arsenal's defence is weaker than it was last season, and they need more than just one player to strengthen it.

Gael Clichy was sold to Manchester City, and his replacement looks like to be Kieran Gibbs. I think Gibbs has a bright future in the game, but he has been so injury prone over the last couple of seasons that it's a huge risk to promote him to the first team. If Gibbs picks up yet another injury it will leave Armand Traore as the only left back available to the team, and he had been far from impressive when he has had chances to play in the past.

Thankfully for Arsenal Thomas Vermaelen is fit to play this season, as he was sorely missed for almost all of last season. His inclusion in the centre of the Arsenal defence should hopefully help to tighten things up, but at this time last season Arsenal were still in desperate need of a quality central defender to partner him at the back. The arrival of Laurent Koscielny from France was the only central defender added to the squad, and three players who played that role had left the club.

I wasn't sad to see the back of Mikael Silvestre as he just wasn't good enough for the job at Arsenal, but unfortunately he was replaced by the seemingly similarly incapable Sebastien Squillaci. When Vermaelen picked up his injury on international duty early last season Arsenal were only saved from a defensive nightmare by the emergence of Johan Djourou who had missed all of the previous season injured also. With Arsenal's recent catalogue of injuries the chances are Squillaci will be promoted to first team duty at some stage this coming season, and the thought scares any right minded Arsenal fan.

A situation cannot be allowed to develop where Arsenal again find themselves incapable of defending properly, and it costs them a shot at winning trophies. That means a top class experienced central defender needs to be signed immediately or the consequences could be dire. A section of Arsenal fans are close to open rebellion with the new season drawing ever closer, and they cannot be given fuel to fan the flames of their negativity.

To have any chance of getting the vast majority of the fans behind the team again Arsene Wenger needs to bring in the defender he spoke of at the end of last season, and he needs to do it immediately. There is no sense in bringing in young players with potential when the team is clearly crying out for experienced leaders. The addition of Campbell might be a good thing for Arsenal in the long term, but as of now the pressing need for Arsenal is the short term needs of the team.

A situation has been allowed to develop whereby Arsenal do not know if both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will be at the club next season, and that season starts in 11 days time. It is simply unacceptable for this uncertainty to continue and the club must make a decision on both players futures and stick to it. If that means selling both of them then it must be done immediately, and the money reinvested in real quality.

However, if Arsenal are to keep both players they have to be told so in unequivocal terms without delay, and they must both be made to settle back into the squad or put in a transfer request. No player is bigger than any club no matter how good they are, and the needs of the club have to be put first in my opinion. I think Cesc is an absolutely fantastic player, but my loyalties are always with Arsenal first and foremost.

If players will not commit to the club they must be sold, and there are no two ways about it. Barcelona have had more than enough time to buy Cesc, and if they continue to dally Cesc must be told he has to stay or ask for a move with any club capable of buying him. In an open market he would fetch a much higher price than Barcelona have offered and that's what is in Arsenal's interest.

I hope he stays with the club for the rest of his career, but if he goes he will be just another ex player, and my focus will move to the stars of the future for Arsenal. One of those stars could possibly be Joel Campbell, but I would much prefer to see Arsenal signing the finished article rather than yet another work in progress.

That's it for today.

Finally for today this season's Fantasy Premier League is up and running again. My league has almost 100 teams in it already, but I will welcome any new teams. Just go to the site and use the code 125540-42785 to join my league when your team is set up.

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter, tumblr and Facebook too.

See You Tomorrow.


  1. Good article. I agree with many of your sentiments. I would also add that, in my view, one of the problems facing Arsenal's young defenders is the lack of physical contests that they face in training. If Arsenal train as they play, how will Djourou and Gibbs etc ever learn their trade. How I would love for a Samba to come in and knock them about when practicing defending set pieces.
    I am a Djourou fan and would love to see him develop. I first saw him as a raw kid v Boro in 2006 or 7 and he was fantastic. He has great balance and potentially has a physical presence. He needs a proper defensive coach!

  2. I can't argue with what you say, as everybody seems all too nice at Arsenal sometimes. Aggression is a key part of football in any position, and it just seems we are too nice all too often. I think Samba could certainly have a role in quite a lot of our PL games but maybe not in Europe. Djourou looked very good at times last season but it's not fair to partner him with Squillaci as nobody does well with Squillaci. If Djourou continues to progress he has a very bright future but I don't think signing another CB would hamper him too much as he might learn from a top class player.