Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Deadline Day Dealings Leave Arsenal Short At The Back

After starting off the summer in the manner their fans wanted Arsenal yet again found themselves scrambling to do a deal in the final minutes of the transfer window. The relatively early arrivals of Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and David Ospina had raised hopes that the club had finally learnt their lesson from previous transfer windows. When it came to the crunch Arsenal failed to do the business which was crucial if they were to have a genuine chance of challenging on all fronts this season. 

I'm not knocking the signing of Danny Welbeck although it does look like he was signed only because he became available when United signed Radamel Falcao on loan for the season. Arsenal were supposedly looking at Falcao themselves, but the wages United have agreed to pay him are so ridiculous there is no way Arsenal could have even contemplated bringing him in. I can only imagine what paying a player almost £350,000 a week would do to the wants of other players and to the clubs salary structure too.

I think Welbeck could do a good job for Arsenal and he has to be a better option than Yaya Sanogo with Olivier Giroud injured until January at the earliest. I'm not trying to give Sanogo a hard time either, but he clearly has an awful lot to learn and the Arsenal first team is a very tough place to learn it in. When Giroud comes back I wouldn't be too surprised to see Sanogo go out on loan to give him a chance to learn his trade.

The fee of somewhere between £15 million and £20 million is hardly excessive considering the prices that have been paid for some other players in this transfer window. He's hardly the answer to all of Arsenal's striking problems, but he will score his fair share of goals if he plays as a central striker which wasn't happening for Sanogo. He may have only joined Arsenal because he became available when we needed a striker, but he's an Arsenal player now and deserves the support of each and every one of the Arsenal fans.

The real problem for Arsenal this season is their lack of defensive depth and the lack of central defenders in particular. There are only two recognised central strikers at the club with two right backs and two left backs also. Chambers may be capable of filling in as a central defender and Nacho Monreal had to do so in pre season too, but there is no excusing the club's failure to sign another central defender.

When Thomas Vermaelen was sold to Barcelona we were told he would be replaced, but the club could not bring a replacement in before the window closed. I have no doubt they were trying to sign various players at various times, but their failure to replace Vermaelen could be the mistake which ruins the team's chances this season. Vermaelen may not have been a first choice any more, but he was a hell of a lot better than nobody at all.

Arsenal rode their luck with injuries to their central defenders last season with only three players available to play the position and Bacary Sagna to come in from right back and play there when needed. Sagna's departure meant the club had to sign two players to replace him as I said months ago although Chambers was probably seen as the player who could replace him in both positions. If that was the case then Carl Jenkinson should have stayed at the club rather than being loaned out to West Ham. 

There are only six defenders listed in the first team squad on the official Arsenal web site and that is just not good enough. A couple of younger players might have to be promoted to the first team squad to make up the numbers, but if they were up to the task they would surely have been in the squad already. Again I'm not saying they won't be good enough in years to come, but they're not there right now.

An injury or two to Arsenal's central defenders would leave the team with a huge task defensively if they're up against any of the top teams in the Premier League or in the Champions League. As it is Arsenal haven't managed a clean sheet in their first three league games and the opposition in those games were hardly world beaters. We all know how Arsenal fared defensively away to the three teams who finished ahead of them last season and the failure to strengthen defensively looks like a massive blunder. Arsenal were not good enough defensively last season and they have failed to address that problem.

I won't even go into the failure to strengthen directly in front of the back four, but the need for a top class defensive midfielder was there for all to see. Again the club were in the market for players, but failed to find a solution to their problems. The team defends as a unit and the back four didn't get enough protection from the players in front of them last season with the defensive midfield role a particular weak link in big games.

I'll be writing my season preview in the next few days and I genuinely thought I would be writing it with hope of the team challenging on all fronts. I could be wrong and the team could ride it's luck with injuries, but that's no way for a club to face into a new season. Those who are paid to identify and bring in the players the club needs have not done their jobs properly in my opinion and the team could pay a high price for it.

I hope I'm wrong and players like Sanchez and Mesut Ozil get the success they came to Arsenal for. If they're let down by the club's inactivity in the transfer market they might just get the hump like one or two others have done in the past. It's a scenario I don't want to see and I want Arsenal to challenge the best and win trophies, but I have an awful feeling it's only a hope for this season and not a genuine chance.

However much the Welbeck signing smelt of desperation I welcome him to the club because he is a better option as a central striker than anyone else we have at the moment. I hope things work out for him at Arsenal and he goes on to prove the doubters wrong. I can't say I've been overly impressed with him up to now, but I'm happy to put those preconceptions to the side and judge him on how he plays for Arsenal.

Finally for today it's still not too late to join my predictions league and you can do so here with the code FD20D-AVD after you have made your predictions. You can also join over 1,250 others in my fantasy league here with the code 13125-4843 after you have set up your team and there's €50 to the winner. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Holy Moly,you sure were feeling pessimistic when you wrote this blog.