Monday, May 19, 2008

The off-season: Arsenal

Even though the domestic football season is winding down, with just the Champions' League final coming up, a football fan doesn't stop thinking about football. There will be Euro 2008, even though England won't be in Switzerland and Austria. Plus there will be transfer gossip galore, with the tabloids, magazines and websites inundated with news about possible signings.

I'm anticipating not having much time in July or August previewing the forthcoming season, I will be doing a club-by-club analysis of what the club should be doing. Naturally I start off with MY club, Arsenal

GK: Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski

With Jens Lehmann going, the question to ask is whether or not the Gunners need to recruit a new goalkeeper. My personal answer is no. I think Arsenal have enough capable keepers to maintain a bid for the title. Almunia proved he can be a number one whilst I think Fabianski will give him competition. If push comes to shove Vito Mannone can provide extra cover. If Arsenal did require a keeper, who could be recruited? It is difficult to find a top quality keeper and pry him from the club that he's at. The only name that springs to mind is Santiago Canizares. Yet he's just been released by Valencia and will he want to come to the Premier League?

RB: Bacary Sagna, Emmanuel Eboue, Justin Hoyte, Kerrea Gilbert.

With Sagna being first choice at right-back, there is fight out for who deputises for him. Personally I think Eboue should go since he can't defend well and he does a lot of play-acting, which has infuriated Arsene Wenger. Yet in reality I think the English contingent of Hoyte and Gilbert. Arsenal should really make an effort to keep Hoyte. Although he's not technically brilliant, he's versatile to play across the back line, he gives 100% to the cause and, most importantly, he's English.

LB: Gael Clichy, Armand Traore

No need to invest or sell in this area. With Clichy cementing his place as the best left-back in the Premier League, Traore gives enough cover and protection for him. Thankfully Clichy won't be going to Euro 2008 for Arsenal's sake.

CB: Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Phillipe Senderos, Johan Djourou

This is where Arsenal have to invest over the summer. With Senderos failing to exert himself as the next Tony Adams, the centre-back area needs a typical English defender to head away balls and go into the crunching tackles. It will mean either Senderos or Djourou leaving the club in all honesty but that is the way it has to be. I personally would like Steven Taylor from Newcastle United to to be bought but it will be difficult. I've heard Wenger would like to bring in Lilian Thuram but with his age and relative lack of height, I don't think he would be a good signing.

WG: Alexander Hleb, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott

With rumours of Hleb going to Inter Milan, I think Wenger needs to start investing in this area. The latest name to be linked is Sami Nasri, who would make a very good addition. However I think we (and I'm referring to Arsenal like I belong to them, since I do) should buy a scoring midfielder, since it has been a problem since Robert Pires left. We need more goals from midfield.

CM: Cesc Fabregas, Gilberto Silva, Abou Diaby, Alexandre Song, Denilson

The central midfield area is a vague zone for Arsenal. Whoever comes to Arsenal knows that Fabregas is the first name on the team sheet and everybody else is secondary. Diaby, Song and Denilson might be thinking about their futures and may want to move on, but I think Wenger will keep all of them. The future of Gilberto is the tricky part. Wenger will want to him to team up again with Fabregas know that Flamini has buggered off to AC Milan. Yet if Gilberto decides his time is up and leaves, Arsenal will require another holding midfielder and I don't see Diaby or Song fulfilling that role just yet. I don't have any preferences on who Wenger brings is, just so that this player must be experienced and dominant enough to protect Arsenal's back four and allow Fabregas to do his job. The other alternative is pushing Toure into this role but I don't think that will happen.

FW: Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin Van Persie, Eduardo, Nicklas Bendtner

Many Arsenal fans might think Wenger might need to bring in another forward, with the injury woes of Van Persie and Eduardo plus Bendtner not doing very well. I think Arsenal can manage without bringing in another striker, especially since we can go 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1 or even bring Walcott up front.


In: Centre-back x 1, Winger x 1, Holding midfielder x 1 (if Gilberto Silva goes)
Out: Hoyte, Gilbert, Senderos/Djourou, Gilberto Silva

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