Does size matter? Well, according to Cesc Fábregas in this morning’s Guardian it certainly does. The paper reports that the Gunners skipper has told AW that we require “a different kind of option” up front as the squad lacks variation in attack. AW has promised to scour the January transfer market for a striker to compensate for the loss of Robin van Persie, who is out for five months with torn ankle ligaments, and Fábregas, has suggested that the club would benefit if any new signing had a more direct style. Most of AW’s attacking threats prefer to drop deep or wide to play, says the paper.
“Throughout the game [at Manchester City in the 3-0 Carling Cup defeat last Wednesday], we had a lot of possession but didn’t really have anyone to go in behind the defenders, apart from Carlos Vela,” Fábregas said. “We had a lot of similar players who like the ball into their feet. Sometimes it’s true that you need a different kind of option.”
The paper asserts that Fábregas need only look across London to see the striker who he rates as the finest in the world. Didier Drogba was at his muscular, destructive best in orchestrating Chelsea’s 3-0 Premier League win at the Emirates on the Sunday before last. What Fábregas would give for a similar player at Arsenal.
“Overall, I saw a Chelsea team that was normal but a team that has probably the best striker in the world, and that makes such a difference‚” Fábregas said. “An average team that has the best striker in the world can always do something and Didier Drogba makes all the difference to them. Without him, their team would not be the same. Perhaps we had the same kind of problem against Chelsea as the boys had at Manchester City, not really having someone whose game is to go beyond defenders, and we were a little small to fight against them on crosses, too.”
Fábregas, who also warned his teammates that they “cannot afford any more slip-ups”, will be one of a host of big names who will not travel to Athens today for the final Champions League Group H fixture against Olympiakos tomorrow night. Arsenal are assured of advancing to the knockout phase as group winners and so Wenger will take the opportunity to blood some of his younger players.
The paper adds that it is expected that more than half of his 18-man travelling party will be teenagers, with the majority plucked from the reserve-team squad. It is a measure of the makeshift nature of the selection that Mikaël Silvestre is likely to be named as the captain. Manuel Almunia, William Gallas, Thomas Vermaelen, Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri and Denilson are among the available regulars who will stay behind. Theo Walcott, though, has recovered from a hamstring injury and should play.
The Sun, meanwhile, points out that we are the division’s smallest side and that the team enger fielded against Stoke on Saturday had the shortest average height of any of the top flight clubs at just 171.1cm – or 5ft 10ins. Chelsea were the third tallest team at the weekend, averaging 184.5cm – almost 6ft 1ins. Arsenal did prove size does not always matter by beating Stoke – the second tallest team at 6ft 2ins per man – 2-0 at the Emirates.
Elsewhere, the Daily Mail reports that Jack Wilshere has revealed he is ready to gain experience from a loan spell – but only with another Premier League club. Wilshere, 17, became Arsenal’s youngest ever player in both the Premier League and Europe last season. But the talented midfielder has found first-team action hard to come by since, making just five appearances, three as a substitute, this campaign.
Asked about a loan move, Wilshere said: ‘I would think about it, but it would have to be in the Premier League. Not that the Championship is a bad league at all, but it might suit me differently. I have seen things about Middlesbrough, Celtic and Rangers being interested, but a Premier League side would be better. I would, of course, rather stay and be involved at Arsenal though.’
So who will AW buy in the window? The Mirror claims that Dzeko is top of his wanted list but Wolfsburg want £25m-plus while the striker had his heart set on moving to AC Milan in the summer when we made an enquiry in June.
But, the paper says, it is believed that Dzeko, 23, and 6ft 3in, is more open to a move to England now but Arsenal would face competition from Manchester United and Wenger believes that would price the Gunners out of the race. Wenger also rates Toulouse striker Andre-Pierre Gignac but the French club want £15m and Bordeaux will not sell long-term target Marouane Chamakh in January.
Wenger has also claimed that he is no longer interested in Inter Milan’s Mario Balotelli and he believes Chelsea are leading the chase. He has also laughed off a move for Real Madrid’s ex-Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.