So, if Arshavin comes what will this mean for Arsenal? In the short term, we will get some much needed creative impetus…assuming he is ready for PL footy straight away, that is a sizeable assumption. However with a 27 year old who stood out at the highest level in the summer, murdered Rangers last season, and has played in cold to make a Geordie cry you would hope that he has enough about him to play the ball on a patch of grass in England. He should slot straight into the RW spot being ably filled by the ever regressing Eboue Emmanuel and not a moment too soon. (What amazes me about Eboue is that his contract is apparently up in the summer, so whatever else you cannot accuse him of playing for the money, like so many free-agents to be.) An atacking quartet of Nasri, RVP, and Arshavin behind Adebeyor sounds rather good, if the big guy can start scoring of course.
Of course maybe Arshavin will be a spectacular flop, in recent years big 4 teams have bought many for a large stack of wad. Malouda, Schevechenko, Babel, Wrighty’s kid, and Nani spring to my mind, but feel free to add names.What about longer term though, how does Arshavin figure to help the side out? Of course if he is as good as everybody hopes and he looked last year it will be an excellent addition. He did shine last season; if you ask me £17.5 mil for one of Europes oustanding club and international players in the prime of his career is an excellent piece of business. Like it or not and whether we can compete in the market or not, at current prices we are getting a potential steal. Arshavin looks a hell of a lot better than Bent, Bentley, Palacios, Pavin-a-laugh, or Modric has since arriving; all cost about the same. If arshavin is all he is cracked up to be we suddenly have a surplus of creative talent, not a bad thing, and some depth. That last one is important.
With Arshavin onboard we can then share the wing duties between Walcott, Nasri, AA, and maybe Rosicky although the latter is uncertain. To my mind having no natural back-up for the wings, Diaby and Eboue excluded from that category, seems like an odd way to enter a season. Then with RVP, Ade, Big Nick, Vela, and Eddy we should be stocked up front. What about behind our sudden influx of creative and goal scoring potential? with the new boy, Eddy fit, Walcott back, and Vela surely starting to push for starts soon. Here is the tricky question and the debilitating problem that remains to be solved in our team.
Now for the controversy: is Cesc Fabregas holding our team back? (I don’t agree with this, but I think the argument can be made) Cesc is undoubtedly a superb football player, we all know his talents: vision, heart, creativity, silky technique, and he has the ability to dominate big games with his rythmic passing. However Cesc doesn’t offer much defensively, he is small, and it places a large burden on the other CM player to pick up all that slack. Flamini did it, although he runs like few others can or apparently have in Wenger’s time at Arsenal according to the stats. It isn’t as simple as finding a carbon copy to play next to Cesc. This is the problem though, since Cesc emerged Wenger has tried and struggled to accomidate him in the team; should we base our entire team strategy and transfer dealing around one guy? No. Has it worked thus far? No.
Up until Cesc arrived on the scene, red lights flashing in the hot New Jersey night, Wenger had always had a tough core to his teams. Vieira was an ever present, but always partnered with someone tough and athletic who could mix it up,: Petit, Parlour, Gilberto, even Edu and Gio were balanced and could offer either size or defensive quality respectively. Cesc comes along though and suddenly things change. Now we are built for speed and a short quick passing game – Cesc’s style demands reciprocity from the other midfield players, otherwise he is playing alone in a side that he cannot inspire or defend. If you ask me Cesc at 21 is already one of the finest players in the world and we would be mad not to try and get the best out of him, but perhaps this is not getting the best out of the team.
Since we sold of the Invincibles, no gripes there from me I think we had to for the stadium which was more important, we have struggled. Last season was very encouraging, but we still struggled defensively and eventually leaked goals resulted in a series of draws that scuppered our title bid, champions would have rode out a few 1-0’s there I think. What had propelled us to the top of the league, along with some great attacking play and team spirit was a glut of goals from two players, first Cesc then Ade. In the absence of anyone carrying the team we crumbled on soft foundations. Whilst things have improved with time, these sof foundations have been evident since Vieira left and we started playing Cesc in the middle. Eboue last year at right wing was, by Wenger’s own admission, a concession to the need for balance – something lost to accommodate Cesc.
It would be chronologically inaccurate to suggest that our good form started with Cesc getting injured, the upswing in results coincided with Bily Gallas getting dumped, then injured, then dropped for Toure. Billy throwing himdelf upon the sacrificial sword might have been his most inspiring act as captain, it certainly appears to have lanced a boil. In spite of that though, we are starting to look more and mre composed defensively playing two of Denilson, Song, Diaby. Now we can ride out our occasional indifferent performances by keeping things tight defensively and competing physically when teams try and force us back. Strangely AA might even help this, if we are better able to keep the ball we wont be exposed as often on the break, and a few early goals should see us draw teams out and playing into our hands.
However when Cesc returns, no doubt to a hero’s welcome and the armband, we will revert to type again. Cesc, Arshavin/Walcott, and Nasri will offer little cover or steel and we will leak goals. On form this will be fine, we will score more than most, but when things aren’t firing we will have nothing to fall back on. Instead of people calling for a new DCM this transfer window, we should have been looking to find a formation or strategy that enables us to both defend and attack with our best players on the pitch. Manure have been grinding out result with Giggs and Darren fucking Fletcher shielding the defence, so it is possible. AA will certainly help, you know when the only guy who defends the current right winger calls for a policy of benign neglect – Eboue should only ever be a back-up RB and hopefully rarely play, thus ending Wenger’s assault on his career – that the incumbent perhaps has underwhelmed. However, that is not the root of our problems and Arshavin won’t be the answer, that still lies with the current players finding form, confidence, and a style that gets the best from them. All just a thought and I’m not sure I agree, in fact I don’t, I think we are the dogs nuts and this years treble winners, but feel free to discuss.