Arsene Wenger said he doesn’t expect to sign any new players during the rest of the January transfer window and feels it should be scrapped anyway. Which is a little odd considering we just saw Thierry Henry climb into Emirates Stadium through the window. If he sticks to his word, then Gunner fans shouldn’t expect to see the cavalry arrive in the nick of time to save the season from sinking any further.
Following injuries to Thomas Vermaelen and Francis Coquelin it was believed Wenger might spend a little bit of the owner’s cash and bring in a replacement or two for some extra cover. Apparently not though, as Wenger said most players that are available in the transfer window don’t have the experience needed or they haven’t been playing regular football. He reasons by the time they settle in three or four months later his injured players will be back or the season will be over.
He also said many players who leave in the transfer window do so because they haven’t been playing and aren’t committed to their clubs anymore. That may be true to a point, but last year’s January window saw the likes of Fernando Torres, Darren Bent, Luis Saurez, Andy Carroll, David Luiz, Yakubu, Steven Pienaar, Edin Dzeko, and Demba Ba all change addresses.
Wenger suggests closing the window or just leaving it open, with the latter option making more sense, at least to me. Players’ prices go up drastically when there’s only four weeks to buy them between the New Year and end of the season. This is why managers such as Kenny Dalglish panic and shell out the ridiculous amounts of cash such as 35 million pounds for the likes of Carroll.
An open window would probably save managers from themselves and players would be able to move from club to club at more realistic prices. It would also allow players from other parts of the world such as Henry to head to England a lot sooner than January, instead of sitting around waiting for the window to open.
The 25-man roster rule also has to be adhered to, meaning there’s more to it than simply buying players. The rules can be a little complicated, but three or four players can’t be brought into squads unless they meet the underage or homegrown rules, without three or four current squad members being released. North American sports cover these types of problems by trading players who roughly make the same salaries. However, football’s quite a bit different as you rarely see players swapped for each other.
Of course, what Wenger decides to do in the rest of the transfer window is his prerogative, or perhaps Stan Kroenke’s. But most Arsenal supporters realize something needs to be done pretty quickly if the club hopes to finish in the top four this year and head to Europe for the 15th consecutive time next season. The team scores enough goals, thanks to Robin van Persie, but has a hard time keeping them out.
There’s simply too much riding on van Persie’s shoulders as the goals dry up once he’s taken out of the equation. There’s nobody at the back who has the ability to come up for corners and bang the odd goal in the way Tony Adams and Sol Campbell used to do. Perhaps Chris Samba would be a useful addition seeing he’s just put in a transfer request with Blackburn.
There’s still a long way to go in the season, but things aren’t going to change for the better until Wenger addresses the squad’s need and problems. He should know by now what they are. His team was filled with internationals against a newly-promoted Swansea, who fielded 11 players who aren’t exactly household names even in their own households. Still, they were played off the park and beaten at their own game. This tells me there’s something lacking in the motivational department or these players are just vastly overrated by the club. Why are players such as Sebastian Squillaci signed in the first place? Are they not scouted thoroughly first?
But Wenger’s act is getting more tiresome after each loss and he comes across as quite delusional, almost Rafael Benitez-like, as he’s always the victim. If his team’s poor results aren’t being blamed on television-schedule conspiracies then they’re definitely the fault of the referee. But the last time I checked, the ref didn’t award Swansea a goal, he simply awarded a penalty. It’s your keeper’s job to save it.
And while Wojciech Szczesny has done his best in goal and is a step in the right direction compared to Manuel Almunia, I can’t help but think the team has been weak between the posts ever since David Seaman packed it in. Jens Lehmann did a respectable job, but keepers such as Paul Robinson and Shay Given were available a couple of times over the years and either one would have been a huge improvement and probably still would be.
It appears the Gunners have enough talent in the squad to achieve, but for some reason they’re just not gelling as a cohesive unit. I’m afraid Wenger’s got to sort this lot out and have them play to their potential while fourth-place, the FA Cup, and the Champions League are still up for grabs.
On a personal note, condolences to former Gunner Mark Heeley and his family as his mother passed away suddenly on Jan. 15.