Wishing upon a Blaise Matuidi shaped star can become quite frustrating. Of course, I would welcome the boy and maybe he will grow into an impressive player under Wenger. Matuidi is however, just one year older than Denilson and Song and is smaller than both, with no Premier League or Champions League experience. Quite why we should assume that he would do a better job is beyond me. I know Matuidi’s is not the only name being thrown around (PV4 is certainly a tantalising option!) but please, let’s have some faith.
Amid reports that Chamakh is in London, that Senderos and possibly Eboue are on their way out of the club and at the risk of becoming instantly unpopular with Insiders; I want to look at some of the younger players set to make an impact this season. The likelihood is, that even if we do sign someone, the current squad will be what defines our ability to challenge for honours. Are we being too quick to disregard the riches that we have at the club? Equally, are we are overvaluing players elsewhere? It is with this in mind that I perhaps controversially propose that the grass is greener at the Emirates Stadium. Here – looking at some new and younger talents we possess – is why:
Thomas Vermaelen: Although not present in the pre-season friendly tournament, Thomas will be extremely important this season. Watch closely because we may have just signed the Vidic/Terry that we’ve been screaming for. He is a force in the air and a true leader. Additionally he reads the game well and has excellent technique. Vermaelen can more than compensate for the loss of Toure*. Wenger has identified our leaky defence as the area that most needed strengthening. He replaced Toure with Vermaelen, bringing in a leader and disposing of the ever-criticised Gallas-Toure partnership. This bodes extremely well for the upcoming season.
Johan Djourou: This brings me onto a player who did appear this weekend and played well up against a potent strike force. I expect this season will be a big one for Johan who is looking like the long-term partner for Vermaelen. There are continuing calls for Wenger to sign a giant defender who can handle the high balls. Well look no further because Djourou is 6 foot 4 inches of pure athlete. With impressive technique and pace to burn, these two defenders in addition to Almunia, Gallas, Clichy and Sagna make the Arsenal back line look more balanced than it has in years.
Armand Traore: His pre-season form has been exceptional. Despite reports linking him with a loan move to Birmingham, Traore could feature from the outset this season, as Clichy is a touch short of fitness following his recovery from injury. Like Djourou, Traore lined up against excellent forwards on Saturday and handled Agüero particularly well as the Argentinean drifted wide. The contest between Traore and Gibbs could be very interesting this season if they both stay at the club.
Jack Wilshere: So much is being promised from this boy and he is poised to deliver. An outstanding pre-season and an injury to Nasri mean that he could feature from the first game onwards. It is difficult not to get carried away, especially following exceptional displays on both days at the Emirates Cup. However, Jack consistently shows excellent use of the ball and impressive decision-making ability. His technique and touch are exquisite and I am not alone in thinking that this could be a massive season for him. Wenger will handle him impeccably, of course, but he as much as anyone realises what a weapon this young lad can be this season.
Aaron Ramsey: His composed performances should see that Cesc isn’t too drained by the time of the title run-in. Ramsey is clearly still learning his trade but his passing, tenacity and movement are all excellent. He assisted Jack for his second goal on Sunday and will hope to have a similar impact coming off of the bench this season. Aaron offers balance in midfield with whomever he is partnered and should make big strides this year.
Fran Mérida: This young Spaniard featured in both games at the weekend and similarly to Jack, he did not look out of place. Playing in an advanced position in a 3-man central midfield on Sunday, Fran showed his passing range and worried the keeper with his left-footed drives. Mérida was substituted against Rangers to a standing ovation after a performance in which he rarely put a foot wrong. Ramsey will be ahead of him in the pecking order but we can expect a few cameos from Fran this season.
Sanchez Watt: The other youngster to play a part at the weekend worked his socks off after coming off the bench against Rangers. It was this tireless running that saw Watt keep a lost cause on the pitch, cutting the ball back to Ramsey for him to cross to Jack for his second goal. Sanchez will feature prominently in Arsenal’s Carling Cup campaign this year.
Sanchez and possibly Mérida aside, we could see big performances in the league this season from all of these players. As well as these impressive youngsters we have the return to fitness of Eduardo, Rosicky and soon Nasri to be excited about. At last, we have cohesion in our squad. We really look like a team and with the additions of Arshavin and Vermaelen we have drive and ambition from the word go.
Rosicky’s return to form is very encouraging and he is in essence the same as a new signing. His presence during pre-season was a welcome boost, and his performances were extremely impressive. The way that he netted with his disallowed curled shot into the top right hand corner at the Emirates was exactly what we need. Players who are willing to shoot just outside the box with lethal accuracy.
I expect a further signing or two and given our history with injuries, we would likely benefit from the additional cover that a bigger squad provides. That said; the current squad is already good enough. One or two more signings will help but I believe that we already have everything we need to win the league and more.
Arsene knows it but what do you think?
*Good luck on the brighter side of Manchester, Kolo; you are an Arsenal legend.
The Brady Bunch