Following Raddy’s article yesterday exposing the press reporting of ‘Arsenal’s behind the scenes dealing’ for the fanciful unsubstantiated speculation it undoubtedly is, I thought I’d be obtuse and join in with the speculation by putting myself in the shoes of a supporter who is prepared to believe some of the stronger rumours that are circulating.
Just for those who may read the headline but not the article, I am not suggesting that we would be stronger BECAUSE Cesc goes to Barca, just looking for the positives IF he does.
Here are some of the mooted changes in personnel at the start of next season if our worst fears are confirmed and Cesc leaves. FC Lorient and Fulham have both confirmed that Arsenal have made an enquiry about their players whereas the Joe Cole story is just a rumour that many are prepared to believe.
Out: Cesc, Gallas, Sol, Silvestre, Merida, Almunia (maybe not sold)
In: Chamakh (already signed), Koscielny, Schwarzer, Joe Cole
Would the balance of those changes make us a stronger team next season?
Starting from the back; even after conceding 4 goals last night, I think Schwarzer is better than Almunia. He’s not top top class but he would give Szczesny the couple of years he needs to grow into our first choice keeper. I’d send Fabianski out on loan to try to rebuild his confidence and keep Szczesny as our number two, maybe giving him the occassional start in the side.
Koscielny is an odd one. I don’t know that much about the player. Arsène is obviously very keen on him, so I suspect he will turn into a gem in the mould of Vermaelen and hopefully bed into the side as quickly. I think he could be better for us than Gallas in terms of motivation, freedom from injuries and aerial power in defence although he lacks experience. A lot rests on the continued fitness of Djourou as it is certain that one, or both of our CB’s will be lost to injury at some stage so we may have to rely on Song to fill in at the back at some stage.
A defensive midfielder to cover for Song is the player I feel we really need but will not acquire, so I hope that Eastmond gets a few first team games as he seems to be the player coming through who is best suited to the role.
OK, Joe Cole is not as good as Cesc, but he’s a clever player who is direct and creates chances for others. He can score goals and play anywhere across the midfield. He has a battling temperament and will give his all for the team. Cole would also allow us to rest Arshavin who I believe was playing with injuries for a lot of last season and struggled to come to terms with the physical demands of the premiership. The arrival of Chamakh should mean that AA is never called upon again to play the lone striker role.
I fear we have relied too much on Cesc. He has been the focus of our play and this has created scenarios similar to Henry’s last season where players in possession of the ball were clearly looking for Cesc rather than making the quick pass to another available player.
Chamakh will give us a much greater physical presence up front. He is strong, tall and he can head the ball. The only thing that worries me a little is whether he will be able to build a partnership with RvP (not that we will play 4:4:2), but he is a great link-up player and will be able to play wengerball.
With these changes, the spine of the team should be stronger – certainly at the top and the bottom. The loss of Cesc’s genius would be replaced by a potent attacking force in the final third with the inclusion of Chamakh and Cole. We should not forget Ramsey who I believe will become a fantastic player in our midfield. Diaby should show us more of the attacking brilliance that we witnessed in a run of games last season. I expect Theo and Nasri to demonstrate their ambition by reacting positively to the disappointment of being left out of the world cup and put in meatier performances next season.
Obviously we will be a far stronger team if Cesc stays and we also add to the squad, but who can be sure that will happen? Consider what the acquisition of Koscielny, Cole and Schwarzer would bring to the team if Cesc leaves. I would expect either TV or RvP to be appointed captain and we would be addressing some of the areas of frailty in the current side.