Anyone who has seen my comments for any reasonable period will know there are two things that annoy me, navel gazing and regurgitation of “facts” which have no underlying substance….actually make that three things….and Tony Pulis.
So the latest complaint from many a Gooner is that our squad is not deep enough, now we are seeing a few injuries we are also seeing a few cracks appear. I know we wouldn’t be football fans if we didn’t react to situations at our club emotionally, but I have two questions, are we really that weak in depth, and if we are that weak, are we any worse off than the other contenders fighting on four fronts? (well in effect three fronts for Chelsea and Man Utd and just the two for City).
Please understand I am not for one second saying we have the best starting eleven or the best players but in terms of our back up (squad) players I ask you to look at the other teams and ask would you really take any of their second and third choices over ours.
In the Capital One Cup a week or so back Chelsea started with Cahill and Luiz at centre backs, surely the Capital One Cup is not the height of their ambition that they played these two by choice, they also started Mata and played him for 120 minutes, so that was three regular league starters in their line up, United fielded two very inexperienced young defenders at centre half, surely their squad is deeper than that? So were Chelsea really keen on the Capital One Trophy or did they have no other options, as for United did they really not care enough to field the youngsters or is their squad not as deep after all?
So with nothing better to do with my time I headed to wiki and put all the squads into a spreadsheet to compare each position side by side.
I have included Liverpool squad below not because I think they are contenders but purely and simply because I really like to laugh at what they have become, as Rocky pointed out yesterday its always good to look for positives and in my opinion if that doesn’t put a smile on your face the next best thing to do is laugh at the misfortune of others.
This is a club that swept all before them in the 80’s, won the Champions League less than a decade ago but have now slipped out of the reckoning in most major competitions, I have yet to see a broken Liver Bird splashed on the back page of the tabloids, or Dippers in Crisis headline that this fall from grace surely deserves. (Okay thats four things that annoy me).
Where better to start than goalkeepers:
So looking at that list is their any keeper who you think is better than our 2nd and 3rd choices? Perhaps the only team that does is Spurs (off to wash my mouth). The constant question from people disappointed by our custodians is “why can’t we buy someone like Schwarzer as cover?”, my question is why has no one else? Lets be honest City can have any player they want but they signed Richard Wright as cover when Stuart Taylor hung up his gloves, why don’t keepers want to go and play second fiddle? Because keepers want to play, they expect to play, if they are number one at a club they can have the plaudits even if the team in front of them is not that good, they can’t get plaudits on the bench, they lose international spots by being on the bench, they don’t like sitting on the bench.
On to the full backs:
I rest my case
Now it becomes clear why Chelsea started Luiz and Cahill, with no Terry (due to suspension) and Ivanovic their only viable option at right back they have no cover at Centre Back, an injury to either of the remaining two and who knows who they will play at Centre Back, Man Utd due to injuries to Vidic, Jones and Smalling, could not risk their two first choice centre backs before our visit to Old Trafford (admittedly if they had known we were going to turn up and play like big girls blouses they might have) so were left with no other option than to play two inexperienced youngsters, we on the other hand had the spare capacity to field two experienced centre backs in the Capital One Cup (not that it did us many favours).
Obviously we all know Arsene likes a midfielder so we must have the most players in this area.
Compared to the other teams I do not think the depth looks that bad, however here is where the obvious issue of injury raises its ugly but familiar head, presently without Diaby and Rosicky, but we can arguably cope with two injuries in this area of the pitch. Look at Chelsea and I’m not sure you could say the same, United would end up fielding Giggs and Scholes week in week out. City, Spurs and Liverpool all have inexperienced players in waiting that I am not sure their managers would like to utilise regularly.
Obviously the split between midfielders and forwards is subjective but if we assume everyone uses a 4-3-3 of sorts this was the best way to split up the squads.
Again looking at the list of talent across the squads, perhaps only United go as deep as us, there is also an argument that says the players they have got will make more impact on a game. Chelsea without doubt have two of the best forwards in the league in Mata and Hazard, but injury to either and they don’t look any better off.
And finally the strikers:
Now this is our weakest area on the pitch, thankfully we only play with one striker, and in some matches we haven’t even fielded them instead choosing to use some forwards in their place.
In reality however only United and City have more depth than us, and I don’t think Liverpool, Chelsea or Spurs can promote a striker from their forward line where as we do at least have that option.
So in summary do you still think the squad is not deep enough? I expect the answer to that question is still yes, the question that should be asked though is:
Is the squad shallower than our nearest rivals?
For me it isn’t, the difference between the teams is the starting elevens, Chelsea and City have invested many millions to achieve a very good first 15 players, but they have limited themselves further down the pecking order, especially as they ready themselves for FFP. Any significant injuries or suspensions and they will struggle.
Perhaps this is the one area where we are quite literally weaker, not in the amount of players or the quality of player but in physical strength, we seem to suffer injuries far more frequently than the other competing sides, City hardly suffered an injury of note last season they are a physically strong team, those that come from outside the Premier League are physically strong, the ones from within the Premier League conditioned for battle already, perhaps with the exception of Silva.
So Paddling Pool or Olympic Diving Pool?
(In my defence I wrote this post after Reading and before Old Trafford, but it fits the bill of “Be positive about Arsenal Week” as started by Rocky yesterday).
Gooner in Exile