Don’t get me wrong, I’m very angry. The way our campaign ended was incredibly disappointing, and there were signs all season long that we were capable of collapse. Game after game produced ninety-odd minutes of nail-biting nervousness. We couldn’t put teams away. We couldn’t defend securely. I cringed whenever I saw Squillaci in the starting line-up. I swear, every time we had a corner given against us, I found a reason to look away. At our local, I kept going to the men’s room to escape the commentary. I should have been granted some sort of “frequent-visitor” card--Free toilet paper after every third visit!
But now I’m better, because I’ve decided to put the disappointment behind me and look forward to transfer market shopping. Finally. And I really hope that Arsene brings his man-purse, because we need to make changes. So, shopping it is!
Sadly, we won’t be shopping in the upscale mall that Manchester United and Chelsea may visit. And we certainly won’t wander into those exotic one-of-a-kind boutiques that Manchester City and Real Madrid love to patronize. But I pray desperately that we put in a few afternoons of honest, respectable consumerism. I don’t want us ending up in one of those creepy malls anchored by Sears, an oversized Payless, and a food court with more than one Burger King. Please, not this time.
So, if we do some legitimate shopping while selling a few of our unwanted players on eBay—Rosicky, anyone?—what should we look for? I say “what” and not “who” because until contracts are signed, names will be thrown at us like yellow cards in Barcelona—recklessly, unfairly, and perhaps to our detriment.
First off, then, I’d like five players. That’s a lot for Arsene, but really, it’s what I want. So there.
Player # 1 - We need a direct, crafty striker, one who will dribble at defenders, take them on in the box, pounce on rebounds, and run to the far post when Walcott’s crosses are too damn long. You could say “Oh, someone like Chicharito.” But as an Arsenal fan, I prefer to think “Someone like Eduardo.” (Brief aside: Baaah ha ha ha, enjoy relegation, Birmingham!)
Player # 2 – We ought to buy competition for Song. He had a good season, no doubt, but there were games when he was clearly too tired, a little too lazy, and not sharp enough. Frimpong may be the future, but I’m not sure the future is now (In my mind, that sounded a lot more insightful…). Many of those matches our “B” team should have won would have been helped by a hungry Song or an equally hungry competitor for the same position.
Player # 3 – Whether Arshavin goes or not, I’d like a dangerous, quick winger for the left. Too often we attack without pace on both flanks, and I don’t want Nasri there. If Samir is still around, I hope he gets more time in the center, the position from which he scored quite a few goals in the first half of the season…And a Bendtner type on the wing…really, Arsene? Really? I crave the possibility of a speedy counter. I’d break my own rule and name Eden Hazard, if I were that type of guy. Oh, wait….
Player # 4 – Duh. A central defender with experience in the EPL. But someone good, and not another team’s refuse. That way, we’d have Djourou, Koscielny, Vermaelen, and Super New Guy. Four or five good central defenders are needed, considering how many competitions we’ll be in. There are more than a few of what I want available, so, this should be a doable purchase.
Player # 5 – This one may be unpopular – I’d spend on a goalkeeper. Our current youngster is superb, and in one or two years he’ll be ready to start all the time. Right now, he’s better than many, but he still shows immaturity. I’d like a strong keeper paired with him. A simple deal can be made giving them both plenty of starts—Szcz in the FA and Carling, SuperGoalie in most EPL games. I realize that finding a quality keeper and not starting him all the time is a real conundrum. But I worry that as good as Szczeny is, he’s not fully there yet. And Fabianski hasn’t convinced.
For Arsenal, five purchases is a very tall order, and I doubt that my order will be delivered in time. If I had to remove an item from the cart, I’d probably not worry so much about the keeper. The rest though, we truly need.
All of this dreaming is complicated by potential departures, too. Thus, we have a lot to think/worry/dream/blog about. And I wager that next season, who we field may not be as important as how we play---and that, my friends, is what I’ll write about next time.
George Sedgwick is the branch manager of the Philly Gooners and a regular contributor to the Arsenal Review USA Podcast. Stay tuned for more of his blog posts throughout the summer...