So, having yesterday managed to replace Mark Randall (who plays for Arsenal) with Mark Lambert (who I was at school with), I hesitate to mention anyone today.
But then, being hesitant and writing a blog don’t really go together. Thus having broken the story that Arsenal broke all records by playing a 62 year old in midfield against Barnet (as well as the story that Michael Jackson has been spotted dossing out in a London bus in a field in Norfolk) and having double checked that I didn’t actually go to school with anyone called Van Persie, Eduardo or Bendtner, I proceed thus…
Meandering around the blogs this AM I found one in which we can all vote for whether the Lord Wenger should buy another centre forward or not. Of course I don’t ever indulge in anything so childish on this site (actually I don’t know how to arrange the technology), but I always vote on other people’s sites.
I voted no. About two thirds said yes. A similar theme appears in lots of blogs. Take the money and spend it on a centre forward.
But if we do a Manchester Arab and buy lots of strikers, won’t some of them get a bit miffed if they don’t get enough games?
Selecting a squad is surely a three-way balancing act in which
1. You select a team which can play well together and win matches
2. You select extras who can step in when players get injured playing for their country, or violently assaulted in Birmingham
3. You ensure that those extras get enough games so that they don’t think, “I’ve had enough of this” and bugger off to somewhere where they imagine they will play every week.
It is when all three components are balanced in this way that the problem with buying yet another proven striker is seen in all its glory. We have
plus whoever emerges from the Austrian training camp as our new sensational wonder find. I’m now going for Ayling and Coquelin, but it could be a forward, you never know.
Anyway, the above list includes wingers who can play centre forward,
Centre forwards who can play on the wing, wingers who want to be centre forward, Centre forward currently being used on the wing, forwards who like to play like Bergkamp, and Bergkampian figures who can play on the wing.
But let’s try this another way… Supposing we list the players who might quite legitimately expect games. Considering for a moment players in the starting line up, and thinking just of the 38 league games, how many might each expect to start if they are injury free.
Rosicky – 50%
Eduardo – 50%
Walcott – 70%
Vela – 30% (is that enough to keep him happy?)
Van Persie 70%
Assuming we are talking about the two wide positions and the two central forward positions, that just about works, but it keeps Nasri out of a job, unless he plays in the middle, which seems unlikely through the whole season. It also assumes that Eboue and Diaby don’t get a start between in midfield during the entire season.
One has to remember that with Cesc, Song, Denilson and Ramsey (not to mention the above mentioned Nasri) we have competition in the middle too.
And I have also not mentioned Jack Wilshere (remember Liam said he was ready for the first team now), Gibbs (who was playing midfield before the Clichy injury), and the soon to emerge Fran Merida. Or Traore, of whom I have heard nothing so far. OK so maybe none of these will start any games, but the bench is already looking very crowded.
So to try and do these sums again with another player coming in and expecting to start in 70% of the games, and there’s an even greater problem.
Of course these are just bits of guess work, and a serious injury could take someone out for a long time, as we have seen in the past two years. But even so, I have got two players on 50%, so there’s a lot of accomodation for injury already.
Unless we suddenly get four of the above injured at once (as admittedly happened to both the defence and the midfield last season), someone is going to get fed up.
There’s more. If they are fit and ready, Rosicky and Eduardo will want to make up for lost time and Eduardo is a remarkable opener up of games. If Theo is going to be a striker it has to be soon. At the end of the season Vela looked a renewed player with extra weight to hold off the challenges. If he doesn’t start getting games soon then he will wonder if he ever will. And after giving Bendtner his chance in the last season it would be crazy not to continue believing in him.
And here’s another thought. Last year we scored the same number of league goals as Manchester IOU and the KGB in Fulham. What will we achieve with this forward line?
But let me throw in one more concept. We’ve debated before the notion of the teams that come and park the team bus in front of goal and play 11 behind the ball, with rotational time-wasting. The ability to change the forward line in the last 25 minutes against such a team is a major strength. Replacing Eduardo with Bendtner or vice versa throws “Parked Team Bus” players into confusion just at the time when they are getting knackered. Maybe that’s the plan.
That still doesn’t mean we need yet another forward – but it gives games to everyone we have got.
On the other hand maybe we will have a third season of ceaseless injuries. I think I wrote on several occasions that we were putting out teams which had at least six of the obvious first choice players missing. Maybe the Lord Wenger is working on the basis that we will be cursed yet again.
But I hope not.
PS: On made-up players, there is a lovely one on the 4-4-2 site (although they might have taken it down now). They have or had on their list of Arsenal players the 32 year old Álvarez. He is actually with Arsenal de Sarandi, not with us. So, there was the Times, 4-4-2, me…. I feel I am at last rubbing shoulders with the big boys when I get things wrong.
PPS: On the other hand I could argue that I only put up the wrong name by mistake yesterday to see who would cut and paste it into a commentary on Team Talk.
PPPS: Oooops it is time to go to work, and I haven’t checked through this properly. All mistakes are deliberate post-modernist ironies.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009.