“We need three new players now. For God’s sake spend the money!”

By Tony Attwood

That headline does not represent my views actually but they are views that are expressed on the internet, usually accompanied by a list of players who clearly can’t play and should be dropped, or removed, transferred or just put out to grass.   All the current back four usually get a mention somewhere (although Djourou is getting less of a rough deal of late).

Denilson has had it since the Independent called him “lightweight” – a word now copied everywhere without thinking.   Song is getting it too, particularly from writers who don’t appreciate that he is playing a different role in recent games.   Diaby (only not getting it now because he is off sick), Bendtner, Theo, and as for that bloody Arshavin… they all get it.

Give it another week and Van Persie will start being grumbled about.

But, I wondered, what would happen if we did go out and buy three big time players in January for maybe £45m.

First we would have to get rid of some players to balance the 25 list.  We could survive until the summer, but after that, with some of the youngsters move up to 21 years of age, we would be stuck and they’d have to go.  I imagine those calling for improvements in the squad wouldn’t mind seeing the end of Vela, Theo, Bendtner and the like.

Second, we would have to persuade the selling clubs to sell.  After all they have these top players who are undoubtedly delivering for them.  Why should they sell to Arsenal?  That’s an answer that is rarely answered, so we’d best slide over it.

Although we do know they won’t move because they want to play for Wenger because as we know he is useless and hasn’t won the league for six years (as opposed to Liverpool 21 years, Tottenham 50 years, Manchester City sometime around the Crimea, and so forth).  So they won’t be knocking at the door.

No, the only reason that they will sell is because they need the money.   But that’s all right, Arsenal have loads of money.  (We might ask why Barca, Inter, AC Milan and the rest need the money, and why they are all teetering on the brink, but that would be inconvenient to the argument).

Third, we would need to balance everyone’s playing demands – keeping other players (not those we have just ditched to make space in the 25) in reserve in case the new big three get injured at any time or lose form.  That is essential but often difficult.  Players like to play.  If you are a reserve in the first team squad you will willingly stay put if you get some occasional games and you are young and you think your time will come. Bit if you are already a big name, you will expect to be making appearances.   As it is we are already making 9 changes in some games to keep everyone happy.

So let’s assume we get these players, and we fit them in the team, kick out some of the 25, and drop some first teamers into a reserve position.   What next?   Let’s say we win the league or the Euro Cup.  Wonderful!

Now fast forward to the summer of 2011.  We have bought our players in January, we need to unload a few, and we are champions.   What now?

Well, in essence Man C, Man U and Chelsea are going to be a trifle cheesed off.  They didn’t win the league.  So what do they do?   They go out and buy.  Not just three players but five or six.  Each.  Neither club has much of a youth policy, so buying is the only option, and they want success.  Now!

Of course I don’t know if they will all spend the money. Man C will, because they are so far beyond the financial regulations they don’t care any more, but Chelsea seem to be trying to introduce an austerity package of their own and Man U’s owners and manager are playing a merry dance.   It seems unlikely but it is possible the Glazers might want to introduce more debt into the system, in order to keep Sir F Word happy, but you never know.

Oh and there is Bolton. Now so much in debt it makes the eyes water, they need to “push on” to secure a top five finish.  Seriously.  If you don’t believe me go and take a look at the article on Swiss Ramble about how much debt they have ratcheted up in the last few years.  And with that debt level they need success.  Now.  (Honest I am not making this up).

Which means that by August 2012, our major rivals plus a few minnows have bought new players.  Arsenal already have their team, minus a few budding players who were getting on for being 21 and had to drop out of the 25.  And we have a higher wages bill.  What now?

The challenge from the other clubs is greater, and it looks like we might not win the league again.  So we’d better go out and buy some more players, except they want to be paid even more, and after the spending of the previous year we are getting a bit tight for cash.  Never mind – football is run on debt.  Let’s get into debt.

And so it goes on and on, the chase for more players, higher transfers, higher wages, always having to upgrade.

But surely, if it were all that easy and if this system worked, if the league could be bought year after year with new players and new players, Chelsea, Man U and Man C would have it sorted by now, and even Arry with the brown envelope and the Gross Domestic Product of the Virgin Islands should have put together a team that is at the top of the league each week.  Why hasn’t he?

Look at Chelsea (horrible I know, but hold your breath for a minute and take a look).  Clearly they don’t have a replacement for John Terry – and can’t be guaranteed a win even with him in the team.  Man City for all their billions can’t get a team that scores lots of goals and wins every game, and Man U are not striding away points ahead at the top of the league despite paying Rooney more than the earnings of the whole of Brazil in the 1996.

Surely, if money worked, at least two of those clubs would make it work, this year, next year, every year, all the time.  Surely if money worked better than our world-wide scouting and youth policies, surely we’d be miles behind by now.

And that’s really my point: the methodology that the spend-spend-spend advocates want is one that doesn’t guarantee success, but is one from which there is no escape once you start down that road.  Yes Chelsea have had a few years of success, but nothing more than we did when Wenger took the world by storm.  The difference is they are struggling to find a way to sustain their achievements – Wenger knows how to do it.

The point is, all these systems have their ups and downs.  With our system we survive the downs because new players are always coming through.  With their system, the money has gone and you can’t get it back – you always have to find more money to fund the losses.

Even better we are now moving into a new phrase of our operation, and it is plain for those who want to see, to see.   Consider the League Cup.   Six years ago we were playing unknown 17 year olds in that competition, now we are playing mature players.  Not because we have a change of policy but simply because the players who first came through the youth system have got older.  We can make nine changes to our first team and still be picking 21 year olds.

Having youngsters who push up and through into the team has a whole series of benefits.

  • They tend to be slightly more patient (unless called Bentley)
  • They cost us less to find, and so we can take up more of them
  • They cost less in salaries while we work out if they are any good
  • There is an endless stream of them available
  • They surprise everyone (are you ready for Wellington Silva next month?)

Put very simply, world-wide scouting and the youth project is sustainable year after year.   The systems at Chelsea and Man City look sustainable because of the impact of one very rich benefactor – but that is dangerous because if he takes his toys away, the whole club comes down; and the financial rules are just around the corner.

What’s more no system guarantees continual success, and when success does not come, there is a problem in the financial models because these models don’t include any sort of growth system.  You buy in ready-made players, and if that doesn’t work you buy in ready-made players and if that doesn’t work you buy in ready-made players.  Shevchenko?  Adebayor?

Proceed with this endless buying and you get,

a) less in your wallet

b) endless churn and no stability

c) uncertainty within the club

Sometimes you get league wins and the like, but overall the endless-buying model is not any more successful than the youth development model, and yet brings with it all the dangers of imminent collapse.

Buying occasional players is a good idea when you see someone who wants to play for you, and who is available at the right price and will fit in with the team.  But wholesale purchases suddenly in order to win the league now, no, not a chance.

We have four squads, as has been noted here before:  the “25”, the loan squad, the reserves, the youth.

The loan squad tends to be a bit forgotten in all this – but just take a look…

  • Benik Afobe – Huddersfield Town
  • Nacer Barazite – Vitesse Arnhem
  • Kyle Bartley – Sheffield United
  • Francis Coquelin – Lorient
  • Thomas Cruise – Carlisle United
  • Cedric Evina – Oldham Athletic
  • Samuel Galindo – Salamanca
  • Gavin Hoyte – Lincoln City
  • Henri Lansbury – Norwich City
  • Vito Mannone – Hull
  • Aaron Ramsey – Nottingham Forest
  • Mark Randall – Rotherham Utd
  • Armand Traore – Juventus
  • Sanchez Watt – Leeds United

OK, they won’t all make it, and some we might agree are just playing out time, but within there I can thing of four or five players who will become very serious Arsenal players in the future: Afobe, Coquelin, Cruise, Galindo, Lansbury, Ramsey.  (That’s six, but Ramsey is a bit of an odd position.)

Do you think those six would hang around if they saw the club buying in three extra players this January to sustain a push to winning the league?  Maybe one or two, but not all of them.

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108 Replies to ““We need three new players now. For God’s sake spend the money!””

  1. Thanks again Tony, for exposing the folly of short-sightedness. With our model, taking over the league is almost inevitable, it will take years for the rest to catch up. I’m glad you mention our ability to make 9 changes and STILL kick a$$, in any competition. those are but the beginnings of the fruit born from our model. Six trophy-less years or not, I’m very happy when I look at our team. 🙂

  2. Again, a well thought out, and witty article. Another downside of buying in January is it reeks of desperation, and as all good economists know, if the seller knows the buyer is desperate, the price goes up.

  3. Not convinced about either Cruise or Lansbury. Not when they need to be showing Wilshere, Ramsey, and Gibbs-like qualities.

    And why no mention of Pedro Botelho?

  4. isn’t Pedro Botelho also out on loan somewhere in Spain too?

    Also interested to read that you think of Cruise as a future ‘very serious’ Arsenal player. I haven’t heard a great deal about him, I mean I heard about the Scientology and the crazy television appearences…

    But in all seriousness is he that good? (a genuine query rather than me questioning his ability) and where would he get into the team? (isn’t he a left-back?)

  5. Whats wrong with wanting hazard,verthogen and van derwiel coming in, we should get rid of bendtner,eboue and almunia

  6. Yeah that pedro Botelho is a good player i think if we
    Can get him in the summer that would be good,i
    Think he has visa problems

  7. I have said often that, if Arsenal are to buy, they only need three things:

    1. A goalkeeper – but they would need to be a cut above what we already have.
    2. Another central defender of the standard of Vermaelen.
    3. A back up for Song to give him a rest or if he gets injured.

    This is not saying Arsenal don’t cope reasonably well already in those three places, but they are the only things Arsenal legitimately need to improve on, given that I don’t think Messi or Ronaldo are for sale or affordable. And I don’t see Harry Redknapp selling us Gareth Bale…..

    There is a legitimate argument that Arsenal’s squad is slightly unbalanced with slightly too many smallish, skilful, passing midfielders (Fabregas, Nasri, Wilshere, Rosicky, Arshavin to name but 5), whereas you could argue (and I use that term to imply that it’s not clear cut) that you want a slightly more chunky person than Denilson to back up Song in the Palacios/Toure/Fletcher role.

    It’s not a question of saying Arsenal are rubbish. It’s a question of saying that when Liverpool FC were totally dominant, they would win the league and the European cup and then freshen up with a bit of new blood. To keep everyone on their toes. Souness, Hansen and Dalgish went into the first team in 1977/8. Keegan went off to Hamburg, Callaghan retired and I can’t remember what happened in the back four.

    That’s the basis of the argument. It’s making what’s pretty good even better.

    The argument is about whether maturing the wine does that or whether you need some new additives to improve the quality of next year’s crop…….

  8. Pedro Botelho is with Celta Vigo on loan this season. Yup,

    As for any of these players, I base my views on occasional views of them either in reserve games or on TV, or the occasional youth international. He’s an under 17 and under 19 international for England, and looks very promising to me. But what do I know? Less and less I suspect as the years roll by.

  9. Hans Rott – I’d give way on Cruise, but Lansbury no. His first team performance last season was electric, and from what I understand and have seen in a clip his work at Norwich is something else. Sure we have a lot of midfielders, but we might lose one or two at the end of the year, and we need two complete teams at all times these days.

  10. Hi guys

    There’s nothing wrong with freshening up the squad with a few quality purchases. More competition for places is important. Im not saying that AW should go out and spend big. But if he can get some bargains then why not? Like when we got Pires from Marseille – we need that calibre of players coming in. ie. Just a few steps away from being great.

  11. To be honest, if the vermaelen injury continues even after new year then we should go for one more central defender. At the moment, the attacking options are good but its the defence where the lack of quality in depth is visible. I’m still worried as to why we dont have a younger substitute for Sagna. Djourou is exceptional at times but he’s inconsistent. Same goes for Koscielny. I hope Vermaelen can return by the 1st week of January. But if his injury continues then i’d really prefer a solid consistent defender comin in.

  12. Sure we need back up for the likes of song,As usual we will start to falter with ten games remaining just like the last season,Tony i think you should do some kind of trend analysis,u will notice that while other teams namely manure n chelski finish on a high ours we tend to trip.reasons injuries etc.Solution is to get some guys on loan if you cant buy

  13. Im all for financial prudence and all that but we are firstly in the business of winning football matches. So I think if management takes a position near some middle-ground it will probably please most people. So loosen the purse strings a little!

  14. The Vermaelen situation is quite a blow. I happen to think Koscielny will come good for us. He’s not that bad in the air as people make him out to be. He just needs time to adapt. But if a good player is available at the right price, then by all means, AW should sign them on.

  15. Dark prince, what about Eboue?

    On the CB issue, I reckon now Laurent is out we maybe do need a signing, if not then I’ve been hearing good things about Harvard Nordtviet and Ignasi Miquel, although that would be a huge step up to make for either of ’em. Thing is, when I say we do need a signing, I have no idea who we would sign without disrupting the development of LK6 and Johan, while still being good enough to plug the holes temporarily.

    What about we push Alex back into CB if anthing happens to Squill and Johan? Then hope Rambo can return from Notts the complete box to box midfielder as part of the most dynamic, attacking midfield trio in the EPL.

  16. Only 3???? 😉
    BTW: Koscielny is fit for tomorrows game!!!! He looks like man of steel in some ways. Anyway I’m glad for him to recover so quickly.
    And let us not forget that Djourou is still in some recovery mode as when you have been out for a full season you will have those little injuries and I think this is one of the reasons that he gets more rest than other players.
    The only reason why AW would buy someone is to replace Vermaelen it he still is not fit in January. But if he is back fit again, no need to buy imo.

  17. the word here is balance. The article as always fully explains the point of view and reckless panic buying isnt very sensible,,, that is obvious. However the financial prudence, laudable though it is, now is out of balance compared to the needs of the team. We need a central defender like never before….and yes the partners to vermaelen arent bad and give it their best shot but they lack ariel power (with the possible exception of djourou),and that dogged ability to shut out the opposition. The problem with weak links is that no matter how good the chain looks or is , its only as strong as its weakest link. So AW should buy a top quality central defender and we will have a good chance of winning the league. Come to think of it what is it with central defenders?…..remember these diamonds: cygan, stephanophs, sivestre, senderos(he wasnt that bad actually)…hardly the next Tony Adams were they…and none of them cost much…i guess AW believes they shouldnt cost much if they cant pass the ball around like a machine gun or score a handfull of goals.

  18. Great Article as ever. We have 4 or 5 exceptional talents at centre-back coming through the reserves: Nordvelt, Bartley, Miquel, Boateng and Coquelin, who are all around 19. We have a young Polish goalkeeper whose name is impossible to spell and who has shown immense promise. We have midfielders in abundance and 3 English strikers, all who are on the brink of stardom. But we could go out and spend £25M on a new striker and pay him £160,000 per week who would sulk for half the season and a very lazy person (remind you of anyone?) Wilshire and the rest of Arsene’s lads, most of whom have been there just out of nappies, will DIE to get into the first team and play their little socks off. So, I keep the faith and support all Wenger does………………

  19. What we need to do is sell everyone and start again, preferably with the writers of a certain blog as joint managers. Can’t you see we’re in a crisis? We also need to get heaters installed at the Emirates NOW!, A/C in by the summer and then a retractable roof for the autumn because it’s going to rain. How do we expect to win in such a sub-standard stadium. In fact we should just sell it and buy the Nou Camp from Barcelona. Finally, get rid of all the French and Africans because we’re never going to win anything with French or Africans. We’re never going to win anything with them lot (Nobody ever has). What we need are good honest English Lads, like Rooney, Terry and Shawcross.

  20. One more thing! We should get rid of Arshavin, because he’s Russian and they stole OUR World Cup.

  21. Someone should tell these people that the statistics show that spending money on transfers does not help your league position. Spending on wages does.
    We HAVE BEEN spending money. Quite a lot of it. It’s just that we’re spending it the right way, not wasting it on big transfers.

  22. Outstanding point made clear again and I think Arsene is spot on in saying that “In this country everyone always say buy buy buy”

  23. @xD – Eboue has shown is very error prone now. Anyways he’s not a younger substitute of Sagna!! Like Gibbs, who is a younger and able substitute of Clichy, Sagna too should have one, though i dont kno who among our youth team is a specialist right back. And Koscielny getting back is a good news. But what Arsenal really needs now is Vermaelen.

  24. Probably a good time to re-submit my UEFA/Wenger conspiracy theory again.
    The UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations are so much in Arsenals favour that it’s impossible not to imagine the possibility that Arsenal were instrumental in their conception and construction. But who was going to agree to adhere to them without UEFA being able to point to such a template currently working at a club who are only prevented from winning just about everything by clubs who bet far more money than they can ever win and thereby go into serious debt?
    But that ‘example’ club (Arsenal) has to stick by it’s existing policy (even when it has the money to do otherwise) so that the template cannot be thrown back in the faces of UEFA by those looking for any reason to withdraw their support for the iniative.
    In fact, as Tony has pointed out, ‘the Arsenal way of doing things’ is now seen to be so long established, sensible and successful – and Wenger so wedded to it anyway – that Arsenal are highly unlikely to change it, whatever happens. It’s been part of the DNA of the Club for decades and is the only one which seems to be able to fill a big stadium and deliver a profit year in year out.
    The test will come when UEFA are put on the spot when a big name club fails the test and should be excluded from Europe. Once again ‘transparency’ will be called for and we can only hope will be applied.

  25. The current squad is not only consist of excellent, high potential players, they also have strong knit among them… Like a big family with unbreakable bonds… All Arsenal players have clean, healthy lifestyle and respectful of others… After game celebrations are relatively non-bombastic and the players take good care of themselves even on non-training days… They are even under-paid if compared to other clubs (Even mid-table clubs) and never complain or do the deal with the devil… Personalities like Bendtner and Arshavin are common to say the least in any team and do bring out the best of others… Sometimes, they try to impress too hard and in the process hit the ground very hard… Well, the media like most people prefer to kick a man when he’s down but Arsene Wenger never doubted his young-lings… He is there almost everyday watching and grooming them in the training ground and I’m sure he knows what the players are capable of… At the moment, who on the right mind would break this up and start back from square-one…? Buy this players and buy that players on a “money no prob” policy…? Well, man, are you insane…? Running a football club is not like playing Championship Manager… If you start removing players mercilessly, you will trigger a chain-reaction that will forever scar the team and tarnish the club’s professionalism and humility… Its worst than a divorce… Those who criticize and complain the players are not up to the scratch, should ask themselves one question…? Almost all world class players who play well consistently through the season, came through their clubs youth academy and prosper within the team with the encouragement of their manager and supporters… Here, we have the world’s greatest youth system at Arsenal and every supporters despise it because they are envious of other clubs “gold chains”… When are you gonna learn…? Just watch Newcastle falter and then you will know…

  26. Tony, most Arsenal fans with brains are not saying lets spend £80 mil on players and lets go bust in a couple of years, what were saying is just that some buys are in our opinions are essential, I mean a better GK than what we have is quite obvious, spare defensive mid and centre back maybe as well wouldn’t be bad either. Now im sure thats all possible without going broke and spending huge amounts of money. Im mean 5 years without a trophy and the amount of money were all paying to watch Arsenal I think we have a right to demand some value for our money back. Ooo yeah lets remmember were about to go in the record books for the amount were about to charge for tickets beacause Arsenal not willing to take about 4% increase in tax so they deside to shove that burden on the fans. And Gazidis talks about Arsenalisation Brilliant! Tony are you sure that our hole youth project is that cheap! I mean sending 20 scouts all around the world paying for everthing, i mean there not staying in 1 star hotels, for a hole year cant be that cheap. I don’t no but it would be nice having an article about the cost real of a youth player eg. Denilson to bring through. I guesing about total costs about £8-10 mil.

    Please people don’t think im agianst Wenger or Arsenal, were be f***ed without Wenger im just raising a point. And though im pro Wenger doesn’t mean I agree with everthing. Im supporting the Lord Wenger but not alway in everthing

  27. What bothers me is not the fact that we don’t go and spend x amount of money on marque signings… It’s that we don’t spend the money (that we have) on quality players who WANT to play for us and would undoubtedly improve our squad. David Villa and Yaya Toure being the ones that immediately come to mind and how on earth we didn’t sign Given after his team were relegated I’ll never know.

    I never want to see our club in debt, I just want the obvious issues we have within our squad (GK, CB/CM, FW) to be resolved with the stroke of a pen on that dusty Arsenal cheque book once in a while!

  28. I’m with Walter – only 3??? 😉

    But seriously speaking, I don’t see the need to buy anyone at this moment. When was the last time we had 4 quality CBs like the ones we have now? It’s been a very long time.

    And if just one of Nordtveit (21), Bartley (19) or Miquel (18) can fulfil their huge potential we won’t need to even think about buying a CB for years to come.

    Chelsea only have 3 CBs full stop! Two injuries and they have to use Paulo Ferreira or Essien in the heart of their defence. And Man Utd’s fourth choice, Jonny Evans, has been a calamity for months.

  29. basically u summarised all the complexity of arsenal(in ignorant fool’s eye)and crux of ur previous articles in simple a,b,c,d. Brilliant.
    but yet people still want arsenal to buy, refer to youtube, question wenger..blah blah…
    here at untold, i guess, we will be most happy if we win with our current philosophy rather than going for buy buy buy.
    That makes us different, that’s give us our identity, that’s what i love most about arsenal.FULL STOP

  30. Richard Goon – just look at the salary Yaya Toure is on at Man City – if we had paid him anything remotely like that then our entire salary structure would be destroyed, and we would have blown all the profits on additional salary.

  31. Just a keeper and centre back in January would please me. This should have taken place in the summer. January is not a great time to do business. If we end up trophy less again (surely not!) then inadequate preseason transfer activities will be to blame. I expect more activity next summer regardless of this seasons achievements.

  32. Arsenal_stevie – I hardly know here to start. Lets begin with this doozie – “Im mean 5 years without a trophy and the amount of money were all paying to watch Arsenal I think we have a right to demand some value for our money back”. You are kidding right? Really, you arent serious are you? No, you have no rights. You are a fan. Do you think fans of Newcastle, Bolton, West Ham, Spurs, etc should all start demanding money back? How about Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, and Nottingham Forest? What about the wonderful entertainment this team gives? Are you telling me that Nasri’s 2 wonderful goals at the weekend were not worth all the admission price and more? When you make the commitment to be a fan then you are a fan, trophies or no trophies. The fact our team plays entertaining, at times excutiating, football means we get far better value for money than the majority of fans in England. We are fans. We can hope for success of course. We can pray for success. But the moment you start demanding “success or my money back” then you are no longer a fan.

    And how about “what were saying is just that some buys are in our opinions are essential”? That’s another great one. Okay, so in your opinion it is essential. In mine it isnt. Whose opinion should the manager listen to? Mine? Yours? The milkmans? The prostitute standing on the corner? The answer is of course he shouldnt listen to any of our opinions, because we are all idiot fans. He should build the side as he wishes. And even if he was to listen to the fans who want to buy players, do you honestly think that any two fans would recommend the same players? No. What qualifications do you have for running a top-flight football team? How long have you spent scouting Eden Hazard or other continental players? How many complete games have you seen Gary Cahill play? Do you honestly think you know more about players than AW does?

    And what about “I mean a better GK than what we have is quite obvious”? Oh, really? It is OBVIOUS is it? When Fabianski has played quite well in the past two months and Chesney looks like a fabulous young prospect? It is obvious is it? Well, gosh, obviously you are smarter than all of us so we will just have to bow to your superior knowledge. I suppose you want the midget Given or erroe-prone Reina or someone else like that who has been playing far worse than Fabianski this season? And you do know if a new GK is bought then Chesney is gone, right?

    And then you go and defeat your whole “we need to spend more” argument by talking about how much we spend on scouting and developing young players!!!!! Hilarious!!! THAT IS EXACTLY THE POINT TONY IS MAKING!!!! AW has decided against spending 20-30million on “ready-made” players who may turn out to be huge wastes of money (can anyone say Shevchenko, Veron etc etc) and instead the club spends its money on scouting and developing the best young talent in the world to mold them into Arsenal players and develop a great team spirit (or are you saying that City and their “ready-made” players have a great team spirit?).

    Mate, your argument is poor.

  33. If Cesc goes to barca in the summer, we should try to get busquets from barca, as that would make arsenal a complete team in all respects (assuming fabianski can keep up the good work)

  34. Possible January bargain – Matty Upson. Bring him in on current west ham wages for around 1.5 – 2m. Sullivan & Gold may prefer to keep his services in bid to stay up then lose him on a free, but worth a cheeky bid surely? I know he is not a world beater but could help cement our current league position

  35. Also what i think went wrong is probably that our defensive signings of summer are not playing at the level which is required of them. Though both Squillaci and Koscielny were less known, i thought Wenger’s signings would have shown their true potential as fast as Vermaelen. Clearly its not happening as of now, but i’m more shocked for Squillaci as he has more experience than both of Vermaelen and Koscielny and still he looks unprepared.

    On hindsight, i feel we should have gone for an epl defender rather than Squillaci bcoz now both Squillaci and Koscielny might take some time to get used to the epl. This just shows how fast Vermaelen has developed for us.

  36. Thing is, that we cant anymore, as Tony pointed, think only of buying, even when there is need. Than rather have to pay attention to balance, as there is only 25 tickets in bus now.
    As many would say “so what” we only registered 20 players for this season. But what with lads who in next months will get to “age”. And if I calculated well even would have to sell some, as we cant keep them now under this rules.
    It is complete nonsense to have more than 4 central defenders (as long as we don’t give up from Vermaelen completely, and as far as I know he still didn’t end career). In worse scenario we still have Song to cover that position in case 3 of our defenders get injured/suspended.

  37. Bexxy – on the one hand you admit Upson is not a world-beater but then you say he will help cement our League position? How does that work? We want to challenge for the League, we need top players, not slow, ageing rejects.

    I am all for AW strengthening the squad whenever he sees fit if he can find players who are better than those we have. But if that means signing players like Upson, sorry, no way.

  38. Paul C , you are such an old romantic. Would you be happy starting next season with the current first team squad? If not, what positions would you improve. If you would, I refer you back to my John Lukic/ Dave Seaman argument

  39. Wow. Fabianski has been doing very well the season so far, but we still need a new keeper? Please list available keepers and their price for January.
    I am so sorry, people, but the goalkeeper problem is SO 2009/2010. It’s not a topic for this season, as it has been non-existent.
    As for centre-back, I agree that we should look into a Sol Campbell like loan deal in case Vermaelen’s injury turns out to be something that will last until the end of the season. Otherwise, no, we do not need another spare CB, as we have 4 very able CBs at our club. There is not a difference in quality like last season, where our 4th choice CB (Silvestre) was absolute and utter toss.

  40. Remember the short term reasoning behind signing Sol Campbell? Upson would improve our squad enough to make a difference to our league position both this season and next. It would also buy time for youngsters. The main attraction would be his price. 2m tops or no deal. Any other possibilities at a similar price?

  41. Again, for the people wanting to replace Fabianski, I would like to refer you again to the statistic, that Fabianski has the second highest shot to save ratio in the league. The only one who did better is Cech. So that means, more or less, that our first choice keeper is among the top of the league. Who to get to “replace” him that would be a real improvement? Casillas?

  42. Paul C- i disagree when you say that fans have no rights. Afterall, Arsenal is run by the money made from the number of fans it has.

    Just think, if the number of Arsenal’s fans start lowering, then Arsenal’s revenue too will suffer in the long run. Thats why even a football club as big as Arsenal needs to respect their fans’ voice. But what eventually comes down to is the fact that Arsenal is probably running by people who might not even be Arsenal supporters, or should i say, they might not even know much about football. They can be just plain businessmen who are only interested in profits and may not be even concerned what problems are there on the ground. Also it would be interesting to kno whether Wenger himself would have given so much importance to the youth academy if the stadium debt was not there in the 1st hand. He himself would hav gone and bought some quality and experienced players if it was not for the stadium debts. The need for youth academy was more of a necessity than a choice for Wenger as i might see bcoz the stadium debts would have never allowed Wenger to buy anyone which he would have preferred.

  43. Bexxy – I have no problem with a short-term loans for specific areas. I just dont think Upson is a very good player. And yes, I would be quite happy for us to begin next season with pretty much the same squad, as that would mean Cesc still being here!!!! Also, with Coquelin and Frimpong coming into the squad the cover that people want for Song would be ready-made. Coquelin is getting rave reviews in Ligue 1 this season, so he is playing top-level football right now. He seems a huge talent.

    I am always open for the manager buying top-level players. I just dont see the reasoning for getting inferior players. Campbell was important last season because Silvestre was our ONLY option at CB behind Gallas and TV. This year we have 4 CB’s so unless TV’s injury doesnt heal I just dont see us buying in that area.

    DP – I completely agree with everything you said. The club is trying to put a winning team out on the pitch every season and as fans I think that upholds their end of the bargain. I do not think we as fans have any right whatsoever to demand trophies or that intagible “success” or their money back (which is what Arsenal_steveie suggested) since everyones opinion of what constitutes success varies. Personally I consider the past five years a huge, resounding, triumphant success since we had to take on all that debt you refer to and yet stayed competitive and retained our CL status.

    And you are right, AW may not have gone down the path he did had it not been for the stadium debt (although he was already putting in place the youth team structure and the current group of youngsters coming through were already at the club – the English ones at least). But the club made the decision to build the stadium and that made up AW’s mind.

    And yes, if the club suffers poor results then fans will dwindle, and the revenues will go down. I do not consider top-4 finishes every season, deep runs in the CL, and the occasional deep domestic Cup run during a rebuilding phase as poor results. I struggle to see how anyone could see that as poor results in a rebuilding phase.

    Poor results to me are struggling in mid-table or worse, losing to lower division teams in Cups and no European Football.

    I think the people running Arsenal are running it exactly the way should. Sure there are some fans that want this player, other fans that want that player, and some fans who wouldnt be satisfied unless we won every trophy going. But the board cannot listen to individual fans. They have a responsibility to ensure we makle money every season, lower debts, and constantly try to put the best product on the pitch as they can. As long as they are doing that then we cannot complain.

    Well of course we can complain, we are fans and are idiots as I said above. That is our job. But we cannot demand our money back. After all, nobody forces us to buy tickets or shorts or Arsenal underwear or scarves or any of the other stuff we buy!!!!

  44. what about blackburns chris samba need a big lad like him. don’t think we need anyone else. is nordveit any good or ready to step in if needed?

  45. Tony, well done sir. Sadly, they have eyes but they cannot see!

    Sure, we have some defensive snafus. Doesn’t seem to me that defending set pieces has been what one would label a “strength” for some time. Not the new guys’ fault there.

    And remember that squids and kols have been in the league what, 4, 5 months? Doing quite well considering that. The vermanator adjusted instantly – not the normal course. And I recall kols picking one Nando Torres’ pocket – twice – against LeveragePool. Point is, before we lable them both as ‘not good enough for the shirt’ or some such gibberish, give them a bit of time. Not saying some of their displays aren’t worrying. Just saying a bit of patience people.

  46. Paul C talks sense. People need to look at the building that’s been going on during the trophy-less years. We’ve actually done extremely well, considering. And the best part is, even if we don’t buy anyone for the next few years, our relatively young team will only get stronger. Our fans just need a bit more patience, we’re almost there. When the debt is cleared (thanks to the lack of “buy buy buy”) we’ll be able to buy a whole lot more, and pay their salaries too. Those demanding instant glory may just have to wait a little longer. The cups are coming.

  47. Agree with you. But this is going to be an important year, bcoz i dont think we can use the excuse of debts or young players now. Our players are experienced enough and old enough to win trophies, though i kno they are younger compared to our direct rivals. And i always believed that Wenger would have won atleast a couple more epl titles had it not been the stadium debts. But i think, the players, especially the ones from the youth academy should show enough character to win the tough games as well. Cesc, Van persie, Walcot, Nasri, Sagna, Clichy, Arshavin, Rosicky, Song have got enough experience to win us the title. Though still concerned about the central defenders.

  48. @ Paul C.
    You, Tony, me………everyone else, do we not directly or in directly pay around 50% Arsenals income? (shirts, tickets, membership, even shares…..) I think we do, so we do have a right. When Arsenal are charging triple what “Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, and Nottingham ” are mate i think for the most expensive ticket in the country soon gonna be in the world I think some silverware would be a nice gesture to all players, staff and fans. Also please don’t tell im init for trophies my second team is Athletic Bilbao! If you no anything about there history they have won anything for 20 odd years, but I pay €25 for a ticket watch poor football and come home happy, why? because value for money!!!! Listen not even Barcelona charge what we charge!!!! I admit that demanding trophies maybe is not on and I take back that statement, but a club should challenge realistically and Arsenal realistically should be winning something by now.

    “Midget Given or error-prone Reina” are not better than Fabianski and Alumnia???? Come mate, every pundit, expert, coach in the world will tell you there better and yes a lot better. Oh, really, it is OBVIOUS!!! And as to “Fabianski has played quite well in the past two months” sorry, he’s done his job without excelling, problem he’s plays decent and well all make out he’s done great!

    Listen im not saying who he should sign or not sign because like you said im a fan. Wenger knows better than all of us. Of course. But why will Szczesny leave if we’d signed Given o Schwarzer? Given 35 – Schwarzer 38. That probably the same wait he’s gonna get with Fabianski or Alumnia because as far as I no he believes in protecting young keepers. At least that’s what he said in various occasions, so I can’t seem him being our number 1 anytime soon.

    Finally I am not saying we should spend more but stating that if you spend say £10 mil on producing a young player do you recon you could buy him at a similar price when already developed? I don’t know. Oh yeah, as much as we pride ourselves for developing youngsters, really only Wilshere, Cole, Gibbs, maybe in future JET, Frimpong and co. have come out the setup into our team. But thanks to Wenger there will be hole line of future England prospects to come out with the right footballing mentality. However don’t tell about our pride in doing everything the right way when we exploit loop holes to rob academies across the world for the shinning youngsters. Remember Fabregas.

  49. ok DGB.. You drive off our lightweight, never be good, not-fit-to-wear-Arsenal-shirt young players and go out and buy Big guns.. Two years on, these Big guns wear off and you need new fresh Big names, So you go out and buy again.. U buy those Big names and u feel u already know these names from sometime before.. Yeah rite baby.. they are the ones you drove off few years before.. You think Only if had you waited just one or two crucial years for them to complete their developement, you would be having them without any need to spend any money and the players will be having the club name written in the DNA (as a certain player famously quoted)..

  50. Thank you Tony for this top quality article.
    I don’t think I’ll be the first in saying this, but most sane gooners will never want to take the City/Chelsea way, or any other way for that matter that would result in jeopardizing our club’s future.
    What we can do, is rely on our “homegrown” players and makiing the occasional foray into the transfer market when it is necessary to do so.
    What if Song gets injured for example? Who would be as good as him in a DM role that he … held so well last season ?(No, I’m not getting into THAT debate again).

    I believe that if we can afford to strengthen our squad where and when necessary, then we have to do it.

    What if our luck with injuries to important players is as bad as last season? Should we thrust an inexperienced youngster into the mix in the business end of the season and hope that he learns quickly and doesn’t make too many mistakes in important games that could lose us VITAL points?

    Money isn’t everything of course, but let’s never underestimate how important maturity, leadership and a winning mentality can add to the dressing-room, especially for a team of young players who have never won anything important with the club yet.

    A good mix of youth and steel (for lack of better word, and by steel I mean experience, leadership, a winning history) is not something to be ashamed of, nor will it bankrupt the club in the long run. Let’s not forget lastly, that the more you win, the more money you make as a club (TV right and ticket sales), and remember the injuries we had last year: we had to play SILVESTRE AGAINST MESSI!

  51. @ Paul C

    Out of interest, if not Upson, who do you rate as a potential January transfer target. A lot will depend on your budget, and I have targeted Upson based on his own qualities, benefit he will give other squad members, and of course he is out of contact in the summer and price would reflect this

  52. Stevie – “I think some silverware would be a nice gesture to all players, staff and fans”. Sorry, but that is a ridiculous statement. So, do you think the club can just make trophies appear out of thin air? There are other clubs trying to win trophies as well, you know? Do you really think the club isnt trying to win trophies? Or is it just that they are not doing it the way you want them to? If it is the latter, then get used to it. You can’t always get what you want. The only gesture the club needs to make is a commitment to try and win, and we are top of the League, have made the CL for 14 consecutive seasons, and have a great young team and a gleaming new stadium ensuring our financial health for the foreseeable future. Isnt that a decent commitment to excellence? Dont get too hung up on ticket prices either. London is more expensive than Sheffield and other places for most things. And The Emirates has some pretty seats, with some great priviliges. And nobody is forcing anyone to buy tickets. If there is demand then prices are only going to go higher. That’s the world we live in.

    “a club should challenge realistically”. But you’ve just admitted Bilbao dont challenge, so how can you then say a club should challenge realistically? And what do you call last season? Or 2007/08? Or 2004/05? Or Championships in 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004? Did those seasons not happen? How many other clubs in England provide that value for money? And we are challenging again this year are we not? What do you want?

    And there you go again, with your OBVIOUS statements! That is YOUR opinion. And no, not every coach in the world feels that way. If that was the case, dont you think Given might have ended up at a big club in his career? And would he have been dropped the moment Joe Hart passed puberty? And what about the errors Reina has made this season? He has made more than Fabianski. But yes, it is OBVIOUS that he is so superior to Fabianski. No it isnt. That is YOUR opinion.

    And we “exploit loop holes to rob academies across the world for the shinning youngsters”? What, you mean the “loophole” that if a player is out of contract he can be signed? Or the fabulous “loophole” that if two clubs agree a price a player can be transferred? Oh yeah, those are fabulous loopholes. We want them closed for sure. So lets outlaw two clubs agreeing a price and transferring a player. Let’s outlaw one club signing another player who has no contract. PLAYERS SHOULD BE PRISONERS DARNIT!!!! SLAVE LABOUR!!!! And yes, I remember Fabregas. He was out of contract. We offered him a contract. He said yes. Nobody forced anyone to do anything. Barca could have offered him a better contract. Boy oh boy, let’s close that loophole because it sounds as if we really broke the law there doesnt it?

  53. Bexxy – like I said, if TV shows he coming back to fitness I dont think we will buy anyone this January. I think this will be a pretty quiet transfer window in general. Not many clubs have any money.

    I really dont know who could be an option. I have long since given up trying to predict who AW will sign. He is always way ahead of all of us in terms of player evaluation. I am sure he has his eyes on some possibilities if injuries dont clear up and when he makes his move we will know about it. Arsenal have operated transfer business that way since I started supporting the club in the 70’s. The stories in the media about who we are interested in are seldom true, and when we make a move for a player it is generally decisive (like AA, Kos, Nasri etc etc).

  54. They have already been insulting Van Persie for ages, there’s no need at all for us to sell Van Persie, we are in a very good financial position and he’s a quality player, we need depth….some people complain about our depth then want us to sell loads of our players.

  55. All those discussion gave me idea, maybe Tony or Walter depend who have better sources should research how are doing other big European names who build new stadiums and what happening with them. That will give us clearer picture even about out transfer policy.

  56. @ Paul C

    Very true 🙂
    but I was after YOUR opinion of possible tranfer targets rather than second guessing Wenger. Not necessarily at centre back, but anywhere you feel we could improve between Jan – May.

  57. Tony – I in no way meant that we should have signed him this season! I was thinking about when he was at Beveren (our feeder club) and we could/should have picked him up for peanuts!

    Just Imagine.. A genuine physically dominant ball playing CM… Ahhh what could have been…

  58. I actually dont see any areas where we could really improve based on players that SEEM as though they might be available. Up front we are very well-stocked IF (and a very big “if” I admit) RvP stays fit the rest of the way (hopefully that was his one per season injury over and done with!!!). In wide attacking positions we are great. Central midfield should be great as Ramsey will be returning and hopefully Diaby will finally get fit, and at full-back and central defense we have 2 players at each position. I just dont see where there is room for additional players unless, as AW says, we suddenly get a bad injury or two between now and the end of the transfer window.

    I dont really see anyone out there that would make us stronger. I have only seen Eden Hazard play four or five full games so cannot make a judgement on such limited views and some of the other people folks mention like Van Der Wiel I have never seen play a complete game, so obviously I have no idea about them. I sometimes wonder if people have ever actually watched some of these names that they throw out or are simply going on media talk or a youtube clip!!!! No one in England right now really takes my fancy, except if we want to fantasize about Gareth Bale or Michael Essien!!!! I dont see Gary Cahill as being better than who we have and I think, based on my prior posts, you know my view towards Shay Given (if you don’t, I dont rate him very highly at all).

    No, I like our squad right now. I think there comes a time when you have to say “this is it, this is the squad for this season come hell or high water” and just let them get on with it. I dont see that buying in January is ever really a good thing to do unless there is a specific player available that you really want (i.e. Arshavin) or you are buying young talent to develop over time (which we have plenty of).

    If this squad doesnt do it this season then next summer is the time for changes and new buys.

  59. There is this a permanent template that Arsenal fans use in the bloggosphere. Here it is (emphasis on the capitalised words):

    “The team was fantasic today and that was a great win BUT we STILL need a CB, a GK, a DM etc”. The team just had a good win but we must replace the same players who made that win possible!

    You see, the template user is clearly happy and impressed with what he just saw with his own eyes but how can you sound knowledgeable about football matters if you don’t use this “highly revered” and “time-tested” template. It is just “plain naive” to commend Arsenal without qualifying your praise with some back-hand insult camouflaged as advice. While even AW’s worst detractors accept his genius and clear tenacity at long term planning, our own fans must still undermine him based on the latest outrage of the MotD and Sky Sports crews.

    The Mancs have conceded just as much as us (over the same 15 games) in the EPL while their 2nd choice defence conceded 4 goals against their 1st premiership opposition in the CC. Ours have conceded 1 against 3! But who is perpetually in crisis? Of course it’s always Arsenal! What about the super chavs? Their 2nd defence also conceded 4 against Newcastle at STAMFORD BRIDGE and they have been leaking goals since they couldn’t field their best (and apparently only) CD pairing. They have since drop from the position of “run-away winners” to 3rd place but who is in crisis? Arsenal!

    I am only grateful that fans have no say in the running of Arsenal FC. Not with the perpetual moronic rants and parotting of latest popular opinion that they carry out on the Internet.

  60. @Arsenal-Stevie- your rants have been well answered by PaulC et al….And how many have come out of other club academies?

    And if Upson is so good, why is he at a mid-table club in his mid 20s, or Givens in his 30s? And what gk out there is better than what we have?
    I may agree that we may need cover for Song in case..but AW already knows that!

    Me? I dont even read any articles in the papers/blogs that mention possible Arsenal transfers for a long time now. These “fans” tend to know more than the staff that is around the team daily.

  61. @ Paul C

    I admire you’re loyalty to the squad, I really do. I just wonder if you consider yourself an arsenal fan and a football fan, or do you just follow arsenal? Were you in favour of replacing johnny lukic before seaman hit the heights?

  62. surely each year there will be natural wastage or players getting too old that are let go and as long as arsenal are balancing the books and can say buy a £40 million plus cover the wages where is the problem in buying players.

    When Aw retires or worse gets the sack all his hard work could go down the drain pretty quick. I cant think of a top top manager apart from Aw who doesnt spend big and wants a big budget,a hypothetical next manager will have alot less time and need to have an immediate effect and that means spend spend spend.

    I seem to remember West ham having one hell of a youth system and what did amount to ? the point I am making is there is no medium or long term plan in football and ours only hangs on while Aw is in charge.

    the last point I will make we have one of the finest squads in the leaguebetter than chelseas and man u but our first 11 is lacking, lacking players not reaching full potential, some players still adjusting to the league and a bit of inconsistency, I think the main problem in the hearts of gooners is that a huge shadow has been cast over this team of talented youngsters, the invincibles shadow is reaching the emirates from highbury, that team was formidable and will go down in history not to mention a number of world class players at their peak and had few weaknesses.

    IMO the odd world class player every few years never hurts as long as you can afford it, although i do admit bringing in a player like nasri and waiting a few years for him to get adjusted but who is growing into a world class player is very satisfying from a business perspective. I do think man city will start winning trophies

  63. Bexxy,

    I kind of think that Paul C knows exactly who he is: An Arsenal fan who is not deluded into thinking that he knows more than the manager and the great men running the club unlike some……..

  64. bexxy,

    your Lukic and Seaman comment is so absurd, as if AW had never bought a football player before. You don’t have to watch football excessively to realize that speculating about transfers is a total waste of time. Stop pretending to be some kind of a football manager and let people who know something about the business do their jobs. And people who don’t want to engage in this ridicilous transfer debate are not the ones who have less knowledge about football.

  65. @gooner80-very interesting points. It kinda makes u think of what will happen to the youth system once Wenger retires. Will the next manager have the same patience that Wenger has on is youth players?? I really dont think so. At the moment we have Wenger there till 2014, jus a more than 3 yrs left. And many of our highly rated youngsters will be only around 21 by 2014. And it wont be sure whether they will be showing their potential so early.

  66. i might i agree…but there is a matter of achieving plain maturity every season,right?….now all im asking for is a good defender like cahill,we cant expect 30 year old squillaci to blossom into an defending avatar or koscielny,who started his professional carrier just last season to shake up the defense JUST WHEN THE SEASON LOOKS FAVORABLE THAN EVER SINCE the trophy drought begun……they make silly errors for heaven’s sakes!….just bye one more defender to cover up and nothing more!

  67. @ bootoomee
    I am not knocking those blinkered Arsenal fans. I was one myself for 2010-2011 odd years. I now consider myself an Arsenal fan first but also a general football. Suddenly, well not that suddenly, but gradually my views of other clubs and players changed.

    As for stop thinking you know more than a manager, isn’t that part of being a fan? Don’t we all pick the team in our heads before kick off, and decide who should be substituted and when? Do we not look out for potential signings?

    No?, just me then.

    @ typeface

    Happy to accept that my Lukic point is absurd, but why? and what was your opinion at time of the transfer?

    Most if not all football fans in my circle of friends speculate on transfers. Maybe, because I picked a player without the help of tabloid speculation has thrown you? Is that what make my point of view ridiculous?

  68. Bexxy,

    About picking players in your head, I’m sorry dude, that’s just you! I may be a blinkered fan but I’m not deluded into thinking that I’m what I’m not.

    And Typeface is absolutely right. Constantly speculating and ranting about what you have absolutely no control over (like which player should be signed or fielded in whatever position) is ridiculous and very annoying.

  69. So you don’t approve of the prematch speculation on the latest topic posted. I look forward to these articles before every match.

  70. Well, there’s no need to say we need to offload experienced players so that youth players get a spot. Youth players should have to earn a place on the 25, it’s the way of the world. It’s called competition, and it gives talented young players the motivation to get better.

    Barcelona have Busquets and Keita in the DM position, but they went out and got Mascherano. They had Bojan and Pedro, but they bought Villa. They had Vazquez(!) in the Bs, but they stilll chased up Cesc. I don’t think Busquets, Bojan and Pedro were disheartened that these top players joined Barcelona. I think it just made them more determined to improve and keep their spot on the team.

    That’s different than at the Arsenal, where our equivalents (Song and Bendtner) walked into the first team after senior players were sold, and who now think that they’re now great players, despite being mediocre, unfinished and having not won a single trophy in their Arsenal-playing careers.

    And Tony, from the way you describe it, you make buying players sound incredibly difficult and self-defeating. But don’t transfers happen every summer? At every club? It can’t be that difficult to find three players who could improve us (goalkeeper, central defender, defensive midfielder). Or even just a goalkeeper to tide you over until Shezza’s ready to take over.

  71. Bexxy,

    You may find this hard to believe but I don’t read match previews. I think it is an exercise in futility but I bear no grudge against those who do. I, however, read AW’s pre-match interviews (as well as the players) and other information he (they) may have. It makes more sense to me. I respect Desi-Gunner, whom I think is probably the best Arsenal blogger in terms of analysis (both pre and post match) but what makes him so good in my opinion is his acknowledgement of his limitations. He always defers to the manager. Most Arsenal bloggers, unfortunately, have an excessive sense of their own importance and get mixed up on what their role is: that of a fan. No more no less, even if 1 billion people read their blogs.

  72. morning tony,
    i am disappointed to find that yet again you choose to represent views in your blog quite contrary to the AAA. naughty! stability and austerity indeed! silverware, now there is something you can take to the bank (or ‘flog it’ on telly in case you need to recoup ….) you also seem to imply we have to wait for january for ‘lightweight mac ii’ mr. wellington silva can clearly be seen training here in preparation for the partizan http://www.football365.com/Gallery_Detail/0,17732,13282_6560262,00.html
    and if it isnt him then it damn well should be

  73. Bootoomee

    Nothing wrong with that. I don’t think it is only me who has an ideal team for tonight though. Might be alien to you, but believe me, discussing team selection over a prematch beer is not unusual amongst fans. 🙂

  74. Bexxy – I think the Seaman/Lukic one is different because it was quite clear that Seaman was the best young ‘keeper in England at the time, and Lukic was no more than a average-to-good ‘keeper. Seaman had been showing amazing skill for two or three years prior to Arsenal getting him and every club was interested at the time. He had no weaknesses, and was only 24. I dont see a similar guy who is head and shoulders above the rest at the moment, in fact the best young ‘keeper I’ve seen is Chesney. Everyone else has some weaknesses. Given is poor against high balls into the area and 35, Reina is sometimes a flapper, Lloris is untested in English Football.

    Like I said, I am ALWAYS keen for the club to improve, and buy BETTER players than what we have. I just think that with all the fantastic young talent we have coming through there is no reason to buy mediocre players simply to fill places in the squad. I’d rather we saved our money for those one or two truly world-class talents that could lift us to even greater heights. Who are those players? I have no idea whatsoever, but I am not employed to scout players worldwide. Very few of us had heard of Vieira before he came, or Vermaelen, or Chamakh until AW bid.

    And to your other question, I am an Arsenal fan. Period. Of course I FOLLOW football, but I SUPPORT Arsenal. I’ll watch any sport, tidlywinks, darts, it doesnt matter. I’ll watch it. But there is only one passion in my life. Arsenal. Well, that and my wife and dogs as well.

    Well endowed Gooner – you bring Barca into the debate as support for constantly buying new players, even if you dont necessarilly need them. But aren’t Barca deep in debt with a wage bill almost as large as their turnover? That is exactly what Arsenal are trying to avoid. We are not Barca or Madrid. And Song and Bendtner came into the squad because we didnt, at the time, have the money to afford older, more established players. And they didnt “walk” into the 1st team. Song worked his way through abuse and poor form into the team, gradually improving all the time. Bendtner still isnt in the 1st team proper, and has a ways to go before he gets to that point. He is 3rd choice up front. And if you compare our 3rd choice striker (Bendtner) to just about any other teams 3rd choice striker the comparison is pretty favorable for our squad.

  75. Another great post. I have got to agree with everything writen here. I only recently seen the site and have really been enjoying it. I know we may get called rose tinters and so on, but IN Arsene we trust. He has developed this great club so much and with him at the helm, thropies will come. We have arguebley our most complete squad ever. By this I mean stenght in depth over our “25”. Look and the other big team, United or chelsea, they have a very good starting team but from the bench down, it is lacking. Come on ARSENAL!!!!! and keep up the good work Untold 🙂

  76. Dark Prince and others, I think you and other people are not giving Squillaci and Koscielny the credit they deserve. Guys remember this is their first time in the EPL, and as for Koscielny, this is his season at the highest level! These two guys in association with Djourou have put Arsenal at the top of the table. Guys be serious!

    Dark Prince do not compare the progress of TV5 to Squillaci and Koscielny. TV5 had a whole preseason to adjust to the Arsenal game and bed with other defenders. Yes, Koscielny did get that preseason, but Squillaci did not! Also TV5 benefitted from the fact that Galas was already an experienced defender in the EPL!! Unfortunately for Squillaci and Koscielny, who is there for them? You may say Squillaci is supposed to be experienced, true, but not in the EPL! TV5 is crocked, and Djourou is a novice! Yes JD20 has impressed, no doubt. Factor in that Song is playing a deferent role this season to what he played last season. Last season he really protected the back four, not this year. Is it any wonder that Arsenal are struggling defensively! Please also do not ignore the defensive contribution of Denilson and Diaby last season, one of them always partnered Song. This season we have used Wilshere a lot, his attacking brilliance not withstanding, Arsenal need that double defensive pivot in midfield just like last season, particularly because the CB pairing is new to EPL and have never played together.

    It would be interesting to see, if Arsene curbed Song’s forward forays and pair him with a Denilson or Diaby (and why doesn’t he try Nordveidt there also? He had a whole season in the position in Germany last season!), we probably would see some stability in defense. Wilshere can come in for some matches when playing weaker opposition. I guess what I am saying here is that given the circumstances, Squillaci and Koscielny have done quite well, it could have been better with a slight shift in the philosophy of Arsenal play. I sometime feel that TV5 is given too much undeserved credit. I know he is good, but I do not think he is too far ahead of Koscielny, may be Squillaci. I have a feeling Koscielny is going to be a really good defender.

  77. Gennie, very true, TV5 is one of rare players who made it first season. If I remember well, Vidic needed almost year and half to get where he is now, and SAF was even considering to sell him or send him on loan.
    And meanwhile because of circumstances, we couldn’t play same pair of center backs in more than two games. And to have granite defense, that pair have to know each other well and to be used to play… Their best games are yet to come and I believe in month or so we ll see why they are bought (though I already sow enough and I believe they have quality to defend us to crown)

  78. @Gennie,

    I couldn’t agree more. Vermaelen slotted into an established back four and had the benefit of playing alongside a very good defender (regardless of what you think of him as a person) with huge Premier League experience in Gallas.

    That doesn’t take anything away from Vermaelen, who settled in very quickly, but Koscielny and Squillaci have had no such helping hand in bedding in. We have two completely new signings at the heart of defence, not just to Arsenal but to the entire league. It’s the blind leading the blind, and however much experience Squillaci might have in France and Spain he has never faced the strikers he’s been up against in England. He’s played against Messi, but how does that help him shackle Kevin Davies?

    The experience that Koscielny and Squillaci have logged so far will hold them in very good stead. As they go into the second half of the season and face all the same teams and players for a second time, they will know what they’re about to go up against.

  79. @Gennie- I think a few months should be good enough to integrate into the team, if you start accepting that they’ll take a couple of years to get accustomed then this process will go on forever. Arsenal’s team is not the same every year, if everyone starts giving excuses like we need a couple of years to integrate then this will never end. Chamakh, Wilshere, Vermaelen all integrated fast into the team. We need our defenders to integrate fast bcoz almost half of the season is already over.

  80. Infact even Arshavin integrated into the team from the first month itself. The point i’m making is that Squillaci and Koscielny are experienced defenders. They are not youngsters who are just got into the 1st team. They have been playing in their respective 1st teams for a good number of years now. And its absurd to say that both Squillaci or Koscielny dont have anyone to guide them, bcoz they are good enough to guide themselves. They dont need another defender to teach them how to defend.

  81. DP you jsut forget that unlike rest of the team CBs cant play “alone” to say they are successful they need partnership, between them and between GK as well. And you have to admit we were unlucky, and couldn’t muster same paring in more than two games.

  82. DP – Actually last year was Koscielny’s first playing in the highest division. He is relatively inexperienced. I dont think AW ever expected that TV would be missing the entire 1st half of the year. Obviously he would have hoped that TV would be around to help Koscielny adjust. I like what I have seen from Koscielny so far but he definately needs to beef up and cut out inexperienced mistakes (and not get red cards!!!).

    I think Squillaci has done pretty well considering he hasnt had a constant partner to get used to. It isnt easy to have a different guy playing next to you virtually every game. Have we actually been able to play the same CB partnership more than two games in a row at all this season? I dont think we have. That would be difficult for ANY team, and ANY players.

    Until we are able to play the same guys for an extended period of matches and develop an understanding I am withholding judgement of these guys. I just dont think it fair to them based on the constant chopping and changing we’ve had to deal with and the loss of TV.

  83. Armin – you cant always say that its down to the ‘partnership’. Bcoz individual mistakes by both the defenders can be picked out easily. Though i agree that we are not having a permanent partnership between defenders now. But we cant expect that to happen, especially in club like Arsenal where injuries happen very often.

    Also have you noticed the different number of Centre backs that have been used since last past 5 years?? Clichy and Sagna have been at their positions for a long time now, but the central defenders are changing every season for last 3-4 years now. Its kinda worryin.

  84. Yes DP there is a problem with being unable to have “same” pair, but remember at beginning of century (wow how far it sound), we also had almost the same problem with being unable to find quality replacement for 3GD (George Graham Granite Defense), and when we thought its almost impossible we made 49 :).
    So right now with TV return on sight, and Squillaci and Koscielny more experienced game after game, I think we are on good way to close all doors.

  85. Paul C – Agree with your points. Arsenal really needs Vermaelen back. Really sad to see him out for such a long time. He also probably is the captain that Arsenal can have.

    Though i’m little skeptical about Squillaci. He looks like an average defender to me, atleast by performances this season. Koscielny definately has the potential to be a super defender but sometimes when he becomes over-aggressive in his tackles, he makes errors. He and Djourou can improve a lot. But Squillaci?? I dont think he can get any better than what we have seen.

  86. DP – you are absolutely right about the central defense in the past 3 or 4 years. But AW couldnt have done much about Sol melting down, or Gallas turning out to be a nightmare in the locker room (well, maybe he might have been able to see that based on his Chelsea days), or Senderos just not developing.

    Finally we now seem to have a quartet that should see us through the next five years or so, with youngsters like Miguel and Bartley still to come. Hopefully now we can begin to develop that elusive “understanding”.

  87. Armin- i hope you’re right!! 🙂

    Arsenal’s defence has been a weak point for quite a few years now. And i hope we can repeat what the invincibles did!! If we have done it once, we can do it again!!

  88. DP – I agree with you that Squillaci probably wont get too much better (although I think he is still learning about English Football – talentwise he wont) but as I have said before, I think in time he will be the 4th choice CB, and if he is the 4th choice, then we will be absolutely fine.

  89. Paul C- Many fans, including me believe that Wenger is the better at developing young attacking players than young defenders and that in the international scene, Wenger is better at picking out promising attackin players than defending. There are many examples for young attacking players of Arenal who are making a name for themselves but the young defenders, apart from very few, have not yet shown that they are good enough to come in Arsenal’s starting line up. Only Gibbs and Djourou hav come up. Rest all maybe promising but surely not ready for Arsenal’s starting 11. While in comparison to our attackig youth, i can say there are maybe 5-6 players who can easily come in to play for Arsenal. Wenger has made more changes in defence over the last few years than in attack. And it worries me whether the current signings can deliver of what Wenger expects them too.

  90. Squillaci is 30 so obviously his potential for improvement isn’t huge. He was brought in to add depth and experience to our young defence and that’s exactly what he’s been doing in Vermaelen’s absence. He’s someone you can trust to hold the fort in case of injury, suspension or loss of form to one of our younger, more talented defenders. And Squillaci is also a player who our young defenders can learn from. I don’t believe he was ever meant to be a super-star, just a wise old head to add to the troops.

  91. DP – I agree. I think we are all waiting to see how things develop. I think scouting and developing defenders and ‘keepers is hard. Look at the problem Evans is having right now at Utd. And Wes Brown never became the defender people thought he would be. Will Smalling? Ben Foster was another flunk-out. That is why I think the decision to send Bartley to Sheff Utd for the season was a great move. That will really toughen him up and give him a great education.

    Every signing is a risk, isnt it? We dont just require good players, we require world-class players to compete for the League and in Europe. How many players of that calibre are there out there? Everyone is scouting like mad trying to find those players, not just us. With Arsenal there is the additional need for defenders especially to be able to move the ball and be comfortable in possession in order to fit the system. That is why I wonder about the Gary Cahill rumours. He just doesnt seem the type who AW would want to get.

    Like others mentioned, Vidic took over a year to settle in England. For the longest time he looked a complete train-wreck waiting to happen EVERY SINGLE MATCH. He was close to getting jettisoned. Now we regard him as one of the finest defenders in the world.

    I often think people make the mistake of comparing players at different stages of their development. On the Guardian podcast the other day they had a French reporter who made the great point when talking about the “new Zidane” comparisons that Nasri has had to endure. He rightly pointed out that at 23 Nasri was far, far ahead of where Zidane was at the same age. Zidane was just starting to show at that age in the French League. That isnt to say that Nasri will turn out to be better player, simply that you never know how guys will develop.

  92. There’s nothing wrong with developing more top class forwards and defenders than top class defenders and goalkeepers. Financially speaking, that’s far better than doing it the other way around. Forwards are always much more expensive and you get far more value for money by spending the transfer kitty on a defender.

    There was an article not long ago on the excellent SwissRamble about Lyon that made this point. Lyon actually make it part of their transfer strategy not to spend much on strikers and focus their spending on goalkeepers and defenders instead, who will give you more ‘bang for your buck’.

  93. what?? 45m for three players? surely we can take on the debt now and buy three players for 45m each!!

  94. I just worry about an injury to Song… Would love an old head in Midfield to cover for him…

  95. This has to be best Arsenal site by far. And I say this not just because I agree with Tony’s lucid analysis of what I call the buy-now-buy-always delusion but also because of the quality of contributions all of the posters responding to Tony article… even those arguing from a contrary point of view.

    For what it’s worth what gets me about all these “buy, buy, buy bloggers” is the fact that they never ever acknowledge that the only reason the club has the money they want spent, in the first place, is because of the good management of Wenger and the board! These people have been asking Wenger to spend for as long as I can remember… often on players who’ve turned out to be worse than anyone at our club. How many people now recall the time when a whole load of Arsenal bloggers were lambasting Wenger for not spending 21m on Shaun wright-Philips? None of the loud mouths would admit it now but there was a period when you couldn’t help but notice the legion of Arsenal bloggers bigging up SWP. So if we’d blown that 21m (or even 12m) what would we have to spend on the latest sensation to tickle the bloggers fancy? Someone should gently point out to these “experts” that you can’t spend the same money twice!

    PS… I have to say that I love Paul C’s quality of argument. Top notch stuff. Made my day.

  96. I have no argument with the issue raised about there being risks involved in spending big money on players-players with big reputations etc. No player is going to be completely error free. What is not being identified here though are the current risks Arsenal run and the risk in doing nothing to address the teams defensive shortcomings, which you seem to be glossing over.

    I do not believe that Arsenal are “growing their own” in the same way that Barcelona are. Arsenal are spending big on teenagers-from anywhere they can get them. This has its own big risks-will they ever reach their potential?-are they being thrown in too early?.I have to say that we cant expect everyone to make it and signs are that some wont- and it has to be said that at Arsenal this appears to be a more effective strategy for offensive players than defenders.

    Arsene raised the issue of defending in big games as being a stumbling block to success at the end of last season. Does anyone think buying cheap French players who have never played at this level or in the physically demanding EPL not a risk? Are there youngsters coming through to able to resolve this issue ? Is the defensive problem resolved or improving?

    On recent evidence this season-neither. However the keeper situation may have improved- its certainly more promising-but lets see when the pressure is really on.

    The risks of doing nothing are now high. Those players we have nurtured will see Arsenal as a stepping stone-a finishing school and will move to a club where success is more likely-who pay their players more-a la Ashley Cole.

    I believe that adding one or two better defensive players is essential to beating the top 3 or 4 sides-if they cost big money-so be it-people do not want to lose their best players. No sane club would pay 24m for Gary Cahill- in the current financial climate in UK but he is certainly worth spending 15m on. There may be players who are worth 25m that can be bought that can improve the side.

    Arsenal as a football club is making a profit-contrary to what is argued by many of the regular contributors here will not be in any way compromised financially by making a couple of big signings-in the region of 50 m GBP plus salaries. The club- has made far more progress off the pitch than on it in recent years. It now has to invest further in its playing strength to maintain this momentum-or risk going backwards.

  97. I have never quite understood what makes Gary Cahill worth £15m. What has Gary Cahill actually done? If the guy is so good why did Capello play Matthew Upson ahead of him in the world Cup? In my humble opinion this Gary Cahill thing is based on two myths. The first is the one that says that players who have premiership experience are so much better than those who don’t when it comes to playing in the premiership. Now there’s a logic to that way of thinking but the problem is that it is very superficial logic. Man City bought a lot of very good players with premiership experience and a lot of them are not exactly setting the league on fire. Lescott cost 22m and doesn’t even start for them. Milner cost about 24m and he looks anything but worth what they paid for him. So why should Cahill at 15m produce a better result for Arsenal than Lescott produced for City? And it’s not English player with premier league experience that have failed to live up to the hype… it even the foreigner who have EPL experience… players like Adebayor and Berbatov.

    The second myth relates to supposed toughness, both mental and physical, of the English born player. The argument goes something like “English players may not have the same level of skill but they’ve got spunk”… except that evidence suggests that this myth is just a myth. The England national team has failed miserably for years now despite being filled with the sort of spunky characters that are supposed to guarantee winning. what other evidence do people need to understand that skill and intelligence as well as courage is what is needed in any good player irrespective of nationality.

    Gary Cahill is not worth 15m of Arsenal’s money. I can understand a call to sign a true world class player but Gary Cahill is no better than the players we’ve got that’s why he is at Bolton not Barcelona or Real. I honestly don’t see how it is rational to accuse Wenger of lacking ambition and then saying that we should sign Gary Cahill… where’s the ambition in that? The bottom line is that if Wenger signs Cahill it will be because he believes he can improve him… and Wenger won’t pay all £15m for a player of Cahill’s age just to improve him. We don’t need Cahill and most certainly not at £15m sterling.

  98. I might also add that some fans have been predicting that Arsenal will slide backwards for ages now. I remember at the start of last season how we were supposed to be the one’s that were fall out of the top 4, we ended up putting up a pretty convincing challenge despite a horrendous injury list that saw as many as 6 starters miss the 2nd leg of the Barca match. Although from reading the press you’d think that Barca slaughtered our 1st eleven when they were all playing at their peak! The only year when progress actually really stalled in last 5 years was the season we lost both Hleb and Flamini at the same time… every other season has seen some real progress albeit without a trophy.

    In terms of squad depth, confidence, maturity and real ability this team has taken a massive step forward… and in any event it is just not credible to suggest that spending 15m on Gary Cahill is going to stop Arsenal going backwards. He simply ain’t that good.

  99. If Arsenal win at Old Trafford we can go into other big games knowing that a draw will be enough to keep our rivals (Chavs and the other Mancs) at bay. If the lads didn’t have enough inspiration already, then Evra and Ji Sung Park (who gives us trash talk, and can’t be serious given that the fact he hardly plays) have added fuel to the fire that should be burning in our warriors’ (mainly Eboue’s) bellies.

    Tactics is what will win us the game tonight. We should play our offence to match to their defence, i.e. Theo Walcott should start the game on the left playing against a weaker defender than Evra, who would have a much harder time against Andrey Arshavin.

    Alex Song and Denilson, sit back and defend, If we have six attacking these two and our centre backs should not venture too far forward. In past games we have exposed on the counter, so let’s stick true to our away tactics and be ruthless and aggressive for the full 90 minutes.

    Also, someone explain why Djourou is not the first choice centre back out of the three we have fit. He has been immense and we need him to try and eliminate the aerial threat that Man United pose.

    Either way, maximum respect to the Arsenal away boys, who at every game (well that I’ve been to, at Everton and Wolves) have always been roaring in full voice. This might just be the difference that translates onto the team, so hopefully the home boys can match your desire and passion to sing in full force for the club.

    Monday is more vital than just three points, it’s the building block for December.

    If we lose this match, then United might just go five points ahead when they beat Blackpool. But if we win, then Chelsea will be sweating to beat us, and we can play on the break against them.

    A proud Gooner of 14 years, I don’t want to be moaning about the big games.

  100. united lost the title last season…did they go out and buy 6 players, like u suggest they would if we buy?

  101. Joshua
    So Gary Cahill being a quality defender is a myth is it? Try looking and analysing the players qualities. what do you need as a standard of evidence? Please advise. I’m not his agent but I have been impressed by his strength in the air, positioning, tackling and speed.
    Capello’s view- why would we respect that? The World Cup debacle illustrates his poor judgement about English players.
    There are no guarantees- if a manager cant organise a defence- it does not matter who you buy. I happen to think that Cahill could work well for Arsenal. But it is just an opinion.
    Then look and analyse our central defenders- both of whom have never played in the EPL prior to this season and it shows- in pretty much every game. So if Gary Cahill is a myth as you say- who isn’t- and Why? Its too easy to knock the opinions of others without offering a solution to a problem- and defending is a problem for Arsenal.

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