The end of the season is looming. It may not feel like it but we have indeed come closer this year than in the last few seasons. Entering the penultimate weekend we are only 7 points off the top. Even with the Cup Final to play attention is already turning to the summer and how the squad will be strengthened.
Bear in mind Ramsey, Wilshere, Özil, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott have all missed considerable periods this season and we’re probably only 2/3 players away from a proper shot at the title.
In light of all this, the manager – who looks certain to be staying – has given the press a few sentences for something to mull over:
“It will be busy, but the main thing for us will be to keep stability because we feel we are close.”
Sounds about right to me? Cue Gooner hysteria. If there’s something Twitter will never lack, it is reactionary outbursts from Arsenal fans.
I think the nod to stability is a hint to our recent past. We are no longer in a position where we have to sell players, and with that quote in mind I wouldn’t rule out that the club are trying hard to keep Bacary Sagna. The only player certain to leave at this point is our reserve goalkeeper.
Thomas Vermaelen has also said very little about his future – yet we all assume (myself included) that he’ll be off this summer. It isn’t unreasonable to suggest at least one may stay at the club (Sagna, of course, covers two positions) and a signing won’t need to be made to replace them.
Similarly, a few weeks back I thought Lukas Podolski was on his way – but the he’s playing now and I would be surprised to see him sold (Wenger often freezes players out before they leave – see Wiltord, Edu, and Gervinho just last season.) I’m not Podolski’s biggest fan but he does score goals and provides an option on the left, and arguably up front, though not in my view.
Stability means keeping the squad together, and if we can do that we really aren’t far away. And what about incomings?
“We want to add something that makes us even stronger. But number wise it will not be massive.”
Quality over quantity? Sounds about right to me.
Last summer Wenger courted (and bid for) Lars Bender, Luis Gustavo, Gonzalo Higuain, and Luis Suarez. I think it would be insulting to suggest he has suddenly forgotten that our options in central midfield and up front need attention. I don’t expect players of the quality of Özil or Suarez to be targeted again, but I presume we will prioritise signing players in those positions.
Let’s not wait for Javi Martinez and Edinson Cavani to be rock up in N5 come August – we can all agree that (surely) isn’t happening. But Lars Bender? Perhaps (Bayer Leverkusen are in their own fight for fourth place at he minute.)
Personally I expect someone like Bender or Schneiderlin, a young centre-half if Vermaelen goes (2 pennies worth – Fabian Schär of Basel is tidy) and a striker, possibly just a prospect like Josip Drmic (Lotthar Matthäus believes it’s a dreaded ‘done deal’) or someone similar.
A sub ‘keeper*, a young centre-half, Sagna renewing, Bender/Schneiderlin, Drmic* would be an acceptable summer for me. Not that I wouldn’t say no to Cavani. Throw in Griezmann and if we were to pull that off I’d be one happy Gooner.
Maybe this is the same old sorry song, I have my head buried in the sand, and the summer will be agonising and disappointing. Then again, it’s not out of the question that some should put down the alcohol and stop being so sorrowful about transfer windows that haven’t happened.
Anyway, there are still a few important things before then.
We’re the famous Arsenal and we’re going to Wembley!
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