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Written by Mean Lean on Friday, 01 February 2013 13:31

Whoop there it is, the transfer window has been locked and bolted until the summer, angry supporters around the world are squeezed behind the window banging away furiously, red faced and snot dripping down mouths. No longer throwing money for tickets to see Arsenal live.

Arsenal have signed a new left back which coincides with the news that Kieran Gibbs is facing 6 weeks out due to bruck up thigh syndrome or something. I will restrain from doing Nacho jokes, they have been done to death already and it is worse when you turn up late with a blog only to repeat them over again. Mr Monreal sounds a little like the Santi Cazorla of left backs, same club, in the Spanish squad but just beneath the first team and has all the qualities to combine Spanish flair and English grit. I haven't seen anything of the fella mind you, just going on those who have watched him or at least some who claim to have watched him.

This is an interesting type of signing I must say, a player of this supposed caliber would be perhaps better spent on another area but injury has sort of forced this upon the manager. Kieran Gibbs has been our most consistent player of the season to date, he has been wonderful for us but once again injury has struck him down, it is even more of a shame given that the England squads have been announced. Would have been great for him to have been included alongside Wilshere, Chamberlain and Walcott.

While I hope Monreal can do all the defensive fundamentals which should be standard procedure for erm a defender, I am more interested and hopeful of his attacking play. The way we set up and attack, our full backs are often left unmarked in good positions, absolutely perfect for hitting the ball into the first defender or crossing high over everyone's head.

I am hoping that our new boy has more Lukas Podolski than Gael Clichy about his delivery.

I had remembered writing something post January window last season called 'The Facts And Opinions Of Arsenal's January Business' and the symmetry from last season to this is quite striking. We were 7th in the table, in need of improvement, but yet there was only the arrival of Thomas Eisfeld from the Dortmund youth academy. What was also very similar was the lack of movement from those around us and once again I ask myself why?

As Arsenal supporters it is easy to focus and concentrate on our own struggles and concerns but without trying to sound like last years broken record why didn't Tottenham buy another striker when they were rejected for their first target? Why did Manchester City sell Mario Balotelli and not replace with a Falcao or Cavani? Given that mega rich Chelsea are way off the pace why haven't they bought world class additions?

I am sure all of these clubs including our own will have wanted to be stronger at this stage, I mean that has got to be obvious surely. 'Arsene, given that you are 6th in the table and chasing at least a top 4 finish, would you like to be stronger for the next few months?' In what strange warped world, would you expect the manager to say 'No thanks, I would rather be not as good, cheers for asking.'

Oh goodness, I can hear the responses. 'You're just making excuses for the manager and the board' can I answer that before you say so. I am trying to remove all the nonsense and look at it objectively.

Many managers have said that buying in January is a nightmare, that clubs do not want to sell their best players, that you have to pay way over the odds for players who are cheaper and more readily available in the summer.

What I will say is that Arsene and/or indeed the club remind me of my late nan bless her. She would send me to go to the shop for her ask me to buy bread, butter, milk and orange juice and then give me a £1 coin to do so. Her valuation of things was a little different to most. So given that is the way we usually operate, it is unlikely that we are going to force a club to sell a player that they need midway through the season.

We are the typical bargain hunters, looking for the buy one get one free offers. Another point I have mentioned recently about Arsene's way of business is that he is never in a hurry to build a squad. You look at someone like good ol 'arry and he cannot wait to cobble together a team, even if it means paying Chris Samba £100k a week, WTF?! So whatever is on the market, Harry will turn up at the doorstep wheeling and dealing. Yes Harry, I called you a wheeler dealer. Arsene doesn't work that way.

When the competition was nowhere near as fierce as it is today and it was us and United in the top two, we were called the bridesmaids for years of finishing second. But Arsene would take his time waiting for the right character, the right price and the right ability before adding to his squad. It took from 1997/98 to 2001/2002 to rebuild the team in much different circumstances to today.  In hindsight I am sure we would have wanted Arsene to go out the next summer and make all the deals required to win the league the following season, it just doesn't work that way. Well not unless you are Manchester City, PSG or Chelsea.

Personally I think we are lacking in some key areas of the squad, those are obvious. The manager is certainly not blind to those weak areas. After my made up recent blogging PHD on our manager, my guess is that he only wants the players who he has targeted and not necessarily what is on the market at the time. We could say 'what about player x, he would have strengthened us or he is better than player y that we have' in your opinion or perhaps even mine, you could be right but it is a little like someone telling you to try this sandwich that they think is lovely but you think it is disgusting. They offer and you say 'No thanks, don't really like that' but they insist and say 'No, no it's lovely, just have a taste of it, you'd like it'

You: 'Erm.. seriously, I hate it'
Them: 'But no, this is really yummy'
You: *WHACK*

I really hate when people do that, as if we all have the exact same taste buds. Maybe just maybe the manager isn't so keen on Loric Cana as our holding player, maybe the manager views the player differently or perhaps his attitude is poor, or perhaps his breath is seriously hanging. So much so that Mikel Arteta begged Arsene not to sign him because there are no windows in the dressing room.

The reality is this, we are going through some insane amounts of changes in the space of two years.


Are two Arsenal years old at the most, that is a lot of change. QPR aside, can you think of many teams undergoing so much change? Previously Arsene Wenger has made that amount of change gradually over a number of years and it has enabled better continuity.

But it's been 8 years without a trophy, how can you ask for more patience? Well because that is what is takes for most teams to form a team rather than just acting like a team.

Unfortunately our previous squad (Cesc, Nasri, van Persie, Clichy etc) did not stick it out, from being way off the pace in 2009 (after yet another squad fell apart) we had to build another side that came bloody close. The Theo van Nasrigas team would have been up there today had they stuck it out. Losing players has been our Kryptonite, hopefully today in 2013 new sponsorship deals along with new contracts may mean that the Kryptonite has been slung into the sea and we can pull our shirt off revealing super Arsenal once more.

Maybe this is all fanciful and wishful thinking but I honestly believe we have a plan in place here and this is not the finished article that you are seeing just yet. While we have spent the season pulling out our hair for either not creating chances or later conceding comedy goals, my hope is that we are seeing the teething problems.

My hope is for us to finish fourth and then build in the summer without losing our best players and captain for once. I cannot remember the last time that happened. Yes, Bacary Sagna could be heading towards the end of his Arsenal career but I get the impression that his upward curve has changed shape and as good as he is, I think his position isn't as key as previous departures. Needless to say, I would love to remain at the club but given his comments since the summer, it looks unlikely me thinks.

I wanted a striker to join the club and we were going for David Villa but Barcelona being Barcelona made us unhappy which they tend to do. We have to make do until the summer regardless of where we finish in the table.

Disagree away, I expect many to do so which is just swell but just don't be John Terry about it. John Terry will get deleted. I would much rather just experience football live.

Anyhoo, enough of that for today.

Back tomorrow

Comments (4)

  • Gooner jack  - FFS
    Brilliant article! It's nice to read something that's not hysterical or pointlessly pessimistic.
  • paspartu
    loric cana? ...seriously, who wants to bring that player to arsenal? :P :P

    sagna ,,is perhaps the only name i would print on the back of an arsenal jersey... warrior.... he wont go, arsene will sort him out.
  • 'desi'gner gooner  - continuity indeed key for the way we play....
    Top stuff ML as usual, although to be really honest - haven't been reading the blog too much lately because of my hectic work schedule in the past few weeks....But its always refreshing to catch up on articles by you....

    If I remember correctly, it was the west ham away game where gibbs got injured, after which players went away on international duty and came back the team had lost all its mojo. I remember writing at that time that the absence of Gibbs had a lot to do with it because as soon as he got injured - Podolski seemed like a toothless player for a good half a dozen games!!! That period also coincided with the manager giving theo the rough end of the stick by not starting him and going with the ox on the right hand side and gervinho in the middle.
    Last season - the dutch cunt was phenomenal for us but it was the theo-sagna axis that was feeding him great balls and also propping up with goals themselves....This season it was the Gibbs-Poldi axis that was forming the lethal partnership, with the two of them forming interesting and penetrating combinations along with either Cazorla or Wilshere from the midfield. That sudden inexplicable drop off form had a lot to do with Gibbs and therefore I am not at all surprised that we moved in for Nacho as swiftly as we did. Wenger it seems has established that the left flank is going to be our main wing threat - now with theo almost everytime drifting into central areas - virtually making it two strikers up top. That puts tremendous pressure on Sagna to do all the defensive work alone on the right flank and the player at left back needs to good offensively as well as defensively to do a proper job. Santos unfortunately has a very strange defensive technique and it became impossible for us to rely on him to do that role on the left side and thus arrived Nacho. I wouldnt at all be surprised if Santos was deployed as a winger in the absence of Podolski though. He is a very good player going forward and could contribute to this squad still. In my humble opinion - Nacho could be a vital signing simply because it ensures a continuity in our style of play this season and further. Also we needed a good crosser because that brings Giroud into play even more....

    Speaking of continuity - a passing-moving team like ours definitely needs more continuity to get its game flowing. I remember when Wilshere returned from injury - he expressed how it was strange that the last time he was playing for us - he had Cesc, Nasri & Song for company and now all of a sudden it was Arteta and Santi!!! The entire spine of our team has changed in a matter of two seasons. The fringe players are the ones where the movement will happen in terms of strengthening over the summer. It is no co-incidence that Wenger has been averse to rotation over last season and even this season unless his hand is forced by injuries. Continuity is required for us with so many new players to get our rhythm going and secondly the fringe players aren't as good as the ones selected week in week out for the first eleven. Part of it also due to our youth policy and it is only natural that for a big big game a fit Arteta would walk in to the first eleven ahead of the young Ramsey....But that young crop of players have got a decent number of games over the last season and this one and now we should see the fruits of our youth policy especially now after having secured long term contracts with most of them . Plus youth like Eisfeld, Gnabry, Miquel etc make the prospect of a very strong Arsenal squad in about a year's time. As ML pointed out if David Villa is the kind of player we were after and if the quality of Nacho is what we are looking to add over the summer to replace players like Chamakh, Arshavin, Squillaci, Bendtner etc then it really bodes well for the future.

    Re-building a team from its essential core is a damn difficult task. To do it while continuing a certain style of playing is even more difficult. Arsene unfortunately seems to have to do over and over again every two years but may be this time he won't have to.....may be the young english lads who have just committed their future to the club will be first ones in 8 long years to lay hands on silverware....and if it does happen - it will be the first of many for these lads. Cause I am damn sure once these guys taste blood there will be no stopping them...Untill then lets keep the faith in Arsene cause once again, he might not be far from it...COYG
  • richie
    @ML yet another piece of top top analysis from your good self! Of course this is a team being rebuilt - Arsene wants a striker. Well yes but I want another proper CD /CH (Sol type) and I want another DM - Having sorted out our immediate weak spot I think we are only 2 or 3 short of a Potential Prem winning team. I want an athletic CD like Ogbonna. (I had hoped Bartley was gonna be the player we needed) Next a powerful DM like Capou, after that another striker would be a bonus. A nice little run now would be really great because neither the spuds nor chav's are playing well and if we close in on 4th it'll be squeaky bum time for the tiny totts. Summers TW is where we must bring in at least 2 so I hope they’ve been I.D’ed. already. We ain’t far from 4th and this team ain’t but a 2 or 3 short of a full house.
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