I was feeling really relaxed about the possibility of signing new players this summer. My stance was going to be a case of allowing the boss to work his magic, now that our revenues have increased no end as the Puma cash kicks in this summer. The manager knows what we need so just sit back enjoy the world cup and see what happens.
This was all going swimmingly at the start. Aurier, Balotelli, Griezmann, Cesc and so on. Whatever Trevor, we'll buy the players we need no need to fret about it.
Well you see, this was the case until Arsenal and Alexis Sanchez were thrown into the mix. Boxes started getting ticked and given Barcelona's interest in the arm muncher along with the reported clear out at Camp Nou, two and two started to look like a rather hazy four.
But a player like Sanchez doesn't get snapped up easily without a fight unless you are PSG last season and blow everyone out of the water nice and early like they did with Cavani. If you don't have enough to double transfer fee and wages then you have to go the old fashioned route of trying to impress and convince the player with your vision and footballing plans, something I think many Wenger denigrators fail to appreciate when it comes to swaying big players.
Clearly Arsenal FC and London are big pulls, not to mention the fact that we can now compete with most non oil rich clubs in the wage department but keep all the same and swap Arsene Wenger with a bog standard manager and Mesut Özil for example would be plying his trade elsewhere today.
Anyway back to Sanchez once more. Nothing has been confirmed as yet, it appears as if we are in pole position, I'm not sure what the percentages are of a late hijacking but I wanted to have a look at how Arsene might want to use someone like Sanchez.
Firstly I only really started watching him after his move to Barcelona. I had heard of him at Udinese and knew he was one of their better players. Barcelona went for him pretty hard and forked out a lot of money to land him. I thought he was pretty much exclusively a wide player. A stocky, skilful player who could assist and score goals so that impression of him was pretty much fixed in my mind. What I didn't realise was that his move to Barcelona meant that he had lost some of his freedom, the freedom that he had at Udinese and his country Chile.
It was only when I watched some games from the Chileans that I noticed his more central role brought out a set of skills that I didn't know he possessed. This more polished Oxlade-Chamberlain was now morphing into Cesc Fabregas and Dennis Bergkamp.
I cut up just a couple of examples for you.
His ability to spin off a marker and slide through passes to runners is exceptional. Whether it is a chipped pass, side footer or outside of the foot his weight of pass is that of a number 10. How many number 10s do you know that has the ability to play as a speedy goal scoring wide player? Not many at all.
Going back a few years the likes of Gervinho and Theo have been given the odd game as a centre forward in the Arsenal first team. Neither of those players have the ability to drop in the hole and pick out a team mate, even Giroud who is wonderful at assisting by neat flicks does not have the feet to drop off the front and make a key pass.
We haven't had that since van Persie left the club and indeed Thierry Henry before him. Before our change to 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 we had Dennis Bergkamp who was the master of producing that type of end product.
Arsene has said publicly that he wants a forward who can play with Giroud or without him so that being the case, it may be safe to presume that Alexis Sanchez could play as our central striker because I certainly do not envisage us buying Sanchez as well as a centre forward do you? Realistically no. So I am wondering what Arsene's main plans are for the Chilean international (assuming we actually buy him)
Will Oliver Giroud continue to be our long term striker? He has continued to improve since he joined the club and I have no doubt that he missed Walcott and Ramsey at the end of last season. Alexis Sanchez can replace Theo on the right as our speedy Englishman is set to miss the early part of the campaign so fitting him into the team will not be a problem but Arsene as he does every season will have looked at what went wrong for us. He has already highlighted our attacking output compared to Liverpool and Manchester City so who knows if he wants to change the way we play.
If he does want to change the style of our game then I wonder if Alexis Sanchez could become our new centre forward. He has the pace to spin off his man and latch onto through passes from Özil/Ramsey and Cazorla. This video shows how good he is at doing this
We've missed this consistently since Adebayor left the club and obviously Thierry Henry before him. But like I've said earlier in the piece, unlike many wide players, he is more than capable of dropping into the hole perhaps when Mesut Özil has pulled out to the right as he tends to do and who can you see making that run into the space vacated by Sanchez? The guy who started in the position that Özil is now filling. Yes that would be (eventually) Theo Walcott who was our top scorer two seasons ago by making those runs.
The Walcott, Özil, Sanchez combo is almost like a circle of goals. Ciroals or Goacle. Something like that anyway. Don't get me wrong, I love the work that Giroud puts in, a lot of it unnoticed or under appreciated but that trio in our attacking game makes me warm and fuzzy inside. On the left you could either choose to have the nimble footed Cazorla who can drift inside and give us extra ball retention or creativity in our passing or you could go with the Ox who I expect to become a first team player at some point almost regardless of who we buy. Like Sanchez he has the rare gift to be able to become an extra midfielder when trying to win midfield battles from the left or he can skip past defenders and make things happen something that Cazorla is not able to do.
Whatever the case may be if we require Sanchez's services (looking good at the time of writing) then we will bring some much needed pace and goals to our attack.
I for one am feeling rather excited.