Well that was unexpected, if you had told anyone after that Villa game that Arsenal would be top of the league after half the season had passed, well no one would have believed you. But actually it should have been expected, since the start of our "negative spiral" at white heart lane we've been actually quite good, we should have expected Arsenal to continue from where we left off, but recent history made most of us a little pessimistic with all things Arsenal.
Anyway to sum up the first half of the season, we've been good, actually as the table shows we've been the best team in the league. We've played some beautiful football, scored some orgasmic goals, played some gritty football and scored some scruffy goals. Granted we've had some wobbles along the way ( & two debacles) but generally we should all be quite pleased.
A few words for our defence; Amazing, solid, organized and reassuring. I actually had forgotten what it felt like watching Arsenal play and not thinking we'll concede with every set-piece. Nowadays I'm almost certain we won't see a flappy keeper or that look of bewilderment our defenders used to get every time a ball comes bouncing into our penalty box. I'm liking it a lot and it may have extended my life expectancy greatly.
Credit must also go to our midfielders who have mostly been great, scoring and been defensively good as well. All this and we haven't yet seen the best of Cazorla and Wilshere. And without the injured Diaby...ahem. I'll give special mention to Theo because he still gets a lot of stick for being passive and generally rubbish in his build up play. For me he's the best finisher at the club excluding this season's Ramsey,I would say his finishing is even better than Ozil's, if a chance falls to one of our players in a tight game, I have more faith in Theo than many of our players to score that chance. I know what I'm about to say might sound stupid, but people would always say when talking about the likes of Inzaghi that although they remained quiet for 89 minutes and 30 seconds in a game, they would score two goals in the remaining 30 seconds, lets think of Walcott this way and get off his back.
Our striker(s), well Giroud does look knackered, doesn't he? He wasn't a pacey runner to begin with, now he looks like he's running with ski boots on the white sandy shores of the Bahamas. And who could blame him really, our lack of strikers meant that he's had to play almost every single minute of our season (Some would say that Per has also and doesn't look half as tired as Giroud). I'm really glad he scored yesterday, most fans were getting on his back a bit with his goal drought. I kinda sympathize with him but also I understand the frustration of the fans. The problem with Giroud is not that he had this drought period, but that during that time and last season as well he missed some fairly easy chances, chances that had he extended his leg more, played to the whistle or not tried a flashy shot would have otherwise gone in. The problem with those easy chances (apart from the obvious not scoring bit) is that it deflates the team a bit and gives the opposition an extra boost, kind of like when a team has a penalty saved, subconsciously players that thought they were dead and buried feel they've been handed a lifeline. Personally I think he's been really good for the team, his aerial distribution is quite simply amazing but we do need another striker to get the best out of him.
We do need another striker, Wenger knows we need another striker and I think if we want to make our life easier in the hunt for the premier league, we have to buy one. The problem is there aren't many "Top Top" strikers available really. Think about it, Suarez is obviously not for sale, and the summer's "non clause" fiasco made them renew his contract which now surely has that clause but for at least 70 million, last summer favourites, Benteke is suffering a "Demba Ba" season, Julian Draxler just like I was saying when we were linked with Jovetic, isn't a striker. I would be very surprised if Diego Costa left high flying Athletico at the moment, especially after deciding to play for Spain instead of Brazil, he would want to guarantee his place in the Spain team ahead Negredo ( that is if they actually decide to play with a striker). Cavani and Falcao will not be leaving their respective clubs so soon after moving there, even after France approved the 75% tax law.
Hearing about that law got me thinking that most probably a lot of players will decide to leave the french league kind of like the french actor Gerard Depardieu who left the country for Belgium and applied for a russian citizenship. So I decided to see if they had any good strikers we could take ( the new Gervinhio maybe?). One name kept popping in my head over and over again. He's experienced enough, on the wrong side of thirty, has amazing strength, sublime skill and an eye for the outrageous. He's as narcissistic and arrogant as Nikky B but with talent to justify it. He's one of a very few (Only?) players to win the Dutch, Italian, Spanish & French leagues, & I would hope he'd want to add the Premier league to that already impressive list. He once said in what I would imagine an incredible hulk voice " Zlatan not do football triaaaal" before storming out of London Colney in a fit of rage.
I know, I know I'm delusional but hear me out. Wenger has always said he admired his talent, he would be immense against league defenders, he'll do to Terry what Drogba did to us, I'd like to see Tiote stamp on his boots. Adding a Premier League title would surely entice him as his one last chance. As for wages, he currently is on 300k euros a week, which is around 260k GBP which is a lot but that salary is pre-tax, so if you factor in 75% tax you get 65k a week, that's what Diaby is currently on, plus we could offer him wages of more that 100k a week. as for price, well he just turned 32 so I can't imagine it being more than 20M. There are a number of stumbling blocks obviously, will he even want to come, also I can't remember if we ever signed a player from PSG despite signing many from Ligue 1 so there might be something there.
So what do you think? Am I just delusional? would he be an amazing addition to the squad? is he past it? will we even buy a striker? will Sanogo get fit?
Mean Lean's Response
Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Wishful thinking there buddy.
A 27 year old Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be the exact type of striker for our system. Incredibly talented, scores goals has the strength to hold the ball and the ability to bring others into play but that ship has long since passed. PSG don't need money so £20m, £30m or £40m doesn't make a blind bit of difference to them. Arsène would also not pay the sort of crazy money for a player who is almost certainly on the way down rather than someone like Özil who at 24 will improve and also have sell on value if need be.
The striking situation is certainly very interesting. We know that we need another forward, especially if Nicklas Bendtner has his heart set on a move away, I am interested to know what type of player Arsène is looking at. I hope it is someone with speed and mobility who is also able to play back to goal, hold off a challenge and flick the ball through to Walcott darting behind him. Easy to write that down but I'd imagine far more difficult to find that player and buy him in reality. But that is the job of the scouts that we have employed at the club. Many Gooners are looking for big names or well known names but we don't have to sign a big name to bring in quality. If a player playing for a midtable Dutch side has the required attributes that Arsène Wenger has asked for then there is probably far more chance of us buying him than there is of us buying Costa for example.
But what I am sure won't happen is that we buy a striker that doesn't fit us just for the sake of buying another striker.
As for the first half of the season, thumbs up so far. We are beating teams that the other big clubs have slipped up against so that has balanced out our record against our rivals. There is a long way to go and the most pleasing thing for me is that a lot of players have yet to come into any form so far this season. Podolski, Walcott, Cazorla, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson and others are yet to either have a run in the team or find their best form so hopefully that will happen from now until May. At the same time we need our core players continuing to play at the high levels that they have shown so far.
Fingers crossed. Well done Arsenal, the best team of 2013. Keep that up in 2014 and a trophy or two may well end up at our place for the first time since 2005.