It is a well-known fact that we went through some tough times this season: the defeat against Norwich, a gutless defeat against FAnchester United, the devastating home defeats against Swansea and Schalke, a 3-3 draw against Fulham with Arteta’s missed penalty in the last seconds, and from this point of view a 0-0 draw at Villa Park against the team that conceded 15 goals in three consecutive matches against the Chavs, the Spuds and the Lattics may be considered as failure. Let us not forget the poor individual performances of the likes of Gervinho and Andre Santos
Ever since we had tasted the first disappointments of the season – two consecutive goal-less draws against Sunderland and Stoke – we have been hopeful of a January transfer window in which we will get more fire-power. After the first week, our hopes of getting additional an forward and a midfielder made of steel have been struck by the usual passive approach from our manager (you know, the one that, according to some people, knows best despite the fact he has led us to the last trophy when George Best was still alive). His announcement that we are going to look for “exceptional players” tells us that we shouldn’t dream about top signings in January.
The first blow came before the New Year when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar announced he is to sign new contract with Schalke. The Dutchman is one of the best finishers in the world at present, he has shown his striking abilities in both clashes against us this season but despite the fact he had a contract expiring in the summer, we didn’t press neither him nor Schalke enough to sign him.
Then we missed an opportunity to sign Demba Ba from Newcastle for a bargain 7 million pounds despite the fact we had witnessed his abilities only a couple of days before the transfer window had been opened – Ba scored a pick of goals at the Emirates against us. Not only that we missed to snatch him, we will have to watch him scoring goals for the Chavs. The explanation given by Arsene Wenger for not going for Senegalese striker is a bit odd – Wenger claims that he didn’t sign Ba because he already signed Giroud.
Even if we accept Wenger’s statement that Ba and Giroud are a similar type of player, it’s not exactly against the law to have two excellent strikers fighting for one spot. For instance, our next opponent in the Champions’ League Bayern Muenchen have three attackers that are fighting for only one spot in the attack while both Manchester clubs have four strikers at their disposal. Jose Mourinho usually sits next to the likes of either Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain despite the fact that both of them could walk into almost every starting 11 in the world.
Fernando Llorente has been linked with us ever since it was known his contract is going to expire in June 2013. However, it seems that Juventus are leading the chase for the Spaniard and he seems to be keen to join the Serie A leaders in June. If Wenger didn’t go for Ba due to his similarity to Giroud, it is very unlikely he is going to chase the Spain international despite the fact Llorente would hardly turn out to be Chamakh.
Wilfried Zaha is a highly rated youngster from Championship side Crystal Palace and he is an Arsenal fan. However, his reported price tag – 20 million pounds – seems to be too high for Arsenal spending habits and his manager Ian Holloway is very reluctant to sell the youngster in January to any of the interested clubs (Arsenal, FAnchester United, Spuds, Real Madrid). He would be an exciting signing that would fit in with international team-mates Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Wilshere, young English internationals with a lot of potential for attacking football. However, it seems that we pulled out of race to sign him due to his price tag.
David Villa is probably the biggest name that was linked with us regarding attacking options. The 31-year-old Barcelona striker hasn’t been enjoying the best campaign at Camp Nou but his employers are reluctant to sell him before thesummer and it seems Villa himself would rather stay in Spain until his third child is born. His signing would have a bit of Bergkamp in itself since Villa is still top-drawer striker, one of the best in the world, and he would make same impacts as Silva, Mata, Cazorla and Michu have made so far.
Ever since Patrick Vieira left us for Juventus we have suffered due to the lack of muscle in the middle of the park. The departure of Alex Song to Barcelona four months ago and the “three-week-injury” that hit Abou Diaby three months back made our problems even greater since we have been forced to play Mikel Arteta in the defensive midfielder position. Therefore, we have been linked with a lot of candidates that could ease our pain in that position and make the life of our creative sparks much easier.
Yann M’Vila, the talented but also controversial defensive midfielder from Stade Rennais, has been connected with us for a long time. It seems that the French side is ready to sell M’Vila for a much lower price (there are reports that Arsenal could get their man for 7 million pounds) than they were asking for in the summer but there are no offers from Arsenal…yet.
Lucas Biglia, an Argentinian from Belgian side Anderlecht, has been also connected with us as well as he was last summer. Rumours regarding Biglia are aplenty but it seems they are always the same which could mean there are no real interest from us.
James McCarthy, the Irish defensive midfielder from Wigan, is not a new man on that short-list. Wenger has been an admirer of the Irish midfielder for some time but the Irishman can hardly be regarded as an exceptional player.
There were some rumours regarding FAnchester United winger Nani and Dutch midfielders Kevin Strootman from PSV and Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan as well but it is highly unlikely we will sign any of those players – they would all be very expensive and/or with wages that are well off our wage-structure. If the signing of Villa would be a sort of Bergkamp signing in terms of signing a world-class striker that is currently struggling, acquiring Wesley Sneijder would be a bit of deja vu also – a creative Dutchman from Inter Milan that would make our creative options far stronger and the burden of creating that currently lies on the back of Santi Cazorla would be split.
Goalkeepers Begović, Casillas and Reina have been heavily linked with us but is very, very, very unlikely that any of those will sign for Arsenal.
In my opinion, Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini would be the best signing. He has been arguably the best player of the Premiership so far, a driving force that has made Everton a Top 4 contender, a real dominator at both ends of the pitch. However, just like his team-mate Leighton Baines that was mentioned in terms of our left back-problems, it is highly unlikely we are going to sign him since English clubs that have more money for fees and wages are also reported to be interested in these two players. Speaking of left backs, rumours of Luke Shaw have been pretty quiet these days.
So far, we have been satisfied only when we look at who has left Arsenal so far. Djourou has been loaned to Hannover 96, Chamakh loaned to West Ham United and it seems Squillaci and Arshavin could be on their way out as well.
With unofficial reports that certain a agreement between contract rebel Theo Walcott and Arsenal has been reached and the return of Abou Diaby to fitness, we should be prepared for Wenger’s “Theo Walcott signing a new contract and the return of Abou Diaby are like two new signings”-and it would be funny if he added: “And offloading Chamakh is like a new signing as well.”
What I want to say is – everyone with a IQ higher than room temperature in Celsius have realized that we need at least two new players, but it is highly possible that we will wake up on February 1st with exactly the same squad we have right now.