Sunday, February 19, 2012

What Took Them So Long?

Finally, today, at the end of a week in which Arsenal fell out of both the FA Cup and the Champion's League (technically, they are still in that later competition but only with a vanishingly small chance of surviving), reports are emerging (e.g., here). that Arsenal's board has approved big spending for the summer in a bid to keep Robin van Persie, a few other current players, and some new, experienced, and world-class talent, including Belgian play-maker Eden Hazard, who recently reiterated his interest in joining the squad.

A couple of outstanding questions:

(1) Have they already waited too long to rebuild the team around RvP, who has already been tempted by siren songs from Madrid? For van Persie, it won't just be about getting paid; he's a winner who wants to play for a winning side. If Arsenal cannot provide sufficient assurances, then they can say adios to their one truly world-class player.

(2) Will the Gunners seek to just fill a few holes, pretending that the team is closer than it really is to being truly competitive, or will they finally clean house, as many of us outsiders believe is necessary? Among the existing squad, players who deserve to be kept include Wilshire, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Szczesny, Gervinho, Song, Vermaelen, Koscielny,  and Arteta, along with some of the kids with promise like Coquelin,  Gibbs, Jenkinson, and Frimpong. Needless to say, not all of these players should be in the starting 11 next season; some of them should make way for new players to be brought in, especially to shore up the defense and midfield. Arsenal require not only new starters, but more strength in depth.

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