Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Summer Signing Season Already Has Begun at Arsenal

Reports out of Germany are that German-international striker Lukas Podolski will join the Gunners this summer for a fee of around 13 million Euros (see here). If true, this is the first signing of what should be a very busy summer for Arsenal. Of course, the most important signing of the summer by far should be Robin van Persie, who is out of contract in 2013. The Gunners desperately need to secure his services with a new long-term contract. Podolski should replace the ineffective Marouane Chamakh.

Other hoped for Arsenal signings this summer include Belgium-international Eden Hazard to strengthen the midfield. His addition, along with the expected return from injury of Jack Wilshire, should give Gunners fans great confidence, especially if Tomas Rosicky remains in North London, stays healthy, and maintains his great recent form. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, and Alex Song, plus improving youngsters like Emmanuel Frimpong and Fracis Coquelin, Arsenal should have plenty of midfield strength in depth, although defensive midfield, behind Song, requires some back-up (unless Ramsey or Frimpong or the oft-injured Abu Diaby can slot into that role).

I did not mention Theo Walcott as an Arsenal midfielder in part because he seems to play more like a striker than a midfielder. Anyway, if I were Arsene Wenger, I'd be looking at this point to cash in on a player who, while still reasonably young, has never really fulfilled his potential and seems unlikely to at this point. The average quality of his game has improved, but not enough. He remains highly inconsistent, his passing is erratic, and he simply doesn't score as many goals as he should. Oxlade-Chamberlain has all of Walcott's speed but also greater strength, vision, and footballing nous. Next season, he should take Walcott's place in Arsenal's starting 11, with Podolski on the other wing.

Arsenal have a few solid central defenders, but injuries have plagued them all season. Rumor has it that the Gunners are aiming at 24-year-old Belgium-international defender Jan Vertonghen, who currently plies his trade at Ajax. He could line up next to his compatriot Thomas Vermalen in the center of defense (minimizing any communication problems). Vertonghen could also slot into defensive midfield, which as noted above is another Arsenal need. Vertonghen's arrival would push Per Mertesacker to the bench, giving the Gunners more strength in depth at that position. And it would allow the Gunners to dispose of both Johann Djourou and Sebastian Squillace, who have always been weak links in the back line. What it would mean for the much improved Laurent Kosckielny is more difficult to say. Koscielny has excellent speed, so perhaps could be pushed out to a fullback position, where the Gunners also need some help. In any case, having four quality central defenders would be a great problem to have.

The fullback position remains problematic, aside from the generally excellent Bacary Sagna (who is sometimes caught out of position but has the speed to make it up). Of the current squad of Kieran Gibbs, Andre Santos, and Carl Jenkinson, Santos seems to have the most promise (at least moving up on the attack), while Gibbs and Jenkinson have the makings of solid defenders. But all have been out injured for much of this season. Arsenal must not be caught shorthanded in that position again next season.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I actively moderate comments for spam, advertisements, and abusive or offensive language.