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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Get it done before January

Zaha: If he's on the list then get him in

This is the last piece I'll be writing with my unreliable TalkTalk broadband connection. From tomorrow I'll be using Sky for my internet connection and hoping for a bit more of a consistent speed. The fact that Sky are providing a years worth of unlimited access for free makes it a bit of a no brainer.
We're currently in a bit of a limbo in terms of things going on at Arsenal. The Champions League stuff has been dealt with and there's still twenty-four hours before we can really start looking forward to the West Brom game on Saturday. That being the case I thought I'd talk contracts and transfers.
I see that Bacary Sagna has apparently felt insulted by Arsenal's offer of a one-year extension to his current deal and now expects to leave in 2013. I believe that the extension would take him to 32 years-old. Considering that he has not had the best of injury records this past couple of years (remember he missed the start of last season even before he suffered two broken legs) I think it's a fair proposition from the Club. I certainly welcome this policy as opposed to the one that has seen Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky get massive extensions to deals despite missing around 80% of matches over the last four or five years. I suppose having seen such contracts Sagna is a bit piqued at being offered only a year extra, but if it means Arsenal are finally realising the error of their ways then I'm all for it. If Sagna wants to leave then that's fine, he's been an excellent servant to the Club. But, by the same token, if he doesn't want to sign a deal then he becomes the back up to Carl Jenkinson as far as I'm concerned.
We can be fairly certain now that Theo Walcott is also on his way out of Arsenal. I believe this has been the intention all along with his advisers playing the long game. They demanded a wage they knew Arsenal wouldn't pay for a player who has not realised his potential to date, and they also knew that there will be no shortage of offers from elsewhere which, in the absence of a transfer fee, will see Walcott being paid at least what they wanted from Arsenal. I don't think the player is too complicit in this one. Walcott is a level-headed boy and I think he genuinely wants to play for Arsenal. He knows he would be a nobody without the exceptional faith shown in him by Arsene Wenger. To his credit he has forced his way in to the side this season with a series of good displays. It will be ironic that, at the end of what looks like being his best season at Arsenal, he will be off to pastures new. Wenger set a deadline of Christmas for it to be sorted. If it isn't then it should be goodbye Theo, and thanks.
That being the case it is important that we get business done this January. It is all too obvious that this squad of Arsenal players is seriously lacking in quality. A couple of signings will not solve that, but it might just get us back on track for this season before a proper transfer window is conducted in the Summer. If Walcott doesn't sign, and we are genuinely interested in the Arsenal supporting Wilfried Zaha, then we must get the deal done. I don't care that Ian Holloway says Zaha is not for sale at any price and all that old nonsense. I don't care that Ian Holloway is angry with Arsene Wenger for answering a question about Zaha maybe coming to Arsenal. While we must treat other Club's with a certain respect the fact is that Crystal Palace are a small Club with no money and we should be going all out for the player if we really want him. And things shouldn't be strung out until January 31st either.
I was dismayed when I heard Arsene say that he will see where we are on January 1st before deciding on transfers. I can tell him now that we will be in a position, whatever results we get over Christmas, where Diaby and Rosicky and Wilshere are either being nursed back to fitness or injured. We will be in a position where Mikel Arteta is over-worked in a position to which he is not suited. We will be in a position where he has only one striker he has any faith in whatsoever. We will be in a position where we have a motor-mouth goalkeeper who is not as good as he thinks and needs the genuine competition of a quality back-up alternative to keep him on his toes. In short we need at least four players, plus Thierry Henry's morale boosting return for 6 weeks.
We're strongly linked with a move for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in January. I'd be surprised if it happened and I'm not sure how he'd fit in to the way we play. Huntelaar is a finisher, a poacher, a genuine goalscorer. What he is not is a World-Class footballer like his arch-enemy Robin Van Persie. Huntelaar is on the end of things, but in a side that doesn't play balls beyond the opposition centre-halves I don't see where he would be much use to us. That said, if he did come it might just mean a change in ethos out on the pitch. Get him the chance and he will score, there is little doubt about that.
As I said above, Mikel Arteta is overworked in the position he is playing. When all is said and done he is not a defensive midfield player. We have never really replaced Gilberto Silva. Alex Song did a decent job in there, but spent too much time going forward to be truly as effective as Gilberto. In the Summer we were supposed to have all but signed Yann M'Vila before he upset everyone in France with some weird behaviour. Personally I wouldn't mind us signing a bit of a nutter to play in midfield and protect the back four. So what if he has personality defects? It's the Manager's job to deal with things like that. If we did bring in a proper defensive midfield player then Arteta could get back to playing higher up the pitch, or supporting that player, rather than being the main man protecting the creaking defence. It would give us the options of Wilshere, Cazorla, Arteta, Rosicky etc in midfield before we got anywhere near to Aaron Ramsey being forced in to action.
All of this will cost money, but if it's the price of success then so be it. The sale of people like Santos and Arshavin and Chamakh, even if it means flogging them on the cheap and getting their wages off the books, will bring money in. For too long we've been shopping at Lidl, but paying Harrods wages. It's time to get ourselves down to Waitrose and start signing some real players. And we should get it all done in time for the start of January. If we wait until the end of the sales, for the bargain bucket prices, we will get crap players again and we will be so far behind in the Premier League that we will not recover this time around.

There is no blog tomorrow, despite my new internet connection, as it's the works Christmas do and I intend to be in the pub from lunchtime. My hangover on Saturday will probably dictate my presence at the game against West Brom. Hopefully, I'll be able to post a match review at some time on Saturday night. Here's to a confidence boosting win.

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