Evening all. Thanks to the joys of pre-season football, there's some actual news to write about today. First of which is of course our successful Emirates Cup campaign this weekend. And as nice as it was to see the team lift some silverware, I'm finding it quite hard to be optimistic over our chances of adding another bauble to the trophy cabinet this season. Let me explain...
In our two games this weekend, we've seen some very encouraging performances from some key players. Nasri looks as sharp as I've ever seen him, Kieren Gibbs seems to have recovered fully from his broken foot and will definitely be giving Clichy a run for his money this season, and Jack Wilshere seems to have learned how to throw his weight around quite nicely, thanks to his loan spell at Bolton.
Both our new signings showed signs of promise as well. Chamakh looks like he was born to play in our system, he held the ball up well and was always looking to link up play with the midfield players. His goal against Milan was a great example of him and Arshavin linking up extremely well indeed. One can only hope we'll see plenty more of that this season.
Koscielny also looks to be a good signing. He's a very different type of centre back to Vermaelen, in that he reads the game better, and is always looking to intercept a pass, rather than sit back and wait for an opponent to run at him. Of the limited time that we've seen them play together, it appears that those two dovetail quite nicely.
My worries though, are that Arsene Wenger hasn't addressed the problems that have plagued us for the last three seasons, those being a lack of a truly top-calibre goalkeeper, and not having adequate cover for when our first team players are inevitably injured.
It's plain to see that Almunia just isn't good enough and that our other three keepers aren't good enough YET. Waiting to see if Fabianski or Sczcesny will turn out to be great is fine only as long as who you play in goal—while waiting for these youngsters to develop—is of sufficient quality. Will Mannone really fulfil his potential if he thinks that only being better than Almunia is good enough to succeed at the highest level?
I doubt it.
Bring someone in like Schwartzer or Given for two or three years and give your young players a challenge. If they rise to it, then "happy days," because we'll have a top GK on our hands. If they fail, then we'll know they weren't good enough.
Either way, we'll know where we stand.
Playing Almunia and hoping he plays well is just guesswork. And that's just not good enough.
My other concern is about our squad. Attackers-wise, we're fine. We have 11 players that can play in the four attacking places in our formation, all of them potential match-winners for us. We're fine in that regard.
It's the defensive side where we're lacking.
We have no cover for Alex Song. None. Denilson and Diaby are good going forward but neither are true DM's like Song is. Our only options for that position are Eastmond and Frimpong, both of whom have quite a lot to learn at this level. As at time of writing we also only have three centre backs, one of whom, Djourou, is only coming back from a serious knee injury. So if one them get injured, we're relying on Song to step in as an emergency. Which leaves us short in midfield.
When asked after the Celtic game about future purchases, Wenger was his usual coy self, but he didn't deny that we needed another centre back. Whether he brings in someone who is an improvement on what we have, or will be an experienced head to provide backup, like Sol was in January, it will be a great indicator of Wenger's evaluation of what he has at the club at the moment.
That's pretty much it for today, there's just enough time to remind you that if you reckon that I know nothing about football whatsoever, and that you'd like nothing more than to rub my face into generous helpings of humble pie, then feel free to join my Fantasy League HERE . Select your team, go to enter a private league and then use the code 8646-33709 to sign up. It's free to enter, and I'll be giving a trophy to the winner. Although giving myself my own trophy will look a little weird :-)
'Til next time readers.