Friday, August 12, 2011

Turbulent Times at the Emirates

Arsene Wenger it seems has finally admitted defeat in his attempts to make Samir Nasri and their talisman Cesc Fabregas stay at the club. Whilst Arsenal will feel that they have achieved good business in terms of the prices they will obtain for both players, poor planning in the transfer market has again hampered the North London club.

Last summer, Barcelona were prepared to pay much closer to the 40M that Arsenal would now so readily accept, had they done so they could have re-invested the money earlier and saved the wages of a clearly disaffected player. The same mistake was made with Patrick Vieira when Real Madrid's millions were rejected before accepting a far lesser fee from Juventus the following summer. The money could have been used to renew and improve Nasri's contract also thus meaning their hand would not have been forced so this Summer. Walcott and Van Persie will be in the same position next summer as they have both entered the final two years of their contracts with seemingly little reason to want to sign an extension.

Nasri is possibly not a huge loss as his value appears to be derived from one good half of one full season with City apparently paying a largely inflated price and even bigger wages when they already have the excellent David Silva in Nasri's favoured central role.

Fabregas is effectively irreplaceable for a club of Arsenal's current means but in the youthful pair of Jack Wilshire and the under rated Aaron Ramsey, they do have excellent creative and attacking options already in central midfield. What remains to be seen is how the likes of Van Persie react to seeing their captain and one of their leading lights leave on the eve of the new season and whether and how the money is reinvested in the squad.

The problem with receiving large transfer fees is the clubs you try to buy your replacements from want their share of the loot in the same way that Newcastle prised 35M out of Liverpool for Andy Carroll knowing they were flush from the 50M they received for Fernando Torres. Wenger is notorious for low balling for players and if he feels the fees are too large he will simply sit at home and count the money instead.

Despite losing such potent attacking talent, Arsenal are not short of attacking options and as everyone has written about ad tedium, what is required is some solidity and steel at the back. Options such as Phil Jaglieka, Gary Cahill and Scott Dann have been discussed but little headway has been made. Arsenal have already spent around 26M on Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain but neither would be expected to pull up too many trees in their first season. Arsenal are also in dire need of a goalkeeper but everybody knows they will not even try to sign one.

Whilst there is always the chance of another false dawn at Anfield, a far stronger challenge from Dalglish's men should be expected this season and Arsenal's Champions League status could be in real jeopardy as the top three places look to already be tied up by Chelsea and the two Manchester sides.

With only three weeks to go before the transfer window closes and with a potentially tricky Champions League qualifier against Udinese to tackle and an early crunch fixture against the Anfield side, Wenger faces one of the most crucial months of his time at Arsenal. Many felt or still do that Wenger has a job for life at Arsenal but the natives could become restless if reinforcements are not found and this time not just about the cost of season ticket prices - No Nonsense.