On July 16th 2011 Arsenal completed the signing of the Ivorian winger and forward Gervinho from French club Lille. Considered a positive attacking transfer for the club, the new attacking player has already made a great impression during some of Arsenal’s pre-season friendly matches.
Also, linked with the Gunners over the past couple of weeks has been the young Spanish winger Juan Mata. Arsene Wenger was reported to be willing to break the club’s transfer record with an £18 million bid for the Valencia midfielder.
Whether Arsenal are successful on this transfer or not (some outlets are now reporting that the transfer is on the verge of collapse) this move for Mata, plus the club’s signing of Gervinho, shows where Arsene Wenger’s priorities lie in terms of what types of players he is looking to sign before the start of the 2011-2012 Premier League season.
Although Arsenal have signed one defender during this transfer window and seem to be closing in on another, Wenger’s recent moves for Gervinho and Mata have shown that the Frenchman is only really interested in getting the cheque book out for attack minded players. For a moment it looked like Wenger may have learnt from the mistakes Arsenal made at the tail end of last season and was looking to strengthen his defence for the next one. His move for central defender Phil Jagielka was a positive one but although there have been rumours of links to other defenders such as Gary Cahill and Chris Samba, nothing has yet come to fruition.
Whilst I expect that Arsenal will probably ultimately secure the services of the current Everton defender Jagielka, the fact that Wenger’s only other defensive signing so far this summer is the 19 year old Carl Jenkinson from Charlton may alarm Gunners’ fans. You see, although it is admirable that Wenger is buying young players like Jenkinson for the future, it does not fix the biggest issue that Arsenal have at the moment. If Arsenal want to challenge for honours next season they need to sort out the issues of their back four and their goalkeeper, and sort them out fast.
The fact is that Arsenal play some of the most attractive attacking football in the world, perhaps second only to Barcelona as the best team to watch because of the beautiful way they move the ball around the field. Nevertheless, the reason that Barcelona are able to play football in this way and not concede many goals is because they have a solid back four and a safe pair of hands between the posts. Arsenal, I am sorry to say, do not have this and they need to rectify that sharpish.
This is not to say that Gervinho is not a fantastic signing, because he is. Mata too would fit into Arsenal’s style of play magnificently, as would other midfielders such as Phil Jarvis, who the Gunners have also been linked with. However, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin are still at the club despite all of them looking unsettled. The best way to convince them to stick around at the Emirates Stadium is surely not to buy competition for their places but to purchase players who will stop the club haemorrhaging goals whenever these men are doing what they do best at the other end of the field?
For example, why Arsenal have not made a move for out of favour Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given is beyond me. Thomas Vermaelen meanwhile is a great centre back, but his absence for a good chunk of last season due to injury showed that Arsenal are incredibly vulnerable at the back without him.
If the Gunners do sign Phil Jagielka over the next few days then that is a great start but there is so much more work to do. In my opinion, Wenger needs to forget about buying new attacking players. Strengthen the back four, buy an experienced goalkeeper and convince Fabergas, Nasri and Arshavin to stay at the club. If Arsene Wenger can do those three things then who’s to say that Arsenal won’t be ready to taste Premier League glory once again next season?
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