I had a nightmare last night. That nightmare has scared me stiff, and it could well come true. As I was having my usual dreams of chocolate rivers and ginger bread houses, in my dream world where diabetes and obesity does not exist enable myself to eat what I desire, the TV came on. It was an Arsenal press conference with Arsene Wenger and he said:
“Having bought Petr Cech to the club, we have decide that concludes our transfer activity for this summer. We believe that we have sufficient quality in the current players in our squad, and do not need to spend any more money.”
With that, I woke in a pool of sweats (and sweets, the bowl of jelly beans I took to bed for a midnight snack had tipped over).
Whilst it was just a dream, the real scary reality is that I could picture Arsene Wenger saying this in the real world. And his dithering over strengthening the squad could cost us a shot at the title.
At the end of last season, everyone agreed that we needed to sign at least 3 new players. A keeper, a defensive midfielder, and an attacking player (wide right forward or striker depending on your persuasion). We have the keeper in the bag nice and early. Result.
However, the other two, there is a realistic chance that Wenger’s dithering over the squad could result in us missing out on our main targets and, even worse, missing out on all targets, as Wenger decides to stick rather than twist.
This will be his rationale thinking.
At defensive midfield, we saw the development of Francis Coquelin last season. He was a real break through player, and showed tremendous discipline and ability. And his stats (we all know Wenger loves stats). The tackles, the interceptions, the duels won. They are amongst the best in the Premier League. Compare him to Morgan Schneiderlin. Coquelin outperformed him in nearly every key area last season.
Why buy Schneiderlin when Coquelin out performs him? No need. Let’s allow him to go to Manchester United, whilst we explore other players. Arturo Vidal maybe, or how about Javi Martinez over at Bayern Munich. At worst, that Carvhalo bloke at Portugual. Not the old balding centre back, the centre midfielder.
Worse case scenario though, we still have Coquelin. If they above are too expensive, even though we can afford them, we could stick with Coquelin. After all, we still have Mikel Arteta at back up. Might as well give him an extra year on his contract whilst we are at it. And let’s not forget that Jack Wilshere has done a job there for England.
Coquelin, Arteta & Wilshere. Why buy anyone? Might as well save the money.
Back in reality, it is a situation that mirror’s the summer of 2013. We needed a new striker. We started off at Steven Jovetic. A good young talent. Not quite the finished article. Then we heard Gonzalo Higuain was available. A proven striker. Available for only a few million more than Jovetic. Drop the interest in Jovetic, let him go to Manchester City, and chase the Madrid striker.
Then we get told about the Suarez release clause. With Napoli showing interest in Higuain, pushing the price up, a deal for Suarez is only a few million more than the new Higuain price. Drop the interest in Higuain, let him go to Napoli, chase Suarez.
Then Liverpool did not honour the release clause, basically telling Arsenal and Suarez to take them to court to enforce it. This was never going to happen. The result? Arsenal lose out on Suarez, allow their other two targets to go to other sides, and end up with Yaya Sanogo.
Back into Wenger’s mind we go.
Upfront we have Olivier Giroud. He proved last season that he is a very good striker. Despite a lean patch at the end of the season. Had he not got injured, he would have got 20 league goals. So who is out there who is better than Olivier Giroud?
Always fancied a bit of Karim Benzema at Real Madrid. He could be available. But Giroud keeps him out of the French national side. It would be hard to keep control of two ego’s, battling out for the same place in the starting 11 for their country, also battling it out for the same place for the club. Won’t be easy to keep them both happy. Not worth the hassle.
Same go’s for Alexandre Lacazette. Good player, scored a lot of goals last year in France. But so did Giroud when we signed him. Why splash the cash on a player who again, is behind Giroud for his country. Would these guys really improve us? Might as well stick with Giroud.
And let’s not forget Danny Welbeck. He has all the physical attributes to be a top striker. Just needs to learn how to finish. And it has always been said that Theo Walcott will be a striker. Maybe this will be the season he finally moves up front. And it is well known that Alexis Sanchez was signed as a striker. That is 4 we have.
Plus Yaya Sanogo (I kid, I Kid).
Looking around Europe, there are not too many strikers. No point spending £20-30m on someone who might improve us, might as well stick with what we have.
And suddenly my fear becomes a reality. The two scenarios above about a defensive midfielder and a striker are realistic.
It might not be as bad as this. We will buy players. But the dithering as he decides what to do could cost us. Whilst he makes up his mind on if Coquelin is good enough, Schneiderlin will be off to Manchester United. that is one less target on the market. And the same will happen upfront with Lacazette. Whilst Wenger dithers and assesses his options, he will go to Liverpool or A.N Other.
Yes, I full well know that it is the 8th of July. That the transfer window has only been officially open for 8 days. That is still has the good part of 8 weeks to go. That the lads are only just back in pre season training. That the season does not start for another month (month today infact). I know this. I know there is nothing to worry about. But even the most hardened Wengeritte would admit that the above scenario is possible. That it could happen.
We will buy the players we need to win the league, I am confident of that. I think Wenger has a plan, and that plan will be executed, and we will win the league next season. But there is a small part of me that is fearful that the dream could become a reality. That after Cech, Wenger could dither, and our title chances would be up in smoke before the season has started.
I am scared.