Don’t Write Arsenal Off Just Yet
It would appear that everyone in the country, including my mother and girlfriend, have heard about Robin van Persie and his quite unbelievable move to Manchester United. As per usual the United fans have clambered out of the woodwork to jibe their North London counterparts, though perhaps a little prematurely – even in their wildest dreams most United fans could not have hoped for such a star to join this summer. As a neutral I can only hope that with van Persie and Rooney we do not see a repeat of the quite embarrassing Torres and Drogba debacle. However, I am confident that Sir Alex will stand for no such behaviour from his crown jewels. Whilst there is much to talk about in the form of how exciting a transfer this is, and speculation around how Ferguson is going to organise his Fantasy Football/Football Manager-esque front line, I would rather discuss Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.
Last year I distinctly remember a number of Tottenham fans posting that if RVP and his goals and assists were removed from Arsenal’s rostrum they would be in something like 17th place. First of all may I point out what a ridiculous statement this is – all teams would suffer if you removed an important player. Whilst RVP’s statistics were brilliant last season, football is a team game and without the 10 players around him he could have done nothing. Surrounded by all the footballing talent you could ask for, in Sneijder, Robben, Afellay and Van Der Vaart, RVP and the Netherlands flopped at the Euros.
Last summer Arsene Wenger was forced to part ways with his shining star Cesc Fabregas, along with his second best player from the previous season in Samir Nasri. Furthermore Jack Wilshere was unavailable all season. Yet Mr. Wenger, after a rocky start, guided his side to a third place finish behind Manchesters City and United.
Van Persie is a massive loss to the club but the signings of Podolski, Giroud and Santi Cazorla (probably the best Spanish player outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid) are good ones, and are stronger than those that were made to replace Nasri and Fabregas (Benayoun, Arteta and Chu Young Park). If Wenger reinvests the £24 million made from the sale of RVP he could build a stronger team then the one that finished third last year. There has also been talk of Alex Song leaving the side, yet if Wilshere regains fitness he can fill this void. Of course the sale of the Cameroonian will bring in more funds which could then be reinvested.
The sale of the talismanic Dutchman is never going to be a good thing, but it really does grind my gears the way Wenger is constantly called into question. Did he sell Vieira at the wrong time? Was Henry half the player when he left the Gunners? The Frenchman is no fool. In Szczesny he has a brilliant young keeper, and Koscielny and Vermaelen showed that they are a competent centre-back pairing last season. Sagna is probably the best right-back in England and going forward Wilshere, Arteta, Chamberlain, Walcott, Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski is starting to look a little like a fantasy football team itself. Don’t write the Gunners off.