Today,a guest post from Muppet ( @MuppetGooner )
Here we go again, it’s that time of year where everybody gets to play championship manager and decide what reinforcements we need for the assault on the title in May. Costa, screams the Twitter arsenal massive, buy him, and we secure the title. Wenger laughs off this suggestion, claiming he would be an outlay of £145m. Now, I am a Wenger fundamentalist, but, like the Earth was created in 7 days claim, cannot help think that £145m is a stretch. Perhaps £80m, unless those rogue agents are making hideously more than usual.
So, do we join the Costa chorus ? To be honest, I know nothing about the guy. Haven’t even seen him play. He’s 6 ft 2 and bangs the goals in for Athletico Madrid. Now, I might be completely wrong in my contrary opinion, but there are reasons for caution. For an outlay of £80m, Costa doesn’t guarantee success. Sure, he may increase our chances of winning the premiership, but does he win it for us ? Is he the best in the business ? Well – he’s maybe in the top 10 strikers in the world, but for the outlay, that does not compare with, say, Ozil, who is widely lauded as the best no 10 in the world, and has the pedigree, track record and age to prove it. We may do the deal, and I wouldn’t be against it if Wenger went ahead, but it seems to be as though he would present a financial risk. And our club is very cautious.
The “pundits” say we still need to strengthen. Two players is the accepted wisdom. This is high praise indeed, as traditionally we have needed a spine and more. Striker and one other is called for, but not sure in what position. Make no mistake, like dry or wet rot, the moaners will resurface when we lose, citing all the players we need. The strident call was for a DM, until Flamini came in. Before that, the “pundits” called for new centre backs.
This bloggers opinion? Julien Draxler would be nice. Joking aside, let’s give the manager a little credit eh ? Ramsey has come good, Mertesacker, heralded as a donkey in the english press, has come spectacularly good. Rosicknote, who should have been shipped out 3 years ago, according to the gloom-brigade, put Spuds to the sword at the age of 32. Get the idea ? Like some of those dormant stocks in your portfolio, when the money starts gushing in, so it is with some of our squad players. People scream for new incomings, but they ignore the potential of those we have. I am waiting for Wilshere to hit form and have a similar patch to Ramsey. Ox will be back. Gnabry, for an 18 year old, looks like he could be a monster. We’ve not had the opportunity to play Gnabry, Walcott, Ox and Ozil in one game yet. The opposition will require new pants at half time.
Of course, the specific concern is if Giroud is absent. Well – the candidates are Bendtner, Walcott, Podolski and Sanogo. People wrote off Podolski after his lack of success before being subbed against Cardiff. But I would go for another bite of the cherry. So what if Podolski wasn’t sharp. We can always try him again.
Other positions ? We seem well stocked in midfield. Flamini, more streetwise after his stint in Milan and the excellent Arteta in front of the back 4. Cazorla, Rosicky, Wilshere, Ozil and Ramsey is an embarrassement of riches. More power would be good – maybe Diaby will provide that in March. Defence ? No complaints there. It’s the best defence in the league, and possibly the best midfield as well.
The detractors say we need to strengthen further to reverse our recent poor performances against top 4 sides. This may be a point of view. Whilst we’ve been extraordinarily consistent in beating mid and bottom of the table opposition, we have not been great in recent head to heads versus Man U, City and Chelsea. We had unfortunate results against both Manchester sides. The Man U result, for me, was down to the absence of Mertesacker. If he was in the side, 1-0 would have been 0-0. The City result came after two tough fixtures and suspect refereeing. The Chelsea game indicated to me that we were able to play a disciplined and professional game against a side who looked highly dangerous on the counter attack. One can argue that “extra quality” would bridge this gap, but on the other hand, we may be able to do this by tapping into our unfulfilled potential within the squad. Nobody saw Ramsey become the best midfielder in the country this season, and who knows, someone else may become similarly unplayable. We may also just be on an upward swing, with more incremental improvement to come.