Posted on Monday, 14th January 2013 by Patrick Ssekatawa
Despite obvious need to strengthen the Arsenal team as soon as possible, we are two weeks into the January transfer window and there’s nothing to show in terms of players coming in, in spite of a multitude of players being linked with moves to The Emirates.
This should not be a surprise to Arsenal fans at all as their manager, for the past 3-4 years, seems to have lost his spark, his thirst, his hunger for success by vehemently refusing to buy players in January, and, sometimes in the summer transfer windows, selling players and failing to replacing them like he did with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira etc.
Two seasons ago, Arsenal were in an apparent need of reinforcements, especially at the back, and, as always, Arsene Wenger promised to buy a defender as Thomas Vermaelen had been out with an ankle injury for a long period. However, towards January, the Belgian defender stepped up his rehabilitation by returning to light training. As a result, Wenger back-tracked his statements about his intentions to sign a centre-back and began to sound vaguer – pointing towards the imminent return of Vermaelen, claiming that signing a defender would then be determined by how quickly the Belgian would take to heal!! The hopes of anyone coming in dwindled with every passing day and the window was slammed shut with Wenger having signed no one, and, most painfully for all the Arsenal faithful, the Frenchman’s ‘we are in the market for one or two’, ‘we are looking for exceptional/special players’ never stopped until January 31st. But nothing came!!! Arsenal fans, me included, were heartbroken!!! What happened next? Well, if you’ve forgotten, Vermaelen failed to recover until late April and played in only a handful of games after Arsenal’s title challenge had died a natural death! Wenger later lamented having made a mistake to not buy a defender after wrongly thinking Vermaelen would return in January. We remained with only Laurent Koscielny alongside calamity Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou, conceded goals for fun, lost the Carling Cup to Birmingham and were lucky to finish fourth that season.
This time, under similar circumstances, Arsenal has badly missed Abou Diaby, so badly that since he hobbled of on September 29th, in the 1-2 loss to Chelsea, the team has not been the same. They have lacked his height, his physical impositions, his skill, his tackles, as well as his drive. From then on, the Arsenal midfield has been unable to assert full control over stubborn opposition. Mikel Arteta has looked vulnerable in many games, as his partner, Jack Wilshere, has been playing a little more advanced, unlike Diaby who would drop deep to win back possession before transforming it into attack to great effect. As such, Arsenal have been linked to several household names in that area, who would do the dirty work better than Arteta, and ones who would release the Spaniard to move further forward and play in his natural position. Yann M’vila, Etienne Capoue, Moussa Sissoko, Momo Diame are just some of the names that have been mentioned, and ones that would make Arsenal impregnable in the middle. Unfortunately, knowing Wenger, the chances of any of those names arriving at The Emirates are extremely minimal, now that Diaby is back to full fitness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is why I called his return ‘UNTIMELY’.
The truth of the matter is Wenger seems to have lost the desire to win silverware, because managers who have it don’t take chances. I’ve seen Jose Mourinho sign MacDonald Mariga at Inter Milan despite the club having Esteban Cambiasso, Tiago Motta, Sulley Muntari and sometimes Javier Zanetti all competing for the same position. He also signed Goran Pandev even with Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito and Mario Balotelli at the club. Managers who don’t take chances are normally rewarded. This is why the likes of Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson, who signed Robin Van Persie even with Wayne Rooney, Chicarito and Danny Welbeck at the club. He also signed Ashley Young despite having Antonio Valencia, Nani, Ryan Giggs and Ji-Sung Park. I’m sure if it was Wenger at Inter or United, he would never have signed such players if he had those mentioned, would he?
If Wenger wants to end the trophy drought that has frustrated many Arsenal fans since 2005, players like Diaby, who are barely available for selection, must not be depended upon, and their fitness should only be considered a bonus!
I just hope Wenger does not get blinded by Diaby’s return to fitness and goes on to bring players who don’t have terrible injury records. After all, his unwavering patience was betrayed by Van Persie who, after seven years of countless injuries, left for United after only one injury-free season!
Its high-time Wenger learnt his lesson.
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Tags: Abou Diaby, Alex Ferguson, Antonio Valencia, Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Ashley Young, Chicarito, Danny Welbeck, Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso, Etienne Capoue, Goran Pandev, Jack Wilshere, Javier Zanetti, Ji-Sung Park, Johan Djourou, Jose Mourinho, Laurent Koscielny, MacDonald Mariga, Mario Balotelli, Mikel Arteta, Momo Diame, Moussa Sissoko, Nani, Patrick Vieira, Robin van Perise, Ryan Giggs, Samuel Eto'o, Sebastien Squillaci, Sulley Muntari, Thierry Henry, Thomas Vermaelen, Tiago Motta, Wayne Rooney, Yann M'Vila
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