So here we are again, On the cusp of a new season. With the Emirates Cup bookmarking the end of pre-season games. And as has been the rallying cry from the Arsenal fans at the beginning of every season, there have been calls for the signing of that one, two or three magical (read = ‘world class’ player) player that would magically and singlehandedly transform the fortunes of the club and make it a genuine title challenger.
Even former players at the club have chimed in; Thierry Henry stated at the end of last season that the club couldn’t possibly win the title with Olivier Giroud leading the line.
One particular irking thing about these fans’ demands is the sheer uniformity of it all. One CF, one DM and one CB. All ‘world class’ too. Peasy easy. Without all these, it would be nigh impossible for Arsenal to win the league. So they say.
If it was that easy, if the path towards Arsenal winning the league was so straightforward, surely it wouldn’t have escaped the attention of a coach who has managed the team for almost two decades. Except if some of these fans think they know better.
If there was one thing Arsene Wenger has proved over the past few seasons is that he is the most qualified man to lead this club forward. Even when everyone, including this writer, thought he was done, Arsene showed that he has the uncanny knack of reinventing himself and his team. And when he is not hamstrung by finances, he still knows how to assemble a title-challenging squad.
So when he says that he is happy with what he has got and only if someone exceptional turns up, would he be adding to his team, one might want to give him the benefit of doubt.
Of course, pretty much every team in the world can be improved on but every successful team is built on the bedrock of continuity and team harmony and not on shiny new players. As Liverpool last season and Sp*rs the season before that proved, integrating more than a couple of players into your first team is a recipe for inconsistency and underachievement.
Back to this vexed issue of a world class striker. I, for one would welcome a ‘world class’ striker into the team. But its a testament to how far this club has come that there are not that many strikers around that would represent a significant upgrade to our available striking options. Lewandoski, Aguero, Benzema maybe? Also as Arsenal’s Amy Lawrence once pointed out here there are not that many ‘world class’ strikers lying around. And unless you expect the club to go about kidnapping players, it would take a shedload of effort and money to prise these players away.
Meanwhile if one chooses to focus on what the club has got going for it right now, there is cause for optimism. We may not have a ‘world class’ striker but we had seven different scorers during the Emirates Cup. Granted it’s only a pre season tournament, granted we were playing teams who probably taking it easy (too easy in the case of Lyon). But to watch the way we played, particularly in the first match, showed how successful a team can be if all the players play for each other and goals emanate from all over the team.
Having a recognised ‘world class’ striker can be a boon for a team but it can also be a hindrance as it makes the team over-reliant on that one player. During
RvP CuntFace’s last season with the Arsenal he was probably amongst the top three strikers in the world, as difficult as it to admit now. But when he went missing in the important games, like the Milan game at home and others, the team suffered as a result.
Now if we have a team that scores goals from all positions, as I hope we would have this season, that team would be so much more unpredictable and much more difficult to beat.
The target for this coming season is for the team to win the league title. The team might win it, the team might not. What I think is that the team is not far off from being a genuine title challenger. Whether that extra push can come from the players we already have or from a spanking new player remains to be seen. But definitely no new player, no matter how ‘world class’ comes with a guarantee of effective impact. Just ask Man Utd and Di Maria.
So which team really needs a ‘world class’ striker? I don’t think this team does.
P.S. Can I just take a few words to talk about Jeff Reine-Adelaide and his performances during the Emirates Cup. A player so unknown and under the radar he doesn’t even have an English Wikipedia page yet, only a Polish stub. When it was reported about a month ago that Arsenal had paid around £4m for two youngsters from Lens, Adelaide being one of them, the news was quickly forgotten almost soon as it was reported. After all it wasn’t the first time Arsenal had plucked a youngster from France but never to be seen again. But to see the 17-year old slalom his way through the Wolfsburg midfield evoked ghosts of recently released Abou Diaby tearing his way past the Liverpool midfield at Anfield a few seasons ago. Arsene might have just pulled one right out of the bag!