Friday 8 August 2014

Arsenal additions not required unless...

Despite just about every pundit suggesting we need to strength our defensive midfield options, a cursory look at our squad tells me we have enough strength in depth to launch a successful campaign. The only caveat being if we let any of that squad go, then we need to bring in a replacement. Someone adequate, or better still superior to the outgoing player.

On the subject, I was glad to read that former Arsenal legend Charlie Nicholas reckons Debuchy is a step up from Sagna. As I've noted previously in this blog, Debuchy is not first-choice for France for nothing.

Anyway, let's look at out squad:
GKs: Szczesny, Ospina, Martinez - to me, that's a vast improvement on what we started with last season. The unreliable Fabianski has departed, much to my relief, and we've recruited Ospina - who was hugely impressive in the last World Cup. Meanwhile, Szczesny and Martinez should have improved since last season because a goalkeeper doesn't usually hit his peak until about the age of 30.

DFs: Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Monreal.

Again, we've vastly improved the quality of our squad with the additions of the aforementioned Debuchy and Chambers. Jenkinson, who showed promise and commitment, but not the class of Chambers, has been loaned out to West Ham - perhaps never to return, some say. Vermaelen is the only squad member who is obviously on the slide, but at 29 could have an Indian summer elsewhere.

MFs: Rosicky, Arteta, Wilshere, Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla, Flamini, Diaby, Coquelin, Zelalem.

Some people have questioned whether Coquelin should still be at Arsenal, but personally I've always wonder what Rosicky offers to our side. Arteta could be on the way out, according to some reports, and like Vermaelen, he would need replacing if he goes. If I had to select 4 midfielders to play from this group, I'd select: Rambo, Flames, Santi and Ozil. My first subs would be Jack and Gedion Z.

FWs: Podolski, Giroud, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez, Sanogo, Gnabry, Campbell, Miyaichi.

With the exception of Ryo, who's always crocked so he's still largely an unknown quantity, all the above could play a significant part in Arsenal's title challenge. My other worry would be about Pod's fitness, but he's always worth sticking on the bench. The biggest problem would be leaving someone out. Sanchez has to play, partly because of the size of the transfer fee. Theo, once he's fit, is too quick and effective to leave out; while the Ox is another I couldn't put on the bench with a clear conscience. Giroud could be our top scorer given a run in the team, while Sanogo and Campbell's pre-season form is impressive. Then again, Gnabry deserves some game time too, doesn't he?

All in all, you have to say the squad is pretty huge. If you take Martinez, Ryo and Zelalem out, we've got 2 keepers, 7 defenders (so maybe we need one more, although Flames can play there), 9 midfielders, and 8 forwards. That's 26 players, so we'd have to cut 2 more at least, to make the optimum squad size of around 23 to 24. I suppose Gnabry would have to go, but that feels grossly unfair. Coquelin could go too (but he, like Flames, could offer cover in defence).

Anyway, just have a look at the size of our squad and see for yourself. We really need to ship someone out before we bring someone in as otherwise the squad will become unmanageable.

Sent from my iPhone

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