Morning all. I do hate when your alarm clock becomes part of your dream and you spend ages putting it on ‘snooze’ thinking you’re doing something else entirely.
Not much going on, as you’d expect, but Arsene has been talking about getting players back fit for the start of next season, saying:
If you look at the number of players who were not at Portsmouth and the quality of our performance, we have the right to be optimistic. The biggest transfer I can make is to try to get everybody fit by the start of next season. If I manage that I have done 80% of the job and I will be pleased, the other 20% is optional – whether I buy or not.
Now, there’s no question that a fully fit Henry, van Persie, Rosicky and even Theo Walcott would give the current squad more depth but the manager has more to do than that. Realistically he has to replace the guys who are going to leave but who are they? Who has played their last game for Arsenal.
Mathieu Flamini – Not everyone’s favourite and certainly he was a limited player in many respects but he brought workrate and energy to the team that other players don’t have. Like Parlour he made up for what he lacked technically with sheer effort. I liked him, I have to say, and he scored some important goals in the league for us this season.
Jeremie Aliadiere – Has been at the club longer than MC P-Diddy H to the Wood but has never made his breakthrough. Has scored some goals but injuries and just not being quite good enough have hampered him.
Manuel Almunia – With Fabianski arriving it seems like Manuel will be on his way back to Spain where he should get first team football. He certainly improved over the years and I think he’s a decent player but he’ll be off. Fabianski will replace him and Mannone may step up as third choice if Mart Poom, as expected, leaves the club in the summer too.
Baptista/Reyes – After a season of sheer ineptitude there’s no way Baptista will be staying while Reyes has made it clear he’d rather drink a glass of Satan’s piss than return to Arsenal again. We missed his directness and pace this season but we didn’t miss his falling over and being injured every time he got touched although Eboue tried to keep his spirit living on. If JosÃ© puts himself in the shop window between now and the end of the season in Spain then there should be no problem finding a buyer for him.
Freddie – The man has been an absolute star for us, scored so many vital goals and put in so many great performances down the years, but I think it’s time for him to move on now. For two years he’s been plagued with injuries and he’s always been a player who has needed a run in the side to get motoring. I’ll be sad to see him go but I think he will. Spain or Italy would suit him.
Alex Song – If Arsene is serious about challenging for the title next season then we need a squad without players like Alex Song. Sure, he works hard but he is so fundamentally limited as a footballer than he has no business being in a team that wants to challenge for the league or the Champions League. No doubt he can have a decent career in a mid-table club here or back in France but simply not good enough for Arsenal.
Those are the players I see moving on. If I was manager there might be another couple in there but there really is only so much business you can do in a summer. So, if he gets the injured players back then he’s got to replace the ones who have left – in particular we need someone to replace Reyes/Freddie, who can play in the wide areas and a central midfield player although it would be nice to see Diaby get a run of games in there. Perhaps more options in wide areas will make AW play his central midfielders in the centre.
I honestly can’t see the manager buying a striker in the summer. He’ll look at Henry, van Persie, Adebayor, Bendtner (who has just signed a new contract to take him to 2012) and Walcott who can play there as well. There’s no doubting the quality of Henry and van Persie, despite what some people think I reckon Adebayor will be better next season, Bentdner can score goals but will need to improve other areas of his game while hopefully the rest and lack of injury will see a different Theo next time around.
I think this goes back to the quote the other day where he says he doesn’t need more quantity but if he wants to keep the squad the same size then he’s got a bit of buying to do. Quite when he’s going to do it all is another matter entirely. Keep your eyes peeled.
The season review is underway and may be published in the columns section either later on or tomorrow.
In other news it’s congratulations to Fran Merida but commiserations to Rhys Murphy, Gavin Hoyte and the injured Henri Lansbury as Spain beat England 1-0 in the European Under17 Championship.
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And that’s your lot for today. More tomorrow.