In a follow-up to last Friday’s post on the team for next season, here is a reminder of what I said would be my squad of choice:
I’m not going to go into the whole goalkeeper saga from the past few years. We didn’t sign one, people need to get over it. Its finished so lets move on. Our current 3 are pretty obvious with Szczesny the number one. Personally, I wouldn’t sign any goalkeeper this summer. If we spent £20m on Reina or somebody of that ilk, he would be first choice and I don’t want Wojciech stepping down a place. He can be a world class stopper for the next 20 years. He has a strong mentality and a good level of self-confidence, if he’s replaced now HE WILL MOVE. There’s no doubt about that and we shouldn’t even think about risking it.
Departures wise, it’s extremely obvious. Every man and their dog knows Almunia is gone. Mad Jens will retire (surely for the last time) but I love the old German and think as a goalkeeping coach, he’d be excellent. Szczesny recently spoke about the guidance he’s received from Lehmann so it can only be a good thing. Maybe we could extract some of Jens’s madness and confidence to insert into Lukasz too.
The big decision I believe needs to be made this year is Clichy. I feel torn just thinking about this and as much as we love him, this may be the time for him to go. Like many of the squad, we’ve witnessed him grow up and with a project like ours this will always happen. There comes a time when you realise some just haven’t lived up to the initial great expectation.
Clichy is one example of this. How did it happen? Birmingham 2008. Yes, that fateful day when we lost the league, lost an absolutely lethal goalscorer and lost a fantastic left-back. Since then, Clichy has gone downhill. Time and time again he’s cost us goals by dilly-dallying on the ball.
The problem is all in his head because the ability hasn’t disappeared. Also, the fact that he was an Invincible and still hasn’t become a leader is disheartening. He’s now one of the older heads yet every time the opposition score, he looks like a scared little boy. That then puts the rest of the defence on edge.
When we first got rid of Cashley, it seemed as though we had the better deal. Clichy was the best in the league in 06/07 and 07/08. Last Saturday though, I was watching Chelski vs Spurs and saw what we were missing. Cashley gave away a corner in the 90th minute which Gael would most likely do too. However, when that does happen, Gael has his head down and walks to the back post. He doesn’t say anything and looks worried. Cashley got his head up and shouted at two of his team-mates to put them in position. That sums up the difference.
As far as a replacement goes, I wouldn’t look any further than Leighton Baines. I’d love to see Gibbs as our first choice (and I firmly believe he will be the Arsenal & England left-back in a few years) but right now, he seems to be far too fragile. If he can stay injury-free next term then great but somehow I don’t envisage that happening. I think with Baines and Gibbs fighting for a place, it will only improve Kieran’s determination and hopefully he’ll be able to learn from him. They would both get plenty of games during the season because at least one will be on the treatment table, knowing our luck with injuries.
It looks certain that Charlton youngster Carl Jenkinson will be at Arsenal next season so 3rd choice would be covered. Traore can then be sold to make a few quid and get someone off the wage bill.
The right-back situation is far more straightforward. Sagna is the best in England right now, no doubt about it. Eboue is a cult hero. He’s brilliant and I’d love for him to stick around. In my eyes, he is perfectly capable of being a back-up (after all, he was UEFA RB of the year in 2006). Many others, however, are fed up with him. I’d keep him as a 3rd choice and a utility player for when the inevitable dire injury crisis hits. As for a substitute right-back, I don’t see any standout contenders. I’m sure Arsene will have a Ligue 2 player in mind, that we’ve never heard of but is great.
And that’s about that for today. In the near future I’ll be putting up a post on centre-halves and defensive midfielders, so please take a read of that once it’s up. If you have any suggestions for the squad you can tweet me about them or post a comment below. Tilley_96 will be back with a review of our game away at the Britannia on Sunday. Until then, let’s just pray for no broken legs. Up the Arsenal,