Having watched Arsenal’s recent failure to put Wolves to the sword on Tuesday, it was obvious to me that the team is lacking top class players in several positions if they are going to secure one of the four Champions League places at the end of the season.
I must admit that the defence did play well for most of the game, but still has a tendency to go to sleep at times when their concentration should be at its peak. The Wolves goal was scored by their top marksman, Steven Fletcher, who, if you have ever seen any of Wolves’ games, is a great header of the ball, especially when it’s delivered to the far post. Now I know the ball that reached him was a deflection, but where was Thomas Vermaelen, our stand-in left-back, when the ball broke to Fletcher? He was near the left post, but at least several yards away from the Wolves man.
Was the defence playing in that ineffective zonal marking system, or was he moving forward having been on the post for the corner? If the latter is true, who should have picked up the only Wolves player likely to score?
This defensive lapse cost us two vital points for the fight for a top four finish! However, as important as that lapse was, it really should not have mattered if the Arsenal midfield had anyone capable of penetrating the 10-man Wolves defence with positive plays, rather than playing the ball backwards more times that they did forwards. The huge possession stats look impressive but means nothing if most of that takes place in the 30-yards either side of the halfway line!
When we scored it was because we broke out of our half with exceptional speed and caught the Wolves midfield still in our half, giving Gervinho space to run on and put the ball in the back of the net.
For most of the game on Tuesday, we were slow and allowed all but one of the Wolves team to get behind the ball and sit outside their penalty area blocking any attempts to get past them. We need speed of thought and players with quick feet to stretch the defence out wide to create the gaps in front of goal. Why then, did we bring on Andrey Arshavin instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when we all know Andrey just cannot produce for us and the ‘Oxo Kid’ has bags of speed, confidence and is not afraid to shoot? What was Arsene’s rational for that?
If these results continue to come then this team will be competing with Liverpool, Newcastle and others for a Europa spot or worse still, a mid-table position that brings no rewards at all.
In my opinion, we need one world class midfielder to give us immediate help prior to Jack Wilshere coming back and more importantly perhaps, a striker with proven ability to score goals at this level.
Rumours are that maybe Wenger sees Lukas Podolski as the answer, but I am not sure he is, despite his record this year. However, one or possibly two players of class are definitely needed before Robin van Persie is injured or is just too tired to keep playing every game.
Now is the time to show Van Persie, Arteta, Wilshere, Szczesny and the rest of the squad that the club is serious about improving the team with proven class players rather than second rate ones.
Top quality costs money in all walks of life and football is no different and Mr. Gazidis has stated publicly several times that money is available to buy these players of this calibre. If ‘Silent Stan’ and the Arsenal board are intent on Arsenal Football Club remaining a force in the Premier League, and that must include qualifying for the Champions League, then this January they have to spend the money.
If they don’t do that, then we are doomed to slip further back and be replaced by teams such as Spurs and Liverpool. We will also lose the ability to attract players of the right calibre and quality to get us back to where we should be – at the top of the Premier League!
The transfer window next month could be a defining moment in Arsenal’s future!
Jeff Fairbrother for Gunnersphere.com