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Christmas round up & January transfer window

by on January 5, 2012

Here we are in 2012, and it’s nice to be writing again. The last time I was here I was marvelling over Robin van Persie’s wonder goal versus Everton, and it’s been a very busy time since then. I couldn’t write over the holidays so I hope you all had a good Christmas and that the new year is treating you well! Anyway time to get down to the football.

Arsenal had games against Wolves, QPR and Fulham over the past weeks, as I’m sure you’re all aware of. Fixtures over the festive period are, unfortunately, normally very close together and it always has been, and always will be a busy time of year where the results really do count at the end of the season. These were 3 fixtures where anything less than 7 points would be slightly disappointing. We managed 4, beating QPR, drawing at Wolves and losing to last minute goals at Craven Cottage. So slightly disappointing then, but the results leave us 5th in the table and only one point from 4th placed Chelsea. I know that I would have taken that in a split second in September. The past few games in the Premier League have all turned out quite unprecedented results – Blackburn’s and Newcastle’s win over Man United, Man City’s loss at the Stadium of Light and Aston Villa’s victory over Chelsea. They all just go to show how tough this part of the season is, with fixtures coming thick and fast for every team. But the fact that the Premier League is so unpredictable makes it the most exciting league in the world and the title race is left wide open this year. It’s anyone’s guess who’ll life the trophy come May.

Now that the Christmas season is over and done with, Arsenal have an FA Cup tie against Leeds coming up next Monday where hopefully we’ll be able to see Thierry Henry make his return. The deal hasn’t been finalised yet but hopefully it will be done in time for the Leeds game as it would be a good game to ease the striker back into English football. I’m really excited to see Henry return to the club, and I’m sure we can all remember how well Robin van Persie and Henry played together when they were both last at Arsenal together. The striking partnership was fantastic, and from the players’ comments from training, Henry hasn’t lost any of his *ahem* va-va-voom up front, a good sign that this deal is a clever and beneficial move, as Henry can ease some of the pressure of scoring off van Persie’s shoulders.

The January transfer window has of course arrived, and so starts the endless rumours and ITK’s claiming they know who we’re going to sign. Well, sadly none of us do and so we can only wait and see. Thomas Vermaelen sustained an injury in the Fulham game and so this leaves our defence very, very short. So short we had to bring Squillaci on in our last match… With Sagna said to be able to make his return for the club in the Man United game at the end of the month we only really need a short term deal to solve our defensive problems. After that Gibbs will be returning while Santos and Jenkinson are both still injured as well. Until then Koscielny, Mertesacker, Djourou and Coquelin/Miquel will have to do the job for us. I don’t think we’ll be making any long term full back signings as, apart from Wenger saying something to that effect, our first choice full backs aren’t far off from returning and the loan market in January isn’t full of choice if we want to sign someone.

Without any natural full backs our game has looked recently very lacking because we’re missing that added threat that attacking full backs provide. None of the players that have recently played at right or left back are natural wide players and this affects our game, as the width that they can’t provide is something that we are normally good at making the most of. It will be a relief when we can welcome some defenders back to the team after lengthy lay-offs for all of them.

A striker is also something many people want to see arrive at the club. With Walcott and Gervinho somewhat underperforming in their last appearances the pressure on Robin van Persie to deliver up front is clear. However the stick Walcott has gotten I think is somewhat unfair, this might be slightly biased because I’ve always been a big fan of him. At the end of the day his pace offers something to the team that no one else does, and seeing him on the team sheet always reassures me that we have some sort of additional threat. Much has been said of Oxlade-Chamberlain and many people are rather angry that he continuously fails to make the team or the bench in our games. I agree that players like him coming up into the first team will push players like Walcott in their game, however it’s clear that there is no desire from the club to rush Chamberlain into games when he has little experience which is understandable. Hopefully we can see him make some sort of appearance in the Leeds game.

January is not only a time of buying, but selling and it might be this year where we offload some of the squad players that no longer seem to fit in with the team. Marouane Chamakh springs to mind, and he has spoken of moving to France. Again it’s anyone’s guess to what will happen, whether Wenger decides to put him out of his misery of warming the Arsenal bench, or decides that back-up for van Persie is still very much essential in the long-term. Park has become somewhat of a mystery. We haven’t seen him play or make the bench in a while and Chamakh is still the preferred option as a substitute. Rosicky and Arshavin are other names that have been mentioned this month with regards to leaving. I would be sad to see either of them go, they are both talented and beneficial squad players to have. Both can, on their day, I would say, be a game changer and both can create space and opportunity when attacking or in midfield. Arshavin hasn’t fulfilled many expectations however it would be shame to see him go as he can be a real threat (just ask Barcelona).

So with possible arrivals and possible departures it remains to be seen what kind of month January will be for us and if we will have our heads in our hands come February 1st.. Whatever happens, as long as we are in a stronger position than we are currently, I will be happy. And we will be, because Sagna may have made or will be on the brink of his return and we will also be closer to the return of Jack Wilshere (praise the lord) and Kieran Gibbs.

Anyway, that looks about it for me. Just one last thought. We had our worst start to the season for a very long time. But we have somehow clawed our way back to 5th, and 4th for a time over Christmas, from 16th place. We improved massively, and like Walcott said in his interview recently, we are much more of a team now that Nasri and Fabregas have gone. This team play for each other and for the club and like we improved at the beginning of the season, we will improve again now and get the results we need to secure a Champions League place. I don’t have massive hopes for this transfer window or for this season in terms of winning anything, but football has proved time and time again that anything can happen, and things may just fall our way this season. Either way, we have proved that we are worthy of a top four finish at the least. So don’t worry we’ll be back to winning and challenging Tottenham and Chelsea in no time. Happy new year from me once more and till next week!

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2 Comments
  1. Danny Boy permalink

    Lovely read. despite everything, these are quite exciting times really: it’s the return of “va-va-voom” at the Arsenal!

    Now all we need to do is get Pires back as assistant coach and the treble is back on!

    -d-

    • alimueller permalink

      thanks for the comment, much appreciated. and yes, I agree, I think these are exciting times, we have a great team that, if we keep together, could go very far!

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