Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Neverending Transition

Arsene Wenger's utopian project was supposed to conjure progress and stability.

Instead, his team is in a constant state of change. This summer, its captain and only truly world class player looks certain to depart. That means that in season 11/12, the Arsenal team will again have a very different look to it.

A team that was built around Fabregas, and often looked rudderless without him, will have to find yet another new image.

Serious questions remain over the mercurial talent that is Samir Nasri, and many other players besides, meaning that Wenger may be forced into more rebuilding than he has ever had to undertake in the course of one summer.

Any real sense of continuity or stability is being lost. Consider the centre backs that Arsenal used last season- Vermaelen had only one year of PL experience. Squillaci and Koscielny had the sum total of none. Djourou had been around quite a while but never played many games. And people wondered why Arsenal lacked defensive nous.

Alex Song will probably be the senior member of Arsenal's first choice midfield next season- and he remains a young player whose game is speckled with naivety.

While Robin Van Persie is a player of immense talent, and impressed many with the way he reportedly confronted the idiotic Abou Diaby at half time of the Blackpool away game last season, the extent to which he can lead the team is compromised by his constant vulnerability to injury.

Many young, inexperienced, or just plain stupid players leads to many mistakes. And many mistakes leads to no trophies. Players like Fabregas and Nasri will always want to win trophies.

The mooted replacements and new signings do not suggest an easy consolidation of Arsenal's top four ranking. Arsenal have been heavily linked with centre backs from Bolton, Blackburn and Everton. Gervinho has performed well for Lille, but the French league is an unreliable barmometer of quality. Juan Mata would be a rare exciting signing but Arsenal are unlikely to stump up the necessary cash, particularly if other Premiership clubs show an interest.

Arsenal might well spend this summer replacing very good players with merely good ones, and clearly, that is not a recipe for great improvement, especially under a manager who has little interest in the tactical or defensive sides of the game.

The transition continues. 2004-????

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