by Daisy Cutter
Way back in August the Cutter wrote about the farcically premature claims by some that Arsenal were already in crisis. Now, languishing in 7th after their worst start to a season since Wenger’s long tenure began and with Yorkshire taunts still ringing in their ears from the defeat at Bradford, we belatedly join the majority view.
Having yet again lost key men over the summer in Van Persie and Song it appears that Le Prof’s ability to pull rabbits from hats has finally deserted him with his new signings struggling to settle in and the team lacking spirit and resolve.
With Gervinho and Chamakh further weakening an already precarious unit by heading off to the ACON in the New Year more investment is desperately required in January should the Gunners hope to turn their fortunes around. However, worryingly for the increasingly exasperated supporters there are contrasting reports as to what will be available to spend. According to John Motson on last weekend’s Football Focus we can expect to see a significant outlay. Yet according to other – equally reliable – sources Arsenal’s finances are such they may need to sell again.
If that should happen let us be under no illusions that the stadium egg in one basket strategy has failed them hugely. If however it’s the former then I hope you’re reading this Arsene because one or more of these players are just the ticket to get the Emirates booming out your name once more….
The 25 year old had been in storming form for the Hammers until a recent hamstring tear ruled him out for three months. This will not deter Wenger from making enquiries for a rampaging defensive midfielder who fits the bill both on and off the pitch (the Senegal international reportedly has a £4m release clause in his contract).
Galatasaray are the latest club to be heavily linked to a January swoop for Ba and it’s no surprise the Senegalese striker has such a queue of suitors considering he is Premier proven and available for a cut-price £7.5m. With goals in short supply and Giroud and Podolski misfiring Ba is an extremely attractive proposition and Arsenal are in the hunt.
The Brazilian holding midfielder is unfussy, blessed with an abundance of technical excellence, and has a mean strike when in range, all the attributes basically that Wenger loves in a player whose principle task is to break up play and start the next round of tippy-tap football. The £12m signing from Hoffenheim has been unable to hold down a starting role at Bayern since the arrival of Javi Martinez so will presumably be keen on a fresh challenge and his £10m fee will certainly appeal to the parsimonious Wenger.
How the hell do you replace such an instrumental figure in Van Persie? The strategy of doubling up on Podolski and Giroud and hoping they share the burden plainly hasn’t worked yet both players still have substantial qualities to offer. What they need is a targetman to work their mobile magic around and who better than the prolific FC Schalke hitman? The fact that he is out of contract in the summer so is potentially available on the cheap makes this one a no-brainer.
The deep-lying playmaker is in high demand with Manchester United long courting the 22 year old to stiffen up a midfield in dire need. Now AC Milan are reportedly preparing a swoop following Nigel de Jong’s ruptured Achilles that has ruled him out for the whole campaign. So the ‘Dutch Roy Keane’ would be extremely difficult to lure to north London and that’s before we get to the £20M+ it would take to shift him from Eindhoven mid-season. Even so, Strootman possesses the perfect blend of graft and craft Arsenal need to free up Wilshere and is still of an age where Wenger will feel he can improve the player even further.
Crystal Palace’s exciting young winger is speeding for the Selhurst Park exit door and heading for the bright lights of the Premier League and the only questions remain when and where. With the south London side on a promotion charge new gaffer Ian Holloway has been adamant his jewel in Palace’s crown is going nowhere until the summer. Tell that to both Manchester clubs, Spurs and Arsenal however who are all desperate to secure the signature of the star of the near-future.
For the Gunners Zaha represents the perfect upgrade on Walcott and should the glorified whippet be moved on next month expect a strenuous effort to attract the England newbie across the capital.