Crossroads?

It seems that Alisher Usmanov has called for Arsenal to spend more in the transfer market. The legion of dissenters to the Wenger transfer policy grows in numbers and grows more vocal with each season of failure. There are many reasons why Wenger has chosen to go with youth in rebuilding The Invincibles. We don’t need to explore them as they have been discussed many times. The question of resources however is an interesting one. That we’ve fallen short and at times struggled to keep pace with the teams ahead of us gives fuel to the argument that Arsenal should behave like a big club and employ players who can make a difference now.

I’ve read a quote this week, attributed to our manager – “I do as well as I can with my resources.” The quote concerns me. Was there something lost in translation or have the anti-board types been right all along? After years of constant reminders to the public by our Board that Arsene has had cash at his disposal but always chose to be frugal, is Arsene saying that there hasn’t been cash? I struggle to understand the real meaning of the quote but I stand by my manager and sincerely believe in what he is trying to accomplish.

There’s no guarantee that any player of any caliber will perform as he’s expected to. Buying big name players can be a cosmetic fix (to appease the dissenters in our case) as much as a real panacea. It’s a chance you take in the same manner as you do when choosing to go with youth. The chances are however, that the special payers that Wenger seeks – like AA23 – will come in and do the business straight away. That’s why they are special. Importantly though, they don’t come easily, often, or cheaply.

This team is not far away. We have suffered greatly from the loss of William Gallas. Like him or not he is our best defender. Defensive mistakes have undermined our chances recently. Arsenal need two world class central defenders. Gallas will be 32 next August and players must come in to push Kolo and Djourou if not supplant them. The form of Cesc Fabregas has been an issue for me since February 2008. But for a few moments over that period, he’s not been playing up to his own standards. Against United and Chelsea so far this season he’s been shocking. Man of the Match performances against Wigan and City are good but he must play big against the big teams.

We must address our goalkeeping situation. Almunia is a good keeper but he isn’t lights out. We need a world class, sound, and safe goalkeeper. Yes, he has improved but he isn’t the answer. Without going to deeply into what could turn into a season’s review, I’ll end the analysis there.

If Usmanov wants to fund transfers and wages I’m sure many dissenters to the Wenger policy will forget the fact that besides being a United supporter, he’s got more baggage than Heathrow at Christmas. Such is the level of frustration and disappointment amongst them. The coming months will be very interesting for Arsenal Football Club. We could be at a crossroads where we have to decide not just who will control our club on an Executive level but also how we’ll address the seemingly widening gap between ourselves and the clubs above us in the table.

After missing opportunities to go up against Chelsea by at least three goals in the first half today – Theo, Diaby, and Song all wasted clear chances – we were punished. Our unbeaten league run ends with a home thrashing in a London derby. The dissenters will want to use the Usmanov missive to gain momentum on the transfer policy matter. Wenger believes in his own policy and will stand firm as long as he controls the makeup of the squad. He won’t abandon the project mid stream.

But he will also seek more special players for key positions that need strengthening. I am sure of that. Finding those types of players will not be easy but is certainly possible to do. I trust Arsene will find them.

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