The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

We’re Really in Trouble

It’s four months.

We are fucked. For. Life. Here’s the key quote from the man who Wengs:

“”It is more likely yes [that we will buy in January] but we have internal solutions. We are not desperate. Of course we can still challenge for the title.””

How you read that quote all depends on how far you trust the man these days. Charitably, you might say that he’s hedging to maintain his players’ confidence and hopefully maintain some leverage on the market when he does buy as he clearly now must; uncharitably, you might say he’s once again setting himself up to negotiate in a somewhat-less-than-good-faith manner, offering just below what the other party considers acceptable so that he can say he tried, and then return to his previous policy of sticking with his current hand-picked crew. Which of those interpretations comes nearer the mark we will know in about 40 days. Meanwhile, it says something that some of the players who would perhaps qualify as “internal solutions” with a bit of positional jiggering- Wilshire, Ramsey, Vela- have rarely been trusted to even get off the subs bench in league play this season.

I think we all more or less expected before this season that the first-choice Arsenal 11, while talented, were probably not really a title-winning team; we’ve now seen subtracted from that unit their best player and offensive engine for the bulk of the remainder of the season, their starting right wing for a few more months, the starting left wing on and off for weeks at a time, Toure has barely been present even when available due to his malaria struggles, and there’s been additional man-games lost here and there throughout the squad in predictable fashion- as well as the long-term issues with Rosicky and Eduardo. We’re left with a situation in which to plug the gaps, players who aren’t good enough in their natural positions play out of them, while other options are either deeply out of favor or else too young even for Arsenal to be considered. The starting 11 were probably 2 or 3 players away from a title to begin with; now the side is likely 5 players away from a title this year, and much more realistically they’re probably 2 or 3 players away from a top 4 finish. Nasri is a strong bet to miss more time at some point this season- if and when he’s out, without reinforcement a midfield of Diaby, Denilson, Song, and Eboue will be sent out to try and gain crucial points. Even with Nasri and Walcott whenever he returns, that is still not a midfield with great creative ability or defensive ability or consistency, nor is it all that well suited to getting the most out of two mercurial and touchy strikers in Ade and RVP who rarely if ever have any relation to each other during the game, requiring different and independent service. There’s just not enough goals in that set-up to consistently mask the issues in defense, which at this point we have to assume are just not going to be solved in the short or medium term. That’s not a top 4 team.

New players were going to be required all along, once the decision was made to allow so many midfielders to leave in the summer. Under kinder circumstances, the need to replace Flamini might have become gradually apparent to Wenger during the season and perhaps one player could have been added in January to fill that gap and allow at least the semblance of a title challenge in a year in which apparently no one wants to seize the race. That would have been papering the cracks, but it would have been just about defensible. What the injuries have done is change this from a situation of needing to add one, maybe two players to a mix to really challenge again, to needing to do severe structural work on the team. Players have had their opportunities through those injuries, and been badly exposed; the shocking lack of depth is apparent, the flaws and limitations of even automatic first-choice players like Denilson and Adebayor has been exposed, some of the prized youngsters have been revealed as total morons who aren’t good enough, and now all of a sudden the season and the near-term future of the club depends on Wenger’s ability to succeed brilliantly at the thing he’s worst at as a manager at a time- January window in a credit crunch- when it’s probably harder to do so than any other time. Arsenal at their best are a finely-tuned, ultra-efficient machine; what we’re seeing now is how one or two broken parts of that machine can lead to burst pipes, stripped gears, and a total seizing up. The chances of Wenger now putting together a title contender for this year are vanishingly small, the chances of him putting together a top 4 team probably 50/50, and yet as fans we’re still wondering if his heart is even in the attempt or whether he’s willing to throw this season away to try and make a point about his players. How did it come to this?

It’s all coming down to a month for Wenger to save this.

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December 23, 2008 - Posted by | The Arsenal | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Injuries have killed our consistency, along with poor leadership. I don’t know if buying is going to solve either of those two problems, but I don’t think we have a choice.

    And thank fuck you don’t doom like this over “there”. đŸ˜‰

    Comment by scottyus | December 24, 2008 | Reply

    • Actually, that was Brendan who wrote this post. Sean = DodgyKeeper.

      You can tell at the bottom of the post. If it’s submitted by “theshipbesinking”, it’s Brendan…if it’s “primetimeswift”, it’s me.

      Thanks for reading!

      Comment by primetimeswift | December 29, 2008 | Reply


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