Greetings from a beautiful hot and sunny Yokohama. Well, I say beautiful but who knows who much cesium and radioactive iodine I am absorbing as I sit here writing this. My guess is I am absorbing just as much as you are, wherever you are, but you just never know. Radiation levels here in Yokohama are normal. At the height of the initial scare a Geiger counter reading taken in Tokyo was lower than a reading taken in Rome, apparently.
Anyway, since my last post the team have put in what just may have been their worst performance of the season. I say may because there are an awful lot of performances that would give the Stoke performance a good run for its money. We were rubbish. Too many players just either not interested enough or not good enough. That is probably a 50/50 either/or split. Our squad has too many players that aren’t good enough and don’t seem to have the hunger and drive to actually put in a shift. That is something that must be addressed over the summer. Players that aren’t cutting it need to be ruthlessly shipped out in order to make space for new, better, blood.
Trying to offload some of these players won’t be easy as they are all on good salaries and that may put them out of the price range of clubs whose stature their skill set may be more suitable to. Even if Wenger chooses to offload a selection of players from Almunia, Squillaci, Eboue, Denilson, Rosicky, Vela, Bendtner and Chamakh, will he be able to? There have been people speculating that as many as nine players could be moved out, but I would be amazed if that happened. Honestly, I think the absolute maximum that may leave would be five and, more than likely, it will only be three or four. I think we can assume that Almunia is a certainty to leave, but exactly who joins him is harder to pinpoint as there are so many players that could easily be shown the door. Personally, I hope that we keep Arshavin because as frustrating as he has been at times this season, over the last few weeks he has been working a lot harder and even putting in some decent challenges, not to mention having a pretty decent stats record.
The manager said yesterday that we will be looking to strengthen the squad in the summer but then immediately shot down that balloon of joy by adding the caveat that we do that ‘every year.’ Brilliant, just the caveat that I didn’t want to hear because for the last few years we have done sod all of any great note on the transfer front. But, we may as well try to be positive and hope that this summer will actually be a busy one on the transfer front, both in and out.
One thing that did annoy me about what he said was that ‘We don’t target any special position before the transfer market.’ Taken at face value, that is just basic mismanagement. I know he is probably playing his cards close to his chest but surely he knows which positions need to be strengthened and has an idea of who he would like to sign for those positions? I know that things are complicated by the 25-man squad rule and the need to move players out first in order to make space, but you should still have your targets identified. If not, then why have such a massive scouting network? I think that we will see Man Shitty, Chavski and Liverpool spending a hefty amount of money this summer and we will need to hit the ground running in the transfer market if we are to keep up.
In yesterday’s press conference, the manager revealed that the team news for this weekend’s game is that both Fabregas and Nasri will have fitness tests today, Diaby is out (maybe I should just start writing that as DIO, as it happens so often. Though that may lead some metal fans to my blog.) Koscielny and Rosicky are both out with thigh problems. Vermaelen has a chance to start but given the injury to Koscielny you would think that Vermaelen is a certainty to start alongside Djourou.
Assuming that one of Nasri/Cesc will be fit to start, that would probably (hopefully) see us line up as:
Sagna Djourou Vermaelen Clichy
Nasri Song Wilshere
I am looking forward to seeing how Djourou and Vermaelen play together. Hopefully it will give us a bit of stability at the back and make us better at defending set pieces and crosses. Time will tell.
Yesterday, the manager also commented on the allegations by Paul Merson that the club gives the players unknown substances. He was very strong in his insistence that anything that the players are given are only supplements such as vitamins, not anything illegal. He even went as far as saying that if such a thing had happened he would resign tomorrow. No doubt that final part delighted the more hardcore ‘Wenger out’ brigade. I was at Highbury the day that Merson scored his first goal following his ‘comeback’ from rehab, but now I couldn’t care less about anything that he says, and neither should you.
Right that’s about that for today. We have two games left and we need to take all six points to guarantee third place.
Remember, you can follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/colm_smyth
Take it easy.