Two weeks away and what have I missed? Not so much really. Podolski is the only confirmed signing, Alumunia departing. Plus a whole lot of the usual speculation. If it were all to be believed, Arsenal are bidding for a dozen or so players and have already been snubbed as many times.
The hard and fast announcement is that Manuel Alumunia, Gavin Hoyte and some teenagers are not having new contracts. This will be heartbreaking news for the young players especially, that they haven’t made it at one of the top four English clubs having had the choice. But hundreds are earning a living at other clubs and so good luck to them in finding a place to play professional football.
I’m not sure how many first team starts Gavin Hoyte had in his time at Arsenal, I suspect you could count them on one hand. So it probably hasn’t come as such a shock to him. No shock either for Manuel Almunia. There’s been a fair amount of crap thrown at Almunia since the announcement. I used to say such stuff was surprising, but sadly it isn’t. Personally I wish him well. He’s clearly a good guy and I think he always gave his best. Sadly his best wasn’t the level Arsenal needed. He’s an agile shot stopper who distributes the ball well. But he’s also indecisive and too often in the wrong place.
I don’t think he was ever meant to play as many first team games as he did. I don’t think that Arsene Wenger was looking so much for a cheap number one as someone who would bridge the gap between Lehman and Fabianski. But as we know, Fabianski’s development didn’t go as well as hoped and Almunia played over one hundred games. I think he could do a good job for another club and I hope he finds a good deal somewhere.
A lot of the transfer speculation revolves around Yann M’Vila and Jan Vertonghen. There is so much contradictory stuff being said about M’Vila that it is hard to pick out a real consensus. A couple of weeks ago there was a firm story that he was coming to Arsenal that was written up by some respected football journalists. Since then though it’s been as clear as mud.
As for Vertonghen, it appears from direct quotes that he wants to come to England and that Spurs are interested. And him in them. The interest of both is plausible. Spurs need more fitness and quality in the middle of their defence. Vertonghen will want to play rather than sit on someone’s bench. Some have chosen to portray this as a snub to Arsenal or more evidence of Arsenal’s transfer market incompetence.
But if Vertonghen comes to Arsenal he will have to compete with Koscielny, Vermaelen and Mertesacker for his favoured spot and Gibbs and Santos for his second choice position. The idea that this might not appeal is not exactly a big indictment of Arsenal. If he comes, well and good, he looks a decent player. If he doesn’t, no big deal as far as I can see.
Far more important is finding a good, disciplined defensive midfielder. Arteta is a great bridge between front and back. Song, when he’s set his mind to it for the whole ninety minutes, has played some immense defensive games. But he doesn’t always see himself as the holding player and wants to attack as well.
We need someone you gets their satisfaction out of being the defensive midfielder. Someone who sees their job as owning the space in front of the back four, stopping the attacks through the middle and covering when a defender get drawn forward. And nothing else. That might be Yann M’Vila or Lucas Biglia or one of the many others mentioned. That’s the transfer news I’m hoping for. And, of course, the news that we don’t need a new striker!