Impact Of New Signings In Striking A Balance
The transfer rumour mills are expectedly running at full capacity this week, churning out yanns (not a typo) about player movements, some believable others bizarre. An overload is imminent you feel, unless a big signing is announced soon.
Arsenal continue to chase French midfielder M’Vila although Etienne Capoue of Toulouse is also on Arsene Wenger’s radar as back up. Olivier Giroud is increasingly being linked as well, while hazarding an opinion that Eden might end up at Arsenal is surely placing too much faith in divine intervention. Shinji Kagawa is vacillating as well, while Vertonghen is seriously considering Spurs.
Amidst all this, its easy to forget that Arsenal have already made signings to bolster the first team. One of them, a certain Steve Bould, has talked of his pride at being chosen as Arsene’s assistant.
It is more than excitement, it is an absolute privilege and an honour. I know I have some big boots to fill with Pat having spent 44 years at the club and that is going to be the hard part.
While the spotlight remains firmly on player acquisitions, new faces in the backroom staff could have a crucial impact too. Arsenal’s footballing style will continue to be pursued, as it should be, but work is required to address the areas of concern. One of those is definitely our ability to defend as a team. In recent years, the accent has been so heavily on dominating possession and relentlessly going forward that we seem to have taken our eye off protecting our own goal. To that end, Bould and Banfield could prove to be as influential in our campaign next season as any new player signings.
As everyone knows, Arsenal were once more formidable in defense than in attack. For a Wenger-era Gooner like me, it was interesting reading today’s post by Arsenal On This Day about the build up to the Gunners epic triumph at Anfield in 1989. Liverpool were considered saviours of the English game then, a team that played football with determination and ambition to succeed while Arsenal were classed as being too cautious in their tactics on the pitch. Fast forward 23 years and the playing style has evolved so much that in 2012, Arsenal are being derided for not being cautious enough.
In the end, good teams, winning teams are the ones that are able to strike the correct balance. While solid defending got George Graham’s side into a great position to challenge for the title, it was only when they took the game to the opposition that glory was attained. Present day Arsenal need to work on finding that balance and if that means recruiting players to bring about that equilibrium, then those targets must be pursued.
On an unrelated note, there’s news that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s family have followed Theo Walcott’s in deciding not to travel to Ukraine for fear of inviting racist attacks. It’s an alarming piece of news. I mean if the player’s families do not feel safe, what about the thousands of fans who will travel in support of their teams? Hopefully, the authorities are taking steps to ensure nothing untoward happens and takes the shine off what is promising to be a closely contested tournament.
The England team has been training under the watchful eyes of Roy Hodgson and Gary Neville. Early indications are that Andy Carroll has taken very well to the new Adidas ball that will be used for the competition. He seemed to be discovering some form with Liverpool as the season drew to a close, and fans of the national team must be hoping he can continue to build on that form.
In the most topsy-turvy of seasons, would you bet against England winning the Euros?
Back tomorrow with more thoughts on the Arsenal.