Wenger has signalled the end of Arsenal’s transfer dealings by announcing that Arsenal are “open to more signings” but want to focus more on the things that Arsenal got wrong last season and correct them (as a team) rather than focus on new signings. It’s a statement Wenger makes, with some variation, every year when he’s done shopping the transfer market.
I have some complicated and contradictory thoughts on this. Maybe not complicated, just contradictory.
On the one hand it is inarguably correct to say that Arsenal need to improve the players and system that they already have. If you can get a world class season out of Aaron Ramsey that would be a huge achievement for both him and the team. I can go on: Theo Walcott needs to improve his passing and ball-handling skills, Ox could improve his defensive awareness and decision making with the ball, Mesut Ozil could improve his defense, Mustafi could improve his aerial ability.. Every player has something they could improve and individual improvements help the player in their career as a professional and help the team.
Meanwhile, Wenger’s all out attacking system could use some refinements. Not playing the center mid as a fourth forward would be one, and working out a way to score against teams that pack the final third would be another. Wenger could also be organizing the defense so that it’s not so open when a player (Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ox, etc.) does bomb forward – overlapping runs cause chaos but need to be balanced by teaching other players to cover for the runner, something Arsenal routinely don’t do.
There are so many things that Wenger could, should, and absolutely might possibly I hope be working on: winning the ball back in dangerous positions, pressing, sitting back and soaking up pressure, free kicks, counter attacking with speed, keeping possession, defending corners and set plays, eating right, how to read Raymond Carver’s deathbed poetry a course taught in German by Jens Lehmann, YELLING AT PEOPLE (also taught by Jens), do you really need an agent Hector I mean really, how not to throw a tantrum in the middle of the field when things aren’t going your way Alexis, etc. ad nauseum.
Wenger is 100% correct to say that Arsenal need to work on things and that working on things should be the priority.
Also, Arsenal need more signings – these two things aren’t mutually exclusive, which is the lie in Wenger’s statement. Yes, we can and should be improving the squad in training and we also should be improving the squad with awesome purchases. Which Wenger is probably hopefully and I’m praying to Joe Pesci also doing that right now but I’m not at all confident he really is unless Alexis does go to PSG and then maybe Arsene will go out and get a player(s) but damnit if Arsenal’s injury record to key players isn’t one thing that scares me.
Aaron Ramsey has only played 45+ games once in his career and averaged just 36 games a season over the last four seasons. Ramsey’s hero, Frank Lampard, only had three seasons at Chelsea where he played less than 45 games and averaged 49 games a season over his 13 year career. That means, Wenger has to plan for at least 20 games a season without Ramsey and possibly a similar number of games without Xhaka.
Again, here, Wenger has choices but again you don’t have to chose just one! He can make players in his squad fit into those holes when those players go down, with minimal loss of quality, he can hope his new head of fitness can work miracles, AND he can buy replacements. So, he can turn Elneny into a top quality, line-breaking passer like Granit Xhaka and teach him to play defense (not that Granit is a rock in defense or anything) or he can replace him with another number 8 who can slot in along with either of Ramsey and Granit for when they inevitably get injured. But he has to do something and prepare for that eventuality now. And, obviously, improving fitness is a huge boon to the team. I lean toward buying a player while also doing those other two things, but that’s just me. Wenger leans toward not buying a player and sort of working on those other things: it’s a formula that hasn’t worked in over 12 years.
I also (like you – because we both probably read Arseblog News) heard that PSG are back in for Alexis. That may provide you with a tempting outlet to be shot of this player if that’s your inclination. My inclination is that I don’t want to lose him and if we do, we need a world class™ replacement.
Worryingly, I noticed that Wenger is experimenting with Lacazette on the left and Giroud in the middle. And it worked. That seems to indicate that regardless of whether Alexis is with Arsenal next season, Wenger has a plan and that it might not include signing a new player, unless something miraculous happens and Arsenal are offered another Özil.
Right, well, I guess I’m off to buy some lottery tickets. Like the old saying goes, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a replacement for Alexis.