So, the transfer window closed yesterday with a flurry of activities just like it has always been since the window was introduced. Significantly for me and you, is that there was none relating to Arsenal except for the one loan deal involving Armand Traore to Juventus on a loan deal (thank you very much Juve). While everyone and yours truly included was hoping for some kind of deal to be struck that involves Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski sitting on the bench, but none of that materialised.
That being said, if Mark Schwarzer was really signed, I’m not sure if that is an improvement on what we have. There’s a reason why he is 37 years old now and have only played for Middlesborough and Fulham for the last 10 years or so. Basically that means he is not world class. Not many fans or experts see past that fact. Quality wise, he would very much be lower or at best, on par with Almunia. The critics will look to the mistakes that Almunia have made and justify their case but in reality, the Australian drops as much clangers as the Spaniard but only with less media scrutiny and thus not remembered by many.
My main concern with the whole scenario is that it was looking that beside Schwarzer, Arsene Wenger had no other options. Was Gianluigi Buffon available? I think he was and admittedly would have caused the bulk of our transfer kitty, but still an option. Was Hugo Lloris an option (should be slightly cheaper than the Italian)? I’m sure Lyon would not have baulk if the right price was quoted. Competition is a very big motivation and everyone needs that so that no laurels are rested. If Wojciech Sczescny is the future, then I’m sure having world class keepers in the squad that trains alongside him every single day, would only serve to help his cause.
Had Arsenal and Wenger just thrown away the chance to win something this season? I don’t think he has. Yes, we would have been in a considerably stronger position with someone new and capable between the sticks. However, even the best of keepers concede goals. This is where the defenders and midfielders and even the attackers have to do their part to make sure that doesn’t happen. When silly mistakes and lack of awareness happens to the players in front of him, it is already a lost battle and any save that he makes thereafter acts as a bonus.
Make no mistake about it, Almunia is an excellent shot-stopper. Ultimately he is prone to making the wrong decisions. Even so, the markers should be there to cover the opposition players during set-pieces or even during counter attacks. Sure, Almunia could have done better with quite a number of the goals that were conceded last season but defending is a collective effort and it is not fair to him to be the only scapegoat.
I know now why Rafael Van der Vaart is not a sure starter at Real Madrid or the Dutch national side and here’s an easy tip should you ever take up coaching a football side. Just tell them this : “Today, we will play like Wenger’s Arsenal“.