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Squad depth is key

Day 3. Withdrawal symptoms showing. I’ll survive this one. Sounds like something out of the movies but it’s not too far from what I’m actually experiencing at the moment. When they play every week or sometimes twice a week, we feel like they’ve taken up almost all of our time. Now that they have gone for a bit of break, we miss them.

That said, I doubt it’s going to be a quiet break. Already today, there’s supposedly a big meeting between Arsene Wenger and Robin Van Persie which should happen in less than 6 hours’ time if reports are to be believed. Don’t think there is anything else which needs to be said on this subject matter that hasn’t already been covered to death not only on here but everywhere else on the internet as well.

But while listening to the Life’s a Pitch podcast yesterday, there was an interesting point being raised. That RvP might not want to stay without signing on because that would represent a big risk to his future. It only takes one major injury next season and he would be in a limbo. Clubs would be adverse to giving a 30 year old injured striker a huge contract. I think that is a valid point. RvP will want to protect his future. However, the flaw in that notion is the failure to recognise that Arsenal would take very good care of RvP and continues to put our faith in him, even if he suffers a major injury.

One of the things which Wenger might be drumming into RvP would be the possibility of moulding the current team into the Invincibles once again. The quotes are bound to grab the headlines with the headers probably saying that Wenger’s deluded for thinking so. When in actual fact Wenger only said that he wants to return to that level. A level which can be construed as being consistently good, instead of staying unbeaten for a certain period of time. Of the immediate target, that would be to return us to a side that is capable of challenging for the title.

To do that, I believe we need investment. It’s no coincidence that Manchester City won the league. They’ve got the strongest squad in the Premier League right now. A starting eleven of quality with the other 14 players who are of slightly lower quality but still able to contribute when required. That they have spent fortunes to achieve it, is one way to go about it. As we’ve seen recently, the team that spends the most usually ends up as the champions. A formula that has worked not only in England, but in Spain.

That’s not to say we must follow the same route. Though to a certain extent, we must. We need investment, that much is clear. Yet, there are many other ways to go about with the investment. As we’ve seen with the outcome of the matches in the just concluded league, we are more than capable of matching with the best. The disclaimer here is that it only happens when we’ve been able to field the right players in the right positions. Our best eleven is a match for anyone within this league, even the champions.

Investment means keeping the best players that we have currently and supplementing them with players in positions where we are short. This is the toughest part to do because injuries plays a big part but it’s also something which is unpredictable. Something which we can’t plan for, otherwise we might have like 30 – 40 first team players. A plan that does not work even with all the money in the world due to squad list and possible team harmony disruption.

Can you call yourself unlucky if you have periods of the season where you’re short in specific positions? That’s what we encountered first with the full backs then with midfielders and all the time with respect to the striking department. At one period we had all 4 full backs out, do we then plan for 6 or 8 full backs for next season? I don’t think we can but we can be smart and factor those into the equation when we’re looking at possible purchases. Players who are flexible and comfortable enough to slot into a secondary position when required without looking out of place when doing so.

Then in midfield we’ve had 2 places in the squad which were almost virtually unused. It wasn’t completely unused only because Abou Diaby played the odd game here and there during the second last month of the season. Something which has cost us more than we hoped for. When Aaron Ramsey suffers on the pitch, we had no option but to play him because there just isn’t anyone else fit. When Tomas Rosicky wasn’t in perfect health but still required to play on because there isn’t any other midfielder fit. That is never ideal. When you add that we’ve virtually only used 1 striker the entire season, you can see why we’ve suffered in periods.

For next season, I don’t think it is of paramount importance to bring in a marquee signing. We need backups who are of similar qualities to the current squad or perhaps those who are close to reaching that level. 25 man squad to be fully utilized as perhaps we can draw closer back to that wonderful team of 2003/04 and up for challenging titles once again.