Wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and hope to find you well. On this holiday that typically evokes some form of fantasy and magic, I want to join in the fun as well. No analyzing of past matches or comments, today’s post is about my wish – specifically my wish for the January transfer window.
Experienced back-up keeper
Wojciech Szczesny is our number 1 keeper and unless there’s a paradigm shift somewhere, I think he will be long a very, very long time. He is not without his fault but no keeper is at the peak of their powers at 22 years of age. That said, the only way he can improve and gain better techniques is by continuing to play in every game possible. However, while Brad Friedel and Tim Howard has remarkable record in terms of continuous gams played, it would too presumptuous of us to expect Szczesny to repeat their feat. At one time or another, we will be missing his services, whether through injury or suspension or just because he needs some breather.
Try as Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone might, and they have been given chances, but neither is capable of holding the fort in Szczesny’s absence. The former, showed plenty of improvement when he took over from Manuel Almunia but has rotten luck with injuries. The latter, capable of horrendous decision making. Meanwhile according to various reports, Damien Martinez looks a prospect but he’s still a couple of years too early to be involved. Sorry, but we cannot keep hoping for Fabianski to be fit and I’m not sure he wants to play long term second fiddle.
What I’m hoping for is an experienced keeper. Someone who is around 30 – 35 years old and have been around the blocks but is now winding down his career. Someone who has played for big clubs before and won’t be fazed to come in for the odd game, be it a league game against Reading or a FA Cup semifinal against Manchester United. Someone who can command the respect of the defense and able to bark out orders to them. Someone who doesn’t mind sitting on the bench and act as a mentor to Szczesny and the other young keepers in the squad.
Wish list – Shay Given (Aston Villa), Bogdan Lobont (Roma), Timo Hildebrand (Shalke)
At this point, we are depending on only 3 centre backs. There are still 3 competitions to be played this season, for us. Whilst the prospect of us going the distance for all 3 competitions will not be predicted by even the most optimistic of fans/experts, it would be remiss of us not to prepare for that. More than the case with goal keepers, the need to rotate the centre backs are more pressing as these players are subjected to higher physical demands than a custodian between the goal posts. Johan Djourou looked to have lost Arsene Wenger’s trust and is no where to be seen, even though he is not listed as being injured.
Say what you like about Andre Santos’ off-field demeanour (and I’m sure that most of us really like him as a person), he has not shown the same level of performance when called upon this season, compared to when he first arrived. With Kieran Gibbs’ continual long term fitness still a big question mark, the need for a quality replacement when he’s out or in need of a rest, should be the utmost requirement. If we manage to find someone who can come in and assume either task decently, then I hope that we are on his case and pressing for a transfer. Even if Santos were to rediscovered his form of last season, it still doesn’t negate the dread of seeing Sebastien Squillaci on the bench and knowing that we’re just an injury away from him making an appearance. I’m not sure Ignasi Miquel is the answer either.
Wish list – Daniel Agger (Liverpool), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier), Alvaro Dominguez (Borussia Monchengladbach)
We’ll cover the midfield and attack tomorrow. Till then, please allow me to dream and you have a wonderful holiday.