January: Strikers, Theo and our Busy SchedulePosted: January 8, 2013
January is a month that brings, for most Arsenal fans, a great deal of expectation. By the beginning of February we’re usually left with a host of different emotions. Of these emotions joy is rarely one.
So far this January has been no different. We entered the month with Spain’s most prolific striker, David Villa, being touted as our main target. For me this seems highly unlikely and news earlier today has confirmed Barcelona want him till the end of the season. A move for him in the summer may be feasible but at 31 you might say he is past his peak and there is the added concern that he’s returning from injury. I can’t speak for Barcelona but I can only imagine that if he had returned and was looking as good as ever that Barca would be keeping hold of him long-term. As we have seen recently with the contract extension of both Puyol and Xavi, if the quality is there age is not an issue.
Looking elsewhere, many will point to Chelsea’s signing of Demba Ba. He would have been a fantastic addition to the squad and worth the risk given his supposed injury record (his knee that’s so terrible he’s barely missed and game since his arrival to the Premier League…). Watching him against Newcastle, his movement and hold up play was excellent and he grabbed a brace for his efforts. In this case, however, the sad fact is that even if we had come in for him I am convinced he would still have gone to Chelsea. They are likely to have given him a nice big wage, one that Arsenal couldn’t rival, and though it pains me to say it Chelsea are looking far more likely to make top four than us this season.
Now we move onto our internal solution, Theo Walcott. Looking at statistics this season (14 goals in 20 appearances) coupled with individual moments of brilliance like his first and third goals against Newcastle you might say he is a pretty good option. But when you step back from that and you point to his flaws (indecisiveness, final ball, lack of strength) they are issues we all know too well and ones that we’ve been accepting for years because he’s ‘young’ and English. Given these problems I think its pretty clear he is not a long-term solution.
There have been murmurings in the press over the last day or so that a contract is close to being signed. This is great news, he may be a flawed player but he is highly effective for us a times. I do hope, however, that Arsene and the board have not bowed to his original contract demands. What he was asking for was ridiculous for a player of his quality and bluntly the way he has gone about this whole situation has really pissed me off. If it hadn’t been for the loss of Van PerSie and Na$ri in a similar way I feel he would have quite rightly received a lot more stick from the Arsenal faithful. He stands next to Jack in interviews saying how these processes take a long time when Jack has wrapped it up in a matter of weeks. Is Walcott a better player than Wilshire? No. Work harder on the pitch? No. A better bloke? No. I could go on. The point that I am trying to make is Walcott has been taking us for a ride and as fans we have accepted that because of the mistakes made previously by the club. For me he is not a striker and he certainly does not deserve to be anywhere near the highest paid player at the club. Sign the contract and that’s great but until then I will certainly not be chanting ‘Theo’ as he laps up the applause at the end of home games.
Onto the footballing side of the month and with the draw at Swansea we have landed ourselves with an extra fixture leaving us with 5/6 games depending on the FA cup result. Four are premier league games, three coming against Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool. This is a worrying schedule, our key players have started to look tired recently and given Arsene’s refusal to rotate the central three midfielders, our engine may not be running at full throttle. The supposed return of Abou Diaby to full training could theoretically help ease the burden but we all know how unreliable his fitness is.
I feel a signing or two is essential to maintaining our top four ambitions and a high quality central striker must be the priority. Either way this is a make or break month for Arsenal Football Club. I think by the end we will have a very good indication of where we will be come the end of May.