26 August 2014

The players Arsenal should target to salvage a season on the brink...

Brace yourself as we go into a season-defining clash against Beşiktaş, one that could make or break our entire season. Lose or draw, and we're out of the Champions League for the first time under Arsène—it could truly spell the end of an era, and with that, a career. I'm not one for wild exaggerations, but this is the single-biggest match in the history of Arsenal, if not of football itself. Crashing out of the Champions League might slam shut the door on our pursuit of footballers like Khedira or Cavani, for whom Wednesday-night matches are as much a part of their lives as are any weekend match. However, defeat or draw need not spell disaster as herewith I offer a few players who could still strengthen the squad.

Bariaga II: striker, Brazil.
Advantages:
  • Disembodied head displays unparalleled aerial ability.
  • Incapable of hand-balls.
  • Excels at ghosting in behind unsuspecting defenders.
Drawbacks:
  • Lacks physical presence to grapple with Prem defenders.
  • Can't offer much of a target for hold-up play.
  • Widely seen a a poor-man's Bariaga.
  • Often disappears from matches, especially on windier days.
Verdict: I don't see Arsène plumping for this one, intriguing though his skill-set may be. While he ticks off a few boxes, his lack of physicality make him a poor match for our current set-up, not to mention the rigors of the Prem. He'd be at best a squad-player, focusing on league cup or early FA Cup rounds, or as a late substitution in Prem matches after the outcome is already assured.

David: striker, Italy.
Advantages:
  • Provides excellent target for hold-up play and set-pieces.
  • Rivals or bests Giroud for physique, pace, and sex-appeal.
  • An immovable object that even the Prem's most-physical defenders cannot move.
Drawbacks:
  • Likely to provoke another sleevegate-like scandal for refusal to wear the kit.
  • Relies excessively if not completely on his right, neglecting entirely to use his left.
  • Can't create chances for himself off the dribble.
Verdict: Tough call. He might be the most direct, one-for-one replacement for Giroud, offering height and physicality up front, and his ability to occupy defenders and trap the ball down for wingers and midfielders running off his shoulders make him very attractive. However, he's a one of a kind, and he'd command dead-man's prices, and we all know how allergic Arsène is to overpaying.

David Luiz: defender, Brazil
Advantages:
  • Single-minded, ruthless obsession with victory.
  • Speaks German just well enough to communicate with Per, Mesut, and Lukas.
  • A cultured sophisticate who might rival Arsène for effete affectations.
Drawbacks:
  • Consistent and repeated failure to achieve victory on any level.
  • Multiple felony convictions could prove to be a distraction on the pitch.
  • Terrible first touch due in part to size 
Verdict: While he could offer an edginess to a squad often short on that killer-instinct, he perhaps takes it too far on occasion as even Flamini gets visibly nervous at the mention of his name. After passing on Balotelli and Suarez, could Arsène bring himself to sign a murder-prone maniac, even one as attuned to the finer things in life as Bob is?

Inanimate carbon rod: defensive midfield, shadowy former Soviet bloc black market
Advantages:
  • Ability to afflict defenders with acute radiation poisoning.
  • Lock-down defender who refuses to let the door open.
  • Nearly inexhaustible source of energy.
Drawbacks:
  • Ability to afflict teammates with acute radiation poisoning.
  • Unpredictable and unmanageable, prone to sudden, uncontrollable outbursts capable of rendering entire ecosystems uninhabitable for generations.
  • Will be difficult to dispose of once he's superfluous to our needs.
Verdict: He can quite literally light up the pitch from end to end, but his sullen, unstable persona might make him a poor fit in the locker-room. Opposing teams would always have to worry about how he'd be deployed; would he fill a defensive role, or would he be unleashed as an offensive weapon? That kind of tactical flexibility might appeal to Arsène as he looks to diversify his, um, arsenal.

Feh. All fun and games aside, Wednesday's match is a must-win. Should we fail to advance to the Champions League group-stage, each of the aforementioned characters is a more-likely target for us than Cavani, Carvalho, or Khedira, to name a few. We'll go in, of course, without Giroud, Arteta, Gibbs, Walcott, Gnabry, or Ospina, each of whom is injured; while also missing Ramsey, who is serving a suspension for a second yellow in the first leg. We'll have to play a bit of a make-shift XI, which intensifies the pressure that much more. Even with the stakes as high as they are, we don't have a full-strength squad to play. Beşiktaş didn't threaten often in the first leg, but they put a scare or two into us.

In reality, though, it's probably best for our mental and emotional health, not to mention our job performances, marital stability, and other such elements to prepare not for the worst but for the most-likely scenario. For as gloomy and tetchy as we might feel right now, I do believe that the most-likely outcome on Wednesday is a win, one that books our place in the group-stage and allows Arsène to pull in one or two significant signings through the window before it slams shut.

I hope I'm right. Please, tell me I'm right? Offer reassurances in the comments-section below...