15 July 2015

Who needed Schneiderlin when we have Ramsey and Wilshere and Ox and Cazorla and Rosický...

While it's been a bit alarming to see Man U aggressively signing players, even more so one or two whom we've pursued, a bit of perspective is perhaps helpful. Morgan Schneiderlin, for all of his virtues, is not the defensive midfielder we're looking for—not as competition, support, or upgrade on Coquelin, anyway. He might have made for a nice addition to the squad, but he's more of a traditional CM than DM. As such, he'd find himself fighting against Ramsey and Wilshere for time on the pitch at a position at which we're already ridiculously deep. Throw in Cazorla, Rosický and the Ox, and is it any wonder Schneiderlin figured that his best chance at playing lay with Man U, whose midfield was held together by duck tape and baling wire for most of the past season?

Yes, yes, we all know that Man U ultimately offered higher wages, but that only goes so far. Surely, a player like Schneiderlin wants to know that he'll actually play, and that was something that Arsenal just couldn't offer him (along with the wages). We seem to have reached a point where we're no longer in need of dramatic upgrades, and missing out on marginal ones shouldn't be seen as much of a setback. For those seeking a bit of context regarding Man U, they've added Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, and Depay but have parted with Falcao, van Persie and, apparently, Di Maria. The new pieces might fit Van Gaal's system a bit better, but I'm not intimidated by them.

While there are players out there who would make for a clear upgrade on who we have, none of them is available at a price we (or anyone) is willing or able to play. While it's potentially distressing to see us miss out on Schneiderlin, Vidal (maybe), or Kondogbia, we've dodged a bullet with Carvalho, whose broken leg will see him miss three months or more. Of course, that news should remind us of what could happen to us should Coquelin suffer injury...or fail to rise to the levels he showed in the last three months of last season's campaign. Our only other "true" DMs are Flamini and Arteta, who, to coin the phrase, turn slower than milk, and the prospect of watching either of them try to hold the line against Chelsea or Man City is surely enough to turn one's stomach faster than drinking turned milk.

Without making too much of them, it's worth noting that in our squad we have Debuchy, who started his career as a deep-lying midfielder; Chambers, whom Arsène may groom as a defensive midfielder; and Bielik, signed as an actual defensive midfielder. Among the three, they should be able to cover often enough to keep Coquelin fresh.

In a sense, we've been spoiled by the sprees of the last few transfer windows. Özil and Alexis were orgasmic signings, overshadowing the arrivals of Welbeck, Chambers, Debuchy, Ospina, and Gabriel, among others. This summer's arrival of Čech seems to suffer by comparison, even if he could add ten points to our haul (and help us win our Champions League group or advance past the round of 16...). It seems then that, like junkies, we crave another hit, another signing whose transfer-fee rises above £30m, before we can convince ourselves that we're ready to compete. That craving, though, reveals our own insecurities more than it proves the squad's own deficiencies.

Chelsea may have loaned in Falcao and signed Begovic, but they've lost Čech. If it's true that Čech could add ten points to our total, it stands to reason that Chelsea could drop a few as Courtois' form drops a bit. Man City may have added Raheem Sterling while parting with Negredo, but they still have some pressing needs to address.

As it stands, there are still seven weeks to go before the transfer window closes. If anything, we're a bit ahead of our usual schedule with the signing of Čech. Arsène, for all of his penny-pinching pusillanimity, is also quite cagey. It's not for nothing that we have Özil, Alexis, and Čech. Something in me feels that we'll land one more top-shelf signing along with two or three mid-level signings. Who they'll be is an open question. We may have to play a few matches before landing him (or them).

Speaking of matches, we have one upon us as the lads face off against the Singapore XI. I'm pretty sure the result will augur well for our fortunes in the Prem and beyond.

'til tomorrow...