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What we need this summer

ONE of those things that I’d have liked to have written about a fortnight ago but never got round to was the tasty question as to who, out of Arsenal and Liverpool, had enjoyed the better season.

It asks us to consider whether we were demonstrably better this season. Or did the ball just run our way in the cup having failed to do so for the previous however many competitions? I’d say the former as it happens: by my reckoning we deserved to win every single one of our cup games and both took on and beat the big boys and, how do I put it, got there in the end against the lesser lights.

As for Liverpool, one thing I would say is that if you think the fact that they ultimately fell short makes their league campaign comparable to many of our recent ones, you’re in cloud cuckoo land. What happened to them was, for my money, not so much the equivalent to what usually befalls us but in fact the opposite. Why? Because when it got to the business end of the season, they turned it on, whereas routinely, do quite the opposite. In the years when we’ve fallen short, we’ve clearly not been strong enough. They, for all the over-analysis that seems to accompany Liverpool games, were basically there. Play out the same scenario for the next three seasons and they’d probably end up with two titles. You can’t say that about any of our recent seasons.

And so I’ll attempt to embark on a whistle-stop tour of the squad in the few minutes I have before the newborn moans again and the noise of the 2 year-old on the monitor awakening can no longer be ignored.

In goal, Fabianski, fairly predictably has gone. I don’t particularly have the strength to go into the logic or lack of it of having a cup keeper but in a nutshell I’d say this was utterly false competition: it is one thing when your back-up keeper is jostling for league action with your first choice but when that clearly isn’t the case, I’m not sure what it achieved other than having a weaker keeper in goal for the cups. But hey ho. Clearly, we need a new keeper as Szczesny strikes me as someone who needs competition.

Sagna’s near certain departure is a sad loss. A warrior for us – the best Arsenal right-back I’ve seen and I don’t begrudge him going to Man City. Is Jenkinson ready? Possibly.

At centre-back we’re in decent shape player wise (albeit I always like to have four who can play there) – it is just those big game performances that need ironing out. At left-back we’re very well stocked – Kieran Gibbs would ordinarily be well worth a place in the England squad.

In midfield we’re much as we were a year ago: Arteta had a decent year but is not the super-class I feel we need. That long fabled cloning of Patrick Vieira hasn’t materialised – the length of his shadow is a testament to his excellence. Cesc is available and I’d take him. He’s a top, top player, he’s 27, he knows the club, he knows the Premier League and we’d be gutted if he went to one of our rivals. Some will say he is replicating what we already have but I’m a great believer that in those circumstances the result is simply that the weakest player, whoever that may be, falls by the way side, which is no bad thing.

We still lack raw, raw pace in Theo Walcott’s absence. The Ox can be very effective but is a different kind of outlet and we always look more able to vary the play with Theo there. So we continue to yearn for some kind of back-up.

And then there is up front. I do sometimes ask myself how I’d feel about Sanogo had things run his way and he’d a couple of goals to his name. Probably more positive but even then I don’t think even his most ardent supporters would put him in the super quality bracket quite yet.

So there you have it: a keeper to challenge Szczesny, someone who can play both right-back and centre-back (but doesn’t have to be first choice for either), Cesc, the son of Vieira, a pacey winger and strikers. Simples.

In the meantime, apparently today is the “deadline” to renew my season ticket. A year or so ago that “deadline” seemed to in fact mean the club began a mad scramble to find someone to take your seat but I suspect things are a little healthier now. It is amazing what a trophy can do.

There, I’ve done it. I’ve blogged.


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