A bright and sunny morning in Arsenal-land that not even a Kalou-shaped cloud can dull. A collection of cover versions, imaginatively entitled “Under Cover“, form this week’s playlist, found here or in the right sidebar under Dad’s Jukebox. Older playlists can be found on the pages of Dad’s Jukebox.
Alexis Sánchez’s signing this week has given credibility to stories of the club’s interest in Sami Khedira and the resurrection this morning of Lars Bender as a viable alternative to his fellow countryman. It doesn’t matter if they are true or not at this moment in time, the Chilean’s arrival gives a sense of activity that is more believable than this time last year. “Buzzing” is a word I used yesterday to describe the feeling that the club signing a world-class player and it’s a feelgood factor that can only be increased as the summer progresses with the issues surrounding the depth of the squad addressed.
It isn’t only supporters who feel lifted by the arrival of players of the quality of Sánchez; the squad does as well. Even those whose future is subjected to the most tenuous of speculation are visibly lifted by this kind of signing. Mikel Arteta observed,
I’m delighted. He’s the type of player we were looking for. At some stage [last season] we didn’t have that pace up front with the injuries we had, but this year we will. We will be a threat in behind teams and he’ll give us another option.
He’s a character, too. He’s a fighter and very ambitious. I think he’s the type of player that the Arsenal fans will really like.
It isn’t rocket science to work that out; football fans down the generations have always been excited by the arrival of vibrant attacking players and we are no different from our sporting ancestors. It creates a real atmosphere about the club with even people in the office who know nothing about football, talking about Arsenal spending this kind of money. Not in a bemused way either, it’s the sort of chatter that suggests a club is moving forward and not the retrograde steps of selling your most prolific striker. That’s a sign that Liverpool are still trailing in Arsenal’s wake; we’ve been there and done that several times already with a number of star players kicking their heels around the globe having realised the grass was indeed not greener.
Sanchez spoke of winning trophies and it is an ambition shared by his colleagues, crystallised by Arteta,
It is a very good statement to show where we are going. I think we are going in the right direction, the club is ambitious, the directors are ambitious and we are going to fight for big aims.
The FA Cup was good but not enough and we want to improve on that.
The Spaniard summation captures the mood perfectly. The millstone was lifted with the victory over Hull six weeks ago and having weighed heavily around their necks, has been laid on the floor to be used as a stepping stone towards bigger things. It’s crucial that the club capitalise on the mood at the moment, potential signings are attracted by the type of player Sánchez is. There is no coincidence that Arsenal is mentioned as a potential destination for the likes of Khedira with salaries previously unimagined, deemed credible in the club’s wage structure.
As Arteta points out, the injuries hit us hard last season and now is the time to invest to mitigate their potential for disruption. Getting the business early means less pressure on Theo Walcott’s recovery, for example. In theory, Arsenal having plenty of options on the flank ought to be able to bring him back gently without needing to throw him into a hectic schedule of games. That can only be good for the player’s health and in turn, the long-term well-being of the club. It also has a knock-on effect in the dressing room; players will be more minded toward renewing their contracts if they believe in the club’s desire to provide them with the silverware they crave. Winning begets winning.
The move for Khedira has been given impetus by Real’s desire to sign everyone’s favourite Hamez and Kroos from Barcelona. If he or Bender arrive, that for me is the midfield and forward line resolved. There is an adaptability surrounding the likes of Walcott and Sánchez that provide flexibility for the squad. Yes, it would be nice to have a player to directly challenge Giroud for his place in the side, that kind of competition only brings the best out of the squad. It is not so urgent now and frankly if he, Podolski and Sanogo can’t score with the sort of service Sánchez, Özil and Cazorla among others, can provide, they aren’t good enough to play for Arsenal. Giroud has proven he can score 20 goals a season, the key for him is to now add another ten; that is going to be the difference between the manager pursuing an alternative next summer and Giroud being lauded for his form.
It’s the prospect of that attacking line-up which has people salivating over next season. Now to address the defensive aspects of the game to give them a base upon which to build. Mathieu Debuchy is taking a long walk from Newcastle so the club are looking elsewhere which unless there are plans to develop a versatility in the squad, leaves question marks over the future of Carl Jenkinson. Arsène has either developed an unhealthy obsession with right backs or he is entirely unconvinced he has found a long-term successor to the departed Bacary Sagna. We shall see who wins that battle.