They tell me patience is a virtue and Arsène is the most patient and virtuous of men. Look at last summer, the reasoning goes, he signed Mesut Özil as the transfer window closed. QPR will be hoping that he leaves signing a striker that late as well. With Loic Remy having ‘failed’ one medical already this summer, they will be accede reluctantly to the deal with barely five minutes to go. Long enough for the paperwork to be filed with the Premier League, too late for a medical. Arsenal have form in this area, Mikel Arteta signed without a medical being necessary.
It all depends on the results of Olivier Giroud’s scan yesterday. Strikingly, histrionics have been noticeable by their absence in this morning’s press, probably because of City’s comfortable win over Liverpool last night which served to prove nothing that we didn’t already know about the coming season; they are very good, Liverpool will struggle in front of goal without Suarez and if Jordan Henderson is the answer, Jack Wilshere isn’t asking the right questions of Roy Hodgson.
Giroud, we are reliably informed, will be out for any length of time ranging from weeks to months. More will be revealed at Arsène’s pre-match press conference today and from that the expectation of transfer activity in the forward line may be gathered. Whatever the case, this incident ought to spark action from the manager. I know he has to praise the likes of Campbell and Sanogo; anything less would undermine their confidence.
However, there is scant evidence that either is a replacement for Giroud. Campbell has played most of his career as a wide forward and Sanogo for all his endeavours must surely be testing the manager’s belief in him. A goal may change that but four against Benfica didn’t open the floodgates. He worked hard at Wembley but was unable to score either of the presentable opportunities he had, something a player with aspirations to lead the Arsenal line should surely have done?
Campbell believes he has the abilities to slot into the team but when talking about the future, he is careful not to pigeonhole himself by talking about one role in the side. Mention the World Cup and thoughts turn to a hardworking centre forward. Likewise the three seasons on loan and the winger who cuts inside springs to mind. Versatile certainly but a long-term alternative? It’s a hard time growing up in front of the Arsenal public, Sanogo and Bendtner will vouch for that.
Both players may be the future but Arsenal’s needs are now. Very few of the young players who have come through have been immediate successes but that is what Arsène requires.
More importantly, it seems most likely that Arsenal will go into the Champions League qualifier this week without a recognised centre forward. It will change Wenger’s thoughts on the game, particularly since Saturday’s first half experiment with Alexis Sanchez in the central role failed due to others not working in tandem with the Chilean. That will come over time I am sure but can Arsène afford to take that risk in a match of such importance.
How he must rue the opportunities his charges missed in Istanbul. How grateful he must be that Demba Ba did likewise.
It is a headache the manager could do without, particularly since he built up Giroud at the weekend. It’s ironic in an Alanis Morissette way that Wenger’s Champions League future should rest on the fitness of one of his own players. Having withstood pressures down the years from rivals, he finds himself with a home game in which Arsenal must score at least once to progress and a distinct lack of in-form goalscorers. Indeed, if Arsène persists with Sanchez as centre forward, all the club’s scorers this season will be missing from the starting XI unless Wenger decides Laurent Koscielny’s injury is worth risking in a match of this importance.
If Giroud is absent for months, it raises questions about the reported departure of Lukas Podolski. Arsène’s patience may have run out with the German but his short-term needs override the ambitions of the player. For all the talk of deals being agreed with Juventus, Arsenal need to qualify for the Champions League and Podolski will offer some physical presence through the middle tomorrow. He will however be cup-tied and his value to the Italians diminishes as a result; would that sink a deal if it is made? Should Arsène worry about that in the absence of other alternatives arriving?
Elsewhere, it seems that William Carvalho wants to be Arsenal’s William with Sporting now ready to deal at £24m which is only €30m if you use the kiosk foreign exchange rates and I hope Arsenal get better deals than that. The FX rate that is, not Carvalho who seems to have all the physical attributes that are desired in a midfield signing. Whether anything happens on that front depends you suspect on Giroud. One arrival this week is feasible, expected even if Champions League qualification is achieved. Without that, it might well end up with Danny Welbeck…
A transfer window with Arsenal desperate for a particular type of player and the clock ticking down? Who would have guessed at that happening?