Football’s festive Spinal Tap came yesterday. As the back pages lauded their title challenge, the front pages underlined the Swamp Dwellers are footballing pygmies. The dirty streets around their unfinished and unusable ground “ruined the Tottenham experience”, they claimed. Nothing about an “unfinished and unusable ground” ruining the fan experience.
Bad luck to the Hoffenheim fans who caroused their way through “Last Christmas” at the weekend.
Perhaps the festive Spinal Tap is yet to come. It certainly appeared to when the idea was floated that we don’t need any more centre-backs. A quick peek at the squad shows the numbers aren’t there to play the favoured three at the back.
We could adapt quite easily to a back four but the harum scarum moments currently endured put the idea in the backburner. We would, I think, have reverted to it before now, particularly with the injury situation as it was recently.
If a back-three if your preferred defensive option, then you need six centre-backs at the club. Not all will be specialists; Monreal covering the left but, to be honest, Lichtsteiner looked distinctly uncomfortable in the role on the right. He, for me, isn’t part of the solution unless emergencies arise during the 90 minutes.
The FA Cup and Europa League further place demands on the players on top of the second half of the Premier League season; we need to heed the lessons of the past.
Mavropanos missed the first four months of the season and seems likely to miss most of the fifth. Koscielny’s injury came after a long-standing problem wasn’t addressed. Mustafi, Sokratis and Holding all minor or horrible injuries without warning for varying lengths of time. Arguably, our second best defender is out for the rest of the season. We can’t afford another serious injury.
As Rare As Hen’s Teeth
I understand the theory we should promote youth but if that was the plan, we would surely have done so in the Carabao Cup and Europa League. A quick half-dozen games to bring in some experience surely prepares them in some part for the Premier League, surely?
Were there another Tony Adams coming through, I think we’d have seen that. I haven’t seen enough of the academy sides to say definitely yay or nay either way. However, logic seems to dictate there isn’t but you never know.
One centre-back in the January window would make all the difference. As the race for top four wends its merry way to its conclusion, there’s enough evidence to show we need experience at the back to have a fighting chance of returning to the Champions League.
We’re don’t have the money for massive investment. The reality is that Enos won’t dip into his own pocket so we need to use our imagination in recruitment. Little wit is required to work out a loan solution may serve us better for the remainder of the season. I’m sure our altogether more intelligent recruitment team are more creative than that.
Is bringing back Bielik from Charlton an option? The last time we recalled a player from the Valley, it worked out well for half-a-season. Same again? It depends on why Bielik was sent there: development or shop window? If it’s the former, there’s a decision to be made. The latter sees him left in situ.
This is a test of Sven’s squad-building skills. Missing out on a fee for Ramsey is hurting our ability in the transfer market so a January solution is the answer. The ball is in the player’s court; if he doesn’t want that move, it isn’t happening.
One and One Is One
Perhaps there is something afoot in that sense. A club which struggles to be the first to announce signings isn’t going to trumpet that kind of departure without some good news to counter it. You know “Woohoo! We raised £30m with a sale” will be met with “Spend some f****** money then!”; it’s the Arsenal Way.
The answers will be found in due course. No business this winter having lost one defender isn’t too much to ask, surely? It’s not as if I think we should be signing the midfielder we need as well…