When Kieran Gibbs pulled up on Wednesday night, clearly crocked, little could we know that that one split second, that sprained thigh, would cost the club £8m. Because I think it’s fair to say that had Gibbs been roaming the Emirates pastures happy as punch at the end of the Liverpool game, Wenger would not have signed anyone this transfer window.
Well, circumstances often dictate all manner of things, and so it is that this morning we have Nacho Monreal. If Santos’ purchase (for a not inconsiderable fee) in 2011 was part of a mad trolley dash, this one feels more measured, and something we were looking to do anyway. I look forward to seeing him play.
I’d have preferred another striker too, and some more experience in defensive midfield, but it never materialised. It’s not really surprising, given all that we know about how Wenger does business. We were clearly in for Villa but it wasn’t to be.
So up front, we now rely on Giroud, Podolski and Walcott to play through the middle. It sounds decent, except that Walcott’s best role is further to the right, and Podolski scores and assists well on the left. Nevertheless, those are the forward options – and with 43 goals to their names, they’re very good options.
There’s Gervinho too. I’m not sure that central experiment was an unqualified success.
In defensive midfield, it’s Arteta, Coquelin or Ramsey. Jack can play there too. A little inexperienced in the absence of Arteta, but that’s it.
A new left-back makes sense, not least because our game relies on decent wing-backs. Remember January 2012, when Gibbs, Santos, Jenkinson and Sagna were all injured, in some freakish left-right voodoo? It was a total disaster. We were completely stifled. I know Vermaelen can play there, but it’s not his strongest position, and it was the death of Djourou.
We lost every single league game that January.
Given that we have only taken five points from fifteen this January, and that was with our defence at full strength, you can see why Wenger did this deal. Relying on Santos or Vermaelen at left-back would be too much to ask. It would probably have affected left wing, too, at a time when we need all our forward power to counteract some ridiculously inept defending.
So off we go! How the hell we stop the confidence and organisational rot in the defence is the million dollar question. Into this jittery back line drops Monreal.
Out of the frying pan…
Good luck Nacho.