Interlull: Good for looking back and looking forward

One of the few benefits of downing tools for weeks on end, as I am increasingly doing, is the ability to view things in splendid hindsight. After the Utd game I was a bit tetchy at the no-show in our midfield, somewhat deflated at not getting at least a point at a place we have in recent times consistenty struggled at.

But looking back at it, no real complaints. It was an excellent performance against Liverpool, followed by a sapping rearguard smash-and-grab against Dortmund. There was just not enough in the tank to make real inroads against Utd.

Our away record finally fizzled out but it’s worth noting for posterity – 16 games unbeaten was the catalyst for 6 months of upturned fortunes. Szczesny, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna – all have upped their games and are our best defensive unit in ages.

It’s also nice to observe that overall, people have been pretty sanguine about this loss. Compare and contrast with the previous league loss against Villa. So yeah, there’s plenty to be happy about.

Of course, with the transfer window peeking over the brow of the hill, thoughts turn to January. We ought to have both Podolski and Walcott back soon, both of whom could (but don’t tend to, as the team needs a Giroud-type player) play up front, but we still need more attacking options. I’m not saying we need to amass four £30m strikers, because that is patently unrealistic. But there was a time when we could muster one or all of Henry, Wiltord, Kanu and Bergkamp. Sometimes, all at once. We just don’t have that variety to call on.

I don’t know how these things work, but you’d like to think that, if we wanted someone earlier rather than later in January, we’d be doing some legwork now. For me, whether a target is cup-tied in the Champions League makes no odds – the league is probably more important and besides, you have to consider the longer-term picture anyway.

There have been some big names bandied around already (nothing concrete, but still) like Dzeko, Hernandez and Benzema. There’ll be a lot of this stuff over the next month or two but we’ve been here too many times to be anything other than cautious in the extreme. Two points about that: 1) No rival, if we are still there or thereabouts in January, would sell us one of their ‘spare’ strikers in a month of Sundays. Look what happened to the Ba deal when it became clear that the Ozil signing would make us more competitive. Canned straight away. And 2) I think it’s fantastic that we showed the ambition to spend £42.5m on a player, but it’s not the kind of deal we can afford to do often. Not many clubs can. So on that basis, if I had to bet I’d say that any player we bring in in January – if we bring anyone in – will be more in the £10m-£15m bracket, which would rule a Benzema-type player out. Partly because of availability, partly because of cost.

For now, we’re back to fiddling uncomfortably with the Giroud worry beads. In an ideal world we’d be able to rotate him in and out according to his condition. Not an option right now though.

2 thoughts on “Interlull: Good for looking back and looking forward

  1. I think Podolski and Walcott will challenge Giroud for the striker spot. I don’t think they’ll be so far off his level, even if he’s tall and great at holding up the ball. I think we can play different ways, and our strongest 11 won’t always include Giroud – if we’re really going to hit top form. Walcott or Podolski might be more electric up there.

  2. Sorry Jeff but they just won’t. Neither of them can play up front in our current formation. I’m a big fan of both (Theo in particular has been badly missed out wide) but in that position in that formation? I’d play Bendtner ahead of either & that’s saying something. We need to get Giroud to January & then get someone in.
    (maybe if we get another mad game like the 7-3 v Newcastle we would get away with Theo up there I’ll admit but that’s not going to happen often)

    I get the reasons East Lower for excusing the Old Trafford performance but the stats are terrifying : our last 13 games v Man Utd we’ve W1,D2,L10. Worse still…..the win & the 2 draws all came in May. The two draws after Utd had already clinched the title, the win came while they weren’t mathematically yet champions, but it was more or less in the bag. Or to put it another way : the last 10 times we’ve played them when they actually needed a result, they’ve beaten us.
    There’s only so much of that you can blame on refereeing, tiredness, injuries etc etc. The simple fact is they consistently play the same way against us & we consistently don’t cope. It’s very disheartening.

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