Is The Squad Too Thin?

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Had I bothered to write an entry on Friday night, I would of course have opened with the predictable ‘Gone The Baptista’ headline. As it was, I didn’t, and now it’s too late. No need to expound on that one, apart from to say he never seemed particularly keen to come, so not getting him A) comes as no surprise and B) is probably for the best.

It was pretty difficult to draw many conclusions from the Ajax game, as it was played at a subdued pace – a classic pre-season match then. It’s the third year we’ve played in the tournament, and apparently Lupoli’s goal was the first strike we’ve managed in that time. A festival of goals tonight against Porto? Don’t bet on it.

I’d say we’re in pretty good health for the upcoming season, and Hleb looks an excellent addition to the squad. However, The Grauniad picked up on something that concerns many Arsenal fans at this late stage of preseason – the shallowness of our squad. In fact, its reporter described the bench as “callow”, a word that pretty much hits the problem square-bang on the head.

Hleb, Hoyte, Cygan, Bentley, Lupoli, Eboue, Howard, Djourou and Muamba made up that bench. Hleb and Cygan aside (the former untried in the FAPL and the latter a wizened old man compared to the rest), there’s not much Premiership experience there.

In mitigation, Campbell and Gilberto are still out, and Cesc (all 18 years of him – point reinforced) is still not around, but there’s clearly a need for a couple of additions – and not raw, untested youths. We need some Champions League experienced players to fill the gaps left by Vieira and Edu, and to be honest, they don’t even need to be long-term prospects. Just players who can add a bit of balance to a squad that is big on ability but small on the school of hard knocks.

That’s maybe why we were linked with Dacourt – a player who is long in the tooth, but hugely experienced. He would have been a stop-gap, nothing more, while Cesc, Flamini, Bentley et al put a few footballing miles on the clock.

I’m not sure what to make of rumours this morning that Hoyte and Bentley might be sent out on loan. From what I’ve seen, Bentley could get 15-20 games this season, and he’d be the better player for doing it with us. He’s an extra option too, one we could do with.

Hoyte too – he can fill in at centre-back, right-back and left-back (as he has been doing this pre-season), and given we don’t have a lot of cover in two of those positions, I reckon he too could get 15-20 games this season (he pretty much got that last one).

Still, they’re only rumours, and currently not strong ones.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 29 Comments

  1. Harry Barracuda

    Danilevius scored for us against Barca in 2000 I think…..

  2. Insert_name_here


  3. Insert_name_here

    The current squad will get smashed in the EPL over 38 games. However, I get the feeling we might be able to do what Liverpool did in CL. I agree Hleb is a great addition, particularly for champion’s league.

    What we definitely need is an experienced CM. (costinha, maniche)

  4. Ares_AFC

    Thomas – Jerome Thomas he was Arsenal player, he moved to Charlton in 2004 after falling to break into the Gunners’ Premiership side. The skilful and versatile central midfielder, striker or winger has shown impressive form after being given his chance to shine in the first-team by Alan Curbishley. The England Under-20 regular was rewarded for his displays with an extended contract in December 2004.

  5. DasBoot

    I think it was Tomas Danilevicius, a Lithuanian trialist at the time. He didn’t get a contract despite his goal.

  6. RotorGoat

    So scoring in the Amsterdam Tournament is the kiss of death for an Arsenal player. Poor old Lupoli.

  7. Goodplaya

    It was indeed Tomas Danilevicius and although he did not get a contract at the time he was then signed in about February but was gone by the summer. Particularly odd….

  8. Geoff

    If I remember correctly they signed him, but found out he had a dodgy passport (greek I think) so they quickly sent him on loan to scotland & sold him shortly afterwards. What is it with arsenal & players with dodgy passports, danilevicius, silvinho, & edu.

  9. DB10

    lets hope we get dacourt.
    he’ll be good for the future of cesc and flamini.

  10. Geoff

    Does anyone know anything about this goalkeeper we are supposed to be after sebastian viera?? Probably just more rubbish reports but would be nice to know if he is any good?? I know he is the uruguay no1 but that does not often mean much!! also if he does come lets hope his supposed italian passport is not fake!! ha ha

  11. Ray

    NB We all love Wenger and recognise his greatness, but we are fans of AFC and are always going to give our opinion. Besides, nobody is perfect as shown by our record in Europe under AW. He should have kept Edu and signed SW Phillips ages ago and is now kicking himself.

    Team I would like to see in Europe this season with one extra signing:

    Toure Campbell Senderos Cole
    Hleb Fabregas Gilberto Reyes
    J.V of Hessellink Henry

    Pires, Ljungberg and Eboue very close to the first team. Bentley and Quincy would only be ready if they got to play due to injuries the way Fabregas and Flamini did last season.

    My reasoning is as follows:
    (1) Wenger loves 4 4 2
    (2) Toure is dynamic enough to be a beast of a RB and we are better when he is in the team
    (3) We need a leader at CB and although Senderos way develop into one, he isn’t ready yet. He will be stronger and better with Campbell next to him. Campbell has shown especially with England that on top form his is the best CB in the UK. (Terry is very good but overhyped and will always he slow; Ferdinand coasts in games, is slick but not a beast and has poor recovery when beaten.)
    (4) Fabregas and Gilberto formed a dynamite partnership early last season. Gilberto is an athletic strong workhorse, Cesc could be better than Xavi and will eventually score goals from midfield.
    (5) Hleb is tough, fast and is a quality passer; Reyes has great technique and won’t give the ball away so much if he has the option of a big centre forward
    (6) Henry needs a goal scorer to take the pressure off him, especially as he is captain. RVP is not strong enough yet and Henry – Reyes doesn’t work.
    (7) The reason why I like Hessellink so much is that he is very strong and can hold the ball. He scores goals (check out his stats) and plays like a warrior. Stam handles all strikers but was out muscled in both legs by JVH in the C League semi. Lastly he brings a mentality that we need – He imagines that the football is the head of a guy that used to pick on him!

  12. barry

    our squad is really thin,we need another keeper,central defender and at least one more midfielder and probably another 20 goals a season striker to take pressure off henry

  13. Insert_name_here

    I volunteer to play for Arsenal for free, but that doesn’t say much.

  14. Kos

    I agree with Barry, we need 4 players GK, CM, CB Striker and it looks like we are getting nobody. As mentioned before, we have enough great youngsters but we need proven players. To lose Vieira and not replace him is tantamount to suicide especially since we lost Edu for nothing which was a disaster. If we don’t buy any players I for one will expect us to do very little this season; 1or 2 injuries and we are ******!

  15. uncle fester

    i hate to say this but i dont think we will get any new players the way we carry on its not surprising.We really are stretching things and i fear it could end up with an empty cupboard this season i hope i am wrong but things dont look good if TH14 does not score who in the blue hell will Reyes is not the answer i find it crazy we signed him until 2009 AW must see things in him i frankly do not but thats why is the manager,a back up keeper nobody in site we should have took Kirkland on Loan for A Season he is fit if Jens gets injured we are relying on a young lad with no first team experience for f**ks sake thats taking a chance,but as Geoff as said a few times where is the money we were told we had to strengthen the squad,we have pinned our hopes on Baptista and its gone tits up with only 30 days to go they have got to move fast.

  16. Jesse

    Too thin? Not really.

    Of the two we lost, Vieira didn’t have much of a last season, nor for that matter a full one, and Edu’s contribution was next to nothing. So that’s Vieira out and Hleb in – by no means a direct replacement, but I’m sure a worthy one. Yes, one experienced journeyman like Dacourt would be welcome in midfield, but any more and we will end demotivating the youngsters that are raring to go. Apart from this we are short at the front, although you wouldn’t guess it from our goal tally, buy we’ve been too lucky with Henty’s fitness for too long. And yes we are once again exposed in goal.

    Last season our biggest problem , apart from letting in too many goals for a few months, was accommodating both Reyes and Pires in the same team. Both are great on the left, but only Pires can play effectively elsewhere. Last year this was on the right, but now he’ll get Viera’s old position, it’ll be much better balanced. I’m certain we’ll be top scorers again with Henry on about 25 and Lungberg, Pires and Reyes on about 15 each. Delicious!

    Thin? I don’t think so. Wenger will wait for the right players at the right price.

  17. Wings

    What if Henry broke a leg? We’d be in real strife. Aresenal have OVER-RELIED on him for TOO LONG. Van Persie has real talent but has he the head? With this squad I think we will be in real strife. As for champions league success, dream on.

  18. Chris

    “As for champions league success, dream on”

    If that crap Liverpool team of last year can do it, we sure as hell can!

  19. Farnborough Gunner

    The squad is too thin, without doubt. It was too thin last year, and however you tot up the comings and goings no-one can say we have strengthened.

    Losing PV is not the biggest issue in my opinon – but it is the one that it’s easy to focus on. We still have more cover in midfield than central defense and in goal, and we are too dependent on TH14 for goals.

    Stewart Taylor would have been an able understudy to Jens and could have challenged to make the position his. Bbut we let him go. Clearly AW did not rate him, but he obviously rates Almunia highly.

    PV7 in central midfield would have been a good option a few seasons back, but since his injury he has been a bit light on the tackle and needs to stay out on the wing.

  20. hp

    It’s easy to say buy.

    But how many strikers have done more than 20 goels the last two seasons (in EPL, Italy and Spain)?

    And are they for sale?

  21. begeegs

    I think that we definately need a couple of players no question.

    I am in two minds about Owen, but I honestly can’t see him being able to pass with the rest, but if we did go for him, he could easily launch on the through ball. Why not go for him? He would give us a different dimension in attack, but again, could he play with Henry?

    We need more than anything cover for Gilberto. More than a new striker, more than a keeper, more than a replacement for Vieira – imho. If he goes out, we don’t have a midfielder capable of protecting the back four and with Campbell out, that adds pressure to Toure and Senderos and my heart as well.

    Secondly, yes, the keeper. I don’t ever want to see Almunia grace an Arsenal shirt again. He is so gawd awful on crosses that everytime a ball goes into the box, it is an adventure.

    Finally, someone to play in the striking department. I don’t care if that takes away time from the youngsters. I am not yet convinced of the Reyes as a striker idea yet…..

    Pretty please Father Christmas, help us!!!

  22. Rambo

    remember clichy who has the makings of being class is still out, also if we get song, i think thats all he will get and maybe keeper that gives us good strength, and RVP will be back on Tuesday, i do not reckon Pires should be centre midfield and think that Hleb should start unknown quantity and is class

  23. Gelbs

    Wenger is a total fucktard. He sold Vieira thinking he would get Baptista. Now Baptista has snubbed Arsenal for Real Madrid, he is left with egg on his face. All the shit about how he knew he needed to strengthen the squad as the younger players can’t play all the games and lack experience, and now contradicts himself saying they can cope knowing he made a mistake in selling Vieira before getting Baptista. And what if Gilberto and most importantly Henry gets injured?! Reyes is a fucking lightweight and Wenger won’t even bother bidding for Owen who is English and would be a fucking ideal signing. The bloke as lost the plot. Not to mention letting Edu and Wiltord leaving for free and losing a potential 14 mil. Guy is a total idiot. same way he has lost the plot when it comes to playing Man U.

  24. dave

    Yes the squad is too thin…it was too thin last year….so it is obviously too thin this year. If we get some injuries we will be in real trouble… just like when we got all those injuries and suspensions when we had to play sheff utd away in the cup…the team we put out was a joke that day. The Ashburton Grove bill has cost us our period of domination which would have lasted for 5 or so years….

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