There is always a familiar theme shortly before the pre-season tours begin to draw to a close and the season actual begins. As an Arsenal fan, this is almost always a sense of anxiousness and maybe even foreboding. Squad depth, or more specifically the lack of it, has long been touted as the main issue at Arsenal. This is especially so, when the almost clockworkally predictable (I know that’s not correct English… but i’m going to use it anyway!) injury pile up that happens around the end of November and into the Christmas period, strikes with a vengeance
Now, whilst I do agree the squad still needs work (i.e. a Centre-back with experience to cover for and injured and ageing Mertesacker and an upgrade on the very form-centric Olivier Giroud) the larger problem that I see is the amount of players who could be being used in the squad regularly but are being left on the sidelines whilst many of their colleagues toil with a busy fixture list.
Below shows the first team squad as per the “dot Com” and I have attempted to fit everyone in as per the starting XI with the depth for each position outlined also. 4-1-4-1 seemed the best way to fit the ridiculous amount of Midfielders and Wingers in the squad.
You can see from the above diagram that there isn’t really an issue with the number of players for each position. Even more surprisingly, it eludes to a thinking that we have 5 players who are all fighting for the 1 space as our striker.
In the midfield alone, that’s 8 players who aren’t going to get a regular starting space that could largely be rotated in and out as situation, injury or need for rest dictate.
Historically however, Wenger makes little use of rotation even during the busier periods which in turn leads to fatigue injuries, leading to an inability to rotate, leading to more injuries, leading the squad to seem “Very Thin”. Its a cyclical process that could largely be avoided with the use of proper rotation. Last season alone there were substantial periods of time where 5,6,7 or more players were on the sidelines at the same time.
Arguably, almost all of the options across both the defence and midfield are of good enough quality to be in the side and indeed almost all played their part at one time or another in the 2015-16 season. (Mertesacker excluded… Already injured)
Striker-wise however, the picture in terms of names tells a misleading picture. With Welbeck out for (probably) the majority of the season, unrealistic to come into a new season without a new striker of discernible quality and more importantly, top level experience. Sorry to Akpom, Asano, Sanogo who may some day have these qualities but are still only ‘Ones for the future’. That would leave only Olivier Giroud who had a quite spectacular burn out last season after playing pretty much every game. (if anyone has any stats they wish to provide me with for the above, please comment!)
You would think however, that should a new main striker be signed, plus a CB this would give the ability to rotate across all areas, substantially.
I think there is a lot of worry this season about how much money has been spent by other clubs this season but one thing to remember, is how poor some of those teams were. cite: Chelsea. There is a massive re-build job that needs to be done to get them back up to anywhere near competing for the league let alone anyone dominating it. Man Utd have spent a lot of money on good (but somewhat overpriced) players whilst City have kept to their recent mantra of spending a lot of money on players with more interest in their own ego. The Spuds are going to be hamstrung for a while financially.
Should we strengthen in the Key areas mentioned and the manager learns to rotate properly, this season could have a more positive outlook than many seem to be fearing.
Anyhoo. Until next time!