Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Tuesday April 22 2008
Former Gunners Boss and player George 'Stroller' Graham has asserted that Arsene Wenger will have to spend big in the summer if his squad is to snatch the Premiership crown next season. Graham remarked that the paucity of players in the Arsenal squad and a lack of mental and physical strength has cost them in this campaign.
'After three-quarters of the season, they were five points clear, absolutely over-achieving, and then in the run-in, they are stumbling all the time.
'He must look back and ask: 'did the players get tired? Why did they get tired? Did he have a strong enough squad? Were they too inexperienced to get over the white line and win the trophy?'
'He needs, in my opinion, three or even four ready-made players, which will cost a lot of money - and that may be a problem because I don't know if Arsenal have got a big budget to get new players in next season.'
I don't necessarily agree. We need a few more squad addtions certainly, but we do not have to spend big. It is well documented that most of Arsene's best finds have been signed for relatively sparse sums. As Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure, Robin van Persie etc, etc, etc prove, big players do not necessarily have big reputations. Graham might also do well to remember that during his final campaign in charge, he was often greeted with chants of 'spend some f*****g money.'
In all seriousness, I have a great deal of respect for George's opinion, he was a great manager for us despite the shenanigans of his last season. 'Certain players at Arsenal keep on getting injured, and you know next season, the same players will probably be on the treatment table a lot.
'I think he needs three or four, and I think he needs three or four ready-made players, star players who are going to cost big money and big salaries, which will not go down well at Arsenal.'
Whilst it's hard to disagree with the first statement, the second statement again bears analysis. I think Arsene will do what he has always done, sign good players. Splashing out on 'stars' is not always the recipe for success, Veron, Shevchenko and Morientes all fit Gerge's bill. (John Jensen, Pal Lydersen and Colin Pates probably do not). Wenger has already said he will sign a so called 'star player' if he feels said player meets his criteria. If not, I'd certainly settle for another couple of Bacary Sagna's.
When asked what they need to add, Graham added: 'Through the middle, the spine of the team. They need a world-class goalkeeper, they need a centre-half, they need more mental and physical strength in the middle of the pitch.
'Unfortunately, their strikers seem to be picking up a lot of injuries, so they need somebody to play alongside (Emmanuel) Adebayor, who I think could develop into a world-class player.'
Date:Tuesday April 22 2008
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