I think that it is fair to say that if Van Persie had not got injured we would be top of the league right now; well, I feel confident that every Arsenal supporter would agree with that, perhaps there is the odd misguided Chav who might try and differ but what do they know?
A great debate followed as to whether the squad had what is takes to compensate for the loss and go on to win the league. Many felt that Walcott, Eduardo, Vela and Bendtner were more than enough while early losses against Sunderland and Chelsea gave strength to the view that a new striker had to be bought at all costs to save our title hopes. We will probably have to wait until the end of the season to find out who is right.
In the mean time, I regard it as absolutely normal for any supporter to want the club to strengthen the squad in every single transfer window, January being no exception and, what’s more, I like the way Wenger is going about it.
It is often assumed that Wenger targets his man and goes after him as soon as the window opens, if not before: Vermaelen, Sagna and Eduardo spring to mind but I am not convinced that that is always the case. It seems to me that sometimes he has to advertise that he is in the market to strengthen a particular position and wait in hope that offers come in.
And that, it also seems to me, is exactly what he has done in recent weeks: as soon as Van Persie got injured Wenger made it clear via the press that he would be entering the January transfer market. This was an advert aimed at all the agents throughout the world making them aware that if they represented a striker that Arsenal might be interested in they should get in touch.
The reason I like this so much is that it removes the possibility of later finding out, for example, that David Villa would have entertained the idea of signing for Arsenal if only he had known. Unfortunately, there have been no press reports that he might be interested but it has flushed out rumours of Huntelaar and Benzema among others I suspect that we havn’t heard of.
This plan would have almost certainly attracted interest from agents of lesser players that are of no interest to Wenger which, to me, validates the statement of: ‘We will only buy if they are better than what is already at the club’ and quite right too.
So, we are in a position of hoping for a late Christmas present, otherwise we have to rely on the strike force that we have and this is not all doom and gloom. Perhaps it was a bit optimistic to expect Eduardo, Walcott and Vela to hit the ground running but after the frustration at Burnley there were real signs against Hull that we have found a system that might take us successfully to the end of the season.
The main protagonists are, of course, Arshavin and Vermaelen, the latter taking care of the defence and the former now dictating the attack. The Hull game was far more than a three – nil win over what should really be a Championship team, to me it as the first time we developed an attack that worked since Van Persie’s injury. It was telling that Wenger played Eduardo out on the wing and left Walcott on the bench: Eduardo is not ready and Theo may never be ready. This gave Arshavin the vote of confidence to go on and dictate terms up front. Enter Diaby, freed from the dominant influence of Fabregas, he excelled.
Which brings me to my title above: The winning system developed against Hull needs to be protected; we can beat Villa and the same team is strong enough to do it. If Fabregas is anything other than 100% fit I hope he is not included in the starting line up. If he is 98% fit and possibly strong enough to play, then leave him on the bench ready to come on if things are not going our way.