I won’t lie. van Persie’s announcement a couple of days ago left me gutted.
As of time of writing, there are still no developments on his situation as to whether he will honour his contract and stay, or surprise everyone by signing a new contract or just be sold. Also like a few fickle Gooners, I won’t jump on the bandwagon of ‘Kroenke out, Gazidis out, Wenger out’, just by reading a piece of paper published by the yes-men of a certain Uzbeki who has a dark shady history and been linked with allegations of trafficking, rape and murder.
I intend to reserve my judgement on this situation until I see what decision and comments Wenger makes about all this chaos and how he acts. As a humble fan of this great club, all I can talk about is how we can deliver on the pitch and ride our way back to greatness, instead of musing on who is the better between the two mannequins’ ala Kroenke and Usmanov.
Assuming that the not-so-flying Dutchman leaves and it is the most likely possible outcome given Wenger’s history of shipping out unhappy players, the Club is tasked with replacing a 30 goal striker with fantastic movement around the box and one of the leaders of last season. Tactically speaking, we have to ask ourselves the question as to which has been the bigger loss in the last couple of summers – Fabregas or Persie?
The more important question is do we rely on a single superstar to guide us to glory, only for them to leave us for greener pastures just because they couldn’t handle the weight of the cannon? Or do we place our trust and hope in a bunch of hardworking, classy players, who actually work as a team and toil for the crest and relish it with pride? True, that the 2011-12 season belonged to the moneybag clubs like City and Chelski, but still there were tremendous success stories like Montpellier and Dortmund, showing that Arsene’s philosophy and dream can still be achieved.
A week ago, I had an article on a strategy that we might use next season (Arsenal-Milan hybrid), which involved Persie more as a false-9. What we will miss next season is not the 30 odd goals; Podolski and Giroud are more than capable of compensating for it, but what we will miss is the playmaker-like quality that he possessed. Technically speaking, we have just lost 3 playmakers in 2 summers (Arshavin might be the 4th this summer).
Podolski and Giroud both are technically different players than these playmakers. Podolski is more of a strong workhorse with a powerful shot whereas Giroud is the classic No.9 with fantastic aerial ability, hold up play and the hungry predatory instinct which I dare say, even RVP lacked. A few nostalgic fans might remember the 4-4-2 which we employed during the Invincibles season, but even that is not a possibility anymore, as 4-4-2 is a rather defunct formation having weaknesses which good teams can exploit; it can be used temporarily depending on the nature of the situation, but not as the base formation.
RVP’s departure might force Wenger to get a playmaker to add that level of creativity needed to make players like Podolski and Giroud tick. Not all hope can be pinned on the young shoulders of Jack, who I assume might not be rushed into more than 20-25 games next season.
Whoever the new playmaker is, what we can expect is a bit of unpredictability from Arsenal next season, as the opposition might not know where the goals will come from, and that bodes well for us. Also, I assume that if we indeed get a playmaker, Song might not neglect his defensive duties after all as there is no added pressure of creating chances. A midfield of Song and Arteta aptly supported by Coquelin, Frimpong, Wilshere and either of Diaby or Ramsey looks solid enough. It is the ‘hole’ that is lacking quality with Rosicky as our only main pure playmaker.
In the circumstances that the opposition tries to single out this playmaker, we can fall back on the options of last season ala Arteta and Song. Add Wilshere and Diaby(whom I expect to surprise everyone and have a great season), and we have secondary options as well to carry out playmaking duties.
What is important is that we manage to keep our players fit which can result only from a slight change of training regime, as this new look side has enough quality and more importantly, the right balance to challenge for the title. The future of the Club like Wilshere and Chamberlain can be slowly blooded in, alongwith the likes of Miyaichi, Afobe, Jenkinson, Gnabry etc, guided by the veterans Arteta, Rosicky,Vermaelen, Mertesacker and others. Who knows, the departure of van Persie might even be blessing in disguise, in the long run. But to start off this wonderful dream, what the Club has to do is to make the necessary signings and make them fast.
A team can only be successful only when it properly gels in and the teammates understand each other telepathically. Trash this possession football stuff and get back the beautiful counterattacking Wengerball where each player contributes !
Suggesting all of this seems quite easy by just sitting in front of the laptop, but it is not impossible, especially given that we have one of the best managers in the world at the helm. I won’t cry my eyes out just because one of our strikers left, but I will certainly start worrying the day this man decides to leave.
Written by Sagar Tarkhadkar