Wenger takes transfer risk

With Arsenal it may be that the risk for the club in the coming months is a lack of activity, after only signing Nacho Monreal during the transfer window. Arsene Wenger was implored to spend and to spend big after a fruitless first half of the season. Arsenal are sixth in the league, four points off fourth place and arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur. It is hard to imagine Tottenham making the same mistakes as last season, when they let a 10 point lead slip, and so Arsenal must do something special to get themselves into the top four now.

To imagine them doing that with the current squad is a bit of a stretch. On their day, Arsenal’s first team is a joy to behold and can sweep away any rival. Yet too often Arsenal miss big players through injury, and particularly recently, they have been starting games slowly, only really waking up in the second half of games.

More squad depth could have really helped Arsenal as they look to finish the season well enough to take their place in the Champions League again next season. Up front, Olivier Giroud Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski have looked prolific in recent weeks. Yet there are concerns, what if one loses form or gets injured? Where are the options off the bench? The best goalscoring back up Arsenal have is the forward Gervinho, currently with the Ivory Coast on African Cup of Nations duty in South Africa. That is revealing in itself, as the Ivorian’s decision making and finishing is questionable at the best of times.

Further back, Arsenal have suffered from a lack of depth in central midfield, particularly at the back of the midfield three, where they have been unfortunate to be understaffed with Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin both injured.

Wenger is taking a big gamble. He believes the squad he has now is good enough to finish in the top four. That presumes that they do not suffer much with injuries between now and the end of the season, which is quite unlike Arsenal. It also means they need to step up now. Last season, Arsenal did improve in the second half of the campaign, as the summer signings bedded in and gelled fully. Wenger must be hoping the same will happen now, and there are signs that Giroud, Podolski and Santi Cazorla are linking up to good effect and becoming part of a good team structure. Time will tell whether the gamble pays off.

Wenger is hoping that if Arsenal do finish in the top four as he intends, then he can spend the summer looking for better value and spending his transfer warchest. Arsenal have now come through the financing of their new stadium and can afford to spend big, really big, at a time when their main rivals, Manchester United aside, are having to endure austerity to meet UEFA financial fair play rules. It is a gamble of sorts, and Wenger must hope that he gets the rub of the green in the months ahead.