Dear Arsene: forget a striker buy a CB.

Three games: Bolton, Bolton, Stoke.  As if our team wasn’t physically depleted enough we had to play against a bunch of ex-cons from Bolton and hockey players from Stoke.  I’m not sure either team actually knew how to play football, let alone spell football.  Still, these three games exposed our defensive depth, or lack there of.  And of all the critiques Arsene has heard this year, there is one truth: our centerback situation is weak.

For the last several months, many, myself included have lamented the loss of RVP and Bendtner.  It was clear, we need a striker.  And while I would still love a striker that combines the speed of Walcott with Arshavin’s skill and Bendtner’s work rate, I’m afraid that need has become a second priority.

Our defense is just too fragile.  The loss of Song has made this even more apparent.  But even with Song, our defenders are too often caught out of position, not to mention being completely vulnerable to set pieces.  There also seems to be a growing belief that our backline can just be pushed aside.  And while I don’t subscribe to the idea that we need bruisers in our backline, we do need players that can play a physical game or, at least, are fast enough to compensate for their forward travels.

But all of this aside, the big concern is whether our current CBs can continue this tortuous campaign.  Watching Silvestre writhing in pain, my heart clenched.  We were already playing Sol and Silvestre and have let Senderos go.  Who else do we have?

What’s weird is that Arsene knows this.  Contrary to many people’s thoughts, this past summer, Arsene tried to put a bit of steel in Arsenal and add to the CBs.  He made serious runs at Sakho of PSG.  If he’d been successful, this would not be as big a concern, especially if he’d bought Vermaelen as well.  With Sakho, Gallas and Vermaelen rotating in the back, plus Silvestre, this wouldn’t have been as big deal.

Arsene can rectify this.  He should have, at least, purchased Sakho from PSG.  But now he must buy either Sakho or his equivelant. Full disclosure, I am a huge Sakho fan.  Not to dismiss V2000, but buying both of them would have been great.  Sakho is the complete package.  He’s 19 and plays like he’s 27.  He’s also the prototypical Arsene player.  He’s young and has perfect technique.  While Arsene wants to protect his pipeline of talent, our defensive vulnerability is becoming increasingly problematic and no player returning from injury will solve it.

Another problem, Arsene hates to pay too much.  And I respect that.  But sometimes I think Arsene confuses his risk premium.  For instance, assume Arsene rates Sakho as a £13m purchase (less than Arshavin, but more than Nasri).  PSG ask for £15m.  On principle, Arsene will say no.  But compare, Arsene is willing to pay for £3.5m for a Brazilian wonderkind.  Yes, the Brazilian kid has a greater potential upside; but Sakho is less risk and fits in now!  And if he doesn’t work or gets hurt, you’re out £2m, not £3.5m.  Because the measurement of the risk is the premium paid, not the total cost.  The total cost reflects Sakho’s ability to step in now and have an impact; as opposed to the discounted cost for the Brazilian kid because he’s developing.

And we all know now that Arsene has a transfer kitty in the £10s of millions of pounds.

With our scoring talent and Bendtner returning, we don’t “need” another striker.  Ok, we we do; another goal hungry striker would do wonders for us when we get lost in those period of unending passing. Plus it’s obvious the team doesn’t consider Walcott a forward, or at least Arshavin doesn’t (neither do I for that matter).  But we desperately need the ability to handle the loss of a CB and right now we can’t.

So with the window soon closing, I’m okay not getting a striker.  But please Arsene, please.  Buy a CB and lets win this year.

-the student

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