Dear Mr Wenger,
As you might have noticed, we have been going through another terrible season injury-wise. I don’t want to sound like a certain fitness-expert or to question the methods of the Arsenal medical team as I don’t have the competence to judge either physical training or rehabilitation of injured players. All I can see are the results or consequences of their work and I’m not satisfied with either.
What is more important, you shouldn’t be happy with them either as we have Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Francis Coquelin, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Alexis Sánchez, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck all on the sidelines. A lot of pacey players are out due to injury and I didn’t even include Hector Bellerin, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who have spent some time on the sidelines very recently too. I will just remind you that it’s not the first time we have been through a similar situation. Our title challenge in 2013-14 collapsed despite being top for over 120 days after we lost Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Özil to injuries.
Speaking of that campaign, do you know what happened in January that put an end to our title challenge? Nothing, Mr Wenger. Nothing happened because you decided not to sign a single player apart from a crocked midfielder from Spartak Moscow named Kim Källström.
And, your behaviour during that specific transfer window is the biggest reason why I write this letter in the first place.
You might have forgotten your words after it had been revealed Källstrom was injured: “I would not have signed him if we had two or three more days to do something, but it was Friday night at five o’clock, so it was [a case of] you [sign] nobody or you do it under these conditions” (via Arsenal.com). You had thirty days of January before the 31st but you waited until the last day.
I would like to remind you to act quickly and to prepare for the January transfer window right now.
January 2016 is the crucial period for us. We’ll have back-to-back trips to Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Mark Hughes’ Stoke before Jose Mourinho and Diego Costa pay us a visit. Also, our FA Cup campaign starts in January so there will be at least four big games for us in that month.
And, the end of February and the beginning of March are not very friendly either – we play Leicester, Manchester United, Swansea and Tottenham respectively, with European games in either Champions League or Europa League squeezed in between. That will require some squad depth.
In order to stay in the title race after all those obstacles that are standing in our way, we need a defensive midfielder who can be a proper stand-in for Francis Coquelin. Let’s face it – Coquelin won’t return before March at best and by that date our title challenge might well be over. Back in 2014 you explained your decision to go through with Källström despite of his state with these words: “I decided to do it because of the number of games we have now in February, we might need the players in March or April” (via Arsenal.com).
“Who can I sign in January?”, you might ask. Well, here is a few suggestions based on stats from Squawka.com. I know that you prefer StatDNA but those from Squawka are not bad either.
DANIEL BAIER (AUGSBURG)
Baier is a defensive midfielder who currently plays for the Bundesliga side Augsburg. He makes 1.15 clearances and 2.76 interceptions per game, his passing range is 21 meters and his pass completion is 77 percent. If anything, his age makes him a bit of a stop-gap option (he is 31, just like Mathieu Flamini).
JOSUHA GUILAVOGUI (WOLFSBURG)
The French defensive midfielder is 25. He makes 3.46 interceptions and 1.15 clearances per game, his passing range is a bit worse than Baier’s (19 m) but he has a better percentage of pass completion. Of all players on this list he is probably the only player that his club would be reluctant to sell as they are likely to play in the Champions League Round of 16. He is also the only player that wouldn’t be eligible to play for us (if we even make the next round).
DANI GARCIA (EIBAR)
He is 25 and plays for the Spanish side Eibar. He makes 4 interceptions and 2.08 clearances per game, his passing range is 22.25 m and pass completion is 75%.
BRUNO SORIANO LLIDO (VILLARREAL)
Here is a player from our Spanish friends Villarreal. Bruno hasn’t played too many games in the league this season (8) but that didn’t stop from making 4 interceptions and 3.62 clearances per game. His pass completion is 79% and passing range stands at 17.12 m. He is 31, plays for the same club Gabriel, Joel Campbell and Robert Pires played for.
JEREMY PIED (NICE)
Pied is 26 and plays in Ligue 1 side Nice. He makes 3 interceptions and 3.3 clearances per game. His pass completion is 78% and passing range stands at 18.23 m.
There is a whole December in front of you to prepare the ground for a solid purchase in January. Hence this letter as a constructive criticism from a devoted Arsenal supporter in order to avoid repeating the same mistake from January 2014 and making Arsenal Football Club stronger on the pitch. After all, our motto is:
VICTORIA CONCORDIA CRESCIT!
I honestly believe we can all celebrate the double come May but only if you consider.