Idealist Wenger must admit bad summer gamble and buy in January
It was clear from his comments at the end of last season and then again during the summer that Arsene Wenger was looking for an experienced midfielder to bring into the team.
In addition he made guarded comments about an interest in Aston Villa and England's Gareth Barry and there were huge rumuors about Xavi Alonso coming to Arsenal. Both are in the mid-twenties with years of big-match experience who can play holding CM roles. Both also have the footballing ability and intelligence to slot nicely into the Arsenal playing style. Either of these players would have been a great complement to Cesc in the Arsenal midfield and would have enhanced the maturity of the team.
But Wenger didn't sign these players - nor anyone else of this stature - despite having seen Flamini walk away and then allowing Gilberto to leave for Greece. What's the explanation?
My feeling substantiated from press rumours is that Wenger may have looked seriously at Barry or Alonso but ultimately was deterred by their valuation. Instead he decided to follow the logic of his massive project of relying on own-produced young players to form the basis of his third-generation team - and opted to rely on a combination of Song, Denilson and Diaby to fill the gap next to Fabregas.
It was a risk based on idealism - and according to the evidence it is a risk that has not worked. Defeats to Hull, Stoke and Fulham and a capitulation to Tottenham demonstrate this.
Wenger must admit this to himself and make a serious attempt to spend money on a couple of good, experienced players in a couple of key positions. I believe the benefits to the morale of this squad and the fans would be enormous if he did this during the next transfer window.
This Arsenal squad has fantastic talent. It is very close, tantalisingly close, to being a force. For me it simply needs an addition of a Barry/Alonso type in the CM and a dominating centre-back in the mould of a Martin Laursen/Vidic to be a squad that has the mark of being a complete package. I also think Arsenal can benefit from buying a hyper-experienced Gilles Grimandi type who can be utilised off the bench to defend narrow leads with a cool head and the defensive mentality to keep the team organsised and focused.
Wenger knew and let the fans know last summer that the squad needed a couple of high quality, experienced players but then let idealism take over his expressed better instincts. He can't repeat this bad gamble again during the next transfer window.