Monday, February 2, 2009

A Snowy End to the Silly Season

The transfer deadline open thread turned into a bit of an impromptu liveblog in the comments. So we'd like to thank everyone who participated as we waited to see primarily if Robbie Keane would go back to White Hart Lane and, given the twists and turns, if Andrei Arshavin would turn out to be Kaiser Soze.

It seems to be well enough reported now that both are done deals (with the latter only waiting to be signed off on by the Premier League).

The Gunners ultimately get their man, but is it what they needed? Central defense and defensive midfield are still the areas of greatest need, but after a lackluster home draw to West Ham over the weekend, it's hard to argue with adding some creative attacking to the side.

There will be a lot of ambivalence among the Gooners over Wenger finally flashing cash for this guy, but I think for simply avoiding embarrassment there is at least relief that the Russian will be suiting up at the Emirates.

As for their "rivals" at Tottenham, Harry seems busy reassembling the team that finished in 11th place last season. That's good managing. With Jermain Defoe now out 10 weeks with a broken foot, Keane's return certainly addresses an immediate need. It's a bit puzzling though, not from a Spurs standpoint, but from Liverpool's.

The Reds paid £19M for the striker in the summer. Now they ship him back for a fee reported to be around £12M (with escalators). Did they not keep the receipt? Why take a loss on a player especially when Spurs had to have been desperate to get him back (was this Rafa basically saying "Up yours" to Rick Parry?).

It actually seemed like a brilliant move when rumors started swirling that David Villa would be coming in to Anfield (click-drag the image into your browser's address bar to get a better view of the highlighted bits of the wikipedia screengrab—and hat tip to commenter Mike Georger for the heads up). Valencia are going broke, so they need money. If Liverpool could unload Keane and get Villa to pair with Fernando Torres (even with a modest net loss), then Liverpool instantly look like an immediate threat to fight United for the league title. As it is, no Villa, and suddenly Liverpool's chances hinge on El NiƱo's tender hammy because after that it's Babel, Ngog, and Kuyt.

All in all it was relatively quiet closing with other moves of note including:

Ricardo Quaresma in at Chelsea
Henri Camara in at Stoke
Jo in at Everton
Oliver Dacourt in at Fulham
Angelos Basinas in at Portsmouth
Charles N'Zogbia in at Wigan
Tal Ben Haim in at Sunderland
Youssouf Mulumbu in at WBA

Oh, and Norwich brought in Rangers man Alan Gow as well as Cody McDonald (Dratford) and Adrian Leijer (Fulham).

Ten bucks says that, at season's end, everyone agrees that Moyes made the best move bringing in an out of favor Jo. Of course if you're Jo there's small consolation in knowing that at season's end you'll still be in the Premier League and Mark Hughes won't.


jjf3 said...

I have a question for the Gooners among us, based on a post from a few days ago over at EPL talk that I've been thinking about:

Does Arshvin duplicate enough of what Cesc did to take the pressure off the defense, thus improving both the offense and the back line at the same time? I can see the argument - if Arsenal maintains possession 70+% of the time, AND can be incisive and score, is the back line strong enough to be secure when the opponent can only attack 30% of the time?

Essentially, its a tacit admission that the defense isn't rock solid, but if the opponent doesn't have the ball, and is down a goal somewhat quickly, are they still strong enough to secure the win regardless?

I'm just curious if anyone else finds the argument intriguing or not...(I personally don't think he duplicates Cesc well enough, but I could see an improvement from Arsenal based on his skills improving their attack).

Precious Roy said...

Well, he can play in the center or out on the wing. So I see him playing the former until Cesc gets back, then moving out to the right hand side with Nasri on the left.

But yeah, I was thinking about something similar. Arsenal had about 75% of the possession against West Ham as it was. Your defense can be sub-par and you can still get results by netting 2-3 if the other team doesn't have the ball to score.

This breaks down though when Arsenal get a 2 goal lead and Wenger packs it in to protect the lead. Look at what Tottenham did at the Emirates. Still need a defensive mid almost more than a central defender.

Spectator said...

It really is sad that Flamini was allowed to leave in the summer -- he hasn't done anything for Milan and left a gaping hole in the midfield.

My best case for Arsenal is that they get through this season, manage to eek out fourth place (as much due to Villa collapsing as anything Arsenal does right), don't lose any more major pieces in the summer (would be okay if they cashed in on Ade though), add a world class central defender, and can manage to get through next year without the usual flurry of key injuries. I know this is way too much to ask, of course.

I gotta assume that Wenger wouldn't bring in Arshavin if he didn't think he really would contribute and fit into the team. He complements Fabregas in that he relies more on speed and agility rather than inch-perfect passing the way Cesc does. Does nothing to solve the defensive problems, but yeah, hopefully takes pressure off the defense by keeping the ball in the opposing half.

Mike Georger said...

While I don't think it matters much this season, I think it's a good move setting up for next year. Assuming Ade is gone for a princely sum, they can bring in one or two spinal players.

Mike Georger said...

Oh and fwiw, before anyone asks, no I'm not the one who changed his wikiepedia page. I got some angry emails after constantly editing the Metallica entry to 'Metallica sucks', so I don't bother anymore.

Would not be shocked in the least to see him come in this summer though.

Spectator said...

I have to agree with you Mike, Metallica does suck.

Adam said...

Yes Georger, that is factual, Metalica does suck, and it should be kept up for historical reasons.

The NY Kid said...

I am definitely not excited to have Arshavin come to the Emirates. I don't think he is the solution to our problems, regardless of how much offensive pressure he generates (which I think will be shockingly little once he realizes he is overwhelmed by the EPL style of play).

Also, Metallica kicks ass. I defy you to listen to "Sanitarium", "Ride the Lightning" or "One" and tell me otherwise.

Goat said...

I don't think it matters if Arsenal has 99% of the possession. They're always capable of conceding during that 1% when they don't have the ball. I haven't watched a single game this year when I don't get nervous any time the opposing team is attacking (especially on set pieces). While I think Arshavin will at least provide some much needed offensive creativity, he's certainly not the answer to their problems. Also, I'd give pretty much anything to have Flamini back.
"and can manage to get through next year without the usual flurry of key injuries"
I know I'm going to regret writing this almost immediately, but it's a minor miracle that a certain fragile Dutchman hasn't missed much time this year. Surely that can't last.

Precious Roy said...

Goat, one of the good things about Arshavin is his versatility. He can play as a striker or as an attacking mid in the center—where he'll likely play with Cesc out—or on the wing. So even if RvP goes down, that still leaves Adebayor, Arshavin, Bendtner, (soon) Eduardo, and Vela. That's not going to win the Prem, but will keep Arsenal in the hunt for 4th.

The NY Kid said...

@Precious Roy

yes, yes - but how do you 2 feel about Metallica?

Goat said...

They suck.

Precious Roy said...

I agree. Because I believe everything I read on Wikipedia. Which is why I am also excited about David Villa suiting up for Liverpool this weekend.

Andrew said...

@jjf3: I like the Arshavin move for the exact reasons you read/listed. There's creativity in the short Russian, and he'll provide more opportunities playing on the wing than we're currently getting with Eboue or Denilson. I feel as if Wenger will be employing a 4-2-4/4-2-2-2 that looks something like this:

Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Cesc Denilson/Song
Nasri Arshavin

With Walcott and Rosicky both being able to play the winger/attacking mid role(s).