The latest musings of Spanish Fry
Looking solely at the results and performances from this season it would be easy to conclude that it is essential for Arsenal to dip into the transfer market and make a number of big signings. What this conclusion doesn’t incorporate is the fact that – without spending a cent – Arsenal will be making a significant number of ghost signings in the summer. I of course refer to the players who have spent large amounts of the season injured and – should they return to fitness – will seem like new signings for the club. I thought it would be good to take a look at the players whose seasons have been severely hampered by injury and investigate the effect that their prospective returns could have on Arsenal’s 2007-2008 season.
Ghost Signing #2 – Robin van Persie
The statistics speak volumes about Robin van Persie. Despite being out of action since injuring his foot against Manchester United on the 17th of January and playing just 21 out of a possible 38 games this season van Persie finished as Arsenal’s top scorer with 11 goals in the Premiership. Add to this another seven assists and throw in the consistent unavailability of striker-partner and club captain Thierry Henry you can understand why Arsenal has struggled so badly for goals in the latter part of the season.
Until his injury van Persie had been – in most supporters eyes – Arsenal’s best player this season. When he was on form van Persie was an irreplaceable figure and consistently dominated -particularly in games against the smaller clubs in the league. It is no coincidence that Arsenal’s results were so indifferent against the lower-placed sides following van Persie’s injury – they lacked an authoritative striker with the ability to finish the multitude of chances that the midfield were creating. Whilst Emmanuel Adebayor and Julio Baptista got into the right positions they consistently wasted chances to score.
Next season will be a big one for van Persie. He will return to action after an extended physical and mental rest and has spoken of his desire to get back on the pitch and score goals for Arsenal. Getting van Persie fit will be one of the biggest priorities for Arsene Wenger and his medical staff and will go a long way to lifting the club’s inconsistent performances in the English Premier League this season.
Eboue signs new contract. Good news for Arsenal?
In the only news of note today, Arsenal right-back Emmanuel Eboue has signed a new long-term contract to keep him at the club for an undisclosed time. Arsene Wenger is reportedly delighted with the new deal and I must say, so am I. Eboue has received a lot of criticism this season for his attitude and performances – most of which has been justified – but even the harshest of Arsenal supporters must understand that his technical ability cannot be questioned. Whilst Eboue has been put largely to shame by opposite wing-back Gael Clichy this season, Arsene Wenger will understand that he has the ability and dedication required to lift his game for the next campaign. Anyone who questions this need only look at his performances during Arsenal’s run to the UEFA Champions League final and his games for the Ivory Coast at the World Cup in Germany.
Read Part One of ‘Arsenal’s Ghost Signings’
Read previous columns by Spanish Fry here