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Wednesday, 02 December 2009

Arsenal's need for speed


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It would be disingenuous to suggest that, as the BBC do today Arsenal need to go on a spending spree to save their season.

Arsenal are a little off the pace in the Premier League, but will not be weakened as heavily as leaders Chelsea will be by the Africa Cup of Nations - January could well see Chelsea fall back into the chasing pack.

In Europe Arsenal have comfortably topped their Champions' League group and will face a runner-up in the last 16 in early spring. The quarter-final game of the League Cup can be marked down to experience and if Arsenal get any further it is a bonus.

Fourth in the league, top of Champions' League group and quarter-final of the League Cup to come - Arsenal's season does not look too bad so far. Especially compared to, say, Liverpool who are fifth in the Premier League, out of the Champions' league and out of the League Cup.

But the loss of Robin van Persie for much of the season added to the absence for another month for Nic Bendtner does give some impetus to the need for another striker. Heaven knows Arsene Wenger should have hoarded enough money considering that Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, Man City and Tottenham all have more expensively assembled squads and Sunderland aren't far behind. A report in The Guardian suggests that Marouane Chamakh of Bordeaux, Andre-Pierre Gignac of Toulouse, AC Milan's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Mario Balotelli of Inter Milan and Sampdoria's Giampaolo Pazzini are all targets. A fairly full list of players then and if these are truly the targets then Wenger is fishing in the £10-£20m bracket for a player who would challenge Walcott, Arshavin and van Persie for a start - never mind Bendtner and Eduardo.

Arsenal do need to get in another quick forward as the squad cover in this area is so obviously thin and a similar swoop for Andrei Arshavin proved very good business indeed last January.

This is not about 'saving Arsenal's season' - it's about maintaining a challenge on several fronts and that shouldn't be derailed by short arms and deep pockets. Wenger is right to suggest that he is in the market - it is the right thing to say to buoy the Arsenal faithful after a couple of defeats and it is the right thing to do in any event.

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Antony Melvin

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