Panic emerged from both Arsenal and England fans this week with the news that Theo Walcott will be out injured for at least the next 6 months – meaning that he will miss the title run-in and the World Cup.
For both club and country this presents a problem, but whilst England have alternative options (of admittedly varying quality) – Walcott’s injury takes a serious toll on Arsenal’s already injury hit (and already thin) squad.
The media are now going out of their way to link Arsenal with new players (no matter how unlikely a move might be to happening).
Alvaro Morata, Jackson Martinez and Diego Costa have perhaps been the most widely mentioned but it also might come as a surprise for you to know that Arsenal have actually been linked with over 40 players since the transfer window began less than two weeks ago.
And underneath that lies a simple message. Arsenal do have transfer targets in the window - and whilst the biggest names are likely and obvious targets (given Wenger’s love of “special players”), everyone is frantically trying to work out Arsenal’s plan B, C and D - because now with Walcott’s injury – Arsenal simply have to be active in the window - as failing to do so could well cost them their title shot.
Even then - I’m not convinced that Arsenal will make a “big” move this window. They will hopefully however be effective.
With Giroud, Podolski and Bendtner on the books - Arsenal do have cover through the middle of the park. The options might not be great – but this is a position that is likely to be majorly addressed in the summer.
Whilst the media constantly mention the release clauses of top players – it’s worth remembering that in a lot of cases the clauses aren’t active in the January window. So prices are more expensive.
If one of the top players becomes available Arsenal will be interested – but if not then Arsenal will only look for a short term solution (hence loan option of Morata and possible veteran signing Klose).
For a club with so many central midfielders though – Arsenal lack wide players. Walcott provided this (and did it with pace as well) which was a massively used Arsenal weapon. And because of that getting someone in that can naturally (Arsenal have lots of players that can play there – just not naturally) play in the wide positions will be high up on the agenda for Arsenal.
Amongst all of the possible wide men - there is one particular Englishman who could well be of interest – Tom Ince.
Ince has plenty of experience in English football and with 21 appearances this season has already scored 7 goals and provided 6 assists whilst winning some rave reviews in the process. Formerly of Liverpool, he is now at Blackpool and has recently been linked with Swansea City and Everton.
With his contract expiring in the summer as well - Ince is definitely available in this window and will represent a great deal (especially considering the English premium) for whichever club picks him up.
With the English core already at Arsenal Ince would also fit in well with the players around him and would develop quickly playing amongst players like Cazorla and Ozil.
Perhaps most importantly however – he wouldn’t need anywhere near the amount of time to adapt that a foreign player would – and given Arsenal’s position in the table and the games approaching having someone that is ready (and eligible for Europe) from the start would be a massive boost for the club.
Of course this is all just speculation and coincidence – but could there be something there?
Arsenal are closer to the title than they have been in years. And at the half way point now, failing to act and strengthen when the opportunity is available (and I’m not just talking about Ince here) is nothing short of short –sighted.
Players are available to strengthen the squad (whether short-term or not) and moves need to be made or there will be consequnces. But “big” and expensive signings aren’t always the way forward – just ask Spurs.
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