Arsenal have a flawed squad, abundant injuries and a pint-sized transfer budget. To compete for the top four they must supplement themselves, and apparently must do so cost-effectively. A simple measure, and one which would cost nothing, would be to recall Armand Traoré from his loan at Portsmouth.
Traoré primarily has been seen in the Arsenal setup, as a left back blocked by Gael Clichy. The 19-year-old Frenchman left this season for Pompey to gain first team experience.
However, Portsmouth have used Traoré as an attacking left winger, a role in which he’s shown capability. In Pompey’s 1-1 draw with Spurs, Traoré stymied the Tottenham defense. They had no answer for his incisive running. He created David Nugent’s goal and could have scored another himself.
Arsene Wenger spoke of a special class and Traoré displayed more of it in his last much than many Arsenal players of late.
Arsenal’s defense has been prone to the inopportune brain fart, but the true difference this season from last has been in midfield. The club has struggled to maintain the possession. Even when they manage to do so, they create no danger or penetration. There is no effective linkup between defense and the forward line. The club that professes beautiful football, has most often been reduced to huffing forward and hoping.
This ineffective midfield has been compounded by injuries to Fabregas and to Walcott. Their departures leave Samir Nasri as the sole creative presence, which is a problem since he’s also the only player who can competently play in left midfield.
Arsenal must either strand Nasri on the wing, constructing some sort of farce with Diaby and Denilson in the middle, or must play Diaby or Eboue on the left, hoping to mask the deficiency. Neither solution has been acceptable. It has showed in their performances.
If Traoré can play on the left wing as he does for Portsmouth, he can ameliorate this conundrum, improving the squad. He could provide a Rosicky facsimile. He could pose a different look in a substitute role. At the very least, he could add the much needed depth, they will need for FA Cup and Euorpe campaigns.
Recalling Armand Traoré may not be a panacea, but it is low risk and costs Arsenal nothing. In danger of losing their Champions League revenue, it’s time for Arsenal to experiment.