Yeah, it’s a massive, massive day today for Gooners and Spurs fans up and down the land… the biggest and best game on the planet if you ask me. Blood, guts, thunder, goals, sendings off, over passion spilling out all over the place. It’s a crazy match and for me, it makes the season ticket worth levelling out for every year.
So how is going to go?
Well, let’s get the platitudes out right now… Spurs have aced the summer. They’re about to announce the loss of their best player later on this afternoon, but what they’ve already done is spent the incoming money on £110m worth of talent. How that talent gels and beds in is a different question. But the point is, from a fan perspective, they’ve pulled a masterstroke. They’ve injected energy and goals into their team…. and most importantly, they now have a squad. Last season they tailed off during the back end of the season… this year, things might be different.
AVB is a very smart manager. He is ultra prepared, he has a great approach to scouting and he’ll give his players the extra ten percent preparation Arsene Wenger doesn’t give his. A massive a$$hole according to those in game… but he’s a Spurs manager, what do you expect?
So where is our advantage today? After all, we’re the team that’s finished above Spurs for the each of the last 400 seasons. Well, however you look at the starting elevens today, it’s quite clear that Arsenal have the best line up.
Defence – Arsenal
Two France starters, one German starter, England international
Defence – Spurs
England 4th choice, Belgian starter, England nobody x 2
Midfield – Arsenal
Ex-Wales Captain, England starter, Czech Captain
French squad player, Brazilian starter, Brazilian squad player
… and here is the interesting part.
Up top for Arsenal is Theo, Cazorla and Giroud.
For Spurs last year it was Lennon, Bale and Ade… this year it’ll be Soldado, Chadli and Townsend.
They have a weaker front three today. Which is excellent for us because we’ve a pretty solid defence. I don’t know what the score will be, it’ll be hard to predict how we’ll play. What we do know is Arsenal are in pretty good form. Ramsey is running the midfield like a captain, Jack Wilshere will be fired up and hopefully he’ll raise his game… and Rosicky is a beast. Nice that AVB said he’s been our best player over the past two years… I think he’s bang on. In the spurts of playing time he’s landed, he’s been excellent.
So, point is today, it’s not about the summer. My Spurs pals were saying yesterday that this game doesn’t tell you anything. If they lose, we’ll rip them for spending £100m badly… ignoring the fact it takes a while to bed players in. A select group of Arsenal fans will no doubt tweet me to gloat that Wenger has got his squad prep right this year. If they win, Arsenal fans will just point out the expenditure.
If we lose today… what I do know is this. Arsene Wenger will not have an easy ride. By not spending and showing himself up in the window this summer, he’s effectively cut away any slack he had with the fans. He has nothing in reserve. When it goes wrong, we’ll be on him, straight away. Why? Because he’s shown utter incompetence this summer. Which, really, in the long run, might be a good thing. Why? Because he’s not the man to kick us on to great things. If he’d spent £100m, chances are, he’d have done it badly going on his last 5 seasons work. How he’s operated this summer has been a perfect demonstration of why he’s not the man to take us forward… but remember, Arsene isn’t the right man for more reasons than just the transfers.
3 weeks ago Arsene Wenger came out and said he would sign three of four players (I can’t find the quote, but I’m sure he said maybe four).
Today, on the eve of the transfer window shutting, he’s banging the ‘quality players’ drum. From what I’ve been told, there’s very little noise going on at the training ground with regards to signings. So he’s heading into the final day of the transfer window with an open mind and a blank cheque book. No planning, because you can’t plan when you don’t know who you’re going to buy. This is an interesting window because teams have never been this broke before. This is the point when the accountants at clubs around Europe bang their fists on the CEOs tables and insisting they need to raise XX amount of cash because team buses can’t be paid for… so expect a flurry of movement.
… but don’t expect it to be planned. So don’t expect to be blown away.
I still find it incredible that we’re in the situation. The Lukas story is a nightmare for all involved. I’m not a massive fan of his, but he’s a £100k a week player. He’s out for 10 weeks (£1m in lost wages)… but that was when I thought he was a grade two tear. He’s a grade three, which means 10 weeks is ambitious. Don’t expect to see him until Christmas. Arsene knows this as well. Chambo is out until around Novemeber. We have no one in back up to replace those names. We’re running a serious risk of having to play teenagers. Absolutely mad that Arsene doesn’t want to bring in players. Even madder? That he said this…
“There is a technical risk when you buy more than three players because you unbalance a bit the stability of your squad.”
First things first, selling 30 players upsets the stability of the squad. On the face of it, he’s right. Arsenal have a certain style of playing, which, with an additional 6 starters, could be upset. If football is about split second decisions, and you don’t know where to run because you’re not attuned to the synconisastion of the squad, you’re off the pace. However, let’s go back to Arsene Wenger’s two best seasons 1997/98 and 2001/02. I’m pretty sure he signed 5 players in the 1997 summer… Marc Overmars being the major player, Alberto Mendez and Boa Morte being the not so pretty signings. I think Petit and one other, but I can’t remember specifically. Anyway, we smashed the league. Only two of the signed players were main stays in the team. But it didn’t disrupt anything. It gave us extra legs where we’d lost out the season before.
2001/02 summer we signed 5 players, Gio, Wright, Jeffers, Kolo and Tavlaridis… and we went on to win the double. The season before that, we signed a whopping 10 players! So this idea that signing players doesn’t work is a new Arsene Wenger theory that coincides pretty well with him not winning anything. We need legs, bodies and fresh faces in the dressing room.
… anyway, important thing to note is that the players don’t understand the stance, the backroom team know the facts and can’t understand… and Ivan Gazidis is all too aware of the issues.
So why doesn’t something happen? By hanging Arsene out to dry, the club and fans are being hung out to dry. A weird old strategy.
Anyway. Let’s enjoy the game today and hopefully some magic will happen this evening on the transfer front. Rememeber, so far, Arsene has been offered 4500 players (50 a day, pretty much the entirety of the licensed players in Europe) and he hasn’t seen one that takes his fancy… hopefully tonight will be different.
Have a magic day people…