So, all in all, a pretty positive weekend of scores heading into the international break of doom.
Chelsea lost. Always amazing. Liverpool lost. Always hilarious. Manchester United lost. DOUBLE GREAT ON BURNT TOAST.
All’s not well in the Premier League at the moment.
Well, that’s what the pundits will have you believe. Actually, this should be par the course this season. The rise of the middle class is what’s going on this year.
Basically, teams like West Brom and Swansea are taking the Arsenal approach of the late nineties and early noughties. They’re making smart gambles on good players that are either talented and floundering (Shaqiri) or on the sharp rise and in need of a stepping stone (Tadic).
When Arsenal and United were dominating the top two positions, the league maybe had 4 good teams to worry about. The rest were average, slow and very unfit. So Wenger’s ‘don’t drink booze before games’ approach combined with his ownership of France meant we could spank most teams at a canter because of incredible fitness combined with superior talent.
Now teams like Southampton can afford brilliant academies, the same technology, better scouting and they can now afford brilliant players. Just look at Crystal Palace. Steve Parish has turned them into a force. They have brilliant players, a good manager and they’re going to bully a lot of teams to defeat this year.
I don’t think this directly impacts Arsenal and their title aspirations, but it does really showcase that on the transfer front, we’re stuttering.
We just don’t react well to any sort of pressure. If there are other clubs in for players, we back off. If the name is a couple of million too expensive we back off. Sometimes we seem to miss out because we’re waiting for the half price dream to drop through the door.
I’m trying to rent out my flat at the moment, someone entered negotiations for three people the other day and offered me £15 per week short of my valuation. These people were the Arsene Wenger’s of the rental market. I told them no, they moved on. They offended me. I kind of feel that’s what Arsenal do every season.
Look at our options in the holding midfield role. We’ve let Kondogbia go to Inter, Schneiderlin go to United and Vidal go to Bayern. I mean, Illarramendi to Sociedad… how did we let him slip? There’s Rabiot, Bender and Carvahlo left in the market. Every single one of those players would supplement our midfield to a level we’re not at. Some of them would be an upgrade. Why haven’t we moved? Why does Wenger not think any of those players are good enough?
Now, Chelsea are in great need of a centre back. They’ve gone in hard for John Stones. Everton have said no. At this point, Arsene Wenger would finish his hunt. Not Chelsea, why? Because if you have a hole in your squad, waiting a season to rectify it, regardless of the money you save is totally negligent. It’s also a ready made excuse if things go badly. Well, at most clubs, it’d be a ready made excuse to fire the manager when it goes wrong. Not at Arsenal, we’ll accept the excuse and dish out a new deal.
Anyway, are Chelsea giving up? No.
They’re now raiding Monaco for the excellent Abdennour.
Ok, so he might not settle straight away, there might be a risk he isn’t great and ends up as successful as PSV’s Alex… but you know what, money is there to improve. If you’re not improving, you’re guaranteeing, in most cases, that you’re not planning to compete. At best you’re stagnating, at worst, you’re going backwards.
So onto the striker.
You have your category A strikers. Lewandowski, Suarez, Benzema… if you can’t get them, you have to look at your category B strikers like Fekir, Martinez, Lacazette, Higuain, Icardi, Bacca, Dzeko.
Hell, you could even have gone for category C strikers. The old boys. Robin Van Persie springs to mind or Aduriz at Bilbao.
Then if you can’t sign a goal scoring striker, you could look at converting a top class wideman into a front man. Reus, Dybala, Aubameyang, or Draxler are prime candidates for this type of treatment.
Our approach, thus far, has been to settle with what we’ve got… and it just totally lacks any sort of dynamism or creativity.
Arsenal fans, have now rather hilariously been pulled into Wenger’s latest round of nonsense where they’re foolishly telling themselves ‘we only buy world class’… guys and girls, you need to pull your heads out of your backsides because I can barely make out whether you’re bantering me or you’re f*cking serious?
You can’t have a transfer policy of ‘world class only’ even if you’re Madrid. You always need to supplement with players on the up, players that have been broken elsewhere and players you have a hunch on. I was hoping that the new money would allow for more luxurious signings, but mainly, I was hoping it would allow us to get back into our old markets and be able to afford the young players on the up we were losing out on to Chelsea and Co (Hazard).
For Arsenal fans to go from accepting we weren’t signing players because we didn’t have enough money (which was a loose premise) to now accepting we can’t sign players because we only sign world class is the biggest PR spin of all time. I mean, look at what we did last summer. Chambers, Debuchy, Welbeck, Ospina and Sanchez. You’d have a hard time convincing me that was a good summer. One success. One world class player out of 5 signings.
The reason we’re not landing players this summer has NOTHING to do with quality. It’s a lack of imagination, it’s a lack of balls and it’s a big fat dollop of dithering.
Players are there. Players have moved. We’re just not the sort of team who can move quick and make things happen when they need to.
Which, is why, generally, we’ll be also rans until the manager goes. I had dreams that we’d kick on this year. They were based on us signings a keeper, a DM and a striker. That didn’t happen and now it’s becoming apparent that we’re going to struggle for goals with Theo and Giroud. Not to mention the flimsy attitude.
We’ve been in a long term project for too long to continue to let our manager talk about building a squad to compete for tomorrow. The time is now. We have a few days left of the window. We’re desperately short.
There can be no more talk of ‘next year’ it needs to happen now. If it doesn’t, at the end of the season some serious conversations need to be happening about the final year of Wenger’s stint being the succession plan.
… because the last thing I want to hear right now is talk of another three years. He doesn’t deserve it.