so transfer deadline day came and went and as expected there were no significant events involving Arsenal. Some young players went on loan but frankly they barely even register even if the manager says he might recall one or two of them. To be honest I don’t think he will, not unless we pick up more injuries along the way.
Those hoping against hope for a defender will have been disappointed. Those of us who came to the conclusion some time ago that he wasn’t going to sign anyone not so much. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have welcomed a defender but I think Goonerholic nailed it:
Name me the players who moved, that we would have wanted to buy, at a price that we would have wanted to pay, and who would have wanted to come to us? You can’t, can you?
As the events of yesterday showed unless you deal in the realms of mega-cash and/or mega-stupidity there’s not much in the way of value to be had during the January window. A loan deal sounds ideal but as I’ve said throughout the month, who is available on loan that is good enough? Which club is willing to let a good defender leave them on loan just because Arsenal might need some cover?
And as for making a purchase there hasn’t been one outstanding candidate. No name that made me think “Oh yes please”. Chris Samba? Per Mertesacker? Both very tall, both very average. Gary Cahill was the best of the bunch but that’s not qualification enough. And when you consider how much Bolton wanted for him it was always a non-runner. I know there are loads of folk out there saying ‘Yeah, well they’re all better than Squillaci’ and you’re fully entitled to think that. The thing is, Arsene Wenger doesn’t share your opinion. If he did he’d have bought one of them.
The Frenchman has been less than convincing at times, I will agree, but put Vermaelen back in the side alongside two full backs who play poorly and ask him to cope with the ‘protection’ offered by Denilson and he might struggle too, you know. Like it or not this is our squad until the end of the season and despite the countless people who told me it was a fact we can’t be competitive with this squad we’ve done ok up until now. We’re the only team still in four competitions.
If, come the end of the season, our chances have floundered because we didn’t have enough centre-halves, then you can dish out as much opprobrium as you like towards Arsene Wenger. In the meantime, however, it’d be nice if we could step back, look at where we are with a touch of perspective, and realise we’re hardly in the worst shape ever. Carling Cup final, still in Europe (for a bit, heh), 5th round of the FA Cup against lower league opposition and still fighting for the Premier League. I’ve known a lot, lot worse in my lifetime.
As for the deals that went down yesterday, well how can you not rub your eyes and wonder at £35m for Andy Carroll? As the Mugsmasher said to me yesterday ‘This can’t be real …’. Sure, he’s got potential but how on earth can anyone justify making him the 9th most expensive player of all-time on the back of half a decent season of Premier League football? According to well informed sources Newcastle were offering him to clubs in the summer of ’09 for £1m. Nobody wanted him. I know there’s an ‘English tax’ but this is beyond ridiculous.
If Andy Carroll is worth £35m what on earth is Cesc Fabregas worth? Or a fit Robin van Persie? Or Jack Wilshere? It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to sell these players but it puts certain bids into perspective.
That certain sections of the Liverpool support burnt a Torres shirt while celebrating the fact they were spending £35m on Carroll tells you a lot about the modern day fan. They’re too caught up in the hype, the nonsense generated by Sky Sports News and the rest, and the belief that spending massive amounts of money is the only way to build a team. And however you feel about a player leaving your club – which, let’s face it, is hardly a unique occurrence – burning the shirt of the team you say you support is beyond cretinous.
Even Chelsea – I know we shouldn’t expect any less but after announcing losses of £70m they spend another £70m on Torres and David Luiz from Benfica. The reality is that to a billionaire £70m is nothing but in the real world, the one in which Arsenal exist and in which I’m quite happy for us to exist, that is a huge amount of money. And it’s the billionaires who are distorting the market. Chelsea’s £50m allowed Liverpool to massively overspend on Carroll. Chelsea paying £22m to a Portuguese club for a defender makes other clubs think this is the market price when it’s not. It’s the Oligarch/Sugar Daddy market price and that’s not a market many clubs can compete in, nor should they.
Frankly the whole thing is fucked, if you ask me. The only way most clubs can hope to compete is do things differently. To build a squad, to invest in youth, and to supplement that youth with what you can realistically afford to spend along the way. If you’re an Arsenal fan bemoaning the fact we don’t try and spend £50m on a player like Torres – bearing in mind you then have to pay that player the wages of a £50m man for 4-5 years – then I would suggest, with the greatest of respect, that you need to look more closely at what we do and reassess your outlook. Otherwise you’re always going to be disappointed.
And look, I’ve said countless times I wish the manager would invest a little more in the squad. We’re not stoney-broke and there are areas which need to be addressed. However, my support for the team is not diluted by the fact we don’t spend, I don’t think anything is a foregone conclusion simply because we didn’t bring in a fucking basketball player from Blackburn, and when I look at the madness of yesterday I’m almost glad we’re not involved in that nonsensical shambles.
Everything about transfer deadline day is appalling, the coverage, the hype, the wheeler-dealer managers (fack off!), and the fact that so many fans think the entire season hinges on one day. It doesn’t, so let’s move on and get behind the team we’ve got.
And we move on straight away with a home game tonight against Everton. I expect a raft of changes from the weekend so we’re probably looking at:
Wojscez©® – Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy – Song – Wilshere – Cesc – Walcott – van Persie – Arshavin/Bendtner
I have a feeling he might play the Dane ahead of the Russian but that might be just me. The absence of Nasri is a blow but I think with the midfield trio clicking the way they have in recent games then we can cope. Everton are tough opponents in reasonable form. They’ve beaten Sp*rs and Man City in the not too distant past, drawn twice with Chelsea too, and we know that under David Moyes they’re resilient and will work hard.
Last season at the Grove we were saved by a late, late equaliser but we’ve got to avoid a similar rescue tonight. Our own form has been good and with most of the players rested since last Tuesday night there’s no excuse for them not to come out all guns blazing. We’ve got to see the desire and hard work that has brought about the good results recently. If we do then the three points are there for the taking.
You can join me later on for live blogging of the game. More details on the site closer to kick-off – or if you want to be alerted you can follow Arseblog on Twitter.
In other news there’s talk that Lukasz Fabianski may need an operation on his shoulder. This was reported in the Polish press yesterday and that would be a bit of a blow. While I’m happy with Wojscez©® it says a lot about how the elder Pole has performed this season that I’d be more comfortable with him around than Almunia. Let’s hope the younger one can stay fit. It also goes some way to explaining why Almunia wasn’t allowed leave this January – the Spaniard will be number two for the time-being.
And that’s really about that. Here’s to a good performance tonight and three more points in the chase for this league. Until later.