No deal or no deal + Bolton preview

So transfer deadline day came and went without much fuss. Over on the live blog we had an influx of Matthews, Willem Dafoe scoring against Sp*rs, rapping Clint Dempsey, Andrei Arshavin as Rita Hayworth and then … a signing!

Young Germanian Thomas Eisfeld (wonderfully captured here by @gooner_nate) put pen to paper on a four year deal. Arsene Wenger explained what was going on:

Basically we planned to get him at the end of the season but we got him a bit earlier because he was at the end of his contract. We will use this period for adaptation.

He is a young prospect with good footballing talent. He has the good ingredients that could allow him to integrate into the quality of our team – the basics are technique, good movement and skill. We believe that he has a chance to develop well here.

Beyond that I can’t say much about him because I’d never heard of him until the day before yesterday. In one way I kind of feel sorry for him. If you’d told fans we’d be signing a 19 year old from Dortmund on deadline day they’d have been ‘OhmigodOhmigodOhmigodGoatse!”, but instead we get a lad who has little or no first team experience and is unlikely to feature between now and the end of the season.

And there is the very essence of Arsene Wenger summed up in one transfer deal. With so much clamour for a player, just one measly player, to make a difference to us now, he signs a guy who is young (check), has potential (check), has had a serious injury (check), and who nobody has ever heard of (check). Now, that’s not to cast aspersions on Eisfeld at all. He could very well turn out to be a good acquisition and I hope that’s the case. I hope his adaptation period is more adapty than, ooooh, Park, for example, and that he turns out to be a fine player.

It’s just that in May, should Arsenal not finish in the top four, then people might well point at January and say, ‘You know, if you’d just bought a player or two who could have made an impact in the final part of the season we might well be playing Champions League football next season, Arsene, old chap. Hard to think you didn’t make a bit of a Carlos Tevez’s neck of it all, eh?”

I’m sure they’ll be that polite about it too. And look, I know there are difficulties in January, especially ahead of a major tournament in the summer. And I know that nobody else worth talking about did any business of note. And I know football is in financial meltdown along with the rest of the world. But Arsenal aren’t. Just the other day Ivan Gazidis spoke to Fox Sports about how well run we are. And while nobody expects us to go out and blow £50m on a player you can’t help wondering if we haven’t made the most of the resources available to us, and that’s all that most people really want.

Still, I’m pretty sure that Arsene Wenger knows that, as does Ivan, and they’ve made the decision not to buy in January knowing full well the risk and also the fact that this decision is one that won’t be forgotten come May. I genuinely hope that it’s one they won’t have to try and justify should we find ourselves freer than we would like on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. They have handed those who would wish to beat them a great bit stick to do it with, and the stick is all sticky and with pointy, knobbly bits on it.

That said, at least we now have some clarity as to our situation and where we are. The players we’ve got (bar Thierry Henry) are the ones who have got to get us through this bad run of form and to keep up the chase for the cup and the top four. Arsene’s decision not to buy anyone is a sign of his faith in them and I honestly hope they can repay that. Fingers crossed this faith is not misplaced. Yes, they are capable of good stuff, as we saw when we climbed from 17th to 4th (briefly), but equally we know it doesn’t take much to knock them off course, as recent games have shown.

There’s no guarantee buying a player or even two would bring about fourth place or an FA Cup win, but at least nobody could accuse you of not trying. I also think people would much more inclined to have some patience in January if they thought the decision not to buy was part of a greater plan for the summer, but last summer did little to suggest we were working to a well thought-out strategic plan, and not much has changed since then.

Anyway, we have little choice but to forget January – and it’s hardly a month many of us will want to remember – and get behind what we’ve got. Starting tonight at Bolton, of course. The team news is that Arteta and Henry are back and fully fit, Sagna might well start because, well, we don’t really have anyone else to do the job, and nobody else is carrying a knock since the Villa game.

Chelsea dropped points last night, it might have been more but for an injury time own goal equaliser, but they have left the door open for us a bit. It is absolutely crucial we take advantage of this. The last time we won in the league was over a month ago, that 1-0 against QPR, and that’s something we’ve got to put right. It does look as if Chelsea are the team we’re going to have to get ahead of to finish in the top four and we have to make sure when they drop points we pick them up.

Bolton are a tough side, we know that, but as I said earlier on, Arsene Wenger has decided that these players are the ones who can drive Arsenal into the top four. They have to prove it, starting at the Reebok this evening.

In other news, Ryo Miyaichi will spend the rest of the season at Bolton which seems like a decent move. It’ll be a test of character, as well as his footballing ability. From the cossetted luxury of London and Arsenal to a team scrapping for relegation, it’ll be an eye-opener but also a necessary part of his development. Not quite sink or swim but it’d be great to see him make an impact there.

Finally, time to announce the winners of the Blackburn tickets competition with thanks to Thomas Cook Sports. The RNG has done its thing and congratulations to Jonathan Watson and Timo Long. Tix will be on their way to you asap.

If you can’t see Bolton v Arsenal, we’ll have live blog coverage of the game later on. Check back later for the live blog post or bookmark the default live blog page. Betting is with Paddy Power who will give you up to £50 in a free bet – register now.

Right, that’s that. Until later, Eisfeld fans.

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