A long time ago...
When Alex Song was transferred to the Barcelona subs bench Arsene Wenger was quoted as saying that a replacement would be signed. After the Stoke game last week we were told that players would be coming in. On Thursday he announced that we were still "active" in the transfer market. Lies, lies, lies. I am sick of Wenger's lying. I am sick of the smug look on his face when he's doing it. Most of all I am sick of the fact that he treats the supporters like an inconvenience to whom he has to pay nothing but lip service. Meanwhile the Club has millions of pounds of our money sitting idle in its "player trading account".
Yet again we have reached the end of a transfer window knowing that two or three signings would have made us genuine contenders for the Premier League. Yet again we are one injury away from having no centre-forward. If Olivier Giroud gets injured then we are left with Lukas Podolski playing out of position, or Marouane Chamakh (who we couldn't find anybody to take away from us, even on a loan deal where Arsenal subsidise his wages). Similarly we have been left with Mikel Arteta having to perform the role of a ball-winner in midfield, or the alternatives of an inexperienced Francis Coquelin, or an ill-disciplined Emmanuel Frimpong (when he is fit). We also have the problem of a half-fit Wojciech Szczesny having to play in order that we can keep Fabianski and Mannone out of harms way.
It is my belief that Wenger is not being stopped from spending. He is simply too stubborn to do it. He is determined to turn a profit on players every year. All the time he stays in the top four, and guarantees the Champions League money, then Stan Kroenke will remain blissfully happy with him. The Arsenal Holdings AGM is coming up and I sincerely hope that the shareholders force the Board to turn it in to a proper meeting. The Board, and the Manager, must be held to account and made to explain why the Club is playing the game of Premier League football with one hand constantly tied behind its back. It's bad enough to keep losing our best players, but to not spend the money that is clearly available is criminal negligence of the worst kind. And anyone who backs Wenger's claim that he will only sign top quality, and that such quality has not been available, needs only to look at the players that moved this week (and not all at massive prices, either). How a man that has signed some of the players Wenger has in recent seasons can claim to only buy top quality is completely beyond me.
I fear that Arsenal FC is sinking fast. We are now no different to our next opponents, a once massive Club falling further behind every year. We laugh at Tottenham and their failure to win a Title since 1961. One of my favourite things about ribbing Spurs fans is to say BCMA (Big Club My A***). I now feel that the same legend can and will be applied to Arsenal.
Tomorrow sees our first big game of the season. I suppose that seems an odd statement given what I have written above. However, Arsenal v Liverpool will always be a major date in the Premier League calendar. With the way things are going right now, I would take a draw. Liverpool are a team under pressure, and a win for Arsenal would surely get the Kopites thinking back to Roy Hodgson. The press certainly seem keen for Brendan Rodgers "revolution" to be given time, but I suspect the fans may not be quite so patient, especially after the popular Andy Carroll was dumped by the new boss this week.
Ironically, one of Liverpool's best performances of last season came in their game against us at Anfield, despite Van Persie grabbing us a last minute winner. I doubt we would get that lucky again if Liverpool play well. Arsenal must start the game quickly tomorrow. We need to grab control early, as we did last week at Stoke. The silencing of the crowd was noticeable last Sunday, and it will be important again tomorrow.
I can see Walcott coming back in to the team, and maybe Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will come in for Abou Diaby. Laurent Koscielny is fit again to be part of the squad, but I would be loathe to change the back four after their impressive start. Having said that, Koscielny's extra pace may be required against Luis Suarez, though Koscielny has had a pretty dismal time on his two Anfield appearances so far.
Liverpool will be missing Lucas Leiva in their midfield and that can only be good news for Arsenal. Pepe Reina's form is poor in goal, but we all know how goalkeepers often play out of their skins against us - I hope that his clanger on Thursday does not mean he's due to play a blinder tomorrow.
A lot of focus will be on Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud tomorrow, and the fact that we haven't got a goal yet this season. I fancy Giroud to do well against Liverpool's central defenders, while Podolski's movement could drag Glen Johnson way out of position. If the two new boys can play well then Arsenal have a real chance to get a positive result.
A defeat tomorrow will bring a lot of pressure and a lot of criticism towards Arsene Wenger and the Board for the reasons outlined above. Much of that would be deserved, and the Manager must get his players at their best if he is to avoid that.
One more word of warning - the spectre of Howard Webb's influence looms large...