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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Where is the excitement?

Remember this?
The new season begins this Saturday. Normally this is the most exciting time of the year for a football supporter. Everyone starts from the same point, and the next nine months will bring joy and thrills and despair and disappointment. It's the reason we go to watch our teams. This season I find myself not caring for the fact that we play our first game in four days time. The first game of the season should be played in glorious sunshine, with the new signings taking the stage for the first time in a real game. There is nothing like seeing those new players for the first time, and giving them their own personal reception as their names are announced. I'll never forget the buzz around the ground the first time we saw Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt, appear at Highbury. Even before the Sunderland game last season with Podolski and Cazorla lining up produced a superb atmosphere. Yet here we are with only one new player, a free transfer from the French second division, who looks like he'll miss the start of the season with an injury. It's even forecast to rain at the moment. I am not excited in the slightest. Arsenal have done nothing across the close season to make me look forward to what might lay ahead this year.
The fact is that Arsenal's squad is threadbare and lacking quality, as it was last season. Being short on numbers is really no different from last term. People will point to the number of players that have been sold, but only Gervinho was ever really involved last season from that group. His sale is offset by the arrival of Sanogo and the possible promotion of Zelalem and Gnabry. However, that team last season scraped a dismal fourth place on the final day. Any contention from Arsene Wenger that we can challenge without additions is as empty as it is embarrassing. We all know he doesn't believe that himself, so why come out with such nonsense?
The line up of the players at Members Day last week should have been a massive eye opener. There were 17 outfield players on show, including the two kids mentioned above. Arsene says he has "16 regular players" to choose from. I don't know if he's noticed, but he has to name 18 for every game. With Miyaichi, Rosicky, Sanogo, Monreal, Vermaelen and Diaby all crocked at the moment, and Walcott and Ramsey picking up knocks too, you'd have to wonder what planet the Manager is on in not adding to his options.
One of the things Wenger has claimed is that the transfer market has been slow for everyone. That is a lie. Manchester City and Spurs have signed players. Other big Clubs around Europe have signed players. Liverpool have signed players. To say that nobody has done business, just because Chelsea and Man Utd haven't, is crass and insults the supporters own intelligence. We have wasted the Summer months chasing a player I don't think we can buy. We could have had Higuain in place already. We could have had Fellaini in place. We could actually have had Wayne Rooney had we offered the same to Man Utd for him as we offered to Liverpool for Suarez. As it is we have two goalkeepers, neither of whom are good enough. We have two fit centre-backs. We have no defensive minded midfield player, with Mikel Arteta's professionalism getting us out of trouble for most of last season. We have one centre-forward. The gaps are obvious to everyone. Yet we've seen no movement to address the issues.
The Champions League qualifier looms large on the horizon. Olivier Giroud has been superb in pre-season and has to play. So what happens if he gets injured on Saturday against Villa? We will be going to Turkey with either Podolski or Walcott playing the lone striker role. The evidence that neither player is genuinely capable of doing that job is overwhelming. Considering that the last season finished three months ago it really is negligent to allow ourselves to be gambling like this.
Those that would choose to defend Wenger and the lack of transfers have gone through their full list of annual excuses. We are now on to the final two. The first being that "he's waiting to see if we get through the Champions League qualifier" and the second that "the transfer window doesn't close until September 2nd". Neither of these has any merit. In terms of the first one it is obvious that strengthening before the qualifier gives you a better chance to actually get through. The second is a joke when you consider that the season starts this week - we will be well in to the season by the time we get to September. Let's just say we drop four or five points (or worse) in the first few games, before doing our late transfer business, and then miss out on winning the Title by three points, or fail to get through in the Champions League. Would it not have been worth doing business a little earlier? There simply is no defence when everyone knows we have so much money available.
I'll leave you with one more thing of major concern. There has been a rumour bubbling under for the last couple of months linking Arsenal to a £4m move for Gareth Barry. He is out of favour at Manchester City. He will be available on the cheap. He would be a typical Wenger signing, designed to annoy everyone who wants money spent. In short he would be the new Mikael Silvestre. I would not be surprised to see it happen. And that doesn't fill me with excitement either (especially as Mathieu Flamini is currently training with Arsenal and available on a free - who would you sign?)


  1. Good post. I like the way you write, but I found it quite hard to read. Here are two bits of advice for you to ignore or accept at your discretion:

    1) Lose the 'wall of text' simply by inserting spaces between each paragraph.

    2) Lose the black background/white font - it's awfully hard on the eyes. It also makes it look like a decade-old myspace site. Just reverse it to the tried and tested white background/black font (or dark grey font, if you'd like to differentiate a little)

    Cheers :)

  2. Out of the two of them, I would sign Flamini, simply because he is more mobile and has a past with the club.

    God article and although I lean towards being pro-Wenger in most things this whole transfer shenanigans is a huge problem and quite why it has never been addressed after so many years is appalling. If we haven't signed a GK, CB, DM, ST by the end of the window it has been a failure and Wenger will be under even more pressure than he was the last few years, I will worry for his future at the Emirates.

  3. i would sign neither.I would also like AW to eff off the club since he seems to be intent on taking it down with him.The board has been a bunch of lying hoarders who have just taken our money and done FA to improve the club on the pitch. Unless fans revolt,nothing will change with this club.

  4. Arsene has strengthened the squad by moving on under-improving players. He has put record bids in for two world class players. Who is available that we are not buying that is a definite improvement on the player that we have? Is Higuain better than Podolski? Is Fellaini better than Ramsey? Is there a better CB right now than Koscieny? The answer may be yes in all cases, but equally may be no. Throwing £30+m at players who are not regular starters where they are, like Higuain was not at RM, doesn't guarantee anything.
    Yes, it would be better to bring in top talent early, if they are available, but doesn't everyone, even AW know that. So if it hasn't happened, like it hasn't happened at Chelsea and Man U, there's a good reason. Would it be better to grasp at an average straw early, or hold out for a world class talent, recognising the risk that you might not get him? I for one will reserve judgment till the transfer window closes.