Who says Manchester United haven’t signed anyone in the January transfer window?! It seems they’ve added two more game changers to their list of match-winners. Lee Mason and Stephen Child haven’t been officially unveiled at Old Trafford but it’ll be hard to argue they’ve not joined Howard Webb.
I think Wenger missed a trick there. If he had signed one or two such men capable of making a decisive contribution Arsenal would surely have won the Premiership title and might also have benefitted in the domestic cups.
On a more serious note (some might say nothing can be more serious but let’s leave it at that for now) I think this transfer window has been a fairly good one from Arsenal’s point of view.
Interestingly, all the major ‘ins’ have been in England. Outside the Premiership the biggest deals were probably Gustavo to Bayern and Pazzini to Inter. I don’t think any of the deals was worth more than €15M but I could be wrong.
In contrast English clubs have spent lavishly on five strikers and one central defender amongst other deals. I’m sure you know the details so I won’t get into those.
Chelsea have strengthened their squad in what seems like a desperate last throw of the dice by Abramovic. After trying to bring the finances under control by signing a number of young players the Russian had to splurge when it looked like Chelsea could struggle for a top 4 place. Their recent revival and the addition of Torres and Luiz should see them cement their place in the Champions League spots. It will be a real surprise if the Blues win the Premiership this season but they will have a strong shout in the Cups.
More importantly, they will certainly have a big say in who wins the Premier League title. Manchester United have to play two games against them and that could help Arsenal.
United have back to back away games to Chelsea and Liverpool. Will Suarez and Carroll help the Gunners? Of course they could also hurt us when Liverpool come to visit the Emirates in April. Either way Liverpool’s strikers will make an impact on the Premiership title.
Whether Dzeko can make the Manchester derby any less boring will be seen soon enough.
From the Premiership fixtures’ point of view this transfer window has been good for Arsenal.
Not surprisingly, the exorbitant sums involved in some of these transfers have raised a number of red flags. In a couple of years we will see whether UEFA have the bite to go with their bark. These transfer numbers will certainly make a difference because this year’s results will be taken into account.
Then there is the Government that is closely monitoring football. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is currently conducting an inquiry into the state of English football. I’m not a big fan of government interventions as they end up creating more problems than they solve but these transfers will definitely make an impact on the results of that inquiry. This article, an interview with Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, claims that the government might enforce even more stringent financial regulations than will be provided by UEFA’s financial fair play initiative.
In the short term, I can see many fans disappointed with the fact that the club did not buy any defensive cover.
My opinion is that Arsenal need one more versatile defensive minded player, someone like Song or Kompany who can play in midfield or central defence. I don’t necessarily see that player as a backup for Song or the Centre Backs but someone who can compete for a first team slot and offer a good option for rotations. This was my opinion in the summer when everyone else was crying out for a Goalkeeper and the performances so far have only strengthened my belief.
Arsenal have enough options in attack but the balance of the team is affected when Wenger has to rotate the Midfielders and Full Backs.
My guess is that Arsene understands this need. That is the reason he was looking for a player. It was not just a result of Squillaci and Vermaelen being injured. Everyone knew Squillaci would be back in three weeks. I don’t think that injury had much to do with Wenger’s interest in the market but it could have been a decent excuse.
Having said that, I can also understand why Arsene might not have found the right player this January. All the big transfers show that the selling clubs have extorted maximum value for their prized assets. Even then it’s not a simple matter of splashing the cash as the crazy, failed bids by the Tiny Totts show. ‘Arry said that Spuds offered £35M for Rossi but Villareal didn’t want to sell. If that’s true and if Athletico Madrid rejected a similarly insane offer for Aguero then we can see how Arsene might have struggled to find the right player.
This is not limited to the big deals either. Some clubs wanted Charlie Adam. But they didn’t get him. It was a relatively low value deal but there were complications.
Signing players in January can be a lot more difficult than the summer. For instance, last January, from what I have understood, Bordeaux didn’t want to sell and Chamakh didn’t want to force the issue in the middle of the season where they were having a decent run in the Champions League. Even if Wenger wanted him due to our injury crisis up front, Le Boss couldn’t have signed the Moroccan.
I think at some point in the future we will learn that Wenger had a number of targets for buying or for bringing on loan. But for one or the other reason nothing worked out. I know at the moment this seems like a hollow statement and some will continue to believe the club ‘did nothing’ in the transfer window.
Some time back, Arsene mentioned a very interesting point about ‘Artificial Pressure’ and I feel many fans succumb to this. Instead of analyzing the actual issues and current requirements they lose the point in generalizations based on the drought of the last five years. They also fail to acknowledge the practical problems in the market. In some ways it’s the fans showing they lack the mental strength to deal with the stress of following a football club that does things the right way. But over the last couple of seasons I have realized it’s impossible to have a rational discussion with someone who trivializes the issues or ignores the complexities involved, so I won’t make the mistake of trying to explain this to anyone who thinks Arsene did nothing in the January market.
I strongly believe a defensive player is needed but I would also give Wenger the benefit of the doubt. The fans can complain or turn themselves into ‘like a new signing’ twelfth man. That’s the only addition we can still make.