We waited all day. We hoped that a striker would come in to replace the 50 we had sold or sent on loan. We wondered would we get a midfielder, who would it be? Who could it be?
As the day wore on hope ebbed away as no names appeared, Arsenal were linked with no-one. I monitored the press from around Europe and beyond, nothing was to be heard. It was the quietest day of the entire transfer window so far. All hope that we would sign that ‘top top top’ player became ‘will we sign any player’ which disintegrated in to ‘please sign somebody.’
The only name which stuck all day was Michael Essien and that was only because no-one dismissed it. I don’t think they could be bothered if I’m honest. No new information was added, and then Sky Sports said there would be no loan deal for Essien. Our one single, solitary, temporary crumb had been squashed.
But wait! Roberto Di Matteo confirmed that yes, Essien had indeed been left out of the Chelsea side as he tried to sort a loan move to an unnamed club. Could it be? This is what we had, once again, been reduced to. But then this single, solitary crumb was chewed up and spat out as it was confirmed that yes, Essien would go out on loan but no, Chelsea would not be letting any of their players go to Arsenal.
That was it. The deadline came and went. From Arsenal there was nothing.
Questions need to be asked about why, once again, when we had an obvious need, it wasn’t sorted. It has gone beyond a reason that can just be assigned to Arsene’s stubbornness. I think our team is stronger this season than it was last but our squad is weaker. We are once again at the mercy of the injury gods and we all know that they haven’t been too kind to us over recent years. As I write this now, heading in to game week three of the Premier League, Arsenal are top of the Injury League and we’ve been there since the season started.
We have a team and squad that will challenge for fourth and maybe enjoy a cup run but, once again, we are two or three players short from really challenging at the top.
I understood our reluctance, even inability to spend through years one to six post stadium move but it becomes even harder to fathom now.
Many people had asked if we had signed Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud yesterday would we have felt better about things. Apart from the fact that there would have been mass murder committed amongst Gooners had we sold our captain to Manchester United and Song to Barcelona and reached deadline day without bringing anyone in, I think that misses the point. We have replaced, not reinforced, no matter when we bought the players.
Cazorla is an upgrade and Podolski and Giroud are both quality players, of that there is no doubt. But now we have to ask Francis Coquelin to step up, to hope that Wilshere can get his form back after being out for over a year, hope that Diaby’s injury worries truly are behind him, and pray that our back line doesn’t crumble in a way which saw us having to play centrebacks in the fullback position last season.
We have no room for error or injury and that is, I think, what is the most disappointing thing for many Arsenal fans today, even me, the most optimistic of optimistic Gooners.
It remains to see if Arsene was right. Perhaps we didn’t need to buy, and there is certainly no value in reinforcing simply for the sake of reinforcing. Results will tell us what we need to know and I certainly don’t claim to ever know more than Wenger himself.
What has happened, however, is that the fans have now been given licence to turn on the manager and the board with the first hint that things aren’t working on the pitch.
First up Anfield. Then Manchester City. By then we should have a better idea.
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