The start of a new year brings more than just hangovers and resolutions, it also brings our bi-annual dose of enhanced transfer speculation. It’s amazing how a club so notoriously frugal and reluctant to sign players still has fans convinced it will break the bank every transfer window.
It’s hard not to become engrossed in it, and I’ve spent my fair share of January 31‘s tuned into SkySportsNews hoping Arsenal will announce a last minute superstar signing. I was crushed when we didn’t sign Xavi Alonso in 2008, I was dismayed at the lack of activity last January, and I clicked refresh on Newsnow far too frequently whilst we were supposedly tying up the Sahin deal last August.
However none of it really matters. The problems inherent in the current team are exactly the same as the teams that preceded it. The personnel have changed but the same mistakes remain.
We still don’t take games against supposedly lower opposition seriously and we still seem vulnerable from every attack. Furthermore, we still can’t take any semblance of a decent corner and we still have a near constant injury crisis. We still pay absolutely zero attention to the tactical demands of the teams we are facing, and our team is still shrouded in doubt over the contract of one of its stars. We still start games excruciatingly slowly, and most painfully of all – we still seem to be content to just meander along doing enough necessary to secure 4th place
Signing David Villa or Adrian Lopez won’t change any of the above.
If they do, the fear is it will be short term.
Arshavin came in the January transfer window, set the world alight, and look what happened to him. Reyes arrived in Janaury and looked a world beater, then look what happened to him. Even Chamakh started his Arsenal career brightly, and the less said about him the better.
“This club has a particular approach, a philosophy, and whoever the players are, we play in the same way” – Arsene Wenger
The above quote tells you all you need to know.
To borrow an oft repeated phrase, ‘the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.’
Unfortunately Arsenal do the same thing over and over again, and it does get the desired result – qualification for the Champions League. If that is the sum of your ambition for the club then there really is no need to change anything.
I like to believe there are people at Arsenal, and I include the manager in this, who have ambition that extends far beyond finishing 4th. Yet it will take more than adjusting the playing personnel to achieve it.
A change in mentality would be a start. Like taking games against lesser opposition as seriously as you would a Champions League game. It was infuriating to watch as Kieron Gibbs, with 92 minutes on the clock against Southampton, wandered over to take a throw and took precisely 28 seconds to get the ball back into action. Ask yourself if a player of Utd, Chelsea or City would be allowed to take such a delay when chasing the game.
It’s not unfair to single players out, and at least Gibbs did more than just swing his leg at a football which cannot be said for our right back, who was so uncharacteristically bad that it’s not unreasonable to think it was a body double playing out there.
With four minutes of injury time against Wigan, whilst desperately holding onto an undeserved 1-0 lead, the Arsenal team, a team with more technical ability and skill to hold onto the ball than any other in the league, decided that they were totally incapable of holding onto the ball, slowing down play, or even completing a two yard pass to another man in a red shirt. It was utter stupidity from the playing personnel and I can’t fathom how we escaped Wigan with all 3 points.
Apologies for the perceived negativity, but after re-watching the Southampton game again, I just can’t bring myself to get even remotely excited by the January transfer window. Supporting Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal is like being stuck in groundhog day year after year. Hope replaced by despair, replaced by hope, and then despair. It’s a constant cycle.
The hope brings us back in. Just as recently as a four game winning run, you start to forget about the losses and the obvious flaws with the team, you start envisioning a late run at the title, until a performance like Southampton reminds you why we are in our current position.
Until there is a change in the fabric of the club; this culture of accepting mediocrity, of doing just enough to get by, then the cycle won’t break anytime soon.
I truly hope we do bring in quality additions, lord knows this team needs it, but it won’t be long before they too become accustomed to the Arsenal way.------------
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