If blog posts could sigh, then this would be almost passing out through lack of breath. My mood when I woke in the early hours of this morning to check the various football news feeds was darker than the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat on national gloomy day. In a power cut.
I’m pretty sure I was not alone.
But looking around at other Arsenal blogs, I’m trying very hard not to fall into the trap of blasting the club and our esteemed manager, so you’ll have to forgive me for some blind optimism.
I’m expecting that Arsene Wenger might make some sort of statement to allay fears that his team are under strength for the season ahead and while there will be plenty of people who are convinced the team is weaker (and even a few idiots calling for Wenger’s head), you have to admire Le Boss for showing faith in his existing players.
The players who left in the summer included Gilberto (£1m), Alexander Hleb (£11.8m), Jens Lehmann (free), Mathieu Flamini (free) and Justin Hoyte (£3m). Also off on loan are Kerrea Gilbert, Nacer Barazite, Armand Traore, Philippe Senderos and Havard Nordtveit.
So in other words, the club received at least £15.8 million, plus the loan fees that others paid for the benefit of using Arsenal personnel.
New faces in the squad include Mikael Silvestre (£750k), Aaron Ramsey (£5m), Samir Nasri (£12m) and Amaury Bischoff (free) – a total of nearly £18 million, but more if you consider the extended contracts given to the likes of Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Adebayor, who, lest we forget, was the leading striker in the Premier League last season.
Wenger admits that the contract given to Bischoff was a gamble and that’s exactly what I reckon his strategy was in not bringing and more players in on transfer deadline day.
The faith he is showing in his young team is fantastic from the players’ point of view and the challenge for the likes of Denilson, Abou Diaby and Alex Song will be to repay that faith and show that they can step into the role vacated by Mathieu Flamini…
There are still a few desperate believers out there who are grasping at the ever so feeble straws that Arsene has tied up a deal or two, but the club have yet to announce anything.
Well, I don’t profess to be an expert, but wasn’t that the sound of the transfer window slamming shut I heard last night? And didn’t all transfers have to be registered by midnight?
So we’re all going to have to accept that the club has not added to the squad.
Putting things into perspective though, we lost four players and signed four players. Only time will tell if those new Gunners are better than the talent they are replacing, but Samir Nasri has impressed me more in his first four games than Alex Hleb did in half a season, so on that score, I think Le Boss comes out ahead.
Mikael Silvestre over Justin Hoyte? I’d go with that too. Aaron Ramsey over Mathieu Flamini? It doesn’t look that good on paper, but let’s be honest, who would have been disappointed if the Flamster had departed at the end of the 2006/07 season? And Amaury Bischoff? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see on that score.
The plain fact of the matter is that Arsenal did not significantly add to the squad and we’ll probably never know the truth behind who the club was chasing and whether Le Gaffer failed to attract players or just couldn’t meet valuations.
But the bottom line is that we will all continue to support Arsenal Football Club, whether we’re disappointed or not today.
If the team can continue to improve on the display that saw them rip apart Newcastle on Saturday, then just maybe the faith that Arsene Wenger has in his players will start to grow among us fans.
And with Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky still to return, if the Gunners can stay in touch at the top of the league for the next couple of months, perhaps the belief that we can be genuine title contenders will not just be held by a certain French economics graduate.
We finished last season four points behind the league champions and as I recall, the gloom and doom of 12 months ago when we started the season without Thierry Henry was even worse than we’re all feeling today…