By Avenell Dave
I’ve tried my best to be calm this transfer window.
I cannot tell you how gutted I was that we didn’t sign Higuain but no one else apart from Gustavo perhaps (on reputation rather than having seen him play) has really excited me.
Certainly not Shrek or Suarez with all the bad behaviour and baggage they bring with them.
Just like everyone else, I’ve tried to understand why we have not gone out and bought players.
While I appreciate that Financial Fair Play and the balance sheet are important, what we do on the pitch is essential.
And after the frustration most have felt this summer, getting off to a bad start – at home especially – was always going to be something of an Armageddon moment.
Whether the manager, his scouts and fixers have genuinely had trouble signing their targets or second choices, whether there are orders to wait until as late as possible in the transfer window…whatever the reasons, we simply had to keep the remaining first team squad members fit and available.
And I had a sneaking bad feeling as I walked to the ground on Saturday that if things went wrong, we could find ourselves in the same situation we did two years ago, with hardly anyone to call upon and lamenting another indifferent start.
Thank heavens it’s Villa and not a really decent team, I thought.
And yet we made Villa look good on Saturday.
You could argue that as soon as he started complaining, we should have snapped up Benteke and on the weekend’s performance, we could have done a lot worse.
The way the team parted like the Red Sea for Agbonlahor was shameful and just underlined why a defensive midfielder should absolutely have been the number one priority this summer.
As soon as Kieran Gibbs went off injured, we were in real trouble. The team lost its shape, its discipline and confidence and when you couple that with an atrocious refereeing performance, you have a recipe for disaster.
And disaster it is.
We should have never found ourselves in a position where we played a centre forward at left back and a midfielder in the heart of the defence.
We lose Koscielny for next weekend. We lose Oxlade-Chamberlain for maybe the entire season if some concerns are to be believed. We lose possible Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs for Wednesday and maybe longer.
And we have literally no one to fill in and replace them.
Some have said that any signings we make now will be reactive and who of a decent standard would want to sign for us anyway?
I don’t think that’s entirely fair even if the focus on signing a decent versatile defender has to be a focus before the Fulham game.
Players at smaller clubs, be they in Europe or not, will still want to come to us if the prices are right and certainly if we qualify for the Group Stages, which, let’s face it, looks probably as unlikely as it ever has under Arsene Wenger.
There are fine players out there – on the fringes of the biggest teams or not facing the prospect of the Champions League and wanting to play at the highest level.
But something needs to change at Arsenal and fast.
I’m a big supporter of Arsene Wenger and apart from work and family, Arsenal dominates my thoughts like almost nothing else.
No one knows why we are so slow to make the signings that others seem to do in days.
Southampton spent as much as our record signing on Osvaldo yesterday. He may not be good enough.
But when virtually everyone has outspent the so-called richest team in the country and our season feels as if it is in tatters before it’s even really begun, something is very wrong.
The Villa fans, like so many others, quite rightly mock our home support. It’s almost always too quiet at home games.
And yet the fury so many expressed on Saturday is the culmination not of failing to win trophies for the past eight years.
It is the anger that we have not competed, that we have not done what even former Directors can see we need to do, let alone the players, the pundits and of course all of us fans.
We have had too many dark days over the past five years at Arsenal. The joie-de-vivre that characterised Wenger’s early years has been completely replaced by vitriol, in-fighting amongst our fans and a sense of despair and of being let down not by the players but by the management and the Board.
We love our club. And to a man, no one knows why our hopes are being dashed year after year by the apparent inability to use our resources to their optimum.
It really is as dark as it can get and by the time we end the T*tt*nh*m game in a couple of weeks, it could feel a hell of a lot worse.
If that is possible.