Forget the expiring Chinese year of the monkey, where the lucky colours are blue, white and gold. (Er, hello Leicester?!)
No, it’s the month of the contract.
Usually by mid January, we’re bemoaning the lack of transfer activity, but this year it’s different.
Perhaps we’ve finally realised there is no one decent up for sale this time of year?
Or perhaps we don’t think we need any additions? (Hahahaha. Hahaha. Ha. Hahahaha. Haha. You get the picture.)
More likely, we’re far more worried about losing the
two one player we have who is widely acclaimed to be world class.
Poor Mesut Ozil. He’s definitely in that bracket too, but he’s jeopardised his place in that elite club – to some Arsenal fans and poverty pundits at least – by reportedly saying he’s not signing until he knows the manager’s plans. Who’da thunk it?
So here’s the question: would you take no transfer activity but the resigning of Alexis Sanchez?
Of course you would.
In my view, it’s more important for Arsenal to keep our best players than any of our rivals.
Allow me to explain.
What is Arsenal’s best team?
I could probably name our first choice back five, even if I don’t always agree with it. (Cough, Monreal, cough!) go beyond that, though, and with everyone fit I’d be hard pushed to know who would start.
Probably a front four of Alexis, Iwobi, Ozil and Walcott. Probably? Possibly? I wouldn’t bet my house on it though. Perhaps the garage…
And what about the remaining two midfielders? Your guess is as good as mine. Santi and Coq? But what about Xhaka? Or Rambo?
Compare this to Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool; you can pretty much name their first choice eleven without too much head scratching. The only exception is where the first choice at the end of last season or start of this has been out for a long time with injury, such as Lamela or Sturridge.
But why does it matter?
Arsene Wenger has a fairly consistent formation. However, he doesn’t tend to have a particular way of playing within that system. It relies on the individuals selected in any given game to play each position ‘their way’.
He calls it freedom, and often it completely bamboozles the opposition as they don’t know what to expect. However on occasion – especially when we rotate – it bamboozles our own players too. You know the games: the ones where our boys look like complete strangers to each other.
For this to work, it relies heavily on combinations, understanding, and a certain inherent knowledge of where a teammate will be at any given time. It’s why Ozil has scored so many goals this season comparatively. And it’s also why it’s so important to keep our best players together.
That type of understanding doesn’t come overnight. Each time we swap a player out and purchase a replacement, even if that replacement is a bit better, it takes a while to build. And in the interim things are worse.
Sign da ting
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t reckon we’d find it particularly easy to purchase a replacement who is “a bit better” than Alexis Sanchez. Or Mesut Ozil. Or, for that matter, Olivier Giroud as a second choice striker. Let alone someone who can come straight into our combination play and look at home.
That’s why, as January progresses, I couldn’t care less if we sign anyone new. We’ve got our French contingent tied down, and we shouldn’t underplay the importance of retaining Laurent Koscielny, who is without question one of the best (if not the best) centre backs in the league. Now we just need the rest to follow.
No, I’m happy with no new signings, as long as the names ‘Alexis Sanchez’ and ‘Mesut Ozil’ appear on a dotted line on Arsenal headed notepaper before the end of the month.
Over to you, Arsenal, it’s hammer time.