Who wants to read about our failure to sign a centre forward and search for Johnny Evans?
To tell you the truth, I don’t really want to write about it either. I started this article with about 300 words on the centre-back situation, but I’m not sure it’s worth going down that road with you. There are, I’m sure, countless words to be written on the subject, but not by me. I will restrict myself to commenting on how typically Arsenal it is that our only available senior centre-back gets injured in the third minute of injury time (three minutes of injury time? In a friendly?) at the end of our final pre-season friendly.
Arsenal Football Club: where the worst case scenario is the only scenario.
Forget ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’, that’s what our club motto should be. I remember reading in Myles Palmer’s book, The Professor, that someone in France once said Arsène was an unlucky manager. If this Gabriel incident doesn’t prove that in spades – if, in fact, you needed that one after a whole decade of misfortune – then I don’t know what will. And, yes, I know bad planning undoubtedly has played a large part, both this summer and over the last decade. Anyway, we are where we are and it seems that a Monreal-Chambers partnership at home to Liverpool on Sunday is a racing certainty.
Not ideal, but it’s what we’ve got. We, as fans, need to get on with it. Clearly, the club also need to get on with it, although in a slightly different way. As I type this, in typical, Rage Against The Machine “F___ you, I won’t do what you tell me” style, rumours of an Arsenal bid of £35m for Riyad Mahrez – yes, him again, have just surfaced.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) August 10, 2016
Would Mahrez be a good signing for Arsenal? Undoubtedly. Should he be a priority right now? Undoubtedly not. Will we sign him? Ah, who knows? Not I, sir, not I.
Anyway, that’s around 300 words more than I planned on talking about Arsenal’s lack of transfer activity, whether real or imagined. Let’s park it there, because the new season is upon us and, let’s face it, this week is the most optimistic most of us will feel about the coming season.
Sunday afternoon will see the red and white hordes once more streaming towards Arsenal’s stadium as if pulled in by a tractor beam. I suppose that’s what it is, isn’t it? It’s a magical time, I think, the start of the new season. The excitement of seeing the place you call home again, the lush, green turf, the walk to your seat. The familiar sights, smells and noises rendered just that hint more exciting as it’s the first time you’ve seen, smelled and heard them for three months…
And then the game kicks off and you lose at home to Aston Villa. Or West Ham.
No, no, no, no, there is no room for negativity here. Not yet. We can save that for next week. Seriously, though, I am looking forward to this season. I will be looking forward to it even more if we can make those signings that everyone knows we need, yet have somehow not made yet (I keep doing this, don’t I?). As I said on this week’s podcast, though, I think there is genuine reason to feel optimistic about our chances this season.
That is assuming we can fend off the massive, Manchester United-sized monster who are spraying their cash around as if they are the biggest cat in the jungle. I suppose they are that, it doesn’t make them the best though. It’ll be interesting to see how Mourinho’s latest real life Fantasy Football project takes off, obviously we all hope it is the colossal failure it so deserves to be.
What was I saying? Oh yes, optimism. Lest it be forgotten, we had a centre forward up front who didn’t score for half a season and we still finished second. We lost our first choice central midfielder and still we finished second. We have strengthened the central midfield area almost beyond measure since last season began – to the point where you’d be very hard pressed to say for certain who will play there regularly this year. I suppose that’s the way it should be.
Likewise, the wide options are such that just two people talking on the aforementioned podcast couldn’t agree on who would provide them on Sunday. On reflection, bearing in mind Arsène’s comments about the defensive work needed wide, I might agree with Stephen that the Ox would get the nod over Theo. However, if you knew you were going to get the Theo of last Sunday’s game with City, would you leave him out? I wouldn’t and, by now, I think you know how I feel about him. But you can’t guarantee which Theo is going to turn up, obviously. Ah, the eternal Theo dilemma, I guess you could call it a Theological debate.
It all comes down to this thorny centre back/forward question. If we were any other football club, I think we’d be feeling a lot more confident about our chances of completing these signings. However, we are Arsenal. Apparently, we go out to sign players, time and again, armed only with the contents of Dick Law’s piggybank. It’s no wonder we get laughed out of town, it’s no wonder our fanbase feels a little jaded. A serious football club would have made these signing in June, surely?
But hold on, according to my Twitter…
Arsenal negotiations to sign Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi are ongoing. Will cost about £30m
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) August 10, 2016
So, that’s how you spell his first name then. All this action over the course of one lunch break to keep up with, I guess there’s nothing like the opening day of the season to focus minds and loosen purse strings.
Back here, again? Probably time to turn this one in.
For the record, as far as Riyad Mahrez goes, I don’t see how (potentially) signing a winger who has produced an almost Piresian volume of goals and assists across the last 18 months can be a bad thing.
It might even take some of the pressure off the half season wonder up top.