With the dust settled somewhat after deadline day, are things really as bad as we think at Arsenal?
If, in May, we’d been told that we would sign the best left-back from the Bundesliga for free, smash our club transfer record on a proven goalscorer, sell a player who adds little to the squad for £40m in the last year of his contract, and shift some deadwood from the squad, most reasonable fans would have taken that, wouldn’t we?
Arsenal are pleased with the business they have done this summer but fans less so. That’s understandable. The little narrative that I opened with is also a nice tale, and it’s true. But it’s only part of the story and I think I might have an inkling as to why the fans aren’t quite as chuffed with Arsenal as they are with themselves.
Arsenal know why they sold the club’s best goalkeeper to Juventus who want him to replace the world’s best ever keeper. They also know why we sold Gabriel and kept Calum Chambers when the latter doesn’t seem to be rated by the manager.
Arsenal understand what really went on with Alexis Sanchez and Thomas Lemar. And why they refused to bid £52m for him and then offered £92m. Or why we turned down £10m for Gibbs only to sell him for £7m. They know if we had any intention of spending big on Kylian Mbappe until it got stupid, or if they were just trying to hook the fans. Did the manager want rid of Shkodran Mustafi after only one season or did the player want to go? No matter which one it was, they know. Why did Lucas never really get a chance? Why didn’t we want to let him go back to Depor?
Arsene Wenger knows why he benched Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette against Liverpool, denying them the chance to adapt in a way he says they need. Wenger also knows why he played left-backs at centreback, right backs at left wing back and all the other bizarre tactical decisions he’s made recently.
He knows why he didn’t get a midfielder when we so desperately need one. And why they tried to sell Mohamed Elneny, an unspectacular player but one it’s certainly better to have than to sell and not replace. The club know what’s going on with Santi Cazorla, omitted from the Premier League squad until at least January, but they say nothing.
Why is Mathieu Debuchy still an Arsenal player? Will we use him? Is Theo Walcott dead now? If so, why did we keep him? Why didn’t Chuba Akpom go out on loan when a deal was close?
Ivan Gazidis, the fourth highest in paid in his position in the league, has said nothing since he promised major change that he hasn’t delivered. The chairman doesn’t do press statements and the owner? Sometimes I wonder if he even knows he owns one of the world’s biggest football clubs.
The players, they know what is going on in the dressing room and why things aren’t clicking. Mesut Ozil knows if he wants to stay or not. Ditto Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla. How many of the nine players out of contract in 2019 will be offered new deals or even want to accept them?*
The fans know none of this.
All we have is question after question with nobody from the club showing any sort of inclination to explain any of it to any of us.
It’s easy to understand the frustration that runs through the Arsenal fanbase at present yet the club seem determined to ignore it. They think that if they keep delivering soundbites, they will placate the fans, but we are so far past that point that it can’t even be seen in the rearview mirror.
This is a club in turmoil being run by people who think they are doing a grand job and can’t really understand what all the fuss is about. Arsenal are locked in a bubble, delirious from a lack of oxygen, starving the club of what it desperately needs to survive – real change.
For how long this will be allowed to continue is yet another thing we, the fans, just don’t know.
*The nine are Debuchy, Walcott, Ospina, Welbeck, Akpom, Cech, Monreal, Giroud and Ramsey – seven of whom we could easily sell next summer rather than give a deal to.