By David Swaden
On the surface, what a difference a week makes. Failure to qualify for yet another Champions League campaign all but impossible, the walking wounded dwindling in number and impressively off the mark in a tricky looking fixture at Fulham on Saturday. With even the most obvious looking pitfall from Saturday – a second yellow card for the commanding Ramsey – avoided, things couldn’t have gone much better for the Arsenal squad “as is”.
But that “as it is” is a powerful disclaimer. If anyone who watched the various TV analysis of this week’s games would like to tally up how often the words “paper” and “cracks” were mentioned, I’d be very grateful. Something tells me it would be a high amount. And, as much utter “Spurs” as people like Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher and, bless him, Merse talk, even a moron (funny that isnt it?) can see that Arsenal remain agonisingly close to another fan rebellion.
All it would take is another uncharacteristically tired performance from an overworked player like the one Cazorla put in last week, or the loss of a major force like Wilshere due to fatigue with inadequate depth to cope. The club has nowhere to hide and no excuses if it is unlucky with injuries after September 2nd. The Arsenal faithful are in no sort of mood to forgive the frugal.
Indeed, perhaps the cut-off point for revision is actually the North London derby itself. Spurs have strengthened comprehensively and, let’s face it, well. For a team without UCL they have found players of genuine quality who are prepared to play at the second tier of European football, that is impressive. Bale or no Bale, they will be a force. By all accounts, the noisy neighbours will be strengthened yet further by the arrival of £30m man Eric Lamela for Sunday. Tottenham and their fans will have a real buzz about them on the weekend given this activity. If Arsenal remain “additionless” just one day from the deadline, what pressure that will place on the threadbare squad. Should Spurs’ new recruits then shine and defeat Arsenal to make it 2 in 2 losses at the Emirates and 6 points behind Spurs, one can only imagine the reaction from supporters. Think Aston Villa – treble that and multiply by five.
So following that logic, it seems entirely feasible that major signings may well finally arrive at the Emirates before Sunday. Who will they be? I’m not so clever, or perhaps stupid, as to be able to make a prediction on that. However, consider the following facts regarding the rumoured multiple swoop on Madrid:
Bale has his heart set on a move to the Bernabeau, Real are short of readily available cash and want to pay in instalments. Arsenal have the largest cash reserves in the Premiership and an appetite for Di Maria, Ozil and Benzema. Real have form for suddenly forgetting their ex-Galacticos once the new big thing catches their eye (Robben and Sneijder in the Ronaldo saga).
Put all those sentences together and the idea of Arsenal providing Real Madrid with £60m plus in cool hard cash doesn’t seem so daft, especially as it will allow Real to take our rivals’ best player off their hands. Of course, knowing this transfer window and previous iterations, we will end up unveiling a promising Azerbaijani winger who was on the cusp of signing for Shakter Karagandi, Flamini and, the mark of any trolley dash, Andre Santos.
Let’s hope not eh? Here’s to the next few days and a few beers in front of the Jim White show.