Feeling Fine & Summer Sprees

ccbbHopes that FFP might be effectively implemented were given the footballing equivalent of a wet fish being slapped across the face with FIFA readmitting Barcelona to the transfer circus. Despite holding a ticket that clearly stated, “Strictly No Readmittance“, the Catalan club managed to finagle their way back with a well-timed appeal which left world football’s governing body with insufficient time to play out the legal process to its fullest extent. Of course it is not FFP but highlights the lengths to which clubs can go to secure their best interests. The summer was shaping to be interesting with Barcelona seemingly stuck with Pinto in goal and unable to replace departing players properly. Now that avenue is open to them once more.

UEFAs attempts to punish clubs will be met with similar stalling tactics and exhausting of the legal avenues; it’s one of the reasons that the compromise of fines was introduced. It averts the prospect of a legal coach and horses being driven through the financial regulations by lawyers more streetwise than those employed by UEFA, underlining that serious breaches will still not be met with the bans from the Champions League that were hoped for when the notion of FFP first surfaced. What was always a remote prospect at best, seems even more distant now.

In an era when cash is so plentiful, the concept of fines in football seems pointless. The sums involved are pitiful by comparison to the money’s earned through transgressions. FFP, for example; the sin of overspending, of operating a loss-making club, brings a greater reward than UEFA’s punishment will be. It is a problem of their own making; the concept of the Champions League was to generate more moneys for the clubs to the extent that it induces non-compliance with the rules. As Jerome Champagne observes, that is perhaps the least of the financial problems the restructuring of European club competitions caused.

The Premier League in days gone by, were ready to fine clubs who fielded weakened sides in their competitions. I think it was Blackpool who prioritised matches, presumably on the basis of achieving more points, and found themselves on the wrong end of a £25k fine. The sum was derisory given what they could have earned by staying up, it was a gamble worth taking. Bear in mind, this happened in the season when the 25-man squad system was introduced into the Premier League. Using the fullest extent of his squad, Ian Holloway was fined for not fielding his strongest XI. Compare that with statements this week from Chelsea about the side they intend to field at Anfield, knowing they have a better chance of winning their Champions League semi-final than the Premier League title. Will the Premier League fine the club? £25k or presumably inflation has bitten and it’s now something like £30k. What is that compared to the money the club will make from reaching the Champions League final? Surely the deduction of three points is a more ‘creditable’ punishment, one which make clubs think about transgressions?

Of course Arsenal benefit from a points deduction, most likely they would finish third. I wish Arsène had to think about fielding a weakened side because of Champions League commitments next week. [There now follows the blogging equivalent of a wistful sigh and pregnant pause whilst staring in the distance, lost in a moment’s reverie]

Qualifying for the Champions League is now Arsenal’s duty, according to Yaya Sanogo, treating the fourth place trophy as if it is a right. No doubt he will be carted off to the headmaster’s office for claiming such things; Arsenal have no right to expect any silverware or so I am regularly informed. Talk of the youngster inevitably turns to the necessity for adding depth and given ’tis the time of year for season tickets to be renewed, we will see plenty of targets being interested in joining Arsenal. If that’s a touch too cynical for you, oh well, you’ll get over it. Perennial target Karim Benzema added a couple of million to his and Luis Suarez’s price tag by giving Real Madrid and slender first leg advantage in the Champions League. [Cue another blogging equivalent of a wistful sigh and pregnant pause whilst staring in the distance, lost in a moment’s reverie] The comparison of Benzema and Sanogo, well, don’t make it, there is a painful gap. And no fault of that is the player, Arsenal need the depth that experience brings and the alternative style / options the Real Madrid striker brings as opposed to the rawness Sanogo brings, the potential. It doesn’t have to be Benzema of course; any experienced, international striker will do, successfully trivialising the transfer strategy and policy of the club in the course of a dozen or so words. No more than the club did last summer, some wag will no doubt observe…

There are stories abounding about Bacary Sagna being close to signing a new deal whilst other outlets claim Arsenal are in for Luke Shaw to replace the French right back. The observant among you will have already noted that Shaw is a left back so unless Arsène is planning to retrain the Southampton defender on the other side of the pitch and the other foot, it’s a bit of a non-starter. Unless Nacho Monreal is off and Shaw is replacing him. That still leaves the problem of right back but let’s not worry about details. Depending on who you ask, the club will be busy this summer with everyone flocking off to Brazil to seal deals whilst taking in a festival of football or they will sitting up half the night watching matches and catching up with the latest YouTube videos of their targets. Whether the club or doesn’t, there isn’t any point in fretting whether or not United will spend £250m repairing the damage Moyes / Ferguson wrought last season and this, whether this will impact on Arsenal. Of course it will; it’s up to Arsenal to do what is best for the club and the squad. Sanogo’s observations about a top four finish echo those of senior squad members since the end of the last campaign; it’s up to the manager and directors to ensure that the investment is made for the club to move into a position of title challengers.

’til Tomorrow.

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82 thoughts on “Feeling Fine & Summer Sprees

  1. Morning Mel

    Yeah, I think that ship may not quite have left the port but it is definitely close to sailing though. Be a bit like Lloris really, permanently linked with Arsenal but never arriving.

  2. I’m with you Yogi, deduct points. Fines mean nothing to the top teams now. It’s just like trying to piss on a forest fire. If Maureen knew that his team would be deducted points for his stupid comments he’d soon shut his fucking mouth.

  3. silver gunner

    A meaningful fine is more than the reward so if Chelsea, for example, field a weakened team, the only way to truly penalise them is with a fine on £m. Not going to happen, the club won’t let it. The PL need to state in their conditions of competition outright that fielding a weakened side is a three-point deduction. That’s the price of not fulfilling a fixture, as Middlesbrough found out a few years back.

  4. We know there are not going to be any deduction of points in any shape or form.

    I think W Bony n Chicarito would both be very good assets for Arsenal next season. We’d get the 2 of them both for 25 million. Both have proven Prem experience. You may laugh but look at Sturridge.

  5. The about-turn on Barcelona is an absolute disgrace and yet another nail in corrupt FIFA’s coffin.
    If only a few major footballing nations would have the bottle to secede, the domino effect would surely follow.
    And I like the sound of associating penalty points rather than pounds as punishment in future……hitting ultra rich “sugar daddy” clubs where it really hurts.

  6. There are too many vested interests in all the echelons of the Premier League, UEFA and the FA and the rule setting and disciplinary committees are no exception requiring the tacit agreement of the club owners.

    It is a bit like expecting turkeys to vote for Xmas to expect (can I use that word) the clubs owners to agree to rules and appropriate punishments, like docking points, and so plenty of weasel words are used in the regulations to allow their lawyers to run the proverbial coach and horses through them.

    The usual adage applies when trying to find the real power behind the throne, and that is ‘follow the money’ because money talks ( a strange and unpleasant language sadly) and the oligarch owned clubs with their billions of dollars, and sometimes trillions of dollars, are the prime movers behind the scenes, and they will never allow themselves to be corralled by regulations that do not suit them.

  7. My feeling is that clubs are given a squad system and should be able to use any of that squad at any time they want. Forget the rest.

  8. Mornin all! Sorry I’m late – I was just de- pipping the water melon, I’ll take the points please!
    Ras –
    No problem with sturridge but can we have the other two of SAS as well please?!

  9. @HenryB,
    It’s an unfortunate sign of our times that you only record the truth. The fact is that football clubs are now indelibly part of big business, with all the associated sharp practice and chicanery in order to gain success. While the sporting achievement is still important, the real control of club business now seems to devolve on accountants and lawyers.

  10. I tend to agree but even a fine in the hundred of thousands would make him think twice before opening his shite hole.
    At the very least the club might reprimand him too, but you are right a points deduction is the only way to properly make the point.

  11. We want AW to build a bigger squad of players he is willing to use without being forced by injury or suspension. That means more rotation and tactical set up depending on whom we are playing. For example using Podolski or Walcott centrally against less physical or weaker sides who might leave space behind, so that we can rest Giroud and play more directly. Similarly in midfield the shape and personnel might change depending on opponent and situation–CL midweek.

    What would be considered a weakened team and isn’t it just a function of squad management? Even AW now aits that he might have overplayed Ramsey in the first half (something I was concerned about in November/December), which might have contributed to his injury. Same for Ozil. If he remedies this by rotating a few players out v. lower table sides, wouldn’t this be a positive development for Arsenal?

  12. And in one fell swoop Michel Platini has killed FFP:

    “if you are expecting blood and tears and you will be disappointed. There will be some tough things but no exclusions from European competition.”

  13. Yogi top post.

    Just like that FFP is the laughing stock of the futboling world. It was an idea that really, only the extreme fan thought would ever actually pan out. There would be to much to lose for the gready cunts that run futbol to have teams like Shitty and PSG out of European competitions. I do think that a points deduction would be a very good thing. Imagine, Arsenal in 4th thinking they were set for another CL group qualification and then Chavs get hit with a points deduction sending them to 4th and Arsenal automatically qualify and Chavs face group qualification…….one can only dream.

    I completely agree with LSG about squad rotation. We all have been banging on about squad rotation but Arsene I think is too stubborn to rotate because we have seen this same song and dance year in and year out. We have seen it with Jack, Cesc, Ramsey Ozil and a bunch more. He has his XI and then plays them until either they get suspended or get injured mostly from not being rested and then after the fact, he says the same song and dance “I think I have overplayed them and if I could have given them a rest they could have avoided the “red zone”. I will need to monitor and rotate more.” Gotta love the man though, atleast he is consistent.

  14. Nicky, @ 11:48,

    As an accountant myself, (on sabbatical) I can confirm that the lawyers and accountants together could tie up UEFA in legal and accounting niceties for years in the Courts.

    UEFA (Platini) does not want to provoke a confrontation with the ‘big players’ in case it reawakens ‘secessionist tendencies, and he has personal football political ambitions and it would not be in his own interests to make powerful enemies.

    He is another little sh*t.

  15. clock-end,

    Did it really take you 3 hours to de-pip a melon?

    Perhaps it was Northbank’s giant wiggly chorizo, chopped off in its prime, that gave you the shakes? 🙂

  16. It has made a bit of difference on Chelsea and City in curbing the extreme excess of 4-8 years ago but it is too weak to address the problem at all substantially. Platini is completely in bed with the Qataris. No FFP because PSG are the biggest spenders in football the last 3-4 yrs and are in a league with little TV revenue. They can never meet any real FFP strictures. Platini can’t enforce it because he’d have to come down hard on Qatar’s PSG. He was behind the effort to get then the WC over Blatter’s objections.

  17. Isn’t the worst part of the Barca overturn, the fact that the competition in which they are aiming to play seemingly have no say in policing their tournament. I cannot say I’m surprised, I’m sure none of you are either.

  18. @C

    FFP has had an effect, the problem is that it does not have the teeth or the backing to be more punitive in its decisions. What will be interesting is to see what if any penalties are levied at any teams in the coming weeks. Platini has always said that exclusion was the road they wanted to use the least, whereas financial measures including banning players from the tournament based upon the guilty clubs over spend is one they are willing to enforce. We’ll all have to wait and see what happens.

  19. “Isn’t the worst part of the Barca overturn, the fact that the competition in which they are aiming to play seemingly have no say in policing their tournament. I cannot say I’m surprised, I’m sure none of you are either.”

    In wrote this earlier but it is important to remember that whilst FIFA over turned the ban, it is a temporary injunction rather than a wash. The article seems to suggest that Barca’s ban will be up held after the appeal, where the club will then take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

  20. Yes, MA, it is likely it will be imposed. But knowledge of the impending ban gives Barca an opportunity to rebuild in crucial positions they desperately needed to this summer. Valdes, Puyol leaving left a huge problem and without this summer to address it, next season would have been in jeopardy since Barca probably won’t win anything this season as it is and need to improve. This saves them a huge amount of grief.

  21. @MA

    While minor effects have been taken, the chances of it actually having the affect that it was intended to have won’t happen. We have discussed it many times on here, the back deals and all other types of things that some of these clubs like Shitty and PSG do to try and stay in the clear. It has no backing no teeth, even you yourself admit that and that is the problem, something like this needs to have both of those in-order to succeed. Its great to have a plan in place and spout about this or that taking place but if nothing comes of it based on what they wanted FFP to be, then it was nothing more than another bin of shredded paper.

  22. @Lime

    I understand that mate, the problem is the justice system allows for appeals and when they are considered often they come with avenues to avoid the punishment, at least in the short term.

  23. Barca is basically going to go crazy this summer adn get several players especially a CB and GK they want(should Valdes not resign now that he has tore his ACL).

    Funnily enough, the first report flying out of Spain this morning that doesn’t mention the Madrid v Bayern match is the fact that Barca are set to offer Arsenal somewhere between 30-50M for Ozil.

  24. *back from the bar*

    I am a firm believer in fairness and justice. Knowing the justice system quite well, I believe that everyone has the right to appeal. During that appeal any previous judgement must be suspended. However, large corporations (and I include Football teams) have the ways and means to corrupt the system by entangling it in bureaucracy and legal shenanigans. Barca will now do just that, buy and sell a few players ready for next season and prepare for the eventual ban.

    Miami you stated at 2:28pm “The article seems to suggest that Barca’s ban will be up held after the appeal, where the club will then take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

    I can’t see how anyone can say “the ban will be upheld after the appeal”……… that is basically saying the appeal is pointless and the judgement was correct in the first place. So what’s the point of appealing?

  25. @C

    If there was no FFP right now, do you think the landscape would look like it does right now? I would hazard a guess at no. The reality is without any form of FFP the likes of City and PSG would be inclined to run at 200M losses in perpetuity.

    I don’t it is lost on anyone about the fact it has no teeth, or molars rather than k9’s. But, we are already commenting on it punishments when they haven’t even levied one yet.

  26. Don’t be too confident about the CAS yet, MA; FIFA has a patchy record when it comes to winning cases there. Also, FCB are currently in a 90 day spell where they have to explain how the children in question came to join the club or allow them to leave La Masia. In the event of those conditions being met, it is unlikely that FCB will remain banned as they have Chelsea’s precedent to fall back on. In 2009, CFC paid a French club a fee having been banned under similar circumstances. The ban was rescinded when that fee was paid.

    Equally, two transfer windows? In their position, I would sanction a bit of a spree this year and loan out surplus players until next summer, ensuring that new talent arrived to cover the squad.

  27. @MA

    That’s a fair point and I can’t argue with that.

    The biggest issue I have with all of it, is the fact that like most things in futbol today, it is run by the greedy. Now I am not naive to the fact that it has been for years but when this FFP first came out, the big thing was about not letting clubs run up high losses but also trying to “level the playing field”. That still remains to be seen because to me its the same old story with no different ending.

  28. @NB

    “So what’s the point of appealing?”

    The injunction of the punishment now allows Barcelona to spend in the summer because the appeal will not be before the close of the window. Barcelona are allowed to conduct business as usual. As I understand it, this entire affair is in response to the Neymar transfer and the subsequent fraud committed by the club. The club have already agreed and settled an 18M+ fraud settlement with the Spanish tax authorities.

    I’m not involved in the behind the scenes movements, but the article in question did state that it is expected the ban will be upheld. However they know that is beyond me, other than perhaps acknowledging that the facts of the case are quite clear.

  29. “Don’t be too confident about the CAS yet, MA; FIFA has a patchy record when it comes to winning cases there. Also, FCB are currently in a 90 day spell where they have to explain how the children in question came to join the club or allow them to leave La Masia. In the event of those conditions being met, it is unlikely that FCB will remain banned as they have Chelsea’s precedent to fall back on. In 2009, CFC paid a French club a fee having been banned under similar circumstances. The ban was rescinded when that fee was paid.

    Equally, two transfer windows? In their position, I would sanction a bit of a spree this year and loan out surplus players until next summer, ensuring that new talent arrived to cover the squad.”

    I have no doubt that Barcelona will skate on the whole thing. Again, it comes back to money talking louder than justice or fairness. We had a case to shake our heads here in the US recently (Texas) where a man was found guilty of child sex abuse but the judge in applying his justice noted that the man would not do well in jail given he was from a privileged background. He was given time served and 12 years probation. This on the tail of a privileged teen (16 years) that killed 4 pedestrians whilst drunk driving and injured many others. Again, no jail time because his wealth meant he didn’t understand his actions. The term coined in this case was “Affluenza” or privileged child syndrome. Money buys privilege. Barcelona will walk away from this whole situation smiling.

  30. Miami @ 3:10pm

    “a man was found guilty of child sex abuse but the judge in applying his justice noted that the man would not do well in jail given he was from a privileged background”

    “Would not do well in jail”…….that’s funny! The opposite I suppose is that you will do well in prison? Isn’t Texas the ‘hanging state’, with more executions than every other state? It’s a good analogy, privilage and power wins.

  31. After watching Benzema last night and how well he played not only as a lone striker holding up the ball but also on their quick counters, he is growing on me and I wouldn’t mind having him as our CF going into next season. He has proven himself both in La Liga at Madrid were the pressure is always high and on the CL stage. Yea he sulks sometimes, but what striker in the world doesn’t. Plus he already knows how to play with Ozil and they know how to get the best out of each other, not to mention he understands and can play with a pacey wing player while also playing on quick counters. Jackson Martinez is still the striker I want but Benzema wouldn’t be a bad option either.

  32. C, that is really awful if it becomes another Barca campaign. But I don’t think it is real. He isn’t the player they need, unless they do plan to sell Fabregas and are worried Iniesta is on the way out as well. But I do think if we don’t reinforce this summer and do much better in CL and PL next season, Ozil will be considering his options. That’s just the situation.

  33. Last summer, I thought either RM striker would be great for us–Higuain or Benzema. But Benzema was kept because they went after Bale rather than Suarez; he was preferred over Higuain who wanted out.

    I don’t know if he is available, but I would rate him very highly because of his technical abilities and flexibility in our system. There are few players who can hold up, create their own shot and get behind with pace and are clinical finishers. He is not the best at any of these but has very good qualities in all these areas, which is rare. He might not be Ibra, Cavani, RvP but he is close and might be the best fit if available. But why would RM sell him after having sold Higuain. They could bring in Suarez and keep Benzema in the squad for rotation. Plenty of games. When Ronaldo is out injured then both would play, for example, or if Bale is out. Suarez can play wider as well as up top.

  34. @LSG

    I tend to agree but I would imagine that if they are after Ozil then they realize that Xavi and Inesta can’t go for forever and they haven’t found their replacements or either their replacements(Thiago) have left the club. Either way, I agree, if we don’t strengthen and do better next season then not just Ozil but others will be considering their options. I think while I’m not overly confident of Arsene or the board getting it right this summer, I will like always take a wait and see approach because I really don’t want to be right on this one at all.

  35. I wouldn’t be surprised if Madrid went after Suarez with everything they have and got him. I do think though that they would be willing to sell Benzema if they were able to or help to fund the Suarez transfer.

    The thing is though, they have Jesse coming through the ranks and I’m sure that if Morato(who is also very highly rated at Madrid) is promised more match time that both will stay and would be able to play as the option #2 to Suarez. I’m sure that Benzema wouldn’t be able to do that especially when you consider he is turning 26 this year and is about to enter the prime of his career.

  36. Henry 1’46
    Hot today! Still in the 30’s at 5 pm
    Everything taking an age!
    Nah not bothered by NB’s chorizo – I have bigger and fatter in the fridge!!

  37. I wake up from my siesta and find you talking about my chorizo.


    Chorizo in the fridge is no good, too cold when you put it in your mouth 🙂

  38. clock-end and Northbank,

    One of you sticks your chorizo in the fridge when the ambient temperature reaches 30C, and the other one brags he can get his chorizo in his mouth!! What?

    Anyway, I have tried it NB and it is not possible!! 🙂

  39. C,

    Unlikely tho it sounds, Giro keeps Benzema out of the French national team more often than not.

  40. @Henry B

    Giroud has performed better for country but Benzema has been the better player at club level. Honestly neither have shown good playing on the French national team, matter of fact, most players haven’t shown good the French national team since the days of Henry and Zidane.

  41. Having Diaby is NOT like having a new signing.
    It’s more like getting a new 6 week transfer loan.

  42. So Sagna on Diaby, apparently he thinks he can be one of the best in the world:

    He’s still young, that’s what is amazing because he had so many setbacks and bad news in his life but he’s still fighting, he’s still smiling and that’s what I admire about him,” Sagna told Arsenal Player.

    He always wants to give the maximum, he always stays positive and I think that’s why he’s back today

    “He always wants to give the maximum, he always stays positive and I think that’s why he’s back today.

    “To me he is one of the best in the world [when he is fit]. When he’s at his best he can play as well as Patrick Vieira did and as good as many players did. He can be useful for the team and he can be decisive.

    “To be honest I was shocked the day he got injured [at Swansea last season] because to me he deserves to have a great career. He’s a great player with great skill and ability but he got injured a lot.

    “That’s life and I think he is strong enough to come back to his best and work hard, that’s what he’s done until now and I’m glad to see him back. He played with the reserves and he is training with us so I’m looking forward to him playing with us.”

  43. FFP is a financial Trojan Horse and a fair play kipper designed by the corrupt at the top to enhance the position of the rich, whilst looking like they are doing something about the money stench that hangs over game.

    Diaby has about 2 months to show that he has any future in the game at all. Not due to lack of ability, he just is not physically up to it.
    I mean what do you do? Put him on a no play no fee contract?

  44. Good write up YW.
    FFP was and will always be a joke.
    It’s primarily purpose appears to be maintaining status quo.
    The middle level clubs have been screwed over.
    Football administration, from Fifa down is either corrupt or incompetent, or both. ( world cup in Qatar in summer!, now to be changed)
    Piddling penalties
    Kowtowing to the’super clubs’
    Hyprocracy, double standards and general ineptitude.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t love the game. just hate how it is run.

  45. So Ramires gets a 4 match ban after acceptings the FA’s violent conduct charge. Seems players are going down left and right for Chavs at present.

  46. If one or two more injuries afflict them, a red card, and they make it to the CL final, we might be able to catch them for third. They have to lose to Liverpool and lose one of their last two, however as a draw still keeps them ahead because we have such a poor goal difference. Unlikely but that would be nice as long as they lose the final to RM!

  47. I honestly think without both Terry and Cech in their defense adn Ramires to provide the work rate to Matic’s defensive shield, Liverpool especially at Anfield will be tough for them to deal with. They don’t have the toughest fixtures with Norwich and Cardiff but I could see either team giving them a fight with Norwich still facing a relegation battle along with Cardiff. More importantly I don’t see them beating Athletico Madrid not with Lampard, Cech, Terry, Matic, Mikel, Ramires all unavilable and them having to keep a clean sheet to advance.

  48. Henry 5’16

    I’m in hurghada on the coastline about 15ms north on the road to el gouna. We get some pl teams training in el gouna out of season for warm weather training
    Warm it is!

  49. Transfer spree eh?

    I know what you did last summer.

    This summer, we will have to tackle firstly :

    1) RB – Plenty of options but my preference personally would be to get a player already familiar with the PL. We will likely get better value overseas but considering the vital role Sagna does and Jenkinson/Bellerin still being green, would think it better we spent on a quality player with a proven ability and ready to kick off come start of season. Seamus Coleman would be top of my list but if not Debucchy.

    2) CB – This will be a competitive sector with likely United and Chelsea both in the hunt for rejuvenation in this department. Wouldn’t half mind Vertonghen (One Belgian for another)from Spurs but he isn’t on a Bosman. Preferably, we need someone 23-25 with sufficient experience under the belt and just entering prime years (considering both Per and Koscielny are 27+++). Also a bit of height 6’3 or better would be handy if Per gets a knock.

    The 4th spot Cback could be covered by a loan + Hayden. Or maybe Wenger will find someone at RB much like Sagna who can cover the middle. There was also talk last Jan of us tracking Kayoute at Anderlecht. He is an imposing figure @6’4 who can also play in midfield as a CDM.

    3) keeper- I suspect we won’t be spending much in this department. no Casillas but again it will be tricky to find suitable quality for someone who doesn’t mind spending time benched mainly. Usually, it would either be someone back from injury or at end of career or fairly young. Considering the number of keepers coming out of the Academy, I would think Wenger would not want to add another young keeper (Szsc himself being of tender years). Maybe the Brasilian number one again or for that matter who knows if Viviano changes his mind and stays an extra season (if without any better offers) now that he has effectively moved up the pecking order.

    Thereafter with these sorted, we need to add :

    4) The striker. This will be a tircky game and likely will go down to the wire on transfer deadline day.

    Some of the deeper pocketed teams will have to feast first. Particularly IF Benzema is available, RM will have to buy. And then there is no telling if we can guarantee an advantage even thereafter.

    But the quality we need will be of the Manzukic, Benzema, Costa and Falcao (the latter two unlikely) range to make a difference. any other may be a gamble next season again.

    If we add/reinforce these four positions, we would have done decent. You’re looking at a possible upper range of 50m or more even with bargains so I’d be surprise if we’d be able to add beyond.

    If we sew up a big purchase early (and at lower than expected price), we may be able to add in one more area.

    I don’t feel CDM (Arteta replacement) is as urgent a matter and it can likely wait till Jan or next summer particularly if you consider we can also add kallstrom to Flamini if need be to cover another season if we lose Arteta.

    I’d like more creativity and pace injected at LW and there is a possibility we may lose Podolski if he gets his head turned by a better option for more regular playing time. I feel we need to balance out LW a little to the pace at RW (Walcott, Chamberlain). Gnabry is a possibility next to Santi but with Rosicky not getting yonger (or less injury prone), we could really do with someone creative and a bag of tricks like Konoplyanka or Cabella. This will strictly depend on price and whatever is left in budget above priorities so unlikely. More likely would be us adding another very young player following an around the world chase.

    Or we could save on mileage and watch the world cup unfold, grab an emerging talent that shows up of course.:D

  50. Diaby.

    He’s 27 + so he has another 2-3 seasons left IF he can stay fit.

    He won’t get much offers for his injury record. OTOH, we could cut our losses (to his wages) and let him go at end of contract coming up.

    Or we could keep him for one more season and see what he can contribute past all those years wasted on the treatment table. He’s another (like Kallstrom) whom we can call in as an option to partner Flamini should Arteta become unavailable. Either one should give us reasonable cover alongside Jack and Ramsey.

  51. For those that care, Benfica’s pace of play is quite a joy to watch, it’s causing Juve all sorts of problems.

  52. @clock-end

    Yea but that lad covers an extraordinary amount of ground with quite a bit of pace with those long strides.

  53. I’ll tell you who I don’t want, Vucinic! They can keep him, I have seen him several times and I’m not impressed at all.

  54. Also Vernaelen might not be leaving either which makes CB a lower priority. Replacing departures is high priority but the only ones I am pretty sure are leaving are Bendtner and Fabianski. So GK and striker are among my top priorities along with a central defensive midfielder who offers physical dynamism and strength (tall would be good too). In fact, apart from possible departures needing replacement, my priorities are exactly as they were ahead of last summer!

  55. C, that would have been ok as a Jamuary stop gap. I wanted Berbatov but I would have taken Vucinic.

  56. @limey

    Sagna – I highly doubt he is going to stay. Maybe but very unlikely. new horizons before its too late.

    Ditto Fabianski. 28, ones to kick on.

    Vermaelen. Maybe. Depends on offer.

    If you consider say the 70m budget currently bandied around by the media, that’s not a lot of money.

    I will explain why :

    1) The sort of striker (top end) that will make a difference which we should be getting could come in anywhere between 25-40m. As we will have to likely await the higher spending clubs to finish with their feeding frenzy to realise a true price, this may go to the wire. Also as mentioned, a striker or two may come on market only dependent on what certain clubs do.

    Therefore we will have to reserve anywhere from 35-40m to be relevent in the game should the opportunity come up at end of window.

    This situation is a bit similar to last summer where Wenger had an eye on the developing Ozil situation (I say developing but of course not to the media, they rarely get it right).

    It inhibited him from going beyond 40m for the striker which is why Wenger froze at 30m + for Higuain with Napoli able to continue upwards with pricing and why he was reluctant to go to 40+2 for Suarez.

    Whether this was a correct decision is up for debate but you can see the sort of complications it brings when you have to ensure you have significant funds at the end of the window to land your prize for fear of other late comers coming in to out bid at the end (Most of the would be competitors for Ozil had by then spent their allocations and were reluctant to fight us for 42.3m, of course we were also early in preparing the ground ahead of them with RM)

    2) So if we have to reserve 35-40m for a late purchase on a striker, then we are realistically left with 30-35m to potentially have to replace 3 positions.

    Lets say Wenger goes for an emerging Cback (He will have competition from United and Chelsea let alone outside the PL). he will need to find a relative unknown at 10m, say a Kayoute at Anderlecht.

    You’re left with 25m to fill RB (Crucial) and the keeper.

    If we can some how translate the Viviano loan deal into a permanent or say get Julio Cesar, that will still cost us anywhere up to 5m possibly.

    That leaves the remainder to be spent on a super RB (my preference Coleman) which must come in at around 15m

    There’s not much left for any key additions elsewhere in the squad save likely youth/development buy or two IMO.

    3) We have to realise that the market is dynamic and we cannot necessarily just say there’s 70m to spend and that’s that. Wenger has to get the timing right. Move to early for a player who can be in demand (Ozil) and you will trigger a bidding war or may precipitate foot dragging from an agent (Higuain)

    Some money must be kept in lieu of what happens concurrently with how other clubs are going about their business.

    As I like to use as an analogy, the fresh kill off of a lion hunt. We are not the lions. We may come just after like Hyenas maybe to get a tasty morsel or two but we cannot out bid certain clubs if they show appetite for a player.

    4) And the other issue is you may say well, we should adjust our cloth accordingly and go for players we can afford like saya Jackson Martinez or a Christian Benteke instead of a Benzema or manzukic.

    Maybe Wenger may well reach that conclusion or find us the next Henry (to emerge out of the shadows of the World Cup…which is another factor to consider – could either inflate or humble a price on a player)

    But realistically we have a strong squad with a lot of depth in most areas and plenty of youth potential, plenty of experience in all areas.

    What we are lacking is the world class player that as Sol Campbell put it yesterday, can frighten the opponents. Ozil one piece of that near complete jigsaw (which Wenger has started to piece together following his relaization that his reliance on youth development from the academy was flawed some seasons back, he bought Koscielny that season)

    We need a couple more top end pieces to complete it. The striker position truly needs someone top top quality (as he would put it). There aren’t that many available (I can count them on one hand) and he will need to be patient, play his cards right to land the player. We will have to keep the powder dry for that which will impact purchases in other areas.


  57. With regards stop gap last january :

    Berbatov. he would likely had wanted a permanent deal. That would saddle us with another player on the wage list on the down slide (in addition to Bendtner and Park still on the books)

    He would therefore end up superfluous and hard to get rid of should we load up on a long term solution this summer.

    Plus he is an enigmatic character and his negative energy would likely impact the chemistry in the dressing room.

    The same problem in some ways with Vucinic but I feel he was more likely to be landed on a loan. As it was, he was reluctant to do it.

    I wanted Pato on loan as although injury prone, he had plenty of pace and creativity to give. crucially, he was also not cuptied and had plenty of CL experience under the belt. He was also want away from his club plus at 24, if the loan worked out, we could have held an option to buy.

    But the other key factor (as alluded to with Berbatov) is also attitude and motivation. In that , it is hard to assess Pato’s drive and only Wenger (scouts) would have privy to this.

    I think January was always going to be an ask to bring a striker in that would not make it prohibitive to load on a striker. I don’t agree with all this talk that we could bring someone in without consequence to the summer.

    I think Wenger has to see the big picture and unlike fans, extrapolates a season ahead with regard transfer market possibilities. Therefore he took a bit of a risk with Giroud (and Sanogo) with an eye to saving the big spend for the summer.

    The damage done to the striker recruitment was done last summer. As mentioned, there were also situations that prevented Wenger from landing his target. whether he should have gone for loan options early is a different issue and I personally thought the biggest mistake was :

    a) the assessment on the sentiments of Liverpool to Suarez
    b) holding out for Suarez for too long and losing secondary targets.

    One things is for sure, Wenger knew we had a deficiency up front since last season. It comes as no surprise that the two players he was interested in in Higuain and Suarez are the sort of player we need to add variation to Giroud and our approach play with the big man.

    So I am sure this is top priority for him this summer and we do not need any reminder from the tedious Wenger out crowd that …yes, we all know we need a striker.

    The problem is how to get one for price.

    We are a self made club and whilst we have a much bigger war chest these days, it is still a very finite budget.

  58. The final thing I’d say is it is very difficult to have your cake and eat it.

    I hear lots of people castigating Wenger for not spending big money on a player and buying quality.

    Well he bought Ozil.

    Now I’m hearing people go on about how he did not add anyone-else, conveniently forgetting we also added Flamini (and Viviano)

    I hear Gunnerblog now saying we should rather be spending on depth, maybe get a lot more players who do not cost as much as Ozil so we can ensure numbers.

    Well, the team that did that (Spurs), are a perfect advert for the falacies of this argument.

    We need quality now and have to spend very carefully on a big ticket item.

    there has always been criticism on Wenger for signing duds but the one thing that seperates us from most other big (or pretneder) teams is we generally pay a low price so if we do get a player that flatters to deceive, it doesn’t cost us on the books as much.

    This is particularly important for a team that is self developing as we are.

    Again a lot of lose talk about how the fans built the stadium. That fanbase would not have been available to grow without the success Wenger has brought to the club in his early tenure. Nor would we be in a position to develop a stadium if our spending was flipant rather than frugal.

    Therefore to ask Wenger to spend on a host of above average players rather than a select of top quality seems odd.

    When you consider the teams depth, we are as deep as City bar the striker position.

    The complication this summer that makes it tricky is the need to replenish a number of positions. But the requirement for a top end striker should remain hopefully not diluted by the needs of the former.

    I expect the approach this summer will have to be extremely nuanced. Wenger will have to look for value in certain areas to replenish, and add qaultiy with spend in others. Striker and RB to me seem logical for a bit of heavier expenditure (The RB in particular bc it has been such a solid foundation and we should not jeopardise it with any risk)

    And if Wenger is decent at anything it is in the market and spotting talent (panic buys Arteta, Per, Koscielny) where he has flattered to deceive is otherwise weaknesses in tactics at times.

    if he is going to paper over the tactical cracks, then he needs to buy well.

  59. @Santori,
    In your 7.30 pm, you dismiss Diaby’s “wasted” years on the treatment table, conveniently forgetting that the guy’s injuries were earned solely in our cause.
    Rather than save his wages, I would prefer we persevere with treatment in the sure hope that he will play at the top level once again.
    The casual attitude you display over Diaby does you no credit at all.

  60. Morning, Nicky,

    Whatever you do don’t let Northbank show you his chorizo. Put you off your breakfast! 🙂

    I am a big fan of poor old Diaby too.

    Hopefully next season he will be able to resume his career and that will be terrific for the Arsenal as well as him.
    It is really sad that such a talented player has had his career fcuked up by a no-hoper Sunderland player who is no longer even in football – and shouldn’t have been in the first place.

  61. Mornin! Henry
    Today I’m going back to coffee and cigar for breakfast!
    More palatable and less risky comments
    However Nb will find one most likely haha!

  62. You two are having a bubble bath ain’t ya! Reading far too much into the fact that I have a spicy sausage every morning 🙂

  63. Mornin’ Nb!
    Nice to see your smiley face!
    Should I miss a top four start this morning, I am awaiting Mr giggs morning press conference!!

  64. Bonjour Clock-end and Henry

    Hope you enjoyed your coffee and cuban CE…… that is meant to be a metaphor!

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