The madness is over and we can now focus on the remaining months of this season. Just two competitions to focus on, two targets to achieve. Did the January transfer window do anything to help that? Overall, you have to say not.
And nor do I think there was any expectation within the club that it would.
Raul Sanllehi made it clear he views the window as a band aid, an opportunity to bring in emergency cover until proper surgery can take place in the summer. He strikes me as a traditional kind of football man and that’s a traditional football thought.
He also knew we didn’t have pot to do the business in. One thing we learned this winter was exactly how desperate Ivan and Arsene were a year ago. Their opportunistic splurge on Aubameyang was driven by fear of how the campaign was panning out. And the panning they received because of it. That spend, coupled with the deal which brought Mkhitaryan to the club and Mesut Ozil’s new contract, are the fundamentals which cause us FFP issues now.
It left us struggling to get loan deals completed when a club of Arsenal’s wealth ought to be buying players. There’s no little irony in FFP constraining the club. This was Arsene and Ivan’s grand plan to stop financial doping in football. Instead, it’s the shackles around us as others continue to spend quite freely.
Which is the background, not the excuse. I don’t think Unai Emery will be particularly happy with how the month turned out off the pitch. Serious injuries to the defence robbed him of key players but there is also a frequency to injuries which suggest short-term reinforcements were needed. They didn’t arrive; we’ll see if that is costly.
Don’t Believe The Hype. Or The Stats
Signing Denis Suarez underwhelmed many and that suggests quite a few are still to come to terms with our reduced status. We may think Arsenal are the greatest team the world has ever seen but anyone wanting Champions League football will give us a wide berth until the end of the season at the earliest.
Emery knows the player who has sunk at Barcelona. Not that there is necessarily any shame or anything to be concerned by about that. The list of failures at the Camp Nou who were successes elsewhere is far long than the list of successes at Barcelona.
I don’t know enough about Suarez to be concerned or thrilled by his statistics. We don’t need necessarily another attacking midfielder. We need a hard working player who is capable of recycling possession and protecting the back four or a wide player. Too much of our midfield play is drifting inside rather than creating genuine width. If the full-backs are not overlapping we’re playing the width of the penalty area and that’s it.
For me, Suarez’s career rests on his time at Arsenal, not what has gone before. Occasional matches on Sky or glimpses in highlights isn’t the way to assess a player nor is their FIFA rating relevant. It genuinely isn’t.
The transfer window isn’t just about signings. It’s been a good window for young players. Seeing
Nketiah and Smith Rowe move to Germany on loan is exciting. Along with Reiss Nelson, Smith Rowe is one for next season. I’d hope they both feature more regularly as they have the potential to succeed at Arsenal.
I’ve said before that I’m not convinced by Nketiah. At this point in the original post, I launched into a bit about how good a spell with Augsburg would be for him but he didn’t sign, did he? Why didn’t I notice that? Well, I’d lost the will to live with the transfer window for starters. January is such an unexciting time for deals. That Sky
Of course, we had the usual flights of fancy and not just at Arsenal. Sunderland proved they’ve learned nothing from previous years by paying double the Suarez loan fee for Will Grigg. £4m for a League One club to sign a Championship player; it’s just madness.
Not as mad as Juventus wanting to sign Gary Cahill. That’s just pure fiction, I’m sure. Still, if it soothed Gazza’s ego, there’s no harm in it.
However, the Arsenal angle on this is Mesut Ozil turning down Paris St-Germain. If it is true that he turned down a loan move because he didn’t “feel ready”, then consider me dumbstruck. Is he scared of the responsibility and pressure that being Neymar’s replacement brings? Is he worried a bad spell will make him seem damaged goods in footballing terms? Were the story true, it raises some genuine questions about his career.
That said, he’s here now so it’s down to Ozil to turn up and perform. If he isn’t in Sunday’s line-up, then the wisdom in giving him a £300k per week contract is further questioned. That’s the sort of game where he should be gliding up and down the pitch to make the most of what is going to be limited possession.
Those are thoughts for another day.