2013; the best Arsenal transfer window for years…for now

I can’t figure out if
I prefer the days when nothing happens in the transfer window or the days where
something supposedly happens in the transfer window (Ps. Nothing happens on
those days too).

The days where something
happens (bidding £40,000,001 for Luis Suarez is the most recent example where
we can be pretty sure something actually happened) cause a huge eruption of
excitement that signings are imminent, that we are going to break transfer
records, that we are wasting our money on cheating bitey racists, that we are
going to miss out on him whatever happens. Twitter explodes for a few hours,
families are divided, sons are estranged from their fathers, shirts are burnt
and then after a couple of hours everyone realises nothing is actually
happening and people get back to work.

Then on the days where nothing is visibly happening, we all
slip into a spiral of despair where doomsday circumstances are banded around.
We dare each other to guess how low in the table we will finish, we turn into
sadists that torment each other with images of what it will be like when we are
over taken by Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, we start planning our comebacks
for the jibes about our lack of spending and inevitable fall from the giddy
heights of also runs in the Champions League round of 16. I would like to see
how the national GDP is affected by the transfer window. I spend so much time
thinking about it that I don’t have time to think about the things I get paid
to think about.

With Twitter, blogs, Sky Sports News, BBC Sportsday there
are a wealth of sources for other people’s opinions which feed the fire. I am
as guilty as anyone of reading blogs until I find one that makes me feel
better, supports what I always knew to be true but feel a bit better hearing it
from someone who probably knows as much as I do about the situation. In this
vein, I hope that my thoughts this morning will be of some comfort to the
people that are fearing the worst or exploding with frustration.

The transfer window closes in
a month. That is one full month in which we are able to buy people, sell
people, and generally strengthen the squad. Now I know that at the start of the
summer we all thought we would spend big, buy class, and buy early so as to
give them time to bed in. If we look at the teams that have strengthened early
its Real Madrid, Barcelona (to an extent), Manchester City and Chelsea; all the
teams that (apparently, thanks FFP) don’t seem to have to worry about money.
Well we haven’t and so we can forget about that, and while it is obviously
preferable to buy as soon as possible and to give the team as much time to
prepare as possible it is not the end of the world if this does not happen.

Our run-in of 11 games undefeated that secured us the coveted
fourth spot over Spurs has shown that Arsene Wenger has managed to build a
squad that is capable of winning games. Sure we didn’t play many of the top six
teams in that period and our record against them needs to be improved, but I
think we are all agreed that the core of our squad has got something going for
it.

We have had no departures that
anyone is losing sleep about. In the past few years we have needed the
pre-season desperately so that team and manager can get to know one another and
we can learn what our best team is. This summer… not so much! If anything
people are begging for a couple more players to be discarded and none of the
ones we want to keep want to go… so that’s all good. The players we have,
barring Yaya Sonogo and some of the youth players that may make the step up,
had at least a full season playing together and now they have had a month in
Asia building an even closer bond. I like to believe that the team has a closer
bond than most of the others in the league do, then again I haven’t watched all
their tour videos and I am definitely biased, but watching them you can see
that they genuinely enjoy one another’s company. It might not be a big thing,
but if you have the opposite in your team you will certainly know about it… see
Queens Park Rangers 2012/13.

If, as we have to believe given the names we have been
targeting and confirmed as having bid rejected for, we are targeting quality
players like Gonzalo Higuain, Lars Bender, Luis Suarez then I think we can all
agree that any one of these players would/would have provided a boost to the
team we have currently. We are not buying Podolskis/Artetas/Girouds whom (much
as I love all of them, I am getting Arteta on my away kit) were not of the
calibre of the players they were brought in to replace…we are trying to buy
people that are world class. You have to think that even if it gets down to the
final day of the transfer window we will be able to bring in two or three
people this summer…if only to provide depth given our current shortages of
strikers and defenders.

OK so we have to play games
between now and the end of September, some of which (Spurs at home) are big
games. I don’t actually like the term big game because if we want to be
challenging for the title we need to treat every game as a must win game I
would like to think our players learnt that lesson. Likewise our Champions League
qualifier, the importance of which cannot be underestimated, is still to be
played. Excluding injuries, we have a squad that can win every single game we
have to play between now and the end of August. I am not saying we shouldn’t
strengthen, quite the opposite because there are going to be injuries, ‘bigger’
games, more competitions and we will need more players as a bare minimum to
make up the numbers. But the point I have rather laboriously tried to make is
that while it would have been nice to buy the players at the start of the
window, while it would make us all feel a lot better and might stop a few of us
suffering early onset heart problems, in terms of the next 30-odd days and the
squad we have, chances are we can make it there intact. And that’s assuming all
our signings come on the last day of the window (id imagine they won’t).

I know it’s hard, I know, but
we have to keep things in perspective. It could be worse, in fact it has been
worse every single summer for the past four or more years. I am already happier
than I was this time last summer when we had lost Judas to Manchester United
and I think we just have to try to cast our minds back to that summer… and the
summer before that… before we write of the 2013/14 season as a dead duck
already.

However if we don’t sign anyone… at all…you officially have
my permission to panic.

Ashley Wilson


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