Hello, good day, salutations and welcome to what is to be my first foray into the realms of bloggery in the hallowed digital halls of Gunners Town.
Firstly, let me preface the rest of this post with an acknowledgement. Much of what’s penned here will concern things that you, the dedicated Arsenal fan that you are, have already read more than your fair share about. It’s a summarised appraisal of this window thus far, and thoughts on what might yet come to pass. Please, don’t judge me on my late-coming. I’ve never been the most punctual of people, nor the most diligent of doers, so there’s a lot of romanticising I feel the need to do.
Right, onto business then. There can be but one starting point concerning this particular transfer window. No prizes to be given for correctly guessing this one I’m afraid. That’d be akin to rewarding a Piers Morgan for being a short-sighted, mouth-breathing thunder-wank unable to form any sort of opinion that isn’t reactionary. We start decompiling this window of course with….
Alexis-F****ng-Sanchez. Now that he’s an Arsenal player, I refuse to name him by any moniker other than that. Alexis. F****ng. Sanchez.
Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? It’s the way I’ve been reverently pronouncing his name in my head since that beauty of a goal he scored in his final game for Barcelona last season. I was down at the pub, as I’m wont to do whenever Arsenal play, and I remember seeing a replay of that goal at the end of the Hull game (our very own FA Cup Final warm-up, if you will). What a sexy piece of skill that was. It was the kind of goal that we as Arsenal supporters would have been waxing lyrical about for weeks on end were it to be scored by one of our players. Sure, each player has that “amazing” goal in them at some point in their career (a certain nobody down the road did it to us a few seasons back in a derby game) but to be of the quality to be realistically expected to produce those kinds of moments with any sort of regularity in a season, you really have to be something special.
And, ladies and gentlemen, Alexis-F****ng-Sanchez is very, very special.
What a signing I see him being for us. Not only for the multiple dimensions and permutations that he, as a single player, adds to our attack, but also for the message it sends to the rest of the world. It screams: “Ozil was not a flash-pan reactionary signing for all of the self-opined fans baying for Wenger’s head. He was the first of our new trend. Our new direction.” He’s a standard being continued from last season’s setting, and a message being screamed at our rivals. He’s a question being asked of the rest of our squad and a tantalising look at the kind of doors we’re now willing to knock on.
The biggest thing for me personally about his signing, is the tacit acknowledgement we’ve seen online of Arsenals ambitions over the last 10 years being turned into action.
The number of times we’ve been the butt of the transfer window joke, the root of 4th place ridicule and the feeding-ground of all the Sugar Daddy investment clubs’ ambitions. Over the past two months, the media have linked us to the kind of players only Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea were seen as realistically chasing within the Premier League. We might have had our occasional mention in connection with a world class player, but when, since the breaking-up of the Invincibles, have we been seriously linked with the kinds of players we’ve thus far seen so many credible connections to? Sami Khedira, Mario Mandzukic, Lars Bender, Alexis Sanchez, Pedro, Mario Balotelli, Matija Nastasic, Morgan Schneiderlin, Antoine Griezmann etc. Sure, there might be some question marks around one or two players, but all have one thing in common. Proven quality, or massive potential for return.
Previously, our staple was proven quality in decline, misfits, stop-gaps who wouldn’t really improve us or extremely speculative youngsters.
Now don’t get me wrong, the signings of the past few years have been born of necessity and had varying degrees of success. Anyone that comes up to me today and tells me that Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny aren’t Arsenal standard will be rightly laughed at, ridiculed and pitied for their dark, soul-less, reactionary existence (here’s looking at you again, Piers). However, can you imagine that foundation fleshed out with players that don’t have to make their names with us? That’s the fundamental change we’re seeing now. We aren’t relying on a potential realisation of some envisaged superstar as much as we used to.
That isn’t to say that we’ll stop creating our superstars. It’s one of the defining characteristics of our club. There’s a tradition of nurturing raw promise into world class talent that I don’t want us to lose at Arsenal, but should that talent not be realised immediately (as no talent every is) it’s not the end of the world. We now get to see how realised potential can interact with the elements of promise we already have.
I think that that’s a good place to leave it for today. I won’t bore you too much with my meanderings just yet. Like any good addiction, your doses should start small before blossoming into outright obsessive consumption.
I’ll leave you with this parting thought: It’s a great and exciting time to be a gunner. Revel in the possibility, indulge in the excitement, and always keep it classy, Arsenal fans.