Starting a blog about a football team is a good thing to do at the beginning of a new season. Even mid-way though a season it could work, but starting at the end of a season with a stretch of almost 2 months before our next game (vs Man City 10/8) is a silly idea.
Nonetheless, there’s no time like the present. And what better way to kick off a blog than with a dose of sweet, sweet optimism on a Sunday afternoon. Without further ado, here are 5 reasons that my gloriously biased mind believes the going is good to be an Arsenal fan right now.
1. Current Talent
Losing RVP last season was touted to hit us hard. The departure of a Captain isn’t easy, and even more so when said Captain has netted 30 times in the EPL. Even the 1.5m payment Arsenal received from Utd after he helped them win a trophy was little consolation towards watching his silly smug face lift the cup and somewhat vindicate his decision to leave.
But the 12/13 season brought new and exciting players. Despite losing key talent, Arsenal finished the season with more points, conceded fewer goals and scored just two less in the EPL than last season. The last 16 games brought 39 points, more than the same 16 games during the invincibles season. The reason is a dispersion of responsibility. Whereas last season we grimaced at jokes about RVP’s back hurting from carrying the team, this season brought 4 players scoring 10+ goals, a feat no other premier league team matched. We have quality throughout the ranks, in particular through the midfield in Wilshere, Cazorla and Theo, and (at long last) in the defence, Monreal and Koscielny being highlights for me.
Let’s add to this the fact that, for the first time in years, the majority of these key players are tied down on solid contracts. Wenger undertook some sneaky business at the end of last year, signing down 5 key future prospects (all British, too, if that matters) without all the song and dance that Theo thought he was entitled to more recently. Sure, there are grumblings of Koscielny leaving for Bayern or Barca, but these appear to be unfounded and simply part of the nasty rumour mill that English football has appeared to become entranced with over the past few years. Maybe Sagna leaves, maybe he doesn’t. For me, I don’t care either way. He’s had a face like a smacked arse for the past season and had far too many howlers. Additionally, Sagna’s departure would pave the way for Jenkinson to come good, he has his fair share of critics, but the making are all there for a top-class player and maybe the opportunity is all he needs.
2. Future Talent
With an established squad unlikely to undergo much change in the transfer window, we have a great chance to turn a good team into a great one. It’s no secret that Wenger’s pockets this window are deeper than they have been for a long, long time (possibly ever?). This figure of £70m is being bandied about and whether it’s true or not, the headline appears to read that there’s money to spend and Wenger intends to spend it.
Maybe some of that £70m heads to Real Madrid in return for Higuain, maybe it heads to Lyon for Clement Grenier, or maybe it ends up in Sneaky Gazidis’ house where he can build a large money fort in his living room and gently fondle himself. The point i’m making is that nobody knows anything about anything except the parties directly involved in the deal. Sometimes it’s nice to speculate, to window shop and think what might be, but for now it’s a waste of time. Wenger will sign who he signs and only time can tell. We have a good squad and the resources to make it a great squad. This is Wenger’s test, whether he capitalises on a golden opportunity remains to be seen.
3. Cash Money, Ain’t Nothin’ Funny
Sneaky Gazidis and his band of merry accountants are most likely sitting the aforementioned money fort right now rubbing their hands with glee and handing around freshly printed profit and loss accounts like a crack pipe. Arsenal have reason to be optimistic about the state of their finances. Firstly, years of austerity are beginning to pay off. Arsenal have actually made £40m in net transfers since moving to the emirates. The club is in £98m of debt, which sounds like a lot, but compared to Chelsea’s £878m or United’s £366m, it’s really not so bad. Secondly, the loan deal for the stadium is coming to an end, as it Nike’s kit deal which was rumoured to be unfavourable to the club. Out with the old, and in with the Pu…ma (apologies). Puma are reportedly paying us £30m a year to put a little emblem on our shirts, a deal totalling over £170m, and that’s fine by me. Even trout-faced pundit Gary Neville cast us in a good light:
“They [Arsenal] have built a football stadium, they’re paying off their debt and they’re nearly there.
If they move up now it will look like one of the most magnificent managerial performances if you look back in history.”
Finally, the much-talked-about-but-little-understood “Financial Fair Play” begins to kick in soon, and Arsenal are in very good stead to take advantage of the new regulations. Basically, you spend what you earn and you live within your means. I have no doubt the marauding oil barons over at City will find ways round the rules, but Sneaky Gazidis and his snivelling number crunchers have an opportunity to give Arsenal their edge back and need to make it so.
4. It’s All Change at the Top
There’s a chance for Arsenal to gain some ground on the EPL leaders. The 3 teams that finished above us have all changed managers for the upcoming season. Miserable Moyes takes charge of United, San Pellegrino takes up (probably temporary) residence at City and the ‘Special One’ (I assume referring to some form of disability) returns to Chelsea. Whilst these are undeniably 3 great managers with track records of leading top clubs, there’s a period of adjustment, most notably for the champions who have come to the end of a 26-year old relationship with one of the greatest managers this sport has ever witnessed.
Whether this period of adjustment is a week, a month or a season remains to be seen. Whether the effect is negative for them and good for us remains to be seen. And whether Arsenal manage to capitalise on this opportunity, of course, remains to be seen also. Nonetheless, there is an opening, a chance, at that might be all we need.
5. There’s Light at the end of the Tunnel
I’ve been as hurt as the next fan by 8 years of drought. It’s every other fan’s favourite statistic and the bane of our existence as a club. But you just have that feeling, that inkling, that the fuel is there, the fire has been prepared, and the spark is about to come. It’s possibly in the form of a new player, it might be in the form of a small win such as the League Cup leading to more fruitful times, it might be the coming good of so many players we’ve been holding our collective breath for over the past few years, and the stars aligning all at once.
Whatever it is, it’s ready to go. Next season is one of the most important in the clubs history. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure building behind the 8-year dam of drought, and the floodgates are about to be opened.
And we still finished above Tottenham.
Until next time.