By Tony Attwood
So where have we got to?
- One defeat in the last nine
- 20 goals for, nine goals against in last nine
- Seven wins, one draw, one defeat in last nine
- Five wins, one defeat, one draw in last seven league games
OK it is not the form of the Unbeaten Season, but it is better than the form at the end of the year for the Second League Double. It is, rather curiously, identical to the league form in December 2001 – the build up to the Third League Double.
Indeed in that Third League Double season our biggest problem came in January with only two wins in the five games.
And there is a point to all this ruminating over numbers – because in the end, it is not how the world is, but how we see the world. The old “glass half empty” issue.
Take the last home game against QPR. Giroud was sent off, and suddenly there was nervousness and tension around the ground – the feeling that QPR might sneak an equaliser. But there was no reason for this – we were one short in the forward division, not in defence. No one at the back was out of position – and yet it felt like we were under constant attack.
The same is true as Uefa slowly start to remove the shutters from the iced over window of transfers. At the moment we’ve got the heating turned up and the doors and windows just open a crack as the bloggets (those funny publications that think that 200 words on “Arsenal confirm deal for defender” – which they haven’t – is actually a news item) chunter away regurgitating the same old same old. Meanwhile the dinosaur newspaper football departments, pumping out their mediaeval vision (actually that is three articles in a row in which the word mediaeval has been used – this must be a footballing record) fill their pages with “what your club needs” pieces, listing the type of player that each club MUST HAVE in order to avoid relegation, push for a European spot or even to win the league.
Of course what they don’t want you to do is…
a) read the “must have” list for all the clubs, because if you do it all seems very similar. (Journalists know that most fans only read about their own club, so most of the lists of “desperately in need of” are very similar);
b) recognise that buying in new players is no guarantee of anything, (as Tottenham and Liverpool have shown with avengance of late);
c) compare the results after the shutters are pulled down again on 1 February;
d) think that just because a club wants a player, that player is going to come.
But still it fills a page or two.
Anyway, you know what it is all about. A central defender and a defensive midfielder. Yep, that is what, according to the Express, is required by Crystal Palace, Everton, Liverpool, Man U, and West Ham. Oh yes and Arsenal.
Maybe that is why it is hard to find these pesky little fellas. Especially when you have stories like “Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk is ready to reject interest from Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United in January, with the Premier League clubs readying £10m bids for the 23-year-old centre-back.” That’s on the BBC web site today.
But still there is always someone else. “Arsenal are planning a cut-price £4m January move for West Ham defender Winston Reid,” says the Excess, sorry Express. Really?
If you want the tip of the day it is that “Arsenal close to signing £20m midfielder Carvalho”. It is in all the papers, so nothing is new.
So where did all that come from? Was it perchance a vapour transfer hiding the fact that we are actually buying William Carvalho for the defensive midfield slot? He’s 22, and is said to cost £22,000,000 but that sort of symmetry is often just invented. (Actually wouldn’t it be more fun if we offered £22,000,022?)
Oh yes and we are also buying Loic Perrin of St Etienne who is both a defensive midfielder and central defender, so two for the price of one. Crystal Palace, Everton, Liverpool, Man U, and West Ham plus a whole host of European clubs are all standing by and crying their eyes out as we get who we want.
Going out, according to the chatter, are Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky, the former to Inter, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund – although perhaps not all at the same time – the latter to Olympiakos. Or Gala Fairydean (sorry Galatasaray) or Athletico Madrid. Mr W. doesn’t want either of them to go.
On a more exotic front, apparently we have a permanent squad of scouts watching Mason Holgate, a Barnsley (yes you’ve got it – Barnsley who are still mad at us for giving them Frimpong – a player who has never played more than nine games for any of the six clubs he has been with).
But oh, what’s this? Tottenham want him (Holgate not Frimpong). And so do Everton. He’s 18, and a defender, and is very confusing because Barnsley is also home to Holgate School. It would be embarrassing if we bought the wrong thing.
And there is always an old story. Sami Khedira has admitted that he’d be happy to stay at Real Madrid. but still hasn’t agreed a new contract.
Ah well. In 33 days we will know for sure.
Although come to think of it, what we do know for sure is that in 2015 we ought to have these new-ish signings playing for us…
Even if we just get three out of five, that is a hell of an input into our squad. And I haven’t even included Jack.
In case you missed it…
Not to mention…
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: their problems with fouls and cards, and the team
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the club that gets cards at over twice the rate of Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences