01 February 2013

Out with a whimper...

So, the transfer window has closed, and all we have to show for it is one signing. No disrespect towards Ignacio Monreal--in fact, I'm excited for his arrival--but I can't help feeling that this amounts to little more than a panacea for what ails us. Don't get me wrong; I'm confident that he will prove his quality in just as many ways as his compatriot, Santi, but I can't help asking a few questions:
  1. If Gibbs had not gone down with his thigh injury, would this signing have gone through now anyway, or would it have waited (as is rumored) until the summer?
  2. If Liverpool had not scored a couple of (let's face it, ugly and lucky) goals in which Santos, unwittingly (as if he has any other way) or not, played a role, would this signing have gone through now instead of in the summer?
  3. Why were linked with strikers throughout the window only to come away with "just" a defender? I say "just" not to disparage Monreal but to remind us that Wenger had talked about two signings but closes the window on one, perhaps in the process closing the door on the Champions League).
  4. This is a lesser issue, as I doubt we'll get past Bayern in the UCL even if we had signed a Cavani, Villa, or Lopez, but does this help us in the UCL? Monreal is cup-tied and is unavailable for action, and Gibbs is unlikely to be fit for the first round match with Bayern, so we'll have a back-four of Vermaelen, Koscielny, Mertesacker, and Sagna. Not bad on paper, but what happens if one of them goes down to injury? Do we throw on Santos? We just might regret loaning out Jenkinson, whose only glaring flaw was losing the ball to Michu because no one dropped back to receive a pass from him. 
It's hard then to see how much this will help us try to close out the year with a trophy, as we'll be calling a fourth-place finish until other silverware falls in our laps. Before we get too glum, it is worth remembering that, despite all of the focus on names like Cavani, Adrian, and Villa, our offense isn't really the issue--we are, after all, the 3rd-highest scoring team at 48 goals in the Prem so far. Not bad, especially when you compare goals per Euro:
Team
Forward
Weekly Salary (est.)
EPL Goals
Each goal costs…
Man United
Van Persie
€200,000
18
€15,000
Rooney
€220,000
9
Chelsea
Torres
€250,000
7
€20,625
Ba
€80,000
14
Arsenal
Giroud
€50,000
9
€7,500
Walcott
€100,000
11
Man City
Aguero
€200,000
8
€26,667
Tevez
€200,000
7
Now, I know that the story is more complicated than that--teams play more than two forwards, guys have had injuries, etc., etc. The point I'm making is that, offensively, we don't look all that bad. On the other hand, more than half of our EPL goals have come in just six games: 6 against Southampton, 5 against Reading, 7 against Newcastle, 5 against West Ham, and 5 against Spurs. Of those, I think we can agree that only Spurs count as a quality opponent. This leaves us with 23 goals in our other 18 EPL games. In terms of sample-size and relevance, that's a truer measure of our firepower. Simply put, we're just not scoring enough against opponents whom we have to beat in order to climb the table, and that's why we should have gone after forwards. Villa, the one we were linked to most often, was valued at somewhere around 15 million. We offered 8? To a Barcelona team that didn't really want to sell? I'm sorry, but that just doesn't add up. Hopefully, our goals will.