18 August 2013

The Ox's knee-injury could keep him out three months ...

In what is becoming absolutely farcical news, reports out today suggest that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's injury, which was enough to prompt a half-time substitution from Santi Cazorla (despite his having returned from Ecuador on Thursday), could be severe enough to force him out of action for up to three months. With the generous inclusion of players like Bendtner and Park, we could go to Şükrü Saracoğlu on Wednesday with only 14 full-fit first team players available. We'll wait with bated breath on the Ox's injury while also hoping that the knocks suffered by Gibbs and Sagna are not serious enough to keep them out of the line-up.

I'm coming to think that we're the chorus in a Greek tragedy, and Arsène is the tragic hero. His hubris? Believing that he can continue to mold a team on the fly, on the cheap, while wealthier, bigger clubs beat us to key signings. We're bigger than Napoli and Wolfsburg; to lose out to them is an insult of a different order. It's one thing for a club to simply outspend us with their petrodollars. It's a problem of a different order when we can no longer rely on who we are or what our brand is to attract top talent. After making a mockery of ourselves on Saturday and for the entirety of the transfer-window to this point, it's only fitting that we find ourselves in the hole we're currently in.

At first, it looked like we had finally broken the shackles. We'd freed ourselves of Arshavin and Squillaci, among some 20 others, and it looked like we were serious about spending, so much so that I found myself arguing against signing the likes of Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez, two of the priciest strikers out there. Surely, it seemed that we would signing some jaw-droppers. Now, however, my jaw simply drops at just how little we've done to improve a squad that even our vice-captain and others publicly said needed some signings.

Like so many of us, I worried about Arsène's approach to transfers. He seemed either too timid or too naive to get us the kind of players we were led to believe we'd see. Now, with our current players dropping left and right, and having been beaten thoroughly at home by Aston-effin'-Villa, we seriously have to worry about how we're going to convince players that it's worth joining us. Consider the current state of our squad, who's going to sign for us before Wednesday's first leg against Fener? No one with an ounce of sense (which doesn't eliminate Suarez, for what that's worth). Nope. Players are going to sit back to see what happens to us in Istanbul. If we suffer another debilitating loss, not only will this inflict some pretty serious damage on our chances of qualifying, it will also stain our reputation to the point that a lot of players would prefer to stay home than change. Gustavo already reached a similar conclusion, preferring to stay in a familiar league than to switch, even on the prospect of possible Champions League football. If we fail to qualify, we lose a very large enticement, not to mention source of revenue, for bringing in high-quality signings.

The next outcome is almost too terrible to consider. The whispers around players like Vermaelen, Koscielny, or Cazorla leaving could grow. Who wants to stick around as a team seems to crumble? I don't even want to follow that path any further than I have to. I grumbled yesterday that it seemed like Arsène only seems to spend money—and grudgingly, at that—when there's a crisis. If this doesn't count as a crisis, I don't want to see what does.

As I rearrange the deck-chairs of the Titanic, I do want to invite you to see that I've added a new section to the top of the blog to track injuries, goals, and assists, and our position on the table. Click here for a quick view. Secondly, the fixtures/results list is updated as well.  Thanks for your visit, and let's hope for an action-packed week full of positive results and transfer signings.