24 January 2014

Of Julian Draxler and Wenger's Law

So. Seven days until the transfer-window closes, and there have been no signings. Indeed, Arsène has even thrown a bit of cold-water on the likelihood of there being any signings, saying "It's looks unlikely that we will sign anyone. We are not close to anything". Alas, it seems, this all but slams shut the door on anything happening to strengthen the squad. We can't even look forward to the return of Abou "like a new signing" Diaby this time around. Yes, yes, Yaya looks ready to make an appearance or two before too much longer, but I can't say I'm too excited for it.

However, I have to admit to being excited about something else entirely—the biannual appearance of Wenger's Law of Inverse Relationships, a Law that operates with almost the same degree of certainty as the Law of Universal Gravitation or the Third Law of Thermodynamics. Wenger's Law "stipulates that there exists an inverse relationship between how early and numerous are the rumors linking us to a player and the likelihood of us signing him." The quotes are there because I take the words directly from the only person who even closely resembles an authority on the subject—me. I invented this theory, tested it rigorously, and decided unilaterally that it is now a Law. As a proposed corollary, the further back into the past the rumors stretch, the less likely the signing becomes. To wit, how many headlines linked us over the summer to Higuain, Benzema, or  Suarez? As many as there grains of sand on all of the beaches of the world. With Higuain, the rumors had started as early as March. Suarez, a bit later, the beginning of July. We didn't sign either one.

By contrast, the rumors around Mesut Özil, numerous though they may have become, didn't start until the end of August, just a few days before the close of the transfer-window. In fact, the buzz around Özil came in one intense flurry just five days before his signing was confirmed. The one, ineluctable conclusion is that we signed Özil as a direct result of Wenger's Law. The window was nearly closed, there had been no chatter or rumors around the signing until it was all but confirmed, and—just as we had given up hope, especially after the Aston Villa debacle—boom. Signed. From theory to Law. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before those blokes who pass out Nobel Prizes come sniffing around.

On to the bad news. If Wenger's Law holds true, we may have to put to bed our dreams around Draxler. We've been linked to him since September, and the stories in the last month have proliferated past the point of countability. Yes, I could count them, but (a) I'm too lazy and (b) isn't it much more fun to savor the mystery? It would be like cutting down a tree to count its rings in order to find out how old it is. Yes, we'd know how the old tree is—or was, anyway, because chopping it down, I'm pretty sure, kills it. So it goes with the Draxler story. Better to let it ive on, perhaps, than to kill it off, even if this does invoke Wenger's Law.

The good news from Wenger's Law is that its opposite permutation suggests that the signing of a striker, whoever it may end up be, could come from a nearly endless list of players to whom we have not been linked. Salivate over that for a minute. Without breathing their names for fear that The Sun, Metro, or other scurrilous purveyor of pulp catch wind of and run with the "breaking news", quietly ruminate over the players to whom we haven't been linked. The world's our oyster. I'm sure that, come 31 January (and no sooner, knowing how he operates), Arsène, smirk firmly in place, will pry open that oyster to reveal his newest pearl. No, it may not be a Draxler or a Costa, but who knows what treasures are to be revealed? Could it be Draxler? After all, there's always an exception to prove the rule.

If nothing else, I'll leave you with a few words from John Steinbeck, an American author. This comes from his short novel The Pearl:
For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.
In other words, on one hand, this feeling of never being satisfied is both a blessing and a burden. It prevents us from ever really enjoying what we have but impels us forward to always ever seek improvements. Should the transfer-window close, we will of course feel dissatisfied, forgetting what we do have. We've been good enough to this point to be in first in the Prem, to have advanced to the FA Cup's fourth round, and to advance to the Champions League round of 16. That may not be quite the same as saying we're currently good enough to win silverware in one, two, or all three, but, well, we'll see if it will have to be good enough in seven days' time...

Right. There's a match coming up, one that will see whether we're good enough to advance to the FA Cup's fifth round. Let's start there.