14 July 2015

Arsène's got an ace up his sleeve—doesn't he?

Feh. So it seems that those filthy Mancs have signed not only Schweinsteiger but Schneiderlin as well, leaving us to wonder and worry whether they'll go the route already trod by Tottenham and Liverpool before them, that is, signing a raft of players only to struggle to find any chemistry. Then again, they did that a season ago, signing Shaw, Herrera, Rojo, Blind, and di María while "loaning" Falcao. The additions of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin may save your correspondent some keystrokes in the long run but they'll add to the heartburn as well. The squad is off to Singapore, and the news that Arteta has signed a new contract inspires concern rather than confidence that we will go into the season with him as the only backup to Coquelin? Flamini begs to differ, but that hardly offers much in the way of reassurances...

Pssst, Paul! One of us, maybe both, should join Arsenal...
First, a bit of perspective. There are still seven weeks until the transfer-window closes. We've already done a bit of business with the signing of Petr Čech. He alone could add twelve points to our haul for the 2015-16 season, not to mention what he could add to our Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup campaigns. At a risk of applying too much lipstick to this pig, we might even see Chelsea drop a half-dozen points, what with Courtois coasting just a l'il bit without Čech to challenge him.

Still, the bloom is off that rose already. Among the positions we most-needed to strengthen, a proper defensive midfielder ranked a bit higher than keeper but below a striker. Having addressed the keeper-position, we might expect to turn our attentions to that DM. While it's true that Coquelin turned in some stellar performances, I think we can all agree that it's far too early to anoint him our saviour—and even if he is, the cupboard behind him is bare. Arteta and Flamini can't be counted on for more than short stretches, and slotting in Oxlade-Chamberlain or Rosický isn't a long term solution either.

In the meantime, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin have signed for Man U, Kongdogbia has signed for Inter, and it looks like Vidal and/or Carvalho will be scooped up by Real Madrid. In each case, there's an almost-plausible explanation. For S-and-S, Man U offered wages that we couldn't or wouldn't match. Kondogbia traded down, it seems, going from AS Monaco (3rd in Ligue 1) to Inter (8th in Serie A). With Vidal and Carvalho, well, once Real Madrid come sniffin' around,it's all but game over: that club can offer more silverware and wages than almost any club on Earth—not that I'm in any way calling into question the competitive spirit of players who join in search of an easy pay-day or path to glory.

What are we left with? It seems that the schadenfreude that we've enjoyed in the last few windows is coming home to roost. In 2013, we saw Özil come to Arsenal after Tottenham sold Bale. In 2014, we saw Alexis come to Arsenal after Liverpool sold Suárez. In 2015, Man U sold van Persie to Fener...and bought Schneiderlin from Southampton and Schweinsteiger from Man U. It's starting to feel as if we're clutching at straws, with recent reports suggesting that we're counting on Rafa Benítez playing Ronaldo at striker, meaning that Benzema would be benched or sold. Whether or not Benzema makes for a signficant upgrade over Giroud is an open question (keep in mind that Benzema's stats at Real are a bit inflated and that he's struggled to best Giroud for France...).

Long story short, we're looking a bit too much to sloppy seconds instead of insisting on being first in line. While the previous two summers have been orgasmic, we do have to start wondering whether that's what we aspire two. There are still nearly two months left in the transfer-window, so it's clearly too early to panic. Muttering is permissible, though.