02 February 2022

Arsenal, Arteta, and the Wasted Window

What can I say? I like my alliteration and my Harry Potter-ish titles. Actually, I detest Harry Potter, but bear with me. Apparently, Arteta wasted this window faster than a lottery winner wastes their winnings. The only inescapable conclusion is that this season will go down the drain like molten toothpaste, Arteta is a fraud, a discount, budget-bin version of Fraudiola, and Arsenal will be not only relegated but liquidated, Such are the sound, level-headed, and not-at-all hyperbolic reactions of the sages and pundits on Twitter and elsewhere. Clearly, after all, the only path to success is to panic-buy anyone available because motion, as it's irrevocably been established time and time and time again, is the same as action. If only someone more-famous and less-wordy than I had said something similar...
Much has been made of the fact that Arteta and Edu seem to have misunderstood what a January transfer window is for. After all, instead of overpaying now for a middling player just to prove to the rabid fans that they're determined to do something, the two sold or loaned out Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Balogun, Chambers, Mari, and, most famously, Aubameyang. To be clear, some of those moves were made simply to troll Tottenham while we petitioned to have the NLD postponed. There. I said it. Whilst doing so, we failed to sign Vlahović, Guimarães, Isak, or any of the other players the always-reliable ITKs on Twitter had us believing we were after.

All in all, then, a very clearly wasted window. We could have signed van de Beek. We could have signed Ndombele. Hell, we could have signed Dele Alli. Did you read that right? Dele ALLI. The Delinator. Del the Funky Homosapien. Del of the Eminently Punchable Face. Wait. Hold that last one. Um...okay. We could have brought the Welsh Jesus back home...or would that have made him the Prodigal Son? I'm a little shaky on the Biblical stuff. 

Let's not look at the fact that moving Aubemayang on to Barcelona not only saddles them with an ageing, jaded player with a history of unprofessional behavior but also spares us something on the order of £25m over the next 18 months—hardly walking-around money for a club owned by a man who no doubt re-uses toothpicks and wears each pair of socks at least two or three times before turning them inside out and wearing them another few times rather than spending his money on anything. 

Look around. No one of significance made any dramatic moves. Not Liverpool. Not Chelsea. Not Man U.  Well, Tottenham did figure out how to buy players from Juventus. That's a bit of madness there. I did start this paragraph by saying "no one of significance". This hardly seems like the squad overhaul Conte wanted or one sufficient enough to confirm Tottenham's status as top-four favourites. Time will tell. Back to us.

There's a bit of symmetry to Aubameyang's saga. Roughly 18 months ago, he signed a new contract. Roughly 18 months ago, his form dipped rather dramatically. Was it age, attitude, or Arteta (alliteration, people)? A number of disciplinary and health issues afflicted the man. Malaria. Covid. His mother's illness. Heart lesions. Various indiscetions, one of which was severe enough for the Gabon national team to drop him from the squad. For as sad as it is to see him leave, it's been a while since he performed at the scintillating level that saw him win a Golden Boot way back in 2019, when the space-time continuum was still a linear concept, not the amorphous amoeba (alliteration again—and again! Good God, it's become a death spiral that the ants themselves envy!) it's been ever since March 2020. 

Long story short—it's only a wasted window if you wanted (....nevermind....) to see us overpay for anyone just to prove that we had "ambition". We've seen enough of wasted transfer fees and weekly wages of late to know better—or have we not? The moves the club have made may not help us over the next four months, but, then again, maybe they will. I suspect that the moves we made as well as the moves we didn't make were meant to set us up for an ambitious summer. I'm hardly out here saying we'll be bringing in Mbappé or Haaland, but I'm also not saying we won't be bringing in one or both. I like to play both sides so that I always come out on top.

On a more-controversial note, I'd wager that Arteta and Edu's plan is to see how this season shakes out, hoping for a finish that qualifies us for Champions League or at least Europa League, and then bringing in a striker or forward and a central midfielder in order to mount a proper fight in the 2022-23 campaign. It may be frustrating to imagine waiting another season to seek something resembling the glimmer of the memory of relevance, but, then again, it's what we do. All we need is a chant to cover that.

There. I'd had my go. Have yours. Have we squandered our chance or marshalled our resources?