The Best Thing That Ever Happened

On monday there were a lot of attempts to spin the 8-2 drubbing we took at Old Trafford in a positive light. I understand the effort. It’s easier to accept that we were beaten so comprehensively if there’s either an excuse, or a benefit that arises from it.

The excuse is obvious. We were missing players. Lots of them. But I think the excuse of missing players has become so overused at Arsenal that most supporters derive little solace from it. So that has created the need to justify Sunday’s embarrassment in another manner.

Apparently the historic defeat was the best thing that ever happened to us. That’s become the new conclusion. This line of reasoning suggests that Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board might not have realized how threadbare the squad had become. But thanks to Manchester United’s willingness to help our cause, they now know we need players and will start a late transfer-window buying frenzy that will ignite our season.

It’s a perfectly understandable mentality. It hurts watching your team capitulate badly at the ground of a hated rival. Explaining away that experience as the turning of the tide is a better way to process what happened. If that loss is the jump-start to transfer dealings that change our season dramatically, then we will look back on the defeat with cockeyed appreciation. In some ways, it makes sense.

In many ways it’s also totally insane. I find it impossible to believe that it took a lopsided loss for anyone to “finally realize” we lacked depth. Every Arsenal blogger on the interweb (and I understand there are about 60,000 of us) had written something about how thin the squad looked to start the season. And I’m 99% certain that Arsene Wenger understands football about 100 times better than all the Arsenal bloggers combined.

I don’t believe for one second that the loss made anyone realize anything. Rather, the loss made the people who run Arsenal panic. It’s one thing to lose a match. It’s another thing to be embarrassed. Especially at a time when fan sentiment is already teetering on mutinous. Sunday was a public relations nightmare and it required swift action. As a result, fans who attended the match at Old Trafford will be given a complementary ticket to a future match.

It’s a nice gesture to mollify the away fans whose support on Sunday was heroic. But the panic induced by Sunday’s result seems to have left the club no choice but to make a splash in the transfer market. I’m certain Arsene Wenger saw the holes in the squad before we were demolished. What I believe is that he wanted to prove he could replace all our lost quality and missing pieces with the existing players he has been developing and the youngsters he recently brought in. I’m not sure that the result on Sunday was a “wake-up call.” I think it basically left Wenger and the board no choice but to change tactics or risk too many unpalatable potential outcomes.

On the bright side, the panic reaction did not impact Arsene’s continued management at Arsenal. The club were sensible enough to express their commitment to the manager. There are some people who believe his time has come and gone. I’m not among them. Perhaps there is more sympathy for that sentiment at this point, but I still don’t think we have reached a point where Wenger can no longer lead the team forward. However, I do believe it’s possible that this season could be dispositive. A title wouldn’t be required for Arsene to keep his job, but I certainly think more humiliating losses and a fall from the Champions League places could make his position untenable. Particularly if we don’t improve the squad adequately in the next 48 hours.

The rationale and timing may be questionable, but it does seem like our transfer business has now been kicked into high gear. Whether it’s too late to get the deals done remains to be seen. But I can’t help feeling like this has been almost hilariously mismanaged. Either we needed players or we didn’t. One result, four days before the transfer window shuts, shouldn’t be the basis for that decision. Had we beaten United on Sunday, would that mean that we didn’t need to sign anyone? Surely that can’t be the case either. Over 38 games the table doesn’t lie. Combine those 38 games with domestic cups and Champions League fixtures and you need a very deep squad to compete. One match doesn’t tell you anything. If it did, then we would’ve been Champions of Europe last season after defeating Barcelona at the Emirates. (Would’ve been nice though!)

No matter how hard I try to see the bright side of Sunday, logic prevents me. We weren’t good enough to win the title last year and barely held our top four membership. We lost key, experienced players at left-back, in midfield, and on the wing. We lost squad players in attack, midfield and defense. Yet we barely replaced the squad players we lost and did nothing to address the loss of our finest midfielder in years. The notion that we could possibly be better than last term, under those circumstances, especially when considering the business done by our rivals, is laughable. Almost as laughable as the idea that an 8-2 whipping was the only way to arrive at that conclusion.

One of the most dangerous oxymorons this time of year is the phrase “Sky Sports News understands.” Unfortunately, Arsenal fans are now going to be teased relentlessly by that phrase over the next few days. Apparently in addition to Park Chu-Young, we have also acquired Brazilian left-back Andre Santos From Fenerbahce. Not exactly names to strike fear in the hearts of our biggest rivals. But they are important additions to the squad in places where we needed depth. In a way, those signings are the biggest evidence of Arsene Wenger’s change in approach. No matter how good they might be, I don’t think they qualify as the “super quality” signings he claimed were the only ones he’d consider.

With Wenger having addressed depth at striker and left-back, what’s needed now is creativity and dynamism in midfield, and a strong center-back who can either partner Vermaelen, or provide some degree of competence when he’s unavailable. Gary Cahill seems to be the obvious choice to fill the latter requirement, but there’s a ton of uncertainty about candidates for the former position. We’ve heard names from the sublime to the ridiculous, with Goetze being the latest titillating player linked with a move to the Emirates.

Now we have two days to improve the team and two weeks to sit around and ruminate about our historic defeat. My hope is that the arrival of new signings will improve morale among players and supporters alike. And hopefully a fortnight spent with a bitter taste in their mouths will have our players properly motivated to destroy Swansea when the international break ends.

Jenkinson, Gervinho and Song miss one more match, but Frimpong returns after the break. We might also welcome back some of our wounded like Gibbs, Diaby, Vermaelen and hopefully Wilshere. When you add those players back into the mix we still look a formidable side and that’s worth remembering. While we clearly lack depth, we have a strong enough first XI to beat any opponent we face. The manner of our defeat on Sunday was humiliating, but it still only counted as one defeat. Our season has a chance to start anew in September. It’s still early and there’s still every chance that we’ll reflect on this period as an important step on our path to a successful season. But please, spare me the justification that Sunday’s loss was the best thing that ever happened to us. I think we’d all rather be sitting around discussing our 8-2 victory instead.

About Yankee Gunner

Loyal Arsenal Supporter, Obscure Television Personality
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12 Responses to The Best Thing That Ever Happened

  1. I concur – we were already struggling against Newcastle and Liverpool; Sunday was just confirmation. What I’m still staggered about is why the Cesc deal wasn’t done in June, leaving us 8 weeks to confirm a deal for a replacement — and I mean ‘confirm’, rather than ‘find’, as surely we knew Cesc was on his way this summer and had been scouting accordingly – hadn’t we? And if we offered that role to Nasri, we still needed to reshape the team as he’s a different kind of player. It seems last minute because it IS last minute, although I agree to an extent that Wenger hoped to bring on some of the development players into the first team as well. Just not quite yet 😦

  2. Geoff Bear says:

    AW has panicked & so have the board, but our ambition does not match that of Manure, Citeh, Chelski or even the Scousers anymore. Too little too late & the fact every class player wants to leave tells us something…Wenger is a role model for the kids but once they are men he can’t control them, and they want to play with other men, hence why so many opposition say it’s ‘Men against Boy’s’ when they play us.

    • dan says:

      you seem to put all the blame on wengar. have a look at the board for a change. the clubs ambition has changed. if wengar goes he would be snapped up by real madrid or some other top 3 side in europe and would again be allowed to spend. wengar will leave when his contract expires then we’ll see who you blame. im happy with wengar. the board is a joke just like what nina said they should all sell up.
      arsenal fc is a gold mind because off wengar. arsenals prices have been the most expensive for a long time because of the flair and intelligence wengar brought in. we have greedy people at the top at arsenal. attack the guys who hold the wallet.

  3. mad_gooner says:

    lol if by a ‘big’ signing they mean yossi benayoun and florent malouda sure they have been to big clubs are past their prime one is a perma crock and both are cheap but they have been to ‘big’ clubs right so they are ‘big’ signings …i highly doubt there will be a high quality signing the likes of a hazard or on the level of a sneijder cause it leaves the clubs with very little time to replace them…and unlike wenger other clubs give a shit about winning the league….
    we are getting a cheap ass striker and a left back who to his credit no one knows cause if he was any good he would be known cause lotta teams have been in for leftbacks ‘big’ teams that too… how come he never cropped up…hes cheap thats his usp..
    wengers shopping at a thirft store looking for any players that can be brought rather then going all out for players he wants…these are the type of signings newcastle makes not manchester united… this season looks like its gonna break this club…

    its not just one defeat… doesnt matter what players were on the pitch no top team in this whole world would have gone down like that …arsene has lost the respect of the fans, the teams morale has taken a beating and arsenal is more like valencia now we are mediocre…no player worthwhile is gonna wanna sign for us not after that defeat unless its for the moolah who after a season goes to the mancs which should now be made into a rule

    • But he *did* go for the players he wanted, he was in for Jones (who decided he preferred United) and Mata (who decided he preferred Chelsea). Now whatever the reasons for them deciding to go to the other Top 4 teams (and logically you can throw Nasri in there too), you can’t say he didn’t go after his targets – he did, he just didn’t win the competition to sign them. Of course, that is still a problem which leaves us where we are now.

      • ArseFan says:

        I can’t say with certainty without being there during the negotiations, but Mata and Jones preferred to go to Chavs and ManU but could have been persuaded to come to us, if Arsene really wanted them. One, fly these players to Emirates for a conf with Arsene and second, pay 4-5 million more for them to the clubs and the players. I am sure the club would have sold them to us.
        So what stopped us from going all out? One is wage structure was protected. Second, Wenger was slightly delusional that Nasri and Cesc will stay put. But I am not sure how things work, but does talking to two players about their future take 2 months (this is excluding the time we spent last season)?
        I am not saying he should be sacked, but I think he lost it. I really would like a re-structuring of the staff(the people behind scenes) like a proper coach for TEACHING the kids how to play, Dein or like personality as the sports director (facilitating transfers), marketing team (a better one) – to deliver sustained commercial revenue which should atleast double in next couple of years (from the current 44 million thereabouts). And most of all put Arsene to deal ONLY with footballing matters and not the CFO and the ONLY spokesman for the club.
        I am sure this model is the way forward for the club even when Arsene leaves Emirates and we need to replace the manager with not one person in overall control micro managing everything, but a team of heavyweights who share the burden. In no other club is the relationship so between the CLUB and the Manager. Even in ManU and Chavs the manager is an integral part of the team but NOT the team itself.

  4. Sweet Jonny B says:

    Are Song and Gervinho actually back? They were given three match bans, I thought, of which they’ve served two games – Liverpool and Man U. No?

  5. Charles says:

    Absolutely, the best thing to happen, and was 100% due! I don’t blame AW for the transfer chaos etc, far from it, he has to answer to someone, just like everybody else.

    Unfortunately that is where the problem lies – with the board and one silent Stan K. I’m not sure how most Arsenal fans would react to this, but regardless of the Russians back ground, I would much rather Usmanov was the owner of AFC. I know a lot of fans will cry “what about his background”, what about it! Sorry, but 95% of people that have attained his kind of wealth have dappled the wrong side of the financial market sometime or another – including Roman Abramovich – it’s the way of the world I’m afraid. I also find it quite hard to digest the comparisons of the new ownership of Liverpool and ours (Stan Kroenke). Whilst Liverpool new owner (John Henry) has backed KD to the max, where has SK support been in all this!..I know being silent! I have read that it silent stan enforced the sale of Nasri, however I’m not sure this wouldn’t have happed anyway.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the day or so regarding transfers, but really what mess! It would appear on the whole that AFC didn’t want to dip there hand into the transfer kitty – in order to save money! Anyway, they’ve really screwed up this time. If AW doesn’t manager to pull off a few miracles now, he will def have to in January window, super expensive!

  6. RichHeart says:

    Unfortunately, I feared a good result on Sunday. A draw or win would have had AW beaming:”I told you so!”. We would have seen little or no players incoming. At 5 I was hoping for more. Zero points are more demanding of urgency when accompanied by an 8-2 headline. Heaven forbid, we should have lost 1-0. As it is, goal difference is less likely to be critical than players brought in now, come end of season

  7. SMOKEY says:


  8. Jay says:

    Its consistently been the same problem, we need a centre half who knows the league is an organiser and most notably is an excellent footballer, we have only 1 option realistically and due to his age 25, it is Gary Cahill he would make a huge difference and is what we lack, we have to give up on Kocielsny, Vermealan and Cahill to push on and bring Koz on when they have an injury.

    I have no doubts we wont sign him, the spuds will most likely snap him up and we will go and get somebody like Hynocrich from a league 2 French side for 750,000

  9. Jonny says:

    Jay latest ‘news’ is that Mertesacker is a done deal – not sure how I feel about this.

    Is he the right player to sign..? I’d take Cahill over him. Some PL experience would be really useful and he brings goals and determination.

    He’s a Wenger type defender but most of all I can’t help feeling this would represent the most pathetic, fucking rubbish bit of business – to conclude a deal now for a player who was touted for sale a month ago. If true – it’s just baffling.

    It is SO frustrating that I have to agree with the D&G merchants, with regards our transfer activities. Our activity this summer has been shambolic and indefensible.

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