By David Swaden
Einstein’s definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results (these from a man who married his first cousin and had a hatred of haircuts, are wise words all the same).
And here we Arsenal fans are on the brink of the transfer deadline, having heard all month that: “we’ll sign two players”, “we’ll only sign quality”, “we wont sign anyone”, “I saw the sign”. Most, if not all of us were at least hoping for something. Many still retain a belief that a player will come in, but many more feel that, if we were ever in for anyone, the moment has passed and Wenger will press ahead with the squad he has.
Let’s cast our minds back to last winter, when we hoped against hope to see a Goetze, Hazard or a Huntelaar arrive. Instead, we got an injury-prone Thomas Eisfeld who, other than a promising showing at Reading, we’re yet to see effect the first team.
And yet, last year we got away with it and finished third, just. Although that was of course mainly down to Robin Van Persie’s scintillating form. This year, we can’t expect third realistically, but happily it is impossible that fourth won’t at least herald a Champions League playoff spot, so the goalposts have moved a bit. However, there is a major worry over the current squad’s inconsistency, and so a real “star name” is being craved to address those problems.
But before we launch ourselves into those “spend some f**ing money chants, let’s ask why the team is more inconsistent than usual this year? In my opinion the three big players Wenger signed in the summer all look sound investments. The problem is that they are all impact players, the matchwinners, but are also all from foreign leagues. Most of Arsenal’s modern stars (Pires, Ljungberg, Henry, Van Persie) took at least one season to adapt into the Premiership, it’s just that back then we had enough quality around not to rely on them straight away. So logically, we see that despite some initial brilliance, Cazorla is not managing to shine in every game, and Podolski’s form dips in and out, while it has taken Giroud a long time to fire and, even now, he can blow hot and cold.
So following that logic, could we expect David Villa or Jovetic to come in and instantly save our season? It is possible for a player to have an instant impact in January. Arshavin and Adebayor were quickly big hits, but we all know how those stories end up. Of all our recent signings, who is the one that hit the ground running and stayed there? Arteta. There’s no coincidence there, he’s a quality player with a long premiership career with Everton to draw on, and he was and continues to be an instrumental asset.
Another thing to think about is past form. When has Wenger ever signed a ready-made proven elite level striker? Never I would argue, except perhaps Davor Suker when he was, interestingly, also 31 like Villa, but that was hardly a roaring success.
So sure, a £20m striker signing tomorrow could excite us and have everyone dreaming of what could happen in years to come, but perhaps what we most need is a signing who will bring some more premiership know-how to the team, who can get to work immediately rather than bedding in. Maybe the most effective signing, in anticipation of Diaby’s inevitable next injury, would be, say, Diame who has been there and done it for a couple of seasons already.
As ever, an intriguing deadline day awaits.