Friday, 11 September 2015

I'm AFC Not AKB or WOB

Another dreaded international break is over and it's back to Premier League action for Arsenal for the next few weeks at least. As well as some tough league games coming up they have a Capital One Cup game at Spurs and the return of the Champions League too. It's going to be a busy few weeks until the next international break and Arsenal need to step things up in those few weeks.

The transfer window closed with Arsenal as the only team in the top five leagues in Europe not to sign an outfield player. They did of course sign Petr Cech and he looks like he's starting to fit in after a dodgy start with clean sheets in his last two games. The failure to add any outfield players in the transfer window was a serious mistake in my opinion, but it can't be changed until January at the earliest and there is no point in dwelling on it.

The bad news on Danny Welbeck's injury so soon after the close of the window didn't help and has even led to some claiming Arsene Wenger lied to the fans. Even if he knew the extent of Welbeck's injury and the need for surgery there was nothing to be gained in announcing it as Arsenal searched for a striker to improve their team/squad before the window closed. That sort of knowledge would surely have increased the price of any potential replacements and the boss is well known for refusing to pay over the odds for players.

He has asked for the fans to back the players and it's something that has to be done regardless of some fans feelings towards the manager. I don't fit into either the AKBs or the WOBs and I can't see the point in taking such polarised positions. No man is infallible and he has of course made mistakes, but that doesn't mean I think he has to be removed from his position immediately either.

Arsenal have won the FA Cup for the last two seasons and signed some of the very best players in the Premier League in that time too. They have managed to stay competitive during some very tough years when a new stadium was built at great expense and other clubs spent fortunes which they will never have to repay thanks to their mega rich owners. Arsenal may have mega rich owners of their own, but there is no suggestion of either of them handing over £1 billion to the club to do with as they choose and financial fair play (tell me another one) wouldn't allow it either. 

The frustration centers mainly on Arsenal's inability to win the league since 2004 and their inability to put in a genuine season long challenge for far too many years too. I can understand that frustration completely as I feel it too and I thought this summer was the perfect time to add to a squad which only needed a couple of players to maybe make that breakthrough. Those players weren't added and the season started badly with a home defeat against West Ham, but the team have at least picked up seven points in the three games since then.

The bright future we had all hoped would arrive this summer looks like it hasn't materialised, but there is no way we can know for sure whether it has or not. Only time will tell over this season whether Arsenal have done enough and are good enough to compete with the best and us fans have no option other than to see it out. I'm hopeful the team can improve upon last season and put in a sustained challenge for the title and if they do that will be enough for me.

No team has a right to win the league and others have started the season no better or even worse than Arsenal after investing a lot more heavily in their squads. It has to be remembered that both Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin made significant breakthroughs last season and Gabriel Paulista arrived in January to bolster the defensive options too. The squad isn't perfect, but it's the best it's been in a long time and we have to hope those players can play at the level required to improve on last season.

It's such a shame to see and hear Arsenal fans abusing each other on social media when we all want a winning team at the end of the day. To suggest the boss wants otherwise seems odd despite some of his decisions seemingly making it look that way. Surely fans can agree to disagree without hurling abuse at fellow Arsenal fans and just get on with the job of getting behind a team who need their support and encouragement. 

If the team hasn't made any genuine progress this season then maybe next summer is the time to make a judgement on the boss. If there is to be a change of manager at some stage surely it makes sense to do so once the season is over and any new manager can have the whole summer to make any squad adjustments. That doesn't mean I'm calling for the boss's head next summer if this season goes wrong, but it would be an option that have to be seriously considered if that were to happen.

Where we would go after him is the big question and United have shown how hard it is to replace a legendary manager. It's over two seasons since they parted ways with Old Whiskey Nose and I still wouldn't even consider swapping their squad for ours. They have spent an absolute fortune in that time and the results so far have shown money does not necessarily buy you success no matter how much of it you spend.

I started writing this piece as a preview of Arsenal's game with Stoke, but I'll have to write a new preview of that game after spending so long writing about everything except the Stoke game. Hopefully that game will see the team get going this season and playing the football we all know they are capable of playing. I dread to think what the reaction on social media will be if they don't win and I will find myself avoiding it if that's the case as I usually have to do.

As usual this season my fantasy league is up and running again and it's open to all comers with a €50 prize (out of my pocket) to the winner. You can join up by using the league code 48497-14043 after you have set your team up here and good luck to all who play. There were over 1,000 teams in my league last season and there's already more than that signed up for this season.

I'm also running my Predictions League again this season and it's very enjoyable even if there's no cash prize for the winner. The code for my league is FD757-ARR after you have signed up here and of course both games are completely free to play. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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