The records-breaking January transfer window has come and gone in Europe with various implications for different Clubsides. The period also witnessed movement of high profile players as teams reinforced for the reminder of the season. While some repositioned to either clinch titles or finish strong, others strengthened to avoid relegation to the lower cadre.
However, fans of North London side, Arsenal expected their darling club to use the window to seek ways of turning the fortunes of the team around, given their epileptic performances this season. But did the Gunners do that ? Opinions are so divided on how Arsenal did business during the window.
Founded 132 years ago, Arsenal has grown from a relatively modest club to become a force to be reckoned with in world football. The club is the second most valuable team in England with a net worth of Two Billion pounds.Its now the 5th richest football club in the world, according to Forbes.With its distinctive style of play comparable to only that of F C, Barcelona of Spain. Such attractive pattern of play has attracted worldwide huge fellowship to the club. In the years past, the club combined beautiful football with winning trophies. So remarkable were Arsenal achievements that it remains the only club in world football that went through a whole season of 38 league matches without losing a match.
Regrettably, things appear to have fallen apart with the North London side that the centre can no longer hold. Or how else do you explain the fact that the club has been unable to win the premiership for over a decade now. It has equally played in 20 successive UEFA champions league with nothing to show for it,except playing in the finals of the competition in 2006, where they lost the almighty Barcelona. The fortunes of the team that took English football by storm with the arrival of Arsene Wenger in 1996, have since nose dived.
Until recently, Arsenal became an academy club, grooming young talents and selling them to the highest bidder. Many reasons have been advanced for the slump. While some attribute the major cause as the building of 60,000 capacity Emirates stadium that gulped over 500 million pounds;others accuse the shareholders led by American tycoon, Stan Kronke of being profit conscious. Yet, Arsene Wenger’s rigid principles of turning water to gold by sticking to fringe players has not helped matters.
Arsenal remains a non-quoted public Limited Company with its ownership different from that of other clubs, a situation that has restricted cash in-flow. And Wenger has consistently stated that the club cannot compete with petro-dollar teams like the two Manchester clubs or Chelsea.
Sadly, Arsenal fans across the globe have resigned to fate, enduring heartbreaks for the past many years, as their darling club continues to record embarrassing results even in the hands of less fancied sides.
But it appears Arsene Wenger and the owners are beginning to face the realities of modern day football business if their activities during the January transfer window is anything to go by. To be fair to them, the club is no longer grooming and selling their best players to the highest bidder for sometime now. Instead, they are gradually joining the big spenders, and have been attracting big players to the club in the last three years or so.
We have seen the arrival of the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Xaka, Mustafi and Lacazzatte, just to mention a few. Before now, Arsenal’s major problem remained the avalanche of many fringe players, many of them English. Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Calum Chambers, Jenkinson, etc. Wenger’s dependency on these average players contributed in no small measure in Arsenal’s dwindling fortunes.
It’s obvious that things are beginning to change at the Emirates, though belatedly. The January transfer window saw the gradual departure of some of these average players, except the painful exit of Alexis Sanchez. Theo Walcott is off to Everton, Francis Coquelin to Valencia, while Oxford Chamberlain has joined Liverpool. The inconsistent Oliver Giroud has exchanged his red-white Jersey for blue, Injury prone Mathiew Debuchy has joined St. Etienne, Chuba Alpom is on loan to Sint Truidende, so also is Jeff Reine Adelaide to Angers of France.
In their places are tested goal poacher and one time African footballer of the year, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his former teammate at Borussia Dortmund, Henrikh Mkhitaryan as well as Konstantinos Mavropanos. Though not much is known about him. It can also be said that the decision of playmaker, Mesut Ozil to renew the long awaited contract is a big boost to the Gunners.
However, many football analysts including yours sincerely, believe Arsenal’s major headache has never been the offensive area as the club is reputed for attacking football. The beauty of Arsenal’s game is the flair for free-flowing attacking style of play. The area of concern for some years now has been the defensive area ,as it hardly keeps a clean sheet. Arsenal concedes embarrassingly, and their fans had expected Wenger to use the window to address this.
Now that the club has reinforced the front that has always been their strength, ignoring the leaking defensive area , should the fans clap or cry for their beloved team?
Till next week, keep attacking.