Arsenal revived ?

In the transfer market: Arsenal 0 Spurs £100 million            

On the football pitch:   Arsenal 1 Spurs 0      

For the last 3 months, Arsenal fans had to endure relentless mocking by their Spurs counterparts for their lack of signings. They basically became a laughing stock after their opening day loss to Aston Villa. But then they managed to cruise past Fenerbahce (but so did Spurs against Dinamo Tbilisi), and then won comfortably against Fulham (but so did Spurs against Swansea). Then came the big encounter. On Sunday, with 60,071 people in attendance, Arsenal finally regained the bragging rights, beat them 1-0 (could’ve been more), and what is more, overtook them on the points table.

So the pressure has eased off Wenger. AND HE HAS FINALLY MADE A NEW SIGNING ! (no, not a free this time). Mesut Ozil is now a Gunner for a whopping £40 million. If only Wenger had done this earlier, we wouldn’t have had to make the “I spent more than Wenger” memes. Sigh. By the way here is a good one:

Wenger finally spotted spending some money !

So, are the problems over for Arsenal? For the time being it certainly looks like so. But two question marks still remain. One of them surrounds how the just acquired German international will fare in the Premier League, where he has never been tested before. The second circles their defense. They have till now conceded 4 goals in 3 games. That is the highest in the top 10, and only Sunderland and Swansea have conceded more. Perhaps a signing in this area was needed more than the one they made on deadline day.

But on the other hand, if Koscielny and Mertesacker can find the form that was so crucial in their Champions League qualification last year, Arsenal can definitely be among the title contenders again. Many would say they already are. They have found the depth in their midfield with the signings of Flamini and Ozil. With Giroud displaying great confidence alongwith clinical finishing, Ramsey finally taking firm control over the centre midfield, and players like Ozil and Walcott on the flanks, this is now a team that can beat anyone. It turns out Wenger was right all along. What a difference one good signing can make.

For the record, Arsenal ARE back in the race. But its a tight one. The scoreline at Anfield on Sunday showed even Liverpool are sneaking up from behind. One thing is for sure. This is gonna be a cracker of season.

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The Bale transfer: Winners and losers

A lot more trophies might be in line

A lot more trophies might be in line for the Welshman.

After the amazing £100 million-plus spending spree carried out by Tottenham Hotspurs this summer, the departure of Gareth Bale is now only a matter of official confirmation. It earmarks the transformation of the club heralded by the arrival of manager André Villas-Boas last year.

So, how will the departure of last season’s holder of the PFA’s Players’ Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and FWA’s Player of the Year Award affect the Premier League and La Liga’s dynamics ?  Who stands to gain from the most highly anticipated transfer of the summer, and who will not do so well because of it?

The first and foremost beneficiary is obviously the club that will enjoy the versatile winger’s services, Real Madrid. They might even be able to recover part of the enormous outlay by shipping off Di Maria, Kaka and Coentrao. With Neymar arriving at Camp Nou, the renewed battle between the two Spanish giants might be more breathtaking than ever.

The next biggest rivalry in football.

The next big rivalry in football.

In fact the focus might even shift from Messi vs Ronaldo to Neymar vs Bale, and that would be one hell of a competition. In that sense, La Liga followers might also be termed the winners, getting to see the 4 biggest names in football right now on the same pitch.

The next obvious winner is the player himself, who will be able to showcase his abilities in the best club football competition in the World, the UEFA Champions League. He will play alongside his idol Cristiano Ronaldo, and players like Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Isco. He will play against the best sides in the World, the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and AC Milan.  One has to say that is where he belongs, and he now has a chance to prove himself against the best.

The more controversial question is about the future of Tottenham. How will they cope without the player who provided them 31 goals last season ? To be fair, that question has already been answered by AVB and Daniel Levy. Arrived at White Hart Lane have Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen, who I reckon could provide them with a few goals this season themselves. In fact allow me to say Spurs have become a much better side without Gareth Bale. They have now depth and competition for virtually every place in the team and have been widely tipped major title contenders this season. They did not disappoint in their opening two fixtures, playing some eye-catching and flowing football, although winning by just one goal in each game.

So is everyone happy ? Life’s good ? Not really. There is a certain stubborn old Frenchman not far from White Hart Lane who has been eyeing these events with a typical frown on his typically worried face.

The summer overhaul of the squad by Tottenham is in major contrast to Arsenal’s meager two signings (yes, both free transfers), and the pressure is on Arsene Wenger to back his obstinate attitude with points on the table. He has put his impressive Champions League qualification record in jeopardy, and with important players getting injured, Spurs are most likely to finish above Arsenal after 18 years.

Meanwhile, Bale is in Spain with his lawyers to give the final touchings to his hefty 6-year contract. I’m sure his hands (or rather legs) would be itching to get started, as would the Spurs fans to watch their club finally trump Arsenal and just like the heads of Arsenal fans would be, trying make out which way their club is headed.

To buy or not to buy ?

Arsène-Wenger-angrily-hits-out-over-contract-rumours-ahead-of-Champions-League-tie

To this day, not one penny has been spent from the £70 million “war-chest” that Arsene Wenger had at his disposal for this summer’s transfer period. The whole summer Arsenal fans were frustrated, media skeptical, Wenger stubborn and rival fans maliciously happy. It is a hardly hidden fact that the central figure in the transfer business at the Emirates is always Wenger, and hence the one responsible. And his response has been the same throughout the summer, “We are in the market. We are here to buy.”

Admittedly, Arsenal have been busy in the transfer market looking for players. And they did manage to bring in Yaya Sanogo. The term ‘buy’ was deliberately not used here, because ‘buying’ involves ‘spending money’, and Sanogo was a free transfer. But yes, Arsenal have been pursuing signings. They chased Higuain, Gustavo, Fabregas, Rooney, Suarez and Benzema to name a few, but secured none. The stumbling block in all these negotiations has been the hardline on transfer fees Wenger stubbornly likes to take.

The whole summer Wenger tried to justify this by insisting his current pool of players is good enough. So the new season finally went underway with Yaya Sanogo being Arsenal’s only summer signing. They lost their opening game, but then scored 3 apiece in Turkey and then at Craven Cottage to cruise to victories, affording Wenger a smug ‘told you so’ smile. So has Wenger been right all along? Was his claim that the current squad is good enough, fair? Well that depends. What vision does Arsene Wenger see for the club? If he wants another season of fighting for the top 4, then he might just be right, although with Spurs doing some heavy spending this summer even that might be too much. If he wants to fight for the title itself, then the answer is a resounding NO. Yes the first 11 players in the squad are class, but you can’t expect 11 players to play the whole season, especially with Arsenal’s hectic schedule. And with Sagna having to play at centre-half after Koscielny and Vermaelen’s injuries, the symptoms are beginning to appear.

WENGER-OUT

It has been 8 years since Arsenal fans had a taste of glory. From then on, the ones in-charge have apparently lost interest in winning silverware. The fans for their part, have also been satisfied by consecutive top 4 finishes. A club regularly chasing titles would never sell such star players as Robin Van Persie, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri to clubs in direct competition with them. Ask City if they would like to sell Aguero, and Sheikh Mansour will have a heart attack. Ask Barca if they would like to sell Messi, and they would have you taken away by the mental asylum. Does Wenger really think he can win titles with the quality and quantity of the current squad? If yes, then he has lost touch with reality and should be replaced. If no then the fact he failed to secure signings knowing that he needed them should be the final nail and he should, again, be replaced. In any case something needs to be done. Their fans deserve more, and Arsenal Football Club deserves more.