Exactly three years ago today we sat in 5th place, five points adrift of Aston Villa and that crucial Champions League spot. Cesc Fabregas was injured, the team was playing poorly and the first murmurs of anti-Wengerism were being heard.
So the gaffer went out and spent £15m on a little superstar named Andrei Arshavin. It was the high-profile signing supporters had been yearning for and the first finished article Wenger had signed for two years (William Gallas in case you were wondering).
Arshavin had a devastating effect, weighing in with six goals and seven assists in 12 league games as we comfortably finished 4th. His signing not only added proven quality to a young squad, it was also the morale lift the players needed to go on a brilliant run and claim the final Champions League place.
Fast forward three years and we have a similar scenario. As the transfer window shuts we are six points behind 4th placed Chelsea with a game in hand. We are short of creativity in midfield and have no adequate cover for the prolific van Persie, so has Wenger repeated the trick and spent some of the millions at his disposal today?
Yes, he did!
Excellent! Was it Podolski? Gotze? Hazard? Or even Saha?
Erm, no. He spent £400,000 on a 19 year old German called Thomas Eisfeld who hasn’t even played for Dortmund’s first team yet. He will be of zero use in the next few months as we fight for 4th position.
Once again Wenger is planning for a tomorrow that will never come.
This is the same tomorrow he bought the likes of Fabregas, Adebayor and Nasri for, but they realised Wenger’s tomorrow was a dream and so off they went. It’s not really Wenger’s fault that their heads were turned by more money and/or joining clubs which can actually win trophies, but it is his fault that he carries on pursuing the same pointless youth policy regardless. He is still ignoring the fact that you need to sign some proven players as well, probably because they cost money that Wenger and/or the board have but don’t want to spend.
The missing piece in the jigsaw? Hmmmm...
I wonder what van Persie makes of all this. I can imagine the conversation when Mourinho comes calling in the summer: “What’s that Mr Mourinho, come to Madrid and play with Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema? But haven’t you heard, we have Eisfield here now.”
So Wenger has gambled our whole season on van Persie playing every game for the next four months. Let’s face it, if he gets injured we won’t even qualify for the Europa League. Chamakh is not good enough and if Park was, Wenger would’ve played him more by now. Henry won’t be here long, so the January transfer window was a lifeline for us to get some quality in.
Seeing Spurs nab Saha on loan makes me wonder if he wouldn’t have been a perfect addition. An experienced pro who knows where the goal is. Proven Premiership experience — three words Wenger shies away from like the plague. In fact the only time he’s done it was with Arteta, who’s been fantastic, so I just don’t understand why if he won’t take a big gamble and spend millions, he won’t even take a little gamble on someone like Saha.
Don’t get me wrong, I expect Eisfeld will turn out to be a good player as Wenger knows how to find a talented youngster, even if more of his recent signings have been flops than they used to be. But the point is Eisfeld won’t help us this season when we desperately need it. I think Wenger has missed a trick by ignoring the impact a good January signing can have and I worry that those first anti-Wenger murmurings three years ago will be deafening in May.
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