This time of the transfer window is always where the irritation from football fans reaches its zenith. That’s because we’re not close enough to the window closing shut to really know exactly where we might stand, but we’re also not far enough away from the window that people are saying “we’ve got time”. So we have this horrible period – that probably began on Tuesday and will run until Sunday 30th in the evening I suspect, in which we’re all getting worked up with the lack of activity.
What I don’t think helps is the briefings by the clubs and in our instance, Arsenal’s briefings have become somewhat frustrating. Let’s take the noises coming out of the club just over a day ago that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would not be travelling to Dubai for the teams warm weather training sessions they are embarking on during this mini break that we have. In isolation this makes sense to me as an Arsenal fan; he’s clearly broken some rules, it was the straw that broke the camels back before Christmas, so now the club have said “that’s it you’re done” and they are sticking to their line. That line is probably that he has no future and that they and he should part ways for everyone’s interest. That’s how you have to read it from the outside looking in. But until we hear otherwise I think that’s a decent assumption to make.
The big problem with it, however, is that if he sticks around beyond 31st January, you have an expensive asset that you have basically burned. Like I say I understand the motives, but my only challenge to the club on this one – without any of us knowing any more detail – is that it feels like we’re at the stage in the window where if you aren’t going to put the money down now for a player to replace him within the next couple of days, you absolutely must make use of the resources you have, which includes reintroducing Aubameyang in to the side in my opinion. In him we have a player who scores goals and if the last month has shown us anything it is that these guys don’t grow on trees. We’ve muddled by with Lacazette and Nketiah but now we have some data behind us to see, we know that it doesn’t cut the mustard, as misses against Everton in the league by Nketiah, or Lacazette in the League Cup home game as well as last weekend to Burnley, have shown. These players work hard but they aren’t of the requisite quality to finish chances in the volume we need. For all his apparent personality flaws, Aubameyang IS a player who will finish his dinner and if there is no deal to be done for a striker in the next five days (and counting) then we simply MUST re-integrate him in to the squad. I think it is Antonion Conte who famously burned Diego Costa via text, telling him he’d never play for Chelski again, but I believe that was after the league title had been won and the summer was on the horizon. Where we are now we cannot afford to be fully burning Aubameyang unless we 100% get a striker deal over the line, so I am somewhat surprised that he isn’t going to Dubai.
If he was on the plane then maybe it would feel like the door was left ajar, but it feels slammed shut right now, which hurts him, hurts us, hurts Arsenal’s reputation and probably makes opponents quite happy that Arsenal have this seemingly self-inflicted wound going on (by self inflicted I mean that it isn’t injury, illness or suspension that is keeping Auba from playing).
But to then have the club briefing some journos that the possibility of signing somebody this winter window is looking ‘unlikely’ as some have reported, less than 24 hours after admitting Aubameyang isn’t travelling to Dubai, doesn’t help the feeling of Angst we have as fans right now. Given how short the space is between now and the window slamming shut, this briefing will only have turned up the heat on the frustration. So I do find it a little weird that they were willing to send out those feelers to the press who are favourable on the Arsenal beat right now.
Of course it could all be a smokescreen. There could be deals that are on the verge of being done from left of field that nobody is aware of, but with so many people involved in transfers these days, intermediaries, etc, the press always get wind of something and so the fact it is going quiet is a little alarming in my view. I, like you I’m sure, am saving my frustration for February. Right now there is no point being too worked up about it. I know that is easier said than done and if you follow me on Twitter there will undoubtedly be times in the next few days where my frustration spills over in to social media, but in the main part I’m trying to keep my self calm and carrying on, as the saying goes.
But we do need to get this squad improved now and the reason people feel more frustrated than in a long time is that we see an opening. At the beginning of the season Man City and Liverpool had two spots sewn up. Chelski had just spent £100million on a striker having just won the Champions League and so the expectation was that spot number three was done. That left one spot for Champions League spaces and United had purchased ALL THE FORWARDS. Tottenham too had been better than us and so the expectation was just to better one of Leicester or West Ham. But in the position we are in right now, with lots of clubs faltering (except, annoyingly Tottenham under Conte – although they’ve massively ridden their luck at times), it feels like the door is ajar for top four. So not to try to grab it by improving in key positions feels like a bit of self-sabotage to the average Arsenal fan right now. We are behind the team, we back the manager, but we just need that little bit more. It feels like we’ve been saying that for decades in different guises and under different managers, but what we need to see is some action from the club. And action now.
Catch you all tomorrow.