It’s done now, bright side? by JC
The transfer window is officially over. I, probably like a lot of Arsenal fans, was glued to Sky’s coverage of deadline day yesterday. What started as the hopes that we were in for a marquee player, soon drifted to the hope that we would sign just about anyone at all. The heartbreak that followed by the reading of tweets, reminders that we were the only club in Europe’s top five leagues not to sign an outfield player and the fact that we spend 10 million measly dollars was compounded and the rage that followed resulted in a near sleepless night…
I will spare a quick paragraph on opposition movements. Please remember the windows past. The times Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Co. have gone on spending sprees, brought in players that make us green with jealousy as they’re players who are Football Manager superstars, have Youtube compilations worthy of shock and awe and possess great stats in the less competitive leagues around Europe, only to fade into the long list of players who never made it in the Premier league. Heck, remember this time last year being absolutely fearful of the thought of Di Maria and Falcao in the same team. And I will also spare a thought for the always entertaining, the one, the only, Mario Balotelli.
For those of you whose minds are still understandably stuck on a loop, thinking ‘If Coquelin gets injured we’re screwed!’ or ‘another season with Giroud leading the line cannot win us a title,’ fair enough. I can definitely see merit in those arguments. But this article is not intended to address that. A week without the possibility of enjoying watching Arsenal play is just unfathomable for me, and with a long international break to get through I’m now done picturing what could have been with the squad and going to focus on what’s ahead.
What I’d instead like to focus on is a common trend that I’ve noticed. For years now it seems that we always have at least one player step up above and beyond any of our wildest expectations and produce at the highest level. Last season we had the 19 year old Hector Bellerin break out from the youth team after impressive spells in the U21’s. No loan moves, no bedding in period just thrown in the deep end after Debuchy’s terrible luck, Chamber’s unconvincing displays and after barely a season in the first team he’s earned an international call-up to one of the deepest squads on the planet.
I’m an avid follower of our loanees, but with me there are definitely levels of curiosity in how certain players are doing. Djourou, Chamakh and Bendtner were names I glossed over, hoping their ridiculous wages would be off the books sooner rather than later. I’d written them off completely after having their chances with us and quite simply, being a liability for us more times than not on the pitch. Then there was another French-man I’d simply gloss over as more often than not he didn’t even make the first-team at Lorient and Frieburg. Seeing a 23 year old on the bench for lowly Charlton week after week was surely a telling sign of his quality? In hindsight, no it was not.
Coquelin slotted into the first-team effortlessly. The fact that his ridiculous defensive statistics, aggression and overall contribution to our team can even be mentioned in the same sentence as the league’s best speaks volumes of him as a player. In the instance of Coquelin, I do actually agree with Wenger. The way in which he wins the ball back with truly elite numbers, the changes in our team’s overall, stronger defensive mentality, our record with him in the team and without, the defensive cover he added to allow Santi to flourish in the deeper role. If we’d spent 40mil on him, there would be a strong case for that money being justified.
The season before last there was a certain midfielder I doubt anyone would’ve battered an eyelid if we’d sold, some fans I’d go as far as saying would be overjoyed! But he went on to do his best Frank Lampard scoring impression, while still putting in a defensive work rate that would have given poor Frankie a heart attack! The season before there was Theo (22 goals, 14 assists. Anyone care to quote me the voted premier league player of last season’s numbers? I’ll even let you include penalties), before that Judas deciding he was done with sitting on the injury table. I could go on… But my point being, if anyone had predicted these players seasons would have been as successful as they were I dare say there’s a good chance they would have been institutionalised in some cases.
I will preface this following statement with the knowledge that it may well be twisting the knife for quite a few of you. Wenger often references the ‘quality within the squad.’ I’ve been looking over the names, juggling potential line-ups in my head, and I don’t think it’s nearly as impossible to picture us finding the formidable form we showed for an extended period last season and more as the gloomy mood would suggest. We have Oxlade-Chamberlain who’s shown flashes of absolutely tearing through defences.
Wilshere who could quite possibly kick the injury curse and put in a stellar season (I’ll reference RVP for this one), Theo who has every chance to re-find the goal-scoring touch that made him our most dangerous player before his extended absence. Who knows? Danny Welbeck may find a bit of confidence in himself, find some composure in his first-touch and finishing and use his phenomenal physical tools to good effect. Some of these names may leave a salty taste in some fans mouths. But please, remember the Ramsey and Coquelin cases. Even seemingly the most lost causes of players can come out and surprise. All of the players I’ve mentioned definitely have it in them. It’s on them to step up and I think at the bare minimum one will. One always does…