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The View From Down Under

As I write, it’s Wednesday morning in NZ – the day after the January transfer window closed.

And many, many, many Gooners have lost (or are in the process of losing) their individual and collective shit over what Arsenal did (and didn’t) do in said transfer window.

But – it’s not all bad.

So, in no particular order, here are ten reasons to feel (a little more) positive about the transfer window and what it means for Arsenal:

  1. We got rid of more “dead wood”. Let’s be honest, the players we moved on (Chambers, Mari, Kolasinac, Balogun, AMN, and Auba) weren’t going to feature in our first team plans. And yes, one or two of them probably should have – but clearly once Mikel puts a player on his shit list, he’s either unable or unwilling to revisit that situation… this issue is something I’ll likely write about in future. Some have the rose-tinted view that Auba could have come back in and provided goals but based on what we’ve seen since he played a huge part in our FA Cup win 18 months ago, there’s very little evidence to suggest that is the case – and a whole heap of evidence to suggest it probably isn’t. It’s always sad when things don’t end well; but credit to him, he hasn’t publicly dissed the club (yet), or carried on a like a bit of a pork chop. He’s successfully Odemwingied himself a contract at Arsenal, he’s off our books and more importantly so are his wages. I wish him all the best (unless he does
    diss the Arse and/or show some pork chop-ish behaviours).
  2. We don’t have any fixture congestion. Because we shat the bed against Forest, we only have EPL matches to focus on. No cups, obviously no European fixtures, and no massive backlog of games to catch up on. We’ve pretty much a game a week until the end of the season, so we shouldn’t need a whole heap of squad players. And it’d be really bad luck if we got hammered by a few key injuries, illnesses, or suspensions, and Arsenal hardly ever has any bad luck, right?
  3. We haven’t accumulated any future “dead wood”. Given our key targets weren’t available at the right price (Isak) or had complete fuckwits as agents (Vlahovic), it would have been easy to sign a striker who wasn’t quite what we wanted/needed… but could “do a job” through to the end of the season and maybe even help us to a Champions League spot. I for one, hoped we’d sign someone like Arthur Cabral to compete with Laca then take his “number two” striker role next season. But we didn’t, and I’m assuming that’s because we couldn’t get who we wanted and didn’t resort to buying and overpaying “a body” who in a few seasons’ time would be (yet) another piece of dead wood. Perhaps we’re learning after all?
  4. The second (northern) summer of Edu is coming. This squad space and, presumably, some decent wedge – will give us the means to get what we want/need to further build on the vision set out by Edu and JK’s beard six months ago. Remember, the beard said: “be excited”. Now of course, we aren’t signing Haaland or Mbappe but, we have every reasonable opportunity to build upon our squad in some critical areas (up top and in the middle), and to build some depth at a higher level than some of those mentioned above.
  5. Following on from point 4, there’s no more excuses. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re going to win the league next season, or the champions league the season after. But it does mean we can expect to see some steady improvement. Of course, everyone else is improving too – so whilst we can’t judge things in isolation, we can judge how effectively our strategic plan is being applied. So, if we aren’t signing the right players, or if the team isn’t performing, then certain people will be sweating. Hopefully they’re not (because it means we’re doing well).
  6. The board said no. Reportedly, when Juve said we could only have Arthur Melo on an 18 month loan, whereas we only wanted him for the remainder of this season. Edu wanted the 18 months but the board (aka: TKW – The Kroenke Whanau) said no. Whilst the TKW clearly don’t have a lot of smarts when it comes to European Football, it appears they’re not complete numpties when it comes to money, and the pennies have seemingly dropped that just because Edu wants a deal done, doesn’t
    mean it’s the right deal for Arsenal. I mean, how much evidence do you need?… I’m pleased to see there’s a little more rigour applied to some of these decisions.
  7. We’ve retained our core group. Many people seem to be forgetting that this group of players got us to fourth place in the league and given our opponents haven’t markedly strengthened either, with a little luck, they can do the same again. Sure, January was a dumpster fire on the pitch – but there were numerous reasons this happened that aren’t likely to be repeated (for example, having half of our regular midfield at AFCON and a quarter of it suspended).
  8. Trusty the process. We’ve signed Austun Trusty from that hotbed of global footballing talent, Colorado. Sure, it seems to be little more than an accounting procedure with a view to creating European opportunities for AT. But it could also signal a shift in how TKW want to operate their soccer-football assets to create something more streamlined. We’ve seen this benefit other organisations in various ways so I’m intrigued to see how it could play out in the Arsenal world.
  9. We are making progress. Yep, we didn’t get what (most of us) wanted, and thought we needed. But we’re making progress and the Arsenal evolution is continuing. Many are disappointed we haven’t maximised the opportunity to qualify for the ECL (ie: finish 4 th or better in the league) and I completely concur with that thinking. Though I’m also reassured we haven’t (again) gone for a relatively quick fix when our
    preferred option/s aren’t available. If we do finish 4 th , I’ll be stoked. If we finish 5 th or 6 th that’s a decent progression and what I’d hoped for at the beginning of the season. If we finish 7 th or 8 th from where we are now that clearly isn’t good enough and I’d be very surprised if MA was the gaffer at the beginning of next season.
  10. It’s only a matter of time before another retro/limited edition kit release. And if you can’t wait, there’s always the AFC/Transport for London collaboration. But seriously, why would you?… if I wasn’t already colour blind I probably would be after seeing that abomination.

So, there we go. Sure, it didn’t go how most of us hoped and/or expected.

However, all is far from lost… there is light at the end of the tunnel and the next few months will tell us whether it’s sunlight or an oncoming train. Here’s hoping it’s the former!

As I’ve said before, sometimes the best journeys aren’t the smoothest.

Cory Smith
Arsenal New Zealand

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