WBA Preview: Let’s Finish A Good Week With A Great Win
The announcement of record profits for the club yesterday completed a decent week, the only cloud being the points dropped at Sunderland. Based on this morning’s exchange rate of £1 = €1.173, Arsenal’s turnover beat Real Madrid’s by €3.5m for the same period. It means that Arsenal is at the moment, the biggest football club in the world, until United and Barcelona post their results at least.
What matters is that of those clubs, Arsenal is the most profitable. In itself, the size of that profit does not matter; the business strategy which underpins the financial results is the key. The club is well run, a belief beyond dispute, and is living well within its current means. Even stripping the profitability of the property development from the results, the bottom line was more than double that of the Spaniards. As Uefa’s regulations begin to tighten, Arsenal is one of the clubs which has the least adjustments to be made.
For that, the Board and manager deserve credit. Wenger noted the inherent hypocrisy of football:
We make a profit because we don’t spend – it’s as simple as that. What is unbelievable is that people reproach me for making a profit but no-one says a word about people who lose money. I manage in a safe way – but it looks like we are in a business where the quality is to lose money.
With the number of clubs operating unsustainable business models, quite rightly Arsenal should be held up as the example. The progress of youngsters in England is a subject of heated debate yet not practically implemented with any success outside of Arsenal. Despite having three of the countries most talented youngsters, Wenger is consistently derided. As he observed yesterday, he is in a no-win situation:
you [the media] reproach me for not buying players but if I buy players Jack Wilshere doesn’t come out into the first team. You cannot have everything and I know that and I’m long enough in the job to have a development policy to educate the players. The most difficult thing is to play them and to stand up for it.
Nobody else in the world [brings through as many young players]. I’ll give you one day the list of those at the top level who have made careers with me and you will see. You will be absolutely astonished.
The production of young players has to be sustained for it to be successful. Nobody can argue that Ferguson was successful in bringing one generation through but few of any note since, certainly none who benefitted the national team. Arsenal appears to be in better shape, the proof of which will be seen in years to come.
On the pitch, West Bromwich arrive seeking their first league victory at Arsenal since 1983. Not many fixtures between the two sides have taken place due Albion’s yo-yo nature, two draws in 1986 and 2004 their best results. Arsenal has hosted this fixture five times in summers past, winning all of them.
For this afternoon’s fixture, the impact of Tuesday’s extra time may yet be costly. Rosicky and Eboue picked up knocks in the drubbing of Tottenham although Abou Diaby may return to the bench following his lay-off. Fabregas and Walcott are both targetting the Chelsea match next weekend whilst Alex Song’s suspension was served on Tuesday.
Defensive changes are limited with Thomas Vermaelen not yet recovered and Keiran Gibbs suffered a bruised foot having bruised the pride of the over-hyped Aaron Lennon. It means that the back four will be as you were from last weekend.
Key this afternoon will be finishing Albion off once a lead has been established. Even going down to ten men, there were enough opportunities to do so at Sunderland, penalty and other misses proved costly in the end. The gap to Chelsea is four points, a win and favourable result at Eastlands this lunchtime can see that halved at least.
The team I would expect this afternoon is:
Almunia; Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy; Denilson, Wilshere, Song; Arshavin, Chamakh, Nasri
The visitors have yet to score away from home, conceding seven goals in their two games. Arsenal has the opportunity to add considerably to that scoreline and finish the week on an even bigger high.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.