Arsenal Wait For Others To Falter Before Planning The Summer
This could be a pivotal evening in the Champions League qualification race. Tottenham face a team fighting for their Premier League life, Bolton would gleefully accept the point that would take them out of the bottom three with the added bonus that the loathsome Queens Park Rangers would replace them in the relegation placings. At the same time, a draw would be the preferred outcome in the meeting between Chelsea and Newcastle. All of which would leave Arsenal three points clear of fourth, three points from claiming third place as their own for the season. That’s an ideal world that in all likelihood will not exist with Tottenham likely to be a single point behind Arsenal with the same gap between themselves and Chelsea.
That the scenario exists with Arsenal looking over their shoulders is as much of their own making as anyone else. Chances to have all but sealed third have been spurned; it is entirely in keeping with the way that the season has panned out, not just for us but everyone else. The bottom of the table has been as turbulent as the top with only the mediocrity of the mid-table placings offering any semblance of normality. That was until Liverpool decided to spend extensively and disappear into a morass of their own making.
Their spendthrift policy offers a marked contrast to that pursued by Arsenal. Whilst the Liverpudlian model is not vindication of that pursued by Arsenal, it certainly underlines that the recklessness of some demands for signings is not a guarantee of success were they to be followed. It is about quality and this squad can be improved – every squad can – but any future success is not going to be bought by spending without thought or consideration given to where the genuine weaknesses lie.
Too often names bandied about are the result of reading the back pages and with scant regard to the realities. For example, Eden Hazard is often named but where will he fit in with Podolski, Miyachi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and (possibly although doubtfully) the loanees Arshavin returning and/or Benayoun staying? That is overloading the squad before considering the impact of these signings on competition regulations. Vertonghen’s versatility offers a basis for his purchase but these are just two of the names. I suspect that it will be some time before another signing is made given that there are a significant number of players on loan who must return to the club if their current employers are not minded to make an acceptable offer for their services.
Back to the Premier League. The appointment of Roy Hodgson has evoked much sympathy for Harry Redknapp in the media. The new England manager referred to his “empathy” with the Tottenham manager and from a selfish point of view, I hope that this does not give Tottenham some renewed vigour with which to end the season. Hodgson is multi-linguist which will not be of much use with the England squad or media; he needs to be good at drawing to be able to get his messages across to them.
Jack Wilshere has been a source of friction with former caretaker manager, Stuart Pearce. Hopefully Hodgson will be more mindful of overplaying the youngster. It is a hard temptation given that what remains of the self-styled Golden Generation is an utter shambles. Wilshere wasted no time in congratulating the new England manager although I am not sure Roy will have read the comment as soon as it appeared on Twitter. No doubt the FA employ a media clippings service; they probably rely on the Disciplinary Department for news on what is being said on Twitter.
That’s it for today, a quiet morning in the build-up to the visit of Norwich this Saturday. Tonight might offer clarity but may leaves waters as muddy as ever.