Monthly Archives: July 2015

Wenger is just trolling Spurs by refusing to buy

I enjoyed Sarah Winterburn’s piece on F365, and agree how mad it is that Arsenal don’t just go out and buy a top-class holding midfielder and challenge for the title.

There is only one explanation: He is trolling Spurs fans by giving us just enough hope that we can catch the Gooners this season to be disappointed when the inevitable St Totteringham’s Day comes.

I think Lloris is a better keeper than Cech, and Harry Kane is a better player than Giroud or Welbeck, but apart from that Arsenal are stronger in pretty much every other position, and have a far deeper and more experienced squad. But as long as we see either Coquelin or Arteta in the midfield, supposedly providing the cover, there is a weakness there, a soft centre that leads to hope.

Hope is the enemy for Spurs fans. How many seasons have we said, “This will be our year”? Next year, maybe.

Wenger knows, when his Arsenal story is written, that it won’t be the uninterrupted Top 4 finishes, the Invincibles or the recent FA Cup success that he’ll be remembered for by the fans. It’ll be that, for 20 seasons in a bloody row, Arsenal never finished below Tottenham. So, as he nears the end, he is rubbing it in, showboating, taunting us with a slight weakness that serves to mask the overall strength. Coquelin may not be a title-winning midfielder, but is he good enough, combined with the rest of this squad, to get the team into the Top 4? You bet.

I really am not sure if I want the season to start: thank god there is cricket on.

Should Spurs be happy to finish in 5th?

I’ve been enjoying the summer so far. It’s been a continuation of the sensible, drama-free Tottenham 2.0 that has emerged since Pochettino arrived. Instead of flinging money about at random, the club has slowly gotten rid of some of the deadwood that has accumulated and secured some decent fees in the process, while gradually rebuilding the squad starting from the woeful defense. It has been patient, methodical and most un-Spursy.

However, as good a signing as Alderweireld is, I can’t see how Spurs are any closer to the Top 4. In fact, it seems the gap has never been bigger, and I don’t see how Spurs or Liverpool or other potential challengers are going to come close to bridging it. Chelsea look awesomely strong. Man City are adding Sterling and possibly De Bruyne to an already powerful line-up that underachieved last year and will surely rebound. Man Utd have finally addressed their midfield shortage, may well keep De Gea for another season, and must have a top striker lined up if they’ve let Van Persie go. Arsenal finally have a top-class keeper, and aside from a bit of quality in central midfield, have as good a squad as anyone.

I know Liverpool fans are all excited by some of their signings, but for a second season in a row they’ve contrived to lose their best player (this time to a direct rival!) when they didn’t really need to. As almost every example shows, when you lose your best players, you get worse — it’s why big clubs are prepared to shell out tens of millions, because the players who can make them better are so rare and so valuable.

I felt this way last season, but to a lesser extent. Sure, Chelsea and Man City looked too strong. But United seemed vulnerable, and Arsenal had real weaknesses in their squad. It felt, if things broke the right way, Spurs may have had a chance of squeezing into 4th, But this year, I just don’t see it at all. Do any Spurs fans really think a 4th place finish is actually going to happen? I suspect the best avenue for Champions League football would be the Europa League, but it is such a massive and exhausting tournament that there feels a randomness about who emerges as a finalist (hello, Dnipro).

Champions League dominance has served to make fifth place seem like a position of failure, but to me, for Spurs another season in fifth should be a success. Look at our wage bill, net transfer spend, revenues and number of minutes given to homegrown players.

Is that unambitious? Or would it be better for a club like Spurs to accept that 5th is actually pretty good, the way things are shaping up in the Premier League, and plan for that, rather than keep on shooting for the moon each season and getting frustrated when we inevitably miss?