We go into today’s game at Liverpool wondering where the goals are going to come from, but grateful about the clean sheets. Whoever plays in goal will have his work cut out, that’s for sure. Szczeny could be out, so Mannone is expected to deputise.
Upfront, we’ve not had a lot of luck so far. Cazorla deserved a least a goal, so if I were a betting man I’d be putting my ‘hard-earned’ on a Santi strike. Maybe Theo ‘I’m staying for now’ Walcott will tear his boyhood favourites apart again, as he did once before at Anfield.
We can only hope that Liverpool will be out of gas, following their exertions in midweek against Hearts in the Europa League. I’m predicting a draw, but Anfield is ‘always a difficult place to go to’, as they say in football parlance. It might be a cliche, but it’s actually true in this case and, although we haven’t lost there for four years, our good fortune has to end soon. Let’s hope it’s not this afternoon, given that we’ve already dropped four points.
Meanwhile, rather than focusing on ‘the now’, it seems like the club is preparing to challenge again for the title in 2014-15, as that’s when UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules will take effect. Well, in theory, at least. Personally, I don’t think FFP will make any difference at all. It’s a nice idea, but that’s the beginning and end of it. Yet the Emirates Stadium naming rights will be up for grabs in 2014 and our deal with Nike runs out then, so 2014-15 could really be the season that Arsenal will actually have more money at their disposal than all of their Premier League rivals. Well, that’s what the club appear to be banking on.
It seems to me that Arsenal have chosen to run a tight ship because it suits the board to do so. Although I don’t want the club to over-spend, under-spending is just as foolish if by doing so you don’t seize the opportunity to compete on the pitch. Saving money can be a false economy if it results in weakening our fan base. We need to be looking at adding to the fan base whenever possible and the best way to do that is with success on the pitch. Trophies attract fans. Philosophies, especially those rigidly stuck to, are only going to alienate fans. That’s why I fear for the future.
No wonder some fans want Alisher Usmanov on the board now. They want someone who will bankroll the club now, so we can be title contenders again. The current board seem content with 3rd place. For most fans, it’s not good enough. And we’re going to weaken our global appeal if we keep going down this route.