With all the newspapers covering the news of last night’s splash hit of the winter, Mythical Excuses: And Where to Find Them (The Jose Mourinho Chelsea Story), there have been few reporters left to write about how Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck suffered a setback to his recovery and is now expected to be out until February.
Few people expected Mythical Excuses to be a smash hit but it is the compelling story of a poor, hard working, football manager who is betrayed by his team and ultimately stabbed in the back by the man he felt was his very best friend, Cescus Brutus, along with Gaius Hazardus and his henchman Costacus. Director Roman Abramovich takes a light hearted approach to heavy subject matter, and viewers are often left crying in laughter as Jose’s team lose in spectacular fashion time and again and Jose is forced to deliver “theya culpa” speeches after each match. Never one to take any blame, Jose goes so far after one loss to say,
All last season I did phenomenal work and brought them to a level more than they really are. And now? They are just dicks. Really. Why are they dicks? Why they no listen? I don’t know, you should ask them they are honest guys. Especially Hazardus, when he ran off down the tunnel injured, you can bet he is actually injured. I lieb ya, baby, I lieb ya, I lieb ya! Now lieb me alone!
With such a rolicking good time on display many Arsenal fans would be forgiven for missing the news that Welbeck suffered a setback to his recovery from knee surgery.
Welbeck’s injury raises several questions. With Arsenal in the midst of an actual title fight and with Arsenal’s front line looking thin until Welbeck returns, which will require several weeks after in order to reach full health, the question remains whether Arsene Wenger will jump into the transfer market and buy replacements.
Gooners certainly wouldn’t mind if Wenger did buy but Arsene was closed fisted in the summer and only purchased Petr Cech for £10m from Chelsea. That purchase was, in hindsight, the best buy of the summer and coincidentally happened on opening day of Jose Mourinho’s Mythical Excuses.
But if Wenger didn’t buy in the summer, after he knew that Welbeck was injured, why would he change tack now?
Arsene can be difficult to work out and many fans are pointing to the January purchases of Jose Antonio Reyes and Andrei Arshavin as proof that the manager will splash the cash in January. Wenger is also looking at a squad which has many injuries and several players who are underperforming.
Injuries to Coquelin (arguably Arsenal’s star midfielder), Wilshere, Welbeck, and the highly influential Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez have not been as keenly felt as some expected. But so far the Gunners haven’t been tested by a world class team, like Man City, a match scheduled for next Monday. That match is a real title test and falls outside of the transfer window, so it is likely that Arsene Wenger will use that match as a barometer for purchases.
The logic behind not buying is often questioned by many Arsenal fans but Wenger is not normally a short term buyer. If he believes that Welbeck is a long term solution at Arsenal, he might be reluctant to “kill” him (as Wenger says) by bringing in a replacement. The same goes for Wilshere and Coquelin — two players who are tipped for greatness.
However, Wenger is the master of surprise and has a taste for bargains. If a top quality player is available, I’d be surprised to see Wenger pass up the chance to make his team stronger. Wenger is a long-term planner and he has to know that Arteta and Flamini aren’t long-term options for the defensive midfield role at Arsenal. Surely, his scouts are looking for the next generation Arteta. Someone with tremendous ball playing skills, a good motor, and the willingness to sacrifice offense for the betterment of the team.
Similarly in the forward area. Wenger must know that his forwards (Alexis, Giroud, Walcott, Ox, Campbell, and Welbeck) require rotation. But the question isn’t whether he knows that, it’s whether he feels he can find an addition in that area which will improve the team. People will say “he just needs to be better than (Ox or Campbell)” but Wenger isn’t that kind of thinker. Wenger would say, he has to be better than Ox will be. It’s a slightly more forward thinking variation.
One other option is a loan and there has been talk that Wenger is instructing his scouts to find him players he can get on loan. That solves the problem of “killing” young players but does nothing for the long term solution to the ageing midfield duo of Arteta and Flamini. But again, Wenger has been slowly integrating Calum Chambers in that role and if Chambers impresses enough I doubt Wenger will buy.
Our judgement as football fans is almost always that buying is the first, second, and last solution. Fans love transfers. But I suspect Wenger is going to stick with his plan from this summer and will be very reluctant to buy, unless something special comes along, or unless his backup team falls completely apart. Wenger was very proud of the British Core he had assembled last year, boasting that he hoped Arsenal would comprise the majority of England’s starting XI for the 2018 World Cup. It would be a remarkable about face from the manager to suddenly abandon that plan.
So, I’m not counting on any signings. Are you?