In the end, it was a damp squib of a transfer deadline day, hyped to the nines but delivering nothing of interest, and nothing at all for Arsenal.
The whole absurd day, which has become a newspaper-selling website-hitting phenomenon all of its own, with Sky Sports News the very worst culprit, is summed up for me by this one entry from the Guardian’s live transfer deadline day page:
5.02pm One of the most absurdly portentous bits of TV I’ve ever seen: Sky Sports News actually counted down the end of the transfer window with the bongs from Big Ben, like it was New Year’s Eve. On the last bong a voice broke in “we’re just hearing Peter Lovenkrands has signed for Newcastle!” Incredible. History in the making.
It was a day much like the summer, during which England’s bigger clubs did little or no business. In fact, the ‘Big Four’ are £75.3m in the black. Maybe Wenger’s portentous warning about the new 50% tax rate coming in has made buying new players difficult. Or maybe, finally, football is waking up to the recession.
So where does that leave us? I’m with the Goonerholic in thinking that, compared to this time last year we are stronger. We are stronger in defence – Vermaelen, Senderos, Traore and Gibbs all essentially additions to the squad. We are stronger in midfield with Rosicky back, Arshavin here and Song a man transformed. Up front, we are about the same as last year in terms of goalscoring potential – Eduardo replacing Adebayor. Add to that a year’s worth of experience, and we are better off now.
However, whether we are strong enough is hard to say. ‘Enough’ for me is a side that can challenge for all the major honours – rather than last year, when we did pretty well in the cups (coming up short in the semis) but were out of the equation in the league by November.
There is much more competition this year, but early signs are good. So yes, we could have benefited from a bit more cover in midfield, another striker and another goalkeeper – who wouldn’t? But nobody ever came, our squad is now finalised until January, so that from me is the final word. I see no point in criticising when a) based on early-season form there is nothing currently to criticise and b) all clubs have tightened their belts. Overall, I’m more positive than I am negative.
No surprises perhaps that Uefa have now banned Eduardo for two matches for diving. Arsenal’s official statement is here, as angry an official response as you will ever see.
“…We have been deeply frustrated by the perfunctory and apparently arbitrary process that Uefa has followed in this instance. We believe it is imperative that Uefa’s explanation for its decision provides clear and comprehensive standards that will be consistently enforced. It is also critical that Uefa provides specific details of the processes it plans to adopt in reviewing all games under its jurisdiction.”
It’s not difficult to see why Arsenal are angry. If a player is seen to dive by a referee he gets a yellow card. However, out of the blue Uefa have now ruled that, if the same offence is not seen then it can be reviewed later and a punishment four times as strong can be given. According to Uefa, a red card (two game ban) is now as bad as a dive (two game ban). Does that make sense? I think we know the answer to that.
And will it now be rigorously enforced for all dives not seen by the referee? Who will bring them to Uefa’s attention? What is the process? Is it just in Uefa competitions or is this new rule enforceable in the Premier League?
Also, this rule was brought in in 2006. Why no punishments until now? Why is Eduardo the first?
Lots of questions to answer.