“Fans pay Harrods’ prices, but Arsenal shop in Primark”
Arsenal’s bank account is bursting at the seams, but the team’s budget-conscious boss refuses to release the purse strings and buy some badly needed playing talent. Which leaves the Life’s A Pitch panel wondering whether Arsène Wenger is his own worst enemy.
“He’s remarkably stubborn and won’t be persuaded on transfers. With four full-backs out he desperately needs a loan signing, at least, to patch up a squad pushing for fourth place,” says the Daily Mirror’s John Cross. But even when Wenger does warily pull some cash out of his pocket – along with decades’ worth of dust and several nesting birds – he won’t bid for the big players despite the club’s market-topping ticket prices. John puts it simply: “The fans pay Harrods’ prices while the club shops in Primark.”
Ian Ridley of the Daily Express cuts the frugal Frenchman a little more slack, pointing out that January isn’t the best time to do a deal. “The difficulty for Wenger is that if he ships players [such as Andrey Arshavin] out, where does he get the bodies from to replace them? If he has people lined up for the summer he may want to see it through [with the current squad] until then.” What concerns him more is the Gunners’ defensive chaos, which would have had former boss George Graham deliriously rocking in a corner. “Under Graham if the defence let a goal in, on Monday he’d take a long rope and tie it round their waists, and they’d move as a back four all morning… you don’t get the feeling there’s any follow-up now [if the defence concede goals].”
Former Arsenal player and journalist Adrian Clarke agrees. “Their defence is a mish-mash and a mess. The defenders used to know exactly what they needed to do at the right time.” So why won’t Wenger parachute in an experienced player to plug the gaps? ”I don’t understand it,” says Adrian. “Injuries have crippled the side and they haven’t been convincing.” Wenger needs to respond. But will he?
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