The new Premiership season is likely to bring a number of surprises,
both to supporters and to those trying to bet on the different issues at
places like betfair.com, but
one thing that seems eminently predictable is that Arsenal will continue
to fall behind their competitors in the Premier League and that they
will not spend much money during the summer. Of course these two issues
are inextricably linked, as it is clear that the club has not replaced
vital players from the glory days -- such as Patrick Vieira and Thierry
Henry -- with players of comparable quality; but this leaves fans
wondering why Arsene Wenger appears so reluctant to spend.
Of course it could be argued, probably quite rightly, that too much
money is spent in the Premier League -- but no one could realistically
accuse Arsenal of that. The club is in a healthier financial position
than most of the other top clubs, but the price that they are paying for
this is on the field success. One argument that has been put forward to
explain Wenger's reluctance to spend is his desire to bring through
young players, so that he can mould their development every step of the
way; but the problem with this is that, in order to get the best from
young players, they arguably need to be balanced with experience --
which is where Arsenal have been found lacking over the past seven years.
A manager of Wenger's quality and intelligence can scarcely fail to be
aware of the need to balance youth and experience however -- not least
because it was that balance that marked his great Arsenal teams.
Therefore, many have searched for alternative explanations; with one
being that he is covering for the unwillingness of the board to make
money available. If this is true, it would represent a first in the
history of football -- making it doubtful for many observers. The
expected loss of Robin Van Persie -- on the grounds of the club's lack
of ambition -- may at last prove the catalyst for a change of transfer
policy at Arsenal.