I capped my birthday week with a glorious couple days from the Arsenal. First, we beat our nemesis Tottenham 1-0 in the North London Derby. After we lost to Villa 3-1 on opening day, and considering the club still had yet to pay for a single player during the offseason, there was a lot riding on the game. Had it gone bad, I think there would have been a mutiny at the Emirates.
It all comes down to the crazy business of football. I know I’ve written about it before, but the Transfer system in world football has no parallel in American sports. Imagine if the Cowboys could sign whoever they wanted, from any club, regardless of their contract situation, so long as they paid that club a “fair” price. It would be madness. Well, that’s the Transfer window. Sadly, because of clubs flush in oil-money, that market has become incredibly skewed, and teams that sit on their funds or try to develop talent organically walk a very tight line. Although they are one of the biggest, richest clubs in world, Arsenal have been financially limited since they built the Emirates stadium, and only within the last year have we been able to fully maximize the increased revenue streams the stadium opened. So, at the end of last season, when we snatched a 4th place spot and Champions League football from Tottenham, we the fans were promised an economically competitive team in the transfer window.
And then nothing happened. For 2 months.
We were rumored with every capable footballer in Europe, and even seemed close to some, only to have deals fall apart with little explanation. Meanwhile, our dreaded rivals, anticipating the world-record sale of Gareth, the human-monkey, Bale, had spent over 100 million pounds on new talent. As the final whistle blew in the opener against Aston Villa, things went…poorly. Chants of “Spend some fucking money” and “You don’t know what you’re doing” (the go to chant for fans who want a new manager) rang out and this epic fan rant went viral:
And even the most level-headed of Arsenal fans, for the most part, agreed with him. Lizz can attest that I was in a really terrible mood that day and it permeated our house. I know that is insane, but as a die-hard fan, this summer was torture and to see 2 months of ineptitude culminate in that defeat was too much. Luckily, our players have been through this type of situation before and they’ve become quite resilient. We rolled off 3 pretty impressive wins over the next week and half and set ourselves up fairly well for the North London Derby. After our 1-0 victory in which we completely dominated, the mood had certainly turned around. There was only that business of the Transfer window.
The final day of the Transfer window is something of a Holiday in England. Although clubs have the whole summer, a shocking number wait to pull off deals until the last minute. This is ridiculous for a ton of reasons. First, you have to agree a fee with the club, then you have to agree a contract with the player, then you have to complete a medical, then the player as to sign, and finally the paperwork has to be filed before the window closes. Naturally, Arsenal waited until half an hour before the window closed to announce their capture:
The rumors had been brewing on this one since August 21st, but I had refused to believe them. It was just too good to be true. Özil is so good that it was inconceivable a club like Madrid, where he was probably the second best player, would sell him. And yet, because of the arrival of Tottenham’s own Gareth Bale, Madrid needed money and were willing to sell the young German. So of course, you can see the even more delightful irony of the situation. Spuds losing their best player causes us to sign one of the best players in the world, right after a defeat in our stadium. I’ve been on a cloud.