Arsene Wenger’s youngsters made it through to the last 16 of the Carling Cup once again as they worked hard for their victory on Wednesday night and another youngster produced a magnificent display on Saturday as Wenger’s policy of developing his youth players instead of bringing in expensive big name signings gained more credibility. Vito Mannone silenced all critics of his ‘wobbly’ start to his Arsenal career with an exceptional performance between the sticks at Craven Cottage, as the young Italian made a string of impressive saves which meant the Gunners took three vital points and closed the gap on Chelsea after the former league leaders’ surprising loss to an inspired Wigan – all the more shocking after the Gunners 4-0 demolition of them just a week earlier. Arsenal had struggled to find their rhythm and had their keeper to thank for keeping them in the game in west London and in the end one moment of class from Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie proved all that was needed to go home to north London with a win in the bag.
Since the weekend’s victory two pieces of news have stuck out for Arsenal with one good and one bad – in order to end on a happy note we shall start with the bad. Injury problems are starting to concern Wenger and the newest of these is Denilson, who has fractured a bone in his back which means that he will be out for up to two months. It was an injury that the Brazilian picked up during Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester City and will be a loss for the club as Wenger rates the young player so highly. The good news to come out of the Emirates were Arsenal’s financial results for last year which made pretty good reading for those running and those supporting the club. Without wishing to bore anyone too much with talk of net profits and football revenue, the Gunners’ results showed that the club is in a very healthy state having made good money from the sale of houses in the Highbury redevelopment to supplement money generated from the sale of players. Overall, Arsenal’s pre-tax profit rose to £45.5m, which is an increase of almost £10m over last year’s profit of £36.7m.
In these tough financial times it is certainly comforting for Arsenal fans to know that the club’s financial future is looking rosy and the board have confirmed Wenger has plenty of money to spend should he so choose. They made it clear that the lack of big money signings was nothing to do with a lack of money but that it was all down to the manager’s approach to building his team. While many Arsenal fans have been crying out for a big-name, big-money signing, Wenger has chosen to be careful and methodical in his approach to transfers, a trait that he has shown throughout is Arsenal career and it is testament to the man that Arsenal are still looking competitive with the big spending sides out there. Losing to Man City was certainly not a result of their players being far superior, it was a combination of bad luck and bad decisions on the Arsenal players part – the exact same story as at Old Trafford a week before.
The stability of a club over the long-term is much more important than success in the short-term, looking back over the history of the Premier League the team with the greatest disregard for this philosophy were of course Leeds United and look where they have ended up. While this writer certainly does not feel Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United will be competing against the likes of Huddersfield, Stockport and Yeovil any time soon, there would certainly be some serious problems if those clubs respective owners/investors decided to move on to pastures new. Arsenal do not have this problem, they are making money and the amount is increasing year-on-year. Wenger told a press conference that he would see himself as failing if the club were losing money at the end of a season, after all football is a business as well as a game. While success on the field has been absent for a little too long for most Arsenal fans’ liking, there is no doubt that the club will be competing at the top end of the league and in the latter stages of cup competitions for the foreseeable future and all for a fraction of the money spent elsewhere.
Arsenal Club Focus
Pre-season preparations take a few hits – July 29
Gunners as prepared as they can be for Everton – August 12
Gunners gear up for vital ‘Battle of Britain’ clash – August 18
Fortuitous Gunners revel in Glasgow win – August 21
Electric Arsenal improve on success with a formidable win – August 25
Gunners undone by terrible errors – September 1
No international break for injured Gunners – September 4
Wenger and Fergie in war of words – September 8
Gunners crave a leader – September 15
Gunners buoyed by late siege in Liege – September 18
Young guns set for run out – September 22
Gunners future looking rosy both on and off the pitch – September 29