Looking at this mornings league table, Arsenal still sit top of the league. 2 points ahead of Chelsea, 3 points ahead of Manchester City. There is still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our title chances.
Yes, we might have conceded 6 against Manchester City, but it was one of those freak games where every shot on target went in. There were 13 shots on target in the entire game, and 9 goals. City had a converted 6 of their 7 shots on target. It was a freak result.
City deserved to run out winners, despite Arsenal having 2 goals chalked off incorrectly and being denied a blatant penalty. To point to those 3 referring decision as the reason Arsenal lost would be in denial of the overall performance. City seemingly being able to go forward and score highlights why they are averaging over 4 goals a game at home and have now scored in 58 consecutive games at the Etihad Stadium. Their home form in the league this season reads: Played 8, Won 8, Scored 35, Conceded 5. That last one was Conceded 2 before yesterday. With home form like that, City have to be everyone’s favourites for the title.
The difference between the two sides could be seen on the substitutes bench. £129m worth of talent on the bench. Arsenal’s starting line up cost just £97m and cost of their entire match day squad £140. When you take into account that £42.5m of those totals was Mesut Ozil, it shows just how far behind we are in City. Yes, we have money to spend, and should be spending more than it, but City, with their now settled side and spending money like it is going out of fashion, we should not be too downhearted.
When it comes to finance, what Manchester City spend is staggering. They have a wage bill £60m more than Arsenal’s. The majority of their squad is on £100k+ a week. Arsenal meanwhile have just 3 players over this figure. With Arsenal having a reported £100m sitting in the bank, were we to try to compete with Manchester City in terms of wages and transfer fees, this money would not go very far at all. Last year, we made a profit of just £6.7m. A £60m blackhole in wages would see us start to run up massive losses. Manchester City, remember, lost £97m in 2011/12.
Last summer, having finished 2nd to Manchester United in the league, and having made horrendous losses, Manchester City went out and spent £90m. They spent more on defensive midfielder’s than we did on Mesut Ozil. It highlights the financial strength they have that they were able to go out and buy long-term Arsenal target Stevan Jovetic for £22m without really needing him. It was perhaps and example of them signing a player who they do not need just to ensure other Premier League sides signing him.
Now I do not have an issue with Manchester City’s grotesque spending. If a man has billions of plans, who are we to tell him how to spend it. Remember, we did not moan in the late 1990’s when Danny Fiszman was bank rolling us – albeit on a smaller scale – enabling us to build the 1998, and eventually the invincible sides. What the financial difference does show is how much of a challenge winning the Premier League is for Arsenal. With both Manchester City and Chelsea having an endless pot of gold. Arsenal could go and spend the £100m they have sitting their, but Chelsea and Manchester City would then respond by spending £150m. Do we keep chasing them? Do we spend the most we can and still finish 2nd/3rd and say ‘at least we tried’ or do we spend sensibly, on the right players, and hope things, at one point, will become fairer?
The last option is we Alisher Usmanov. He is supposedly willing to put in similar amounts of money into the club as Sheikh Mansour and Roman Abramovich. Do we move to demanding to be bank rolled by an oligarch, with a questionable background, or do we say ‘We are Arsenal, we do things in the right way’. Having a sole owner leaves us in a precarious position. Yes, they could be and Abaramovich or Mansour, but they could also change the name of the club, change the club’s colours, or do anything they want…People have differing opinions, both are valid.
A few final points, Per Mertesacker showing he is the real captain of the side bollocking Mesut Ozil. It is a none story and as Wenger was quoted as saying;
“That is the Germans, they will sort that out between themselves.”
They are probably sitting around Per’s house this morning sharing a bratwurst. The second point is the laughable banner in the Manchester City ground ‘Manchester thanks you Sheikh Mansour’. A sign, perhaps, of a club who’s fans have sold out to modern football.
After 3 games in 6 days, travelling to both Naples and Manchester, Arsenal now have a 9 day break before the Chelsea game. It is time to rest the legs, re group and ensure we come out fighting once more. A defeat to Chelsea could see us truly enter a downward spiral, and if Spurs win their next two games, the gap that looked so large just a few games ago will be down to just 2. Let’s back the time.