Arsenal were unbeaten in the league after 22 games played.
Despite the 23 game unbeaten run (including the final 2 games of the 2002/03 season), Arsenal were not running away with the league.
We were just 2 points ahead of Manchester United, having only regained top position the week before.
It would have been very easy for the club to “stick” with the current squad rather than “twist” and bring someone in.
The club decided to spend £10.5million (rising to £17m) on 20-year-old Spanish starlet Jose Antonio Reyes.
As we all know, Arsenal would go on to famously win the Premier League unbeaten, and finished 15 points ahead of Manchester United.
Whilst Reyes scored just 2 Premier League goals (and an own goal!) in the second half of the season, he had a huge influence on the title charge.
He was an exciting, fresh, young talent. In a time before social media scouts, YouTube compliations and ITK’s.
In just has 5th game, he scored twice as Arsenal came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup.
Everytime he began warming up, a buzz would go around the Highbury faithful.
Full of pace, direct running, energy and with a huge smile, it was not hard to fall in love with him.
He provided a freshness to the team, he re-energised the crowd. And we carried that through to the end of the season.
And Arsenal need to make a similar signing this January.
We are top of the league. 5 points clear after 14 games. But we are not favourites.
Post World Cup, we will need something, need someone, to get the crowd bouncing. A jolt to the system, a jump start Arsenal’s title challenge.
And there is no better way of doing that then signing a Reyes-esque player.
We need to be looking to sign someone who is young, exciting, fresh and plays with a smile on their face.
Someone who will put pressure on those players currently in the 1st team. Someone who will re-energise the crowd. Get us on our feet as he warms up in-front of the West stand. Comes on to big cheers in anticipation of what he might do.
This sort of player will quickly stop us becoming stale as we roll in through 2023. Will keep the boo boys away that will jump on us not signing someone (or signing someone withe xperience), and spreading their negativty into our title chase.
We have all seen the links with a certain Ukrainian winger in recent weeks. The hype is real.
Whilst Mykhailo Mudryk, Rafael Leão, Cody Gakpo, or whoever we might sign will mainly be bought in for the next 4 or 5 years, their immediate impact on the terraces and training ground can not be underestimated.
Reyes really did not do much in those 13 league games (6 from the bench). But he gave the team an extra energy when we needed it.
Edu needs to get his man in early, prior to the Spurs game. And the new face, the extra energy, could be the marginal gain we need to beat Tottenham and Manchester United in January.