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Tuesday Cannon Fodder: onward

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal have 17 matches left. We know what the roster looks like. We know what the team-sheet is going to say. All that is left is for us to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the Premier League season. That shouldn’t be too difficult to manage, right? :wink:

The January transfer window was a bit of a dud for the Gunners — no immediate incoming players, five outgoing players. It was the triumph of the long-term plan over the short term. Mikel Arteta knows what he wants to do with the roster, and he’s sticking to it, regardless of the short-term discomfort that might cause.

Sometimes the best move is not making one — I’ve been consistent in saying that. Acting for short-term gain is how you wind up spending more than £100M on Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in consecutive transfer windows. It’s how you wind up with the confused, overpaid mess that has been the Arsenal roster for several seasons. A tricky knot they are still working to untie.

As a supporter, it stinks. We want shiny new toys. But I think we forget that sometimes those toys aren’t as cool as we think once we’ve gotten our hands on them. As sweet as a Transformer might be, if you’ve got a box full of Ninja Turtles, you’re going to have a tough time playing with them together. Sometimes the new toys don’t work how it looked like they did in the commercials — that rocket launcher arm that blasted a dart across the room can only fire one a few feet and never on target.

What I’m saying is that we talk about transfers and adding to the squad as if all additions are good, contributory ones that are going to win you more games. And that’s not the case. I’d bet that Mikel Arteta and the squad believe they can achieve that as currently constituted. Or at least that there weren’t deals out there to be done that fit his idea of how the squad could be improved.

We feel as though Arsenal are missing an opportunity to finish in a Champions League place this season by not bringing anybody in. We’re myopic. We want success and we want it now. This season. These remaining 17 matches. It’s not our job to think about next season or several seasons down the road.

Mikel Arteta & Edu have to think about that. They have to think about how to best position the squad to win year over year. How to maximize the upcoming prime years of players like Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Ødegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, etc.

I’ll go back to my “favorite” example — Liverpool. They spent six of seven years out of the Champions League assembling a squad that eventually won the Champions League and Premier League in back to back years. They made shrewd signing after shrewd signing until blowing the bank on Virgil van Dijk to put the team over the top.

That seems to be what Arsenal are doing right now. Laying the foundation for sustained success. Hopefully once that foundation has been fully, soundly constructed, Stan Kroenke will open up the checkbook for the marquee signings that complete the house. But Arsenal aren’t at that point yet and making those type of moves would be foolish.

And again, watching the club stick to a longer-term plan and eschew (possible) immediate improvement isn’t all that fun as a fan. I want to see the Gunners win matches and get back into the Champions League as much as anybody else. I just have to keep reminding myself that the people in charge know what they’re doing. I trust the process. I hope you do too.