Watching Arsenal thus far is like looking at a mantelpiece at a country manor. Every time Lord Wenger comes down for tiffin, another sterling silver candlestick has gone missing.
"Mon Dieu! Ou est tout le monde?"
The fledgling season has only one talking point thus far. Well you could bang on about Manchester City’s bright start, but why the fuck bother? A brain-damaged monkey knows that eventually the spending will reach a tipping point whereby there are so many decent players in the City squad that they simply can’t help winning the tile.
Mancini’s doing no one any favours by not picking Bonkertelli to start. Dzeko seems to be following the Drogba route to football stardom. One terrible lumbering season followed by a revelatory second effort – he looks as if he’s swapped his feet with Rodney Marsh’s at the moment. And Aguero looks very good indeed. But there’s summat rotten about the state of the Premier League when they can afford to keep Tevez, brooding like a betrayed Spaghetti Western extra, on the bench and still pay him a four-bed terrace in Hull a week.
Oh and there’s also Bill Kenwright, the Oliver Twist of the division, who can’t have any more from the banks to buy anyone. Everton’ll be all right but only cos Moyes works wonders. I bet if he has to paint a door at home he can do two coats using the contents of one tester pot.
But the travails of Arsenal are the real story. The team aren’t playing any differently, i.e, they keep it very well. But do we really want four midfielders who’ve been cloned from Tomas Rosicky? Van Persie is wafting around up front like a schoolgirl in a ballet class, primarily cos Arsenal have forgotten how to create chances.
The only plus so far is the proof of Vermaelen’s value to a back four that played like a bunch of revolving doors last season. That also suggests that Wenger doesn’t have to take a spotter’s guide with him when he goes looking for centre-backs.
Of course things could not have started much worse for Le Prof. Three suspicions already, the last for the comically-named Frimpong – which appropriately enough already sounds like some sort of fashionable and stupid haircut. Me I wouldn’t let the player on that pitch until he’s taken the gaffa tape off.
Here's Frimpong before his mates played that nasty stag night trick on his bonce
For all that the Frimp is a proper holding midfielder, but as with many of Arsene’s recent selections for that position, tackles like Paul Scholes in a blindfold. His second effort, in which he tried single-handedly to answer Liverpool fans’ dreams and transfer Lucas to somewhere in mainland Europe, was deserving of a straight red.
Nasri’s move to guess where is back on, and at Eastlands he can enjoy rubbing shoulders with the likes of several other millionaires who are content in these times of austerity to warm their arses on a subs bench and do half the work of a proper footballer for five times the pay. You can’t blame him, really.
So Arsenal’s cupboard is looking a tad bare, but there is £35 million to spend on someone and about nine days to throw it around. The Wenger wish-list is like one of them long lists that book prizes start off with. Latest front-runners are a bloke called Yann M’Vila and the lad from Lille who’s named after the serpent that hissed in Eve’s ear – the Eden Hazard.
A partner for Vermaelen should be top priority too and frankly it’s no good Arsene frantically rubbing the top of his head like a cold turkeying junkie, he should’ve bagged Gary Cahill already – and long before Cesc finally went home.
Perhaps this is where Wenger’s been least able to get his head around the new world order. Even Fergie didn’t faff about in the transfer market, such is the draw of the Abu Dhabi dirham. The Emirates is decorated by the shirts of greats that have gone before but the chances of Wenger bagging a so-called marquee signing are nil. In fact the possibility of him getting a beach-tent signing aren’t great.
And while we can indulge in a bit of schadenfraude at the Frenchman’s expense – and even that is difficult to maintain when the poor man looks as forlorn as a rain-drenched kitten – Arsenal’s difficulty in keeping hold of its players is a sign of a deeper malaise.
Wenger’s managed to keep a wage structure of sorts in place, and therefore attracted players who can by and large respect that sort of a thing. He’s had to let go of those that find £55k a week an insult, of course, but then if their sole motivation is money do you really want them hanging around? (It’s the same with them bankers we were told would leave the country if we hit them with a one-off tax on their bonuses – tax ‘em and wave the bastards off at the airport, say I).
Wenger is still a believer in bringing players through the youth system, Frimpong being the latest example. I think this is partly Wenger’s preciousness over the way his side must be schooled, but there’s summat endearingly old-fashioned and honourable about it, too.
And when you look over to Nasri’s next home you see a club that survived on a top-class youth squad now entirely overlooking such resources in favour of the latest arrival on the gravy train (one Pullman carriage each, all magnificently appointed with chunks of bling).
We keep hearing about the Chelsea kids too, McEachran especially, but he’s bench dressing still.
Here's Josh McEachran eager to get on the pitch and run rings round the opposition.
The only plus about Everton’s plight is that we get a 17-year old making a debut and looking tip-top from the start. That simply won’t happen at Chelsea or Citeh.
So I hope Wenger can keep 11 players on the pitch and find a way to turn it round, but if even Arsenal can’t find players who want to stay there, lack of trophies notwithstanding, then the Premier League is truly in the Age of Preposterity.