Once again, we’re revisiting the situation with Arsenal. With the inhabitants of the biggest Premier League stadium in the city close to becoming North London’s second team, changes are expected to happen sooner than later. What this means is still somewhat of an open question.
Arsenal CEO and former Major League Soccer executive Ivan Gazidis has publicly stated his club’s intent to spend money in January. When that transfer window opens, Arsenal won’t be the only ones. How they do in that competition is also an open – and uncomfortable – question. First on the bus for Financial Fair Play and stressing a business plan while other clubs continued with European soccer business as usual creates an unfair disadvantage. Critics turn on Arsenal for putting business first, but that’s the whole point of UEFA’s attempt at redefining what success means in European soccer. It’s the balance sheet and the playing field, or at least that’s what we expect from the full implementation of Financial Fair Play.
That lofty goal probably doesn’t mean as much to the Arsenal faithful when a Monday away date against Reading is suddenly a prestige fixture drawing far more attention than a last-place team should deserve. Yes, we all know Arsenal are outside of the European spots in 8th-place. And? It still stretches credulity to make this game the one that defines Arsenal. Again, changes are expected but right now might be too soon when we’re talking about coaching and front office upheavals.
We’re not talking about that Premier League club from another part of London that makes wholesale changes whenever they’re not doing quite as well as expected. Arsenal isn’t like that, not now and not at any point since they dropped Woolwich from their name. There’s a reason this is the club most associated with the English establishment. They’re the capital city’s team that responds to current events through a history that stresses deliberate action only after intense scrutiny. In other words, this isn’t and never was the team of the quick fix. Arsenal doesn’t work that way.
So what should we expect tomorrow? Arsenal as we know them, regardless of what the pressure gauge might read.
Corner Rating: (with 1 Arsenal responding to another disappointing game by fundamentally altering their club through dramatic changes and 11 business as usual) 8.
Last Week’s Corner: We talked about a reshuffling of the Premier League contenders, and we’re seeing week-to-week evidence of that happening. Our rating pushes itself up to a 7.5. Cautious, to be sure, but optimistic.