The speed at which Arsenal moved to get a new left back after the injury to Gibbs is something that the nay-sayers who gather around the blogsphere should contemplate.
For a move to go through this quickly Arsenal must have been ready with the transfer. Indeed the word in the press arena is that the club had agreed with Malaga to do the transfer in the summer. So someone quickly picked up the phone and offered the deal now.
The price of £8.5 million for a Spain international is amazing. Of course we don’t know yet if the guy can fit into the Arsenal system quickly, nor how good he really is, but if he is at all decent then it is a very good piece of work indeed.
So why aren’t my colleagues in the press raving about this signing, praising the Arsenal scouting team and indeed praising Ivan Gazidis and his troupe for being, as it were, on the ball?
The answer must be that old habits die hard. We have had so many years of editors instructing us to throw in criticisms of Wenger and the rest of the gang on a daily basis that it now seems impossible to say, “actually, this time around, you got it right.”
The injury to Gibbs however may be longer term than was feared at first, so quick as a rabbit jumping out of a thing that rabbits are prone to jump out of [a hat – editor] the deal was done.
In my view, what we should be noticing here is the speed of movement by a club whose board is supposed to work at tortoise like rates, whose manager is supposedly so blinkered he can’t see an HGV at three paces, and a bunch of scouts who (like most of my fellow journalists) are permanently in the pub.
This does not mean the end of Arsenal’s man without a driving licence: Santos. For as Wenger said to the press: “I believe we need two left-backs. You cannot play every single game with the same player. We had two before, we have two again now.
“If Gibbs is out for four to six weeks, from six it can easily go to eight [before he is competitive again] and that means two months in a very decisive period, so it is vital to have another left back. We believe he can integrate our style of play and adapt very quickly to that.
“He has the characteristics to play our game because he is very mobile, has a good left foot and is very good in combination play. It is of course vital in our style of play.”
Quite who will play in the rugby match against Stoke is not clear. It is rumoured in the not-so-marble halls of the Emirates that Monreal will be on the bench, and that Mikel Arteta will play. Thomas Vermaelen however is doubtful, his poor performance against Liverpool being down to an ankle problem.
But of course Arsenal did not have it all their own way. Wenger, in a conversation with journalists let an interesting revelation slip:
“We were close to one more signature, yes. It was not a money problem, it was more a desire from other clubs to keep their players.” That is why, he said, “the teams at the top didn’t buy at all, and the teams at the bottom did buy.
“To strengthen the teams at the top in the middle of the season is normally impossible, and by the fact that teams today are scared to go out of the Premier League, so are ready to do anything in winter not to go down.”