Arsene's got 99 problems, but spending ain't one.
One man and his thoughts: Arsene looks 'all-at-sea' here, perhaps pondering his next move as avenues are constantly shut as exits from the FA Cup, Carling Cup and impending dismissal - bar a miracle - from the Champions League end his chances of winning silverware this year.
It's like a bout of deja vu, Wenger's Arsenal on the ropes with ailing form in all competitions and now the realisation that it will be another trophyless season for "The Gunners" as the silverware drought continues. Perhaps, our last (now mis-timed) article on the London club's potential resurrection tempted fate, but with the diabolical performance midweek against an AC Milan, whom, for part of the game were made to look like World beaters, has left Arsene Wenger with an incomprehensible number of dilemmas.
Loyal fans of Arsenal are becoming disgruntled; seven years since an FA Cup triumph, current volatile league form, an exit from the FA Cup in a year where they had the best chance of winning, largely mediocre and ineffective signings bar a few and a transfer policy that riles even the purest of those whom have real values of the game have taken their toll - run their course.
In comparison though, despite the lack of success recently, Arsenal have proven themselves to be a club who has handled the demands of the modern era of football in a way that commands great respect. According to Deloitte and their annual football "Rich List"; Arsenal are the 5th wealthiest club on the planet, and the second richest in the Premier League - ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool, with 255.1 Million Euros income over the past year. They are a stable club for all the lack of success; financially sound and in profit, with a wealth of youth players that have sufficient potential and a sustainable sized squad.
Yet, unlike fellow compatriots like Manchester United and City respectively, Chelsea and Liverpool. Arsenal's biggest sole problem has been their inconsistency on the pitch. Chelsea and Liverpool have been inconsistent also, but other problems including racism scandals and managerial/player relationships off the field have primarily taken the spotlight off their results.
Arsene Wenger has built the modern Arsenal almost single handedly, it must be remembered. There is loyalty at the hierarchy of the club - something difficult to come by anywhere in World football currently - though it may be running thin. It cannot be forgotten that the principle aim for Arsenal is to win. They have a squad which is capable - albeit with an unhealthy reliance on talismanic forward Robin Van Persie, whom, for many a game this season has carried the team through games.
Following reports this week that majority shareholder Stan Kroenke will meet with Wenger to reinforce his personal support for the Frenchman and the Club's board, along with the news that the clubs shareholders will meet on the 20th to gauge the level of support for their long term manager, this gives the assumption he will still be in control come Summer. If so, how does he treat the impending transfer window?
Is it a summer where he sits on the mounting transfer "kitty" consisting of £57 million following the previous Summer departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri? Or does he take action by shifting out those whom have been too passive, disillusioned and ineffective at their time with Arsenal including Andrei Arshavin - yes, he is still at Arsenal - and - "The Worlds Greatest" - Nicklaus Bendtner, permanently?
Freeing up these wages and possibly gaining a substantial fee for these players and more including Manuel Almunia, Sebastian Squillaci and Tomas Rosicky in a mini-exodus will allow Wenger to bring in new players. Hopefully, it will be some of the many hundreds that Arsenal have been linked with and previously brought the hopes of a club's fans' to unprecedented levels before Sky Sports Bryan Swanson stands outside the Emirates on deadline day to tell us the source was as unreliable as "Dave from down the pub".
The demand from fans and players alike will have never been greater on Wenger to spend; Arsenal have the advantage of being debt-free and need to show this financial muscle in the forthcoming transfer windows to invest in the club in the present. Wenger has a nasty tendency to buy "for the future" exemplified by his costly £15 million purchase of Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain. The Frenchman must rue not snapping up Scott Parker for £5million in the summer with Tottenham winning the race to sign the inspirational midfielder, and now reap the benefits of having an experienced Englishman at the heart of the midfield.
It must also be remembered, though, that clubs will also take an interest in some of his prized assets too, with Robin Van Persie likely to be at the centre of rumours following his incredible campaign so far, there is to be interest in a number of other players; it is expected that Andrei Arshavin will return to his native Russia - most likely making a financially beneficial move to Anzhi, Marouane Chamakh is unlikely to stay following a lack of game time, but most controversially, according to the Daily Mail, Wenger is ready to move on the temperamental performer, Theo Walcott.
According to the paper, Wenger apparently "launched a furious tirade at his players during a team meeting at the club’s London Colney training ground on Thursday, warning them that he will not tolerate any more performances like the debacle in Milan."
Emmanuel Petit, an Arsenal legend joined in the criticism, telling footballing website sofoot.com that; "In midfield, there isn't anything now, the defence is constantly under construction. It's just fortunate that Robin Van Persie is up front. Certain young players haven't done enough to justify the confidence that Arsene has in them. Walcott - somewhat he's going to have to reach the next stage. It's been years that he's been at the same level."
But despite the ease that comes with throwing money around in such an immoral and money-fuelled game, how difficult would it be for Arsene to abandon his philosophies? The man is a beacon of success in the development of young players and is the epitome of a manager who installs confidence and allows development in his youth. Yet, Petit is right, how long can Arsene sustain giving under-achieving, over-pressurised youths first team experience when the team is in ailing form? It is a damaging impact on the youth, giving them an unhealthy amount of pressure too early. He must surely recognise this problem and have to make a decision between spending wisely or keeping his and the clubs morals.
"Wisely" is the key word here, despite being in a privileged monetary position, Arsenal do not want to ruin it in acts of stupidity and be weakened to having to pay inflated ransoms for mediocre players. Wenger has made some wise buys over his time at the Emirates and knows the transfer market inside out, but it is not down to a scouting network with the current situation. There is no requirement for Arsenal to source the next Messi, they need talismanic leaders for NOW, players reaching the twilight of their careers, but with a repertoire of experience.
Arsenal's motto; "Victoria Concordia Crescit" (Victory comes from harmony) shows what they stand for, a club whose aim is to work in spirit and togetherness to achieve. Currently, the contrast is unprecedented to that representation. The team are disjointed, lacking leadership bar Van Persie and the fans are most certainly not in harmony - that's without mentioning the fact that even victories have been hard to come by of late.
It is time for Wenger to decide before it's too late. With blogs and the media suggesting Pep Guardiola could be looking for a new challenge following a dominant spell in charge of Barcelona, Wenger is under pressure to emulate his early successes in a far shorter time frame, it is time for the ultimate question that will arise in the next transfer window; "Money or Morals?"
For the time being, Arsenal fans will have to hope that the form picks up and the team reform to bring an elusive piece of competitive silverware back to the trophy cabinet that has been so desolately empty over the past seven years, but they must also remember that Wenger is not going to sacrifice the history, meaning and values of the club simply for the reward of more consistent three points taken from games.
In the meanwhile, In Arsene, we trust.