5 Reasons to Believe Arsenal Are Moving in the Right Direction
From the outset, Arsenal look like a club in decline.
For the first time in 16 years, there is a realistic chance they may miss out on the Champions League. The consequences could be disastrous for them: A side who struggle to shell out top prices for players will only find things harder; their successful business model relies on the money they bring in from participation in Europe’s premier club competition.
Oh, and they have also not won a single trophy for nearly eight years either.
However, behind all the doom and gloom, there are reasons to believe that Arsenal are moving in the right direction. This may not mean instant success, but it may at least give them a bigger chance of claiming a trophy than they have had in recent times.
5. The Introduction of FFP
As the introduction of "Financial Fair Play" rules in England, as well as Europe, looms ever nearer, Arsenal remain in perfect place to avoid any sanctions. Their tight business model, which has favoured making profits rather than splashing cash on new players, has been derided for so long. But perhaps they will have the last laugh.
With a new system set to be introduced forcing clubs to break even, as well as imposing some sort of cap on wages, the likes of free-spending Manchester City could soon face some serious trouble.
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has always claimed that the club’s fortunes will change once the new system is introduced. Perhaps he has been right after all and the Gunners have always been heading in the right direction?
4. The British Contingent
19 December 2012 was an important day in the history of Arsenal Football Club. It saw Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson all commit their long-term futures to the Gunners. Fast forward a month and you can add Theo Walcott to that last, giving Arsenal an impressive core of British talent for years to come.
Knock their transfer policy all you like, but you cannot deny this policy of planning for the future is helping them head in the right direction.
While players like Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie clearly had a huge love for Arsenal, they either had loyalties elsewhere, or not strong enough bonds with the club to keep them there.
With the likes of Wilshere and Jenkinson, who are Arsenal through and through and will want to stay at the Emirates, in the ranks, the Gunners have a chance to create a successful side full of players who represent the club’s strengths and values, much like Chelsea have had with John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.
Now they just need to start winning some trophies to keep them all there.
3. Nacho Monreal In/Andre Santos Out
Some Arsenal fans were probably left disappointed with the club’s dealings on transfer deadline day: "Nacho Monreal looks a handy player, but he is not exactly David Villa," may have been the common reaction.
If you look beyond the headlines of missing out on a big-name player, though, Monreal looks a fantastic bit of business based on his performances so far. And at £10 or so million, he was still a fair bit of money by Arsenal’s standards.
More importantly, for the good of Arsenal’s future, however, is the decision to let Andre Santos move to Gremio on loan. Costing Arsenal £6.2 million, there is a case to say he is the club’s worst-ever signing.
For a stubborn man like Arsene Wenger to let him go means he is acknowledging his mistake. If you add the temporary exits of the likes of Park Chu-Young from the club, then it is clear Wenger knows some of his signings in the past have not been up to scratch.
He is now making amends for this, which bodes well for both the summer and for the club’s long-term future.
2. Theo Walcott's Contract
Whether you agree with Theo Walcott signing a new contract with Arsenal, which will see him earn around £100,000 a week, or not, it is good news for the club.
He may not quite be at that level yet, nor may he ever get there, while the wages could have been saved for attracting a bigger name to the club on a huge pay packet, but it does show Arsenal are moving in the right direction.
All those times when they have been put off signing a player due to his wage demands could now potentially be in the past.
Arguably more importantly, the fact that the club’s hierarchy were so desperate to tie Walcott down rather than see him leave, a la Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri, shows they have learnt from their mistakes and are not prepared to let something similar happen again.
1. Jack Wilshere
Possibly the biggest reason to believe Arsenal are moving in the right direction is that they have a fit and healthy Jack Wilshere playing at the top of his game again.
It is impossible to underestimate just how important Wilshere is to Arsenal (and England’s) future. Over the last few games, he really has come into his own, and his ability to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and take it to the opposition is unparalleled in the rest of his teammates.
If the midfielder can stay fit, there is no reason why he cannot become one of the world’s top players, while he will no doubt soon become captain at the Emirates.
Wilshere is Arsenal through and through, meaning it will take a lot for him to move elsewhere. He will be a mainstay in the team for years to come, and the Gunners will always be moving in the right direction if that is the case.