Arsenal: What Do You Think They're Smoking Over There At The Emirates?

John W.Henry's tongue-in-cheek tweet provoked a multitude of reactions, with the Liverpool owner's credibility on a tight-rope as Arsenal continue their pursuit of Suarez.
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John W.Henry's tongue-in-cheek tweet provoked a multitude of reactions, with the Liverpool owner's credibility on a tight-rope as Arsenal continue their pursuit of Suarez.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.



Arsenal’s public pursuit of Luis Suarez so far this summer has been highly uncharacteristic for a club which has always tended to act with discretion when targeting a player. The new-found manner in which Arsenal are acting is reminiscent of a teenager who has just received his first pay-cheque and wants to tell the whole of Facebook about it before going out to buy a brand new car. But in contrast to what would happen if that teenager was on my newsfeed, I’m not going to complain.

Tuesday's stupendous bid of £40,000,001(although a pain to type out) activated a clause in Suarez’s contract which requires Liverpool to inform Suarez of the offer. It typifies the new-found attitude at the top of the club in that the bid more than doubles Arsenal's record transfer fee and is yet another indication of how the club are slowly but surely beginning to reclaim their mantle as one of the ‘big boys’.  Stop laughing, Liverpool fans.

Sky Sports pundit and Liverpool legend, Graeme Souness may have been surprised that Suarez wants to move to a bigger club after claiming that "There is no better football club in England than Liverpool," but despite what he and many others may believe, a move to the North London side would be a step up. That’s without debate. However, if a club like Real Madrid came in then it would be difficult to imagine Suarez choosing Arsenal over Carlo’s blancos. Saying that, even the best neurologist would have a hard time predicting the Uruguayan’s next course of action so it’s safe to say that none of us really have a clue. Another problem for Arsenal that would incur if Real Madrid became interested is that Liverpool would be far less likely to sell to a team they feel is a rival for the 4th Champions League spot than Real Madrid, a team in another league which isn't any sort of direct threat to their chances of improving.

However, as good a player as he is, many fans, including me, aren’t entirely comfortable about moving for a player with such a controversial behavioural track record. The racial abuse directed at Patrice Evra in October 2011 resulted in a backlash by many rival fans who rightly condemned Suarez . However, many of those same fans now seem to have had that completely erased from their minds to the extent that many argue ‘It doesn’t matter because he’s world class’. If there’s one lesson we can learn from this and similar cases it’s that football fans will nearly always back their players and take the side of the club, however questionable their stance is. What kind of message does it send out to impressionable young fans if their club is adverse to punishing their players for something as serious as racism?

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There’s a very thin line between believing in retribution for a person who committed a criminal offence and simply accepting a player because he’s good. Arsene Wenger seems to be in the former category. Wenger is a manager who has had to deal with egotistical players in the past such as Nicholas Anelka, Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner The Great and even Thierry Henry to a lesser extent. Wenger certainly wouldn't ignore the ethical side of the potential deal, but it does seem to be a big risk for a manager who has been under intense scrutiny from many members of a British media that base the Frenchman’s ability as a manager on the eight year backwash of a fantastic 17 year reign tainted by events beyond his control such as reduced funds due to the move to and the building of a world class stadium, the departure of key players during that time and also the dramatic change which has transpired in the football-economic climate, leading to richer clubs having the ability to blow Arsenal out of the water for any player they might be interested in.  Many sources believe that Real Madrid will not move for Suarez, instead claiming that Los Blancos’ main target is Gareth Bale. If both deals were pulled off then they would be a big boost to Arsenal’s chances of not only making the Champions League places, but challenging for trophies and competing for the Premier League title.

Talking tactics, Suarez is an ideal fit for the 4-2-3-1 system used by Arsenal, something he proved at a club playing a similar style of football in Liverpool. Nevertheless, the burden Suarez has at Anfield where he is almost required to play the lead role as both a goalscorer and a creator would not happen to the same extent at Arsenal, where there are many players to supplement these roles. Despite the things which perturb the possible transfer, the prospect of him leading Arsenal to glory is something I’m sure every Arsenal fan could really dig their teeth into. Olivier Giroud had a very good first season at the club; however the adaptation period foreseen by many people when he first signed meant that too many points were dropped in the first half of the season. Once he and the rest of the team finally started to gel by around February, the form shown by Arsenal proved that they had the ability to string together consistent results with a regular, settled line-up. Suarez would only strengthen that ‘second half of the season’ lineup and although he wouldn’t be any sort of role-model in a newly-formed team bereft of the type of characters which cracked the unity of the dressing room in previous seasons, he’d add the star quality which is perhaps missing at present.

Slowly but surely, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal are undergoing a period of dramatic evolution. There will be no revolution; no beheading of Arsenal’s long standing French monarch, Arsene Wenger, by an angry mob of Gooners. Instead, Arsene Wenger, whose desire and passion for winning trophies with Arsenal will continue into the final year of his contract at the helm of a club where stability means that despite recent departures of key players, the club was able to remain competitive. It would be foolish to agree with every single decision the club has made during the last eight years, as scrutiny from the fans is an important part of how a club operates. Arsenal know this, and despite what many may believe, the club aren’t run by a group of feudalists who are adverse to spending money. Arsenal should be commended as an example of how to run a football club, and this summer’s numerous bids which dwarf their record transfer fee of £15m for a player who was released at the last season are proof of the fact that they will spend the money if it’s available.

In reply to your tweet, John W.Henry: I’m not ITK-enough know what “they’re” smoking at the Emirates, but whatever it is, it’s bloody good stuff.