This isn’t easy to write, nor is it easy to read or admit, but the comments made by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville during the Leeds v Arsenal game were completely legitimate and will have struck a chord with even the most diehard fan.
The former Manchester United defender was surprised that Arsenal’s neighbours were in a better position to challenge for the Premier League, despite being in a difficult financial position after investing in a billion-pound stadium and with the continued lack of stadium revenue. Neville seemed genuinely baffled when he said on Sky Sports main event (via HITC):
“How has that changed between Arsenal and Tottenham? A Daniel Levy led Tottenham is spending more than an Arsenal that have got the owners they’ve got. I don’t understand that.”
“Arsenal for many years had the stadium and those sorts of reasons but still spent more than Tottenham.”
Martin Tyler chipped in:
“Tottenham also can point to having a new ground and they can afford Jose Mourinho”
It’s a question that Arsenal fans have asked for years, some blamed Hill-Wood, others blamed Wenger, but it’s clear that Arsenal’s self-sustaining model is primarily just another way of penny-pinching, whilst reaping the maximum benefits from supporters without providing the necessary and substantial investment.
Arsenal are now in a position where they have to try to sell before they buy and they are also the pioneers in the Premier League of the inflated and unrewarding loan deal. Arsenal have lost a fortune in the transfer market by paying top dollar for players that depreciate in value inside 18 months. I’m sure you can think of your example of this!
Then, there’s the general recruitment process with William Saliba costing £27m, yet apparently, he isn’t deemed to be good enough for the Premier League, despite being hailed as a future superstar. The fact that Mustafi is ahead of him in the pecking order means something isn’t right. Please don’t mention experience, because that’s an argument that doesn’t hold water when you take into account the German’s costly errors.
Arsenal need to get their house in order, to be able to compete again at the highest level and it was rather telling that during the Leeds clash, both Gary Neville and Martin Tyler were guilty of trying to find entertainment where there was none. Tyler was trying to add tension to another desperately one-sided game which was reminiscent of the Villa mauling minus the goals.
Gary Neville, like him or loath him, has a valid point, and unfortunately, things are not likely to improve for Arsenal before the trip to White Hart Lane in December. At the moment, I’m not looking forward to that.