Chris McGrath: Wenger must look to Spurs for a solution

The Last Word

They are only four miles apart, but the distance between them is barely within the span of the Hubble telescope.

At Arsenal, fans wait with bated breath to discover whether Arsène Wenger will actually spend any of the £39m trousered from the sale of Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Touré. Their neighbours at Tottenham, meanwhile, watch bewildered as Harry Redknapp tries to round up more strikers than Real Madrid and Manchester City put together.

Though Redknapp finally seems to have ended his relationship with Darren Bent, he has brought in Peter Crouch to join Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane and Roman Pavlyuchenko, and is still muttering about Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. You would be mad, he says, not to be interested in players like that, when they become available.

Wenger, meanwhile, sits as impassively as Canute with the tide lapping his ankles. You would be mad, he says, to pay the grotesque transfer fees and wages hazarding the very survival of less prudent clubs.

So that's it, then. The whole world's gone mad. Wenger, of course, has long been a beacon of sanity in the game's headlong derangement. And all neutrals will surely be united in the hope that the abyss of 18 points dividing his team from the title last season will be narrowed this time round, as their youngsters continue to mature, and Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky return from injury. But continued intransigence in the transfer window could well retard that fulfilment, perhaps indefinitely. For the future, which perennially sustains the Wenger vision, must surely start here.

There has been encouraging talk that Wenger might swallow his pride and make a record signing of Daniele De Rossi, a man so notoriously equipped to redress a perceived lack of malevolence in midfield that he announced himself on the world stage by opening Brian McBride's face with his elbow. Compared with the faintly ludicrous idea that Patrick Vieira – another Redknapp target – should stagger back to Arsenal, De Rossi would potentially be the most significant piece of business all summer. He is precisely the sort of character needed to rally and protect the aesthetes.

The consensus among Arsenal cognoscenti seems to be that the sale of Touré and Adebayor represents good business. (Just like the sale of Vieira, in fact.) In Thomas Vermaelen, Wenger's one signing to date, and the blossoming Johan Djourou, William Gallas has two young lieutenants ready to succeed Touré. A replacement for Adebayor is another matter. Nicklas Bendtner may yet reward perseverance, but is not yet a credible focus for an attack capable of winning the Premier League. One possible solution is staring Wenger in the face. Perhaps all he has to do is take another, wondering look at what Redknapp is doing down the road.

It seems obvious his manager does not especially rate Pavlyuchenko. There have even been suggestions he could be exiled on loan; certainly, it otherwise seems conceivable he will find himself decaying on the bench. But Pavlyuchenko, given the chance, has the potential to win a Golden Boot.

Admittedly, he made only a fitful contribution during his first season in London. But he can be exonerated, and not just because so many imports take time to adjust to the frenetic environment of the Premier League. Pavlyuchenko had gone from the frying pan of the Russian domestic season into the fire of the European Championship. And several of the best players at that tournament lost their effervescence last winter.

As it was, Pavlyuchenko showed sufficient glimpses to suggest he would prove no less effective on English soil than he had been at the Luzhniki Stadium, the night he ensured no Englishmen would be at Euro 2008. The way he then dovetailed with Andrei Arshavin in the Alps ensured that both men were named in the official team of the tournament.

Can you imagine such an honour for Defoe, Keane or Crouch? Come to that, how much would you give to harness Pavlyuchenko with Arshavin on a weekly basis? It is a question Wenger might very well ask himself.

The chances are that Marouane Chamakh, of Bordeaux, may prove more to his liking. Either way, however, it is surely imperative for Arshavin to become the pivot of Arsenal's attacking machine. When he arrived, palpably short of fitness, Wenger tended to deploy him wide; by the time he scored his fourth goal that night at Anfield, still sprinting in injury time, he had already vindicated Wenger in spending big, for once, on a player already at his peak.

But it will unnerve a lot of Arsenal fans should Wenger not do so again, this month. They increasingly find themselves polarised between two schools of thought, both perfectly plausible: one, that Arsenal are just one or two signings away from becoming a Barcelona of the north; the other, that they are clinging precariously to a place in the British elite.

Of course, Wenger's stature is such that their debate becomes distorted by such words as "heresy" and "faith". Replacing Adebayor or Touré is one thing, but how would you go about replacing Wenger himself?

He has seen the future, and still thinks it works. But a fortnight today, Arsenal begin a brutal sequence of three away games in their first four league fixtures: Everton, Manchester United, Manchester City. There are times when a fortnight seems future enough, and light years best left to the Hubble.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015