Sometimes it’s hard being an Arsenal fan.
Actually, who am I trying to kid? Most of the time it’s f*cking awful.
But some times are worse than others. A few years back, if you’d told me that Arsenal would sell their best player to a Mourinho-managed Manchester United, I’d have probably slapped you across the face with a wet fish.
It’s not that it was unthinkable, because nothing is unthinkable when it comes to Arsenal. It’s just that thinking about it would have made you want to slap something. Preferably your face. With a wet fish. I don’t know why that would make it better, it just would.
But a lot can change in a few years.
For instance, things at Arsenal could get so toxic that selling your best player to a Mourinho-managed Manchester United just makes you shrug with indifference. Or that selling your best player to a Mourinho-managed Manchester United but getting a really good player in return can make you believe there is hope!
There isn’t, of course – but it makes you think it nonetheless. It’s like some sort of twisted Jedi mind trick that Arsène Wenger seems capable of performing once a year, thus keeping himself in gainful employment.
This time, Wenger has managed to fashion a Gucci scarf from the shit sandwich he was left holding when the summer transfer window shut. A nice little number that will compliment his team well. Arsenal were never going to get the money to buy a Mkhitaryan on the open market no matter who they sold Alexis to in this window. Given that the Chilean was less than two weeks away from being worth nothing, I’d say you can class this as a result.
It certainly is in the world of Arsenal, that’s for sure.
We paid actual cash money for Mickael Silvestre, if you remember. Don’t act like it wasn’t a very real possibility Arsenal could have ended up with the tall bag of beans that is Marouane Fellaini.
Before he signed, Mkhitaryan was snapped in a London hotel looking positively embarrassed to be spotted. Whether this was because he was in public with Mino Raiola or because he was being forced to move to Arsenal after thinking he’d dodged that bullet in 2016 is up for speculation.
— Paul Smith (@Journo_Paul) January 20, 2018
Alexis, meanwhile, decided to prove he most certainly wasn’t a mercenary by using a video of a private jet and an article from the Daily Mail to prove his point. There are, of course, many reasons he opted to join Manchester United over City. If you listen carefully enough, 500,000 of them will make themselves heard every seven days.
I think both players are at the right clubs now.
Arsenal fans concerned that Mkhitaryan is rubbish after being written off by Mourinho, despite the Portuguese gazumping Arsenal in 2016, can perhaps find solace in the fact that two of the best players currently tearing up the Premier League, Mo Salah and Kevin de Bryune, were both also rejected by Mourinho.
That, of course, works on the assumption that Arsenal have a manager who can get the best out of the Armenian. In this, both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have worked well together.
Wenger has methodically lowered the standard of acceptable football at the club so any improvement now will reflect well on Mkhitaryan. Similarly, Jose Mourinho has spent the last 18 months driving down his value and expectations so he’s perfectly prepared.
Arsenal have thrown the manbaby out with the bathwater and got in a player.
That is a good thing. The dog-botherer is an excellent player but I don’t think even he can make Mourinho’s team look like anything other than average next to Pep’s Man City.
Next on the agenda for Arsenal seems to be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a player who should have moved years ago but didn’t. Is he past his best? Possibly, but he’s not another Yaya Sanogo and, for that, Arsenal fans should be partying in the streets.