Money can’t buy you happiness – and £109million of retail therapy will never replace Gareth Bale.
On their sullen retreat down the Seven Sisters Road, Tottenham were left only with the familiar adage that, in football, the shortest journeys are often the most painful.
Since Arsene Wenger was installed in Le Professeur’s study in 1996, have stormed the Bastille only once – three years ago, when Harry Redknapp’s side came back from two goals down to win 3-2.
And the fightback that afternoon was launched by you-know-who.
Wallowing in , a delegation from the Arsenal choral society serenaded their guests into the sunset with refrains of “What a waste of money” and “Gareth Bale, he left because you’re poor” (or words to that effect), neither of which can be found in your local parish church Songs of Praise hymn book.
Whether they are crowing when the paint is dry, the carpets are laid and the log fireplace is burning brightly in Tottenham’s expensive makeover remains to be seen.
Seldom, when a manager signs seven players and breaks his club’s transfer record three times in a month, do the jigsaw pieces immediately fall into place.
But it will not have escaped Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas that, in three Premier League games so far, his team have yet to score in open play.
Two Roberto Soldado penalties, against Crystal Palace and Swansea, are all he has to show for his celebrated dossiers.
As one internet comedian observed tonight, watching Spurs without Bale is like watching porn with no sound.
In midfield, Mousa Dembele, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli are all powerful, upright and technically gifted – but their attributes are similar and, in tight games, Spurs will need flair and fantasy instead of AVB sending in the clones.
When Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen have settled in, Spurs will have more tricks up their sleeve than a magician has rabbits under his top hat.
But in the short term, they may need to grind out results instead of slicing the opposition apart with the precision of a chef serving at a carvery.
And as Bale’s world record move to Madrid was confirmed within 90 minutes of the final whistle at the Emirates, that was two bitter pills to swallow on a black sabbath for the Lilywhite tendency in north London.
If last night’s MOTD was an all-you-can-eatbuffet, tonight’s should be more like a royal banquet, with some classic rivalsup against each other.
Or maybe last night was like a half-eatentakeaway that you step over on a Sunday morning, which would make tonight’sshow more like a pre-packed picnic bought from a deli. Or a pizza, especially boughtby your boss after you and the team met your monthly targets.
I’ll stop – I’m rambling on. And starving.MOTD2 liveblog coming up from 10.25pm…
Arsenal v Tottenham. Over the summer the Gunners have spent £8 and traded in some Premium Bonds in case they fancy spending some more.
Meanwhile, Spurs have spent £782m quid on 900 players and are also making a movie. They’re hoping to recoup it all back by selling YOU KNOW WHO – no idea how that’s all going.
Look! There’s Romeo Beckham in his trilby hat. Is it legal to call an 11-year-old boy a dickhead?
10:37 pmAndy Dawson
It’s1-0 to Arsenal, with Olivier Giroud putting them in front. You know, stupid,rubbish Arsenal, who need to start spending some money FAST, if the prevailingmood in football is to be believed.
Stupid, rubbish, hopeless Arsenal, who won12 out of their final 16 league games last season. Come on Arsene, spend loadsof money! Like Spurs! Who you’re beating right now.
10:42 pmAndy Dawson
Flamini. Get the feeling Wenger hasre-signed him just to stick it to the critics? All the Arsenal money is stuffedinside Wenger’s massive winter coat and it won’t be coming out until November.
It ends in an Arsenal win and afterwards,Arsene Wenger will twizzle his hair and refuse to answer questions aboutspending money tomorrow, like a 14-year-old girl who is trying to pretend shedoesn’t fancy Lee who she sits near in GCSE Geography.
10:48 pmAndy Dawson
Tonight, on Pundit Row, we’ve got DannyMurphy, John Hartson and Gus Poyet. It looks like an alarming, adults-onlyversion of Guess Who.
Gus Poyet describes himself (and otherplayers) as normal people. Tell me, Gus, what exactly is normal about [REDACTEDFOR LEGAL REASONS]? Eh???
10:54 pmAndy Dawson
I’d like to see one of the pundits deploy agraphic where an alien spaceship appears, hovering above the pitch and beamingup players. Just like on the shooting level on Wii Play. Just me? Oh.
The pundits just said some stuff about YOUKNOW WHO but we’re not talking about him because he isn’t a Premier Leagueplayer any more and this is MOTD.
Just like how we won’t talk about stuff thatGus Poyet might have done when he was managing in the Championship…
11:01 pmAndy Dawson
To Anfield, where the hate-fuelled,bile-addled rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United is temperedslightly as both sets of fans pay tribute to centenarian Bill Shankly.
Presumably the nastiness kicks off againonce the match does.
Daniel Sturridge gives the home team thelead early on, and there’s both argy AND bargy involving loads of players asthe half goes on.
Why not let them play in socks and justkick seven bells out of each other? Like in cage fighting (that’s socks isn’tit?)
11:04 pmAndy Dawson
NEWS JUST IN: Robin van Persie is inpossession of a POWER ARM. He brushed it against Martin Skrtel and the Liverpooldefender stumbles back a few paces as a result.
We need a new card. A pink card, forsimulation. The ref should don a tight black leather glove before producing it.
Think about it – it’d be seedy and worryingenough to eradicate players pretendingness at a stroke.
11:19 pmAndy Dawson
Now, the one you’ve all been waiting for –West Brom v Swansea. We get a sight of a ball-less plinth as the teams comeout. Nothing worse than a ball-less plinth.
Nicolas Anelka is BACK!
Our commentator tells us that Jonjo Shelveyis yet to score in a Swansea shirt, after two goals in two years for his lastclub and just two games for the Swans. Fascinating use of non-stats there.
11:24 pmAndy Dawson
Swansea seal the win with a second goal. Inthe crowd, one of their celebrating fans has his shirt off. To make mattersworse, he twirls the shirt above his head. To make matters even worse, theshirt is orange.
Do you know him? Do you know where he istonight? There might be a hefty reward if you can identify him. He has to bestopped.
11:39 pmAndy Dawson
Swansea’s Pablo Hernandez talks like acomedy Spaniard. I’m hoping that isn’t racist. But he does.
Oh no. Mark Chapman is doing the ‘interviewa manager on the big MOTD studio telly thing’ that Gary Lineker has starteddoing. MAKE IT STOP. WE DON’T CARE.
Time to look at yesterday’s goals again.
11:41 pmAndy Dawson
Here’s Paolo Di Canio, slagging off Ji for duckingout of a header.
Earlier in the week, after the South Korean had a stinker and was roasted byfans against MK Dons, Di Canio said, “He’s a very good quality player but itis difficult for him to play in this environment where every mistake causes areaction. I understand how the fans felt because I was fan once."
11:48 pmAndy Dawson
So, there we are then. 13 goals in tenPremier League matches this week. Sow’s ear anyone?
Hopefully there’ll be more excitementtomorrow evening when the transfer window slams shut at 11pm. Get yourself herefor the very best coverage, gags and snark…
Roy Hodgson is facing two crunch games which will decide England’s fate in the World Cup qualifier.
But while England face a massive test of their nerve against Moldova and Ukraine, Hodgson is also looking looking to the long-term future in his squad and believes there is a new generation ready to take over from the old guard.
Everton’s Ross Barkley and Tottenham winger Andros Townsend were the surprise inclusions in the 27 man squad for Friday’s qualifier with Moldova at Wembley and the crunch trip to Ukraine four days later.
Hodgson believes teenage midfielder Barkley and Townsend, 22, will benefit from the experience of just being around the squad as he looks to try and bring through some younger players with next year’s World Cup in mind.
Also in Hodgson’s thoughts are Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey while Manchester United new boy Wilfried Zaha was dropped down to the under-21s, although it is clear he has a big future ahead of him.
Hodgson said: "We have some very good passers of the ball in our team. I would give you three names – Carrick, Lampard and Gerrard – who I’d be prepared to say are right at the very top of European football, and many a team would love a player of that passing ability.
"Barkley is a player more in the realm of Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, just to name two – Theo Walcott if you want to name a third – who are capable of receiving the ball in tight areas and going past people. They bring a dimension we’re interested in. We think they have a great future.
"Shelvey, who I would put in the category of the previous three – a fantastic passer of the ball and unlucky in the sense there is a bit less space for him than there is the others.
"Last time we took Wilfried Zaha who was doing very well for Man Utd and we thought lets have a look at him.
"Now we want to have a good look at Raheem Sterling. Townsend has done very well at Tottenham and is starting games regularly.
"They are all very young. I think Barkley is only 19 and Sterling is only 20, they have years of under-21 football ahead of them. I just think it’s important that players who have done extremely well get the recognition they deserve and I will be interested to see how they shape up."
Hodgson will put his faith in the old guard for two such vital games for England but after recent disappointments for the under-21s and accusations that there is no new talent coming through, Hodgson clearly feels there are bright youngsters coming through.
Check back in each week, as we’ll be giving away goodies throughout our Vauxhall campaign this season.
Their determination lifted the crowd who roared in angry defiance.
This Arsenal team are together as a unit and dug deep to show pride and determination for their manager, and they seemed to enjoy sticking two fingers up to those who have spent all summer writing them off.
The backdrop for the north London derby was always tense as Arsenal knew defeat would leave fans turning on their spendthrift manager whose only deals so far have been free transfers.
But Arsenal had a point to prove, no one more so than Giroud.
They swarmed forward and dominated midfield, with Santi Cazorla’s creativity the difference.
The Spanish midfielder twice forced great saves from Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris from brilliant free-kicks. The Gunners went ahead on 23 minutes when Giroud scored his fourth goal this term, turning Theo Walcott’s low cross past Lloris at the near post.
Giroud wheeled away, kissing the Arsenal badge and it started wild celebrations. The Gunners were buoyed by the goal as Walcott and Aaron Ramsey both had great chances. Lloris made a goal-saving tackle on Walcott outside his box.
Arsenal were in control and even Jack Wilshere coming off just before half-time with stomach cramps did not derail them.
On came Mathieu Flamini, re-signed this week on a free transfer, and he was superb as he flew into tackles, made blocks and lifted his team-mates.
The second half was all about Tottenham pushing forward while Arsenal looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
Giroud’s deflected shot forced a stunning save from Lloris, while substitute Nacho Monreal wasted a great chance from point-blank range.
Spurs midfielder Etienne Capoue was stretchered off after suffering an horrific-looking injury and he needed oxygen as he left the scene.
Spurs threw on Jermain Defoe as they became increasingly desperate, but Arsenal’s back-line held firm. When Giroud only half cleared, Defoe’s shot deflected off Laurent Koscielny and forced Szczesny into his best save of the match and then Giroud blocked Roberto Soldado’s follow-up.
There was a certain irony there. Giroud cost £13m last summer, exactly half the price of Soldado and yet Arsenal’s match winner had the last laugh.
Giroud is in his second season, improving all of the time, and what he lacks in pace and mobility he is making up for in goals and passion.
Kevin Davies played more than 700 matches for Chesterfield, Southampton, Blackburn and Bolton Wanderers, scoring more than 100 Premier League goals in the process. He now plays for Preston. In this extract from an exclusive column for MirrorFootball, originally published in August, he takes you behind the scenes of the murky world of Premier League transfers on deadline day.
I have been advised to hand in transfer requests on many occasions over the course of my career by various commission hungry agents. But have never done so, maybe I should have.
This advice usually comes when another club is interested in acquiring your services. It is a strong arm technique that is used often, because as I have said before, the player holds all the power now.
Managers and clubs can no longer afford to banish a player to the reserves when they misbehave, because of the money players are now earning.
I have seen many a player left to rot in the reserves because of bad behaviour and wanting to leave back in the day, but it rarely happens these days.
The last time I was advised to hand in a transfer request was on January transfer deadline day in 2012.
An old friend who had become an agent turned up at my house at 7am while I was getting my kids ready for school.
He seemed extremely concerned and anxious about me missing out on a potential move to I remember thinking he was probably more worried about not getting paid his minimum five per cent for a few phone calls and one meeting to discuss personal terms.
In the car on the way to the training ground he was giving me the usual advice about demanding a move and not taking no for an answer, when Martin O’Neill rang. He came over on the loud speaker accusing me of using Sunderland to negotiate a better deal at Bolton.
Bolton were not discussing new deals as they were in a relegation fight so that certainly was not the case. The agent reassured him that we were heading in to see manager Owen Coyle to demand a move but he did not seem convinced and put the phone down.
With my contract running out and no talk of a new deal due to Bolton’s difficult league position, I felt I had to seriously consider the possibility of joining Sunderland.
What this agent failed to take into consideration when putting demands on me was that I was the captain of a fantastic and successful football club – and I was happy there.
Yes I had been in and out of the team for the first time since joining, but I still was enjoying playing for the club.
I remember walking into into Owen’s office slightly stressed and I was even shaking as I wondered what the outcome of that meeting would be.
Owen said straight away to me: "Skipper, if you want this to happen then look me in the eye and tell me you want to leave Bolton Wanderers".
I explained to Owen that I had less than six months on my contract so I had to consider a potential two-and-a-half-year deal from Sunderland.
I had a good open relationship with Owen as I have had with most managers so I did not feel the need to have an agent doing my talking for me.
He explained that the club had lots of players’ contracts running out but he reassured me I was part of his plans and he would be offering me a new deal in due course.
As you can imagine my head was spinning – but it was deadline day and the clock was ticking.
I returned to my car to explain what had happened and much to the agents’ disappointment I had not handed in a transfer request.
I cleared my head, went back to see Owen and told him I wanted to stay and help keep the club in the Premier League. We sat there, threw down some numbers and agreed a deal in principle, and although nothing was signed, he gave me his word.
At the age of 34 I just wanted the security for my family and was prepared to take the risk of falling out of The Premier League in return for that security.
I rang Martin and left him a message to explain that I wanted to stay at Bolton and fight for survival, as I thought that was the right thing to do.
We played Sunderland shortly afterwards and I was a little shocked when O’Neill appeared to blank me.
Maybe it was just because I scored twice past his team that day…