The Arsenal vs Chelsea match tonite is as much a battle between two battle contenders as it is a battle between two very different football management philosophies. Arsenal, in the days of the Wenger era has always preached a sound business management philosophy, of living within the club’s means. It has brought about a successful phase in the club’s history although recent successes have eluded the Frenchman. Chelsea, on the other hand, are the quintessential billionaire’s club. The Blues are probably the first club to be owned by a billionaire whose resources knows no boundaries. In the short time that he has owned the club, Roman Abramovich has bought success with his millions and he doesn’t look likely to stop.
The difference between the clubs can clearly be seen with the way they have conducted their transfer business this close season. Arsenal, probably broke even, having sold Robin Van Persie and Alex Song for a combined total of GBP40 million and their purchase of Oliveir Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla also came up to roughly that amount. Even though Arsenal is sitting on a healthy cash situation, Arsene Wenger does not believe in spending just to acquire over-priced talent. He would rather pay an acceptable amount for good players and nurture them to become great. Podolski and Cazorla will are fast becoming the latest in a long line of players like Vieira, Henry, and Anelka who has benefitted from being under the manager’s tutelage.
Meanwhile, Chelsea has gone the completely opposite way of Arsenal in re-building their ageing team. After letting go stars like Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Florent Malouda, Solomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa for free, Roman Abramovich has spent over GBP80 million to replenish his squad with players like Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar, Victor Moses, Cesar Azpilicueta and Thorgen Hazard. The club also spent GBP 80 million in the previous transfer window for players like Romelo Lukaku, Juan Mata, Gary Cahill and Raul Meirelles. Not forgetting Roman also paid close to GBP 100 million in the 2009/10 transfer window for Fernando Torres,Ramires and David Luiz. All these transfer spending has been funded by the owner because there is no way Chelsea football club could afford these kind of tranfer fees. This has really put paid all notions that Chelsea wants to become a self funded club, as proclaimed by Bruce Buck and Peter Kenyon when he were brought in to run the club. The millions that they have poured into youth development has not and probably will not bear fruit because theyoung talents won’t have the chance to progress. The only young talent to come out from Chelsea’s youth squad is Ryan Bertrand while the likes of Josh McEachran and Jeffrey Bouma have yet to make an impact in the team.
That is why tonight’s match is so fascinating. An Arsenal win will be a testament to all romantics and Arsenal fans out there that a club can still work without spending crazy money.