Wednesday 4 February ~
We're told that the recession will have a major effect of football clubs' spending patterns but as much as £170 million nonetheless changed hands during the January transfer window (or just after it closed, depending on who you believe). Two of the biggest deals were Robbie Keane's rather ignominious return to Tottenham after a fraught few months at Liverpool, and Arsenal's extremely drawn-out acquisition of Andrei Arshavin. While they have commanded big fees, both players will already feel disappointed with how their season has turned out.
Keane first joined Spurs in 2002, with the club a mid-table Premier League side living off of past glories. He left last summer with a Carling Cup winner’s medal and Tottenham cementing themselves at the top end of the division with European football returning to White Hart Lane. Much has been said of Keane's Anfield experience, with Liverpool evenly divided as to whether he was was a good signing. One post on a Liverpool fans forum thread simply read "Flopped". But in returning to London Keane now faces a relegation battle with a team that has substantially changed after his summer departure. Probably mindful that the player's confidence will be a low ebb, Harry Redknapp has sought to fire up Keane by naming him captain in the absence of Ledley King, saying: "He is a leader and has the personality to be a captain of Tottenham."
Arshavin looks unlikely to face Keane and his Spurs team-mates in this Sunday's north London derby due to a lack of match fitness. With a UEFA Cup winner’s medal, Russian League title and rave reviews from many in European football, the Russian has joined a team in the middle of a slump. Although Aston Villa are the only team in the top four to have beaten them this season, Arsenal lie five points adrift of a Champions League place. Had this deal been struck in the summer, the story could be very different. As it is, Arsène Wenger has, for once, spent lavishly on one player with the rather reduced goal of avoiding a drop into the UEFA Cup for next season.
Whilst these two transfers took up a lot of press coverage, a certain Charles N'Zogbia slipped off to Wigan almost unnoticed. This is the same N'Zogbia who, earlier in the season, claimed: "My agents are talking with Tottenham and Villa and, from what they've told me, Arsenal could also be in the frame." Could it be be that N'Zogbia's representatives were not being entirely straight with him? Still, Wigan also have a realistic chance of a UEFA Cup spot so it may not be such a comedown after all. Daniel Smith