January 21, 2010 15:54 by Tony
THERE are so many reasons to look up to Arsene Wenger as Arsenal look down on the Premier League right now.
The fact that Wenger’s team arguably play the most attractive football in the whole of Europe is one. The fact that they have scored 59 league goals so far this season, seven more than closest riveals Chelsea, is another.
But, by some distance, the most impressive aspect of Arsenal’s unexpected rise to the summit of English football is that they have done so by staying true to their parsimonious instincts while the rest of football appears determined to race to hell in a hand cart laden with debts.
Barely a week goes by without another Premier League horror story. Football has become a world where almost everyone seems to have bought into the concept of living the dream. A world where television money and season-ticket cash is spent in advance. A world where today’s success is all that matters and in which tomorrow never comes.
A world careering towards oblivion.
That is why football should thank Wenger. And why all true football fans should hope that Arsenal’s trip to the top is not a fleeting visit.
Wenger has shown there is another way, another route to success rather than via billionaire businessmen who care so much for the sport that they do not even trouble themselves to watch the team perform in person. Men such as Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United and Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City.
Wenger has shown there is another route rather than borrowing beyond your means.
There is no secret to it, of course. Just sound management, good housekeeping, financial restraint, a passionate vision and an eye for a footballer. All qualities well documented and which between the years 2004 and 2009 saw Wenger make an average profit estimated at £4.4million per season on transfers.
It would also be wise not to get ahead of ourselves. Arsenal might not last the pace through to May.
They still suffer from the jitters in defence, still need a world-class centre-back and a top goalkeeper.
But what is beyond doubt is that Arsenal fans, regardless of whether they are still top in May, owe Arsene Wenger a debt of gratitude.
So does football.