Cash Is King As Calf Becomes The New Hamstring
There’s a big match this match weekend and being Arsenal, there’s a minor injury crisis erupting across the back pages. The truth of the matter is yet to be revealed but Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen have been joined on the sidelines by Thierry Henry. It seems that the calf strain is the new hamstring in the injury world.
Which means the highly improbable departure of Andrey Arshavin to Lazio definitely won’t be happening before the weekend. With Gervinho on international duty, even the most fervent Arshavin detractors will admit that there is insufficient cover to replace the Russian.
There are calls for young Oxlade-Chamberlain to be given a place in the starting line-up and whilst there is merit in the idea, there is too much risk attached to this notion. The youngster is full of promise and I would like to see more him in action for Arsenal. But there is a clamour for a top four finish; is it fair to put the weight of expectations onto such callow shoulders? Those who demand this are often the same who chastise the manager for the youthful policy. It is very much a chicken and egg situation; we think he’s good enough but won’t know until the risk is taken but are not in a position to take the risk even though we want the rewards.
Injury may force Wenger’s hand on this but for the moment, if – and it is a big IF – Arshavin is to leave, I doubt it will be until the summer. Indeed, I suspect that this is not on the agenda until the contracts for Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott are resolved. Even then, a player described by the manager as ‘efficient’ recently hardly seems a candidate for an imminent departure.
Finances are top of the agenda at the moment, or more importantly how much has Arsène got to spend and why won’t he spend it. Confidante Antony Kastrinakis now of The Sun fame believes Wenger will shun the opportunity to fritter any of the transfer war chest accumulated. The basis for this is a strong sense of deja vu, a rerun of the Old Trafford massacre. That is what they want; the noxious nostrils of mediahounds have the scent of blood and they will do their utmost to get it.
It is purely speculation of course. None of us knows what is happening behind the scenes; that is the Arsenal way. The silence allows a stench of supposition to permeate, entrenching views. Come the end of this month, I am unconvinced that there will be additions. I am not convinced that Arsène believes they are necessary with all of the injured returning to fitness in the coming weeks. The real issue how many of them can sustain their return with the club’s history pockmarked with niggles and strains following prolonged absences.
The manager’s cause is not helped by the words of his Chairman. In his pet paper – one that is not averse to turning and biting the hand that feeds, PHW is no Barbara Woodhouse – he has re-iterated the financial planning that has gone on with what-if modelling omitting Champions League cash.
Whimsey observed also that Arsenal were “hanging on in there” in the race for a top four spot. Honest yes but I am sure that the manager is thinking that with friends like that, who needs enemies? Observations that it would be nice if we qualified every year are misinterpreted as a lack of ambition but are in fact, his use of the English language, the old school way, rather than being as he would see it, gauche. It just does not help though.
Change is being demanded; change of attitudes, change of players, change of leaders. Change is seen as the panacea to all of the Arsenal ills. Some change is needed somewhere but be careful what you wish for. The changes you least want are the ones that often happen.
Chances to close gaps have been spurned and frankly, Arsenal cannot afford to waste any opportunities which may arise with the fixtures of coming weeks, not just their own but those of rivals.
Over on the ACLF sister site Arsenal On This Day is a cheery venture to 1960, if you feel at all despondent.