Fifth Is The New Third & Transfer Giggles
I wonder about Arsenal fans sometimes. I do genuinely. Frequently it’s with exasperation, wondering why they believe so much of what is written in desperate desire to sell advertising; why it is so unrelentingly consumed without question. This morning’s Arsenal conundrum is more about who votes for the club’s player of the year? I mean I will take it as read that Robin van Persie is in first place. Second presumably will be Laurent Koscielny. Third? Well third has come in fifth.
Mikel Arteta‘s contribution to my mind, was worthy of a higher placing. I am guessing that Tomas Rosicky will be third or fourth whilst I presume that Alex Song is the other. I would not necessarily disagree with the former being rated higher than the Spaniard although it seems more influenced by the Czech international’s form since Christmas than anything over the course of the nine months of the campaign.
Arteta was probably the best purchase of Summer 2011, bringing a steadying and calming influence to the Arsenal midfield following the departure of Fabregas and Nasri to their new homes. The statistics so often beloved of us do not tell the whole story with six goals and three assists not reflecting the impact he made. That the Basque cannot force his way into the national team squad says more of the riches that they have than anything of his performances.
You have to always be upgrading. Otherwise you’re f*cked.
– Billy Beane
Transfer window tattle went into overdrive yesterday. Yann M’vila is also one who is deemed to be an improvement on the current Arsenal squad but he is taking too long for today’s NOW society. The press are bored by his posturing so are looking to help Arsène find a new defensive midfielder. Having scoured the world game and taken into consideration contractual status, Nigel de Jong is this morning’s bruiser in the making.
Eden Hazard took his sizeable abilities and even bigger ego to Stamford Bridge after taking pontification over his future to a whole new level. Bizarre as his behaviour has been, he would have strengthened the Arsenal squad and it would be foolish to deny that. It might not be a position that is high on anyone’s list of required improvements but that is a whole different matter.
Bizarre is a word that seems apt for the story carried this morning by Daily Heil raconteur extraordinaire, Sami Mokbel. You have to have cojones to run a story that Chelsea are interested in Theo Walcott when they have just committed to spending £30m on a player who will occupy a wide attacking position. That’s before you remember that they spent £20m on Juan Mata last summer. Not quite as funny as the story linking us with Fernando Llorente, a wind-up that was picked up from Twitter and published by a, ahem, Sportsmail Reporter.
Back to Walcott. The story seems to have come from his agent, Walcott’s team having declined to discuss the situation with the club during the season. Repositioning their client into the part of the ‘victim’ is pointless; Walcott’s contract had flown under a lot of people’s radar as attention focussed on Robin van Persie.
The England international divides opinions, his inconsistent displays deemed to be a failure to fulfil his talent. My own view is that he is not as inconsistent as is sometimes stated. Wayward delivery is often cited by media commentators as his biggest failing but it is ignoring the obvious. He is a wide player whose primary role is an attacker; thirteen goals in 2010-11 reduced to eleven last season but by the same token, he created thirteen as opposed to the previous nine: a net two-goal ‘gain’. He is still essentially contributing a goal every other game.
Walcott’s problem is two-fold. Firstly, Arsenal paid a big fee for the teenager and with that comes a lot of hype and perhaps unrealistic expectations. That is not of Walcott’s doing and certainly his development was hampered by injuries. Last season was the first time that Walcott came anywhere near being an ever-present. The second is of his own making; he is continually setting himself targets (a good thing) and telling us about them (a bad idea, a very hugely, immensely, bad idea). Once those and the notion of playing as a central striker, are in the public domain they are another cross that he has to bear rather than finding row Z with.
For all of that, I would prefer Walcott to stay in the same way I want van Persie to stay (his mum says so). There will be a perception problem if one leaves with both being fodder for ‘Gunners In Crisis‘ headlines and we know the angst that will arise from that. Yes, I am being polite when I use the word ‘angst’. As it is, I expect both will stay with posturing filling the back pages in the lull between the end of the season and beginning of Euro2012.