D-Day For That Deal, Bould Thinking For The Defence & Transfer Gossip
The world and his wife are waiting for baited breath, the announcement that Malaga have paid off their debts before the passing of today’s deadline along with Santi Cazorla signing a new and improved contract is surely due around lunchtime. The unhappy marriage of player and club has been resolved through mediation and negotiation with the suitably contrite message from the player that he has never said he wanted to leave, just that it was time for him to make clear that he expected last summer’s promises to be kept. It’s a weak defence mechanism, I know, but we have been down this road so many times before that it is only natural to prepare yourself for the spectacular fall.
Any failure to land the deal in what are being portrayed as ideal conditions is going to bring forth a welter of criticism; it is inevitable. Even if the player decides to stay, it will be Arsenal’s fault; you know that the agendas are set in such a way that the good news is almost a fluke, the bad is the expected level. A good season might alter that but views are entrenched and it will take more than one season to change them. Arsène said that he wanted to avoid last summer’s supermarket dash; perhaps this week will see him stocking up on supplies. Question is whether or not the sales have started.
Other deals are bubbling under. Less than twenty-four hours after reportedly walking away from any deal, Juventus have apparently found enough money to make Arsenal an offer they cannot refuse. Can He do the same? In such an atmosphere of speculation, little wonder that any news is treated as gospel. Since that statement, the captain and his advisors have remained the quiet, the hand of the latter can be seen behind some articles, the hand of the club behind others. You wonder if the prevaricating from Turin is actually their negotiating stance or Arsenal taunting their Mancunian rivals, daring them to spend next week’s pocket money today.
Wojciech Szczesny offered an interesting insight into the possible sale of Him,
It will be disappointing if he leaves because Robin is our captain and he’s our leader. I’m very happy to have him at the club. He’s still an Arsenal player and we support him all the way. At the beginning for pre-season last year everyone was saying it was doom and gloom with everyone leaving the club. No-one’s left the club at the moment. We have new signings, we’re stronger defensively and so we’re in a better position.
It was a bit different last year because we all knew Samir (Nasri) and Cesc (Fabregas) would be leaving but now we believe in the squad more. We’re more confident that the players we have are good enough to play for this club and challenge for trophies. Those who were lacking experience last year have that experience. We have a couple of signings, more players who can score goals.
Steve Bould’s appointment was heralded as the dawn of a new era for the Arsenal defence, the man had to have a plan to improve the deteriorating goals against column in recent years. The expectations are still there yet they need to be tempered; any decrease is to be welcomed but to expect too much is folly. Of course there needs to be a benchmark for reduction, the manager and coaching staff will have identified a total they want to task the defence with achieving; it is ludicrous to expect them to do nothing in that respect. Public utterances of such a target will be allusory rather than made of stone.
We’ve done a lot of [defensive] shape work in training, work on when we lose the ball and a lot of defending on crosses. It’s all very sharp as well. Steve likes to shout at players and keep them on their toes – so it’s looking positive.
Surely I am not the only one who read that and thought that the infamous rope had made a return to London Colney? It will need some more slack in it to allow Thomas Vermaelen’s forays upfield to continue in open play.
The key to all of this is held in organisation. Each of the players needs to know what is expected of them in set and open play; they need to understand their roles more decisively than before. Zonal marking requires a defensive discipline that was often lost last season with ragged passes punished by opponents of all standards. The start to this season is tough; a few clean sheets would do the club the world of good, on and off the pitch.
That is the common theme through today’s post. The people most affected by the summer shenanigans are supporters. This is the time for new hope and that seems to be noticeable by its absence. I don’t know why; I do know why. The contradictory stance is because of the wait for the inevitable departure. Martin Keown spoke yesterday about Arsenal signing world-class players who can have the impact of Bergkamp. That is too high an expectation, the club is in a different place today than 1995. As much as we need quality players to challenge at the top, for me there is a change to mentality required.
Arsenal have signed two players already. As Szczesny notes, they improve the goal output of the squad currently. Podolski and Giroud are not forgotten men but they are being overshadowed by this uncertainty, by not having seen either play for Arsenal. That might have been the miscalculation over the tour of the Far East and not having a replacement for the cancelled match in Nigeria. But it is what it is. Not long to the first kick-off of the new campaign and then we can eulogise all we want. Hopefully.