There is a metric ton of Arsenal news today, most of it is fluff, some of it is ‘meh’, and a few bob is “huh.” Let’s get on with the “huh.”
Of course you know by now that there was an Annual General Meeting of shareholders yesterday and you’ve probably read or listened to the breakdown of that meeting. If not, I think Arseblog has a great interview with both Tim Payton of the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust and Amy Lawrence of the Observer today in his Arsecast and you should give it a listen.
I will highlight my favorite quote from yesterday, it’s making the rounds and you’ve no doubt already read it, but read it again…
I know that we haven’t won a trophy for four years but we have been very close and I believe that this season we will do it. When I say that, it is not to please you, it is because I am really convinced of it. I believe that and the fans know we will go for it.
We are only in October and I know it will be very tight. It will come down to how resilient, consistent, intelligent and united we are until the end of the season. There will be periods when it will be difficult, but we have to show the strengths that have always made this club special.
We have developed the team over the last five years with a tremendous amount of training. It is easier to do that if the majority of players have grown up inside the club from 16 or even younger. They learn to love the club and what it represents.And this season we are ready to go for it in the Premier League, the Champions League and the cups.
He’s talking about Talent, Attitude, and Opportunity here. For many of the players in this side the talent has been nurtured through years of training. Sure, people will say that Cesc got some of his initial training from Barcelona, but 5 years now at Arsenal, training the Wenger way has developed his natural talent into what he his today, arguably the best central midfielder in the world.
Similarly, keeping the core of the team together, training together, under the careful tutelage of Arsene Wenger has crafted a specific attitude on this team; respectful, hard working, young men who love the club. A few folks have come in to the team with a different attitude and were able to keep their inherently prickish and lazy attitude at bay for a while, but when the chips were down they strayed offside, were flagged, and shipped to the Northlands where they bought ostentatious watches to flash around in their interviews where they talked about how it wasn’t “all about the money.” Nope, it’s not about money, it’s because you’re a prick.
And opportunity, a lot of folks point to the way Arsenal use the Carling Cup to showcase youngsters but I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Look at what Wenger is willing to risk for some of these kids. Cesc came on to a Champions League game just months out of the Barcelona academy. He certainly wasn’t ready, but Wenger wanted to give him a taste, an opportunity to show what he could do. Look at Mannone, Wenger took a rookie and has given him the opportunity to prove himself. And if the scrubbing of Almunia from promo material on the site and his replacement with Mannone is any indication, that opportunity will continue.
So of course Wenger is bullish on this season, he’s been working with many of these kids for years and he sees this season as a convergence of Talent, Attitude, and Opportunity. Will Arsenal win something? I don’t know. I feel strongly that they will and that January will be the month to do it.
Denilson is just four weeks away from practicing and that will give him another four weeks to get match fit before Alex Song — who is must be said embodies the Wenger project more than any other player outside of Cesc — before Alex Song bogs off to Africa. The other title hopefuls will all be missing African players at that time as well, so it will be Denilson’s opportunity to show that he has the talent and attitude needed to take points off our rivals.
I can’t wait for January, it will prove Wenger’s philosophy either right or wrong.
One other funny bit of news that came out of yesterday’s AGM was this whole “does he or doesn’t he” flap about whether Arsene has money to spend, wants to spend money, and if he did have money who would he spend it on?
I want to put this stuff to the sword — all evidence suggests that Wenger will buy someone, if they are available and at the right price. He probably already has a few players in mind. Who they are is anyone’s guess, and if you enjoy playing “Wenger Transfer Bingo” have at it.
Me, I see articles like this one from 442 about Lorik Cana being an Arsenal target in January and literally, *LITERALLY* laugh out loud. Go look up Cana’s stats (the Telegraph is loading slow today) yes, he leads the team in tackles won and he’s second on the team in passes completed at 287. 287 passes! That’s a lot, right? Uhhh… no. Song makes that many passes in 3 games. Against Liverpool Cana made a paltry 14 passes, Song made that many in 15 minutes in the dour game away to AZ Alkmaar. As for tackles, he’s also leads Sunderland in fouls given away. So, while he tackles a lot and wins a lot of tackles he also gives up a lot of free kicks. A LOT. Giving up free kicks is one of the things that this Arsenal team cannot do.
So, while I respect Cana for his no-nonsense style of play and leadership he is not the kind of player that Arsene will ever sign. Moreover, the point of this little exercise is that I could do that with pretty much every player currently being linked to Arsenal. If Arsene signs someone, it will be someone like Nasri, Eduardo or Vermaelen, someone totally off everyone’s radar. Someone who plays the Arsenal way already. Not someone we wish would play for Arsenal!
I wanted to leave you all on a hugely positive note today with news that several of our long-term injuries are working their way back into the team.
- Djourou: out for the season (boss says March)
- Fabianski: played a reserve game the other day and working his way back to match fitness — will likely play against Liverpool in the CC
- Nasri: played with Fabianski the other day and is working his way back to match fitness — will likely play against Liverpool in the CC
- Almunia: physically, he’s fit
- Rosicky: 50-50 to play on Sunday
- Bendtner: 50-50 to play on Sunday
- Walcott: 3 weeks, but I’m actually hoping he stays out longer, because that recovery schedule coincides with the next Nationalism break and frankly the last fucking thing he needs is to go off and play for fucking Engerland before he’s played any serious matches for Arsenal. Fuck you very much.
- Denilson: 4 weeks away from training!
- Eduardo: will play against West Ham on Sunday
That’s a lot of injuries, innit? The good news is that many key players are coming back, just in time to give a rest to a lot of the guys who have been playing so hard for the last few months. Things are certainly looking up on that front!
Anyway, as for the Hammer’s match, I’ll have a better match preview tomorrow. See you then!