When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor’d youth,
Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress’d.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.
Sonnet 138, William Shakespeare: The Complete Works
Let us start Sunday off with some truth, or at least a truth; the truth according to Nicklas Bendtner.
Bendtner is leaving Arsenal, soon… Within a few weeks. If I were to guess I would say probably July 1 when the actual transfer window opens, he will be registered with a new club and no longer be our concern. Blah blah blah, wasted talent, blah blaah blaah, name on the “Hat Trick Heroes Wall”, blah blah blah, TGSTEL, etc etc, cheers, here’s to you Nicklas… Bottoms up son.
Like many players of the post-Highbury Youth Brigade, Nicklas Bendtner was a divisive character. I was there when he spurned a hat-trick of easy chances against Burnley and the one thing that stood out in my mind was how the crowd cheered when he was subbed off: on one side of me was a man clapping ironically and saying that he hoped Bendtner would never play for Arsenal again and on the other side of me was a man who kept going on about what a terrific shift Bendtner put in and how he was just unlucky. Then, in mid-week, against Porto, when Arsenal needed a good win because the Portuguese side had beaten us in the away leg, Bendtner got a hat trick. And that was Nicklas Bendtner.
That was an incredible time at Arsenal. Walcott was being hosed by Chris Waddle, Nasri still liked playing for us, Andrei Arshavin sparked from the wings that night, and Vermaelen was at the top of his game stopping Hulk and Falcao from getting on the score sheet, with a little help from Almunia.
So, what’s the Truth? Walcott is still a divisive figure (though he looks like he’s on the verge of something special at Arsenal to me), Nasri, Arshavin, Bendtner, and Almunia are all gone and Thomas Vermaelen is not anywhere near the top of his game.
A fact which is not entirely the Truth. Vermaelen suffered a strange injury to the tendons in his legs, had surgery and spent much of the next two years recovering.
But there have always been half-truths about Thomas Vermaelen. He was considered one of the best “headers” of the ball in his best season (2009-2010) but again, the truth there does not bear that out as in that season he won just 58% of his aerial duels, a number which has only dipped slightly to 55% since his injury. 70% or better is good in the air and all the big players like Distin, Hangeland and Cahill manage more than 70%. Per Mertesacker has finally adjusted to the League (probably with help from Steve Bould) and jumped from 63% to 69% and is winning a lot more both offensively and defensively. But Vermaelen lost a lot and still loses a lot of headers.
Perhaps it was the fact that we willingly accept the deceit of love which had me plunk down $100 of my hard earned money for a shirt with his name on the back.
He came back and was made captain at Arsenal and in the first few weeks of the new season everything was going well as it was Koscielny who seemed to be the one making mistakes. But then some worrying form crept in to his game and TV5 started making high-profile errors. People started questioning if he should be captain because his form had gotten so bad that by the end of January people were openly asking for him to be dropped. After the error against Liverpool, he was reportedly injured but the fact remains that from Feb 1 to the end of the season, TV5 made just 3 starts and 4 subs.
People were so relieved by his replacement that Koscielny inexplicably was voted above Mikel Arteta in the player of the year race, despite Koscielny’s rather ignominious start to the season.
We talk about truth and about accepting the deceit of love and that brings me to my million dollar question: Barcelona are reportedly interested in Thomas Vermaelen, would you sell him? You can’t weasel out of the question by stating “if the price is right”. In their pomp I wouldn’t have sold Theirry Henry or Cesc Fabregas for any price. Haggling over price is yes by another name. So would you?
Like Shakespeare said, we know that we are surrounded with lies and that our love (Arsenal? The Press? Transfer stories in general? All of the above?) lies to us and yet we willingly embrace the half truths. Technically, the term is confirmation bias: we listen to what we want to hear. Thus, if you wish that Arsenal are going to spend a lot of money in the transfer market The Daily Mail may be your paper of record and so on. But this reaches odd new levels when I see one reporter (or worse, some guy on twitter) tipped as having more credibility than any other reporter.
Reporters report what they are told. If a BBC reporter says that Arsenal are not interested in Fellaini then that just means someone told that reporter that. If the Times reporter says that Arsenal are interested in Fellaini then that means someone told that reporter that. Both reporters will get things wrong and frankly you don’t have any objective proof that David Ornstein is more correct than any other reporter, he was notably wrong on van Persie and on Arteta.
And of course, it’s Sunday. We all want to big stories to be true and the Daily Mail has probably the most divisive story of all: the one where Arsenal are going to dump the warchest out and smear pirate booty all over the chests of some “up and coming players” like Higuain, Bender, and Gundogan. Perhaps they will? Perhaps Arsenal just told Rob Draper that so that they can get you all to renew your season tickets? Maybe the players agent told him that? Maybe the other club told the reporter, like Toulouse did with Capoue?
We don’t know. We do know, however, that there are a lot of competing stories and that people are happy to listen to the reporter that tells them the side of the story they want to hear. Whispering sweet nothings in your ear as you lay in the grass dreaming of the season ahead.
Comparison of Defensive Midfielders
Word to the wise, all of these midfielders I think are “good enough” for Arsenal but they all have slightly different playing styles. I’ve Banged the Gong for Gonalons since February because I think he’s the exact type of player Arsenal need: cultured passer, tackles well, reads the game well, and is good in the air (70%). You will no doubt disagree. Please, do so below. I will be back to answer questions this evening.