Arsene and RvP have had a bit of a love-in, each admiring the other’s handiwork. van Persie kicked it all off,
I am 100 per cent convinced we will soon win big trophies. When that happens, I know the whole world will be behind us. It will be a lasting memory if we win it with our style of play. Should we put all our philosophy and vision on the way Arsenal play overboard because of one lousy penalty? I do not think so
Arsene responded in kind,
You always hope that next season Robin will have an injury-free season. He has so much talent so I am very keen to keep him, I trust him and I hope that he will get rid of his injuries. It’s simple. For me, Robin van Persie is world class, top, top class
At a time when the ship is seen to be rocking due to media and agent-inspired choppy waters, RvP’s belief is a decent statement to make. Given the willingness of Dutch footballers to offer their opinions on anything at all, if he was dissatisfied I do not think he would have made those comments. The key thing is that whilst not stopping the media insistence that the club is falling apart at the seams, RvP offers a different perspective, a sign that some at least are happy. Arsene touched on this when stating that he felt that it would be ‘criminal’ if the players did not build upon the foundations that they have laid this season.
This is more than can be said for Alexander Hleb. He will not be invoking Article 17 to leave the club because, according to his agent, the player is a ‘gentleman who would not stoop that low‘ which means his motor mouth of an agent has done the sums and it is not financially viable for his client to do so. Apparently, Alexander does not like living in London because it is too busy so he wants the quieter village life of Milan or Barcelona, to whom his Mr20% is trying – and by the end of the month I have a feeling that this guy is going to become very trying indeed – to engineer a move. Showing all of the modesty that one expects of an agent, Nikolai Shpilevski said,
I can confirm that some the world’s biggest clubs are interested in him. They should hold talks with Arsenal
Hleb though has not endorsed the comments of his agent but has not sacked him nor put him in his place. Therefore you have to assume that he gives his tacit approval to such utterances. Hleb said,
I will not be making statements on this and stirring it up further
He did confirm he is not happy in London but his comments seem to suggest that he will not be happy in any city that is not called Stuttgart or in Belarus,
I am not a big city man; I need my retreat – that is why I am often in Germany. Stuttgart is my second home, my friends are there and it is where I feel most comfortable
This is fast becoming a right royal pain in the Arsenal. It is time for Arsene to turn around and say that if Hleb wants a move, he must submit a written transfer request that will be considered. However, the player will not do that because he will lose out on bonuses and what remains to be paid of his signing-on fee, as is standard practice in footballer’s contracts. That being the case, the club should put a fee of £20m on his head and tell him that he is staying put unless that valuation is made. In other words, force his hand instead of allowing players to dictate moves and walk away with undeserved rewards.
The other issue for Arsene to bear in mind is whether it is worth keeping a player who is unhappy with his lot. When the key matches come along, you need your players to be fully focussed on them rather than be dreaming of sunnier climes. The time might be right in that respect to cash in and buy someone who is fully committed to the cause and full of enthusiasm rather than have someone with a longer face than Red Rum around the place.
The Observer sports section at the weekend asked a supporter from each club – presumably their weekly panel but I am not sure about that so I may be doing these individuals either a (dis)service. The questions were fairly run-of-the-mill but threw out some curious answers. In response to the request to name the top five best opposition players, those from Arsenal garnered the following votes:
Adebayor 7, Bendtner 1, Diaby 1, Fabregas 6, Hleb 4
Bendtner is explained by the fact that the Birmingham City respondent must still hold fond memories of him; there can be no other explanation. But Diaby? God alone knows what the Blackburn fan was thinking of. Alex Song I could have understood following his display in the Carling Cup at Ewood Park; a tongue-in-cheek answer might have been Jens Lehmann. A hell of a lot of technically gifted individuals must have endured bad days when facing the Blackeye Boys.
Surprisingly though neither Clichy nor Sagna procured any votes. The fullback slots in the ‘Fans Team Of The Season’ were occupied by Jagielka and Lescott of Everton. The latter you can understand considering he got around ten goals this season; that sort of return sticks in your mind for a fullback.
Oh and to the Derby fan who thought that Arsenal supporters sat in sulky silence when you equalised in the recent 6 – 1 drubbing at Pride Park. Of course there was disquiet; nobody could quite believe that the worst team in the history of top-flight football had managed to score against us.
There was one scoop that the Observer let pass but it might shed some light on the recent rumour of a Mancunian raid being along the right lines. According to the Villa fan, Patrice Evra of Arsenal was one of his top five opponents…Onto to the transfer gossip of the day – for it is that time of year. The media are still trying to flog the horse of David Villa to Arsenal, a horse that is so dead it makes Shergar look positively sprightly – what is it with dead horses today? Very bizarre as I was not glue-sniffing last night nor did I watch The Godfather! Richard Dunne’s apparent liking for London may well see him move to Arsenal ahead of the delights of the Bigg Market and Ivorian currently at Le Mans by way of Beveren (Sound familiar? Where is Merion Jones when you need him?). Of those mentioned, you would not find any displeasure on my part about signing Villa or Silva of Valencia; both are players of sufficient quality that they would enhance the team although I have a small, nagging voice at the back of my mind shouting, “Reyes! Reyes!“. As for Dunne, I am unconvinced he is an improvement on the current squad. He has had a good season for City this time around but does that mean he warrants Arsene’s close attentions? I still remember the error-prone player of a couple of seasons back which casts doubts. He has improved since then of course but this is no sure sign that he is the quality that we desire. Certainly, I would question whether his distribution is good enough for our first team.
More transfer rumours I am sure will seep out of the woodwork today of that you can be sure. ’til Tomorrow.