Good news yesterday of Fabrice Muamba’s small steps to recovery; long may that process continue. Steve Bould, Arsène and Liam Brady all showed the depth of feeling for Muamba at the club. Kevin Davies rightly laments on the BBC website how it has taken this event to bring about some sort of unity in the game.
Against this backdrop, football returns for Arsenal with the trip to Everton firmly on the horizon. It begins a key four day spell that I touched on yesterday with all sorts of permutations that could see the final corrosion of Tottenham’s thirteen point lead or the wheels fall off Arsenal’s trolley entirely.
The concern for Arsène must be the loss of momentum that Arsenal had gained. The nine days since the victory over Newcastle is a long time in footballing terms; a mini-international break without the fretting over which players will pick up niggles and knocks, praying that the Dutch use van Persie sparingly in a meaningless match.
Training is good for working on fitness, technique and understanding but a sort of boredom must set in knowing that you have a week and a half between games. Confidence will not be an issue with the recent winning run in the Premier League as well as being able to retrieve victory from deficits. It does give time to work on ironing out the silly mistakes that have allowed opponents to take the lead in the first place but does such a gap mean that the drive, energy, excitement of playing is diminished? Do those previous results feel distant due to the time lag between fixtures? Like Soap, all will be clearer.
Elsewhere, the Park Mystery has grown over recent times. It was widely believed that he would be leaving Arsenal at the end of next season to fulfil his obligation for national service in South Korea. His lawyer has since determined that in 2009, he had received an “an unprecedented 10-year residence permit in recognition of his outstanding activities there“. Which makes this whole affair a little tangled and some of the criticism of the player unwarranted; if he wanted to avoid National Service, he could have finalised that two years ago.
Arsenal now have to pay a total fee of £6m (€6.5m); echoes of Francis Jeffers to my mind. For a club whose transfer funds are so cautiously spent, his inability to force his way into the first team is baffling. Even the most homesick of signings have performed; Jose Antonio Reyes managed some decent games for the club. Before him, chronic homesickness cause Vladimir Petrovic to leave the club within a season but he still turned in performances that made his signing all too understandable. That last word is something that is, at the moment, unlikely to be used when talking of Park’s transfer.
The Arsenal scouts have been busy trying to redeem themselves, killing two birds with one stone by watching Yann M’vila and Aymen
Corner Abdennour during Toulouse’s single goal victory over Rennes. All that it probably shows is that The Sun employs writers with a better imagination than those at Daily Express HQ. As for the signing of Lukas Podolski, yesterday’s rumoured announcement never came which is of no surprise. Can you shake the niggling doubt that this is the footballing equivalent of The Hitler Diaries. Conspiracy theorists, do your worst!
Finally a reminder that this quarter’s required reading is on sale, the current issue of The Blizzard includes an editorial in which Jonathan Wilson deepens the feeling of the lost soul of the Premier League.