It feels like a grown-up version of Play School. The older generation know what I mean, no round, square or arched window, this is even less subtle than that; today’s story is through the transfer window. And to some extent we – Arsenal supporters – are on the outside looking in. If we’re honest, it’s a quite a large extent. Fed morsels by the manager, scraps that are turned into the equivalent of football’s fast food by the media and if my children’s behaviour is anything to be believed, your appetite is left unsated within minutes of completing the meal.
There has been a flurry of activity already with more promised. Demba Ba’s advisors know when they are onto a good thing, taking Chelsea to the cleaners like many before them. Alan Pardew’s strong management which demanded a statement to make clear the position for Newcastle fans, received its definitive statement within twelve hours. The West Londoners are building a curious collection of strikers, the key requisite seems to be the inability to find the net on a regular basis beyond Christmas.
Are Team Chamakh aware of this, I wonder? Surely a more attractive option than Lille? I don’t have good memories of that French city. Andrey Arshavin’s heartbeat raced as his agent said, “PS…” before that sinking feeling hit him as the final consonent turned out to be “V” whilst Johan Djourou is close to a move to Hangover, the crack German outfit we’ve all turned out for at some point.
Elsewhere, Arsène has apparently sanctioned a bid of €9m for Afriyie Acquah, who by all accounts is a midfielder but I am not sure that this story holds much water whilst Wilfred Zaha will sign for someone and then not play for them for six months as Palace seek to loan the player straight back. We’re used to that at Arsenal; we’ve signed quite a few who haven’t played for years…
Actually, the David Villa transfer talk reminds me of a trip to find a wildlife park in Spain a few years back. Set in the mountains, the winding road told us that we were 5km from our destination. There were so many twists and turns that instead of getting closer, the next sign told us we were 8km away, then 10km before suddenly the distance to our destination dropped rapidly until the destination was in sight. A hot day, a young child – you’re way ahead of me aren’t you - Number One son redecorated the back of the passenger seat as we got to the gates. We never did get inside the park. If Theo doesn’t sign his contract, I may regurgitate that story with a different player, it just fits when things don’t go well.
Minds are turning towards the weekend’s FA Cup tie with Swansea. Arsène has never lost in the third round of the FA Cup but I am not sure he has encountered such a tough tie, on paper at least. The odds on Arsenal winning the trophy are quite good according to the latest sports betting. Certainly it is surprising to find that despite being away to a club who sit just five points behind them, Wenger’s men are considered favourites to progress into the fourth round draw on Sunday.
It is little wonder that the players are looking forwards rather than backwards; I would try and forget a day at work if it was the equivalent of the visit to St Mary’s. One of those where you muddle through and somehow things turn out better than they should. We will see occasions this season where the reverse holds true as well. Kieran Gibbs‘ media training shone through in his platitudes about the trip to South Wales, the saccharine words about trophies proof that there is something working well at the club at the moment.
Like Bacary Sagna, Gibbs is coming in for criticism this season. Defensively I thought he was poor in the Christmas games. Newcastle, well, Arsenal got away with it in the high-scoring win. Southampton he was a marginally safer option than the Frenchman. I understand that Sagna might be distracted by his contract situation, it cannot be easy to concentrate fully when you know that you may well be unemployed in six months time. That is for the manager to deal with on two counts, firstly the contract but secondly by putting Jenkinson into the team until Sagna’s focus can be regained. Personally, I think that like Walcott, Sagna is someone whom Arsenal should retain. It eases the pressure on the younger players development and is an unnecessary loss to the squad. That might not suit the player but it surely does Arsenal?
Gibbs meanwhile is still relatively inexperienced. Since 2008, he has managed just 79 starts and 11 substitute appearances including this season. This is his sixth season in the first team squad and whilst he was on the fringes for a while, the damage done by injuries really hits home when you consider that when he completes his next three appearances, he will have equalled his best ever total for games in all competitions in one season. Little wonder that Arsène is being urged in some quarters to look for a reserve left back although that has as much to do with the varying opinions on Andre Santos’ abilities as Gibbs injury record.
Which takes us back to where we came in, transfer gossip and neatly finishes today’s post.