As the dust settles on the prairie, Stan Kroenke basks in the reflected glory of Arsenal’s record signing poured on him by Ivan’s shameless PR. I am guessing Stan has played with his Shoot! League Ladders, contemplating an altogether happier atmosphere and easier ride at the AGM in five weeks time. The matches between now and then seem relatively straightforward so an expectation of being no lower in the Premier League is not unrealistic coupled with solid progress in the Champions League and League Cup will make the world a happier place for the “controlling owner“.
Whilst that is good and new commercial partners offer the opportunity for betting on the Arsenal game with Paddy Power, all is looking rosey in the garden at the moment. Mesut Özil has spoken to the media, relaying how he and Arsène spoke by phone which is a quaint notion in this day of likes, follows and friends. Presumably Kroenke was in the room at the time to influence proceedings as no deal would have happened without his influence, leaving Arsène to convince the player of his importance to the side,
Wenger gives me the faith and I can develop further. I know what I can do and I know that I could make the grade with any club in the world because I am so convinced in myself, but if I don’t feel people have faith in me, then that is why I had to leave and at Arsenal, I feel I have this fully.
The rumour mill didn’t take long to swing into operation with the story of how the move came about, Florentino Perez’s eyes fluttering in the direction of north London meant that Özil was told he was surplus to requirements at the weekend. Reports this morning suggest that the player and his agent were keen that news of the transfer place emphasis on Wenger as a coach. Equally as important was the intervention of another late signing, Per Mertesacker, whilst Lukas Podolski was grinning like no tomorrow in the photo opportunities yesterday. Credit for those snaps later went to Stan Kroenke.
His contract is subject to much speculation based on speculation of what his salary was in Madrid. The best piece I heard was told to me in all earnestness by my 10 year-old son that there is a release clause which can be activated if Arsenal don’t win the Champions League. On that subject, is Sunderland likely to be Özil’s debut? There will have been, what, two training sessions between the return from international duty so perhaps it is too soon? In that event, most likely emerging from the bench will be the likeliest scenario with his first start in Marseilles or against Stoke?
He wasn’t the only arrival on Monday, forgotten man Emiliano Viviano joined on a season-long loan from Palermo. He too thanked Arsenal, looked forward to working with the others, living in London and getting his place back in the national team as a result of helping Arsenal to win. And who can begrudge him a piece of personal glory if he contributes to returning Arsenal to a club that challenges for silverware on a regular basis. It is just as well that Jens Lehmann is no longer at the club, for Viviano’s hope for great friendship would be flying down the swanny given his resemblance to Manuel Almunia. And yes, that was a photo of the young Spaniard in yesterday’s blog.
It was a good day to bury bad news and Arsenal chose to do that, allowing Nicklas Bendtner to issue his mea culpa on the quiet. Trouble is everyone noticed it, especially the part about the club reneging on the deal by exercising its right to retain his services. Expect Bendtner to be pictured on the bench with “SLAVE” on both cheeks. Given his line in jewellery, I am not saying which cheeks they will be but no doubt it will be there. I am sure that BT or Sky will be seeking the exclusives on that one.
All of which leaves the squad as it is. Injuries have struck, are doing their worst and as one recovers – the first likely to be Vermaelen – expect others to fall under their evil spell. Hopefully not as long as Lukas Podolski when that happens. These as much as Özil’s arrival will impact on the outcome of any title challenge. Not that the bookies expect one to emerge, the current odds suggest that Arsenal are locked in a battle for fifth with Liverpool, Tottenham adrift in sixth at the season’s end.
Let’s see what havoc the international break can play with them.