It should have happened yesterday, it didn’t but there is a new playlist this morning, something to while the hours of the interminable international break. Don’t worry, there is plenty of company on the High Horse, it’s Arsenal after all and that’s what supporters are very good at doing; sanctimony. Click on the link or in the right sidebar to listen.
The club had a busy week, confirming the recent rumours that Wojciech Szczesny has signed a long-term deal with the club. His form alone since returning to the side following Lukas Fabianski’s unfortunate injury against Norwich last season, has warranted the deal. Like Thomas Vermaelen, he paid the price for the collective poor form of the side as autumn 2012 turned to a bleak mid-winter. His response has been that which you want from players – and more importantly what the manager wants – with a burning desire to play for Arsenal’s first team. Unlike the Belgian, he has been given another chance and is taking it gleefully. Maturity, as Nicklas Bendtner, has calmed his public exuberance on social media but what might have been classed indiscretions by the club, reinforced his popularity in the fanbase.
It is not recent form alone that has brought this deal to the table, it is everything; the rise, plateau, mistakes and the response. His manager believes in the player, one who will be custodian for years to come. Speaking afterwards, the Pole hoped that he would be looking back on two decades at the club. Whilst one revels in his success, others are not so fortunate. Having spent a number of seasons on the wrong end of criticism for his mistakes, including ridicule in the national media, Lukasz Fabianski came into the side and performed well. In particular, he kept Arsenal in the game against Norwich with crucial saves that kept the visitors lead to a single goal and prevented them equalising once that had been reversed. Injured in the process, he never had a chance to resume his tenure between the posts; every silver lining has a cloud.
Szczesny is not the only player in a good mood this morning, Santi Cazorla counting his blessings at having avoided the, ahem, robust challenges inflicted on several of his colleagues by Equatorial Guinea. The Spaniard capitalised on a goalkeeping error to score with a neat flick and prod home as the footballing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters continued their world tour ahead of defending their crown in Brazil. Recent internationals will have caused consternation – or even more – at clubs, with Sammy Khedira missing the next six months or more through excessive tackles in what are supposed to be friendlies. When you recall how much time was lost when He was injured on duty for the Dutch, it is hard to envisage that more pressure has not been put on Fifa to curtail the friendlies during the season. If clubs are the main recipients of football’s greed, the national associations and governing bodies were fine teachers.
It is not all good news this morning. Several newspapers are reporting that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s recovery has suffered a setback. Or what is perceived as a setback. I seem to recall – and my memory is known to be fallible – that the midfielder was not expected back in training until December. Lo and behold, he is due to return to training “next month” which a quick check of the calendar reveals to be, um, December. So on course. But wait, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s dreams of a Brazilian summer are in the balance as he only has one – ONE – international friendly to prove himself. Did these people not see the poverty of England’s performance against Chile? Just as Theo Walcott’s career was done immeasurable good by being omitted from the last World Cup debacle, neither of the Arsenal players will have been harmed by missing the latest “off day“, as Gary Cahill liked to christen it.
With nothing else to blow out of proportion, the media are seeking any hint of discontent. Mathieu Flamini‘s popularity will surely tumble knowing that he has disrespected tradition by cutting his long-sleeved shirt at Old Trafford down to a shortened version. “Why,” the unnamed Arsenal source claimed, “he can’t simply roll his sleeves up rather than cut them off is beyond most of us. But only Bacary Sagna gave Vic any support over the issue. It didn’t help that the shirts were ones with a poppy on, that are sometimes auctioned off to raise money for charity.“Clearly the source and paper have no concept of raising money for charity as the damage inflicted by Flamini makes the shirt more valuable, different from the rest. More to the point, why was an Arsenal captain choosing long-sleeves on what qualified as a balmy autumnal afternoon? Good to see that the media are concerning themselves with the important issues surrounding the club.
Elsewhere, Carlo Ancelotti labelled Mesut Özil a “bottler“. As far as I’m concerned, if his form so far is him bottling it, long may his weakness continue.