Szczesny’s New Deal, Ox’s New Return & Bottlers

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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.

’til Tomorrow.

37 thoughts on “Szczesny’s New Deal, Ox’s New Return & Bottlers

  1. Dull, grey days aren’t they. I’m talking about the weather, obviously.

    Still, I managed to get my autumn garlic and onions in yesterday, Yes, I know it is a little late but we gardeners get our own transfer window called ‘Spring’ when the failings of the crop to date can be addressed.

    Still in the States, YW, or have I got that wrong?

  2. Extracting a Post out of the dog days of an interlull is no mean feat, Yogi, well done.

    Rambo’s cold is certainly grist for the mill and I am expecting to read anytime now that it is in fact pneumonia. 🙂

  3. You could always get Consol to write an article on the benefits of garlic and its impact on the opposition. ‘Get near me and I will whisper sweet garlic in your nose.’ 🙂

  4. Well you live & learn, in all my years of watching Arsenal I never knew nor noticed this shirt policy.

    Thanks for providing some interest in these dull interlull days, YW.

    Weather now preventing me dealing with the rhubarb, Cb…have you ever thought about starting a Cb’s Arsenal & Horticulture blog?

  5. I understand that the tradition that the Arsenal team captain of the day selects the length of the match day shirt sleeve goes back at least to the thirties.

    It was at that time Herbert Chapman introduced the contrasting white sleeves to distinguish Arsenal’s red shirts from those of other clubs’.

    In those days the ‘cult’ of authority was very much the norm, and I suspect this was a method of reinforcing the manager’s authority through his appointee, the captain.

  6. I suppose Flamini did, in a way, go against the tradition but in another way, didn’t.

    I can’t work it out.

    In some ways Flint, I use ACLF for that purpose. I used to write more about my days but was guilty of boring some football obsessed people to distraction.

    Still.

    Incidentally, it’ll get much colder this week so I’d delay splitting the rhubarb until it warms up again.

  7. YW,
    Don’t recall short sleeves pre-War but what I DO remember is all the pristine shirts devoid of any advertising. Those were the days…

  8. Thanks for the tip Cb….never boring….

    A bit of research shows Sheffield Wednesday used short sleeves in the 1934 CF. Don’t know when AFC started having them but have a feeling that regular use started c 1958.

  9. All keepers have bad patches, look at Joe Heart, De Gea (who was a disaster when he started at Manure) and even Peter Cech. Sczez’s bad run has been brief, but he has looked good either side, sometimes commanding, sometimes excellent. He is very young: the present and the future.

  10. Further to earlier comments on shirt sleeve selection. I looked up a book which has detailed info on football equipment and this is pinched from there.

    A Brief History of Football:

    [At the beginning of the 1950’s] Short sleeved shirts, which had first appeared in pre-war cup finals, turned up rather more regularly.

    Individual players at all clubs were permitted to select long or short sleeved shirts, rather than simply rolling up the sleeves as they saw fit.
    Teams frequently played with both styles of sleeve being worn as a result.

    Towards the end of the 80’s lightweight shirts were produced with both short and long sleeves as part of increasing sponsorship deals, and players could choose what to wear from the available kits (unless they played for Arsenal, where the captain decided whether the whole team would play in long or short sleeves).

    So the Arsenal shirt sleeve ‘tradition’ started in the late 1980s.

    Score one for Yogi. 🙂

  11. Before my time, Yogi, so I am relying on the book I mentioned above which seemed to relate the short sleeves with the sponsorship frenzy of the 80s and the ‘new’ materials like polyester and polycottons with modern flexible production methods which made for ease of production of limited ‘runs’.

    For most of the 20th century footie shirts were made of cotton and the costs of production were much greater and not cost effective for short production runs (no short sleeve puns intended) other than for the FA Cups could be justified.

    I know – you think I do not know what I am talking about, Yogi. Guilty as charged!! 🙂

  12. ‘Blue Collar’ also starring Yaphet Kotto; but what’s the connection with today’s blog? A parallel between worker and player solidarity compromised by the action of an individual? ‘Tis maddening for a sunday afternoon…

  13. Firstly a big thanks to YW for producing anything readable & interesting during the interlull.

    Secondly, the WS contract is a huge plus for the club. I think he`ll be one of the best in the world for the next 10/12 years & if that`s at Arsenal we`ve one less position to worry about !

    Finally, the shirt / sleeve thingy. Were there short sleeves in any walk of life pre war ? I would be surprised if footballers had them regularly until at least the swinging 60`s..I also like the fact that our captain chooses – it marks us out from the rest. We`re special …..& we know we are.

  14. That pic looks as if the players with short sleeves have cut them short themselves so does that constitute real ‘short’ sleeves ?

    Just thought I would muddy the waters even more

  15. They have all got short sleeves & anyway footballers did not know how to use scissors before, 1965, Paulie….

  16. The only question I’d raise on that site is, when did we wear red pinstripe shorts in the mid-80s? I don’t recall that & if anyone has a photo of it, I’ll be amazed grateful.

  17. I seem to remember a kit a bit like that YW. For some reason I can see Lee Dixon and Alan Smith in it. I doubt that it was as obvious as in the graphic though.

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