On Alex, Theo, Speculation & Desire

tp3You hope Arsène is a bit better informed than the media. In the space of twenty-four hours they have become very confused. The media that is, not his snitches. Well, perhaps the latter is as well. Perhaps Alavaro Morata is confused himself and the signals in newspaper reports reflect that. Having told Marca he was in a hurry for first team football and a bit frustrated – I’m paraphrasing, he was more diplomatic – the time for reflection passed and now he has hastily added that he is not looking leave Real Madrid, who seem to be changing their mind and are now willing to let him go on loan.

They are having a few problems with unsettled players. Summer target Angel di Maria’s decision to impersonate Michael Jackson as he was substituted has not gone down well, Opportunity Knocks is not expecting his application anytime soon now that he has apologised to the Madrileños. A summer departure is on the cards but for the moment no disciplinary action is going to be taken against the Argentine winger beyond giving him €500 to go to HMV and buy a better musical taste.

Which wraps up this morning’s speculation, all of which will fed Arsène’s pre-match press conference today. Theo Walcott will be a theme at these events for the rest of the month and every time form takes a dip subsequently. His spectre will haunt Arsène for as long as there is a need to fill some aspect of his game, be it the goals and not so obviously, the right side of attack. There are plenty of candidates for that position as the manager acknowledged, one who might have expected to feature prominently returning to training this week. Is it really five months since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain injured himself on a wretched opening day of the season? Five months? Time has flown by, helped no doubt by a swift recovery by the team in terms of the results. His return to match fitness began with a 45-minute runout last night in the reserves 1-0 win over Fulham, Thomas Eisfeld netting the winner for the record.

The path trodden by Oxlade-Chamberlain is one Walcott is familiar with, one he now tread again. According to PhysioRoom, this is Walcott’s 42nd injury since joining the club in 2006. 42. That is an average of 5 per season, not a big total but enough to make him unavailable for selection for roughly one-third of the Premier League games played in that timescale. It seems – it is – an incredible thought that he has missed over 100 games in that time. And yet has played over 300 matches in his career to date; all this from a man who is 24 years-old. Much speculation – and very little informed comment – surrounds Walcott’s current injury. He will, the great and good have told us, lose speed, power; become a Morris Minor compared to the BMW he is now. Or at least that is how it feels but in truth nobody beyond the medical staff knows the extent of the injury he has suffered. Perhaps those who believe this will not impact his pace in the future are right, maybe they are wrong.

It is one of those issues which is best left until the moment comes when you can see with your own eyes what impact, what toll they have taken on the young man. If they do have a negative influence on that aspect of his game, the likelihood is he will change his style of play. Contrary to what the received wisdom is in tabloid-land, Walcott does have a footballing brain, something which has been very evident in recent seasons. And he certainly has enough ability, belief and self-awareness to realise that changes are needed before any of us will. Perhaps the first we will know about it is when they happen.

Talking to Arsenal Player, Arsène noted that speculation and his desire for a forward were both intensified by Theo’s injury. Allowing Chuba Akpom to go to Brentford on loan is not going to change that. Bendtner is three weeks away from returning to training, Sanogo, well who knows when. The remaining wounded appear to be walking with Giroud and Özil, despite the manager’s caution, seeming ready to start on Monday; Gibbs and Ramsey perhaps the bench. It’s all looking positive in that sense, as a busy period of the season begins.

There is an interesting twist on the ‘Arsenal aren’t good enough to win the Premier League title‘ in this morning’s Daily Mirror. Apparently, if the Premier League is re-arranged to reflect points taken from matches against other teams in the top ten, Manchester City lead the way with 22 points with Arsenal lagging behind on 17. The logical extension is that Arsenal have taken 25 points to City’s 19 against the bottom half of the table but that seems to have been omitted from the article, an oversight I am sure they will be keen to rectify. The inference of course, is that the eventual champions will be the team which finishes top of this mini-league; the truth is that no matter how inconvenient the bottom half of the table is, those teams have as much a say in the destination of the title as those sitting more comfortably at present. And if we are applying spurious logic based on this table, Manchester City will finish on 93 points, two behind Arsenal’s 95. It’s easy this game, isn’t it?

’til Tomorrow.

64 thoughts on “On Alex, Theo, Speculation & Desire

  1. Morning YW its been a while since I commented here I am glad to see your level of writing is still excellent.
    I personally am a little baffled we let chuba go out on loan. The boy should have in my opinion been given a chance. I wish him the best of luck with Brentford, I have a feeling that should we fail to sign a striker this month he will only stay there for a month.
    On Walcott I think there is every chance he will come back firing on all cylinders, if memory serves me right Pires suffered a similar injury ans came back as strong as ever.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Another excellent Post, Yogi.

    An update to your transfer news speculation update is that Ancelotti has said that there is no way that Madrid will let Morata go in this window.

    Seems pretty final — until tomorrow! 🙂

  3. This Morata speculation is making me lol,i mean whats happening with RM this days,a once renowed institution with principles and strong plans are stuttering of late,from Di Maria’s gesture to Jese been better than Morata and Anccelotti saying no ins and outs with Morata wanting first team….i just pray AW can steer this ship till May and come back with trophy(ies)

  4. Yogi

    You do Theo a disservice by comaparing him to a BMW…. Ferrari perhaps, or an Aston Martin DB9 🙂

  5. Can’t say i enjoy this time of year, so much speculation usually ends in nothing. I’m waiting for all the doom and gloomers to come out at the end of Jan or perhaps mid Feb and if we’re not top it’ll be the lack of a strikers fault.

    I do think that a £33million bid for Martinez could change our season, look at the difference Aguero made to City, he could do that for us! Always been a fan of Martinez, was so worried when spurs were flashing their cash about and his name was mentioned! He’s athletic, Strong, Quick and clinical! But if Arsene agree’s or not, who knows!

  6. Morning YW

    If I recollect a few years ago we finished top of the top 6 mini league and Man Utd 4th or worse, but United won the league and we were 4th… 06/07 maybe… Proving that one can win the league without beating your immediate rivals….. I wouldn’t care if we reversed the roles this season…. who would?

  7. Morning all.

    Please correct me if I am wrong but I believe apart from Pires,Overmars and Shearer had similar injuries. IMO I think that it will be a mental issue with Theo having missed out on the WC regardless of what one thinks of the team.

    I also believe that Theo initially suffered a shoulder injury and then a while later a similar injury to his other shoulder,which required a plate, and that was diagnosed as a hereditary problem which his father also suffered from.

  8. HTL

    Yep. To win it with a few of these little whimsical nuances available for the press to get themselves into a lather about how we didn’t deserve it would be the icing on the cake.

    Remember, come the middle of May, the league NEVER lies!!

    Until then, I’m going to try not to get ahead of myself!!!

  9. I’ve just had a look at the fixture list and if we’re still top after City at home on March 29 you have to fancy us,gonna be tight though! 🙂

  10. @Yogi

    Do you have any idea when the accounts are due to be released? Looking at the recent Chelsea results I’m very interested to see how Arsenal are positioned going in to the two new deals with Emirates and Puma. With the loss Chelsea incurred it was only down to their brief 1.5M profit the previous year and the FFP loopholes that they met the FFP standard by a mere 4M. I am sure Arsenal have it all under control but for a club that has balanced the books predicated on sales the acquisition of Ozil is bound to shift the accounts in to the red.

  11. Yogi thanks for always writing a top piece mate!

    Theo will come back stronger but the mental part will be the overwhelming factor as to how he comes back. Something is telling me though that he will be fine in that aspect as well, as he has shown before coming back from injuries. He just seems to be a mentally tough person that doesn’t let things tear him down but uses them as motivation. Wish you all the best and a speedy and more importantly FULL recovery and can’t wait to see you tearing opponents apart next season!

    Madrid seem to not be sure what they want to do and personally I don’t think we should go after him. If Arsene wants a young stud then go after Michy Batshuayi for 8-10M. Otherwise I wouldn’t mind seeing Jackson Martinez or Pato come into the squad.

  12. I make no predictions about the effect of injury on Theo but do remember that Pires did lose pace as a result of his. Perhaps it was a different ligament. For him, who was co clever, it didn’t seem to matter too much but who knows the player he might have been without it?

  13. Interesting comments from Arsene in regards to Podolski and from those comments you can conclude that Podolski wasn’t fully fit and that is why we haven’t seen him in matches but is now completely fit. Also Arsene raves about Podolski’s finishing!!!!

    “Podolski is in the position of Oxlade-Chamberlain,” Wenger said. “He has been out for four months and after being available, it doesn’t mean you are competitive in the Premier League.

    “It takes some time to come back. This week he looked sharper in training so he’s getting closer now to being completely fit again.

    “He’s certainly one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen. When he is physically ready, he will of course help us. If there’s one you want to see in front of the goal in a shooting position, it’s him.

    “He can play that central role when he’s completely fit. He came on in a recent game and was not completely ready but he is one of the potential assets we have there.”

  14. @MLF

    Seems we are after a striker in the mould of Theo with reports coming from France that Lyon have rejected a 10M Euro bid from us for their own pacey(not Theo pace but pacey nonetheless) Alexandre Lacazette. But it could also be rubbish.

  15. 2013 – Profit before tax 6.7M compared to 36.6M the previous year.
    2013 – 154M in wages, the first time we have broken the 150M mark.

    I actually expected the accounts to shift in to the red so the results are quite encouraging. These accounts obviously do not account for the commercial deals in respect of Puma and Emirates. Group turnover rose to 280.4M, this includes the property arm of the business.

  16. oh… for those that are interested.

    Arsenal’s football revenue rose by 7.5M from 235.3M to 242.8M. The property arm by contrast rose from 7.7M to 37.6M, which is where the improvement in the Group revenue came from. The Football revenue was actually reasonably neutral for the period, which will have its distractors. Again, this excludes the new deals which come in to force at the start of the new 2014 season.

  17. MA

    The interims run from 1st June to 30th November, expect release into public domain next month. Annual Accounts to 31st May generally released September – November each year.

  18. Give us an O

    Give us an X

    put it together and what have you got?

    Quite a lot actually, especially for such a young chap!

  19. I think against Villa I would like to see:


  20. Interesting photo Yogi…that photo brings back memories/ mammaries of Jamie Lee Curtis. I’m sure this site’s former meerkat would enjoy this story.
    Back in the mid-90s I’d had a car accident in northern Thailand and was being emergency medical evacuated back to Canada. I was flown back in First Class as my separated hip required me to lie down completely for the return flight. On the flight from Bangkok to Heathrow I had been reading a few English newspapers that had been reporting something about the UK Parliament re-opening. There were many photos of Jamie Lee Curtis as she is married to a Peer and was present for the ceremonies. My concussed mind idled some of the time away with erotic fantasies of me and Jamie Lee.
    I was awaiting my connection in the First Class lounge and decided I had to go to the men’s room. Slowed by a pharmaceutical cocktail of painkillers, anticoagulants and anti-inflammatories I ambulated my way slowly on crutches to the bathroom gazing at the floor (amongst my many injuries was soft tissue damage to my neck muscles and I was unable to hold my head upright). In my peripheral vision I noticed my path crossing with a woman who was walking to the woman’s room. No doubt out of pity, she stopped and ceded me the right of way. I instinctively raised my head to thank her for her kindness. But because of my neck’s tissue damage, I was not able to raise my head as quickly as I normally do. As my head rose ever so slowly so did my gaze. However when my eyes were presented with the fullness of her bosom I gazed at them for a very long and inappropriate time. Only when I was able to finally get my head elevated enough did I make eye contact with her. I knew I had to apologize for the inordinately long time my eyes had been gazing her bosom and that’s when I noticed I was face to face with none other than Jamie Lee Curtis, who I presume was returning to the US. The absurdity of the situation made me laugh aloud. Being as we were both in possession of full bladders I realized it was impossible to explain to her everything that lead up to my staring inappropriately at her breasts and then laughing out loud about it. I could only stammer a feeble sorry and something about how “if she only knew” and resumed my way slowly to the loo.

  21. I’d like to see Gnabry and Podolski against Villa. Arsene needs to rest as many players as possible. Our players seem to be breaking down and any rest for them is welcome. Villa are a squad we can beat with a few of our fringe players.

  22. @Philmar

    I was thinking about Gnabry but figure since it will have been 9 days or so since we last played, playing our strongest XI would be wise. After that we have Fulham and Coventry and there I would like to see some rotation plus it should also be the return of Ramsey and Gibbs for those matches and Arsene will probably start those to inorder to get them match fit for the brutal Feb and March fixture list.

  23. CBob, @ 1:21

    I am pretty sure that Theo will return in fine fettle after the injury heals, not that I can claim any medical knowledge to back up that assertion other than that Theo is much younger than Pires was at the time.

    The only reservation I have at the back of my mind is that Pires was a different critter to Theo, in that although he was quick enough, he was all about prodigious skill and could make good any drop off in his pace.
    Theo on the other hand is all about pace (and finishing as a result) but has a skill base very different to Pires, so if the injury does impact on Theo’s pace it could be problematical for him.

    Still there is no reason to think that will be the case.

  24. All true, HenryB. Pires was an exceptional footballer. One of the ‘Ferraris’, as YW referred to them, rather than a ‘BMW’.

  25. Hope the news on TR7’s contract is true. I’d be happy for two more years from him. He’s a terrific and experienced player. Wonderful for Ox, Gnabry, Wilshere and Ramsey to play with him and Arteta. Model professionals and wise heads. Same for Sagna who deserves two more season deal, why not three? He’s over his injuries and back to top level, plus he gives us versatility as a strong 4th CB. Jenks needs to work to displace him.

  26. philmar @ 3:57

    That is a great story and a great excuse and I am glad for you that you made the best of it. You are unlikely to meet the lady in question again, but it has obviously done you a power of good. 🙂

    I superficially hurt my leg while diving in Fiji the day before my flight to LA. On the flight I started to have severe cramp in my thigh, and there was nothing in the medical kit to alleviate it, and it became impossible to sit in my tourist class seat.

    The crew made a public announcement asking if there was a doctor on board. The result was that a surgeon, a nurse, a vet and a horse breeder all came forward. They all happily discussed options between themselves as if I was not there, and unanimously decided that the pilot would have to detour to Hawaii.

    The excitement when this was announced to the other passengers was palpable.
    I was then told that the cost to the airline to divert inflight and the additional costs of hotel accommodation and compensation to the passengers could easily reach $1m. Thinking that my insurance would never cover this and I would be in debt for the rest of my life, and I would probably be banned from flying again, I insisted I was well enough to continue to LA, provided better seating could be arranged.

    As my ‘medical team’ except for the nurse were all first class passengers, it was agreed I should be accommodated in a ‘bed’ and monitored by them with the nurse to be my ‘attendant’.

    The disappointment emanating from the other passengers, when the return to the original flight plan was announced, was very hostile, and I tried to make myself inconspicuous, which as I was doing a creditable impersonation of Long John Silver as I hopped to my new seat was not too successful.

    The upshot was that my leg was fine by the time we landed at LA, and the nurse who looked like an MGM extra from central casting took me under her wing, so to speak, and as a native of LaLa Land insisted she would show me around her home town. And boy, did she ever show me! 🙂

    I have been to Hawaii a number of times, so believe me, the trade was very much to my liking.

    No Jamie Lee Curtis on my flight — but it was certainly one to remember. 🙂

  27. It’s been 9 days and everyone is rested. I’d still like to give Santi or Ozil a few extra days. Santi burned out in the 2nd half last year. He might benefit from the 2 week holiday. We haven’t seen the best from ozil yet – he’s looked tired or disengaged. I’d dress them to have on the bench if the game needs to be chased. The rest would help us a few weeks from now when we are playing CL games, cup and league fixtures.

  28. I agree limestone – now that we aren’t pinching pennies and selling high wage veterans to buy cheaper young recruits i hope we keep our classy veterans to help team morale and teach the precocious kids how to be a professional. they’re still great players too . Level heads that have seen it all come in handy after demoralizing defeats. The team is stronger mentally and emotionally the last few years. veteran presence is one reason why.

  29. MLF, I have no idea about Jackson Martinez and never seem him play. C vouches for him, so if he is the best young striker out there with the attributes we are interested in: pace, clinical goal-scori g and finishing, and versatility to play CF and wide, then I hope we do what is needed to get him or whoever else fits the bill now in Jan rather than waiting for summer. Unless we are being gouged 15 or more over the value with no room to bargain below that threshold, it will be worth it if the player helps us win something this season and is ready to light up the league next season.

    Chances like this, where we are top of the league have only come twice in 9 seasons. 07-08 and 10-11 and not strengthening in January might have hurt us because of injuries and lack of belief, confidence. We have a very narrow lead and while this is a much more experienced group of players, we don’t want to squander a big oppoetunity.
    Still, if nothing big comes through, a short term but or loan would be decent too. At the very least, we’ll give it a go and it is up to Santi and Poldi to come up big in the second half. It is a great chance for Poldi to be the man!

  30. @C

    I’m here at his home now. They call it home hospice care and it is suppose to be better for them. These things are never easy and it makes me wonder my own mortality. I don’t want to linger, fast would suit be better .


    Thanks for the info mate. I found the 2012/13 accounts online via the club website and they mentioned Ozil so I assumed they were the latest.

  31. Philmar, my fellow Canada based Gooner, I agree with that point about our veteran team completely. Good experienced players give us resilience and help the really good youngsters to fulfill their potential.

  32. @philmar

    To each their own. I would play them against Villa and rest and rotate against Coventry and Fulham. There’s a fine line between resting them and playing them. Give them too much rest from matches and they could start off slow in a crucial match which doesn’t bode well EVER, but not enough rest and they burn out. So I would go with the lineup I previously posted against Villa and the against Fulham squads I wouldn’t mind seeing:

    ——-Arteta—–Ramsey(if he is fit)

    Against Coventry


  33. @MA

    I guess the home hospice allows them to be in an environment that is more comfortable for them. Mortality will come and is never easy, it always made me just enjoy the present and each and every moment we get to spend with loved ones, both family and friends. You and your family will remain in my prayers.

  34. Seems Arsene is looking for a true winger as many reports are coming out of Spain that we have made a 15M bid for Sociedad winger Antoine Griezmann.

    That’s 2 wingers that we have made a bid on, maybe Arsene is really trying to bring somebody in.

  35. Poldi hasn’t shown his best here in the EPL. He hasn’t even played much. Is Poldi’s place on the German World Cup team in jeopardy? .I hope he has something to prove this half season and makes the best of it.

  36. @LSG

    I agree with you on Sagna, over the injuries and back to his consistent best! Sign him up for another 2-3 years!

  37. C, why a winger? With Gnabry and Ox coming back, it seems to me we are short in the goal-scoring with Theo’s loss. A CF or wide forward would be more the ticket I should think…

  38. @philmar

    he has barely played as he was out injured. He has 3 goals in 4 matches in the EPL and Arsene has said that he wasn’t completely fit when he came on against West Ham. Arsene says that he is now completely fit and with that Podolski will come good. For a first season in the EPL and carrying a ankle injury for the 2nd half of last term, 11 goals and 9 assist in 25 appearances in the EPL and 16 goals and 11 assists in 39 appearances is a good return. Yea he hasn’t shown his best but at the same time Giroud didn’t last term either and now in his 2nd season he has come good for the most part. Just give him time, the one thing that we all worry about with Theo out is the production that will be lost and we all know that the one thing that Podolski can do is score and create goals, hence why I think we will see more Podolski on the let, Giroud centrally and Santi on the right as our strongest front 3.

  39. @LSG

    A scoring winger/striker I think is what Arsene, if reports are to be true, is going for in Antoine Griezmann. This season he has scored 12 goals in 16 appearances in La Liga so the production is there, the biggest question that many Gooners will have is how will quickly he adapts.

  40. Thanks C, that makes much more sense to me.

    And I echo your comments on Podolski. But now is the time for him to really show his quality so I hope he flourishes. Even if we bring in somebody, we need him to have a big second half to this season.

  41. Philmar, it seems that Toronto FC is finally trying to get out of the MLS cellar by signing Michael Bradley and now Jermaine Defoe.

  42. @LSG

    I agree about Podolski and I think he will come good because he will be afforded the playing time. Arsene’s recent comments on Podolski are quite interesting and with those you get the feeling that Podolski will play a major part from now until the end of the season and going forward.

  43. @LSG

    What Toronto is doing now with the additions of not only Bradley but Defoe as well is setting themselves to make a real run not only this year but in the coming seasons.

  44. Apparently Leads United and the San Francisco 49ers have have agreed to a partnership. I don’t have the details but that is a interesting piece of news if you ask me. Seems kind of random but thats just IMHO. Could be good financially for the both of them I suppose with the exposure on both sides of the world.

  45. I can’t see the storied 49ers from cosmopolitan Bay Area (wine-sipping California gourmet club) teaming up with Leeds! Talk about a culture clash at multiple levels–more than random, bizarre!

  46. Yea when I saw it I couldn’t believe but I dug some more and it is very true. Now only from a cultural stand point but from a club stand point with the 49ers eating at the top table in the NFL and Leeds not doing the same and for that matter not even in the EPL. Strange days these are really strange times.

  47. It’s sure going to be hard to cheer for Defoe. We’ll see how committed he and Bradley are. TFC is buying big…but so too did the Spuds this year.

  48. Bradley will be motivated because Klinnsman said he is only taking player that are match fit and playing regularly. So I think Bradley will be quite motivated to say the least.

  49. True, Philmar and so far everything TFC has tried in the past has turned to dust. Despite a nice stadium that has been packed in a prime football city there hasn’t been anything exciting on the pitch at all since day 1.

  50. C, but apparently he is disappointed Bradley took the easy route (and bigger money?) of coming back to the MLS rather than finding another European club to challenge himself after things seem not to have worked out for him at Roma.

  51. I am surprised Bradley hasn’t done better in Europe–to my mind he is a genuinely good central midfielder.

  52. @LSG

    That’s true and he did have offers from some clubs in Italy that his agent and Roma spoke about but he chose MLS. A couple other top American players have done that of recent with Danovan and Dempsey being at the forefront. Stoke was a option but that seems to be where US players go to die I.e. Maurice Edu, Brek Shea and Aguedola who couldn’t get a work permit and is now without a club. He is a good player but I think to be fair that he is more of a squad player on a team fighting for the league but first choice for a club fighting for 4-6.

  53. good late morning all…
    lots of interesting rumours doing the rounds but id be tempted to ignore most of them as they dont have the legs to stand on..arsene wants this player and that player is most likely rubbish..although it would be typically arsene to have a gazillion pounds to spend and blow it all on attacking midfielders..
    the one that probably isnt rubbish is the talk of sagna leaving..
    would be very dissapointed if this happens…were going to need a new rb and another cb and a player of sagnas quality is worth 20mil easily for both positions..

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