Nightmare Scenarios, Diaby & Mystic Tommy


For the briefest of moments, you wondered if fourth place going to be good enough. Just briefly. And then Manuel Neuer realised it was Danny Welbeck bearing down on his goal and a gloved hand made contact with the ball, it seemed that Moyes tactic of rope-a-dope might actually work. Therein is the risk Arsenal take in the tussle for fourth place; a truly awful team might win the Champions League and demote them to Thursday night football. We might seek solace from United not being as good as the Chelsea team which triumphed in Munich but to be honest, there is very little to choose between the two. Frankly, Chelsea weren’t as good defensively as is recalled; Bayern were woeful in front of goal on the night and got hit with a sucker punch. Sound familiar? Thank God the Bavarians have the chance to right last night’s wrong in a fortnight’s time.

By which time, Arsenal may well be on the cusp on securing their own entry into the Europa League by winning the FA Cup. A horrible thought occurs in that nightmare scenario of a United triumph. At the moment, I am willing Everton to stay the course and United to falter in Europe. It leaves the delicious prospect of they or Tottenham missing out next season, with seventh place unlikely to take a European spot. If United win the Champions League and Arsenal the FA Cup, an extra Europa League place opens up. It’s the nightmare scenario in more than one way.

But it was an idle moments concern, nothing that disastrous can happen.

Can it?

Well, if Abou Diaby can return to training, anything is possible. And the Frenchman is doing just that this morning. Having run over hill and dale (or monts et par vaux) to regain fitness, Diaby is about to take part in first team training and is no doubt focussed on returning to action. A leading question was asked recently about being selected for Les Bleus in Brazil and naturally the midfielder would be delighted to do so. Whether he can or not is another matter, one for Deschamps to decide. For Arsenal, the question is whether he is going to be fit enough and whatever his personal ambitions, the club should exert influence over the player’s thinking and be blunt with him if they do not think he will be ready to handle the glut of fixtures in the first round – perhaps the knockout phases as well – is another matter.

Sympathy often feels in short supply for Diaby. Too often discussion about him centres around wages and how he has the Life of Reilly. It misses the point. Money makes life comfortable but not being able to play must be purgatory for Diaby; frustration will seep into his every move and no matter how much time he may spend training, to not be able to kick a ball competitively – at all – must be a living hell for the man. Keeping positive in those circumstances is demanding. Yes, Arsène has indulged him and commercially you question the wisdom of the long-term deal signed four years ago but that is using hindsight in judgement. Arguably, Arsenal were placing the hope that his woes would be behind him and the future was bright. Why not; at that point he had played 104 times for the club in three seasons. He made 40 appearance in 2009/10; he has played that many games in total since. Just think about that for a moment. Forty times in four seasons; three in fact, none have been made yet. Then think about the mental toll that must take on the man before damning the contract.

One man who might understand the sense of frustration Diaby is suffering is Thomas Vermaelen. The club captain has not suffered anywhere near as badly with injury; perhaps its worse sitting on the bench watching a pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny perform well for the club. Those feelings will be compounded knowing that even a heavy defeat does not unseat either of the incumbents, no matter how badly they have played. But patience is a virtue and injury means Vermaelen has the chance to stake a claim for a starting XI place. Genuinely, I don’t think he will win one under Arsène Wenger. The Belgian was held culpable when Wenger snapped last season and like Wojciech Szczesny, the central defender dropped to the bench. Unlike the Pole, Vermaelen has never been given another chance, settling into the role of a footballing fire alarm; break the glass in case of an emergency but often left alone unused.

Despite this and wanting assurances about his own future, Vermaelen has come out and spoken about the manager’s future,

Everybody wants him to stay as long as he can. He’s been incredible what he’s done for this club, and for the players as well. We would be really happy for him signing on for a few more years. The spirit is unbelievable in the team. We’ve worked a lot on our team shape and everybody knows their role in the team, everybody’s working for each other and that’s because there is a great team spirit. That’s the great improvement for us this season.

It is just the hunger in the team. Of course it was there before but the spirit is great and you can see us fighting for each other really hard.

I don’t think anyone can rationally challenge what Arsène achieved in the different phases of his reign but as with any investment, past performance is no guarantee of future returns. There is no guarantee of any manager at any time achieving anything. It comes down to whether the board has confidence in the manager achieving once again and using the resources available to him efficiently. If Arsène believes it is his job to leave the club in good shape for his replacement, he has ensured that already. There has to be more and he has to be sure he can challenge for trophies again. The board likewise. Talk emerges once more of a two-year deal to allow an orderly succession is wishful thinking; nothing in football is orderly and how can they plan for a particular manager when he may not be available when it suits the club. If, as is reported, Arsenal want to install a Director of Football, do it now, give the incumbent time to settle into his role. Surely that person would have input into the recruitment process; the two after all, will be working closely together.

I am not surprised that the players feel loyalty to Wenger, he shows them the same in public and has stuck by them on the numerous occasions they have let him down. This isn’t about taking responsibility for performances as he did after Chelsea; that rests with the manager anyway, as it does with all department heads. Of course history has shown that loyalty now means nothing tomorrow if Barcelona or one of Europe’s grands fromages comes knocking at the door. Players will leave and so to managers. That aspect is something which we need to be prepared for. Arsenal have been fortunate in Wenger’s longevity, it gives players a sense of stability but in truth there is a time approaching when changes in manager will be comparatively frequent; that is the nature of the modern game, it’s the nature of most other sports and no matter how the board might like to think of the Arsenal way as being above that, they can only stem the tide for so long, particularly with an owner who has shown little compunction in dispensing with the services of his other head coaches. Football is a strange business and this season has proven that instability isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Or perhaps the bad thing is Arsenal never took advantage of it?

’til Tomorrow.



137 thoughts on “Nightmare Scenarios, Diaby & Mystic Tommy

  1. C:

    I agree, all players develop at different rates, but what if the Drax develops more slowly then you expect? If he is a young player who is getting ready to break out you would expect him to improve over last season. No? This years scoring stats would argue that his finishing is headed in the wrong direction. How can you ignore that?

  2. i like draxler..
    hes a top talent but hes a creative winger, not a finisher…he can score goals and theres time on his side to develop that side of the game but hes more the sort who opens up defences for the rest to score…
    and i prefer reus…

  3. gnabrys a million miles away..
    ox has similar traits to draxler, hes like our version of hazard but he doesnt play wide enough…hes being turned into a cm so his games all over the place..

    id be definately up for a scenario where ox plays left wing for a season with theo on the right and a top finisher in the middle..

  4. I agree with muppet. How can The Drax really change our team when we already have players who fit his profile. He is the same age as Ox and I can’t imagine that he is enough of an upgrade over the Ox that he would somehow be a real difference maker for the team next season

  5. Except, Bill, there was the theory that Draxler could converted to a striker, in a Henryesque fashion.

  6. @Bill

    Injuries have hampered his season this year, we know how that goes. I think you should take a look at more than just stats when you watch him this season mate. You speak so much about Ox having the potential to be a top goal scorer but if you look at Ox’s goal scoring record, it wouldn’t point you to somebody even with that potential(I think for his career he has scored something like 5 goals in 51 appearances. Is that the mark of somebody who has potential? If so then how can you say somebody that has 14 goals in 96 appearances doesn’t?

  7. @Muppet & Bill

    Not just Henryesque but also RvPesque.


    Except, Arsene wants to turn Ox into a CM and Draxler into a striker or LWer.

  8. @Bill

    Ox should be a winger, except you forget that Arsene wants him to play CM and Ox wants to play CM.

  9. This PSG v. Chavs match is a bit of a bore to be honest, both teams can’t seem to pass to their teammates and none of the top players seem at their best tonight.

  10. dortmund are going to struggle without lewondowski..
    madrid are fucking dortmund over but reus has created a couple of chances but that aubanyeyang fella is crap…

  11. Just like that, off a bad free kick given up by Luiz, PSG up 2-1 just like that.

    Not only did Luiz give the cheap unnecessary free kick but he then scores the own goal.

  12. @JJ

    I do want Reus but I don’t think he will leave unless Klopp leaves. Now with that said, I think if Klopp wants Podoslki then we can send Podolski who will get more match time and some cash for Reus.

  13. C,

    Yes, if he could be converted then the 37 big ones should be imparted. From what I’ve seen on YouTube – yes, everyone looks good on YouTube, I would be enthusiastic. The guy looks like the biz to me. Still think he’ll end up at Bayern though.

  14. Did psg pay £11m for slatan.?

    I think Wenger needs to put on his pulling shirt and take him out for a meal and convince him to come and win the only bloody title left that he hasn’t won.

  15. @Muppet

    I think the thinking with him is that Arsene does want to convert him. I have watched him both this year and last year and he impresses me nearly everytime. More importantly is when he plays as a winger, he keeps his width and runs and players, takes them on and makes the runs to get behind the back 4 and beyond his striker.

  16. C

    I will admit to wearing rose colored glasses when I watch the Ox. His run of good form seduced into believing he had “arrived” but the realist in me knows he has a ways to go.


    I heard that theory that Arsene would turn the Drax into the next Henry. I guess anything could happen but that’s a pipe dream at best. I think AW used up all the fairy dust in that magic wand on TH14.

  17. Isn’t it amazing how Zlatan has won every major league title I think wherever he has put a shirt on at.

  18. @Bill

    Glad you could admit that.

    Don’t forget that he did the same thing with RvCunt who was a winger by trade and was converted into a striker.

  19. Lucas Cavani just managed to make Giroud look like Pele. I think his price must have just gone down by £5m.

  20. An essential part of the Indestructables. Diaby’s back! Great to have him start again, good luck and oh break a leg.;)

    Seriously, considering his injury record and age 27, there will not be many takers for him and most likely he will be let go for free.

    OTOH, seen some rumours that Everton may consider a Seamus Coleman swap for Arteta. Sounds like a good deal to me if Sagna does not put pen to paper.

    Likely Wenger will sign Kallstrom on a limited deal to hold the middle with Flamini. Maybe add on a tall central defender who can also add muscle in this area of midfield.

    Or we can go for something more long term in Gonalons or Grenier from Lyon.

    Another possibility if Sgana does not sign and Coleman falls through is Debucchy who should be cheaper.

  21. Cavani is having a terrible night but I like Lavezzi always have always will.

    I really do wish we could have gotten Matuidi, he is a brilliant midfielder. He is frustrating Ramires all night by basically out Ramiresing Ramires.

  22. Santori,

    Sorry I didn’t respond to your long post the other day. I crashed, and then got embroiled in a lot of discussion about the state of the arse the following day.

  23. Santori,

    If Diaby recovers, yes, it would be a miracle on a biblical scale, we would keep him wouldn’t we ?

  24. Lavezzi is PSG’s version of Podolski. Over the past 2 seasons he has finished a full 90 mns just 5 times.

    Luiz stands over Cavani doesn’t let him get up, clearly says something to him Cavani stands up and both get yellow cards. This ref has been really poor tonight.

  25. C

    The thing you can say about the Ox is that at least his scoring scoring rate has gone up this season and I think he is headed in the right direction.

  26. C

    I don’t mind admitting my faults. Much as I love him I still don’t think the Ox is not ready to be a full time regular player on a team trying to win a PL title. I have not watched him much but at least the scoring stats would argue the same for the Drax. If we had an unlimited budget and could buy him and afford to wait a few years and just shrug our shoulders if it didn’t work then I would be all for it.

    I honestly hope ansene comes to his senses at some point and keeps Ox on the wing. After his disaster at Stamford bridge Arsene moved Ox back out wide. When Ramsey and Wilshere come back there will be no room for Ox in midfield so hopefully he will end up on the wing by default.

  27. Sorry about the double negative in the 2nd sentence but you know what I mean. The word “not” shouldn’t be there.

  28. “@Bill

    Your reaching mate you really are!”

    You’re right. That was a long way to stretch reality.

    At least I know when when I’m doing it. 😉

  29. Bill

    Don’t understand the Arsene want’s to convert Draxler to a striker thing, if he’s only signing a two year deal he’s not exactly going to see it happen is he? What he needs to do is spend money on a proper striker and then consider winger options. For me, i don’t think Draxler would fit very well, i’d like someone with more experience and i’d pick Reus every time! If Dortmund want Pod, i’d be ok with him going there in a partial swap deal!

    It’s alread frustrating me a bit, you just know Jose is going to go out and buy a CF that will rape the PL next year and he’s awknowledging where his team are weak, Wenger needs to do the same and get it fixced ASAP before Chelsea get their chequebook out

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