The eve of destruction; that’s how this feels. Or at least it would be, were I inclined to believe the back pages.
Mesut Özil is a “shoo-in” to move to Manchester United, but then Arsène pooh-poohed that idea, until next summer at the very least. 29-year-old Özil was going to Barcelona until 30-year-old Lionel Messi declared the German was “past it”. Beyond his pay packet, it appears that maths isn’t Lionel’s strong point.
Unless of course, you’re 30 when you’re 29 but then again when you’re 30, you’re really 31. Don’t worry Leo; Arsenal Twitter isn’t good at maths either.
We’re moving toward the visit of Huddersfield Town at the Emirates. A curiosity of the fixture list means we face the club we beat in the 1969 League Cup semi-final immediately after facing the club we beat in the 1968 League Cup semi-final.
Özil is unlikely to be fit for this match. Arsène said he is a “little short” which is a harsh comment on the player’s physique. It’s not his fault that genes dealt him those cards.
The question for Wenger is how much to rotate the side. Personally, the only change I would make to Sunday’s team is to bring in Wilshere for Iwobi. I wasn’t impressed by the Nigerian international’s performance at Burnley; the wrong player for the team on that day.
It is a different type of game; I appreciate that, and Burnley were more rugged than Argentina and certainly more aggressive in their pursuit of a result. I don’t know; there are times when I find myself falling into the trap of expecting too much from younger players. It’s easy to do and subconsciously, I think it’s looking for some inspiration, some hope that there’s a bright spot for the future.
Everyone’s A Critic
Change is coming, or that’s what the press wants us to believe. Raul Sanllehi left Barcelona yesterday instead of Friday so eager is he to move to north London. What will do when he arrives? He’s leaving the Camp Nou as director of football, joining us as Dick Law 2.
It’s Ivan winning the battle for the future of Arsenal. Sanllehi won’t be a director of football as such; Arsène won’t allow it. He made it clear in 2013 that he wasn’t having such an appointment at the club. He didn’t just beat Ivan in the PR war, he stomped the CEO into the dirt, kicking dust into his face just for good measure.
The more these appointments occur, the more I think Wenger is in his last Arsenal contract. Mislintat last week, Sanllehi this; could the next one be a new chairman? One steeped in the history of the club, not the history of the club’s bank.
The new pair will coordinate recruitment between them; one scouting the players, the other taking care of negotiations. Is this a move to neuter Wenger’s procrastination? If he’s giving them a list of targets, some of his power is diminished as the final say in a deal is no longer his.
Interestingly, Wenger’s notoriously conservative valuations of players is given some balance by a man whose experience is at the top end of the European game. This is a leader who knows what it takes to get those deals over the line. It’s the experience we lacked previously.
It wasn’t all bad but we dropped monumental howlers. There’s a growing realism around the club that we are not a top four side at the moment. Top six, certainly, and that isn’t going to change without major investment this winter and next summer.
The elephant in the room is Wenger’s own deal. Coyness about his future met the initial tranche of questions recently, followed by a robust denial that talks with the club next summer were anything out of the ordinary.
His view has always been against a year-long farewell, which is fair enough. However, that’s only fair enough to the outside world. Internally, it’s a decision which must be communicated to the squad so the uncertainty which Arsène admitted undermined last season, isn’t repeated.
That is a long way off. We have Huddersfield and then Manchester United to look forward to.
Finally, a reminder that last week’s Records of the Week in 280 Characters is on Dad’s Jukebox.