The calm before the storm. Four and a bit days to go and the World Cup begins. While you enjoy the matches, some treat it as a big scouting mission. Claims are pushed for signing x, y, and z in a game of footballing alphabetti spaghetti.
Signing players based on the World Cup alone is as risky as doing the same from the European Championships. Does the name Karel Poborsky mean anything to you? One outrageous flick over a goalkeeper’s head and he was a Manchester United player. How we laughed.
John Jensen was the same, I’m sure. We didn’t laugh anymore. I’m sure there will be a number of such players who make a move based on this tournament.
There is plenty of time; only seven Arsenal players are travelling to the World Cup finals as players, which I think may be the lowest number in the Premier League era. The France squad alone used to contain more than that back in the day. It’s no surprise, however, given our season.
Before we say that, it’s worth remembering Liverpool have the same number of players travelling to Russia and they reached the Champions League final. As much as it’s down to luck in terms of the countries making it to the finals, that Manchester City have the most representation of any club underlines what money can buy. And how well they have spent it.
That’s football’s new reality. Only Tottenham throw the spanner in the works of that argument with 12 players, as many as Bayern Munich and more than Chelsea, Juventus, and Manchester United. More strength to the answer about how well you spend your money, irrespective of how little you’ve got.
Of course, there’s a certain spuriousness – is that a word? it is now – to the theory but it got me through the first half of the post.
Young Guns Go For It
Even if you take the benchmark to be true, there are all sorts of sub-divisions in the numbers of players going to the finals. How many are starters? How many won’t play unless injury and suspension intervene? Do you rank the nations? Is being an England sub worth more than being an Egyptian starter? How do make that judgement call? You can’t is the answer.
There’s no point in using FIFA rankings; the only time they are taken seriously is when the draw for the World Cup finals is made. It’s all subjective.
Real Arsenal news comes with the leadership at the Academy taking shape. The Under-23’s claimed the PL2 title whilst reaching the Youth Cup final should be celebrated as well. Whether I can get excited about a new director of football development is another matter.
Marcel Lucassen and Lee Herron join as head of coach and player development and head of academy operations which reflects the set-up with the senior pros, leaving Per Mertesacker to focus on coaching which is how it should be. If any former player of this era deserves success in my book, it’s Per. There’s more respect for him across the board and if nothing else, he’ll provide the kind of leadership the young players need.
Similar hopes surfaced when Andries Jonkers arrived; we’re ‘on the up’ at the moment and hopefully, that will continue.
And on the subject of the important stuff, Lucas Torreira of Sampdoria is on his way to the Emirates because Samp signed a midfielder. At least there’s some logic to the claim, which is a surprise in itself. Logic very rarely enters the equation of fag-packet football rumours.
Plenty of advice from ex-pros swirling around for Unai Emery. Robert Pires reckons Marouane Fellaini’s pointy elbows will be a good addition to our squad while David Seaman says we need a couple more defenders and a “midfield enforcer”. Clint Eastwood is the only Enforcer you need to know about and given our moves for ageing but respected professionals, it’s a move which can’t be ruled out.
Aaron Ramsey is also the subject of much guesswork. A whole rumour mill sprang out of the Times rumour that he would look for £200k per week in the current market. Arsenal, it seems, will look at Jean Michael Seri and Adrien ‘Stroppy Guts’ Rabiot if the Welshman leaves.
Yet others will tell you he is staying. Neither of those pair arriving, by the way, bodes well for Jack Wilshere whose window for signing a new deal is closing: 20 days and counting. Tick, tock, tick, tock.