A tough weekend in ACLF Towers. The joy of the shooting down The Walrus was tempered by the harsh realities of Sunday League football for Number Two son, his side lost a top of the table tussle by the odd goal in three with the decisive moment coming with seconds to go. It was just like watching 2011-12 pre-Christmas Arsenal, possession dominated with no real cutting edge. Having clawed themselves back into the match with a late equaliser, they thought their job was done in salvaging a point. The callowness of youth, eh?
And this morning’s back pages might bring some joy to the manager. Normally the belief goes that players who depart the club have peaked in their careers but that cannot be said of van Persie or Cole. Behaviourally, they are scraping the barrel and somewhere in the recesses of his id, Wenger has allowed himself a small, “Hah!” with a clenched fist.
Arsène has been talking the team up – he always does – but this time the squad showed character with back-to-back wins in key games following a defeat. A week in football is a damn sight quicker than a week in politics which is a bit of a mixed blessing since the news will be focussing on the loathsome duo whilst they chat up the twinset and pearls brigade. The international break by comparison will feel like a lifetime. It’s a horrible time of the season, interruptions constant for the first three months, momentum which has built up is lost temporarily.
Back to the manager. Wenger worked with Glenn Hoddle at Monaco and was genuinely appreciative of the player. Back in 1983 Arsenal were interested in buying the Tottenham midfielder but like so many stories since, this one came to nought. I think Terry Neill was closer to buying Johan Neeskens than the club ever got to signing the Queen of Golders Green. There is no doubt that Hoddle was the most gifted player of his generation but with that came the almost obligatory inconsistency and he was certainly easier to keep quiet in a match than Santi Cazorla, the player who drew comparisons from Wenger following his Man of the Match display at Upton Park,
He is right-footed but, when you watch him play, you don’t know that. We had Glenn Hoddle and he was like that – left, right, you could not say which was strongest and Cazorla, on that front, is similar. I don’t remember anyone else I have worked with who was as much as that two-footed. Cazorla makes everybody [he plays with] a better player.
Along with Mikel Arteta, the midfield has certainly two of the most intelligent players we have had at the club in some time. No disrespect to those who have gone before but the Spanish duo are more technically capable and can see the opportunities before others. Players such as Hleb were equally clever with the ball but sometimes lacked the timing, holding onto possession too long or passing too soon for a run that never happened. Perhaps the pair are lifting others to another level of ability, certainly youngsters can only improve through training with individuals of this calibre every day. To think that the sports desks and sofas derided Cazorla’s signing. No doubt they will be the same ones who vote for him in the FWA awards next spring.
Theo Walcott’s representatives will apparently meet with the club and since this is not a first date, a rolled up copy of The Times and a red rose in the lapel buttonhole, will not be necessary. Well, it might be since they’ve probably forgotten what Dick Law looks like, along with everyone else. Is he the Arsenal bogeyman? The tale that Arsène tells the squad for their bedtime stories on Champions League awaydays? I did put a quote in here originally but once you change the name of the bogeyman to Dick Law, it just sounds wrong on about every conceivable level.
It would be good for the squad if Walcott did re-sign, despite the words of his critics, Walcott is a good player who has momentarily lost his way, his focus. But if he is not going to put pen to a new Arsenal contract, then his occupation of purgatory is surely going to continue. Arsène has made the public aware of his high opinion of the player,
Theo’s game is based on movement off the ball, timing and finishing. He can play wide, he can play central. Some say he does not have the build to play up front on his own but you could say that of Messi. It depends on who plays around you and on your individual qualities.
Let’s be honest, that is about the only thing you can compare Messi and Walcott on; they don’t play in the same position, they have entirely different footballing attributes and one looks like a Formula One racing driver whilst the other, well, who knows. Still, as tenuous links go, that’s about the long and short of it. Unless of course, Wenger was bigging him up for a winter transfer to the Barcelona bench, treading the path to Catalan obscurity like so many others before him.