Whilst researching this piece – hard to believe, I know – it became apparent that whilst English pupils learning French are taught useless and meaningless phrases – Le Singe est dans l’arbre – the reverse is also true with French pupils taught “My tailor is rich”. I would love that to be true with a host of French people walking around London,
“Pardonne-moi, my tailor is rich”
“Oh yeah Guv, turn left at Trafalgar Square, straight ahead for a couple of miles and right at The Angel, Bob’s your uncle.”
You’ve got to hand it to us Arsenal fans. When we fixate on something, microscopic introspection is the order of the day. We do introspection to a level which makes Leonard Cohen down-hearted. Diaby’s injury, van Persie’s greed, Arsène’s parsimony. They have all been pulled, prodded and mentally probed to the point where they are unrecognisable. But we’ve got a new mental toy to play with and some people are truly mental about whether or not Olivier Giroud’s first goal for the club will come in the upcoming fixture against Southampton. Who knows but frankly who cares?
Well, OK, we all do since it is of benefit to Arsenal but some are becoming overly fixated on it. Southampton have previous in this respect with Bergkamp, Overmars and Henry scoring their first goals for the club against The Saints and some considerable delay in terms of the number of games played. I still remember the heady cocktail of relief and joy which greeted Bergkamp’s brace at Highbury; the media had been on his case and the Dutch maestro ended that emphatically.
Giroud has spoken frequently in the media, never once complaining about his contract or the sale of players. Probably because he was a major beneficiary of the sale of van Persie but he fed a fixation nonetheless when he spoke of the Dutchman being a millstone around his neck,
I’m coming in after someone who scored 30 goals last season, but who took eight years to reach that level. I feel that I have less time to establish myself and that there are more immediate expectations of me.
It is impossible to see that as anything other than a rebuke for his critics, probably because it was a rebuke for his critics. And Giroud is correct, he has no time at all to settle or so with expectations being so high, particularly in the now society of today. Arsenal do not make signings on the basis of one good season, background work as well as watching copious numbers of matches involving the player as well as assessing his personality and off-pitch life. For supporters, the majority rely on a few statistics, the occasional glimpse of a Champions League match and a YouTube video of his best moments, the sort that the agent of a journeyman player would send Harry Redknapp before convincing him to do a deal.
And Giroud joined having been top scorer in France last season. The expectation – until Gilles Grimandi let the cat out of the bag – was the Frenchman would be brought along gently in van Persie’s final year of his contract. That did not happen and the decision not to purchase another striker meant that pressure came Giroud’s way immediately. He will live with it. His movement has been good and yes, there is no denying he has missed two very presentable chances, ones which you would ordinarily expect your lead striker to tuck away. Deducted marks out of ten are clawed back to a lesser extent by the player being there when the chance arose and not shirking from accepting his fault.
The longer the barren run extends, the more pressure will grow and no matter how much of the popular psyche he tapped into by having a dig at van Persie, the Dutchman was scoring a goal every other game or better for five years. Injury precluded the magical thirty goal barrier being breached. No matter what dislike for him we may have, there is no point in denying van Persie was an outstanding player for the club. When he was fit…
As it is, Giroud’s lack of goals is probably the least of our worries; it wouldn’t be international week if there were no injury concerns at the end of it. Adam Llalana’s call-up came at a price with Nigel Adkins negotiating with Roy Hodgson that Theo Walcott would be the statistic, the reminder of a world that doesn’t care, the one in ten who succumbed to a virus which is not so much rampaging through the England squad as tiptoeing through their tulips. It just about sums up his season so far. Never mind Theo you can only d:ream about things getting better.
More disconcerting yet entirely expected was Abou Diaby’s withdrawal from the French squad, the midfielder succumbing to an apparent muscle strain. Didier Deschamps was wonderfully unstated when he observed,
He took a bad knock and won’t train. He is not free in his movements.
Actually, the more accurate quote is, aside from being scary that The Mirror has carried an accurate quote,
He felt a bit of muscle pain in training. He knows his body well, all the players do, but maybe he knows his a little bit more given all the problems he’s had before. He’s not moving freely in his body. Before you envisage going out on the pitch, it’s better not to have any worries when you’re on the massage table.
Well, given all the problems he had before, mon petit pois, instead of worrying about whether my tailor is rich, you should have been worrying about whether Diaby was fit having played all bar about twenty minutes of Arsenal’s Premier League campaign. Any sane person would have looked at Diaby’s record and rested him on Friday, playing him tonight. But this is international football and sanity is in short supply.
Another pantomime villain to add to the cast, along with L’equipe.