Arsène was in playful mood yesterday at Colbey with the walking wounded greeted by a smirk and his own interpretation of Amy Winehouse, “I’m gonna make you go to rehab, I said, go, go, GO!”
He took the song and he made it his own.
Whilst Arsène will no doubt update on the injuries at today’s Champions League presser – I know all the lingo – early diagnosis from the man on the street has led to the conclusion that Aaron Ramsey is out for a month and ?Mikel Arteta, three weeks. Jack Wilshere will be fit the weekend apparently and is willing to play tomorrow although Arsenal are only prepared to do so if UEFA approve the Robocop garb designed to offer him protection.
Whilst it must be tempting for the manager to use Wilshere tomorrow, to do so is to succumb to the short-term ism which rules football. It’s not as if he doesn’t have options to replace the England midfielder. Whilst Tomas Rosicky will replace Aaron Ramsey and Flamini comes in for Arteta, in filling the last midfield berth Arsène can still choose from Diaby and, oh, erm, Drums fingers and scratches head, ah yes, Zelalem or Coquelin. We’re not even down to the bare bones in midfield; skeletons look overfed.
Shad Forsythe’ fitness regime is undergoing a real baptism of fire and it would be interesting to know the impact it is giving, is Ramsey’s injury a legacy from the ‘old’ ways or symptomatic of a deeper malaise? It could be bad luck, of course, and you should never rule that out, just take steps to minimise its impact. If you believe in luck in these circumstances, that is.
It’s an all too familiar refrain, how hard done by we are through injuries and how the new signings need to gel with the squad. Last summer (2013) was relatively settled and the benefits were seen compared with seasons where three or four first team players have been added.
It begs the question why this continual state of flux exists in terms of injuries but more importantly, why it took so long to address. There is no quick fix, the players bodies are being ‘retrained’ – perhaps ‘retuned’ is a better word – and the benefits of this will take time to manifest. It highlights the folly of not strengthening the midfield in the last transfer window but that’s just spilt milk now.
The club are keen to avoid players being idle whilst receiving treatment so negotiating contracts is a favourite game.
“Think of a number you’d like for your wage packet. Ah, no, think again.”
“How many years do you want? You’re not getting the hang of this, everything is lower. All except you, Abou, I’m determined to get five years out of you. Even if it takes a decade.”
Olivier Giroud is the latest recipient of such largesse whilst out for months on end. I don’t have an issue with his contract being extended, nor contrary to expectations, do I have a problem with Arteta’s following the same path if this morning’s reports of a one-year deal being offered are true. Giroud has improved during his time at the club and I feel there is better to come. He isn’t going to be as prolific as Thierry Henry and frankly, comparisons between their records are vacuous; they belong to different times, teams and are entirely different players. Arteta is a different kettle of fish. If the current injury problems are anything to go by, his services are going to be needed for another year as a precautionary measure. Like Flamini, next season will see them relegated to the roles of senior pros, bit-part players called from the bench or leading the assault on the fourth round of the League Cup. No further, let’s not get too ambitious.
There’s no point in expecting Arsène t0 invest heavily in midfield next year; if he buys the ‘defensive’ midfielder a large number of us believe is needed, that will be it. If we have learned nothing else, huge swathes of new players are not coming in and when they do, it proves counter-productive as it extends the transition period even longer. With a centre back needed to balance the defence, it means that there is one player left. Who knows what will happen, the numbers will almost certainly be needed.
A final thought on Arteta’s contract renewal. Flippant comments often mask a shred of truth. The reality is that no-one will want to be Arsenal’s captain if Arteta leaves next summer, it becomes a poisoned chalice. Or a divining rod,
“Per, I want you to be Mein Capitan.”
“Me? What have I done to deserve that? I’ve been loyal to you? No, nein, non.”
“Oh? Okay. Has anyone seen Aaron? Jack?
Anyone want to be the captain?”
“Me boss, I will!”
“Transfer request accepted.”