You could hear the collective scratching of heads, like fingers scraping down a blackboard. This isn’t right, a club in crisis, they should be queueing to leave like rats from a sinking ship. Laurent Koscielny rebuffed the French media, Arsène baffled the same by not leaping like a lord to take the PSG reins, Wojciech Szczesny will not be boarding the transfer express. What is going on, consecutive wins with clean sheets cannot be that good, can it?
Apparently so. Even Per Mertesacker is happy. Well, he might have been happy all along but he’s just so damned tall no-one could see his face to tell. Previously derided as having the turning circle of a barge, the German is now flavour of the month. Held to blame for White Hart Lane and as popular as the FA on Tyneside, Mertesacker became the public image of the defence, something was rotten and the backlash vicious. Munich and Swansea changed that, recognition that he can’t have been all that bad coming without the need to count the number of German international caps he possesses. Which meant he was ripe for transfer talk. Just as Petr Cech was unable to imagine moving to Arsenal, Mertesacker has no plans to repatriate himself,
I’m very happy at Arsenal and want to stay to build on the reputation and respect I’ve earned so far. I don’t consider a return to Germany. I am under contract with Arsenal and I am planning to stay on at Arsenal for more years from now.
It’s a bit of a love-in at the moment. Nothing wrong with that and let’s hope it continues beyond the first stumble in the recent upturn in form. The defensive about-turn has not been without casualties, most noticeably the short-passing game derived from the Iberians. A more direct style is suited to the English game, the away performances bolstered by a ruthlessness displayed when chances present themselves. Arsenal have an adaptability to play more possession football if required. That offers an edge over the more rudimentary approach of others, in theory. The practice this season has been somewhat different.
Like the mythical clean sheet, the perfect attacking performance does not exist. Conceding none does not mean that openings were not created by your opponent, it simply means that the defence / goalkeeper were able to deal with and when they weren’t, the forward was so hopeless that the chance went a-beggin’. Likewise, a single goal victory is a poor excuse to chastise the attack. We’ve seen enough goalkeeping displays through the seasons which suggest a hapless custodian is itching for a move to a bigger club by pulling off a string of spectacular saves. You take the rough with the smooth and that concept seems alien to the media, presuming that all failings are the excuse to falsely predict incomings and outgoings. Why anyone is interested now when the events impact next season not this, is beyond me.
Elsewhere, Arsenal are reportedly interested in Alexis Sanchis whose spell in Catalunya is apparently over. Either that or like David Villa, he is expecting a new contract offer to be made. North London, it seems, is a convenient point of reference for agents to make through the media when bargaining current or potential employers. Or in this case, former employers. Like those moving out of The Emirates, it is not likely to happen. A more likely chase is for Isaiah Brown, a teenage prodigy who has yet to sign a professional football contract with West Bromwich Albion. At £1m, he is within Arsène’s price range although no doubt some transfer executive at the club will try to knock it down to £500k. Presuming West Brom will talk to said executive if rumours are to be believed. We shall see.