I suppose it is a sign of the times. The drama becomes a crisis as the ascent from molehill to mountain begins. Column inches need to be written, airwaves filled with soundbites. Plastic, disposable, like everything else in our society; facing a problem is unheard of. Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the professional footballing man.
Or at least that is how the media portray life in N5. Vermaelen has long been linked with a move to Barcelona, rumours gather pace at Arsenal as soon as a permanent appointment to the captaincy is made. Being dropped for the trips to Munich and Swansea offer some sort of substance to those tales – in media minds at least – and it would be of no surprise to read tales of woe from the Belgian press this week. Arsène maintains his captain has struggled through carrying an injury, from Vermaelen himself a stoical silence.
Maybe the manager is telling the truth, perhaps the armband weighs heavily on the Belgian, might it be that he and Mertesacker are incompatible as a pair, one preferring to sit deep and the other to press for the ball with a diagonal trailling in their wake? Who knows but selling the player is probably not on Arsène’s agenda. He is reportedly in Viv Nicholson mode instead. All this cash is driving him spend-crazy. Each week a new striker is Colney-bound, Jovetic will be the record signing in the summer. Which is ironic in a team that doesn’t struggle to score, just not score enough to make amends for the porous defence.
He might need a new midfielder. In the past few days, Jack Wilshere’s season has been over, over until May whilst the club maintain it is over until Easter when he will return against Reading as planned. Misinformation in an information age.
It comes as little surprise then that speculation of signing Michel Worm at the weekend is followed by the ludicrous suggestion this morning that Arsenal are to sign Petr Cech at the end of the season if Thibault Courtois returns to Stamford Bridge this Summer. Strange but the youngster was being touted as signing permanently for Atletico Madrid a few days ago. Worm is a surprising choice; he let in goals at the weekend against Arsenal. As we all know, every goal conceded is the goalkeeper’s fault so why sign one who let’s them in for fun? I mean, people aren’t changing their stories are they, just because he’s not custodian of the Arsenal net?
Wojciech Szczesny has not contradicted his manager over his “mental state” but shown a willingness to stay at with his employers as he has a contract until Summer 2015,
I am too happy to go somewhere else. I believe in the philosophy of the club and that Arsenal will start to win again. I have a debt to pay here for the club, I owe them. I just do not want to go anywhere else. As long as they want me here, there is no ‘somewhere else’, and I have a contract until June 2015.
If you didn’t know it was the Pole speaking, you would instantly think of Wenger uttering those words. A shame other younger players did not think the same. Well, they did, then they grew up. Szczesny is not as bad a goalkeeper as he has suddenly been painted. Months earlier, he was still being hailed as a strength in the side. Being rested for the Bayern game had the hallmarks of a cup-tie attitude for the manager, his rationale typical for when he rotated in the domestic cup competitions. Then he got lucky with Lukasz Fabianski able to replicate his training ground form on the pitch. We all appreciate that transformation and to be honest, it is the older Pole who is having the last laugh over his cruel critics who wrote his career off.
Szczesny’s career is not over either. A chance for a young player to hone his technique, improve and hope that he regains his place in the Summer. Hope is an interesting word; Arsenal hope Szczesny will deliver on his promise, we hope Fabianski’s improvement is permanent not temporary. It’s too soon to write either of them into Arsenal history yet.
The attitude more than anything else shines through. It is similar to that of Tomas Rosicky; Szczesny believes that failure to finish in the top four will be “the humiliation of all time” following the domestic cup exits. His Czech counterpart observed,
The team has had problems so there’s no space or time to complain that someone is not playing. To me, personally, the most important thing is that the club which I love finishes in a position where we can compete in the Champions League.
Those attitudes are more determined than the simple platitudes normally uttered. Is that mentality unique to those individuals? Not when considered with Mertesacker’s comments about defending post-Tottenham. Does it suggest that there has been a laxness previously? You cannot rule that out and the performances, along with the German’s description of how different things seem on the pitch to the TV, indicate that the players denied the problems mentally for some time.
The determination needed to overhaul the available Champions League places is there; destiny is out of Arsenal hands at the moment. All they can do is win. To do so, they need the right mental attitude which genuinely appears to be shining through, rather than the platitudes normally offered.
Rosicky summed it all up perfectly,
Everything else can be sorted out after the season, on a beach for instance!
Nothing else matters for the rest of the campaign.