Cup Draw, Szczesny, Defenders Linked & From The Vaults: 1971

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Overall, I am sure that Arsène is grateful for the week off. Indeed, over the next two months, it is going to be quite a familiar experience which raises questions over the necessity for three games in close proximity over the Christmas period. Certainly justifying three Premier League matches is hard when, after taking into account potential cup commitments, there are at least four free weeks over the next eight. Money-making traditions die hard.

FA Cup

The draw for the FA Cup fourth round sees Arsenal travel to the South Coast for an encounter with Brighton and Hove Albion. Will the BBC be paying repeat fees given the two sides met in the same round two seasons ago, the last time Arsenal played an FA Cup tie outside of London?

Much was made of the lack of upsets in the last round with the Premier League coming through unscathed in their meetings with clubs from lower divisions. With a stamina sapping five days for Third Round ties to be played over, the footballing calendar is cocked to meet the broadcasters demands.

At least this time we might get matches with the potential for an upset with Arsenal, United, Swansea, West Brom, Stoke and either West Ham or Everton, away from home against ‘lesser’ clubs. Whether the matches are played at convenient times for supporters remains to be seen.

Just 9k turned up at Burnley last night for the visit of fifth-placed Tottenham, an unthinkable attendance in the Premier League and putting the FA’s glee at rising attendances at this stage of the competition over the last thirty-one years, at risk. The romance of the cup has taken something of a battering this weekend and whether it is permanently tarnished remains to be seen.

Szczesny Smokes Without A Fire

This morning’s press makes uncomfortable reading for the club. Having refuted claims attributed to John Jensen over the weekend, this morning’s back pages fleshed out the basis for the reports of Wojciech Szczesny being fined after the defeat at St Mary’s.

The Pole, reports just about everyone – and not denied by the club – was fined for having a crafty fag in the showers at Southampton. George Osborne is probably wondering if the answer to his tax woes is to means test a packet of twenty given Szczesny thought nothing of paying £20k for one drag.

So many questions are raised about the incident it is hard to know where to begin. The incompatibility of a professional athlete smoking is chief among them as well as what manner of sheer stupidity led him to believe that a cigarette would go unnoticed in the confined space of the changing room.

Much was made beforehand of David Ospina playing against Hull. I’d assumed that the Colombian would be our cup goalkeeper this season – if fit – and had no notion that Szczesny would play. It was a small storm being cooked up in a tea-cup before the tie and the reports from Denmark merely fitted a narrative.

Whether Ospina plays on Sunday against Stoke City is now the issue. It’s one hell of an introduction to the Premier League for not the tallest of men if he does. That more than anything may well be Szczesny’s saving grace this week but the warning signs are there.

The Pole has his faults but for me remains the best goalkeeper at the club. His attitude grates with many. The penchant for self-publicity, it seems, is fine when baiting Tottenham supporters but tiresome otherwise. When his form dips, it’s another string to his critics bow.

He isn’t perfect and his development is anything but linear. Mistakes have been costly but the tendency of supporters at every level to blame the goalkeeper for everything conceded, is misplaced. At Southampton, I thought both goals were the result of mistakes from a combination of players, the same who had played well overall at West Ham in the previous match.

To pin everything on one man is conveniently shifting the ground from more familiar targets – Mertesacker – and those deemed to be saviours – Koscielny. To me, the goals were more symptomatic of collective failings throughout the season. There was no apparent basis for the nervousness which was evident from kick-off. Fatigue? Arrogance? Who knows, the club’s public line of the former is certainly plausible.

However, Szczesny’s errors were all too familiar. Fabianski was prone to irregular headstrong rushes off his line and poor decision-making at crosses. Repeating those mistakes suggests something more deep-seated and unresolved on the training ground.

That’s not to absolve the player either.

He is experienced enough to know better but like all of us, is fallible in his job. The atmosphere around him is reminiscent of a couple of years ago when, with Mertesacker, defeat at White Hart Lane proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Arsène. Both were dropped and it took Fabianski’s unfortunate injury against Norwich for the younger Pole to return to the side.

He is still a relatively young player and whilst others are rested (dropped) on an irregular basis, he plays most games beyond the domestic cups. Maybe a spell on the sidelines is necessary now but I can’t shake the feeling that this is the start of a witch hunt or at the very least, a new scapegoat being targeted.

Transfer Gossip

Having disposed of a potential goalscorer in Lukas Podolski, Arsène is looking to strenghten the forward line by releasing Yaya Sanogo on loan to Bordeaux. Or he’s thinking about it. God knows why and the French club don’t understand either, unbelievably having to put a deadline of tomorrow for Arsenal to respond.

Really?

Elsewhere, Arsenal’s interest in Loic Perrin has apparently upset Virgil Van Dijk’s plans so much that he has confused the results in the weekend’s cup ties, mistaking the red and white stripes of Sunderland for the red and white stripes of Southampton. An £8m move is imminent. Apparently.

Across London, Sam Allardyce revived the spirit of punk and donned his best mohair jumper to sneer ‘No Future’ when questioned about Winston Reid. Long linked with Arsenal, Reid will no doubt pitch up somewhere else with Wenger deciding we have a full complement of Keystone Cops in defence.

From The Vaults

If the FA can stretch out the Third Round weekend, so can I.

On 6th January 1971, Arsenal travelled to Yeovil and faced the then infamous Huish Park slope which had most famously seen the demise of Sunderland in 1949. There was no repeat this time as Arsenal won at a canter as the first tentative steps toward the FA Cup win which sealed the historic double were taken.

’til Tomorrow.

Click to enlarge to view the pictures and report in full size

06011971 Yeovil Town 0 Arsenal 3 top photo
06011971 Yeovil Town 0 Arsenal 3
06011971 Yeovil Town 0 Arsenal 3 bottom photo

149 thoughts on “Cup Draw, Szczesny, Defenders Linked & From The Vaults: 1971

  1. @Wavey

    Apologies.

    I do think though he would be a great get. Young enough to build with our young core but also experienced and talented enough to push both Mert and Kos.

  2. “dick van dijk” love it

    “heeled” (achillies) loved that too C. You’ve got to laugh really cause you know that this window will be just like all the others. We’re always pathetic in the January window, even the Arshavin deal was completed after the window closed and we had to get special dispensation to get it through if I recall correctly. Dick Law must arrive at transfer negotiations wearing a big red nose and baggy pants in a car that backfires just as all the doors fall off.

  3. Ozil finally back in training, Flamini & Ox look to be available against Stoke.

    The walking wounded are starting to return.

  4. Just to clear up eligibility for the CL:

    Rule 18.07 states that if a player features in the first, second or third qualifying rounds of either the Champions League or Europa League, he can play for another club in either competition from the group stages onwards, provided his former employers do not reach the group stages themselves.

    If a player is involved in any of the aforementioned qualifying rounds for a side which then goes on to play in the group stages of either UEFA competition, he is not eligible to play for another club in Europe in that season.

    So he’s ineligible because Celtic played in the group stages of the Europa League, not because he played in the CL qualifiers.

  5. Just an aside to the Bony deal the BBC state that Bony had a £20m buyout clause until he signed a new contract a couple of months ago in November. They also claim that we were interested, if so why did we spend £16m on Welbeck when Bony was available for an extra £4m?

  6. We won’t get him anyway. Similar situation with Winston Reid, he’s put of contract in the summer and Fat Sam is saying he definitely won’t sign a new contract. Why not call him out by making a bid then? If he’s already got a verbal pre-contract in place it will become clear quickly. Will West Ham really let him go for nothing if they can get some cash for him now? If they are comfortable with their league position (they aren’t going to get into the CL) they should be taking some cash now. Fat Sam might not like it, but I bet the Board will.

  7. Andy

    Because Welbeck was a last minute deal from a club that wanted to sell him. We wanted a loan deal, but Manure wanted the money for Falcao. Bony would have been a hostile approach and I’m pretty sure Swansea would have dragged their heels just long enough to miss the deadline. If you are going to make an unwanted approach and hope that will unsettle the player, you have to ensure you have enough time in the transfer window to get it done.

  8. @andy

    its been one of those days mate. I have been making all sorts of errors like that at work too!

    We didn’t spend the extra 4M because Arsene probably only valued him at 16M!

  9. For those wondering what Jenks can offer, watch the game between Everton and West Ham on at the moment.
    Putting dangerous crosses in to areas where players are actually looking for the ball rather than all being lined up outside the box.

  10. Perhaps Wavey but most likely Wenger dithered as usual and thought that Sanogo would be enough before finally coming to his senses on deadline day. He must have been busy scouring the world for a CD though so I suppose we can let him off 😉

    As for Flamini I’d leave the Coq in, Flamini would be my last resort.

  11. Jonny , you know what that means…..there is an empty couple of beds in the treatment room that will need occupying.

  12. Wavey,

    Jenks had showed a few glimpses of what he could do for us before . I’m not so sure debuachy will be the better player in the long run. Saying that though el bellerin I think will be better then both.

  13. C – I’d start Flamini and Ox, provided they are fit enough.

    Whatever Santori might believe, Coquelin is a bit of liability. Not that Flamini is much better but still…

    Great run and shot there from Jenkinson. Still don’t understand why we let him go on loan if Bellerin was not deemed good enough to act as first choice RB cover. Still he seems to be enjoying his time at West Ham.

  14. Dukey

    If Debuchy is first choice with Bellerin being second choice I have no problems with Jenks going off. The thing is Wenger has been reluctant to play Bellerin and has instead played Chambers at RB. Given that Chambers is cover for three different positions and gets no rest at all, there is just no sense to not playing Bellerin. If Wenger doesn’t have confidence in Bellerin as cover at RB he should not have let Jenks go. If we had bought the CB as we should have we wouldn’t have been playing Chambers all over the place. He’s either a RB or a CB with us having adequate cover for the other position, but at the moment we don’t have the cover at CB and are reluctant to use the cover we have at RB. That’s why moving Jenks out in loan makes no sense.

  15. Wonder how much patience the board will show with Martinez – this was meant to be a good season for them but they have been largely, inexplicably woeful.

  16. Jonny, he’s carrying on with an old Everton tradition. Even under Moyes they would have one good season and then one bad one. At least it’s more interesting than what we do!

  17. you know what Everton need, they need to play us. then they could have their usual excellent die for the cause performance that puts their season back on track.

  18. Dukey

    Nah, they cocked it up this season. Beating us at Goodison and managed to only come out with a point. Martinez knew his season was fucked after that. He was privately chatting with his back room staff afterwards saying they should prepare for a relegation battle as they’d only managed to scrape a draw against Arsenal at home.

  19. It was nice of my Evertonian ex-flatmate to agree a £20 bet as which of our teams would finish higher.

    I, at least, have to admire his boundless optimism.

  20. Anyone who can break the internet is no one to be trifled with. Young compared to NB, anyway. He may be younger at heart, however, than any of the rest of us.

  21. Winston Reid in no mans land for the goal, then injured.. Arsenal written all over him. sign him up wenger.

  22. But seriously, this van Dijk sounds like a promising signing. I trust C as a scout. As far as being cup tied, we’d start Arteta anyway if fit. And he should be back soon. Sign him up!

  23. Jonny

    And how are the other bets looking this season?

    Still at least if we get a cold snap in the next couple of weeks you can use the slips as fire lighters 🙂

  24. @Jonny

    I would start Flamini but not sure about Ox.

    I agree, Le Coq is a squad player but not the answer but then again nobody at the club presently is so….

  25. @LSG

    He is a CB by trade by has played both CB and DM for Celtic. Comfortable on the ball and for being a tall lad at 6’3, he shows both good quickness and pace. He is young enough at 23 to be apart of our core but also has plenty of experience and talent to push both Mert and Kos. If we are to sign any defender then i would grab him especially since he can be had for the same 8-10M that we are supposed to be offering St. Eitenne for Perrin who at 29 would be another stop gap.

  26. These reports of us in for Boca Junior strikerJonathan Calleri is really interesting. I know Arsene has recently talked of his admiration for South American strikers but to bring him in and then send Yaya, Podolski and potentiakky Campbell on loan is an interesting move. The lad is highly rated in South American especially when you think he has been dubbed the new “Gonzalo Higuin” for his ruthless finishing and style of play but i fancy Arsene would use him as a wide striker as i think he is more Aguero than Higuin. I guess we will see if this report has any legs to it at all, personally I cant see him coming now but Arsene is a different man who does things differently so we shall see.

  27. Not holding my breath for any incoming help this window.
    Wenger will look at the returning players as reason to do nothing.Despite the fact that none of them will solve our defensive weaknesses.
    Wavey made good points re Bellerin, Jenkinson and Chambers.
    I think Bellerin has greater upside than Jenkinson.

  28. @Phil

    I agree with you about Bellerin, i think his balls into thr bix and his ability to pick a play out whether his crosses are in thr air or on thr ground is spot on and he is more than just a pacy defender with his ability to get in good positions and his reading of the game.

    Yea we were a but robbed and cheated as some of the calls at the end didnt go our way but we wilk bounce back, we always do.

  29. Re Szcz,
    Considering the infamous LJW cigarette incident, it shows the naïveté/ stupidity of Szcz to light up in the showers. After all, how did he keep it from not getting wet, and where did he put the lighter?

  30. I caught up with a retired footballer recently, and he said that if a top club academy produces one regular first teamer over a 3/5 year period, it’s done its job.
    Interesting, as I would have intuitively expected a better outcome.

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