In the grip of the coldest snap in seven years (© the Hacks), Arsenal’s squad is going to find out exactly what cold means when they travel to Östersunds for the first leg of the Round of 32 in the Europa League. It’s no Bavaria and certainly not in Barcelona; just bloody cold apparently.
Bizarrely, the club was formed after Arsène joined Arsenal which takes the whole 21 years at the club to a new level of ‘how many times will we hear that fact’ before and during the tie itself.
And with ‘..‘ over the ‘O’ in both town and club name, there will be a bad case of diaeresis if Mesut Özil features. You’d better have Imodium to hand.
At which point, you’re expecting a crap link into Mesut Özil’s contract talk; you got one.
The story goes that he wants £300,000 per week, we’d offered £235,000 but have now gone north of that. The salary is almost irrelevant, to be honest. How do you attach value to that level of wage? You can’t as such. The only thing you can consider is whether we would be better served by two £150,000 per week players in the squad or one Mesut Özil?
The answer to that is down to personal opinion. He’s not a leader of men and is a player who can be isolated with relative ease in big games – so it seems – although both the FA Cup semi-final and final undermined that to some extent as he played a starring role in both. Which begs the question why it happens frequently in the Premier League. Probably because there are more games in the Premier League is the answer, both facetiously and truthfully.
So, is one Özil worth more than two lesser players? It depends on who they are and what role they fulfil.
It’s Only Banter
Özil, like so many of the squad, is a lightning rod for discontent. Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny…the only one who gets a free pass, it seems, is Nacho Monreal and even that’s a fairly recent phenomenon.
From Arsenal’s point of view, the economics of it make some sense. On the assumption that the £300k is a rolled up figure including bonuses and signing-on fees, it’s cheaper than buying two players and paying them £150k per week over four years. There’s no fee outlay in Özil’s case which makes the difference.
The PR side makes it an even better deal. We don’t have the nuclear scenario of losing our two best players for free in the same summer, or for negligible fees in the same year.
That assumes he will ‘sign da ting’.
A full Premier League programme this midweek will no doubt see Arsène revisit his ‘they get more rest than us’ routine. I thought he delivered the observation with comic timing par excellence as he rotated the entire XI for BATE – or maybe they were BANTER – Borisov. Nobody pulled him up on it, instead nodding sagely at his words.
Mind you, after the performance we turned in at Southampton, is there any benefit from resting players? West Ham will be buoyed by their win over Chelsea and tiredness won’t be a factor for them, I bet.
Wenger has to deal with Aaron Ramsey’s injury and most of us expect Jack Wilshere to come in…Francis Coquelin it is then, with Elneny to replace Granit Xhaka, just to light the fuse. While you might argue there are question marks over Jack’s fitness – and I won’t argue with that – he’s served his time in the Europa League and his cameo on Sunday suggests he’s ready for the first XI.
Arsène’s press conference this morning is all but over and I cogitate more on the West Ham game tomorrow. His point re Olivier Giroud is interesting, if not reassuring for the player. On the one hand, he denied that Giroud was a substitute now,
“No, he’s not a sub for me. He’s a very good player. I have plenty of good strikers but I cannot play them all together.
“I speak to all my players. It’s very hard to discuss what we speak about openly. You know enough already, you know?
“He’s a very important player. I have great respect. I am a great admirer of Giroud.
“Look how many French caps he has won here. He has not wasted his time.”
And I don’t think anyone thought he had. For Giroud, the issue is he wants more French caps, particularly as next summer will be his last World Cup and quite possibly his last major tournament for Les Bleus. ‘Sources close to the player’ said at the weekend that the striker wanted a loan deal in January. Arsène pooh-poohed that idea but didn’t offer him any assurances over his long-term future either,
“Personally, I want him to stay at the club until the end of the season then we will see.”
It’s hardly a ringing endorsement, is it?
I’m intrigued though. Where will we find the money to replace him if he leaves next June when most of our budget will be spent replacing Alexis…
Finally, there’s a new post on Dad’s Jukebox about the letter ‘W’.