Yes, I know. The title of today’s article is an appalling pun on the news that Santi Cazorla is on the verge of signing for us, but I couldn’t help myself. For the first time in three and a half years, I’m genuinely optimistic about this team. And not just in a “cocky around fans of other football clubs” way, either. Why? Well, have a look at this lineup;
Fabianski – Gibbs, Mertesacker, Djourou, Jenkinson – Coquelin, Ramsey, Wilshere – Gervinho, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Ok, the goalkeeper isn’t fantastic, but the back four is ok, the midfield has an international captain and England’s best U21 player in it, and up front we have Ligue 1′s top scorer from last season and England’s second best U21 player. I reckon that team would probably finish between 6th and 8th in the league. But the best thing about that lineup isn’t the fact that it could be competitive in its own right. No, the best thing is this……. it’s our SECOND team!!!!!!
Nobody in that XI above would get into our first team. Only Wilshere would be up for debate, but even then, what better way to ease him back into football after so much time out injured than to give him 20 minutes here and half an hour there, all with the confidence that we have ample cover if he breaks down again. As good as Cazorla is, the biggest benefit that he could immediately bring to the club is that any pressure to rush Jack back too soon has now completely dissipated.
Even if Jack doesn’t return until November, our midfield is now Song, Arteta and Cazorla. Last year at this point, it was Song and two players still recovering from long-term absences in Rosicky and Ramsey. That alone is cause for optimism, as we’ve suffered too many slow starts to the league in recent times. We need as many of our top stars available as possible to be at the top of their game from day one, which is why Wenger’s comments about Podolski and Giroud not being ready to play yet were a little odd. I’d have imagined that getting at least one of those two players integrated into the first team would be of the highest priority after RvP’s “statement”. So why is there no rush?
Well, allow me to present a hypothetical. In his statement, van Persie ascertained that he disagreed with the direction that Arsenal were seemingly going. So what if he’s had a change of heart? What if, after seen two top-class international attackers join the club and a possible third in Giroud, he’s thinking that he’s better off staying put? Maybe not for good, but his desire to leave immediately may suddenly have deserted him. And after seeing the supposed stampede for his services turn into a damp squib, is there much point in Arsenal getting rid of him for less than £15million?
It is fascinating how this summer has turned out for our captain, as for one reason or another, all his potential exit points are being slammed shut. Man Utd were never seriously in for him, it appears that their bid for him was just a PR stunt to make the Glazers look like responsible owners of a football club whilst they try to once again use United’s own money to pay off a debt that they created to buy United in the first place (£509 million of United’s own money since July 2008 has gone towards covering the costs of that debt! EEEK!!!)
Man City are obviously keen to sign him, unfortunately they’re finding very few suitors that are willing to pay Emmanuel Adebayor or Roque Santa Cruz enough to convince them to leave. Many will claim that it’s FFP at work, although it’s far more likely that common sense is playing more of a role here. There’s just no logic at all in paying someone £150,000 a week to sit on their backside, and there’s even less logic in paying someone half that to play somewhere else. The 25-man rule is also a hinderance to them here, hence the need to sell before they buy. We are encountering similar problems with Squillaci, all be it on a lower pay scale. And if City can’t shift those two, then they can’t pinch RvP off us.
All of which leaves Juventus, the choice of many a gooner when it comes to preferred destinations for van Persie thanks to the fact that we won’t have to play against him in the Premiership. And they seemed very interested in signing him as well, but all of their plans are now in chaos as their manager, Antonio Conte, has been told that his plea bargain of a three-month suspension, due to him being investigated in a match-fixing scandal which involved his previous club, Siena, has been rejected. He now faces the possibility of a longer ban and even a jail sentence. Would you want to move to a club with that hanging over them? Me neither.
All of that means that even if it suited both parties for RvP to leave the club a month ago, it now appears to be in both of their interests for him to stay. With the compensation for losing van Persie being only £10-15million, the financial need for Arsenal to sell is not as big as anticipated. Couple that with the team being in far better shape than it was this time last year, then is it possible that van Persie is also not as inclined to leave as he once indicated?
Could it all mean that Wenger is in no hurry to rush our new forwards into getting match-fit because the old one will still be here for opening day? Or am I reading too much between the lines? All I know is this, today is a time to be optimistic about our chances, as we are about to see one world-class player walk in the door, and in doing so, he might be enough to stop another one walking out.------------
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