So I was partly right, wasn’t I?
When I hit the “Publish” button on Wednesday afternoon’s blog, there were just minutes to go until a 3pm announcement from Arsenal. It seemed logical, at that time, to assume that it might just have something to do with a new contract for Jack Wilshere. And, as we now know, it did. But there was more to it than that. The news that the Ox, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and Aaron Ramsey have joined Jack in committing to the club till 2018 is, I think, good news.
However, I can certainly understand an alternative viewpoint that questions the wisdom of tying down players who have yet to acheive, er, anything in the game. Hang on, that isn’t quite fair, is it? I think all these lads have acheived things in the game, whether it’s Ramsey being made captain of Wales (and yes, I know he’s since lost that honour), or Jenkinson making the jump from non league football to Champions League in the space of 18 months and not looking out of place. Acheivement, as our manager often says, is not the same thing as winning those big shiny hunks of silver.
Anyway, yes, without knowing details of these contracts it’s difficult to take a view on whether the players are worth it. However, as Le Grove said yesterday, no player ever signs on for a pay cut- so you can understand why Ramsey’s new contract, in particular may be a source of concern for Arsenal fans. I guess you could also question why the Ox and Jenkinson have been offered new deals under 18 months since joining. I guess the answer to that is that they’ve established themselves as first team squad players. Although, to go back to, and kind of agree with another point that Le Grove made yesterday, this handing out of bumper contracts to players at the dawn of their career is probably part of the reason Theo Walcott now wants 100k per week. In other words, you can see that Arsenal are making a rod for their own backs. How much money will Arsenal have to offer these guys to renew when talks start in 2016? I guess I would feel a little bit better about it all if I felt that Arsenal were making better use of the resources we had.
Anyway, I don’t want to wee on anyone’s chips (keeping the language clean for NewsNow) and I think we can all be happy that these guys have signed up for the long term. And that the penny has finally dropped with Arsene Wenger that British players might just be a little more likely to stick around that the foreign legion we are used to seeing. Particularly at a time when we’ve stopped winning anything. Hopefully, Theo will decided to accept whatever it is Arsenal are offering and stay at the club that has developed him over the last 7 years. Although, when you see Arsene trying to guilt Theo, in public, into staying you’ve got a fair idea of how it’s all going to play out.
Anyway, I hate talking about this stuff. Really. Particularly when there’s a Champions League tie with Bayern Munich to look forward to. That’ll be some night at the Arsenal for us, eh? And some return to Germany for Mertesacker and, in particular, Lukas Podolski. Common wisdom from the Chelsea fans at football last night was that Arsenal are as good as out. I’m too good natured, and hopefully not so obvious, to have repsonded by asking who they would be playing in the next round- “Champions of Europe” indeed! In all seriousness, I think this is a very tough draw for us, you only have to look at the Bundesliga to see that, but an exciting one. What’s not to like about Bayern at the Grove?
In the shorter term, obviously, we roll up to whatever Wigan’s ground is call in the early kick off tomorrow. Such is our inconsistency, I would settle for any kind of win tomorrow. But with a similar kind of team expected to take the pitch as at the Madjeski on Monday night, it would be really great to see a similar kind of performance- and win as we did there. Intriguingly, the last time we played Wigan, their three at the back, flood the midfield approach really stifled us and they were good value for a 2-1 win. I wonder if we will be able to find the wherewithal to combat that approach tomorrow. I hope so! Looking back over the last few games with them, Thomas Vermaelen has scored in each of our last three fixtures with them. So, having ignored Steven Gerrard’s similar record against Aston Villa last week (he was 9/1 to score anytime and did so) I’ve put a few quid on the Verminator to find the net tomorrow. I hope Arsenal get the message from Monday night, because if we go out there and start positively, really, we should have enough to blow Wigan away and get the holiday season started on the right note.
Enjoy the game, wherever you are.------------
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