it’s still all about Robin van Persie this morning. Predictably there’s talk about his 100 goals and his ability as a player but also, quite predictably, the issue of his contract status has come up. We’ll start with the good stuff though and Arsene has compared Robin to Lionel Messi. And not for the first time either. Back in 2010 he bemoaned the fitness issues Robin has had and said without them people would be talking about him the same breath as Rooney, Messi and Ronaldo.
I think, after a period of sustained fitness and form, it’s easy to see why he said that. This time it’s about playing style though:
He is like Lionel Messi in the positional sense. He doesn’t play like a real centre-forward but if you look at his movement he is very intelligent. because of his diagonal runs. And his first touch is so good that in tight spaces he can make a difference, also because he has a very short back-lift for a big guy.
For the moment van Persie is the focal point of our attack but there’s no doubt he could play the supporting role if necessary. He’s definitely got the technical ability and the vision to play a more creative role but right now, with 26 goals in 31 games, there’s little that needs to be changed. If we can keep supplying him then he’ll keep scoring.
He says Dennis Bergkamp is his inspiration and he needs 21 goals to overtake him in the Arsenal scoring charts. He should have that sorted by Christmas. Although hopefully some of the others will start to lend a helping hand in the goal scoring department. As much as we talk about defending being a team job, it cannot be down to just one man to get the goals.
Then, the topic of his contract came up. I don’t quite know where the quotes have come from, as I didn’t see this brought up in any interview, but I assume as all the papers are running the same quotes they must be from some kind of post-match press gathering. Anyway, he was asked about only having two years left, heading into a situation similar to that of Nasri and Clichy this summer just gone, and he said:
I still have almost two years until 2013. So for the moment that’s fine, but I don’t know. We will have to look. The main thing for me is the team and that we play well. I do believe you have to look for a right moment to sit down and speak about your own stuff. It’s not only about me, it’s about the team.
I can’t say we are talking now because we are so busy – we have games every three or four days.
Arsene spoke last week about the need to sort out contract situations with a number of players and you would have to hope that behind the scenes a lot of work is being done. Remember, Nasri had, in principle, agreed a contract extension as far back as last October before he got the heeby-jeebies, so I imagine there’s plenty happening. However, Robin talking about leaving it until the end of the season is a bit worrying, simply because of the position it puts us in.
Now, from his point of view I understand it completely. Even Wenger referred to a meeting he’d had with the captain after Cesc and Nasri had left, and before the transfer window closed Robin was quite forthright about the club spending money on new players. He’s 28 now, he’ll be 29 when next season kicks off and you would have to think his next contract will be the last major one in his career.
From our point of view everything, and I mean everything, depends on the competitiveness of the team and its ability to win things. I have no doubt at all that Arsenal can make a financial offer to Robin van Persie that is more than acceptable. Ok, it might not be Chelsea or Man City money but he won’t be short of a few bob. And while the presence of Darren Dein as his agent is a genuine worry (after all he is a man who is best known for engineering moves for his clients away from Arsenal), all the money in the world wont make a difference if the team isn’t up to scratch.
If you were in van Persie’s position would you make a decision now? I don’t think so. So while the headlines will make this out to be yet another crack in the Arsenal facade it’s not really. It’s a situation that anyone with common sense will have seen coming and hysterics are not going to make the blindest bit of difference.
It’s now down to the manager, his staff, and the team, of which Robin is an integral part, to ensure that Arsenal is the club he wants to be at when he signs his next contract. What happens on the pitch will make up van Persie’s mind.
In other news it seems Theo Walcott’s injury, picked up in injury time during the Bolton game, is ‘minor’ and he shold be available for Wednesday’s game against Olympiacos.
Going by his Twitter Jack Wilshere is going under the knife today for his ankle problem. Fingers crossed all goes according to plan and get well soon Jack.
Beyond that not a great deal going on. It’s going to be a busy week, with European action and then that lot on Sunday, so there’s lots to get through. In the meantime I’m going to think, briefly, about how it is I started this site as a 30 year old and wonder where the fuck the last 10 years has gone.
Does turning 40 mean I have to wear more corduroy? I suspect it means I might have to have a pint tonight. This getting old thing isn’t so bad after all.
Right, that’ll have to do. Catch you tomorrow.