The impact of the BFG

Good day folks.

I would give you a plague update but I fear that using phrases/words like ‘coughing up’, ‘festering’ and ‘redefine the colour green’ aren’t exactly pleasant first thing in the morning, Instead I shall crack on with what little there is terms of Arsenal news this morning.

We can start with Per Mertesacker and he’s been talking about he needs time to really prove his worth. Arriving late in the transfer window meant everything was a bit hectic and, dare I say it, slightly unprofessional? I just mean that the BFG is a guy who would prefer if everything were done by the book, as well as it could be, and bringing in a player in to a team which was struggling like ours was at that time meant it was a different experience than if he’d arrived in plenty of time in the summer. He says:

It was quite a short time for me to settle in and make the transfer happen – it was very close to the deadline so it was a tough month for me. If you have no pre-season with the team then that makes it more difficult. People think it’s easy to connect with your club, your team-mates, but it takes time.

It’s getting better and better and hopefully I can keep improving now. Let me play a season and you can get [the full picture] of my personality and my ability as a footballer.

I know he’s had a couple of moments but in general I think his arrival has been a big positive for the team. He added depth, quality and experience to our squad. If you don’t agree, fine, but the alternative in these last couple of months, when we have had fullbacks injured, might well have been a certain Frenchman that’s not to everyone’s taste.

And that’s not to say that Mertesacker is only an option when the alternative is Squillaci. I think he’s been pretty solid overall and he works well with both Koscielny and Vermaelen. He’s never going to be the guy who nips in front to try and intercept but with either of those two as his partner he can let them get on with the nipping and he’s there to mop up behind. Not just that either, as he grows more confident and knows his teammates more, he’ll organise things better and that’s where the real benefit of having a player as experienced as him comes in.

Let’s look at Theo Walcott, for example. What’s been notable about his season thus far are the assists to Robin van Persie but also his remarkably improved defensive work. Are we to assume that Theo has just realised, after 5 seasons, that he has some responsibility in this department? Or might it be that the addition of experience like Mertesacker, Arteta, Benayoun etc, has changed the mindset in the dressing room a bit? Maybe he’s been told by his teammates that he needs to put that kind of work in and that, coupled with the emerging threat of The Ox, has changed the way he plays.

I think you have to look a bit beyond what a player does and and how he performs just in his specific position, because to me it’s obvious that both Mertesacker and Arteta have had a big influence on this team since their arrivals. For Arteta the late transfer would have been much easier to cope with. It was simply changing team in a country he knows well, to play in stadiums and a league he was familiar with, whereas Mertesacker has changed country, league, style of football, there’s a language issue, getting to know new teammates, new opponents, finding somewhere to live, settling into a new country etc. All in all I’m happy with what we’ve seen from him so far and if more time will improve him then all the better.

One thing I have noticed however, is that for all he’s got in terms of height, both Koscielny and Vermaelen are much more dominant in the air than Mertesacker. Perhaps it’s the curse of having such extremely long legs, that he lacks springiness to get himself up off the ground as well as the other two. Anyway, it’s not a criticism, more of an observation, and what he lacks in heading ability he certainly makes up for in terms of reading the game and being in the right place at the right time.

Right, enough about centre-halves and very tall Germans. Which is a shame because there’s not much else going on. Transfer tittle-tattle hasn’t really got into full swing yet but there are stories linking Tomas Rosicky with a move to Wolfsburg in January. It wouldn’t be a surprise, I have to say, and overall you do get the feeling that his time at the club was nowhere near as successful as it might have been, for various reasons. And you get that feeling because his time at the club was nowhere near as successful as it might have been. The return of Jack Wilshere will surely limit his chances even further but whether Arsene is willing to let an experienced head leave the dressing room remains to be seen.

Finally for today Arseblog is up for an award at the NOPAs tonight. In the Best Blog category with me are In Bed With Maradona, Adventures in Tinpot, The Ball is Round and yer man Zonal Marking. Quality opposition one and all and good luck to everyone. Sadly I can’t be there tonight but Arseblog will be represented by that girl who loves the Gunners should I manage to fluke one in in injury time from an offside position having tripped up the last man on the way to doing so – whilst on performance enhancing drugs (I wish).

And finally finally, you can win tickets to the Wolves and QPR games with thanks to Thomas Cook Sports by clicking here. Deadline for entries is tonight at midnight.

Ok, back tomorrow with an Arsecast which, if my voice doesn’t improve over the course of the day, will sound like I’ve been playing with the pitch control and stuck myself down about 200%. If that doesn’t make any sense to you don’t worry about it. I might add some flange too.

Till then.