Morning all, welcome to Friday. I’m just awake from a dream where Lily Allen was a three-legged ninja sent to kill me but her weapon of choice was a rifle which shot Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. Deathly delicious. I survived, as you can see.
Lots of talk this morning about contracts and clauses in them and all kinds of stuff but I’m just not sure why this is a story. Have Arsenal just picked up a copy of Football Manager 2013 and discovered that contract clauses actually exist? Are we supposed to get on board with news that after signing a large new sponsorship deal, with another one to come, that we’re going to be looking for wage cuts from players? What about all those stories, down the years, that had people up in arms when we said we could cope with life outside the Champions League from a financial point of view and actually budgeted around that?
Incentive clauses are nothing new, they’ve been part of player contracts for years, but at a time when we’re trying to tie down players like Jack Wilshere, and others, to long-term deals it strikes me as a bit odd that we’d even mention the possibility of a wage cut for non-Champions League qualification, let alone consider it in the first place. Especially when the scrap for the top four is more competitive than ever. Bonuses for achieving qualification, yes, slashes in wages if we don’t, that just sounds dense to me.
Of more interest is the fact that Arsene Wenger says we’ll be in the market for a couple of players, and probably take Thierry Henry on loan, in January. Speaking the other night he said:
This winter we will work very hard because we have some funds available. It could happen that we buy two players, but I cannot reveal the names.
And on Thierry:
A loan is still a possibility, but we will still try to strengthen for the long term.
I don’t think there’d be a single person who’d argue this team doesn’t need some fresh blood. We’re hugely reliant on a core group of players and if they don’t produce in a game we have little in the way of options to try and change it. The return of Tomas Rosicky could certainly add some spark to the midfield but when the likes of Arshavin and Chamakh can’t even the make the bench you know their time is pretty much up.
It will spark much speculation, the Mirror suggests double-Dutch with Huntelaar and PSV’s midfielder Kevin Strootman, and no doubt there’ll be plenty of names added to that list over the coming weeks. Which is all fine and dandy but none of those names will be able to help us with the eight games we’ve got in December. On paper there are a lot of points to be taken from league fixtures against like Wigan, Newcastle, Reading and even Swansea this weekend. West Brom is another you’d want to take maximum points from but their season thus far has been excellent and it won’t be an easy game by any means.
We don’t play on paper though and the manager has got to get this group of players firing again and forgetting about the tired legs they have because they’re needed in every game without much possibility of rotation. I think it’s fairly true what they say about players not feeling tired when they’re in good form and winning matches – and with no possibility of supplementing the squad for a few weeks yet perhaps that’s our best bet to cope with the busy schedule.
In the meantime he might look to Rosicky, to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to step it up a bit, to Francis Coquelin and maybe even to use Andre Santos (when fit again) in a more advanced role, because other than that it’s hard to see how he can keep the squad relatively fresh in the next 6 weeks or so. And that must really be the focus now. January may well provide a chance to spend and to add some quality and depth to the squad, but we’ve got to make sure that we’re still in a decent position in the first place.
Elsewhere, if you want a perfect example of how the media can create a story out of nothing much at all, I heartily recommend this post on Arseblog News by @aallensport. Wenger is asked about Wilfried Zaha, says little about it and never names him, press write stories, press go to Ian Holloway and say ‘Wenger is talking about your player’, Holloway loses his tiny little mind. As others have pointed out Holloway ought to know better but it’s a quite wonderful deconstruction of the way the media works.
And when you consider the fact that the majority of people won’t read it, the story they’ve created becomes the accepted truth of the situation when it’s anything but. It’s also why Football 365′s Mediawatch page is one to bookmark and catch up with every day.
Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Julian H from Gingers4Limpar and Tim Stillman to discuss Everton, Villa, Arsene Wenger, fan frustration and more. There’s some Arshavin in there too and your chance to win a scarf from our friends at Savile-Rogue. Remember, you can get 10% off any order from Savile Rogue by using the code ARSEBLOG12 at checkout.
You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 25mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.
And that’s your lot. We should have some pre-Swansea news later on, it’s not looking good for Bacary Sagna as he has an ankle injury, but you know where to find updates ahead of tomorrow’s full preview of the game on here.
Have a good one.