“Just 9 more minutes …”
As my Wang Chung based alarm woke me this morning, I poked a head above the duvet, hit snooze and realised I’d had one of those nights where you think you haven’t been asleep at all but then you wake up so clearly you have been. There should be a snooze button on life for mornings like this. It’s unfair to expect any person to function normally. It’s right up there with those dreams where you’ve been up all night and you think ‘Goddammit I’ve been up all night’ and then you wake up and even though you haven’t been up all night you feel like you’ve been up all night.
So, Carl Jenkinson has agreed a new 5 year deal with the club. In another dimension, on whatever Facebook is there, because they are a much angrier and technologically advanced people the ‘like’ button is a ‘Don’t punch an orphan in the face’ button. I choose not to punch an orphan in the face over this news.
His progress this season has been fantastic, he’s a Gooner, you can see it in the way he plays and he’s a lesson that despite early difficulties if you get your head down and work hard then you can still make it at Arsenal. It’s also something of a feather in the cap of Arsene Wenger who signed this kid and for a time nobody could really work out why. Yes, we needed back-up for Bacary, but this looked another cheapo gamble destined to fail. Now, Jenkinson is set to make his England debut, he’s more highly regarded than the final sticker you need for your Panini album (‘Please, has anyone got a John Devine? I’ve got 6 Larry Lloyds’), and his future looks bright. Good news all round.
But here’s the thing, we’re heading into dangerous territory with another player who really should have been tied down to a new contract by now. Bacary Sagna has just over 18 months of his current deal left and for me he’s one of the best right backs in Europe. There’s talk of Inter Milan being interested in him, and if he were to be ‘made available’ I’m sure he’d have plenty of clubs to choose from.
He spoke earlier this season about how no offer had yet been made by Arsenal to extend his contract and it’s hard to look at this and think it’s anything other than a mistake. At some point we have to realise that having experience in the team helps. Wenger had no problem playing a much older Lee Dixon at right back and Oleg Luznhy was at the club and playing well into his 30s. I know football has changed a bit, but the fact that Sagna has come straight back into the side despite Jenkinson’s excellent form shows exactly how the pecking order is.
Sagna himself spoke about how competition is good and how highly he rates his younger teammate, so let’s keep that in the squad. It’s healthy and positive. And the bottom line is Sagna is one of the good ones, a player who will never give you less than 100%, performs consistently and far more than others has earned a new contract. It’d be a mistake, and a massive shame, if we were to overlook that and allow his Arsenal career to fizzle out in favour of the cheaper option, regardless of how good and promising that option is.
Yesterday, the world’s most unreliable football website (I’m not linking to it), said that Emmanuel Frimpong was set to be offloaded by Arsenal in January because he was in the final year of his contract.
Amusingly, Frimpong took to Twitter to deny that he was leaving permanently and insisted he is not in the last year of his deal. Another ‘Exclusive’ turns out to be not so exclusive as much as, you know, based on misinformation. However, the midfielder did say he’d be going out on loan this week. Wolves and Ipswich have been mooted as possible destinations, and perhaps that’s a measure of where he is right now.
The two bad injuries certainly haven’t helped him, nor has the perception that he’s better known for his extra-curricular activities than his football. I say perception because that is the public image. I’m sure he’s an extremely hard worker on the training pitch and a whole-hearted player on it, but the amount of time he’s spent out injured means we haven’t been exposed to that side of him as much as we should have been.
Personally, I have doubts if his long-term future is going to be with us but if he does go out on loan he’s got to shine like the shiniest of crazy diamonds to give himself a chance.
Although transfer speculation is off the agenda, there’s been a lot of talk linking us to Crystal Palace winger, Wilfried Zaha, who could be a possible replacement for Theo Walcott. As he’s called up to the England squad, he has said of his own talent:
Unless I’m looking at Ronaldo or Messi, I’d never look at someone else and think he’s better than me.
I have to say his humility and unassuming nature makes him an ideal signing. Too often English players have an over-inflated view of themselves, not helped by the gluttonous media who build them up to be world beaters before they’ve even played a hundred games in their career. Good to see that’s not happening with this lad.
And that’s really about that. All our players are gone now to play for their countries where they will pick up innocuous injuries which will keep them out for years while Teflon racists get their legs bent all over the place and only miss a couple of matches.