Good morning, waking up to computer crashes are annoying, especially when you’ve failed to save the Arsecast properly and you have to do lots of it again. I realise this is probably a gripe very specific to me, but nevertheless a problem shared is a problem halved and all that.
Which, now that I think about, it’s a load of donkeybollocks, because no matter how much I share this particular problem I’m still the only one that can fix it. Anyway, I got it done, there’s a steaming fresh Arsecast waiting for you below, but before we get there we have the small matter of today’s blog.
Arsene Wenger spoke to the press yesterday about the FA Cup game against Preston tomorrow, but we’ll keep much of that information for the preview of the game – suffice to say there are some fitness issues and some bad news about Santi Cazorla whose recovery from Achilles surgery doesn’t seem to be going as well as we might have hoped.
Asked about the Spaniard’s fitness, he said:
At the moment he is far. It’s not going as quickly as I imagined it, so certainly in January he will not come back. It could be a bit longer [than three months].
Which is, in the very short-term, a real shame, because he’s a fantastic player and given that we’re now down to just two available central midfield players – Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka – having Cazorla around would be both useful and provide us with some measure of depth.
The wider issue, of course, is what it means for him in the long-term. If this problem continues to plague him, or if his recovery is delayed even further, his future at the club must be in some doubt. He’s 32 now, not over the hill but certainly a player in the Autumn of his career, and his contract expires this June.
Arsenal, as they do with Per Mertesacker, have an option to extend that contract, but if there are doubts over his ability to stay fit and contribute, you’d have to wonder if that’s the right thing to do. We’ve been down this road a couple of times before, players have been given contracts when it seems relatively obvious that they’re going to struggle to meet the demands required, but at the same time it’s hard to look past the human element of it as well.
He’s a brilliant player who has given us a lot since he arrived in 2012, and we know Arsene Wenger is very much inclined to give players a chance in this regard. Let’s hope that whatever setback he’s suffered isn’t as serious as it sounds, and that we’ll see him back in red and white soon.
Interestingly, questions about the contract situation of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have more or less stopped at the press conferences because of Wenger’s bristling unwillingness to discuss it. However, yesterday he spoke to beIN Sport about the pair, and sounded optimistic on one hand while warning there’s a limit to what the club can afford to pay them on the other.
He said on one hand:
They tell me they want to stay, after that we negotiate. It always starts with money, it ends with money and inbetween the players want to stay. We are not scared to spend the money, and we are not scared to show the players we love them. We want them to earn big money, but we as well have to have a line of conduct.
Then on the other:
I think no matter what we’ll try to keep them, and at some stage we’ll go as far as we can, and if we cannot go further we cannot go further. That’s basically it, because that’s the way you have to manage a football club.
Which makes perfect sense. Regardless of what people might think, we don’t have an unlimited budget for wages. Some clubs do, or can at least pay a lot more than us, and it’s worth pointing out the repercussions of increasing your maximum wage: it makes every agent of every other player look for more. It isn’t just about paying the two best players the most, it has a ripple effect throughout the squad, and that’s what I think he’s talking about more than paying top dollar to Ozil and Sanchez.
There’s no doubt the club will have get creative, image rights and bonuses etc will allow their overall package to top what their official ‘basic’ salary is, and that does complicate things a little bit. Fingers crossed though, but as I’ve said here before I have much more confidence in Ozil signing than Sanchez though.
On that, however, I have to say I find this inferiority complex some fans have about the club in this matter a bit weird. When we write an article about it, there are always people who comment and say ‘Leave, we don’t deserve them’, or ‘They deserve better than Arsenal’, as if the players themselves have no responsibility for what happens on the pitch. Perhaps it’s a once bitten kinda thing having seen so many players leave when we struggled to be competitive, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore.
These guys are paid fantastic wages, a good deal more than their official salaries would suggest by the way, and while I get the finger of blame is generally pointed one way when things go badly, it seems odd to completely exonerate those who have been recruited to play a major part in what we do on the pitch.
I don’t think you can accuse Sanchez or Ozil of being found wanting – for the most part – but I just find the idea that they’re somehow too good for us quite irritating. As if what Arsenal give them and provide them plays no role in how good they are in the first place – and that’s accepting their very obvious talent as footballers. Anyway, let’s hope we can sort things out with them both sooner rather than later, but they and their agents have an incredibly strong hand when it comes to these negotiations.
Right, time now for this week’s Arsecast and to discuss the midweek 3-3 draw with Bournemouth I’m joined by Adrian Clarke – host of The Breakdown on arsenal.com. We discuss the performance, two games in 48 hours, the contribution and celebration of Olivier Giroud, a grumpy Alexis Sanchez and much more. After that I chat to Colm McMullan, creator and developer of the StatsZone app which you can get for iOS and Android. We talk about making the app, the increased availability of stats and data in football, how it helps round out your view of a game or a performance and what we can learn from using it. There’s a minimal amount of the usual waffle, but I hope you enjoy the show anyway.
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For some extra reading this morning, check out a fantastic look back at Dennis Bergkamp’s balls with Tim Stillman. We’ll have all the news throughout the day over on Arseblog News, the Gent will be here later with his weekly review, and I’ll be back tomorrow to preview the FA Cup game.
Until then have a good one.