There’s not even a sniff of pre-presser team news this morning.
I’m not sure if this makes me suspicious or not. Sometimes no news is good news. But sometimes there’s no news because it’s better to have no news because the news there is is bad news. If you get me. However, I’m assuming that there are no casualties from the Dortmund game in midweek.
Jack Wilshere says he expects to be fit but whether he starts or not remains to be seen. I think he might well be up for a bit of rest/rotation as Arsene Wenger will probably look to freshen things up a little bit against Crystal Palace tomorrow. That should mean a start for Cazorla, a return for Flamini and possibly one or two other small changes from the midweek team.
We should find out more from the manager this morning when he meets the press, updates on that over on Arseblog News.
It’s relatively quiet otherwise but there’s a really great interview with Cesc Fabregas in The Guardian this morning in which he talks about his time at Arsenal and how he’d love to come back some day. I understand there’s bitterness from some about his departure. For me it remains one of the biggest failings of the last few years. Whatever about trophies, that we let him leave without ever building the kind of team around him that he deserved is still painful.
And when you consider what Barcelona paid for him too, pfffff. Just a year later Real Madrid paid more or less the same amount for Luka Modric, a considerably inferior player. And don’t give me that ‘only one club’ thing. There was only one club really in for Modric, one club in for Bale, and they still managed to squeeze every last penny out of those deals.
Anyway, aside from his desire to come back at some point, he talked about how his departure has cleared a path for the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, saying:
I watch the way Ramsey is playing now, how he looks so liberated, and I think maybe I blocked his way. Maybe I was an obstacle. Sometimes you need someone to leave for you to step forward and say: “I’m here.” I’m saying that about Ramsey just as an example, by the way, because the poor kid had the injury too – I could say the same for Jack. It’s the concept I’m talking about, the idea of stepping up. That mental unblocking is so important. Both of them have a brilliant future.
I’m a firm believer that if you’re good enough your time will come but you can’t also overlook the fact that timing, and often a bit of serendipity plays a part in a footballer’s career. Would Ashley Cole have made it so quickly, or at all, had Silvinho’s passport not been made of old toilet roll and double-sided sticky tape? He was on his way, to Crystal Palace funnily enough, when all of a sudden we had to move the Brazilian on. The door is opened, the path is cleared, and it’s fair to say he took that chance.
If Arsenal still had Cesc Fabregas there’s no doubt things would be different, particularly for the younger players coming through. Obviously his departure was not ideal, but it caused a shift which, while difficult at first, looks to have moved us into a decent space in the end.
The other bit that caught my eye in the interview was when talking about why Arsenal didn’t win and the dearth of experience/leadership in the team:
When everyone is so young it is difficult to find someone who stands up and says: “Come on!” Also, because we were such a young team, there was always a sense of “next time”, another chance. We often had team meetings and they helped, we made sense of things, but the experience was missing. We suffered because of that. Now I think they’ve found a good balance. They have people there who have a lot of experience.
For me that really sums things up. Although there were some experienced players in that team, particularly the 2007-8 side that should have won the league, the young players simply did not have enough guidance. When your captain, the most fair weather captain this club has ever had by the way, sits down on the pitch and has a tantrum at the end of a traumatic game what message does that send?
Ultimately it showed in how the rest of that season played out. Simply not strong enough mentally to cope with the pressures of all that came with the Eduardo injury and the pressure of maintaining a title challenge. There was a lack of experience because some of the players were young, but also because some of those who were older just didn’t have the character for it.
Now there’s much more balance. Players like Ramsey and Wilshere, still very young in the grand scheme of things, have the likes of Arteta, Mertesacker, Cazorla, Flamini, Sagna etc to look to. Prospects like Gnabry are going to learn things on the training ground, and on the pitch, from people like Mesut Ozil instead of trying to figure out what’s going on themselves.
I 100% believe if we’d added a touch more quality, and the right kind of experience, to the team that came close in 07/08 we could have won things. Maybe we were restricted financially, maybe the manager wanted to give that group more time to grow together hoping things would click, perhaps a bit of both, but I think we have learned from that period. The profile of the signings we’ve made in recent seasons has reflected that, and there’s now a proper blend rather than an obvious imbalance. Anyway, the rest of the interview is well worth a read.
Time now, for this week’s Arsecast. I’m joined by @Gunnerblog to talk about Dortmund, Norwich and what’s to come in the next week. An old friend returns, and there’s a chance for you to win some swish gear from our friends at Savile Rogue.
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Righto, that’s yer lot for this morning. Back tomorrow with a Palace preview, some Arsenal Gent coming up this afternoon, and the news all day right here.