Thursday, June 1, 2023

Squillaci – Rosicky – Wilshere – Arshavin – Bendtner

Well nothing’s been announced yet but it seems as if Sebastien Squillaci will become our third signing of the summer. The player himself has been talking about the move and says:

If a French player receives an offer from Arsène Wenger, it’s practically impossible to turn down. It was a sensational offer for me and I was happy Sevilla let me go. This is a great new challenge and I’ve gone there purely to be part of that.

I don’t think my age is a problem. My experience in football is great and players of my age tend to be at the peak of their playing career.

I suppose it shows just how much football has become a young man’s game when he’s talking about his age not being a problem … he’s just turned 30! The other day the Guardian referred to him as a ‘veteran’, and I suppose in comparison with many in the Arsenal squad he is, but there was a time when we viewed a player of his age as reaching his peak. Especially central defenders.

It’s also interesting to read comments around and about where people use the fact we’ve apparently offered him a 3 year deal as a criticism of the manager for his ‘over 30s’ policy. The fact is you cannot sign a player of his age if you’re just offering him a one year deal. And to me there’s a big difference between offering Gallas, at 33, a 1 year renewal and Squillaci, who started the month aged 29, a 3 year one. Players need a bit of security.

You would expect everything to be done, dusted and announced today, and it does add some depth to our defensive options. It means we have four centre-halves with only one of them an obvious first choice. Thomas Vermaelen is always going to be one of the first names on the team sheet, that there’s now a three-way battle between Squillaci, Koscielny and Djourou can only be a good thing. Squillaci adds experience to the mix as well, it’ll be interesting to see how he copes with the demands of English football, we know already he’s got plenty of European experience too. Overall you have to say it’s a highly satisfactory, if not mind-blowing, transfer.

One of the stand-out performers so far this season, and I know it’s only just begun, is Tomas Rosicky. He made a big impact when he came on against Liverpool on the opening day and more or less ran the show against Blackpool on Saturday. It’s nice to see because after everything that’s happened it’s easy to forget how highly he was rated when he joined from Borussia Dortmund in 2006.

I think it’s fair to say we’ve never really seen the best of him. Flashes, for sure, like that night at Anfield or his first Arsenal goal in the Champions League, but small injuries interrupted, then there was that one big one which really threatened his career. He spent well over a year out of the game which must be awful for anyone who loves to play, regardless of what level you’re at. Last season he made 36 performances but a loss of form and the struggles of coming back after so long out meant he was too often peripheral.

Arsene Wenger is happy, saying:

It was not really Rosicky last year. I like to handle him on the pitch and in the dressing room because he is an outstanding character. He is a team player and has great quality.

Maybe it’s getting a good handling in the dressing room from the boss which has made the difference but Tomas puts his form down to proper preparation at last:

A full pre-season was always what I was missing. I completed the whole pre-season so I have a good base. I feel well and I hope it will continue like this.

What’s encouraging is that losing Nasri might well have been a big blow. We know we have plenty of options for the attacking midfield role and it’s great to see Rosicky give the manager some problems. We got to Blackburn at the weekend and Cesc is likely to be back in full contention for his place in midfield. Rosicky’s effectiveness really means he’s pressurising Cesc and even Arshavin who admits himself he’s still a little bit off full fitness (has he ever been properly ‘Arsenal’ fit?). Fingers crossed he can stay fit because like van Persie he deserves a bit of a break (in a lucky, not snappy, way).

It’s also interesting to hear the manager talk about Jack Wilshere. At the moment he’s being played as one of the two deeper lying midfielders, alongside Abou Diaby. This isn’t his natural game but the boss thinks it’s good for his education:

He is strong one against one, he has good commitment and it is important in the development of a player for him to start there. After, you can always push a player higher up but let’s start with the difficult work. Once you do that, you can always take the easier job.

Last season, when he played in the Carling Cup, there was a bit of a tendency on his part to try and do something a bit special, a flick or a trick in midfield which probably worked quite well at reserve level. It’s noticeable how this season, after his loan spell at Bolton, he’s much more sensible in that regard. Against Liverpool he tried one little back-heel pass which gave possession away. That’s the last time he’s done anything like it, choosing instead to play a simple game which is, in the long run, much more effective.

It’s easy to tell players to do the simple thing and not be too fancy but too many players don’t listen or refuse to curb their natural instincts. Too often those players don’t make it. With the return of Song I don’t think Jack will start against Blackburn on Saturday. The physical threat they pose and their size will mean it’ll be Song and Diaby playing deep but so far what we’ve seen from young Jack has been very encouraging.

If you have time there’s a big long interview with Andrei Arshavin on the Talkshite site. He reckons we need to improve against the big teams to be in with a chance of the title:

My opinion is, if you look at the points on last season’s table, we were close, but then we met Chelsea and Man Utd and they beat us very easily. I would like to see this season that we will manage to fight against big teams.

The first game against United we really should have won until we self-destructed via Almunia and Diaby, but the other games weren’t even close. And it might well be telling that he talks about ‘fight’ against the big teams. We lacked a little bit the bollocks, as Arsene would probably never say. Hopefully that’ll change this time around.

Nicklas Bendtner has fired the quackologist who was rubbing his feet to fix his groin, labeling him a ‘self-publicist’. He says he’s very happy with Arsenal’s treatment – which probably involves actual trying to fix his groin – and expects to be back in about 6 weeks.

And that, my good old friends, is just about that. Any guesses on Squillaci’s number. 12 seems nice and free, doesn’t it?

Till tomorrow.

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